Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The best laid plans of mice and men...I fully intended to blog about my trip to Texas however for "whatever" reason known to only God and computer tech people my wireless was not able to connect to my friend's wireless.

Oh I know I could have used theirs but the set up just wasn't right and well I was on vacation & fun got in the way.

And now its New Years Eve.

And I really do love the celebration of a new year. New beginnings, new hope for the coming year. Too many including myself, 2008 was a difficult year. But the new year looms ahead with possibilities and hope. And I am believing that 2009 is going to be my year!

2009 is the year I will sell my house
2009 is the year I get on the "open road" full time RVing, exploring the most beautiful country in the world.
2009 is the year that these goals, dreams will come true!

2009 is going to be your year too!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many English-speaking countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.
The song's (Scots) title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago"[1] or "days gone by".




Auld Lang Syne
Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine; we've wander'd mony
a weary footSin' auld lang syne
We two hae paidled i' the burn,Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin' auld lang syne
And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane..


Tomorrow heading for Christmas in Texas, McKinney to be exact. Just north of Plano that is north of Dallas. Friends of mine Stefany, hubby Matt and their three beautiful kids, Noelle, Grant and Loren moved from Kalamazoo area to Texas just a couple of months ago. New job for hubby, new house, new life! Exciting! But still missing family and friends this 1st Christmas so DaDuh me to the rescue! And I am really looking forward to a much needed vacation and 1st trip ever to the great state of Texas!

So check back, planning on doing some "live blogging" about my adventures in Texas.

Merry Christmas and YEEHAW!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Supporting Our Troops

At this holy time of year, it seems right to pause and remember those who sacrificed for religious liberty in America...AS WE FREELY CELEBRATE OUR SAVIOR'S BIRTH

With the help of a Twitter friend, IndyEnigma I have complied a list of organizations that support our troops and their families in various ways. Supporting our troops isn't just something to do for Christmas but something we can do for them and their families year round.

If you know of any worthwhile organizations I do not have listed please add via comments.

Merry Christmas

Be a Secret Santa to Children of Our Wounded Troops

Join "Operation Christmas
Calls for the Troops"
Share Christmas — Help Our Troops Call Their Loved Ones This Holiday

Send a free printed postcard to our overseas troops

Operation Family Fund To assist the injured and families of the those who have been injured or killed as a part of the Global War on Terrorism, whether domestic or abroad, military or civilian, with financial grants for transitioning to their new circumstances and achieving financial self-sufficiency.

Soldiers Angels Soldiers' Angels specialize in filling specific service member and family needs. You can get involved in sending handmade blankets to the wounded, supporting our military chaplains, helping soldiers distribute toys and clothing to children in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much, much more!

Coffee and Cookies for the Troops You can help make the daily routine of our troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq a little more bearable.

We've heard from countless members of the Armed Forces serving in the Middle East that one precious resource in short supply is quality coffee. That's why Move America Forward wanted to send only the BEST GOURMET Coffee to the troops. What better to enjoy with a cup of exquisite coffee but with name brand Oreo Cookies? Also included in MAF care packages are special treats from Jelly Belly jelly beans, part of our Candy Diplomacy Program.

Homes for Our Troops is a non-partisan, non-profit 501 (c)(3)organization that provides specially adapted homes for our severely injured service members. Through our growing network of monetary contributions, donations from building contractors, suppliers, corporate supporters and local volunteers, we are able to provide our assistance at no cost to the veterans that we serve.


"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.You have enlarged the nation

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders."

Isaiah 9:2-3, 6 (NIV)

..."Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty

"Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," Leviticus 25:10

Inscribed on the Liberty Bell

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revisionist History from Levin and Stabenow

Detroit Did All That?

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Economy: Taxpayers are being told that the middle class itself may be in peril if they don't bail out the auto industry. Look behind that tall claim and you'll find a liberal creation myth.

As the fate of General Motors, Chrysler and maybe Ford continues to hang in the balance, we hear increasingly dire talk about what might ensue if any of these companies has to seek protection under bankruptcy laws.

These companies would fold, millions of jobs would be lost, and America would lose a national-security linchpin. To top it all off, the survival of the middle class may be at stake, or so we're told.

Michigan's senior senator, Carl Levin, acknowledged on National Public Radio earlier this month that taxpayers may be reluctant to bail out Detroit. But he added: "I think everybody wants the middle class to survive, and the manufacturing centers of this country — wherever they are — have been a great source of the middle class to this country."

Fellow Senate Michigander Debbie Stabenow has said: "To fundamentally have a middle class in this country, we need to support the people who started the middle class: the automakers."

Both Levin and Stabenow may be taking a cue from UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who has told union delegates that "the real issue is the backbone of America — an industry that does more for the economy than any other industry and, quite frankly, made the middle class what it is today."

Did Detroit really do all that? If so, then America had no middle class to speak of until the early 20th century.

Most historians would find that idea strange, but it springs from a view of history that seems widely held in the labor movement and the Democratic Party. This is the theory that unions essentially created the modern middle class in the mid-20th century by boosting the wages and benefits of millions of manufacturing workers.

You might call this the liberals' Middle Class Creation Myth. The auto industry is central to that tale not because of its bosses but because of the UAW, whose lavish contracts set the standard for the rest of organized labor. So all the talk today about saving the auto industry in order to save the middle class is really about preserving those union contracts.

The Big Three could survive and maybe even thrive by cutting their wage and benefit costs to the levels enjoyed by Toyota, Honda and other foreign companies that make cars in the U.S. Bankruptcy protection (or a similar government-supervised process) would release Detroit from its current UAW contracts and enable it to speed up the process, now far too slow, of closing that labor-cost gap.

We doubt if that is what Stabenow and Levin want. It's certainly not what Gettelfinger would want. But it's what Detroit needs to become competitive again. It's also what autoworkers need if they want to keep their jobs for the long term.

History teaches a couple of lessons here. One is that, as the labor movement boasts, wages and benefits did indeed rise in the late 1940s and 1950s, when private-sector unions were at their maximum strength.

But another lesson is that American industry had unusual advantages during that time, when Europe and Japan were still rebuilding and offered no serious competition. It was a phase that could not last, and unions could not stem the drain of jobs out of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

No fact makes this point better than the UAW's own dramatic shrinkage, from 1.5 million members in 1979 to fewer than half a million today. Such is the downside to a strategy of raising wages through collective muscle. When labor gets priced to a point where a machine can do a job more cheaply than a worker, the worker is out of a job.

So there has to be a better way to build an enduring middle class. In fact, there is. Long before the UAW was founded or the first car rolled off the assembly line, Americans were working their way into the middle class through education and individual initiative. Many have made that move up by way of Detroit. But Detroit is only one of myriad routes that the enterprising can choose.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gov. Palin's Home Church Damaged by Arson


Frontiersman

By RACHEL D'ORO
Dec 13, 8:25 PM EST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Gov. Sarah Palin's home church was badly damaged by arson, leading the governor to apologize if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her failed campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee. ...

...Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage.

The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome."


Does the reach of radical homosexuals enraged by the passage of *Prop 8 reach all the way to Alaska?

*Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition that changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman Wikipedia

Sarah's home church has suffered $1 million in damage.

Those wishing to make a donation to help rebuilt the church:

1. Please make your check payable to:
Wasilla Bible Church

2. Then mail your check to:

Wasilla Bible Church
1651 W. Nicola Avenue
Wasilla, Alaska 99654

Address courtesy of Team Sarah

Friday, December 12, 2008

GM Idles Local Michigan Plants

Both Lansing Grand River Assembly and Lansing Delta Assembly plants will stop their production lines for the entire month of January.

