Year end wrap up, and a few calls for 2010….

Talk about a year of change. Just when you thought you could get a handle on something, you look to find someone moved the pot, never mind the handle!

I believe 2010 will be in direct contrast of 2009, as 2009 was to 2008. There has been both subtle and glaring changes in everything from what your personal choices will be, to the choices you’ll be looking at in business. Everything is in flux, everything is different, and nothing, and I mean nothing can be taken for granted. The rules of the older paradigms are no longer valid, and in places where there was the illusion of rules, trust me there gone. But is that so bad?

Upheaval and cosmic change can spell doom and gloom for those who never prepare, never think it will happen, never think it could happen, and if it does happen, it will never happen to them.  Then there are the ones who believe luck is made by applying the old sage…”Luck is when opportunity collides with preparedness.” I am firmly  in the camp of the latter.

Change can be scary, but for those who can use it to their advantage they’ll find themselves presented with opportunities that otherwise might not have been available. Let me clarify my thought on this just a little. I could write a book on this ( I’m thinking about it at this moment!) but for this column I’ll keep it to a couple of points.

1. Just because someone has a diploma, or knows someone, or is young, or old, or___________(Fill in the blank.) will mean less, and less. What will only matter will be results. Period! If you can demonstrate you can sell, you’ll be hired. If you can demonstrate you can solve X, you’ll be employed. If you have a degree from an Ivy league school, young or old, and can’t demonstrate your value or worth in black and white terms, YOU will have a problem.

2. All business models are in flux…repeat….ALL business models are in flux. Opportunities to create new revenue streams, new business models, new business relationships are all on the table to be exploited. There are more blank slates being created than ever before. You can paint your own canvas, but your going to have to be bold and grab the brush quickly because if you don’t, someone else who thinks like me will. Rest assured on that point.

3.  Money woes in business. Big or small, new or established, everyone has financing issues at this moment. It can no longer be an excuse for complaining why one can’t compete because of financing. Everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is challenged. That creates opportunity. Forget “Pie in the Sky” projections….”Build a Better Model that can be Demonstrated!” should be your new mantra. Build it and demonstrate it, and they will come. and so on, and so on.

Those are only a few points to get you thinking. Now I’ll give you a couple of ideas on what, and why I think 2010 is going to be so different.

I originally was going to go through a list of things I had forecast, and do an “I was right….I was wrong” but that seemed to be boring. Any of you that have read my posts, or heard me speak understand my thought process. For those who might be new, you can view them in the archives. This way you can see for yourself what I was saying, when I was saying it, and how I came around to my thoughts. Anyone can say they said this or that, but if you want to be taken seriously, you had better be able to prove you said it when no one else would, or could.

Many are forecasting that 2010 will be a return to the norm, and will be on a meandering path that will bring us back to the days of just 2 years ago. I am of the exact opposite view, and still contend that not only will upheaval be the norm, but the financial crisis of 2009 will pale in comparison to 2010. Yes I did say 2010 will be much worse that 2009. Why? Because no matter what you’re reading in the news, or what you’re watching on TV…This time, It’s different. (I wrote a column that you can find in the March archives titled..The Pendulum”) but a better way to describe what I see is the hurricane. I firmly believe that we are in the equivalent of the “Eye of the Storm” and not just any storm. This storm is far worse than many that have passed before, and Oct 2007-2009 was just the front. The real damage I believe will soon be realized when everyone begins to notice that there really is more to go in this storm. That it wasn’t just a passing thunderstorm, but a part of a much large front. People,politicians, and business alike are doing the equivalent of removing the plywood from the windows only because they can see the sun. As anyone who has lived through a hurricane will tell you….”That’s the most dangerous time, because you let your guard down, and you don’t replenish you survival supplies, only to find yourself in the strongest, and longest part of the storm left to go.”

Back in August I said that I felt the stock market was about to turn down, and other things were getting ready to fall out-of-place. (See Aug.archive “For the Record”) I am still of the same thought process. Many thought I was way off base ( some are saying I’m just plain wrong.) but I’ll let you be the judge, and here’s how I’ll do it.

In August I was at the Jack Daniels World Invitational BBQ Championship with a friend of mine who was competing..( He came in 3rd for one of his recipes. If you’re into BBQ you know how big of an honor that is, and it was his 1st year!) While I was in the pits enjoying the competition I had a great conversation with his father who I’ve known for a while, and is a very smart owner of a very good business he has had for years. We were discussing what we both thought of the economy and where we thought it might be going. At the end of our conversation I wrote on a card 4 things to watch for. I told him to take everything that I was stating as having the possibility of being totally wrong. But….If these 4 items started to line up, he should give some credence to what I was advocating. The reason being  was …NO ONE…and I mean No One, on TV, Radio, or newspapers were calling what I was, and since no one was, then if I’m wrong…I’ll be dead wrong, and nothing I said to follow would be able to happen. But if what I said to watch for starts happening, the balance has to shift away from them, and onto what I’m advocating. Not that one should disregard everyone, and only listen to me. Just that what I’m stating becomes more possible or probable  as hurdle, after hurdle gets cleared.  Don’t listen to anyone who is telling you there are no hurdles when you’re looking at a track and field event, and can see them in the distance. Maybe they aren’t racing that day…but if you start to see runners warming up for the hurdles…You just might be inclined to see for yourself before you take someone on TV’s word just because they’re on TV. ( See April & July archive  “They’re on TV” for more on that subject.)

So I’ll leave you with the 4 items I gave to him, and they’ll prove themselves to be right or wrong. They’ll be a good judge, and a good indicator if someone is looking for signs that the worst might just not be over.

1. If the dollar gets above 77….It will rally  for months and catch most by surprise.

2. Don’t buy Gold at this time….I think it will collapse…Once it gets back into the $700 range..Then I would think about buying.

3. If the Stock market falls back to Dow 9000…it will go quickly to 8000…at 8000 start thinking the unthinkable and prepare yourself as best you can…don’t take time for granted.

4. The Euro I believe will fall apart. As the economy in different countries get worse…Finger pointing will be all the rage in Europe..and Blame for struggling on others will be the new parlor game of the EU. It’s not just our economy that will be in trouble…but the world as a whole.

Remember…These predictions were in August of 2009, and only a couple of months later if you had invested in Gold in Oct when everyone was calling for Gold 5000…..it took less than 15 days..(10 if you only count trading days) you would currently be Flat..To a small LOSS in Gold.

The Dollar was at 75 and Everyone was sounding the death knell of the dollar. It is currently at the time of this post over 78

Currently the Dow is at an All time high for the year. I believe that it reached its peak in late Dec. 2009 and will quickly retrace all of the gains of 2009 and break the lows of March 2009 causing a panic.

In Dec. Greece, Spain, and Dubai rocked the financial markets. Italy is in trouble and some in the Euro Zone are calling for financial reform, I believe this to be the beginning of a much more serious nature.

Well there it is, quite a long column but none the less on the record. I still feel it’s going to be an exciting year to say the least. It’s always exciting when you understand the risks, but you prepare as best you can.It’s called life…and we only go around this way once. Besides….You wouldn’t want to go skydiving without a parachute….but even worse would be to skydive with a parachute packed by someone who only packed knapsacks…..It didn’t work for Wile E. Coyote…..don’t assume it could be different for you. Just prepare and take in all the thrills that skydiving as in life can put in front of you. Life is all about getting out on the wings.   Have a Great New Year…and I’ll see you in 2010.

Mark

Chicken Little, or a Canary in a Coal Mine?

There are many analogies we use in our daily life. We hear one say this, another say that, then you hear another use one that seems not to fit, but goes unchallenged in a conversation.

“Birds of a feather, flock together” is an analogy that many of us use, but there is a very big difference in the two birds that I used for the title of this article.

Chicken Little we all know runs around screaming, and constantly telling everyone and anyone “The sky is falling!…The sky is falling!” only to have the message fall on deaf ears. Even as the old saying goes  ” A broken clock is correct twice a day.” might imply you should heed the call of Ms. Little because she just could be right someday, most will just ignore, never even looking up once to even question the possibility.

