Past issues

Mindconnection eNL, 2001-01-07

In this issue:

  1. Polo shirt contest
  2. New courses
  3. Older course to consider
  4. What is driving the steel mill malady?
  5. IRS redux
  6. Guest columnist invitation
  7. Thought for the day

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1. Polo Shirt Contest

I e-mailed the winners this weekend, but haven't heard back. So, I will e-mail them one more time and then select new winners. It typically takes 6 weeks to get confirmed winners, which bugs the heck out of me. I think updating the rules to a 3-day wait is better than this interminable "reasonable time" thing. Any feedback on that? Send me an e-mail with your thoughts. Also, what if we changed the contest from twice a year to quarterly or monthly? Would it seem less remote and more like you had a chance of winning? Don't forget, we award to subscribers and to referrers. If you subscribe and refer a bunch of folks, you could win two shirts! No pants, but, hey, with two shirts....



2. New  courses

If you manage projects, you'll want one of these new courses (You may need to paste the URL into your browser in two parts):

Managing Projects to Maximize Profits

Curing Customer Confusion

The first course there is pretty self-explanatory. The second one is really for people who do specialized work--for example, electrical testing. When you do specialized work, clients often don't appreciate what you do because they don't understand it. Compounding the problem, they are from Venus and you are from Mars. This course helps you overcome that. Also good if your boss is clueless. If your boss is not clueless, you are a rare individual.




3. Older courses to consider

Well, we had record layoffs nearly every year of the 1990s, and we set a new record midway through 2001. That means you need an edge in your job.

Our Career  Secrets course may be the answer. For only $11.97, you will learn things that can make the difference between getting paid and going 6 months to a year without a job. Seems to be that's not a bad deal.

Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Most of us have self-defeating behaviors that just screw us up time and again, and we wonder "Why me?" instead of correcting those behaviors. It's not because we are masochists--it's because we don't see those behaviors. Our Eleven Habits of Highly Defective People will show you some common self-defeating behaviors and how to overcome them.

With the recent rash of airplane-based "remodeling" efforts, you are probably wondering about those nuclear power plants. Will some kid fly a plane into one of those and unleash a nuclear holocaust? Find out, by purchasing our  course, "Assessing nuclear power plants and terrorist attacks."




4. What is driving the steel mill malady?

You've seen the headlines. Sterling, IL, becomes a ghost town as the Sterling Steel Mill Operations close down. LTV leaves a big "job hole" in Cleveland. Retirees lose their "self-funded" pensions. Workers with missing fingers and toes now have to learn new skills, move to new cities, and hold their families together with little income and no hope of relief. Not a pretty site.

As much as I'd like to blame Bill Clinton's anti-labor policies during his 8 years of whatever it was he thought he was doing, that is not the source of the problem. Simply, there is a world-wide glut of steel production. Whenever you have a vital product like this, you will have an oversupply because governments are compelled to "protect" manufacturers by adding tariffs and such to bolster the price. That draws more players to the field. Bill Clinton didn't initiate that. He did not have tariffs with that steel. <grin>

Now, we are in a jam. President Bush's initial reaction was to talk tough to foreign steel makers and tell them to cut back production. Well, you either run a steel mill or you don't. Throttling back isn't so easy. The only way to cut production is to close production facilities. So, leaders of other nations said, "You are demanding we go to our people and tell them we are eliminating their jobs because of some problems in America?" No sale. Now, everyone is negotiating to decide who will take the bullet. It's like a scene from Moby Dick, where the sailors draw straws to see which one will die so the others can live off his body. Brr.

We must have our own steel production as a matter of national security. Can you imagine fighting a war where you import your steel, though you have all the materials to make your own? Japan can't make steel without importing, so on a national security argument, they would be the one to take the bullet. Anyhow, it's not going to be resolved soon.

The demand for steel is simply down because we are using so many other materials--plastics, composites, fiberglass, aluminum, and so on--to reduce product cost and weight. We are also using precision designs to put less steel in the products made from steel--for example, the big stamping machines that make the tubs for car floor pans or kitchen appliance bodies now make them per Computer Aided Design parameters that make the material as thin as it can go while meeting some standard of performance. No more overengineering. Also, our consumptive habits have changed. Instead of buying steel typewriters, we buy computers that don't have an ounce of the stuff.

A saving grace: Steel-framed homes. That's right. Wood-framed homes are termite food and fire fuel. Steel-framed homes take less labor to build, and save a lot of trees in the process. So, once the steel industry settles out, you are going to see small mills still in existence cranking out parts for homes. Replacing the World Trade Center may also keep a mill running for some time. Plans to build a spine for the President who kept threatening terrorists but never backing it up are shelved now, but our war on terrorism (excluding the IRS) will increase the demand for steel somewhat.

So, what is causing the collapse of the steel industry? This is a market adjustment made more severe by government "protection." On the one hand, we don't want to lose our ability to make steel, so protection seems warranted. On the other hand, are Americans so stupid, inept, and inefficient that we can't adjust to normal market pressures and thus require government "protection?" Government protection, once started, is very painful to stop. That, right now, is the only workable cure, because we have a situation of dependency. Look for higher steel prices. Coming soon to a theater near you. The long-term cure requires a free market approach, so overpaid CEOs and inept managers get the boot under pain of making profits and quality people can bring their good ideas to the situation. Artificial price supports left the Soviet Union impoverished for 70+ years. They simply do not work.



5. IRS redux

I probably sound like a broken record about this organization used as a private Mafia by so many of its employees. But, I have this thing about terrorism sponsored by the U.S. Government against U.S. citizens and abuse of government office for private gain--I just don't like it. I'm funny that way. Maybe my parents didn't abuse me enough as a child, so I have these expectations....

If you haven't seen the IRS training manual excerpt hosted by various sites online, search for it and read it. It's a funny but insightful look into IRS behavior. You should also take a look at a scam where IRS employees pocketed $103 million ( out the petition a few times). Congressman Dennis Moore has initiated a criminal investigation into this, but the IRS Counsel is conducting it. This is like having Teddy Kennedy investigate a drowning, or having Gary Condit investigate missing interns. The old fox guarding a chicken coop thing.

This Hoyt Fiasco is only one of the many scams these folks run--another one in Florida just hit the news last week. If you don't mind being related to criminals, you should encourage your children to get jobs with the IRS, because they can make a lot of money on the side and not get caught. Hey, that's what we can do with the unemployed steel workers! 



6. Guest columnist invitation

Much of what I share in these eNLs is hard-hitting journalism. I don't pull punches all that much. And, you might disagree with me. What I write comes from what I read (which is not the popular press), what I observe about the world around me, and so on. I don't know everything, and I'm not always right. For example, I made a mistake back in 1985. <grin>

Anyhow, if you want to share your views--and they are supportable--I will be happy to feature them here, giving you the byline. If you're interested, send me something interesting and short.



7. Thought for the Day

Sure, times are tough. But, they've been tough for previous generations and those folks weathered the storm. Suicides and divorces increase in times of economic and political instability, which we have in spades. And, yes, none of this is necessary. But, all of this is temporary. No, it won't be all roses next week, so you are going to have to tough it out. Just keep your chin up, and look for what's good in life. There really is plenty of that. If you find yourself despondent, get up and go do something. Also, be on the lookout for friends who seem down. Go do something fun, together. Even a walk would help. If you have a friend who is out of work, stop right now and write that person a letter of recommendation. If you make an action plan for getting through these tough times, and then work your plan, things will work out.


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola

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