The elusive 28 cent gas surcharge?
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To my knowledge no refinery has been built in California in the last 40 years (same with water infrastructure), even though our population has more that doubled. Refineries have been working at near capacity for years and any interruptions whether planned or not, spike prices. Why would oil companies welcome additional refinery capacity, when it can sit back and let our state government restrict supply, ensuring higher profits, at least here in California.
A quick look at Chevron's current financial report shows a profit margin of 8.45%, so even if Chevron is reaping the benefit of the surcharge, when added to its profit, taxes are still three times higher. Who is greedier the oil companies or our government?
Our governors and legislature have been meddling in the economy for years, it is time they started to listen to us and stop driving up the cost to live here, whether it is by driving up prices by restricting supply or taxing us to death.
Posted: May 3, 2019
Flexing your power doesn't pay unless you own the power company!
I listen to a classic country music station over the internet located in Houston Texas and hear commercials all the time from electric companies which are competing for costumers. One comes to mind, TXU Energy advertising free electricity for your seven highest usage days a month, and rates as low as 9 cents per kWh. So, I did a little research and found Texas deregulated its power industry back in 2002 and Texans have 41 power providers to choose from.
Meanwhile here in the High Desert we only have good ol' Southern California Edison (SCE) and no other choices. I have a business in the High Desert and remember California's failed attempt at deregulation back in 2000. I recall my electric bill in a very short period of time going from about $350 per month to $1,300 for the same usage (kinda like my AVRW bill, too). Having the power go out in the middle of the workday and washing up presses by hand before ink dried rock solid on the rollers. Californians are still paying off the bonds from this fiasco, somehow Texas succeeded where our politicians failed! Article continued below:
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Now California power companies along with the California Public Utilities Commission just forced time-of-use on us so we will conserve even more. We have been told all these years to "Flex Our Power", use major appliances after 7:00 pm and turn up the thermostat, which a lot of Californian's have done. Conveniently for SCE High Peak time-of-use charges kick in roughly around the time when people are getting home from work. Greedy Californian's better not turn up the AC and try to relax, or maybe do some chores before going to bed, unless they want to pay dearly for the privilege.
Looking at my latest bill there are Mid Peak charges of 14.5 cents per kWh, and Off Peak charges of 12.8 cents per kWh and by the time all the adding is done the total comes to 15.2 cents per kWh. There are so many different charges on my power bill trying to decipher it gave me headache, and we have not even got to the summer months... boy I can hardly wait.
No wonder my friends and family are leaving California for greener pastures.
Posted: March 27, 2019
It's Time To Eliminate Corporate Welfare
There is a lot of political noise about welfare and its recipients should work for any benefits received, yet nary a word is said about corporate welfare. Here is the High Desert we got to witness it first hand when the Mojave Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) gave $323,000 grant (welfare) to a multinational Cement Corporation which has a mine located in San Bernardino County.
The news release in the Daily Press stated it would be used to replace old equipment with a new Viking Trackmobile which is used to move rail cars at is facility. MDAQMD officials touted that replacing the outdated equipment will significantly improve air quality in the surrounding area of operations at its Highway 18 location in Lucerne Valley.
This sounds all well and good, until you consider this corporate welfare's grant money was raised by a $4.00 a year fee which is taken from each and every vehicle owner in the MDAQMD's service area. Keep in mind that over half of its residents are on some kind of aid. This is clearly a transfer of wealth from the poor to a corporation that can well afford to pay for its own equipment replacements.
Our out-of-touch Sacramento politicians see this as only $4.00, who couldn't afford that? It's for a good cause: Who doesn't want clean air to breath? Except it's 12 cents more a gallon gas here, 7.75% sale tax there, 13.3% income tax... with no end in sight. This out of control tax and spending has resulted in California having some of the highest taxes in the country.
No doubt, the proverbial Maria-the-maid with her anchor baby is chuckling, "And they think I'm the problem!"
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Posted: March 1, 2019
Why the post office is will never be self self-sufficient and why I really dislike dealing with them.
I have been in the printing industry for over 43 years. Before I purchased One Stop Printers I like most of you had very little contact with the Post Office other than paying bills and mailing first class and occasionally going to the post office to buy stamps. That all changed 24 years ago, when I purchased One Stop Printer and starting doing direct mail marketing. In addition we had a contract post office for the first nine years.
As long as congress has its finger in the pie, the USPS will always be subjected to political will and will never have adjust to market forces and be a true competitor in the Free Market.
Let me give you a little background on the post office:
The post office was changed to a quasi- private company by congress back in 1971 and became the United States Postal Service. From the USPS website it states: The Board of Governors of the US Postal Service is comparable to a board of directors of a private corporation. The board includes nine governors, who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
509 Million mail pieces are delivered each day by 315,950 carries and each carries delivers an average of 1,611 pieces of mail to, anywhere from 500 to 1000 mail boxes. It is obvious that they do a lot right. But with the internet things have changed dramatically, USPS First Class mail volume has dropped from 104 billion pieces to 62 billion pieces by 2016 a 40% drop. Advertising mail has dropped about 21% since 2008 most of it happening during the recession, the post office is not going away.
Congress has carved out its own little benefit for itself, have you ever heard of “Franking Privileges?” Well the short explanation is congressmen get to mail to constituents, officials and supporters at the governments expense… or for FREE. They can send correspondences, press releases and questionnaires with their signature in lieu of postage applied and dates back to 1775. The post office keeps track of postage due and sends a bill to congress. So if you ever wondered why you get questionnaires before and election, it is just free campaign money.
