Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Product Management


      I have a chapter titled "Product Management" in my book Business Fits.  At first thought product management seems to be a simple job.  All you need to do is provide your customers with the products and services they want, but maybe this is not as simple as it seems.
     I recently was looking for a nice warm woman’s robe for a Christmas gift.  I would think this is a common Christmas gift so it should be easy.  Wrong. There was a specific request that presented a problem.  The robe needed to have a zipper front and not have a belt or tie. 
      Macy’s, Younkers, Kohl’s, Herbergers, Penney’s, and Sears were all checked.  They all had large quantities of warm robes with wrap fronts and ties but none with zippers.  This is terrible product management.  What is wrong with the store buyers?  Were they all fed some kind of Kool-Aid to make them all buy the exact same product. 
     Maybe the store buyers just bought what they liked personally with no market research.   Making decisions based on personal perceptions is one of the greatest mistakes in business.  This was one of the primary reasons I wrote Business Fits.  Entrepreneurs looking to buy or start a business frequently make this mistake.  The good news about the poor product management by large companies is that it provides great opportunity for small businesses that are willing to take a gorilla or flanking marketing approach. 
When I was a Ford-Mercury dealer in the early 70s, Ford introduced the Granada.  Ford made a big deal of the dealer introduction with a national show for dealers in Las Vegas.  When I walked into the convention hall, it was like black-tie night at the annual auto shows.  There was a lot of glitz, glamour and girls.  The featured Granadas were all the fancy Ghia models with a vinyl tops and lots of options.  As we walked around looking at all the cars, my wife pointed to a car stuck in a corner and said, “I like that one”.  The car she was pointing at was a plain four-door sedan.  It was plain, but it almost had the look of a Mercedes. 
When I got back to the dealership, I started doing my market research including checking out what Granadas my competitor dealers were ordering.  They were all ordering the higher priced Ghias featured in the Las Vegas introduction.  I ordered the lower priced base model with a minimum of options.  I was heavy on four-doors, but ordered a few two-doors. Some two-doors with equipped with manual transmissions for the youth market.
When the Granada was introduced to the public, I was the only dealer in my area with a good inventory of the lower priced models that were very desirable to a large segment of the market.  I had competing dealers calling every day wanting to make a dealer trade for a lower priced Granada.  I was pretty protective of my inventory as it gave me a significant advantage for a specific segment of the market. 
Poor market research and the resulting poor product management by larger competitors can give a small business a significant advantage in a specific segment of the market.  Don’t try to be everything to everybody.  Even huge corporations fail when they try to do this.  I did a blog on J.C. Penney and possible irrevocable errors they made when they got away from their core customer.  See Business Fits at: http://businessfits.com

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christian Charity & Capitalism


       As we approach the Christmas celebration our thoughts go to the birth of Jesus Christ, faith, hope, and charity.  THe Christian religion teaches us to be charitable and help the poor.  Many Christians play a very active role in charity.  These charities are dependant on gifts of time and money.  The monetary gifts are dependant on the great capitalist system we live.  Capitalism affords people the opportunity to provide for their vamilies and support charities of their choice.
      The term “Their Choice” is key.  Proponents of big government like progressives and socialists feel the enlightened political elite are in a better position to determine who should receive charity and who should pay for the charity.  They actually believe that government action to redistribute wealth is beneficial to the country.  I think people should have the right to determine which charities they support. 
        I support Christian’s right to celebrate and practice their religion, and pick which charities they want to support.  This may not be politically correct, but I have a question.  Why is it that if a Christian says or does something that someone disagrees with or finds offensive it is politically incorrect, but if other special interest groups do the exact same thing, it is their civil liberty or free speech?  I don’t understand how we let this happen.  I know Christians are very tolerant of others with different beliefs, but we can’t let this tolerance take away our own rights to celebrate and practice our religion. 
        Merry Christmas to all. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Helath Care OR Medical Insurance


