Daddy Warbucks

Can Christmas save the many struggling businesses, both large and small? The short answer: “no.” The long answer: No, but even in lean years, many business and retail forecasters are predicting some good can always shine.

Wall Street is taking a very deep breath and trying to determine how long it will take to turn things around. As we have seen these past few weeks, the folks in Washington, D.C., are clinging to the ideas of the old administration. Automakers are going to need a bailout of some kind, but they, like Wall Street investor-types, better learn to be leaner and meaner in their own business. Gone we hope are the mega bonuses and the executive dining rooms. Possibly gone are the $30 an hour jobs to fit plastic screws in with a power drill for six hours a day.

Hopefully with Thanksgiving leftovers still in the fridge and college football bowl games being set, things can calm down and some sort of normalcy can return to the U.S. economy. Oh, yeah, a new president takes office next month. That’s always a help. Just watch and see.

Big Question
What percentage of American women recently bought a piece of clothing that was too small for them, hoping to lose enough weight to wear it? (see answer at end of column).

Raising Cash
Former President Bill Clinton’s nonprofit foundation raised more than $124 million last year, according to tax forms recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service. That’s down only a bit. The foundation reported donations totally around $135 million in 2006. The foundation reported more than $252 million in assets and disbursed $140 million.

Bravo, Bravo
Three well-known Arkansas philanthropists recently ponied up a total of $1.5 million for the development of the Northwest Arkansas campus of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Don Tyson and the Tyson Family Foundation, the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation and Johnelle Hunt each gave $500,000 for the new campus, which will be housed in the former Washington Regional Medical Center on College Avenue in Fayetteville. Bravo. Bravo!

Smokey Bucks
Ten years after the November 1998 tobacco settlement, Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco. Our state currently spends $16.9 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, which is 46.4 percent of the $36.4 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Losing Battle
The tobacco companies spend more than $160 million a year on marketing in Arkansas, almost 10 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. And Arkansas, this year, will collect $201 million from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 8.4 percent of it on tobacco prevention.

Big Answer
Some 39 percent of women have bought a too small item to wear when they lose that weight.

Categories: Features