Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Best Sabbat meal invite ever...

Normally people call or email us to invite us to share a Sabbath meal with them. WE've hit a new high, however.

Our friend, Gadi, sent us an Outlook meeting request for the date and time of the proposed meal. WE accepted it, he got confirmation, and it's on our calendars.

Love it!

Kenyan e-commerce...

Our Nanny is from Kenya. Her daughter is a graduating law student. Kenya was once a British colony so it maintains the tradition having legal graduates go to commencement wearing Barrister wigs (like this one).

For whatever reason, the cost of a wig in Kenya is about $600. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Nanny was telling me this and I said, “I can’t believe you can’t find a cheaper one on eBay.”

Well, apparently you can and eBay isn’t so popular in Kenya.

So, I purchased 4 wigs (after a few back and forths with the Nanny’s daughter) for a grand total of $125 (incl. s/h) for the daughter.

I offered to purchase more and sell them for a profit (for all I know the Nanny’s daughter is going to do that anyway), but that seemed too much of an effort.

Now that I think about it, I’ll push it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Boys and Girls...

"Anyone who says there is no difference between boys and girls never had a boy and a girl," says my friend Paulie.

Here, in a nutshell, is the difference so far.

Calanit builds with the blocks, Erez destroys whatever Calanit builds.

Calanit finds a dangerous object and hands it to us, Erez finds it and seeks to hurt himself.

Calanit never puts something in her mouth that doesn't belong there; Erez never finds something that doesn't go into his mouth.

...there's more, but that's the basics. :-)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Having an older sister....

Poor Erez.

Today, we took the kids to the pool for the first time. There are special swim diapers that kids have to wear underneath their bathing suits. We had some left over from last year and today, my boy had to wear "The Little Mermaid" underneath his trunks.

Circle of Life...

My grandfather's health has deteriorated somewhat significantly in a short period of time. In the past 5 months, he's been diagnosed with cancer, hospitalized a few times, and yesterday morning had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)-a sort of mini-stroke.

My mother has devoted much of her time to taking him to doctors and appointments. Last night, my sister spent the night in the hospital in his room.

For some reason, Erez, who had begun to master (Finally!) the art of sleeping through the night got up at 12pm and was WIDE awake until 3 am. I kept him company as he, in the dark, sought to destroy everything in his path. It was exhausting work and made for a rough end to a 21 hour day. Fortunately it is a national holiday.

I called my sister this morning to get a report on my grandfather's progress. It had been a rough night for her...waking up hourly to escort him to the bathroom and administer to his needs of all sorts.

Her night sounded a bit like mine and it made me appreciate how "what goes around comes around." One day the time will come when my kids have to stay up all night for me.

Or maybe they won't, but that's in part up to me. I've got to give them the type of relationship where they will want to. Or maybe it's is a child's duty? Good question....I mean, does a child who is abused have to care for an aging parent?

Anyway, the point is I felt like my mom/sister and I were in parallel universes on the opposite sides of life's cycle.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Little things that make a big impression...

My wife is a master of details. She appreciates-almost too a fault-all of the little things that go into making an occasion special. She'll spend a lot of time working on the design of a yarmulke or a centerpiece for a table. I tell her that, when all is said and done, people don't really notice that stuff and only remember the big stuff.

Well, I'm not so sure.

Thursday night at a wedding, I ran into someone who had a Sabbath meal with us about 5 years ago.

He asked me if we still go around the table and ask people to share something that was good and not so good of the previous week (a kind of week in review.) We do.

He told me that 5 years later, he still remembers how he felt that it was a great idea and something that was special and unique. It was clear he was left with a positive vibe.

Made me feel good and made me realize that any little thing can indeed make a big impression. Who am I to know what people will or will not appreciate? If you want them to feel a certain way, you do need to pay attention to those little details.

Keeping your head in the game...

Athletes who are able to simply perform under pressure-filled situations are lauded for their ability to 'keep their head in the game.' That means they know what they have to do, just do it, and don't think about the implications of not achieving their best.

I think the same thing applies in your work life (and probably home life). Work is a pressure-filled situation and it is easy to think about what happens if you don't raise, get fired, etc.

Thinking about these things is really useless...but difficult to avoid. I mean, every ounce of energy you devote to the negative/undesired "what if..." scenarios is energy you are not devoting to making the positive/desired "what if..." scenarios a reality. do you go about "keeping YOUR head in the game?"


