This is posted over at GoFundMe – I’m repeating what I wrote on it here for my blog. Read it, don’t – Share or don’t – Give or not. At least I will have asked for help and let people know what is happening. Maybe it will help someone else knowing it whether it helps me get anything that makes things better for us or not.
If 1000 people gave $20 – our family wouldn’t become homeless in the next few days – but no.
So our little family came from New York to Atlanta to help my Dad in his last year of his life, now the estate is putting us out and if I had $20 each from 1,000 people, we could get a place with the 3 months rent +deposits, utilities, transportation to get back to New York – but no.
It has been the mental stress of being thrown on the street by our other family members, not being given money for the work we did here & then being forced to be homeless again after the fire took everything 2 yrs ago – it would take so little from many to get a place, but no.
My daughter finally got an interview for a job in NYC that is Tuesday from a civil service test she took around the time of the fire that took our apt 2 yrs ago, if we had $30 from 2,000 people – we could go there and she could take that job & get an apt too – but no.
If the people who have enjoyed my artworks, my writings and who I’ve stopped to spend hours of my time helping over the years would give $20 each right now – our little family could be restored, get on our feet with an apartment and a job for my daughter in NYC where we had been living and go forward with our lives, but no.
If someone bought this from me and made a good business from it licensing the designs – we could have an apt and afford it, get back to NYC, get jobs and take care of ourselves, but no. CricketDiane Designs on Zazzle
If someone would buy all of my creative brainstorming notes with marketing ideas I couldn’t do – but would work for something, my design rights, art – anything like all of it, they could use it & that $20,000 would get us on our feet & a way back to NYC & an apt there, but no.
If somebody bought my blogs and carried on with them – but no. Or lent a hand with $20 – but it would take a lot of people doing that, but no. Or, if our family had actually paid us a bit for helping the estate and caretaking of Dad for his last year – but no. Just going homeless.
cricketdiane, 07-07-2018 (blog posted)
As if it wasn’t enough to have a fire set by children next door and watch our apt and our cat and everything we owned burned down – never being able to go in an retrieve any of it – (in Staten Island, NYC Aug. 2016)
As if it wasn’t enough to have HPD refuse to make any reasonable accommodation to me unless I found a GP to give me a referral to a neurologist or psychologist in NYC that would say I needed to have it and didn’t house us at all nor help us through HPD and NYCHA.
As if it wasn’t enough that I spent months paying to sleep on a neighbor’s living room floor while trying to find an apartment when every single one I did find with my Section 8 voucher ended up with NYCHA delaying it a week insisting that the fire report wasn’t enough to prove one of my daughters was no longer watching my other daughter’s children at our house which burned down – over and over again, costing every one of those rental opportunities using my voucher which now is gone.
And as if it wasn’t enough that one of my daughters and granddaughter who had been living with me, came to Georgia rather than sleep on a neighbor’s floor to help my Dad / her Grandfather live in his own house for the last year of his life, performing every single thing that needed to be done from cooking to doctor’s appointments, 24 hour care to clean up whatever illness happened, doing all the errands and computer work among about 50 other jobs without pay – for over a year.
As if it wasn’t enough that Daddy insisted I come here for what turned out to be his last month of life and help him and help with his estate and help my daughter go through all this with his final months – which turned out to be only a month, which I paid for the plane ticket, came and started cleaning, repairing, working on the estate for him to get it ready for whenever the time came and then continued to do so every day for the first four months I was here until family members insisted that I not do any of those things because the estate had not asked me to do them – and certainly had no intention of paying me anything for doing any of it, in case I was expecting that, etc., etc,. etc., ad nauseum – so then here I am.
And, here are my daughter and granddaughter and me – with the estate insisting that we get ourselves and our belongings that Dad had restored to us which were stored here – out. That’s how people do it on the white side of town and then everybody resents us for being in dire straights and our family not helping. Our family members think they did help by “letting” us live here without money, without a car, without jobs that paid anything because they certainly never intended to pay anything for any care Dad would have at home in his last years of his life – it wasn’t their problem. We are not their problem to help us in any way. We have sat in this house trying everything we can to get the money to help ourselves and move to our own place. It can’t be done.
People don’t want the things I’ve crafted, painted and created. They don’t even see the products and designs I’ve made from my art at my online store – so they don’t buy them even if they would like them if that had been something they had seen. There is no marketing it money or any applied understanding of marketing that I can bring to it. The $60 a month I was paying for GoogleAdWords did a little but not enough and it cost us to have to end that recently – so now there are virtually no sales. And, maybe if someone had thought enough of my efforts to help with it – and people had seen it, or seen my artworks, or writings, or creative ideas which there are a ton of but I can’t do them – or ever paid to have any of it, but no. And, that isn’t going to happen.
As if it wasn’t enough to have come through domestic violence, divorce without getting anything, losing my children, years of becoming a recovered person rather than a totally unfunctioning damaged one – but no. There is no value in knowing how to do all that – nobody wants to hear about all that. Nobody anywhere is interested in our family or me or us or the ordeal we are now facing. We are not considered an asset to America nor to anyone because we aren’t rich well-known people with name recognition. And, maybe the art I’ve done is not good enough, but it looks like it is – It looks like my inability to market it well is the problem and I can’t fix that.
But would anyone else buy it from us and let us have the money we need to simply go live in an apartment or house somewhere and get on our feet and go forward – NO, of course not.
And, as negative as that seems, it is based on the continued responses from my own family and others when we’ve posted any requests for help or asked for the opportunities to help ourselves.
Can we help with the estate? No – get out.
Can we get the help you said you’d give so we can go live somewhere else?? – NO – get out.
Can we have your help to move our things to a storage unit? NO – get out.
Can we have a few dollars from something I made that the estate is about to sell as part of its goods? NO – get out!
Can we put some of our own things in one side of the estate sell so we can sell them to get the money we need to move somewhere else? NO! Get out! Get out now!
Can you just give us the money you intended to give the lawyer and court costs to evict us and then charge those costs against us from whatever the final estate amount would be giving us? NO – get out!
Can we borrow against the money the estate is likely going to give us – or at least some part of it, so we can have the money now to move to somewhere else? NO! We aren’t going to do that! GET OUT!
Can we list some of the items that the estate needs to sell and get a small commission for it? NO – Get Out!
Can we be paid something for the work we have done? HELL NO! Get out! That deal was with Daddy not us – GET OUT!
That is the family we have. This is where we are. I have lots of art and creative notes, a studio’s worth of over thirty years of work – do you think at all there would be a grant for artists that would apply to me? HELL NO – because my work isn’t in a gallery – it has to be framed to do that among other things. The couple or three times over the years that is has been accepted by art galleries, it couldn’t be framed properly and placed with them. I gave up and took my art online – in the art community, that means less than nothing. And, maybe it is all worth something with the right buyer or art collector and maybe not. Who knows. But it isn’t anything worthy of a grant from art groups, nor is it of value to get anything from it right now that could yield us money and a place to live and a way to get there.
Yes, pretty well impossible. And, now every time I think about the hours of helping others and that not being worth even those people helping me now – it feels pretty dismal. To be used by my family to secure the place and keep it from being vandalized or robbed, to keep it from falling down any further while they get their shit together on handling the estate, and getting rid of all the squirrels in the attic, the mice in the basement, deep cleaning and sorting of Mom’s hoard of goods which none of them ever did after she died in 2013 and now are sitting here to be dealt with – and to be the most vulnerable, economically disadvantaged members of our family – I mean REALLY? As well as my daughter taking full time care of Daddy and his household management for the last year of his life? REALLY> and this is all we have to show for doing the right things? Is to be further impoverished and homeless with no help whatsoever – because somehow, our lives aren’t worth anything? REALLY>
If 1,000 people gave $20 each right now, we could have the resources to get a car, to get a place to live, to go back to NYC where we should be and maybe get my Section 8 voucher sorted out so that I can have a place to live despite being unemployable because of my disabilities. But, no – nobody wants to do that and give up $20 to us. Why should they? And, right now – I can’t think straight enough to answer that either but I know we’ve been helpers in every community where we’ve lived, for what that’s worth.
We’ve already done enough for the estate (of Bobby Phillips and his / our family) –
Written by Diane C. Phillips, June 25, 2018
How am I different than you? Probably nobody would even try to do this to you. They do it to me because they know I have disabilities and am economically disadvantaged.
We covered bills that were the responsibility of the estate and weren’t paid back for them.
We secured the property for months when no other way was provided by executors.
We’ve managed the property for months insuring that further damage to the physical property, plumbing, etc. was tended to immediately and prevented.
We gathered bills as they came in, papers and documents requested by executors and made sure they got those in a timely way.
We (Kasha) made a digital spreadsheet of all the household bills, account numbers, amounts and monthly due dates for them and emailed it to the executors and backup family member who may have taken that job if required.
We’ve been harassed, threatened, bullied, endangered by executors’ inactions as well as by their direct choices to make things harder and more dangerous for us.
We (Diane) spent four months, seven days a week for nearly all the hours of the day – cleaning, deep-cleaning, organizing, sorting and readying the items of the estate and the property for the benefit of the estate to be handled by the executors and as requested by the owner of the estate, Dad.
We (Diane) cleaned enough of the attic to be able to remove vermin – squirrels that were nesting there and damaging estate possessions stored there.
We removed the squirrels from the attic that were nesting there and removed the mice nesting the basement and other areas of the house, prevented the vermin from nesting in the house and did so without the use of poisons.
