Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Original Factory Specifications

I had my eight year old car in to the dealer's service department to repair a couple of things that had worn out. Before doing the repairs, the service manager had the technician thoroughly check out the car, and then the manager came out to me with an estimate of what it would cost to perform the suggested service jobs. The list of things that they proposed to do were aimed at restoring the car to "original factory specifications". It would have cost me thousands of dollars to do all that work, and isn't it just a bit unrealistic to think that you could restore an eight year old car to its original condition? I ended up having the service department do the jobs for which I had originally come to them. Extrapolating from this situation a little bit, how would you react if you went for your annual physical exam, and the doctor told you that they could restore you to original factory specifications if you would undergo a series of operations which the insurance company would not cover? Would you say that it was worth all of your savings to get you back into better shape with less apparent age despite the risks of those operations? Would you as in the automobile analogy just get the required work done and try to age gracefully? Would you just laugh when the doctor offered you the possibility of original condition? What would be the social effects on your life if you had all of that work done? Interesting to think about...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Economic Security or Temptation Toward Problems?

I heard a financial advisor on television say that the first thing you should do to guard against financial problems is to set up a line of credit against the equity you have in your home. She said that you don't have to borrow against your home equity unless you have to, but that this step would give you instant access to capital when you needed it. Frankly, this advice made me feel very uneasy. If you are in a position where it is at all likely that you will need capital, this approach will keep dangling the temptation in front of you to borrow and maintain a rich lifestyle. If you want to plan ahead against possible financial adversity, you are better off to learn how to trim your lifestyle so that it doesn't take as much capital to sustain it. If you start borrowing even a little against the equity you have in your home, especially in an economy that is tending to reduce the value of that home, then you are going to be tempted to do it again the next time you need a little cash. The commentator said that borrowing against your home equity line of credit is as easy as using a credit card. That is exactly the problem. The banks and mortgage holders make it easy because they want you to borrow. It tends to be a one-way street of borrowing more and more and not paying anything back beyond the interest, of which there will be plenty. Has anyone else noticed that the Fed has been reducing interest rates while the credit card companies have either left them the same or found more reasons to increase interest rates whenever you get into a technically incorrect position? Now is the time to learn how to reduce your spending in step with the reductions in the economy. Now is not the time to set yourself up to be tempted to borrow more and more.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Old Irish Saying

There's an old Irish saying that goes something like this:

You either have good health or bad health.
If you have good health, there's no need to worry.
If you have bad health, you'll either get better or worse.
If you get better, there's no need to worry.
If you get worse, you'll either live or die.
If you live, there's no need to worry.
If you die, you'll either go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven, there's no need to worry.
If you go to hell, you will meet all of your old friends and relatives there.
So, why worry?

Worrying never solves anything. It just gets in the way of thinking clearly as you go through the process of making new decisions.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Routines Are Important to Efficient & Enjoyable Living (from DECISION TIME! Better Decisions for a Better Life)

As an example (of the use of routine), when you first learn to drive you devote a great deal of concentration to the mechanical steps of operating an automobile: shifting, steering, peddle pressures, instrument panel control positions, etc. Once you have become an accomplished driver, those mechanical operation decisions are handled subconsciously, allowing you to devote your conscious attention to more important matters like safety and navigating to your destination. Routines allow you to handle the many minimal decisions of each day on a subconscious level. Rules also eliminate individual decisions on small matters. For example, traffic lights eliminate large numbers of repetitious decisions as to which car should proceed first at an intersection.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Future Belongs to Those Still Willing to Get Their Hands Dirty.

Once upon a time there was a country so ingenious and tied into the work ethic that when aggressors were inundating the world with warfare, this country within just a few years manufactured enough advanced equipment to turn the tide and restore peace. This happened right after that same country's economy went through a depression during which all that latent capability had nothing to do, and many people were out of work and struggling to survive. After that big war the people of this country said they wanted to never be poor again, so they surrounded themselves with fancy material things they had learned how to manufacture. Later they said that they could be even richer and could better forget that past depression if they just did clean service work and let other countries do the dirty work for them. So the ingenious country taught lots of other countries how to make things for them and told their industrial people to do clean service jobs. Time passed, and the people of the ingenious country were content with using their service profits to buy many neat things from countries they had taught to supply them. This worked well until they learned that in a world unified by computers and communications, other countries could do the service jobs too. And when the people of the ingenious country tried to go back to making their own products, they learned that they no longer had up-to-date capabilities, and that they had convinced themselves that products made by others were better. So the ingenious country headed once more for a depression because it had very little to sell that others wanted, and it sent most of its money to others for the things it thought it needed. The moral of the story: 1. Capabilities and their continuous further development are far more important than short term rewards. 2. Assets that are squandered are no longer assets. 3. What you know trumps what you have in the long run.

Friday, March 7, 2008

John McCain's Campaign Loves Hillary Clinton

The old adage goes "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Someone should mention this to Hillary Clinton. She's getting meaner and more adversarial toward Barack Obama while at the same time saying it would be great if they were running mates for President and Vice President. The first translation of those comments is that it would be nice to be running mates so long as it would be Hillary for President and Barack for Vice President. The second translation is that she is implying that people should vote for her because they could get Barack too (as Vice President). Barack is being forced to fire back more shots at Hillary rather than just defensively responding to her offensives, and every time he does, her staff says he's being mean. If they keep it up, the public will get more than tired of it, and only John McCain's campaign will benefit from it. - And by the way, Hillary, that 3:00 AM phone call to the White House commercial just makes people think positively about John McCain.