Diminishing returns is described as a yield rate that after a certain point fails to increase proportionately to additional outlays of capital or investments of time and labor.

FED increasing monetary base is neither a bargain nor a model of efficacy.

Growing up, we would have described it as less bang for the buck.

Shrinking as debt grows…

As we can see from the figures above, our latest forays into Quantitative Easing are showing a lot less “bang for the buck.”

3.4 % on 227% debt growth today compared to 40% GDP growth on just a 106% increase in debt in the 1990’s!

“The simple fact is that the Federal Reserve HAS reached the point of diminishing return.  The economy has grown increasingly insensitive to debt and credit growth.

The returns to extra debt growth are approaching “nil!”  This argues against more rapid debt and monetary base expansion. ” -Dr. Ken Mayland

The data  above shows an extreme degree of diminishing returns. The current policy is severely punishing savers who are trying to do the right thing, and enabling the federal government to spend with abandon, and also risks, as in the 1970s, a runaway inflation situation. Savers are needed to  invest in new equipment that creates jobs… Why save? Why invest?

At what decimal place will we need to define the term IMPOTENT?

We may find out soon enough.

Data and analysis from Dr. Ken Mayland Clearview Economics


But I’d still be careful about what I was doing…

The FAA wants your comments regarding  in flight Portable Electronic Device policy.

The FAA seeks comments on current policy, guidance, and procedures that aircraft operators (ranging from pilots of general aviation aircraft up to and including air carrier certificate holders at the major airlines) use when determining if passenger use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) may be allowed during any phase of flight on their aircraft. “

Read their announcement here PED NOTICE

Why do they have the policy? Here is the current FAA Fact Sheet.

No they don’t want your seat mate to be gabbing on their cell phone the entire flight.

But they are opening up the possibility that real scientific evidence, rather than just all encompassing paralyzing fear that “something,” “could,” “happen.”

In this case I am rooting for the committee that is to be established.

We just might get some “Intelligent Management of Risk” out of this.

How to comment:

  • Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2012-0752 using any of the following methods:
  • Email: Submit your comments via email to vog.aaf@tnemmocDEP
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
  • Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  •  Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

If enough people comment, we might just get to the point that it won’t be illegal to take photos out of the window during takeoff and landing.

Photo credit

A thoughtful response to our post on the EPA  Cross State Air Pollution Rule being struck down from a member of the NTMA group on LinkedIn stated that the court’s decision was “not a single gotcha moment of EPA overreach,” and suggested that the court decision was perhaps more attributable to the party line of the judges appointments.

We were pleased with the comments and accepted the challenge to determine if the incident was in fact “not a single gotcha moment of EPA overreach.”

Here are the facts regarding how the EPA has fared in the courts under the current administration.

Actually, there were 6 “gotcha” findings just for EPA this year.

A half-dozen 2012 moments of similar “overreach, no legal basis, exceed statutory authority”  findings for just this agency!

Given this record, we would gently suggest that the current administration might want to adjust and recalibrate their “approach and overreach.”

Read decisions here:

EME Homer City

Florida Wildlife Federation

National Mining

Luminant Generation


Mingo Logan

And by the way the judge in the Florida Wildlife case Robert Hinkle, was appointed by President Clinton; the Mingo Logan judge  Amy Berman Jackson was appointed by President Obama.

Click here for a  similar listing of more than a dozen  recent regulatory smack downs by the courts across various federal agencies totalling more than $4.6 billion.

‘Tear out’ ideas worth keeping on technical, management, quality and regulatory topics will be the focus.

Introducing Craftsman’s Cribsheet- More Tools You Can Use

These four core subject areas will be represented at the top of the page; the topic of choice for the month will be highlighted and in bold type in the logo at the top of the page.

Craftsman’s Cribsheet will provide all ideas as a one page ‘Tool You Can Use’ – less narrative and more bullet point driven.

We are providing this information, monthly to  provide your team the relevant, valuable, information  to make a difference in your shop.

Look for the first Craftsman’s Cribsheet to start  in the September 2012 issue of Production Machining.

Up five points over last July.

PMPA’s Business Trends Index for July 2012 is 111, down substantially from last month’s adjusted value of 119, but still well above last year’s July value of 106 and July 2010’s value of 99. While our index does reflect a drop in shipments that we expect seasonally in July, the 111 value is highest value for July in this decade. July 2012’s reading is up 4 % over last July, and year to date we are up 5% over same period last year. It is easy to see the absolute value of the month to month drop and be concerned, but our index shows that our industry continues to improve over past years’ performance when considering where we are seasonally.

