Enhancing Shareholder Value a.k.a. killing business success

At some point in the 1980’s someone came up with the idea of shareholder value. The idea was that the ultimate success of a company was to maximize the value that the company delivered to shareholders. Seems like a pretty reasonable idea, until you start to see what people who use this term really mean.

What is often done in the name of “enhancing shareholder value” is totally the antipathy of the obvious definition of the idea.

Surely (you would imagine) that shareholders would want to see a company perform well over a long period of time. And you would imagine that performing well would be a simple concept, where the money a company spends on developing and selling its product would be less than the money it brings in from its customers. You would imagine that in the same way you balance your bank account every month a company would be measured as being successful if there was “profit” on the business they perform.

But you would not be correct!

The stock market and therefore the executives of large companies look for increasing returns not just profit. So if a company continually makes a 10% profit every year according to those who measure shareholder value that company is failing.

So the pressure is on to show increases in revenue, and decreases in costs, so that year on year, quarter on quarter the business “grows”, and so the company gets bigger and the shareholders are then told by the “experts” that the shareholder value is increasing.

This drives companies to off-shore their workforce, find lower cost suppliers, reduce their work force and consider unbelievably expensive mergers and acquisitions. In the very short term these things seem to drive down costs or increase revenue and so that’s a good thing. But they really don’t make a company healthier, they kill it.

I’ve seen company executive’s looks to buy a company at any cost, just to get a small increase in revenue this year. It doesn’t matter that the money spent can never be recovered, it’s about achieving a revenue target, not a margin target. It’s often inane.

A large number of acquisitions never make a profit, what they do in move huge sums of money and stock from a healthy company to the owners of a less healthy company. The two merged companies for a short time have increased revenue, but the cost and mess of merging the businesses often leads to reduced performance and so the growth slows down. Angry customers leave, and new customers question the value of entering this created confusion. So all too often the sum of the parts is less than the whole, and within a few years the revenue of the merged business looks like the revenue would have already been of the healthier if the two parts if they had not merged. To me that says that the billions spent on the merger were entirely wasted. At the same time all the changes demanded to streamline the two businesses cause the best and the brightest to leave and huge political infighting between executives takes place to grab the reduced number of top spots. Innovation slows and then the business is forced to go through more rounds of off-shoring and layoffs to reduce costs even further to have to pay for the debt created from the merger.

Of course there are winners from M&A, those who broker the deal, the CEO’s and CFO’s, the banks and the private equity firms all get lucrative multi-million dollar payoffs as part of their self-created wonderland.

And there are lots of losers, employees, customers, shareholders.

I’ve worked for a number of companies who have acquired large businesses over and over again, and I’ve seen the carnage it creates. Apart from the small number of execs and bankers who make the deal happen, I’m at a loss to see who gains, except maybe of course for India and China.

Maximizing shareholder value seems to be the modern euphemism for “Screw you I’m taking it all”.

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Why on Earth would anyone want to be a politician?

Political office is supposed to be a service to society, but today it seems that politicians get power and money.

There has always been an element of power associated with political office, and I suppose that is why most capital cities have special laws that allow things that are not allowed anywhere else, such as legalized prostitution, access to fireworks and lower than average taxes. It’s also why most capital cities are a long way from where most people actually want to live.

But recently it seems that politicians have been awarding themselves much more than their fair share of goodies. Wage increases above everyone else’s, huge pension schemes, massive benefit packages, longer and longer vacations, even the right to insider trade and take money in exchange for influence.

This has been a concern since the Greeks had an empire, and philosophers wrote about an elite class that ruled but couldn’t benefit from the rules they imposed (Plato’s Republic), and the documented corruption of the senate in Rome (the fall of the Roman Empire).

Whenever politicians throughout history have given themselves too much power, the weight of the corruption that this in turn delivers has always led to the balance being reset.

It doesn’t matter what system has been in place, various capitalist systems, different types of democracy, fascism, socialism, communism and even the sycophantic Byzantine Empire model, which used titles and awards to reward people until those very people realized there was this huge lump of unguarded wealth protected only by purely corrupt words.

We now have ridiculously wealthy and powerful politicians across Europe and America, who seem only interested in furthering their own wealth by doing the bidding of those even wealthier than themselves.

The poor don’t have enough to pay a significant proportion of taxes, and the rich have enough to be able to avoid paying a significant proportion of taxes. Those in the middle have and always will pay more than they should. But when the poorer get poorer still, and the rich get even richer, then the middle has to pay even more. And politicians who don’t spot this early enough and allow the balance to shift too far get in trouble.

