The Poverty Myth: It’s not for a Lifetime

tbs-avalanche-12-2010-102.jpgWhen considering those in poverty it is far too common to think of them as perpetually poor and forever on the public dole. This sentiment has long existed and been perpetuated by claims of generational poverty; families that have nothing and leave nothing for their kids, thus creating a cycle that keeps the kids poor as adults and their kids raised in unrelenting poverty as well. These people are forever a burden on society and forever in need of our tax dollars being redistributed to them in the form of low or free rent, food stamps, medical care and more. Or so the myth goes…

While its true that many in poverty can stay poor for a significant portion of their lives, that’s often not the case. A 10+ year old study found that a significant percentage of those who were in the bottom third of income earners in the 1970s at some point over the following 20 years actually attained a level of income putting them in the upper third of income earners. This illustrates the point that those in poverty and receiving assistance are often only in that financially troubling position for a short time in their lives. 

This makes sense when you consider that many of those who are poor are young adults or young families who have not yet attained the wisdom, experience, resumes or income to keep them out of poverty. But as they age and gain work experience and the wisdom on how to earn and save money they lift themselves out of poverty and often into financial well-being.

The author taking a break at his 3rd radio job in 1986 when my income rose to the grandiose level of $1000 per month.

The author taking a break at his 3rd radio job in 1986 when my income rose to the grandiose level of $1000 per month.

This was certainly true for this author. I have worked in the radio industry for my entire adult life. I began professionally in 1985 as a 21 year old country music DJ and part-time high school sports play-by-play announcer. This auspicious position paid me the awesome sum of $600 per month. A little extra scrambling for more work usually got my check up to $650.00. And that was gross income, paid to me with only one pay check per month. I worked 50-60 hours per week, 6 days per week; thus not allowing me to hold a second job. I was poor. I didn’t qualify for food stamps. At the time I did apply and was told I made exactly $5.00 too much each month to qualify. I lived on Top Ramon, Mac & Cheese, and Cheerios. Oh…and beer. Priorities, right?

Twenty years later my income climbed to a level in 2004 where my earnings put me in the upper 2-3% of income earners. I owned a home, a rental property, and was raising a family. In 2005 I started my own business, Total Broadcasting Service.

Total Broadcasting owner Michael Schuett does most of the camera work provided to customers, both still and video.

Total Broadcasting owner Michael Schuett does most of the camera work provided to customers, both still and video.

And I’m not special. Lots of people can tell the same story.

The myth that poverty is a life sentence has two deleterious effects. If believed by some of those in poverty it helps keep them in need. It also discourages generous giving from many who could dramatically impact the lives of those in poverty. “Why give if these lazy, drug using poor people are only going to use my money to get drunk and high and buy tattoos and other frivolous expenses? I was poor and I lifted myself up. They should do the same.”…or so seems to be the thinking.

When its understood that poverty is more usually a temporary condition Americans can feel more comfortable generously offering a hand up while not seeing it as a hand-out. If someone is too young to have learned and earned you are more likely to see their potential and give them the assistance you probably benefitted from in your own youth. When its plain that a medical condition has prevented a person from working and they lost their income and haven’t yet found a means by which they will eventually support themselves, you can maintain a much higher level of empathy for their plight. Even when someone’s own poor decisions or foolishness have driven them to the poor house, you can feel a greater desire to help them get back to being self sustaining if you have the confidence of knowledge that most people in their positions will use your generosity wisely to change the direction of their lives and improve their situation.

My faith tells me that its my responsibility to help those in need. But if my faith (or yours) didn’t dictate charitable giving, common sense would. Few people, regardless of political persuasion, like the government’s gun to your head (otherwise known as the IRS) approach to monetary redistribution. And frankly its terribly inefficient anyway. But many non-profit charitable and church based organizations provide efficient and meaningful help to the needy. 