We (Kasha) covered a squirrel entry point on one outside corner of the roof’s rotting fascia board with scored aluminum sheeting to prevent entry by the squirrels.
We kept vandals and thieves from being able to enter the property despite the executors leaving the outer doors to the basement and another from the driveway in no condition to be secured or adequately locked in any way.
We endured a winter without the furnace repaired to heat the house, had water and gas turned off while we were here known to be caring for the property at Dad’s insistence – during the wintertime because the estate didn’t pay those bills, and executors decided not to pay them.
Because the executors chose to not ask for emergency papers of administration in a timely way, nor made any efforts to secure nor to manage the property and its assets in any other way, we continued to work under Dad’s consent and request of us to do that. And, we did it with integrity, decency and with every reasonableness as he asked us to do and in good faith of promises executors continued to make to us that they would help us financially to relocate somewhere else adequate to our needs when time came to do so.
We have endured days of extreme heat due to executors choosing not to fix the central air in the house and have had our own health and well-being endangered. We’ve also seen and reported to the executors that fine art, slides and family photos, electronics and other assets of the estate are being permanently altered by the heat as a result of it and de-valued from the state they were in and had been due to our own care and efforts.
We have been further impoverished and provably endangered as a direct result of the actions taken and the “refusal to act” decisions made by the executors, both before officially becoming executors in April 2018 (months after Dad died on Sept.30, 2017) during which time they knew they were going to be the executors AND after taking the oath with the probate court.
We (Diane, and as part of my household, Kasha and Allia) have our own financial resources at risk that are in jeopardy directly because of Dad’s estate and its executors further impoverishing us of the meager resources we do have, and using our time and efforts without any financial exchange commensurate with those efforts, failing to make good on their verbal promises to help us financially re-establish our household elsewhere knowing we must go back to New York City where our own financial resources are located and in place, AND by literally keeping us here to do the job of securing and managing the property because they don’t want to spend any money to have it done in some other way, nor do they want to stay at the property themselves.
Bequests / bequeathments from the will assigned to us are being withheld from us and no true inventory is being made of Dad’s estate by the executors before proceeding to open the property to the public for an estate sale without any approval by the court despite the will being probated in solemn form. The executors claim that no money is needed by the estate to pay outstanding debts but have every intention of hosting a yard sale-style estate sale and are already currently selling things from the estate online and in person, before any bequeathments are made and before any appraisals of antiques and large collections of collectibles, antiques and advertising memorabilia are made AND before doing or giving the court any accurate assessment or inventory of what is here.
Further, we are not not today or have we ever, during this time, been allowed full enjoyment of this space. It is not legally a rental property, it cannot be a legally rentable property in its current and ongoing condition, 90% of its physical space is occupied by, in excess of 200K individual items that belong to Mom and Dad’s estate and the physical property is not up to any reasonable standard of habitation. (See list of those deficiencies and dangers.)
By not managing the estate and its assets properly including the vast groups of possessions from years of collecting goods that are stored here, and by not adequately putting the tools and resources in our hands to do it adequately either (ie. heat/ac fixed, for instance) – the two executors of Dad’s estate are knowingly damaging and devaluing the assets of his estate as well as intentionally endangering our lives, our financial resources, and our health and well-being. The lost opportunity cost of us being here is staggering and most, if not all of our resources that are financial, business assets, personal belongings and future opportunities to have those resources are currently in jeopardy because of being here and the actions of these executors / family members.
We have been unmercifully harassed by the executors throughout these months and commonly with abusive emotional bullying, demands, inordinate and unnecessary increased stress and intimidation tactics being used by them.
We were prevented from selling any of our things by the estate failing to keep house insurance paid and then not re-activating it until June of this year.
We were further prevented to sell any of our business assets here such as my stored artworks or other things of any kind that belong to us to get the money we need to move elsewhere by the executors’ actions of not making a complete accurate inventory of Dad’s estate and submitting it to the probate court,
We were prevented from offering any classes or workshops in doing art or using social media or anything else we are qualified and capable of doing, both because the executors did not keep the house insurance current and because they sai outright for us not to do that, even on the back porch.
We have not been allowed to have our friends come over for a backyard barbecue or, (aside from one friend of Kasha’s) allowed to have any friends, or others from the community or the neighborhood come to visit us here for any reason.
We have been denied basic phone service at the property by the executors that we would need in the event one of us has our phone and the other is sitting here. And, denied access to a clean, safe, reasonably healthy environment to live in while we have been here serving the interests of and to the benefit of Dad’s estate. Nor have the executors made any real efforts in these nine months to do so.
Executors claim that they’ve given us eight months rent-free is not accurate nor adequate to give any value or financial benefit to us because the property is not appropriate nor fit nor safe for anyone to rent for any amount of money. We have babysat this property and its assets now for nine months during which time is was not and is not appropriately habitable, safe, adequate nor rentable to anyone.
We have been and continue to be very intentionally jeopardized by the executors of Dad’s estate even as they continue to fail to secure and/or manage the property in any other way than us physically being here 24/7. That is wrong for us in ways that are increasing our health issues, damaging our mental and emotional health and well-being, intentionally impoverishing us further and jeopardizing our continued access to the limited financial resources we do have in place.
We have reason to believe and some measure of proof that the executors are squandering the assets and values of the assets that belong to the estate and have the continued intentions to do so. We have reasonable concerns about this especially given the diligent efforts we’ve made to secure and keep those values intact.
We have served as stewards of this / Dad’s estate with honesty, integrity and offering our cooperation with the executors at every turn. We sold nothing, traded none of our estate nor Dad’s estate since he has been gone, gave away none of it and have taken nothing out of this place to anywhere. We have been hindered from leaving by not being able to legally remove any of our own belongings and assets of our estates and households nor being able to sell or to derive any other income during our time here and because the mishandling of Dad’s estate by the executors further impoverished the resources we did have available to us.
We (Kasha) provided to complete care and management of Dad and his household responsibilities for the last year of his life which cost me not having her as a helper that allows me to function well despite my disabilities and despite doing the 24/7 care and multitude of jobs required of her, not her food, not pay, not financial resources were made available to her, simply a place for her and her daughter to stay while performing those services of household management, driving, personal care of Dad, taking him and staying with him for all his doctor appointments, getting the bills into the mail, taking down derelict structures on the property and getting them to the landfill, doing plumbing repairs, cooking all the meals, doing all the shopping and other errands for him and his household, archiving family photos on the computer, doing all the other computer based activities he needed done, getting estimates and contractors out to fix some of the major plumbing repairs needed and the re-roofing done, removal of old eyesore vehicles as he requested, cleaning up from where he was sick, keeping the house clean and helping on immediate call to his side twenty-four hours a day with no days off for over a year, among other things. She also helped to remove two drunk family members who had been allowed to stay with Dad and commonly were violent and destroying the house and property. For all this, she was paid nothing but to have a place to sleep so not only did it rob me of the help I needed that she provided to my household, it cost our household the entirety of a year’s pay she could have made while doing those jobs for the estate and for our family without being paid anything.
We were intentionally deceived by the executors’ promises and claims that they would financially help us to reestablish our home adequately for our best interests, away from here when the time comes to do so and we operated in good faith that it would be as they repeatedly said about that. Now, instead of making good on those promises or any of that, we’re being told by executors to go to a homeless shelter and leave our pets to be abandoned and killed in some animal shelter, and either get our things out of here or to abandon those as well, which obviously cannot be taken to a homeless shelter. They did offer us bus tickets yesterday for us to take ourselves to the homeless shelter there and maybe $50 or less to help us have some spending money.
So, how am I different than you? Probably nobody would even try to do this to you. They do it to me because they know I have disabilities and am economically disadvantaged. My family did it to us because they wanted to do it that way and not in any other way. They knew what they were doing to us.
Cricketdiane, Diane C. Phillips, 06-25-2018
We might have to make some kind of GoFundMe or CrowdJustice campaign to get some legal help with all this, but haven’t yet.
If you would like to donate to help us better our situation and also to get attorneys that could help us, please donate to email@example.com on paypal.
It actually feels better simply writing all this out somewhere and asking for help to carry it. I can’t stand for this anymore.
Thanks for reading. Please share it, if you get a chance.
By the way, all of my artworks that still exist are sitting here at my Dad’s house, if you want any of it for a small price – let me know. I will need to sell it quickly or it will be in the garbage because of these people in my family.
Also, I’m offering my business assets including all the licensing of my designs, online blogs and stores, my rights to any and all of it, for sale so that we can have the money to go somewhere else and set up our home rather than the shelter system. It has never realized the potential profits that it could and even one design that becomes popular could certainly more than pay for buying it right now when I need the money. Otherwise, it is of no help to me unfortunately. But, if you know anyone who would like to buy it and do something with it – email me at the address above. I understand it is probably not going to work, to offer it since my own efforts have not made it a success already – but what the hell. If you want to do something with it and help me at the same time to go elsewhere, let me know.
Here is one of the GoFundMe Campaigns my daughter Kasha has made to try and help our situation – please donate and share –
Apparently, it is okay in our family to use people known to have disabilities and who are economically vulnerable and disadvantaged, then to deny even the most humane of resources to them after using them. There are no disability rights in America. And, in many families like ours, there is nothing but derision and disrespect for those who are damaged family members, even if they are not drunks or drug addicts – which we are not. The only sin in America is not having money and that is one we apparently will continue to endure because all the assets that could be made available to us having worked for Daddy and his estate all this time, are being denied to us. In fact, those resources that would financially help us to re-establish somewhere else, are under siege by family members denying this to us. That is oppressive and barbaric.
