Making Character First: Building a Culture of Character in Any Organization, by Tom Hill with Walter Jenkins, Edmond, Okla.: Character First Publishers, LLC, 2010, 188 pages, -paperback.  Making Character First is the story of a flagging Oklahoma company’s about-face in a tough economy, the personal transformation of its president, and the birth of a revolutionary new business. The key to this miraculous turn-around: Making Character First. In an engaging, conversational style, author Tom Hill chronicles his discovery of the important role character plays in achieving success, and he has his company’s bottom line to prove it. His breakthrough came when he made a single but significant change in his human resources department. Hill stopped hiring employees principally for their skills and experience, and now hires and rewards individuals for their good character. This presumably counterintuitive decision has dramatically changed Hill’s business and personal life, and has since spread around the world to transform other lives and companies.
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s popularity in numerous polls is increasing daily, and while the founder and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza may portray himself as a principled conservative, an analysis of his campaign positions, especially his most controversial flat tax proposal, reveals serious concerns with Cain’s commitment to fiscal conservatism. Cain’s “9-9-9” tax plan calls for a complete overhaul of the current federal tax code, and it would replace the code, eventually and only temporarily, with three taxes — a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent business transactions tax, and a 9 percent federal sales tax. On paper, the first two look like cuts, because payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare (now nearly 15 percent, including corporate contributions) would be repealed. The sales tax would be new, on top of existing state sales taxes. The most notorious critique of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan came from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in Tuesday’s debate. “One thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down," Bachmann said, "I think the devil's in the details." The Republican presidential hopeful added that Cain’s plan merely creates another federal tax (in the form of a Value Added Tax), and does little to address the need to reduce the national deficit. “The 9-9-9 plan isn't a jobs plan, it's a tax plan," Bachmann started.
By now, no supporter of Ron Paul’s will find himself surprised by the glaring inconsistencies, outright distortions, and, frankly, boldfaced lies to which Republican-friendly media figures will descend in their efforts to marginalize his presidential candidacy. Still, so unabashed is their illogic, so overt the dishonesty, it is nevertheless difficult not to be amazed, even mesmerized, by the audaciousness with which Paul’s critics subject him to one injustice after the other.  For as ugly as it is, though, this phenomenon is not without its value. That is, it supplies us with a classic textbook illustration of what many of us have always known: it is indeed politicians and their cohorts in the media, and not voters, who select candidates. Joseph A. Schumpeter was a conservative theorist who was also among the most distinguished and erudite of social scientists of the first half of the twentieth century. In his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, he debunks what he characterizes as “the classical doctrine of democracy.” According to this doctrine, it is “the people itself” that settle “issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will.” In reality, though, “the will of the people is the product and not the motive power of the political process.” [Emphasis added.]
Many observers of the political scene suspected that the creation of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee was just a sham to allow legislators to increase the debt ceiling while giving the appearance of being serious about long-term deficit reduction. With each bit of news that trickles out of Congress, such suspicions are being borne out. The latest development on the subject, according to Politico, is that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, “is vowing to ‘nullify’ part of a law that would impose major military cuts if the deficit panel can’t reach a deal.” In short, McCain wants to repeal the part of the debt-ceiling deal that triggers automatic cuts to defense spending if the supercommittee fails to reach agreement on its own plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. (The law also requires equivalent cuts in domestic spending, but McCain did not address that matter.) “If there is a failure on the part of the supercommittee,” McCain said during a news conference yesterday, “we will be amongst the first on the floor to nullify that provision. Congress is not bound by this. It’s something we passed. We can reverse it.”
In stealth succession on Wednesday evening, both the House and Senate approved three so-called free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. The Obama administration claims that the three pacts will boost exports by $13 billion and result in the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs. Speaking on the occasion, Obama urged lawmakers to approve the trade deals as they were critical to building open, free, transparent, and fair economic platforms in the Asia-Pacific area and South America. After both Houses of the Congress approved the deals on Wednesday, the President issued a statement hailing the development as a "major win for American workers and businesses." “Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he added. Final approval of the agreements represents a victory for the Obama administration and congressional leaders in both parties, who have touted the trade pacts as a means to jump-start the flagging economy without additional government spending. Ratification of the agreements holds particular importance for the President, who has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 and is facing a tough bid for reelection with unemployment stuck at 9.1 percent.
