Archive for January, 2017

Racing to ruin

2017/01/30

Perhaps we do need to scale back on the imports, and start producing more things here in America.  Things like steel, carbon fiber composites, and wood substitutes.  The stuff we are importing is cheap, and of poor quality.  Big surprise, right?  Of course, we can’t lay all the blame at the feet of the foreign workers.  They have to work with what they get, and what is specified by their multi-national bosses.

When the parts that you are supplied with are made with soft steel, then the product you are building will not last.  Costs have been cut until mere pennies are fretted over and pondered.  All in the name of profit, ever increasing profit.  The materials that we are having to work with, the fasteners, the frames, the motors, are all of poor quality, regardless of the brand.  Doing a good job is becoming increasingly difficult.

Everybody wants things to get better, but few people are willing to sacrifice to make that happen.  We are going to have to pay more for products, or settle for lower quality, much lower quality.  It doesn’t matter how cheap something is, if it can’t do the job.  Even the premium brands are having their stuff built overseas, because paying a reasonable amount to have the work done will cut into profits.  A pair of boots built in the U.S. would cost about 100 dollars to manufacture, and would be sold for nearly $200.  When production was moved overseas, the quality of the leather decreased, the workmanship was sup-par, but the boots still cost $200, even though their cost to manufacture had dropped to about $30 dollars.

People began to turn away from that brand of boot,  and the company had to bring production back, and sell at cost for a while to reclaim market share.  Management is the greatest threat to the well-being of companies these days, I believe, as tried-and-true methods are tossed out in favor of more ‘economical’ ways.

You paid people a good wage and bought good materials, you would have a good product, worth the money.  People would associate your name with quality, and become loyal customers.  Nobody got rich doing it that way, but everybody made enough to get by on and be comfortable.

The obsession with getting rich in a hurry is pushing America into a downward spiral.  Because someone usually loses when somebody else gets rich in a hurry.  Huge fortunes were acquired in the early 2000’s, as people began to buy and then sell houses rapidly.  That led to a mania about flipping properties for profit, which created a big demand for new houses.  Until somebody realized that no one was moving into these homes.  The American homeowner took a beating during the Great Recession, and many people lost their retirement.  But money was made in quantity for a while, without having to work.  How real was that money, if so much of it vanished overnight?

Do you believe?

2017/01/26

We Americans are being asked to believe in something.  The people behind the new administration want us to accept that we are not all broke.  No matter what, they say, there will be money to spend.  They can build a wall to keep out the real money, just like the Soviet Union did.  They can censer the news, make sure that you only hear what they want you to hear.  But who are they, and why do they want us to pretend that we have money?

As long as we buy into their illusion, our debt remains real.  As long as we are convinced that we can spend, we will try.  Because the economy no longer is based on reality, we can say “Charge it” and walk home with it.  What the people behind the scenes want is for us to continue to think that money has value.  Even though it can be created without work, without effort, money is still supposed to represent something of value.

Money not only is supposed to represent value, but it also represents debt.  The money that was spent and not repaid is still in existence, in some computer somewhere, waiting to be taken back, with interest, fees, and fines, of course.  As long as we imagine that we are not all broke, that debt can live on in the shadows, in some ‘bad bank.’  They had to create banks that were different from real banks, so that they could keep track of the debt without letting it destroy the economy.

There is no money to spend making America great again, there is only more debt.  The wall will be paid for with money that does not exist.  This is why the stock market is going through the roof, because people expect to make money from the deficit spending.  As long as we all agree to believe, we can spend and spend.  You had better believe it!

What do we want from Trump?

2017/01/21

The United States has selected a new president, and many people are unhappy with the choice.  If this is a good president, he will delegate authority to people he believes are knowledgeable about what they are in charge of, and work with their recommendations.  He will also address the most pressing issues facing our nation, not the least of which is the question of health care.

George W. Bush was saved from dealing with the issue by the terrorists, and managed to dodge it his entire time in office.  Barrack Obama inherited a situation which was becoming intolerable.  Because health care is included in most retirement programs, and states and local governments offered retirement, these agencies were facing steadily increasing costs.  Unions and other institutions also were encountering costs which threatened their solvency.  Future health care costs are factored into costs for automobiles, as assembly line workers have retirement packages.  Companies in other countries are subsidized by national health care, so that paying for future health care is unnecessary.

Profit has been the major impediment to providing national health care, the profits the insurance companies generate.  Some people claim to be spooked by ‘socialism, but I think that society is a good thing, for the most part.  The individual has inherent worth, which cannot be measured in terms of profit.  By existing, other people make my life more possible.  We are all important, we all have moments when we do something for someone else, no matter how hard we try not to.  We are worth being taken care of when we are sick or injured.  Health care means trying to insure that everyone is able to give their all, and that they will be cared for when they have.  Individual employers should not be forced to try to create a healthcare package for their employees, they should be able to rely on national health care for that.

Will Donald Trump be able to convince the Republicans that there is more money in national health insurance than there is in our current system?  Will he nationalize the health insurance companies, and pay them off over a period of years?  What will he do with the savings that would be generated by the reductions of health care costs?   Making money off of providing insurance for health care is not very healthy.  Health care should be between you and your doctor.  A single payer system simplifies the matter tremendously, as a doctor just submits the fees to the national health care system.

What made America great

2017/01/17

We are hearing a lot of talk about making the United States great again.  But what made America great before?  The people made America great.  People who were inventors, people who could figure out new, better ways of doing things.  People who were willing to work hard, and to share the fruits of their labors.  People working together were what made this country great,  people who shared a dream, who were willing to sacrifice some of today for a future they might never see.

Taking care of people is how we will make America great again, putting people ahead of profits, ahead of automation, ahead of shareholders, because it is people who create the wealth.  We must take care of our own, to insure that being elderly does not mean being forgotten, that being disabled does not mean being hungry.  We have created a tremendous technology, which has made levels of productivity possible that were unthinkable just a few years ago.  We all should share in the benefits of that technology, with higher wages, more benefits, more security.

When we treat people as being disposable, we all become disposable.

Merry Christmas, again!

2017/01/07

Some parts of the world celebrate Christmas today, January 7th.  The Eastern Orthodox Church apparently uses a different calendar than the West, and January 7th corresponds with December 25th.  Russia is one country which observes Christmas today.

For our ancestors, January was the time of celebration.  For one thing, there wasn’t much to do, and sharing resources helped to stretch them out.  Often times, it was difficult to tell if the days were actually getting longer, because of bad weather.  Yule Tide celebrations would go on for weeks after the Winter Solstice, as people traveled around to visit friends and relatives.

On February 2nd, the festivities would be renewed, with the celebration of Imbolc, or Brigid.  The Christian church eventually had to bring this holiday into their belief, and so called it Candlemas.  This is a celebration of light, a reaffirmation of the return of the Sun.  For some reason, people took the concept of the world sliding into eternal night very seriously.

Western society has been drastically altered by the Industrial Revolution, such that long celebrations are frowned upon.  What had been a month of partying was squeezed down to 12 days, then a week, until now it is a brief interlude on December 25th.  I am fighting back!  I say “Merry Yule Tide” for much of January, burning my pretty lights from December 25th all the way until late January.  Hey, some people start burning theirs right after Thanksgiving.  To me, they are not Christmas lights, they are Yule Tide lights.  So there!