Parkhurst: Train whistles tell me economy's on track
With all the doom and gloom being reported in the news, I started wondering, how are we really doing?
I mean, how are we doing here in Sedalia away from the volatility of the coasts?
When I venture into town it seems to me there is always a flow of traffic in the grocery stores, hardware stores, lumber yards and apparel stores.
Where is the slowdown? If I took all of the headlines I read and hear about literally, I would be so depressed I probably wouldnít go anywhere or buy anything. Maybe it would be a good idea to revert back to a one-car family. (Fat chance of talking Judy into that one.)
Frankly, the only time I am interested in the value of the yen or euro is if Iím planning on visiting one of those countries on vacation. In my opinion spending more than you make on a continued basis makes no sense at all! I think this applies both to individuals as well as governments.
Of course, the problem is once you have something or are used to getting it, it is hard to cut back. Most people tend to blame somebody else if they must give up an amenity or to put it another way, ďThey feel they are entitled to it.Ē
I have been retired for several years now but I grew up in an era where if one didnít work for something, you didnít deserve it. The same theory applies to the various forms of governments: If you donít have the income (taxes) over a sustained period of time, you cannot spend those phantom dollars.
Iím thankful I live in a state where a balanced budget is a requirement by the state constitution. Donít misread me: I think we have the best form of government in the world, but we have become spoiled by our successes over the past several years.
On another front there will always be people who need our humanitarian help to get along, and we as a community should give them that help with dignity. However there is a whole group of people who have gotten themselves so overweight they cannot even walk, let alone get a job.
Plus many companies now require drug tests for applicants. There are those who would not even consider taking a job that didnít pay $xx.xx per hour. I think if I needed to go out and get a job, I could do so. In fact, just the other day Judy told me that maybe I should apply for a job shuttling cars between dealerships. This suggestion came on the heels of me buying a drill-bit sharpener, which is still in the box. I thought about it and concluded: My driving record is clean, I still have all my facilities, at least I can find my way around most of the time, and I am available. On the other hand, maybe I should take that neat tool back to the store.
Seriously, how are we to gauge if we are really on the verge of collapse? One thing I have always used to tell how the economy is doing is transportation. I worked in manufacturing for 30 years. When faced with an increase in production, the first thing I looked at was the shipping department.
There was not much point in meeting production quotas if you were unable to get the product out the door and into the customerís hands.
There is nothing as disturbing to the person on the line as meeting all goals and seeing the product pile up in the warehouse awaiting shipment. According to the Governmentís Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than $1 of every $10 produced in Gross Domestic Product is related to transportation activity. I recently read that in bulk freight, 81 percent is shipped by rail. Trucks and pipelines make up 17 percent and the other 2 percent is made up of barges and air freight.
Of all freight delivered, rail is up 26 percent over a five-year, or 12 percent of the overall volume.
So what does that mean to Sedalia? We are on the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad. If I remember correctly, I was told that more than 50 trains pass thorough our town each day. So how are we doing? Just listen to the trains and take heart ó good times are coming.
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