One of these organizations in my community is Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County. I met it’s Director, Glenn Turner, this year. He carefully explained to me and others how EFP fills the gaps in food distribution for the needy. Food banks typically only provide food enough to last an individual or a family for 2-3 weeks per month. The obvious problem being that every month is at least 4 weeks. Emergency Feeding Program will help those who can’t provide for themselves over each month’s final 1-2 weeks with carefully constructed food bags tailored to the specific dietary and ethnic requirements of the recipient. They provide 15 different types of emergency food bags to match their clients. Emergency Feeding Program has been doing this since 1977, and are Washington State’s third largest food distribution service for the needy. And they do it through the generosity of people. They have many people who volunteer their time. And many generous people and organizations who donate food and money. You can help them too. And this writer hopes that you will.

Isn’t it easier to help knowing you are actually helping. Isn’t it best to look at those in poverty as merely folks who are down on their luck and with the kind and generous assistance you provide they won’t stay where they are; they’ll rise up support themselves and in the natural evolution of their lives help others; maybe even you, should you someday be a victim of misfortune, poor health or unfortunate decisions. 

We can’t and shouldn’t rely on government to carry us through. We’re a free nation. And we should be free to help those we want to help. And we should help. It’s in our best interest as well as the recipients of our generous money and efforts. 

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Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

As an addendum: Emergency Feeding Program is hosting its first ever Summer musical event to raise awareness and donations. Jazz on the Houser will be from 3-9pm Saturday August 23rd. Click here to learn more: http://www.emergencyfeeding.org/events-wedge-details/354217/1408824000

Robin Williams’ Death Scared Me

The Dark Tunnel

Depression is insidious. It’s a dark tunnel from which seeing the light is difficult. And when depression grabs you and holds you in its clutches its very hard to escape. When you’re a victim of depression you may find time and again reasons to carry on. But usually you’re only saved by the end of the day, or by a phone call from a friend. Getting through the day becomes the top priority, and a considerable challenge for those with depression. But time and again you do it. Time and again you overcome. And then…the next day comes.

Robin Williams couldn’t get through the day, yesterday. The end of the day or that phone call from a friend never came. He was trapped in his despair as he apparently had been many times in his life. But this time he failed to make it out alive. From what we know about this brilliantly talented man he successfully overcame his demons time and time again. But they kept returning. It’s like he gave us all so much; so much of his energy and his joy that when left to himself he had none left, he had no reservoir from which we all tap into in our souls, our minds, our hearts, our faith. From wherever Robin Williams achieved the self-preservation instinct to check himself into substance abuse rehab repeatedly, including last month, he couldn’t find it yesterday.

Darkness Comes with DepressionFor those like myself who had stared the blackness of depression in the face it represents a particularly scary event. I found myself asking “If this universally loved man can be taken by depression what’s to happen to me if my despair returns?”. And I asked,”If this man feels unloved, insignificant, or in some way a failure…what about me?”

Prior to eight months ago I didn’t know depression or understand it. I thought it was equivalent to sadness, which like everybody else I have experienced many times in my life. I thought depression might just be sadness x 2. It’s not. It’s sadness x 1000. It’s sadness on steroids with a jet rocket pack strapped to its back. It’s not what I thought. It’s so much worse.

When first depression hits many friends and acquaintances are curious and perhaps caring enough to lend an ear. But usually that’s about it. It’s an ear. After the depression lingers even close friends drift away. They don’t understand and they don’t want to be dragged down by the depressed person’s mood, darkness, troubles. It takes the truly compassionate with a degree of understanding to provide assistance. And it takes professional help. Friends too often think a kick in the butt, or a pep talk should be sufficient to help the victim of depression. And when that proves insufficient they move on. A professional has the education and understanding and hopefully the compassion from which help can be supplied.