BTW – Here is the list of reasons that this property belonging to Dad’s estate can not be rented to anyone and is not a safe, habitable environment to have had us stay in –
About 90% of the usable space in this house is taken up by mountains of clutter belonging to the estate from collectibles and antiques to things Mom bought where ever at some point.
There is a small bathroom that is completely unusable but while it was in use, its sewage was flowing into the basement into a bucket Dad was emptying every so often and it overflowed a number of times. Some repairs were made to that plumbing, but the raw sewage has remained coating walls, floor joists under the bathroom and the floor of the basement room below it. When dampness occurs from rain seeping through basement’s concrete walls, the smell of the sewage there is activated and overwhelming.
There is a broken shower plumbing and various leaks in the other bathroom although it is usable and this has caused its own rotting wood, mold and mildew problems in there.
The hand railing and columns on the front of the house along its porch are no longer attached and could easily give way allowing someone to fall. There are loose bricks on the steps – we try to not go out that way or use that area.
There are the shit and piss of squirrels that were in the attic and mice that were in the basement and areas of the house which were not cleaned up. We got rid of the mice, the yellow jackets that had taken over the main bathroom and the squirrels in the attic but their mess remains – we were told by executors to leave it alone.
The basement door and the outside door to the driveway cannot be secured because of missing window panes and the basement door lock does not seat in the frame nor has it for some years.
Black mold and powdery mildew are common throughout the house, in the air system, in the basement and attic as well as commonly found throughout the main living areas of the house.
The electrical system in the house is far from normal or safe. Entire series of wiring, including for lights in the hall, den, kitchen and one of the back bedrooms, is on but not in use with the switches taped over to not use them (by Dad) because they were known to not be safe. A number of electrical outlets are either partly usable or not usable for the same reason – found throughout the house, including in the rooms where we sleep and areas where we are staying.
Water has been found inside the globe of an electrical hanging lamp that used to serve as an entry light in the living room near the front door. It can’t be used.
The roof had needed to be repaired for over five years, when Kasha finally insisted it get fixed last year and Dad agreed to get it done. In the meantime that the roof needed repairing, damage occurred to the rafters and to various places in the ceilings – with bowing areas of walls and ceilings that can be seen.
The sink in the kitchen has a drain that leaks into the basin below in the cabinet and so one side can’t be used except with a dishpan. It has set up a certain amount of black mold that commonly is found in the kitchen, including on the seals of the refrigerator no matter how often it is cleaned.
There is a rotting fascia board and underboard next to the roof that is getting further wet rot from the gutters being damaged for quite a while (some years) and not being repaired nor cleaned out. Years ago, I was helping Dad do that and it doesn’t look like it has been done much since then (about six years ago).
There are huge trees near the house, some of which have roots that clearly show signs of erosion around them. The executors had some tree cutting services out to check prices for removing them and the services identified needing to remove several major trees that sit within feet of the back porch and whose branches clearly hang over the roof and a large one in the front yard as well as a half-dozen dead or diseased trees in the backyard that could cause others to come down with them.
The fireplace does not work and the brickwork must be redone for it to ever be used. We stay away from it. That fireplace is in the den. Areas surrounding the fireplace show that the floor has dropped by at least a couple inches next to it from the level of the rest of the floor which may mean some leak had caused damage there or some other structural problem.
There are wet rot damages to floor joists and supporting subflooring under both bathrooms that is clearly evident from the basement looking up.
Most of the plumbing leaks causing mold and mildew to be prevalent as well.
The oven is avocado green from the seventies and still in use. It has evidence of overheating and an oddly hanging heating element in it.
The heater (for central heating and air conditioning in the house) was found to have a flex pipe for the gas feed when the gas company came to check it and said that was not appropriate (maybe not legal and certainly not safe) so the gas company worker would not allow the gas to flow to the heater until that is fixed. It was discovered before the recent winter’s cold spells, but the executors chose not to get it fixed. It prevented the heater from being used during the winter. The air conditioner did not turn on, despite having been replaced with a new one for the system less than five years ago. The executors have selected not fixing it either.
The yard cannot be used for play because of a massive inundation of red ants which has been a recurring problem which Kasha had fixed last summer while Dad was alive and now we have no way to fix that for this year.
The air quality in this house is dangerous because of black mold and powdery mildew spores, massive dust from years of the house not being properly cleaned and mountains of collected belongings being coated with it, as well as carpets, curtains, and this despite my efforts to do as much deep cleaning as I could when I was first here and before the people in our family expected to become the executors insisted that they would take care of that and then didn’t.
There are a number of other issues – I’ll come back and add them later. But, the ones above are certainly more than enough reasons (and they are known by the executors and other family members), to indicate that this house as it is now and has been during our stay here is not considered any property that could be rented by anyone – nor does it come up to the basic standards of any safe dwelling that would be called appropriate to live in.
About CricketDiane –
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018
As more and more of my mother’s house is being taken apart by my sister’s actions to sort, to sell, to ask about or to keep the things here in order to satisfy my Dad’s estate and mine that are wrapped up here together, the more the memories of these things awaken that remind me of why my had them, when she bought them,
and why she had me come over to her house to clean it, organize it for her, to re-order all these things around her and put my time into caring for them whether it was crystal, or antiques, or porcelain collectible dolls, or doll patterns, or books, collectibles or doll making supplies, porcelain doll making molds and cast pieces she had made for baby dolls, or her vast collection of cookbooks and recipes, many of them hand-written or clipped from magazines and newspapers – among other things. She loved buying things and knew the story of how she and Daddy had bought each one, where they went out to eat that time and a story about how she came to find each one even though there are very likely over 200,000 individual items in this house, most of them hers and Dad’s but also a vast number of mine because she took nine households of my things over the years and hoarded it as she called me to get it and then wouldn’t allow me to have it or remove it in the thousands of times across thirty something years, (we’ve lived here 42 years in total with me in and out of this house living here on a number of occasions as well) that I’ve really felt this was my home no matter where else I lived or stayed and coming here staying for weeks at a time over the years to help them fix something, clean something, organize something, do some plumbing, change flooring or whatever needed to be done.
Now, as my sister dismantles it, I feel disdain when she tells me hand-cut leaded crystal is to be sold for 50 cents to a dealer with a lot that is 250 pieces of antique, crystal, collectible and modern pieces of glass mixed together that Mom had collected over the years and had me come over to dust, wash, handle so carefully, occasionally pack up for her impeccably with great care on numerous times she wanted them out of her sight for awhile. Now, the $65 or $120 each value that many of them had and even though still in perfect or nearly perfect condition without a chip on them because of my stewardship of them over the years, they aren’t worth anything in the market according to my sister and when she clinks them together in packing the pieces in a bunch of paper into a plastic tub or as she photos them to sell, I come running at the sound and she thinks that is funny because to her they are not worth anything but a waste of her time and effort as is everything here even as she claims she is trying to get some value for them.
About two dozen Precious Moments dolls in miniature still in their unopened boxes and in the display box from my Mom’s art, antiques and collectibles store she had in the 80’s and 90’s were sitting near the glassware and writing this, I’m wondering where my sister has put those now and whether she will be toting all of them off to a thrift store or listing them for 50 cents each as a lot on Ebay despite their obvious value and still being collectibles today that would easily bring $10 or more apiece.
A large lawn and leaf bag full of Cabbage Patch Kids doll heads for making those dolls is in that room too. Are they worth something or is it something my sister will simply toss since it has no value to her? If an elegant working gramophone in its beautiful wood cabinet is only worth $600 based on her listing it on craigslist with two needles for it and albums and since she expects to not get even that from it and knock down the price, is anything here going to bring any of its real price or value to the estate of my Dad or to be given any time in the marketplace to get that value? My mind reels with the prices I’ve had to pay to get things even on craiglist or Ebay and she seems determined to bring as little as possible from the items believing that will move them faster or from any of it perhaps to prove herself right about none of it being worth anything in the marketplace today and how we need to get rid of it all as quickly as she can while doing it by herself and without our help to do it better and faster.
And, my estate along with all of my property and belongings are here too. As one of two executors of Dad’s estate, my sister says it is illegal for her to pay us (me and my daughter who my Dad asked to live here while this all goes on and until the house is sold and divided properly and equally among the twelve heirs and beneficiaries) – to help her and illegal for her to allow us to list any of it, find buyers for specific items or groups of things or to sell them for the estate and us get a 20% commission or small fee for doing that. I know that isn’t accurate, it can’t be right. We could be administrators for the estate on behalf of the executors – that’s what the law says and Daddy talked about with us, but no – and if an outside company is allowed to make a commission of 50% plus their costs, why couldn’t we be given a commission for selling the things and participate in getting the most money from the specialized things?
