Friday, May 15, 2009

When Opportunity Exceeds Public Awareness

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, May 15, 2009

I am convinced that there are more opportunities out there in the world than people who are aware of them. As a community activist, I am flood with information daily, about job openings, about youth summer employment and programs, about scholarships and internships, about donors willing to give to a good cause, about potential volunteers who would donate their services if they only knew where to plug in. And so, the list goes on. But the people who would benefit the most are vaguely aware of these opportunities.

Maybe we can begin with the “Reticular Activating System”, a concept taught to me by motivational speaker Les Brown. People look for what they expect to find, and most people do not look to find opportunities, let alone the “opportunity of a lifetime”.

The second hypothesis is our ill-designed information distribution system. We simply are not getting the information to the people who need it the most. And considering the public’s lack of appetite for reading material, we employ the wrong format to reach our audience.

Where do you find these people who need these opportunities? Remember, most of them are not looking for opportunities. They search primarily for something more immediate, something that will scratch today’s itch, leaving tomorrow to fend for its self.

The Reticular Activating System requires visualization and comparison. For Les Brown’s example, suppose I bought a red Volvo. I drive up and down the highway through traffic and barely pay attention to the rest of the cars. But a red Volvo, just like my own, “jumps out” at me.

Why? There is something going on inside the head, on the subliminal level.

Using the same principal and utilizing Visualization, we can envision a map of the future, the place where we would like to be in our lives, the ideal goal and lifestyle.

What do we envision? What is it that we would like to be? How would we like to live?

Here comes the hard question: How clearly can you see this Vision?

Some people draw a blank. And, where there is no Vision, the people perish.

But those with a vision are challenged to attain their goals. If the Vision is clearly embedded in the mind, on the subliminal level, then opportunities towards reaching their goals will jump out at them like that red Volvo.

Les Brown taught this lesson to a group of prisoners at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. This was his way of “giving back” to the community, he claimed.

What good did the lesson do?

I was in that audience. I envisioned freedom. I envisioned an ultra-modern world of computers, glass skyscrapers, and widespread automation, microwave ovens, calculators, and highways in the sky. Time had stopped for me in 1972. It would start back in the Orwellian futuristic year of 1984. I anticipated “Future Shock”, as described by Alvin Toffler, a quantum leap into an unknown world.

By the grace of God, on April 26, 2009, I celebrated my Silver Anniversary of Freedom. Success may be defined as that point in time when preparation meets opportunity. Getting information to an unprepared people is like giving a newspaper to the blind.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Undoing of Suzette Watkins

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

After last night’s debate, I laughed at Suzette Watkins and told her that she had picked a bad year to run for office. But I kept reminding myself to be nice. That’s why I chocked into laughter, trying to hold back. Lord knows, I hate politics.

Suzette is running against District 8 City Council’s incumbent Kathleen Hicks, the favored home girl. Suzette migrated into the ‘hood in the mid-1990s, but she had a host of supporters with her at the forum.

The event was hosted by the Historic Southside Neighborhood Association, and it was an event I could not miss. There was an overflow crowd, maybe 200 people. It had been billed as an opportunity to meet the candidates and ask them question.

District 8 is my turf. This is where I live. Anybody who represents District 8 must come through me. A candidate may be able to slide past the public and into office, but not in District 8.

The people in District 8 proved to be very well educated in political matters. Their questions reflected the depth of knowledge and awareness, above and beyond Ms. Watkins’ comprehension. She repeatedly asked, “Will you repeat the question?” And, she had a poor command of facts, data, and statistics. Wherein, her opponent, Kathleen Hicks swam in it, with a long list of accomplishments to boot.

The crowd was partisan. Pro-Watkins supporters applauded their candidate’s answers. Pro-Hicks supporters did the same. And, nobody was really listening, especially Suzette. Moreover, she wasn’t looking.

When people are not looking, they can get blindsided.

The moderator read my question last. It was a three-prong question, designed to confound the inferior candidate. The answer required focusing on three unrelated questions- that is, unrelated to the audience, but not unrelated to Suzette Watkins.

She babbled like an idiot. (I know, shame on me for saying so.)

I had borrowed a page from psyche wars against the CIA in the 1970s, and the Art of Confounding the Enemy. It is based upon the hypothesis that when the brain misfires, the mouth will follow. The 3-prong questioning technique was ideal for this purpose.

The first question would put the candidate in a damn-if-I-do/damned-if-I-don’t situation, where both a Yes or No answer is wrong. The second question aims at the subliminal area of guilt and self-defenses. The third question was the absurd attention breaker.

The 3-prong question stretches the attention span, sometimes to its limits and beyond. But by the time Suzette heard all three questions in succession, she lost it. She lost focus by a broken attention span.

