Dec 17

Cheap – Maybe Not!

Gas prices are as low as I can remember them being for some time now, as it’s been probably three years or more since they were so cheap in my area of the country. And while at first glance this seems to be a wonderful thing, we might want to take a look at the flip side of this as a bit of a reality check. You see, not everybody will benefit equally, and in fact, in the long run, the whole “cheap gas” thing may turn out to hurt us. 

I was at a party this past Sunday evening and spent a little time talking with a relative who, for several years (decades actually), has worked with the oil industry as a supplier to their drilling operations. He knows the people in this industry quite well and stays current on all facets of it. His worry, when the price for a barrel of crude oil goes below $50, the industry is going to have to minimally cut back–if not completely shut down–some of its activities. You can’t produce and sell oil at that price structure and remain a viable business … in the states, anyway. So our oil independence would be (actually already is) jeopardized by cheap oil. A lot of people will be thrown out of work, and an entire industry would be put in a very precarious situation if prices drop further. Many are hurting already.

Like many of you, I read and listen to all of the speculation and commentary about the OPEC (and particularly Saudi Arabia) goals in all of this, and at some point, from an economic perspective, I think I get it. And of course the hurt being put on countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran doesn’t bother me at all, but I don’t want to see us go backwards, either … from an oil and energy independence point of view. It is an interesting situation, and the whole thing fascinates me. I would write a bit more about all of this, but I just heard that the gas station up the road from me has dropped their price another 10 cents a gallon, so I need to get over there and fill up before something changes!

ONE MORE THING HERE

I don’t buy glass anymore, but I’m just wondering, have the glass supplier energy surcharges have now come down in proportion to the cost reductions in fuel??? Just asking!!!

Catching Up

In the past several days, I have had the opportunity of reconnecting with some old friends that I had not spoken to in some time, and it was a real treat. First, I had lunch with Ray Dean, Director of the International; Ironworkers Department of Ornamental, Architectural & Miscellaneous Metals. When Ray was the local #63 Business Agent and I had a lot of his guys working for me, we got to know each other quite well. We didn’t always agree on how things should work or which work should be performed by who, but I developed a deep respect for Ray during those years and was always proud to call him a friend. It was great to spend a couple of hours with him, and he even paid … yes, I was surprised, too.

Then I got a call all the way from Sweden and it was none other than my favorite Swede, Mathias Farnebo. We got a chance to chat and catch up a bit, and we are hopefully going to see each other in Germany in late January (at BAU). I hadn’t talked to Mathias in a couple of years and it was great to hear his voice and learn that he is doing well.

THEN …I got to visit (in person) with Nick, my long time barber. I had not seen Nick in a year and a half, and while he had called from time to time to see how I was doing during my cancer battle, getting to see him in his shop, sit in his barber chair and actually get a haircut (some might call it a partial hair cut) really felt great.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

… is going on right now and I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy it. Sure, I know that shopping and family scheduling can sometimes drive you a little crazy, but I hope you can enjoy it all, as well. Our schedule is packed with concerts, dinners and all kinds of stuff, but it is still a truly wonderful time if you can just slow down and take it in. I watched the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed a few nights back, and as corny as that movie is, and in spite of how many times I’ve seen it, I still like it at this time of year. And aren’t glad you were born, and that you’re here??? I am.

The picture below includes my grandson David (far right), who is pictured with a couple of his friends from band playing Christmas carols at a grocery store in their community a couple of nights ago. The volunteer bell ringers, carol singers and players, as well as those who go out of their way to help people in need, should be applauded by us all. And the next time you pass a Salvation Army bell ringer, why don’t you offer him/her a cup of coffee … along with your donation? It will make both of you feel warm inside.

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That Wonderful Time of the Year.

The Sports Thing

Hey, have any of you been following my Blackhawks of late? Just checked the standings now, after they have taken nine of their last 11 games–and by the way, most of those were on the road. Special congratulations to Bryan Hovey also … somehow he scored a ticket to the Winter Classic in D.C. on January first when my Hawks battle with the Capitals. Nice going Hovey!!! Let me know if you want to borrow my Denis Savard Hawks sweater for the game.

The Quotable Thing

This week’s quote comes from Beth Rush, one of the brightest people I know. Hopefully, you will get it the first time around. It is credited to Philip Rogers (Latham, New York).

