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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why Abomnicare Will Shut Down Economy, Regardless

          The Abomnicare Government Shutdown

      Everybody is worried about the Congress shutting down the government over repealing Abomnicare.  If that is the case you can’t see the forest for the trees.  The government is going to get shut down either way.  This is not rocket science.  Most of the Abomnicare insurance plans cost between 14% and 22% of a person’s income.  When you remove that much money from greasing the wheels that make America function things are going to start binding up.

      The economy is struggling at best to keep going.  The numbers are sometimes fair, but never great.  The average American is barely surviving and paying his bills as it is.  When you take that much money out of his budget the impact will be devastating.  It may take a few months to see the full impact, but it is a hard reality.
When you do not have enough to get by something has to go.  Many will have to make a choice between eating and paying the mortgage.  As I have said in past posts, people will chose to eat.

        The only thing holding the economy up is the direct deposits from people’s retirement and 401k plans.  When the Abomnicare money starts coming out of their budgets.  Those plans will start slowing down.  The market is not growing because of investments by business.  It is a balloon getting pumped up by retirement funds.  If the economy does slow down we will see how robust the stock market is.  It will make 2008 look like nothing.

       I am not going to rant and rave on my blog or waste a lot of time on this issue.  I just can’t believe that the big investment companies have not been backing off knowing it is coming.  Or maybe they are not smart enough to see it.  I have a post called “The Ripple and Gravity Theory of Economics” It applies in this case.  When big money or new inventions are thrown into the economic pool ripples are formed.  Sooner or later things will settle down.  It may be at a slightly higher level or it may be at the same level.  When you pull the plug(take money out of the economy) there is a different effect.  The economy will go down the hole gets plugged.  That is the simple “Ripple and Gravity Theory of Economics” by Ric Ryan.  It works and it explains all the financial turmoil for the last couple hundred years.  As I love to say, It ain’t Rocket Scienc

        Obama may get his healthcare plan, but American economy will get pu a full scale collapse. I am not smart but when you take some of my money a  do not have enough to get by as it is.  Something has to give.  This is probably the shortest post I have done in ages, but I had to vent, not that it is going to do     any good other than maybe a few people will be apple to tighten their belts and   ride it out till things settle down again

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do Gifts of the Spirit Still Exist?

             Do Gifts of the Spirit Still Exist?

       If you travel much and attend many different churches you will quickly find that most churches are divided into two camps when it comes to the issue of gifts of the spirit.  That is sad because the Bible makes clear that if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  Many people take a statement and or a few key words from a statement and say it means one thing.  The truth is if you read the whole statement it often may mean the exact opposite.

       Satan has used our lack of understanding God’s Word to divide churches and to keep many people in bondage.  Much suffering could have been averted if people simply believed what the Bible says.  I have one set rule when I read the Bible if Jesus said it, it has to be true.  If I interpret it any other way I am going against the Word of God. 

      So what did Jesus have to say on the matter.  John 14:12 says,“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

      Why don’t we see healing in this day and age?  Well if you use the Bible it makes clear that Jesus marveled at two things belief and unbelief.  In Mark 6 it talks about Jesus going to his hometown.  It says even he could not do any great work there because of their doubt and unbelief.  He was still able to do some healings of the sick though.  It says he marveled at their unbelief.  There was another time the Bible says Jesus marveled.  It was in Matthew 8 and is found in the story of the centurion.  Jesus offered to go to the home of the centurion and heal his servant and the centurion said there is no need to go. If you say it, it is done.  It says Jesus marveled at his belief.  The Centurion had unquestioning belief that Jesus was able to do whatever  he said.

       Today’s Christians are somewhere between the two extremes.  It is because we listen to men’s interpretations of the Bible instead of what Jesus and the Bible actually say about the matter.   Many use 1st Corinthians 13:8-9 to support the view that the gifts ceased with the last apostle.  If they read verse 10-12 however they will come to an entirely different view.  Those final verses say, “when that which is perfect is come.”  Well what is perfect?  Christ is the perfect thing that shall come and as he had already been here, it is clear it is speaking of when he returns.  Verse twelve verifies that point of view.  It says when we are face to face we shall understand clearly. We will not be face to face till Christ returns in glory.

     It does say charity will never cease.  Why will it not cease? Because those are attitudes and actions we will share with each other even in heaven.  Do we have a full measure of charity toward others?  Are there people in your life you have issues with?   Read Matthew 6:15 and you will understand why you can’t receive the healing you need.  It may have nothing to do with you or your attitude, but the attitudes of those you share your faith with.

      We all have a terminal illness.  It is called life. Sooner or later we all die.  Jesus healed many people but they are not still walking around waiting for him to come back.  The purpose of Jesus healings was to show the power and glory of God and so they could see who he was.  It was not a feel good exercise to get people to follow him. He healed because of the people’s faith.  Their faith that he could stop their suffering or the suffering of those they loved.  The story in Luke 5 tells about an man’s friends lowering him down through the roof to be healed.  It says nothing about that particular man’s faith.  It talks about the faith of those who bought him to be healed.

      Mark 5 relates another story of healing.  Jesus goes to a ruler of the synagogue’s home and heals his daughter.  When he gets there some people mock him and tell him he is wasting his time.  He takes Peter and the brothers John and James with the parents and enters the girl’s room to heal her.  He first kicks out all the other people though.  I can’t prove what I am about to say, but I believe it.  He removed any doubt and unbelief from the room so he would have his full power to heal.  I base that on what happened in his hometown.

