Letter 2

In our previous letter to you guys, I mentioned that several years ago the Taliban when they were controlling the majority of Afghanistan, passed Draconian Laws one of which women were not allowed to walk down the street with heels that would click because this very likely would sexually stimulate the men who heard this clicking. Yes, rather preposterous. I then asked what was the American version of that same preposterous thinking? I recommend a feature story in USA Today dated September 20, 2011 reporting on some strange liquor laws in the state of Utah. I have inserted the link to the article and strongly recommend that you read it as there is too much detail to repeat here. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-09-20/utah-alcohol-laws/50482604/1

The article is interesting, humorous and somewhat pathetic. Quoting the article’s main thrust, “the church's views carry weight”. Senate President Michael Waddoups, a Republican and LDS member has said that bar-like restaurants encourage underage drinking because "listening to the shaking of the drinks, beer being drawn and the sights can make drinking attractive." Despite the need for tourism, he says, "We are not going to become Las Vegas or New Orleans." In essence what the law says is that after a certain date, all bars have to have a barrier so that the drawing of beer from a tap, mixing of cocktails, etc., should not be heard by young people. I guess it really means people of all ages. The proposition states that listening to the shaking of the drinks and the sights can make drinking attractive. You’ve got to be kidding! Another interesting tidbit regarding this law was that when Mitt Romney was running the Olympics in February 2002, he had either all or the majority of the liquor laws suspended during the Olympics knowing that many guests coming to a sporting event would demand the ordinary access to liquor that they enjoy in most parts of the country. I sighted this as an example of the kind of law and politics that I thoroughly enjoy talking about because it is so unusual and controversial. The major point that I was making is all the many thousands of you that received our email, not one could tell me the comparison that I was drawing with the Taliban and this case, the State of Utah, both laws drawn from a highly religious perspective.

The overwhelming majority of you that answered the letter and I was absolutely flabbergasted at how many you took the time, you seem to be most interested in a Podcast show more than any other way of communicating. I certainly have taken that thought into serious consideration. We are currently doing research but I have to tell you that this is a far more complicated thing then most imagine. I’m not a techie and never will be. From a business perspective it is complicated. My end of the enterprise would be the program and content. The majority of you have said that you would like me to go back to the format that we used for so many years and that would be answering questions about life in general, finance certainly. My listeners will know that we got into many areas that were peripheral if not completely divorced from finance. A question of minor importance upon reflection raised a very serious question on other topics. Interestingly, a number of people said they would like to hear me comment on things such as the liquor laws as written above. I will really appreciate hearing from you as to the kinds of calls and letters you most enjoyed. Drop me an email and give me some examples. It will be greatly appreciated. I will avoid blatantly political selections but it will be impossible to completely ignore politics in today’s world. My inclination is to do at least an hour or two live at a given time each week. Another alternative would be to mention on one program the live time for the next program, this giving people who have varying schedules, time-zone differences, etc., a chance to participate on the phone at varying times of the day of night as it suits their schedule. The program would be available 24/7 once it is downloaded and archived on the Internet.

I invite your comments because I really miss the interchange concerning antipathy towards banks and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. It’s hard for me not to observe that while attacking banks and breaking windows may create a little extra employment for the glazers, it hardly seems an appropriate way to accomplish their goals. On the one hand they’re saying “we want jobs” but on the other hand they’re attacking the very industries that might create some of the jobs that they seek.

I confess, I am not a debit card user as I pay my credit card charges on time so I don’t incur interest charges. For me the credit card is a better tool. However, for those folks who have difficulty restraining their urge and put things on plastic that they can’t afford to pay off every month, the debit card certainly is worthwhile. I’m sure you noticed in the last couple of days that Bank of America has announced they will not charge the $5 a month for debit card use. In so many of the interviews people have said, “Why should I have to pay to get at my own money”. I smile because how do these folks think that this whole money process can happen without a profit being made. With Illinois Senator Durbin’s (D) advocacy of lowering the swipe fees, you know that the banks must come up with other ways to charge fees. If you think for a moment that they’ve taken that $5 charge off and are not going to find other fees, you’re smoking the wrong kind of cigarettes. Without a profit they can’t offer services like free checking, credit cards, etc. Somewhere someone must pay and that’s you and me Your thoughts?

