Saturday, December 31, 2005

GM Diversity Decision

A federal court has upheld GM's decision to not allow Christians to organize in an employee group under its diversity program. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that GM's diversity program does not discriminate against Christians because it treats all religions equally.

The diversity program allows Hispanics, Blacks, Gays & Lesbians, and other groups to organize under its Affinity Groups program. The program's guidelines do not allow religious groups to organize.

OK, how about someone at GM wanting to organize an Anglo-Saxon group? Does anyone reading this blog think that would happen without someone from one of the "other" groups complaining or the Affinity Group management denying the application? Hah!

Or how about some Muslims wanting to organize under a Middle-Eastern group? Think they would be denied or disbanded if they started religious-oriented activities? I doubt it.

One of these days, I will need to write about whom diversity really serves, and what I have seen. There is so much BS and hypocrisy in this movement that is absolutely unreal.

Have a Happy & Safe New Year

This is my sincerest wish that everyone has a Happy New Year. Please be safe in your celebration - don't drink & drive, and arrange for a designated driver to take you home or get a cab. The consequences are just too great for not planning ahead.
Again -
Happy New Year

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Where Has Personal Responsibility Gone?

Had a long talk with my son the other night on personal responsibility. Without getting into the gory details, he was blaming many of his misdeeds on his mother (my ex) and the reasons for dropping the responsibility in her lap. It got me thinking again on where has personal responsibility really gone (besides to hell in a handbasket on the express train.)

Oh, there are so many places that I can point to as the culprit for this malaise!! So let us at least try to touch upon some of them.

Social engineering by the pointy heads is a good place to start. According to them, it's never the person that commits the crime or makes a mistake, it's always someone else that causes the person in question to screw up. Bad parents or no parents, growing up in a slum, drugs, peer pressure, etc... are the reasons that defense lawyers use to try to get their clients off (and sometimes they do!). And the shrinks support it and testify in court to that effect.

School is another place. No real consequences for misbehaving are meted out because corporal punishment is no longer used. "Time-outs", detentions, and suspensions are the rule now along with pacifying unruly students. And if the kid doesn't care, then the time off of school is welcome to them. I still remember the one single whack that the dean gave me for fighting, and I certainly didn't do it again (at least on school property!).

Uncaring parents, or absent parents. Yes, many of our families have both parents working, or the single parents have two jobs to make ends meet. To put it simply, there just isn't enough time or energy to spend with the child to raise them properly. And our society is now just beginning to realize that having a parent home with the children is better than daycare. For those parents who are able to juggle jobs and are able to raise good, decent children, I salute you!

Last on the list is that we do not have good examples of consequences of bad decisions. Slaps on the wrist for corporate misdeeds that leave people out of jobs and the decision makers with multimillion dollar bonuses. Killers that get off on technicalities. The ability to state that it wasn't my fault, it was the way I was raised / where I grew up / I didn't know any better / etc...

The real problem is that we, as a society, are hooked on the quick fix, and tend to blame someone else when things turn to shit. In our society, to take responsibility for actions is almost a character flaw if the actions turn out to be wrong. It's a career killer, and we look for someone or something else to blame for our screw-ups.

The bottom line is that we are responsible for our own actions, and we must weigh decisions with care, and accept the responsibility for those actions, right or wrong. I do, how about you?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, it's Merry Christmas to all those "people" who are offended by this greeting. If you are offended, then kindly go back to work and ignore all the gift-giving and other festivities with friends & family.

For the rest of us, I hope that you will find peace in this season of insane shopping and hectic last minute trips to the store for that perfect gift for that hard to shop special person in your life.

Again -

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligent Evolution

Now that Intelligent Design has been thrown out as a viable theory of the creation of life, then why does the Theory of Evolution hold the sole position of explaining why life is here on Earth?

Evolution is just a theory, and no one really knows if it is true or not. No one was around long enough to state absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is the way life was created and "evolved" to the present time.

Science, at best, is man's best guess on how the life, world, and universe came into being. Religion is also man's belief that there is some higher being in the universe that is responsible for life, the world, and the universe. Either one takes a certain amount of faith in what is true or what someone really wants to believe in.

So to be fair, why not pull evolution from the classrooms as well? If evolution or creationism cannot be proven to everyone's satisfaction, then neither one of them belong in a textbook or the classroom (at least public ones).

