Friday, December 26, 2008

It's been a long time

It's been a long time since I posted -- not that anybody cares anyhow. Firstly, Merry Christmas to all (0ne of you -- lol!). I hope that you were as blessed to give as much as we were. Anyway, not much has changed in the last almost 2 months since my last post, except the price of gas continues to go down, which is nice for someone that spends so much time in a car driving all over Georgia and South Carolina. Obama is still the President-elect, and the US government is bailing out seemingly everyone...except the ones who probably need it most -- the average American taxpayer.

I've had a lot on mind about the future of this country and admittedly I am quite nervous about the prospects. Probably it has to do with the fact that I am now 39 years old and the father of 3 boys younger than 11 years old. And never have I experienced the kind of global turmoil that exists today. Thankfully (and I am very Blessed) I am not personally experiencing the kind of misfortune that many have and many may yet still experience. I still have a job -- a good job. I had my best year ever and thankfully every year for the last four years continues to be better than the last. But, this is something I can control somewhat anyway. If I continue to produce and have a better year than the last, I should be earning a nice living. However, what scares me are the things that I have no control over and unfortunately, that is quite a bit.

Prior to the "mother of all bailouts" that first started with financial institutions and has now included "The Big 3" automakers, and now the retail industry is asking for a piece; we were already mortgaging our future to our children with massive debt that they were going to be unable to repay. Nobody has "las bolas" to address Social Security and Medicare reform and those are two very BIG problems that are not going away. Now with bailouts, stimulus packages, and more bailouts, we are treading very dangerous waters. The government now has it hands in the great big cookie jar and is hoarding all of the cookies. Folks, capitalism is on life support and EVERYONE wants to pull the plug. I have a lot to say about this, but for today, I will share with you an email I received the other day that says it better than I ever could.

This is one of the greatest responses to the requests for bailout money I have seen thus far. As a supplier for the Big 3 this man received a letter from the President of GM North America requesting support for the bail out program.

Dear Employees & Suppliers,
Congress and the current Administration will soon determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis......................As an employee or supplier, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard.
Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.
Troy Clarke
President General Motors North America

Response from:
Gregory Knox, Pres.
Knox Machinery Company
Franklin, Ohio


In response to your request to contact legislators and ask for a bailout for the Big Three automakers please consider the following, and please pass my thoughts on to Troy Clark, President of General Motors North America.

Politicians and Management of the Big 3 are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has spread like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades, and whose plague is now sweeping this nation, awaiting our new "messiah", Pres-elect Obama, to wave his magic wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream"… Believe me folks, The dream is over!

This dream where we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities…this dream where you still think the masses will line up to buy our products for ever and ever.

Don't even think about telling me I'm wrong. Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM's throughout the Midwest during the past 30 years and what I've seen over those years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting.

Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America, states: "There is widespread sentiment throughout this country, and our government, and especially via the news media, that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management which it certainly is not."

You're right Mr. Clarke, it's not JUST management…how about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass…so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time…for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour work week. How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare tactics…for putting out too many parts on a shift…and for being too productive

(We certainly must not expose those lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?)

Do you folks really not know about this stuff?!? How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke's sad plea: "over the last few years …we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors." What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!? Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them? The K car vs. the Accord? The Pinto vs. the Civic?!? Do I need to go on? What a joke!

We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades. It's time to pay for your sins, Detroit.

I attended an economic summit last week where brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu, from the Institute of Trend Research, surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money". "Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems," but despite what people like politicians and corporate magnates would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day… and the following very important thing would happen…where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new efficient ones would pop up…that is how a free market system works…it does work…if we would only let it work…"

But for some nondescript reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work - that we need the government to step in and "save us"…Save us my ass, Hell - we're nationalizing…and unfortunately too many of our once fine nation's citizens don't even have a clue that this is what is really happening…But, they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams…yeah - THAT'S really important, isn't it…

Does it ever occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades in this country?... How can that be??? Let's see… Fuel efficient… Listening to customers… Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul…

Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr. W. Edwards Deming four decades ago when he taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs. Ever increased productivity through quality and intelligent planning… Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy"… Efficient front and back offices… Non union environment…

Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know down deep in their hearts.

I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into - my children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did when I was their age. I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way) - I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work through it. Radical concept, huh… Am I there for them in the wings? Of course - but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults.

I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government. Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins. Bad news people - it's coming whether we like it or not. The newly elected Messiah really doesn't have a magic wand big enough to "make it all go away." I laughed as I heard Obama "reeling it back in" almost immediately after the final vote count was tallied…"we really might not do it in a year…or in four…" Where the Hell was that kind of talk when he was RUNNING for office.

