Monday, October 27, 2008


Dear Sirs, I am in receipt of your request for fifty billion dollars to help you recover from the last few years of down business activity. Before I can act on your request there are just a few little things that might need further clarification.

I have been in or around the automobile and financing business for a little more than forty years and have seen many changes in that time. I remember the first time I saw a contract for twenty-four months. I thought who would finance a car for that long? I remember the first time I saw a car payment of over one hundred dollars. I thought who would take on a car payment of that amount? Well as I said things have changed.

It seems to have started when the price of vehicles began to grow at such a rate that normal financing was not sufficient for the majority of buyers. What was your response? You just raised the price even higher but you began offering questionable financing schemes to lengthen the term of that financing. All the major banks went along with the program. First it was thirty-six months then it grew and grew. Now it is up to seven years or longer. By golly it was successful. People could buy their new cars with all the fancy gadgets and still keep their payment down to a satisfactory level. Everything was just great. What could go wrong with this deal? I am about to tell you what could go wrong with this deal.

The other shoe began to fall. People who for years had traded cars every two or three years found out when they attempted to trade that they were upside down in their current cars. They owed more on the trade than it was worth in the market. What was your response? Why you just financed the minus equity into the new contract and extended the term even longer to keep the payment down. What a great solution. The factories kept on rolling out new cars at bigger and bigger numbers. Everybody was happy.

Oops, another shoe was about to fall. People then found that in order to trade their car, they had to pay on it for about four to five years instead of their normal two to three. Many of these cars then had excessive mileage and were in such disrepair that they were worthless. For a time your rebate scheme helped people with their minus equity situation, but as things are want to do, the problem only grew larger.

So here we are, unhappy people driving worn out cars but still paying on them. Trust me they would love to buy a new car. Your ads are working. People see the new cars and want to buy. The problem is that they can’t. The new car dealers are sitting on multi-million dollar inventories of un-sellable merchandise. Their flooring costs are going through the roof. Many of them will cease to exist as time goes forward.

So what is the answer? Is there an answer? While there are no letters after my name to identify my intelligence, I do have some thoughts.

Through the rebate and financing schemes you have been using, you have borrowed the car buyers of the future three or four years. They are now out of the market. You need to face that. The U.A.W. needs to face that also. Leasing schemes will not bail you out either. You need to pull in your horns and cut back on you expectations. As the old farmer once said, (I’ll clean this up a bit) you have used your feed trough as a toilet. Secondly, if you are going to finance automobiles for five or six years, they need to last that long and still have some value at the end of the contract. They need to be functional for two or three hundred thousand miles. Finally, you need to forget rebates and just bite the bullet and reduce the price of your product to a more satisfactory level. If you cannot, then cut out some of the frills and gingerbread. Just offer a serviceable product and when you advertise, advertise the price, not a phony lease payment.

Seems simple huh? Oh and concerning your money request, I think I’ll pass at this time. Helping you pay for your mismanaged excesses seems a little un-American to me. Good luck on your future endeavors.

An American Taxpayer

Ron Scarbro October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Very soon now America will go to the polls and elect her next President. If opinion polls are correct, the Democrats will take over everything. Some of you will no doubt be very happy with this result. Most of the readers of this blog however will be very disappointed and concerned. I hope to use this writing to help allay your fears and cause you to re-dedicate yourself to this country and her ideals.

Why are the liberals gaining so much ground? I think the answer is rather simple. There are more and more of them. This happens when the receivers of government money begin to outnumber the ones who pay into the government. As a social security recipient and Medicare enrollee as well as a veteran covered by VA benefits, I should be one of the happy ones. I now receive far more than I contribute. The difference though is that what I receive is based on a lifetime contract with the government and my military service. It is not based on the fact that I don’t want to work for a living. In other words I didn’t just show up on the doorstep of this country and expect to be financed and supported for the rest of my life.

Like most of you I have witnessed and participated in many elections. There were times I was pleased and there were times I was unhappy. I survived them all and you will too.

The American electorate is like a pendulum. It swings to and fro. If it chooses fro this time, it will swing back. The Republicans will gain in influence and probably have great expansion in the off year elections. If the country is in the mess I suspect it will be in, it will only hurry the time when the electorate will demand adults back in power. There is a reality at work here. Somebody has to pay for the excesses of liberal politicians. Somebody has to pay for all the social programs they will dream up. Sooner than you might expect, the ones who pay the bill will say “NO”. One can only hope that it won’t take forever to clean up the mess.

Obama is clearly on record as being opposed to the second amendment. He doesn’t want us to have guns. Well, tough. He and the Democrats can pass all of the unconstitutional laws they choose and that will not reduce the number of guns in this country. What’s the phrase, “from my cold dead hands”? America is armed and will continue to be for the very reason that The Constitution guarantees us that right. Slick politicians in shiny suits should know that. Those politicians should also know that the military of this country does not support the liberal agenda. If it became necessary, they would defend the Constitution and not the whims of a few elected politicians who would choose to ignore the law.

