November 14, 2014 I officially closed down a site that I have been using for over a decade, Sloppypilot Digital Media Studio, and redirected the URL to this site. All the commercial activities associated with that site will be handled under this site. Some of the more experimental and creative works will be implemented on Skeptical Humorist.
Fraser From Iraq was my first WordPress blog. It started in 2005 and ran until 2010, encompassing six of the ten tours of duty to Iraq by my friend Jamie Fraser. The site is not being updated these days. Jamie is working on the problems of civilian life. The site’s theme however needed an update to the current WordPress capabilities, and the post categorization and tagging needed some finishing work for clarity. That’s been done, and the site will be kept technically updated for posterity.
American History Prints also utilized an old theme requiring an update and a proper reorganization of the material. That has been done. A select few of these images, along with associated text, will occasionally be available as archival quality prints from the store at Lowell Limited, LLC. All of these high quality images are ©2014 Lowell Limited, LLC, and are available under licensing for greeting cards, calendars, advertising, or other print projects.
I went to Chennai India for one project, and came back with two. The first was to establish models and volumes of Chinese built bicycles for import to India for sale in the visited company’s retail stores. That part of the project is progressing. The second component that arose surprisingly is to utilize the team I’m involved with and joint venture to build a state-of-the-art bicycle manufacturing plant for export. Details of that will be forthcoming. For now I have some writing to do.
One of my favorites, Barry Ritholz, has been writing a regular column in the Sunday Washington Post. This week he compares the responsibility of a broker and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) to the interests of an investor. Basically, the RIA is held to a fiduciary responsibility standard in dealings with the investor, and costs far less than a broker. The broker is held to a “self-policed” complex legalese suitability standard. Barry lists the problems with the suitability standard.
So the ordinary individual investor has three problems with the suitability standard:
1. It favors the brokerage firm and its employees over the investor.
2. It costs much more than services provided under other standards.
3. And it creates an inherent conflict of interest between the adviser and the investor.
Lowell Limited will complete its RIA licensing process in the first quarter of 2016. At that time clients will be accepted at locked rates of 25 basis points, or 0.25% of assets under advisement.
I went to India for the first time in 1996 shortly after the country had finally opened up commercially. India seemed to my eyes as if it had stood still since shortly after WWII. My company had already been a Walmart vendor for Asian built bicycles using a licensed “Kawasaki” brand for a year or so. One of the retired USA bicycle industry former business owners suggested that I make a trip with him over to visit a company that was interested in trying export to the USA for the first time.
It was TI Cycles of India, of Chennai (then Madras) India, a division of Tube Investments of India, which is owned by the Muruagappa Group, a major India conglomerate. That business relationship extended for about four years until tariffs in Europe were adjusted favorably towards India and negatively against China. Then TI decided to pull out of the US market to focus exports exclusively in Europe. And I haven’t been back since 1998.
Now again, almost 20 years later, some things have changed and some things haven’t. I find myself preparing for a return trip to reacquaint with many old commercial friends, and to possibly renew a business relationship.
Images restored and published in a new slideshow post on Beatrice Tonnesen.
Given my experience in business, as an airline pilot, and as an active union participant of the Air Line Pilots Association, I devised the slogan, “One Level Of Safety, One Level Of Liability“, to sell association members an idea contained in the PBS Frontline show Flying Cheap. I’ve been promoting the case that the liability indemnification clauses contained in small-jet-provider capacity purchase agreements (airline wordage for contracts) with major airlines are bad for both the airline pilot profession (majors and regionals) and the brand-trusting, traveling public.
The contract clauses in question sever joint and several liability between the two parties of carriage under the single marketing misnomer of the major airline’s well-known ticket selling brand. It’s legal, but the lobbying to get approval must have been unobstructed by any knowledgable, funded counterparty.
When the major airlines acquired the right to extend and basically cloak their brand marketing beyond their actual liability for performance, a fundamental “brand trust” was broken with the American consumer. The theory is that if the government says the regional carrier is good to fly, then a major airline brand can be extended to cover and sell the flying of that regional carrier. But the liability doesn’t extend across both carriers like the brand. The liability is broken with an indemnity clause in the capacity purchase agreement. This is what has allowed lowest cost regional carrier bidding for as much branded flying as major airline pilots were willing, or required under cyclical duress, to give away.
In this case, “lowest cost” means some combination of the lowest paid pilots, the least experienced pilots, the most M-1 visa holders, the pilots who can’t get hired at a major airline, the oldest and least maintained aircraft, and/or the cheapest training department syllabus. Each of these qualities competing at the very minimum levels acceptable to the FAA rather than at quality optimized levels as would be expected between competing major airline brand carriers.
This has been the root cause allowing the “race to the bottom” contracts that bisect the airline pilot labor landscape. These liability-free capacity purchase agreements have influence not only on the well-being of regional pilots, but also obviously place downward pressure on major airline pilot contracts.
Liability indemnification clauses in capacity purchase agreements between regional and major airline carriers should be disallowed for the betterment of the innocent traveling public and the knowledgable, experienced professional pilot. Market competition will function more effectively without the indemnifications. Get it done.
[Addendum 1: Dear Nattering Nabobs of Negativity: You know who you are. A resolution addressing the joint and severely liability avoidance issue was passed at the October 2014 ALPA Board of Directors meeting. Obviously, both major and regional airline pilot groups were involved with that passage. Still want to ignore it? Many thanks to the attending bulldogs who focused proper attention. -SLN]
[Addendum 2: Following is the wording of the resolution is:
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL 45TH REGULAR BOARD OF DIRECTONS MEETING
SUBJECT: Strategic Priorities – Government Affairs and Regulatory
SOURCE: President Lee Moak
DELEGATE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS
RESOLVED that the Board of Directors endorses the following items as ALPA Strategic Plan priorities related to ALPA’s Government Affairs and Regulatory initiatives:
(Various other resolutions are listed.)
Request that the Executive Council or other appropriate ALPA governing body cause an inquiry regarding the issue of joint and several liability of a mainline carrier for the actions of a regional partner.
It’s not much, but it’s a hook to support a wider dialog.]
Reference: Office of the Secretary and the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Inspector General Audit Report, “Growth of Domestic Airline Code Sharing Warrants Increased Attention”, February 14, 2013.
The phrase “One Level Of Safety, One Level Of Liability” by Captain Sumner L. Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at One Level Of Safety, One Level Of Liability.
A new post with slideshow imagery as posted on Beatrice Tonnesen. The short slideshow is posted here.
I’ll place this New York Times “Is It Better to Rent or Buy?” calculator here as a convenient reference for the inevitable questions of buy versus rent for a residence. Almost everyone considers buying as a statement of completed adulthood. Although it’s not. It’s just another of the never-ending financial decisions that are contingent upon numerous other factors.