Welcome to the August 1st, 2005 edition of The Carnival of the Capitalists.
I have a confession…
Each week I visit the COTC, but I’ve been a scanner. I’ll look for titles that jump out at me, titles that seem likely to tickle my fancy. Out of 40 or 50 entries, I might read 5 or 10. Hosting the COTC this week has given me a great opportunity: I’ve read each and every entry, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Some posts I wouldn’t “normally” click on turned out to be truly great. While the marketer in me screams out … FOLKS, help the reader out, title your posts better! … the friend in me who’d sit on the barstool next to you revealing my best “secret resources” says, “click and read ’em all. You won’t be disappointed.”
Thanks to all the bloggers who participated this round, you made for a good afternoon of reading and I picked up a couple of new favorite blogs, to boot. If you catch anything missing or mistaken, please shoot me E-mail to michael DOT cage AT gmail DOT com and I’ll correct it right away.
And a special thanks to all the hosts … past, present and future … who put the time and energy into making the COTC what it is. Folks, I didn’t realize it before … putting these editions together is work. If you enjoy your COTC, drop the hosts a note and let them know you appreciate the effort. Next week, you’ll find it at View From A Height. You can find submission instructions along with a list of past hosts at Carnival of the Capitalists.
Over 50 bloggers submitted the best posts on business, marketing, economics, politics and technology this week. What better way to start your Monday morning? Grab a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath and dive right in. The water is fine.
It’s been fun,
Local Small Business Marketing & Advertising
michael DOT cage AT gmail DOT com
P.S. For each category I’ve selected an “Editor’s Choice” post. These were hard decisions, very hard in some cases. The selections reflect my interests and biases. Ah, the power of having the editor’s pen. I’ve also scattered a few of my own comments throughout. You’ll find them in italics with an “MC” preceding the comments. Please don’t blame the author of the posts for my own smart-aleck remarks.
Business, Business, Business
EDITOR’S PICK: Rob at BusinessPundit: “[E]nvironment matters. If you get “broken windows” at work, if left untreated they can lead to more and more, at which time you reach a tipping point that can destroy your company. Good people move on, complacent people stay. Buearacracy. Whining. Complacency. Disengagement. Lying. Cheating. All these things, and many many more, can be broken windows in your company. The minute you condone a little bit of negative behavior, and let it fester, you are on track to start seeing more and more of it. One person that doesn’t care much about a project can be enough to make everyone else care a little less too. The next thing you know you are behind schedule and over budget. And no one really cares.” Terrific post! … read the rest including a solution to broken windows creeping into your company at: How Broken Windows Can Kill A Business.
Ever felt like retail sales clerks are more interested in pushing the latest offer on you instead of leaving you a happy customer? Josh Cohen from Multiple Mentality reflects on his days working at a video game store and how company-mandated statistics can lead to poor customer service. Read on at Small Game Video Store Rant. (MC: I don’t believe having good customer service and having up-selling and cross-selling are mutually exclusive, but I do believe a company that does not emphasize … even measure … the importance of both is living somewhere between negligent and dangerous.)
Jon from Smart Money Daily weighs in on business plans in Creating A Personal and Specific Business Plan. He reminds us that beginning with the end in mind is key, stating, “according to the business plan that always works it is important to have a clear understanding of the end product of the what the plan is in the scope of your entire life. The business’s purpose is to improve your quality of life.”
Abnu from Wordlab asks, “Is Microsoft so big it can just use any product name it wants, knowing the lawyers will sort it out and they can ultimately buy whatever they need to acquire the necessary trademark rights?” Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vista was written in response to the upcoming “Windows Vista” which may infringe on at least one trademark and cause hassle and pain for companies not even in the tech industry.
Lisa Haneberg of Management Craft: “A friend of mine, who is a HR department head, challenged me to come up with the alternative to performance appraisal systems. She, like many of you, has heard me say time and again that they are a waste of time and most often counter productive. And boy are they costly!!!” Dive into the alternative, Scrap Performance Appraisals, Part 1. (MC: Psst… performance appraisals stink, pass the word!)
