The Horse Sense Blog compares the nonsense in today's news with good ol' fashioned horse sense


“…I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.… It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.” - Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775


"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Nation That Feeds The World Has Many Citizens Relying On The Government For Food

Americans are no longer the independent people we once were. We have citizens expecting the government to bail them out when disaster strikes.  But we are a nation that is broke.  We have no money to spare.  We can’t even pay our own bills.  Over 40 cents of every dollar our government spends is borrowed money.  Would that work in your own home?  No, it would not. 

This weekend's news of Hurricane Irene hitting the east coast showed many people being interviewed who were worried about what the government would do to help people impacted by the hurricane.  Is it wrong to want to help when something like a hurricane or tornado races through a community and leaves a trail of devastation?  Certainly not.

It’s a good thing to want to help others.  It’s virtually an American tradition to help others in time of need.  In fact, Americans give more when bad things happen than any other people.  And Americans need to keep personally digging deep to help others when these kinds of things happen.  But when something is that big and people are hurting that bad I do think it is good for us to use our tax dollars to have our government help them, too. However, as I stated before, our government is broke.  We have no money.  So what do we do as a nation?

It’s been said that charity begins at home, so it’s about time we, as a nation, turn our hearts and our tax dollars to home first. The entire world is in need and even in it’s best days America could not afford to pay for all the worlds’ problems.  It’s time for national priorities to decide what we can do and in what order of priority. 

We need to refocus our energies to take care of those at home first. We can save billions of dollars by stopping many of the programs to take care of the rest of the world and prioritizing others.  If we cannot feed ourselves then we will not have the strength, longevity, or resources to help others.  Once we take care of our needs (that’s needs, not wants) then we can consider those of others.  And there are some others we should help…when we can.

If our nation is broke then the country has to give up other things to afford to help our citizens who are in need.  It’s no different than we should be doing in our personal lives.  We give up other things.  What good person wouldn’t give up some wants in their lives to help friends and family in need?  Wouldn’t you give up those things if you had someone in your life who was destitute?  Wouldn’t you extend a helping hand even if you had to give up something to do so?  Of course you would if you’re a decent person.

We have to make some tough decisions.  We need to decide that our community and nation don’t need some of the things that our tax dollars go to and we use those same tax dollars to help when disaster strikes to help our fellow citizens.  Contrary to what our culture has taught us, we can’t have our cake and eat it, too.  In fact, we really can’t have our cake anymore either until we dig ourselves out of the hole we’ve put ourselves in.  It’s about priorities, which we’ve long ago forgotten.

As citizens we need to choose to do without and forego things when others are in greater need.  We have become a nation that not only expects to be helped by our government, we’ve become a citizenry that expects the government to give to us just because we’re in line with our hand out.

I remember a business I helped one time where the owners decided to give up some of their salaries to help the family of one of their employees.  They chose to give up benefits for themselves to help someone in need.  When asked about the decision one of the owners said that it meant that the owner’s kids would have to go to public school instead of private school but that wasn’t much of a sacrifice because in doing so it kept food on the table for that employee and his family who had real needs.  How many of us would do that?  And yet that is what we should be doing when there is a need.

America is at a crossroads.  There is no easy way out of the mess we’ve created.  We must make hard choices now.  If we don’t then we are not only making bad choices for our future, we may be choosing not to have a future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Politicians: Proof That Population Density Doesn’t Refer To How Many People Live Here

In a current article in the Washington Post a sentence started with, “More than two years after the end of the recession….” 

Question:  What kind of person writes something like that? 
Answer:  Someone who is either grossly misinformed, politically motivated, or is simply a fool.

The article stated, “Normally, recovery from a recession is at least as rapid as the decline that led to the downturn.”  That may or may not be true. The article is questioning why it is different this time. I would challenge that and say that maybe it is not different.  Maybe we’re measuring the beginning incorrectly.  Maybe to measure a downturn you should go back to when the entire problem started. 

Based on that, we have been building to this recession (I think it is actually more of a depression) for a long, long time.  When the government decided to live beyond its means and spend, spend, spend our way into oblivion is when everything started.  And, like a person who overspends beyond their means, in the beginning all you are feeling are the benefits of spending. As you go further and further into debt you’re just feeling the up side while enjoying the things that that debt has purchased for you.  But over time as you get in deeper and deeper and the debt builds, eventually you find that you can no longer live this way.  Eventually you find that you have to stop and cut back (something our politicians have not learned to date).  If you get in too deep you will have to pay a dear price to get back on track.  That means cutting spending to very uncomfortable levels.  That means giving up things that seem very basic.  But you’ve dug a hole so deep you have no choice.  You have to pay off that debt.  You have to cut spending to well below your income.  Then when you do you will start the process of recovering.  However, you will feel the pain of your own personal Depression for a long time before you are able to be free of your obligations that brought you so low.