        Do you want affordable health care, OR first dollar billing medical insurance?  Does this sound like a dumb question to you?  Maybe you still think you can have both.  Politicians interchange the terms health care and medical insurance.  The two terms are not interchangeable, and this perpetuates the confusion and delays addressing the real problem.  Some people now predict potential problems with a medical insurance card that is not accepted and no good.  As long as we don't address the couase of the problem, it is hard to get serious about a workable solution.
        In 1965, my university insurance professor, Emmett J. Vaughan, first made me aware of the potential problem with first dollar medical insurance.  Emmett knew his subject and was probably the best teacher I ever encountered.  I reference Emmett in my book, Business Fits.  I considered him a friend and he also was a potential investor in one of my business ventures.  Emmett pointed out that for the premium cost of first dollar medical insurance, a person could buy major (catastrophic) medical insurance, put the difference in premiums in the bank savings account, and the money in the savings account could hire a CPA to handle all your healthcare bills, pay the healthcare providers, and you would still have money left over in the savings account. 
        First dollar medical insurance should actually be referred to as first dollar billing medical insurance because the policy does not pay until a deductible is met, but expense is incurred with first dollar billed for both the insurance company and the health care provider.  Everyone should understand that this expense raises both the cost of health care and medical insurance without providing the consumer with any benefit except a false sense of security and convenience.  It’s just common sense.
        I have been talking and writing about this subject since before the Affordable Care Act.  I feel like a broken record, but slowly and surely more and more people are being made aware of the problem.  Obama Care has done a lot to speed up this awareness.  “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.”  “If you like your Doctor, you can keep your Doctor, period.”  Many people like myself questioned these two lies at the time.  Obama Care may not have passed without these lies, but its just politics, so who cares?
        Maybe enough people will be affected personally by Obama Care to force our elected officials to start addressing the real problem and start working on a real solution to affordable health care.  I hope this happens before we have a complete government takeover of our health care.     Catastrophic medical insurance and medical savings plans are the most probable solutions.  Lets start talking about this real change.  Cost savings of 40% are 80% are a real possibility.  I understand the negative side of this solution is that it does not increase the size and power of the government.  Personally, I think that is a good thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Build a Better Mousetrap


     "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." is one of the myths about business discussed in my book Buisiness Fits: How to find the right business for you!
     This is a common mistake for inventors and people with manufacturing experience.  Historically, the people who invent a product seldom are the ones who make a lot of money from the product. 
      The people who market the product are usually the ones making most of the money.  Without marketing, nobody even knows about the better mousetrap, so how can they buy it.
       This is also a common mistake for people offering a service.  You may offer the best service in the world, but if nobody knows about your service, you have no customers or clients.  Without customers, you have no income. 
      Consulting businesses are a good example.  A consultant may be the best in their field, but if they don’t market their services, they’ll probably fail.  Many consultants feel they must spend a minimum of 50% of their time marketing their service and only 50% of their time providing a billable service.
      A common mistake is stopping marketing activities because business is good.  0ne day they wake up with no clients or business and wonder what happened.  Any business plan must schedule marketing and prospecting as part of the daily activities.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


     One Webster dictionary defines perjury as: “in law, the willful telling of a lie while under oath to tell the truth in a matter material to the point of inquiry.”  Under U.S. federal law, perjury is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  As a private citizen we never want to commit perjury. 
     As honest and moral individuals, most of us feel obligated to tell the truth.  If we are religious, most religions say telling a lie is a sin.  In my book, Business Fits, there is a chapter on customer service.  I state the number one rule of customer service is, “Never lie to a customer.”
     Considering all this, why do we think politicians telling lies is okay?  I hear people say, “Its just politics.”  Does that mean politics is not important?  Does it mean politics don’t effect out daily lives?  Does it mean it’s okay to lie to people so they don’t have accurate information to decide whom to vote for?  Have we come to the point where lies and big money perpetuating those lies decide elections?  I hope not, but we may need to make some changes.  Change can be good, especially if it does not increase the size of government and the power of the political elite.
     I knew an individual who was one of our elected state legislators.  He was appalled at how legislators could make an argument on the house floor and make statements they knew were not true.  I think all elected government officials, appointed government officials, or anyone running for office should be made to take an oath to tell the truth under the penalty of perjury.  I think these government officials should be held to a higher standard and should forfeit all rights associated to the government position if convicted of any felony including perjury. 
     I am just dreaming, as I am not naive enough to think this type of legislation could be passed and signed into law as many of the political elite would be signing legislation that would end their political careers.  While we’re dreaming, maybe we should make the news media, and advertisers knowingly making false statements be subject to penalty of perjury too.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have elected officials actually working for the good of the country?  It was fun to fantasize for a moment. 
     I guess we will just have to take the personal responsibility to actually find out the facts and try to disseminate these facts to our personal circle of influence.  I have to admit that in my younger years, I was too involved with earning a living to actually investigate what was true politically.  I am ashamed to say I made some bad voting decisions because I was influenced by some of my peers and influence peddlers that were not telling, or did not know the truth. 
     Our political system is not perfect, but it is probably the best in the world.  Our founding fathers felt the media would be the country’s watchdog and help the public make informed voting decisions.  Some of our media does this, and some have become lap dogs promoting the political agendas of the political elite. 
     We all have a personal responsibility to gets the facts and make informed voting decisions.  We must take this responsibility seriously for the sake of future generations.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Was Obama Care Designed To Fail?