Frank Scavo of The Enterprise System Spectator: “Some companies are adopting crazy policies in order to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley act, and software vendors are encouraging the insanity to sell more software.” Get Frank’s take at Sarbanes-Oxley: Stop The Insanity.
Tom O’Neill of Buyout Blog: “Behind closed doors, private equity groups and banks often refer to a deal as being “overshopped,” usually in response to why they have no interest in participating. The most clear and akward example of this “shotgun” approach is when two different intermediaries bring a deal to the same firm. It’s critically important for entrepreneurs to understand how and why to avoid this practice (whether raising debt, mezz or equity), so I’m devoting this post to explaining the pitfalls and how to avoid them.” Read all about it in Laser vs. Shotgun in Raising Capital.
Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture: “There’s an interesting discussion over at the Chris Anderson’s blog on the ascendant forces that are creating a new era of Long Tails. There’s yet another source that is helping to give rise to the Long Tail: The continual consolidation and commensurate decline in quality of mainstream media content output. This is especially true for music and radio, true of some journalism, and (partially) true for film.” Read Content Consolidation & the Long Tail.
Elana Centor at FunnyBusiness: “It’s been 20 years since people started talking about the “glass ceiling”. Are we there yet? looks at the glass ceiling and why women won’t be breaking it any time soon.”
Big Picture Guy at Big Picture, Small Office: “There is stress in the supply chain. A sales agent expresses his concern using a succession of obscure metaphors.” Read H.M.S. Metaphor. (MC: In case the title and description didn’t pollinate your poppies, here’s what you need to know: FUNNY POST, READ IT! )
Anita Campbell of RFID Weblog: “We interview Jeffrey Nolan, a venture capitalist, about what it takes to get investment in an RFID technology company today. As an aside, Jeffrey notes that he does most of his reading through blogs.” See more at Executive Viewpoints: Jeffrey Nolan of SAP Ventures.
Neelakantan from Interim Thoughts… looks at how the arrival of call centers has led to much good for India’s economy, but also debates on whether call centers present a good career option. Read more at The Call Center Debate.
Marketing & Advertising
EDITOR’S PICK: I was tempted to create a “Craziest Item of the COTC” or “Regulation Gone Mad” category for the next entry. It seems the Brit’s have banned hunky men in beer ads because it makes a “connection” between drinking and seduction and is the “cause” of binge drinking. Just wait till you read their recommendation to make so-called “too sexy” ads “acceptable.” Mike Pechar, the Interested-Participant, writes all about it in Brits Ban Hunks in Beer Ads. (MC: Make sure you don’t have milk or another beverage in your mouth when you read this…)
Fragile souls looking for G-rated posts only, cover your eyes. If you’ve ever wondered how the International Mister Leather 2005 convention could help you market better, look no further. Andy Wibbels from Easy Bake Weblogs reports that you can learn a lot about marketing at a gay leather convention. From poppers to bondage furniture, there’s much that applies to mainstream businesses. Read all about it at International Mister Leather 2005. (MC: Who knew???)
Leah Maclean of Secrets of Going Solo: “Stop telling people what you do, or what you sell, and start telling them what you know! Tell them things that can help solve their problems, fix their challenges, or get them where they are going quicker. They are interested that.” Read 100 Keys to Solo Success – Key #26 Give Your Wisdom Away.
Jim Logan from JSLogan on deceptive marketing: “That’s all it said on the outside of a very professional looking envelop I received in the mail yesterday – Change of Payment Information. I held it in my hand for a few seconds, turned it over a couple of times, and prepared to tear it in half and throw it away…then I paused.” Where does the line between clever promotion and deceptive trickery lie? Join the debate at Change of Payment Information.