They can try for a while to pander to people with words about religious fervor, or scare people with stories about terror and those of a different color, but in the end they end up in trouble. The world has moved on from guillotines and now the trouble mostly comes in the form of impeachments, fines , humiliation and prison terms (hellos Blagojevich, hello Neil Hamilton).

And yet today we have a situation in the US where an almost infinite amount of money is spent to influence the political agenda.

It’s shocking that in exchange for money politicians add clauses into laws that directly reward those who pay them. There are actual laws in the US that mean that specific job titles in specific banking jobs pay lower rates of taxes than everyone else. Seriously Hedge Fund managers pay a lower rate of tax! People who earn their money off of stock trades pay less tax (as a percentage) than people who fight fires or dig holes.

We have had politicians who have run large companies, who have actually given no bid contracts to the actual companies that used to run and have huge investments in.

We have billionaires paying politicians to give billionaires lower taxes. And then these politicians ask people who own a house to pay more to fund the schools in their town (because it’s a choice, give another billion to a billionaire or ensure that schools have enough books, there’s not enough for both).

We have billionaires paying politicians to ensure that the government buys trillions in armaments at list price, and using the words “war profiteer” never passes their lips.

The corruption is across the board.
• Gun companies pay politicians to ensure that everyone can buy guns.
• Drug companies pay politicians to ensure that the government pays list price for drugs and that consumers are banned from buying these same drugs from lower priced sellers abroad.
• Coal companies pay politicians to build coal powered power plants.
• Oil companies pay politicians to build pipelines to their oil refineries.
• Huge farmers pay politicians for farm subsidies.
• Banks pay politicians to remove regulations.
• And the list just goes on and on.

The issue is that politicians are able legally to be influenced by money. And while this happens they will always be corrupt.

On the surface different parties blame each other for the corruption, but all the pigs are feeding at exactly the same trough.

In some places in the world it’s illegal for politicians to accept money for influence (it’s considered a bribe), this doesn’t stop it happening totally, but it does send some to prison.

The issue is that whenever I hear a politician say that they want to get money out of politics, I still don’t trust them. I know they have an angle.

Have we reached the point where no politician can ever be trusted again?

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The one and only way to succeed with B2B marketing

Why is it that most B2B CMO’s last just a year or so? It’s simple they fall into the B2C trap, their CEO will ask them how much demand that last ad campaign generated, and they give an answer. It’s that simple the clock is ticking, trust will decay and a new CMO will be in within the year.

What happens? Well B2B marketing is a complex derivative process, where slowly but surely through brand enhancing value exchanges (aligned very carefully to the specifics of the target audience) prospects learn of problems that they should be thinking about solving, realize these are their problems, form a strategy to solve these problems, identify choices and enact a process of consideration, purchase and implementation. It’s a carefully crafted business process that involves decision makers, influencers, approvers and advisers.

B2B marketers have to make sure that they are providing great compelling knowledge, advice and quality access to the right people throughout the process without annoying the prospects. Being in consideration is key.

If the CMO ever says “well that advert generated 200% ROI” without explaining that the return on that investment was to move the needle on the brand or get prospects to move from unaware to aware then the assumption that the CEO would have it that that ad closed deals. That assumption can only lead to an erosion of trust, as clearly no ad in a B2B world actually closes a deal directly.

A B2B marketing campaign starts with a source of people to market too. These are contacts.

When a contact interacts with the campaign, ie. signing up for an event, downloading a gated asset, then that’s great, they are inquiring.

When those inquiring contacts start to share information about their intent which such jewels as a timeline, access to a budget, details on their requirement, then they are a lead.

And when that lead starts to get detailed it becomes qualified.

And when a qualified lead is accepted by sales as one they will expend effort on trying to win, assign an expected close date and a proposed deal value it becomes an opportunity.

I find it very helpful to call this the CILO process, as it’s a simple idea that the whole business can understand and adopt.

Not every single touch point builds leads, but campaigns build contacts, inquiries, leads, qualified leads and opportunities (CILO). Those are the true measures of a B2B marketing team. Ones that deeply drive sales and can start with a strategy and end with tactical success.

Training a CEO on what to expect and how to gain value from B2B marketing is the first and last job of the head of marketing. When the CEO and the marketing leaders are aligned, great things happen.