The proverbial “Canary in a Coal Mine” is a much different bird, and is far more relevent to today’s happenings. The Canary as the saying goes is brought along with the miners and kept with them in the chance event that undetected toxins might be about which could cause great peril, or even worse, a fatality. The canary is more susceptible to toxins, and in the sad case of the canary, it will perish before the toxins fatally overcome it’s human partners in the mine giving them a chance of running to safety before disaster strikes.

The danger that runs through both scenarios is if you ignore Chicken Little totally, and never question her reasoning on why she thinks the sky is falling, the odds are slight, and however minute, she might be right. On the other hand, If you never look up, or back on the canary, chances are that you might not see the indication that you could be in peril. The odds are better in the canary case, but you still have to look up to notice.

No one wants to be thought of as a “Chicken Little”, and even worse, is someone who calls disaster after the fact. Both are as useless as…..(Feel free to fill in your own analogy.)

I made some calls earlier in the year, and posted some of them in this blog so that I could be judged whether my forecasting was in line, or I was way out in left field. My views have not changed, and I’ll post my final entry for the year, and point out where I might be correct, or where I was wrong.

I don’t want to get Ms. Little, or Mr. Canary nervous by crying wolf too soon.

Mark

CEO Wanted….Well not Really!……Final entry.

Originally I wrote this article to provoke some thoughts on what others felt about the subject. I received comments from current CEO’s, and I was really taken back a couple of steps. ( I don’t post comments on this Blog. The comments I received were from an article I originally posted in Forbes.com…CEOnetwork (R)

It seemed over, and over again, as I read the comments, the same theme ran through. One person wrote…..” In today’s economic climate the new CEO would have a tremendous amount of pressure on him or her. Once the economic pressure changes, I’m sure they’ll have many applying for the position, and who wouldn’t want a multimillion dollar salary?”  Once again, the comments were All along those lines. Like I stated, I was a little taken back. It puzzled me that other CEO’s were acting, or speaking like being a CEO was just another job with a different title. When did being a CEO become a “Job” with good pay, and benefits, paid sick time, retirement, and not having to dump unused vacation time? When did being a CEO mean, ” I’m in charge as long as everything is going well.” When did being a CEO become a job that should be posted on CareerBuilder or Monster.com?

I wrote in the articles preceding this one why I felt finding a CEO to fill the Bank of America position was going to be hard for not only that company, but any other that followed a similar path. In just a matter of  weeks after publishing, low and behold we not only see the quandary BofA has , but GM the other corporate entity with government intervention states their CEO resigned.  Wow…who would of thunk it?

To make the point in my articles about what a true CEO desires, BofA announced it is repaying all its TARP loan to the government so it will not be hindered by the politics of its hiring or compensation of  its most important position. Once again, proof of my point that talented people want, and deserve all the benefits of their expertise. If they can’t have that…They’ll go where they can. No matter where….where is.

I’ll leave off with one final example of what I believe illustrates a true CEO. There are many, but this person is very relevant to today’s topic, and is Leading his company in real-time, and in the public eye through a very tough economic climate, and is doing a few things that are trailblazing in what to most is looked upon as too risky for them.

Throw out any political, or ideology you might have, this is about Leadership, and why people deserve to keep what they earn, no matter what the dollar amount is, whether it’s $100 dollars, or $100 billion dollars.

Rupert Murdock the famed business mogul is currently in the so-called “worst of times” when every other business is hoping, and praying that revenues wont fall, or that the turmoil is subsiding enough for them to make the case why they shouldn’t be fired, Mr Murdock is taking the boldest of action stating in no uncertain terms to such juggernauts like Google and others that if you want to carry anything linked to his business, you’ll have to PAY…or stop linking to it…Period! That is just a thumbnail sketch of just one issue, but if you’ve been following the story at all, it’s breathtaking in the scope of such a decision. He is running a business, and he is going to have it run to his satisfaction, and to his business model. Whether it wins or fails is His decision, and the companies, and employees that work for him will either benefit or not, but it will be by His decisions. Others are now joining him, but most would not take the risk of such a brazen business move. No matter what the business climate….You either Lead….or Get run over by the Leaders! I think it’s also worthy to make note, of all the competition within his field, his business holdings are the only ones  gaining share, and turning profits!…All the others are withering on the vine. Maybe there’s a reason for it…Ya Think?