      If we are sick and we are not healed.  It is not because we lack the faith to be healed.  God can heal anyone at any moment, but it will be for his reasons and purposes not ours.   The Bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  Sickness fall’s the same as the rain.  It is in and part of this world.  We are not exempt because we are Christians.  We do have the hope that when we are resurrected it will be to a more perfect body.  We will no longer have to fear the ravages of life we will have entered a more perfect state of being.

In closing remember a few things Jesus said , If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believes

Mark 16:15-18
5And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Luke 8:48
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

John 17:20-21
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me

       Jesus said nothing about those that come after having a lesser gift.  John 17:20 makes clear that Jesus prayed for us who would come later.  So what and how you believe is up to you.  You can believe to receive.  Or you can believe you received a lesser gift than those that came before us.  It is our choice.  One key is coming to a true and clear meaning of what charity really means.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Read The Whole Bible

                              Mark My Word

       For many of us reading the Bible from cover to cover is almost as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest.  It took me many attempts to figure out how to do it.  When I finally did succeed it was because I finally learned to read the Bible literally.  By that I mean take what it says literally.  It says what it means and means what it says.  Getting over that hurdle took looking at the challenge from a new way.  It took a completely new perspective of why and how to go about the task. 

     Jesus said to them,” I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” How do you eat bread?  Certainly not the whole loaf at once, but one bite at a time.  Jesus did not sit his disciples down and teach them the whole Bible in one sitting.  He broke it into bite size pieces and gave them a little here and a little there.  Then he gave them examples so they could understand what he was saying. Suddenly I realized I needed to find a way to break the Bible into manageable bite sized pieces.

       The big question I really needed to answer was why did I want to read the Bible from cover to cover? Just so I could say I had done it.  So I would be a complete Christian.  So I would know what God expected of me.  None of those were the reason I wanted to read the Bible.  I wanted to “Know God.”  I wanted to do it through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  Once I understood that simple point things got easier.  I just needed pray about the matter.  Why did I need to pray about it?  That is what Jesus did when he faced a situation.  So that must be a key to the problem.

     When I came to that revelation I happened to be reading in the book of James.  In the fourth chapter it makes clear. ”You have not, because you ask not.” The last verse of that chapter convinced me I might be onto something.  I took the matter to the Lord in prayer.  I told him I knew I needed to know His Word, but how could I do that.  I admitted my failure.  It was shortly later I found part of the answer in Jeremiah.  It says, “Mark my word.”  I took that literally and started marking every verse in my Bible that I thought was important. 

       Once I got over the hurdle of “Marking His Word.”  I still had a problem.  How could I recall all those verses or make a reference to find them quickly?  I started using the blank pages in the front and back of the Bible to put down the chapter and verse with a few words to help me recall the verse.  Here is one thing that I will offer as advice that I did not do.  I just started writing in whatever order I found the verse. There was no order.  I had Old and New Testament all tossed together.  Many verses were written down several times.  It may help a person to put the Old Testament info in the front and the New Testament info in the back.  I finally started using light colored paper like kids use for crafts in school.  I folded them in half and they fit neatly in the front and back of my Bible. That helped some as I did not have to flip constantly back and forth.

                       Jeremiah 23:17-22  Especially verse 18

      Even with all this I was still having problems making it work.  I had just gone through a Jonah time in my life and one of the resolutions I made was to tithe my time to the Lord as I did not have a job.  That meant spending two and one half hours a day studying the Bible.  It was easy to do when I did not have a job.  It got much harder when I got a job.  I kept it up for a few years and then I started just tithing money.  In retrospect I think I acquired and grew much more when I was spending time with the Lord.  Slowly, as I am now retired, I am trying to transition my life back to the way it was.

       One of those things I did back then was trying to help others grow in their understanding of the Lord.  I used to make book markers and give them to people.  That is how I finally read the whole Bible.  I made a marker that marked six places in the Bible.  One marker was for each day of the week. They were held together with a little plastic cross. You could use a bead, or any little thing that has a hole in it for the ribbons. You also need one little bead. Sundays I would read wherever I felt moved to read or use the marker that was part of the Bible. The other days of the week I read at any marker I wanted to.  When one marker came to the end of the Bible I moved it back to the front.  When a marker caught up with another marker I moved the one that caught up back to the start.  I left the one in place and it kept moving till it caught up or came to the end.  Eventually they will all come to the end and start over.

      I basically broke the Bible into three parts. The first two went in the front.  One was at Genesis.  The second was at the book of Judges.  The next two covered from Ezra and the second one was at Isaiah.  The third set went in the New Testament. One marker was at Matthew and one was at Timothy.  You can put them anywhere you want.  Basically my way of dividing the Bible goes like this.  I only have six markers and eight parts so I already have a problem.  I could add one more ribbon which would solve the problem.  In fact I have or plan to make some with multiple ribbons.  You can make one with a ribbon for each member of the family in their favorite colors.  They can also be used for marking favorite verses or ones you use to witness.

