Size Matters

When I first visited these United States back in 1982, one of the immediate things I noticed was the sheer size of the market.

I don’t think that people outside the U.S. can quite comprehend the scale of industry of all kinds that native-born Americans pretty much take for granted, if they think about it at all.  After the Great Wetback Episode of ’86, I remember watching TV in Longtime Friend Trevor’s place, and snorting with laughter at some car dealer whose claim to fame was that he was “The Largest Chev-lay Truck Dealer in South-East Texas” or some such puffery, and wondering why the geographical area was so tightly defined.  As it happened, the dealership was a little outside San Antonio, and one evening I and a few others drove south for an evening’s carousing and passed said Chev-lay dealer’s place.

It was the largest car dealership I’d ever seen.  It seemed as though the lot contained well over a thousand cars and trucks, and I was completely gobsmacked.  By chance, one of the group was involved in a car dealership — I think in advertising — back in Austin, so I asked her how many times this guy was likely to turn his stock over in a year, thinking that it might take at least a year or maybe even two to sell it all.  When she said, “About four or five times a year”, I could not believe her.  That would involve selling about 5,000 vehicles a year, or roughly 15 vehicles per day, every single business day of the year.  And this was one dealer in a small town (as San Antonio was still back then) — and of course we passed dozens of dealers on our way into town.

Similar discoveries lay ahead — such as the fact that Jewel supermarkets in Chicago was larger in both size and sales than the national chain I’d just left in South Africa (OK Bazaars, for those with long memories) — and just about every week brought more and more.

I ran into a fellow consultant in Chicago, a Belgian who was making a very good living in South America by selling a piece of software he’d discovered in France, and whose franchise he’d purchased for the international (outside Europe) market, as the Frogs weren’t interested in selling outside their home territory.  It was the only one of its kind in Europe, so after setting up the easy business in South America, he decided that it was time to try and crack open the U.S. market.  He attended an industry conference in Miami, and found to his horror that not only did he have competition, but he had lots of competition from companies selling almost the identical product, and at several different points on the pricing scale withal.  He stood absolutely no chance of success, so he slunk back to South America, tail between his legs.

This country is enormous.  The scale of business and the size of the market simply boggles the mind, and it’s no surprise that when the Euros try to bully us into using metric, for instance, we can them them to piss off because outside the sciences and drug dealers, the U.S. market prefers to work with Imperial units, thank you very much, and the U.S. market is big enough for the rest of the world, in most cases, not to matter.

I told you all that so I could talk about this.

Via Insty, as usual, I read an interesting article entitled A Nation Divided, which bemoans the fact that not only are we facing a permanent political divide between Right and Left, but we run the risk losing our conservative voice by falling under a Big Tech monopoly as well:

Now, Apple, Amazon, and Google are teaming up to make life extra difficult for Parler, a right-leaning alternative to Twitter. Apple and Google are removing it from their app stores while Amazon, who has been hosting the site, is yanking their hosting.
Now, Parler will migrate over to someone else and be back up and running soon enough, but it’s still troubling. Especially with people being de-platformed and then some of the biggest in the tech industry doing everything they can to shut down the alternative.

I doubt that.  Remember that when Roger Ailes came up with Fox News, his selling point to Murdoch was the simplest ever:  “Half the market.”

At some point, the Left is going to run away with itself.  That outlets like Gab and Parler even exist in the face of a near-monopoly like Twitter shows that half the market is still there to be had.

Okay, to put on my marketing wizard’s pointy hat for a moment:  not quite half the market because conservatives have better things to do with their time — like holding down a real job — than to fuck around in a glorified chat room 24/7, but remember what I said above:  even a third of the U.S. market is a huge number, and perfectly capable of supporting not only a competitor to Twitter, but to Facebook, GoDaddy and [gasp]  even Amazon.  Think I’m mistaken about the last?  Remember when Kmart was the market leader in mass merchandisers?  Not so popular now, are they, thanks to Walmart.  Think Walmart is too big to fail?  Say hello to Amazon.

