Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bailout Comments from Mandevilles & Toot:

Here's my thought on a bankruptcy of the Big wouldn't matter. Chrysler did it in the 70s when Mr. Iacocca was in charge* (and he took a $1 salary for something like 10 years). People still bought Chryslers, in fact they were able to reorganize somewhat and come out stronger-ish and more innovative (i.e. Chrysler was the first to develop a minivan). But again the UAW was able to sink its teeth in and start ratcheting up the overhead. It didn't help that the Daimler deal didn't workout because of the perceived quality disparity between Chrysler and the Daimler-Benz camps. But either way I still see a lot of Dodge trucks, minivans, and cars on the road today meaning that people really didn't have a huge stigma with purchasing a vehicle from a bankrupt company. Like you, I would look at is an opportunity to pickup a cheap car but most importantly I would view it as a way of actually saving brands that have been around so long. Mr. Gettlefinger was on NPR the other day, defending his position and spouting Union half-truths, and he was asked that same question. "would consumers have an issue with buying cars from a bankrupt company?" His answer was an emphatic "of course they would!" Then the host (I think it was Neil Connan (sp?)) dug a little deeper by saying something to the effect of "I still fly around the country on planes owned and operated by bankrupt companies" I would add also that we still by toys from toy companies that were bankrupt (KB TOYS), we still eat food from bankrupt companies, we still on, and on, and on. Of course I'm talking about those companies that filed chapter 11 and were able to reorganize and break free from some of the shakles of poor decisions in the past. Gettlefinger didn't really have a good rebuttle other than "yeah but this is different".
All that being said, I still don't agree with bankruptcy at all. Being the true free-market-economy-backer that I am I would say let them go away and something bigger, faster, and stronger (wait for the analysis on the documentary with the same name) will come take their place. I like to think of it as Financial or Economic Darwinism (I really want to coin that phrase). My pure market heart says that we shouldn't even consider bailing them out and that we should let the market decide how to deal with them. I think that is what is at the heart of the whole issue. The American public loves these brands but not enough to risk our tax dollars on trying to push them against the market current. Everything is flowing away from these companies in the market (in the form of dollars) and yet the government seems to think that it can give them a paddle-less canoe to float around in hoping against all hope that it will be enough to provide a "bridge"...come on, do we look that stupid!?!

*Chrysler was in quasi-bankruptcy and not actual Chapter 11...please follow link above to read about it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

49. Bailout? We don't need no stinking bailout!

I figured I had better touch on this before it becomes old news what with President Bush considering using the TARP funds for an auto bailout as we speak.  By the way, my wife warned me that I shouldn't write really long entries as people wouldn't have the time or desire to read them... I told her that that was exactly the point of minutiae, it's all the details - and that's how I am!
A few months ago I had a strategic international business class where I had the arduous task of writing a weekly essay on current events as they pertained to international business.  I found an article from MSNBC regarding GM’s efforts to cut costs to stave off the serious dangers that it was facing.  It’s funny how hindsight really is 20/20.  This article was from July 15th – long before they would be faced with the major issues that they now face.  I have included some analysis from that essay.  It basically had to do with the fact that GM needed to cut costs or increase sales in order to have the cash necessary to pay its bills – it was the proverbial writing on the wall.