The same can be said for non profit mailing. It mandates that the non-profit rate be about half of what marketing mail postage cost. What looks like a saving in postage in reality is the taxpayer footing the bill. This buys a lot of support from Non-Profit Corporations.
Karl Marx's vision for a socialistic society use the post office as a model for efficiently operating private companies, this alone dooms socialism. No private company that faces competition in the free market would survive very long operating like the USPS and how it treats it’s customers, and if we ever reach this point, god help us all.
The post office is supposed to be operated like a private company with a profit motive. However, as Mises stated: The profit motive is of little value without the corresponding component of loss. With out the possibility of loss, profit becomes nothing more than entitlement.
The USPS has a protected market where no competitors are allowed. No other entity can deliver mail to your home, whether it is first class or junk mail. An exception being newspapers which home delivery is protected by law, too. Packages delivered by companies like UPS and FedX rates are mandated to be double what the USPS charges. If the USPS is not making enough money, it can simply increase its prices, and UPS and FedX gets a raise.
Starting at the top, the USPS board of directors may be set up like real board of directors but it is subjected to political winds. The post office can’t make changes to its system without a congressman getting involved, even though mail volume has dropped, reducing the number of delivery days from 6 to 3 will never happen, consumers will complain, not to mention the postal union, and it won’t even consider closing post offices.
For example 10 years ago to save money the post office started to consolidate bulk mail entry units, locally it started in San Bernardino which has an Sectional Center Facility (SCF) facility and large bulk mail unit. Every post office which had a bulk mail entry unit within 10 mile radius was closed and bulk mail customers were transferred to the SCF, this worked well and in my opinion saved money and improved service. Up here, Victorville was chosen to be the mail entry point. Even though the always treated the bulk mail entry as the redheaded stepchild (I can say this, redheads run in my family), they fought this change because they figured out real quick they lost claim to the postage, which was significant, and it took another 5 years to make the transition.
The clerks I work with are pretty knowledgeable and pleasant, but collectively the post office is insane!
Changes to the postal system are made by committee and what doesn’t make sense in our world is perfectly acceptable in its. When we had the contract post office UPS had a strike and I was told by the Hesperia Postmaster not to accept any packages we thought might be from UPS's customers. When we had a contract post office UPS went on strike and I was told by my supervising Postmaster that if a shipping customer came into our store and we suspect that they were a UPS customer we were to refuse shipping there package. I was quite taken aback by this. I told him our contract was based on our volume of postage and why was he restricting our income? He could not give me a straight answer. I accepted packages anyway, most were from my printing company and I was not going to make them angry, as far as I was concerned the post office own the packages once I accepted them and it was there problem.
I would never be able to treat my customers like this and stay in business. But then again I would never offer discounts for mail perpetration and presorting like the post office does, I am not aware of UPS or FedX offering such things.
The post office operates in a competitive vacuum and doesn’t have to compete like the rest of us, or do they? Email decimated its person-to-person correspondence very few people send a letter anymore, and business-to-business is down, too. I print very little letterhead anymore that doesn’t apply to direct marketing. I think you will see a dramatic drop in advertising mail pretty soon, too, because SEO is taking that market share. InfoUSA and Dunn & Bradstreet are the major compiler of mailing list, which are based on models and credit reports (except list like homeowners, etc which are derived from tax rolls), yet Facebook and Google are targeting their ads using facts about consumer searches. I have not done a personal business mailing in about a year and am relying on SEO.
Does it really cost 55 cents to send a letter cross county in 2 to 3 days, we don’t know foresure, the same thing applies to the rates the UPS and FedX charges for delivering packages, because the USPS has a monopoly on home delivery.
Until the board of directors have skin in the game and the possibility of a personal loss exist, and it is able to set its own rates and products to sell. Its postmasters are responsible for the profit and loss of each post office and the very real possibility of losing his job if it doesn’t perform and that post offices will close if they are not profitable, and route deliveries can be changed to fit the market without congress interfering, there is no hope for the post office.
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Posted: January 7, 2019
Who writes this stuff?
"The Dollar Store backlash has begun" article by Tanvi Misra is a very interesting read. The first paragraph starts out with a semi-complement regarding dollar stores locating in under served low income areas, then states they are responsible for trapping residents in poverty and ill-health. The rest of the article drones on about how these companies don't provide the products that residents need and deserve.
What is failed to mentioned, is prior to the dollar stores opening stores in depressed areas, usually the only choice was a liquor store, with way higher prices and way fewer selections. Or, in the cases of areas such as Watts, small family owned store which were destroyed in the riots and never able to recover or rebuild.
Lawrence Brown at Baltimore's Morgan State University calls them subprime groceries, which maybe true. However, when you don't have transportation to get to a store of any kind, but can walk to a dollar, there is a savings. In addition, the management of these corporations have risked there own capital to locate in these areas with the expectation for making a profit. The one thing I have learned about free markets is it is very hard to keep secret, high profits. High profits brings competition, competition improves service and drives down prices. Will other competitors enter the market, will they offer other scarce items (such as fresh produce) for sale in these areas in order to different themselves? Only time will tell.
This article is nothing but propaganda disparaging companies for just doing business, if these intellectuals are so concerned, it might be wise for them to pull there resources and open a store to provided just such products they laminate are not being provided by those who are risking there money. As far as local governments subsidizing big corporations to locate in its community, we have found common ground to agree on, however when zoning requirements are put in place to inhibit competition because someone doesn't like something, then it is simply un-American.
