Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fuel Prices

OK, so let me get this straight. The oil industry is making "record" profits we're told in a remarkably insulting tone, but no one in the media, and no one in government, is explaining anything economically meaningful or relevant about profits ... like their context.

They tell you what the dollar amount of these record profits is to make you gasp. "Oh my God", you think. "No one should make profits that high and get away with charging high gas prices at the pump. Average Joe can't afford it and these guys are getting obscenely rich off average Joe." It's a terrible thing, we can't let it happen. Lets ridicule the mean nasty oil companies into reducing their prices. Yeah, that'll work. Right. All of the uninformed Americans are going to dictate management policy to some of the largest, most successful, and most regulated business enterprises in human history? What does the media think?

But do those in media and government who should ever tell us, what those obscene "record profits" mean as a percentage of sales revenues? Or as a percentage of operating costs. Do they ever tell you what the total operating costs or sales revenues are for these extremely efficient and successful companies? Much less, how these percentages compare to other major industries with similarly complicated infrastructure? No, they never do, and it's obvious why. If they did, the issue would go away and their folly would be exposed.

No one in the media or government is explaining the economic and market factors that govern retail gasoline prices, and who the various parties are that control those factors. Or which of those factors can be controlled. It's not the oil companies. Nor does anyone ever tell you what the oil companies have done with their profits. Why? Because if they did, you'd be satisfied that oil companies are doing exactly what they must to assure the future success of their companies, their duties to their shareholders, and the efficient delivery of fuel to their customers.

Finally, does anyone in the media or government ever compare the percentage of every dollar you spend at the pump going to the oil companies' profits to the percentage of that dollar going to government coffers? No! It goes without saying. Who's making the "windfall" here? The taxing authorities are making the most, yet they do nothing to bring a gallon of that fuel to the delivery point, except to encumber the process every step of the way. And for these guys on Capitol Hill to express indignation at the oil companies? When did we become so numb to reality as a culture that these politicians hold us in such low regard that they are comfortable standing up there making these absurd statements and innuendo about it being an oil industry problem that the politicians will make better for us?

Lots and lots of other things that average Joe needs and consumes every day have also gone up and up (look at real estate for example). Certainly no more than gasoline has, but no one's bitching about that, or calling for hearings. Let the markets work. If you can't afford the gas, don't drive as much. Is there any real news out there?

Copyright 2006 David Speaker

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Business Writing Tip 4 - News Releases

When Writing News Releases

To increase your news coverage, the Dow Jones News Services's managing editor suggests this tip:

Include a "significant paragraph" at the beginning of the release. That's a concise explanation of what the release is about and why it's important.

Source: Communication Briefings, Volume XXII, Number 1, page 3, citing, Robert D. Prinsky in Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, JR O'Dwyer Co., 271 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10016.

Monday, April 24, 2006


"Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like selfpreservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other." - John Locke

"When we choose resistance to the law, which sometimes we must, the virtue of that resistance will be lost if it is not coupled with candor, the courage of openness, and the acceptance of any personal consequences it precipitates. A virtue is the means by which we attain our values. " - David Speaker

The BigLie

    "Don't you understand?", he asked, contemptuously furrowing his brow.  "... that the truth is, its all a big lie.  It doesn't matter that the facts and the law are on your side."  David stormed out of the dirty marble hall shaking his head in resignation; it killed him to see that stunned, frightened look of desperation on his client's face.  He'd seen it so many times before while attempting to explain, with reason and insight, why it wasn't reasonable to expect justice; why justice was only an occasional, almost arbitrary outcome.  He felt like a father explaining the myth of Santa Claus to blissful children.  It was a difficult pill for all of them to swallow.  They looked so confused, almost hurt.  Like David was trying to mislead them or make excuses for his own shortcomings, or worse, take something precious away from them.  They suspected his words and his motives; this pissed David off ... that his integrity was drawn into question because of a system’s contempt.  Was David right, after his ten years of practice, or was what they had been taught right?  

    David's words contradicted everything his client had been taught to believe in as a child ... that justice exists, that the facts and the law are what matters, that judges are honorable, reliable people of integrity, that the system serves an important purpose and solves real problems.  Was reality really that different?  How could it be that after he had worked so hard for so long, striving to be honorable and productive, and good at what he did, how could it be that to acknowledge his chosen profession invited scoffing and derision?

    It was depressing.

Copyright © 2006, LLC, All rights reserved.  The foregoing is part of a book I started writing more than 10 years ago.  Interesting?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Business Writing Tip 3

Business Writing Tip 3
Writing is a deliberate and active mental process.  It requires that you focus your mind.  Your writing will flow more easily if you remove distractions from your environment.  Enable yourself to concentrate. 

Business Writing Tip 2

Business Writing Tip 2
Know your reader's limitations.  Step out and put yourself in their place.  When writing it's very easy to make assumptions about what your audience knows or believes, or to overlook what they don't know.  In fact a common writing mistake is to assume that your audience knows what you know or thinks like you think.  Big mistake.  What happens is you leave gaps in the flow and logic of your presentation.
Check your premises in this regard.  Knowing their limitations enables you to tune in to "how" to present and "what" to say.
Be sure that you are giving them enough information to understand your point.  On the other hand, be careful not to insult or bore them by giving them supporting or background information that they don't need.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Business Writing Tip

Business Writing Tips


I always advise my business writing clients to remember - -


Before you start writing, ask and answer this question:   Who is the intended audience?  Be specific enough that you can picture the audience in your mind.  A deliberate answer to this question establishes many of the criteria for your writing project.  It serves as a basic guidepost for the writing process.


A related inquiry is:  aside from the intended audience, who may see this?  I.e., whose desk might it cross, intentionally or not.  Consider this part of the audience as well.


If your audience is fractured, you may want to consider writing different versions of the document for those different audience groups.

The Revolution Started Today

Did you know that the American Revolution started on April 19, 1775, 231 years ago today, at the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts?  
I post this so that more may know the origin of the freedoms we now enjoy, but take so for granted.  For more interesting commentary regarding this important day, follow this link.



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tax Day - Revisited and Reflected

As we pay our taxes this year, below are useful sentiments that remind us of the principles from which our unique prosperity has arisen. We forget these sentiments at our peril. Many, myself included, fear that we forgot them long ago. Spread the word.

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." —Thomas Jefferson

"The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful." —Calvin Coolidge

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free." —John Adams

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tax Day

Another Tax Day is upon us. Thank God for Turbo Tax. A great tool to be sure. But I have to wonder, what other magical solutions could those hard working people at Inuit have created to improve the business world had they not devoted the time and resources they have to making income tax so much less burdensome. It's a shame that so many brilliant minds have to be used to make comprehensible a public revenue system that need not be incomprehensible in the first place.

Oh, if only our politicians were led to act and implement policy based on honest principles of what's right and what really works, rather than on political expediency or survival. Why is it so hard for smart people to break free of institutional imperatives?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blogging in General

We've determined that blogging is an essential contemporary communication tool. We intend to blog to maintain an ongoing discussion of issues we deem interesting and useful, particularly in the area of written business communication.

First Post

Blogging is a new experience for me, but as a writer, it's a must. Thanks Brian for all your help.