Tony, Tony, Tony: For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow!

It’s time to Break It Down!

It’s not often I write about a college basketball program other than North Carolina, or a current college basketball coach other than Roy Williams…unless it’s his mentor, Dean Smith. But in less than six months, I find myself drawn to what I believe to be a compelling story about Virginia Cavaliers’ head basketball coach, Tony Bennett.

I’ll make the post a brief one, but note, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Ergo, even though today’s post is short, the point is weighty. Others in similar positions might do well to take note of Coach Bennett’s lead.

Suffice it to say, Tony Bennett (the basketball coach) works in a high profile, high-pressure profession; one for which he is well compensated. He reportedly earned (according to a USA Today data base) $4.15 million this year. Still, as is customary, after leading his team the collegiate NCAA Division I College Basketball National Championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The University’s President and Athletic Director offered Bennett a raise. You may recall, I wrote about the Hoo’s winning their first hoops Title, and about the entire Final Four in the April 10th edition of “Break It Down,” (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/10/from-outhouse-to-penthouse-hoos-win/).

In what was not such a usual practice, Bennett opted to decline the raise, and instead asked the university to in effect, spread the wealth. In a written statement released by the University, he said:

“I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much (in men’s basketball), that’s my desire.”

Bennett urged the AD to increase compensation for his coaching staff, and to fund other improvements to the basketball program in lieu of giving him a big raise. He and his wife also pledged $500,000 to a program to support current and former UVA players’ career development. He did accept a one-year extension to his current contract, which now runs for seven years.

Not surprisingly, Jim Ryan, UVA President was ecstatic about his hoops coach’s decision. He added:

“Tony’s decision — to turn down a well-deserved raise and instead invest in his players and UVA athletics more broadly — tells you everything you need to know about him as a leader and as a human being.

Tony is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, and this is just the latest example. He and Laurel show us what it means to be great and good, and I hope they will continue to be a part of the UVA family for many years to come.”

To be sure, Bennett is an exemplar of leadership. Almost any school would be proud to claim a coach with his accomplishments and character. It is clearly in UVA’s best interest to hold onto him, and it’s equally apparent Mr. Ryan and others at UVA recognize that, and are making every effort to ensure the relationship remains not only firmly intact, but cemented for long term.

There is probably more that could be said, but much of it would border on being redundant. Moreover, in keeping with my commitment to brevity, I herewith conclude…”Tony, Tony, Tony: For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/17/us/tony-bennett-virginia-raise-trnd/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/18/tony-tony-tony-for-hes-a-jolly-good-fellow/

 

Nine-Eleven: Eighteen Years Later

It’s time to Break It Down!

(This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, September 13, 2017, September 12, 2018, and today, September 11, 2019).

I am re-posting a past “Break It Down” entry. Today is the Eighteenth Anniversary of Nine-Eleven; a day America will never forget.  With that in mind, I ask that you please spend a few minutes directing your attention to the horror that was September 11, 2001, and also to the respectful memory and contemplation of its many victims.

(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)

Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001? Today we observe the 18th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 18 years ago, America lost, in one fell swoop, any notion of its blissful innocence, its long-standing appearance of invulnerability, and its deeply ingrained sense of security. By some accounts, what it retained is its self-righteous (some would say) belief in American Exceptionalism and entitlement; but that is a conversation for another post.

Suddenly we were at war, and the fight had uncharacteristically come to us, straightway.  This battle was personal, and it was on our home turf; no longer some shadowy ideological military exercise, or guerrilla warfare episode, played out on foreign soil, half a world away.

U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was introduced with 22 co-sponsors (11 Republicans and 11 Democrats) and approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001 (with 25 members not voting).  The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on November 30, 2001.  The Resolution requested that the President designate September 11th each year as Patriot Day.  President George W. Bush signed the Resolution into law December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89).

On this day, the President directs that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad.  This year President Trump, as President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service.

