Month: January 2013

First Check Reality Check…

By now, almost everyone who earns one has received their first paycheck of 2013. Depending on your income bracket and your budget the reality of what the expired Payroll Tax Cut means to you is starting to hit home. 2% more out of your paycheck probably didn’t sound like much in the abstract when you hear it on the news, but now that the actual numbers are staring you in the face, the reality is something else entirely.

One night this week, just after dark, our doorbell rang, not a common occurrence for this empty nest. It was the young man who does handy work for us. Bob, not his real name, is sincere, hardworking, and trustworthy. He holds down a full-time blue collar job managing a small warehouse, helping his “moonlighting” customers at night and on weekends. He’s single, has his own apartment, and drives a beautiful extended cab truck that is his pride and joy. We’ve come to know him well enough to know he’s not a party boy; he keeps a schedule and a budget.

When Bob stepped inside I could see how upset he was. Pam, he said, I’ve stopped by to see if you have any extra work for me. I got my paycheck today and the new taxes are going to cost me over $100 a month. I’m not sure what to do.

What I didn’t have the heart to tell Bob is that our fist paycheck came, too, and the amount our budget will have to be adjusted is a bit more than $100 a month. We do know what we have to do: We have to cut back on discretionary spending like how much we give to charity, how often we go out to dinner, and how much we use services such as a handyman.

This story is playing out across the country at every income level. Yes, there is a segment of the population that will be much less effected than others. The $1200 a year loss that has Bob in a panic is pocket change to some, but for most of us the impact of this change in income has consequences.

The ripple effects are already a topic of conversation across the blogosphere and social media: The hash tag, #YourPaycheckIsLowerThisWeek has been one of the top trends on Twitter, and no less than liberal bastion MSNBC posted an article titled “Americans Feel Austerity’s Bite As Payroll Taxes Rise”

I’m no economist but if I read the situation in Washington correctly, better buckle your financial seatbelts because unlike Thelma & Louse, we may not have gone over the fiscal cliff, but this is just the first mile on a very bumpy road ahead.

What does the Payroll Tax Increase mean to you?

Back To The Future…

I love the start of a New Year for the nostalgia and introspection it inspires. I have a tradition on New Years Day of reflecting on where I’ve been, the people I’ve met, the experiences that mattered and the lessons learned; the cumulative effect of victories won and wisdom gained along the way that I can take with me moving forward. Each year I seem to journey to a different time and place…

PDV-PBS I used to have a television program on PBS 39/WLVT called “A View from the Valley”, of which I was quite proud. It was a “live to tape” show shot with no script and broadcast a day or two later with no edits. What happened in the studio was what you saw on the screen, just not in real time. I suppose if someone had used a bad word or keeled over in their chair we might have stopped the cameras but it was never necessary. I was the executive producer and on-air host. The program aired for five years and I loved every minute of it.

With more than a little help from my friends like Mike Bruckner of Muhlenberg College and James Harper from Lehigh University and other well-connected PR & communications buddies, I had the opportunity to interview the likes of erudite and charming Gennady Gerasimov, former spokesperson for Mikhail Gorbachev during the end of the Cold War; the magnetic and dynamic former Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres; and Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, who was the only human being I’ve ever encountered that I thought actually had an aura around him…an other-worldly light and energy. Such renowned leaders made for great interviews that to this day hold up when I see them…and when I see me.

Beyond my little walk down memory lane, the point of this exercise is how impactful it can be to look back on ones younger self in action. Not just a one dimensional photo or an often blurred memory, but a walking talking avatar of an earlier version of you. Such a journey can be rejuvenating, or not, but either way I promise it will be enlightening, and isn’t enlightenment what we’re striving for.

Not all of us have taped evidence of our more youthful “I can conquer the world” self to propel us in to a New Year. If you don’t, you can still take that journey in your mind. Call up the image of you that believed in luck and miracles and immortality; turn them loose to dance across the room and in to your dreams with wild abandon. Then tomorrow, tuck them in your pocket and venture forth in to the New Year.

Wishing you the blessings of health, happiness, and love, and the wisdom of the past, in 2013.

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