General Motors Corp. says it is part of a plan to cut another 250,000 vehicles from its first-quarter production schedule by temporarily closing 21 factories across North America.Friday's announcement expands previously announced closings at the local plants.GM and nearly all automakers who sell in the U.S. are mired in the worst sales slump in 26 years.

Employees at more than a dozen local part suppliers -- companies that directly supply the Lansing Grand River and Delta Township plants will be effected also.

Companies like Alliance Interiors, Bridgewater Interiors, Leer,and trucking company Comprehensive Logistics will see cutbacks.WILX-TV

Lansing Grand River Assembly produces Cadillac CTS, Cadillac SRX, STS, CTS-V and STS-V.

LGR has approximately 1,427 Hourly and 210 Salary employees.
LGR opened in 2001 and is considered "the gold standard for GM manufacturing — highly flexible, lean employment levels, profitable and able to crank out models with few defects. It is GM’s best hope of competing head-to-head with efficient U.S. manufacturing plants run by Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other foreign rivals." The Detroit News

Lansing Delta Assembly produces GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and the Buick Enclave.

LDA has approximately 3,396 Hourly and 261 Salary employees.
LDA opened in 2006 and "The state-of-the-art facility...collects rainwater on its roof and uses it to flush toilets--one of the environmentally friendly practices that has made it the only auto plant in the world to earn gold-level certification with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system."InformationWeek

Lansing Grand River Assembly and Lansing Delta Assembly plants are the only new production plants GM has built in North America since the Saturn Plant in Spring Hill,Tennessee in 1991.

On a personal note I worked as an hourly Administrative Assistant for Body, Paint and General Assembly at Lansing Grand River shortly before I retired this year. And I am of course saddened by the news for the GM family and my community.

Merry Tossmas 2008!





Christmas "friendly" Retailers




Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cash-Strapped Electric Car Companies Seeking Federal Funds Too

Wall Street Journal

The heads of the struggling Detroit auto makers aren't the only car makers looking for help from Washington. The electric vehicle industry has its hands out, too.

If anything, representatives of the electric and electrified vehicle business jumped ahead of the "legacy" auto industry in the transportation bailout queue that formed in the nation's capital last week. A conference sponsored by the Electric Drive Transportation Association attracted a crowd of electric vehicle manufacturers and their boosters to Washington's convention center during the first half of the week.

Officials from the Department of Energy on Monday presented tips to attendees on how electric vehicle companies could apply for federal loans. The CEOs of the legacy car industry – General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC -- didn't get to town with their begging bowls until Thursday.

Joseph White talks with Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, about government support, research and development and the cost of driving electric vehicles. (Dec. 7)

The electric-vehicle industry positions itself as the future of personal transportation. President-elect Barack Obama is now the industry's highest ranking advocate. He's said he wants to see one million plug-in vehicles by 2015, as part of his broader goal to end U.S. dependence on Mideast oil.

But right now, the electric-vehicle community has a lot of the same problems as the legacy car business, and a few more besides. Brian Wynne, the head of the EDTA, says manufacturers in his group need the government's help now.
"We have a gap," he says. "We need to get over this gap."

The credit crunch and the economic slump are slamming the crop of electric-vehicle companies that sprung up in recent years, fueled in part by Silicon Valley venture-capital money.

FiskerTesla Motors LLC, once the darling of the green car movement, is now scrambling to stay afloat and is asking for a $400 million loan from the same $25 billion federal Energy Department program that Detroit's car makers are looking to tap in their own fight for survival.

Tesla is now taking some flak for seeking handouts from taxpayers, most of whom could never afford its current product, a racy electric sports car that starts at more than $100,000. Detroit's chiefs might say: Welcome to our world.

The electric-vehicle industry's need for government assistance doesn't stop with subsidized loans.

Mr. Wynne says the government's existing tax credits for purchases of electrified vehicles – meaning all-electric and gas-electric hybrids – should be expanded. Currently the credits, which range from $2,500 for a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a four kilowatt per hour battery pack to as much as $7,500 for an electric vehicle weighing under 10,000 pounds. (There are larger credits up to $15,000 for bigger, commercial electric and hybrid vehicles.) But these credits start to fade away once 250,000 such vehicles are sold. "We'll need more head room," Mr. Wynne says.

(Since now it looks like the Big 3 will get a loan there is any doubt that Barack Obama will not extend the handout to one of his pet projects? And in fact may combine the two as part of the loan to the Big 3)

The U.S. should also do more to promote development of advanced vehicle batteries, he says. After access to capital, batteries are one of the biggest anxieties among U.S.-based electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers – from the Detroit Three down to the smallest Silicon Valley EV upstart. Right now, there's no company producing advanced automotive batteries suitable for electric vehicles or hybrids in the U.S., Mr. Wynne says.

To the extent that such batteries are made in volume anywhere, it's in Japan, Korea or elsewhere in Asia. Executives at GM and Ford and their major U.S. based suppliers worry that when push comes to shove, expensive Asian battery making capacity will be dedicated first to Asian auto makers – mainly hybrid leader Toyota Motor Corp.

Moreover, trading U.S.-made gasoline engine blocks for Asian-made battery packs might not be quite what Congress had in mind when it decided to offer loans backed by U.S. tax money to subsidize electric-vehicle production.

Finally, U.S. electric-vehicle makers are hoping that the government can be not just the financier of last resort, but also a customer. "The federal government owns 600,000 vehicles," Mr. Wynne says. The government should be a buyer for electric vehicles – not just cars, but commercial vehicles.

There's no question that the electric-vehicle industry has scrambled to a higher plateau during the past few years. The association's conference included a small auto show where visitors could stroll from a prototype of GM's Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, to a full-sized hybrid city bus made by Germany's Daimler AG, to a tiny, electric dump truck made by e-Ride Industries, a maker of neighborhood electric vehicles and small work vehicles that are catching on in places like national parks and college campuses.

Established auto makers, including Toyota, GM, Chrysler, Nissan Motor Co., all are talking about plans to field significant numbers of partially electric or fully electric vehicles over the next several years. Powerful interest groups – many of them members of Mr. Wynne's organization – see profit potential in diverting more of the money spent on transportation from the oil industry toward the electric utility industry – with a few dollars sprinkled on the technology industry (for new "smart" grid software and other enabling systems.)

Not so long ago, the electric-vehicle industry's moment seemed to have arrived, after nearly a century of frustration and failure. Soaring oil prices, technology advances and the enthusiasm of deep pocketed investors appeared to be coming together to overcome the obstacles that have relegated electric vehicles to the auto market's sidelines since the days of Thomas Edison.

Now, oil prices have crashed, clouding the economic case for switching to expensive battery-boosted cars. Investors are holding on to their cash, forcing companies like Tesla to scale back and scrounge for funding. And the legacy car makers – whose support for battery-boosted vehicles will be crucial if electric vehicles are to achieve sufficient sales volume to drive down costs – are on the ropes.

Long term, Mr. Wynne says, the case for switching the fuel for our daily commutes to electricity still makes sense, in terms of costs per mile, national security and environmental preservation.
"The short term," he says, "is tough."

Friday, December 5, 2008

National Parks to Allow Right-to-Carry

NRA

Friday, December 05, 2008

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), through the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has announced the final amended version of its changes to rules on carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. DOI’s move will restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes on most DOI lands, and will make federal law consistent with the state law in which these public lands are located. NRA led the effort to amend the existing policy regarding the carrying and transportation of firearms on these federal lands.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of the Interior brings clarity and uniformity for law-abiding gun owners visiting our national parks,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges.”

DOI announced the rule change today and will publish the new regulations in the Federal Register. The new regulations allow right-to-carry permit holders to exercise their Second Amendment rights on national park and wildlife refuges in those states that recognize such permits. The move will provide consistency across our nation’s federal lands and put an end to the patchwork of regulations that governed different lands managed by different federal agencies. In the past, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands allowed the carrying of firearms, while lands managed by DOI did not.