      The ones I make and share with others are almost all Red, Yellow and Blue.
I look at the red and think of the Blood of Christ.  The Yellow is for the Glory of God and His Wisdom and finally the Blue represents the cleaning water of Baptism.  Those colors remind me of those things.  You can use any colors you want when you make yours.
1. The Pentateuch or the Books of Moses. I usually put Joshua in this part also

2. The Historical Books which run from Judges to Esther

3. The Books of Wisdom from Job to the Song of Solomon

4. The Major Prophets Isaiah to Daniel

5. The Minor Prophets from Hosea to Malachi

6.  The Apostles Matthew to Acts

7.  The Books of Paul Romans to Hebrews

8.  The Books of the Apostles Messages of James to Revelation

    There is no importance to any of the sections I broke the Bible into.  I am using it to keep my notes a little neater and to make it easier to find certain verses instead of putting them all together and having a hard time finding anything.

     When I started seriously studying the Bible I based it upon a pretty simple plan.  It worked for and helped me.  My first priority was everything in Red or that Christ said.  Then I based it on their closeness to Christ.   James was his brother so he should have some pretty good insight.  Then I did the Apostles Books and what they said.  That was followed by Paul and finally the Old Testament.  It is all important and Jesus quoted from many books.  From my point of view he validated many of the Books of the Old Testament, especially those parts and prophets that were talking about him.  It does not matter how you do it, but the main thing and I believe this.  The better you know God’s Word the better you will know him and what he expects of you.  Here are a few verses to get you started.

1 John 2:27
 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him

Christ will teach you if you earnestly seek him.

Jeremiah 17:5
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

When you have to make a choice of who to trust, rely on the Word, not man.

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

You should be able to see that knowing God’s Word is how you come to know God.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Notice it says “MY PEOPLE” it does not say the heathens, the lost or the evil.  It says his people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

II Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

This verse makes clear the Lord seeks to bless those that seek him.  If you are not seeking him you are losing a blessing

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success

So how do you have success?  By studying His Word and knowing it.  Who has to apply it and do the work though?  It makes pretty clear you have to do the work.

Here is one final passage and it has helped me all of my life.  Sometimes we are not sure what or how to do something.  This next verse tells us how.

 Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

This last verse is strong and will help you a lot in your walk with the Lord.  Actually the whole first three chapters of Proverbs will help a person in understanding what God wants and expects from us.  I pray this helps someone in their search for God in their lives.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How-to: Recycled Container For Starting Cuttings

The Perfect (Recycled) Cutting Starter Container

Sometimes we have to make a better mousetrap.   I like all the ideas on Pinterest but I also like to deal with and use what I have at hand.  At my house people drink pop from cans so I do not have a supply of two liter bottles.  My good luck is that they drink a lot of milk.  So rather than throw bottles away I have learned to make real neat starter containers out of them.  You will notice the bottles have indents on the sides. (some don’t, but that is not a problem)  The indents help lock the top on.

Picture two shows the markings as to how and where the cut lines are.  Yes it takes two bottles to make one container, but hey you were going to throw it away anyhow right.  If I run short I go to the recycle center and get a trash bag full for nothing or next to nothing.  If you ask friends to save them for you they will be coming out your ears.  One word of advice as it may be awhile before you use them.  Rinse them out before you store them.


    Pictures three and four show what the two separate cuts look like. Notice picture three the cut goes down the corners.  Picture five lets you see that the cap cut leaves a lot of the back on so it can help hold it on the container.

            The drainage slits do not have to be big or fancy 

To remove the grown plant simple cut on the dotted lines.  Insert you hand under the plant and slide out. You can also make it like a big U and go down the corners and across the front.  Whichever seems simplest for you. The shown can be duct taped closed and recycled again, sometimes.

This part may get a little redundant, but I had problems getting the pictures to load the way I wanted them to do.  So just bare with me.  There are a couple good points in this part though.

Picture two shows the markings as to how and where the cut lines are.  Yes it takes two bottles to make one container, but hey you were going to throw it away anyhow right.  If I run short I go to the recycle center and get a trash bag full for nothing or next to nothing.  If you ask friends to save them for you they will be coming out your ears.  One word of advice as it may be awhile before you use them.  Rinse them out before you store them.

The key is how you cut the handle.  On the container you want to save it so you can use it to move the container when you have to.  The lid however does not need the handle but a little tab of it helps line it up when you put the cover on.   When you cut the container, you cut between the cap and the handle.  Then you cut to the top of the shoulders on each side of the jug.  Then down about a quarter of the way.  You can adjust this based on what you are starting.  I like to have four to five inches of dirt. I usually put four to five rose cuttings in each container.  With butterfly bushes I only put two or three.  Some plants I only put one cutting in.  That is up to you. Then you cut around the front and you are done with the container.  Well make some slices in the bottom to allow for drainage.  Most plants don’t like wet feet. Now you are done.  For the top you cut above the handle and then down each side of the handle and go down maybe three quarters of the way. You want it to cover the container and keep out the weather.

The upside is it is cheap it keeps plastic out of the landfill, at least for a while.  The down side is you can’t see the plant very well without removing the cover but that is very easy to take off and to put back. That is a plus to this design that you can open it to the weather when you want to. One benefit is they do not get quite as hot as the clear plastic.  I used to buy pots for taking the plants to market.  Doing them this way I can sell them a little cheaper.  If you want to you can take them to market in the milk container and the handle makes them real easy move around and load.  You can also write on the plastic what kind of plant it is.  I use spray paint to color code my plants.  Especially stuff like melons and gourds that all look very similar at the starting of the growing cycle.

