Monday, March 31, 2008


Like many of you I remember when gasoline was commonly available for twenty five cents a gallon. In fact I recall at one time, during a gas war, it was 18.9 cents. Of course that didn’t last very long. As kids we would go to the filling station and get a dollars worth and it would carry us for a week or more.

Then it began its inevitable climb. For me the next big note worthy price was a dollar a gallon. I remember stewing and fretting that we were being had by the big oil companies. I watched with amazement how it just suddenly came about and no one seemed to care much. So I came to grips with the price. It took several years to get to that price so I thought we would be there for a long time. We all seemed to come to terms with the price. After all, we were told “we’re running out of oil”.

Well guess what happened? You’re right, two dollars a gallon. It seemed to happen over night. I don’t remember how long it took, but it wasn’t very long. Even with the price however, there were long lines at filling stations because, after all “we’re running out of oil”. Like you, I lined up and like you, I paid the price. I remember thinking how much I missed the good old days of one dollar a gallon. When a station had gasoline even at the higher price, I was grateful. After all what else could I do?

Oh no! Three dollars a gallon? How did this happen? This last price rise has been meteoric. Oil is in excess of $100.00 a barrel. Speculators have driven up this commodity by wild eyed guessing and so far they have been right. But “we’re running out of oil” they say. The price has to rise. China and India are using much more of the available oil than ever before. There are more excuses than one could imagine. At any rate, according to the so-called experts, the price is headed even higher.

But, for us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a rule in economics. The cure for high prices is high prices. What, you ask? How does that happen? I will use my own experience to illustrate this rule. I am spending about the same for gasoline today as I did a year ago. I have records of every dime I spend. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I have cut back on my usage. When I have chores I try to combine more stops in one trip. I cut back on unnecessary driving. I am apparently not alone. Across this country there has been a one percent reduction in demand in the past month. Most of the people I listen to believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Initially the oil companies will try to explain this away as an aberration. The speculators will hold out for the big summer driving season, but, like many others I think prices have reached an unsustainable high. When this occurs, they tumble.

More than just your driving is affected. Freight companies, airlines, farmers, and almost all commerce in America are affected. People will change their habits and subsequently their usage. One or two percent doesn’t sound like much, but it will shake the oil industry to their core. We are talking about billions of dollars here.

The State of Minnesota, in their wisdom, has passed a ten cent tax increase on gasoline in order to improve the roads and bridges. They will probably learn what New York City learned when they increased the tax on cigarettes. Usage went down to such a degree that they actually lost revenue.

Big oil and big government may not like the economics rule but it’s a lot like gravity. It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, it is still the rule.

Ron Scarbro March 31, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008


I listened to Senator Obama’s recent speech on race relations and his attempt to try to explain away Jeremiah Wright. I admire his attempt but I wasn’t convinced. I came away wondering what is the state of race relations today?

I guess I am what Senator Obama calls a “typical white person”. Personally I don’t really know what a typical white person is. Those of you who know me know that I was born and raised in the South. An examination of my family tree often gets a little fuzzy. Some have even said that my family tree doesn’t fork. Regardless, I appear to be more white than anything else. So, I have a question, does a typical white person automatically have bias or prejudice against black people? Do black people have that same prejudice against white people? If so, would you call them typical black people? Who is responsible for the state of racial relations in America? It is with this in mind that I offer this essay.

It seems to be generally accepted that unless you are black, you cannot comment on the black experience. Does that mean that because I am not a woman that I cannot comment on women? I am not gay so I cannot comment on gays? I am not wealthy so I cannot offer any opinion on the rich?

To all of these so called rules I say nonsense. This essay however turns out to be less about race and more about personal responsibility and choices.

America’s prisons have a disproportionate number of black inmates.
Some will say that the judicial system is skewed against minorities. Others will say that blacks are in prison because they commit the great majority of the crimes. There is also a group who believe poverty is at the root of all of this crime. It’s all about the money. Drugs, prostitution, and robbery pay much better than slinging hash at the local eatery. Regardless of your belief, one thing is clear. Unwed mothers are producing babies at an epidemic rate. Black crime is out of control. The plight of black people in America is deteriorating. Granted, not for all but definitely for many.

Does anyone honestly believe that black lives are improved by the likes of Jeremiah Wright? When a so-called Christian pastor begs God to damn America for its perceived sins and blames the government for 9-11 or for the introduction of HIV aids, are black lives made better? When the audience jumps up from the pews and cheers, does that mean that this message of hate resonates? Is this church an anomaly or is this message being preached in all the black churches? Does Senator Obama share these views? He has since said no. If that is truly the case then why is he a member of such a church? Many years ago when the verdict was announced in the O. J. Simpson murder case, a local TV camera was trained on a large group of well educated, intelligent, black engineers at Boeing in the Seattle area. When he was pronounced “not guilty” they erupted with cheers. Were they cheering the fact that a cold blooded murderer was being released back on society or that a black man had gotten over on the white man? Just a question.

