Where Do You Stand?

Several months ago gas in Nashville cost almost $3 a gallon. One enterprising station owner decided to charge around $2.60 a gallon, while all of his competition was at the $2.97 range. While he did this, people were lined up to get in the station. People were pouring through his little convenience mart, to go to the bathroom, or maybe pick up on his 2 for $2 Coca Cola deals. His competitor's stations (there are 4 more within a two block radius) were nearly empty.

This station owner was a very smart man. Did he lose money? His profit margin may have been smaller, but the traffic and sales increase probably doubled his typical profit intake. He had to bring in tankers three times a day to refill his tanks, and some delivery truck was almost always there restocking something in his convenience store.

There is a lesson to be learned here by America's retailers. If you've never worked in retail management, you don't know what kind of mark-ups most retailers have on the goods you and I purchase every day. Sometimes those mark-ups are anywhere from 70 - 100% of the actual cost of goods. Bars and Restaurants even more so, where the mark-up could be as much as 600% on some items. Now, to be fair, these businesses have a lot of overhead they have to pay: salaries, utilities, licenses, security, insurance, etc. But, notice they're having trouble doing some of these things right now? No one is buying.

This is called "market correction". See, we (the American public) have allowed these companies to more or less rape us for years. Why is it that an automobile that cost $3,000 is 1977 will cost $18,000 today? Why does a gallon of milk cost almost $3.50? Why is it that a gallon of gas that sold for $1.15 in 1999...? Well, because we let them charge us that much. And right now, we're done. Not only won't we pay those rates, we can't.

The government is so heavily involved in trying to 'bailout' America (Have you read the stimulus plan?), that big business is still losing the Big Picture. You want your people to stay employed? You want to get back towards the black? You want to keep getting fat bonuses, and have the funding to continue driving innovation and expansion? OK, then charge a reasonable rate for product. What is really more important, a fat profit margin, or staying in business?

I know, there are dozens of other factors involved here. Employers think they pay too much for help. Employees don't think they get paid enough. Unions want every benefit the rest of the American public can't afford. Fuel and utility costs are rising, increasing the expenditures and affecting the bottom line. When does the cycle stop? When do we, the American public, wake up and say enough is enough? When do American businesses say "We can do better by the American people, and survive, and be profitable." and start working with the boundaries of sanity. $250 for a Wii and $40 a game? It's a f@%#ing game. $200 for an iPhone? It's a damn phone. $80 for a pair of Nike? They're shoes for God's sake, they're gonna wear out in six months if you use 'em right.

When did we become so screwed up that we would continually let ourselves be taken advantage of? When does common sense sink in and we all say "No"? (When does "Common Sense" become common again?) There is a difference between being profitable, and being Greedy.

It takes people, average Americans like you and I, to stand up and be heard. It takes forcing retailers and businesses to "get it straight." What do you want to say? What do you want to do? How do you want to live? These aren't just retorical questions, I'm looking for your feedback. Stand up and be heard.

Field Of Stones

Many years ago, probably while stationed at NSA, I sat down and wrote this poem while coming up with content for the 741st MI BN's newsletter, for their Memorial Day edition. Since then it has also appeared in the Ocean View, DE American Legion newsletter, the Ocean City, MD Veterans of Foriegn Wars newsletter, and an abbreviated version on Poetry.com. I thought the content was still fitting for this Veteran's Day, a gentle reminder to thank all of my brothers and sisters-in-arms who put their lives on the line in the name of freedom.

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Other Thoughts on 9/11

A vibrant discussion is in the ongoing comments to Ray Camden's recent entry on remembering 9/11. Ray makes a great parallel as to how 9/11 is, to our generation, what the Kennedy Assassination was to our parents. He also tells an interesting, and troubling, story of personally experienced (by his wife and son) xenophobic backlash in it's aftermath. 9/11 will be a day remembered for many generations to come, in many different ways by everyone.

Ray and I often share opposing political views, which is one of the fantastic things about living in our great nation - the fact that we have the right to actually have opposing views, much less express them openly (that's one point I think Ray and I can agree on). I want to preface this by saying that I am not posting this in total disagreement with his post, but rather in counterpoint to some of the comments generated from his post (and some content, but hey, we can do that). If you are easily offended then stop reading now, as I have stated before that I am not, nor will I ever be, Politically Correct.

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Reflect Upon Your Country: A New Republic

This is reprinted from a series of articles I used to write for the 741st MI BN newsletter. This was the first article of that series, which started on the 4th of July, somewhere around 1994. - Cutter

The shot that was heard around the world. That was what they called the beginning of the resistance to the opposing invasion. A corrupt and cruel government had been imposing crippling taxes and stilting the trade of its colonies, all without the consent of their legislatures. Many in the colonies had decided that they weren't going to take it anymore. But some were still undecided about independence.

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