NRA has long held that amendments to those regulations were needed to reflect the changed legal situations with respect to state laws on carrying firearms. Earlier this year, fifty-one U.S. Senators sent a strong bipartisan letter to the DOI supporting the move to make state firearms laws applicable to national park lands and refuges.

“These changes respect the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens as they enjoy our public lands,” concluded Cox. “We applaud the Interior Department’s efforts to amend these out of date regulations


As a single female hiker who with my dog hikes in National Parks, (like Glacier National Park pictured above) this is great news! My 2nd Amendment rights nor my ability to protect myself from animals ( or human) should not stop at the border of a National Park.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How about Some Good Michigan News for a Change?

Spartan Motors Defies Economy, Posts Sales Increase of 59.5 Percent

Capital Gains, 12/3/2008

Charlotte, MI-based Spartan Motors saw its third quarter net sales increase by 59.5 percent from its 2007 third quarter results.

Spartan reported record third quarter net earnings of $14.7 million, compared with net earnings of $2.6 million the same quarter of 2007.

"This was an excellent quarter for Spartan, especially given the tumultuous national economic environment," says president and CEO, John Sztykiel.

"Our market diversification and flexible manufacturing model continue to allow us to grow and profitably compete in difficult times. During the quarter, we ramped up production rapidly and efficiently to complete a sizable military order.”

The 2008 third quarter results represent the best third quarter in the company’s history.

"Our military role is evolving from a rapid production and deployment stage to a long-term sustainment and partnership model, marked by smaller volumes of a wider range of mine-protected variants,” Sztykiel says. “Emergency-rescue continues to be a great foundation with tremendous opportunity."

Spartan Motors was also recently recognized by the U.S. Military for its rapid production and deployment of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

Interesting sidebar about this is the history of Spartan Motors:

Spartan Motors, Inc. got its start in 1976 outside of Lansing, Michigan, when a small group of automotive engineers who lost their jobs due to a bankruptcy decided to draw on their collective expertise and launch their own company.

Their formula was simple: build a high-quality custom product for a specific consumer, sell it at a fair price and provide great service. The team designed, built and delivered its first custom fire truck cab and chassis a few months later – and Spartan Chassis was born

And Spartan Motors in a non-Union plant

GM Restructuring Plan for Long-Term Viability and Interactive map of US auto Jobs




Submitted to Senate Banking Committee & House of Representatives Financial Services Committee
December 2, 2008

GM Plan

Its long and I have not had time to read it all yet but wanted to get it posted.

Also Interactive map that displays the number of auto jobs across the country.

241,883 total auto jobs in Michigan

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hundreds gather as UAW addresses domestic auto crisis

Louis Aguilar
Detroit News

DETROIT -- Hundreds of United Auto Workers locals have converged at the Marriott Hotel in the Renaissance Center this morning, and many are prepared to be asked by top UAW leaders to reopen national labor agreements that will allow for a vast overhaul of the way autoworkers are paid, the health and retiree benefits they receive, and determine how many will hold on to their jobs.

The local leaders said it was unclear if they were going to vote today on reopening, which is the first step toward a general vote for its 139,000 active workers. But on Tuesday, each of the Detroit automakers made it clear they intend to reopen the 2007 labor agreements.....

They could save some $$ by eliminating benefits to partners of same-sex couple. Anyone discussing that??

The Big Three automakers -- DaimlerChrysler,, General Motors and Ford Motor -- announced in June that they would offer health benefits to the same-sex partners of their 466,000 hourly and salaried employees in the United States. This was a ''landmark move'' in the effort by corporate America to provide such benefits for gay and lesbian couples, the report concluded.


I could not find much on the cost of providing these benefits however

A 2005 Hewitt Associates study revealed that a majority of employers experience a total benefits cost increase of less than 1 percent.

Several studies have shown that enrollment rates tend to be in the 1 percent to 2 percent range.

2% of 446,000 is over 93,000

93,000 @ $395 for health care for active workers and $950 for retirees. Equals for active workers $36,735.000.00 and for retirees $88,350.000.00

Total $125,085.000.00

Eliminating same sex couple partner benefits is an over 25 million savings to GM.

So if we are going to talk about eliminating benefits for actual employees...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Saul Anuzis on Hugh Hewitt discussing the importance of Tech

As you know by now our own Saul Anuzis is running for RNC chairman. Yesterday he was a guest on Townhall contributor, Hugh Hewitt's radio show discussing among other things, the role of technology in running campaigns AND winning elections.

Saul highlighted the importance of blogging, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube as the new medium for grassroots organization, assimilating information and reaching voters. Saul himself is on the cutting edge in using this new technology, having his own blog, Twittering , Facebook and YouTube.

Saul noted that Barack Obama was very successful in using these new forms of media technology in his campaign and had over 60,000 people following him on Twitter.

On ScienceDaily Dr. Paul Haridakis, associate professor of Communication Studies at Kent State University and a long-time scholar in the area of the impact of media on the political landscape in the U.S. writes about the new social media in an article entitled "Social Media And Presidential Election: Impact Of YouTube, MySpace"

He states, "Many people will watch videos and use traditional media like TV to acquire political information about the candidates, but they also are going to the Internet and using social networking sites to see who people they know support. The information gleaned from their social networks may be the information they find most credible and persuasive.

They'll listen to their buddy on his MySpace page, not necessarily the traditional messengers that candidates employ to reach out to the voters, or even the candidates themselves.

That exploits the power of social media pretty well," Haridakis says. "The candidates in this election season have not fully harnessed the power of these tools."

Saul wants to "fully harness the power" of these tools into the Republican party and rightly so. As Dr.Haridakis notes, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Internet TV are the new media and will become increasing important and utilized in all new campaigns and are becoming vital to winning.

Kudos to Saul for bringing this to the fore front for the Republican party and all you bloggers out there, keep doing what you do!

And if you haven't yet checked out or use some of the other methods of social media mentioned,I encourage you to do so.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Extreme MakeOver Home Edition in Holt, MI on Tonight! 11-30-08

Ty Pennington and the Extreme MakeOver Home Edition worked their magic in my community Holt, Michigan. As a matter of fact, the location is just down the road from me.

The family was the Nickless's

Tim and Arlene Nickless bought an 1860s-era house in Holt, hoping to fix it up for their family, but it wasn't meant to be. Arlene lost her husband, a nurse, in January after a seven-year battle with hepatitis C. Tim contracted the disease after being pricked with a patent's contaminated needle. Arlene was left in need of emotional and financial support and with a house that was worsening in condition. Detroit Free Press

And Arlene was left a widow with three young sons to raise.

SIDEBAR: I have a very dear friend with Hepatitis C. Although most people have heard of it, very few people know much about the virus. Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver and affects approximately 4 million or 2% of Americans, and more than 100 million persons worldwide. It is called a "silent killer" because often there are no symptoms, you may have it for years before a blood test reveals it. However some people experience flu-like symptoms There is no vaccine for Hep C and current treatment is a combo of drugs taken over months that is chemo-like in its effect. The University of Michigan has a national and international renown state-of-the-art care and a cutting edge research program for Hep C. Diet also plays a role in management and can aid the health of the liver and prevent further damage. Hep C is spread by contact with an infected person's blood.

You could get hepatitis C by:

Sharing drug needles. (even years ago)

Getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it Hospital workers can get hepatitis C this way, this is how Tim Nickless contracted Hep C

Having sex with an infected person, especially if you or your partner has other sexually transmitted diseases

Being born to a mother with hepatitis C

If you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992

In rare cases, getting a tattoo or body piercing with
unsterilized, dirty tools

If you fit in any of these categories, even if it has been years since you were a drug user, you need to get a Hep C blood test done by your doctor ASAP.