“I shave each morning in front of my passenger-side mirror. That way, I get a closer shave than it actually appears.”

Have A Wonderful Week Everyone!

Dec 03

It Ain’t The Tooth Fairy

I can’t explain why they said it, and I don’t see how in the world either one of them can justify having said what they did. But they did say it, on camera, and therefore millions of people were witness to the fact that they said what they said. One of them is the President of the United States, and the other is quite potentially the next President of the United States.

The President basically said that business owners do not build and create their companies. The potential future President was a little more direct when she said …. “businesses don’t create jobs” … for the American people. So I would like to ask, if business owners do not build their own companies, and businesses do not create jobs, who does? The government? They do in a way, I guess, but not in an efficient or meaningful way, and not without taking money from the citizenry to pay for each and every job they create. And over the past five years, government employment overall has declined … thank goodness. So give me a break! Maybe it’s the Tooth Fairy? No, the Tooth Fairy is way too busy … besides, the Tooth Fairy gives away money, so I figure that must be a government subsidy thing of some sort, also.

OK … let’s get real here, people. Tommy Jefferson recognized it and wrote about it over 225 years ago. He knew that it was commercial activity, and in particular, the business community that would make America strong, successful and independent. If anything, the government is a drag on business development, and yet in spite of piles of regulations, tax upon tax and an insane amount of bureaucratic red tape, American entrepreneurs plod on and create better lives for themselves and the hundreds of thousands of people THEY HIRE to fill the jobs THEY CREATE.

A study published recently by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, determined that over 12.5 percent of all American adults are actively involved in what is referred to as “early stage entrepreneurial activity.” This would include planning, seeking financing and actually starting a new business venture of some type. Study after study has shown that the largest creator of jobs in America is the small business community, and start-ups play a huge role in this. In a recent Wall Street Journal article on Europe’s continuing economic problems, one of the major contributors to the dilemma was cited as being the lack of start-up companies. The countries with the lowest percentage of small and start-up business are the ones trending the poorest in economic activity and development, including job creation. Proof positive, if you ask me, that the business community creates jobs, economic growth and a better standard of living for all. However, I am going to suggest that the Tooth Fairy spend some quality time in Europe just to make sure I’m right on this thing.

Some Sad News

The entire glass and architectural metals community mourned the loss of industry icon Jerry Wright this past week. I met Jerry in 1986 when we were both serving on the NGA Board of Directors and immediately liked him and quickly came to deeply respect him, as well. What a great guy, and if you haven’t yet read Deb Levy’s blog on Monday about Jerry, you really should do so. She got it right! Check it out at http://deblog.usglassmag.com.

Just One More Thing

About the labor shortage issue. And yes, I know I have been harping on this for the past several weeks but it is real and you need to pay attention. Specifically, the U.S. Bureau of labor just reported that the construction industry created a net job gain of 230,000 workers in the past 12 months and that the demand for construction workers is on a dramatic rise. At the current pace, there is a projected shortfall of 1.6 million workers by 2022. OK … this is the last time I will bring this up. Maybe.

You Just Gotta Believe!!!

You Just Gotta Believe!!!

The Sports Thing

Forget the NFL … forget the NBA … forget the NHL, I’ve got something much more important to report on when it comes to sports this week. You see, my grandson Ryan’s hockey team won the nearly world famous Turkey Tournament this past Sunday afternoon by beating a team from Evanston, Ill. And why, you might ask, is this such earth-shattering news? Well, I’ll tell ya. You see, the team they had to play in the championship game turned out to be the first team they had played in the three-day round robin-style tournament. And the first time they played the Evanston team, they were clobbered, 7-1. But after this beating, they went on to win their next three games, so they got the chance to face the guys that had so thoroughly beaten them in their first encounter. Were they worried? Were they scared? Were they fearing humiliation and destruction? I’m not sure, although I do know that most of their parents were! But then, to everyone’s amazement and absolute shock, the little guys played their hearts out and shut their opponent down and out, winning the championship game by a final score of 1-0. Great lesson for these kids. Great lesson for some of the adults involved, as well.

The Quotable Thing

I actually heard this as part of a conversation that I intercepted while waiting in line at the drug store. I think the two women involved in the conversation were teachers. The first asked the second if she thought she had chosen the right career for herself. The answer that came back was as follows …

“I thought I wanted a career; turns out, I just wanted paychecks.”

Have A Wonderful Week Everyone!

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