Monday, February 22, 2010

Health care, Medicare, any care at all

We need a single payer system—The government should pay for everything. I don’t understand how the Republican party, who is so pro-business could be so anti-business when it comes to health care. Yeah, they’re afraid of government taking over the whole country sure but only when they are not in power. The Republican’s under the last administration oversaw the greatest expansion of government this country has ever seen but that’s another story. The rest of the industrialized world has a single payer system. Are we smarter than everyone else? I didn’t realize our educational system was that highly ranked, because it’s not.

Since I sell bindery equipment I have to compete against the Europeans and the Japanese. Guess what? Those companies don’t have to pay a penny for health care but I do. Is that fair? I build a machine and my expenses are higher because I have to pay for a portion of my employee’s health care while my competitors get a free ride. Perhaps the Republicans don’t care that I have to compete abroad or even here at home. Perhaps they don’t realize that I am one of the few dealers left that sell machinery built in the US. Maybe they’ll figure it out after I’m extinct.

Before GM went bankrupt they spent more on health care than steel. Yet the Republicans don’t care. All they care about is instilling fear in the populace towards their political ends. Case in point: During his campaign, John McCain proposed deep cuts in Medicaid. During the health care debate in December he complained that the bill would impose “draconian cuts” on Medicare, even though the proposed cuts were far less than he had proposed months earlier. The Republicans have been trying to cut the cost of Medicare for years!

Medicare is a perfectly good system. Everyone on it likes it. I propose expanding Medicare for those aged 60 and above immediately. In two years lower the eligibility to those aged 55. In another two years to those aged 50 and so on.

If you want to be afraid of something, be afraid that America won’t be able to build anything in the future short of credit default swaps.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Printers, Binderies, and Business

When asked, every man thinks he’s a good driver and good in bed. But there must be some that are better than others, right?

My father did a lot of business with a bindery owner who would buy a machine for a particular job and then sell it back to my Dad. Sometimes the same machine would change hands a few times. He didn’t care, the cost of the machine was built into the job and no matter how much he spent, sending out the job would have cost more.

One bindery owner I know is a very savvy businessman. You walk into his shop and you see fairly new equipment, well maintained and clean. Another bindery owner in the same area has a shop with, let’s say, less than optimum equipment. He has a Sickinger Twinserter wire binder that is about 15 years old. The problem is that it is a very slow wire binder. It produces about 200 books per hour. Almost every other wire binder on the market can double or triple this output, but let’s just say double. So if he averages 100,000 books per year, he could have saved over 200 man hours (assuming he uses two people including material handling) per year he would have saved at least 3,000 man hours in the past fifteen years. If he pays his people $10 per hour, he would have saved a minimum of $30,000. This doesn’t count insurance, workman’s comp, or overhead. So how much did he save by having a less than sterling wire binder in the long run?

I once told a bindery owner in California that if he made his own plastic coil he would save $100,000 per year and the machine at that time only cost $28,000. His reply to me was; “I’m not so much interested in saving money as making money.”

Even though times are tough right now I hear about companies outsourcing hundreds of thousands of dollars in binding services per year when they can bring the machinery in to do it in-house for less than $100,000.

Within the next few weeks we’ll delve into this more thoroughly.