Sunday, June 19, 2011

Repeating History

Deplorable. That is the only way to describe the latest on history education in the United States.

History-Test Scores Show Scant Progress (Wall Street Journal)

Having excelled from elementary school all the way through earning two degrees in the subject, and having considered teaching high school history at one point, it is often disheartening to cross paths with people who possess not even a basic familiarity. From my dad’s own interest, I inherited a fondness for history. Together, the two of us would dissect movies based on historical events, encyclopedias – hard-bound, printed versions, in the way back time before Wikipedia – in hand to check and correct them. (Thus, explaining why friends, and occasionally family, are contemptuously reluctant to ever watch such movies with me.) Throughout my formal education I was always inspired by my teachers and professors, drawn to the individuals, events and lessons of the past. Taught to think critically in interpreting the topics, issues and themes in a logical and objective manner – a point that could be applied to other subjects as well.

Teacher Is Taught A Tough Lesson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

In failing to properly teach an understanding and appreciation of the past, we are losing the future. A future in which critical thinking and rational objectivity cannot exist. How could it, when those same qualities barely register today? Click over to YouTube, or any similar website, and see what I mean – few winners, a whole lot of losers. Unfortunately, not simply just as a desperate subconscious group plea to garner views and be justifiably mocked; at some point, genes play a role.

Critical Thinking:

Not So Much:

The future is not lost though. Not yet. As the Roman orator Cicero stated, “History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” If future generations fail to embrace such sentiment concerning the past, they will, as Winston Churchill warned, be doomed to repeat it.

©2011 Steve Sagarra

Monday, June 13, 2011

Must Be The New Math

How does a company decrease cost and increase efficiency without sacrificing jobs? For starters, reduce and consolidate your products. As example, which are many, Colgate-Palmolive sells Palmolive dish soap in several sizes; they also sell a 50 ounce refill, obviously for refilling the other sizes. Here's the kicker:  the larger 50 ounce cost less than the others, yet functions similarly and just as easily. With a convenient handle even. Why not get rid of all other sizes and simply sell the 50 ounce? Perhaps increase its price a bit to compensate. Not only would such a move decrease the cost of shipping (packaging, trucking, etc) the various sized products to stores, it would make the manufacturing more efficient. None of which would sacrifice a single job; everyone involved – from the employee overseeing production, the trucker transporting it and the worker at another company who produced the packaging – would still be needed in their current roles.

After all, Henry Ford’s business model for manufacturing the Model T didn’t have aesthetics in mind; it was about increased efficiency and lower costs. He was even ahead of his time as a “green” company, recycling unused materials into the development of Ford Charcoal, better known today as Kingsford. Would seem the development of "clean" coal technology, a goal since the 1980s, goes hand-in-hand with re-embracing Ford's other business ideas. Ideas from an era when “Made In America” wasn’t a hyperbolic punch line.

I digress...

Merger With Continental Costing 1,500 United Jobs In Houston (Houston Chronicle)

1,300 More Jobs Coming To Chicago On Wings Of United Airlines Merger (Chicago Tribune)

Certainly, there can be bipartisan agreement that this is not the definition of job creation. By my public school math, the United-Continental merger actually will result in a net loss of 200 jobs; the "new" jobs are simply relocation of existent ones.

Unemployment Benefits Little Changed For 2nd Straight Week As Economy Generates Less Hiring (Washington Post)

President Obama’s Phony Accounting On The Auto Industry Bailout (Washington Post)

Editorial: Obama's Job-Killing Jobs Council (Investors Business Daily)

If such trends continue, unemployment will reach 100% and the country will be insolvent in no time. Enjoy your work week…that is, if you’re one of the lucky ones (i.e. suckers) with a job.
©2011 Steve Sagarra

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reaping Toil Sowed

Growing up, kids are, or at least were, taught that good behavior and deeds result in reward. The opposite was true of bad behavior and deeds, resulting in punishment. Has that reward/punishment system gone to the wayside in a post self-esteem culture, where everyone is a winner? Or is it just the ones with enough influence?

Over the last decade, I, like millions of average citizens, diligently established an admirable credit history and a decent, above-average credit score. What has been the reward? Nothing, except being a number to Wall Street. Beholden to their idea of what makes, and who receives, a rewarding life – with compounded interest, of course. Never a late payment? Enjoy an increased annual percentage rate! Pay off the balance on-time, all the time? Enjoy a continually decreased credit amount! Collapse the world economy? Enjoy billions in federal bailout money, and continue business as usual! Frankly, I am tired of it.

Credit card companies are the worst offenders, even after the economic collapse and subsequent regulations against them. They did not learn their lesson because they were not given the proper punishment. In fact, Wall Street companies – like Citi and Bank of America, two of the worst – were rewarded with billions for their bad behavior, which they have continued because, rather than in spite, of it. They know they can get away with it because they know they will not face any punishment. Just like a kid rewarded for bad behavior.

Most especially, automakers bailed out by American taxpayers should not demand tax increases that will affect American taxpayer wallets, which are still feeling the pinch, in order to sell more cars:

GM's CEO Makes A Case For Gas Tax

Atlas shrugged? More likely, doesn’t care – as long as it reaps what the toil of others has sowed.

©2011 Steve Sagarra