So, as my sister selects things to buy from the estate at whatever discounted price she is giving for it – which I’m hoping she is writing down and being above board about – and that she has placed to take home with her and put on her own Ebay and Etsy stores or in her antiques booth at a store where she lives, even though she is an executor of Dad’s estate, we’re not allowed to make sure the estate realizes as much of the market value of these collectibles, antiques and specialized items and collections of things as we could for the estate even though Daddy specifically asked us to do that while living here to keep it secured and to maintain everything until the house is sold. I wouldn’t even be here if he had not personally insisted upon that from me and he asked me that on the phone at least twice a phone call across several months of phone calls before I came and then demanded I say yes to him in person on three different occasions in the last month before he died after I came here – (I was here for his last month alive, and have been here since then because he had me move here and my other family members insisted on me doing that as the right thing to do.) He asked it of my daughter and asked that of me more than once in a way that was obviously very important to him and where saying, “no” wasn’t an acceptable answer from either of us. We both agreed to do that. We have been doing that. We are doing that. Dad thought that the estate would make it possible for us to work with getting the most value from everything here that Mom had bought and invested his money in and had me take care of and had hoarded over the years – collections of things with large numbers of items in them, some of which have real value to collectors and come of which obviously would not. And, now the two executors named among our family members, are not going to do that, nor allow us to effectively participate in making that happen.
And, every part of me is saying, there are over 150,000 items here in anyone’s estimation and the family members agree that is the case. There are likely more like 200K items with a basement and attic filled with antiques from Mom’s shop and other things she collected after that until her death in 2013. Even if the average of $1 is gained from the sale of each item – averaging across the whole total, that is $150,000 – $200,000 that should be available to the estate. And, hundreds if not, thousands of items should get far in excess of $1 since they are antiques like curio cabinets and chairs and collectibles and collections of desirable items collectors seek to have like hundreds of Matchbox and the other brand of little cars which as a group would probably be worth something to people who want to add them to their own collections.
There are also tens of thousands of photos from this particular time in America from the 40’s to the present that Dad took across life in the South and in Florida during the CUban Missile crisis days when we lived there and as the first rockets to the moon were being designed and tested at Cape Canaveral and then called Cape Kennedy – to photos and 8mm films of driving across America several times to go live in California from Georgia and then back again to live in Georgia and back to live in California along with our yearly trek to the Carolinas where our family is from during those years as well.
There are photos specific to the space race that Dad and us were so much a part of because of his work at Lockheed and photos and memorabilia from California in the late 60’s and 70’s when we lived there including a program from the first showing of Hello Dolly at Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles where we got to see it because someone had not picked up their tickets at the window during the last few minutes before the show started and Daddy had just come up to ask if there were any as we were having a touristy moment in Hollywood when we lived in the San Fernando Valley. It would seem that would be worth something in the right memorabilia auction or by emailing it somewhere that has a museum of those kinds of things – my sister and my son that is acting as executors are not going to do that because it “takes too much time” in their estimation, but they won’t let me and my daughter do it either.
Not talking about the pictures from calendars of planes that are seen on this wall – There were times Daddy was on the flight line running tests because of his engineering job with Lockheed, loaned out to Boeing and Graumann and back in his days at Martin and McDonnell-Douglas aeronautics that he has photos and film of planes from sitting here.
There are also photos that Mom and Dad got from other family members that show life in the South in original photographs and their negatives of the South from the 30’s to the 50’s with peach farming long before the 50’s in the Piedmont areas of South Carolina and photos from North Carolina where both Mom’s and Dad’s family had lived before that.
This estate of Dad’s also has test reels of new planes flying over the desert sitting back in the room where I had collected up all the family photos and vast numbers of assorted documents from his work along with all these collectibles Mom sought in crystal and dolls, antiques and china, Pfaltzgraff pieces including lots of serving pieces that to replace even one piece of the set would cost well over $35 even if there was a sale at the replacement site online to a large plastic bin tub full of slotcar tracks that my sons had when they lived here and I found up in the attic to rare memorabilia from events including ones in California, a collection of souvenir postcards and old postcards from the 50’s and 60’s from California and Florida as well as across the country where we traveled by car, vast numbers of stamps from different times that were never catalogued but saved such that they weren’t damaged by Dad especially and memorabilia from the LA Museum of Art and other museums and attractions from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Those all should be handled with an intention of getting value from them in the money they should be bringing to the estate but no, it won’t be in the way it is being done now. The photos won’t be digitized as Daddy asked. And as I said, if the estate even received an average of $1 each across all 200K items, that is $200,000 – but not if they’re being given away or drastically discounted.
About CricketDiane –
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018
What can you do to add to a fantasy world of one-eyed monsters and talking sponges? Where there are tens of thousands of video games of every type mostly well done, animated and easy to use that work well enough to amuse and entertain just about anyone?
What can you do in a world where outrageous lies and sensationalized half-truths attract large audiences but the truth told factually does not and is not believed nor desirable?
What can you do in a country so covered over in things but few real answers to the real problems facing us individually and collectively?
What can you do when the world of business opportunities supports only a few and nearly never women, disabled or minority run startups and businesses?
What can you do when the investors that are available want a return of 10x’s their investment within 5-7 years taken back out of your business for them to do anything at all?
What can you do when to create something new is required in the marketplace but never supported with adequate funding or resources because it is new and innovative which means it has no track record to prove its value?
CricketDiane Artwork combining my photography with a pastel drawing I did of a ballerina getting ready to dance.
The March for Science is going to be on April 14 this year. It is important this year more than ever to stand up for Science and for STEM in the United States as it is all under attack daily throughout our government in its current iteration.
At a time when America needs science and technology to make significant leaps forward to catch up with the rest of the world who has been supporting education, higher education, science, math, technology and engineering with massive efforts, our nation’s leaders have chosen to make war on science at every opportunity and in every agency, every policy, every possible way.
We need education to support STEM now more than ever and to support education for our children and adults to be competitive in a global playing field where we have fallen behind. Now, rather than supporting our nation to be in a leadership role in science, technology, innovation and education, it is being de-funded, demeaned, derided, discredited, dismantled and destroyed.
These actions will set our nation behind by years upon years against other nations’ efforts supporting STEM, higher education and science, in particular. Please join the March for Science – whether you are a scientist or not to show America’s business leaders and political decision-makers that we stand together supporting fact-based and evidence-based decision making, scientific reason and educated thinking.
How would it EVER make sense for me as a company to be required to pay the price I’m charging you for buying me? And, pay the interest on that debt you used to buy me as a company – AND pay you management fees for destroying the company I’ve built that you’re charging me the price of buying – from me – so you can own it?
Why wouldn’t the borrowing that was done to buy Toys R Us belong to the private equity firms who bought it?
What happened to Toys R Us?
Apparently, the company was loaded with debt that came from three private equity firms forcing the company to pay for its own purchase by them back in 2005. Bain Capital, KKR and Vornado Trust Realty bought Toys R Us with the promise they would pay off the $2.3 billion in debt that Toys R Us already had at the time. Then, rather than doing that, these private equity firms added the debt they acquired buying the company and added it to what was already owed by the Toys R Us company.
That meant a debt of $7.2 billion has been owed by the company since that time and each year having to pay to roll it over by servicing the debt and never having paid it off.
Toys R Us was paying $400 million a year to simply service the debt plus paying management fees and making payouts to the private equity firms.
So, despite the toy industry seeing increases across the world in sales and the Babies R Us stores of the chain being profitable AND the 15% share of the entire toy market being enjoyed by Toys R Us which is phenomenal across its 1600 stores in 38 countries – it was forced into complete bankruptcy (Chapter 7 Bankruptcy now).
When Toys R Us sold to Bain, KKR and Vornado, 80 percent of its asking price of the $6.6 billion price tag was paid by Toys R Us and not those acquiring the company – which would be illegal in any other context of finance, loans and buying something.
Then, by putting this debt load on the company, it assured that money coming into the company could not be used in a vast array of other ways to upgrade and maintain their stores, increase their online presence, hire more sales people, or even to keep the sales staff they had that were already familiar with their stores and products, among other things.
Effectively, after buying KB toys which had been the second biggest toy retailer in the US, the same private equity group robbed that company of its cash resources to operate as well, even before the Toys R Us brand was bled dry of cash by the same pattern of destructive acquisition.
After buying KB Toys in 2000, Bain and its co-investors had the retailer borrow $85 million to pay the firm and its co-investors a dividend — a move that left the chain, which had been generating steady earnings, strapped for cash as deepening price cuts at Walmart lured more shoppers away from malls.
In that case, Bain’s cash grab left it with a profit on its investment, despite the fact that 86-year-old KB Toys got liquidated in 2008.
It looks like Toys R Us, that was built from 1948 into a mammoth successful and very profitable toy stores, wasn’t bought for $6.6 billion. It was bought for $1.3 billion in equity by the three firms, Bain Capital, Vornado Realty Trust and KKR.
This article said that the fees and interest on the debt from that buyout was costing Toys R Us $470 million a year in service. It also says that the price for the company during the buyout was $7.3 billion. Of which, the private equity firms put up what? Obviously, not cash. I’m going to look that up.
Bain, KKR, Vornado Suffer Wipeout in Toys ‘R’ Us Bankruptcy
The three firms and their co-investors sank $1.3 billion of equity into the takeover of the Wayne, New Jersey-based toy company, financing the rest with debt, according to company filings. The debt included senior loans in which they held a stake.
Partly offsetting the loss is more than $470 million in fees and interest payments that Toys “R” Us awarded the firms over time.
And from this article, it describes briefly, the typical method involved in these types of buyouts which follow a pattern of destroying the assets of the company’s operations while stealing resources (legally) at every point along the way.
It would be as if I gave someone $3 to own something that cost $2,000 and had someone else responsible for paying the entire amount, and giving me back several thousand dollars for having put up $3 in the first place.