Back in the early days of the Web, there was a concept (and still is I suppose) of Netiquette: how you behave online. This was of particular relevance as email "flame wars" became more and more common.

Thursday night, Tamar and I were at a wedding. As is common at many Jewish weddings, there was a fair amount of talking (or at least there's talking around me since I'm usually involved in it!). At one point, I pulled out my cell phone and started checking my email.

I turned to the guy next to me..."do you think it is rude to check email during a wedding?"

"Are you getting email from Bill Gates?"he asked.

"No, that was last week,"I replied [see post below].

He smiled. "Right, you and 5,000 other people."

"No, just me," I replied...and then told him the story...and contributed more to the buzz of talking in the background.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The power of networking and technology

About 6 years ago, I went to a panel presentation with one of the bigwigs in the Internet industry. We’re talking, pretty big here.

At the end of the session, a friend of mine and I approached her and asked her if she’d be willing to have breakfast with two young, aspiring entrepreneurs.

She agreed.

3 months later, we met and had a good chat. Towards the end, she instructed me to “keep me posted with quarterly updates.”

For 6 years, I’ve been doing that. Not once did I get a response from her, but I kept doing it nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, I read an RSS feed about a new energy company. The concept seemed very interesting, they are located in DC, and I thought it would be interesting to meet with the CEO.  I clicked on the link to the CNN article about the company. In the bottom paragraph, I saw that this same woman, the bigwig, is on the board of the company.

I emailed her and asked for an introduction to the CEO.

She agreed.


Wedding sizes...

I met a woman the other day who was stressed out about her upcoming nuptials.

“It’s such a big wedding, I don’t know what to do.”

“How big is the wedding?” I asked.


“Yeah, I can relate. We had 750.”

I love when that happens J

24/7 economy...

It’s a blessing and a curse. You can work wherever and whenever you want. You can be productive when inspiration hits you, but you can easily lose the balance and perspective.

Erez woke me up at 3am the other night. After settling him in, I got in bed and my mind was racing. I had the urge to do some work/other things…RIGHT THEN, so I did.

Next thing I know, it’s 5am and I am exhausted for the next 2 days. 

On the other hand, I had 2 hours of focused time that were of very high quality.


Bathroom blog readers...

A friend of ours tells me that “now I don’t need to find bathroom reading. I just take my Treo in with me and read your Blog. It’s good stuff.”


Love hearing how people read and respond to the Blog. Keep ‘em coming!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Can Stanley come out and play?"

My grandfather is a kid at heart. My grandmother tells a story of the kids in the neighborhood coming by when my mom was young, knocking on the door, and asking if "Stanley could come out to play?"

Over the past few weeks, my 10 and 8 year old neighbors have taken an interest in lacrosse. As a Hopkins alum, this happens to be a sport I have a passion for and I've enjoyed teaching them some rudimentary skills. We've played a few times.

Tonight, I reached a milestone in attempting to hit the high bar my grandfather has set in many realms of life.

The 10 year old knocks on the door and asks me, lacrosse stick in hand, if I can come out to play with them.

I called my grandparents to tell them I had a "Can Stanley come out and play?" moment.

Overnight Failure..

There's a lot of pressure we all put on ourselves to "make it big" and fast. It seems that patience, perseverance, and day-in/day-out hard work has almost gone the way of the Dodo Bird.

Back in the SilentFrog start-up days, Asher and I felt the pressure. Then, one late night, we saw an interview with Harrison Ford on "Inside the Actors Studio." He related how he had been a carpenter while trying to get his acting career off the ground and then, it still took him 15 years to achieve the fame/fortune level that he has.

I can't remember if it was Ford or the host who said, "15 years to an overnight success."

It's the little things and the constant pushing that is going to "make it happen" for most of us.

Seth Godin's blog post prompted this one.

Our Civilization is Performing Better Than You Think

Monday, May 22, 2006

The "Friends of Jer" (FOJ) mailing list philosophy...

There are about 800 people on the FOJ list...they receive quarterly updates from me w/links to the blog, pictures of the kids, etc.

There are many who I have met once, some in random places, and some I will probably never see again. However, I keep them on the list. The exchange below explains my rationale.

Jeremy - We're fine, thanks.... but I think you can take us off your email list. Don't know when we'll ever get to see you again, and tat will make your list just a little shorter.

Your kids look adorable!!


Ok, you’re off.

