Emails, Texting and Business

iphone_addiction_798185Recently I banished iPhones and PDA’s from company meetings.  Over time it had become increasingly common to see staff checking their phones while a colleague tried to bring their attention to an issue. Or worse, they’d begin texting.  Not only is such behavior rude, study after study has shown that you cannot divide your attention between your phone and a conversation and do justice to either.  “Not unless you are negotiating Middle East peace,” went the one caveat I offered for getting on the phone during a meeting.  Our confabs aren’t very long, and if someone is expecting a call they can always bow out or reschedule it. { read more }

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

imagesI recall a lunch many years ago with two executives from Exxon Mobil.  They laughed at what they saw coming for the flexible packaging industry.  Resin prices would start rising soon and wouldn’t stop.  Exxon would mint profits while many converters, unable to pass through the increases, would die.  Their giddiness wasn’t simply sadistic.  Resin companies had seen their prices fall for years as customers played rivals against each other. But the worm had turned.  Resin producers had consolidated to three or four from more than 10, which meant market power had shifted to survivors like Exxon and Nova Chemicals. { read more }

Visiting Israel Just Before the Rockets

israel-city-pictures-133083This summer, the week before Israel and Gaza began flinging rockets at each other, I found myself looking at the Mediterranean Sea from my hotel balcony in Tel Aviv.  I had come to the Holy Land to visit Hewlett-Packard’s Indigo printing division, the company responsible for our new 30″ wide Indigo digital press. This extraordinary piece of technology transmits art work from a computer and prints it onto plastic without using printing plates.  Changeovers between jobs happen with the click of a mouse.  Digital has been around for many years, but this is the first press H-P has built specifically to print on plastic.  Lucky for us, we are the beta site for the new machine.  Which is why I was gazing at Tel Aviv’s beach. { read more }

My National Catholic Reporter Article on Immigration

NCROver the July 4 weekend the National Catholic Reporter, one of the most widely read newspapers among Catholics and other faiths, published my article about immigration on its front page.  The piece is a little bit more political than the blog I wrote on immigration because I point to the Republican Party as the main reason we will not get comprehensive immigration reform this year. { read more }

Expansion, Worry and Tums

indexI remember exactly where I was when the insurer American International Group (AIG) collapsed in 2008–standing in Intercontinental Airport in Houston, waiting for a flight to Mexico. The news sent a shiver through me. I knew at that moment the long expansion of our economy had ended. I also concluded in an instant that we would not purchase the $4 million printing press that I had been on the verge of buying. Time to preserve cash, I figured. Get ready for reduced demand. Hunker down. { read more }

Memorial Day Thoughts, 2014

cadet2 NC07Thirty years ago I never imagined being in formation, commemorating Memorial Day in formal ceremony, while dressed head-to-toe as a corporal in Union Army uniform. No, while marching in the streets of London protesting apartheid, the nuclear arms race and the bombing of Libya during graduate school I didn’t project myself standing here at requiem arms honoring the American dead of wars past and present, but specifically those who died between 1861 and 1865. { read more }

The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Immigration ReformAbout two years ago our company, Emerald Packaging, which manufactures plastic packaging for food, suffered a silent raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Like thousands of companies over the last few years, ICE came without notice and asked for copies of our I-9s, the forms employees must fill out detailing their right to work in the United States, including proof of legal status. ICE takes the forms and checks social security numbers (SSN) and work visa status, and anyone whose name does not match the declared SSN or whose work visa has lapsed must be terminated. Companies themselves face penalties for such technicalities as putting the necessary employee information in the wrong box on the form, a common error since the I-9 is a complicated document. Worse, they can be charged with criminal penalties if they have knowingly hired illegal aliens. { read more }

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