Monday, June 05, 2023
Sending A Message
Saudi Arabia's decision to cut oil supply for the summer is sending a message. The kingdom stands on its own and is independent of what the rest of the world needs in energy. The Saudis have the oil: The world wants it. Be prepared to pay. While this short-term strategy will work for the country, it will fail in the long run. Higher fuel prices will stimulate EV sales and lower overall demand. The Saudis know this certainly and are riding the curve downward. There are still decades to go before the kingdom is no longer a factor in energy needs, but the process has started. In pursuit of price stability, they will eventually have to cut more production, then more still.
Friday, June 02, 2023
The Middle Holds
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy trusted his middle of the road Republicans to give him a win along with centrist Democrats. Both acted wisely and provided a glimmer of a path forward for Congress -- appealing to the middle with messages of consensus. This will anger Hard Right Republicans and Hard Left Democrats, but it can get the country's work done, providing budgets and appropriations and other laws. If McCarthy succeeds, he will be a friend of Biden who believes in making deals to move legislation forward. It is a statement that no one gets everything, but all get something. Would it be too much to ask Congress to move forward in this manner?
Thursday, June 01, 2023
The California power company, Pacific Gas and Electric, has escaped criminal charges for the role of its equipment in a major forest fire. Apparently a pine tree marked for removal but not cut down had fallen across its lines and sparked the blaze. The utility has already paid a $50 million fine related to the fire but the district attorney's of the counties affected wanted more -- criminal negligence. They didn't get it. The message that PG&E sent after the decision was focused on supporting the good faith judgements of its workers. That might seem hollow for those who lost everything in the fire, but there is little more the company can say. There are times when no messages suffice for events that have occurred. This is one.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the fraudulent Theranos blood-testing company, is now in prison for 11 years. It has been a long fall for her and a lesson to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to avoid faking it until you make it. It is a reminder to communicators everywhere to stick to facts and to avoid puffery, especially in public companies. Theranos was a company built on a lie that its technology worked. It didn't and never did. When investigative reporters discovered the fraud, it was swiftly over for the company and the beginning of extensive legal troubles for Holmes. Her fall from grace was inevitable. Those who once supported her have turned their backs. She will be bunking with three other inmates in a minimum-security federal prison in Texas. Will she ever be able to live it down?
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
What Messages Now?
Now that Turkish leader Erdogan has won yet another term, the challenge will be the messages he feeds to his citizens in light of a falling lira and rampant inflation. He can distract them for a time with claims of fighting terrorism but sooner or later, Turks will want prices to stabilize so they can feed their families. What will he say then? He has flouted economic theory by pumping money into the country in an effort to slow inflation. It hasn't worked yet and most likely never will. Erdogan is a dictator with a firm grasp on power even though he was up for election. He has five more years to make his theories work. Bets are even that he solidifies his hold on his office whether or not he is voted in again.
Monday, May 29, 2023
Getting Into The Details
The Speaker of the House and the President now have scant time to sell the debt ceiling details to both sides of Congress. It is already clear that radical conservatives and left-wing progressives don't like it. It will be up to centrists on both sides to carry the day. No one wants the debt default so the messages of urgency and no one got all they wanted are the arguments from both the White House and the Speaker. There is more than a hint of a stampede in the making.
Friday, May 26, 2023
What do you do when a training program is abusive by its nature? This is the dilemma of the Navy's SEAL training designed to weed out 50% to 60% of candidates in its normal course. Sailors are put through hell in a week where they sleep but four hours and exercise constantly. It's the Navy's message to candidates that they are élite if they survive. Sadly, some of them don't, as this report indicates. The question for the trainers is how to push men beyond the extremes of pain without killing them? The program is meant to be harmful but not deadly. It's a conundrum the Navy will need to resolve -- and soon.