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Sept. 2010
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Butterflies, Monarchs
& The New Banks

Have you ever had one of those months when everything seemed to take forever? Or take two steps forward and three back? There were so many things I wanted to get done this month and time either flew by or I found myself doing things over several times.

Somehow it seemed to fall together though. While I was looking for one thing, I “reread” an e-mail and discovered something I had totally missed the first read. I put in one new ad and missed another completely.

Then passing that along to be added led to the conversation—“yes, you made the addition correctly, but we need Marcia’s photo with the ad, not Marcella’s.” I could tell several more on myself, but I wanted to balance things out and convey what I think of as really good news—it wasn’t just me! Must have been that Mercury in retrograde. What can one do?

While there were things that didn’t happen, some big things were accomplished, too—such as deciding to get people together for a Wellness and Trade Fair (who knows what we’ll call it—see page 5). While that was an accomplishment that seemed just to fall together, most of the month seemed to be falling the other direction. A lot of things not in the daily plan had to be handled.

Then again, looking back with a different focus, it was a month I won’t soon forget.

I finally found time to do one of the things I really wanted to do this summer—get to the butterfly garden in Balboa Park with my 10-year-old niece Emily.

Seeing her is always interesting for me because I learn so much from her. She knows her animals, butterflies and bugs. I tell her about the plants and she tells me about the animals.

I probably shouldn’t be so amazed that she knows so much. When I was that age I knew the batting averages and home run totals for all the players on my favorite team and the starting lineups in both baseball leagues.

It’s great that she has a focus that’s a little more about the world—and that she’s interested in caring for it.

Visiting the butterfly garden led to putting plants in my garden that attract butterflies and also hummingbirds—which then led to an emergency butterfly call from Emily. Her butterfly bush had 18 monarch caterpillars on it! And there were clearly only enough green leaves to last a week!

“Could I find a home for some of her caterpillars? Soon?” she asked.

She picked out six for me. Two of those disappeared the first night. Three days later—with plenty of green left on their favorite bush—they were all gone. No, I haven’t told her yet. Guess I should, but things went retrograde, she went out of town and here I am now writing.

Since they left, almost every time I go out to see if I can find where they went, a huge monarch butterfly flies by. It’s too soon to come from those caterpillars—well, I think so. I better ask the expert.

When I do call, I think she’ll explain how it’s all perfect and why. It’s good to have some stabilizing reassurances when in unfamiliar territory.

And I had the thought that I didn’t get a lot done this past month. Instead it’s not a month I’ll soon forget. And there’s more to come soon. Emily has an older sister, Kim, who is due any day to become a first-time mom, which will make her Aunt Em.

Looking beyond the forgettable stuff and focusing on memorable places, it was quite a month. Interesting, nothing at all like those memorable times came up when I watched the news to find out what was important in the world. But there were things that affect all of us.

Banks are making great profits. In the first quarter of 2010 the largest banks—JP Morgan Chase, BofA Corp., and Citigroup—had profits in excess of $10.5 billon. Yet after the legislation that will outlaw exorbitant and unfair banking and credit card fees went into effect, one banker said that if you can’t raise the price of the soda, then the price of burgers go up; i.e., they’ll get around it.

One banker defended the profits explaining that the industry needs to meet their operating expenses.

I have to admit this high-finance stuff is pretty complex, but isn’t he saying that profit is an expense?

Well, what can you do? You know, the truth is that I welcome hearing what they think because it’s up front—no apologies—they plan to get consumers any and every way they can. I welcome it because their arrogance is just crazy and blatant enough to really upset people and perhaps change things.

And that’s good—or at least more equitable. Doesn’t it feel like this landscape is changing? It may be that the same things are happening—that we’re being taken advantage of—but it’s also more obvious and beginning to feel like their days of doing that are numbered.

If they really want to be profitable, however, I heard an idea the other day they may want to try. First, imagine if people went into their banks and told them: “I’d sure like to make half of what you make when you lend out the money I deposit with you.” Now of course, they just take our deposits, and lend it to others at rates that are at record highs for credit cards, then charge us monthly fees for holding our money and, pay a small percentage to depositors.

If banks heard this request every day from people they begin might think about it. If they actually did it, wouldn’t people flock to them to make deposits? They’d get more business—and have more to lend. Other banks would need to follow suit or not have as much to lend.

The only drawback is that paying more interest out to depositors means the banks would probably not be able to pay their executives 100s of $millions.

Well, this is a first draft, no plan is perfect.

The good news for now is that while the rich and powerful often seem too powerful, there really are ways to even things out a bit. It just takes us/US, willing to pay attention and shift things.

It’s healthier, isn’t it? I wonder how balanced and healthy people are who spend their lives gathering $millions after $millions and have no real plan for it other than collecting it or advancing themselves. That’s healthy? Some of them even say they have ideas about how we should live and want to lead us to be more business like, but I’m thinking they might be the wrong kind of monarch to follow.

If I run into them at the butterfly gardens I might be willing to listen. Otherwise, I think these new corporate people have a lot of humanizing to do before they become complete people.

When they have so much, I really wonder if the last $million one of these people made was as fun or as satisfying as a trip to a butterfly garden.

Have a great month,