2006 is gone… So What??

Well, I’ll tell you “so what.” At least from my way of thinkin’…

First, the year started out as good as it could… Texas walloped USC in the Rose Bowl, as Vince Young demonstrated his “unstoppableness” (my word, you can use it) against a team with two – count ‘em, TWO – Heismann Trophy winners. Methinks that the trophy voters should have reconsidered, as should the Houston Texans in ignoring Vince in their first round draft selection. But that’s another story; you don’t want me to start on that…

The rest of these are not necessarily in chronological order, nor are they in any sort of order of importance or significance. I’m just writing them as they come to me…

The democrats took control of both houses of congress in the November mid-term elections. The pundits are at odds on how much was a referendum against the war in Iraq, and how much was a call for “change” in general. Regardless, it’s significant, and will undoubtedly change the business and socioeconomic landscape in 2007.

Post Katrina efforts – wow, has that been crazy, or what?? One FEMA fraud after the other, tons of rebuilding efforts that have stripped down the supply of construction workers throughout the gulf coast, and likely much of the nation. It has certainly created an incredible demand around Houston for qualified workers. Most of the blaming for Katrina’s effects have subsided, finally, so people can focus more on the efforts necessary to put it back together.

Now, if New Orleans and the state of Louisiana could just marshal some credible leadership…

How about those one-quart airplane baggies? Do you hate them as much as I do?? I don’t know what bothers me more: that I have to put all my newfound miniature liquids in a one-quart zip-lock baggie (that must be zipped shut), or the fact that some rocket scientist really and truly believes this is somehow staving off a terrible incident. Let me get this straight – if I carry a 12-oz plastic bottle in my pocket, the metal detector we go through will never pick it up. But we believe the bad guys will somehow use a one-quart zip-lock bag so we can ensure there’s nothing bad going on?? Hmmm…

Immigration do-nothing. Non-reform. Whatever you want to call it. We have an issue; both sides of the debate acknowledge that we have an issue. Yet our lawmakers (on both sides of the aisle) are incapable of creating any legislative responses to the issue? Even, “we choose to maintain status quo” is an answer. This problem will not get better with age, and it’s here to stay. Big impact for 2007 as well.

Corporate malfeasance. I’d use an easier word, but would have to create a lengthy laundry list to cover all the transgressions this year. Seems we’ve finally put most of Enron to bed. Ken Lay passed away after sentencing, but before appeals, so his convictions have been overturned. Jeff Skilling received 24 years for his part in the demise. Andy Fastow, through some divine intervention, had his hardly noticeable sentence reduced between the time he made the deal and the time he was sentenced.

Then, there’s the stock-options back-dating brouhaha. Many a tens of millions have been cast aside or SEC-scrutinized these last several months, including some of the biggest names in corporate chiefdom.

Of course, there’s my favorite: Patricia Dunn’s corporate spying campaign at H-P. What in the world was she thinking?? Was she thinking? Could anyone really believe that was the right thing to do? Right when we start to think that “nothing can surprise us…” SURPRISE!!

Social networking became a household word. Web 2.0 brought us close, personal encounters via an impersonal internet, through such communities as myspace.com and youtube.com. And lest we think it was altruism or the desire to simply “create and online community,” how about the $1.6B (that’s “BILLION”) paid for youtube by Google, the online printer of American currency, who by the way, has a market cap far surpassing Ford Motor Co. Ford, less fortunately, is trading for less than 8 bucks a share… 8 bucks! They stand to lose about $10B this year (again, that’s BILLION”).

They say “billion” is the new “million,” and I’m believing it.

Of course, 2006 in review must include a look at energy prices. Gasoline soared to well over $3 per gallon in places, before settling comfortably, it seems, around the $2-$2.50 mark, a 30-50% increase from this time last year.

Philanthropy was alive and center-stage. Warren Buffet dusted off an old Berkshire-Hathaway stock certificate and walked it across the way to Bill and Melinda Gates to use appropriately within their charitable foundation. A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money…

And finally, the most significant 2006 event… that one single happening that effects us all so deeply and lastingly. Pluto was demoted. Once a fully-tenured planet, it now has been relegated to some odd dwarf status. I’m guessing all the scientific challenges facing us at the time had all been overcome, hence the available time to spend on something so incredibly significant to humanity and mankind. Ok, I’m cynical… but really, this was vital to the world’s survival and continued existence… how??

Hope your 2007 is starting out great…

KB

Kevin Berchelmann
www.triangleperformance.com

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