     This is an interesting idea.  The Affordable Care Act is the crowning achievement of the Obama Presidency and it seems to be a total disaster.  How is this possible? 
     The web site does not work inspite of an almost unlimited budget and more than enough expertise available to roll it out in a much shorter time than the government had to work with.   I saw one comparison showing how we won World War II in less time than the government had to get the website functional. 
     The Affordable Care Act is 2,400 pages of legalese that no one seems to have read.  It is so complex that I probable could not understand it or comprehend it if I did read it.  Maybe Nancy Pelosi was right when she said, “We have to pass it to find out what is in it.”
     I could never understand how the unions backed it, but they have been granted exceptions.  I never understood why some insurance executives supported it, but now we know they were promised bailouts if claims were too high.  The political elite is also excluded.  The rich are not affected.  It seems like only the working middle class is affected.
     We were promised we could keep our medical insurance if we liked it.  We were promised we could keep our Doctors.  We were promised lower medical insurance premiums.  People with medical insurance through their work thought they would not be affected.  We now know all that was not true.  Were the people making these claims misinformed, incompetent or just lying?  It’s just politics, so who cares?
     In order for Obama Care to work, a lot of young healthy people that do not have medical insurance must sign up with higher premiums than they would have had prior to the implementation of the law.  This is further complicated by the fact that the law allows kids to be covered under their parent’s policy to age 26.  The numbers don’t work.  They can’t work.  Some right wing nuts have been saying this for years.  I am proud to be one of those nuts.
     Forget the web site for a minute.  What is going to happen with Obama Care?  We already know many people will lose their medical insurance.  Some will have to change Doctors.  Some will lose their jobs or have their hours cut to part-time. 
     More people will sign up for Medicaid.  Some people will receive subsidies from the government to pay for their medical insurance.  Unfortunately, they will still not be able to afford the deductibles.  The cost for the government will continue to escalate. 
     More government departments will be created and more employees will be hired.  Eventually, Affordable Care will grow to the point it will be more efficient to go to a Single Payer.  This is what the Progressives wanted all along, but they knew they could never get there in one step.  Is Obama Care just one of the steps?  Did the political elite know it could never work? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Business Myths

In my book Business Fits: How to Find the Right Business for You! I have a chapter called “Myths about Starting a Business.” The myths discussed are:

·       Starting a business is too risky.  A good job is the only real security.

·       Start small and grow.

·       Banks make business loans.

·       Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

·       I will know the right business when I see it.

·       I need to find a business that can’t fail.

·       Why should I pay a franchise fee and continuing royalty for something I can do myself?

·       Do what you know and love and you will be a success.

If any of these business myths peaks your interest, you can order Business Fits at: https://www.createspace.com/4290991

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thunderbird or Pinto

When I was a Ford-Mercury dealer in the early 1970s, I sold both Thunderbirds and Pintos.  Both cars were both great cars for the time.  The Thunderbird was a true personal luxury car, and usually what my wife chose to drive.  The Pinto was also a great car, but did not have the comfortable ride or the equipment of the Thunderbird.  The Pinto did have a lower purchase price and was more economical to operate and maintain. 
Both cars filled a need and the more economical Pinto offered some people the opportunity to buy a new car that could never afford a new Thunderbird.  This is the free market system.  As a dealer, I liked to sell a new Thunderbird because I normally made more profit selling a Thunderbird than selling a Pinto, but I sold a lot more Pintos than Thunderbirds. 
What would have happened if the government passed a law that all Pintos were “Sub Standard” and everyone had to buy a Thunderbird?  The answer is simple.  Most people would not have been able to afford a new car.  They would have to keep their existing car, buy a used car, use public transportation, or walk.  
Now I understand that Progressives would say the evil car dealers and manufacturers should just sell everyone a Thunderbird for the price of a Pinto.  Unfortunately, neither the dealer nor manufacturer can stay in business this way.  The other option is for the government to subsidize everyone that can’t afford a Thunderbird. 
This makes sense only if we want bigger government, more taxes, less personal freedom, and a socialist country eliminating the free market system.  Kind of sounds like Obama Care doesn’t it.  Personally, I don’t like the idea and will vote accordingly.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insurance Deductibles

When I was a Ford-Mercury dealer, I needed insurance for the business.  This insurance policy was normally referred to as Garage Keepers insurance.  One of the things it covered was damage or losses to vehicle inventory.  The majority of the policies at that time had a per vehicle deductible much the same as the deductible on your personal vehicle with your Family Auto policy.  For example, you might pay the first $100 to $500 of any damage claim.  This is fine for an individual, but presents a risk for an auto dealer. 
The problem with a per vehicle deductible for a dealer is that damage to a lot full of vehicles could be a catastrophic loss for the dealer.  Protecting against catastrophic loss is what insurance should do.  I knew a Ford dealer that had his entire new and used car inventory damaged by a hailstorm.  The damage per car was not huge, but the total damage was devastating.  Since he had a per vehicle deductible, the storm almost bankrupted the dealership. 
For this reason, I demanded an insurance policy with a Per Occurrence deductible instead of a per vehicle deductible.  Some companies would not write the policy at the time, but I found one that would.  By increasing the deductible amount, the premium remained the same.  This meant I had a higher deductible and loss when there was damage to a single vehicle, but I was limited to the same deductible for a catastrophic loss to many vehicles.  The free market system does work if we can keep the government out of it. 
In the early 1970’s car dealers still made a big deal of introducing the new models.  The introduction was usually done at night and dealers often made it a real party with food, drinks, balloons and spotlights in the sky.  Transport companies covered vehicles so the public could not see them until the day they were to be introduced.  I had rented the grandstand at the fair grounds to store and hide vehicles until the introduction day.  Some kids broke into the building and damaged almost all the vehicles.  It would have been a catastrophic loss if I had not had the Per Occurrence deductible. 
All insurance should be meant to protect against catastrophic losses and not first dollar loss that should be assumed risk.  How did we ever get into the mess we are in with health care and first dollar billing medical insurance?  See my blog of 3/8/2012 titled, “The Greatest Marketing Job Ever In The US.”
First dollar billing medical insurance is a joke.  With all this administrative cost, it is no wonder our total health care cost is five times what it should be, and anyone that thinks the federal government can handle this administrative cost better and cheaper than the private sector only has to look at history. 
        Think about the deductibles with medical insurance.  Your deductible is annual.  You start over ever year.  How does this protect you from a catastrophic illness or accident? If you are sick or hurt so you can’t work, how do you pay the premiums and deductible?  Catastrophic medical insurance should have a large deductible per illness or injury, and not an annual deductible.
        The only solution for affordable health care is catastrophic medical insurance with a large per illness or per injury detectable, and medical savings plans.  Why do we continue to look to the federal government and insurance to solve a problem they created?  The government can never to something as efficiently as the private sector with the exception of ……  Sorry, I can’t think of anything.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

War On The Working Middle Class

        The government shutdown is over.  There is a lot of talk about if Democrats or Republicans are the winners.  I don’t think either was a winner, but there defiantly was a clear loser.  That loser is the working middle class and future generations in this country. 
        It is back to business as usual in Washington DC.   Big government is alive and growing.   Politicians even had the audacity to attach three billion in earmarks for things that probably could never get funded on their own.  This is just thumbing their nose at the working class that will pay the bill.
There was no change to Affordable Care.  Government continues to grow and Obama Care still doesn’t and can’t work in my opinion.  The rich and politically connected will continue to be exempted or get subsidies.  Over 700 companies and unions have been exempted so far, and don’t forget Congress.  There is still no break for the working, middle class taxpayer. 
The debt limit and government-spending problem was kicked down the road again.  I love the word compromise in government.  A liberal wants to grow government with no concern for the future or with the goal of a socialist country.  Growing the government is what they call growing the economy.  Progressives are convinced the political elite is much better qualified to tell us how to live our lives than allowing us to make our own decisions.  A moderate seems to be a liberal on a slow track.  Anyone that actually wants to control government, observe the Constitution, and grow the private sector of the economy is called a right-wing Tea Party wacko.
In summary, who won?  The rich and politically connected won and will continue to get richer and stronger.  The welfare class will continue to grow, and we will see three and four generations of welfare recipients that never know any different.  The working middle class will continue to decline in numbers and will experience a decline in their standard of living.    Anyone that does not see what has happened in the last few decades either has their head in the sand or wants a socialist country.  Look at our national debt.  Is this what we want?  We have to change it at the polls before it is too late.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Sky Is Falling

Do you remember the old story of Chicken Little who is hit on the head by an acorn and convinces her friends that the sky is falling?  It kind of reminds me of some of the statements I hear about reaching the federal debt ceiling. 
Some politicians would like us to think our country will default and we will see economic collapse if we don’t raise the debt ceiling.  It could hurt our credit rating, but it will not hurt our credit rating nearly as bad as if we raise the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts.  We have already had our credit rating lowered twice on August 5, 2011 and September 14, 2012. 
Politicians try to tell people the sky is falling with scare tactics like saying Social Security payments would stop.  This type of tactics is ridiculous and I think it is unconscionable for the mainstream media to repeat them.  The fact is the federal government continually has income.  By law the interest on the debt must be paid, then the military is paid, then Social Security, then Medicare, and them Medicaid.  There is more than enough to cover these payments.  After these obligations are met, government spending to pay off campaign contributors is another matter. 
The Executive branch of our government must pay these obligations by law unless they just ignore the law.  I think some of the results of the government shutdown are clearly political decisions intended to create the most inconvenience for the public.  I hope the public is placing the blame for these decisions with the people actually making the decision. 
Withholding death benefits for our fallen military or any veteran benefits is totally unconscionable.  Isn’t that part of paying for our military which is required by law?  The military is one of the few actual obligations of the federal government according to the Constitution.  The decision not to pay these benefits was made by an administration that has made many Executive Orders with the force of law.  Some of these Executive Orders gave government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency authorities specifically denied by Congress.  I find it interesting that this same administration can refuse to pay veteran death benefits; veteran benefits, or open the World War II memorial for World War II veterans on Freedom Flights.  I hope people lay blame where it belongs.
We go through this same problem on a regular basis and it is becoming more frequent.  It seems like there is no way to get liberal progressives to even talk about cutting government.  This is ridiculous.  Our National debt was under $10 trillion at the beginning of 2008.  It is now approaching $17 trillion.  This should be alarming and unacceptable for all Americans.  In my opinion, most of our political problems are the direct result of a federal government that has grown out of control. 
On March 16, 2006, Senator Barrack Obama made a floor speech in the Senate.  He said:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay it’s own bills……I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

I don’t agree with President Obama often, but he sure was and is right with this statement.  When are we going to hold our elected officials responsible and fix this problem?
        I heard a rumor that President Obama thought he should be given the authority to raise the debt limit, as he felt necessary.  That can’t be true, or can it?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why Can't We Just Be Americans?

I have a niece that posted this on Facebook: 

“Why can’t we just be Americans and get along?  Somewhere along the way, I think the two parties have lost the purpose of the design.  Could we just clear everyone out of DC and start over with new people?  I know that can’t happen, but really, how will this ever get fixed?” 
Victoria Miller

I am not sure if it was the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, Obama Care, or all three that prompted this, but Vicki makes it sound simple.  We should just get along and do what is best for America.  What is the problem with that?  The problem is having the electorate and elected officials want to do what is best for the country.
Let’s take a look at some of the problems. 
·       Politician’s more concerned with getting reelected than doing what is good for the country
·       Political elite that only want in increase their power
·       Special interest groups promoting their financial interests at the expense of the country
·       Too large a percentage of the electorate that are on welfare or just want free stuff
·       A Progressive movement that feels enlightened bureaucrats are better able to tell us how to live our lives.
·       A media that does not accurately report the news
·       No requirement for politicians or political ads to be truthful
·       An education system that does not teach accurate American history and government
·       The rich, the political elite, and the politically connected continue to get richer and more powerful
·       The working middle class continues to decline and lose disposable income
·       Too large a percentage of the electorate in the public sector
·       The non-contributing welfare portion of this country continues to increase 

Is it time for some real change?  The path government has taken over the last few decades obviously is not working.  What’s Einstein’s definition of insanity?  “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Our great country is heading down a path to big government and socialism.  The federal government continues to grow and take away states rights and individual freedoms.  Spending continues to increase, the deficit continues to increase, and the national debt is increasing at an alarming rate.  A moderate now is someone who just wants to slow down this path to destruction. 
    I want to take the federal government back to the limits set in the Constitution.  This is what made this country great.  I will probably never live to see this happen, because it took about a century to get in this mess and it can’t be corrected over night, but for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we had better start now, before it is too late.  Some politicians seem to ignore the Constitution if it does not fit their political agenda. The Progressives call some one who wants to stop or reverse this growth of government an anarchist or racist.  Conservatives don’t want to eliminate government, but calling someone names is always good if you don’t have facts to support your argument.  
    What can we do now?  We have to elect representatives that will work in the best interest of the country and not want to create a political elite ruling class.  I am not a fan of people who vote for candidates on a single issue, but if we don’t start voting for candidates that will stand fast to reduce the size of government and balance the budget, everything else is irrelevant. 
The exception is if you want your children and grandchildren to live in a socialist country and not have the same opportunities we have had in the past.  Our founding fathers knew the dangers this great republic faced and their fears are proving valid.  They were so smart.  I hope we start to heed their warnings.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

De-Funding Obama Care

We have a lot of news about the government shutdown, the debt ceiling and de-funding Obama Care these days.      I was watching debate about Obama Care on TV the other day.  There were six people and a moderator involved in this debate.  As usual, the Democrats were blaming the Republicans, and the Republicans were blaming the Democrats.  I think there is enough blame to go around.
Finally, one individual suggested we do something to actually reduce health care costs.  He said the solution was “catastrophic medical insurance and medical savings plans.”  No one commented, a commercial break was taken, and these real, workable solutions were never discussed again.  Is it possible the media and government bureaucrats don’t actually want to reduce health care costs?
The implementation of catastrophic medical insurance and medical savings plans solution would also eliminate all communication between a health care provider and a medical insurance company.  Health care and cost considerations must be between the patient and his or her health care provider without interference from an insurance provider or the government.  Tort reform is also needed so the health care provider can work with the patient without the threat of a lawsuit.
I wrote a blog called The Solutions to Affordable Health Care on July 24, 2012.  In this blog, I stated health care costs could be reduced by 40% in the first year and 80% when fully implemented.  I still believe this to be true if we get real about fixing the problem. 
It drives me crazy when I hear people interchanging the terms health care and medical insurance.  The two are not interchangeable.  First dollar billing medical insurance and government intervention are the two major causes of our high health care costs.  Why do we keep trying to solve the problem with more of the very things that caused the problem? 
Passing the Affordable Care Act now has proven to be a huge mistake.  It has and will raise the cost of healthcare, hurt the economy, hurt the job market, reduce the number of full-time jobs, and reduce the standard of living for some of the working middle class. Obama care will also hurt the quality of healthcare for some groups like seniors.  One of the most dangerous results is it will grow the size, power, and spending of the federal government. 
Why is it that most groups that supported the Affordable Care Act now want to be exempted from the law or de-fund the law?  Unions are a prime example.  I could never understand why they supported Obama Care in the first place.  This may give us a clue just how disastrous this law will be when fully implemented.  
Medical insurance companies did the greatest marketing job in the history of this country in my opinion, as I mention in my March 8,2012 blog.  They have sold the public and health care providers on the idea of first dollar billing medical insurance.  It is big business and much more profitable than catastrophic medical insurance.  They backed Obama Care because it will continue first dollar billing for a while.  The end result might be the end of medical insurance, but the top insurance executives will be retired with millions in bonuses by then and don’t care. 
I love the name game in politics.  It is a major part of all good marketing, as I discuss in my book, Business Fits, How to find the right business for you.   Think about the Affordable Care Act.  It sounds good and gives a positive image, but does just the reverse.  What a joke. 
Some people suggest ignoring Obama Care because it will eventually collapse on itself, and it will.  The problem with this idea is we are sending millions for implementation and, as we know, these government agencies perpetuate themselves and never go away. 
If we keep going down the Obama Care road, what is the end result?  We now know the act won’t work as written so the next step may be the “single payer” plan which is the government.  This means the elimination of all medical insurance.  If we think the claims process is expensive and inefficient with the insurance companies handling it, wait until the federal government is handling all claims.
When single payer does not work, the next step is government provided health care for everyone.  Quality is almost certain to decline, but this will be a huge victory for big government and socialism.  Maybe we should do something to change big government now.  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Repair, Reuse & Recycle

When I was a kid we did not lack for much, but certainly were not rich.  We did not throw anything repairable or reusable away.  I can remember when getting something new was such a big deal that I would sleep with it that night.  I can remember sleeping with a new pair of four-buckle overshoes. 
Most kids with older siblings wore hand-me-down clothes.  We now have businesses like Goodwill were people can donate clothes that are in good condition and have them put to good use.   If I no longer have a use for something and it is in good condition, I try to find a way it can be put to good use.  Habitat for Humanity’s Restore does an excellent job of putting furniture and building materials to good use.  Goodwill, Restore, and other organizations like them do excellent work.  
I still remember those lessons as a kid, and I think that mentality is good.  If anything breaks and can possibly be repaired, I repair it.  When my kids were little, they thought I could repair anything.  Some people make fun of me for how long I keep things like clothes and shoes.  One friend laughed at me for buying new shoelaces for shoes he did not think were worth the price of the laces.  Another friend, that was a men’s clothing broker, told me I was so out of fashion that I was coming back into fashion. 
We now seem to be in a throw-a-way society.  This may be good for the economy, but it may not be good for personal economics or the environment.  We are getting better at recycling and this is good.  Recycling saves a lot of natural recourses and is good for our environment. 
Solid waste companies have done an excellent job making it easy for people to recycle much of their garbage and most people have responded in very positive ways.  There does seem to be a problem when the federal Environmental Protection Agency gets involved.  I recently did a blog on how eliminating incandescent light bulbs will push people to fluorescent bulbs with the heavy metal mercury and no good means of disposing of this hazardous waste. 
I recently learned of another example of our omnificent government at work.  I knew throwing alkaline batteries in the trash for the landfill was bad so I have recycled all my used batteries for years.  I would save them in an old coffee container in the garage.  I would then take them to Batteries Plus to be recycled.  I did this last week and was told the EPA had a new regulation go into effect.  There is now a one-dollar per pound fee to recycle Alkaline batteries.  I did not have many batteries, but batteries are heavy and they weighed five pounds.  That means is would cost me five dollars to recycle the batteries.  Who is going to do this? 
The infinite wisdom of our federal government has now pushed most people to throw their alkaline batteries in the solid waste.  The solid waste company is not supposed to accept them, but how will they see a few used batteries.  Most solid waste is now containerized and mechanized anyway. 
Our Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to help protect our environment, and not push people to hurt the environment.  This is amazing to me, but what can we expect from the EPA with a trifling annual budget of only $8.5 billion dollars a year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Religious War