By the way, here's where I stand on the Big Bang Theory - God spoke, and BANG!!! The universe was created...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nativity Scene or Grinch?

Tis the season in which Nativity displays and the inevitable hoopla over where they can be displayed. Can they or can't they be displayed on the courthouse lawn, or other government property?

Let's take a look at what the First Amendment says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The historical reason behind the "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" was that the Church of England was the official government religious faith. Many of the immigrants to the colonies were escaping religious persecution since if you did not belong or believe in the same doctrine as the Church of England, you were subject to harassment at best or imprisonment at worst. Thus, the "Separation of Church & State" clause was written into the First Amendment to protect the religious freedom of the citizens of the United States from a government-sponsored religion such as the Church of England.

Note that this Amendment did not ban God from Government! If that were the case, then why is there the phrase "In God We Trust" on our money, sessions of Congress open with a prayer from the Chaplain, public officials such as judges & the President are sworn in on the Bible, and various government declarations refer to God? So where does a Nativity display on the courthouse lawn violate the Constitution?

In my humble, nonlegal mind, it does not! Congress did not make a law or establish any religion that someone must belong to. Nor does it ban the free expression of faith, even if it is on public property.

However, the Supreme Court ruling that removed such displays was the result of a legal suit that presented the argument that such a display violates the civil rights of a non-Christian (specifically, an Atheist) because the display was offensive to him and promoted a faith that he did not believe in. By the nativity scene being on public property, the government, by default, was promoting the Christian faith.

From an intellectual standpoint, I can understand the reasoning behind this argument. But I hate to break it to him, but there are a number of religious and anti-religious demonstrations and displays held on public property that offend me and I think violate my civil rights & could hold the same argument that was presented in his case! But does the government promote those views? No, it does not, and I don't call up my local ACLU chapter to file a lawsuit.

Here's where I think the rubber should meet the road: The local community should have the final say if a Nativity (or any other) scene should be on public property. There have been precedents for this on a number of local levels. And if someone has a problem, they are just going to have to suck it up with the rest of us.

After all, if a local community like San Francisco can pass an ordinance that removes my Second Amendment right to own a firearm, they can certainly pass an ordinance which would allow a Nativity scene on public property...

Friday, December 09, 2005

ACLU for Everyone?

Is the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) really protecting everyone's rights equally? I don't think so. For instance...

I heard on the radio today that the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding that a Muslim man be allowed to swear on the Koran prior to giving testimony in court. I don't know if this is true or not, but here's my problem with the whole concept.

For years, the ACLU is wanting to remove religious objects such as the Ten Commandments from our courthouses, and even to remove the swearing in of witnesses on the Bible in court. The Pledge of Alliegience is under assault. Prayer is gone from our public schools. They do not defend the rights of the ones without a voice (namely, unborn children). Now this apparent reversal in favor of a religion that was not present in this country when it was founded.

The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths all worship the same God that Abraham worshipped. Why is the Christian belief apparently being singled out by the ACLU? Perhaps they should change what the ACLU stands for to Anti-Christian Litigation Union.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

So A Frog Goes Into A Bank...

Just when you thought I only posted serious topics....
A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

"Miss Whack, I'd like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday."

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, "Sure. I have this," and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, "There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral."

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "I mean, what in the world is this?"

The bank manager looks back at her and says...

"It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

2nd Amendment

Gun Control - what it means differs from one group to another. For one group, it means regulating and/or banning the ownership of weapons (usually handguns). For another group, it means hitting what you're aiming at.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Why did the Framers of the Constitution include the Second Amendment? There were several reasons.

The first reason was that the War for Independence showed that a citizen army (the Militia) was important for the security of the country. Think about it for a second - a ragtag citizen army defeated one of the world's most powerful armies in the War for Independence. This Militia was the forerunner of the National Guard.

The second reason is that they recognized that a person had the right to defend their family, their property, and themselves. Criminals, Indians, and invading soldiers all sought to deprive the inhabitants of supplies, property, and sometimes their lives. It was a matter of survival. The Virginia Declaration of Rights (which predated the Bill of Rights and the Constitution) recognized that the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is an inherent right (VDoR, Section 1 summary).

