Saturday, September 3, 2011

According to Uncle Sam, I can't employ alcoholics. Or fire them.

The U.S. Department Of Transportation is rolling out a program called CSA 2010 (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability - 2010).  They're having problems implementing the program because doing this kind of thing requires basic competence, which they ain't got.  People with a sense of humor now call it CSA 2011.  The Department Of Transportation has had some structural problems with the program. 

CSA 2010 is the most comprehensive driver safety program ever imagined on this, or any other planet.  Here are the rules on Alcohol Testing:

The FMCSA regulations require alcohol and drug testing of drivers, who are required to have a CDL. The DOT rules include procedures for urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. Urine drug testing rules were first issued in December 1989. In 1994, the rules were amended to add breath alcohol testing procedures. In the years following the implementation of the drug and alcohol testing requirements, a number of factors including changes in testing technology, and the issuance of a number of written interpretations, required OST to review and revise the rules. Blah blah blah blah blah, you're not really reading this, are you?  In December of 2000, OST published final rules that incorporated these factors, as well as input from the public sector, into the existing drug and alcohol testing regulations. In August of 2001, the FMCSA revised modal specific drug and alcohol testing regulations published in 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 382 to reflect the revisions made by OST.

Why would drivers need to occasionally pass a sobriety test?  Well, to see if they're driving drunk. 

I recently had to attend a one-hour seminar on Drug and Alcohol Awareness.  The goal was to train me to detect if a driver was drunk, or had been drinking.  I've got to sit through it every year, despite the known fact that I don't pay my drivers enough for them to purchase alcohol.  

This CSA 2010 thing is a big big deal.  I'm plagued every week by consultants, seminar providers, and software salemen who have kits and programs that will help me cut through the confusion that is built into the program.  (We've purchased a good one, BTW.) 


But hold on a minute.  Not everyone in Washington has gotten the message.  This is from the Heritage Foundation website.  The EEOC has declared that Old Dominion Freight Lines cannot fire alcoholic drivers. 

The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of a driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

So how does an employer ensure safety and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act?  Maybe the driver has gotten into a program and cleaned up.  But if he has a relapse and Old Dominion doesn't know about it, Old Dominion will still be liable if they let this guy drive and he drives the big rig into a school bus. 

Here's a suggestion....  Let's trim it all back to the bare bones.  Let's nuke the CSA non-programs.  If Old Dominion employs an alcoholic driver who hits the school bus, Old Dominion can be taken into court and sued for every penny they've got.   That's the program we need. 

Old Dominion's hiring and firing decisions should be left up to Old Dominion.  If they purchase alcoholic labor, they're going to have safety problems and they should be held responsible.  OD should be free to make that purchasing choice, just like you have a choice in where or how to purchase groceries, gasoline, education for your children, dog food, TV sets, light bulbs, or clothing. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Ron Paul and FEMA

Ron Paul is catching hell from the Statists and their Mainstream Media allies for saying that the U.S. should abolish FEMA.  (For the benefit of people in other countries reading this, FEMA is our Federal Emergency Management Agency.  And congratulations on having less debt than us BTW.)

But every now and then, in order to make the Bush administration look worse, someone slips up and publishes the truth.  For instance, this is from The New York Holy Times:

Far from deferring to state or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority and made things worse, Mr. Broussard complained on "Meet the Press."

When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away, he said. Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said.

If you have to put armed guards in place to protect your phone lines from a federal government agency, it is time to defund that federal government agency.  Leave disaster preparedness to the states. 


Thursday, September 1, 2011

A list of proposed regulations for households. Yours in particular.

Several posts ago, I commented on some of the insane legislative crap coming out of California.  The latest example being the potential requirement that babysitters get 15-minute breaks, meal breaks, workers comp, etc. etc. etc.   
I had often tried to use babysitters as an example of what would happen to hiring in the babysitting field if government got involved.  People would stop hiring babysitters.  I thought it was a totally ridiculous analogy, but of course, there's always California.  California wants to do all of the above, complete with forcing you to bring in a "substitute caregiver" to cover for Babysitter #1's smoke breaks. 

