EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an opinion piece written by Jim Krumel of The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)
At the peak of General Motors' dominance in 1953, the automaker's president, Charles Wilson, went before Congress and declared, "What was good for the country was good for GM and vice versa."
Later, those who are in charge of rewriting history put some polish on Wilson's statement and came up with the catchier, "As General Motors goes, so goes America."
Whatever words were exactly spoken by Wilson are immaterial. The simple fact is that for the next 70 years, that statement would turn out to be quite an economic indicator. When the auto industry flexed its muscles, the well-being of the country smiled. When it frowned, America went toe-to-toe with ugliness.
But nothing is sacred in these times of change, and some now believe the GM barometer should be replaced by ... gulp ... the "Wal-Mart factor."
Last week, the nation's largest retailer burped out loud, sending the economic gurus into a tizzy. The experts since have been debating if what they heard was just an impolite belch or some sort of warning siren.
It all started with a report that Wal-Mart will be cutting merchandise orders for the second straight quarter, something that has been unheard of from the retail giant the past two decades.
Wal-Mart says it's because consumers are spending less freely than it projected. It also admitted the company has lost some sales because it doesn't have enough workers in stores to keep shelves adequately stocked.
Reuters News Service reported the back room aisles of some stores are so stuffed with Christmas decoration that the merchandise is being plopped down on the sales floor wherever there's an open space.
Any way you cut it -- an economic downturn or a sloppily run retailer -- it's turning into a big mess before the holiday season.
ROSES AND THORNS: A graphic artist hits a home run with trips to Wrigley Field and the Rose Garden.
Rose: To Brandon Ort, of New Bremen, who designed the winning logo for the Chicago Cubs' 100-year Celebration of Wrigley Field. The design will be featured as a patch on the team's home uniforms next season and on a variety of items, including collectible memorabilia and commemorative baseballs. Ort works at Crown Equipment and has a freelance graphics business on the side.
Rose: To Sarah Baumgartner, a freshman at Pandora-Gilboa schools. She placed second in the nation in the Modern Woodmen of America's National School Speech Contest. This year's topic was "A person who has overcome ..."
Rose: To David Collins, director of the Allen County Chapter of the American Red Cross. All that paperwork he submitted to General Motors paid off when the automaker donated a 2012 Traverse sport utility vehicle to the agency.
Thorn: To Victor Anaya, of Lima. He violated the terms of his probation when police found him out driving at 4:30 a.m. Anaya was released five years early from a 10-year prison term when he drove a vehicle while drunk and ended up killing three people.
Thorn: A $10,000 payment the city of Lima made to the Humane Society of Allen County is being underutilized. The funds were granted to combat Lima's feral cat problem. Cat Kouns Born, of the Humane Society, said she is frustrated because the agency trained volunteers to help trap the cats. Meanwhile, Lima City Councilor Teresa Adams said people in her ward were trained but never contacted to help.
PARTING SHOT: A Democrat is a person who sees a glass partially filled and says, "This glass is half full!" A Republican is a person who sees the same glass and says, "Hey! Who's been drinking my water?"
©2013 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)
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