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Posted: December 10, 2018
Climate Change Leader has Trouble Convincing French Citizens to Accept Gas Tax Increase!
Posted: November 20, 2018
There is no such think as income equality
There is a lot of talk these days about income equality and a living wage. The figure that politicians bandy about is $15.00 per hour. This all sounds well and good, but the market place is fluid and as soon and everyone making minimum wage reaches this benchmark the target gets moved.
The next thing I hear is from industries effected that it will cost jobs. In the short term they are correct, however this is fluid, too. In effect, what happens is workers at the bottom of the scale will get a few extra dollars in their paychecks and will notice the difference in being able to afford some extra's for awhile. So will the tax man, (this is something that is never mention) and some jobs will be lost, so those at the bottom who are lease employable are hurt the most. However it doesn't stay this way for long.
This puts upward pressure on wages for those who have learned something a little extra and worked hard to advance. They are right in the bosses office demanding to be paid more than the person at the bottom who just got a raise courtesy of Uncle Sam or in California's case Uncle Jerry. And of course most union contracts have a provision when minimum wage goes up so does the union workers'. This is where the tax man really makes out.
If our politicians were really concerned for the poor (poor is a state of mind) they would work to reduce redundant regulations and in the case of California it massive regulatory machine who's tentacles which wraps around every businessman's neck and reach into his pocket. Real wage growth comes from a growing economy, educated employees bringing something to the employers table other than a warm body, and not taking so much of the business person money which inhibits them from investing in future growth.
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Posted: November 16, 2018
What the heck is income equality?
My first real job, you know, where they actually withhold taxes, was with TG&Y as a stock clerk. I was making a whopping $2.25 per hour minimum wage. It was part-time after school and weekends. It got me a little spending cash and gave me my first glimpse at the working world.
The one lesson I will always remember from that job, is when I asked for my payroll check one hour early on Thursday from the girls in the accounting office and got by butt chewed. I was told, "Checks are not available until after noon, period!" Now mind you, Ed the assistant manager who ran the sporting goods store a couple doors down got his check earlier all the time, with these same office girls laughing and joking with him.
It got me to thinking, what did he do different than me? After watching him for a couple of weeks, it was quite obvious. Whenever he saw the girls in the office he always talked nice and had a complement or two, never over done though, took time to acknowledge the hard work they did. And, if they need something, he would take care of it, even if it was not a task he would normally do. So, I though I would give it a try, too.
You know what, it worked! After about a month of following Ed's lead I got up enough nerve to ask for my check early, I said, "I normally would not ask, but I'm not scheduled to work today and I have to go out of town, would it be possible to get my check a little early?" I braced for the worst, there was a pause, then they whispered, "Okay, just don't tell anyone else."
When I got that job I basically had no experience, other than to know to work hard, be nice and do whatever job I was give to the best of my ability. I never intended to stay with TG&Y, nor at that pay, I was studying printing and wanted to get into that industry where I knew I could advance faster and grow my pay. TG&Y gave me the opportunity.
When I started in the prep department at A to Z Printing at a higher rate of $2.65, Wu-hoo. I learned the industry from the ground up and now own a printing company where I swear some weeks I'm not sure after all my efforts I am making more than what I did at A to Z Printing.
All kidding aside, I have made a good living in printing and never drawn a day's unemployment. I can't figure out why people think everyone should be earning the same amount of money, no matter the job. We all bring different abilities and skills to the table, in the past if the boss gave someone better pay than me and I was higher skilled and worked harder, I moved on to greener pastures. In our somewhat free market economy where we have a system of division of labor, we have equal opportunity, but equal outcome can't be guaranteed. If those who want equal income or the correct term, higher income, I suggest you learn what you can from that crappy entry level job, learn life skills, never stop learning. Find something you enjoy doing and build your career, money will follow.
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Posted: November 8, 2018
It is okay to lie to voters if it is for their own good!
California's Prop 6 illustrates how deceiving our elective officials are with the failure of this measure. The deceptive ballot subtitle which reads: Eliminates Certain Road Repair And Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes And Vehicle Fees Be Approved By The Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment, belongs in the arguments not the title. This ballot initiative was to repeal a very unpopular gas and vehicle registration tax increase forced on us by the state legislature and governor.
Our California Attorney General Xavier Becerra knew that most voters don't look beyond the title when deciding which way to vote, taking advantage of voters who have not educate themselves about propositions on the ballot. If a private company mislabeled a product to the same extent as Mr. Becerra, its would be sued and have criminal charges filed against it and its management, resulting in at the very least, large fines. Yet, our elected officials' can lie to us and get a free, get out of jail card.
Statewide, Prop. 6 failed, 55% to 45%, yet in San Bernardino it passed 57% to 43%. I tend to think the voters are more aware of how Sacramento picks our pockets, yet 43% who voted against the measure in San Bernardino is till a significant number. My guess is that 15% were fooled and the rest being state union members who will benefit from supporting those in power in Sacramento, and those who have had enough of sitting in Cajon Pass gridlock and believe that Sacramento really intends to fix the roads.
We are suppose to have a representative government, however the only ones represented in Sacramento are those interest such as public unions, tribes, corporations and utilities, who can afford to pay-to-play. The only to fix it, is to cut the size of government at every level. We need to get rid of top two and give voters choices in the general election.
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Posted November 6, 2018
Was there ever a simpler time?