As I emerge from the darkest period of my life I can thank some truly helpful people. They include a family counselor from my parish, supplied to me and other church members at no cost. She has been a God send for me. I hired a business coach to keep me on-task with my company knowing my personal troubles might make the business falter or even fail. He has been tremendously effective in exactly what I needed from him. A single individual long time friend who has experienced that which I experienced has never failed to be there for me. Unlike so many others…he never faded away. Lastly, my son. He has seemed to sense my challenges, though I never revealed them to him and did my best to protect him from my shadows. His love and compassion, his hugs, and smiles have been beyond what I would have expected from such a young man. I miss him, since he’s out on his own building his own life, tackling his own challenges. But he pops in and never fails to lift my spirits.

Total Broadcasting's Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

Total Broadcasting’s Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

I know Robin Williams felt unloved, unsuccessful, insignificant, and as he grew older perhaps he had a fear of his future, of aging. I don’t know specifically. But I know these are the issues that trouble the depressed. Even someone who is as loved and successful as the comedian and actor who blessed our lives for 40 years. But I have turned away from my initial fear. I can’t accept that his fate is my fate. I’m a different person. Unlike him I don’t have a substance abuse problem. I will overcome and live in the moment, for my future is scary. It’s scary because its unknown. But I will climb on that roller coaster and forgo the merry go round.

You can help those who face depression by making them feel significant, accomplished and loved. That’s what they need. And if they need it more than others…so be it. Give it to them. You are never diminished by holding someone up. Know that you are enhanced. And you too are significant and loved.

Total Broadcasting Service. When you want marketing help that you can understand and afford.

Total Broadcasting Service. When you want marketing help that you can understand and afford.

The Redskins name and my Sammamish Totems

Sammamish Logo

The Seattle Times newspaper announced today that it would join the ever-growing list of publications that will ban use of the name Redskins in future paper and online articles. The news comes one day after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled the name Redskins can no longer enjoy trademark protection because “€œbased on the evidence properly before us … these (trademark) registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.”.

In the Times article it is pointed out that my high school, Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, is one of many schools and organizations that has a name/mascot derived from Native American culture. Sammamish is “The Totems”. And the article points out that in addition to banning the racial slur Redskins from popular culture, that other sports teams and or schools are being encouraged to ban ALL nicknames derived from Native American culture.  This would include Chiefs, Warriors, Braves, Indians and on and on.

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I’ll admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I honestly never thought of my high school’s nickname as being Native American. Clearly it is. I just never thought about it. Even though the subject of removing the name Redskins and other less offensive Native American nicknames has been in the news for years, I never made the connection. Interestingly (for me) the Time’s article also points out one of the lone remaining school sports names in Washington that carry’s with it some racial over tones toward Native Americans (or any other ethnic group, I guess) is my Dad’s high school alma mater The Bellingham High School Red Raiders. While keeping the nickname the Bellingham School District years ago removed any logo or symbolism associated with Native Americans from its High School, choosing instead on displaying a Hawk in depicting Red Raiders.

So my questions are these: 

1. Should the NFL’s Washington football team change its name from Redskins?

2. Should ALL nicknames with Native American connotations be banned/removed?

3. Am I alone in not giving any thought toward my own school’s nickname…along these lines?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office admits in its report that only 30% of Native Americans surveyed find the term Redskins offensive. And survey’s of the team’s fans throughout the D.C. area strongly approve of owner Daniel Snyder’s stance to “NEVER change the name”.

My position is not unlike my thoughts about my own Totem’s nickname from my high school days. I’m rather indifferent. I see how the term Redskins can be offensive (who can’t?). But I also feel…INTENT has to play a big part in how a word is used. Nobody in their right mind believes Snyder or anyone associated with the Washington Redskins intends to offend anyone. It’s as if simply writing or saying the “n-word” is offensive; which it is…to a lot of people. I respect that. But I’m going to write it here, now. Nigger. Am I a racist? In the context of how I am using it I would openly and strongly call you an idiot for accusing me of being so. And my African-American wife, children, and friends would defend me; I’m sure. Still the word is offensive because of how it has historically been used, and the frequency with which its been used. The same can be said of the word Redskins. Though nobody with any scruples would use the word in any other way but as a reference to the football team. And such has been the case for decades. You can’t say that about the N-word.

