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Posts Tagged ‘Economic Collapse’

welcome-vegasI’m talking about Las Vegas where the average tourist gambles only four hours in their 4-day stay.

After a couple decades of being the fastest-growing city in the U.S., Las Vegas has seen its growth stall in recent years.  Portions of the strip are dotted with steel and concrete shells as construction was halted and developers attempted to refinance projects and avoid bankruptcy.  Just as Americans did with their homes, casino owners borrowed way too much money to build hotels that were way too big.  The unemployment rate ballooned and for a while the city had the honor of having the highest foreclosure rate in the country of ANY metro area with at least 200K people.

I visit the city often for various work conventions or when attending motorcycle rally’s and recall getting gouged on the rooms and expensive food so, over the last few years I could not be more unconcerned or feel less guiltless in taking advantage of the town when it was down.  Hotel room rates have been slashed and suites that a few years ago went for $400 were recently selling for $125 a night.  And, I’ve wanted to get some of my money back from the card tables for a while now.

An artist rendering of the new Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership near the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign on the south end of the Strip.

An artist rendering of the new Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

But, economic defeat on the strip in this dirt wasteland is being reset by none other than Harley-Davidson.

Mr. Andress and Tim Cashman are building an $18M flagship dealership on the south end of the strip.  You may remember that this is where the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign attracts large numbers of tourists for a photo op.  The Cashman’s plan to tap into the 40M annual visitors and build a 50,000 square-foot, two-level motorcycle complex which will clearly draw visitors off the strip.  They purchased the 5.25-acre site at the bargain basement price of $8M and expect construction of the dealership to be complete in October 2014.

The Cashman’s are no strangers to Las Vegas where they have three other Harley-Davidson dealerships and also control 10 alternative retail outlets (ARO’s) that sell everything in the alphabet with a H-D logo sans the motorcycle.  Their total annual sales in 2012 was about $60M.

Clearly the strip is on its way back!

Photo taken by author and dealership rendition courtesy of Las Vegas Review.

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Senate Bill 805 - Bureaucracy In Action

I’m talking about the Oregon legislature!

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself and should provide background on Senate Bill 805.

In the U.S., 78.5 billion eggs were produced for eating in 2010. The breakdown is that 2.5 billion were exported, 6.3 billion went to food service use, 24.8 billion were processed into liquid, dried, and frozen products and 44.9 billion went to retail.  There are 187 companies who “lay” claim to about 95% of egg-laying hens in the U.S. Thirteen of these manage flocks of more than 5 million and sell specialty eggs under other names. Cal-Maine Foods, the country’s largest egg producer, owns the brands Eggland’s Best, Farmhouse, and 4-Grain.  Oregon (2.5M) doesn’t even make the top 10 producer list (as measured by number of egg laying hens) and the top 5 egg production states are Iowa (54M), Ohio (27M), Pennsylvania (23M), Indiana (23M) and California (19M).  In fact, at retail, more and more businesses and consumers are demanding organic eggs from hens that are either cage-free (hens able to run about inside huge chicken houses but not outdoors) or free-roaming (hens have access to the outdoors for at least 51% of their lives (~18 months, but there are no regulations on the quality or size of the open-air space)).

It turns out the tastiest, healthiest, most humanely produced eggs come from your local farmer’s free-roaming small flock.  Eggs contain varying amounts of 39 vitamins and minerals—many of which don’t even make it onto the nutrition facts label. Some eggs are healthier than others and it’s really all about what the hens are fed, which ranges from corn and soybean meal to a chicken’s more natural diet: a blend of grains and whatever the hen finds by foraging the pasture.  Again, egg nutrition value is determined by the feed, not breed.

Oregon’s Senate Bill 805 (SB 805) provides hens with a few more inches of space for laying eggs, but may well cost the farmers (which will be passed on to consumers) who will need to purchase/prep for the incremental space mandate.  It’s hard to imagine given the current budget issues facing the state how this matter rises to the level of debating a bill that is largely being determined by consumer purchases of the best tasting eggs.  But, I’d like to congratulate the Oregon legislature for displaying so much intellectual honesty, storming the farmland and solving an issue that isn’t even a problem. It’s another “teachable moment” for those who went to Salem for a life-long political career to do nothing.

I’d bet a Grande Coffee at Starbucks that the next bill after SB 805 will be mandating the quality and size of the open-air space.  Maybe they’ll even look to mandate ambient noise levels so the hens can breathe without excessive sound…hopefully no flocks are near a highway where a group of motorcycles may travel as OSP will be ask to single out motorcycles and set up an EPA-compliant exhaust check point!

The point of this post is not directly related to the Oregon egg industry, but about the unending government proposals, rules, and regulations that affect or creep into the motorcycle lifestyle.  Today there is more bureaucracy about eggs/hens and the amount of breathing space.  Tomorrow it’s about how and what we ride and drive. From taking away off road land areas, to the Federal Register re-defining what is a motorcycle, to performance modifications, and denial of insurance benefits — everywhere you look there is a current or proposed law that will negatively impact all of us. Every day as a result of the current economic collapse I get reports about home foreclosures and short sales, but Oregon lawmakers would rather waste tax payer money debating topics on chickens vs. being “compassionate” to the residents of the state.  Is a chicken’s well being more important?

All this ranting and talk of eggs in the morning made me hungry.  Who’s up for breakfast?!

Photo courtesy of the egg industry.  Fun fact: Did you know that 300,000 eggs go to Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs on South Sierra Street in Reno, NV., every year, where they are transformed into heaping breakfast platters piled with hash browns and homemade salsa.