Stop trying to put off the inevitable folks … That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000… People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits… That job driving that forklift for the Big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year… We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe…

That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home… Let the market correct itself folks - it will. Yes it will be painful, but it's gonna' be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it all, is a nation that appreciates what it has…and doesn't live beyond its means…and gets back to basics…and redevelops the patriotic work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world…and probably turns back to God.

Sorry - don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news". I hope you take it to heart.

Gregory J. Knox, President
Knox Machinery, Inc.
Franklin, Ohio 45005

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy...I miss you

Today is November 12th and it is your birthday, Dad. You would be 82 years young, as you would say. Yesterday also marked a special day for you, because it was Veteran's Day, which always falls on the day before your birthday. I remember this because you would still call it "Armistice Day", as it was once named back in the olden days. And so it is that Tristan bolted down the stairs this morning in his usual manner, but today he exclaimed "mommy, today is granddad's birthday!"

Later this morning I drove to Macon, Georgia and therefore had a lot of windshield time. About an hour and a half, to be precise. This driving time usually represents my only time alone during the day, and so my thoughts often drift to you and I begin to reminisce of special times we shared, or a funny saying that was unique to you, like "look, up the road, a head!" or "don't give out any wooden nickels". We now refer to these as "Dadisms"in my home, or "Granddad sayings", as the boys call it.

It is times like this when I miss you the most, Dad. Ironically though, it is when I am driving or hiking or otherwise alone or scared, that I sense your presence the most as well. I can almost hear your voice asking me to slow down in the rain, or maybe take a different trail that doesn't look quite so desolate. You are my guide; my co-pilot in all I do. I suppose this is the role that you were born to play. You have always been a protector. Not just to me, but as a young soldier you protected this great nation, as an officer of the law you vowed to 'serve and protect' your community, as a husband and father you protected us, the list goes on and on. You even protected those with no voice as a philanthropist; a Shriner and a Mason.

So it no surprise to me now Dad, that you are up there in heaven with our creator, protecting us yet again. They say that we are never really adults until we have experienced the loss of a parent. I find this to be a very accurate truth. And yet in these times of great change and uncertaintly, I feel somehow safe and unafraid of the future because you are watching over us. Over not just me and mine, but all of us.

I cannot say that it gets any easier as time rolls on. Being without you, that is. This sense of incredible loss is comprehensible only to those who have had to experience it for themselves. And yet my faith tells me that we will all be together again someday, and that until then I shall hold onto you with all of my heart.

With love from your daughter,

Friday, November 7, 2008

I am suffering from PELSD

PELSD: Post-Election Loss Stress Disorder

I admit it -- I am a sore loser. I don't like to lose at anything and I do take it personal. I do not like to lose in things that I cannot even control. I do not coach the Miami Dolphins, nor do I play quarterback, yet when they lose on Sunday's it still gets me in a bad mood -- admittedly not as bad as it used to be. This Presidential election is no different than say a Dolphin football game.

When McCain conceded, I admit I was upset and bitter for two days. Not because I didn't expect it, but because there is so much at stake for the future of my family (and our country), and 67 million Americans were duped by a brand...a singular word by the name of Change. President-elect Obama has been a Junior Senator in the United States of America since only 2005. And he has spent the last 1-1/2 years campaigning for President. What has he done? Simply -- nothing. Yet, he is now the President-elect and no one can still tell me why this is so. Because of Change? What Change? Oh....because of Bush.

I am sick and tired, and tired and sick, of Bush getting the blame for...well, everything. It's Bush's fault when...
  • the Dolphins lose
  • it rains, even though the meteorologist says it was supposed to be a sunny day
  • the embargo in Cuba doesn't work (well it didn't work for Clinton either!)
  • the steak you ordered was overcooked
  • your server took to long to bring your food
  • your mother-in-law is a pain in the ass
  • etc., etc., etc.
Don't get me wrong though. I am not his biggest fan either. His biggest downfall with me is the fact he has not been a true conservative. He has acted more like a liberal with the overspending of the government and growing the government, although I could argue that some of that was a result of 9/11. Yet, I am not happy about it nonetheless.