Mark

CEO Wanted…Well not really…Part 2

For anyone who thinks…Oh well…That’s not the “Norm”…People always want to be the CEO….It’s not a pay type thing….Well..Today on Veterans day Nov. 11 2009…( And a special Thank You to any Veteran!)
The new CEO of AIG…well, He doesn’t want the job any longer. Seems that pesky “PAY THINGY” the Government has installed doesn’t sound that great any longer since it will  now apply to him. Imagine that! Even the hand picked executive they installed with all that Great Jobs at Great Pay rhetoric? Well I guess the Public Service part of it just wasn’t enough. Funny how that happens.

Mark

CEO wanted…..” Well Not Really”

This post also appears in Forbes.com………..CEOnetwork (R)

Bank of America is looking for a new CEO. The funny thing is, not many CEO’s are applying for the job, imagine that!

There are people both in business, and who simply work for others in a business that can’t understand why people wouldn’t just dive at the chance to be a CEO at such a large, and dominant financial center. Talk about the pay….even cut in half from the from its former level is still far above the aspirations of many in the business community, and those who are not can only dream of that level of compensation. So What if they have to put up with some “Pay Czar”..or should I say..Pay Master ( That’s the official title).

Who among us couldn’t get by on a couple of million dollars, or even 1 million. I’ll tell you who….a true Chief Executive Officer, and that’s the rub that most don’t get, and I dare to say, Never Will!

A true CEO expects to be compensated on his value. What he or she brings to the table, what value they add to the bottom line, and what value they add to shareholders. The flip side of that argument is a true CEO understands, No profits, No added Value equals , No Bonus..and worse…Maybe No Job, and a ruined reputation.

Being a true CEO is not a position that you can go to some school and get a degree for and after graduation start mailing out your resume for CEO positions.  CEO’s know, and understand it’s not. That doesn’t stop the rest of the world from thinking so, but that’s not the matter at hand. Most CEO’s get to their positions from crawling, and fighting, and scraping through generally every level of business. They are the ones who understand employee angst, customer markets, vendor relationships, just to name a few. They are the ones who lie awake at night with the weight of the world on their shoulders because the decisions that the CEO will make, will affect every man, woman, child, and family that is directly affiliated with the firm. Most in business do not have that type of responsibility, and they shouldn’t. That’s why you have a CEO.

What you have glaring anyone who want’s to truly notice is the fabled “Atlas Shrugged” effect. The people who are dearly needed to help, rebuild, start, engineer, or just plain help fix the current demise in some businesses, are sitting out, and saying “Thanks…but No Thanks”

It’s truly a lesson that others have written, and warned about for decades, and it’s playing out right in front of anyone who wants to take notice. The best in ANY field will not work where they are not in control of capturing their due rewards. This is not to say all CEO’s demand respect, and outrageous compensation, far from it. What I am saying is look at it from your position if you’re a CEO. Would you want the job if your compensation could be cut, retracted, changed, limited, reversed, confiscated at any time depending on how someone who may NOT be in business, or worse, may Never have been in business, feels about you, or your pay? I don’t know about you, but I’m not filling out any applications…Are You?

Mark

Be Afraid…..Be very, Very, VERY, AFRAID!

First off….Let’s get this right on and off the table. I could care less what political class, side, lover, hater, race, gender or ________ ( you fill in the blank.) you’re on. This post and discussion is for what IS, not what it is not, or what one might hope it to be, or not to be, Period!
We were just made aware that we now have in the United States of AMERICA a person who is…
1. Not in an ELECTED POSITION.
2. Does NOT…Repeat..Does NOT have accountability to Congress.
3. By his OWN WORDS..Stated that..The President of the UNITED STATES whom appointed him has NO..Repeat NO awareness or Influence on his Decisions.
4. And this persons decision is both BINDING, and FINAL by the Law. (and if you think it isn’t just ignore him right?)
5. We were also told that his decisions apply only to 7 companies…That’s correct now however not the complete picture. Less than 24 hours later, you have the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake release a speech where he believes it should apply to 25 companies. Tax Payer Money should no longer be the trigger….It should be whomever they believe is a RISK to the Financial System. Rep.Barney Frank (D) Massachusetts stated, (I’m para-phrasing) We should look at ALL companies we feel needs this act.
So what company is next?
Yours?…..Mine?…any new Start Up?…How about if we apply this type of logic to that fancy college tuition you’re paying for? Where’s your child going to find the job their studying for? Oh that’s right, If you accept or apply for any college loans, they can ONLY be made through the Government. That’s a new law that takes effect next year. So if the same rational applies for the Government in using it for their decision-making process. If they need people to run these companies because it’s in the good of the Tax Payer, and is needed in the eyes of the Government, what’s to say that in order for YOUR child to finish their degree, or receive one, they’ll have to do some Government Service working at one of these companies, hospitals,_______(again, YOU fill in the blank!)
Gives a whole new meaning to government intervention doesn’t it?