I’d almost bet the $3 they used in the form of $1.3 billion wasn’t even cash or real assets.
Toys R Us and why the retail downturn is all about debt
“Leverage just means you’re using lots of debt,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
If a private equity firm wants to buy a company, it’ll put up a small portion of the money. Then it’ll go to the bank and borrow the rest.
The key? “They put the debt on the company they buy,” Appelbaum said.
In other words, the firms take out these loans, buy a company and then make that company pay the loans back.
Despite having 15% of toys sales in the marketplace and a heavier shopping season last Christmas with shoppers spending $800 billion during the holiday season, according to FT (see below for article), Toys R Us was facing massive loan payment costs that put it into liquidation status.
Toys ‘R’ Us Has 15% of the Toy Market And It’s Still Going Under. Here’s Why.
Fifteen percent of U.S. toy revenue. With that kind of market share, Toys ‘R’ Us should be in a comfortable position, not on the ropes.
The pattern followed by Toys “R” Us is typical in private equity takeovers. Management is bought off: John Eyler, CEO of Toys “R” Us, was compensated $65.3 million upon the buyout’s completion. Employees have no say in the matter. Then come the layoffs, debt transfers and shortsighted asset sales. Funds are earmarked to pay down debts—Toys “R” Us was spending more annually on debt payments than it was on its website and stores—even as cash reserves are depleted.
US retail’s turbulent relationship with private equity
DECEMBER 29, 2017
FT research shows many of the largest leveraged buyouts in the sector over the past decade have either defaulted, gone bankrupt or are in distress
At least 50 US retailers — including Toys R Us, children’s retailer Gymboree, shoe store Payless and jean maker True Religion — have filed for bankruptcy this year, the most in six years, with analysts describing it as a “day of reckoning”, for companies that rolled over their debt refinancing for years.
Observers warn that the distress is likely to accelerate in 2018 with nearly $6bn in high-yield retail debt set to mature.
The swift unraveling of the toy seller, at $6.9bn the third-largest retail bankruptcy in history, jolted vendors, who are critical to a retailer’s health.
There was some respite for bricks-and-mortar retailers this week with US shoppers spending more than $800bn in the holiday season, a 3.8 per cent rise from last year,
Looking at the article below, it occurred to me that possibly, the private equity firms own some of the debt made to the companies required to pay for their own buyouts by someone else.
Then the fees for those loans are also being paid to the private equity or investment firms holding them, on top of the management fees and other dividend payments, plus other payouts they’re are finagling from the company.
And, all of it providing a stream of resources to the investment funds that should legally belong to the company for its operation, sustenance, growth and as a prudent cash reserve against changes in the market.
The retail apocalypse is being fueled by private equity firms adding to debt loads
Nearly every retail chain caught up in the brick & mortar meltdown is an LBO queen – acquired in a leveraged buyout by a private equity firm either during the LBO boom before the Financial Crisis or in the years of ultra-cheap money following it. During a leveraged buyout, the PE firm uses little of its own capital. Much of the money needed to buy the retailer comes from debt the retailer itself has to issue to fund the buyout, which leaves the retailer highly leveraged.
The PE firm then makes the retailer issue even more junk bonds or leveraged loans to fund a special dividend back to the PE firm. Come hell or high water, the PE firm has extracted its money.
Then the PE firm charges the retailer hefty management fees on an ongoing basis.
A lot of times, these PE firms acquire part of the bonds before bankruptcy of their portfolio company for cents on the dollar. For example, Bain Capital bought significant amounts of Gymboree bonds. This gives PE firms more control during the bankruptcy proceedings, and they win again.
Why do institutional investors fund asset-stripping associated with LBOs and special dividends? Some of the answers are in Wall Street’s culture where fee extraction is everything, and one firm helps another. And too, they’re chasing yield in a world where central banks have repressed yield. Which turns out to be a costly chase.
Sports Authority is Another Loss to Our Country Caused By Leveraged Buyout Nightmare
A number of retailers have suffered this buyout process whereby the company being acquired is forced to pay for itself to be bought out by loading the profit making retailer (or other types of companies) with massive debt and extra costs to pay off cash to those who “bought” it.
But, since when do you or I get to buy something for nothing but a promise of 10% on the cost of it and then enslave the operation to pay off the rest for that purchase while streaming most of its available cash to us in fees and dividends?
From this article describing the process that took apart Sports Authority –
Leveraged buyouts saddle retailers with debts they can’t repay
April 29, 2016
But Englewood-based Sports Authority was loaded with at least $643 million in debt, a hangover from the $1.4 billion leveraged buyout in 2006 by investors led by Leonard Green & Partners.
Sports Authority’s bankruptcy plan initially included closing 140 of its 463 stores. But lawyers for the chain said in court last week that the company now is pursuing liquidation, leaving workers jobless and shopping centers across America anchorless.
In the fast-evolving world of retail, where the one constant is the need for investment, retailers laboring under heavy debt are at a disadvantage.
“Doing it right is very expensive,” said Raya Sokolyanska, an analyst with Moody’s Investor Service in New York. “Limited financial flexibility has been a reason why a lot of these retailers haven’t been able to fight back and position themselves correctly for growth.”
Private equity firms have been connected to a rash of retail bankruptcies in recent years, including Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, The Limited Stores, True Religion Apparel, and most recently, Toys “R” Us.
(. . . )
But Toys “R” Us wasn’t pushed into court because of terrible sales — it recorded nearly $1 billion in online sales in 2016, according to a spokesperson, and had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $792 million. Rather, the company was struggling to pay down its staggering debt load — for which it could thank its 2005 leveraged buyout. Bain Capital Private Equity and KKR & Co. teamed up with real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust to acquire the company for approximately $6.6 billion, including $5.3 billion of debt secured by the company’s assets.
Why Private Equity Firms Like Bain Really Are the Worst of Capitalism
Here’s what private equity is really about: A firm like Bain obtains cheap credit and uses it to acquire a company in a “leveraged buyout.” “Leverage” refers to the fact that the company being purchased is forced to pay for about 70 percent of its own acquisition, by taking out loans. If this sounds like an odd arrangement, that’s because it is. Imagine a homebuyer purchasing a house and making the bank responsible for repaying its own loan, and you start to get the picture.
O.K., but what about this much more virtuous business of swooping in and restoring struggling companies to financial health? Well, that’s not a large part of what private equity firms do, either. In fact, they more typically target profitable, slow-growth market leaders. (Private equity firms presently own companies employing one of every 10 U.S. workers, or 10 million people.)
And that’s when the fun starts. Once the buyout is completed, the private equity guys start swinging the meat axe, aggressively cutting costs wherever they can – so that the company can start paying off its new debt – by laying off workers and cutting capital costs.
This process often boosts operating profit without a significant hit to the business, but only in the short term; in the long run, the austerity approach makes it difficult for companies to stay competitive, not least because money that would otherwise have been invested in expansion or product development – which might increase revenue down the line – is used to pay off the company’s debt.
It takes several years before the impacts of this predatory activity – reduced customer service, inferior products – become fully apparent, but by that time the private equity firm has generally resold the business at a profit and moved on.
The next article reminded me of how much is at stake for vendors, toy manufacturers, shippers, shopping malls and strip mall groups that have used Toys R Us to stock their shelves with products, rent large anchor properties and draw traffic to other stores nearby. All of these will be suffering hits, possibly causing layoffs beyond those being caused directly by the bankruptcy of Toys R Us as it closes 2600 stores.
How $5 billion of debt caught up with Toys ‘R’ Us
SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
But the company’s ability to kick the can down the road had been exhausted. The bankruptcy filing was the culmination of an unsuccessful seven-month effort by Toys “R” Us to find relief from its $5.2 billion debt pile, according to bankruptcy court filings and people familiar with the deliberations.
The advisers that Toys “R” Us hired to fix its capital structure explored at least two deals with some of its creditors to raise money that would have helped the company stave off bankruptcy before the key holiday shopping season, avoiding a supply chain disruption stemming from vendor fears about repayment, a bankruptcy filing shows.
Once the company realized that it could not secure financing to get through the holiday season, the objective became “let’s get it done as quick as possible so it does not interrupt the holidays,” Toys “R” Us Chief Executive Officer David Brandon told Reuters in an interview. Filing for bankruptcy allowed the company to secure financing to continue to operate its stores.
Given that “we successfully obtained our debtor-in-possession financing today, we can assure our lenders that we are in a good position to accept shipments on a normal basis and they have great assurance they will be paid,” Brandon said.
Like other retailers that own their stores, Toys “R” Us tried last month to tap its vast real estate portfolio to raise money in a sale-leaseback transaction, according to court filings. Sale-leaseback deals allow retailers to raise cash by selling real estate they own and then renting it back from the new owner. (which didn’t work, my note.)
More Layoffs for Retailers Already Having Massive Store Closings and Layoffs
Jobs everywhere! Except at stores
January 5, 2018
Record numbers of store closings and a surge in retail bankruptcies, as well as the shift to online shopping, have forced retailers to slash jobs even as other employers scramble to find qualified workers.
The sector lost a total of 66,500 jobs in 2017.
General merchandise stores, the segment that includes department stores, were hit the hardest, losing 90,300 jobs, according to the Friday’s December jobs report from the Labor Department. Clothing stores cut another 28,600 jobs. Drug stores lost 18,400.