The Coyote Blogger has taken it to a new level.  What would happen if a household had to abide by ALL of the same arbitrary, for-your-own-good, batshit crazy rules that a business has to consider every day?  Would you consider running a household under these terms?  Here's The Coyote: 

I have decided this is exactly the kind of thing California needs. I am tired of average citizens passing crazy requirements on business without any concept of the costs and injustices they are proposing, and then scratch their head later wonder why job creation is stagnant.
I want to propose that California do MORE in this same vein. Here are some suggestions:

  • Every household will have to register for a license to conduct any type of commerce, a license to occupy their house, and a license to hire any employees. Homeowner will as a minimum have to register to withhold income taxes, pay social security taxes, pay unemployment insurance, pay disability insurance, and pay workers comp insurance.
  • Households should have to file a 1099 for every payment they make to contractors
  • All requirements of Obamacare must be followed for any household labor, including payment of penalties for even part-time labor for which the homeowner does not provide medical insurance
  • No alcohol may be purchased by any individual without first applying for and receiving a state liquor license
  • No cigarettes may be purchased by any individual without first applying for and receiving a state cigarette license
  • No over the counter drugs may be purchased by any individual without first applying for and receiving a state over the counter drug license
  • No eggs may be purchased by any individual without first applying for and receiving a state egg license
  • Any injuries of any type in the household must be reported to OSHA
  • Form EEO-1 must be filed once a year to catalog the race and gender of anyone who did any work in the home
  • Any time one has a dispute in court with another citizen or an employee, they will now be treated the same as businesses in California, which means that the presumption, irregardless of facts, will be strongly in favor of any employee and against the homeowner, and in favor of any other party in any dispute whose net worth is perceived by the jury as less than the homeowner’s.
  • At least once a year the home’s kitchen must be inspected and certified by both the fire marshal and the health department. Any deficiencies must be immediately repaired before the kitchen can be used. All code requirements for commercial kitchens will apply to household kitchens, including requirements for a three-basin washup sink, separate mop sink, and fire extinguishers
  • All homes will be inspected once per year for ADA compliance. All parts of the home must be wheelchair accessible, even if there are currently no handicapped residents in residence. Homes more than one-story tall will require an elevator. All counters must be of the proper height, and all bathrooms must have ADA fixtures.
  • Each home will be required to prominently display all its required licenses as well as state and federal information posters for workers.
  • All homes will be audited at least once every three years to ensure that use taxes have been filed and paid on all out of state Internet purchases
  • Material Safety Data Sheets must be on file for all household cleaning products and other chemicals and available for inspection by the fire marshal
  • All gas tanks (car, lawnmower, portable 5-gallon) will be treated just like commercial gasoline storage tanks, and require monthly leak / loss reporting. Annually, a complete spill prevention plan must be filed with the state.
  • A stormwater discharge plan must be filed annually with the state
  • Any dropped thermometer or CFL bulb will require homeholder to call out (and pay disposal costs) of a state hazmat team
  • Lifeguards are required at all home pools during daylight hours
  • Households should file property tax returns in the same way that businesses must, listing individually every single piece of personal property they own, from their car to their lawnmower to the pink flamingo in the front yard.
  • Homeowner must track the number of days any guests stay in their house so they can file and pay lodging taxes on a monthly basis
  • Any homeowner who hauls a boat or trailer on US highways must register with the Department of Transportation and receive a DOT number. They must keep full driver logs and maintenance records available for DOT audit and inspection, and every driver must be drug-tested at least once per year.
  • All food on pantry shelves must meet all state labeling laws
  • At each entrance to the house, a sign warming those entering must be posted warning that certain cancer causing chemicals may be present
Finally, after spending the entire day complying with these rules, the homeowner must read at least 3 posts each day from progressive blogs explaining why anyone who complains about such rules as unreasonable is just a reactionary who doesn’t really know how to run his business very well, and they could certainly do better.
Postscript: Every single item on this list is something my company has been required to do. I am sure I left a bunch out.

