Tag: business

The Problem with U.S. Business Culture

So I was reading this article about Time Inc.┬áIt’s a fascinating romp through the history of the company and its magazines.

But once again it struck me – all the changes that happened since the 1960’s. The Internet is a big one, so too the rise of the MBA and Vulture capitalism. And certain other changes in society – we’ve become maleducated, less willing to peek behind the curtain of government and big business.

What really happened as a society we decided to accept that greed was good and that has resulted in corporate culture becoming stingier over time.

We lost our believe in the fact that our employers owe use more. I mean in my career I worked for one accounting firm that used to fly us out to Chicago, Dallas, etc. And maybe Bagel Friday. But really a trip to Hawaii would be so nice. Even when I worked for a certain InfoSec company I would hear tales that the when it was Verisign – a cash cow if there ever was one – one year the bonuses were so significant it allowed many people to pay off student loans, buy cars, etc.

When I think about it I’ve been on the edge of corporate largess for a decent part of my career. But it all changed. Now you barely get two or three weeks vacation. Sure they might have coffee pods or packets or free coca-cola, etc. Or even margueritas on Friday. But the culture of off the wall largess that’s gone.

In fact someone and I were talking – if we ever got the point where we get large and corporate – would we treat employees well. I can see me planning lavish parties and such just because – no particular holiday need apply.

And we need to counter the notion that “Greed is good”. Greed should be anathema to us. We should shame the 1% with vigor. Boo and hiss at them. Carry the pitchforks and torches to their door. Because if we fail to do that – it’s only going to get more insane, worse and we the working people are going to bear the brunt of that.

What newspapers and magazines do I read

Newspapers first. I never read a single newspaper cover to cover, only articles that interest me. Those can be anything from hard news, political news, etc.

On the local front there is the not quite adequate to line the litter box with Providence Journal. Traditional newspapers are dying. For other local sources there’s the gay oriented Edge Providence, RI Future, Go Local Providence, Greater Cities Providence.

Then I use up my ten article limit on the NY Times quite often. I also read a number of article from the SF Gate, WSJ, the whole nine.

Magazines are a different story – there are only two I read regularly. Make Magazine and QST. The former is an O’Reilly publication that is for makers. I call myself one as I do occasionally build things. In fact I’m happiest when I am building something, be it a recipe or a new lighting system. QST is a magazine for the Amateur Radio community.

And books – oh boy. That’s a biggie for me. I’ve got VoIP: Internet Linking for Radio Amateurs by Jonathan Taylor K1RFD on order, should have it soon. I’m also re-reading a gay classic “The Dreyfus Affair” as well as having just finished reading a couple of other books. What can I say, I love to read.

It’s funny – I was looking for a book on my bookshelf the other day and realized I had loaned it to someone years ago. Ah well, found the digital version online for free so no big deal.

The media spin on real estate and then some

Our friend Gina is looking to buy a condo here in Providence, preferably near to the train station and the Rhode Island School of Design.

I should first explain that the news media has been crowing that while the housing market is slumping, condo sales are up. I call bullshit!

Why? Let us take two developments and follow their progress. There are many more examples I could use but these two will suffice for the purposes of demonstrating both the fibs being told by the Providence Journal, and the fraud perpetrated with banks and legislators by the builders of these projects.

The first I’ll discuss is 333 Awtwells Ave. When the project was first conceived they wanted to build an eight to ten story condo project. Instead they got four. Part of the reason was because someone held out on selling off to them and I say good for them.

Anyhow Gina looked at what was probably the smallest condo in there and it was $289,000 with a monthly fee of over $300. The building as small as it is has twenty one units in it with only five presently occupied, and it’s been complete for almost a years.

In a word they’ve only sold 25%. They’re also doing lease to own deals which I find interesting. It’s a secure facility too but the sticking point is that fee.

Then of course there are the Waterplace towers. Probably the fucking ugliest buildings in Providence. How they got those buildings past the historic preservation society is beyond me. It totally clashes with everything around it, so too does the G-Tech building but at least it acts as a giant mirror at night.

Anyhow that project got tax breaks. But get this, they can’t find buyers so they’re renting them out.

The same is going to be true of Capitol Cove. Those of us that have been in RI for more than twenty years know exactly how this will play out. There will be a glut of luxury apartment space in the city, which will push prices downward. It happened all around the city back in the 1980’s.

It’s so insane they’re taking perfectly serviceable tenements and turning them into condo. There’s one right around the corner from me and so far they’ve only managed to sell one of the ‘condos’. I say that because those aren’t condos, they’re apartments.

Did I mention how much empty space there is around here? It’s getting interesting.

Another thought came to me. The condos in Eagle Square sold. Why? Because they’re right next to a river, convenient to shopping, has plenty of parking, security, pretty much everything you’d expect.

Speaking of Eagle Square I’d love to see something done with the old General Electric plant. I constantly hear people say that GE pulled out of RI because of the taxes. That isn’t true. Business taxes in Rhode Island have been relatively stable for the past 60 to 70 years. The only reason GE pulled out of here was because of labor costs.

I applaud the Obama plan to penalize companies that have exported jobs, while rewarding those who create jobs here in the United States.