The federal government began spending worse than a bunch of drunken sailors a long, long time ago.  Some would take it all the way back to the Great Depression when FDR tried to spend our way out of that.  Others would take it to after World War II and the Marshall Plan and the huge amounts of money we spent rebuilding other nations.  And as we move forward in history different people will each pick some major event in time when they believe all this overspending started.  Frankly it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that we have been doing it far longer than the few years this journalist suggests should be a normal recovery.

This is not a normal recovery because it is not a normal recession. This is truly a depression and we will either stop overspending, which the politicians have not done yet and the voters have not stopped them from doing yet, and begin a slow and long recovery.  Or we will continue to allow them to spend too much and we will not just have a slower recovery, but we will not recover.  We will not survive.  It is not possible.  The math doesn’t work.

The foolishness of the media buying into the idiocy of the politicians’ logic about all this is earth shattering in its implications.  Instead of warning the public, a job they are supposed to be doing, they are parroting the line of the politicians on both sides of the aisle who are destroying our nation.  Don’t they see that the politicians spend to maintain power?  Don’t they see that the politicians spend because they know that when they give things to people and their communities that those people will think of them like Santa Claus and vote to re-elect them?  After all, who would vote Santa out of office?

It’s time America wake up.  We have one last chance to save this nation and we can decide whether we will or whether we’ll let an addiction to spending take us down.  Once we lose it we won’t be able to get it back.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Economics Is Economics Is Economics


Math has rules and they don’t change for your convenience.  Yet for some reason there are so-called experts saying that it’s different for a large economy like America than for a smaller budget that a business or a family would have.  Really?  Would someone tell me at what point 2 + 2 no longer equals 4?  Would someone tell me what it takes to get to the point where going into debt gets you out of debt? Do I have to have so much debt that there is absolutely no way me, my children or their children could never pay it off?  Is that when the rules of math change?  Is that the “other dimension” where what we learned in grade school changes to some special formula that only the “experts” understand?

This is what the media and the politicians in Washington want us to believe.  I don’t care what degree you have.  I don’t care what award you won.  I don’t care what your pedigree is.  The fact is that no credentials matter when you’re promoting a stupid agenda.  And these people really are stuck on stupid!

I have often been asked what it takes to make a business successful. I tell people that to make a business successful you simply have to spend less than you bring in.  Now actually doing that is not easy, but the principle is very simple.

This is the same principle an individual or family must use to handle their own finances.  When I have expenses higher than my income I have two choices.  I can either increase my income or decrease my expenses.  Or I could do a little of each.  But the bottom line is that I have to get my expenses cut to a level below my income to survive.

Businesses are no different. If their income is not higher than their expenses they will not survive. 

I remember a friend years ago who worked for a company and got news they were filing bankruptcy.  They did $300 million per year in business and she couldn’t understand how a company with that much income could possibly fail.  It was simple, I told her, they were spending more than they were making.  When I compared it to her personal budget it made sense to her.

It is a simple principle that most people should be able to understand.  But for some reason when we talk about our nation we find people thinking it’s different.  Even these so-called “educated” experts talk about why it is good to go into debt and that the nation needs to go further into debt to get out of debt. 

So let me get this straight.  The nation needs to go further into debt to get out of debt?  That’s what they’re telling us. If that were true then we should all be going into debt as far as we can.  Then we’d all prosper, at least according to those promoting this idea.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to tell them we don’t need their kind of logic.  In fact, they were in charge when we got into this mess so why would we trust them to get us out?

It’s a little like riding home with a drunk after a party and he drives off the road and into a ditch.  Is it logical to think he’s the guy to get you out of the ditch and get you home safely?  I don’t think so.  In fact, if you don’t have someone qualified to get you out of the ditch and get you home safely, then it’s time to go find someone who is qualified to do just that.

Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  And yet we still turn to the same people who have proven themselves unable to solve the problems we have.  What’s wrong with us?