Some plants are more sensitive to transplant shock than others.  If I grow the plants bigger in the container to make it sell better I tell people to cut on the dotted line and put their hand in under the plant and just ease it out.  No stress or damage to the plant occurs this way.  Of course you can’t reuse the container if you cut it(Unless you believe in duct tape) but hey it was trash when it started and to trash it has returned   It is the old ashes to ashes and dust to dust thing .

When I take them inside and sit them on the window ledge.  I put them in an old pie tin to prevent water damage. I get them at yard sales and Good Will or the Salvation Army.  Sometimes I will make the ultimate sacrifice and actually eat a pie. 

These are totally recyclable and you can use them year after year.  Using a pie tin you can also put them in a macramé or wire hanger and put them up off the ground and out of the weather.

One thing to pay attention to is where you put the containers.  While plants love sunshine, cuttings need TLC and just subdued light part of the day is usually fine.  Direct sun can have the effect of turning the container into a microwave oven and finish the plant before it gets started.

Hope somebody gets some use out of this one….Have a Gourd-eous Day.  Guess I just gave away my plant preference.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Life As A Moonie

For anyone interested.  If you type truck on search bar at the top of my blog it will bring up a list of my other truck related stories.  Hope it helps someone.  There are a few funnies in the bunch and some well as some opinion pieces that some may not agree with. Thanks for taking time to read my blog regardless

                  My Life as a Moonie

When I got my big break and started my over the road trucking career I should have realized what I was getting into, was not what I thought I was getting into.  I mean when you realize you are hiring on to be a Moonie it can’t get much worse, or can it.  They had nothing to do with the ones you see in airports fortunately.  Moon Freight was a Specialized Carrier.

        My civilian trucking career started totally by accident.  When I left the service I tried to open the door, but it was not meant to be. I worked for a company for forty five days essentially for free to show them I could do the job.  When my discharge became final and I thought was going to start trucking.  The guy who owned the company would not hire me. He said I did not have any history. 

      At least I had an alternative and spent the next couple years in school. Then I started my own business.  Saying it is a lot easier than it was to do.  I did okay for about three years and then I went belly up.  Not because I didn’t succeed, but because I could not manage my success.  I decided partying was more important than working.  That is the short route to the bottom.

     After losing everything I had including my family and spending six months living in a Ford Van in Fort Meyers, Florida I made my peace with God and decided to quit running from him.  I went back home and went door to door looking for a job.  After about two months I got a job as a warehouse man for a local moving company.  Three years of college to get a minimum wage job packing moving crates in a warehouse.  Not exactly my view of success.

      About a month after hiring on my boss asked me if I could drive a truck.  One of the drivers had not shown up for work.  Sure I said.  How hard could it be to drive a straight truck?  DUH!!!  Well if you have never driven one with a two speed axle it takes some adapting.  My loader for the day knew more about trucking than I did, but he had gotten a DWI and was now a laborer.  He basically tutored me on how to use it.

      It went fine for a few months and then one day I was in Bloomington, Indiana and there was semi-trailer that had been converted into a billboard looking for flatbed truck drivers.  It was a union company the sign said.  When I got to the driveway I wheeled in, in my company truck and swaggered in.  I told them how I had driven a truck in Vietnam and hauled 750 pound bombs and how we ran convoys up and down the coast.  Which was all true, I only left out the fact it had been almost eight years before and was all OJT.  I had no formal training.  He gave me an application and told me I would have to come back for a road test.  Union companies loved to give veterans a chance.  Wish I had known that when I got out of the service.

      The next Monday I called in sick so I could go take the road test.  The road test was almost like the one I took in the Army which is in another post on my blog.  It took a lot but I humbled myself and explained I was use to split shifting with two levers and had not driven the kind they had in their cab-over cornbinder’s.  He just smiled and told me to get into the passenger side.  We hooked up to a loaded trailer and he drove me out the motor pool and went south till he got to the bottom of the first big hill.  He then cut across the medium and parked on the northbound shoulder.  We then switched seats and he told me the differences and told me to take a couple minutes and practice the pattern on the transmission and get the feel of the truck.

      The first time I tried to take off the truck started bouncing up and down like it was a basketball and then died.  He just smiled and released the brakes.  DUH…I figured I just failed bigtime.  The next time we actually moved and got a couple gears up before I missed one and pulled back to the shoulder and started over.  He explained how to use the RPM’s to tell when to shift and we took off again.  The rest of the test drive went smooth.  When we got back he told me I passed and that dispatch was at four o’clock.  I informed him I already had a job and kind of needed to give notice.  He said no problem and to call him when I was ready. I asked him why I didn’t fail over the stupid mistakes I made.  He said anybody could be nervous.  Starting on a steep grade with a full load took some understanding of how to drive and as I adapted well, he passed me.

       When I showed up for my first day at work the safety director assigned me a truck.  He also hooked me up with one of the company drivers and said he would show me what to do.  They assigned me my first load.  I did not get to pick one from dispatch.  They assigned me a load of sheet rock going to Pawnee, Illinois. To get our loads we pulled an empty trailer down to the USG plant in Shoals, Indiana.  When I say down that is a literal down.  The plant sets at the bottom of about a quarter mile long road which goes straight to a gate.  That is not the gate we used except when it was snowing and we couldn’t get stopped.  Coming off that hill with an empty flatbed in snow was like riding a bobsled sometimes. 

        My escort helped me get hooked up and we helped each other strap our loads and tie down our tarps.  He taught me how to use a cheater bar and had one he leant me and told me to buy my own.  He told me to give his to the safety officer when I got back.

