Saturday Ragu

From Merriam-Webster: a hearty, seasoned Italian sauce of meat and tomatoes that is used chiefly in pasta dishes and that is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots.

I am actually not a bad cook, but as I grow older I grow more impatient. I also must admit that I laugh at people who obsessively “brag” about how much they save by cooking all of their own meals. Implicit in that bragging is that your time has little to no value. Sorry, but even if I am not getting paid anymore my time has value. At the peak of my baseball consulting business my de facto hourly rate was $200 and that was ten years ago. I didn’t actually charge by the hour. My clients paid me a fixed retainer, but calculating how much I worked gives me the rate estimate. When I was hired to be an expert witness in litigation or arbitration, something that I did three or four times, I charged $350/hour. So don’t tell me my time has no value. If you think your time has no value then that’s a problem for you.


Who wrote this?


“In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.

Today we are much closer to a general acknowledgment that government must encourage business to expand and grow…We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities. [emphasis mine]

…my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: `Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape?’ It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators. [emphasis mine]

…In short, `one-size-fits-all’ rules for business ignore the reality of the market place. And setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels–e.g., 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales–takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics.

The problem we face as legislators is: Where do we set the bar so that it is not too high to clear? I don’t have the answer. I do know that we need to start raising these questions more often.”


Maybe some of you know, but I will tell you that the author of this letter was none other than the one-time darling of liberal America, George McGovern. After leaving government he owned and operated a business and found that his life in government was far removed from his life in the private sector. I think it’s unfortunate that Donald Trump has the mantle of first President who was more businessman than politician because it might forever sour some from voting for someone with that background.

People who have spent their life solely in law and/or in politics and/or in academia are ill-equipped to govern because in the real world difficult decisions must often be made about the allocation of FINITE resources. Government does not have infinite resources and neither does the citizenry regardless of their wealth and income. We need more business people in government, not fewer.


Obligatory car photo:


See the source image

From a picture of a 1968 Pontiac Firebird. That is my favorite year for the first generation of the Firebird and the Chevrolet Camaro.





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2 thoughts on “Saturday Ragu

  1. Working as a consultant, engineer or otherwise, requires you to put a price on your time. I had to do this when I started my own engineering firm. My standard hourly rate was posted at $130/hour starting in 1994. Most of the public does NOT understand the value of specialized experience and talent. I was fortunate in finding the book “Inside the Technical Consulting Business”, by Harvey Kaye.
    I like the name “Red Rocket”. Most high performance cars have excellent braking systems. I refer to it as they have as much “whoa” as they do “go”. My own truck project has as much “whoa” as I can fit onto the selected components within the budget. I know you do not like pickup trucks; however, some of them can be “hot rods” such as the 1993-95 Ford SVT Lightning. Since my truck project is similar to that era Lighting, I refer to mine as the F-1 Lightning Project.


    1. Thanks again, Philip. Glad to have you back as a regular commenter.

      Most of the public does not understand most things. The ignorance of the American population is frightening. Paraphrasing Asimov once again, a democracy does not mean that Person A’s ignorance equals Person B’s knowledge. However, lack of credentials doesn’t necessarily mean lack of knowledge.


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