Forecasting the Future

Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scanOne of the many secondary duties I do in our business is strategic planning and how it affects us. That might mean that should we buy a new truck, a used one, or let some customers wait, because an electrician just isn’t much good standing around in the shop, he has to get to the job site with his tools.

A service truck these days costs something over $100.000, so you think about it fairly long and hard, particularly if you are hiring new people to put in it. It will last from about three years to seven or eight, so it has to pay for itself in that time. That’s pretty much how we go about deciding whether it is worthwhile to expand.

Frankly in the last seven or so years, it’s simply been too risky to assume anything, and so we, like almost all business has simply tried to get by on what we already have. I know that we could write enough business to support the truck, but the electrician, well, to be honest, I can no longer even guess what he’s going to cost me in five years, because the rules change so much and so drastically all the time.

Part of it is the general economy, part of it is the health care mess that Washington has made, part of it is the work rules that OSHA insists on, and make some operations nearly impossible, part of it is whether the clients are still going to go ahead with their plans, because they’ve all got these same concerns.

That’s us, a little contractor out here in Podunk, Nebraska. I haven’t a clue if we’ll even be in business at this rate in five years, let alone growing. there’s just too many variables. so whatever I decide on this kind of this is basically a SWAG (Scientific Wild A$$ Guess).

Now multiply that by (at least) several trillion variables and you have the problem with forecasting climate change, man-made or not. See the problem with it. The advocates are sure both that the climate is warming, and that it’s man’s fault, particularly CO2 emissions. I can’t say it’s impossible, and I can say it would be a good idea to reduce them, if it can be done at a reasonable cost.

See the problem? In that paragraph, there are at least 4 variables that I don’t have the answer to, and I’m not sure anybody else does either. And the kicker is that they want to spend at least several trillion dollars solving a problem that may or may not exist.

That’s why it’s all government money, not private investment. Nobody who has to answer for the money they spend is going to make this kind of a bet, only those that play with other people’s money, and are unaccountable. You would be wise if you read that as the government. then you add in all the university researchers, crony capitalists, and plain old crooks, who all (every single one) have lobbyists who stand to lose money, if these projects don’t go forward, and you have Leviathan’s juggernaut going downhill (or maybe over the cliff).

Nobody but the almighty can predict this stuff, all we can do is try to react. And here’s the real kicker. What new invention will make all this Stürm und Drang obsolete next week? Remember New York City had a terrible pollution and health problem a hundred years ago, from horse dung, the automobile solved it, even though it created other problems. Technology is like that.

We solved the air and water pollution problems that we had when I was a kid (more or less, anyway). Mostly we exported the pollution and the manufacturing jobs to Asia, now the air is pretty good here but one can hardly breathe in China. It’s fixable but, no one, not even us, is willing to pay the price on everything we buy at Wal-Mart to fix it.

Answers? Frustrating as it is, for you and me both, I haven’t got any. All we can do is live our lives, thoughtfully and perhaps a bit more frugally than we have been. You know, be a bit more efficient, combine trips, carpool, keep your car another year, that sort of thing.

Will it be better next year? I don’t know that either. But I do know that if we leave the creative types in our midst free to innovate as they have over the last five hundred years, it’ s a virtual certainty that it will be in fifty years. And that’s not a bad thing at all.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

8 Responses to Forecasting the Future

  1. the unit says:

    Interesting article this morning. I think even many relatively informed people forget or never knew the expense you talk about. Let alone the takers. Think taker wonders or cares what the big truck with side arm braces, bucket aerial lifts costs to come hook up electricity to my HUD housing? “Should have been here yesterday, man.” Some I’ve seen must cost way over “something over $100,000.00.”
    But the government says “you didn’t buy that by yourself”, and the LIV says “if you have one you are in the 1%. I want mine.” !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yeah, a line bucket new and equipped is about half a million + (mostly +), what I spoke of in the article is a basic electrician’s service truck, not including all the things you need for heavy work (conduit benders and such). It adds up in a hurry.

      It doesn’t take long to have a major investment. My tool pouch is worth about a thousand all by itself.

      And you’re right on how they look at it, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Yeah, I have bro-in-law in Blowing Rock, NC. in the home improvement business and I’m sure his 3/4 ton pickup with factory built in side boxes and panels in fenders cost at or over the $100,000 limit. Another bro-in-law in Hawaii who started out home improvement, now in construction…I’ve never been there but sure he has several or some costing more. Heck our/wife’s ’13 Nissan was like $24-26 thou( and got about 3 more years to pay on). I drive used ’97 Silverado( mileage at 275K, but only two miles to post office, about every couple of days…to mail bills off) None of them kin, or me, in the real 1%. But as you said previously…we are lucky…or blessed is the word. 🙂
        P.S. Sister-in-law there with hubby in Hawaii about 25 years. My wife going to visit for the first time this coming August. Old gospel song lyric…”will you be in that number”…nope I not going to Hawaii.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, last time I looked at a F-350 (single) chassis cab I was over 50K before I started on body and tools. Kinda scary, really!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. John Doe says:

    A while back I went to business school to get my MBA. I was not sure where I was going to go in life, and it seemed like a good idea. The school was notable, top ten, and I learned a lot about business, a subject I was not familiar with because of my previous background. In school, we used a number of modeling tools, one specific being Oracle’s Crystal Ball, to determine risk and effectively model it alongside profits. Simply put, the multiple variables you list above for your business are hardly a blip on the complication radar.

    But there is no reason for you to know that. You could bring in a high priced consultant who could easily determine what the overall utility of a new truck would be, and conduct an incredibly accurate analysis of the community you are living in, but it would be pointless because it would cost too much for too little return. In your case it would be simple, not complex at all, but you don’t need that level of risk analysis, that level of even mildly complex business modeling, or that level of investment in the software and tools. But simply because you are unaware of it does not mean that it does not exist or that it is not possible or useful.

    Likewise, when it comes to climate change, the necessary computational power, and limited number of variables (hardly trillions, but I assumed you were being hyperbolic?). The immediate necessity of enacting some sort of climate protective legislation is hardly a debate amongst the vast majority of scientists. The relative few who oppose action are, if we are actually to consider statistical distribution, a blip on the radar. And these are people, across the globe, who come from different societies, cultures, languages, regions, countries, and economies, but all agree that there is a problem. The conspiracy theory that there is some sort of overarching effort to perpetuate a hoax is laughable considering the spectrum of belief on the subject across the wildly disparate individuals involved.

    And like your analogy concerning your business, they have tools and calculations that you do not know of, nor likely could understand without a lot of assistance, but that does not mean it is not there.

    Rick Santorum was correct, we should leave the science to the scientists, but we have an overwhelming consensus from the scientific community that there is at least SOME problem, and it largely goes unheeded. If you think outsourcing the problem to China is an answer I am not sure you understand the fact that we all effectively breathe the same air. What happens there (and Beijing is a disaster, I’ve been there and you can sometimes not see across the street because of the pollution) will impact here; the Coriolis effect largely shields the southern hemisphere, but up north its all sort of interconnected.

    Your recommendation, “But I do know that if we leave the creative types in our midst free to innovate as they have over the last five hundred years, it’ s a virtual certainty that it will be in fifty years.” Makes little sense given the problem and the global reach. You said that “We solved the air and water pollution problems” but that was a direct result of EPA standards, holding companies accountable, and regulatory action and investment by the government to solve the problem. You point to an already accomplished (which it is not, but that is another issue) and then eschew the methods that brought about that solution in the first place….?


    • NEO says:

      I use simple analogies because they are easy to relate to. The do not indicate what I am aware of, or unaware of. On the truck, you’re right, it’s not warranted. Try to keep that in mind.

      When you are ready to speak with a bit of humility, I think we could have a good discussion till then, not so much.


      • the unit says:

        Reading Mr. Doe’s comment, sounds like he knows a lot about business, climate, what NEO knows and doesn’t, and probably lots more. Well, we had one president with a MBA from Harvard. He admitted he “misunderestimated” something, but I can’t remember what it was. And he was pretty expensive too, Cost effective? A lot of folks questioned his intelligence.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: My Article Read (6-20-2015) | My Daily Musing

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