Everything went fine as I wondered through the plant and found my way back out to “The Hill”  I do not know the grade of that hill, but it is far steeper than most any hill I have ever found on a public highway in any state, except maybe Pennsylvania which has some doozies.  I took off twice and killed it when I went to shift.  I slowly backed it down to flat ground and started over.  I left it in low till I topped the hill.  Even after I had some experience that hill tended to be a challenge.

     Upon reaching the top I headed west on US 50 and had to go through Shoals, Indiana.  By now it was dark and starting to rain.  Coming out of Shoals is a pretty steep hill with a truck passing lane.  I got half ways up the hill and when I went to go from the low side of the transmission to the high side I missed the gear and had to stop half ways up a very steep mile long grade.  I kept killing it and I could picture me tearing the drive shaft out of the truck.  After many attempts, I hate to admit I was driven to tears of frustration as I could see my job disappearing, it finally started up the hill. I decided to stay in low till I got to the top.  Slow was better than never I figured.

      Once I topped that hill things got better in spite of the rain as I knew there were no more hills the way I was going.  It was the longest two hundred and forty miles I ever drove.  There are shorter routes but they emphasized that a person could be fired for failing to follow the route designated on your trip sheet.  That rule would actually save me money when the company later routed me on a state highway in Illinois that I was overweight to drive on.  They had to pay the ticket.  That is another story though.  The rain turned to a fog and rain mix.  I also learned on a short four lane stretch that the company trucks were governed to fifty five miles per hour.
       I got to where I was going about four o’clock and parked on an empty lot across the street.  About seven o’clock I got a knock on the door.  The rain had stopped and it had cleared off.  The guy from the lumber yard asked me if I wanted drive in and back out, or if I wanted to back in and drive out.  I must have looked dumbfounded when I asked him what he was talking about.

      He had me get down and follow him.  We walked down an alley maybe ten feet wide with a brick building on both sides.  Then we made a slight jog to the right and were in the lumber yard.  It looked very old.  The hitching posts for horses told me that was a safe assumption.  I opted for the drive in and back out as it seemed possibly a little easier.  He said that was what most of the drivers chose. 

      That is when the fun started.  I had to fold the mirrors on both sides up against the cab or I could not fit into the alley without hitting them.  Once I finally got in the yard and untarped they unloaded one side.  Then I had to juggle far enough they could get the forklift around the truck and unload the other side. When they were done I had to juggle it back and line up with the alley.  I had no mirrors so the guy from the lumber yard pointed the direction he wanted me to move the tail of the trailer and gave me hand and arm signals till I got out.  It was the longest 150 feet I ever drove in my life.

       I called the company and they told me to move to a nearby truck stop and call them in an hour.  I do not remember where the next load I hauled went.  I may have gone back empty. I really don’t remember.  I was just glad backing a truck up is a lot like roller skating.  Once you do it you never forget how.  I had learned OJT in Vietnam. 

       I had been driving less than a week and I had driven from Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam on Highway One to the air base at Tuy Hua, Vietnam.  It was less than two hundred miles, but was an all day trip.  I had a load of bombs on and was sitting in the ammunition dump when a mortar attack started.  We could see they were walking the rounds right towards the ammo dump.  The fork lift driver told me to drop the trailer and follow him.  I told him there wasn’t time and jumped on the side of his forklift and we went to the safety of the bunker.  What I didn’t tell him was that I did not know how to back up.  I had been driving less than a week and other than backing under a trailer to hook up I had never backed a truck up.  That is the truth.  Scary ain’t it.  Carrying a load of bombs and do not even know how to back up a truck.  Thanks Uncle Sam for the fine training program.  It basically consisted of saying.  You’re a truck driver.

       After the all clear he emptied my trailer I took almost an hour getting turned around to get out of the ammo dump.  When we got back to Cam Ranh I got some explanations on the basics of backing up and found me a large open area.  I practiced till could back up in a straight line with my foot on the floor.  That self- training paid off that day in the lumber yard.

       By the end of the day I felt I could handle anything that came my way.  Little did I realize how many kinds of special freight exist.  It all needs to be handled in a special way.  The biggest surprise came when I found out flat bedding would not keep me out of the cities.  In fact as a Moonie I often found myself in downtown Manhattan fairly regular.  The specialized carrier title on the sides of Moon Freight Lines trucks meant we hauled cut stone.  One of our specialties was facing stone for skyscrapers.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Trucker's Perspective -- Why America is in an Economic Rut

Why America Is Losing the Manufacturing and Marketing Battle

       A popular movie of a few years back called “The Field of Dreams” had a key line that said, “Build it, they will come."  American industry needs to take a hard look at that movie and realize in their case the saying is. “Build it, they will buy it.” The auto industry has lost sight of its roots. Henry Ford is supposed to have said. “They can have any color car they want. As long as it is black!” Ford’s philosophy of building cars was to build them as quickly and cheaply as possible. It is a philosophy that is still working. It is the philosophy of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in America and Mc Donalds

      Wal-Mart is expanding around the whole world with that simple philosophy. Why am I talking about Wal-Mart when this article is about the big three? Really it is pretty simple. It is all about competition. All business is about competition and winning is about knowing how to play the game. Wal-Mart has entered the Chinese market and many others. Yet other American companies are on the verge of collapse. As a retired trucker I have delivered goods to both Wal-Mart and some of their chief competitors. There is no comparison between them and say K-Mart. I know this from my experiences. To make my point a couple quick examples will show what I am talking about.

