A Balanced Approach

121201-Air Force One on the Market

Air Force One is Up for Sale

All I hear about is a balanced approach when it comes to deciding how to deal with America’s budget, deficit, and spending. What I have seen happen is different. The balance goes this way:

The President proposes tax increases, and Congress rubber stamps it; see it is balanced!

My proposal is this:

I will willingly pay more taxes if I get a law that holds the entire 535 members of our government, President included, responsible for the fiscal responsibility of the country. What that means is that we fire all 535 without pensions if they fail to balance the budget and run without a deficit each year they are in office. I also propose that past legislators who are no longer in office who had anything even remotely to do with a budget failure lose their pensions immediately.

I also propose the President be limited in the amount of travel he may take. With modern technology being what it is there is absolutely no reason for him to leave the oval office to do business of any kind. In other words let him work like most private sector workers. Remember the traveling salesman? He doesn’t travel too much anymore. He does business via the internet, and a smart phone.

The President should speak to foreign leaders via Skype, or face to face via his desk top computer. All meetings are done via “Go to Meeting.” Since the Divided States of America is the world’s richest and strongest nation it should use its technology to become the world’s most efficient government as well. Efficiency must become the by-word. The 535 must work diligently to cut costs by reducing the workforce not by increasing it. We must amend the Constitution to add Government Productivity as a requirement. Congressional leaders will receive million dollar bonuses for cost reducing a bureaucracy by a billion dollars or more. Now that is balance folks, cut costs get a bonus. The old carrot on a stick concept at its finest.

Instead of using these tried-and-true principles, the 535 will try to outsmart one another with new weasel-words intended to confuse and bewilder the rest of us.

My good friend Al spent considerable time last week researching what our real debt is. He came up with ninety-trillion dollars. It took a lot of red wine  before he came up with a balanced solution. Here is the easy math: Divide 90,000,000,000,000 by 300,000,000. What is your answer? Mine is three hundred thousand. The solution is for each person living in the DSA to pay $300,000 to the Treasury toward all the unfunded pensions and commitments of the 535.  That is the fairest way to solve the problem and to start with the new ideas proposed above. For a family of five that is a mere one and a half million dollars. You can do it, I know you can.

US annual federal deficits 1901 to 2006

US annual federal deficits 1901 to 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Public Option Lesson

     Let me start by chronicling an event that just occurred. Two days before I left on a long trip, I went to the post office to change my address so my mail would be forwarded. In past years, I went in, filled out a yellow change of address form, handed it to a local USPS clerk and forgot about it. I left town, and the mail stopped coming to the old address on the date I requested, and it arrived a week later at my new address. Each piece of mail forwarded had a yellow sticker on it with the new address.  I timed my travel to cover the time of the relay. It worked every time.

     This time, I was in a hurry when I went to the post office. I asked a clerk for the form.

     She asked me, “only one?”

    “Yes,” I responded too quickly. I went to the counter to fill it out when I remembered that I have to fill out a form for each name that receives mail to an address. In the past, I was lucky. I got away with one form for my Sur name, and covered my family by checking the family box.  That way, my wife’s mail forwarded also. This time, I had to complete four cards. 1) Peggy is known by her former name, 2) her new name covered by a check in the family box, and 3)a hyphenated combo.  The fourth is mail that still comes for my beloved Aunt Marie. In the interest of time, I got sucked into doing the job on-line.

     The USPS web site is enormous, but relatively easy to navigate. I found the page quickly, and filled out the form. I clicked finish and the damn thing asked for  a one dollar transaction fee. Hmmm, they never ask for that in the PO. I thought a computer was supposed to improve productivity, and reduce costs. Each name cost me another buck on the credit card. I saved the transactions, and went about packing.

     The result of the new on-line system is totally unsatisfactory. Here is what happened:

  1. The mail continued to come to my old address for one week beyond the asked for shut off date.
  2. It’s been eleven days since I left home, and fourteen days since I filed my on-line change, and the mail is still not coming.

     If this on-line system were implemented in the private sector it would have worked like a charm.  The USPS has some of the most sophisticated automation systems in the world. It knows about computers, they have used them for years. So why can’t they get something as simple as changing an address? They did okay when it was a paper system.

   The supporters of big Government argue that the USPS is not a government run service. Why then, does Congress have to approve every move the USPS tries to implement? If they want to change the price of a stamp, it takes a congressional approval. If they try to change work rules to get concessions from the union, it takes a congressional approval, and Congressmen don’t like upsetting unions.

     Imagine a Public Option Health Care System that works like the USPS. I see a nightmare. I see a dollar charge for every on-line appointment I make with a doctor. I see a major delay in getting satisfaction because of the inability of the bureaucrats to run anything. I see the administrators going to Congress to beg for money to continue the job. I see the American people being taxed to death to pay for a system that gives nothing in return but health improving stress.

What do you see?