How are you doing? Are you staying about the same? Better or worse? Underemployed? Unemployed? Are you coping? Enjoying? My dad during the biggest part of the Great Depression 1929 through about 1937 was doing very well. His family did not suffer any deprivation. Then in the later part of the Depression he went bust. Although we all ate, money was extraordinarily tight. Where some folks were coming out of the Depression, he was now joining the parade. How about you? How does this economic time we’re in affect you? Is it just a hiccup or a disaster? Depends on your perspectives.

In my first letter I mentioned I would like to offer a venue where people who have well thought out and perhaps justified reasons for breaking the law, have a place to express themselves. If they’re required to sign a letter, they’re not going to write because they can’t afford to be put in jail or fined or in short possibly put out of business. For example, I’m talking about people who hire illegals. When OSHA is in town they run the other way. IRS regulations which are onerous and time consuming are ignored. These examples of people that would like to tell you why they feel that way but do not have a place to do so. Now they do. This is not an endorsement or a condemnation of what they’re doing. It’s excepting the fact that these things are going on and should be openly discussed.

All of life, particularly business, is in flux. Consider this. When automobiles came into use if you were in the buggy whip business, you were out of business. Think of all the different enterprises that are constantly changing. When you went to an airport a few years ago there banks of pay telephones. I can only think of one occasion when I used a pay telephone in years and that was when I left my cell phone at home when on a trip. The florist business? More and more people are buying their flowers in supermarkets rather than going to a specific florist. The same thing is true with having prescriptions filled. Many get those at either a mega-store that sells everything including prescriptions rather than a “drug store”. The giant stores, Home Depot, Lowes, etc., put a great many neighborhood hardware stores out of business. This is reality. Our society is constantly evolving. The way we dress is another example of change. I remember when one took a trip on an airplane, men usually wore a jacket and women wore dresses. Now you see these same guys with their children or grandchildren wearing flip flops and a basketball t-shirt and most people accept it. I am a devotee of cruises. Cruises offer formal nights but there has been a dramatic change. The cruise companies built more and more ships and they had to essentially dumb down their ships and clientele and go after a “lower” class of passenger so they can fill those berths. For the most part, those in the middle classes don’t own dinner clothes and they don’t want to wear them on a cruise. A blue suit for the gentleman and a cocktail length dress for the ladies are now appropriate. On the other hand some cruise lines don’t enforce any dress rules. I’ve even seen some that say jeans and shorts are acceptable for dinner. Personally, I think that’s insulting. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes true in decent restaurants on land. I was in a 5-star restaurant and seated next to me was a guy with a baseball cap on backwards. This is a changing world and change is inevitable. One change that is increasing is how many people just have a cell phone with no hard line in their home. I have not made that conversion yet or how about the old fashioned gas station? It used to be that if you needed help along the road, you looked for a gas station. Today, gas is mostly sold in convenience type stores and the old fashioned traditional gas station gone. You really can’t pull into a gas station anymore and see a mechanic. Some of you that are mechanics will say the automobile engine was a relatively simple machine 50 years ago. Now when you look underneath the hood of a car it is so crammed full of gadgetry that you need a computer just to analyze the problem. The point I’m making is that things are constantly changing and unless you adjust you will be swept away. If you’re over 40, can you imagine 20 years ago pulling up to an upscale restaurant and having an area reserved for people who are ordering their dinners and picking them up? Now fast food has arrived. Did you know that most fast food chains require that you have a drive-up window and if necessary, the entire building has to be taken down and reconstructed with a drive-up. Would you be surprised if you heard that something over 60% of all fast food goes out a drive-up window? Because of all the required restraints that children have, the mother with a couple of kids would have to invest hour to un-strap and re-strap the kids to go in to buy coffee. Times do change.

Well guys I’ve just been throwing some ideas out for your consideration. I will be really grateful to hear from you. Trust me every single one of your emails is read. A degree of brevity would be appreciated although I know there times when it’s not possible as I have demonstrated in this missive. I am looking forward to talking to more of you and establishing a relationship that I thoroughly enjoy and I hope many of you do as well. One last request, when responding to my letter if you will kindly refrain from clicking on the “reply” button as my computer is set up to automatically print out your responses and not only does your response print but so does the many pages of my letter to you. If you would like to respond, click here askbruce@brucewilliams.com to do so. Thank you so much.

My email is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I look forward to hearing from you and reporting to you any updates of our endeavors. As always, I encourage you to give me your ideas, no matter how far fetched. One far fetched idea today is tomorrow’s million dollar notion.

I do wish you well my friends, keep in touch.

I’m Bruce Williams