According to the text from one of my previous classes, a business can make money in only a few ways.  Logically, two of the most effective ways to manage this are to increase revenue and to lower costs.  As with personal finances, these management tools are fairly simple to understand – either you need to make more money or spend less.
There are several strategies for increasing revenue.  Basically the goal would be increase sales of your good or service, raise the price, or expand your company footprint.  Several volumes have been and could be written on any one of these approaches. A company will usually try to increase sales or raise their prices before they look to increase their footprint – assuming they are fully expanded into their domestic market.  This is usually due to many of the hurdles that have to be overcome as a company expands its global footprint.  Some companies may need to expand globally but are constrained by various internal and external forces.  Externally they might have a corporate structure or ownership that isn’t permitted in a different market.  Much like some government controlled companies from China find it hard to expand into Africa.  (Behar, 2008) [This is a really cool article about CHINA’S role in AFRICA from Fast Company magazine and is really worth reading]  They might also be constrained internally by lack of funds, no strategic direction, management incompetence, or a myriad of other items (sound's vaguely familiar).
At first brush I didn’t think that this article really had much to do with the assigned reading for the week.  However as I read this and ancillary articles the picture it painted was pretty clear.  GM has clearly become a huge international company.  In many of its markets outside of the U.S. it is a dominant force in the automotive industry.  Holden Motors, in Australia, continues to have the top selling cars for the last 35 years – they are owned by GM.  Opel in Europe is a brand that is found along every curb and on every street – also a GM brand.  Obviously GM had some well defined global strategies for entering many of the markets around the globe.  But what happens when a global company has to figure-out how to “reenter:” its own market?
Much of the success that GM has experienced outside of the U.S. comes from the fact that it is just that – outside the U.S.  Many countries where they are growing and continue to have success do not have the same regulations and “red-tape” that is found in the U.S.  Labor unions, which had their day in the sun to benefit the American worker, are seen now as a major burden.  I could write a enormous blog entry about the Labor Unions and how they have outlived their usefulness in the American Market Economy.  They had their moment…and now it is gone.  It’s interesting to breakdown the COSTS that the Union places on the Big Three.  Many of the costs faced by GM are pension and healthcare for their retired employees (you know, the guys that made the CRAP that made them so famous during the 70s and 80s…yeah, those guys, they still pay for them!).  Much of the strategic moves they are making now are an attempt to mitigate their overhead costs in the domestic market.
In essence they have to determine how to stay in business in the market that they call home.  The landscape of the U.S. has changed such that there is a completely different culture than when they started here.  Wall Street is so much quicker to punish a company than ever before.  They will need to manage their plan so that they can not only thrive in the current market but also adapt to the new culture.  Seems to me that it would be beneficial to them to treat the U.S. as a newly opened market and start over with a new entry strategy in a “new market”.  For some reason this strategy is working great for Honda, Toyota, VW, Mercedes, and other foreign companies that have moved into the US - bringing with them lostsa jobs that pay less than GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
As we now know they have gone to Washington twice to beg for money.  The first time didn’t bode so well for them as they walked in assuming that they still had the stature that they once did (GM acts like it's 1980 and they still have 50% market share when in actuality they only have 20% - and that's a tie with Toyota!)  The second time they entered, hat in hand, in graphic images of humility.  They were sent away the first time because they didn’t have any plan to present as to what they were going to do with the money – nor did they have any idea how they were going to compete and become viable in the new market.  I bash on the strategic plan, or lack thereof, by the upper management of GM and Chrysler.  But Lee Iacocca doesn’t think they should be booted just yet – and he should know!  Since the first trip and even before, there have been many people – successful businessmen like Mitt Romney – that have publicly opposed the bailout, er, I mean bridge loan/bill thingy.  But why don’t our elected REPRESENTATIVES listen to us?  If they really listened they would see that there aren’t many people who want to risk our tax dollars on poorly managed companies – early pollmost recent poll.
But why are so many people opposed to this and not the financial bailout?  I think it is for many reasons but a big part of it is the fact that the Big Three are three of the Biggest Whiners in the country.  Not to mention the fact that Chrysler is privately held by Ceribus Capital.  But they are continually strong-armed by the biggest union in the world, the UAW.  And every time they get kicked while they are down by the UAW’s arm twisting (mixed metaphors, I know) and they end up conceding just so they can continue production, fully aware of the fact that they will have to do it again in a few month’s time.  They continue to cry that their woes are the product of the economic downturn, but I think that it’s just the downturn that exposed the festering sore that was being covered by bandaid after bloody bandaid.  Let’s just see if the newly appointed CAR CZAR (just what we need, someone else who will get into a pissing contest with Ron Gettelfinger) will have any power to make the changes necessary to keep the big three from crawling back a third time.
I could go on, but I need to finish working…at least I don’t cost my company $73 an hour!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm not adding to Santa's List...