Industrial Production (IP) increased 0.6 percent in July after having risen 0.1 percent in both May and June. In July, the U.S. summary “Purchasing Managers’ Index” (PMI) from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) inched up 0.1 points for July, to a level of 49.8.

In plain English, “Industrial activity at the nation’s factories remained stalled in July” according to Dr. Ken Mayland, PMPA’s retained economist.

Our index indicates that our shops continue to adjust to the broader economy as we sustain higher performance than prior years.

Over half  of shops responding were scheduling overtime in July.

Full report here.

Yesterday’s 2-1 rebuke from the D.C. Circuit marks the 15th time that a federal court has struck down an Obama regulation. It is the third court ‘smack-down’ of regulatory overreach by the Obama EPA this year.

EPA caught overreaching once again.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia  Circuit said the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule rule targeting emissions from coal-fired power plants “exceeds  the agency’s statutory authority” by requiring some states to clean up more than their fair share of pollution.

This rejection of  the Environmental Protection Agency’s  latest over-reach will

  • Avoid a projected cost of $2.7 billion
  • Help keep utility costs affordable for U.S. manufacturers
  • Provide a respite  short-term lifeline for aging coal-fired power plants
  • Maintain employment of thousands of workers
  • Add yet another substantive issue  of regulations vs. jobs to the presidential campaign.

The recent report of U.S. Greenhous Gas Emissions falling as GDP grew shows how market solutions, rather than heavy handed regulatory dictates actually can  achieve desired environmental outcomes.

In 2011, GDP grew by 1.8 percent, but emissions decreased by 2.4 percent (136 million metric tons). This indicates that the carbon intensity of the economy declined by about 4.2 percent.

WSJ Discussion of Cross State Air Pollution Rule

Busted kitty

Industrial Production (IP) increased 0.6 percent in July after having risen 0.1 percent in both May and June.

This explains manufacturing’s contribution to the U.S. Economy too.

In July, manufacturing output increased 0.5 percent and was 5.0 percent above its year-earlier level. The factory operating rate moved up 0.2 percentage point in July to 77.8 percent, a level 1.0 percentage point below its long-run average.

Capacity utilization for total industry moved up 0.4 percentage point to 79.3 percent, a rate 1.0 percentage point below its long-run (1972–2011) average.

Revisions to the rates of change for recent months left the level of the IP  index in June little changed from its previous estimate. Manufacturing output rose 0.5 percent in July, the same rate of increase as was recorded for June.

At 98.0 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in July was 4.4 percent above its year-earlier level.

The production index for durable goods increased 0.8 percent in July.

Gains of more than 1 percent were recorded in

  • Primary metals,
  • Computer and electronic products,
  • Motor vehicles and parts,
  • Aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment,
  • Miscellaneous manufacturing.

Manufacturing  is up 5 % from July 2011 to July 2012. 

Manufacturing continues to be a strength of the U.S. Economy. The U.S. manufactures more than Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined. If U.S. Manufacturing was a country, it would be the sixth largest in the world.

Fred Graph

IP release

EHS magazine had a great post on the  overuse as abuse of PPE.

Diminished Returns, Diminished Awareness was written by John Olesky.

Apparently John is as tired as I am of seeing everyone wearing whatever they call that high-visibility neon-green regardless of their actual job, hazard, or risk.

Maybe it keeps these guys from getting hit when they are on the red carpet?


I think that this high-visibility neon-green is actually a magical talisman summoned up by the high priests/ witch doctors of safety.

It’s no coincidence that the witch doctor is using magical neon safety green…

Witch Doctor

Here’s a brief excerpt from John’s blog dealing with those neon green vests:

Vest Concerns

Why is it when I look at some construction sites, I see EVERYONE on site wearing reflective safety vests? OSHA, in 29 CFR 1926.651(d), sets forth requirements for workers who are exposed to vehicular traffic. OSHA states that “employees exposed to public vehicular traffic shall be provided with, and shall wear, warning vests or other suitable garments marked with or made of reflectorized or high-visibility material.”

And according to DOT, 23 CFR 634.3, Use of High-Visibility Apparel When Working on Federal-Aid Highways: “All workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.”

These vests specifically were designed for use when there is some kind of vehicular traffic on or near the work site, or if heavy equipment such as a dozer or crane is moving around the site AND the workers will be exposed to the dangers of being struck by that traffic.

So I have to ask project managers and project safety managers, “Is there a danger of being hit by a ‘vehicle’ when employees are working on the 15th floor of a 30-story high rise building?” If not, then why are they required to wear reflective vests?

Amen John. And by the way, they are also wearing them in the store, the gas station, everywhere. I am seeing this neon -green assault to the eyes everywhere.  It’s become ubiquitous.

