Monday, September 26, 2011

Bob Lutz Car Guys vs bean counters by Bob Lutz

The battle for the soul of American Business

Bob Lutz is a man in high regard. He was the President of Ford Europe in 1979, was CEO of Exide Technologies, the world’s largest producer of lead-acid batteries in 2001. At that time he was asked by the President and CEO of General Motors to join with the company as Vice Chairman of Production. He was 70 at the time. He agreed and stayed for 9 years. His charge was to make great cars again. In this he was successful.
There are a number of important issues worth knowing that he writes about. On page 25 he states that in the 70’s the US State Department decided that special measures were called for to keep Japan in the US orbit. To achieve this goal Japan was allowed to manipulate their currency (the Yen) to a level below that justified. This gave Japan an edge over US manufacturers. (Kind of reminds me of how we have allowed China to keep the value of their currency (the Yuan) below its true value.
On page 33 he spells out the tremendous growth of health care cost and the explosion of law suits with devastating results. Beginning on page 168 he points out the obvious effect of the housing debacle, where unqualified people were given mortgages they were unable to pay. One result was rapidly rising fuel costs which was devastating, in particular, to GM as the bulk of their product line were gas guzzlers like GMC trucks and Hummers. Interesting to me is that he believes as I do that gas prices should be higher equivalent to Europe. The problem as he and I see it is that cost is in the control of OPEC. Because of that prices surge and fall rapidly. Should the gas tax increase at a predictable rate the incentive to produce fuel efficient vehicles would increase without government decrees. The market place would be in control. The extra funds raised could be used to improve transportation facilities i.e. bridges, roads, rail and air. Think of the good paying jobs created.
The above I included as I felt the subjects were important but the theme of the book is how Mr. Lutz was able to decrease the power of the bean counters and place emphasis on building superior vehicles which the public would want to buy. In this he was successful. You will need to read the book to find out how he got the job done.

Jack B. Walters
September 24, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honor Lost - a book review

Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan
By; Norma Khouri

This is a tragic true story written by a young woman who escaped from Jordan. Her life long girl friend had been murdered by her father when he discovered she had been meeting with a man that she had come to love. They had never engaged in sexual activity but just having contact with a man was sufficient to kill her by stabbing her 12 times in the chest and waiting until she was dead before calling an ambulance. As is required by law he turned himself in, was sentenced to three months in jail, was bailed out and at the end of the sentence was released for time served even though he had never spent a day in prison.
The author is devoting her life to try to end the age old practice in the Arab world of treating women as objects rather than equals. In Jordan’s Penal Code there are two articles that allow these murders and protect the murderers. Article 340 exempts from punishment those who kill female relatives found committing adultery, and reduces the penalty for those who kill female relatives found in a situation of adultery (such as talking to a stranger). Article 98 reduces the penalty for the perpetrator of a crime when he acts “in a fit of fury” in response to a wrongful and serious act on the part of the victim. It is estimated that over 2,000 murders occur each year in Jordan and over 5,000 in Arab countries as a whole.
I am one who is always searching for knowledge. I am quick to judgment on members of the Muslim faith. What disturbed me most was that these crimes are not just committed by Muslims but also by Christians living in these countries. According to the author honor killing in Arab countries have been under Islamic Law since A.D. 644. It has been incorporated into Arab culture and is practiced by both Christians and Muslims. Christians, of course are treated as second class citizens (dhimmah). They are required to pay a toll tax, must not harm Muslims, have any sexual engagement with Muslim women, steal the property of Muslims, nor co-operate with enemies of Islam. In other words Christians emulate the Muslim traditions. While their women have more rights as a rule, they are still treated as unequal.
Reading this book will give you insight on what it must be like to be a female in an Arab country, always doing the bidding of fathers, brothers and other male relatives, never being allowed to pursue whatever dreams you might have. Entire lives spent living in fear. Never knowing when you might be punished or killed for a perceived offence.
Let me close by adding my thoughts. First, I wonder why there is no condemnation by American or European women who have been so outspoken in their drive for equality in Western countries. Could it be that having achieved their goals they are insensitive to the plight of women living under Islam in countries where Islam is the law of the land. Why has our government not applied pressure for these countries to move into the 21st Century? In my paranoia I see these customs spreading rapidly throughout the civilized world. Europe in particular has been infected but I also am aware of it building in America as well and I don’t like it.
As I previously stated the author has devoted her life to ending “honor killing”. Read the book and find some way to express yourself to add to her efforts. Who knows, perhaps in our lifetimes these barbaric acts of hate against women could be stopped.

Jack B. Walters
September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Payroll tax cut idiocy

The beat goes on. Forget about future generations, they don’t count. Just give us what we want now because we deserve it.
According to news reports, economists approve of reducing the payroll tax to 3.1% instead of 6.2%. The editorial you printed from the Kansas City Star urged support of it and the other proposals. The goal it seems is to put money into consumers pockets so they can buy goods predominantly made in China. Continuing to provide unemployment checks year after year does nothing to provide American jobs. The other items in my opinion are gimmicks which require Federal employees to monitor to try to motivate employers to hire. My position has always been to create a climate to encourage growth letting the employer consider all the factors in deciding to produce here or elsewhere.
I have no doubt the Republicans will support the payroll tax cut with their “no tax increase” mentality. They have tried for decades to destroy Social Security. The Democrats are supposed to support it. It is well known that there are fewer workers putting money into the system as compared to those of us receiving monthly checks. I looked it up and found that should the funds continue feeding the Trust Fund before the last reduction, the Fund was projected to maintain itself for an additional 25 years. After that the outflow would exceed income by 25%. As of December 2010 there was $2.6 Trillion in the Fund. The Obama plan would decrease these funds by $175 Billion/year, not counting whatever loss might occur if companies increase their payroll by $50 Million. It has been stated that 50% of the population don’t pay Federal Income tax therefore the only tax these people are aware of is Payroll. Shouldn’t every person pay into a retirement system they will expect to benefit from?
I am fully aware that Congress for generations now has been using these Trust funds for general expenses meaning that the balance is not real money but IOU’s from the government. Supposedly future government will make good. There is no guarantee which is why Governor Perry referred to it as a Ponzi scheme. He may be right.

Jack B. Walters
September 10, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PATTON - a book report

Ordeal and Triumph
By; Ladislas Farago

832 pages of the life of this man who became the best General officer the US Army ever had. I followed his career as a young boy but of course never had the opportunity to understand his history before the war. This book was used as the foundation for the movie PATTON starring George C. Scott. I would be ashamed to tell you how many times I have watched it. Scott did an outstanding job of re-creating this complex man. If you have seen the movie then much of this book will remind you of it. Many of the famous statements Patton made in real life were in this book and also in the movie.
Because of his impetuous nature he put himself in difficulty many times. We must credit General Marshall and General Eisenhower for recognizing how important Patton was for the war effort that they overcame the criticism and gave him command of the Third Army shortly after the Normandy landings. He was able to imbue his officers and men with his aggressive nature and went on the attack. The book mentions the numerous times when he was deliberately deprived of fuel and ammunition in favor of the British General Montgomery. The writer is convinced as am I that had he been supported fully the war could have ended in 1944. I am sure there are other books that would disagree. You can look for them. For me I am satisfied with my own point of view.
If you are a history buff as I am and in particular the Second World War then you will enjoy reading this biography.

Jack B. Walters
September 7, 2011