When the “debt crisis” was debated a few weeks ago and the “solution” was arrived at by Congress we all should have been screaming and running out of the room pulling our hair out.  Our nation spends far more each year than we bring in and Congress has agreed to increase that spending every year.  Add to that that we are in debt beyond what we can pay and we’re really in a pickle.  (The fact is that any pickle is actually in much better shape than we are as a nation.)

So what does Congress do to fix it?  They say, “We won’t increase the amount of spending next year as much as we had planned to.  We’ll still spend more than we did this year, but we just won’t increase spending as much as we planned.”

What kind of solution is that?  Let’s put this in a more manageable perspective so people can understand it since for some reason people quit thinking when numbers become millions, billions, and trillions. 
(The following numbers are not exactly proportionate to the national budget and debt, but they’re close enough to make the point.) 

Let’s say your family brings in $60,000 a year and you spend $80,000 a year and add to that you have $400,000 in credit card debt that you aren’t paying off.  Every year you automatically increase your spending by 8% (that means that next year you’ll spend $86,400 instead of the $80,000 you spent this year).  Now if you use Congress’ method of fixing things they’d say they’d cut the 8% increase to 7% and that would put you on a path to solve your problem. That means that you’d spend $85,600 instead of the planned $86,400.  Are you fixing anything?  Absolutely not.  Not only  are you continuing to fall short of income compared to expenses, you’re not even making a payment on your credit card debt of $400,000 that keeps growing due to interest.  It won’t take long before you’re in so deep that you can’t get out.

That’s where America is at and that’s the “solution” Congress gave us a few weeks ago with their brilliant actions.  These are the drunk guys who drove us into the ditch.  Why are we trusting them to get us back out of the ditch?  These are not successful people at running budgets for the country, companies, or probably even for themselves. These are people who specialize in spending our money!

The only way to fix the problem is to change the people who are driving the car and get people who understand that you can’t get out of debt by going into debt.

America has hard choices to make.  We can no longer just keep saying we want change but then say we don’t want our lives affected by it.  It’s too late.  It’s time to put our narcissism aside and start to focus on what’s best for the future of our children, grandchildren and every generation to follow. 

We have allowed politicians, with the support of the media who are singing their praises, to control the security of our future.  It’s time to get people in the drivers seat who know what they’re doing and get ourselves on a harsh diet of sacrifice.  It’s the only way to save the country and the future.  Are you willing to pay the price or do you prefer to make your children and grandchildren live lives of poverty on a level worse than that of the Great Depression to pay for your selfishness?

It’s time to decide.  It’s time to quit blaming others and make hard choices.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why the U. S. Postal Service is failing


Recently we’ve again heard that the U. S. Postal Service is hurting financially.  Articles have been written saying that they face “hurdles” to return to profitability. I didn’t know they were in a track meet.  I thought they were trying to run a business. If their problem is hurdles I’m sure a good track coach, new athletic shoes, and lots of practice will take them a long way.  And, using the hurdle analogy, since the postal service really has no competition they don’t have to worry about winning a race, they just have to finish it.  They don’t have to be Olympic-class at overcoming those hurdles.  They just have to successfully get over them and they will be succeeding.

However, setting aside my typical sarcasm, I don’t think their problem is hurdles.   In my mind hurdles represent relatively small obstacles than can be overcome by a moderate amount of work.  In the case of the postal service the problem is so big that the entire government is in denial.  Of course I’ve come to understand that the term “government” must come from some ancient word that really means “denial is the way we live our life.”  The fact is that the USPS has a terrible track record on efficiency and good management. 

Any business that was run like the USPS would have been out of business years ago.  Walk into virtually any post office in any major city in the U. S. and you’ll see what I mean.  The employees often move at a pace that would make snails laugh.  In fact, I think that in a race between a snail and the average USPS employee the snail would leave the USPS employee in the dust.

Just this last winter I had a package that was delivered to me that was insured.  It was a purchase of some items totaling over $300 in value.  When I received the box it had been opened and of the dozens of items that were supposed to be in the box, only a few were there.  With them were some empty USPS Priority Mail envelopes (not sent by the shipper) and a few small pieces of packing material.  The items that were there were rolling around inside the box and a note was affixed to the front of the box that the box had been resealed by the USPS and I would have to contact their St. Louis office to discuss any damaged or missing items.  Fortunately the box was insured.