The third reason is somewhat darker. Having gone through a rebellion, and recognizing that it may be necessary in the future that a strong and overbearing government may need to be overthrown by force, the Framers did not want to forbid this potential tool. Note that the Framers set up a government with Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches, but this government was serve the People. If the Government no longer served the People, then the People had the same right to rebel against the Government as the Colonials rebelled against England.

I need to stop here and note: I am NOT advocating an armed uprising! We are far from such an occurrence, & have many other tools available to us such as voting responsibly, writing & petitioning our elected officials, and the Constitutional right of free speech. The above is presented as historical reasons for the Second Amendment that I have learned over the years.

So where does that leave us 225+ years later? Our society does not have invading armies or Indian raiding parties to fight off, but we still have robbers, murderers, and various others who would wish us harm.

To the best of my knowledge, the right to defend my family or myself has not been abolished. And I would be a fool to think that the police would camp out on my doorstep to keep harm away. Where the ownership of a weapon, whether it would be a rifle, shotgun, or pistol became a debatable item is beyond me.

Yes, I understand that the normal, law-abiding citizen would not need a fully automatic machine gun. But why is there such a movement to remove or restrict the option of owning a firearm? You don't have to own a firearm, but don't you think it would be nice to have the power of deciding on your own if you want one or not?

According to the Second Amendment, that right is protected. The argument that if we, the law-abiding public, are forced to turn in our firearms, only the criminals will have firearms is absolutely true. Remember, criminals do not operate under the same social norms as the rest of society.

In talking to a friend from Canada, the problem of armed robbery and other gun-related offenses are on the rise. The same is true for Great Britain and other "enlightened" countries. These countries have outlawed firearm ownership by the citizens of the country.

Proponents of severely restricting or banning gun ownership point to the high rate of gun-related crimes in the United States. This is a fact that cannot be denied. My question to them is this: How can outlawing guns stop this type of crime? Again, criminals do not operate under the same social norms as the rest of society. They will always find ways to get a firearm and commit the crime because they do not obey the law, and will do almost anything to achieve their goal, i.e. illicit material gain or harm to another person. Disarming the law-abiding citizen, in my mind, will encourage the criminal to expand the list of potential crimes and victims. And this violates the intent of the Second Amendment.

Note: Owning a weapon carries responsibilities. Quite frankly, there are people who should not even be near one because they are not responsible or mentally mature enough. Owning a weapon does not mean you should be able to strap one on & go out and play policeman. This is where careful licensing through education and the demonstration of qualifications is necessary. Training classes are a must in many states for permits to carry or own firearms.

There are several communities such as San Francisco that have recently voted for the ban of private firearm ownership within the city limits. Will they have a run on criminal activity? Time will tell, and I'm happy I don't live in a politically correct "gun-free" zone. I want that option to defend my family. To not be able to legally have the option to defend them with a firearm is the real crime that everyone will overlook until it hits home.

Remember, guns don't kill people. It's people who use guns that kill people. A gun is an inanimate object just like a knife, hammer, or screwdriver. It's how it's used and the person using it that makes the difference. And that is called personal responsibility.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chinese Golden Parachutes

Lots of attention has been heaped on the "golden parachutes" that executives of failing or bankrupt companies receive. These people are doing such a bad job that the company that they are supposedly guiding lays off the workers or asks the Union (if the workers have one) for huge concessions, files bankruptcy, and they still line their pockets with millions of dollars in bonuses and other compensation. Is there something wrong here, or am I missing something?

The following story has been floating around for a number of years, and perhaps it's true. If so, then perhaps the executives that give themselves these huge bonuses while the company that they are supposedly managing falls apart around them should be happy they don't live in China...

As the story goes, there is a refrigerator plant in China that was producing defective refrigerators. The workers on the line told the managers that the refrigerators that they were making were bad because of the parts that were being supplied to build them and the directions of the managers to build them in a certain way. The managers responded that they were to make so many refrigerators a day, and that's what they were going to do, no matter what. So do what you're told.

This went on for several months, the factory cranking out one bad refrigerator after another. That is, until one day, a high-ranking Party official got one of those refrigerators. The next day, the Party official shows up with his escort and takes a tour of the factory. He asked & listened to the workers on the line, and ignored the managers until…the managers were escorted to the rice paddy behind the factory, lined up, and were shot by the Party official's escort (which included several soldiers of the official's bodyguard detail).

