In my work as a ghostwriter, I meet a lot of wonderful people with interesting stories and lives. They inspire me, as does everything I read, hear, and see. Here, I share the thoughts and ideas that come… Read More
Why is no one talking about the $4 trillion in cash corporate America had on the books in January 2020? I read the Bloomberg Open and Close newsletters every day. Did I miss or not understand some bit of news in February, March, and April?
The financial state and fate of the U.S. postal service is a hot topic in political forums this week (April 27 through May 1, 2020). It joins on-going questions about the economy, the physical and financial health of the U.S. workforce, the public health responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, when a vaccine will arrive, and when life, work, and the economy will return to normal. A question not on the table, though, is corporate America’s $4 trillion in cash. Unless, of course, all that cash just disappeared.
We ask whether the federal government should provide financial support (aka a bailout) to keep the USPS operating past September 2020. It’s a good question, but we get caught up in the debate. Some people believe that the Constitution requires that the government fund the USPS to keep it operating. Others think the government’s money (that is, our taxes) are better spent otherwise and believe privatizing does not violate the Constitution.
The USPS debate; the arguments between Congressional Republicans and Democrats about the Coronavirus stimulus package; the arguments between governors and President Trump about when and how to relax stay-at-home guidance; the militaristic actions of protestors in Michigan; and the rapid deterioration of the economy over the past three months have roiled our minds for weeks.
Sometimes, the questions we ask are like the distractions a magician uses to perform a trick.
The questions provide a distraction from the discomfort of social isolation, the financial fear, and the fear of a disease we don’t yet understand.
I tried to find a way out of the anxiety going round and round, faster and faster—I have never liked amusement park rides down monster-filled dark tunnels. I read the Book of Job. I wrote a list of my top ten reasons to appreciate social distancing.
But, my anxiety turned to anger as I looked at photographs of mass burials in New York and read stories about meat production employees packed into workplaces that killed them and drove the pandemic into their families and communities.
My anger turned to rage at photographs and stories of farmers destroying food—potatoes, chickens, milk—because it was produced for restaurants that are now closed. Ten thousand people in Texas were in line to get food from a pantry, and we can’t figure out the logistics of redirecting food from restaurant use to groceries and food banks. We can give the agriculture industry $23.5 billion, but we can’t figure out how to buy excess food and distribute it to people who need it.
Once I reinstated a calmer mind, I began to ask other questions. A little Googling produced interesting information, as I pointed out at the beginning:
In a Harvard Business Review article from January 17, 2020, I read that “U.S. non-financial corporations are sitting on just over $4 trillion dollars in cash, according to the latest Flow of Funds estimates…”
According to an article in the Washington Post on March 26, 2020, the coronavirus stimulus package is $2 trillion.
I wonder what corporations are doing with that $4 trillion in cash.
I’ve been quiet here, but that’s because I’ve been writing at Countable. Check it out. It’s a version of democracy in action and less of an echo chamber than other discussion forums.
My strengths include developmental, substantive, content, line, and general editing.
Whether I’m involved with developmental editing or ghostwriting, I ensure that my work conveys the author’s intended meaning to readers.
♦ I’m the Boss of Me: A Guide to Owning Your Career by Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson FT Press, 2017).
♦ Tour Guide to Alternative Medicine, edited by Marilyn R. Freedman (TBD). [Originally Mosby’s Tour Guide to Alternative Medicine, Mosby Editorial Board (St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Yearbook, 1997 unpublished).]
I’ve successfully edited college textbooks in economics, statistics, psychology, technology, nutrition, and health.
♦ Nutrition from Science to You by Joan Salge Blake, Kathy D. Munoz, and Stella Volpe (Pearson Education, 2014)
♦ Principles of economics by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Worth Publishers, 2006, 2009)
♦ Principles of economics by Michael Parkin (Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1993, 1996)
♦ Information Technology Project Management, 1st, 2nd, 8th editions, by Kathy Schwalbe (Course Technology, 2000, 2001, 2015)
♦ Information Technology & the Networked Economy by Patrick McKeown (Course Technology, 2003)
My specialties include: nonfiction in the social sciences, statistics, management, technology, applied sciences, and health.
