Business Financial Government Politics

White Men Over 50: Not So Much

trumpdonald_bill_signing_021417gettyI jokingly tell my friends that I am not a fan of white men over the age of 50. When I say this to a white man over 50, I sometimes add the caveat, “except for you, of course.” But that’s sometimes, not always. I hate this new piece of me that is filled with rage when I observe a sea of white men over the age of 50 standing behind Donald Trump’s desk while he signs something or other that will take away my personal rights or speed up the already-out-of-control issues around global warming, or as he just sits there holding up his megalomaniacal large, scary signature on a document that 9 out of 10 times is in the interest of no one other than his rich, white, male friends over the age of 50.

But it’s not just him.

There’s Mitch McConnell. There’s Lindsey Graham. There’s the huge number of white, male, age 50-plus GOP lawmakers in Washington. What do the women in your life say when you come home at night? I wonder as I watch them make statements they know are lies and vote in the interest of one man who never has our country’s best interest at heart. I wonder what I would say if one of them was my brother, husband, or father. I write letters to them in my head at night, at 2 in the morning, when I’m terrified and hoping that this is all a nightmare from which I will awaken next November.

Let’s look at others outside of government, but interestingly enough, in business — as in the business of billionaires. Dennis Muilenburg was just fired from Boeing after a career of thirty years building an airplane he knew was unsafe and which killed hundreds of humans. He created a toxic culture for the safety of millions of fliers, and that’s to say nothing of the culture of deceit, distain for others, and lies for which he’s also responsible. This man will walk away with $62 million … but “none of his salary or bonus for the last year.” You can’t make this up. The man belongs in jail, as did Roger Ailes, who also walked away with tens of millions of dollars, while some of the women who came forward were fired and haven’t worked since.

Look, I’m not saying my gender is flawless — not by any means. I think Sheryl Sandberg is close to belonging in jail and certainly responsible for the attacks on George Soros and others who threatened the undeserved sanctity of Facebook. I take it back; she definitely belongs in jail. But by sheer numbers, there is an inordinate number of white men over the age of 50 who are ruining so much more than our planet. They are ruining the soul of our country. So while I will try my hardest not to toss them all into one group, and instead, look at them individually … in the dead of night, at 2 in the morning, 99% of them will continue to appear white, male, and over 50.

Business Financial

Banking Locally

imgresI’m funny. Sometimes really funny. I sent this letter back in October after feeling at the end of the rope regarding my local bank here on Cape Cod, where I now reside. I will tell you about the response in another blog, but I just want you to ask yourself at the end of reading it if you think I’m a mean girl … or so clever you can’t believe it and want to call on me to write your letters of complaints for a fee. When you hear the response later this month, well… let’s see what you think. I have changed the names to make sure they don’t close my account and throw my money on the front lawn.

Mr. Pres Banks
Bank Who Shall Remain Nameless
25 Bank Ray Hollow
Bank Haven, MA 02601

Dear Mr. Banks,

I write to tell a tale of a woman returning to the Cape – to her roots – and her desire, her true desire, to be a part of a smaller community than New York City and Los Angeles where she has spent the last forty years as a business personage. It might have a happy ending; one never knows. I’m a Hinckley. My grandfather, John Hinckley owned John Hinckley & Sons Lumber, and I spent many a happy summer wandering the beaches, playing mini golf, and staring at the Kennedy kids from boats on the water. Fun.

I stopped coming during my high school years and only returned two years ago to assist my mother as she succumbed to cancer. As soon as I drove over the bridge, I felt like I’d like to run my business from the Cape – travel when necessary, but move the mother ship of Blue Shoe Strategy to Cape Cod.

Blue Shoe does strategic marketing – specializing in social media – for clients including Bank of America, Albania, and small start-ups, to name a few. We are really fun. We are really good at what we do, and as I approach my later years (I’m sixty), I like the start-ups better than the larger companies. I thought it was a great move to begin the transition to less stress, and I am so happy I did.

