Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Common Ground With Liberals?

This topic has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks, and I finally had time to write it up.

In many respects, I can understand the Liberal mindset on issues. They have the same concerns that I have, even though I do not agree with their methods on how to accomplish the stated goal. For example...

The stated Liberal concern for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is their safety. I too am concerned for the men and women of our armed services, and do not want them to be killed or wounded. Our reasoning on how that may best be accomplished and whether Iraq is a lost cause or not differ (and I have written numerous posts on this subject), but we do agree that the sons & daughters of Americans need to be protected.

Let's next take a look at the educational system. Liberals want our children to be protected from bullying and harm. At the same time, our children need to be endowed with high self-esteem. While I agree with the need for zero tolerance for violence policies and our children needing high self-esteem, we differ on the methods. Where I believe that responsibility for actions and accomplishment lead to high self-esteem and social responsibility, the Liberals want to give unearned praise as the way for establishing this feeling and social attitude (I know, because I've seen it firsthand in my son's school). But again, we do agree that our sons & daughters should have the best school experience possible in as safe an environment as we can give them.

One of the most important topics that we agree on is our children's safety. Expanding on the above, we want our children to be safe no matter where they may be – in school, at the mall, driving a car, at a party, etc. As such, sometimes ridiculous policies are placed in the schools for their safety. One such example is the removal of pop machines from school property. I would much rather that the children take responsibility for their actions rather than the Liberal tactic of making excuses for their actions and removing the pop machines. While I do think that removing the machines was a good thing, it's the principle of the matter. But regardless of this Liberal victim mentality, we agree that the health and well being of our children is important.

We also agree that children need to be raised in a responsible manner. After all, a prominent Liberal wrote a book on how it takes a village to raise a child. I personally think it takes two committed and loving parents (man & wife) to do the job correctly. But again, raising children is important – after all, they are our flesh and blood.

Last is the issue of Global Warming. Liberals, by & large, state that man is creating the Global Warming situation. I do agree that the data shows that the Earth is on a warming trend, but I do not agree that it is man-made or if mankind is influencing this trend. Depending on which “expert” and model is being looked at, mankind’s activities are having no effect, some effect, or a huge impact upon the Earth’s weather. Some years ago, the scientists were concerned that the Earth was cooling down, and that a new ice age was just around the corner. Now these same scientists are concerned that the Earth will turn into the next Venus. But regardless of how you look at the data and which side of the issue you are, the main concern is that we both want to leave an Earth for our children and grandchildren to live in and enjoy.

I think that I've established some common ground on how important children are to both Liberals and Conservatives. They need to be nurtured and protected from the ills of the world until they are ready to take their place in it. They are to be given the best possible chance to succeed in life, to be happy and productive in whatever career they may choose. Which leads me to one question:

If children are so precious that they must be protected against all harm, real and imagined, then why, why, do you support, in any of its grotesque & horrific forms, the abortion of innocent unborn children?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Light Posting

The posting will be very light for the next couple of weeks.  We are trying to get the son set up for assisted living before the end of the school year & graduation.  So all the paperwork needs to be filled out in advance & approved beforehand.

It's also difficult to visit everyone on the blogroll list.  I will try to pop in every now & then to everyone's blog & try to leave some rational comments.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chrysler for Sale?

The buzz around Detroit these days is that DaimlerChrysler (DCx) is putting the Chrysler Division up for sale, and that GM is interested. The rumor also includes the juicy teasers that Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai are also looking at buying the automaker. I personally don’t think any of this is going to fly.

But what if GM really does want to buy Chrysler? What would they want out of the deal?

Well, the Jeep brand-name for one. That was one of the reasons that Chrysler bought AMC way back when. But that would directly compete against the Hummer series (especially the H3). Sure, Jeep has brand-name recognition, but GM has spent millions in promoting the Hummer as a superior vehicle. I can’t see GM throwing away that much money, but then again, they’ve thrown away more on stupid projects that never saw the light of day.

Another thought would be Chrysler’s minivan market share, but it’s hard to believe that GM couldn’t drop enough money into the pot to come up with a minivan that would beat all comers. They just haven’t done this because there just isn’t enough justification for the investment.

The last thought would be the design. Chrysler’s designs are breathtaking, definitely different than what Ford or GM currently has. But if GM wants the designers, they can hire them away from Chrysler with a lot less money than what it would take to buy the company (rumored to be $5 Billion before liabilities).

On the downside is that GM is closing plants left and right. Chrysler’s recently announced restructuring plan is accelerating the cuts already planned. And if the two do merge, thousands from both companies will be out of jobs. And I guarantee that would not be good for either company – whatever brand loyalty there may be could evaporate in the wind, and investigations by the government and others would be intense.

