| Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014
Over the years, numerous friends and many in my audience have suggested that my ability to forecast future events correctly must mean I’m some sort of genius. While I appreciate the misguided compliment, I also deny it completely. At best I’m simply a master of the obvious, armed with nothing more than 4th-grade math — my primary weapon against hype. Therein lies my sole ability to see what is coming next.
| |Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
In the nine months from the summer of 1890 to the spring of 1891, the families of both the Police Commissioner and Police Court Judge of Saginaw, Mich., welcomed new baby boys. One would grow up to become the famous cowboy movie star, Tim McCoy; and the other would become my grandfather. Apparently, neither boy wanted to stay in Saginaw, much less Michigan. But I find it interesting to follow, in my grandparents’ travels, the rise and fall of Michigan and Detroit.
|Friday, Feb. 21, 2014
Now that we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ coming to America, next up will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War. And no sooner will we end our sad remembrance of that event than our national attention will turn to marking the 150th year since the tragic Civil War ended. Yet in some ways, and in some parts of the South, the Civil War never did end. Not really.
|Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
Selling automobiles has never been easy, at least not in my lifetime. Maybe it was from 1946 to 1952, when the pent-up demand of not having had any cars to sell during the Second World War finally caught up to retail availability with a vengeance.
|Friday, Feb. 07, 2014
In mid-January I was in the offices of Kwik Industries in North Dallas discussing future projects with owner Ray Ellis. Since the early 60s Ellis has been building car washes and lube centers for individuals; at one, the car wash attached to the Conoco station on Camp Bowie, Skipper Brown and I pumped gasoline in 1968. But on this day Ellis was showing me a new location he had acquired in Haslet, where he was about to start construction on a new project. Opening up the satellite map a bit more, he worried, “I just don’t know how anyone is ever going to develop that area,” adding, “there’s just too many gas wells.”
|Friday, Jan. 31, 2014
For years in this column, on my radio show and at Fox Four’s Good Day, I’ve praised the vast improvements in fuel-efficient vehicles, no matter which manufacturer designed and built them. Conversely, I’ve shunned reviewing most so-called muscle cars because they’ve just never done anything for me.
|Friday, Jan. 24, 2014
Next year the first Baby Boomers (born 1945) will hit 70 years of age, while the last born of the three-part Boomer generation (born 1964) turn 50 this year. It’s also been almost 40 years since Tom Wolfe, in a 1976 New York magazine article, coined the term, “The ‘Me’ Decade,” to describe the first Boomers’ evolutionary period. Wolfe said it marked the youthful communalism era’s transformation into one of atomized individualism. In the late 70s Saturday Night Live writer and performer Al Franken found the term worthy of parody, but today it’s not so funny. The “Me Decade” turned into the “Me Generation.”
|Friday, Jan. 17, 2014
Little did I dream, when I sent last week’s column off to be published, that my assertion that some government mandates benefited the car-buying public — as in the fuel economy standards laid out for 2025 — would cause anyone to take exception. But I also said those mandates were critical to the long-term financial health of car companies. Automakers invariably fight to keep mandates from ever taking effect. They insist, as in the case of meeting higher fuel efficiency standards, that they are already spending billions doing just that. Besides, they say, they’re simply responding to the marketplace by making anything less fuel-efficient than it could be.
|Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
For decades when we were growing up we were enticed to save 10 percent of our income for the future. Part of that sales pitch was the line, “the magic of compound interest.” Therein lay our promise of future riches in retirement; a moderate amount of savings combined with the magic of compound interest could make everyone a millionaire in their lifetime. Then came the Financial Meltdown of 2008, and Ben Bernanke performed the real magic for those who had saved their entire lives: He made interest rates disappear.
|Friday, Jan. 03, 2014
Texans love to pound California. After all, we commonly think that the West Coast state simply doesn’t work. Drowning in debt, taxes that could choke a horse, congestion so bad in rush hour it makes the rest of the nation look like wide open freeways, ridiculously high-priced homes, and so on. True, it’s a fact that I know a number of Texans with homes on the West Coast who get there as often as they can. As one might imagine, those Texans don’t say many bad things about that state. And certainly during the winter months of the year I actually miss Southern California.