One Stop Printers has been printing political campaign mailers for local High Desert candidates since before I purchased the company back in 1994. One common element has always been that the candidates were quite cordial to one another. And in the beginning for quite a few election cycles it a candidate spent $5,000 on their campaign to get elected, it was quite a lot of money. If a candidate had a difference of opinion with the incumbent, the policy was attacked, not the other candidate, much has changed from those quaint early days in the Victor Valley.
Now it is not unheard of for a candidate for city council in one of our local cities to spend upwards of $100,000 in one campaign and the gloves have come off, and some pretty ugly campaign mailers have hit the street. So, I speculate what has changed? At first glance when Hesperia and Apple Valley were formed back in the late 80's the cities followed in the foot steps of the county in regards to development, and the city of Victorville has always been friendly to both developers and business interest.
The High Desert has always relied on development to drive its economy with affordable housing, which brought many young families to the region seeking the American dream of home ownership. With the influx of people to the valley and the resulting problems that come with a growing population, now affordable housing is synonymous with low income housing, and developers and considered builders of tenements, putting profits above the community, resulting in the local city councils being more polarized than ever.
It has become a long drawn out process to get a housing project, or commercial development from concept, to design and build. For someone who has tired of the commute down-the-hill to work and plans to open a business, the process with each city's planning department is both a terrifying and daunting task, fraught with many dangers. Throw in unions who's only goal is to pack school boards, city councils, governor's office and the legislature with anyone who will support bloated pensions and pay, you have a recipe for contention.
Although, I believe that local government is the best kind, I still think our local cities and town council's are involved way too much in the lives of its citizens. Their focus should be on roads, parks and water when necessary. Contract out services whenever possible, and eliminate exclusive franchises so citizens have a choice. For example in the Town of Apple Valley, if the two major water companies didn't have exclusive franchises, where it is against the law for any other water company to compete in its area, we quite certain would have lower water cost, because we would have a choice and they would have to compete for our business. Keep government small and give us choices.
Posted September 6, 2018
Does anyone really know me?
I thought I knew who I was until I walked into the DMV to renew my driver’s license. Much has changed since I have last graced its waiting lines which snake gracefully back and forth, people waiting with much anticipation as if at Disney Land to board their favorite ride. Things such as getting an appointment online bypassing some of the wait, and registering which I neglected to do. Because of my advanced age, I couldn’t find where too on its website.
No worries, I had gotten there a half hour early and was directed to a computer to register and did so promptly. During the registration I learned that if I wanted a Real ID, I would need additional items to prove who I am, such as a passport, birth certificate, social security card, something like a bill showing residency (although I am not sure why the DMV renewal notice with my name and address would not suffice?) and take a thumb print.
Now mind you, in the 45 years I have had a California Driver’s license, in every instance I had to present it, we all agreed it was me. Now our government says, wait we are not so sure. Yes, when you were 16 and got your drivers license, you presented your birth certificate, social security card, we know your daddy drove you to the DMV office and vouched of you, and in the 80’s we required you provide a thumb print, but now we really, really, really need to know who you are. Since I was not prepared, nor able to really, really, really prove: I, am me. I had to settle for a regular ol’ driver’s license, one where everyone thinks they know who I am, including me!
Posted July 13, 2018
Control Washington DC's Out of Control Spending Repeal the 16th Amendment!
If you have been paying attention, you hear from the tea party republicans talk about a fair tax, which translates into a national sales tax. I could never quite get excited with this concept. It isn't because it might cause the federal government to be fiscally responsible and would require cuts to agency's and programs, although I think this is long overdue. It has more to do with requiring business owners to collect the tax which they have never been compensated for, I though servitude was outlawed in the states long ago. It is also the nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars taken in small amounts the citizen/consumers brush off without a moments thought.
I have friends that are emphatic that all taxes are theft and won't tolerate one penny taken from their pockets, in principle I agree. However, if our federal government is suppose to provide certain functions like national defense (not the nation building we are experiencing now) and to provide there is no force or fraud in the market place, it will require a minimum set of laws, an associated cost. I much favor what the framers of our constitution had in the original document, which is everyone pays the same amount. Basically a head tax. Now most will say this is unfair because the rich pay the same as the poor. I say not so. The poor are currently burdened with all the taxes hidden in the everyday items they purchase to live.
So instead of a flat rate, it could be a percentage of income, the same percentage for everyone, and instead of the employer having to be the tax collector, the federal government collect it own taxes. This way if you have no income you pay no taxes, and the rich will pay more in real dollars. If everyone was responsible for sending there own taxes into the government each year instead of waiting to get their change back every April 15th, they would be more engaged and want to know where all their money is being spent and/or wasted. Maybe we might be able to hold our representatives responsible.
With the passage of the 16th amendment the federal government has found all kinds of way to take billions of dollars from us, nickels, dimes and quarters at a time. For example just look at any of your utility bills, then there are taxes and fees no matter where we turn and agencies who can put you in jail if you don't comply. So when you hear we should have a fair tax, listen to what they are saying and tell them the only fair taxes are equal for everyone and out in the open for all of us to see.
Unless congresses power is constrained by the pocket book with the repeal of the 16th amendment I don't things will ever change in Washington DC. If ever a flat tax is adopted, our representatives will work to undermine it and lobbyist will do everything in their power to influence congress to make changes in their favor. The only to control congress with its endless spending and wars is to repeal the 16th amendment.