Well said, sir.  Well said. 
The Coyote Blog.  Worth reading every day. 

Helpful Advice

Never go online to ask for proof...

If you really don't want something to be proven

On the joy of spending other people's money on people that you really like

If an entrepreneur is about to start a new business, he investigates every possible thing that can go wrong. 
If an investor is about to throw some money into a new enterprise, he investigates every possible thing that can go wrong. 
After all, these two hypothetical guys have something at stake: their money or their reputations. 

Would you invest in an entrepreneur's project if he had nothing at all at stake in the business?  If he didn't have any of his own money in the project? 

Here's Barack Obama at a plant/factory called Solyndra back in May of last year.  He's making a victory lap in front of the Solyndra employees, having succesfully shat $530,000,000.00 of taxpayer money into the business.  We'll never know why.  He didn't put any of his and Michelle's money into the place, as far as we know. 

There was apparently nothing special about Solyndra.  They were a good candidate for the Green Jobs scam of the last two years.  Their primary business was solar panels, but it could just as well have been Bottled Fairy Farts.  It was politically expedient for Obama to squat over Solyndra and bury the company with unearned dollars. 

Here's the great Milton Friedman on the 4 types of spending:

There are four ways in which you can spend money.

1)  You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
2) Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. 3) Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!
4) Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.

So what's the big deal?  Obama took a massive stimulus dump over a solar panel factory.  Jobs were "created".  Here's NBC:

President Obama faces political catastrophe in the form of Solyndra -- a San Francisco Bay area solar company that he touted as a gleaming example of green technology. It has announced it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. More than 1,100 people will lose their jobs.

During a visit to the Fremont facility in spring of 2010, the President said the factory "is just a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world. "

It's not his statements the administration will regret; it's the loan guarantees. The President was celebrating $535 million in federal promises from the Department of Energy to the solar startup. The administration didn't do its due diligence, says the Government Accountability Office. "There's a consequence if you don't follow a rigorous process that's transparent," Franklin Rusco of GAO told the website iWatch News.

The President touted the federally back money as a way to create jobs. The President's opponents immediately jumped on the deal as Solyndra made its first layoffs.

Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida warned, "I am concerned that the DOE is providing loans and loan guarantees to firms that aren't capable of competing in the global market, even with government subsidies."

Another critic, Fred Upton of Michigan: "The unfortunate reality is that loan guarantee highlights many of the systemic flaws associated with the stimulus in the mad dash to spend hundreds of billions of dollars."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why the Republicans shouldn't change the time of their debate

Somebody has scheduled The Teleprompter Jesus to make a very, very, very important jobs speech on Wednesday, September 7.  Obama is going to roll out his new plan to create jobs.  Very, very important. 

By accident or by design, this speech clashes with the Republican Primary debate to be held on the same date. 

Republican Speaker John Boehner, who apparently has the imagination of a potted plant, has actually asked The Teleprompter Programmers to schedule Obama's speech for a different time !!!!

The Republicans shouldn't dare push for a different time for Obama to read his jobs speech.  Opportunities like this one are rare.   

Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, came very close to the best solution.  Carney suggested that the Republicans postpone their debate by an hour

Close, but not quite good enough. 

Here's what the Republican Party oughta do.  (I'm in the shipping and freight industry, and that qualifies me to make these suggestions.....)

The Obama jobs speech should be allowed to roll, uninterupted, on a mega-screen onstage at The Reagan Library, somewhere to the left or right of the debaters.  Let Obama's speech play for about 5 minutes.  This will allow Obama's programmers to blame Bush, blame the earthquake, blame what all he inherited, blame the Japanese Nuke Meltdown, blame the moon for being in the cusp between Virgo and Libra, and all of the usual Barackaganda that we've come to know and love.  None of that mess deserves a rebuttal any longer.   