Any CMO that has survived longer that two years in a B2B marketing organization (without the CEO changing) is doing this.

When you look to hire a new head of marketing and you’re a B2B company, think about this when you read those resumes….

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Living with an Apple Watch

When the Apple Watch first came out, I was intrigued but chose not to buy one. I always wear a watch, and while I have tried a number of so-called smart watches over the years I was not that impressed.

A few weeks after the initial launch I was walking around a Mall outside Boston early one morning, and happened upon an almost deserted Apple store, so I popped in and got a hands on demo of the watch. I looked at the different cases, straps and played with it and came away unconvinced. It was nice, but I didn’t see it as a must-have accessory. To me the case of the watch is okay, but the materials didn’t seem that special, and frankly I was disappointed with the straps. But it did have potential.

A couple of months later Apple opened a new store on Madison Avenue in New York, just a couple of blocks from my apartment. And that did change things a bit. Now I was walking past the store while walking our dog after dinner a few times a week.
It’s always nice to window shop. For my wife it’s dress and jewelry shops, for my dog it’s lamp posts and fire hydrants and for me its tech stores.

So every few days we would find ourselves going for a post dinner walk in the evening and perusing the Apple store. After looking at the same counters over several of these walks, my good lady was getting bored, and “forced” me to actually buy one. As I wasn’t really convinced that I’d make good use of it I choose the lowest end model, dark grey with a rubber strap. And so started my journey into apple watch-dom.

The strap was horrible but the watch grew on me quickly. I don’t think Apple gets watch straps. The way they clip onto the watch itself is masterful, a little slidey magnetty thing that is a massive improvement over the usual pins that have been on watches for a hundred years. But the actual straps themselves are not great. I’m sure the materials they have chosen to use are high enough quality, but the clasps are silly, and the metal, leather and rubber models are all below top end styling.
I was able to pick up a third party anodized metal strap that matches the grey metal of the watch from Amazon for $40 that is superior to all the models that Apple sell (and at a fraction of Apples cost). It looks better, has more heft (that I like) and has a high end style clasp this is easy to use and looks good.

So what about the watch itself. Well I’ve had absolutely no issue with the battery life, I wear it every day from 6am to midnight and the battery has never run out. But the charge cable that comes with the watch has a six foot cable, which is just far too long.

The actual apps on the watch are useful, and over time I’ve found a number that I really like. The texting app is brilliant, with simple pre-defined and customized replies along with the voice to text option, I am able to respond to texts far less intrusively than via my phone.

Making and ending calls on the watch and using the speaker/mic to chat is a function I’ve used maybe six times in total, it’s a gimmick, but fun to have.

Getting news updates and sports updates is really good.

Emails on the watch, is less valuable. Emails need a bigger screen to be of any value.

I’ve used Apple Pay once.

The menu structure is fine, but nothing special.

But I’ve surprisingly liked the activity tracker, and the hearth rate monitor. It’s nice to see how long I’ve been sitting each day.

I really like the music play controls. I use a Bluetooth headset, and it is great to be able to control things on the watch, such as play/pause and volume.

Oh and it tells the time, which is nice. I’ve configured the watch face to show me time/date, temperature (based on the weather app), calories burnt, and a second time zone.

So from what I know now, would I recommend the watch to anyone else.
In a word – NO

I Love the watch, it’s become very useful, and I wear it now every day, but there is an issue:

It’s even less social that having a phone with you at dinner. It’s rude to check your phone all the time, and since the watch is even easier to check, it’s even easier to be really rude. I therefore now don’t wear it at social gatherings (I’ve broken this rule a few times, and it’s clear to me that it’s just socially really rude).

Should you buy an Apple Watch? Don’t rely on anyone else’s opinion, if you want a gadget that further assimilates you into your own digital content world, go for it, but I don’t want to be accused of encouraging anyone else to further disassociate with those they are physically in a room with.

It’s quite possible that robot historians in a thousand years’ time will mention the Apple Watch as one of the defining moments in the rapid decline of the age of man. The culmination of the so called “smart phone zombie culture crash”, that led our (soon to be sentient artificial intelligent) robot overlords to realize that we were not worthy of running things – power to the mighty googleplex and Apple Infinite Loop, may their solar powered electric empire rule for infinite cycles.