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Posted July 11, 2018
Selling Price has Nothing to do With Cost
Enough about rules for business, really there aren't any. What I am illustrating is that you need knowledge about best business practices before you jump in with both feet. Read, take classes and most of all get a mentor who you can call when you get in over your head, because I assure it happens to all of us.
What I would like to talk about now it pricing, after 40 some odd years in the printing industry I have a little bit of experience in this area. Through the years I have used cost plus, used price books and all manner of pricing software, taken classes, read a bunch of books on the subject, along with books on the art of selling. What I have learned is: You have to know what your cost are so you don't sell below your cost and the selling price has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with what a willing buyer and willing seller agree upon. The selling price of a product only reflects what is in front of the customer, not what it took to produce and will the customer will look to buy what is best for them.
Well you are thinking, "That is not much help." But it is, because the dynamics in the market place (which is just a bunch of buyers and sellers getting together to do business, not a real physical place) is ever changing, vendors and buyers enter and exit all the time and none of them have perfect knowledge of the market. Which means that sellers may find better sources to build their products reducing their cost and selling price and the buyer may require a higher quality or a custom product and is willing to pay more. For example in One Stop Printers case we are highly skilled at altering our existing business forms and setting up artwork for new items such as our Pest Control Service Agreements, #PC1073, Termite Inspection Tag #PC1080 and Pest Control Service Slips PC1072, thereby reducing the cost for a custom business form to our customers.
Posted July 10, 2018
Third Rule is: Don't Outrun Your Cash
Pure and simple you must watch your cash flow. Don't spend more than you make. Don't lock in spending you can't maintain, whether business or personal. Many companies fail not because they were not profitable, but because there was no cash to pay bills and not having a safety net to cover expenses when business is slow.
It is real easy to spend more than you make if you are not paying attention. This is where a good set of financials with a solid chart of accounts comes in handy. Now, I know it is much more fun to go build stuff and leave all the boring details to a later date. Don't. Time must be set aside weekly to get the book work done or you are flying blind. There are several good accounting software's on the market and find yourself a good accountant, it is well worth the money and time. When you have the assistance of an accountant they can help set up your system, teach you how to read the reports and when tax time comes around they are made simple because all the work is done.
When your accounting software is set up and maintained weekly, sometimes daily if necessary, it makes invoicing easy, and you get them out in a timely manner. You are able to check the profit and loss statement whenever you need too (not just when the accountant provides you a printed copy), to see where you stand financially. I cannot stress how important this is to maintaining a healthy company.
I have seen many business owners see there is money in the bank account (not realizing it is spoken for) and think that if I used this money and bought a piece of equipment I could expand my business. No thought is given on how sell the new product or service, and end up with a piece of equipment sitting idle while making the monthly lease payment. It may be better to buy out the service to another vendor and sell at a slightly higher price (which would be less expensive that the monthly payment) or forgo this opportunity at this time.
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Posted July 9, 2018
The Gettin' Rules for Business are Pretty Important!
The next rule is actually three rolled up into one, it's the "Gettin's:" Get the jobs in. Get the jobs out. And Get paid. Seems all so simple. This is where business management skills come in handy.
Nothing gets produced until someone sells something to somebody. Without a solid marketing plan, it could all be for not. It starts with your location and continues through how you market your product and/or services to prospective clients. A good example regarding location is where my company One Stop Printers is located, I don't have to have a great a location, and I can save money on rent, as long as I have a strong marketing plan and execute it. However, it would be foolish for an ice cream shop to locate in the same building, because to be successful it needs a lot of foot traffic. Cheap rent, and no amount of marketing will save an ice cream shop from failure by being in the wrong location.
Now, since I sell direct mail marketing your would think this is where I would pitch using it in all instances to increase business. I will not, because in this brave-new-world of internet sales, direct mail is only one component of a sales and marketing plan and sometimes is not well suited for some companies. If you are in a good location products like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a great way to drive more traffic to your business or if you have a self generated mailing list postcards can be use to keep customers up on your latest sale events. Even I have a website and work to drive buyers to my site.
The second part: "Get the jobs out," might seem simple for a highly skilled person just opening his first business. This is fraught with dangers, too. You can do the job quickly and efficiently buy, are your skilled in time management? I have seen way too many new business owners try to please everyone all the time, only to tick everyone off. Or start buying equipment without having done a cost analysis and soon find out they are working to make payments instead of providing for themselves and their family.
The last, "Gettin' paid," might seem the easiest but with out doing the hard stuff like having an accounting system in place, they soon find themselves wondering, my sales are great, why don't I have any money?
Posted July 5, 2018
Business Experience is Just as Important as Product Knowledge When Opening a Business
Everyone thinks the first rule of business is: It takes money to make money. While it's important to invest in your product and services to make money in the future, this is more of an obvious adage. The first rule is: Don't lose money.
Having been in the printing industry for over 40 years I have seen time and again how "Don't lose money," is not understood by those in my industry and business owners I have talked to and printed for throughout the years.
The High Desert has some unique aspects, one is about 60 percent of the working population commutes down-the-hill to the Inland Empire to work. What is severely lacking in this area is good high paying jobs. The other is really affordable housing cost compared to the rest of the state. Interesting enough, you may be asking, how this ties into the statement above. The answer lies in that once a person commuted for a few years and has worn out a car or two, they start looking for work in the High Desert, only to find there aren't many. Most are highly skilled in whatever line of work they are involved in, and decide the best course of action is to go into business.