When those 5 minutes of Presidential Throat-Clearing have run their course, each candidate for the Republican nomination will be handed a remote control that will allow him or her to freeze Obama's speech for 45 seconds.  Whoever hits "pause" first would get 45 seconds to destroy whatever Statist lunacy our president has proposed.  Green Jobs, another stimulus, tax credits for behaving nicely, indebting unborn fetuses, investing in education, or whatever.  Rip it to shreds.  If someone wants to take a whack at, say, borrowing more money from China, he too can hit the pause button. 

The video could be programmed to ration one minute of Obama's Keynesian fantasies to every three minutes of Republican attempts at rebuttal, no matter how many candidates have hit the pause button.  After all, it's gotta end sometime.  I don't believe any responses but Ron Paul's would be worth listening to, but it would be some great freakin' television.  And if The Programmers know that the words they'll put in Obama's mouth are going to be ravaged in real time, it could possibly save the nation a few trillion dollars.  Who knows what could happen? 

One other question about this debate.... Why is the Lamestream Media's favorite Republican, Jon Huntsman, allowed to participate, while New Mexico's Libertarianish former governor Gary Johnson not allowed onstage? 

Just when I think I've created the dumbest analogy ever....

For the last few years, I've used the following analogy when trying to get people to understand how regulations and government involvement can discourage businesses from hiring employees:

When you hire a babysitter, do you look forward to withholding and paying her taxes? Do you feel obligated to provide for her health insurance? Do you believe that babysitters should be unionized, without benefit of a secret ballot election, and that you should then be forced to hire ONLY union babysitters? Would collecting taxes, providing healthcare, and paying more for union babysitters cause you to hire more or less of them?

What I try to do is convince people that if they had to provide babysitter healthcare, rest breaks, retirement plans, 401K's, tax withholding, and the like, they would simply hire fewer babysitters.  People probably wouldn't hire any babysitters. 

I use this example because in my mind, providing babysitter benefits is the most unlikely, stupidest proposal that I can think of. 

How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers' compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.

Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers.

The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor's desk.

Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers' compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer including cumulative penalties, attorneys' fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses, an unprecedented measure of legal recourse provided no other class of workers – from agricultural laborers to garment manufacturers. (On the bright side, language requiring an hour of paid vacation time for every 30 hours worked was amended out of the bill in the Senate.)

Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can't help but wonder if that is the goal of AB 889 – a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.

No matter how far I try to stretch reality, no matter what dumbassed imaginary example I create, they always find a way to outdo me.  Unbelievable. 

Go here to read the entire bill. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Robert Reich is a racist

Robert Reich was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. 
As best I can tell from his Wikipedia entry, he's never done anything but teach school, practice law, or help screw up the country as a government employee.  I don't think he's ever manufactured anything but regulatory burdens. 

Reich recently came up with a list of things that The Teleprompter Jesus could do to create jobs.  Half of the suggestions were the standard "give employers a tax credit for doing things that their Lords And Masters like".  The other half were the standard "take money from one group that I don't necessarily like (rich people, unborn fetuses, banks, etc.) and give it to another group". 

But the tenth proposal perfectly reflects the lunacy to which we've all descended, and that's the one that got my blood boiling.  Here goes:

10. Impose a "severance fee" on any large business that lays off an American worker and outsources the job abroad.

Before I unload on this Statist sonofabitch, let me get in some full disclosure.  I'm proud to work for an American manufacturer.  We make things in the United States, which, considering the regulatory environment, is just about impossible.  We also outsource some work to China.  We're warehousing some stuff in Canada.  We're about to get something big going with a manufacturer in Brazil. 