Nonetheless, the tide to remove the name Redskins from the NFL football team is certainly unmistakable; and I predict it will be done in the next 2-3 years. Chalk up another one for political correctness. Still, it’s not something I don’t understand or would strongly argue.

However, to the politically correct wimps who would remove all nicknames, like my Totems, from schools and sports teams I would say, GROW UP. As I already pointed out, INTENT, must be taken into consideration when choosing to be offended otherwise you can find offense in way too many things in this world. The nursery level idiom “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, comes to mind. I could point out all the other nicknames of some racial derivation…like a lot of people arguing this point do…but I won’t. Because it’s a waste of time.

If someone offends you and does so intentionally or unthinkingly, do something about it. Say something. But if their Intent is non-offensive keep that in mind. When I was young and going to school studying broadcasting I created an audio character with an English accent named “Bueno Mike”. It was a character I used for product commercials. And it was intended to be funny. Bueno Mike was supposed to be an English explorer in the vein of “Stanley and Livingston”. I decided Bueno Mike needed an assistant and innocently came up with a new character I called “Sambo”. This was in 1985. My then-girlfriend, and future wife, was incensed. I had no ill-intent. I was thinking of the restaurant named Sambo’s, and the young Indian character who spun a tiger around a tree and turned him into butter. But my girlfriend couldn’t believe I would use a name so offensive. I admitted I didn’t know that it was offensive to African-Americans. But after she calmed down and explained it to me I didn’t hesitate to ditch the plan and not use the derogatory name. But I have to admit my girlfriends strong first reaction put me on the defensive and I was a little upset. Only through a calmer approach was my mind changed.

What do you think? I’m really interested in hearing from my fellow Sammamish Alums to my 3 earlier questions.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

Come to our Website for videos, special deals, and inspiration.

Come to our Website for videos, special deals, and inspiration.

 

What Business Owners Want

Total Broadcasting's Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

Total Broadcasting’s Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

My personal habits, likes and dislikes provide for some interesting contradictions. One that I admit to is the fact that I like quality service and products for myself and for my customers. In the eyes of many my other more overriding quality is that I am quite thrifty. Not cheap. I just don’t like spending money unnecessarily.

As with many I have translated my personality and preferences into what is offered my clients through Total Broadcasting Service, my video and audio production company in Seattle. I could get into great detail, but I won’t. Simply put, business owners want quality and lots of money-spending customers…but they don’t want to pay for it. Business owners want marketing exposure and the results good marketing and branding provides…but they don’t want to do a darn thing to facilitate this marketing. They want you to do it for them.  And far too many don’t want to pay you for the work you provide.

Hmmm….so as an owner of a business-to-business company with a goal of pleasing our customers and helping those business owners achieve their business and personal goals how do we overcome this clear contradiction in business owners wants?

Here is our personal example. Total Broadcasting Service was a pioneer in the video-marketing for the web services that are growing exponentially now. When we added video to our menu of services nearly 5 years ago our primary goal was to provide the service inexpensively, thus complying with this authors personal beliefs and desire to be thrifty. We worked hard to get early customers in a field for which we had nearly no experience. Upon reflexion I can say our videos weren’t very good. But they were cheap. Our practice was to get a customer, take their money, produce their video and provide it to them and then thank them, hoping they would use their videos well and call us again in the future with orders for more work.

You can probably guess what happened. The business owners took the videos and (presumably) stored them in their computers never to be seen again…by anyone…most notably their customers or potential customers. The business owners didn’t have the acumen or the time to acquire it to post their own marketing videos anywhere on the internet including their Social Media (“What’s that? Oh you mean Facebook and Tweeter or whatever its called?”) or their websites. As a result few of them called us back for more work and some looked at their time and money invested in the creation of the video as a waste.

Graphic Facebook Insights shows tremendous improvement in customer interactivity while employing added services, and a decrease when not.