I started the process of filing a claim and to make this relatively short I will simply tell you that the USPS really proved that they have no idea what they are doing.  To start with, I learned that the St. Louis office is not who I had to contact but Atlanta instead.  Then I tried to file the paperwork but was told I had to wait three weeks before I could file it.  After waiting and then filing I went through all of their hoops and was told that I should receive a check for the missing items within a few weeks.  Well, it took five months and every step along the way the USPS lost paperwork and information and I had to refile and recontact them to get things processed. 

In their defense I did finally get the money but the experience just reinforced that the way they run their operations shows very clearly why they are in financial trouble. 

If a company or organization is incompetent in one area it virtually always translates to other areas, too.  And when it’s in an area where you are trying to help customers with problems it always represents core problems in the organization.  That easily explains why the government is considered one of the poorest run organizations today.  And that refers not just to the USPS, but to all areas of government.  The only exception I see to that are some local municipalities that are exceptional at how they handle things.  It’s a shame they have to be called government and carry that negative label on their operations.

There is nothing more important than how you handle customer problems.  Every problem should be handled as if it was the most important problem you have to deal with.  If you handle them that way, you build a rapport with your customers as a caring and service oriented business.  Anything less than that, even in the smallest of problems, weakens your image in the eyes of the public. 

Companies that understand the importance of putting customer service and satisfaction as their number one priority are the ones that people continue to return to and send others to.  In economic times like we face in this Recession (or Depression as some call it - it's certainly not a Recovery) the most effective way to increase your chance of business success is to become the best at customer service.  Customers do have a choice who to do business with and service is what keeps your customers from going elsewhere. 

While electronic communication like email has certainly impacted the USPS, the fact is that many people who have moved to it have done so, in part, to avoid dealing with the USPS any longer.  It’s not just an embracing of new technology, it’s rejecting something that doesn’t work very well and in this case that is the U. S. Postal Service.  

Make your customer's problems your biggest concern and you will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What’s Wrong With The Latest Headline: U. S. CREDIT RATING DOWNGRADE SOUNDS ALARM BELLS?

Okay, maybe I’m a jerk.  Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe I’m just old fashioned and out of touch, but what’s wrong with this headline?  What’s wrong is that it’s wrong.  That’s right, it’s wrong.  No, I don’t mean that “alarm bells” didn’t sound with the downgrade of the U. S. credit rating.  What I mean is that the alarm bells are going off after the proverbial horse is out of the barn.  It’s after the fact.  The alarm bells should have been going off for years and no one was paying attention. 

The citizens certainly weren’t paying attention.  If they had been they would have held Congress accountable to deal with issues like this. 

The credit agencies weren’t paying attention.  If they had been they would have been screaming years ago that the U. S. has been on a path to destruction and should turn around. 

The politicians weren’t paying attention.  If they had been they would have stopped spending habits that are worse than those of drunken sailors.  (Okay, I have to apologize here to drunken sailors because no drunken sailor has ever been as stupid with their money as the U. S. Congress has been with our money.)

What part of this can’t people understand?  There is NO difference between a government, a business, or a family budget other than size.  Money comes in and money goes out.  You have to spend less than you earn or you’re in trouble.  You can’t borrow your way out of debt.  If you could, why wouldn’t the “experts” be recommending that everyone go as far into debt as they can?  It makes no sense.

But we can’t just blame the idiots in Washington.  We, the citizens should have held them accountable.  We were too busy, though, living our lives and not paying attention.  In fact, most Americans were not just living their lives, they were doing it in a similar manner to the way Washington handles money and now they, too, are struggling to survive.

How about your business?  Is it in debt and struggling to survive?  Have you fallen for the old trick where the banker says you can borrow to grow your business?  Guess what, he’s just trying to sell you on borrowing from him.  And that’s what his business boils down to:  getting you further into debt so his bank can make money on you.  He’s not there to help you no matter what he says.  Debt will kill your business, your personal life, and our country. 

The Bible says that a borrower is a slave to a lender.  (I don’t care whether you believe in the Bible or not.  The fact is that it’s the greatest work of written wisdom in history.  Those who don’t agree haven’t spent time studying it.)  And the last time I checked, no one wants to be a slave.  So why would you want to enslave yourself to some bank?  And yet we see it done all the time.  If you are smart you will work hard to get out from under that yoke of bondage and be free of it.

Work hard.  Pay off your debt.  Take control of your business and life.  When you do you will find you can survive during tough times when others are failing.