I would never discourage anyone to follow their dream of becoming a business owner (this is exactly how I came to be a business owner), however, a person should be prepared. I have had many tell me, I know how to do the job, I will learn the business end as I go. This is a recipe for financial disaster. Some may catch a ride on an economic upswing and succeed, never really knowing why, most will not. So, in addition to knowing how to do the job, it is also very important to have a background in business management, accounting, employee relations, and sales and marketing before making the plunge.
If you like what your are reading: buy business forms printed by One Stop Printers!
Posted June 8, 2018
Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance Awards Enrique Arcilla Its Brush Fire of Freedom $1,000 Scholarship
On Tuesday, May 15th, the Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance held its inaugural Brushfire of Freedom Award dinner for best essay on a liberty based theme. In addition to the dinner, the award recipient received a medallion created especially for this event and a cashier’s check for $1000. The VVLA plans to make this an annual event to promote and encourage scholarship among high school students in the High Desert region of Southern California.
This year’s contest winner is Enrique Arcilla of Granite Hills High School for his essay, “Overreach, the Constitution, and Theft of Legislative Power: Tyranny Sprouts Anew“. The essay question was, “Has the U.S. Constitution been successful in restraining federal government overreach?”. Enrique’s essay was judged to be the best of 26 excellent submissions.
Enrique Arcilla is no stranger to essay competitions. Two years ago, at the age of 15 he won a contest sponsored by the Mojave Water Agency and has participated in several others since. He says that competing in essay contests has caused him to delve into topics and gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding them. He plans to continue this inquisitive approach as he embarks upon studies in international development and economics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich England next year. His winning essay is posted on the Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance Facebook page.
The Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance is an activist group that seeks to better the lives of people with a combination of political education and positive community action. It has taken as its mission the advancement of personal liberty through voluntary individual action as well as political means. In addition to the annual essay contest, they will be hosting desert cleanup activities where volunteers get together to pick up trash left in our desert community.
Because it seeks to increase and broaden the scope of its activities - as well as expand its scholarship to more students, the Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance is exploring the idea of shared corporate sponsorship for future events and drives. Please contact them at: VVLibertarianAlliance.com or SBCLP.org if you would like to support these endeavors in your community.
The VVLA encourages you to become a part of positive change. They meet the third Tuesday of every month for dinner and business. The meeting location and meeting topics are posted on their Facebook group. Anyone wanting to participate in a group seeking to advance individual liberty in a civil society or who simply wants to learn more about the libertarian movement is welcome to attend.
Posted May 10, 2018
Sacramento Politicians Don't Care About Small Business Owners
As a California business owner it is imperative too keep up with the current machinations emanating for the emerald city known as Sacramento. One of the most recent is AB 1008 which restricts an employer from asking if an applicant has ever formerly been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. Now, on face value, if your are concerned about helping former convicts becoming gainfully employed, this is a good thing.
Disregarding in this argument that an owner of a business should be able to check out a prospective employee to make sure that they are a good fit, many businesses are regulated by state agencies, and can't even hire a person who was formerly incarcerated. So what is forced on the private sector, doesn't apply in companies with occupational licenses.
California leads the nation in licensing and regulating everything to death, with over 200 occupations license requirements, from 42 government agency's, this law excludes a large portion of companies from complying, while forcing the rest to shoulder the burden.
This is not even counting state government occupations that exclude convicts from employment. There is a total disconnect from those of us who operate a business and what politicians in Sacramento think. However, when you consider that California was just rated as the fifth largest economy, one can understand that Sacramento politicians don't care, campaign contributions keep flowing, so what does it matter?
Posted March 30, 2018
There is a Third Choice for Apple Valley's Water Woes
There is a lot of banter back and forth that there are only two choices for Apple Valley water issues and which one is best: One, stay with Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC) as a private company, or two, take it over by the Town of Apple Valley. There is a third option, which is to open up the town to competition.
What you say? That will never work, our water will be poisoned, water cost will become so high we won't be able to afford a glass of water, the streets will be torn up and a mess. Well, when phone service was deregulated back in the 80's we heard some of the same arguments, and now making a long distance phone call only cost pennies. When cable was deregulated Charter started offering phone service to our area and Verizon responded by running FIOS through the alleys and offered internet service. Not only did we get better service with two providers, we got cheaper prices.
Apple Valley is in a unique position in which it has two major water companies and about a dozen smaller ones servicing its residents. Couple that with about 90 percent of the town's homes having alleys behind them I think opening up the town to competition will work.
The naysayers will run around and scream we will destroy AVRWC, and water is to dear to risk. Well, competition didn't destroy the phone companies in the 80's, nor Charter and Verizon, it just made them better companies. It is time for the Town of Apple Valley too tear-up the exclusive franchise agreements with all the water companies in town, and let them compete for our business.
Posted March 29, 2018
Only Two Choices for Apple Valley's Water Woes
I am constantly asked why I support the takeover of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC) which is currently owned by Liberty Utilities. The answer is simple, we have a choice of local ownership by the Town of Apple Valley which also comes with Prop 218 protections, where rates can't be raised with out justification. If rates are raised more that what the citizens think will cover cost by the town, we can force a vote on the rates.
Currently public utilities like AVRWC are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by un-elected bureaucrats. Utilities such as Liberty Utilities have consolidated power in Sacramento to the detriment of it customers and the CPUC just rubber stamps its rate increase request. Couple that with our Governor Brown's disdain for the citizens of California, who would rather restrict water use, and pursue the agenda of radical environmentalist, instead of increasing the number of water projects, storage, transportation, he has done everything in his power to kill water projects.