No, I just cannot see GM buying Chrysler – just too much flak if the deal goes through. Could you imagine the amount of fallout from the Union, government, and employees of both companies? Not worth the risk, in my opinion.

What about the other companies? Let’s take a look at a couple of these companies.

Toyota has enough spare cash lying around to buy both Ford and GM, and then drive Chrysler out of business through sheer marketing. But they don’t want to buy any American plants or companies. They are doing just fine on their own without having to deal with the legacy costs of these companies, not to mention dealing with the Unions. They’re firing on all cylinders – why muck things up now?

Nissan recently tried an alliance with GM. Things fell apart, and Nissan is probably more interested in solidifying their positions in the various markets rather than stir things up.

Hyundai is an interesting company. They may want to buy Chrysler to help break deeper into the US market. But again, there are those legacy costs, and they may not have deep enough pockets to put up the money. I seem to remember that some years ago, Hyundai was nearly bankrupt, but my memory has faded somewhat.

So what’s left? Besides the above rumor & speculation, there is a theory that this is a ploy by person or persons unknown to jack up the stock prices of both GM and DCx (and if this is truly the case, then the SEC has cause to jump in and nail a few people). But there is just one more final thought.

The contract with the Union is up this year for Ford, GM, and DCx. What if this is just a ploy to get DCx’s Union to concede items at the bargaining table? DCx earlier tried to strong-arm the UAW to reduce health care benefits to the level that was conceded to Ford & GM. But since DCx was fairly profitable at the time (and paid the executives pretty healthy bonuses), that request was promptly rejected. So now the semi-subtle hint is now out there that if the UAW doesn’t play ball on DCx management’s terms, Chrysler will be sold to the highest bidder (and let the bloodletting begin).

Well, that’s my take on this rumor. It will be most interesting to see what transpires in the next couple of months.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Non-Binding Resolution?

Earlier today, in a rare Saturday session, the Senate narrowly defeated a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's troop surge to Iraq.  Does anyone think that this is anything other than political posturing?

This whole episode is most unsettling.  We all want our troops to come home.  What we differ on is the method and timing.  Do we want our troops to come home with heads held high and the mission accomplished, or heads and tails between their legs in defeat?

What I would like to ask our "representatives" is this:  If our troops come home early, then what happens to the Iraqi people?

Consider the words of a famous Democrat:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. - John F. Kennedy

Should the troops leave early, I believe that Iraq will descend into chaos, and opportunistic countries like Iran and Syria would either take over Iraq in whole or in part (most likely as a puppet government).  And what happens to the freedom so recently achieved to the Iraqi people?  Gone like the wind after a sandstorm.

Perhaps one of my personal favorite Presidents had something to say about this:

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. - Ronald Reagan

But where is the moral courage of our politicians? 

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten. - John F. Kennedy

How prophetic!  Indeed, our chosen leaders, by and large, do not have the "quality of courage" to do the right and moral thing - see this war through to the end that needs to be done.  But then again,

Politics I supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first. - Ronald Reagan

I don't make it any secret that I have low opinions of our politicians.  Power politics at the expense of what is right, moral, and beneficial to this country's well-being is despicable.  There's more than one post on this particular subject.  And that is exactly what today's vote was.

Of a larger concern is where the Democrats (and some of their Republican sympathizers) along with the Liberal Moonbat media will treat the radical Islamic death-seeking terrorists (including al Qaeda).  Talking will not solve this problem - action will.  The choice of action or inaction will decide the future of this country and its citizens.

I'll leave you with two more quotes:

It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war. - John F. Kennedy


You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. - Ronald Reagan

Friday, February 16, 2007

When Will the Layoffs Stop?

This past week (February 14th), DaimlerChrysler announced that 13,000 employees would be cut from the company’s payroll, and plants will cut back on shifts while closing a plant in 2009. The timing of the announcement strangely coincided with the following historical item:

The announcement was the latest in a series of automotive related companies cutting their workforces since 2001. DaimlerChrysler, GM, Ford, Dana, Visteon, and Delphi (to name a few) have all let employees go as part of a restructuring plan. And quite frankly, I don’t think that the layoffs are done yet. If it’s like any of the other industries that have gone through this before, then we’re in deep trouble.

I remember the steel, airline, and machine-tool industries of old – strong and vibrant, second to none in their capacities and services. Where are they now? Gone, or in deep financial trouble if they are still around. These same industries went down the path of downsizing, layoffs, and restructuring when they ran into problems. And look where they ended up.

I could, at this point, go on a rant about globalization, unfair trade practices by other countries, and the unresponsiveness of the domestic companies to their customers. I could also comment on the lack of responsiveness of our elected officials to the plight of companies based in the United States, compare free trade vs. fair trade agreements, and mention the anti-American business commentaries of the various news outlets. These are the realities of business in this day and age. But the real casualties of this reality are the American workers.