Part of the reason I keep people like you on my list is precisely b/c I don’t know when I’ll see you again, but I do know this.

I enjoyed meeting you and wouldn’t mind seeing you again.

If you’re off my list, there’s no way I’d feel comfortable reaching out to you after 10-15 years or whatever it is. If you’re on it, at least we’ve maintained some type of contact.

Nevertheless, I understand that you have a different perspective. Good luck!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Carrying it forward...

I was rocking Erez to sleep tonight and it dawned on me that he could live to see the 22nd century. Granted, he'll be 95 years old, but it is certainly conceivable. Obviously, I'll be long gone by then (or most likely) and he'll be an old man.

Anyway, I was thinking that by that time, he will hopefully have raised and assisted his own family's development and perhaps see his great-grandchildren.

That made me think about our roles as parents and our responsibility to carry the tradition, the genes, or whatever it is to the next generation. And here I am, literally carrying my son, off to sleep and thinking that one day he, too, will carry it forward to his children.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bill Gates e-mailed me today...

No, he really did.

One of Tamar's students from Hebrew school answered the essay of question of "A person who is repairing the world" by writing a two-page essay on Gates and his foundation's work. I scanned it in and forwarded it to him. Here's the thread.

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Fri 5/19/2006 3:26 PM
To: Jeremy Epstein
Subject: RE: Shaping the Bill Gates legacy....

Thanks for passing it along.
From: Jeremy Epstein
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 10:20 AM
To: Bill Gates
Subject: Shaping the Bill Gates legacy....

You may appreciate the attached essay from a 9th grader in my wife's Hebrew School class.
"Repairing the World" or "Tikkun Olam" is one of Judaism's highest and most noble pursuits. Good luck and thank you for your efforts.
P.S. Enjoyed the BI piece.

Riding the bike...

One of the things that Europeans do better than Americans is the appreciation of the bicycle as a means of transportation.

I just came back from a set of errands (barber, post office, and shoe repair) all done by bike with the help of a backpack.

Good exercise, easier mobility, fun, not a big time loss, and at $3 a gallon, more fuel efficient.

Protecting Your Assets...

Tom Peters wrote a book called "The Brand Called You" or "Brand You" or something like that. Bottom line: you are your brand (shocking, I know).

I'm a member of LinkedIn which is a business networking tool. The concept is neat even though I haven't gotten a ton of value out of it.

Yesterday, I got a request from one member of my network asking me to forward on a request on behalf of his friend for a job interview to another member of my network.

The email from my friend's friend was full of typos and grammatical errors.

I refused to pass on the request. I wrote in response:
"The email to XXX has many typos and grammatical errors. I am not going to forward something along that makes him question my judgment."

Got to protect the brand...

Transitions in time...

I'm wondering if there's some sort of theorem that correlates the number of major life transitions within a given timeframe to stress or some other reaction.

Let's say, for example, that my grandfather is right and that the three biggest decisions in a person's life are:
1. whom to marry
2. when to have your 1st child
3. when to buy your first house

Some people do all of this within 1 year others never do all of them.

In going through the normal trials and tribulations of life the other day, I was just struck by the fact that just over 5 years ago, I had made none of these decisions. Now, I've made all of them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A scary sight in the park...

We were jarred out our playful state at the playground when I heard an elderly man (appeared to be the grandfather) SCREAM at what appeared to be his 5 and 7 year old grandchildren. All of them were of African origin. The man, in his 60's I think, had an accent. I couldn't tell if he was from Africa or Haiti.

Then, he runs up on the playground contraption and grabs the younger boy, jerking him wildly by the arm and demanding that he put his shoes on.

Both boys at this point are crying. The man yells, "Do you want me to take off my belt?" as he reaches for his belt.

The boys are hysterical. I'm in shock.

It's not like I've never raised my voice at my kids during a stressful moment and I have had to physically exert myself (say in taking a crying kid up to a bath), but this was just violent.

My mouth must have been hanging open as I stared and tried to figure out what I should do, if anything. Part of me wanted to say, "Man, what the HELL are you doing?"

It's not always easy to intervene. People want to avoid confrontation. I've noticed that line jumpers at airports rely on this fact and most people are content to let them slide in. I'm not. It's uncomfortable, yes, but it's the right thing to do.

As I watched the man drag the boys off, he looked at me and kind of nodded, saying "good afternoon" as if everything was ok.