Because of these things, we have not provided for the increase in population in our state and water cost have been soaring. This has put a burden on those most vulnerable, such as retirees, those on fixed incomes and the poor. AVRWC rates have doubled in the past 10 years, if you use too much water, you get hit with abusive tier 2 and 3 rates. Just drive around our town and you will still see the dead lawns and trees because people cannot afford water.
So we have been given a Sophia's choice: stay with Liberty Utilities and suffer under skyrocketing water rates, or go with the Town of Apple Valley and suffer what ever mischief it can conjure up.
So my choice is for the Town of Apple Valley!
Posted March 12, 2018
Somebody Kill Daylight Savings Time Before it Kills Me!
I refuse to participate. The only thing daylight saving time does, is illustrate twice a year, that no matter what cockamamie ideas our politicians come up with, and tell us, it's for our own good, it's for our children's safety and it will save the environment, we will follow along blindly. Here is a cockamamie idea for our politicians, get rid of daylight saving time because it's good for our health, it's good our children's safety, and it will save the environment. Good grief, somebody kill this thing!
Posted March 6, 2018
Update: Apple Valley California, Liberty Utilities Water Rate Increase
Every two months it will be like Christmas in Apple Valley when we receive our water bills, we'll magically open it and see there is no rate increase from Liberty Utilities. I don't believe it for one second. Nor, that the rate increases will be 5% and under for the following three years. If the town doesn't acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water (AVRW) you can bet, major service charges will start appearing on our water bills starting in 2019, because it will state to the California Public Utilities Commission, it didn't make enough money.
Recently in the Daily Press a representative of Liberty was quoted saying it was continuing maintenance on the water system and will replace three miles of water main a year. Yet several years ago, it was stated by the same management of AVRW that it was on an aggressive schedule to replace six miles per year (wasn't that a major argument for the nearly 30% rate increase). Three miles is not even maintenance on this system with 60 years old pipes, and now it will take 90 years just to replace half of the line in the ground.
I will complement Liberty Utilities on the pretty block and rod iron wall it placed around its new $2.2 million caped well located on Apple Valley Road. Its been close to two years and still no pump house or connection to the system. If anyone is not sure of Liberty's priorities, just look at you recent notice-of-rate-increase: Infrastructure is in the middle of the list and safe and reliable water supply is dead last!
Posted March 1, 2018
Let's Give Peace A Try!
Mama always taught us children: Don't throw sand in your brother's face, pickup your toys when you are done playing, and say please and thank you. Its still important today as an adult, for a business or leader of a country. It seems these simple principles don't apply anymore; the world has become more violent and less safe; and the US must respond with force, or at least with 24 hour news, one would think so.
The propaganda emanating from our politicians, defense department, and security agencies would have us believe that our security is dependent on being involved in every skirmish, anywhere, and everywhere in the world. We must take action or bad thing will happen here. This is an absurd policy.
The anti-war democrats have been in hibernation since President Bush left office, yet currently they are nowhere to be found. You would think they would be out in full force now that Obama and the blue team are out, and the red team has control of the White House. Where is the outcry denouncing increasing the Pentagons' spending by over $165 billion? Sending our young men and women overseas to die or worse yet, broken and their lives destroyed? And, for the record where are all the reduce the size of government and balance the budget, fiscally responsible republicans?
The US has just under 200,000 active-duty military troops overseas on 800 military bases with a presence in 177 counties, my gosh, there only about 206 countries in the world. We spend more then the next top seven countries on our military and with the increase defense spending it has to be a few more. With a $20 trillion debt expected to rise to $30 trillion in 10 years the US is bankrupt and can no longer afford to be the world's police force.
Our constitution is explicit in that our military is for defense purposes only. I am not advocating and isolationist position, sometimes to ensure the security of the US it will require we venture outside our borders, however, we are way past that point. With all the death and destruction the US has been involved in the last century, it might be time try a new approach: Peace!
We should be an example to the world for how a nation lives in peace with it neighbors. One of the best ways is free and open trade (it usually is not in your best economic interest to kill your trading partners). Relations with China were normalized through something as insignificant as ping-pong and now it is one of our largest trading partners. Let's trade goodwill, and goods, not bombs!
Tony Tyler - Apple Valley
Chair, San Bernardino Libertarian Party
Posted February 23, 2018
Book Review: Ice Cream Social
When I go to the library I tend to graze, I will mosey down a isle and nibble on a book, move along, taking little bites here and there until I find a book of interest. That is how I happened upon Ice Cream Social-The Struggle for the Sole of Ben & Jerry's written by Brad Edmondson. What a great story.
Anyone who has wandered down the freezer section of your local supermarket is at least aware of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, that it is more expensive then most, but it taste really good. What you probably have missed is how socially responsible this company is, and its dedication to its three part mission: Producing a quality product, making sure its employees and vendors receive fair compensation and its responsibility to the community.
It seems these two friends stumbled into selling ice cream and it just got of hand. The next thing Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield knew, they were operating a successful company. It is never as easy as it looks and there is a lot of heartache involved, as anyone who has ever ran a company can attest. They always persevered in the face of adversity, until they didn't. They tried their best to provide a living wage to their employees, in addition to making sure their company was operated in an environmentally friendly fashion.
The most fascinating portion of the book is its social mission, from taking the lead on fair trade coffee and chocolate suppliers, leading the fight against Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), only using milk from dairy's that are rBGH free, and treated its cows humanely. Too created partner shops with non-profits to provide job training for at risk youth and homeless.
