Years back, I was sitting in a meeting Downtown, listening to another budget report from Jennifer Hennessy, and suddenly the word “assumptions” hit me on the forehead with a “SMACK!” Hennessy was explaining, essentially, that our entire budget is based on what she assumes we will take in revenues.
Yeah, that’s right – I like to call that, “ASS-umptions.” Or, as my dad might have said, “talking out of your ass.” Or, another Texasism - “allowing your mouth to write checks your ass can’t cash.”
According to the online “Urban Dictionary,” th is means that “talk is cheap relative to performance, or that promising something and delivering on it are two different things. A phrase similar in meaning is ‘Money talks, bullshit walks.’” Another Texasism.
And a perfect description of what Facebook has done. Initially a gigantic success, they are currently tanking. According to the State Legislative Analyst’s office, it’s costing California “hundreds of millions” in anticipated tax revenues. “Anticipated” is another word for “ASS-umptions”.
Don’t think I didn’t smell a rat when the Enterprise Record started requiring everybody to sign up for Facebook in order to post on Topix. Oh yeah, David Little and his cussing phobia, saying Facebook would make posters “more polite” – you know, some people wouldn’t say “stuff” if they had a mouth full of it. But that wasn’t the real reason for that requirement - and if it was, it didn’t work. People are still nasty and many don’t use real names. I’m guessing, Facebook offered newspapers something if they’d get more of their readers to open accounts. Why? Because, according to the IPO they filed with the SEC, Facebook makes over 85 percent of their revenue from advertising. Selling advertising requires the ability to put it in EVERBODY’S face, so, Facebook enlisted rags like the ER all over the country to boost their user accounts and sell their advertising.
That went so well, as you may have seen, Facebook essentially exploded with revenues. Thank you Enterprise Record and fish wraps all over the US. That led to a furor of trading. Investors like Paul Hewson, better known as “Bono the Clown,” were instant Bazillionaires. Of course the stock immediately turned around and crashed. If you didn’t smell a rat in that, you need a good dog.
Like a good souffle, Facebook’s success was essentially full of hot air – a racket, really. Facebook is, let’s face it – NOTHING BUT E-MAIL WITH ADVERTISING. When people wrote letters on paper, it would have been funny to market stationery with ads on it – think that would have stuck? And would anybody care? I was just reading an article on Facebook revenues, and a commenter said, “ If my children are anything to go by, they have zero interest in commercial things appearing on their facebook pages.”
I do like ads. I have my fave TV ads, like the “Mayhem” ads (including the completely different Spanish language version – http://www.homadge.com/2011/01/spanish-mayhem-soy-la-mala-suerte.html), and alot of the “Got Milk?” ads – how many of you think of milk every time you take the handles of your wheelbarrow? Sure, advertising is effective. Facebook has taken advertising to a new level – an electronic billboard network for your telephone and e-mail. This is why advertisers like Netflix at first thought it was a new bonanza and hooked right up. In the beginning, 98 percent of Facebook’s revenues came from advertising. And then the trading frenzy began.
Never trust a bonanza, kids. By the time you hear about it, it’s a bust. That’s what happened to Facebook – advertising revenues were artificially ballooned by the excitement of new technology. When the excitement wore off – and, to tell the truth, I don’t think it’s done wearing off – ka-POW! The balloon is burst. It’s going flatter by the minute. I think someday soon people will say, “Face-what?” And it’s just adding to the list of lost revenues for the state. Money they’ve already budgeted, and in some cases, are already spending.
Of course, that’s why you get into trouble with ASS-umptions. I realize, we do have to make assumptions in life. We must assume the sun will rise tomorrow. We must trust in our business dealings and assume that our neighbors are good people, most of the time. But spending frivolously based on the assumption that you will somehow come up with the money later is just ASS-inine. So follows the city of Chico, making ASS-umptions. In one report Hennessy predicted revenues would go up because the price of gas was predicted to go up, so they’d get more gas tax. She pulled the figure out of her hat as far as I’m concerned, I don’t know how she came up with it, but she marked it right down on the revenues side of the chart and proceeded to spend it. I’m pretty damned sure it never occurred to her that a rise in the price of gas means people drive less. She seems to ASS-ume things will go her way, no matter what’s swirling around her head.
So, it’s important that we go in force to the next council meeting and support Toby Schindelbeck’s request for a monthly accounting of the city finances – with receipts, etc, just like Mom and Pop – from Jennifer Hennessy, who has apparently never been required to do so in the seven years she’s been employed by the city of Chico. This is why our city is in trouble. They hold us off by the forehead – and, we let them. We need to take control of our situation. You know, it’s an “intervention.”
We’ll be discussing this action at the next meeting of the Chico Taxpayers Association, this Sunday, August 5, at the Chico Library – 9 AM!