I'm hoping that I'm not biting off more than I can chew.  I keep adding to The List but I don't seem to be knocking stuff off very fast.  I can say that I think about writing stuff all the time (hence the expansion of The List) and I do plan on writing.  I was emailing a brother-in-law today trying to get his stamp of approval on the blog and he said something that made me think... He said "hopefully in two months you won't add to your list 'why I don't blog anymore'"  I figure that the best way to prevent that type of demise for the Minutiae Report is to keep at it - eventually I will get where I want to be.  So I am trying to define some of my goals for this blog to help me stay focused.
I will most likely continue to bring this up as I refine what it is that I want to accomplish by writing The Minutiae Report.  As I've said all along, this blog is my attempt (albeit conservatively paced) at purging my mind of the "clutter" that consumes me.  I've already eluded to the fact that I start thinking about stuff and it begins to consume me, I can't think, I don't listen to the people around me, I can't work and I can't focus on the things that will actually get me to where I want to go.  Instead I stray down these distractive paths in a hope that they will bring me to some sort of shortcut.  I don't think they will!  This is why I want to get them out of my head, explore them "electronically" in front of tons of people, and move on. 
A secondary goal is to attract readers to the Report and hopefully provide answers to questions that keep them up at night as well.  I can potentially lead them (you) down a path that I have already explored and give you a head start on the research and learning curve.  To do this I will have to be entertaining…this might be a stretch for me but I think I can try.  I don’t take this too seriously so you can’t either.
Oh, and one other thing…I know I am probably going to bring up some stuff that could be potentially incriminating so I am hoping that it is used for informational purposes only.  My dad used to always say “a smart person learns from his mistakes, a wise person learns from others’ mistakes.”  This holds true here.  I just hope the statute of limitations has expired for some of this stuff! 
So with that said, I am adding to the List…and it ain’t Santa’s!

Bailout?  We don't need no stinking Bailout!
50. The beauty of Free-Agency…You have a choice
51. Dust to Glory
52. Rally Cars
53. Hacking an Xbox
54. Le Tour de France vs. Il Giro d’Italia
55. Our home is a Petri dish
56. SME Server
57. Internet over powelines
59. Bigger Faster Stronger
60. Microlending –
61. Book Reviews
62. Netflix vs Torrents
63. Structured Procrastination

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dictionary for Toot & The List Updates

It has been requested that I add a dictionary to the blog. You will now find this widget at the top of the right sidebar labeled "Dictionary Assistant".

I have also determined that in the interest of readability I will post new entries every time I update the list. This way you don't have to seek it out at each visit to see what has changed. I will continue to cross items off which have been covered for organization purposes.

Thank You.

Monday, December 8, 2008

1. The impetus for this blog (11 worst blogs on the internet)

When I finally get around to talking about number 13 on “The List”, I will tell you about some of the sites that I visit on the internet and where I go for information.  But for now I want to talk about the number one item on the list as it has quite possibly been keeping most of you awake at night in anticipation of the answer (all 3 of you that have seen my blog).  Sufficed to say I was reading an article recently about the “11 worst blogs on the Internet” (PC Advisor).  I have to admit that it was almost a complete waste of my time as it was painful to read about Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and all the other celebri-freaks out there (that has to go on my list…and I am trying to coin that phrase so please use it).  However PC Advisor was able to point me to one of the most inane blogs I have ever seen since Web 2.0 started.  And it is quite literally called “the dullest blog in the world”. 

Now I personally don’t think this blog should have ever “won” the title of the worst blog on the internet simply due to the fact that it is the epitome of sarcasm and mockery.  It raucously spits in the face of all those people who take blogging too seriously (I do it for me, not for you, so I don’t count).  For example, the most recent post (which is pretty old since it was from March 2006), reads like this “Some pencils were scattered around on my desk. I picked them up one by one. I placed the pencils in the drawer which I use to store pencils.” Now who would argue that that doesn’t strike you as being funny?  One of my favorites is “Turning off a light…” you’ll have to check it out.  But I digress…as I do quite often…which is the beauty of this blog - I can.

Anyway, as I read this I realized that there is something out there for everybody and why shouldn’t I have a place to put my banal musings as well?  Why can’t I have a place where I can put all the details that fill my head, consume my thoughts, and distract my focus?  So this is what pushed me to start this blog.  I don’t claim to be a great writer (wait for the discussion that will come when I discuss number 12), I really don’t think I am a great orator and I would never be so bold as to proclaim that I am very verbose but I do know that I have an opinion.  From reading this article about the baloney that fills the internet I felt the desire, yea the impetus, to delve into the life of a “blogger”…so here I am.  Fully aware that I won’t get fame or fortune for doing this (especially the fortune part) but I really don’t care.

I finally figured out that I don’t update my “other” blog simply due to the fact that I don’t know what to put up there.  What might interest me, intrigue me, tickle me, or make me laugh when it comes to my family might just be too personal to share.  I like to keep certain details about ME to myself.  I hold close those things that are mine and I guard them with all the strength that I have.  I don’t want the violation that comes from others knowing too much about those whom I love. 

