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franklin county times

New year can’t escape old issues

By Dan Mueller / For the FCT

I have to tell you, my first Christmas in Franklin County was a very happy one. I enjoyed the environment and shopping local stores.

At this time of year, we reflect on the past and try to make sense of what happened and how to make things a little better in the new year. The advent season leading up to Christmas helps put these things in the forefront of my mind. In my business, it is called continuous improvement. So, here are some random – well, maybe not so random – thoughts on the past year.

Let’s start with the big one: COVID. The headlines run the whole spectrum; maybe there is some truth in the middle of all this noise.

While Linda and I are both vaccinated with booster shots, that is our choice because through our jobs, we are exposed to a large number of different folks. We wear masks when practical; if we become carriers, we don’t want to spread it any further. We are wearing our masks for you.

If you choose to vaccinate or not, or wear a mask or not, that’s fine. You know your situation and have to make the best decision you can with the information available.

Let’s make a deal: I’ll not cast aspersions on you if you don’t cast aspersions on me! We are both making the best decisions we can and thankfully live in a free country where individual rights are respected – at least for now.

The Chauvin and Rittenhouse trials garnered much ballyhooing from both sides of the political spectrum; however, they both showed that our jury system is in fine shape.

You are still free to have your own opinion on the degree of responsibility each have. I think both of these individuals could have made better decisions to have better outcomes.

The past actions of those wounded or killed in these actions is irrelevant; whether they were good guys or bad guys has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the accused – which leads us into the larger race troubles this country is enduring.

Black Lives Matter. Police Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.

If you remove the politics from these, they are all true.

God created all mankind in his image, and all are worthy of salvation and respect. To take a page from the Bible, we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

My gluttony, your infidelity, his larceny – all are sins that separate us from God. All are forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice.

No matter whether your sin is socially acceptable or not, it is an affront to God. In his unlimited mercy, however, it will be forgiven if you ask.

I hope George Floyd had his heart right with God and is now in heaven. I hope Derrick Chauvin, if he has not already, comes to Jesus and asks for forgiveness for all his sins.

We must see all as children of God and as brothers and sisters. We must accept that our sin is just as bad as anyone else’s sin, and that is between them and God.

Race has no place in your heart!

Oh, on to something less likely to cause family fights: the supply chain issue and inflation.

Well, maybe it’s not very much less likely to cause family fights: “Higher gas prices are Joe Biden’s fault!” “No! Gas prices are due to a large increase in demand for gas!”

Well, both are right. OPEC+, as it is now called, restricted the production of oil after the world was flooded with oil over the beginning of the pandemic. Prior to this, U.S. production of oil was at an all-time high, and the U.S. was a net exporter of oil.

The pandemic hit, and demand dropped like a stone. This resulted in a glut of oil and lower prices.

Joe Biden takes office as the vaccines are coming out and as there is a general lessening of the pandemic in the US. He also makes several policy decisions affecting the future production of oil.

The reduction in pandemic fears results in increased demand, after many wells have been capped because of the low demand.

So, increased demand coupled with fear that Biden’s policies will hurt future oil production caused prices to jump.

So – partly Biden’s fault. Partly OPEC+’s fault, but that was intentional.

Supply chain issues: The pandemic strained the global supply chain to its breaking point. I have spoken about supply chain issues in previous columns. So many things have to go right for the global supply chain to function. Before COVID, the supply chain was already showing signs of strain. COVID broke it. With the increase demand for electronics, there is more demand on a system that was having trouble keeping up before the pandemic – so fewer products on the shelves brought us higher prices.

Inflation is a huge bugaboo for those of us who remember the ’70s and early ’80s. I do not see this inflation as a systemic problem, as it was back then; however, there are some systemic issued leading to inflation.

COVID protocols are expensive and time consuming. This adds cost and time to the supply chain – yes, that supply chain that was stretched thin before the pandemic. This is a double whammy on the supply chain, and it will cost money to fix it.

The Suez and Panama canals are overworked, and the largest inter-ocean carriers have outgrown these 10-plus-year-old canals.

Well. Let’s make more products in the U.S.!

America used to be a manufacturing powerhouse; it can be again. Remember that China and the Orient did not become manufacturing powerhouses overnight; thus, it will take time to bring that back to the U.S.

Apple, under pressure to make a product in the U.S., built a tablet in Texas. The tiny, yet precise, screws needed to assemble the internal parts are made by the millions in Southeast Asia. There was a local manufacturer capable of making the screws but not in the mass quantities needed for this product. So, Apple had to source the screws from overseas.

This is a step in the right direction, and with more manufacturers building in the U.S., these support manufactures will relocate back home.

We need to pressure manufacturers to do that by selecting Made In USA goods as often as we can. No, you cannot buy a lot of electronics that are American made, but the more you make that choice, the more businesses will work to fulfill that need.

I love life here in Franklin County. We need to preserve it.

As the saying goes, “Think Global, Buy Local.”

Go to the Big Star rather than Walmart for food; the fruit trays are the best! Go to Green’s Dependable Hardware instead of going to Lowe’s. Support our local restaurants over the chains. Subscribe to the local papers and support the advertisers in them.

Keep Franklin County strong!

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