Friday, 7 February 2014

If Your Mechanic Was a Climate Change Enthusiast

It's one of those oddball things that you start to ponder about, and compare.

First, your mechanic would stand up and get all hostile when he examined your car, pronounced serious repairs over $3,000 and you suggested that you wanted to have another mechanic look at before paying that much money.  He'd curse, get all frustrated, and insist that you shouldn't second-guess a professional and certified mechanic.

Second, for every single maintenance issue....he'd insist that you were mishandling the car....even when you left the car in the garage for the past fourteen months since his last examination.

Third, the computer system hook-up would provide a detailed analysis of potential future breakdowns.  So, for example....he'd say your battery needs immediate replacement, although it's still got two years of service on it.  He'd say your muffler needs replacement, when it's still got three years of use left in it.  He'd say your four tires need replacement but they've got enough tread for two full seasons.

Fourth, your mechanic would have a personalized model for his computer system....rather than one standard one handed down by Ford or BMW.  This personalized model software would measure miles driven ten months out of the year, but always omit April and November.  The model might weigh each person as they sat on their seat and provide a pounds per mile ratio, but then omit anyone who weighed less than one hundred pounds.  The model might check tire air samples and note one tire with less-than-perfect oxygen readings, which require an entire deflating and reflating.

Fifth, your mechanic would attend mechanic conventions in Bali at five star hotels....flying in on a private jet that some private foundation funded.  He'd sip fancy wine, eat pickled Belgium pork, and discuss the finer arts of transmission repair with mechanics from across the globe.  At the end, they'd all hug, and put out a seventy-page account of a wonderful convention and give a thumbs-up to the hotel for the lusty Thai massage gals.

Sixth, your mechanic would want to make you feel bad over driving a Ford, and try hard to make you buy a Chevy battery-powered Volt.  He'd talk carbon, green grass, the salvation of grasshoppers, and reason for a greater good.  He'd fail to mention that your state would require three more power plants to handle an excessive number of Volts plugged into the grid, or the necessity of shipping old Volt batteries to India because that's the only place safe enough to "dump" old toxic batteries of that size.

Seventh, your mechanic would addicted to revenue, notoriety, and fancy accommodations while traveling.   He'd be continually trying to get government funding for maintenance research projects to prove or disprove his opinion of Fords.  He will refuse debate with anyone who doesn't share his view.

Eigth, your mechanic will start to hang around only like-minded mechanics.  Whether it's at the bar, the ballfield, the bowling alley, or his choice of churches.....he'll be particular about the folks that he talks with, sips beer with, or discusses radiator issues with.

Ninth, no matter what sounds were heard or what jerking motion was noted....the mechanic will always say this goes back to being an emissions problem.  There could be radiator steam flowing continuing....emissions problem.  A metal-rubbing-metal sound from the front right side....it's an emissions problem.  A jerking action of the steering wheel....it's an emissions problem.  A funny dead fish smell from under the front seat.....it's an emissions problem.

Tenth,  your mechanical problems are always too complicated to be examined in detail and explained to you a mere mortal.  If you had paid attention in high school or in garage-training with dad....it might make sense.  But this is all highly technical stuff, with numbers, model outcomes, projections, and science involved.  You need to leave this mechanical stuff for the intellectual mechanics to do....and just handle the bill at the end of the day (it might be eleven cents....it might be $11,238).

Yeah, after a while.....you bend a knee and thank God with wonderful words and enthusiasm....that he didn't make mechanics like climate change geeks.  Maybe you ought to thank your mechanic....bring him a blueberry muffin and express your appreciation of his works of wonder.

Your All-In-One Post Office

This week....the post office got back into major news.  For years....the postal system has been in in a spiral....with fewer customers and more cost.  So they've done reasearch and determined a new gimmick to make money off the remaining customers.  Banking operations.  Yeah, it's a pretty shocking thing.

What they hint at....from their limited conversations in public....they'd like to get into the wire transfer business (like Western Union).....sell or fill prepaid money cards, and conduct mobile payments.

Course, this stirred up banks and credit unions.  They really don't appreciate any competition.  They would be standing in the way of this enhancement.

How would this all work?  Well....the numbers are diverse, from seven million to thirty million......Americans without bank accounts.  There are various reasons....they might be day workers only, homeless, or just believe in a cash-only situation.

When you go back to the 1930s and all the issues that the banks stumbled into (bank failures, etc).....a fair number of Americans quit banks.  Trust took several decades to rebuild.  Most folks today would say that it's the fee business of keeping a very low account that prevents them from having a regular account.

The post office thinks they can be a simplified deal.  There'd be a couple of financial situations they'd handle, with no loans or credit card offerings (at least not yet).

Germany's post office system went into this banking business over a hundred years ago.  For years and years....if you lived out in some remote town....there'd always be a post office.  So if you had banking business of a minor nature.....you walked to the local post office and did business.  They had accounts, and you would pay your telephone and utility bills via the German Post's accounting system.  Fees?  That was nice part about the deal....you simply paid a yearly maintenance fee of a couple of bucks, and you were a "member".  If you needed to wire money....there was always a fee built into that.   I doubt if the German Post ever made tons of money, but it helped to sustain the operations at a local level.

For some reason, I don't have much confidence in this suggestion.  All you need is a smart guy looking at their simplified operation, and running a false ID scheme with bogus credit cards....and suddenly you rip them off for a couple thousand dollars.  Go to the next state....repeat the same process with a new ID and new bogus card.

What I suspect is that the banks will eventually suggest that they ought to get into the FEDEX and UPS business, and have a shipping/delivery stand in every bank.  This would make perfect sense because every town in America has a bank or two.  The post office folks would get hostile about this....but fair is fair.