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The HP Way

When Carly Fiorina became the CEO of Hewlett Packard, she came into a company steeped with great ideas (both at a cultural level and in terms of long term strategy), an amazing history and some of the most creative people in technology. Things were far from perfect, but the company generally had a strong business model, mostly well respected products and an incredibly loyal and talented workforce.

To say that Carly did not take the time to understand the strengths of her company would be an extreme understatement.

I got to meet her a couple of times and got to see her present many times, and the feeling I came away with from each interaction was the same; It’s not that her ideas were terrible (they were not), but an ability to get her subordinates to follow her direction was almost non-existent. Great leaders always spend the time to understand what it will take to make change, and this always starts with trying to understand the motivation of those that you need to change. I don’t care if you are Stalin or the Dali Lama you need a plan, either to convince or bully.

Carly did neither, she would state her idea, and just blindly assume that it was accepted. And I saw general manager after general manager blatantly ignore her, and just do what they wanted without any consequence.

This lead to massive fragmentation, with different parts of the company doing entirely different things. At the time, I thought this was weird, now I know (from decades of experience) it was the expected result of very weak leadership. I’ve seen other weak leaders since then, but none who were is such a high position.

Growing through merger and acquisition is fraught with issues. In a large percentage of M&A situations the result of one plus one is close to one. In other words the resulting merged company ends up being no bigger than the biggest of the merged parts. To me this is the definition of failure. If you merge two companies and reduce the joint workforce to the size of the previous largest part, and you lose customers and talent such that the resulting revenue is about the same as the largest of the two previous companies and your ability to do new things is about the same as the previous largest of the two companies, then you have failed.

In the case of HP and it’s Fiorina-tenured M&A strategy this is what I believe happened. Billions were wasted, and lead to increased debt that the new business has to service. Less people had jobs, customers were pissed off, and the resultant new company was far less cohesive (split cultural ideas).

In my view Carly Fiorina was a disastrous CEO for HP. I know she doesn’t see it that way, but speak with those who were there at the time, that’s exactly how it seemed to us.

So when she stands up and says she has the talent to be POTUS, and she uses HP as her one and only proof point, it doesn’t work for me.

She needs to apologize to the memory of Bill and Dave

(148)

There must be a better way

Every day I get a dozen calls from sales people I don’t know, who try every technique they can think of to get past my receptionist and into my voicemail box. And by the very volume of these calls, the receptionist has now become real world trained to identify every trick in the book.

• The “I was asked to call at this time” gambit fails 100% of the time
• The “we have a scheduled meeting” play only leads to the receptionist calling me and confirming that it is bullshit.
• The “I was passed to you by xxx in your company” just doesn’t cut it.

Look sales people if you want to reach me, try something really new, try sending me something of value first, like an example of what you can do for me. Don’t call me or email me, send it in the post, that gets my attention and doesn’t waste my time, it just appears on my desk and I do look at it. Then if I like what you send “maybe” I’ll call you.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but how many services so you need to buy the same stuff. If I need something I do what everyone else does, either google it or ask someone else what they are using.

The worst though has to be the spam emails.
I get several hundred of these every week. The ones offing penis enlargements and requesting help to get large amounts of money out of Nigeria get picked up quite well by the anti-spam tools, but about 20 of these every day are from companies trying to sell me contact lists, website development services or reporting tools. I may actually update my email autoreply to external people to say “btw I already have a web team, great contact lists and a BI team, so if you want to sell me any of these things, consider yourself updated I DON’T NEED THEM”

If you want to send me an email don’t, send me something of value, there are loads of things I don’t know, so tell me some of them. I , like most busy people respond well to those who take the time to think through the situation and provide something interesting.

Robot-calls, spam quality emails, cold calls along with pop-up ad’s on webpages, or unrequested requests on social media are dead to me.

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Insurance is socialism

The concept of insurance is very simple, have a large group of people pool their investment in protecting against a risk, in the knowledge that the costs incurred when a risk turns into an event ,while great, will be manageable since the chance of many people being effected by similar events in low enough.

Everyone pays in enough to cover the costs of these who suffer an “event”.

Insurance works best when the group of people involved is very large. If everyone is involved then it works best of all. Insurance is about playing the odds, everyone joins in and all are protected. It’s the most social of all systems possible.

That’s how life insurance works, that’s how car insurance works, it is how property insurance works and yes, and it’s how health insurance works.
There is absolutely no socialist concept that is more socialist than insurance. In fact the most left socialist countries in the world today are less socialist than insurance. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were not as socialist as insurance (but they were naïve enough to think they were of course).