And if there’s one thing anyone can bet the house on, it’s that at some point a competitor to Amazon will arise, and put them out of business.  After all, General Motors was once the Big Cheese of automotive manufacturing, but as little as a decade ago, they required a government bailout to keep their doors open and since then they haven’t exactly gone back to their position of market eminence.

And apart from crappy financial management, the one thing that causes all big enterprises to fail eventually is losing touch with their market, whether in spirit or by the market changing to a different model.

I showed just the tiniest bit of this a couple of days ago when I talked about disentangling myself from Big Tech, Big Retail and Amazon.  Sure, I’m just one guy.  But let’s just think about what would happen if the 75 million Trump voters like me did exactly what I was doing — individuals and conservative-minded businesses alike.  I would also venture to suggest that when it comes to the conservative market, 75 million is a massive underestimation.

As  to who would actually fund all this… I would suggest that Elon Musk is not the only billionaire in town — hell, a bunch of old boys at the Houston Cattleman’s Annual Ball in Houston could probably buy the New York Times  with the change rattling around in their pockets, if they wanted to.  (FYI, if Mexico’s Carlos Slim wanted continued access just to the Texas market, he’d probably sell his share of the NYT  in a NY minute.)

Size matters.  There is sufficient size in this country, whether geography, population or commerce, to support two competing visions of America.  Would it be easy?  Nobody said it would be, but if there’s one thing I have faith in, it’s in that restless American spirit which once said, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” and I think you know the rest.

Let me also offer the words of John Adams, who when he realized the immensity of the task ahead and the purpose and intellectual powers required, cried:  “We have not men sufficient for the times!”  Whereupon Jefferson, Madison, Hancock, Washington and several others said, “Hold my beer.”

We also have men sufficient for our time.  They just haven’t been motivated enough, yet.  But they will be.

Unlike the earlier men, though, the only impediment we face is not external (George III, Russia!!), but internal.  That would be when the Left attempts to prevent such a severing, or suppressing competition by passing a series of laws forbidding such.

Allow me then to quote, or rather paraphrase the words of George Washington when he was asked why he was preparing a number of boats to cross the Delaware at midnight on Christmas Eve:

“We are going to murder our enemies in their sleep.” 

Disentangling

In light of recent events (Amazon’s GoDaddy whacking ar15.com, Shitter delisting Trump and so on — you all know what I’m talking about), I did a couple of things yesterday to try to disentangle myself from these assholes as much as possible.

  • When I re-register this website, it will be with GoDaddy’s competitor.  I discussed it at some length with Tech Support II, and it will be done.
  • I’ve never used Shitter or Faecesbook, so that’s okay.  I’m probably not going to go with Gab or Parler, because I’m not interested in having an online “social presence” other than through this website, which I can control.
  • If Hosting Matters shuts me down because of doubleplusungood thought- and speech crimes, Tech Support has a backup plan so that won’t affect me either, other than as a mild irritation while the handover is completed.
  • Ditto WordPress.
  • I canceled my Amazon Prime account.  This will be a little inconvenient in that I won’t have access to their movies and such, but I’ll survive with Hulu and Roku, albeit with commercial irritation.  Netflix is also under review for similar reasons.
  • Most of the stuff I order from Amazon can be purchased locally or through the various companies’ own websites, so I’ll be doing that too.  On the very few occasions where I must use Amazon, I’ll just pay the postage.
  • Ditto Walmart, Target and so on.  I’ve had it up to here with seeing “Made in China” on everything, so every time I find that irritant, I’m going to find a manager and tell them why I’m not buying from them today.  Or I’ll only buy stuff made in other Asian countries e.g. Thailand if there’s absolutely no American-made equivalent.  Or I’ll just do without.
  • I already ditched Chrome;  last night I ditched Mozilla and went with Brave.
  • Today I’m going to ditch Thunderbird and go with ProtonMail, as soon as I’ve figured it out.
  • I long ago stopped using the Google search engine, swapping it for DuckDuck Go, so that’s done.  DDG isn’t quite as good, but it’s sufficient for my needs.
  • Now I need to find something equivalent to Google Maps so I can ditch those assholes too.  Any advice on this will be welcome.