Wayne Hurlburt at Blog Business World: “Search engine spiders are simply robot computer programs, sent out over the internet by the various search engines, to crawl websites. Their purpose is to find as many internet pages as possible, and add them to the search engine’s data base. Don’t fear the search engine spiders. Welcome them. Are you making the robot spiders feel welcome at your website?” Read Wayne’s full post on Crawling Web With Search Engine Spiders.
John Dmohowski of Drakeview: “Good sales people inform, excite and are prepared to answer customer’s questions. Small business owners need to employ the same skills when dealing with staff, vendors and customers about their business.” Click on for Always Selling.
Ankesh Kothari of Marketing eYe: “John E. Powers is possibly the first full time copywriter. (Before him, there was no profession as “copywriting.” Usually, business owners delegated a rookie to write an ad… or the person responsible for buying ad space would write one…) . He influenced John Kennedy and droves of other master copywriters of his time!” Read Interview with the Father of Honest Ads.
Yours truly also submitted an entry this week from my blog, Local Small Business Marketing & Advertising: “One of my favorite lunch spots is a Mexican chain called Qdoba. Like many restaurants, they have a customer loyalty program. In a nutshell, the more you eat there, the more incentives they give you to keep coming back. It’s a good deal all around. This week, something happened with that program that impressed me, and packs a heck of a marketing lesson for local small business owners.” Read How To Recapture ‘Lost’ Customers And Clients.
EDITOR’S PICK: Warren Meyer howling at the Coyote Blog: “One of the worst ideas that affect public policy around the world is that wealth is somehow zero sum – that it can be stolen or taken or moved or looted but not created. G8 protesters who claim that poor nations are poor because wealthy nations have made them that way; the NY Times, which for a number of weeks actively flogged the idea that the fact of the rich getting richer in this country somehow is a threat to the rest of us; Paul Krugman, who fears that economic advances in China will make the US poorer: All of these positions rest on the notion that wealth is fixed, so that increases in one area must be accompanied by decreases in others. Mercantilism, Marxism, protectionism, and many other destructive -isms have all rested on zero sum economic thinking.” Read the rest of Physics, Wealth Creation, and Zero Sum Economics
Neal Phenes of Et Tu Bloge: “My wife told me how her girlfriend, a PHD teaching education at a university, had remarked that the public school buses are horrible. When this friend was 8 months pregnant, the school bus driver did not allow her to accompany a field trip with one of her kids because the shocks were so bad on the bus that the bumps could harm the fetus. My wife asked me how school buses could be in the same condition that they were when we were kids. How could they not have improved at all over that time?” Read Neal’s answer in Public School Buses – Why Do They Suck?
Chuck Simmins from You Big Mouth, You! (love the name) writes, “In a jaw dropping essay, Larry Kudlow of CNN infamy, suggests that currency reform belongs in the ‘to do’ list of the West, and not China. In fact, he praises the stability of the yuan for the last decade.” Dig into the details at China: Kudlow Favors Central Planners?
Ashish Hanwadikar of Ashish’s Niti: “So, what’s wrong with the Laffer Curve? Won’t tax revenues fall to zero if tax rates were either 100% or 0%? If yes, then it must be true that tax revenues must be same for atleast two different tax rates (otherwise how do you connect the dots at the 100% and 0% rates).” Read the rest in So what’s wrong with the Laffer Curve?
David Altig at Macroblog raised some very thoughtful questions about the relation between the drop in the U.S. saving rate and the current account deficit. James Hamilton gave his take about Which Came First: The Savings Chicken of the Deficit Egg at Econbrowser.
Aaman Lamba from Audit Trails Of Self: “Is the era of the print newspaper over? Subscription numbers are steadily declining, and the biggest publishers are bleeding the most. Most cities worldwide have one or two major newspapers, and all are feeling the pinch. The world’s largest newspaper by circulation is now the Times of India, with over 2.4 million copies sold every day. This too, masks a change in how people get, and consume their news. Is the Masthead of the World now Google News, a post-9/11 creation?” Aaman answers the question, Do We Need Newspapers Anymore?