Graphic Facebook Insights shows tremendous improvement in customer interactivity while employing added services, and a decrease when not.

So, we had some work to do. We chose to improve our services. Going forward, anyone we sold a video was going to have us post that video onto their own YouTube Channel, and if they didn’t have one we would create one for them; and we would post that YouTube video onto their Facebook business page, and if they didn’t have one we would create one for them.

Simultaneously while assuring that the videos we produced for our customers would at least have a chance of being seen or found we worked diligently at improving the quality of our videos. We learned better editing and production techniques and programs. We learned better methods and got better equipment for when we shot video.

The results were wonderful. As expected our customers benefited from the changes we implemented and didn’t mind the slight increases in pricing these changes required. And they showed their pleasure by routinely renewing their orders with us and keeping us growing as a company.

Skip forward a couple of years to 2014. The internet, marketing, search engines and social media are all constantly changing. What worked yesterday may no longer be a best practice. So it was with our video, social media, and internet marketing service. We added services since it became apparent our customers needed those added services to best market themselves and grow their business. With the added services our prices increased.

The good news is we made more money with a few customers who added these extra services and we were quickly able to graphically show results for our customers. The added services and expenses were proving to be worth it. The bad news…not enough business owners wanted or could afford to pay for the added services we felt would be necessary in today’s world of internet advertising. So we lost out on too many customers we otherwise might have been able to sign-up had we been offering them the earlier diminished services at lower prices.

The lesson learned; a lesson that is an age-old lesson in business, don’t give the customers what you think they need. Give the customers what they want. But we don’t have to be so cold about it. There is good news on the other side of this seemingly dark lesson. Once you give the customer what they want, you earn their trust. Upon earning their trust…you can add to the services you provide and grow your business with the customers you already have. After all, it’s an age-old business adage that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. In following this method everybody wins. And isn’t that what you were shooting for to begin with?

Make providing your customer what they want your top priority, work your butt off to make it serve them as best possible. Upon earning their trust and serving their wants…approach them again…give them what they need…and subsequently serve them better.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

 

Memorial Day Pictures From Tahoma National Cemetery

Memorial Flags IMG_2450 IMG_2451 IMG_2452 IMG_2453 IMG_2454 IMG_2455 IMG_2456

Flags and Flowers IMG_2472 IMG_2473 IMG_2481 IMG_2482 IMG_2483 IMG_2487

The $15 Minimum Wage and the Mood of Voters

 

 

 

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UPDATE: Yesterday, as expected, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage in the city which will be put into place gradually. Most businesses will have to comply with the highest level minimum wage in the nation by 2017, smaller businesses have until 2021 to comply. 

The People’s Republic of Seattle government has once again ignored the ages old teachings of Adam Smith by considering a plan to increase the minimum wage of workers within the city limits to $15 per hour. If approved it would make Seattle’s minimum wage FAR higher than any other city or state in the country. San Francisco, that West Coast Liberal bastion, previously held such a proud distinction with a minimum wage of $10.55 per hour. Seattle’s plan doesn’t so much resemble the “invisible hand” as it does represent an iron fist.

In 1776 with his magnum opus “The Wealth of Nations” Scottish economist Adam Smith described the invisible hand as the means by which industrialized nations attained prosperity by government staying out of a free market economy and letting the “invisible hand” dictate prices of products and services as well as wages of workers.

I always felt that if a person doesn’t like making the minimum wage, whatever that wage might be, they should make themselves a more valuable commodity (i.e. worker). Put in the time to gain experience. Put in the effort to educate yourself. Develop a craft. Sell yourself. Upon making yourself more valuable a company will surely find use for you and compensate you in a fashion that makes your desire to work well and stay with that company heightened. Hiring and then training new personnel is expensive and time-consuming for businesses. As long as other outside factors aren’t driving the business owner they will tend to pay good or fair wages for a good staffer.