I arrived, settled into a house on a meandering old road, and said to myself, “Self, if you are going to live a smaller life, then you need local purveyors.” I’m nothing if not thorough. I pulled into the XX branch of the The Bank Who Shall Remain Nameless and opened up personal and business accounts. I also kept my accounts at Chase open, where I have banked for the last zillion years. Aside from being thorough, I also hedge my bets. “Let’s see what this local banking is like,” I thought. “I can’t wait to have people say hello to me from the window drive through. Just think, I might be able to call in and have a personal banker to speak to. This is going to be awesome!”

Not so much. I would like to move my major banking to you, but here are some of the reasons why I can’t.

Let’s start with Bank Transfers.

Imagine my surprise when I sent my Blue Shoe wire transfer to your fax number at my branch and was called and told I had to come in to make the transfer. “Come in? Why, that’s not possible. I’m in Chicago. It’s three days before the election. I need you to transfer these funds to one of my vendors. Today.” Alas. It was never going to happen.

So, I sent the same fax to the Chase account and did the wire transfers from there.

I went to the bank yesterday to do a transfer in person, which is what led me to write you this desperate letter. We are doing something for the East Hampton Film Festival this weekend and I needed to wire money for a house that we rented over the Internet. The owner emailed me where to transfer the money. This is the same email he sends to everyone renting his house – as in tens of people a year.


Please sign and return the attached Rental Agreement.

Please also need a copy of an ID (driver’s license or passport).

Here is the wire transfer information. Since the rental starts in less than a week please send the full amount:

Bank Name: JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Bank Account Number: XXX00XX215XX
Recipient: Thomas ShelXXXX
ABA/ Routing Number: 0210JJJ0XX
Swift Code: CHASUS33

We’ll meet you in person to deliver the keys.

Let me know your travel plans in terms of when you expect to arrive on Thursday. We can be flexible with check-out time on Monday.

Thomas ShelXXX
(917) 514-XXXX

I brought in the information to the fabulous MXXX, who is apparently the only person at my branch who can do a transfer in the bank – the tellers can’t, so there was an additional wait because that MXXX is a busy guy. I finally get into his office, and he starts to type in a form. Seems like a long form, but maybe it was because I’d waited almost an half an hour before he could see me. I will add that everyone else was not busy.

“What is his home address?” MXXX queried, asking for the address of the man who was renting me the house.
“His home address? I have no idea. I never met the man. I don’t know where he lives.”
“I can’t do the transfer without his home address and his branch address.”
“Well, I need this transfer done this morning, and I don’t have either. I have never needed this much information for a transfer for any other bank. Why would the guy want to give me his home address? He’s never met me. I’m a bit unstable and wouldn’t give myself my home address.” (I think I’m very funny. My local banker peeps do not.)

Lucky for us, Mr. ShelXXX answered his phone and was able to give me the information – and was willing to give it to me. We’ve already discussed that it is not something I would have done.

“Did you bring any checks?” MXXX asked next.
“No, why would I bring a check? It’s a transfer?”
Out comes a check form for a check for the transfer. Mindboggling.

“The fee is $22.”
“Don’t you deduct it from the account?”
“No, but I can do another bank check.”
I pulled out $22 and handed it to him. Seriously, he should have waived the fee. Really should have waived the fee.

Last night I did a remote phone consultation for McKinsey in New York. I received an immediate email afterward with a form for me to fill out to get a wire transfer for the consulting fee. They certainly didn’t ask for your local bank address, nor my home address. The routing number and account number were just fine.

This is 2013. Transactions take place at the speed of light. Having to come to the bank to do a transfer puts you in the dark ages of banking. And, the amount of information you require is not in line with today’s usage of transfers. It doesn’t work for individuals like me who would so very, very much like to do business with you.

Let’s move on to the Debit Card.

I use the debit card for my Blue Shoe account for some online software we use at Blue Shoe. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I received a call from your peeps a few weeks ago.

“Ms. Merser, I am calling to say we turned down a charge to your BSS account three days ago, and I wanted to check on it.”
“Why did you turn it down? It’s our Fresh Books Software (our billing service)?”
“Because they are located in Canada, so we thought it might be a fraudulent charge.”