So the job losses in the sector are likely to continue said Nicholas. In 2017, 7,000 store closings were announced, a record that was more than triple 2016’s number. And the trend will undoubtedly continue in 2018. Sears Holdings (SHLD), owner of both Sears and Kmart, said Thursday it plans to close more than 100 additional stores.
According to BLS data, the number of retail openings in February slumped to 541,000, down by 40,000, its worst performance since 2015. (U.S. News)
BLS data also showed retail layoffs and discharges climbed 37% in February and reached a total of 212,000 – its highest level in nearly two years. (U.S. News)
Unlike in 2008, Americans today are shopping more than ever.
While the last spike in retail bankruptcies during the Great Recession was clearly a byproduct of consumer stress, this time around consumers are actually spending more than ever. According to Gallup, February 2017 marked the highest average in consumer spending since 2008, with no signs of slowing.
The US retail industry is hemorrhaging jobs – and it’s hitting women hardest
January 13, 2018
As the retail landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation, analysis finds 129,000 women lost jobs last year while men actually gained positions.
Between November 2016 and November 2017, the sector fired 129,000 women (the largest loss for any industrial sector for either sex) while men gained 109,000 positions, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). In the whole labour force women gained 985,000 jobs over the year, while men gained 1.08m jobs.
(also from this article – )
Major retailers shut shops across the US last year. A record 6,700 stores shut in 2017, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail thinktank. Macy’s alone closed 68 stores and shed 10,000 jobs. Drugstore chain Walgreens closed 600 locations.
A comment in this article says a lot of what I’ve been thinking. And, why is it that Bain, KKR and Vornado didn’t have to pay the loan payments they took out to buy Toys R Us? Shouldn’t that debt belong to the buyers, not the company they’ve bought? (This article also lists a number of the retail bankruptcies from 2017, including Radio Shack.)
Big Wall Street banks are not likely to blow the whistle on asset-stripping scams in the private equity world. They are frequently involved in collecting fees for advising on the LBOs. Then they reap more huge windfalls in fees when they underwrite the bond offerings that load up the company with debt it can’t service on a long term basis.
So the overarching question in all of this is: where is the Securities and Exchange Commission, the so-called cop on the beat that is supposed to be policing the publicly traded corporate bonds involved in these deals?
In April, Aisha Al-Muslim, a reporter for Newsday, the Long Island, New York newspaper, found the following after an in-depth review of court documents and data from top research firms like S&P Global Market Intelligence:
“…43 large retail or supermarket companies, which owned chains with 10 or more locations, have filed for bankruptcy in the United States since January 2015. The 43 companies controlled 52 brick-and-mortar chains.
“Of those 43 companies, 18 — more than 40 percent — were owned by private equity firms. The remainder were public or private companies or owned by a hedge fund.”
When 40 percent of insolvent large retail companies got this way at the hands of the so-called turnaround experts at private-equity firms while huge amounts of money moved from the coffers of the company to the pockets of the “experts,” it’s time for Federal regulators to get involved.
Private equity firms bled the company dry to turn a profit, and now mass layoffs are imminent.
Upon closer examination, however, this analysis doesn’t hold up. First, the global toy industry isn’t in decline. In fact, it’s been growing consistently over the past five years. Physical toys may be less popular in the United States than they once were, but internationally—particularly in Asian and Latin American countries—the play business is booming. And most of Toys “R” Us’s profits actually come from its Babies “R” Us affiliate which sells not just toys but also health, safety and educational tools for infant care.
Yet most importantly, this analysis fails to account for how Toys “R” Us wound up so deeply in debt in the first place. In 2005, as the company’s stock was regularly losing value due to mediocre sales, management decided to sell the company in a leveraged buyout to a trio of buyers, real-estate-investment trust Vornado Realty Trust and private equity firms KKR and Bain Capital.
This trio played a critical role in the downfall of Toys “R” Us, through imposing massive debt obligations on the company and requiring it to pay back its debts so that its buyers could turn a profit. Meanwhile, the finances of the company were thrown into disarray and employees were hit with wave after wave of layoffs.
Vornado Realty Trust, KKR and Bain Capital financed 80 percent of the purchase of Toys “R” Us, so while the company sold for $6.6 billion, the trio only contributed $1.3 billion. As part of the purchase agreement, the companies also agreed to take responsibility for all of Toys “R” Us’s long-term debt obligations, which at the time totaled $2.3 billion. Once Toys R Us was taken over, however, the debt Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain used to acquire it was pushed back onto the company, skyrocketing its debt obligations to $7.6 billion.
Toys “R” Us has been paying $400 million a year to service these debts. This money could have been used to lower prices or improve the company’s website—not to mention raising pay to its employees—but instead went to paying off creditors. Last year, the company reported a loss of $29 million. If it weren’t for these debt payments, Toys “R” Us would have run a substantial profit.
In both instances, critics say Bain and its private-equity partners left the chains vulnerable by saddling them with heavy debt loads as they took them private, crippling their capacity to compete in brutal price wars that have dogged the industry.
A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a financial transaction in which a company is purchased with a combination of equity and debt, such that the company’s cash flow is the collateral used to secure and repay the borrowed money.
(also – KKR appears in the history of corporate raiding during the 80’s and beyond – plus this, of interest)
The inability to repay debt in an LBO can be caused by initial overpricing of the target firm and/or its assets. Over-optimistic forecasts of the revenues of the target company may also lead to financial distress after acquisition. Some courts have found that in certain situations, LBO debt constitutes a fraudulent transfer under U.S. insolvency law if it is determined to be the cause of the acquired firm’s failure.
The outcome of litigation attacking a leveraged buyout as a fraudulent transfer will generally turn on the financial condition of the target at the time of the transaction – that is, whether the risk of failure was substantial and known at the time of the LBO, or whether subsequent unforeseeable events led to the failure. The analysis historically depended on “dueling” expert witnesses and was notoriously subjective, expensive, and unpredictable. However, courts are increasingly turning toward more objective, market-based measures.
Private equity typically refers to investment funds organized as limited partnerships that are not publicly traded and whose investors are typically large institutional investors, university endowments, or wealthy individuals. Private equity firms are known for their extensive use of debt financing to purchase companies, which they restructure and attempt to resell for a higher value. Debt financing reduces corporate taxation burdens and is one of the principal ways in which private equity firms make business more profitable for investors.
Leveraged buyout, LBO or Buyout refers to a strategy of making equity investments as part of a transaction in which a company, business unit or business assets is acquired from the current shareholders typically with the use of financial leverage. The companies involved in these transactions are typically mature and generate operating cash flows.
Private equity firms view target companies as either Platform companies which have sufficient scale and a successful business model to act as a stand-alone entity, or as add-on or tuck-in acquisitions, which would include companies with insufficient scale or other deficits.
Leveraged buyouts involve a financial sponsor agreeing to an acquisition without itself committing all the capital required for the acquisition. To do this, the financial sponsor will raise acquisition debt which ultimately looks to the cash flows of the acquisition target to make interest and principal payments.Acquisition debt in an LBO is often non-recourse to the financial sponsor and has no claim on other investments managed by the financial sponsor. Therefore, an LBO transaction’s financial structure is particularly attractive to a fund’s limited partners, allowing them the benefits of leverage but greatly limiting the degree of recourse of that leverage. This kind of financing structure leverage benefits an LBO’s financial sponsor in two ways: (1) the investor itself only needs to provide a fraction of the capital for the acquisition, and (2) the returns to the investor will be enhanced (as long as the return on assets exceeds the cost of the debt).
As a percentage of the purchase price for a leverage buyout target, the amount of debt used to finance a transaction varies according to the financial condition and history of the acquisition target, market conditions, the willingness of lenders to extend credit (both to the LBO’s financial sponsors and the company to be acquired) as well as the interest costs and the ability of the company to cover those costs. Historically the debt portion of a LBO will range from 60%–90% of the purchase price, although during certain periods the debt ratio can be higher or lower than the historical averages. Between 2000–2005 debt averaged between 59.4% and 67.9% of total purchase price for LBOs in the United States.
Simple example of leveraged buyout
A private equity fund say for example, ABC Capital II, borrows $9bn from a bank (or other lender). To this it adds $2bn of equity – money from its own partners and from limited partners (pension funds, rich individuals, etc.). With this $11bn it buys all the shares of an underperforming company, XYZ Industrial (after due diligence, i.e. checking the books). It replaces the senior management in XYZ Industrial, and they set out to streamline it. The workforce is reduced, some assets are sold off, etc. The objective is to increase the value of the company for an early sale.
The stock market is experiencing a bull market, and XYZ Industrial is sold two years after the buy-out for $13bn, yielding a profit of $2bn. The original loan can now be paid off with interest of, say, $0.5bn. The remaining profit of $1.5bn is shared among the partners. Taxation of such gains is at capital gains rates.
Note that part of that profit results from turning the company around, and part results from the general increase in share prices in a buoyant stock market, the latter often being the greater component.
Often the loan/equity ($11bn above) is not paid off after sale but left on the books of the company (XYZ Industrial) for it to pay off over time. This can be advantageous since the interest is typically offsettable against the profits of the company, thus reducing, or even eliminating, tax.
Most buyout deals are much smaller; the global average purchase in 2013 was $89m, for example.
The target company (XYZ Industrials here) does not have to be floated on the stockmarket; indeed most buyout exits are not IPOs.
Buy-out operations can go wrong and in such cases the loss is increased by leverage, just as the profit is if all goes well.
