I'm a dock junkie. I love just about everything that involves boats and have since I was a small child when I spent summers with my grandmother in a small seaside community. I fished from the local docks from sunrise well into the evening not so much to catch fish but to watch the boats -- captivated by the blub-blub sound of old Chris-Craft Mahogany run-abouts cruising the bay. Flash forward fifty years and I was delighted to listen to the boat banter at the local marina on Labor Day. The un-forecast weather was cloudy and uncertain stranding a cadre of end-of-season boaters at the dock.
In my experience, most boat owners are entrepreneurial upper income sorts who love nothing more than to talk about their next floating acquisition. So I was not surprised to hear the gossip as the hoses and bottles of wax were traded for shared beers late in the afternoon -- with an exception. My dock friends were talking about what they would like to buy for next season but the conversation quickly shifted to the state of individual businesses. The general tone was one of optimism over their August numbers and how they would rather keep their productive employees on staff rather than risk layoffs that might preclude their return when business improves. The short story was overwhelmingly in favor of staying with their good -- albeit reduced -- fortune and putting their money back into "the business" as a hedge against losing "good people" rather than indulging their floating passions.
While the take-away from this dock banter is far from scientific, it is encouraging when it comes to gauging the options of personal spend, self reward and (you guessed it) greed. So it was with continued encouragement that I read in this morning's WSJ “ If you're tired of reading about employers' cutting people's pay and benefits, here's a change of pace:… [where] disbursing funds for emergencies, or letting workers trade vacation time for cash, are among practices lauded in a new report by the Families and Work Institute, a New York nonprofit. The article sites numerous examples from among 260 employers who were "all winners of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation awards for workplace excellence" including assistance with meeting mortgage payments, insurance deductibles and other crisis for members of employed families who have been laid-off.
These private sector actions may not unfurl the sails to recovery, but they're certainly more encouraging than "cash for clunkers" and other less inspired initiatives that waste our tax dollars.