Seriously? Because they are located in Canada? Did I miss something? Is Canada a hostile nation now? Did they attack us and I didn’t know?

I was exasperated. It wasn’t the first time this has happened.

“Look, I get that you guys are this side of conservative, but you should have called me THEN. I can’t have my purveyors thinking Blue Shoe doesn’t have any money. This is not ok. How do we fix this?”

And, so it went with a lot of back and forth and no resolution that you will stop turning away my legitimate charges for no reasonable reason.

And, last but not least. Window Teller Service.

I was on a conference call in August, mostly listening to a bunch of people who love repeating each other. Hmmmm. Perfect time to go cash a check for $5,000 that I need for an event that weekend where we needed to do some cash payouts.

I drove to the window, cell phone on mute, half listening to my group of pontificators (I’m sure you are thinking that this letter is right there in the top hit parade of pontification, and I get that, I really do, but it’s making me feel better.)

I handed her a check for $5,000. My driver’s license. A note that I wanted X number of $100’s… etc. She looked paralyzed. As in frozen.

“You have to come in to do this.”
“I can’t… I am on a call.” I hold up my cell phone and smile at her. “There is no one behind me, but I can pull away and drive up in a few minutes if you need a few more minutes.”
“No, you have to come in!” She’s turning blue and I do not wish to be responsible for her breakdown, so I drive away.

She knows me. I drive up to the window to make deposits a lot. Why did I have to come in? I had no baseball hat on? My license plates were on the car. There was nothing I provided when I came back a few hours later – at great inconvenience – that I didn’t provide when I drove up.

Ok, I’m done. Promise.

And, let’s end on the positive.

I love your pens. Not kidding. You have the best pens in the world. I was told yesterday they are on back order. I asked for one because I thought it would make me feel better after the trauma of the bank transfer lasting longer than Gone with the Wind. It’s ok, but you should know, when you have them, they are way cool. I have brought them to other clients and said they need to find the same one. I’m totally serious.

I love your people. Nice. Calm. Efficient – as long as I follow the outdated protocols to the tee. Protocols that must be updated if you are to be able to lure someone like me to want to use you. They are your greatest asset and isn’t that always the case?

The fabulous busy MXXX said you like input. He did. You now have mine. There is no need to send a nice response back. I am not sending this for a response, and I would probably find it disingenuous. I write you in hopes that maybe; just maybe, you will change some procedures so people like me can bank with fabulous people like you.


Christine Merser
Managing Partner
Blue Shoe Strategy

Ok, tell the truth. It’s real. It’s true, and it’s cleverly presented with no bitterness, right? More to follow Freesia Laners.


Dear Bank of America

Dear Bank of America,

Let me get this straight. I put my money in your bank. Then, if I want to take my money out of your bank, I have to pay you $5? Really? Do you have a bridge in Brooklyn you can sell me?

I remember when they first started selling water in bottles, people thought it would never fly. And now that the Poland Springs have run dry and the label admits that the water comes from faucets in Maine, rather than from the Poland Springs, I laugh at myself for buying it. I want to write them a letter and tell them they didn’t put one over on me, that I realize it’s actually tap water from Maine, but I like water in bottles and choose to buy it anyway.

“So Christine,”  I hear you ask, “do you really mean that you don’t mind being an idiot as long as they know that you know that you are one?” The answer to that is yes.

But this is different. I am not going to pay you to give me my money. Nope, not happening. And I suggest you backtrack post-haste, Bank of America, before I take my business elsewhere. And while you are at it, please fire whichever Senior VP came up with this idea. The idea is not sound. If people stop using these labor-saving machines, you will have to hire a lot of additional tellers, which will cost you a lot more than the $5 you intend to charge me.

So save yourself some money and me my dignity and rescind this lunacy.

Thank you very much.

Financial Politics

Such A Deal

After all these months, the only thing they can agree on is that they can’t agree, so let’s apply for more credit cards to pay the increasing debt? Such a deal. There is nothing to celebrate.

I don’t get it. And frankly, you Washington idiots should have kept me out of the discussion because we all know that ignorance is bliss. When you all screwed up in the past, you were smart enough to keep us, the unsuspecting, uneducated, naive public, in the dark about what it all meant. Not so this time. Mistake. Big Mistake.