Joe Kristan from Roth & Company Tax Updates: “An improbable blog debate has arisen about whether the tax code is too complicated. If you have any doubt, it is.” Read Yes, The Tax Code Is Too Complicated.
Brian Gongol of Gongol.com: “Using David Tufte’s grading scale (reference) I illustrate annualized GDP growth as a letter grade for each quarter since 1950. It’s a powerful visual display of boom and bust.” This was a kick to look at and match to my own recollection of events. Get thee to Grading GDP Growth on a Curve.
Don Surber of Old Surber: “Government programs can reduce poverty only so far. The best anti-poverty program is still spelled J-O-B-S.” Get Don’s West Virginia perspective on the issue in A Way To Reduce Childhood Poverty.
Joshua Sharf of View From A Height: “Some people deride Efficient Markets becuase it’s obvious that markets make mistakes. I think that James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds shows how markets can be collectively smarter than any individual, but not infinitely so.” Click for Joshua’s answer to Can Markets Both Be Efficient and Make Mistakes?
Jim Hartline of Dr. Hartline comes out swinging: “…people have just as much of a right to waltz into a hospital and expect care if they can’t afford it as a person who is facing foreclosure has a right to rob a bank to make his payments.” Read all about Universal Right to Health Care <> Reality.
Jim Glass of Scrivenet.net: “Even simple economics has become very politicized in the press and the blogosphere these days. For instance, it is very common to see the argument today that the current economic recovery and job market are weak, with various numbers cited to support the claim — but without giving any context or standard by which to gauge the numbers. This post instead objectively compares the purported weak job market numbers for this economic recovery, as cited by prominent critics of it, to the numbers for the last recovery (which lead to the “miracle economy” of the late 1990s) at the same amount of time into the last business cycle.” Jim addresses misleading with numbers in Is Today’s Labor Market Really As Weak As Many Claim?
Personal Finance / Investing
EDITOR’S PICK: David Jackson of The Internet Stock Blog: “Amazon has arguably lagged eBay and Google in profit growth because it has benefited less from the overall growth of e-commerce. Google’s profits have rocketed as more companies use keyword ads to drive sales, and eBay has grown as the number of Web retailers rises and many choose eBay as a platform. Amazon’s growth, in contrast, has been driven mainly by its own sales.” David examines how Amazon’s Long Tail strategy will allow the company the benefit from the overall growth of ecommerce, not just through selling goods itself in Amazon Discusses Its Long Tail Strategy.
Speaking of Amazon, Free Money Finance is doing its best to have you spending more money at your bookstore of choice. They asked personal finance bloggers what they favorite personal finance book is and why. Read their answers at The Best Financial Book I’ve Ever Read, Part 1. (Note: Don’t stop at part 1, keep clicking through the other entries … there are some gems.)
Big Cajun Man of Canadian Financial Rants: “For the longest time my wife and I tried to get the kids on an allowance, so that they could learn what money is, how it works and some responsibility, but inevitably, we’d forget for a couple of weeks, try to catch up and eventually just gave up (much to the kids chagrin). Interesting, we were trying to teach the kids responsibility and all it did was show how irresponsible their parents were (now THAT is ironic).” Big Cajun Man has found a solution that’s working great for both his kids and him, read about it at Real World Example: Kids Allowances.
Want to write off that Lamborghini purchase you’d been putting off? Try the Wayne Newton Income Tax Stategy. (Just beware the, uh, consequences…) The Happy Capitalist takes an amused look at Wayne Newton’s IRS problems and the rather creative argument that his lavish lifestyle be deductible in The Tax Man Blues.
Need to have you mind set straight about index fund investing? The Real Returns reveals their ideas about the thought process that should go into index fund investing in S&P 500 Investment Thought Process.
