Three years ago today, this blog began with the last thing I wrote for the late Marketplace Magazine.
Three years and, as of this very blog, 2,358 blog posts later, I have, between blog subscribers, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, apparently about 1,600 daily readers. (Despite this self-indulgence.) I’d multiply that latter number except that, as I know from my quarter-century in the media, not everyone who gets a print product actually reads the whole thing, and broadcasters know their own work is often white noise wherever the TV broadcasting their work is located.
(That last Marketplace of Ideas column, by the way, was written in less than half an hour, while I was absorbing the news, delivered by management, that, a year after I became the first publisher/editor of Marketplace, I was going to be the last and only publisher/editor of Marketplace. My less-than-humble opinion says it was good work for someone trying to figure out a good explanation for a future potential employer’s question of how did you manage to kill a magazine. My own explanation might be considered slander, so I’ll decline further comment, other than to point out that nothing lasts forever, including, some day, this blog.)
Readers will recall that this blog started as the self-discipline of daily writing for someone between employers. The Marketplace of Ideas blog started three years earlier when I went back to Marketplace after a seven-year hiatus. My first issue as editor of Marketplace was in March 1994, so this could be the 20th anniversary, except there is the seven-year public relations interregnum, and I actually started writing (unsigned) opinions in the summer of 1988. (I must have channeled my inner H.P. Lovecraft to write that last sentence.)
I was between employers for 13 months, but I decided to keep doing the blog because it appeared that people were reading it. And you still are, and that is the most important thing for a writer, because the worst thing you can say to a writer is not “I disagree with your opinions” or even “your work sucks,” but something like “I don’t read your work.”
From time to time I have referred to this blog’s “immutable rules” (a line stolen from ESPN.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback) without ever listing them in one place. Maybe I should do that, though this is an organic list:
- Life is unfair, and life will never be fair. Trying to make things “fair” often leads you to a violation of the next bullet point …
- Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.
- Change is inevitable; positive change (that is, progress) is not.
- Politicians are concerned first and foremost with getting into, and then staying in, office. Everything politicians say and do is based on that fact.
- The only way to prevent politicians from taking more power and more of your money is to prevent them from doing so through constitutional change.
- The correct salary for a legislator at any level is $0.
- Businesses are in business to make a profit, first and foremost. Organizations that fail to bring in more money than they spend will not exist very long.
- You should never love your work, because neither your work nor your employer loves you.
- Nevertheless, you should do your work well whether or not you are adequately compensated or recognized at all for it.
- You are better off to work at what you’re good at doing than doing something you “love.”
- In nearly all lines of work, you get better at your work by doing it repeatedly and well. As Vince Lombardi put it, “You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.”
- Parenting is the toughest job there is.
- Your life is what is happening while you are waiting for your idealized, happier-than-now life to begin.
- To quote economist John Maynard Keynes, “In the long run we are all dead.”
I have some rules for this blog as well. I strive to not quote dead people out of context or put words in their mouths. The question of whether John F. Kennedy would be a Democrat today or whether Ronald Reagan would be a Republican today is silly because the parties are not your grandfather’s or father’s parties. Since I am not a Republican, I try to judge issues based on their merits, not on which politician or which party supports or opposes them. As the disclaimer on the upper right of this page points out, I represent no one’s views but my own, and yours, if you agree with me. And you should.
Thanks for reading, and keep reading.