© 2009 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Dow 10,000…Great!….Now impress me Without the Training Wheels.

This post also appears in Forbes.com…………CEOnetwork (R)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a level that every pundit and analyst on TV wanted to scream for months now…DOW breaks 10,000! All are saying it’s a “milestone” it’s this…it’s that…….It’s Hog Wash in my book. That’s a pretty big statement so I’ll elaborate without getting too technical.

First off, let’s remember…..Television Financial Show ratings go DOWN when the market goes down. That’s not an assumption…that’s a fact. Viewership decreases as people feel worse about the market or are losing money..They just don’t tune in to hear how much money they lost.That’s why you see commentators on Financial Networks putting such a positive spin on everything, and anything. CNBC as this year is down in viewership over 20% to 23% this year. ( I can’t remember the exact # but it is close to what I stated…You can research it yourself to make sure.) Television is like a bakery if you think about it…You always have to have fresh bread in the window…No matter how Bad sales are. So it’s no surprise that the spin would be as if the market was on the “Bull Run” of a life time as it is being portrayed. It’s NOT!

In 1999 when the DOW first broke 10,000..It was a great, and historic event, but it was also done without training wheels. The only reason the market is at these levels currently is from the Trillions….Yes…Trillions of dollars allocated by the Federal Reserve to keep Banks, and other institutions from completely collapsing. Analysts are falling over each other showing how “Earnings” are beating expectations. If anyone cares to notice…..It’s not really beating …It’s just Not as Bad as expected?……..Huh? Or another way to say it might be…We were expecting Famine…but it’s only another year of Drought….OK I feel much better now.

Just a few other caveats to ponder as this “Bull Rally” continues….( I believe it to be on its last leg myself.)so I’ll list a few.

Did anyone on TV as this market kept going higher state that another “historic event happened just month and a half ago…..Goldman Sachs on 1 trading day accounted for…..34% of the TOTAL NYSE trading volume. (Welcome to your new Wall St. the old one doesn’t exist.)..and it’s your Tax dollars….Not Bad for government work I guess.

Did anyone on TV state as this market was going higher that over 44% of 1 trading days total volume was allocated to just 2 stocks? Those would be the governments Fannie and Freddie Mac….Who by the way, were about to be de-listed that week…If their market share didn’t increase by that week’s end. Wow… Good thing they were on sale Ay? That surely was historic..from so many angles.

Are you an older CEO..or a newly appointed CEO….either way…How’s that Climate Bill…and Health Care Bill that’s passed and about to be voted on and become LAW soon making you feel?….Don’t worry…..everyone said either bill would never see the light of day……Oops….Those commentators got it wrong again. Well it’s not like they have to deal with the implications….Right?

One last thing that you wont hear on TV…All this so called “Bull Run” we’re on…Well the total volume on just one of the exchanges…the CME…that’s the place you see on TV most of the time with the Futures Pits were Traders make the markets….So far Volume for the futures is less than 1/2 of what it was just a year ago. So much for everyone jumping back in.

I heard Steve Forbes say it clearly when asked on one of those Financial Shows..( I’m paraphrasing but not by much.)…. Until the Fed gets out…The markets are broken.

I agree.

Mark

P.S.

Just a correction…I made a mistake…the 44% also had 2 other stocks……Citi..and AIG…I just wanted to make sure when I was pointing out the government involvement…I wouldn’t be accused of doing government quality reporting.

