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...