Instead of golden parachutes, these managers got the golden fertilizer award, and for once, the workers didn't get screwed over by management's bad decisions...

Sometimes, there is justice in the world, but who would have thought that it would come from a Communist country?

Unfortunately, in this country (and some others), the workers pay for the bad decisions by the company's management. Pensions gone, health care gone, jobs gone, just because some idiot makes the wrong decision for the company but a good one for him (i.e., money in the pocket). It's no wonder that the loyalty to companies is gone and everyone is in it for themselves. Examples of leadership fall through to the workers, and the examples they provide are anything but inspiring.

What is worse is that the legal system that we have for the handling of corporate cases is not protecting the promises and contracts that the companies make with their employees. "Whoops! We made a mistake! We need to cut your pension and health benefits so we can stay in business and get our bonuses!" The day that allowed pensions not to be fully funded was the day that set up the current situation. And that, readers, is no parachute for the people who work hard for a living and try to build up something for their families and themselves.

What is needed is for these executives to be forced to give up these "golden parachutes" and roll those funds back into the pensions of the people who really earned it - the employees who have literally given their lives to the company with the promise that there would be something at the end for them to live on when they retire. It's time to reward loyalty and punish excessive greed.

Ranting is over - signing off (for now).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

To Everyone: While we are snowbound and not able to visit our relatives, it gives our family a pause from the holiday rush to truly stop and give thanks for the blessings that make up our lives. May you have a chance to stop and reflect on what is really important in your life, and give thanks for those blessings. Tom

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Politician's Job

In case any of you didn't know, a typical politician's primary job is not to serve the people who elected him. His primary job is to get himself (or herself) elected or re-elected. Second job is to reward all those contributors that gave $$ to help him get elected. Third is to get as many perks & benefits as he can while he is in office. Last on the list is the common person like you & I.

What happens is that anything that the politician has promised, said they would do, or otherwise look into during the campaign is promptly forgotten, and we, as the stupid idiots that we are, forget right along with them. That is, until the next time re-election comes up... Then it's the "other party's" fault for putting up roadblocks, vetoes, filibusters, yadda, yadda, yadda as to why they couldn't fulfill their promises.

Does anyone remember from their civics class that our elected officials, as this country was officially founded, did not receive pay as their service was considered to be a civic responsibility and not, repeat, not a career? And now we have a bunch of career politicians that probably, for the most part, could not support themselves with a real job. It's reassuring that they just voted themselves a cost of living adjustment to offset inflation... Wouldn't want them to deprive themselves, even though they seem to snipe and pick and argue over the stupidest things.

I really think that a lot of these politicians are like little kids, always wanting to have their hand in the cookie jar and blaming someone else when they get caught. Personal responsibility seems to not be in the typical politician's dictionary. For instance....

How many times have you written your representative (it doesn't matter if it was local, state, or federal) and gotten back a very nice, official-looking form letter that states that your concern is of utmost importance to your representative, and that he (she) would take it under due consideration? I have several, and not one, repeat, not one has ever been acted upon, nor if I called the representative's office did anyone there know what the hell it was about!! The same has happened to several other friends as well.

How many billions of dollars went to the levees in Mississippi and Louisiana and they still did not hold? And who took responsibility? No one, until a scapegoat was found (who should not have been in the position that he was appointed to.) But the real people that should be held accountable will never be exposed for the immoral or criminal acts they committed.

How many politicians seem to be so inept or clueless that they just don't seem to be qualified to tie their own shoes much less run for public office? As examples, how about some famous quotes or situations like:

  • "I voted for the war before I voted against it!"
  • Where the Hell are those WMDs? They were here a few months ago!
  • Even though I had 3-days notice of the hurricane coming, I didn't have time to evacuate New Orleans...

Finally, who gives a rat's a** if major league baseball players have a steroid problem when there is a nominee to the Supreme Court to be confirmed? And the confirmation hearings are postponed while this "major problem to the country" is investigated to the hilt so that the politicians have some face time in front of the cameras to show that "they care". Where is the sense of priorities here? Certainly not with our elected officials...