JLP at AllThingsFinancial: “The CNN/Money website has a really good series called Money 101. I have listed the entire series below and added links to posts from AllThingsFinancial that are related to the subject.” Read on with JLP Looks At The Money 101 Series.
EDITOR’S PICK: Rob Sama of samaBlog has one of my favorite posts in this COTC, titled “Enlarge the Halo and Kick the Box.” Don’t let the title scare you off, I didn’t know what to expect either. Click through and you’ll find Rob’s response to Bob Cringely where he makes the case for Apple extending the much-talked about “iPod Halo Effect” to an upcoming Apple office suite, chipping away at the MS Office juggernaut. (MC: Break this down, dear reader. Every time monopoly and ‘nothing we can do about it’ dominance are reported, these people are projecting the past upon the present. People and markets move in cycles or spirals oriented towards ‘what’s next’ not ‘what was.’ The very things that built MS into a dominant force can become their undoing if they aren’t careful. While bigger, bloated software was once the market demand, feature sets have stabilized and a new consideration has emerged. Elegance … something Apple does remarkably well. Thank the heavens and stars for entrepreneurs who see beyond the chicken littles and the naysayers.)
Linux beating Microsoft? It is in the lucrative SmartPhone market — the latest Gartner stats show that Linux is now bigger than Microsoft, accounting for 14% of shipments in Q1 2005 vs Microsoft’s meager 4.5% share. Russell Buckley from MobHappy looks at why that’s important for Microsoft’s very future in Linux Beats MS in SmartPhone Shipments.
Les Jones: “Yesterday in Oak Ridge Todd Schultz of Bush Brothers spoke to Tech 2020 about Bush’s efforts to comply with Wal-Mart’s requirements for integrating RFID technology. Bush is a privately-owned company located in Chestnut Hill, near Dandridge, TN, and is best known for Bush beans. Wal-Mart is Bush’s biggest customer, and provides about 20% of their sales. From reading news reports and commentary I had the impression that RFID technology was quite advanced, but I got the opposite impression from the presentation.” Get the details at Bush Beans, RFID Tags, and Wal-Mart.
EDITOR’S PICK: Jeff Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind: “Washington is paying increased interest in entrepreneurship in our economy. While this may at first sound like good news, I am concerned that over time it may lead to increased meddling by bureaucrats in D.C. into the entrepreneurial process.” Jeff’s posts are always an informative read, so click over to Washington is Paying Attention to Entrepreneurship. (MC: Could have gone in either politics or business.)
103 comments! Wow. It shouldn’t surprise anything what brought this outpouring of opinions: Sex. Jonathan Wilde of Cattalarchy says: “In a controversial post, Patri Friedman of Catallarchy looks at the benefits of teenage sex, and argues that both the costs and the benefits of any action, including sex, have to be accounted for prior to judging its merits.” Jump in the debate at The Voice of Hedonism.
ROFASix: “In 1996, Congress passed the ‘The Telecommunications Act of 1996.’ It was one of the more anti-capitalistic pieces of legislation that oozed out of 104th Congress. An extension of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, in which government first seized control of the airways and wire communications from the marketplace, the 1996 Act provides an object lesson of what happens when Government uses legislation to regulate the marketplace. As President Clinton signed the bill, he expressed the desire that ‘this truly revolutionary’ legislation would foster a marketplace “where competition and innovation can move quick as light.” What we got was another case of ‘unintended consequences’ typical of what happens whenever government legislates replacing capitalism with statist socialism.” Read it all at Legislating Telecom for the Common Good.
Tom Paine at Kinetic Thought offers an essay on why the estate tax is necessary to maintain our capitalistic political economy and ultimately, our liberty. Read In the Name of Capitalism: Bring Back the Estate Tax for the Super Wealthy.
That’s all folks. If you have questions or comments, please E-mail to michael DOT cage AT gmail DOT com and/or leave a comment on this post.