I’m quite aware that this is like pissing in the wind, that I’m only one guy etc.  Longtime Readers, however, will know the precept behind the Nation of Riflemen:  turning America back into a nation of riflemen, one citizen at a time.  The same applies to me, as an individual:  I’m just one guy, but one of many such guys.

If my one action helps other people disentangle themselves from Big Tech, maybe, just maybe we can make a difference.  Regardless, I’m not going to support their fucking enterprises if there is any alternative — even if as noted above, the alternatives are not as good.

And finally, I’m going to do the same every single time a corporation does stupid woke shit or some kind of totalitarian activity.

  • You wanna take a knee during the National Anthem?  Fine, that’s your choice, just as it will be my choice not to watch or support you.
  • The University of North Texas can take their begging letters and wipe their asses with them, as I will do if they send me any.
  • If any financial institution starts cutting off service to the firearms industry, their cards are going to go bye-bye out of my wallet, even if it’s a major inconvenience to me.  Conversely, any financial institution that shows a proper conservative attitude towards their business will get my custom.

And just so everyone’s clear on this:  any money I save from the above activities will most likely go towards the purchase of ammo and guns, and the use and practice thereof.

I am just one guy;  but we have to start somewhere if we’re going to stop this nonsense.  I know that many of my Readers already do or have done what I’m doing now, and that’s great.  Now spread the word to all your family, friends and acquaintances, just like you did with the Nation of Riflemen, encouraging prospective gun owners and teaching them how to shoot.

The Revolution starts now.

About Time

The only question here is:  “What took them so long?”

Kimber Manufacturing is moving its corporate headquarters to Troy [AL] and will “aggressively hire” in all departments. The firearms manufacturer last week announced it is moving to a new facility it built last year on 80 acres with more than 225,000 square feet of space, with design engineering, product management and manufacturing space.
In an announcement, the company said Troy was chosen for, among several reasons, its proximity to engineering schools as well as pro-gun, pro-business support from the city of Troy and Alabama.

They’re going to find out how much cheaper and more congenial it is to do business in the South.

The company said it is seeking applicants across several categories, including CNC technicians, machinists, quality control specialists, lean technicians, design engineers, compliance analysts, customer service representatives, materials planners, maintenance technicians, finishing operators, and assembly technicians.

And I’m glad they’re going to hire locally as well — obviously a bunch of Noo Yokkers are going to make the move with them, but as they all work for a gun company, they can’t be too NYFC, can they?

Best part of this is that if you buy a Kimber from now on, that part of your money is no longer going to support the tax base of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York State.

Next up:  Henry Repeating Arms, in Bayonne, Noo Joizee.  It’s time this All-American company moved to America.

Commonsense 0, Greens 72

Like nobody could see this coming:

The inquiry into the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower in London has revealed how the styrofoam thermal insulation layer in newly-fitted wall cladding enabled a small domestic fire to rapidly engulf most of the building, resulting in the loss of 72 lives.
The type of cladding installed complied with advice given to local authorities in 2010 by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to reduce emissions through installing new boilers and insulation in apartment blocks.

Read the details.  Anyone with the slightest bit of business experience could have foretold a tragedy like this.  But because Gummint was involved…

Disparity

Salary inequity has been a contentious issue ever since Zarg the Chieftain gave Thirg a larger shield than Krell, even though the latter had killed more Dalegians in the last battle.   Here’s a more modern take on the thing:

The longstanding BBC sitcom [Mrs. Brown’s Boys] has reportedly lost Damien McKiernan and Gary Hollywood, who play couple Dino and Rory.
It’s reported they quit after discovering they earn less than other cast members.

I’ve said before that what people are paid really depends on how much they contribute to the success of the enterprise.  Where this starts skirting close to the reef is the question:  who decides what the relative contribution is worth?   Of course, the standard answer is “the boss” (whether a department head or the CEO, whichever is more relevant), but of course whenever you leave the decision to a single person, there will inevitably be some bias during the process — hence the formation of pay grades, compensation committees and the like.

