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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Pre Super Bowl Post



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I almost certainly will not be posting tomorrow as no one reads blogs on Super Bowl Sunday. I am almost completely ambivalent about the outcome, but I guess I am rooting for the Rams.

This will be the 51st Super Bowl I will have watched. I didn’t watch the first two. I also have skipped large parts of many of the previous Super Bowls.

My hire date as a full-time employee for the Orioles was January 1, 1988. The Super Bowl that month involved two teams I loathed at the time: the Broncos and the Redskins. I was busy writing the brief and preparing 95% of the exhibits for a salary arbitration case. I only watched the second quarter; the Redskins scored 35 points to take a 35-10 halftime lead. I figured the game was over, I disliked both teams and I had a lot of work to do. As is usually the case, the two parties settled on a contract before the arbitration hearing, but not before I had done a lot of work.


Twenty-five years ago was 1994. From History of the American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® here are the top ten US makes in calendar-year sales for 1994:

Ford 1,369,268
Chevrolet/Geo 1,004,157
Pontiac 586,343
Buick 546,836
Oldsmobile 423,847
Mercury 390,407
Dodge 354,174
Saturn 286,003
Cadillac 210,686
Plymouth 197,813

Five of the top ten makes from just 25 years ago are no longer in production. As I have written somewhere else, Pontiac consistently outsold Buick in the US, but when GM bankruptcy and reorganization came the fact that Buick is popular in China kept that make alive while dooming Pontiac.

From a picture of a 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula. About 51,000 Firebirds in total were produced for model year 1994. The standard engine in the Formula was a 350 cubic-inch V8 rated at 275 HP, not bad for the day. I would still much rather have a first-generation Firebird like this:

From a picture of a 1968 Firebird. By the way, Pontiac produced about 107,000 Firebirds for the 1968 model year.


If you’re watching, enjoy the Super Bowl.

Be well.