Even after more than a decade and a half, with eighteen years worth of context building, and development of perspective, the numbers behind Nine-Eleven are chilling.  Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and thousands of others were injured, and many more sustained post-event trauma.  Examples of the carnage include:

  • 2,977 Victims killed (not including the 19 hijackers)
  • 2,606 Killed at the World Trade Center Towers
  • 125 Killed at the Pentagon
  • 40 Killed in Shanksville, PA
  • 87 Killed on American Flight 11/NYC World Trade Center North Tower
  • 60 Killed on United Flight 175/NYC World Trade Center South Tower
  • 59 Killed on American Flight 77/Arlington – The Pentagon
  • 40 Killed United Flight 93/Shanksville, PA
  • 19 Hijackers
  • 246 Passengers Killed on the fourplanes
  • 19 HijackersKilled (on the four planes)
  • 2,996 Killed on Nine-Eleven
  • 411 Emergencyworkers killed at the World Trade Centers
  • 341 FDNYfirefighters killed
  • Paramedicskilled
  • 23 NYPDofficers killed
  • 37 Port Authority Police Departmentofficers killed
  • EMT’skilled
  • 658 Employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. (Investment Bank) killed; most of any employer
  • 1,631 Bodies positively identified from World Trade Center Towers
  • 1,122 Bodies (41%)remain unidentified
  • Bone fragments were still being found in 2005 by workers preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building
  • 72 Additional remains found in 2010by a team of anthropologists and archeologists

Medical Examiner will continue to try to identify remains in the hope new technology will lead to the identification of other victims.  The death and destruction of Nine-Eleven led to the so-called Global War on Terror.  Mostly the front lines have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, a central intent of the action has been to prevent a recurrence of Nine-Eleven-like events on U.S. soil.

The initial thrust began October 7, 2001 when the U.S., British, and Coalition forces invaded Afghanistan, and in March 2002, when the U.S. and Coalition forces launched Operation Anaconda and the Taliban suffered significant losses, and left the region.  In the interim, involvement in the region has ebbed and flowed, but the war, which the Obama Administration referred to as Overseas Contingency Operation, continues. The War in Afghanistan is officially the longest war in American History.  We have for some time been in the “every day is a new record” era.

U.S. Intelligence sources pointed to Al-Qaeda as the probable instigator behind Nine-Eleven.  It’s leader, Osama bin Laden initially denied involvement.  Over time, bin Laden became more emboldened, first conceding involvement, and ultimately admitting that he was instrumental in masterminding the horrific attacks. During his Presidential CampaignMr. Obama declared he would not relent in the hunt for Osama.  The elusive terrorist was thought to be hiding in Pakistan.  Mr. Obama stated bluntly that if reliable intelligence pinpointed bin Laden, he would deploy U.S. forces to find and kill him, which he did on May 2, 2011.

The good news is, over the course of the past eighteen years, there have been no repeat Nine-Eleven scale events on U.S. soil.  That result is partly due to fastidiously focusing on prevention efforts, partly a result of fortuitous failures of would-be terrorists, and partly a function of the fateful intervention of alert by-standers.

As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2019 in the rearview mirror, and eighteen years of Nine-Eleven related memories with it, Americans are still advised to be on high alert for potential incursions by terrorists, most likely of the lone wolf variety, where one person acts in solo fashion. So here we are, Nine-Eleven: Eighteen Years Later!” I trust you will have a productive Day of Remembrance and Service.

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/09/12/nine-eleven-a-seventeen-year-retrospective/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2017/09/13/sixteen-years-later-reflecting-on-nine-eleven/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2013/09/11/calling-all-patriots-nine-eleven-ten-years-later/

http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com/2011/09/calling-all-patriots-nine-eleven-ten.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/11/nine-eleven-eighteen-years-later/

 

 

Labor Day: It’s All About the Workers Redux ’19

It’s Time to Break It Down!