It was surreal.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


It could provide an insight into my personality, but I really like caulking. Yes, caulking.

As a homeowner, I feel like I'm in a continual battle vs. the elements and vs. time/the house. Somehow, when I find a hole or something that can be reinforced, I like to pull out my trusty caulk gun (maybe it's a gunslinger thing) and patch it up.

In my effort to drive efficiency, I feel like I've won a small battle :-)

How high do prices have to go?

This country is built on cheap energy. Suburbs, SUV's, the Wild West. It's all possible because we've had cheap fuel for so long.

Driving to a meeting today, I was wondering...where is the price point at which people really start to change their behavior?

And what does that mean for American society as we know it?
More telecommuting? Fewer big cities?

Achieving happiness...

My brother Asher writes:


Last week I saw Ted Leonsis [owner of Washington Capitals hockey team and former AOL exec] speak.

He said he has been studying happiness for a year and it boils down to three things.

1)       be an active member of multiple communities

2)       show gratitude

3)       give back


Monday, May 15, 2006

"Abba, I have a poopie..."

Speaking of the little things...

In the effort to potty-train Calanit, one of the tell-tale signs of readiness is when your kid tells you s/he is going.

For the first time, Calanit told me, "Abba, I'm making a poopie" (and she was, I checked :-)....

Ah the little milestones of parenting...

Double jogging stroller...

A few months ago, we got a jogging stroller and now that I am back into running, it's been a great asset to take one of the kids out in it and get a run at the same time.

The other day I was saying to Tamar, "you know, it'd be great to get a double jogging stroller." Well, sure enough on Freecycle, I saw one offered and snatched it up.

Today, since Tamar is away for the bris (ritual circumcision) of our newest nephew, I had both kids and was able to take them out for a 30 minute run thanks to the new stroller. (It's not new, it's used, but new to us).

Nowadays, it's simple pleasures like these that I relish. A double stroller...who would have thought?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The danger of posting...

10 years ago, there was an innocence to the web. You could write what you felt like writing and you didn't think about the fact that those words would be stored forever and potentially come back to haunt you.

Now, we think about emails (Microsoft vs. DOJ; the Frank Quattrone trial, and thousands of others) and we think about the fact that potential employers, investors, mates, and others will be checking us out online before they even meet us. There's so much room for pre-conceived notions to form and for misinterpretation.

What if you are feeling depressed at some point and you post about it as a way of self-therapy? Will someone reach the conclusion you are mentally unstable?

What if you are having marital problems? Will a potential employer shy away from someone whose homelife is shaky?

What if you have a period of suicidal thoughts because of some traumatic event? Does that mean you don't have it together?

For me, the blog and the emails that preceded them have been about authenticity and genuine communication with my circle of friends. It's upsetting to think that I have to be guarded in these efforts because of the possibility that there is a potential that somewhere, someone, somehow will use my words against me.

The age of Internet innocence was lost long ago (relatively speaking). I'm just blogging on it now. Maybe someone will think that I take too long to identify trends :-)

The value of the blog...

It's hard to measure the value of a Blog, unless it is a truly commercial venture.

One of Tamar's best friends growing up in Albany was a girl (now woman) named Ariella. I'd met her a few years ago.

As things are, the two of them lost touch...until a few weeks ago.

For some reason, Ariella decided to attempt to find Tamar and "googled" the two of us. She came upon this blog. After reading it, she apparently felt excited about the events of the family, felt closer to Tamar, and has since re-established connection.

I'd always thought of the Blog as a forum for
1. giving myself a place to just "vent" and capture my thoughts for posterity
2. give friends a place to go, if they want, to see what we're doing/I'm up to/thinking

Now it has become a vehicle to bring old friends back into the fold. That feels good.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Erez's Aggressiveness...

It's not that he's aggressive per se, it's that he's definitely got a more precocious, inquiring, and physical nature than Calanit did at that age (or does now). He's always reaching out, grabbing, and looking for a way to engage and explore with the world around him.

I'm curious if it is gender differences or just personality differences.

Limited dimensions...

Sometimes I worry that I'm not as well rounded as I could be. It seems that all of my time these days is either kid-related (not family-related b/c Tamar and I definitely do not get/make the quality time we should) or work-related. My hobbies are evaporating.

I may get out for a run or some exercise, but those are more because I feel like I have to, rather than I want to. Perhaps this is a trade-off for these years when your kids are young because when they are old, who knows...maybe you have all the time you need at that point? (assuming you make it, of course)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Books in your car...