The application of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in certain states in the United States has made certain performance data more readily available. Specifically, FOIA has required certain public agencies to disclose private equity performance data directly on their websites.
In the United Kingdom, the second largest market for private equity, more data has become available since the 2007 publication of the David Walker Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity.
How would it EVER make sense for me as a company to be required to pay the price I’m charging you for buying me?
And, pay the interest on that debt you used to buy me as a company – AND pay you management fees for destroying the company I’ve built that you’re charging me the price of buying – from me – so you can own it?
In what world does any of that make sense as anything but theft and embezzlement whether legal or not?
Can you imagine what it would take to start a company today and garner 15% of the toy market? And yet, here is a company that already has that which is being decimated by a very corrupt business practice of Wall Street investment firms – to the detriment of America.
112.311 Legislative intent and declaration of policy.—
(1) It is essential to the proper conduct and operation of government that public officials be independent and impartial and that public office not be used for private gain other than the remuneration provided by law. The public interest, therefore, requires that the law protect against any conflict of interest and establish standards for the conduct of elected officials and government employees in situations where conflicts may exist.
(2) It is also essential that government attract those citizens best qualified to serve. Thus, the law against conflict of interest must be so designed as not to impede unreasonably or unnecessarily the recruitment and retention by government of those best qualified to serve. Public officials should not be denied the opportunity, available to all other citizens, to acquire and retain private economic interests except when conflicts with the responsibility of such officials to the public cannot be avoided.
(3) It is likewise essential that the people be free to seek redress of their grievances and express their opinions to all government officials on current issues and past or pending legislative and executive actions at every level of government. In order to preserve and maintain the integrity of the governmental process, it is necessary that the identity, expenditures, and activities of those persons who regularly engage in efforts to persuade public officials to take specific actions, either by direct communication with such officials or by solicitation of others to engage in such efforts, be regularly disclosed to the people.
(4) It is the intent of this act to implement these objectives of protecting the integrity of government and of facilitating the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel by prescribing restrictions against conflicts of interest without creating unnecessary barriers to public service.
(5) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state that no officer or employee of a state agency or of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state, and no member of the Legislature or legislative employee, shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect; engage in any business transaction or professional activity; or incur any obligation of any nature which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. To implement this policy and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of the state in their government, there is enacted a code of ethics setting forth standards of conduct required of state, county, and city officers and employees, and of officers and employees of other political subdivisions of the state, in the performance of their official duties. It is the intent of the Legislature that this code shall serve not only as a guide for the official conduct of public servants in this state, but also as a basis for discipline of those who violate the provisions of this part.
(6) It is declared to be the policy of the state that public officers and employees, state and local, are agents of the people and hold their positions for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State Constitution and to perform efficiently and faithfully their duties under the laws of the federal, state, and local governments. Such officers and employees are bound to observe, in their official acts, the highest standards of ethics consistent with this code and the advisory opinions rendered with respect hereto regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that promoting the public interest and maintaining the respect of the people in their government must be of foremost concern.
History.—s. 1, ch. 67-469; s. 1, ch. 69-335; s. 1, ch. 74-177; s. 2, ch. 75-208; s. 698, ch. 95-147.
It seems obvious that most, if not all states have laws similar to this as well as the Federal government. Why are these laws meaningless in today’s political environment? I don’t get it. I just happened to pick the Florida law because it was easy to find and well stated.
Today is Earth Day-this is an annual celebration of the environment and take the time to assess the efforts needed to protect the natural gifts of our planet. Earth Day theme this year is “environment and climate literacy”, all over the world will be celebrating this theme. For more information, please visit (in English): http://www.earthday.org/earthday/
The ‘war on science’ doesn’t just hurt scientists. It hurts everyone.
By Jacquelyn GillApril 21 at 3:54 PM
Hundreds of thousands of people will march for science this weekend in cities around the world in what is arguably the largest scientific event in history. This March for Science is a direct response to recent attacks on our scientific institutions — on climate and environmental science in particular (including many of the scientists who do this work) and even on the value of evidence-based decision-making by our elected officials.
[ . . . ]
These discussions are necessary because the “war on science” is, for the most part, really a war on public science — that is, science for everyone. Today, the majority of scientific research in the United States is publicly funded, administered through the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other agencies. Much of this research takes place in state and federal institutions, including universities and national laboratories. This taxpayer-funded science has a mandate to support the national interest. It is science of, by and for the people.
A firm, outspoken protest upon such inroads upon intellectual independence as are being made in Germany and other parts of the world today was one of the most important results of the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Boston.
The resolution adopted by this principal organization of the nation’s scientists will also be read with significance in some parts of our country where with less openness and without a flying of banners of oppression damaging curtailments of intellectual freedom have been made.
Headed “A Declaration On Intellectual Freedom,” the pronouncement reads:
“The American Association for the Advancement of Science feels grave concern over persistent and threatening inroads upon intellectual freedom which have been made in recent times in many parts of the world.
“Our existing liberties have been won through ages of struggle and at enormous costs. If these are lost or seriously impaired there can be no hope of continued progress in science, of justice in government, of international or domestic peace, or even of lasting material well-being.
“We regard the suppression of independent thought and of its free expression as a major crime against civilization itself. Yet oppression of this sort has been inflicted upon investigators, scholars, teachers and professional men in many ways, whether by governmental action, administrative coercion, or extra-legal violence. We feel it our duty to denounce all such actions as intolerable forms of tyranny.
“There can be no compromise on this issue for even the commonwealth of learning cannot endure ‘half slave and half free.’
“By our life and training as scientists and by our heritage as Americans we must stand for freedom.”
(Below this article from 1938 is the manifesto that was signed by these scientists and which very well applies today against the current war on science happening from the Trump and GOP administration in power both in the Federal government and in the majority of state governorships and many state legislatures.)
Group of Scientists Issue Anti-Fascist Manifesto – 1938
Three Nobel Prize Winners, 64 Academicians, and 85 College Presidents Among the 1,284 Signers
Counting among its 1,284 signers, three Nobel prize winners, 64 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 85 college presidents, a ringing denunciation of Nazi and Fascist attacks on scientific freedom was issued by a committee of distinguished American men of science.
“We publicly condemn the Fascist position toward science . . . . In the present historical epoch democracy alone can preserve intellectual freedom,” the manifesto states.
Citing ruthless Nazi persecution of scientists – 1600 teachers and scientists had been driven from their posts by the fall of 1936 – the manifesto asserts that “any attack upon freedom of thought in one sphere, even as non-political a sphere as theoretical physics is in effect an attack on democracy itself.”
Persecution of Jews and “racial” theories of science, publication of one of which furnishes the occasion for this document, are condemned in no uncertain terms. “The racial theories which they (the Fascists) advocate have been demolished time and again.”
The three Nobel prize winners who are among the signers are Dr. Irving Langmuir, associate director of the General Electric Research Laboratory and chemistry prize winner in 1932; Prof. Robert A. Millikan, director of the Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics, California Institute of Technology and 1923 physics award recipient; and Prof. Harold C. Urey, Columbia University physical chemist honored with the 1923 chemistry prize for the discovery of heavy hydrogen.
The signers, who represent 167 universities and research institutes through the country, pledge themselves to bend their efforts to prevent themselves or America from suffering a similar fate.
The sponsoring committee and the list of signers itself are studded with the names of the noted figures of American science, including many present and former presidents of leading scientific societies. Among the signers and a member of the sponsoring committee is Prof. Wesley C. Mitchell, Columbia University economist who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Prof. Franz Boas, former president of the AAAS and the dean of American anthropologists, is a member of the sponsoring committee, as is Prof. Urey. Others on the committee are Prof. Karl M. Bowman of New York University and director of the division of psychiatry of the New York City Department of Hospitals; Dr. John P. Peters of Yale University and secretary of the Committee of Physicians which has been battling the American Medical Association on behalf of group medical care. Dr. Henry E. Sigerist, director of Johns Hopkins University’s Institute of the History of Medicine; Prof. D. J. Struik, Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician and editor of “Science and Society”; and Dr. Milton C. Winternitz, professor of pathology and former dean of the Yale Medical School.
Besides those named above, some of the prominent signers include Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Prof. Anton J. Carlson, University of Chicago physiologist; Prof. Clark Wissler, Yale University anthropologist and curator-in-chief of the department of anthropology at the American museum of Natural History; Prof. Edwin G. Conklin of Princeton, past president of the AAAS and president of Science Service; and Prof. Walter B. Cannon of Harvard, co-chairman of the Medical Bureau and north American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy.
Manifesto by 1,284 Noted U.S. Scientists Denounces Racialism, Fascist Position on Science
December 11, 1938
NEW YORK (Dec. 9)
The fascist position toward science and the racial theory were denounced today in a manifesto signed by 1,284 American scientists, including three Nobel prize winners, which summoned their colleagues to the defense of democracy to avoid the fate of scientists in totalitarian states.
The manifesto was made public by a committee of prominent scientists headed by Prof. Franz Boas, dean of American anthropologists, who said. “The present outrages in Germany have made it all the more necessary for American scientists to take a firm anti-fascist stand. We are sure that the great majority of German scientists and the German people as a whole abhor fascism. The thousands of teachers and scientists who have been exiled since Hitler came to power bear testimony to the incompatibility of Fascism and science.”
