Sunday, 29 April 2012

Flaming Eternal

A number of years ago....out in Arizona (I believe) a bunch of military vets got this big urge to create a fancy war memorial in their local town.  So they spent a year collecting money and eventually got this fancy deal arranged.  There was to be this 'eternal flame'....hooked up to city natural gas, and a flag pole standing nearby....and this little sign to signify the efforts of various folks to bring this war memorial about.

About twelve to eighteen months go by and suddenly the budget chief of the small town gets the yearly natural gas bill, and it's fairly huge.  Folks get all upset and asking the city for an explanation.  So someone goes line by line, and eventually finds this war memorial which is an 'eternal flame', and it's costing the city a huge amount of money each year on natural gas.  They go through a huge mess and the eventual talk was that it'd have to be turned off....unless they had special occasions. That upset folks greatly.  I never knew the complete end to the mess.

Well....it's happened again.

Out in Kyrgystan....the local power and gas company had this unpaid bill....for the former Soviet nation's "Eternal Flame."   Close to $9,400 owed.  It'd been going on for three years as being unpaid.

So the company turned the gas off.  Interestingly enough....someone noticed this over the first hour or two, and by hour five....someone had ordered the gas turned back on.

No one is speaking much (at least in the two articles I found on the topic).....but you get the impression that the local political folks are likely hunting down some cold cash to pay for this and ensure nothing like this happens again.

The problem with this eternal flame business....is that it all cost money.  Just in the US....I'd bet on two hundred of these eternal flames running on various memorials.  Once you sign up for twenty-four hours a day....seven days a week....it gets to be fairly expensive.  You never think about this.....in the planning phase.

The Lessening Value

In 1978, the chief guy of a car rental shop at the Nashville airport....was a guy who had a high school degree, had run a gas station for five years, was assistant manager at a car parts shop for four years, and spent three years at a used car sales lot.  He had no college education.

In 1983, the chief guy of a regional drink distributorship.....was a guy who had a high school degree, had started out at the drink distributorship warehouse, six years later moved to assistant had of the warehouse, five years later was appointed as the number three guy of the drink franchise at the location.  He moved from the number three position to the number two position in less than eighteen months, and made chief after five years as the number two.  He had no college education.

In 1985, the head of university housing (the dorm chief), was a 55-year old woman who had started out at age 18 working at the college as a secretary.  By her mid-twenties, she'd moved over to the budgetary office of the campus for five years.  At age thirty....she became the chief of administration within the university housing office.  At age forty-two, she was nominated as the number two boss in the housing office.  At age fifty, she became the chief of university housing.  She had no college education or degree.

Note, all of these positions by 2012.....are run and managed by people with college degrees.  The pay scale?  Well....folks have had to wrap themselves into a mess....trying put a decent salary for the present day guy or gal, with the degree.....as compared to what they paid the same folks back thirty years ago.

Somehow, we've convinced ourselves that each now requires a college education and degree.  You've now got folks sitting in classes....covering zoology, African tribal relations of the 1800s, French economics, Portuguese pottery, the evils of Columbus, famous women from Luxembourg, gifted art from 1800's Peru, and Russian propaganda.  With these vast degrees under them....the crowd has left the university, and now run a Hertz car rental shop in Birmingham, Bama.  They also do statistics at some health insurance company.

In essence, we've made a degree worthless....from the bottom going up.  We even convinced ourselves that the director or boss of a 500-man division has to have a PhD....which he will get by hook or crook.  The value?  Somehow, the same boss that they had back in 1982....probably did ok without any degree.

Eventually, if we sustain this trend....the cashier at Wal-Mart....will have an associate's degree.  The brake guy at Marvin's Garage....he'll have some type of associates's degree.  The manager of the pizza shop?  He'll have a bachelor's degree.  The guy running the donut shop?  He'll have some type of management degree from Georgia Tech.  The pace might even force us to dream up a new degree....beyond the PhD or Doctorate degree.  Some kind of ten-year degree....costing $100k to attain....with some Latin phrase contained in it.....which you'd have to have.....to run America, IBM, Texaco, or the Dallas Cowboys.

In a humble sense.....I think we've screwed up.  But I sure don't know how the heck we can correct this mess without making a bunch of folks unhappy.

President Romney?

In October of 2011, I would have given President Obama a eighty percent of winning.  Today?  I'm figuring it's fifty-five percent at best.  The real question here....if things tend to fall toward Mitt Romney in November....where did the Obama team screw up?  So here are my ten things.

First, the top priority after the stimulus emergency (the first big project of the administration)....should have been tax reform and job creation.  It wasn't.  We ended up with around an entire year of strictly the health care reform episode.  The Republicans would have been hard-pressed to oppose tax reform and job creation....although maybe the Democrats would have been just as hard-pressed to accept tax reform and certain types of job creation.