With traffic the way that it is in most cities, I'd suggest that you give Audio Books a try. Just the concept, not endorsing a company. In three years, I've probably listened to over 50 books and since I don't have time to read at home, it's one of the best ways to "read."

Just finished a great book on the history of Sotheby's, the auction house.

If you're going to spend a lot of time in the car, fill your brain w/something that you can control and from which you'll learn something...or at least enjoy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thinking about your own funeral...

The man who funded the Nobel prize foundation was named, surprisingly enough, Alfred Nobel. He made his fortune improving the explosion power of dynamite.

One day, his brother died, and the paper in Stockholm, Sweden made an error and thought it was Alfred who had passed away. This gave Alfred the unique opportunity to read his own obituary before he died.

What dismayed him is that the newspaper gave him credit for making it more efficient and cost-effective to kill people through his invention. This prompted him to do something good with his money and hence, the Nobel Prizes.

I don't know what got me started on this train of the thought the other day, but I was thinking about my own funeral. About 6 months ago, I attended the funeral of one of our family's closest friends and there were hundreds of people there. Many of them, well beyond his immediate/nuclear family, were in tears. This was a man who obviously had touched many, many lives.

I fast-forwarded the movie of my life and started wondering...who would make the effort to attend my funeral? Would people outside of my inner circle cry for my departure?

Thinking about this metric as a guideline for my behavior on a daily basis is transformative.

Some of the conclusions I reached, however, dismayed me. I'm probably not at the people crying per capita ratio that I might like.

On the other hand, you could argue that this may not be a worthwhile standard to measure your contribution. Certainly a subject for debate.

My son, the activist...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Going the Extra Mile...

Some of the people on the "Friends of Jeremy" (FOJ) list are there by accident, sort of, or maybe shouldn't be on it still, but they are.

Two examples today...

About 3 years ago, a friend of mine from New York did a virtual introduction with a friend of hers who was moving to DC. We traded emails, but never got together. Put him on the FOJ list, which was probably a debatable move, but I did.

Last week, got an invite from him for his new son's bris (ritual circumcision) and since it was a Sunday morning, I figured there was no harm in going. It did feel awkward since I had NEVER met him and didn't even know what he looked like, yet here I was going to his house for his son's bris.

Bottom line, the kids and I had a really nice time. We met him and it turns out we have a number of friends in common. It was worth the effort and overcoming the initial awkwardness that I was feeling.

There is one guy on my list, Alex, who I bought a chair from 5 years ago. Since then I haven't seen him or even spoken with him, but in an era where I put pretty much everyone I met on the default FOJ list until they opted out, he responded to a request for his birthday. Today is his birthday, so I called him. He wasn't home.

I did hesitate to call. What would I say? What's the reason? Well, a birthday for one, but after that? Then I figured-why not? What to lose?

I guess what I've realized is that in these situations you are better off making the effort even though it may seem odd because most times, people will appreciate it, and you really don't have that much to lose.

Self-Discipline and Focus....

As much as I hate to admit it, it seems that "success" however you define it comes down to a few things. Having clear goals is one of them and hard-work/work ethic is big, but the more I look at it, the more I realize that it is simple things like focus on the priorities and self-discipline around them.

The most obvious example for me is my bedtime. I have a tendency to always try to do "one last thing" that may or may not be critical, but makes me feel good-like changing a light bulb. It can wait, of course, but I sometimes think that if I don't do it now, it won't get done. And, of course, it'll never be the highest priority item, but the consequence is I don't get enough sleep. And when that happens, I make dumb decisions and I am not on top of my game for the important things-family responsibilities, sensitivity to my wife, and my work.

The worst part is that even though I know it's critical, I don't always do it. That's the part of my psychology (and others-diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) that I would love to understand.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kiddush Sponsorship...

There is a reception (kiddush) for the congregation every week after services at my synagogue. It can be large or small and people generall sponsor it for a lifecycle event.

I noticed over the past few weeks that for the particular service I attend, the synagogue itself has been sponsoring the reception, which means that no one congregant has made the offer.

That fact, combined with the fact that I hadn't done it in a LONG time, led me to offer to sponsor the reception this week.

I was asked, "what is the occasion?"

Now, I didn't really have one in mind, so I thought long and hard about it.

