Sunday, March 20, 2011

Springboard asks YOU, would you be willing to pay more for a Made in the USA choice for an identical product?

If I had two identical pairs of shoes in front of me, one pair made in China, and the other made in the USA, and the pair made in the USA were $2 more, would I pay the extra $2 simply because they were made here? The answer for me would be an immediate yes. What I am taking into account with this question is the basic premise that as Americans we readily accept premiums for certain choices every day based on our personal preferences, and beliefs. For example, if we consider our health to be important, we may choose an organic food item over one that is not, and we choose as well to pay a premium price for it. We may feel that a free-range chicken is treated better before he winds up on our plate than one that is couped, and so we are willing to pay more for the free-range chicken. Fair trade coffee offers more money to coffee growers for their crops, and if we feel that fair trade is important we are willing to pay more for fair trade coffee. If you are a liberal politically, you may be inclined to pay more taxes to help those less fortunate via social programs. If a company chose to put two identical products on the shelf, one made in China and one made in the USA, would you be willing to pay more for the made in USA item based on the same principles we would apply to paying the premium on the other items in the example?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What do you think about investing in gold right now?

At one time gold was a great place to sock away some cash, of that there is no question. However, I think that gold now is one of the worst investments someone can make, and I would strongly caution anyone against it. To me all of the indicators that gold is in a bubble are clear. Take, for example, the advent of numerous kiosks collecting scrap gold that have cropped up in our neighborhood shopping malls. There are gold collection sites on street corners, and some pawn shops, and even a few jewelry stores have transformed completely into gold collection businesses. This is clearly a sign of the beginning of the end for gold being a current, solid investment. This is not to say that gold will have no future value, or that overall gold will still be viable as an investment, but only to say that gold's value today is greatly inflated, and it will come down hard when the bubble finally bursts. Anyone buying the commodity in any form now, including through gold funds, will see the value of their investment seriously reduced, and getting that value back will likely take many years. At present I think what is continuing to hold up the value of gold is the still uncertain future valuation and viability of the American dollar as a leading world currency, and the continuing stresses on the economies of other countries all over the world. Once we are out of the economic quagmire that we are in, gold will be less and less attractive as an investment. As in all bubbles, the fall will be swift and detrimental, and anyone caught in the fall will have their financial clock cleaned. I'm not getting near gold with a ten foot pole, and I don't think anyone else should either. Sell it. Trade it. But do not hold it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What most irritates you about other drivers?

Most people do not understand what the term "yield to the right" means. If you are waiting to make a left turn at a green light, for example, and the vehicle entering the intersection is making a right turn, the vehicle that is making the right turn has the right of way. The left turning vehicle must wait until the right turning vehicle has completed his maneuver before proceeding. The left turning vehicle must yield to the right turning vehicle. Thus the term, "yield to the right." This same rule applies at an intersection where there are two stop signs and the cross traffic does not stop. There are two cars waiting to turn into cross traffic. One car at one stop sign wants to make a left turn, and the other car is waiting to make a right turn. The right turning vehicle has the right of way. Again, in this scenario, the left turning vehicle must wait for the right turning vehicle to complete his maneuver before turning left into the cross traffic. People tend to get this confused all the time, and I find it to be especially irritating. I can't count how many times I have gotten the finger for supposedly cutting someone off making my right turn, when I had the right of way from the word "go."

Friday, March 4, 2011

What do you think of this season's American Idol?

Sadly I think that the show has run its course. Randy is now the apparent voice of reason when it comes to being honest to the contestants. Still, the overall judgement seems to be very lenient this year, even with Randy's reasonable judgements so far. There is some interesting talent this year as each year seems to produce at least one or two standouts. That being said, I think this year's winner will suffer the same fate as last year's, or worse. That is, there won't be much fanfare, and there certainly won't be a whole heck of a lot of records sold. That "star" quality that is so important to creating a lasting personality the likes of Elton John, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, Elivis Presley, Michael Jackson (and the list goes on) just doesn't seem very likely at all. Even Idol's star girl who is frequently mentioned on the show, Kelly Clarkson, will not be a familiar name 30 years from now in my opinion. If American Idol does one thing right this year I think it will be to call it the end.