Second, maybe it wasn't intentionally planned....but some folks got the impression that the President was in campaign mode from day one of the Presidency....until today.  The rhetoric, the topics, the continual dumping on the Republicans, etc.

Third, over the first year of the Presidency....you'd turn around about every couple of weeks, and some new Czar position had been created.  The explanation simply was that they were to be "experts" on something.  At one point....I think there were at least twenty Czars.  Each Czar ended up with a small staff and a travel budget.  They didn't really report to anyone....except the President.  My humble opinion was that most of the Czars were around to give speeches in favor of White House positions....and little else.

Fourth, the "I'm sorry" routine.  Somewhere over 2009....the President finally had maxed out, and I think over the past twelve months....he's been very careful about uttering any regrets to anyone.  The thing is....as President....you ought to limit yourself to two or three a year max.  After that....you look a bit silly.

Fifth, from October of 2008 through the election and maybe the first three months of the Presidency.....it was largely touted about his abilities to get various groups to the table and work consolidated agendas.  He was....the community organizer (as we were told).  To be honest and humble.....you just don't find any attempt in the first ninety days of the Presidency to work a joint plan.  There's not a single effort that comes out as focused on both political groups.  Over the past year?  You start to wonder if the President, even as a community organizer.....ever took widely focused groups and combined their agendas.

Sixth, every problem in the US economy.....always got dumped back on Wall Street and the evil companies.  The only good companies in America?  Bankrupt or marginal Green-environmental companies....or solar companies.  After you've heard this speech about a dozen times.....you start laughing.  Surely his staff should have figured this out in 2010 after the November election.....but they act like it was a fluke.

Seventh, the TV show routine?  Well....it's not world-class material.  You can't think of any President who ran off and performed Oprah-like interviews on a continual basis.  The jokes.....the flashy style....the pep talks....it's just not what most folks think of an executive leader.    Someone on the White House staff should have said that early on.  Two or three appearances a year....on strictly interview situations....would have been right.  Otherwise, we are stuck with this image of having the Fonzy-President in the White House.

Eighth, Erik Holder as Attorney General.  There's not a lot that you can really say.  The Fast and Furious investigation will eventually flip over to the Mexican government, and they will prosecute a number of Americans who work for the Obama White House.  You get the impression that either Holder knew about the mess and did nothing....or he knew absolutely nothing when he should have known something.  Either way.....the White House ends up with a bad image over the mess.

Ninth, the Gitmo fake.  Well....the President won world approval and got fantastic applause over his announcement of the closure of Gitmo.  Four years later?  It still runs, and they've actually added onto the place (a soccer field).   On the fake promise scale....this was a ten.  In some ways, he has to worry constantly about some reporter breaching his circle and asking a stupid question over Gitmo.

Tenth, the teleprompter actually made him a four-star president....at least in the eyes of some folks.  If you took away the teleprompter.....I suspect that he'd be mostly in the style of Jimmy Carter or George W Bush.....an average speaker at best.  You could always tell when he had the teleprompter in place and giving one of his magnificent speeches.  The public also got used to noticing that.  And they came to realize that he wasn't quiet as good as they originally thought.

Another Dimwit

From about 1995, until around 2008....Baseball had a problem.  Home runs on the average spiked.  There were guys who you'd typically would suggest that they shouldn't be hitting more than twenty home runs a year....suddenly were hitting close to forty.  Barry Bonds came up one season and hit 73 home runs.  Ryan Howard came up one year and hit 58 home runs.

Eventually, folks started to talk steroids.  It reached a point where finally the management of baseball sat down and made some rules, and established some tests.  Since 2008....our home run situation has drifted back down to normal levels.  There are various new methods of enhancing a physical situation....which continually are used and baseball will forever be in a catch-up phase (if you ask me).

This week.....Tim McCarver, the former big-league catcher for the Cardinals and sports journalist....came out and wanted everyone to know that it wasn't steroids that caused the home run period......but global warming.

I sat and pondered over this.  It would be simple to believe that over a thirteen year period.....we had global warming, and now it's ended.....going instead to global cooling, which means lesser home runs.  Scientifically speaking.....this would be the local assumption.

This would all invite scientists to converge on baseball.  Every team would have at least one global warming expert, who would project out the good years and bad years.  Then you could go to the home run hitters, and announce that pay-wise.....since we were entering the global cooling period.....they needed to take a pay-cut.  And in the global warming years....you'd get a pay-raise.

Eventually, some idiot would determine that maybe pitching is affected with global warming and cooling.  Stealing bases is affected by global warming.  Playing first base could be affected by global warming.  We could go ahead and forecast an entire season as being potentially lousy.....because of global cooling. Well....if this was all true.

My advice for Tim....maybe steroids really did play a part in the thirteen-year period.  If we are testing folks and making them honest now.....that might be enough proof.