“Our manifesto,” Dr. Boas Added, “declares that we scientists have the moral obligation to educate the American people against all false and unscientific doctrines, such as the racial nonsense of the Nazis. The agents of fascism in this country are becoming more and more active, and we must join with all men of good will in defending democracy today if we are to avoid the fate of our colleagues in Germany, Austria and Italy.
The other members of the committee making public the manifesto are professors Karl M. Bowman, New York University psychiatrist; Wesley Clair Mitchell, Columbia University economist; John P. Peters, Yale University medical scientist; Dr. Henry E. Sigerisy, John Hopkins University medical scientist; D. J. Struik, Massachusetts institute of technology mathematician; Harold C. Urey and Milton C. Winternitz, Yale Pathologist.
UREY, MILLIKAN, LANGMUIR AMONG SIGNERS
The three Nobel Prize winners signing the manifesto are prof. Urey, Columbia University chemist; Prof. Robert A. Millikan, California institute of technology physicist, and Dr. Irving Langmuir, chemist. The signers include 64 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
The manifesto follows:
“In an article entitled ‘the pragmatic and dogmatic spirit in physics,’ which appeared in the April 30 issue of nature (with strong editorial disapproval), wide publicity is given to the official nazi position on science and scientific research. In essence, the article is an attack on all theoretical physics, and, by obvious implication, on scientific theory in general. It introduces the official racialism of the Nazis to divide physicists into good, i.e. non-theoretical and ‘Aryan,’ and bad, i.e., theoretical and Jewish. Similar notions have appeared in many popular magazines and scientific journals in Germany, in the addresses and writings of the Minister of education, of university rectors and deans, of scientists and non-scientists. apart from racial theories, furthermore, science and art are subject to ruthless political censorship. These ideas have found concrete expression in the dismissal and persecution of over 1,600 teachers and scientists (By the fall of 1936) from German Universities and research institutes (and now Austria and Italy too), and in the restriction of higher education to students having the ‘proper’ political and racial qualifications.
GOAL OF SCIENCE STRESSED
“American scientists, trained in a tradition of intellectual freedom, hold fast to their conviction, that, in the words of the resolution adopted by the American association for the Advancement of Science, ‘Science is wholly independent of national boundaries and races and creeds and can flourish only when there is peace and intellectual freedom.’ If science, to quote the AAAS resolution again, is to ‘continue to advance and spread more abundantly its benefits to all mankind — and who can attack that goal — then the man of science has a moral obligation to fulfill. He must educate the people against the acceptance of all false and unscientific doctrines which appear before them in the guise of science, regardless of their origin. only in that way can he insure those conditions of peace and freedom which are essential for him and for the progress of all mankind.
“It is in this light that we publicly condemn the fascist position towards science. The racial theories which they advocate have been demolished time and again. We need only point to the work of Heinrich hertz in physics, fritz Haber and Richard Willstatter in chemistry, Ludwig Traube, Paul Ehrlich, and August Wassermann in biology and medicine, all German Jews and all empirical scientists. The charge that theory leads ‘to a crippling of experimental research’ is tantamount to a denial of the whole history of modern physics. From Copernicus and Kepler on, all the great figures in western science have insisted, in deed or in word, upon the futility of experimental research divorced from theory.
“We firmly believe that in the present historical epoch democracy alone can preserve intellectual freedom. Any attack upon freedom of thought in one sphere, even as non-political a sphere as theoretical physics, is in effect an attack on democracy itself. When men like James Franck, Albert Einstein, or Thomas Mann may no longer continue their work, whether the reason is race, creed, or belief, all mankind suffers the loss. they must be defended in their right to speak the truth as they understand it. If we American scientists wish to avoid a similar fate, if we wish to see the world continue to progress and prosper, we must bend our efforts to that end now.”
The workshops were expressed as scientists pitching their science and were intended to help communicate more effectively with non-scientists. The one I attended of the three scheduled times was an interesting round table style event with great information and ideas.
As I was there to understand how to more effectively communicate to scientists, the science community, engineers, architects, scholars, researchers, academics and applied science fields, why they should get out and march for science – the ideas that shaped my thinking from the workshop are stunning, to say the least.
I discovered that many people engaged in these fields live in something of a bubble but not because the information about people around them isn’t there, but because it is ignored. Maybe I don’t know how many scientists and engineers that I know or meet, or my neighbors know or meet every day or within our daily lives – neither do scientists and engineers know that beyond the few people they are interacting with daily assumed to know science – they’re ignoring the multitude of people they see and come in contact with – who don’t.
That is a problem.
If I see 50 people today, and 43 of them don’t know much of anything about science or haven’t really made the connection between their own lives and the science / engineering & technologies making it possible around them, then what is the true reality of the situation? Am I really in a bubble because I’m only interacting with the seven of the 50 who had common ground with me? Or only the 3 of those 7 that I already knew? It is an interesting question and I discovered that scientists and engineers / architects and academics may be living in self-constrained bubbles not realizing that the rest of us are here too, didn’t study those specialties and may very well not understand them but need to or want to. Or, at the very least, to we may want and need to understand how those sciences and engineering disciplines are valuable to us, enhance our lives, and that, in fact, we are relying on and using the advantages of them every day.
Without the understanding of the physics of combustion, our cars don’t go anywhere. Without getting the dynamics of that combustion harnessed appropriately, not only do our cars not go, but they become a dangerous combination rather than an effective one for transporting us where we want to go. We marvel at helium balloons for celebrations and birthday parties with its lighter than air quality, but never think about the discoveries from science and engineering that developed them and shaped things we could use from those discoveries. Scientists and engineers can point out those things to us in our interactions with them because they do think that way about it and do know – but they’re not.
In the workshop, I also learned that scientists are apologetic about their intelligence and studying to enhance it – to reach for genius within themselves and within their lives where many of us have not thought that important enough to us to do. I’m ashamed that scientists, engineers, researchers, academics or anyone would need to feel that way. Maybe I’m alone in being proud of them working to bring their mind to greater capacity to learn and to understand what is known, to discover beyond those things to develop things that can be done with it all and to strive for greater use of their intelligence and intellectual faculties. It is more than admirable, it is what we should want as a nation and as a community, for every individual to strive to excellence, to learn, to enhance their mind’s capacity to learn and to grasp what science and engineering has already discovered – and to move that beyond where we are today. It should be cherished and supported – every kind of genius and brilliance, not shamed. And, yet it is shamed in our society and I wish that were not so. It could be celebrated rather than shunned.
So, our science community, scientists, intellectuals, academics, engineers, architects and applied scientists may not be interacting with the solid communities of support around them in real daily life, because we don’t act very supportive when they talk and we feel stupid. Or because we know how smart they are and feel stupid when we as fellow community members come into contact with them. But to me, I’m inspired by them to accept that we are all stupid, including me – on so many things and so many levels with many things yet to learn all the time, and it helps me to want to put the time, the work, the effort and the perseverance in that it takes for me to be smarter, learn and think with greater capacity. And, yes – it still makes me feel stupid, but that’s okay.
The workshop helped the group of people who came to understand how to communicate science and engineering to non-scientists and the public. I heard suggestions that were brought into real terms, like describing the warming and more acidic oceans as a place the fish who live there can’t leave simply because conditions become untenable. Well, they didn’t put it quite like that, but the analogy was perfect for communicating the real problems of changes to our oceans. And, I discovered that the science community has many efforts to try and engage with the public but are not getting the audiences that need to engage with them from the general public and communities within it.
Also, I discovered that scientists don’t understand how many of us just don’t get it when it comes to scientific and engineering things. And, across disciplines – many of the scientists and engineers I’ve met including at the workshop and sign making event, don’t get the science and engineering from the other disciplines around them – whether it is that cooking is literally chemistry, or that people are using technology when they turn the key in their car and it works.
The March for Science on April 22 is hosting a lot of groups that are making efforts to engage the public about why science is important and in support of evidence-based facts, rather than alternative facts altered by the political agenda or business needs of the moment. In the workshop, when I said “evidence based facts”, several scientist laughed and the moderator said, “has it really come to that – we have to call it evidence based?” And, I thought – where have you been that you don’t know that?
It is time for scientists and engineers of all disciplines to take a hard look at what is happening in the real world around them, because it is far more pervasive a problem than budget cuts to science funding. Entire areas of research are being denied, excluded or altered for political purposes and business needs of the short term. Areas and specifics where statistical data had been collected in various forms are being changed to suit making the numbers look better, demographics look better, economic outlooks appear better or to redefine groups of information and statistics entirely.
Not only climate research and ocean research are being de-funded, but allowed focuses of study are being put in place to deny much of the possible research yielding facts that would be unsettling to the current political agenda or to the businesses and corporate interests supporting them. Scientific policy is being made by non-scientists, many of whom do not value science or engineering – even as their lives and business interests rely on them without realizing it. Forensic science tools, programs and research are being discarded in favor of other methods more politically motivated than factual.
And, the US population at a time when to be competitive – must be well educated to a college level or above and have a solid understanding of math, physics, science, scientific method, reasoned and critical thinking, technology, finance, economics, basic engineering, computer coding and business how-to, is lagging behind nearly every other nation in the world. The adult population in the US from elderly to working adults to young adults just entering the job market require these levels of education and skills to be competitive, employable and have the global opportunities that exist in order to survive with a basic sustenance to support living. But, the vast majority of Americans – do not have even the most modest level of those skills, education and applied use of them. And, yet we could – and our science communities can help because they know how important it is.
March for Science / Science March – April 22, 2017