Monday, August 31, 2009

When Passion Meets Economics

It was announced today that the Disney Co. is acquiring Marvel for $4B. My first thought was of my son, who is a huge Marvel Comics fan. He is 19 and planning to become a high school band teacher. He has marched drum corp and sits around envisioning and trying his hand at writing marching drills to his favorite soundtracks. And Marvel movies are at the top of his list of "good music". He was in class today, so I decided to leave him a text informing him of this new business deal for his beloved Marvel. As soon as he was out of class I receive a text that said, "WHAT?!?" and quickly followed by another that said, "THAT'S CRAP!" Did I mention he's 19?

So today was the day that my son's reality was hit hard with economics winning over passion. His own passion for music taught him a long time ago that some jobs and passions just aren't based on the salary one would receive for that job, but for the fulfillment received in doing what is LOVED and trying to impart that passion to the younger generations. But at 19, that passion isn't for sale. And at 19, he really hasn't had to try to live on that passion either. It gets hard to pay the bills at times on low-salaried passions. I tried to point out to him that until the last few years as Marvel has delved into the movie business, they were a simple, little comic book company. Having never been a comic book aficionado myself, I can only guess that there have been plenty of lean times for the company. But with the likes of Spiderman, X-Men and Iron-Man on the big screen, they were suddenly seeing dollar signs like never before. But how fleeting and fickle are Hollywood movies? Only a couple of duds like The Punisher or Daredevil can put the little comic book company back on the map of little comic book companies. So why WOULDN'T they jump at an offer of $4B?

Today my son discovered that everything, heart and soul, is for sale...for some people. I seriously think he still has a shade of arrogance and a sense of superiority along with his naivete. It still seems to be intact. A little beaten up, a lot disappointed, but mostly intact. I have to admit I'm pulling for his naivete. I hope that his passion for his music can withstand the world, the economy, the temptations that will no doubt present themselves between he and his fulfillment. I'd like to think my son's life would be balanced and happy. And I'd like to think that he leaves others in this world with a sense of awe and passion for the simple things of beauty like art and music. And maybe through him, I had just a little to do with that also.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Responsible Capitalism

I was about to make this blog all about the shining star that Whole Foods Markets have become and it's CEO, John Mackey, has the right to voice, write and have opinions that run contrary to our current administration's. I was going to point out that Mr. Mackey is running a company that is a shining example of how responsible captialism is and should be run. And perhaps it is. From all outward evidence, Whole Foods Markets are largely responsible for making us all conscious of organic foods, our environment, what we are eating and feeding our families, and providing high quality produce and hard-to-find items. It seems to be the best of what business should be about and America at it's best.

Capitalism is not evil. But people are corruptable. Systems may be good but they have holes. It doesn't mean we need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Protest the people that become greedy and take advantage of a system. Protest the holes in the system. We don't have to throw out everything that has worked well in the past. The past is not a bad thing. We don't need to be digging up dirt on our nation's founding fathers to prove the whole foundation is corrupt. It seems to me that the people that really didn't appreciate the Right passing moral judgements on behavior and legislation is doing the exact same thing. The Right called war protester Cindy Sheehan "unAmerican". Now the Left is calling those that aren't agreeing with every aspect of the healthcare reform coming from Washington "unAmerican". This country was built on protests, debate, difference in opinions and compromise. It has never been 100% one side or 100% the other side. We have become a country where everyone thinks everything has to be 100% one side or the other, black and white, right and wrong. If you truly consider most issues, there is gray middle ground to some degree. Nothing is clear cut. And what makes that gray matter is our morality. We all have it. We all have opinions about it. We all embrace our own beliefs about that morality.

You may be asking about now, how is all this related to what I started talking about with Whole Foods Markets and John Mackey? Well, as much as I was wanting to extoll his virtue and business accumen with a planet responsible business, I found the story where the FTC is investigating the fact that Mr. Mackey anonymously posted comments and predictions online regarding his competitor, Whole Oats" stock prices and it's future of being acquired by another business. Now, Mr. Mackey is arguing that this activity was innocent and a number of years ago, long before his own Whole Foods recently acquired Wild Oats. I suppose we all make mistakes in the past. He IS only taking $1/yr salary and a total benefit package of only $33K, much less that a majority of Americans make and live on. I choose to take the good that Mr. Mackey is doing and build on it. I suspect that none of us could take a harsh scrutiny of every thought and action throughout our lifetime and come out smelling like a total rose. It takes a little compost to make those roses grow! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Know me? Then you already know this

Please tell me I'm not alone in this! I was on my way back home today from a week-long vacation following our son's drum corp at the World Championships. More about that soon. But we were in the car, it's a lovely, althought hot, day. I'm gloating that we have a reliable car and air conditioning. In the occasional conversational exchange we get with our 19 year old son, he says something lighthearted and clever. It had something to do with his summer of touring. It immediately struck me as a great subject for me to write about. Something very different from my other things so far. It will be a very easy, just throw it on paper in five minutes kind of subject. Should I write it down to remember it? I decided, na...even I can remember this one. I stress the "even I" portion of this thought because anyone and everyone that knows me in the past few years will attest to the fact that I can't remember squat. I do make lists. I live by lists. I've even done mental exercises to improve my memory and it does work..... as long as I remember to do it.

So, back to my fab blog subject. I'm home now, computer open. I even remember that I have a great subject ready to impress the world with. But then I realize....crap. I don't remember. I go do a couple of small errands to give myself a few minutes to pull it out of my mind. Crap. The only thing I find is the deafening silence of all the crickets chirping into my nothingness. Nothing.

So let this be my lesson to all of you. If you have a great idea....or even just a good one, WRITE IT DOWN! Crap.