(This post appeared originally in this space on August 31, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented again September 3, 2014, September 7, 2016, September 6, 2017, September 5, 2018 and today, September 4, 2019)

All things considered, I had to win a spirited debate with myself in order to resist the impulse to make this post about Donald Trump. Between his blowing off his scheduled trip to Poland, ostensibly to keep an eye on the progression of Hurricane Dorian, only to spend his Labor day Weekend golfing (which he found frequent opportunity to lambaste the previous President for…but who’s keeping track), or for “suggesting that Vice President Pence stay at his Doonbeg resort during his official government business trip to Ireland, even though the resort is on the extreme western coast of Ireland, while his business is in Dublin, which is in Eastern Ireland, an hourlong car ride and a 40-minute flight away (a suggestion Pence accepted, of course), or his continued ritualistic song and dance intended to avoid backing any enhancement to existing federal gun laws, despite an unabated spate of mass shootings, along with the usual plethora of untethered to sanity tweets, it’s apparent by now there will be Trump topics for the foreseeable future. I’ll catch him later.

is you know, Monday was Labor Day. As with most holidays, I knock it down a few notches so readers can enjoy their time off, and ease into a vintage post, if they so choose. At its core, according to the U.S. Department of LaborLabor Day in the United States was designed to commemorate the creation of the labor movement; dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  The holiday focuses on contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country.

First observed in September 1882, the event has always been observed on the first Monday of the month.  Initiated by the Central Labor Union of New York, the celebration became a federal holiday in 1894.

In addition to its formal structure and purpose, Labor Day has a number of symbolic associations.  It is considered:

  • The unofficial End of Summer
  • The last 3-Day warm weather weekendfor vacationers
  • By High Society standards, the last day for which it is appropriate for women to wear white
  • The beginning of the College Football Season(the preceding Saturday)
  • The start of the NFL Season(typically the following Thursday)
  • The conventional kick-off of hard core political campaign season
  • Backto-School shopping

On the formal side, while the Labor Department’s blurb omits any reference to it, Labor Day also validates and recognizes an often controversial mechanism that frequently divides American opinion; labor union.  Scorned by many who fancy themselves as Free Enterprise Capitalists, unions and their members have not only been actively involved historically, in debates that framed public policy for American workers, they have won or forced hard-earned concessions that in the shimmering glow of reflective perspective, must be considered to have fundamentally altered the playing field (known as the workplace), including:

  • Pensions
  • Health Care Benefits
  • Paid Vacations
  • Equal Pay to women
  • The Development of Child Labor Laws
  • The 5-Day Work Week
  • The 40-Hour Work Week
  • The8-Hour Work Day
  • Worker’s Compensation benefits
  • Female Flight Attendants permitted to marry

These and many other important cherished and effective employee rights are attributable to the efforts of the American Labor Movement.  But, this is not an ode to Labor Unions.  Unions also have downsides.  They create or contribute to:

  • The potential for strikes
  • Additional costs to all employees (membership dues; whether a member or not)
  • Loss of individuality (ability to represent one’s self in a grievance)
  • Subject to fines & discipline by the Union
  • Disincentivesto productivity and competition
  • Lack of promotions
  • Burdensome salary demands(relative to the market)
  • Loss of profits (and/or pay) due to strike
  • Inefficient & ineffective contracts
  • Increased unemployment due to failure to reach agreement w/management

The first Labor Day celebration was led by a Labor Union.  The history of the Day has been linked, inextricably, with Labor organizations, ever since.  But if it is the American Worker the Day was intended to commemorate, Labor Day 2011 was set in an auspicious and trenchant backdrop:

  • The Unemployment Ratein the U. was reported to be 1% in July 2011
  • The economy added only 117,000 jobs in July (154,000 in the private sector, -37,000government jobs lost); better than expected, but still a dismally low number
  • Businesses were stockpiling $2 trillion in cash