We May Indeed Be Nuts!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

I am almost over the election. I haven’t blogged because the need to do so dried up when BO won. This week, however, I have to speak my piece on the latest of Uncle Sam’s idiotic moves. Why do we want to bail out GM? This car company has consistently thrown poor quality, and reliability at us in the name of “Made in the USA.” The same goes for the UAW. I tried my best to hold out by buying American for many years. I owned an Oldsmobile Intrigue for eight years. It was without a doubt, the best GM car I ever owned. I bragged about it’s reliability and performance. I tried in vane to get my kids to buy “American.” No amount of reason or guilt worked. Two of my kids  don’t even know that there are cars made in America that are not Honda or Toyota. They grew up on Honda, and Toyota. They are brand faithful. At the same time I was bragging about my Intrigue with 110,000 miles on it, my daughter bragged about her Honda with 180,000. All she ever did was change oil, and put brakes, tires and gas in it.  At 111,000 miles my Intrigue crapped out. It leaked fluid into the cyclinders and locked the engine tight. After I spent $1800 to replace a leaking intake manifold, I learned on the I-net that GM cars are notorious for this failure. They have had the problem for years, but have never taken any steps to fix it. 

The US car companies, management and the UAW, have let the Japs take them down. Now GM wants the tax payer to bail them out. The argument is that if they are allowed to go bankrupt, many thousands of jobs will be lost, thus fueling the recession.

The truth is that filing for bankruptcy will not be a loss of jobs. They can go on making crappy cars as is their usual business. The difference is that they won’t get any “free money,” from the taxpayer.

A few years ago, GM divested itself of a division called Delphi. Delphi makes electrical systems for GM and other car companies. GM gave Delphi as much pension debt as they could. Eventually, Delphi filed for chapter eleven. They couldn’t make a profit with all the baggage GM dumped on them. I know, because I am a stockholder. Want to know what happens to the stockholder when a company files for bankruptcy? The old shares become worthless, meaning the stockholder loses his investment. GM didn’t give a hoot about losing Delphi, it became Delphi’s problem.  Even though Delphi filed for bankruptcy, it has continued to operate for several years. They keep on shipping orders. They even entertained the purchase of another electronics company. How can a business that is in bankruptcy buy another company?

What GM is afraid of is all it’s incompetent managers losing their options and bonuses paid in stock.

The capitalistic system rewards companies that can design, make, and sell useful products that buyers want. GM does not do any of these things. They design cars that have a shorter life than their competitors, their designs are ugly, and they are made by the most unproductive union in the world, i.e. the UAW.

If we reward GM and the UAW with a government bailout, we are indeed nuts. Let the system work, we’ll all be better off for it. We won’t have to worry about BO turning the country socialist. WE will hand a socialist government to him on a silver platter.

He Has A Lot To Learn

Multi-tasking is not the modus operandi of a true leader. Multi-tasking is the result of a lack of focus. True leaders identify the problems facing their organization. They assess the problems to determine which ones have the greatest impact on the company. They prioritize using the 80/20 rule, i.e. eighty percent of the benefit comes from twenty percent of the effort. Once they know which problem is the correct one to solve first, they attack it with a vengeance. It is clear to me that BO has never had any real experience in a business situation where a solution to the number one problem will make the difference between success and failure. Had he taken the most elementary course in productivity, he would know that the principle is simple.  Define your problems, prioritize, keep your desk clear, and then attack the most important project with a vengeance. Why a clear desk? Clutter will cause one to lose focus from the task at hand. Everywhere the eyes turn they see another task to perform, and the mind takes you there. It is proven that the conscious mind can only concentrate on one task at a time. So the very concept of multi-tasking implies a mind that is skipping from project to project rapidly. The gurus of human potential tell us to clear the mind of all extraneous thought in order to concentrate on one task at a time. By concentrating on one project at a time with focus, there is a gain in productivity.

BO’s sophomoric remark about a president having to multi-task was rather naive. There is a difference between talking on the phone while driving, and working on a number of projects. Presidents do have huge numbers of problems before them, but I can’t imagine the president sitting on the pot, signing bills, and talking to a world leader all at the same time. It is proven that the conscious mind can only work on one thing at a time. Multi-taskers kid themselves into believing that performing many disconnected tasks during slack times is productive. Yes, we all have many things on our plates, and sometimes we all read e-mails while we talk on the phone, but is that the same as brainstorming solutions to a crisis such as the sub-prime mortgage bailout, and preparation for a debate? I hardly believe that a president will try to squeeze a phone call to the Kremlin into a bill signing ceremony. Each task requires concentration. Yes, the president is required to squeeze many activities into his schedule, but multi-tasking would seem to be the behavior of a person unfocused on the important.

Had BO learned the most basic rule of human potential, he would have learned that the key to effectiveness is focus on the correct things. BO prioritized, and chose his preparation for a presidential debate as the most important project on his plate. Senator John McCain prioritized and chose to “save” his country as his most important mission. In doing so, John McCain exhibited the traits of a proven leader. BO proved that he has a lot to learn.

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