BACK TO Extreme Makeover in Holt

After Ty Pennington send Arlene and her sons on vacation to Disney Land, local contractors begin the demolition of the 1860s farmhouse. Then the construction by Mayberry Homes. of a new 3,300 square-foot home in a mere 106 hours!

And it is true, a small army of local people, 1,500 volunteers, work around the clock building, and furnishing the house. My niece volunteered and her shift started at midnight. Large floodlights kept the site well-lit.

As the home was being constructed Dean Transportation ran buses from K-Mart to the site so local folks could get a look at the home being built.

I decided to take the trip myself. The atmosphere at the site was carnival-like. Local radio stations were there. Extreme Makeover had a tent selling their gear, and kids played, groups of folks milling around talking,taking pictures and movies (yes I took some but you have to watch tonight to see for yourself!) as we watched the the activity of the home being built.

And now the home is built, the Nickless family has moved in and we can watch, not just the home being built but a wonderful story of a community helping one of their own.

Mayberry Homes is hosting a special viewing tonight for the community at the Breslin Center on the MSU Campus. A “Thank you mid Michigan! An Extreme Celebration” event to thank the volunteers and contractors who donated their time to the five-day project.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Entertainment, including Three Men and a Tenor, and giveaways will be provided throughout the night. Admission and parking is free and concessions available.

For the those not living in the Greater Lansing Area, Extreme MakeOver Home Edition, Holt, Michigan can be seen on ABC, this Sunday, Nov. 30th 8pm/7central.

Friday, November 28, 2008

BLACK FRIDAY


Well the 2008 official Christmas shopping season has started. I however will not partake. At least not in the bricks and mortar. Nope I prefer to let my fingers do the walking and shop online.

Internet merchants used to have their own version of Black Friday but it was the Monday proceeding, Black Monday. However it seems this year, because of the economy no doubt, this has been bumped up.
That was a short tradition.

Nevertheless, I have decided this Christmas because of the economy to forgo giving gifts (except my mom) and instead give what money I would normally spend on gifts to various charities. I hate to keep repeating,"with the economy" but its true that giving will most likely to be down this Christmas.

There are so many worthy organizations needing assistance now. Giving to a local charity like food banks, and Toy for Tots and local Angel Trees helps your own community and Michigan.

However when shopping please consider patronized those merchants who embrace "Christmas" "Christmas-friendly" retailers — prominent acknowledgment of "Christmas"
Focus on the Family Actions 2008 Christmas-Friendly Shopping Guide List

However if you are looking for a great gift for the conservative(s) on your list.

These books should be required reading for every American but certainly for every conservative. They are:

The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution - W. Cleon Skousen

The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World - W. Cleon Skousen

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression - Amity Shlaes

I buy my books online,usually Amazon, good deals on used books in great condition.

HAPPY SHOPPING!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hate Crimes Bill Passes Michigan House

Hate Crimes Bill Passes Michigan House
Citizens for Traditional Values
AND American Family Assoication

Say No to House Bill 6341
Review the legislation here.

"Hate Crimes" legislation has been used in many instances by homosexual activists as a "wedge" to boost the public's acceptance of homosexual behavior and to insert language in the law toward that end. Although this effort might appeal to our compassion for victims, it is really a Trojan Horse that should be opposed. There are already laws on the books to punish assault or other crimes committed against any person. In other places this type of legislation is followed by efforts to use the force of law to silence any opposition to the "political agenda" of homosexual activists, including anyone who has a differing opinion or set of values.

From AFA:

Please take a few moments to watch this short video that shows a little sample of what can happen if the Michigan state Senate passes HB 6341, the so-called "hate crimes" bill. Watch this unbelievable video and then forward it to others, especially your pastor. It is the story of what happened to a Christian couple when they said that homosexuality is a sin.




Unfortunately we are a bit behind on this issue, and much to our disappointment it passed the House with a wide margin. The Bill will be now taken up by the State Senate and we must take action. The Legislature is currently in a lame duck session which means that there are a lot of items on the agenda before the end of the year.

Disclaimer: Let it be known that CTV does not practice or advocate "hate" toward anyone - regardless of their behavioral choices or political views. We are simply engaged in a civil dialogue from our Judeo-Christian world view about what is best in terms of the laws that govern society in general and Michigan in specific.

ACTION NEEDED! Contact your State Senator today!

The Bill will be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 2. They need to hear from you now!

Judiciary Committee Members

Wayne Kuipers, Chair (R)
Alan Cropsey, Vice Chair (R)
Alan Sanborn (R)
Bruce Patterson (R)
Tony Stamas (R)
Gretchen Whitmer, Minority Vice Chair (D)
Hansen Clarke (D)
Michael Prusi (D)

In addition, contact your State Senator in the event that the Bill passes out of Committee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Behind The Bias: A Drive For 'Social Justice'

IBD
By DENNIS PRAGER
Tuesday, November 25,2008

That the news media were biased in the 2008 presidential election is now acknowledged by fair-minded people, left or right.

As Time Magazine's Mark Halperin said last weekend at a Politico/USC Conference on the 2008 election:
"It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business. . . . It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."

Given how obvious this bias is, the question is not whether liberals in the media tend to offer biased reporting. The question is why? Why can't liberal news people report the news without any slant?

Lack Of Objectivity

The answer is that for people on the left, all — I repeat, all — professions are a means to an end, not ends in themselves. That end is the social transformation of society, meaning the promoting of "social justice" as the left understands that term.

For most liberal news reporters, therefore, the purpose of news reporting is not to report news as objectively as possible. The purpose of the media in general and of reporting specifically is to promote social justice and the social transformation of society.

For most liberal judges, the primary purpose of being a judge is to promote social justice and transform society. That is why liberal judges are so much more likely to be judicial activists than conservative judges. Most liberal judges do not see their roles as merely adjudicating a dispute according to the law. They see their role primarily as using the law and their power to rule on the law to promote social justice.

For most university professors — and many high school teachers, as well — outside of the natural sciences and math, the same holds true. The task of a teacher is to teach, i.e., to convey the most important information as honestly as possible. But, again, this conflicts with the social justice goal of the left.

History teachers who merely teach history are of little use to the left. History — and English and political science, and sociology and other liberal arts — teachers must use their classroom to produce young people who will wish to engage in society-transforming work for social justice.
For most liberals in the arts (there are very few conservatives in the arts) there is no denial of their having an agenda. They state quite candidly that the purpose of the arts is to challenge the (conservative) status quo, to raise political and social consciousness by advancing a "progressive" political and social agenda.

Distorting Science

The artist whose agenda is merely to produce beautiful art is looked upon as a reactionary buffoon, and is not likely to be taken seriously — no matter how talented — in the worlds of music, dance, painting, and sculpture. Even the natural sciences are increasingly subject to being rendered a means to a "progressive" end.

There was the pseudo-threat of heterosexual AIDS in America — science manipulated in order to de-stigmatize AIDS as primarily a gay man's disease and to increase funding for AIDS research. There are the exaggerated secondhand smoke data popularized so as to decrease smoking and fight "Big Tobacco."

And now we have the scientifically questionable belief in man-made carbon emissions causing global warming leading to natural catastrophe — and recommended "solutions" many of which, if adopted, will serve the goal of undermining corporate capitalism.

The best analogy of the directing of all human endeavors toward a left-wing purpose would be those early medieval centuries of European life when just about everything man-made was supposed to reflect a religious consciousness. Virtually nothing stood apart from the Church. The arts were religious, the sciences were handmaidens of theology, and schools were religious in nature.

Most moderns look upon that period as a dark age — perhaps a bit unfairly at times. But the people who most scorn what they deem the religious "Dark Ages" are trying to build a secular-left dark age in our time. Because the left is a religion, a substitute for the Christianity it seeks to displace.

Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins).
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate, Inc

Friday, November 21, 2008

REP. Thaddeus McCotter Defends Auto Industry Smacks Down Dems CAFE

REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER (R-MI): I thank the chairman. Thank you for your indulgence, and I will have an opening statement and some questions, and I'll try not to take up too much time. And if I cover ground that you already have, please feel free to disregard it and put in your own points.

I come from Michigan's 11th District. My district borders Detroit. Heavy automotive industry. Lot of dealers, lot of suppliers, lot of white collar, lot of blue-collar employees.

One of the first things I would like to make clear that I personally find offensive is the implication that the domestic American auto industry has not done anything since the 1970s to restructure.

If anyone believes that the Big Three were not restructuring prior to the credit crisis bringing them here today, or the CAFE mandates that have brought them here today, I invite you to my district.

I invite you to look at how the fragile fabric of people's lives has been rendered asunder by a necessary restructuring process that has involved give and take on both sides, from labor and management.

I will show you the white-collar workers that are out of work. I will show you the blue-collar workers that are out of work. I will show you the pensioners that are worried about their health retirement benefits being lost. And I will show you the Wixom Assembly Plant that is closed.
I bring this up not for your pity for my constituents. I bring this up to show you that the automotive companies and the UAW have been doing what they believe they possibly can to restructure and become globally competitive and ensure that America has a domestic manufacturing base for the generations to come.

The second point I wish to bring up is why they're here. Throughout the entire process of the restructuring, we would hear rumors in Washington that the Big Three were coming for a federal assistance package, for one reason or another. And yet, as the white- collar workforce and the blue-collar workforce and the pensioners suffered the restructuring, they did not come.

They did not come to Washington with their hands out. They were not here begging, as it has been pejoratively put in the press. They wanted to restructure, without us making it harder for them to do so.
Unfortunately, the first thing we did as Congress was we passed a $100 billion CAFE-standard mandate on the auto industry, which would have been far worse had it not been for the strenuous efforts of the dean of the United States Congress, John Dingell.

Secondly, through no fault of their own, as they went through the restructuring process, the whiz kids on Wall Street, with their computer algorithms, decided to screw up the entire credit market of the United States. This was critical to the restructuring of the auto industry.
And then this Congress, in my opinion, passed a very bad piece of legislation, a $700 billion bailout of the very people on Wall Street who caused the problem. And now you see hundreds of billions of dollars slated to go to, quote-unquote, "healthy banks" to free up the credit system -- that has yet to free up, or they would not be here today.

So the question that the chairman puts before us in terms of the legislation he is proposing is to me not a matter of a bad policy that has already been imposed on the American people and has yet to work. It becomes a question of equity.

If the $25 billion is appropriated for Wall Street -- some of it probably targeted to healthy institutions, financial institutions, however nebulously defined -- a no-vote on a bridge loan to the auto industry means that that 25 billion (dollars) will continue to go to Wall Street and to healthy banks.
A yes vote means that it actually goes to Main Street, not just for the structure of the Big Three, the labor leaders, the auto leaders, but for the very hard-working men and people whose taxes have gone into the $700 billion bailout, which has yet to free up the credit markets.

So we are in the realm of equity here. And while I did not support that bad policy, we had here yesterday Secretary Paulson, who explained that he believed one of the fundamental problems that we face in stabilizing our financial system is the problem with home foreclosures.

I would agree with that. I would agree that the biggest problem we have are real working people's ability to pay to stay in the homes that they have.
If we turn our back on Main Street, if we continue to send all the money to Wall Street, who caused the problem, and the auto industry does have to go into bankruptcy, you will see foreclosure rates in this country skyrocket from people who have played by the rules and are currently paying their mortgages and are not part of the problem that Mr. Paulson says is already big enough to be worthy of addressing.

Finally, I want to issue -- address the issue of labor costs. I have long said that one of the problems Michigan suffers is the fact that we are currently still operating under the industrial welfare model of governance. And this is where the Big Three and the UAW get a very bad rap.

They talk about, quote, "shedding labor costs" that have been duly negotiated, because it makes them uncompetitive. My response to that is, where do those labor costs go?

The traditional model of governance throughout the 20th century of the United States, because we were an industrial power, was that business would pick up some of the benefits of employees and government would pick up some of the social needs of employees. And there was always the tension as to which would do what, but you had two pillars to help undergird American prosperity.

As we move into what people call the new global economy, the post-industrial economy, my question is this: If the business entities, in negotiation with labor entities, decide that they can no longer be competitive with these "labor costs," quote-unquote, where do those go?

They're going to go to the federal government. And so we have another instance where we can be penny wise and pound foolish, and we can say we're not sending a $25 billion loan to help the auto industry survive, and we can let real human beings go into the process of bankruptcy and watch the stresses and strains on their families as they endure that pain.

And you will not have saved the American taxpayers anything, because the pension costs will be picked up somewhere from the retirees who were cheated out of a lifetime of hard work. You will see the healthcare costs of hard working people that they have enjoyed because of the fruit of their labor put into the federal system. And you will see prosperity throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country crash and you won't have enough worker retraining money to take care of their needs.

And finally, for some of my more conservative friends, I point this out: if America does not have a manufacturing base, a manufacturing base which some may think is not necessary in this new global world, the United States will cease to be able to defend itself. We will be reliant on other nations for the innovative technologies, not only their creation but their provision, from friendly nations such as communist China and others, and the arsenal of democracy in our lifetime will have been dismantled in a time of war.

In the end, this issue is even larger than the Big Three, in many ways larger than the economy. It is what type of nation do we become. Do we become a nation that no longer produces wealth, that no longer has a path to middle class prosperity? Do we remain the America we inherited? Or do we just let it go and watch real people suffer in the process?

And my answer is no. Now if you can find a question in there, my hat's off to you. Thank you. (Applause.)

Sign of the Times Bigfoot RV Industries Closes its Doors



When I first started this blog is was mostly an commentary on a lot of subjects. One of the subjects was RVs (rigs). My plans for retirement included selling my home and buying a rig and doing full time traveling. I wanted not only to travel and explore this amazingly beautiful country of mine but also to determine just where I wanted to "hang my hat" permanently.

So I did what I do, which is a lot of research to educate myself on RVs. The first thing that needs to be determined is what kind of camping you want to do. Will you be mostly staying in camps and hooked up to electricity and water or do you mostly want to "boondock". Boondocking is not being in camp or hooked up and using either a generator or solar or a combination of both for your power. Boondockers usually want to be off the grid so they can be in more remote spots.

I wanted to mostly boondock so I knew I wanted a smaller rig that could get back into the more secluded places.

But what kind? A Class C, a fifth wheel or a travel trailer?

I went to an RV Conference in Bowling Green, KY to get some answers. Life on Wheels a popular educational series for RV enthusiasts held each year at college campuses across the United States which unfortunately has been discontinued after 14 successful years.

I also attended an Escapees Escapade in Van Wirt, OH. Escapees is the largest RV Association and the Escapade is a get together of RVers from all over the country and they also hold educational Seminars.

I joined several RV Forums, like iRV2.com and Escapees Forum and asked lots of questions also.

So I started out with thinking a small Class C and choose a LazyDaze because of their reputation and quality. However, I kept coming back to having to unplug the Class C if I was in camp before I could go anywhere.
And I knew I didn't want a toad (a toad is any vehicle you tow behind your rig)

So I started re-thinking and came back to what an RV tech said at Life on Wheels, "Complexity Kills". Travel trailer are the least complex of all RVs so you are less likely to have problems. Plus having a truck and trailer eliminates having to unplug at camp to go anywhere or having a toad.