People say, "well the last 8 years have been (insert expletive here)...". Really?! Well, help me understand why exactly? Iraq? Well, seems like the surge has worked and we will be out by 2010 and a democratically-elected government will be running the country. Next. The economy? The economy -- really?! Oh, I love that one. Let me remind you of the following...
In December 2006, after six years of Bush and the last month before the Democrats took over both houses of the national legislature, a snapshot of our economy looked like this.
  • Unemployment stood at 4.4%.
  • Real GDP growth over the previous four years (under a Republican President, House and Senate) averaged 3% per year.
  • A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.30.
  • The S&P 500 stock index stood at 1418, or 84% above its post-911 low and more than 7% higher than when Bush took office.
  • Every year of Bush's Presidency, real (inflation-adjusted) disposable income per person went up. By the end of 2006, the average person was making 9% more in real terms than before Bush became President.
So, please stop the beat down on's tired, and factually incorrect! This economic crisis can be attributed to housing, of which Bush and the Republicans (including McCain) tried to do something about in 2007, and the following is just an excerpt of many of the responses from the Democrats:
"These two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing." Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

That feels better is out of my system.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Change really coming?

"Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."
"We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."
"And, to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too."
"Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."

President-elect Barack Obama, whose singular platform was based on a word, Change, made these statements last night during his victory speech in Chicago.

Actually...he only made two of the above statements last night. Can you guess which ones? Hint: It's not the first, nor is it the second. So, who made the first two you ask? The 43rd President of the United States of America, George W. Bush during his victory speech in 2004. They look and sound so similar don't they? So, is this the Change the people seek?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go out and Vote!

I am pretty sure you all know who my allegiance is with is with the greatest country in the world -- OUR United States of America. There are so many great things about this country, but one of the things that I am most proud of is our freedom. The freedom to say what we want, when we want and either agree or agree to disagree. I am surprised that a lot more of the agree to disagree with my friends has occurred over the last few weeks, but I respect their opinion nonetheless (although I still think it is based more on emotion than on information).

These last two weeks have been like watching the Florida Marlins in game 7 of their first World Series against the Cleveland Indians. Back and forth, full of tension until the very end. I only hope that John McCain plays the role of Craig Counsell crossing home plate at the bottom of the eleventh to win the game and the championship.

Monday, November 3, 2008

No We Can't

No you didn't...

Oh yes you did...

And don't worry if you don't have the money, we'll just get it from someone else who does. We will give it the codename of redistribution ('s really Socialism).


Still hasn't done anything...but he has BIG plans.

True, true.

Thanks Joe!

Cafe Cubano: Obamanomics 101 Explained

Cafe Cubano: Obamanomics 101 Explained

Obamanomics 101 Explained

In honor of Obamanomics and the benefits of "redistribution", I'd like to "redistribute" this email I received. Welcome to America under Obama! Class dismissed!! The middle class that is.

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read 'Vote Obama, I need the money.' I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a 'Obama 08' tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Ponder that for a while...

Friday, October 31, 2008

TGFF...Random ramblings

Happy Halloween! It is really frightening what all the pundits are saying...but I digress -- I will keep it lighthearted today!

TGFF is not Thank God For Friday -- even though today happens to be Friday. It stands for Thank God For Facebook!!!!!!! I don't know about you guys but FB is addictive -- it's like crack. One try and your hooked! lol! I have reconnected with a childhood friend who left my neighborhood where I grew up and where my parents still live. He left almost 25 years ago to Puerto Rico to live with his dad (his parents are divorced). I had seen him a few times when he visited Miami a long time ago but it has been many years since we last saw each other. He found me on FB. I've also connected with old friends from high school, plus the ability to communicate with people I still see or talk to on the phone has been great too.

It's so cool to try and find someone and see if they are on FB and when you do it is like whoa! And when you don''s like -- what's wrong with you??? why aren't you on FB??? Get with it! The other thing about FB is that it is competitive. My wife has a FB page and she wants to see how many Friends I have and compares it to how many he she has. Secretly, we all want more than our spouse, our friends, children (impossible), etc. Don't we??? Or is it just me? It becomes so competitive that you send out Friend Requests to people you hardly even knew or spoke to in school (going back to Elementary school -- probably even PK!!!) And you'll accept anyone who sends one to you -- even if you don't know who they are! Ha! I have more than you, nani, nani, boo, boo!

So, if you wanna find me, Facebook me. I will be Facebooking whenever I can. Heck, I don't sleep at night thinking who wrote on my wall today. I even have Facebook Mobile...I told you it's like crack!

Speaking of crack...I miss the ability to drive anywhere at anytime of the day regardless of the temperature outside (usually very hot) and have a cafecito or a cortadito. That's one of the things I miss about Miami. Pulling up to La Carreta on 87th Avenue or Versailles on 8th St was always a trip. Not only could you get a pastelito de guayaba and a cortadito, but you could always get a life lesson from all of the old men (and sometimes not so old) talking about the good ol' days in Cuba and how everyone had a maid. And more importantly, how they would solve all of today's ills. That was awesome!