As a so called “typical white person” I choose to be presumptuous enough to believe that all people can improve their lives. Whether you are black, white, Asian, or Latino you and only you are ultimately responsible for your destiny. Here are some thoughts which may be helpful.

· Stay in school. Get educated. Study hard and follow the rules.

· Speak proper English. Whether you like it or not, it is the language of America and American business. Stay away from street slang.

· Pull your pants up. Turn your cap around. If you look like a street thug, or a punk that is what people will think you are. And, yes, it is important what people think.

· Don’t mark up your face and neck with piercings and tattoos. They are permanent and difficult to hide.

· Keep your pants zipped up. Unwed parents almost always guarantee their own and their children’s poverty.

· Obey the law. A prison record isn’t very good on your resume.

· Forget victimology. Accept responsibility for your life. Quit blaming others for your problems. Get over it.

· Stop looking for handouts. As long as you are a ward of any government, you will never be free or successful.

· Be very wary of those who would presume to be your leaders. Their motives may not be so innocent.

There are many more suggestions and you may have many of your own, but I think you get my drift.

Three of my heroes happen to be black and if you had studied any of their writings or speeches you may well find that they would say these same things. Those three are Bill Cosby, Dr. Thomas Sowell, and Dr. Walter Williams. You all know of Mr. Cosby but Dr. Williams may be new to you. He is former Chairman of the Economics Dept of George Mason University. Dr. Sowell is a renowned economist from California.

We all have choices. George Jones recorded a song a few years back that went something like this. “I’ve had choices since the day that I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong. If I had listened I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I made.” If you want to be successful in America, join America. That doesn’t mean you can’t be black, Asian, or Latino or that you have to be white. It means that America is not going to join you. That is a profound reality. It’s your choice. As a “typical white person” I would welcome your presence and your success.

Ron Scarbro

March 24, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008


As some of you may know I wrote a column recently concerning an accident which occurred in southern Minnesota. That accident happened last month involving a woman who t-boned a school bus killing four kids. It was widely speculated that the woman was an illegal alien and was reported as such. It has subsequently been learned that she was indeed here illegally and was using stolen identity. She has since been arrested by the FBI for identity theft and faces numerous state charges including four counts of manslaughter. The column was published in the paper on March 7.

A response was published last week written by what appears to be one of the very apologists I wrote about. It included the words I would have expected from them. I was indeed taken to task. My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend myself from this person or anyone who might take exception to what I say. It is instead to further the discussion of illegal immigration.

A friend sent me the following excerpt of a speech delivered some time ago. It is as follows:

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

I did go to and verified this excerpt.

I cannot add anything to what he said. It seems clear to me.

One of the criticisms I received was my observation that the woman who caused the accident spoke only Spanish. The critic did not seem to believe that English was such a great language and that our insistence on its use was not neighborly. It appears that Roosevelt would have taken exception.

He also opined that we should welcome anyone to our shores who comes legally or illegally to improve their standard of living. Again I think the critic is in the minority.

We face a very real problem in this country with the rapid influx of people from all over the world. Most seem to be undereducated, under medicated, desperately poor, and completely unprepared to live in a free society. They appear to congregate in areas of the country where they think they can blend in. But, they continue to speak their native tongue. They bring to our shores the very problems and issues from which they just escaped. If they choose to be here and be Americans, there are ways to do that, but it doesn’t start by coming here illegally.

The sooner we as a country get a handle on this problem the sooner the quality of life improves for both American citizens and the immigrants who come here legally. Let’s face it, if those people coming here would do so legally, they wouldn’t have to hide. They could get driver’s licenses and they could get insurance. They also wouldn’t have to steal identification. Imagine how their life would improve.

I will continue to offer opinions on this matter and welcome your response.

Ron Scarbro March 15, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Global Climate Change

I have resisted the urge to comment on this phenomenon until now for a number of reasons. The first is that I am not a climatologist nor am I a meteorologist. What I am is a person who has developed an opinion. My opinion has no more or less value than your opinion or anyone else’s. That having been said, here goes.

There is a contingent which reasons that our planet is warming to a degree that we soon will not be able to recover. They further opine that humans are the primary cause of this warming. They cite such things as greenhouse gasses caused by human excesses, burning fossil fuels, and mowing down the forests etc. The list is probably a lot longer because if a human is involved then it has to be bad. This group has the Hollywood elite and the media on their side. Because they are so loud they seem to be a much larger group than they truly are.