So back to the drawing board. After researching out travel trailers I decided on a Bigfoot. Bigfoot is a Canadian company making high end quality molded fiberglass RVs. The shell of a Bigfoot is made by molds and then seemed together. The fiberglass makes the Bigfoot lighter but is also strong. The Bigfoot is also a "4 season" camper as it has extra insulation, heated enclosed holding tanks, and Thermal-pane windows. Perfect!

So I joined FiberglassRv.com a RV forum for other Fiberglass enthusiasts to learn AND look for a used 21ft Bigfoot rig. My dream rig!

Put my house up for sale and began planning.

Then the waiting,and then the housing bubble, then the recession, then a Marxist wins the election...then Bigfoot closes its doors.

Bigfoot a company who has been in business for thirty-one years.

What happened?

According to Beau Durkee, Sales Representative for Bigfoot Industries.

TCM: What happened at Bigfoot this morning?

Beau: The major crediting bank for Bigfoot shut the company down. The bank’s decision came as a surprise to Bigfoot. We were willing to ride out this economic storm and absorb some losses, but the bank was not.

TCM: Is the Bigfoot closure permanent?

Beau: Yes. This is a permanent shut down and closure. If the company ever does restart, it would be something completely new.

Another victim of the Democrat engineered economic meltdown.

What this means is that used Bigfoots, never easy to come by, will become even harder to find now as most people will hold on to theirs. Dealers will lower their prices however a new 21ft Bigfoot can run almost $45,000!

The only manufactures of molded fiberglass rigs now are the Escape a Canadian company, Oliver made in Tennessee and the Michigan made Egg Camper. All are high end, quality but newer manufacturers so used rigs are almost non-existent. New ones run from $17,000 for the Egg Camper, which is not intended in my opinion for full timing as the Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) is small and so are the holding tanks. To the more expensive Escape, BASE price of $23,900 for a 19ft and $26,900 for a fifth wheel and the Oliver, BASE price for 17ft around $30,000.

So my dream rig, my Bigfoot is gone, just like my dream of retirement travel, full timing across America.

Well maybe not gone, put on hold. But for how long? Its a question looking for an answer.

Seems like all the news nowadays is only bad *sigh*

These are times that try men's souls...Thomas Paine

But what can you do but press on and fix your eyes on Jesus?

Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The times, they are a-changin’- A GM Retiree's Perspective


I ran across this paper from my 2005 Writing class, titled "The times, they are a-changin’" in which I wrote about GM’s financial woes. Since then I have retired and the question I asked then " "Will it be too little too late to save GM?" is still being answered.

As a retiree who worked for General Motors for 30 years, my ties are not just financial but emotional as well. I remember the "hay days," when we sold a history making amount of autos. I remember working six days a week, nine hour days in order to supply America with the cars they wanted. I remember the Toronado line, Oldsmobile 98's and 88's, and Cutlasses that were produced here in Lansing.

And its from that perspective, as an insider, a former employee, a current retiree of General Motors, I believe the best interest of the company would be to go into Chapter 11. I do not say this lightly as I have a huge financial stake in the outcome, my health care is on the line and my pension could be reduced. However, with that being said, I believe Chapter 11 to be in the best interest of not only GM but Michigan and other "Union states" for several reasons.

1. The ability to make the UAW Union contract null and void

In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled that employers can unilaterally break an existing collective bargaining contract upon filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition.

2. Keeps doing business and its stock and bonds may continue to trade in our securities markets. This is extremely important as almost 4% of the Gross Domestic Product is auto-related. Three million U.S. jobs ( and families) are dependent on the health of U.S. automakers, and they are not all in the Midwest.

3. Hold debt at bay while restructuring for profitability

Federal bankruptcy laws govern how companies go out of business or recover from crippling debt. A bankrupt company, the "debtor," might use Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to "reorganize" its business and try to become profitable again. Management continues to run the day-to-day business operations but all significant business decisions must be approved by a bankruptcy court.

The question is, do GM Executives have the fortitude to try and entangle themselves from the chains of the Union in a Chapter 11?

In an e-mail I received from GM which asks employees to write/call their reps to encourage the "bridge loan", GM addresses the Myth of "GM’s biggest problem in North America is its union contracts" :

As The most recent GM-UAW agreement, signed in 2007, helps close fundamental competitive gaps with our import competitors, and we anticipate significant savings as we implement the key provisions of the agreement between now and 2010.

GM’s unionized North American factories compete with the best in terms of quality and productivity.

We are confident that a collaborative relationship with our unions continues to be in everyone’s best interest.

August 26, 2008

But then at this point what can they say as the UAW with its support of Barack Obama and Democrats is the best hope of a "bridge loan".

However with all the GM bashing, the fact is that GM has made significant improvements. In the last contract in 2007. GM freed itself of its obligation to pay health care benefits to its nearly 400,000 retirees and their dependents by setting up a multi-billion-dollar union-controlled trust fund—known as a Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association, or VEBA, that will pay out benefits. In addition, the agreement establishes a two-tier wage system—the first ever in a national UAW contract—that will drastically reduce wages and benefits for the next generation of auto workers.

Cost-of-living increases will be diverted to help offset the cost of retiree health benefits. The four-year contract includes three lump-sum bonuses but no wage increases, The two-tier wage agreed to by the UAW will reduce labor costs (wages and benefits) for new-hires in so-called “non-assembly jobs” to an average of $27 per hour, compared with the current average of $73 per hour. The union and company will offer buyouts and early-retirements to move current workers out of their jobs, so they can be replaced with far cheaper labor

The jobs bank, which pays laid off workers while they are jobless, will be changed so that the geographical area within which workers will have to move to an open position or lose their incomes will be expanded

In addition:

GM cars and trucks have improved significantly over the past decade. Critics are taking note, and customers are responding.

In 2007, the Saturn Aura, and Chevy Silverado won North American Car and Truck of the year.

In 2008, the Chevy Malibu was named North American Car of the Year, The Cadillac CTS was Motor Trend’s 2008 Car of the Year.

Customers have responded just as enthusiastically as the critics. Although total U.S. vehicle sales are down almost 13% so far this year, a number of GM cars and crossovers have enjoyed significant sales increases:

Saturn Vue +5%
Chevy Cobalt +6%
Pontiac G6 + 8%
GMC Acadia +8%
Saturn Aura +10%
Cadillac CTS +25%
Chevy Malibu +36%
Pontiac Vibe +39%
Buick Enclave +124%

October 1, 2008

However as I have said I also have an emotional tie to GM as a large part of my life up to this time was spend as an employee and part of the GM culture. But its not just that, GM IS part of not only Michigan's heritage and culture but America's also, a great American automobile company,conceived and build by Americans.

From the 1905 song, "In My Merry Oldsmobile", to the 1950's image of Dinah Shore throwing a kiss after singing,"See the USA in Your Chevrolet". Mel Torme's "What a thrill to take the wheel of a Rocket Oldsmobile!" To Bob Seger’s "Like a Rock" Chevy Truck To Cadillac's "Breakthtrough" commercials with Led Zepplin. Great GM "muscle cars", Chevy Chevelle ss 454, Chevy Camaro Z/28, Olds 442. And GM cars and trucks in the movies

Add to that the GM cars and trucks driven by millions of Americans throughout its history. And generations of Americans who worked hard, raised their families and built their communities as GM employees.

GM is a part of the American Landscape and Experience. There is an old saying, What’s good for GM is good for America”. Although perhaps in a smaller measure now, I still believe that’s true.


November 23, 2005

The times, they are a-changin’
Bob Dylan

September 18, 1978. To most it’s just another day without any significance To me, this date proved to be a milestone in my life.