Now, for the first time, I understand how terrible the debt-ceiling breakthrough is, and that it has nothing to do with the glass ceilings I celebrate breaking. I now realize that for the last ten years we as a country have gone back to the bank over and over again telling them that we are sure we can handle the extra credit cards other countries give us to fight wars that are not our battles, to waste money on programs that have solid foundations but are so poorly run they cost much more than they should, and perhaps worst of all, not to equally tax companies and individuals who have American roots.

So I’m furious, and I’m not going to take it anymore. Trouble is, I have no idea exactly how I am not going to take it anymore.

Books Financial Politics

Tax Time, General Electric, and Me

So, it’s tax time again, and I’m getting ready to add up what I paid in taxes and then evaluate the return on my investment in my country. I always get excited about doing that. I know it’s not all about me—I’m a Democrat by nature—but I like to list the pros and cons on paper to make sure I don’t want to move to Monte Carlo, where you pay no taxes and your country doesn’t enter into wars that bog down good humor and take the lives of your countrymen and reduce your stature abroad. But that’s another blog.

So, there I was, getting ready to do my annual review of my investment in the US, when I found myself reading about the fabulous General Electric Corporation, which we all know brings good things to life. (Great slogan, don’t you think?) So GE made a profit of 14.1 billion dollars. Good job, GE. Well done. Then I read the next line. GE paid no taxes. Huh? I read on, and come to find that $5.1 billion of their profits came from US operations—and they had a tax bill of $0.

Listen, I would like to state for the record that after all my expenses, and a total income substantially less than GE’s, I paid almost 50% of my GROSS revenue to the United States. And, judging from what I read, GE had a lot more to say about how my money was spent than I did. After all, the CEO of GE is Obama’s representative to the business community. Yep, he advises the business community on our government. Please tell me he is not advising them on how not to pay any taxes? That would just be the final straw.

I have Republican friends who read my blog, and whenever I write something like this they bombard me with how I’m really a Republican but just don’t know it. Well, I’m really just someone who would like to take five minutes of the precious time of GE’s accountants to ask a few pointed questions about what I’m doing wrong. Here is what the New York Times wrote about their tax department:

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

I don’t wish to become one of those bitter Americans who feels that the government is out to get them, or worse, that the government is corrupt beyond repair. I don’t wish to believe that GE has connections because they hire former IRS agents to work in their tax department. For Lent this year I decided to give up saying mean things about anyone, so I am crimped a bit in what I can write here, but I will say that GE needs to start re-evaluating its investment participation in our country. Otherwise I will stop buying their light bulbs, and then where will they be?

As I write this, I’m doing research to find a tax firm made up of former IRS agents. Why didn’t I think of that a long time ago?

Financial Movies & TV

Movie Review: Money Never Sleeps

I loved it. All the reviewers are wrong. It’s fabulous. What is it about sequels and reviewers? The only sequel I can remember that won the hearts of reviewers was the Godfather II, and we all know that it’s not really a movie anyway, it’s a movement. Anyway, I think the time for putting down sequels is over except in the case of Hannibal which was terrible. The minute Jodi Foster said no they should have put it on the shelf never to see the darkness of a theater.

The music is perfect. It builds, then takes away, just like real life money. The story line has just enough of the painful past few years on Wall Street to tantalize your thoughts that maybe there was more behind what happened during the melt down three years ago than meets the eye. (Duh) Ok, I knew there was more to what went down over the last years than I wanted to admit, but let’s face it, it was in the middle of an election to beat all elections, and I was too scared like the rest of us normal citizens to really want to peel away the layers.

Every one’s acting is perfect. The only thing that doesn’t win is the accents from Long Island on actors like Susan Sarandon who we know far too well to find believable as a Long Island woman. That’s the trouble with actors who have been around awhile. While their acting is great, we know them in the media in a way that makes it hard to buy the characters they play. Except for Angelina Jolie. We want her to be so many things that she can get away with it.

