National Belt-tightening Continues

I often wonder if we live on the same planet or in the same dimension as those within the beltway in Washington. Don’t they have access to the same newspapers and magazines that we do? Do their TVs have no news channels? Do they not visit the areas they represent? Do they not hear from those they supposedly serve?

I’m constantly hearing the top leadership in the nation, from both parties, tell us that “We are not in a recession!” or “Thing’s are looking up!” or “It’s only a matter of time” or “Elect us and we’ll change things!”

If you have eyes and ears, it doesn’t take long to discover that few people in this country agree with these claims. Let’s take a look at a few of the situations which may contribute to these feelings:

  • The most recent AP poll declared that “81% feel America is headed in the wrong direction!”
  • Detroit’s own home town newspaper recently produced a glaring headline that dominated much of the front page. It read: “Auto Sales Plunge to Worst in 15 Years!”

Major Job Cuts Continue


Northwest Airlines says that it’s cutting an additional 2,500 jobs; Delta Airlines is cutting 4,000 jobs; Continental will cut 3,000 jobs; United Airlines is trimming 950 pilots; Air Canada is cutting 2,000 jobs; Air Tran is cutting 300 flight attendants and 180 pilots, ATA announces 260 job cuts, and Frontier Airlines cuts 600 jobs. Can you imagine how difficult it will be for these airlines if times gets tough?


Many people have heard the name Siemens but few realize how much it impacts our lives here in the U.S. The Munich-based conglomerate is improving America’s infrastructure through technology and innovation in medical, power, automation and control, transportation, information and communications, lighting, building technologies, water technologies and services and home appliances. Siemens employs 70,000 employees in the U.S. and 400,000 worldwide. In a bid to streamline its operations and deeply cut costs, Siemens plans to cut 16,750 jobs, accounting for 4.2% of its workforce worldwide. The industrial conglomerate said the cuts would include 12,600 administrative jobs as well as 4,150 positions at other units.

Steve & Barry’s

Here’s a discount retailer that took the world by storm just a very short time ago. It arrived on the scene with a storybook history offering customers from coast to coast quality products at tremendously discounted prices. Steve & Barry’s offered several lines designed by such celebrities as Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Bynes, Venus Williams, Stephon Marbury and the WWE. Industry experts said the “perfect storm” of a poor economy, razor-thin profit margins, growing too fast too quick, and too many celebrity relationships combined to cause this unexpected calamity. The company, with 275 stores in 40 states, opened 10 new stores this year and had plans for at least 10 more in the near future. To learn more about Steve & Barry’s storied beginning, simply click on Little-known Facts about Well-known Businesses – Steve & Barry’s.


Here’s another shocker. After years of ambitious expansion, the coffee retailer plans to close 600 U.S. stores, most of which were opened only in the last two years. Starbucks says it will try to place affected employees in neighboring coffee shops.


The third largest drugstore chain in the U.S., operating more than 5,000 stores in 31 states with 116,000 associates, Rite Aid announced that it will be closing 28 stores and re-evaluating dozens of others that aren’t earning their keep. This action comes at a time when Americans are used to seeing Rite-Aid seemingly open a new location on every corner.

Foot Locker

With income down 78% last year, this gigantic shoe retailer is running for the hills. Formally known as the Venator Group, it evolved from merger of the F.W. Woolworth CO. and Kinney Shoes. It operates 3,785 stores in 20 countries. After announcing the closure of 274 stores last year, Foot Locker recently added an additional 140 stores to that list.

Disney Stores

The Walt Disney Co. announced earlier this year that it was assuming management of 220 Disney Stores in North America that had previously been run by Children’s Place. It plans to close 98 of those U.S. stores and two in Canada.

Linens ‘N Things

Employing 7,500 employees, the #1 large-format retailer of home textiles, housewares, and decorative home accessories in the U.S., boasts 571 stores in 47 states and six in Canadian provinces. Earlier this year it announced a Chapter 11 filing followed by plans to close 120 underperforming stores.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing for these companies that we’re not in a recession. Did you note a hint of sarcasm there? We’ll all be better off when leaders in key positions stop denying the current crisis and start taking action to address it.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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