Here is what happened.

QUESTION ONE: Do you support President Barack Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan?

Clearly, all of District 8 constituents were in favor of the stimulus. Suzette could have simply said YES and, at least, win some brownie points in the crowd.

But she could not say YES while being recorded. Why?

QUESTION TWO: Do you support the Tea Party?

City council seats are non-partisan. So, the question was not about party affiliation, but Republican Party sentiments and Tea Party revolt.

(I have been secretly reading her Facebook and knew, beforehand she vocal in the protest against Obama economic policies)

QUESTION THREE: Do you support Gov. Rick Perry’s talk about secession?

The question evoked laughter throughout the entire room. This was a comic relief to all except Suzette.

“Will you repeat the first question, please?” The candidate requested.

“Do you support President Barack Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan,” the moderator repeated.

Then it happened. SNAP!

“This is above my pay grade,” she started. As she continued, her arms flailed in the air like a bird flapping her wing, realizing probably just how stupid her answer sounded, and how weak it mimicked a similar Obama remark. But there was no laughter at her attempted joke. She bombed.

“I don’t know about all the millions and billions,” she continued. Then she moved on to the second question. I could only think that, if she does not know about millions and billions, how could she do a city budget, which is also measured in millions and billions. I gathered that she had no sense of large numbers as her arm flailed over her head.

Her opponent, Kathleen Hicks hit a home run on the questions.

“Yes,” she declared, pointing out the fact the Obama stimulus dollars were already coming into District 8, and where those dollars were going, and who was being helped by it. "Yes, we must fight for our share to tax dollars."

On the way out, Suzette Watkins got my attention: “Are you Mr. Griffin?”

I wished that I had said, “No ma’am I ain’t.”

Friday, April 3, 2009


Imagine what it must have felt like to receive an invitation to the White House. Images of sugar plumbs must have been dancing in their heads, when the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world received invitations from President Barack Obama.

But it wasn’t that kind of party.

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House, austere and barren to the bone, save a single glass of water for each, without ice, the CEOs had not even a morsel of bread to be washed down with their water. And, “For those who finished their glass," writes Eamon Javers of Politico, "no refills were offered."

One of the attendees described it as a “Spartan message” to the bank executives. This was not Santa Land or Disney World, as in good ole days, with cocktails all around, and laughter and plenty of idle chatter and backslapping.

This had the feel of something ominous.

From the White House, there were five principal attendees: chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who arrived a few minutes late, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman Christina Romer, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers. Uncharacteristically, Summers said almost nothing, and it appeared to one participant as if he had been told to remain silent.

To break the ice, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon offered Geithner a fake check for $25 billion, the amount of Troubled Asset Relief Program money that the company has accepted. Although many of those in the room laughed, Geithner didn’t keep the check.

The president entered the room a few minutes later and made a lap of the table, shaking hands and saying hello to the CEOs, several of whom he called by name.
Taking his seat at the table, the president said, “So let’s get to it.”

The president spoke of public outrage over the high-flying executive lifestyle. “The anger gentlemen, is real,” Obama said. He urged pay reform and said rewards must be proportional, balanced, and tied to the health and success of the company.

And, so the story goes. They offered to give the TARP money back. In fact, they begged to give it back... almost as if anything would be better than regulation that would cap their salaries and bonuses.

JPMorgan’s Dimon insisted that he’d like to give the government’s TARP money back as soon as practical, and asked the president to “streamline” that process.

But Obama didn’t like that idea — arguing that the system still needs government capital.

The president offered an analogy: “This is like a patient who’s on antibiotics,” he said. “Maybe the patient starts feeling better after a couple of days, but you don’t stop taking the medicine until you’ve finished the bottle.” Returning the money too early, the president argued could send a bad signal.

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis cracked a joke at the expense of his peers who’d lavished praise on the administration: “Mr. President,” he said, “I’m not going to suck up to Geithner and Summers like the other CEOs here have.”

Obama gets the respect, but his advisors get the heel. Why would Lewis feel as though he would have to “suck up to Geithner and Summers”? It sounds personal to me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment event

Health Insurance for kids!

Host: Surviving a Lay-Off in Tarrant County

Type: Education - Workshop

Network: Global
Start Time: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 7:00am
End Time: Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 7:00pm
Location: Locations throughout Tarrant County

Enrollment events are scheduled throughout Tarrant County. Pass this on to any families you know who have children without health insurance!