     One time delivering to a distribution center for K-Mart in the Detroit area a question arose about the product on my truck. First they felt they may not want the product as they might have too much in stock already. The person in charge sent a runner to check and see if they had the product in stock. Twenty minutes later the runner came back. He told the person in charge they had x number of cases of the product. The person in charge then asked if the product was red or blue. The runner left again and after about thirty minutes came back and said they had blue. Fortunately for me, I had red, and they took my load. That killed the better part of hour.

      At a Wal-Mart distribution center it would have been done by radio and maybe took two to three minutes. K-Mart is a union warehouse. Wal-Mart is not a union warehouse. Is it a union problem? I do not think so. It is a management problem. Radios cost, but then again they are cost effective. Wal-Mart could improve in some areas also. I spent my years in the Army working in aerial supply. We supplied by parachute to troops in the field.  Making things happen when and how they are supposed to takes team work. Management and labor need to understand they are teammates not competitors. Good managers are into motivation and innovation. They are not into confrontation and elimination.

       Getting back on track the problems in the automotive industry from my perspective are mainly a management problem. Management makes the leadership decisions and labor is supposed to follow. There is one small problem with the system. Sometimes people working in the industry cannot see the forest for the trees. The focus tends to be on the problems and not on the solutions.

       Before I started hauling for the automotive industry I wondered how the automotive industry could justify selling their products for so much. However by the time I finished hauling automotive parts I wondered how they could sell them so cheap. What changed was my perspective. Originally I was on the outside. After becoming involved with the system, some of the problems were a lot easier to see.

      One of the first things I noticed was that Labor had an attitude that Management’s goal was to get rid of them.  Or at a minimum cut their paychecks and benefits. They did not see management as leaders trying to compete in a very competitive market.  Management was viewed as a threat to their personal security and well being. Management’s attitude seemed to be that labor is a cost to be controlled and eliminated if possible. However without each other nothing gets done and both will become part of the rank and file unemployed.

     With the history behind the automotive industry it is easy to understand some of the points of view. Yet in today’s markets the attitudes need to change.  Labor will not be the only ones without a job. It will be the whole industry and supporting industries. You can not manage or work for a company that ceases to exist. History shows us plainly that companies that do not learn to compete cease to exist. It is the nature of industry. Just as the livery stables, of the past, ceased to exist. So have many car makers. Studebaker, Packard, Hudson and American Motors are just a few examples that have disappeared in my own life time. Just since I originally worked on this article Pontiac, Plymouth, and Saturn have disappeared as models.  Chrysler has survived simply by making deals with foreign manufactures who want to enter the American market. Which means America is still a viable market.  The models that disappeared were because of cost cutting measures.  They could not keep up with the competition. Even the makers who survived, at some point in the past,  have dumped models that either were no longer competitive or did not meet changing market demands. Most people have heard of the Pinto, Vega, Chevette or Maverick just to name a few. Millions of these cars were made but when is the last time you saw one? These last cars were made to meet a market demand created by the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. They fell apart about as fast as Arab hopes of controlling the worlds oil markets.

      When the crisis of the moment was past attitudes and markets changed back. The demand for the pony cars and barges, my children’s nickname for cars made in the fifties and sixties, resumed. People adapted to the higher fuel prices after the embargo. American production followed what they perceived market demand to be. When another Energy Crisis hit in the late 90’s the foreign manufacturers changed their product lines. American manufacturers felt it was a glitch and that Americans would pay any price for fuel and continued to slop the market with the gas hogs they produced.

      Little did anyone perceive the perfect financial storm brewing just over the horizon. The fact that not one of the major manufacturers understood where the market was headed says a lot about the lack of leadership. Both the American industrial and the financial markets in general missed the boat. To say they were blindsided would be a major understatement. The blinders worn by American automotive management were as effective as the ones worn by horses before the advent of the automobile.

      The arrival in Washington, DC on their private jets, with their hands out, underscored the complete oblivion of management to the reality of the situation. The real sad part is that no one seemed to realize that it was too little to late.  I have to admit since the original writing some headway has been made by Ford and the other manufacturers. Yet it is survival based, not market leadership based.  Dealerships were and still are flooded with inventory they can hardly move. They have no alternatives to offer the buying public. A long and perhaps terminal slump is not only possible it is inevitable.

      Why is it inevitable? It is because the manufacturers and the financial institutions failed to realize there is one key ingredient in the financial markets they do not understand. The leadership got sidetracked from the idea of making  automobiles. They no longer cared about making money from the manufacturing part of their industry.

      The financial arms of the companies were the part of the company generating the income.  They were not interested in the adage about keeping the customer happy. They were more interested in keeping them fleeced with extended terms and upside down loans. They failed to understand the little guy. They do not understand what greases the wheels of commerce. It is not big business. It is not the bottom line. It is also not slick advertising. It is demand. What they do not understand is that the little guy when it comes to protecting what he has is very conservative, regardless of how liberal of a society we live in.

     When the average little guy feels threatened he is going to hold on to what he has at all costs. So you can proclaim your rosy scenario all you want. Till the little guy feels he has room to breathe he is holding on to what he has. The wheels of commerce will not get greased. Things will slowly grind to a halt. You can talk till your blue in the face. The more you talk the tighter his grip will get. When he sees everybody getting laid off, do not tell him sunny days are just ahead. All anyone can do is wait till the little guy feels secure enough to loosen his grip.