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The Japan earthquake (9.0) rates in the top four with the 1952 Kamchatka quake, the 1960 quake in Chile with 9.5, the Alaska quake in 1964 with 9.2 and the Sumatra quake in 2004 with 9.1.

I’ve visited Tokyo and the surrounding areas a number of times and want to express my sympathy to those affected by this tragedy during what can only be described as very painful times.  Faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other.  Or if you prefer something different (I’m not making this up) someone set up a well-intentioned “Socks for Japan” drive.

I’m not insensitive to the nuclear dangers, but the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami will likely dwarf the damage caused by the problems associated with the nuclear plants, however, the media is now doing a “Charlie Sheen” minute-by-minute obsession with these plants.  According to a number of reports (including the more negative HERE) the Japan situation isn’t going to be another Chernobyl.  And speaking of Chernobyl, next month marks the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl (April 25, 1986) accident.   Back in 2009 I blogged about the Chernobyl Motorcycle Ride and due to recent events in Japan it seems to be getting a lot of hits. Unfortunately.  But I’ve digressed.

There will be repercussions in the Worldwide motorcycle community as the economic impact and stories of the prices we pay and heavy losses are just beginning to ratchet up.  All the motorcycle manufactures are cooperating with electricity conservation efforts and the rolling blackouts to help in the prioritizing of the relief and recovery of affected areas.  For example the motorcycle production facilities at:

Honda: The company reported on some of the more serious damages including the death of a 43-year old male employee at its research and development center in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, as the wall of a cafeteria crumbled. Honda said that more than 30 employees at several facilities in the same prefecture were injured.   The company also decided the following:

  1. As of March 14, all production activities are suspended at the following Honda plants: Sayama Plant at Saitama Factory (Sayama, Saitama), Ogawa Plant (Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun Saitama), Tochigi Factory (Moka, Tochigi), Hamamatsu Factory (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka) and Suzuka Factory (Suzuka, Mie).
  2. From March 15 through 20, Honda will suspend all production activities at its plants listed above as well as at Kumamoto Factory (Ozu-machi, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto).
  3. From March 14 through 20, Honda will suspend regular operations at all Honda facilities in the Tochigi area, where damage was more serious, (including Tochigi Factory, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. R&D Center (Tochigi) , Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., etc.), and focus on the recovery of each operation. Honda associates will not come to work during this time.

Yamaha: reported one employee injured and sections of the roads surrounding their Motor Sports facility had collapsed.

Suzuki: shut down all of its plants (including Takatsuka and Toyokawa facilities) and will consider re-establishing operations after March 17th

Bridgestone:  reported no serious damage to five of its production facilities in the affected regions, however the company has a number of sites in the Tochigi Prefecture, including the Nasu tire plant. The Nasu facility is the sole motorcycle tire production site for Bridgestone worldwide. The production at these sites was stopped, pending safety evaluations and Bridgestone plans to resume production “based on electricity restrictions and other issues.”

Wild Road Choppers: the owner Souji Abe is located in Sendai City and while he personally is safe the damage to the area where his shop is located is clearly extensive.

Motorcycle Show Cancellations: Osaka Motorcycle Show and the 38th Tokyo Motorcycle Show (March 25)

In addition there is unofficial word about the Japanese Grand Prix which was to be held April 24th at Motegi is being reviewed and dependent on the Mobilityland complex and physical structure may get cancelled.  For reference, Motegi is about 110miles from Sendhai (near the epicenter) and Fukishima, where the damaged nuclear reactors are located is about 75miles north of Motegi.

The area of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami produces around 4.1% of the country’s GDP, suggesting that first-round economic effects could be limited, yet at this stage, with the fate of the Fukushima nuclear reactors still unclear, it’s too early to come up with any meaningful estimates of the overall impact to the motorcycle community.

My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and the families.

UPDATE: March 25, 2011 – A couple of weeks after all the destruction in Japan some of the motorcycle manufactures have reopened with limited production.  A good report HERE at Power Sport News.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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White Flag

White Flag

Just two months after the “Ride Home” and a couple weeks after Street Vibrations – it was starting to feel like the world was coming to an end.  Two major hurricanes (Ike, Gustav) scattered riders and dealer personnel from Texas to Tennessee to Florida…all being affected in some way by the hurricanes.  Then as if all those wind “jabs” were not enough along comes this right-handed wallop of a punch with the financial/stock market implosion. People tried to shake off the fear, but it seemed hell-bent to keep stumbling down.

To make matters even worse were the stories of people at the end of their ropes and talk of a plan to see martial law declared with certain scenarios or “trigger” points anticipated!  Those triggers include a continuing economic collapse, bank closures, social unrest, financial institutions shuttered due to withdrawal of cash or a fraudulent presidential election which entices outrage and violence.

So, over the weekend I vowed to eliminate all the talking-heads or any negative hyperbole and nurse my pessimistic ‘tude back from the abyss.  I learned a couple of things…first was that the mint leaves (in Mohito’s) are not a vegetable.  Second I learned more than 20 nifty things you can do with Alka-Seltzer boxes while making a “surrender flag”.  And lastly I learned that getting out and enjoying the fall weather, ride the motorcycle or do a little wrenching or [your choice here] is about seizing the opportunity, keep a clear head and to enjoy life.

I doubt today’s rally means the worst has passed, but it feels good to have a day that isn’t so grim.  That’s my $0.02 cents (a.k.a. my 401K balance!)

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