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Vail Valley Voices: Food for thought

1) Smile at someone and we’re likely to receive a smile in return; grouse and the response will be less than positive. Our attitude announces to the world what we expect. If we project a cheerful and a “glad to be experiencing this miracle of life” attitude, those around us will likely reflect that good cheer back to us. Conversely, if we begin our day with a scowl and a negative attitude toward others, it’s likely we’ll receive the same in return. In short, our attitude towards life largely determines life’s attitude toward us.

2) A friend is someone who upon learning of a friend’s untimely death will immediately do whatever is necessary to erase everything from his or her deceased friend’s hard drive.

3) Bill Gates once said, “If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.” However, what Mr. Gates he failed to mention is that if Ford had developed technology the way Microsoft has, we would all be driving cars that for no apparent reason would crash twice a day and every time a new model was introduced, we would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as they did in the old car.



4) During his opening monologue awhile back, Jay Leno pithily opined, “The president is very good about saying, ‘Let me be clear,’ but a lot of us would prefer he say, ‘Let me be specific.'”

5) After seating “families with small children” perhaps airlines should seat all the window seats from back to front by even or odd rows (10A, 8A, and 6A) then do the same on the opposite side, then fill the odd rows the same way (9A, 7A, 5A). Passengers with middle seats should board using the same pattern, and lastly the passengers with aisle seats could board the same way. The man who figured this out, Jason Steffen (who used a computer mode) is an astrophysicist at Fermilab and says this method would cut boarding time in half, while saving the airlines hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which could be passed on to their passengers.



Another idea that might work to eliminate both the logjam and the feeling of being stuffed into a box that occurs during every boarding, might be to charge for carry-on baggage and allow checked baggage to fly free.

6) If Red America comprises the heartland and Blue America the coasts, does that mean the Democratic Party will be history when global warming causes the oceans to rise?

7) An annual adjusted gross income of $381,000 per year is required to be among the top 1percent of earners in the United States. Meanwhile, the average annual salaries of the four major sports are as follows: NBA, $5.15 million; MLB, $3.1 million; NHL, $2.4 million; and the NFL, $1.9 million. With such huge salaries, I wonder how many Occupy Wall Street protesters are picketing their hometown quarterback’s or first baseman’s houses.



8) Rational debate is impossible when facts are supplanted by overreaching statements, broad generalizations and misconceptions. For example, politicians and news broadcasters have led us to believe most of what we spend our money on is made in China. But the reality is that just 2.7 percent of personal consumption expenditures go to Chinese-made goods and services. And 88.5 percent of U.S. consumer spending is on American-made goods and services.

But how can it only be 2.7 percent when almost everything in Wal-Mart is made in China, you ask? Walmart’s $260 billion in U.S. revenue is a drop in the bucket vis-a-vis America’s $14.5 trillion economy. Wal-Mart sells a broad range of products, many of which are made in China, but the majority of what Americans spend their money on are not those products.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent 34 percent of their income on housing, 13 percent on food, 11 percent on insurance and pensions, 7 percent on health care, and 2 percent on education. Those categories make up nearly 70 percent of total spending, and are comprised almost entirely of American-made goods and services.

The fact is just 6.4 percent of nondurable goods — i.e., food, clothing and toys — are made in China, while 76.2 percent are made in America. Regarding durable goods — i.e., cars and furniture — about 12 percent are imported from China, while 66.6 percent are made in the U.S.

Part of this misconception is driven by the notion that America’s manufacturing base has been in steep decline. The truth is that real manufacturing output today is near an all-time high. What’s dropped precipitously is manufacturing employment.

Technology and automation has allowed American manufacturers to build more stuff with fewer workers. For example, in 1950, a U.S. Steel plant in Gary, Ind., annually produced 6 million tons of steel with 30,000 workers. Today, that same plant produces 7.5 million tons of steel with 5,000 workers. While output has gone up, employment has dropped like a rock.

Quote of the day: “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey


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