But, like I said earlier, I have an opinion…about most everything and I strive to base my opinions on facts; facts that I find through research on the internet, in books, in newspapers, movies, school, and church.  And this is the place where I can share that opinion.  A opinion is probably more personal that the stuff that I don't want to share, but the difference is that it's just that, and opinion (I find myself straying onto paths which touch upon other points from the list so I have to be careful - wait for #19 for the full discussion).  I continue to refer to this as a forum where discussion can take place and I really do mean that.  Please discuss with me, add additional minutiae to the list.  I will try and present facts that I find and their sources (where possible) and I hope that it promulgates the ideas that I try to convey and stimulates the discussion that I crave – even if that discussion is between me, myself and I.  I will also play the “point-counter-point game” and sometimes play the devil’s advocate.  The goal here is to give a bit of clarity to the way I think and the way I approach the mundane – the way I formulate the opinions that I have and why I don’t fear having them.  I love information and crave the minutiae of life.  This is why I wanted/needed the Minutiae Report!  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Course Syllabus:

I wanted to make a list of some of the things I want to chat about on this blog...and hopefully I will actually get around to addressing some of them (in no particular order).  I will continue to add to this list as I think of things that I want to talk about - or if you feel so inclined, drop me a note and I will try and focus my commentary on what my "readers" want to hear.  The following with now be formally called "The Minutiae List" or just "The List".  I will cross out those items that we have covered.
  1. The Impetus for this Blog (11 Worst blogs on the Internet)
  2. Making money with a it possible?
  3. Digging a basement
  4. Building a deck
  5. Remodeling a home (that you hate) in general
  6. Going to Regis University for my MBA
  7. Essays and articles to be published from my classes...why not?
  8. The differences between SAP and Oracle ERP systems
  9. Hobbies
  10. Investing 101
  11. My philosophy on networking (familial and professional)
  12. Books - writing and reading
  13. What I read on the Internet and when
  14. Working out and losing weight (FAT America)
  15. America in general
  16. Uses for lottery funds
  17. Education in general
  18. Finances in general
  19. Opinions - why they stink? And how to sell them to siblings
  20. The Yellow F650
  21. Ol' Blue & other "nostalgic" vehicles
  22. MOM and "her" grave
  23. Shoes (why I like them)
  24. Graveyard Shift
  25. OCD vs Efficient Habits
  26. ADD and peanut allergies
  27. Driving and rush hour theories
  28. Argument for Thanksgiving being the best holiday
  29. Political correctness
  30. Gerophobia and riding the short bus
  31. Google are you listening?
  32. Trend bucking
  33. The Unit
  34. Grants, New Mexico
  35. Pandora Radio
  36. Kantorei
  37. Celebri-freaks
  38. The Music I like
  40. The violation that we call theft
  41. Kickbikes
  42. Demolition Derbys
  43. Redneck Games
  44. Waterfalls and Concrete
  45. Does the dystopian world await us?
  46. Music
  47. Movies
  48. Obtain as much education as is possible

So, Whats the deal?

Four for a dollar...or two for 50 cents.  So I was up really late one night working and I happened to be chatting with my little sister and the topic of blogs came up.  I have a decent little family blog that I never update because I never have time and I don't know what stuff I should and shouldn't put up there.  As I was headed for bed, the idea occurred to me that I would like to "jot down" a few of the things that go through my head on a regular basis...and I decided that I needed a place to "store" all of my stupid ideas.  I know that I really bore a lot of people with the amount of detail that I get into when I explain things so I decided that I might as well bore the entire populous as a whole - or at least the one or two people that will ever stumble upon this stupid blog.
So here's the deal...I am dedicating this blog the the mindless minutiae and drivel that goes through my head on a regular basis...and maybe, just maybe, someone might find something useful here (if nothing more than data elements that can be used to do some social construction of my life and steal my identity)!


One of the things that I have noticed the past few weeks is that time must surely be accelerating.  I have found that when I get together with family and friends I feel like my head is spinning (almost as quickly as the people around me are changing topics) and I cannot find time to fully develop my thoughts.  In addition to the aforementioned intentions for this collection of words, I will be using this blog as a forum for discussion and further development of responses to questions I get on a regular basis.   To that end I would hope that you come back often and see what I have to say.

In addition,  I have determined that I have an issue with information and curiosity.  I am an extremely curious person and when I dig into something I want all the detailed information about it that I can could say that I crave the MINUTIAE in life!