The Congress has an approval rating of nine percent. That is about as low as you can get and the Democrats are in charge and have been in charge for some time. There is the real chance that in the future all the politicians will just be ignored. I also think that for the most part they would prefer it that way. Just let them win their election and draw their paycheck. We are much better off if they don’t even show up for work anyhow. America functions not because of Congress, but in spite of Congress.

When the election is over and the votes are counted, you will see the areas where most of the vote favored liberals. It will be in the big cities, the coasts, and in the Northeast. The balance of the votes will have been cast from the vast middle of the country where the food producers live. Imagine for a moment what would happen if they chose not to produce the food for the big cities. Interesting concept. In the final analysis, there is little doubt where the real power lies in this country.

My counsel is to vote. Vote your conscience and your conviction. America will correct its mistakes. She always has and she always will.

Ron Scarbro October 26, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008


Years ago in my working years I would plan a fishing trip for a certain day or a week end. Often I would be rained out, or something would come up that caused me to have to change my plans. Nothing is different now that I am retired. We make plans and something comes up to change our best laid plans. The difference now is that since every day is a Saturday, changes of plans are usually easier and less depressing. As many of you know we were planning to spend part of the winter in Florida but have had to change those best laid plans due to financial considerations and stock market losses. We will try again next winter.

Since this blog is titled “Wisdom for Living,” I wondered if there were lessons in this for anyone to learn? Let’s examine it.

For some time now we have been fed the Kool-Aid from a sector in this country that because we are America, we are somehow entitled to be successful at whatever we attempt. Success should be guaranteed whether one is planning a vacation, a fishing trip, a retirement, or maybe a new business venture. A college education should be a guarantee of a six figure income. Of course all this is nonsense.

I have found that life is a reaction as well as an action. We make our plans and we prepare. We educate ourselves. We save for the event. We get all set and then something happens. Suddenly everything changes. I read the story of a concert pianist who had spent his life perfecting his skills. He had become one of the world’s greatest artists of the keyboard. People would come from everywhere to hear him in concert. Then something happened. He lost the use of one of his hands. I think he was involved in an accident. Imagine how he must have felt. His reaction was to learn to play with one hand. He went on to become the greatest one handed piano player in history. Life handed him lemons and he made lemonade. We have all heard stories of such events that have caused major changes in people’s direction.

In my early life I tried to operate my own business. I was neither mentally nor financially prepared to run that business but that didn’t deter me. I failed miserably. After that failure I was faced with choices that didn’t please me but I did what I had to do to take care of my family. I reacted by going to the big city and learning how to sell cars. With great assistance from my wife and kids, we were able to get to the other side of a bad situation and have a very comfortable life. We all have to sometimes change the direction of our lives and do something different.

Like many of you, we have our retirement tied up in the stock market. Because of the recent crash we have had to change our plans. We are going to have to learn to live on less than we had planned. We are going to have to make our old car go a few more thousand miles. We are going to have to be more careful with all our spending. Will the market come back? Probably. Will we live long enough to see it? The jury is still out on that. Regardless, life will go on. Our choice now is to face it and deal with it. Hell, it might even turn out better than our original plans. Life has a way of doing that.

If you are reading this and you are a younger person, don’t think for a moment that I don’t understand the difficulty of what I’m talking about. I do. The lesson however is that life will go on. You must react to the hand you are dealt. Remember this, we as Americans get to decide for ourselves what success is. We can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be sad. Trade your Kool-Aid for some lemonade, and Cheers!!!

Ron Scarbro October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008


On July first of this year I decided to do something about my weight. By way of some history, I weighed ten pounds at birth and never looked back. I was raised in the south by an overweight mother who came from a lineage of overweight people. Virtually everything I ate as a youngster was fried in pork fat. Even the few vegetables I ate were seasoned with bacon grease. I have been heavy most of my life. So as you can see, I have had every excuse to live my life as a fat man. It is my genetic propensity you see. While all of this is true, I still have been less than careful with my diet as an adult. I have been very lax in exercise. It has only gotten worse after retirement.

I have tried all the easy diets. Carbs, grapefruit, you name it, I’ve tried it. For me they don’t work.

My first problem is that I don’t like diet foods. I like fried foods. I like desserts. I like potatoes especially with gravy. So how on earth was I going to pull this off? By the way my Dr. told me that if I didn’t lose some weight I was going to have to go on diabetes medicine. At the time my blood sugar was 128. She also told me that my condition could be solved with just weight loss.

The following is my regimen beginning July 1st.

First I decided to consume no more that 1500 calories a day for two weeks and then to reexamine how I was doing. I also decided to write down everything I ate or drank and to be brutally honest with myself. Further I asked my lovely wife, Linda, not to help. I had to do this myself. Any suggestions from her would probably be interpreted by my fat side as nagging. She agreed to stay out of it.

After the first two weeks, I decided that it was doable at least for a while longer. I used Pam spray instead of added fats. I measured my drinks at cocktail hour and cut back almost half. I reduced my portion size by about half. I ate slower. Still I was able to eat my normal foods. I stayed away from diet foods.