Living in Marietta, GA now and dealing with cold weather already I wish I could grab a cafe con leche and a tostada of pan cubano...mmmmmm. Looking back, why the heck would I have a shot of cuban coffee at 3pm when it was 97 degrees outside and 95% humidity???

Speaking of cold is so crazy that this morning when I woke up to take Tristan and Ethan to school it was 37 degrees. 37 friggin' degrees. What's even crazier is that by 3pm it will be 68 degrees!! Por eso se enferman la gente!! You put on 3 layers of things to only have to take them all off after lunch and then inevitably leave your jacket at school with all of the other jackets left from previous days from all of the other kids. I saw a table that must have had enough jackets in "lost and found" to clothe a third world country. We can redistribute our jackets to those that don't have them -- had to get an Obama dig somewhere.

Here's another for all you Obama Kool-Aid drinkers...

Be Careful What You Wish For...You Just Might Get It!!!

Happy Halloween!! See you on Facebook! Think of me when you are having your cafecito today at 3pm.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth?

There is a saying (not sure if it's a Cuban saying) in Spanish that says, "Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres". So without further ado, listen and learn about who Obama REALLY is...

Wow. So Rev. Wright is a "wonderful" man, huh?

Obama all of a sudden said he didn't support Rev. Wright's view's on America yet he was a member of his church for 19 years. What would one say if McCain visited a White Supremacist meeting for 19 years but didn't support their views??? Can you answer that America?

So now it's $200,000 and not $250,000...Interesting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What type of "Change" are you really looking for?

Change for the sake of change is not really change, now is it??? I've talked to some of my friends in Miami -- people my age and in my socioeconomic status -- and I am surprised when they say they are voting for Obama. The interesting thing is that when I ask them why, they do not really provide a real answer as to why they are voting for him. The typical answer seems to be because "he is the lesser of the two evils" and/or "we need a change from these disastrous 8 years". The latter statement really irks me the most. I have to give Obama's team credit for their ability to develop and distribute a really good Kool-Aid to the masses. I just hope the aftertaste is not too tough for them to bear.

If the last 8 years have sucked as bad as you believe, why didn't you vote differently 4 years ago. I know there are many who are voting for Obama this year, are the same who voted for Kerry 4 years ago, and Gore 4 years before that. These people will continue to vote Democrat come hell or high water (I wonder who came up with that saying). But my friends...people like me...I know they voted for Bush 4 years ago. Which brings me to the former statement of "he is the lesser of two evils", and really the crux of the problem with our government today. Because, you see, I have also taken that approach forever and am doing it this year as well. I liked the McCain of 2000, not the McCain of 2008 -- I am not really sure who the heck he is or what he stands for. That said, I cannot vote for Obama. I admit that I was intrigued about a year ago, before I really knew anything about him, how he stood on certain issues, his background, his beliefs, etc. I liked the fact that he was young and wasn't from the Washington establishment like most of these candidates always seem to be. He was eloquent and seemed like an outsider and was more like my generation -- using the Internet, playing basketball, etc. Now that I know more about him and his stand on the issues that are important to me, I am scared. I am not a conspiracy theorist, or paranoid like some of the hard-core right winger's are. However, for the first time I am truly scared about the future of this country.

I am not a big fan of labels, but in this case the best way to describe Obama (or label) is as a populist. And that is a frightening thought with recent populists taking control of their governments and changing the constitution for their benefit. Populists like Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brasil), and the worst of them all, Fidel Castro. I have first-hand experience with the aftermath of failure of Chavez and more closely, Fidel. My family -- who I am -- experienced the terrible results of a populist president saying the right things (rhetoric) and what people wanted to hear and grabbed absolute know what happens next...

So I will leave you with this to think about until my next post...

is a political philosophy or rhetorical style that holds that the common person's interests are oppressed or hindered by the elite in society, and that the instruments of the state need to be grasped from this self-serving elite and used for the benefit and advancement of the people as a whole. Hence a populist is one who is perceived to craft his or her rhetoric as appeals to the economic, social, and common sense concerns of average people... Sound familiar?

Essentially a political outlook or mentality rather than an ideology, identified by a popular reaction to dramatic change, such as rapid industrialization. People feel that events are beyond their control, which is blamed on some conspiracy of foreigners, ethnic groups, economic interests, or intellectuals. The populist reaction is to regain control from the suggested centres of power, usually through some form of participation, and to seek revenge and redemption. Beyond that, populism is an obscure and variable outlook.

Chew on that for a while...

I need a shot of Cafe Cubano to warm's 42 degrees here and I'm still not used to the cold!!