Quick random thoughts as I sit and watch CNBC this morning. I'm only up because I haven't slept yet. That seems to be happening more and more these days. So I stayed up and did some mid-month sales reports, which only made me more depressed, and removed any trace of a chance that I would sleep.
Tough times were easier when I didn't have a family. I could eat Mac and Cheese, or cheap Taco Bell, live in a dive-apartment, and tough it out. That's not a life I care to share with these guys...
CNBC just reported that CitiGroup announced they will cut 50,000 of their 350,000 employees. That's 1 in 7 people who work for Citi, gone, no more job. The people at CNBC think this is a good thing, because the investors are looking for quick action to raise the stock price. So for the people who invest in Citi this is great, for 50,000 people with husbands, wives, and kids...not so much.
Just before that announcement the CNBC folks were talking about the "problem" with pharmaceutical stocks. You see, many medicines are coming off their protected patent, which will allow them to be made generically. So the fact that many people will be able to get their medication more cheaply, perhaps allowing them to afford medicine AND heat, is a disaster to investors. Hmm.
I'm not an anti-business guy. I have always believed in the "free market" and the fact that capitalism often is the motivation for great change. $3.00+ gasoline, was the motivation needed to drive people away from SUVs to fuel-efficient vehicles. It did, what no environmentalist could do. However, my belief in the system is shaken.
I am beginning to believe we all suffer from the "Wal-mart" effect. Every time Wal-mart is going to open a new store, the local community raises a stink. "Small businesses will be crushed! Wal-mart doesn't take care of its' employees! We don't want a Wal-mart here!" Then the store opens, and is packed. The "Mom & Pop" stores DO go out of business, because the same people who screamed and shouted like the cheaper prices at Wal-mart, and "forget" their protests. "Sure Wal-mart pays their people badly, and has lousy benefits, but WE save a ton of money."
Us and them, but which one are we? If you are a Wal-mart employee, you suffer from the success of the business-model. You don't make enough money, your benefits don't cover you or your prescriptions very well. If you live near a Wal-mart, the business-model is a blessing. Your dollar goes further there, with your insurance covering less and less, the $4.00 prescriptions there can save you tons. Us and Them.
I'm not sure we can save ourselves in this financial disaster with an "Us and Them" mentality. So a bunch of investors have some of their retirement savings back, but 50,000 people wonder how they will survive. A company and its' investors fear for their future, as thousands of others thank God that they can finally get their medications generically. Who is right? Is there a right or wrong? Everybody is worried, struggling to make it through.
I'm not sure that any of this means anything. I haven't slept, remember? I just know I am worried. I have two kids eating their cereal besides me on the couch right now. They don't know that their Daddy works for a company of over 300,000 employees too, or that his division sells to the Auto and Real Estate markets. They don't know that those aren't the markets you would want to be in these days. They don't know that he has been up all night, because when he tries to sleep he sees their faces when he closes his eyes. They don't know about Us and Them.
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