Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas spirit headed off by Black Friday

I was appalled by the news that came out of New York on the occassion of Black Friday 2008. Black Friday, as you know is the most prolific shopping day of the year. It is the prime indicator of how retail sales are heading for the year. It is the occassion when the balance sheet takes on a blackish ( bullish ) hue as opposed to a reddish ( bearish ) hue. The headlines and downbeat of all the newscasts and editions was " Will Black Friday save us?" I have always been of the belief that the only thing that is going to save any of us is our faith in the Lord Jesus, whose birth we supposedly hold this Holiday for in the first place.

As you know a WalMart crowd in NYC trampled to death an employee as they charged the gates upon the opening of the store on Black Friday. It is reported that once recognizing the man was down and injured the crowd politely stepped around him in their rush to grab the deals. What a living characterization of what the practice of the Christmas Season has become.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this in his classic I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. He said "And in despair I bowed my head. There is no peace on earth I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on earth good will to men." He penned that somewhere around 1850.

Here we are 158 years later pretty much in the same boat. India threatens Pakistan. Iran calls Israel the Great Satan. The United States is more divided than ever within our own borders. Our greed and stampeding the door of human kindness has cost us our souls. Bail outs abound. Political divide roars in our ears. Here in the Realtor world greed has driven the American dream of home ownership out of existence. Every other commercial you see on TV is for treatment of depression.

Longfellow continues: " Then peeled the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead nor does He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth good will to men." He was certainly an optimistic fellow was he not? Since he wrote those words we have had two World Wars, The Korean war, the Vietnam War and now the war on terror. I hope he is right.

I remain optimistic that the right shall prevail. We may not like the format in which it is delivered, but I am confident that right shall prevail. It has to, otherwise what are we bothering to struggle for?

I had a conversation with my son recently. He is a Deputy Sheriff. He says this time of the year is the busiest in his work place. Especially calls for domestic violence seem to ramp up appreciably. I asked him what he thought the reason was. He said it is because the Holidays bring people together to celebrate the season. Those families that are dysfunctional hope to come together and be different people around the dinner table. However, as everyone dips into their 6th round of wine, beer, spirits, the divide that exists between them all the other days of the year becomes pronounced. That is when the fighting begins. Out come the sharp verbal flairs. Then out come the fisticuffs, the knives and, yes, the firearms.

I remember when my son had first become a Deputy my wife and I wanted to see him on Christmas Eve as he worked. I made some of my world famous vegetable soup and we drove south about 25 miles to meet him and share soup with him. He was not able to meet with us as he had to go to a domestic violence call and arrest a lady for stabbing her Father.

That brings me back to NYC and the Black Friday incident. Where have our values gone? Where has common decency flown to? The news just gets worse and worse.

I notice that my neighborhood is lagging far behind in the adornment of Christmas lights this season. Many houses that have previously gleamed with lights of the season are dark. It could be the recession-like depression that we are in. Or perhaps it is just the culmination of a nation that has fought hard to preserve our old fashioned way of life and has failed. We are face to face with what really drives America. What is it? Greed and selfishness ,greed and selfishness and more greed and selfishness. I am struggling hard this year to find some Christmas spirit. Hope you are doing better at it than I am.

Visit me on the web at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have cut and pasted for your review the recent Gallup polling results for those most respected professions in our Society. For several years in a row nurses have enjoyed the top spot followed by pharmacists, teachers and medical doctors. I have highlighted in green the area where Realtors rank.

Not surprisingly Realtor's professional image is iffy amongst those who were surveyed. Why do you suppose? Well I think we are right in there with the Bankers and Congessmen who are suspect by most of America for the economic meltdown we have experienced in the last year. Front and center is the housing industry.

I think the take home message is this. If you decide to sell a house or buy a house, hook up with the most ethical agent you can find. Ask your friends who they like. Look up their license through the state licensing boards. See if they have any complaints lodged against them. There are many, many honest people in this business. If you don't know real estate, make sure you know your Realtor.

November 24, 2008
Nurses Shine, Bankers Slump in Ethics Ratings
Annual Honesty and Ethics poll rates nurses best of 21 professions
· Ethics
· Moral Issues
· Americas
· Northern America
by Lydia Saad
PRINCETON, NJ -- For the seventh straight year, nurses enjoy top public accolades in Gallup's annual Honesty and Ethics of professions survey. Eighty-four percent of Americans call their honesty and ethical standards either "high" or "very high."
This year's results are based on a Nov. 7-9 USA Today/Gallup poll rating the honesty and ethics of workers in 21 different professions.
Nurses have topped Gallup's Honesty and Ethics ranking every year but one since they were added to the list in 1999. The exception is 2001, when firefighters were included on the list on a one-time basis, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Firefighters earned a record-high 90% honesty and ethics rating in that survey.)
Bankers Take a Hit
The standing of most of the professions surveyed in 2008 is similar to that of a year ago. The only significant change is a 12 percentage-point decline in positive ratings for bankers, from 35% to 23% -- not surprising given that the banking industry is at the center of the Wall Street meltdown currently gutting many Americans' investment accounts and destabilizing the U.S. economy. (Earlier this year, Gallup reported a similar decline in public confidence in banking as an institution.)
The 2008 Gallup Honesty and Ethics poll marks the first time since 1996 that the honesty and ethics of bankers has registered below 30%. The last time bankers took a hit of similar magnitude to their image was in 1988, when it fell from 38% to 26% during the savings and loan crisis. However, the 23% recorded today marks a record low for the field.
2008 Integrity Rankings
Nurses have no peer in the Gallup rankings today, but they are followed by pharmacists, high-school teachers, and medical doctors, all with close to two-thirds of Americans rating them highly. Just over half of Americans consider the honesty and ethics of clergy members and the police high or very high.
While fewer than half of Americans consider funeral directors or accountants to be highly ethical, these professions are much more likely to be viewed positively than negatively.

Building contractors, bankers, journalists, and real estate agents each receive relatively neutral ratings. About as many Americans think each of these professions has low honesty and ethics as rate them highly, while the plurality or majority consider these professions of "average" integrity.

While bankers could be faring much worse, a year ago they were in the top-rated category, with 35% rating their ethics high or very high and only 15% rating them low or very low.
Indeed, several professions suffer from a heavily negative tilt in their image ratings. The worst of these are lobbyists, telemarketers, and car salesmen, all of which are considered to have low or very low honesty and ethics by a majority of Americans.
Although several other professions -- congressmen, stockbrokers, advertising practitioners, business executives, lawyers, and labor union leaders -- are not as negatively viewed as the bottom three, the ratings for them skew negative by more than a 2-to-1 ratio. The 12% very high/high honesty and ethics ratings for business executives, although not appreciably different from the 14% recorded in 2007, is a record low for that profession. It had registered as high as 25% in 1990 and 2001.
Survey Methods
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 7-9, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Visit me on the web at

Aretha sings it: