Saturday
Jan092010

When The 9,000,000 Branson Visitors Go Home!

In a few weeks those responsible for Branson's pubilicity will be reporting that 2009 was a great year for Branson. In recent years the claims boasted high seven figure visitor counts, although, to my knowledge, they have never identify how the counts are made.  There will be no dispute that, whatever the count, vacationers came in droves, bringing profits for businesses and wages for the minimally skilled local work force.  Then after the early December Christmas crescendo, a regrettable thing happened.......the visitors all went home and the business owners all closed down.    For the mid four figure local workforce  who were barely scraping by in season, Christmas means only 90 days of desperation.  Their part time employee status precludes unemployment benefits and it is uneconomical for them to drive to Springfield in search of work.  A few catch on with temp services doing residential repairs and a few squeeze in a Walmart or McDonalds.  Many just shut down and extract subsistence from the public/private charity resources.  The notable exception to this annual pattern of unproductiveness is the legion of landscaping crews who manicure Branson's timeshares, restaurants and upscale residences.  They cut wood!  Indeed this year there are so many crews cutting wood that come spring, Branson may have deforested half of Tanney County and put more carbon in the atmosphere than Beijing.

Saturday
Jan092010

There Is No Rest For Branson Trout!

My sense is that this morning with temperatures at record lows throughout the country, our nation's fish population is relatively safe.  Not so here in Branson, mecca for "obligatory vacations".  As I am writing, through the thermo pane windows looking out over the upper end of Taneycomo, I can see the digital thermometer reading of 7 degrees and  4 boats across my 100 yard lake panorama.   Rising swirls of heat from the much warmer lake, along with falling snow, are being blown by the strong west wind.  Within the hour as many as 10 boats have motored west against the wind and current, then drifted east with bait dragging for the unsuspecting trout.  I am not so close minded as to suggest that these fishermen have lost their minds.  I am old enough to know that often a few pursue that which most cannot imagine.
 Beyond this, I will only comment that for some of those braving the winter river, it is the playing out of their obsession with "value".  In the same manner as the airline passengers who eat whether they are hungry or not, many of those now shivering in their boats are just taking what they have prepaid with hard earned dollars, no matter how bitter.  It is a striking illustration of how Branson, America's Prepaid Vacation Capitol sustains.  To close with an unfortunate, but timely metaphor..... "once your hooked, it's so goddamn hard to get away that you might as well acquiesce to your caught status.      

Friday
Dec112009

Hey Clint! What If You're Wrong?

"It may explain to you the facts of life

and maybe

you can get on the right track before

it is too late" 

                                     Grandpa

 

For sixty plus years I have watched the elite of each generation prepare their progeny for the all important role of preparing their progeny for the all important role...  Commonly this replicating sequence is successful.  It , in current culture, is called "living conservative".  It has always been both a rare and disappointing outcome when a presumed elite legacy fails to assimilate by 30.  Neal Boortz, a nominal popularizer of "living conservative" said to a fully indoctrinated college graduating audience:  "If, by the time you reach the age of 30, you do not consider yourself to be a conservative, rush right back here as quickly as you can and apply for a faculty position".  So what is the core concept that energizes this super virulent philosophy?  Neal Boortz in the same fear evoking graduation speech pretty much summed it up.  He said, "Conservatives, I among them I might add, think that individuals have the right to protect their lives and their property from the plunder of the masses.". Clint, as you know, not many lives have been plundered by the masses in our life time and as such it is rather obvious that Koontz is talking about property or "wealth".  No doubt at some reasoning level all self replicating elites realize that their status requires a "masses" not simply for their "market/labor pool" attributes but because ontologically to be "wealthy" is very much dependent on there being a same set others who are "not wealthy".  Regardless, throughout history elites have worried little about either the "have nots"  disappearing or plundering.  The French Revolution perhaps withstanding, in general the "have nots" have always multiplied, yes but plundered, no.   Indeed, the most flagrant plunder  in this perennial struggle belongs to the elites who de-facto took over the "libertarian identity" of the "yearning to be free" masses  . ( Is it not bizarre that Glen Beck considers himself a "libertarian" hoping that by the Grace of God and "higher sales taxes"  he will be spared the tyranny of the masses.)  Regardless, my aging friend, before you "Trustee Out", I hope you will consider that in the current "information age" and the knocking "bio-synthesis age" it might well prove disastrous for today's elite beneficiaries to be goaded into the same old "conservative club" as their forefathers.  Are you sure that in a Google/Twitter era an entirely different world structure isn't compelling, even vital?  Are you so egotistical that you can't imagine that today's youth may instinctively be guided by a providence deeper than your Darwinian/Capitalist/R.Paulian "survival of the fittest"?  Do you really think that in a time of super-statins and gene therapy you will be righteous in arguing that "father knows best", even when father is 104 and prefers Ayn Rand to Lady Ga Ga?

  

Tuesday
Dec082009

Seasons Greetings from Branson! Want to buy a Timeshare?

Most days, I drive by both the Grand Crown and Spinniker Sales Centers near the Thousand Oaks Complex. Judging from the overflow parking lots you would think that they might be giving away "Timeshare Vacation Property".  A closer look reveals that most of the vehicles are not SUV's from nearby states, but are clunkers driven by nominally employed young locals hoping to get $9 an hour sans manual labor.  These "telemarketers" gather daily and make 200+ obligatory phone calls reciting professionally scripted pitches touting free vacations to our magical little town.  Perhaps Charlie the math whiz on the TV show Numbers could calculate more accurately, but my rough multiplication suggests that during the last 15 years every home within 1000 miles of Branson has been called, about 4 times.   I have heard from more than one seasoned "telemarketer" that some prospects have "free toured" as many as 10 of the 30+ "resorts".  From the 100 million visitors during this period, a modest less than .3%, have opted to "tie the Branson knot". This is shorthand for "contractually obligating one's self and his/her progeny to annual prepay the cost of a Branson vacation until Jesus returns". This is shorthand for "what happens when one becomes the owner of a "timeshare unit" with open ended maintenance fees and in perpetuity deficiency judgment provisions.  Thank you to these 250,000+ altruists who signed up to forever fund our rich little Ozark town.   Merry Christmas!

Saturday
Nov212009

Terminating Branson Timeshares/A New Profit Plan

Branson's aging Country Music Celebrities are not the only Legends here in the picturesque Ozark Mountains. Indeed, through the boom years, much of their show business success was due to the lesser known timeshare sales legends.  You cannot find a Branson local who does know a story about that friend/neighbor/relative who "made a killing" selling timeshares.  In tandem with the "entertainment legends" these Porsche driving, Rolex appointed, fast talking "Vacation Consultants", made Branson what it is today. But alas, as the economy weakened, even the best of these "hard sell ninjas" just couldn't get Fred & Martha to contract, in spite of the singing/dancing/lodging/golf/food.  But then a funny thing happened as the "Vacation Consultants" were on their way to the unemployment lines.  They realized that those 100,000's of "timeshare owners" converted during the golden years were now desperate to unload their prized "week 32" to get out from under the obligation to pay maintence and special assessment fees.  Being savey "Vacation Consultants" who had routinely overcome the dubious economics objections of timeshare investment, they knew full well that there would be no secondary commissions to be made in the resell market.  Ebay validated this insight by offering up pages of "no bid" owner offerings on every timeshare project in town.  What they came to understand, as counter intuitive as it might have seemed, was that their past customers who had paid $5k/20k to own a timeshare would now be willing to pay $1k/$3k to disown their timeshare.  It might not enable the "hard sell ninjas"  to keep their Cabin Cruiser or Rolex, but for now, the Porsche is safe!. 

By the way, where are all of those disowned timeshare units going?

 Guess!_________________________