If you want to “Lead”…You had better be ready when “Everyone else Can’t…or Wont!”

I was speaking to a group yesterday on a subject when I was asked…”How can you be so sure?”……My response was….”I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do what I feel is prudent.”

Leading is about making hard calls, hard decisions. You’re NOT going to be right all the time ( Read that line once more for emphasis.) but that’s not the point. You have to LEAD if that’s the position your in. Whether you chose to be there….Or not. If you want to be the leader, then do so…..Period!

I made a very tough call on August 22, 2009 ” ( see Aug. posting “On the Record”)…many said to me I might be putting my reputation on the line if wrong. That’s irrelevant in my book. I’m not a martyr, nor aspiring for that position, but since my call on the 22nd…Everyone, and I mean everyone I talked with was almost giddy in trying to demonstrate how I just didn’t get it, how I’m not just as tuned in as they were, and on and on.

So I just thought it fitting since the stock market has now retraced all the great gains everyone was touting, and saying I wasn’t getting it,and the so called “experts” had almost guaranteed the worst was over. I say to them….”How’s all your data treating you today?”

Mark

The proverbial “Shot across the bow” that may prove Fatal for the shooter.

This post also appears in Forbes.com………….CEOnetwork (R)

Just when you think that maybe….just maybe…things might be getting back to a more “normal” business environment, you are reminded how fragile they are. That is…If you truly want to see, and not rely on the so called “Smart Crowd”

People like myself, and a hand full of others have been writing and speaking about the perilous state of affairs we currently find ourselves. The talking heads and other pundits are proclaiming “Victory” over the financial debacle that plagued the economy just 18 months ago. So too are the politicians taking credit for being so “Smart” and enacting policies that in their words..” Brought us back from the brink of a Great Depression.”  This is exactly the kind of self grandeur that leads to the thinking one can’t make a worse mistake than before.  But ohhhhh contrare…….

First off save the emails, and letters. This is not about which politician, or  what party affiliation, or one person, or____________ (you fill in the blank) etc.,etc. It’s about ALL politicians, and ALL government actions, past, present, and future that I’ll encompass here.

One of the little understood reasons why this country has been a force for prosperity unlike ANY nation before it, was the  unique ability of the American Free Enterprise system to take its lumps no matter how severe the beating, and then Move On! American business, and entrepreneurship had a  propensity to deal with business upheavals the same way a forest remains healthy, by understanding you sometimes let the underbrush burn, so that new start ups, (think real green shoots) and other types of creatures (think vultures and others) cleanup the waste in order that the forest remains healthy. Nature has been doing this for all of time, and when business followed Mother Nature in her ideals business prospered.  Sound a little esoteric? It’s not really, take the perplexing reaction of the stock market over the past decades when a major problem was being dealt with at any company listed. Some would shake their head when a company would, Fire a CEO for an outrageous scandal, or sell 1/2 the company because of poor profits, or layoff a large part of its work force because of poor implementation of employee resources, and what would happen? The company stock would RISE!…Why?…because they were Evil, Greedy business people?…NO!..because unlike most other business centric countries, we understand in our Core Business Acumen that if you truly make the hard but necessary changes,  the business may not only survive, but might move on to thrive. Politicians, and governments Don’t do this, nor do they think this way. Just take GM, Chrysler, the Banks, and the others. (just to name a few) They are the equivalent of keeping the charred and burned lumber not only within the structure, but using it as the foundation to add additions to. It’s a disaster just waiting to happen. One small storm, one small unseen shaking, and it can collapse with devastating consequences. And that’s why I’m very, and I mean very concerned about politicians being involved in the free markets today. They are showing if one dares to look, just how foolish they can be, and how little understanding they have of both business, and money.

Friday afternoon (the time used most to alleviate scrutiny or coverage .)  on September 11, 2009 the administration declared that it was imposing a 35% tariff on Chinese made tires in the U.S. at the behest of the unions to help level the playing field for U.S. made tires. Think what you want on whether they are right or wrong. Business is about the economics, and strategic implementation, and timing. Politics is about the social mood, and votes are the currency.

This warning shot can backfire to point of the shooter originally firing a cap gun, and the other side returning fire with the equivalent of a howitzer. here’s a couple of items to ponder…..