I love the way Oliver Stone puts things in that many won’t notice and those that do feel like they are in the back end of the secret crypt. The picture of George Soros on the mantel of the office of Bretton James. Cameos by so many (yes, Peggy Segal, I saw you, and you looked ridiculous) really are fun to watch. And, those details. The potato chips (don’t want to give it away), the use of a few of the actors from the original Wall Street, a string of women’s noses that suspiciously all look the same at a fundraiser at the Met. Been there, done that.

Michael Douglas was made for this role. (Get well soon Mr. Douglas.) I know his ex wife is suing him. It seems that their divorce agreement calls for her to receive half of any role he does that is a sequel. Apparently Mr. Douglas says this isn’t a sequel (it’s bad juju to do this sir), and so they are in court. I couldn’t help thinking that Gekko would have done the same thing. Shia LaBeouf was masterful, much more so than Charlie Sheen who was only able to be one guy on the screen; a louse, who then turned to a man with a conscience at the end. Shia showed the two-sided sword of a killer Wall Street driven creep and a sensitive man who has scruples all in the same second. Not easy. Well done.

The only weakness was the movie’s ending. Not so much Oliver. Too easy. Were you tired and just wanted to put it all to bed? I needed a little something more.

Business Financial Politics

Bankers a No Show at the White House

I just want to say that if Obama summoned me to the White House, I would have walked George Washington type miles to get there. I would have ridden my bike. I would have taken the train. I would have hitched a ride on the expressway.

The fact that three of the bankers; the CEOs of Morgan Stanley, Citibank and Goldman Sachs were ‘fogged out’ so they called in on a speaker phone to the President of the United States boggles my mind. I’m incredulous. The more I think of it, the madder I get.

We have all pulled no shows at some point in our lives. I have anyway. I remember when I was in college and got engaged to a boy that really wasn’t such a good guy. My father, who lived in St. Maarten at the time, told me to get down there for a conversation about the whole thing. I didn’t go and broke up with the boy instead. It was easier, and I knew he was right. In other words, I didn’t need the meeting to get the point.

How about they don’t need the meeting in person to get the point? How about they all issue press releases tomorrow saying they will loan out the huge stockpiles of cash they are now sitting on rather than giving it to employees that sent out economy to the dark side? That would work. Then they don’t have to go down there as far as I’m concerned, and they don’t even need to make up some stupid excuse about trying.

The all time worst no show on my part was when I shared an apartment with Cathryn, the fruitcake maker and IHop pancake syrup hoarder in the mid-seventies. She had a blind date. We were having a ton of fun and she wasn’t feeling like she really wanted to go out. She suggested I open the door, check out the potential of the blind date, and if he was a no-go I should say that something terrible had happened and she would call tomorrow and apologize. The doorbell rang, and I answered it. I did a brief assessment and thought, “Not so much.” I told him something terrible had happened, at which point he stepped inside. He looked so earnest and concerned that I re-evaluated my original ‘he’s not going to cut it’ assessment and said, “Actually, I’m not sure if something terrible has happened or not, can you hold on a minute?” I swear to God. It’s amazing I have any friends. She went out with him and the bottom line was you should always go with your first gut reaction.

Another time, (I promise this is the last trip down memory lane in this blog entry) I told a boyfriend I couldn’t get a cab downtown because I was totally over him. He took a cab uptown, called me from the lobby and said he was there to pick me up. Maybe the Pres should have sent Air Force One and done the same thing.

Here is the thing. You plan for a no show and make the appropriate excuses. My grandmother has died more times than would be possible if I was one of John Smith’s (the Mormon with 97 wives) daughters. You gotta be smart about it. Saying you are fogged in to the President of the United States is pretty dumb, especially when there are things like Amtrak and a news media that can prove your grandmother died twenty years ago.

There must be repercussions for this amazing slight. I think Obama should fly up to New York City today and confront them in person – with the camera rolling.  Or maybe call their boards of directors and have them all fly in next week – all of them. I bet they would show up.

When they needed money last year and Paulson told them to come to Washington, they ran to get there. They left with hefty checks totaling billions of dollars. Oh sorry, I forgot, they weren’t getting anything this time. Right.