Republican presidential candidate and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain admitted to MSNBC's Chuck Todd October 12 that he had "missed" the housing bubble and 2008 financial collapse. "What I missed in 2005 was just how bad Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had distorted the housing market," Cain told Todd. "I honestly did not realize just how bad it was, just how bad the whole bundling and derivatives thing was, and that we were on the brink of a total financial meltdown. So I learned later on by looking into it deeper that the situation was a lot worse than I thought in 2005." As late as September 1, 2008, Cain wrote that the economy seemed to be on solid ground: “The supposed failure of Bush's economic policies has been a constant theme of the Democrats since the 2006 elections, when the Democrats regained control of the House and Senate by convincing enough of the voters that the economic sky was falling, and that the war in Iraq could not be won. Based on all of their convention speeches, they plan to continue those themes right through Election Day on November 4.” Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy just two weeks after Cain's column was published, and President Bush subsequently began pushing for the TARP bailout bill (a bill also backed by both then Senator Barack Obama and Herman Cain).
Tom Cross, the House Republican leader in the Illinois legislature, filed a bill Wednesday to probe a "charitable interpretation" of state law that granted at least eight Chicago labor officials eligibility for both city pensions and union pensions covering the same work periods. A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation discovered that some of these union officials await millions of dollars more in retirement due to double and even triple dipping on pensions. The investigation confirmed that at least seven union officials are accruing retirement benefits in multiple pensions and one retired official is already collecting payments from two pensions, even though the law contains stipulations that "aim" to prevent such practices. According to the report, one Chicago labor leader is anticipating retirement benefits of nearly $500,000 a year, while another expects to gain $438,000 from three separate pensions — a city laborers fund, union district council fund, and national union fund — all covering the same work period. In total, the 59-year-old union leader, Liberato "Al" Naimoli, is set to reap a whopping $9 million if he lives to his expected lifespan. President of Cement Workers Local 76, Naimoli is raking in almost $160,000 a year from his city pension. After retiring in 2010, he is also now eligible for a pension worth about $60,000 a year from the Laborers’ Pension Fund, and another $220,000 a year from a national union pension fund.
The announcement on Wednesday that the City Council of Pennsylvania’s capital city, Harrisburg, voted to file for bankruptcy was the latest in a long series of federal mandates, bad luck, and poor planning that has plagued the city since the early 1970s. The Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility, less elegantly referred to as “the incinerator that burns money,” was built in 1972. The estimated cost to build it was $15 million and was sold to the city based on projections that it could burn enough trash to generate sufficient steam to be sold to cover its costs and debt service. But unexpected repairs required additional financings so that by the time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered it was emitting unacceptably high levels of dioxins and shut it down, the city owed $94 million for the facility.    The current Mayor of Harrisburg, Linda Thompson, was on the City Council at the time and remembers that outside consultants had recommended retrofitting the incinerator:   They sold us [on] the fact that this incinerator, once it’s retrofitted, would make enough money to pay the old debt and the new debt…. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
A substantial numbers of Hispanics in Alabama are apparently staging a strike, closing businesses, including restaurants, to protest the state’s tough new law that seeks to stem the tide of illegal immigration.  The Associated Press has reported that everything from poultry plants to schools are missing what used to be a familiar presence: Hispanic workers.  They’re miffed about HB 56, which federal Judge Sharon Blackburn of Alabama’s northern district largely upheld two weeks ago, leaving the state to enforce what may be the nation’s toughest measure to crack down on border jumpers. What’s Closed According to the AP, “[a]t least a half-dozen poultry plants shut down or scaled back operations Wednesday and many other businesses closed,” noting that the “work stoppage was aimed at demonstrating the economic contribution of Alabama's Hispanic immigrants.”  
The political climate surrounding the GOP presidential nomination has changed dramatically over the course of the last few months. Months ago, when Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the race, he virtually skated into the frontrunner position. However, in the weeks that followed, and after a few failed debates, Perry has quickly fallen, and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain has emerged as a new top tier candidate. In fact, according to a new poll, Cain is the man to beat at the moment. Fox News reports on Cain’s quick and unpredictable ascension to popularity, “Herman Cain’s star has risen steadily in the past two months, from a largely unknown CEO running for president to a top-tier candidate in the Republican field for 2012 — and now voters even rank him above the presumed front-runner Mitt Romney, in a poll released Wednesday evening.” According to that poll, by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News, Cain now has 27 percent of Republican primary voters, while Romney is supported by 23 percent of Republican primary voters. Rep. Ron Paul was the only other candidate in that poll to receive double digit approval, with 11 percent.
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