Just Say No

Posted on January 27, 2010
Filed Under Mundane | Comments Off on Just Say No

Years ago my credit card company sent me an offer–more of a notice, if I recall–that my card was going to be converted to a “Business” card. (Yes, in fact I still have the notice from July 2006 giving me the choice to decline the conversion pending on my account, and emphatically stating I had nothing to lose and lots to gain.)

Things have been going along fine since then until more or less recently when I decided to get another card from a different company. They did not offer me very much credit at all which I thought was odd, but I figured they were nervous because of some recent changes in my residency and let it be while I dutifully paid bills, remained employed, and kept a single place of residence. After a little while I asked for a credit line increase, which was declined.

I asked again recently and I got a very sparing increase. So I looked up one of those free credit reports and found that all the years with my first company, going back at least into 2003, did not reflect on my credit history–only a very brief time when I was a secondary cardholder under one of my parents.

The credit reporting agency allows the history’s accuracy to be challenged so I asked them to verify my information with this company. Promptly, within a few days, they responded by expunging all history with this company from my credit history.

I am at a point in life where I would like to know that my credit is good enough so that I can get good rates on mortgages or major loans, should I need such. Here I find that I have a very feeble credit history due mostly to the shortness of my accounts. And the oldest thing on my account has now been expunged, at my unwitting request.

Today I finally got around to calling my credit company and inquiring if my history could be properly reported. No; the history on this card has been reported to a commercial credit reporting bureau. Okay, I said, can I at least convert my account back to a personal account? No; you would have to cancel your account.

I nearly said “Okay do it, then,” but I remembered that I am relying on this card to cover larger purchases since I have paltry credit on my other account. Due to my short credit history. Bwahaha. I am not reliant on credit cards in the sense that I can pay all of my bills from checkings or savings without a problem and I pay all my credit card balances in full; I just rather prefer the convenience of credit cards. At least it is supposed to be convenient.

So the moral of this story is: Do NOT let your credit company give you a “business” account.

Also, I may have good credit to launch a small business. I wasn’t planning on doing that, but God speaks in mysterious ways.

Nothing Good Can Come Of It

Posted on January 15, 2010
Filed Under Mundane, Theological | Comments Off on Nothing Good Can Come Of It

Having a low view right now of the prospects for my current company and for my potential to develop into any interesting roles within this company. Having an itch to walk away from it and find somebody who knows what they are doing and cares enough to do it right–not just successfully making money, but doing what should be done. Quality. Customer Service. Commitment. Those kinds of things. Nothing good can come out of this place.

And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

The problem is, I never would have chosen this company in the first place. I didn’t know it existed and if I had known it existed I would not have known that it could use someone with my talents. And once I got my first job here I would have never thought my second job would be in a part of the plant that I knew nothing about from my first job. And when I was thinking about the job I have now I would never have guessed that it would be the best way for me to survive this year’s layoffs–I thought it would be worse than what I had before.

If I am master of my own career, it is high time for me to start at least preparing to find another job somewhere else. You always need a back-up plan, you know. A safety net.

“So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and goods.'”

Stop thinking business.

Posted on January 14, 2010
Filed Under Mundane | Comments Off on Stop thinking business.

I don’t know anything about making or selling cars, but I know how to fix all the problems everyone is having, so I will tell you. For free, even. You don’t even have to make me a Czar in the federal government.

Stop thinking business. Just stop. You’re ruining everything and embarrassing yourself.

Toyota made a big announcement that they were going to sell more cars than anybody. Nice move. Now they are eating muda. Who cares how many cars you sell? Customers? Or businessmen?

I don’t mean that car companies can just shut the lights off in accounting and stop worrying about business fundamentals like making more money than you spend. Everyone knows the American car companies are being cannibalized by the auto workers’ unions, through a combination of demands and protections and commitments to past workers. The unions do not have to worry about the company making more money than it spends–not directly, anyway. And a business needs to focus on very simply, very directly, making more money than it spends.

One thing I will never understand is why car manufacturers pay car retailers to sell their cars. I mean, I understand it this far: whoever sells the most cars is the most winningest car maker so the stock market is supposed to favor their stock and drive up profits for executive compensation plans. And there is probably something going on where they get to report the “market value” of their vehicles is so sweet based on the price the dealer pays, before the manufacturer rebates them money. But it’s sick, it’s perverse. Just sell the darn thing for less money. Done.

Into this world of stupidity storms VW, who, according to BusinessWeek, “built more cars than its Japanese rival. Toyota still sells more each year.” If you didn’t catch that, read it again. Did you find the stupid yet? Why are they building more cars if they aren’t selling more cars?

But VW has a secret plan to brainwash all Americans into buying their cars. Here it is (still from BusinessWeek): “VW plans to stretch the Passat’s successor four inches, add three inches of legroom, and sell it for a starting price of about $20,000.” There. I bet that made you want one, didn’t it? Those are just some numbers that you can measure and compare so you can compare some numbers on your PowerPoint slide for your stockholders so they will know you are improving. It worked on the BusinessWeek writer, who thinks that because VW spent a lot of money in important markets and plans to sell cars cheap (no word on whether they will actually cost less to make, or if VW can achieve the price targets), VW is on the road to dethrone Toyota. For most cars sold. By giving people money to buy the car with.

A business plan to sell more cars is fundamentally a stupid business plan. There are lots of ways to sell more cars without getting people to actually want your car, as we have been seeing in these past few years. A common strategy is “Look. It’s shiny. And you don’t have to give me any money for it, until later, when you get rich.” Sold a lotta cars that way, oddly enough.

For the car business to become healthier, and not simply faster moving, car manufacturers have to stop looking at new vehicles sold and start looking at used vehicles sold; stop looking at new models introduced and start looking at the number of years a model is owned; stop watching people who buy new cars ever year, according to their whims, and start watching people who actually take their cars in for repair. They need to stop thinking quarterly business results and start thinking about making the car the most useful for the longest amount of time.

I’ll elaborate more later.

Open Question: Accidental?

Posted on January 6, 2010
Filed Under Theological | 1 Comment

How odd to find the word “accident” in a book on presuppositional apologetics. Cornelius VanTil says,

“For Kuyper the natural, as it came from the hand of God, was perfect. To be sure, there was to be development. And historically, this development has come by way of grace. But for all that it is an ‘accident,’ something incidental to the fulfillment of the natural. Christ came into the world to save, and in saving developed to its full fruition the powers of the natural. Thus grace is not reduced to something that is to be naturally expected as a development of the natural.” [pp. 266-267, The Defense of the Faith, third edition, Prebyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1967]

The main thrust of this is to deny that grace is part of a wholesome (original, not broken) system for the spiritual development of mankind–that rather than an unexpected gift, grace is a pleasant expectation. But I think the argument is lost as soon as begun on these terms.

We have no record of sin until after there is both Adam and Eve. But Paul writes,

“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

If you read this as I do, Paul is teaching that the union of a man and woman was meant to testify to Christ from the very beginning–from before the fall of man into sin. This is of course consistent with the various other passages that speak of God’s purpose in Christ being set before all creation, but I think this example in particular, involving the whole theater of animals parading before Adam, and a wife being made for him from his own side, helps cement this plan of God as embodied in the physical creation from the start–not simply “known” by God in advance, but built in.

So, granting that VanTil a la Kuyper is only trying to get away from the idea that grace is the “natural” progression in the spiritual development of man, I still think ground has been lost in tacitly admitting that there is anything we can call “natural” as distinct from the sovereign, precise plan of God. The man Adam, before his fall, should not be viewed as in need of redemptive grace to perfect him, but that mankind represented in Adam would need redemptive grace is indeed the purpose and design of creation from the very first.

The question is open: do you think we should describe grace as accidental or incidental, even by way of contrast?