The proper PPE is not magic. It is the result of proper analysis of hazards at that occupational location.  The guy in the crane  high above doesn’t need his visibility improved to protect him from vehicular traffic.  The roofer doesn’t need a neon-green shirt, he needs fall protection. Guess which the roofer is actually wearing?

Dude- Where’s the tie off and fall protection?


As John Olesky said:

If we did a JHA correctly we would have to ask if the universal use of these vests on site truly makes the workers safe. We need to ask: Does this universal donning of safety vests even when they aren’t needed increase or diminishthe visual awareness for the heavy equipment operator or for the general public driving past the construction site?

It is my belief that the over use of these vests actually will diminish the safety factor that these vests originally intended for both the workers and for the general public.

Do the Hazard Analysis. Require appropriate PPE for the involved employees.

Avoid the if it’s good for one, it’s good for many approach.

After all safety ain’t magic.


Safety isn’t shamanism. It isn’t about magic. It’s about critical thought.

Critical thought- like requiring high visibility clothing- ONLY for those who would be protected by it.

What irks you about the perception of magical safety solutions?

Thanks to EHS Today for sharing John Olesky’s great post.

We ought to provide immediately relevant training the best way we know how, today. Insisting on old school manual training just might be why we are short about a million workers in advanced manufacturing today.

Advanced manufacturer.

George Jetson, Advanced Manufacturing

What exactly is it that we are trying to accomplish with training? Getting competent employees to help us create and add value in our shops today.

Whenever I hear this topic discussed, the battle lines are drawn between those who insist that the applicant MUST have actually done manual machining with the lathe or bridgeport “so they can feel it.”

This argument seems pretty well established in industry, it is absolutely set in stone in Academia, where the faculty, their advisory boards and the administrators are all committed to the curricula, equipment, and instructors to teach whatever it is that they are already teaching.

Chances are,  the first thing that they are teaching is something that is manual and was produced in the mid-part of the last century…

“Ooooh! I get to learn manual machines first!’- Ya think?


I understand the desire to want everyone to have the same shared experience of “cutting metal.” Of learning the “fundamentals.” Of learning the craft the way “I did.”

But the way we learned may not just be an obstacle or difficulty to today’s students, it may be a barrier. A barrier so real, that they elect to go into another program.

Today, insisting that students learn the same way and the same stuff that we taught students in the 1950’s isn’t working.

Remember how well these worked?

Think about how we teach our own kids to cook. When you start to teach your kids to cook, do you take them outside and show them how to clear an area for a fire, build a fire ring, collect and chop tinder, kindling and firewood, light a fire, and then do the food prep?

Is that really relevant when all of us, even the unemployed, have  microwave ovens available in our homes, workplaces and sitting right next to the vending machines?

I’ll bet you start by showing your kid how to take the packaging off the food item, read the instruction for time and power, and then how to  push the buttons on the microwave to achieve that combination of time and temperature.

I push the buttons and my food is ready.

Imagine if every cooking class started with chopping wood, building the fire, killing and butchering the meat, etc., etc..

“The first thing you need to learn to cook , son is …”

I am not asking for us to lower our standards for professionalism, math literacy, or safety.

Is insisting on teaching them exactly the way that we taught Fred Flintstone back in the day the best way to teach people today- especially people who have always had access to computers, calculators and Microwave ovens? People who are practiced and comfortable at pushing the right buttons to get the right answer, to make the thing on the screen do what they want it to.

People who are comfortable pushing buttons to feed themselves.

The way I see it, we ought to provide immediately relevant training the best way we know how, today.

We have almost million jobs vacant  in advanced manufacturing today. And maybe, just maybe, it’s because when students see the medieval looking manual lathes and mills in the “machining lab” that they are going to have to endure, it just doesn’t seem to be worth it.

They see it is not a match. Why can’t we?

Your potential students say, “you’re kidding right?”

Actually they say something like “WTF- Cr8z Fred Flintstone cranky thing- im’ outta h3ar”  by punching keys on their ‘CNC Phone.’

I do think that manual machine operation is a “Gr8 skilz 2 has.”

But I think that maybe, just maybe, we ought to back fill into it, after our talented trainees have shown themselves and us just how well they can do pushing “buttonz” on the CNC.

Disclaimer: I learned to operate a manual lathe, Bridgeport knee mill, and toolroom grinder at Lorain County Community College.  I took a five day Brown and Sharpe set up class about 20 years ago and am confident I could get a ‘Brownie’ “damn near to print” in a couple of days… <LOL> I appreciate the insight into the machining process that my training gave me. But I ask is it the best and most relevant way to this vital task today?



Boy chopping wood