     There is one other factor that the big three do not seem to get. The days of “Buy American” are over. Even some communities are buying foreign cars these days. The attitude moving the market is to buy the best value you can get for your dollar. I was always a “Buy American” person.  I spent ten years overseas serving this country and was and am proud to be an American.  However I also realize I live in a global market place. Some of the best stuff out there is not American. I have purchased two new cars in my lifetime. A 1992 Dodge Colt which had over 200,000 miles on it when I gave it to my niece. It got awesome mileage and was stone dependable. Many friends and family had purchased and bragged on them.  So why did I buy a 2008 Honda? For the very same reason I bought the Colt.  Good feedback and research that showed 200,000+ was the norm and not the exception. Yet I still consider myself a Ford person and my second car is a Ford. So why didn’t I buy a Ford. The people I know and trust and the research I did told me the longest lasting and most economical, hence the best value, was what I bought. Not necessarily what I wanted.  Common sense and value out weighted my loyalty. I might like how I look in a tuxedo and it might make me feel good but, it is not very practical for a work outfit.

     So what can be done to save the American automotive industry? Well the status quo definitely is not the answer to the problem. At the start of this article I made a statement of fact. It may have sounded strange but it took working for, or with the automotive industry to say it with all honesty.  Before I hauled automotive parts I could not see how they could justify charging so much for their cars.  However after hauling parts I could not see how they can sell them so cheap. The next couple paragraphs will give people who are not familiar with the industry a little insight that may help them see what I am trying to say.

     My introduction to the automotive industry was hauling brake rotors. It would seem like a very simple part to make. That should be the case but we are dealing with the automotive industry. Therefore nothing is as simple as it should be. My experience started in Danville, Illinois. This is actually the second or third step for the rotor. It depends on how you count steps. The raw materials had to be bought to the facility where I picked up the fresh castings. Step two or three depending how you count handling the raw materials
After several hours of sitting and waiting.   It was my turn to back into the loading dock.  The parts were loaded on my truck. Once loaded I had about six hours to get the parts to the next plant or step in the process.  Which was a heat treatment plant in Lansing, Michigan.  At this point I should explain a concept created by American industry which could be amazing if it worked properly all the time. The concept is “Just in Time” delivery. I would not explain it except to understand the solution you need to know what needs to be fixed.

     Basically it is a concept that inventory should not sit around on shelves or in storage bins. The item should arrive just in time to be processed or utilized. This is based on the concept that inventory is money. Money not being utilized is money wasted. A fine concept until you start moving almost empty trucks to meet unrealistic deadlines. Suddenly you are using three, four or five trucks to do the job one truck could have done. Each truck used adds to the cost because each one costs for its use. This concept is not limited to the automotive industry unfortunately.

     Time to get back on track, upon arrival the parts are unloaded and sent thru a heat treating process which takes several hours. At this point the truck either returns to Danville or moves parts to the next step in processing. To keep me moving they load parts, that have already been processed, onto my truck from a previous delivery. Then I head to Dayton, Ohio to a machining plant. As the point here is to show what happens in the car building process.  I will just explain the transportation process. In Dayton the parts are machined. The rotors then go to another plant in central Ohio where the machining process is finished. The next step is to go to a plant where parts are added to the rotors to make them ready for assembly. The process nears an end on arrival at the plant where they are mounted on a hub or axle assembly. Finally they are hauled to another plant.  There they are actually built into a hub or axle assembly. The assembled parts are hauled to an auto assembly plant. Finally all the components come together in the form of a finished car. The car is then hauled to a dealership. Each rotor may have one thousand to three thousand miles of travel by the time the process is finished and it reaches a dealership.

    Multiply this process by the multitude of parts on a car.  It could easily have over a hundred thousand miles on it before the dealer gives you the keys. So what is this whole process about? Well principally it is about busting the unions. The whole process could be done at the final assembly plant. That was how Henry Ford intended it to be. The idea of outsourcing the work was definitely not his idea. How do I know this? From studying the issue. When Ford started his company he gave up a ten per cent interest in his company to a couple brothers who ran a machine shop. For two thousand shares he received seven thousand dollars in parts and three thousand dollars in cash. The brothers who helped him get started were known as the Dodge brothers.

    Several years later Ford paid twelve thousand five hundred dollars a share to regain control of that ten percent of his company. Shares he originally gave up for five dollars each. The reason he wanted the control back was that he had built his own machining plant and no longer needed the service of the Dodge brothers. His goal was to cut cost doing everything in house. Of course it is not hard to guess what the Dodge bothers did with their windfall profit. One other point to note is that Ford paid his employees well enough that they would be able to purchase a car of their own. He understood the concept of marketing and what drives it. Something the present leadership has lost sight of.

     It is already effecting people outside the automotive industry. The scrap industry has tanked as the demand for steel and aluminum has dried up. Soda pop cans that were recycling for sixty eight cents a pound are now down to twenty cents a pound. Back up to fifty cents at this time. That means the homeless person who takes his bag of cans to turn in and uses the money to buy a five dollar meal at a fast food restaurant is really hurting. Where he had to get seven pounds to eat which is about one hundred and forty cans. Now he has to get twenty five pounds of cans. What makes that worse is that the people who used to pitch their cans are now saving them.