My first official weigh-in was scheduled for August 13 at the VA so I decided to stay with it at least until that date. I started at gulp 360 pounds. At the weigh-in I topped the scales at 326 pounds. My blood pressure reduced so much that the Dr. cut my meds in half. My blood sugar reduced by over 20 points. My total cholesterol dropped to 123. My reaction was “wow”, and at the same time “whew”. The Dr. said I was losing too fast and to increase my calorie intake. What???

I am now over three months into this project. My average daily calorie intake for July was 1398, August 1539, and September 1578. My highest on any day during each month was, 1631 for July, 1805 for August and 1826 for September.

I have learned some things that I wish to share. If you weigh 320 pounds, you need 3200 daily calories to maintain that weight. If instead you consume 2000 calories, you will lose one pound in three days. Each 3500 calories represents one pound of gain or loss. A great web site is It has the count of virtually anything you can imagine.

With the above formula, one should be able to track one’s success or failure based entirely on your intake. Exercise of course helps but the real weight loser is calorie awareness. Linda or I prepare most of what we eat from scratch and we therefore know the ingredients. I can make shrimp alfredo with cream sauce and have a good sized portion and stay under 350 calories. The same is true for spaghetti and meatballs. The key is to know what goes in it and to keep portion size down. Also stay away from bread.

My normal breakfast has been two eggs, two pieces of bacon, one piece of ten grain toast with one teaspoon of butter and six ounces of tomato juice. That folks is 406 calories. Lunch usually consists of a salad which includes a ½ cup of leftover meat from dinner and Caesar dressing (two tablespoons). Cardinis is 80 calories per tablespoon. Most salad greens are negligible in calories. I charge myself about 350 calories for lunch. Cocktail hour is usually 350 calories. If I keep dinner under 500, then I’m there. I do not snack between meals and I try to eat slowly. As you can see, it isn’t brain surgery. My next weigh in is October 10 and I will report to this writing my result.

Well today is October 10 and I just returned from the VA. If my formula was correct, I should have weighed 310 pounds. That is precisely what I weighed. All the blood numbers were in line. There was a problem however. The Doctor again said that I was losing too fast and that I had to increase my calorie intake. At this point he doesn’t want me to lose more than twenty pounds in the next year. There are apparently almost as many problems with fast weight loss as there are with being overweight. I am now reconsidering my diet and trying to decide how I will do this. I intend to continue losing and posting my results. If this helps anybody out there, great. Next week, to celebrate my birthday, I am going to have a pizza.

Ron Scarbro October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008


As I am writing this the Vice Presidential debate is imminent. I won’t be watching it. I didn’t watch the Presidential debate either. But Ron, you’re such a political junkie, how could you not watch? Easy answer. The so called debates are not debates at all. They are instead gotcha politics. This one especially is a joke. The moderator, Gwen Iffil, has written a book praising Obama and it is scheduled to be released sometime around inauguration day. She is also a regular on that bastion of fair and balanced viewpoints, PBS. She has a definite interest (money) in seeing that Obama is elected. She will be making up her own questions. Call me crazy but I think Biden will have a pretty easy time of it.

What concerns me is that there are apparently still people out there who haven’t made up their minds about this election. We only have two choices. This ain’t brain surgery. If you are, at this point, on the fence about whom you would support for President, I suggest you stay home. What on earth could one of the candidates say in this televised debacle that would sway you? Or are you instead watching to see if there is a train wreck?

I ask myself, what could Obama say that would cause me to change my opinion and vote for him? That’s pretty simple too. All he would need to say was that he was totally and completely changing his entire political philosophy, throwing off his socialism, and adopting a pro-American stance. That would be the conservative philosophy. He would also need to suddenly and dramatically gain about twenty or so more years of life and experience. It wouldn’t hurt if he could gain a military background either.

Obviously I don’t need to waste an evening watching a TV show to make up my mind. I made it up months ago. On Election Day Obama will still be a one term junior Senator from a predominately liberal, democrat state with little or no foreign policy knowledge or experience. He will still be an advocate for tax increases. He will still attempt to destroy our medical system by trying to adopt a universal health care program. He will still believe that America is an unfair country to him and his ilk. He will still think that American citizens shouldn’t have the right to keep and bear arms. He will still be looking for liberal judges who would attempt to re-write the Constitution rather than their job of interpreting it. No debate is going to change his mind, so why should it change mine?

Handing America over to the liberal left will bring about a financial disaster of monumental proportions. It will take generations to fix the mess that such a handover would cause.

No, I will not be watching this debate/debacle. If I wanted to see and hear liberal agenda spewed, I could always just tune in any PBS program, or MSNBC, or really just about any major network show, news or otherwise.

I have said before, if this wasn’t so serious and dangerous, it would be fun watching the liberals face the reality of governing this great country. One thing is certain, I will have plenty of material to write about. Stay tuned.

Ron Scarbro October 2, 2008