But in addition to bringing things in from other places, I routinely ship our American-made (and outsourced) products to stores all over the world.  Before my vacation this past week, we loaded out 5 full-sized shipping containers of freakin' fruitstands to Chile.  Yeah.  Fruitstands.  You can make fruitstands anywhere, but people in Chile like ours.  So do our customers in Mexico, Canada and Colombia.  "Trade" works both ways. 

Before we started bringing some of the simpler products in from China, our company had 300 employees in the United States.  And less than a decade after "outsourcing these jobs", in Reich's phrase, to China, we had....

600 employees. 

Yep.  We started making some things in China and this allowed us to double our U.S. workforce.  (We've cut back to around 500 since our peak a couple of years ago, but then, there's a madman in the White House.) 

To what degree should we be punished?  And who will decide how much we should have to pay for sending work to Chinese People and then hiring more American People in the United States as a result of our increased efficiency? 

Let's get to the next bit o' goofiness in Reich's proposal...   I once spent a phenomenally dull Spring welding these weld nuts into 7 3/4 lengths of steel tube. 

Before long, we had doubled the size of our metal shop, and instead of 4 employees, we had 8.  Somebody else welded those things into the steel tubes.  Then 3 people welded them.   
Next thing you know, we've got 3 shifts and 90 people working in our metal shop.  We don't have room to breathe. 
But at the same time, customers decided that they didn't want any more weld nuts tacked into 7 3/4 lengths of steel tube.  Instead of 3 people welding the things, we cut back to just one person doing the job.  Then, for a brief period of time, we occasionally set up a robotic welder to do it. 

Now we order a couple of thousand of the things from China a couple of times a year. 
How is the law firm of Reich, Rodham, and Reid going to determine what "severance fee" we should pay?  And to whom?  Especially since the metal shop has grown to 150 employees since we sent the simpler stuff to China and since no one purchases enough of them to keep an American busy full-time? 

I bet Uncle Sam would have to hire 5 Regulatory Gremlins to monitor our company alone, which is probably the goal of Reich's proposal.  Who knows.  Moving on....

Let's assume that we're succesful in our attempt at manufacturing fruitstands in Brazil.  Let's also assume that Robert Reich persuades The Teleprompter Jesus to slap a "severance fee" on any company that manufactures anything overseas. 
Do you really think that our customers in China, Colombia, Chile, Canada and Mexico will be able to continue ordering things from me at the same price?  Or will their governments turn around and slap a "severance fee" of some sort on manufacturers who purchase my component parts and complete products?

Remember, Robert Reich was educated/indoctrinated at Oxford and Yale.  He's one of the brightest and best.  God help us all. 

Next, put yourself in a company owner's position.  If there was even a remote chance that a new product could be made in China, would you ever consider making it in the U.S. if doing so meant you might one day be required to pay a "severance fee"? 
Hell no, you wouldn't. 
You would keep your U.S. workforce on your old product line.  The new product would be made exclusively in China from Day One so no one at Reich, Rodham, and Reid could ever accuse you of laying off someone and sending that job to China.  

Finally, let's get to the racial issue.  We recently put up a new Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall in D.C.  Here's a quote from the base of the statue:

"our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."

Yeah.  What King said. 

I don't give a rip about the lines of latitude and longitude where something is manufactured.  Robert Reich wants to take that into account when HE decides what HE will allow in and out of what HE thinks of as our little cage.
I don't care about the nationality of the people my employer sells to, or the arbitrary borders on a map that show where they were born.  The ones I've met have been good folks, almost without exception.  I can say the same thing about the people oversease who we purchase from.  Robert Reich thinks that nationality matters more than "the content of their character".   
I don't give a rip about the skin color of the people making my fruitstands.  Robert Reich appears to be obsessed with it.  I wonder if Reich is disturbed that the MLK statue was outsourced to a Chinese dude....

I see no other explanation than to say that I believe Robert Reich is a racist of the worst possible sort.  (And an economic idiot.)