Thursday, March 26
7:00AM-9:00AM Erma Nash Elementary, 1050 Magnolia St.
Mansfield, TX 76063

11:00AM-2:00OPM Northside Community Center, 1100 NW 18th Street, Fort Worth, TX 76164

1:00PM-4:00PM Saginaw UMC, 209 Bluebonnet Street
Saginaw, TX 76179

4:00PM-6:00PM Erma Nash Elementary, 1050 Magnolia St.
Mansfield, TX 76063

Tuesday, March 31

4:00PM-7:00PM Richland Hills UMC, 7301 Glenview Dr.
North Richland Hills, TX 76180

Saturday, April 4
10:00AM-2:00PM Fiesta, 4200 South Freeway
Fort Worth, TX 76115

10:00AM-2:00PM Fiesta, 245 N.E. 28th Street
Fort Worth, TX 76106

10:00AM-2:00PM Fiesta, 2700 8th Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76110

10:00AM-2:00PM Fiesta, 421 West Bolt Street
Fort Worth, TX 76110

10:00AM-2:00PM Fiesta, 7809 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That’s My Boat, Y’all

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, March 6, Secretary of the Navy Donald Winters announced that the newest littoral combat ship (LCS) will be named USS Fort Worth.

The announcement comes nearly three years after the grassroots effort began by Congresswoman Kay Granger and the community to name the ship after the city in honor of Fort Worth’s rich military history.

“What a remarkable day for our city of Fort Worth,” Granger said. “The thousands of letters, drawings, phone calls, and outpouring of support from the community over the last couple of years showed the Navy just how special this is for us. This was truly a community wide effort.”

The littoral combat ship is a 21st century ship that is designed to allow access to shallow coastal waters for missions such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare. It will also be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads that can be changed out quickly to accommodate various missions.

The USS Fort Worth will be designated LCS-3 and will be built by Lockheed Martin. It will be 378 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 57 feet, displace approximately 3,000 tons and will make speed in excess of 40 knots. Based on previous LCS construction timelines, the USS Fort Worth is slated for completion around 2012.

“The LCS is a state-of-the-art combat ship that will continue to put our Navy at the cutting edge of naval warfare,” Granger said.

Currently, the USS Freedom (LCS-1) is the only littoral combat ship in service. Another ship, LCS-2, is being built and will be named the USS Independence. The vessels in the Freedom class are named after American mid-sized cities, small towns and communities.

“Fort Worth is steeped in military tradition and has always been a patriotic community,” Granger said on Friday. “Today is a well deserved honor for our community.”

Friday, November 14, 2008

A-Minus for Jack Z. Smith in Economics 101

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, November 14, 2008

I would not call Jack Z. Smith, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a one-day wonder in economics. But I agree with him on some things in his recent editorial “Job 1” for President Barack Obama. But there is a minor disagreement on bailing out the financial institutions, based upon my understanding of Economics 101.

I agree with the proposed financial assistance for the automakers. This is Jobs 1.

Employers shed 240,000 jobs in October, the 10th consecutive month of job losses, which total 1.2 million for the year. The unemployment rate has risen to 6.5 percent, says Smith.

It is obvious: First things first. Stop the bleeding. This can be done by job retention in the auto industry, jobs creation in the public works and government sectors, and extending unemployment benefits.

It is important to note this observation by Z. Smith:

It seems as if almost everyone in the business world is retrenching these days — even normally full-speed-ahead billionaire Boone Pickens of Dallas. He and his investment firm have lost $2 billion from plunging energy prices.

As goes the oil market, so goes the energy industry. Unless the utility rates are held artificially high, wind power energy does not look as profitable to private investors. As for Pickens’s planned wind farm, Smith writes: “He’s putting on hold a huge Texas Panhandle wind farm with a price tag of $10 billion-plus.”

This is not the death knell for wind and solar powered energy. To the private sector, the ROI (return on investment) window is too long. But to the public sector, the investment would have an indefinite life span, thus providing the infrastructure for new employment, and an optimistic window of opportunity into the new 21st century society.

Here is an opportunity for a government public works project.

Barack Obama will be a forward-thinking president, one who knows that clean energy would solve two problems at once. First, it would help save the planet, and secondly provide jobs for a future energy industry.

The president-elect is also efficient, taking what legislation, laws, policies, and executive orders that already exist on the books and using them immediately to tackle the sore spots in the national economy, rather than wholly reinventing the wheel in his own image and waiting for new legislation from the Congress.

Z. Smith writes:

We need to take well-thought-out measures to shore up financial institutions. But we also must put a focus on minimizing unemployment and creating jobs.

The federal and state governments could do that by accelerating funding for badly needed infrastructure projects, including construction, expansion and repairs for roads, bridges and transit systems. With gas prices tumbling, long-overdue increases in state and federal fuel taxes could help pay for the projects, as an alternative to increasing already-high budget deficits.

Very good, Mr. Smith, you deserve an A-minus.