Whatever. It’s not really about the meeting at all. It’s about the messed up financial system that isn’t really working for any of us now.

You know, I bet if Obama had invited the wives to come down with them and Michele would show them the Christmas decorations, they would have all made it. Just kidding feminists. Just kidding.

Business Financial Politics

Golf Carts? Well, alrighty then…

In case you haven’t heard, there is a federal rebate on golf cart purchases through the end of the year. You can get as much as $15,000 if you buy a golf cart. I work in an office where most of management leans toward the elephant trails. I’m the sole donkey in the group. These are not evil people, just misguided.

I was in the office of the CFO, the papa elephant in the office, when all of a sudden he looks up from the spreadsheets from hell in front of us and screams across the desk, “You! Obama Girl! Golf carts! Do you have any idea how stupid that is?!”

“I don’t think it’s stupid,” I said calmly welcoming the diversion away from my budget that is not looking so good. “Is there something about it that confuses you?” Who’s in control now, I asked myself.

He pulls out a piece of scratch paper and proceeds to scribble numbers – and percentages – and year dates on paper yelling something about how you can actually make money buying the golf cart. You apparently take out a loan to do it, pay off the loan for two years with the rebate and then sell the golf cart for a profit. Something like that. He lost me at the first stroke of the pen.

While yesterday I was a cheating felon (read my blog yesterday), today I am an upstanding, flag-waving American citizen who loves my government and golf carts that should be covered with decals of Obama and his family and friends. And, an American flag of course. I sat up straight and tall, and I held my own. I dealt head on and said, “Listen up, Elephant Man. That is not the spirit of the plan. It’s for people who are not able to get around and for those not able to drive and to save energy by possibly not using fossil fuels. You remember fossil fuels. Those things that your president made a ton of personal money owning and profiting from. Besides, CFO Wizard, if you want to profit from it, why don’t you just buy the stock of companies making golf carts instead? And besides Marathon Man (He actually does not just run marathons but those things where you swim and ride a bike and run. Oh yea, Iron Man events. The man is nothing if not a sadist, but at least he inflicts pain on himself as well as others), ever heard of supply and demand? I assure you that by the time you go to sell your golf cart, they will be a dime a dozen, but be my guest, because best of all it will stimulate the economy.”

He looked at me. He has intense eyes, put his pencil down and waved his arms in the air.

“First of all, girlfriend, that stock ship has sailed, trust me. The cow is out of that barn. And, furthermore, stimulate the economy? Are you nuts? Oh sorry, Obama Mini Me, you are right.” He slapped his head with his hand. “Our economy is going to fly to the moon by the production of golf carts. How could I have missed it? Golf carts will save our economy. Thank God for Obama’s golf cart plan. Genius.”

“Well, corner office boy, golf carts alone will not, but coupled with one hundred other golf cart-type things, it will.”

“You want stimulus, I’ll give you stimulus. Give me back my taxes, and I’ll stimulate the economy. And it won’t be with golf carts!”

I felt I was losing ground. It was the first time that I actually felt that perhaps there is a point to the government letting us spend our money the way we want and let the economy be generated by our own personal supply and demand. I am not actually loving the golf cart plan. My aunt Nancy and my mother are thinking of getting them. Not so much. I see all kinds of problems; bodies strewn on the side of the road from cars hitting all the carts. And, let’s face it, it’s not money well spent.

While I’m still an Obama Mini Me, I am getting a little concerned about some of these things he is touting. I know the jury is still out, but sitting in my CFO’s office, I also realized that there are two real sides to every story and this one isn’t really swaying toward Donkey Land.

The CFO often reads my blog. But tomorrow, you Democrats in the group will be happy to know, he has a lower GI series colonoscopy and won’t be in so I think he will skip it. I’m sure you all hope everything comes out all right.

Financial Women

Women and Money

Do I really need to have this conversation with all of us?

I left for LA and a co-worker/friend is watching my fabulous dog Luke.