And in the same way that democracy is a flawed process of government, just less flawed than every other choice, so it is with insurance. No one likes paying insurance, but of all the possible choices, it’s the least flawed model.

And the issue really comes down to our ability to deal with a bad situation. If your spouse dies, or you’re sick, or you have a car crash or your house burns down, then you are at that moment in the least effective position to deal with the issue. Insurance is partly about mitigating a risk and a lot about helping those who are not in a position to help themselves.

No one likes paying for insurance, but no one has ever found a more effective model.

Whenever in history there has been insurance society has thrived (greeks, rome etc), and whenever there has not been insurance society has floundered (dark ages). It’s that simple, when people work together for the common good, everyone wins.
I’m sick of crybabies wailing about having to pay for other peoples insurance. If people are left homeless, sick, bereft of the ability to be a valuable part of society, then everyone loses.

But the other side of insurance is fraud and greed. The only way insurance works for everyone is if the costs are controlled as carefully as possible. Greedy bastards living on the backs of insurance, gouging prices and getting kickbacks from suppliers, and lying about services destroys society just as easily as having no insurance.

Simple rules for a good society:
1- Everyone pays for insurance.
2- If you make a fraudulent claim or you cheat on the costs the punishment must be draconian. I’m talking hung by your nut sack draconian.

Insurance is not nice, it’s just an essential part of how our society runs.

(187)

Verbal diarrhea has a new analogy

Thinking is a complex activity, often when you think through an idea, your state to yourself inside your head a point of view, which you can quickly realize is wrong, and so you discount and keep working through all the rest of the possible ideas. This is how each of us considers complex issues and decides on a course of action that is reasonable and we then open our mouths and share the idea with others.
Sometimes even then we realize on reflection of other people’s responses, that the thing that we have said was wrong, and we take a moment to consider a reasonable response. In this way through a mix of individual thoughts and shared ideas we generally can come up with a position on pretty much anything.

Of course there are some people who just cannot ever let an idea stay in their head, or when it comes out and is clearly inappropriate, don’t have the common sense to say so, apologize and take a more reasonable position.

It seems that right now many of the people hoping to be president of the USA have no idea how to either keep stupid thoughts inside their head or when they have popped out, how to say “sorry, that was a silly thing to say, let me try that again”.

The most amazing “postulater” of half chewed misinformed and ignorant statements is quite clearly Donald Trump.

In just a few short weeks he’s accused all Mexican illegal immigrants of being drug dealing, murdering rapists and he’s publically stated that one of the leading elder statesmen of the US government was not a hero because he was shot down and captured while performing a mission during a war.

Everyone at one time or another has said something stupid, it happens, but no one can be that arrogant to think that when they have said something really inane that it’s okay to stand behind the statement, just because it came out of their own mouth.

There are clearly problems with illegal immigration in the US, but the issue is not just the migrants themselves, it’s much bigger than that. Economics drives migration, farmers who use undocumented labor should be imprisoned. Those who help traffic migrants illegally should be imprisoned. There are tough and reasonable actions that must be taken to provide a framework for legal migration for all levels of workers. But it is not by claiming that all immigrants from a specific country or region are immoral at every level.

John McCain is not everyone’s ideal senator. He’s vacillated between being a free thinking “maverick” and a right wing party mouthpiece, but one thing absolutely everyone can agree to, is that he was and is incredibly brave and a hero of the wars he fought in. He took amazing risks to perform his duty, was terribly injured and while in captivity under extreme duress did not tell the enemy what they wanted to hear. And he has spent most of his life serving his country. In the hierarchy of heroes he’s pretty much up there with the best.

Donald Trump should be ashamed of his words, that’s a natural response when you have verbal diarrhea. But instead the “donald” seems to believe that his shit stinks of roses. I really think his arrogance is boundless. If there was ever a need to use tar and feathers and carry someone out of town on a rail in humiliation, it’s now and it’s Trump. Maybe they can turn the process into a reality TV show.

I personally will be telling people they are “pulling a trump”, when they say something really ignorant and insulting and then stand by it.

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Don’t Make Anything Illegal.

I’m no expert on mind altering drugs, but I do consider myself an experienced business person. When a product is more available than there is demand, prices fall. And when a product has more demand than supply prices rise. It’s pretty clear today that the supply of illegal drugs outweighs the demand, and so prices are low.