But I have a problem with the idea of “shoring up financial institutions” because of the popular myth that purports the DOW Jones to be index of the nation’s financial health. Far from the truth, is signifies Wall Street’s health. We just have all bought into the notion that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.

We the stock market began its free fall, we are lead to believe that the sky is falling upon all of us. But the black cloud is only over Wall Street, and not the rest of America. We have a problem with the “trickle down” mechanism in the trickle down economy. There is too much drinking at the top and allow a sip at the bottom.

The problem with Ronald Reagan’s "Trickle Down Theory", as it applies to the current crisis, is the fact we forget that market behavior is human behavior, and who can figure out human behavior? Investors buy because they want to make a profit. They sell because of God knows what. That the stock market is currently jumping around in positive and negative territory can probably be best described as a game of financial chicken: Who can leave their money in the financial instruments and stocks long enough to reap a good gain, and who will get scared and pull out of the market first? This is why we saw a string of late day sell offs.

Maybe a fireman can put a fire out by spraying the roof. But if the fire is in the basement, why are we pouring out the Treasury up top of financial institutions. This kind of bailout does not pay the mortgage or consumer credit card debt. It only allows the financial institution investors to recuperate their losses, re-inflate their stock value, and receive deferred un-taxable capital gains, and dividends. This is Bailout Wall Street 101.

NEXT: The Law of Circulation Key to Economic Recovery

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Follow the bouncing Economy

Compiled by Eddie Griffin with Commentary

Thursday, November 13, 2008


WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats are marshaling support for a rescue package to pump $25 billion in emergency loans to U.S. automakers in exchange for a government ownership stake in Detroit's car companies.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., are developing legislation that would let the auto industry tap into the $700 billion Wall Street rescue money, approved by Congress last month, to fund their business operations.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday that the auto sector was "critical" but that the financial industry rescue was not designed for car companies. "Any solution has got to be leading to long-term viability" for auto companies, Paulson said.



Too many hands are at the wheel on the bailout package, and the Treasury Secretary is swerving all over the road to economic recovery.


The Washington Post reports:

In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury's massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country's largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.
Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.

Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.



These are ripe circumstances to plunder the U. S. Treasury and leave the next President holding the bag with the hole in it.


Oil prices continued to slide, to near $55 a barrel Thursday before rebounding slightly, as bad economic news from the world's largest economies heightened fears that a global downturn will slash demand for crude.

By the afternoon in Europe, light, sweet crude for December delivery was up 44 cents to $56.60 a barrel, after falling to as low as $54.67, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.



Remember all the campaign signs that said: DRILL HERE and DRILL NOW. Drilling new offsite oil wells would help lead us to economic recovery. At $55 a barrel, the exploration and drilling is not worth it.


Drilling explorations will not factor into the immediate economic recovery. Therefore, offshore drilling and Alaskan explorations need to be tabled. We must examine the theory behind the assumptions and actions now being taken by the government.

The Ronald Reagan Trickle Down Theory is a top-down approach to expanding the economy. Even if the theory were valid, the U. S. economy must get up and back running as soon as possible. Trickle Down from the banks to the consumers was too slow. Those who suffered the greatest financial losses in the free fall of the market were looking to be first for recuperating equity value from the government’s $700 billion infusion.

What have we purchased so far with the $700 billion? Can anyone tell me, with certainty, since the report is late and overdue and there are no overseer occupying the Oversight position as required by the legislators, what have we gotten back for our taxpayer buck?

Do we own 80% of AIG? Why leave 20% privately own and we, taxpayers, have no voting power as to who constitutes the boards and executive payer. Are we, indeed, proposing more cash infusion into the company?

One day, Treasury Secretary Paulson was planning to buy up financial institutions’ “toxic assets”. Then he scraps that plan to move on to proposing to buy up bank stocks. I can hardly hold my breath for the next change in course. I’m getting dizzy trying to watch the bouncing ball.

Somebody doesn’t know what they are doing. (Mark that as the understatement of the year).


Since some banks are hording their capital, they need not be given another dollar of taxpayer money. And, the same applies for banks that use their government cash infusion to re-inflate their stocks and pay dividends. Bonuses and excessive compensation for poor performance should not be tolerated. Heads should roll, and white collar criminals sent to prison.

The Auto Industry needs financial help to stave off bankruptcy. Should we or shouldn’t we? The Treasury Secretary says no.

When we bailed out Wall Street, we opened the floodgates every distressed industry in the nation, the auto industry included. But here is a key sector of our economic with the largest percentage of our skill workforce. Why should they go to flipping burgers?

The financial aid to be given the auto industry should be, as with other bailout client, an investment into their stocks and restructuring of our public-private relationship. Any aid should be conditional upon technological advancement that leads us to energy independence.

NEXT: The Housing Industry.