September 18, 1978 was the day I started my career at General Motors (GM).GM had just opened a new assembly plant that summer in Lansing. I was one of 20,000 new GM employees. My staring wage was $6.50, per hour (good money then) plus benefits. GM employees build over 359,825 Oldsmobile’s that year. (Lansing Production 4 )

Fast-forward 27 years. The same plant where I started working in 1978 closed in May of 2005 and will soon be demolished. Total number of GM employees in Lansing is approximately 6,200. My hourly wage is over $27.00 plus benefits. GM build approximately 240,000 vehicles the year before the assembly plant was closed. Most astonishingly, GM’s debt rating has been downgraded to junk bond status. Immediate costs saving cuts are needed to stave off bankruptcy. As I write this paper, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has just set a precedent by opening up its contract with GM before it expires in 2007 to re-negotiate for concessions in health benefits and wages for its membership.

So who is responsible for the financial descent of one of America’s largest corporations? Some will say the culprit is management, while others contend the UAW as a whole is to blame. As a GM employee of 27 years, I feel I am in the unique position to make a qualified judgement regarding the downfall of GM. I believe that both management and the UAW share the responsibility. However, ultimately, I believe that the burden of blame rests with management.

First, let’s review the UAW’s role in GM’s current crises. Foremost is the UAW contractual costs incurred by GM. Contractual demands for higher wages and benefits have increased with each contract. These costs have made it unfeasible for GM to be competitive with other automobile companies and make a profit in a global economy. Health care costs are exponentially higher for GM than many other companies and are unaffordable. For example, “UAW workers currently pay 7 percent to 10 percent of their health-insurance costs, compared with 20 percent for GM’s white- collar workers and 40 percent for Americans generally, according to union data.” ( GM Powertrain par 33 )

In addition to unaffordable health care costs, there is another unsustainable contractual cost, the “jobs bank” This is a program that is initiated after a large layoff or plant closing. A displaced employee attends a job bank and may not do any work, yet still receive a full paycheck and benefits. In Lansing, because there is a lag between the old plants being closed and the new Delta Plant being built, some job bank employees show up at a given place and spend the entire day doing nothing. Others may do community service, while others, like me go to school as my “job".

I estimate because of my position of being in the job bank, that there about 200 people in Lansing’s job bank. The payroll, based on my weekly salary, for job bank employees is over $216,000 per week! What business could possibly survive by paying its employees full wages not to work?

Another indefensible contractual cost to GM in light of a global economy is the “30 and Out” rule. An employee who hired in at the age of 18 may retire at 48 and can collect pension plus fully paid health care for another 30 years or more. For health care alone in dollars and cents…”GM provides $5.2 billion in health care annually to 1.1 million workers, retirees and dependents. Retirees outnumber current U.S. employees 2.5 to 1. About $4 billion goes annually to retirees does not go into developing products people want to buy.” (Will, pars. 11)

GM cannot continue to incur these costs and survive in the face of manufacturing moving into and competing globally with companies that pay far less to their employees,in wages and benefits, and therefore can design and produce less expensive cars which generate the kind of profits necessary to survive, prosper and grow in a global market. Of these companies, most are non-union including those with plants in America. And because they are non-union, these companies are not forced into contracts that they can ill afford.

To illustrate the difference in union and non-union on profits, “Toyota generated the highest revenues per vehicle last year, an average $26,514, once you stripped out incentives and other discounts. By comparison, General Motors’ net was a meager $20,659 per vehicle. “That’s an alarming number,” stressed Harbour, “all the more alarming because it hasn’t changed much in seven years.”

It is clear that GM cannot continue to give in to Union contractual demands and be profitable. (Eisenstein, pars. 21)

On the other hand, although GM management has been burdened with these demands, management is not without blame.

Management has capitulated to the Union’s unrealistic demands despite the reality of the monetary bottom line needed to successful compete in the global market place. Moreover adding to the financial overtaxing to GM is the huge salaries and bonus packages given to executives and CEOs even in the face of the coming financial maelstrom.

One case in point, according to Richard Freedman, for Executive Intelligence Review,Counting some other benefits, GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s total compensation came to over $10 million; this does not count an additional lavish pension benefit. GM’s Chairman Bob Lutz, and its chief financial officer, John Devine, each received total compensation packages of $6.4 million in 2004. It is estimated that the GM top management team took in more than $50 million in compensation for the year. (Freeman, pars.17)

In the final analysis, both management and the UAW are responsible for the GM’s current financial woes.

I believe that at one time the union was necessary to fight for the working conditions and wages of the “Average Joe” However, the UAW has become what they have fought against, a bureaucratic organization that has lost focus of what is good for the company is good for its employees.

I acknowledge I have benefited from many of the UAW benefits, good wages, health care, benefits such as tuition assistance and I am grateful. But at what cost to GM, my employer of 27 years and to my post retirement life?

In summary, the UAW shortsighted and prohibitive costly contractual demands in the face of a changing business economy has contributed to its membership not just losing pension and health benefits, but also perhaps their jobs as well.

Conversely GM management’s own self-created bureaucratic management hierarchy has contributed to highly paid executives, whom in turn, capitulated to UAW’s demands of higher wages and costly benefits in spite of the changing market in the automobile industry. Such demands have made it impossible for GM to compete with other automobile companies and make a profit.

To GM’s credit some changes have been made. GM has consolidated its divisions at the RenCen in Detroit to facilitate communications, implementing new assembly technology, cutting salaried and blue-collar jobs and closing aging plants and cutting benefits.

But will it be too little too late to save GM?

Nevertheless, the ultimate responsibility and blame for GM’s current financial position must lie with GM management. Management is the final arbitrator of all company decisions and as such carries sole responsible for acquiescing to the unworkable, and unrealistic UAW financial demands, in addition to paying huge salaries and bonuses to non-producing executives.

Of course I cannot view these events dispassionately. Not just because I face a monetary loss but in view of the fact that a large portion of my adult life was spend as a GM employee. But also in a much larger sense because General Motors is a part of Americana. Cultural and historically, GM, is a part of our American heritage, a great American automobile company, conceived and build by Americans.

There is an old saying, What’s good for GM is good for America”. Although perhaps in a smaller measure now, I still believe that’s true. So then it is my hope and prayer that like the mythical Phoenix General Motors will rise from the ashes to a new prominence.

WORKS CITED


Dylan, Bob, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” The Times They Are A-Changin’
Atlantic, 1964.
Eisenstein, Paul A. “Detroit’s productivity gains aren’t enough to outclass Japan.” The Carconnection.com. 6 June 2005. 23 Oct. 2005 21 pars .
Freeman, Richard. “Corruption in America:Big Three Execs Get Huge Pay To Ruin Auto Sector .” Executive Intelligence Review 2 Sep. 2005. 23 Oct. 2005 17 pars .
GM Powertrain. 23 Oct. 2005 (http://uawlocal14.org/News/Regional/04-14GMBoard.htm)
Lansing Production. 2004. Lansing: GM Heritage Center, n.d.
Will, George. “GM Makes Turn Toward Fiscal Sanity .” The Grand Rapids Press 20 Oct. 2005. 11 pars. InfoWeb. NewsBank. Lansing Community College. 23 Oct. 2005

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Out Of Thin Air Comes A 'Right' To Win

IBD
By THOMAS SOWELL
November 18, 2008

Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don't win.

Hillary Clinton's supporters were not merely disappointed, but outraged, when she lost the Democrats' nomination to Barack Obama. Some took it as a sign that, while racial barriers had come down, the "glass ceiling" holding down women was still in place.

Apparently, if you don't win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling. The more obvious explanation of the nomination outcome was that Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that she would have been the nominee if the votes in the primaries had come out her way.

Blacks Targeted

As the election approached, pundits warned that, if Obama lost, there would be riots in the ghetto. We will never know. But since when does any candidate have a right to win any office, much less the White House?
The worst of all the reactions from people who act as if they have a right to win have come from gay activists in the wake of voter rejection of so-called gay marriage, which is to say, redefining what marriage has meant for centuries.