Three years hence, the picture, thankfully, was much improved:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported to be 2% in July 2014
  • The economy added 209,000jobs in July 2014
  • August 2014employment data was released the firstFriday in September

In 2011, President Obama, had announced after the Debt Ceiling Deal on August 2nd, that he would present a jobs proposal for Congress to consider, and was set to do so, after Labor Day, (on September 8th).  The proposal included a combination of tax cuts, spending on infrastructure, and measures designed to assist the long-term unemployed, while bolstering certain sectors of the economy.  This potion sounds eerily similar to the ideas Democrats proposed when negotiating the Debt Deal.

Republicans were lined up to oppose the plan, suggesting instead, among other things, a Balanced Budget Amendment; a balm the GOP/Tea Party also suggested during the Debt Deal negotiation.  In short, there was little expectation for significant movement, or the adoption of sweeping legislation to address the lack of jobs in America…and there wasn’t.  What we had instead was, déjà vu…all over, again!  At the time, I was compelled to ask, “Labor Day: Where Is The Celebration?” Fast forward three years, and the truth is the labor dynamics in this country had improved appreciably. However, our country was still beset by challenges.

Each day we were faced with a series of old, and developing challenges abroad. Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Russia, North Korea, China, Somalia, are all global hot spots, just to name a few. Then of course, there was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the burgeoning by ISIS/ISIL, also known as the Islamic State. And oh yeah, we were still winding down in Afghanistan.

Moving forward again, in the August 2016 Jobs Report, issued September 2, 2016, the nation’s Job’s Report continued to improve:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 4.9%
  • The economy added 151,000 jobs in August 2016
  • Paychecks grew 2.4% compared to the previous year
  • Jobs Growth record extended to 69 consecutive months

The August 2017 Jobs Report, issued September 1, 2017, showed that the economy, for the most part, held steady during the month of August.

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.was reported at 4.4%, up slightly
  • The economy added 156,000 jobs in August 2017
  • Earnings rose 2.5% over the past 12 months; however, the average work week shrank .1 hour to 34.4 hours per week, which means paychecks were a bit smaller
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 81 consecutive months (7 months for #45)

Last year, the August 2018 Jobs Report was not released until Friday, September 7th. The July Report showed a dip of one-tenth of a percentage point, down to the second lowest rate for the year, by one-tenth of a point. In July:

  • The Unemployment Ratein the U.S. was reported at 9%
  • The economy added 157,000 jobs
  • Earnings were unchanged from June to July
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 93 consecutive months (18 months for #45)

This year, the August 2019 Jobs Report will not be released until Friday, September 6th. The July Report showed the Unemployment Rate remained constant.

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 3.7%
  • The economy added 164,000 jobs
  • Hourly earnings rose by 8 cents to $27.98
  • The Job Growth record was extended to 105 weeks

August job growth is historically volatile, and is the slowest month for job growth since the Reports have been published. It’s important to keep an eye out for Friday’s Report, but it’s also of significance to note that despite historic volatility, the trend for this year has been one of consistently low unemployment, remaining comfortably below 5%.

As the sixth bullet from the top advises, the conventional kick-off of the hard-core political campaign season is upon us. There are lots of issues to consider, including, North Korea, Russia, the recent series of mass shootings, the narrowing of the Democratic field of Presidential Candidates, and…yes, Donald Trump, and his connection to any and/or all of the above.

The General Election is just 62 days away. The low unemployment rate is a good news story. However, while there is no Presidential Election this year, we are looking ahead to the local elections across the country. Please understand that elections have consequences! By all means be sure to exercise your franchise; vote! 

Meanwhile, contemplate “Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers Redux ’19,” and while we’ve got plenty of issues to temper our celebration, we should indeed celebrate America’s phenomenal Labor Movement. I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/09/05/labor-day-its-all-about-the-workers/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/04/labor-day-its-all-about-the-workers-redux-19/