I figured I could have fun with it, so I said it was "in honor of the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows Vista." What the hell, right? It would be a topic of conversation. Some people would appreciate it. My geeky friends would love it and it probably would anger some people that I've crossed the line. Just the type of controversy I enjoy.

Then, I saw another benefit. When you make a donation to a non-profit and you get something in-kind or food, it's not tax deductible. However, now that I am making this a commercial effort, it seems like this could be a tax deduction as a "non-reimbursed business expense." I'll have to look into this, but I may have opened up an entirely new category of philanthropy :-)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Uncharted Territory...

In the past few months, I've moved into a new role at work. It's somewhat of an entrepreneurial ventue, which is great, but not without anxieties.

On the one hand, you get to forge a path. On the other, you don't really have a good measure for how you are doing, since NO ONE HAS done it before! That's troubling sometimes. Of course, the anxiety makes things worse since you start making stupid decisions.

The challenge is to have the confidence of someone who has been there before and the awareness that no one has.

Remembering how you got there....

I bought my car at a dealer called Fitzgerald Auto Mall. Occasionally, you'll see ads with Jack Fitzgerald talking about the "Fitzgerald Way" and how he got where he did--customer service, blah, blah, blah.

Actually, I am extremely pleased with the car and the level of service I have received there. It really is superior.

Anyway, yesterday I had to pick up my car (cracked windshield) and I was waiting out front for the service guys to bring it around. I saw a woman escorting a man into his car and noticed her name tag "Dottie Fitzgerald."

I figured it was Jack's wife, but didn't think anything more of it.

For some reason, the process of getting my car to me took much longer than usual (normally very quick.) Maybe 8 minutes later, Dottie comes back and sees me.

"Are you waiting for your car, sir?" I nod.

She turns to someone and says, "this gentleman has been waiting a long time for his car. Please find out what is going on."

I was very impressed. This woman and her husband have built an auto retailing empire, but the little stuff still doesn't escape her.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How the mighty have fallen...

Went to visit one of my business partners today for a planning discussion. Until now, we had always met at customer's offices. He said to me:

"Jeremy, I don't think I've ever seen you in anything but a suit."

What has become of me?

I've come around to the idea that, yes, impressions do matter and when you meet a customer, going with a suit and tie can't really hurt the cause that much. It didn't hurt that I picked up a bunch of suits for free of course.

I remember when I lived in Frankfurt, I told someone that I never wanted to wear a tie to work. A friend there told me, "you'll come around" and while I don't wear one everyday, I suppose I'm a conformist now, aren't I?

104 degree fever...

has stricken the Tonka. It's one of the worst feelings around, that's for sure.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gas prices...

Had a conversation with Tamar about how rising gas prices is going to make us (and other Americans) change our behavior. It led into a discussion about the possibility of oil companies price gouging and a tax on windfrall profits. (That was from Tamar's side.) I'd share my side, but my friend, Jacob Licht, did a pretty good job of summarizing it in an email to me the other day.

"All this talk about penalizing oil companies and giving Americans $100 rebates for gas is ridiculous.

Thought you’d enjoy this quick chart I made comparing profit margins at several companies where Americans spend their hard-earned dollars.

2005 Net Income 2005 Revenue NI as % of Rev

Microsoft 12,254,000 39,788,000 31%
google 1,465,397 6,138,560 24%
Ebay 1,082,043 4,552,401 24%
cisco 4,401,000 22,045,000 20%
exxon 36,130,000 370,680,000 10%
Apple 1,335,000 13,931,000 10%
Chevron 14,099,000 198,200,000 7%
Ford 2,024,000 177,089,000 1%

As you know, I have no interest in penalizing highly profitable companies (or those with low profits), so I don’t get the focus on the oil companies’ profits. In the scheme of things, they’re not such a profitable industry (see above). When you make a 7-10% margin on lots of revenue, your net income will be a large number, but at the end of the day, your margins are still only 7-10%.

You’ve studied some economics, right? When demand for a product declines, a new equilibrium between supply and demand occurs at a lower price. Shouldn’t we be focusing on reducing our demand for oil instead of penalizing the companies that are supplying it? We could also focus on increasing supply, but there’s not much that an average American can do about that. We can, however, reduce the amount of oil we consume.

I didn’t realize it until after I’d run my numbers, but Krauthammer’s op-ed today is along similar lines. It’s such a pity when economics makes politicians look dumb. "

Between Licht and Krauthammer, the argument was summed up quite well. Thanks, team!