That's all for now - no sense in getting the blood pressure any higher...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Insurance Rising

Got a statement from the mortgage company - they are raising the monthly payment on my mortgage by $70 to cover shortfalls in the escrow due to a rise in "taxes and insurance premiums." Taxes notwithstanding, the insurance rate rose more than what the taxes would normally do.

Why? Hurricane Katrina, of course. Insurance companies need to cover their losses somehow, so they raise our premiums. They are in it to make profits, but we pay for it (and how!).

Have you ever noticed that when someone else has a problem, you pay for it somehow?


Saturday, November 12, 2005


Globalization. World economy. NAFTA. CAFTA. Level playing field. Most favored trading status. All these buzzwords and phrases. What does this mean for the United States, and ultimately, you and your children?

Disaster, that's what it means!! What many people do not seem to understand is that the United States is in an economic war with the rest of the world, not a shooting one. We are in the middle of the bullseye, and our business leaders do not seem to care as long as they make a dollar or two for themselves and their shareholders. What's worse, our government doesn't seem to understand this concept. Here are a couple of examples.

Way back when Al Gore and Ross Perot were having a discussion (debate) on NAFTA. Al was trying to make the case for NAFTA by using the example of Valmont Electric moving their operations from Danville, Illinois to Mexico. He stated that Mexico's standard of living would eventually rise to meet that of the United States, and businesses like Valmont would stop moving to Mexico.

What an idealistic but flawed idea! As a matter of fact, it's a large load of BS. How many generations of American workers will be put out of work while this great social and economic experiment runs its course? Considering that the Mexican government sets ceilings on wages for the majority of jobs in Mexico, I would say just about the next couple of hundred years worth until all the jobs are gone from our country. As long as there is an advantage to businesses moving to Mexico or some other country to reduce their costs and maximize their profits, they will.

Second example is that there are numerous countries that subsidize their industries for economic and political reasons. France, Korea, and Japan are just a few of these countries. At the same time, they implement tariffs on US goods, and threaten economic war if the US tries to do the same on those countries products.

The problems that threaten our country's economy are many. There is not a global level-playing field as our politicians from both parties repeatedly state. Not when there are wage differences throughout the world as well as working and standard of living issues, and foreign countries protecting their own economies. Global economy is just another phrase that means that the country with the lowest (and probably worst working conditions) will get the jobs, which leaves the rest of us without jobs and no way to sustain ourselves.

What needs to be done is for our government, our duly elected officials, to put aside their political aspirations for greater power & control, get a spine, and fight fire with fire. Subsidize or create nationwide incentives for industry to grow. Raise or create tariffs on goods & services we import from other countries that are similar to what we produce domestically to equalize the values of the various products. To those people who cry "That's not fair! Those countries will raise tariffs on us & block our products from their markets!" I say, what's different from the present situation? We are on the losing end of the trading war with other countries. Would there be a tariff war? Most likely, but we should be able to use the same tools to protect our country, our citizens, and our economy as other countries use to protect themselves.

Is this protectionism? You bet! Look at Europe. They went to a common currency solely to compete with the United States and not each other. Going to the Euro standard equalized wages across all the countries of Europe, so they have the "level playing field" between themselves, and now have a larger market in which to compete with the rest of the world. Don't believe me? Do some research on your own & educate yourself.

Now I realize that the above is a very simplified solution. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an idea that needs to be considered by our politicians on both sides of the aisle. Otherwise, the jobs and economic wealth of this country will become eroded to the point that we will become a second- or third-rate country. And that is a sure bet…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blog's New Look

Hello All: Although some of the previous posts are a little dark, the blog design was even darker. I hope that the new look agrees with all my fans (all two of them). But still, please note that I haven't posted a whole lot, even though I went into this with the usual lofty expectations of posting stuff every day. Unfortunately, life comes on in and changes everything. As the old joke goes, "How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans." Let me know what you think about the previous posts, and email me if you want to take the discussions off-line. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rosa Park's Tribute

Rosa Parks had the reputation of being a kind, gentle, and humble soul. She was quiet and respectful of those around her. The celebration of her life at her funeral should have matched that personality.