Even that’s not perfect.  In the Army, for example, a pay grade applies to everyone in that classification — but being the Army (i.e. a government department), the output of the individuals is subordinate to the rank:  all sergeant majors of equal service length get the same pay, even though some sergeant majors (I’m looking at you, Sar-Major Wilkinson, you disgusting fat fuck) aren’t worth the dirt it would take to cover their useless corpses in a shallow grave.  (Not that I ever thought about that, of course).

I also quiver with rage when I hear stories of VPs complaining that a top salesman’s commission results in his being paid more than a VP.  (My simple response:  “Financially speaking, he’s an earner while you’re just overhead.”)

I was never in a position to do this, but if I were running a company, I think I’d post all salaries on the bulletin board so that every employee could see their relative value to the company — but nobody would be allowed to question the merits or non- thereof where managers and such were concerned, because having a clerk quibble about his manager earning twice his salary would inevitably show that the manager’s value to the company was in fact four times a clerk’s, so in fact the clerk was being over-paid.  (And if it wasn’t… draw your own conclusions.)

The onus of explanation and justification, therefore, would devolve to senior managers (or even the CEO), because it’s that important an issue, even if for no other reason than employee morale.

Certainly, this would eliminate 90% of the female whining about pay disparity, especially when disparities are explained in terms of seniority, hours worked and results:  with the corollary that if there is indeed unjustified disparity, the imbalance would be fixed toot sweet.  No reasonable person can argue against this.

Let’s be honest:  the general reason that salaries are kept secret is for management to hide funny business and/or favoritism.  Working in a Great Big Company’s IT department as a computer operator, I once discovered that a boss’s secretary was earning more, a lot more, than I was as a senior “oppie”.  I couldn’t do anything about it because strictly speaking, I wasn’t supposed to have access to the data (but when you’re printing salary checks, it’s kinda difficult to hide the numbers from the guy printing them — which, by the way, is why the salary print runs could only be performed by very senior employees, who could be counted on to be responsible and keep their mouths shut, and I was only allowed to do that because the manager in charge was in hospital having his gall bladder removed).  Nevertheless, after a little digging I discovered that the reason for the seccy’s whopping salary was that she’d been regularly  bonking her boss for the previous five years (at least, having discovered the affair, it was the only logical explanation).  There was nothing I could do about it, of course — I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell anyone — but it did rankle somewhat.  Having the salaries posted on the board would probably have taken care of Mrs. Mattressworthy’s over-payment.

What salary transparency also does, of course, is enable people to see what people at their rank in other companies are earning — another reason that salary data is concealed — although I think that in the long run, it too would be more beneficial from a total business perspective:  if you’re paying more than the industry average for a particular position, telling people that does a sterling job of keeping one’s own employees happy whilst attracting others to joining the company.  Healthy competition, and all that.

When it comes to showbiz, however, I have no clue.  I have spoken before about the value of top-level people such as DJ Chris Evans over in Britishland, but that’s a relatively easy call to make with regard to salaries:  the higher the ratings, the higher the pay (see above for the “earner” aphorism), and in fact since Evans left his job at BBC2, the show’s ratings have dropped massively under his replacement, proving the point.

But individual actors within a show?  No idea — it may well be a subjective decision from the producer (with all the problems that I explained above), or maybe it can be driven by audience response.  (I remember a story about Ron Howard’s salary while he was acting in Happy Days ;  apparently, his canny agent had put a clause in Ron’s contract that he, as the principal character, would always be paid one dollar more than any of the other actors in the show.  So when Henry Winkler’s Fonzie became very popular and his salary rocketed, so did Howard’s.)  But deciding whether Ross was worth more to the show than Phoebe in Friends ?  Fuggeddabahdit.

Which is what the brouhaha in Mrs. Brown’s Boys  seems to be about:  minor characters (always low on the totem pole) are generally open to abuses such as lower salaries, getting written out of the story, and so on.  Sad, but it’s the way of the world.