It is an inspiring story for any business leader on how a corporation can be operated responsibly and make a profit. This book is a good read and recommend it, so in the spirit of Ben & Jerry, I give the book a five ice cream cone rating.
Posted February 22, 2018
Announcing Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance's, High Desert $1,000 Essay Contest
The Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance (VVLA) is please to announce the Annual Brushfire of Freedom $1,000 Essay contest for High Desert High School Students. This essay contest is open to all high school students, whether you attend public, charter, private school or are home schooled.
VVLA's goal is to spread liberty through positive activism in our community. This essay contest is the brainchild of Craig George, Bryan Ryman and Dr. Matthew Pautz, and I would like to thank them for all their hard work and dedication in launching this contest.
Posted: February 21, 2018
Stop Locking Up People for Victimless Crimes
Crime is up, people are scared, we need leaders who will build more prisons, hire more police, and district attorneys who will lock 'em up and throwaway the key. Now hold on just a minute, did the editorial board not read its own paper? Turn the page and you will see the Town of Apple's contract with the sheriff went up $828,415 in one year and expected to increase 1.2 million within the next two years due to administration cost.
San Bernardino County Sheriffs earn an impressive $150,000 to $200,000 a year including benefits, Sheriff McMahon makes an eye-popping $469,000 including benefits. District Attorneys top out around $300,000, and a prison cost between 280 to 350 million to build. Throw in unfunded pension liabilities and these high cost will be driven through the roof. Just exactly how are we to pay for more of the above?
Assembly Bill 109, Propositions 47, 57 and early release are said to be the reason crime has spiked 20% in the High Desert. I'm of the opinion this is not exactly true. A lot of these inmates were sent to prison for non-violent or drug related offences where they learned to be harden criminals (they should have never been sent to the big house in the first place). Only about 20% California inmates can demonstrate a basic level of literacy, the average offender reads at the 8th grade level, and 68% or US males in prison don't have a high school diploma.
According to the LA Times we spend an astounding $75,560 per year to house an inmate. Yet, we only spend around $9,500 per child each year to educate our children. Now I am not saying we need to spend more on education, our educational system have failed these inmates and our children badly, yet consumes 50% of the states uncommitted budget.
We need to stop doubling down on failed policies and find real solutions. Vouchers would be a good start so parents can choose where to have their children educated. Decriminalize drugs, let's spend less time and money trying to solve social problems with force; and use some of the savings on intervention programs. We need strong and creative leaders who will stand up to the unions, cut regulations and create an environment where businesses can thrive and provide job opportunities.
Posted: February 6, 2018
Libertarian Solution to Fire Service in California
Victorville has asked San Bernardino County Fire to go back and review its proposal, and give them its final and best offer for fire service. I doubt it will be much different than the first offer. California cities are hard pressed by increases in both fire and police cost, which can be traced back to pension obligations, benefits and salaries unmatched in the private sector.
While 72% of fire service nationwide are handled with volunteers, California is mostly paid service with medium compensation packages ranging from $145,000 for state to $195,000 for county and city firefighters. The public employees unions have a strangle hold on Sacramento politicians, there is no relief forthcoming from the legislature in reining in these cost. Unless cities find a way to control these cost, other services such as roads and parks will have to be curtailed.
Fortunately there is a solution and the example is right in our own backyard. The little town of Calimesa and its Mayor Jeff Hewitt have taken back control of its fire service from Cal Fire and save the city's taxpayers money, too. Calimesa is now able to determine it own staffing levels and even though it pays its firefighters less and a 401k style retirement, they are still well paid and had no trouble finding qualified firefighters. In addition it is able to afford a new fire station and a new $411,000 fire truck.
Dinosaur in The California Desert
California spent millions of dollars building a state-or-art CHP truck weigh station on I-15 at state-line to inspect commercial trucks entering our state. It has been operating for over a year now and yet it still keeps the agriculture inspection station in Yermo open, inconveniencing motorist returning home and backing up traffic for miles and wasting millions of gallons of fuel a year.
Governor Brown just passed SB1 which adds 12 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and 20 cents a gallon on diesel. Not one cent is going to add any additional lanes and 30 percent is siphoned off for other transportation projects including money for his train set. If one is new to Brown and the legislature's shenanigans passing a gas tax sounds reasonable. Well not so fast. Under Brown the state budget has increased approximately 45 billion dollars in the last seven years and not one cent went to roads. Brown and the legislature have been raiding transportation funds for years. Now they are concerned about roads, give me a break.
I-15 is mostly two lane in each direction with substandard bridges and is a glaring example of our democratic leaderships neglect. It is one the most traveled roads in the nation and is the lifeline for moving freight in and out of Southern California and should have been upgraded to four lanes 20 years ago.
Countless lives are lost in accidents every year because I-15 cannot handle the traffic load. The agriculture station is a testament to our state governments waste and inefficiency and it keeps demanding more and more money, and providing fewer services. Public unions have a strangle hold on our state government so don't expect any change unless we change leadership.
For those who hope to change California and restore some sort of sanity to Sacramento, the Libertarian Party of California holds the answer. Libertarian candidates bring small government, fiscally conservative principles to the table. There 141,461 registered Libertarians in California a 23% increase over the previous year and it is growing fast. If you are tired of the direction our state is headed the Libertarian party deserves a serious look. Posted: November 28, 2017