Those people who decided to use this occasion as a forum to advance their political views were absolutely out of line. Instead of focusing on the life of this human being and the advancements of the cause sparked by her protest, they decided to advance their personal agenda. There is a time and place for these comments and statements, but this was the most inappropriate circumstance. It did not serve Ms. Park's memory and continued hope of unity.

To those persons who decided to advance themselves and their causes at the expense of this solemn occasion, shame be upon you.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reality TV

Thought it was time to rant about something that doesn't mean squat, but it kind of shows where we are headed: Reality TV

There is absolutely nothing real with Reality TV with maybe the exception of "The Donald's" and Martha's versions since there's a job at the end of the TV Hell. Survivor is scripted as well as Big Brother and the rest of the ilk. I guess what disturbs me about these shows is that in order to get ahead, you pretty well have to stab someone else in the back.

What a sad note to see that you have to step all over someone else to move up. True, that mirrors real life, but I don't really want to be entertained by it. Are we so desperate to have a better self-image that we want to watch someone else get shafted and say "HA HA!! Glad that wasn't me! I'd never do that!!"

Truth is that if most of us got stuck in some of the same situations that are depicted in these shows, we probably wouldn't fair much better. In fact, in most cases, if you were dropped in the middle of a jungle with nothing but a few items, you would be so much fertilizer in a matter of days. That is, unless you had taken a survivor course somewhere in your life, then you might last a couple of weeks...

But that's entertainment for you. Titillate or show how stupid someone else is, and TV has the majority of people watching their shows. How sad that we, as one of the greatest civilizations in history, are regressing to the moronic roots that we supposedly have overcome.

A great line from a movie that I've forgotten the title of sums it up nicely: "You can take the girl out of the trailer-park, but you can't take the trailer-park out of the girl." I'll leave it to you, the reader, to figure out the analogies.

Monday, October 31, 2005


There are many scary things in the world today, but there are good things too. But all of them deserve some thought. Some examples are:

Freedom really isn't free. As proven time & time again throughout history, it must be purchased in blood, sweat, tears, and anguish. We, as citizens of the United States, must always remember this. Our right to vote has been defended with the lives of several generations of our ancestors.

Freedom of speech is also not free, but must constantly be defended. This is despite what the "politically correct" defenders of speech would have us believe. Truth must be told, no matter how ugly it might be. Giving a watered down version of the truth will not get the message across, will lead to misunderstandings, and the point will be missed.

Points of law, no matter how inconvenient, must be followed. Justice must be blind. How a President and his wife (now a Senator) were able to avoid jail while they committed perjury is beyond me except for "connections." You or I would find ourselves incarcerated for doing the same thing, and don't anyone tell you it was the reason - the law is the law! Just because some people avoid justice doesn't mean that you will be able to. Obey the laws that we must follow, otherwise anarchy will follow.

A week from tomorrow will be Election Day. This is the chance that all citizens have a chance to have a voice. Elect the people of you conscience, not of your particular political party. Make a change, vote for those candidates that most model your particular beliefs. That's the first step on how to make yourself heard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Delphi Part 2

More details from a Delphi management memo to the UAW acquired by Bloomberg (click here for the article) sheds more light on how far this bankruptcy is going to go.

In short, it doesn't look good for anyone that works in the Union. In fact, it's downright depressing. Where this is going to go is anyone's guess.

If everything that is outlined in the Delphi management letter comes to pass, you can forget everything that Union protection has stood for: Fair wages, job protection, representation, pension, health benefits, etc. All that the Union has fought for 50+ years won't amount to a hill of beans (and those will go fast with all the starving retirees fighting for them).

Having been on both sides of the fence, first as a salaried employee and then as a BU employee, I have seen the erosion of benefits for both the working and retired. Every contract negotiation is an exercise in who loses the least. No one seems to come out ahead, although there are those that beg to differ.

Yes, business is bad in the auto industry. However, you have to make a product that sells, and not expect the public to buy any old thing you make. The Japanese have proven that time & time again. Union built or not, the decisions on what to build still have to be made. Decide wrong, and it's the worker that suffers.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What Delphi's Bankruptcy Ultimately Means to Your Future

Delphi Electronics entry into Chapter 11 marks yet another episode into the Book of Insanity. The news organizations have covered almost every aspect of the filing in excruciating detail. Everything from the proposed bonuses for the restructuring team, reducing the workforce wages by 65%, and cutting health care benefits for retired workers has been raked over the coals by the pundits ad nauseum.