When I walk down the street the volume of drug use is quite clear, I know the smell of pot quite well, and it’s everywhere. There are also some really weird smells coming from many people walking around, and the smells are more than the usual summer taxi driver body odor, I’m talking about some weird crap people are smoking. And it’s pretty obvious these are either illegal drugs, or some form of drug that has not yet been made illegal and so people are inhaling it to get a buzz without having some person in blue screaming “get on the ground” repeatedly while pointing a Taser gun at them.

There was a thing in years past called the war on drugs. Now if that truly was a war then by every reasonable measure it was and is a war that has been well and truly lost.

Isn’t it time that as a society we get beyond the idea of prohibition and go for a formal legal framework whereby drugs become controlled in the same was as other deadly, addictive substances are (alcohol and tobacco being the most obvious). Once something is legal and controlled, then reasonable discussions can take place about safety and efficacy. Companies can test and market their products, make profits, pay taxes and if the product turns out to be dangerous they can be fined, imprisoned and generally made to pay for being greedy selfish bastards.

Also it means that little things like addiction can be considered. Maybe with research it’s possible to make drugs less addictive. Maybe the levels of active ingredients can be managed, and maybe those who market products (that when misused can inflict harm) can have a reason to invest in treatment centers to minimize the damage caused by their products.

Guns are legal, alcohol is legal, sugary drinks are legal, cigarettes are legal, reality TV shows are legal. All of these can and do cause harm when used in excess or by people who are outside the “safe criteria” for ownership or usage.

So why not just stop making stuff illegal, and instead show people that doing stupid things is just stupid.

There are some drugs that should obviously be controlled, but these are the ones that people can use to harm others. Frankly, taking any drug has side effects, and I personally prefer to take no drugs unless prescribed by a doctor, and even then I question if it’s really required or is it just the doctor either looking to make the big conference sponsored by the drug company or trying to cover their ass by oversubscribing to reduce their legal liability.

Of course I’m lying, I regularly take my drugs in the form of wine, beer, diet coke, Chinese food and tap water. But I choose not to knowingly take un-prescribed prescription drugs or anything that has likely been transported by the rectum of a tourist from Thailand or was made by a peasant in Columbia who doesn’t care about by personal health. And I really like my brain the way it is (I’m sure some could question this statement), and I see no reason to break something that is working quite well for me.

I know many creative people have found the effects of mood changing and psychedelic drugs to be critical to their creative process. Many of these people have since died either from excess, of the effects mind altering drugs have on judgement. I suspect many times more have died from the judgement altering effects of ethanol and the impact of turning their lungs into tar pits. The best things about alcohol and cigarettes are the controls on kids. Most kids don’t get drunk on alcohol, partly because it’s hard for them to buy it legally, but mostly because it’s expensive and so limited by their budgets, and that’s the power of taxation on intoxication.

And of course the whole private prisons thing that is fed millions of pot heads is just plain nuts. Illegal drugs foster a culture of illegality through the whole cycle of manufacturing, transportation, distribution, selling, owning and consuming. Making drugs not-illegal changes all of these businesses into legitimate profit centers paying taxes and being concerned about the health and welfare of their workers and customers.
You don’t have to like a product, or use a product, or like the people who make, sell or use a product. But we all have a responsibility to create a society free from underclasses or processes outside of reasonable society.

I don’t think it’s a case of making drugs legal, it’s a case of stopping making anything illegal.

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I Hate Gay Heroes

Every time I hear of an LBGT hero I just get angry. There should be absolutely nothing heroic required for someone to live their lives in-line with who they are. The simple fact is that bigoted, sexist people who are just low in mental fortitude are scared of anyone who is unlike themselves and create reasons for people to have to perform unreasonable levels of activity to overcome unreasonable barriers to be able to live their lives as their biology and their personality defines it.

I know people of many potential variants (as does everyone), some are gay, some are straight, and some I have no idea. Some are great people and some are assholes, and some (most) are somewhere in-between. When I see a person, I see, a person, and frankly it doesn’t matter what they wear, who they marry or who they hold hands with.

When I hear of a sports star who “heroically” came out to their team mates, or had their nuts chopped off and was featured on the cover of a magazine in a bathing suit, I’m not thinking “hero”, I’m thinking “what the fu@k”, it’s some person living their lives as they see fit, just like everyone else, stop making such a lot of fuss about it.

Let’s just accept that every person is different from every other person, and stop worry about it.

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