I believe that family, work, and play are what make life rich and help us grow. Growth is what my life has been about from early on. To grow, you need teachers and directed practice. My closest teachers are my twins, older son, dog, and cat.
I’ve been growing in my career for more than 30 years, first editing best-selling college textbooks and now writing and ghostwriting, along with development editing. My most recent continuing education course was news writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester, NH.
I learn as much from my authors as I learn from my family, and I think they learn from me as well. But I’ll let my authors speak for themselves.
Fifteen presumably savvy guys—they are Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, all successful—walk into an Italian village to visit Brunello Cucinelli, who designs expensive sweatpants.
The next thing we know, Cucinelli runs a reality-bending photo of the group on his Instagram feed that includes two women not in the original, and GQ publishes the same photo as part of an article. (Ryan Mac, “This Picture Featuring 15 Tech Men and 2 Women Looked Doctored. The Women Were Photoshopped In.” Buzzfeed, June 12, 2019, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/tech-titans-women-fake-photoshop-cucinelli-gq)
The image is so obviously photoshopped that you have to wonder why Cucinelli’s company created and posted it. This is the obvious question. Cucinelli’s staff said they didn’t have a photo representing the entire group, so they created one.
Even so, two women among 15 men looks like tokenism.
I would expect a group of successful technology entrepreneurs to know that women are underrepresented in their industry. Do they care? Some of them do. Near the end of an interview with Quartz, published in October 2018, writer Leah Fessler prompted Reid Hoffman to reflect that, if given a redo of his college years, he would “make a proactive effort to be closer friends with more women at Stanford.” (Leah Fessler, “Reid Hoffman Explains Why Privileged Silicon Valley Men Must Stand Up Against Sexism,” Quartz, October 30, 2018, https://qz.com/work/1408421/reid-hoffman-wishes-he-could-go-back-to-stanford-and-befriend-more-women/)
Regrets are only useful when they propel you to take action in the present.
Hoffman is a strong proponent of women’s rights, but maybe he could go further.
Why not try a social way to change underrepresentation at events like Cucinelli’s?
Bruno: Hey Reid, I’m inviting a few friends and colleagues to Solomeo to talk about improving the world for everyone.
Reid: Hi Bruno. Hey, I love your cashmere sweaters. Who else is going? My friend Susan loves your sweatpants. Is she going to be there?
Bruno: No, I don’t think we invited her.
Reid: Well, what about my friend Ginni. She’s the one who turned me on to your blazers. Is she going?
Bruno: No, I don’t think she is on the guest list either.
Reid: Did you invite Sheryl? She has a lot of great ideas to offer. Life has been rough on her the past few years. An uplifting event in a beautiful Italian village might take her mind off things.
Bruno: Sheryl? You mean Sheryl Sandberg? No, we didn’t invite her.
Reid: Did you invite any women?
Bruno: Let me look at the guest list. There are two.
Reid: Two. How many guys are going?
Bruno: We wanted to keep the group small, under 20, so we could have some good discussions. You know, an intimate event.
Reid: Bruno, I think a summit on how to improve the world is a great idea. Call me back next year when you’re inviting more of my women friends.
If each of those 15 men asked whether more than a token number of women—or African Americans or Latinx people—were invited and declined the invitation if the answer was “no,” the world would be a different, perhaps better, place. (Look closely at a photo of the group in discussion and tell me if you see an African American or Latinx individual among the men.)
Is it crass to ask who is on the guest list? Not when the stakes are so high. Not when greater diversity is part of how to make the world a better place.
If we want to make the world a better place, we need to ask uncomfortable questions.
Would any of those 15 men think to ask? Probably not.
If we want gender inequality to stop, we—in this case, men—need to make it stop. And that means men need to make different choices all the time.