    The problem is not all managements fault. Labor, unions in particular, have short comings also. In the course of my life I held two union jobs. One job in construction and the other in trucking, however my goal was to be self employed, so maybe I have a biased point of view. Fortunately I worked for two smaller union companies with good management who operated with the team concept. Most of the people I worked with had a good American work ethic. Unfortunately the ones who didn’t were usually the most active union supporters. At the construction job I watched a young worker give up an almost twenty dollar an hour job over seventy five cents. The union said he should get twenty five cents more and hour. He stood on his principals. I probably would not remember it except I lived near him and saw the suffering his wife and children went through. Everybody on the job liked the kid including the employer. It was early April and the employer told the kid he had a job all season if he wanted it, but the employer failed to pay him an extra twenty five cents and hour for three hours of running a jack hammer. The kid filed a grievance and got his seventy five cents, but he lost the job. The employer’s attitude was that labor was labor and as a laborer it did not matter what you did as long as you did it. About twenty of us with less principals worked continually till early December. Who was right?

     Living in close proximity to a foreign car plant and knowing many people who have worked there I understand they have their share of problems also. The foreign companies have an anti labor attitude also. However theirs could better be described as a pro company attitude. It is almost a kamikaze attitude toward winning. The congressman who noted that most of the foreign car companies are in the south and the civil war is still going on by different means was not far off the mark. Actually the foreign makers target economically depressed areas with large labor pools. The foreign companies are still at war with us, we beat them militarily but the war is being continued economically and that is the weapon they have chosen to continue the battle. Divide and conquer is one of the oldest rules of warfare. Goliath did not lose to David because he lacked the ability to defeat him. He lost because he did not appreciate the skills of his enemy. Another way of saying it is, “It is not about the size of the dog in the fight, but about the size of the fight in the dog.”

   The fact that foreign car companies are building plants in America proves that American labor is still competitive.  They would not build here if it was not helping them make better profits.  However their new plants are state of the art and use lots of robotics in jobs that traditionally were held by people.  It is this automation of industry that is killing jobs in America.  When you combine that with the financial and political incompetence that is creating staggering debt.  While offering no solutions to the problems in America it will only get worse before it gets better.  The tons of money being spent on unemployment and food stamps could much better be spent on repairing America's infrastructure problems.  The U.S. Constitutions charges the Congress with the duties of handling America's finances, defending our nation and providing for the Welfare (upkeep) of the nation.  They have failed on all three counts.

     If the money being spent on unemployment and food stamps was buying materials to fix things it would create jobs providing those materials and jobs utilizing those materials.  As it is being done now, it is simply adding to the national debt.  It would still be increasing the national debt, but it would also be adding to the value of America as a nation.  Which it is not doing with the present method of doing things.  We need a third party that is Constitutionally based and dedicated to making America financially solvent and sound.  The definition of insanity is, "Doing something over and over the same way and expecting to get a different result." That is the Democrat and Republican game plan. It is time for a party with a new and functional system of addressing America's problems before the present system collapses.  As a history nut and specializing in the Great Depression.  Back then the market lost 89% of its value from high to low.  That means the bottom today would be about 1560.  It also took about 32 months from the high to the low point.  We are past the 32 month point, but we certainly are not coming out of the downturn.  We are at the edge of an abyss and we can not seem to move away from the edge.  If something is not done the bottom will eventually fall out of the market.  The present system is only dragging us closer.  As more and more people fall off of unemployment they will loose their homes and the drag downward will continue. The present way of doing business is not working.

     Economic wars are won by beating your enemy at their own game and taking over the best markets. The absolute best market battlefield in the world is the United States. The proof that it is warfare is the present market situation. If the foreign companies wanted they could buy up the American companies for pennies on the dollar. They do not want them though for two reasons. One is their perception of the problems with the union labor and the other is they would rather put the competition out of business.

    So if the American automobile manufacturers want to survive they had better rethink their game. Building cars with longer tailpipes is not the solution. In France a company is building an air powered car that runs seventy miles per hour with a range of one hundred and twenty miles. It uses no fuel. The power source is compressed air. If that compressor is run buy a bank of batteries, which in turn, are charged by solar panels or windmills a true green machine would is possible.

    As long as America turns a blind eye to the largest corporations taking business and jobs elsewhere and working people in foreign countries in ways we would not and will not tolerate in America the problem will continue.  As long as we have our cheap I pads and I phones, it does not matter if they are made with labor that America would not accept as fair.  They should be taxed to make their products cost the same as if they were made here.  It could be called a Fair American Trade Tax or as the acronym states, a FAT Tax.  Which is what is happening.  American business is getting fat at the expense of the people they are pillaging.

      All the necessary technology is already available.   America could break its dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming at the same time.  Of course it will take a complete change in attitude of the entire American automotive industry. They will need to rethink the process from building a better product for the money and at a better price. That will take true leadership and insight and a step away from the status quo. The only question is does America have the will to win the fight. If the present attitudes remain the same maybe we will have a chance to discuss it while we are in the soup lines.

      A minor postscript.  Pop cans made it back up to over sixty cents a pound for a while. However as the market is hedging and the question of a double dip hangs in the air.  The price is back down to the forty three cents per pound level.  Guess I will have to get more excercise to fill my bucket and buy dinner.  Or if it keeps going we can discuss it in the soup line while waiting for lunch.  Hope Congress gets off their hands and do something.  There are plenty of things they could do.  However that would require a display of common will and common sense and those things do not exist in Washington anymore.