Blacks and Mormons have been the main targets of the gay activists' anger. Seventy percent of blacks voted against gay marriage in California, so racial epithets were hurled at blacks in Los Angeles — not in black neighborhoods, by the way.

Blacks who just happened to be driving through Westwood, near UCLA, were accosted in their cars and, in addition to being denounced, were warned, "You better watch your back." Even blacks who were carrying signs in favor of gay marriage were denounced with racial epithets.

In Michigan, an evangelical church service was invaded and disrupted by gay activists, who also set off a fire alarm, because evangelicals had dared to exercise their right to express their opinions at the polls.

In Oakland, Calif., a mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in such numbers that officials shut down a nearby freeway exit for more than three hours. In their midst was a San Francisco supervisor who said:

"The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs. This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they've forgotten some lessons."

There was another gay activist mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in Orange County, Calif. Apparently Mormons don't have the same rights as other Americans, at least not if they don't vote the way gay activists want them to vote.

In the past, gay activists have disrupted Catholic services, and their "gay pride" parades in San Francisco have crudely mocked nuns. While demanding tolerance from others, gay activists apparently feel no need to show any themselves.

Forget Rules

How did we get to this kind of situation? With all the various groups who act as if they have a right to win, we got to the present situation over the years, going back to the 1960s, where the idea started gaining acceptance that people who felt aggrieved don't have to follow the rules or even the law.

"No justice, no peace!" was a slogan that found resonance. Like so many slogans, it sounds good if you don't stop and think — and awful if you do.

Almost by definition, everybody thinks their cause is just. Does that mean that nobody has to obey the rules? That is called anarchy. Nobody is in favor of anarchy. But some people want everybody else to obey the rules, while they don't have to.

What they want is not decisive, however. It is what other people are willing to tolerate that determines how far any group can go. When the majority of the people become like sheep, who will tolerate intolerance rather than make a fuss, then there is no limit to how far any group will go.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lobbyists at the Gates...Obamanation Watch

"[Lobbyists] Will Not Run My White House, And They Will Not Drown Out The Voices Of The American People When I'm President." "I won't take money from PACs, won't take money from federal registered lobbyists. (Applause.) They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At Ault Park Pavilion, Cincinnati, OH, 10/9/08)

Obama: "[Lobbyists] Won't Find A Job In My White House." "One year from now, we have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race - and I've won. I don't take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won't find a job in my White House." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Spartanburg, SC, 11/3/07)

However didn't take Obama long to reserve his campaign position (expect "reversals" to be the trend). He has now announced that Lobbyists will work on his Transition Team

Yup the old "bait and switch" that so many still fall for....
For a list of Federal lobbyists working for the Obama transition

40 reasons to ban guns.....

Thanks to the The ExistingThing Blog for this list:

40 reasons to ban guns.....

1. Banning guns works, which is why New York, DC, & Chicago cops need guns.

2. Washington DC's low murder rate of 69 per 100,000 is due to strict gun control, and Indianapolis' high murder rate of 9 per 100,000 is due to the lack of gun control.

3. Statistics showing high murder rates justify gun control but statistics showing increasing murder rates after gun control are "just statistics."

4. The Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, both of which went into effect in 1994 are responsible for the decrease in violent crime rates, which have been declining since 1991.

5. We must get rid of guns because a deranged lunatic may go on a shooting spree at any time and anyone who would own a gun out of fear of such a lunatic is paranoid.

6. The more helpless you are the safer you are from criminals.

7. An intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

8. A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

9. When confronted by violent criminals, you should "put up no defense -give them what they want, or run" (Handgun Control Inc. Chairman Pete Shields, Guns Don't Die - People Do, 1981, p. 125).

10. The New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice about guns; just like Guns & Ammo has some excellent treatises on heart surgery.

11. One should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for internal medicine, a computer programmer for hard drive problems, and Sarah Brady for firearms expertise.

12. The 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1787, refers to the National Guard, which was created 130 years later, in 1917.

13. The National Guard, federally funded, with bases on federal land, using federally-owned weapons, vehicles, buildings and uniforms, punishing trespassers under federal law, is a "state" militia.

14. These phrases: "right of the people peaceably to assemble," "right of the people to be secure in their homes," "enumerations herein of certain rights shall not be construed to disparage others retained by the people," and "The powers not delegated herein are reserved to the states respectively, and to the people" all refer to individuals, but "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" refers to the state.

15. "The Constitution is strong and will never change." But we should ban and seize all guns thereby violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments to that Constitution.

16. Rifles and handguns aren't necessary to national defense! Of course, the army has hundreds of thousands of them.

17. Private citizens shouldn't have handguns, because they aren't "military weapons'', but private citizens shouldn't have "assault rifles'', becausethey are military weapons.

18. In spite of waiting periods, background checks, fingerprinting,
government forms, etc., guns today are too readily available, which is responsible for recent school shootings. In the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's,anyone could buy guns at hardware stores, army surplus stores, gas stations,variety stores, Sears mail order, no waiting, no background check, no fingerprints, no government forms and there were no school shootings.

19. The NRA's attempt to run a "don't touch" campaign about kids handling guns is propaganda, but the anti-gun lobby's attempt to run a "don't touch" campaign is responsible social activity.

20. Guns are so complex that special training is necessary to use them properly, and so simple to use that they make murder easy.

21. A handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has 20.

22. Women are just as intelligent and capable as men but a woman with a gun is "an accident waiting to happen" and gun makers' advertisements aimed at women are "preying on their fears."

23. Ordinary people in the presence of guns turn into slaughtering butchers but revert to normal when the weapon is removed.

24. Guns cause violence, which is why there are so many mass killings at gun shows.

25. A majority of the population supports gun control, just like a majority of the population supported owning slaves.

26. Any self-loading small arm can legitimately be considered to be a "weapon of mass destruction" or an "assault weapon."

27. Most people can't be trusted, so we should have laws against guns, which most people will abide by because they can be trusted.

28. The right of Internet pornographers to exist cannot be questioned because it is constitutionally protected by the Bill of Rights, but the use of handguns for self defense is not really protected by the Bill of Rights.

29. Free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters, computers, and typewriters, but self- defense only justifies bare hands.

30. The ACLU is good because it uncompromisingly defends certain parts of the Constitution, and the NRA is bad, because it defends other parts of the Constitution.

31. Charlton Heston, a movie actor as president of the NRA is a cheap lunatic who should be ignored, but Michael Douglas, a movie actor as arepresentative of Handgun Control, Inc. is an ambassador for peace who isentitled to an audience at the UN arms control summit.

32. Police operate with backup within groups, which is why they need larger capacity pistol magazines than do "civilians" who must face criminals alone and therefore need less ammunition.

33. We should ban "Saturday Night Specials" and other inexpensive guns because it's not fair that poor people have access to guns too.

34. Police officers have some special Jedi-like mastery over handguns that private citizens can never hope to obtain.

35. Private citizens don't need a gun for self- protection because the police are there to protect them even though the Supreme Court says the police are not responsible for their protection.

36. Citizens don't need to carry a gun for personal protection but police chiefs, who are desk-bound administrators who work in a building filled with cops, need a gun.

37. "Assault weapons" have no purpose other than to kill large numbers of people. The police need assault weapons. You do not.

38. When Microsoft pressures its distributors to give Microsoft preferential promotion, that's bad; but when the Federal government pressures cities to buy guns only from Smith & Wesson, that's good.

39. Trigger locks do not interfere with the ability to use a gun for defensive purposes, which is why you see police officers with one on their duty weapon.

40. Handgun Control, Inc., says they want to "keep guns out of the wrong hands." Guess what? You have the wrong hands.