“Oh, no need to pay me. I am happy to move out of my house, move in your house and take care of your dog for three weeks until you get back for no money. By the way, I could wash your windows while you’re gone if you want? Or perhaps pack up everything you need to take with you on the move? No worries, happy to do it.”

Ok, it wasn’t quite that bad but almost.

So, I yelled at her of course and gave her a check for what I would have paid a professional dog sitter and shook my head with the absurdity of it all.

Then I started to negotiate my new apartment out here in LA.

“What’s the price?”

“It’s X.”

“Ok, I’ll take it.”

Then there was the fabulous negotiation for my car.

“I’m told I should negotiate. Is this the best you can do? …. Oh, it is the best you can do? No problem, thanks so much, I’ll take it, but could you give me a full tank of gas?”

I’m pathetic, and while I have a few girlfriends (very rich ones) who are amazing at negotiating, I can tell you that most are not.

I rented a house in the Hamptons for the last three years. When I saw the house, it belonged to a young woman whose father was a business friend of mine. She was asking way less than market value so I said, “This isn’t enough. I’ll pay you $500 more per month than you are asking because that’s what’s fair.”

“No, that’s ok,” she said. “What you are paying will pay for the mortgage.”

“No, no, really,” I countered.

We settled on $250 more. Who says I can’t negotiate?

Even in business, I am terrible. The president of a company I work with actually said, “Never negotiate on behalf of my company again.” He was not joking.

“Alrighty then,” I replied. “But I have other qualities, right?” God forbid I just let it go without looking for some validation of something.

Look at Annie Leibowitz, the most renowned photographer of my generation; bankrupt and needing to sell her work to pay bills because she just didn’t get the money thing. She’s not alone, and I hate that it appears to me to be a gender thing. Ok, you can add Michael Jackson in, but let’s face it, he was more girl than boy anyway.

They should teach a class in it.

Teaching Women to Value Their Time and Talent with Compensation. It could be taught by Anna Wintour. I bet she’s a good negotiator.

Here is the course description.

Find out why women suck at negotiating. Look into the deeper meaning of demanding financial compensation commensurate with work expertise and why women tend to reject validation through the almighty dollar. Help yourself find your way.

I would take the class in a heartbeat. And, I would pay full price for it, or better yet, I’ll pay extra.

Financial Politics

Urine, or You’re Out

I received the following e-mail yesterday.

“Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work. They pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who do not have to pass a urine test. So here is my question.

Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sit on their rump – doing drugs – while I work.

Can you imagine how much money the government would save if people had to pass a urine test to get public assistance? I guess we could title that program, “Urine, or you’re out.”

First, my compliments to the author. No anger, no swearing. Note her use of the word rump instead of ass, which of course is what I would have used before I was Obama Mini Me.

It does come down to responsibility and accountability, both of which I’m in favor of requiring in life for all that we do. Roosevelt put the country back to work, but I think those going back to work had a different mind-set back then. They wanted to work. Does everyone now want to work? Not so much is my guess.

“I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet.” That assumes they were on their feet to start with. Again, not so much. The system is not designed to motivate, to teach, or to elevate anyone. It’s a lazy system. I went to unemployment once to watch. No kidding, I wanted to see what it was all about. One of the things I noticed is that more than half the people in line got up there and had to be sent back to fill in the paperwork completely. If I were filling out paperwork to get hundreds of dollars a week, I would take a little care filling it out. The time for those ‘reruns’ has to be significant and costly.

Look, I’m left of center for sure. And, I hope this post does not make those around me say I’m right of the Hudson because I don’t think we should be doling out dollars without responsibility and accountability.

Make welfare a wage. Put all on welfare to work. Have a huge bin of jobs at welfare. You have to pick out of the bin a job to do over the next 24 hours to get your money. Maybe the jobs could include things like visit an old folks home (I know they don’t call them that anymore, sorry) and read for two hours to some of the people there. I know, I know. I can hear you now. What if the person who picks the job is gross and not someone you would want in that home? Then, they can clean themselves up or not get their check that week. I don’t know, I get that there are details to work out, but isn’t it better than nothing?

I salute the author of “Urine, or You’re Out.” Minimally, she made me think about it.

Thanks RM for sending it to me.