Several readers e-mailed their thoughts to me regarding the lead item in yesterday's "Fabricating Update" that featured another reader's comments about businesses being in business to make a profit. And then there was the anonymous caller who wanted to call attention to a mistake in the item.
Here’s the story …
Let's begin with the comments that prompted the e-mails and phone call. Taking issue with readers who had weighed in on a previous newsletter topic about low wages, Ken from California said, "Here is something I learned a long time ago. 'You're in business to make money, not lose money!' What takes away money (expenses an organization pays out) from business? What makes money (profit margins being met) for business? What's the point in profit?
"Questions should be asked. I've found that not all employees understand business. Just look at the President of the U.S. No business experience and the country is in debt in the TRILLIONS. When he got the job it was in the hundreds of BILLIONS only. Again most do not know business. To be frank, most don't care as long as they get theirs. I have been around and in business for 22 years—from government work to private sector, from employee to management. The more I learn the more I find out that the average worker doesn’t have a clue [when it comes to running a] business.
"Would it be worth teaching those who make less than $20 an hour what it takes to make business work, or do we let them assume what they want and not worry about it? The most common statement I hear after talking to most who don't get it, but love to complain, is 'I didn't know that,' or 'That makes sense.'
"Something has to change, and not just from the top; it needs to change all the way to the bottom if we want to be successful in the greatest country on Earth."
Reflecting on these comments, Bob, who works for a company that makes boilers and water heaters, simply said, "This is well said. Most of the economic problems are because of a lack of understanding of basic business principals. Unfortunately, most people do not care or want to understand this until the problems face them."
Another Ken, who works for a company that makes energy products, said, "I understand companies have to make money to keep their companies open and pay the shareholders. The government needs to start acting like companies do. One great idea is before anyone makes it to the big house, you must have a profitable business and then run the country the same. Cut out the tax breaks for going outside the U.S. I never understood that idea. Giving some companies tax breaks to go out of country to start new business—that just does not make sense. If they go outside , it's on them, not the working man here. That's my 3 cents. Inflation."
A New York-based fabricator said, "I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned ' … look at the President of the U.S. No business experience and the country is in debt in the TRILLIONS. When he got the job it was in the hundreds of BILLIONS only.'
"The people who run the businesses as well as the 'vanilla' workers in the U.S. need to be able to rise up and elect a president and members of congress that actually know the ins and outs of business. Money flows in and money flows out. It's not rocket science. Spend more than you earn and you have a problem.
"How about just pulling back and taking care of the needs of your own country. Why are we giving huge amounts of money to foreign countries when we're in such debt?
"It just makes no sense at all. Today in Fox News the quote reads: 'The United States is stepping up aid to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa in spite of deep deficit problems, while the countries that have snickered on the sidelines about America's cash crunch, specifically Russia and China, are giving pennies on the dollar to what the U.S. has committed.
"'The United States has approved $565 million in humanitarian aid for the region so far this year, according to the Obama administration. Included in that is the $105 million announced by the White House Monday.'
"Just some thoughts to consider. I have to believe that the people attempting to run the businesses in this country continue to be very, very frustrated. I know I am."
Roger from Wisconsin also shared his thoughts: "Your responder from California points out that our current president has no business experience and implies that the lack of said experience is the cause of our rampant government debt. As far as I can determine, NO president in the last one hundred years has had any business experience save for George W. Bush, who happened to be a partial owner of a sports team that got the government to pay for a new stadium for him. A few wars and some decidedly pro-business tax breaks may have helped the deficit to where it is today.
"As for a solution to the bigger problem, perhaps we should stop subsidizing those manufacturers that choose to move jobs offshore or possibly the Asian and South American fish farms that supply Walmart® and others with cheap shrimp. We could even consider taxing foreign based corporations using the true cost of manufacturing of the product that they sell in the U.S. rather than the minimal artificial profits that remain after smooth but allowable accounting procedures.
"But nothing will change until the average American citizen demands that the goods sold in America be produced in America. This idea that the big box stores help fight inflation by buying and selling foreign made goods only serves to perpetuate the decline of American manufacturing."
Which brings me to the anonymous caller (AC), who declined to e-mail his comments, because he was concerned he would not remain anonymous, "and the newsletter readership likes this stuff"—meaning Ken from California's comments. AC took issue with Ken's numbers—trillions versus hundreds of billions, and rightfully pointed out that the debt already was in the trillions when President Obama was sworn in in 2008.
At that time, it was $9,188,640,287,930.39 and had risen to that number from $5,727,776,738,304.64 on the day George Bush was sworn in in 2001—an increase of $3,460,863,549,625.75 in a seven-year period. Today, the debt has climbed to $14,591,991,499,526.02—an increase of $5,403,351,211,595.63 in three and one half years.(You can keep track of the current debt and debt history at treasurydirect.gov.)
So yes, AC, you were quite right. However, the numbers are mindboggling, and the rate the debt is mounting is alarming. Someone needs to put the brakes on this freefall. Where's Ross Perot when you need him?
Metal fabricators aren't known to take a lot of time away from the shop, but sometimes they need to break away from the daily grind to think more strategically about the business. The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit at the FMA annual meeting in New Orleans, March 8-10, is just the place where these metal fabricators need to be.
STAMPING Journal is the only industrial publication dedicated solely to serving the needs of the metal stamping market. In 1987 the American Metal Stamping Association broadened its horizons and renamed itself and its publication, known then as Metal Stamping.