But the most disturbing item (for me, at least) is the announcement that Delphi is considering asking for relief from their pension commitments. An article from the Wall Street Journal on October 10, 2005 reads, "We have not decided what we will do," with the Delphi pension plan, said Chairman and CEO Robert S. "Steve" Miller. "We want to try and create a company that accommodates our retirees without having [the pension plan] terminated and turned over" to the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., he said. The company plan is underfunded by as much as $4.3 billion.

I believe at this point in time, Delphi will follow many previous companies (the latest in my mind being United Airlines) in dumping their pension fund onto the government (should read Joe Taxpayer). This would happen (and I predict it will) if General Motors begs off on their promise to guarantee the pensions and benefits of Delphi workers when it spun the company off in 1999.

What this ultimately means to Delphi employees is that all present and future pensions (except for the company officers) will either not be honored or honored at a vastly reduced rate. Add to the mess the fact that the government PBGC's funds are expected to run out of funds in a few years due to a flurry of corporate pension defaults, the question demands to be asked: What does that mean for the rest of us?

It means that we, as a society, cannot rely on any one source of outside income in our senior years. Companies cannot be trusted to adequately fund their pensions, and that promise can evaporate in the stroke of a judge's pen. The stock market is far from a sure thing, and I have seen banks and credit unions close their doors with the accounts being settled for pennies on the dollar.

Additionally, new hires into my company are being told that they will not receive a pension, and that their retirement will consist solely on what they contribute to a 401K savings program. (Personally, I'm just waiting for something to happen to the mutual funds that many of us have our 401K savings in - some bright idiot will figure out that there are billions of dollars just waiting for the government to grab & used in some useless endeavor such as research into the origin of navel lint. Fortunately, the AARP is out there & does carry some serious clout, so 401Ks might actually survive.)

So how about the government taking care of your retirement? Are you nuts? How many of you bought into the fairy tale that the government would take care of us? The government can't take care of itself, so how is it going to take care of you? Medicaid and Medicare are going broke, and every fix usually involves a tax increase that would kill the economy. The government would like you to pay taxes for all of your working life then die immediately on retirement so they can tax your estate too.

If government were run like a traditional company, they would have been out of business a long, long time ago. It's almost enough to invest in a couple gross (that's 144 times 2 for the math impaired) of the old Mason jars & bury your savings in the back yard with the biggest, meanest dog you can find taking up residence in the doghouse on top of the Mason jars. That & barter for everything you need...

What's the answer? Anything to get the government out of my pocket would be a good start. Let me invest the funds they take out of my paycheck for the Social Security I'll never get and fund my retirement as I desire, whether it's the stock market, mutual funds, or the Bank of Mason Jar LLC. The proceeds from these investments would be tax-exempt for all time since I've already paid tax on the income that I used to fund the investments and I'll be just fine (of course, I would need to show the records to Uncle Sam and Aunt Irs to prove that it's all legal & slated for retirement).

Unfortunately, not everyone will do this as it will either be their choice or beyond their capability not to save anything. And of course, there will be the government to bail their sorry butts out of it. But that's another post for a later time...

Bottom line - Delphi's bankruptcy, among many others, is a foreshadowing of things to come from the business side. The government has already proven what kind of money manager they are. So be prepared, or be sorry.

"No one plans to fail; they just fail to plan."

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Welcome to Tom's Common Sense, where I hope to at least post some of the thoughts that I have concerning the world around us. Will it be biased? What do you think?

Sooner or later, I'm going to hit a hot-button of a topic, something that's going to p*** someone off. To which I say - TOUGH!! Get your own forum & shout your message to the masses until your head explodes or your fingers (if your typing) fall off. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong or right it may be. Just don't even think about strong arming your opinion on me without some intelligent discussion.

Regardless of the above statements, I will attempt to take the "common sense" approach to the subjects that are posted at this blog. The political lockstep that seems to be perpetuated throughout the media and the political correctness that is so prevalent in our lives will NOT be observed. Face it folks - if it walks, talks, and looks like a duck, it will be called a duck instead of a web-footed migratory fowl. So leave the BS at home, sit back, and enjoy the ride...