On the other hand, and there is always another hand, a vast number of people, scientists, educators, climatologists, and others say nonsense. Their belief seems to be that climate change is a normal function of the sun. Throughout earth’s history the climate has changed. There have been ice ages and there have been warming periods. It would appear that the earth has always been in a state of flux. There was very little human activity during the last ice age or the subsequent warming period. Survivors of these phenomena have learned to adapt. Our world as it is today is the result of flora and fauna adapting and changing.

So what to make of the debate? How does one decide? I have learned over the years to make decisions based on a simple process. If the left elite and the big media are for it, I am against it. If the Nobel Committee awards their once coveted peace prize or the Academy Awards confers their Oscar, my strong inclination is to steer clear of it. That simple method of reasoning has held me in good stead for my entire lifetime to date.

What is called global climate change is probably a scientific reality. What the left calls global warming is more of a religion. They even have chosen a high priest. None other than Al Gore. So convinced is this group of their opinion, no other explanation could have any plausibility. They may well be just another world-wide terrorist group. They certainly approach this issue in the same way fundamentalists approach their religion. A cursory examination of the evidence available on this continuing event however offers many possible causes other than human activity, but that doesn’t fit into this crowd’s pre-set dogma.

I have never advocated wasting anything especially the earth’s resources. I believe we are required to respect our environment and to protect it. Using overpriced mercury filled fluorescent light bulbs may well cause more harm than good. Using one square of toilet paper, as suggested by a well known folk singer, will do nothing more than soil underwear thereby causing extra wash water and soap. These are silly suggestions being offered by silly people.

In my final analysis, the earth was here millions of years before humans arrived and will be here millions of years after we are gone. Our presence may well be just another experiment of Nature. At any rate I further believe we have a good several thousand years before we have anything to worry about. Of the things we have to contend with, controlling the sun strikes me as a fool’s game. If you were in Minnesota today, like me you could well use some global warming.

Ron Scarbro March 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

On Growing Old

When I was a youngster, a person my age would have been considered old. I remember looking at my grandparents and being amazed at how old they were. They were in fact probably younger than I am now at that time. So, when is a person old? How do we know? Is age only a number? This essay seeks to examine some of these questions.

The modern concept is that yesterday’s sixty is really today’s forty. Yesterday’s eighty is today’s sixty. That would mean that as we get older, we are actually getting younger. Does that make any sense?

This is what I know. Recently I was putting my boat away for the winter. In the past this was a simple task that I accomplished with little effort. This time however, I had to have help from my wife. The job took much longer than it should have. We both came away from the experience with pains and pulled muscles. We got the job done but we asked ourselves, “How much longer can we do this? How much longer do we want to do this?”

I have taken note of many other things in my life that have changed. The old saying is that I used to be able to do that all day. Now it takes me all day to do that. I suspect all this is normal. I chide my aging friends that all of us must make concessions to our advancing years.

Growing older beats the alternative to be sure. Physically I can see changes, but mentally I am as young as ever. With each passing day I find myself more curious than ever. I continue to seek knowledge. I want to learn. This doesn’t strike me as traits of an old man.

Another thing I have learned is that there is a penalty for growing older. That penalty is to have to say good-bye to friends and loved ones. People come into our lives and people leave. People whom we knew in years past return to our thoughts and we suffer the pain of losing them to life’s only destination. Our lives are better for having known and loved them. Our memories are rich with thoughts of loved ones past and present. Our memories are a reward of our old age.

I look at my children and grandchildren and know they are my legacy. They are my gift to the world. As a father I am proud. The little ones are bright and inquisitive. They amaze me. They may have great accomplishments to give the world or they may just live out their lives as good citizens. Either way I feel proud as a grandfather as I watch for their latest exploits.

So how shall I spend the rest of the time allotted to me? I choose to continue to try to learn. I choose to try to continue to write and share my thoughts and opinions. I hope some of these writings may benefit a reader somewhere.

When one first lights a candle the flame is small. As the candle burns, the flame grows larger but the candle itself begins to grow smaller. At the end of the candles life, one is left with a wrinkled up mass of wax that doesn’t resemble its original shape or size, but the flame is at its brightest and warmest. Perhaps this is a metaphor for our life.

For me, life is a journey not a destination. I intend that my trip shall continue to be exciting, educational, and rewarding. Humans invented time and time is how some count our years on earth. We can choose to measure our lives by years or months or days or we can measure our lives by how we lived. We can measure our lives by our accomplishments. My fervent hope is that my obituary will read, “His was a life well lived.”

Ron Scarbro February 2008