The American worker (and I’m talking about both blue and white collar, Union and non-Union) has gone from being a valued and essential part of a company to a commodity that can be bought & sold at will. And it doesn’t matter if you are a highly trained professional or a line-worker – you are all expendable if the bottom line isn’t where it should be and the executives need a quick-financial fix. There are no guarantees.

In other words, everyone as well as everything is a commodity, ready to be bought, sold, or disposed of as need be. Loyalty of the company to the employee and the employee to the company is now a thing of the past. And that is a very uncomfortable feeling for those of us that are still employed.

It’s even worse for the folks that have lost their jobs. Finding another job is a major problem because of all the other people looking for a job at the same time. Here in Michigan, finding another job is an ordeal because of the number of people that are out of work and looking. For example, it took my wife 8 months to find a job after she was let go just because of the employment situation. Most people either give up or move to another state to find a position, and often it’s not a position that pays as well as the one they lost.

There are no easy solutions to people losing their jobs, nor are there easy answers for keeping the jobs we have. In many respects, we can just look on in dismay, plan for the worst, and hope for the best. And that is depressing.

What the future will bring is anyone’s guess. Will things get better or worse? When will the layoffs stop? I don’t have that magic crystal ball. Do you?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Michigan's 2% Service Tax

This past week, Governor Jennifer "Granola" Granholm, imported Canadian Democrat, announced that to get Michigan out of its budget deficit, a 2% tax on services would need to be imposed.  This is most likely to replace the small business tax that was removed this past year.

The problem is that this tax would still affect the small business owner.  Most small businesses provide services such as haircuts, snow removal, lawn care, and the like.  Since the economy is moving toward a "service-based" economy, this is particularly onerous.

One of the things about this whole affair that torques me off is that the State's finances were not disclosed until after the election.  Whether you are a Democrat or Republican is not the issue - we, the voters, were denied the information that might have helped up make a decision of whether or not our elected officials were effective or not.

The next thing that gets me going about this is the threat that if this doesn't pass the Legislature, state-funded services would be cut.  Road repair, police and fire services could be reduced.  What is this?  Blackmail?

This last really p****s me off!  Once again, the working stiff gets stiffed while our elected officials sit high, dry, and fat.  Here's my proposal to our governmental officials:

  1. Go through each department and cut out the waste.  Non-essential services and duplicate departments such as the Redundancy Department of Redundancy should get the ax if not reduced.
  2. Corruption must be uncovered and stopped. This costs taxpayers millions in falsely awarded contracts.  We all know this happens in various state construction jobs, so quit turning a blind eye to it.
  3. Michigan is one of the few states that provides 4 years of benefits to Welfare recipients.  Most only provide 2 years.  Let's get with the program - all those 2-year folks are heading to our state, and Joe Taxpayer doesn't want to support them anymore.
  4. Reduce your own healthcare benefits.  If you are truly representing the common man, then you should also feel some of his pain.  Look at what is happening to Ford, GM, and Chrysler employees, and maybe you'll understand.
  5. When was the last time your pay was cut?  In many corporations, if things get bad, the belt gets tightened, and salaries are frozen or reduced.  And underperforming staff was cut (we'll get you in the next election...)

Maybe I'm being simplistic about all of this.  Maybe I'm not.  But I definitely called it when I stated that if the Democrats were (re-)elected, there would be new taxes.  And here in the State of Michigan, that's exactly what is going to happen.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Who Is Special?

Before going on with this post, I would like to assure all of the readers of this post that I am not a racist, a bigot, and nor do I believe that any one race is superior to another. People are people, and how they conduct themselves is a reflection upon themselves, not about the color of their skin. Whether or not they want to make an issue of skin color, I leave that to the well-established organizations that have a history of such actions & views. Any comments alluding to the contrary will be subject to the Blog Comment Policy posted at the right.

As many of you know, February is Black History Month. This means that my work is now plastered with placards, posters, and art celebrating the ethnicity of Americans of African descent. I personally do not have a problem with this – everyone should be able to relate to and celebrate their heritage.

Other months and weeks celebrate Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnicity, and also have their own posters, art, and whatnot showing the rich culture that these groups have. And yes, there is a Gay, Lesbian, and Trans-gendered display for that community that gets put up once a year. But there is nothing celebrating the White, Caucasian, or European stock that populate this country.

Why is it that only certain groups get their days in the sun while a certain group does not? Now while I admit to being of mixed-Irish decent, St. Patrick's Day just doesn't cut it in my humble opinion. One day of revelry (?) does not make up for a month of hoopla (and even then there are some accounts that the day has a negative connotation about the Irish, but I digress). But if I or others of my ethnic background make a fuss about this apparent inequality, we are promptly branded racist, hate-mongering bigots.