There is no question the move toward a higher minimum wage in Seattle and elsewhere in the country is rolling down hill and gaining momentum. There is also little argument that the $15 level proposed in Seattle and approved by voters in the small town of SeaTac, just south of Seattle, is completely arbitrary. There is no relevant data to suggest that $15 per hour is the sweet spot between fair and unfair wages. Why not make the minimum wage $20 per hour? Why not make it $13? For the record a worker earning $15 per hour, working 40 hours per week, and working 50 weeks per year would earn $30,000 per year. For the record the poverty rate for a single individual is $11,670 and $27,910 for a household of 5. Those making less than those figures would be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Program). Is there anyone who couldn’t live fairly well on 30k annually? Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. I wonder how inspired you would be to improve yourself, educate yourself, grow your income if you weren’t so motivated to do so prior to being handed a wage that allows you to live as comfortably as $30k per year would allow you to work. Keep the hateful comments to yourself. I am not suggesting that $30k is a LOT OF MONEY.  Clearly it’s not for many people. But its a helluva lot for a 19-year-old high school dropout with no employment track record.

I also look at another bit of recent local, Washington State and Seattle, news being related to this subject. Last month King County voters rejected Proposition One to raise taxes to maintain current Metro bus service at existing levels. Ultra Liberal Seattle and King County voters rejected a tax increase to maintain, MAINTAIN, BUS SERVICE…a service that caters almost exclusively to people of lower-income. Seems like a contradiction of terms doesn’t it?

So what does this mean? Can we read the tea leaves and make a determination on our future? Seems to me the people of King County want and probably need more money in their pockets. Unemployment in Washington State has dropped to pre-recession levels of 6.1% in April. In the Seattle-Metro area the unemployment rate is 5%. The federal unemployment rate also hit new post recession lows last month. So…what gives? Higher taxes and lower wages is what gives. People are not thriving. They want more money.

I do not hold to the Libertarian point of view that there should be no minimum wage and government should stay out of it. Unfortunately so much government involvement already makes that dream completely unrealistic. Nonetheless a $30,000 minimum wage seems far beyond reasonable for someone handing out McCheeseburgers and fries. The minimum wage ought to be as low as possible; my suggestion would be $9.89 per hour to comply with the Federal standards of what constitutes poverty for a family of three. If you have a family of more than three and you make the minimum wage…learn to watch movies at night.

Any minimum wage law should include other requirements. It should be two-tiered. One minimum wage that’s lower for teenagers, and one that’s higher for adults. Teen unemployment nationwide is already at an incredible 19.1%. And keep in mind that only includes those who have previous employment in which to claim they are unemployed. The real number is MUCH MUCH higher. A $15 minimum wage, if universal, would grow teen unemployment to almost 100%. Such an occurrence would make saving for, or paying for college nearly impossible; subsequently putting more of a strain on Mom and Dad or simply denying a higher education to far too many deserving young people.

Another aspect of a very low minimum wage that I would like to see implemented is that it could only be used for a short period of time, perhaps 6-months or one year. Make it illegal to continue to employ someone at the minimum wage if they’ve proven their worth and the employer wants to keep them around. Naturally employers would know, or could be educated, that hiring and training a Newby would be more expensive and time-consuming than giving someone who was making minimum wage a well-deserved raise.

These ideas make sense in so many ways. Which is why they will never be implemented.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

 

YouTube vs. Facebook: Only One Of These Still Has An Audience | Betabeat

Is it possible that the King of social media could be taken down? The answer is…its already happening. Click on the link below for some hard facts about your need to put your business on YouTube.

YouTube vs. Facebook: Only One Of These Still Has An Audience | Betabeat.

Total Broadcasting Service puts you and/or your business on YouTube. You can’t use 20th Century business practices in the 21st Century and be successful. Grow your business. Join the 21st Century. Call Total Broadcasting: 425-687-0100.

 

Come to our Website for videos, special deals, and inspiration.

Come to our Website for videos, special deals, and inspiration.

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