Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Big Squeeze

The government is telling us we are on the road to recovery. Rolls of toilet paper are now one inch narrower, the half-gallon of ice cream is now 56 ounces but the container takes up just as much space. If you have an inside seat on an airline, the people in the other two seats have to get up and out of their seats for you to use the rest room—the concept of personal space is not even considered when calculating the seating capacity of an airline. Forget the bathroom if the drink cart is rolling.

You’d think that the government couldn’t fiddle with a gallon of gas, but they have. They have added alcohol to it and make you pay more for it and you get less miles per gallon. Buy and electric car, electricity is free (or so its implied). Try heating a home with electricity if you want a heating bill you'll never forget.

Out on the West coast here, we are in a drought and the 100 year old water lines are bursting everywhere; replacing them might be a good start in fixing the problem, but no, we need a high speed rail system from LA to San Francisco. The irritating thing, as we consume less water, our rates go up. The utilities have fixed costs. Kind of makes you wonder if everyone got solar panels, do you get a free ride on the infrastructure? It’s a little like paving your driveway to the street and expecting to use the highways for free.

Obama announces a new leaf to be turned over at the VA. He mentioned that they need to hire 28,000 medical people in the next two years to fill the gaps to better serve our veterans. If you understand government funding, their budget for next year is set in stone, the money is there for what was proposed before the discovery of shortcomings. The money may never be there to hire the 28,000. From my own experience 45 years ago, I got out of the Army in 1968 and was told I had a year to go to a dentist and get any dental work I needed done. 10 months later I showed up for a dental appointment and was examined at the VA hospital in Syracuse NY. I was told any work I needed done, wasn’t covered because it happened after I was discharged. I asked for a petition to contest their decision. What makes that incident specifically embedded in my mind, was that they found one form, and it was under the break room coffee pot. I filled it out coffee stain and all. The VA’s return letter advised me to pick a dentist and they would pay the bill.

What the reader does not realize is the 6 percent rule is in play. Out of 100 people only 6 will complain. To show you how it works, take photo processing 20 years ago. It cost $1,000 in chemicals to process 1,000 rolls of film. If instead of throwing the chemicals out and using new chemicals for the next 1,000 rolls, they used the same chemicals for the second thousand, cutting their costs in half. Only about 6 percent of the second thousand demanded reprints because of bad quality (and you thought you took bad pictures).

The President and Congress can get up and investigate and brow beat any part of the government organization. Notice that neither one of them has a wheel barrow full of money ready to address or solve any of the issues. Funding can take from two to five years. And if you need 28,000 people, guess what you get, 5,000. So is the VA problem going away?-- not really, unless you consider downsizing the military considerably, and that is already underway—a short hop for many from Afghanistan to the unemployment line.

Obama points to the fear of deflation, when in fact we have had inflation. Our organization has been told to cut our budget by 20 percent. Just think, if we had had 20 percent deflation, we might not have had to cut our budget and let so many employees go. The choice for a government organization trying to meet a budget, is to reduce employees. The choice for business in the private sector, is to downsize, increase productivity and then do layoffs. If you have a job, you want to keep it at all costs. Good workers are now losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Normally when you quit, you give two weeks’ notice and get a little fare well party that no one wants to go to. Forget the party, you last work day could be sooner than you ever imagined.

America is downsizing and the government has no clue that they caused it. The squeeze is on. Every home in our neighborhood has three cars in the driveway and a three car garage that is packed to the top with whatever. There were so many cars parked along our street this year that they had to put up signs designating Thursday’s as street sweeping day in order to clear it to clean it. And that almost sounds like the start of a Paul Bunyan yarn.

Of course I digress, but examine what you hear from Obama and the government. Their response to our problems is rather distant; it’s kind of like Obama ordering ready-mix concrete in Los Angeles for Washington DC delivery, you’ll get the product—it’s just not in the form you had in mind. If everything is as great as it was in 2006, would it be necessary to remind everyone that things are going just great today?

Yesterday, I went down to PEP Boys to redeem a $15 dollar gift card and decided to buy a case of motor oil. To my surprise, $15 won’t even buy 4 quarts. So I bought 4. I’m spending more and consuming less without a conscious effort to do so. When I was a young one, I could work one hour for two dollars and buy 4 packs of smokes and get a nickel back; a pack of smokes today is almost one hours wages.

Obama and the Democrats are going to save us from deflation, God bless them. My only question, "Is the cure worse than the disease?”


Sackerson said...


Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Sackerson

Nice to hear from a familiar face. thank you for the compliment.

dearieme said...

I suppose I should compliment you on headlining a piece The Big Squeeze and then immediately referring to toilet paper.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi dearieme

You made me laugh, the association was unintentional.

Anonymous said...

I started to notice this a few years ago. 12 oz of bacon is the new pound. I'm sure they'll try to claim that it is to reduce obesity in America. Just like cellulose (i.e., sawdust) is finding its way as an ingredient in more foods...because everyone needs more fiber in their diet, right? As long as the price is the same as yesterday, I, for one, will enjoy my quarter pound of sawdust with "I can't believe it's not cheese" burger. Ugh!