Friday, October 26, 2012

Products are King

I ran across this story when cruising through my RSS feed:  Chik-Fil-A Thrives Despite Gay Rights Issue and I thought is pretty good piece.

Here is a key passage in  the story:

Many gay rights groups called for boycotts, and company executives seemed to be put on the defensive. At the same time, supporters of the Atlanta-based chicken chain held rallies outside stores. The national media couldn't get enough of it. 
So much for "bad" PR. Consumer use of the chain was up 2.2% in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2011, says the Sandelman survey of more than 30,000 fast-food consumers conducted in markets where Chick-fil-A is located. Market share was up 0.6%, and total ad awareness was up a hefty 6.5%. 
In a social-media-crazed world, any PR can be good PR — particularly if it has strong appeal to a group of ardent supporters. Witness the recent jump in contributions to LiveStrong Foundation at a time Lance Armstrong, the organization's founder, was forced to step down in disgrace. 
Chick-fil-A, too, seems unstoppable. "There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand," says Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman. During the third quarter, Chick-fil-A broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 media markets, he says.

Like the Livestrong Foundation (which I know has no "product" but a very solid message independent of Lance Armstrong's cycling achievements or not), Chik-Fil-A has a product that appeals to people.  People like it and people buy it.  I have no doubt that the gay rights protests and the counter-protests of massive invasions of customers this summer exposed people to the franchises and their product, maybe for the first time.  Which helps, of course with Chik-Fil-A's goal--to sell chicken.

When all the hubbub of Dan Cathay's remarks hit the social media circles, lots of my liberal friends started calling for boycotts.  That of course is their right, just as it is my right to ignore their entreaties and do what I want.  My family frequents Chik-Fil-A (maybe a little too much sometimes) and I for one will be voting to permit gay marriage in my home state of Maryland.

So how can I vote for gay marriage and still frequent Chik-Fil-A?  Mostly because I don't associate politics with my product choices.  I believe that lost of people support Livestrong Foundation's anti-cancer mission and probably don't give a toss about whether Armstrong was doping or not (if he was, it is not like he was the only one doing it--not that it is such an excuse).  I think Livestrong will, well, live strongly despite the tarnish on Lance Armstrong.

I like Chik-Fil-A's product and I really like their customer service at my local franchise.  Even when they are monster busy, they make sure every guest gets their full attention.  I have never met Dan Cathay, but I will say this--he speaks his mind and what he believes.  Even if I don't agree with what he believes, I have to respect and admire a man who is unafraid of doing that--even if it might have cost him his business.

Turns out though, speaking your mind without fear and equivocation might actually earn respect and customers.  Who would have thought.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Well...Duh!!! Campaign Contributions In New York Go To Those In Power

I suppose I should not be surprised in any way that someone would study this factor, but I guess it is not common knowledge among the average person.  But for those of us who used to work in the campaign finance world, this is something of a no-brainer.  Corporate campaign contributions flow most to those who are in power--that is incumbents.

Indeed, in my years as a compliance consultant, I have had corporate clients where 98-99 percent of their contributions went to incumbents.  That miniscule remainder more often than not flowed to say Representatives who were running for an open Senate seat (but not challengers to an incumbent).  Why would this be?

Simple, those who are in power are in a position to do something to help the corporation.

Lots of people think that such action is tanamount to buying votes.  But I am here to tell you that if a Member of Congress or a state legislator can be bought with a few thousand or a few hundred dollars, then there is a bigger problem than simple campaign finance reform can fix--that is a problem that can only be addressed by  calling a prosecutor and then throwing the bums out of office.

Rather, the reason campaign contributions flow to incumbents is simple.  Access.  A campaign contribution is not a chance to buy a vote, it is a chance to have some relatively private time with a legislator that is not always available otherwise.  After all, a corporation can't vote like a human can.

Access is the ability to influence thinking, influence language and possible insert favored langauge into legislation.  Campaign contributions are not about buying votes, or even about politics necessarily.  It is about self-interest and a corporation's self-interest is in advancing the bottom line and legislation can mean millions to a business.

So how to fix the problem--simple--don't allow candidates to raise money while the legislature is in session.  That may work for state legislatures that only meet for a few months a year.  But when the legislature is full time--like Congress, then other steps have to be taken.  My personal suggestion--don't allow Members of Congress to raise money until such time as a candidate files papers for the same seat and/or until 90 days before the primary election.  That way, most candidates will spend more time legislating and less time raising money.  If they are not raising money, they are not offering more access to corporations.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Monday, October 22, 2012

World War II History--Not As Dead as You Would Think

Veterans of the Battle of El Alamein "Britain's Greatest Victory Since Waterloo" which took place in 1942 gathered to honor the fallen.

Here is two things that jump out at me?

1.  Normally, I would caution against traveling to Egypt right now, but compared to 1942 for these guys, it can't be that bad.

2.  How cool is it that 70 years later, there are still veterans around to gather and honor the fallen.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Europeans to Send Mission to Moon

to mine for water:

But by 2018 a mission which includes British technology hopes to have landed a robot probe on the surface of the Moon to find out if it has ice present under the surface.
Finding ice would upend scientific orthodoxy and the results of previous lunar missions, which suggested that the Moon was dry. 
The £500 million voyage, scheduled for 2018, is being planned by theEuropean Space Agency, of which Britain is a leading member. 
It will also be man’s first attempt at landing an object on the south pole of the Moon.

Of course, is is more than five years down the line.  Seems like a long way away.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Hiding the Libya Lie

As Ann Althouse noted about the New York Times effort to keep the Libya lie hearings off the front page as it is a "politicized thing" is not particularly smart.  Here is here little bit:

Is the Libya scandal as big as Watergate? The substance of it may be much worse than Watergate, and the Obama administration seems not to have heeded the old Watergate lesson that it's the cover-up that gets you, but if Obama loses the election, that will limit the dimension of the scandal. If he wins the election — especially if it's very close or contested in some way — Republicans may work themselves into a frenzy going after Obama. Remember that Richard Nixon was reelected after the Watergate scandal broke. The break-in was 5 months before the election, and the first stories had come out. The next 2 years were hell for Nixon, and he was drummed out of office. And Nixon had won by a landslide.

Here is my problem, when Nixon resigned, we got Gerald Ford.  He may not have been a great President but was servicable, and was lampooned a clumsy of balance.  If Obama wins, and then is forced to resign, we get Joe Biden as President, a man who is clumsy of the mouth.

I would rather have a physically ungraceful Gerald Ford and than a ticking timebomb of lies and stupidity in Joe Biden.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers