Tuesday, May 28, 2013

If It Looks Like A Duck

        There is an old saying that goes like this:  “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”
        I think another way to say the same thing is if there is one incident, it could be a mistake or a misunderstanding. If there are two incidents, it might be a coincidence.  If there are three or more incidents, it probably really is a duck.
        Yesterday was Memorial Day when we honor veterans and especially veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law, LeRoy Worby, who was a WWII veteran and a lifetime member of the American Legion.  It was fitting that he should be buried on Memorial Day.  We should all honor that generation which put Country before personal gain.  We have lost some of that.
We had four individuals die for their country in Benghazi.  Could these individuals have been saved?  I don’t know?  We can’t even find out who gave the order for our military to stand down.  It is obvious that everyone in a position of authority knew this was a terrorist attack, but it was blamed on an anti-Muslim video, and we can’t find out who changed the talking points.  It looks like a duck.
        We have the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups and individuals while giving preferential treatment to liberal groups.  Nobody seems to have any knowledge of these crimes that could have a ten-year sentence.  One top IRS official says she did nothing wrong, but is taking the fifth in order to avoid testifying to Congress.  I am not sure how she can make a statement for the record and then take the fifth.  Who is she protecting?  It walks like a duck to me. 
        The Department of Justice seems to be completely out of control.  Both the Associated Press and Fox News reporters seem to have had their First Amendment rights violated.  The good news about this incident is maybe the media will actually start covering the news and start performing their role as a government watchdog instead of just being a lap dog. 
We have the Fast and Furious incident where people died, and nobody seems to know anything about who was responsible. We also have some Black Panthers convicted of voter intimidation and then having the DOJ dropping the charges before sentencing.  I think it quacks like a duck. 
        Let’s see, I think that is five incidents that are all probably criminal offenses and nobody in the administration seems to have any knowledge of anything.  I think it probably is a duck.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Internal Revenue Service

        I have written several times in the past about our IRS and the ridiculous 70,000-page tax code.  Some people don’t think the rich pay their fair share, and this huge tax code pretty much guarantees the very rich will never pay the same tax percentage as working people.  I find this somewhat frustrating when the Fair Tax could and would solve the problem.  The only problem is that it would reduce the size of government and take away power of our political elite. 
        I wrote a blog on October 23, 2012 called “Too Small To Succeed”, where EPA regulations where used to intentionally target and put 320 of 400 companies in a specific industry out of business.  Now we hear that the IRS has been targeting conservative political groups.  One source said searches were made for any group with “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in the name.  We now know this was a widespread practice over several years targeting many conservative political and religious groups.  This is a federal crime with possible sentences of up to ten years.  Will it be investigated and prosecuted? How far up in government does knowledge of this practice go? 
It reminds me of when I lived in the Chicago area.  I remember listening to a radio show when the host was having a rant about a city official taking a kickback for a tire sale to the city.  He did not have a problem with the kickback.  What he had a problem with was the fact that the kickback was about half the going rate.  The radio host said that if city officials starting taking kickbacks below the going rate, it would give the city a bad name.  I think he was only half joking.  It’s a good thing we don’t have Chicago political tactics in Washington, or do we?
I have another problem with the now questionable integrity of the IRS considering the major role they will have in implementing Obama Care. They will know your income, your health history and who knows what else.  Is this too much power for any governmental bureaucracy? Are we creating a country that will be ruled by the political elite?  I think it is time we take our country back and reduce the size of the federal government before it is too late. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Ultimate Economic Bubble

        We have had some economic bubbles that have burst in our recent history.  The dot-com bubble cost some people their life savings.  I understand the human nature of greed, but common sense should have told us that company values and earnings did not justify the stock price.
        Bank failures caused another economic bubble to burst.  Again the problem appears to have been greed.  Top bank officials looked for short-term profits to create large bonuses.  Don’t get me wrong; I am in favor of the capitalist system that creates value, but not paper profits that contribute nothing to the economy.  The federal government bailed them out.  I thought it was necessary at the time, but now I question that decision.  Current federal legislation could still have the government bail out big banks if they get in trouble. 
        We had a real estate bubble burst.  How could that happen?  Could the fact the federal government was encouraging 100%, loans to people that could not afford the payments have anything to do with it?  The really scary thing is that the government is still encouraging banks to make sub-prime loans for houses.  Can’t be you say.  Don’t kid yourself.  Check it out.
        We had a collapse in the automotive industry.  Again the government bailed them out.  Good or bad?  Good for the United Auto Workers Union, bad for stockholders. Now GM has built a manufacturing plant in China after closing several plants in the US.  Would it have been better to break up GM or let them go into liquidation? 
One thing that really made me mad was the forced closing of small independently owned automotive dealers.  I was a Ford-Mercury dealer, and in spite of what the media said, I know this did not save the company one dime.  What it did do was reduce competition for the large dealers and company owned stores.  Government intervention hurt the small business owner as usual.
        Do we see a trend here?  We see government bailouts for the rich, big business, and campaign contributors.  We see individual savings and small businesses hurt.  I think some states and major cities think the federal government will bail them out if they get in financial trouble.  We see government debt increasing at an unsustainable rate.  Maybe we should get government out of business. 
        If government debt continues to increase, eventually we will reach a point of no return.  The interest on the debt will increase until there is no choice, but to default.  This will be the ultimate economic bubble.  There is no one to bail out our federal government.  We can’t look to other countries for help. 
        What will happen?  The government will be forced to make radical decisions to avoid anarchy. Bank accounts will be confiscated.  Government will be forced to take over all privately owned industry.  Stocks will be worthless.  Private property may also need to be confiscated.  Of course, the second amendment will have to be done away with before this can happen. 
        Does this sound good or bad?  If you believe in individual freedom and capitalism, it sounds unbelievably bad.  In fact many of you say it can never happen in this country.  Maybe not, but if we don’t reduce the size of the federal government, I’m not so sure. 
        If you believe in a socialist country, it sounds good.  If you believe everyone should work according to his or her ability and receive according to their need, it sounds good.  Everyone is equal.  No winners or losers.  Sounds a little like our current education system.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that the result is everyone is equal in poverty, except for the political elite.  The political elite always seems to live in luxury. 
        Which way do we want to go?   Do we want personal freedom and a capitalist country, or do we want socialism ruled by a political elite? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Irrevocable Choices

        In business and in politics there are some decisions that are irrevocable and may have catastrophic consequences.   It may be as simple as a career choice or corporate politics.  One simple choice may have long-term consequences. 
        As kids we are told that “Everything will be okay,” or “Anything can be fixed.”  Unfortunately, that is not true.  Choosing to cheat, lie, use drugs, or break the law will change lives, and maybe forever. 
        In business, some changes are often irrevocable.  I think J.C. Penney is a good example.   The first store was started by James Cash Penney in Kemmerer, Wyoming in 1902 and was called the Golden Rule.  The original Golden Rule buildings were declared a National Historic District in 1978.
The philosophy was simply, “Treat the customer as you would like to be treated.”  J.C. Penney offered quality merchandise with general demand, and avoided stores with expensive locations and fixtures.  Stores were generally located in smaller communities.  The name was changed to the J.C. Penney Company in 1913.  J.C. Penney department stores thrived and became the first nationwide department store chain. 
As a young man on the farm or working highway construction, I remember we usually bought our work clothes and underwear from J.C. Penney.  They had a good selection of durable merchandise at a fair price. 
In more recent years, J.C. Penney started to make changes that ignored their primary target market and customer.  Were they trying to be everything to everybody?  That does not work, as I talk about in Business Fits.  
The most recent changes were name and marketing.  The name was changed from J.C. Penney to JCP.  I hate acronyms and recommend not using them in my book, Business Fits.  I hope Business Fits will be available later this month. 
The second marketing change was to stop the use of sales and offer one low price.  Store inventories were also changed and cut dramatically.  Both changes were a disaster, and the President was fired.  They are trying to correct the mistakes, which they admit in their current advertising.  I have fond feelings for J.C. Penney and wish them the best of luck.  It will be interesting to see if they can recover, or if it was irrevocable errors.  
I also see decisions made in politics, like our government debt, which may have irrevocable devastating consequences.  We want our children and grandchildren to get a good education, but ignore political decisions that may have even greater consequences for them.  I think we all need to be more involved in politics to guarantee the same opportunities for our children and grandchildren that we enjoyed. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Political Correctness to the Extreme of Stupidity

       I watched a newscast showing the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.  They said the suspects were Caucasian and possibly Espainic.  No mention was made of Islamic extremists.  You have got to be kidding me, and this was on FOX.
        When I first heard about the Fort Hood shooting, I remember questioning if the shooter was Muslim.  Someone jumped all over me for my political incorrectness.  I guess they were right as now some people claim it was workplace violence.  What a joke. 
It is so sad that many people knew Major Hasan was a threat, but did not dare to warn anyone as being politically incorrect could hurt their career.  How stupid are we?  We are at war with Islamic radicals.  These fanatics advocate killing all infidels.  After the twin towers fell in on 9/11, we went to war.  I remember President George W. Bush saying this was a war like we had never fought before.  It was a war that would last decades and maybe several generations.  Maybe he was right. 
I hear people say the majority of Muslims are peace loving, and I think that is probably true.  Unfortunately, the Islamic extremists minority seems to have control, and the majority do nothing about it. 
We are at war.  If we don’t get real about the situation, bombings will become as commonplace in this country as in other parts of the world.  Are we going to keep this political correctness up until our children and grandchildren must live in constant fear?