Forum: Looking Good in 2011

Today’s Machining World Archives March 2011 Volume 07 Issue 02

Note: Harrold Vonage lives in Silicon Valley and is our unofficial Mennonite historian.

Your piece on 2011 really got my attention! I attempt part-time machine sales and recently called on a number of successful 15–200 man shops and I was amazed. They were producing flat out! They were purchasing large horizontal cells, new and used, acquiring nearly new buildings from short sales, and renting additional space! Today dealers cannot find enough products. They completed 2010 in great shape and the year is becoming a barnburner right out of the blocks.

In October I toured Ukraine and Crimea. My ancestors, the Mennonites, were invited by Catherine the Great to develop the Steppes of Ukraine to Agriculture in 1788. It became the breadbasket of Europe; 7-8 story flour mills, large factories, employee housing; they became a state within a state, virtually self-governed. One of the large flourmills is still functioning. Stalin and WWII ended it. The remaining 40,000 inhabitants (only 35 percent of families had fathers) walked to Europe in 1943. In 1945, when they arrived and lacked proper documents they were repatriated to Russia. You can imagine what happened to them. No country would accept them except Paraguay. They were shipped to the Chacho, the “green hell.”

Today they provide most of the dairy products and meat to Paraguay and they operate a successful leprosy hospital. Our history has some parallels to the Jewish holocaust on a smaller scale. We are a smaller ethnic group. Thousands were dispossessed and slaughtered. My people left for America in 1874, they were the lucky ones. The entire village of Alexanderwohl migrated in 1874 to the Newton, Kan., area bringing “Turkey hard red winter” wheat seed with them and subsequently established the winter wheat industry in America.

All my business friends and dealers know about your magazine and read it. Keep up the good work.

Harold A. Voshage

A Waste of Money

In response to your blog about upgrading train service throughout the country, you’re so right, Lloyd. U.S. trains are decidedly third-rate, and there is no point in spending a lot of money to improve them to second-class. Intercity train travel is fun, I suppose, if you can “take it as it comes,” if you don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, and don’t mind sharing your ride with rude or noisy fellow travelers.

It’s true, highways and airways became superior to rail travel largely by government subsidy. But that was then and this is now. I see no reason to repeat the mistake with high-speed trains.

High-speed train travel is the shimmering chimera pursued by big-government and make-no-small-plans people who thrive on spending other people’s money on grand social engineering projects. Make no mistake, that’s what “high speed rail” is all about. Its people who don’t want, need or value independence in their transportation instructing the rest of us how we should travel. Telling us, as usual, that they know better than us how we should move around. And they’re prepared to spend a lot of our money to prove it to us. They say, “Let’s be environmentally aware, let’s be part of a community of travelers instead of antisocial drivers, let’s pretend we’re making a difference. And for God’s sake let’s do what the Europeans do; they’ve really got it going on.” Pay no attention to spending more billions that we don’t have on a system that very few American’s will use.

Question: Who besides a rail fan will ride on a train for three or four hours on an inconvenient schedule when you can fly from Chicago Midway to St. Louis in little more than an hour, almost any time you want, for around a hundred bucks?

Richard Rudy

It’s Gonna Burst

In response to your predictions for 2011 from the Nov/Dec issue “Swarf,” I’m with you, Lloyd. A lot of investment banks and equity groups are growing tired of sitting on the trillions of dollars in cash reserves they’ve got laying around. Now that the Republicans are gaining ground and the tax break issue is resolved (sort of), natural human impatience will prevail. I’ve been telling people the same thing, spring 2011 will burst. Now would be a good time to position yourself into a few choice stocks.


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