This is one of the reasons that I believe that diversity, as a whole and in practice, is a sham. If we truly want to celebrate a diverse culture, we would not single out one race or skin-color for omission nor raise one up above all others. And if one ethnic group points out the inequality, they shouldn’t be flamed for it.

From another angle on the same subject, I was listening to a local radio station, and there was a statement that Detroit was the most segregated city in the United States. There was a further announcement that there was going to be a symposium to discuss the issue (translation: problem). Is this really a problem or not?

I hate to state the obvious, but people of similar ethnic backgrounds tend to band together. There is this herding instinct, one that wants to have familiar or similar faces and backgrounds around us. Be honest with yourself – do you have more friends of a similar race to yourself, or from a different race? What is your real preference? Nothing to be ashamed of – that's just the way humans are.

But the problem is that there are people thinking that this is inherently wrong behavior. These pointy-headed social engineers (PHSE) believe that to think differently than their paradigm means that you are racist and a hate-monger. Sorry, Professor PHSE, that is a false assumption for your perception of perceived problem.

The fact of the matter is that you and I most likely have more friends of similar skin color than not. This doesn’t mean that we are racist or bigoted. In fact, I get along with just about everyone whether or not they are the same skin color as I am or not. But the PHSEs don’t like this, and lobbied for laws and regulations to force the issue.

I’m not talking about the civil rights acts that guarantee everyone a fair shot at jobs, housing, or education. Rather, the ones that I am thinking of are ones that state quotas (explicit or implicit) for the same subjects: jobs, housing, and education.

As an example, there is a regulation that states that each large corporation must award a certain percentage of business to minority-based or owned suppliers. To do otherwise would incur higher taxes or fines. These businesses know this, and typically charge higher rates for their services. Is this fair to a non-minority owned business?

Another example is Michigan’s Proposal 2 that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters last election. It stated in part:

Ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institutions affected by this proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.

And the courts are now battling the will of the people stating that this is unconstitutional! In effect, the courts are arguing that some places in these institutions should be reserved, i.e., a quota, for people that may not otherwise qualify or have the opportunity to attend school or get a job. Excuse me? Shouldn’t the best qualified people be hired for the job or an educational spot instead of a person that isn’t? Here would be my argument to the court:

Suppose that a person who does not have the ability or education is hired for the job of designing and building a highway bridge. They are contracted merely because the contract that needed to be filled was reserved for a person of that ethnic or social background. Would you want to be the first person to drive over that bridge after it’s completed?

Because of this argument, I have problems with quotas wrapped in the guise of affirmative action. Everyone should have an equal bite at the apple, but the deciding factor should be on the person's ability & merit, not race, gender, or social standing. Unfortunately, what has happened is not fair and is patronizing to those people that the affirmative action programs are supposedly helping.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post titled Equal Diversity. In it I wrote:

Government sponsored quotas & regulations will not change people’s attitudes toward diversity. All these will do is promote division, dissension, and resentment. I have noticed in recent years an increase of these attitudes. This is NOT what Martin Luther King had in mind.

His vision looked for the Negro people to stand side by side with the White people as equals, and to get there by self-sufficiency, not by a government mandate. He wanted his people to rise up to their potential, to stand on their own two feet, not by some law or subsidy. Patronage of the Negro was not his vision, but to join the human race as equals to any other ethnic group, to enjoy the fruits of hard labor through equal opportunity, and not through quotas.

So whether it is an ethnic holiday, applying for a job or education, or anything else, we should be color-blind, and so should our government, education, and employment institutions. It’s either all or nothing as far as I’m concerned – I’m fed up with the double-standards and favoritism. How about you?

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Minor Announcement...

We interrupt this blog to make a late-breaking (like next day) announcement:




We now return you to your irregularly scheduled blog...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Superbowl 2007 Prediction

The Superbowl contest between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears is just a little more than 24 hours away.  So...

The pundits have Indianapolis winning by 7 points.

The Common Sense Household want a close game with excellent and entertaining commercials.  At $2.3 Million per 30 second spot, they had better be good...

Oh yeah, the Common Sense Household have one more thing to say about who we are predicting who will win the Big Game:




Over & out...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Must Be Global Warming....

I lost a post that I was working on.  Poof!! Evaporated like a puddle in the middle of the desert.  And it was a good one too...

The wife (Mrs. Common Sense) wrecked her car.  Actually, someone did it for her - the moron was driving too fast and instead of slowing down to avoid an accident, took the front end off her car.  She is OK, mad, depressed, POed, get the picture.  Also her cell phone was a casualty of the accident, so it had to be replaced.

Since Global Warming is being blamed for so much, I think I can safely blame it for losing the post, my wife's accident, and not being able to post for a while between the two events...

Blasted eco-nuts...