It has been over twelve years since the twin towers in New York fell victim to a terrorist attack.  We have had several terrorist attacks before and after the towers fell.    Islamic extremists are planning and committing these terrorist attacks.
The Middle East is in terrible shape.  We hear of the problems in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq.  We lost people in Benghazi, Libya a year ago and no one has been held accountable in any way. 
We are concerned with human rights, but choices seem to be dictators or Muslim Sharia law.  If we could replace the brutal dictators with democratic republics, it would be great, but Muslims seem to take over every time a dictator is eliminated. 
What are the objectives of the Muslim religion?  It is clear the objective is to convert everyone to Islam and observe Sharia law worldwide.   I know this is not a politically correct statement in a country where we advocate everyone should be free to practice the religion of their choosing.  The problem is assuming people of every religion agree with freedom of choice. 
The means used to achieve these Muslim objectives is where it gets fuzzy.  Most religions have missionaries and this is good.  We advocate separation of church and state and have taken it to an extreme that would appall our founding fathers.  The Muslims clearly do not agree with this as shown by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  I heard people say the Muslim Brotherhood would never be a political party and could not win if they did put forward a political candidate.  How naive can someone be?  How did that work out in Egypt?
Jehad is defined as, “a holy war undertaken as a sacred duty by Muslims.”  How many Muslims feel this way?  When the Muslim religion leads to a civil war, people die.  This is obviously not just the action of a few extremists.  The Muslim leaders apparently condone and support these wars. 
When it comes to terrorist attacks, it become more personal to us.  We blame them on a few Islamic extremists, but right or wrong, these acts and extremists led us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
I have heard many times how 90% of Muslims are peace-loving people.  Maybe we should ask some of the people dying in the civil wars about this.  Maybe we should stop supplying weapons to fuel these wars. 
I have one other question.  I will pick on Lutherans since I happen to be a Lutheran.  If a small percentage of Lutherans were planning or committing terrorist acts in the name of their religion, I would expect other Lutherans to talk them out of committing any violent acts or turn them in to the authorities.  This does not seem to happen with Muslims in spite of how nice they act with non-Muslims.  Since I believe actions speak louder than words, I question if a greater percentage of Muslims and Muslim leaders are sympathetic with the terrorists and believe in Jihad.  I hope not, but the Muslim community and Muslim leaders must prove me wrong with actions and not just words. 
We need to face the fact that we are in a religious war.  We will be dealing with this war for decades.  Do you remember when President Bush predicting this war on terror would last for decades?  Until we recognize this war on terror is a religious war, we will continue to prolong the war. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

When I was a kid, we conserved energy.  Lights were turned off if no one was in the room.  We turned the lights off automatically when we left a room.  Often lights were turned off with people still in the room.  Standing looking in the refrigerator with the door open was a no-no as it wasted electricity. 
As the price of electricity became more affordable, we became more wasteful.  Once a few decades ago, I walked around our house to find three TVs in use.  This was not unusual, but when I saw all three were on the same program, it made an impression.  Why run three TVs when everyone could watch the same program together? Obviously, no one gave any consideration to the wasted electricity.  Today we have many items continually using electricity when not in use.
Are we so irresponsible that we need the federal government to regulate our electrical consumption?  I hope not, but it is happening.  Light bulbs are just one example. 
We have a large light fixture over our dining table in the great room area.  This table is used several times a day.  This fixture has three hanging cut glass shades.  I am not sure what a decorator would call it, but I call it a pool table light.   Each shade holds a 100W frosted globe bulb.  There is a dimmer on the wall switch. 
        These 100W decorator bulbs are no longer manufactured.  Since we will not be able to buy them in the future, we bought all that were available at one electrical supply house.  100W bulbs in general are being phased out.  Eventually, under present Environmental Protection Agency standards, we will not be able to buy any incandescent bulbs and will be forced to use only LED or compact fluorescent bulbs.
        One problem with the fluorescent bulbs is they have a fine powder that contains mercury.  Mercury is a heavy metal and dangerous.  How dangerous is another question.  Read the instructions on a fluorescent bulb package for if one is broken.  It is a little scary.  Some state Department of Environmental Protection agencies recommend bringing in a professional decontaminator if you break a fluorescent bulb inside. 
        Maybe you are lucky and never break one of these fluorescent bulbs inside, but how do you dispose of these dangerous items containing the heavy metal mercury.  The large majority is just thrown in the trash to contaminate our environment.  The best-case scenario is they make it all the way to a landfill without breaking, where they are crushed and may contaminate our ground water. 
        Can you recycle hazardous fluorescent bulbs?  If you want a good laugh, call your solid waste service and ask them about disposing of fluorescent bulbs.  If you have the time, space and resources, you can buy disposal boxes for around $100, which you can send to a recycler.  How often do you think that happens?  Most people don’t even know about this option. 
        This is our government attempting to control our lives.  It reminds me of the movie, Dumb and Dumber.  I often say Saturday Night Live doesn’t stand a chance compared to the nightly national news.