1. China is our largest debt holder. (Like it or not, they’re the bank!)

2. China has already signaled that it is “Uncomfortable” with our spending, and might not purchase as much of our debt as before.

3. China is known for retaliatory one up-manship in economic affairs. ( Close one of your markets…They’ll close ALL of theirs.) etc.

4. Protectionist signals in times of economic distress lead to Trade Wars.

5. You signal to the “World of Business”…..Political doctrine will supersede current understandings of economic fundamentals.

Big events unlike what most pundits will tell you, start with a very small trigger event, then escalate quickly, sometimes very, very quickly. I hope the itchiness to secure more political favors, doesn’t result in the unintended firing of a fatal shot on a hair trigger to the shooter.

Mark

The Perilous Dangers of ” A False Sense of Security”

If one wants to know why more people are having difficulties in life, you don’t have to look far, but you do have to take notice. The clues are everywhere, but you have to extrapolate to see the root cause.

America has been blessed over the years of providing a level of security in both life, health, and wealth unseen in most other parts of the world. ( This is not a political discussion,  so save the emails.) We take for granted the basic necessities of life, but what we also take for granted in this day and age is that everything works, all the time, everywhere, no matter the conditions or mathematical odds of a failure. People blindly trust that no matter where they are on the planet..The Cell Phone will work…Internet access is available, etc., etc. But what has become blatantly obvious to me is peoples false sense that “Bad things” only happen to others on the news.

I say these things because of a sight seeing ride my wife and I enjoyed over the holiday weekend. We went to spectacular scenic location in Kentucky called ” The Natural Bridge”, a stone bridge carved from a single rock atop  a canyon that appeared to be 1000 feet below us. Sheer cliff like  faces throughout the canyon, all were breath taking. OK you’re saying…nice but what does all that mean? Well………..

This State Park seems to have been able to dodge the wrath of Liability Law Suits that plague businesses today. You needed to take a cable ski lift chair to get to the bridge. There were NO safety devices to stop you from lifting up the bar, and jumping off to the valley below to your own demise. Have a small child…better hold on to them, no special seat for them regardless of age. Put the teenagers in the lift in front of you while Mom and Dad enjoy the peacefulness, better hope they behave or someones going for an unpleasant fall. With that said, you arrive at the top and find after walking down a narrow pathway alongside the mountain you come to the bridge.  After taking a few steps out onto it you become abruptly aware that you are on a massive stone, suspended hundreds of feet in the air, and there are NO..repeat..NO safety lines, ropes, warnings, rails, nothing, and I mean Nothing, to impede, or stop you from slipping or falling, To Your Death!

I watched with bewilderment people walk right to the edge nonchalant, turn around and say ” Hey take my picture!” A mere gust of wind would have been enough to send them over. The bridge itself was a solid stone with a smooth surface. There was sand in some places that had been blow around making way for even less traction…Right at the edge!…But some people were oblivious to this fact. It was so perilous that if you had your back turned and someone bumped into you by mistake. It would be you to have the accident.

We walked to another part of the site where you could view the bridge from afar to see it in all its splendor, but this view was a rock plateau that jetted out from the canyon wall. It was just as magnificent, and just as dangerous as the bridge. No safety restraints of any kind, fall off the edge, call the Coroner, forget the Doctor! Once again, I watched people allowing their children to swing on branches of some trees, where if the limb snapped, at a minimum the child would roll down hundreds of feet down the valley wall. I watched a woman 6 or 7 feet from the edge of  the cliff with her back to the edge holding her camera up to her face trying to take a picture of her family who were sitting on a bench Watching her unsteadiness in her footing on the cliff rock. Maybe they didn’t like her decision for food that night, who knows, but she was making ME nervous!

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not calling for OSHA or the Safety Police to come a calling to the site. In fact..It was refreshing to be able to see nature in all its splendor, without the obstructions from the so called  Do Gooder Police that have to protect me at every turn. I’m an adult and understand risks and perils. It’s up to me to be careful, not up to someone else to do that for me. But from what I witnessed this day with so many oblivious to the real dangers, or seemingly not caring, It’s only a matter of time when you wont be allowed to be an adult here also.

Mark