“It’s a fine mess you’ve gotten us into…”

…Was an often-stated line in the old Laurel & Hardy comedy routines and was usually uttered when it was obvious that the cause of the problem couldn’t be readily identified. Here we are in a situation that is almost as ridiculous. No single “one” is responsible. We are here as the result of a series of factors.

The number one contributor is greed. The president’s comments on capping the salaries of executives managing companies that are getting “bailout bucks” are not out of line. Guidelines for how the money is used should be an integral part of the process. When you think about it you have to wonder why this has to be discussed. People smart enough to run and manage multi-million dollar companies should be able to figure this out on their own.

Don’t misunderstand; I definitely believe in capitalism, the free enterprise system, profits and big fat salaries but there is a point when salaries and golden parachutes can be excessive. When it’s our tax dollars bailing out these companies we do have a right in knowing how the money is going to be used. It’s about time that someone dictates some guidelines.

It appears that the Stimulus Package is once again being tied in knots. According to the New York Times, a Senate amendment that would have added $25 billion to the economic stimulus package for infrastructure work failed to pass. However, money for medical research and tax incentives for car buyers pushed the cost of the stimulus package above $900 billion in a version of the bill now being worked on in the Senate. Senate Republicans, who have called for more tax breaks and less spending, are expected to add amendments later this week.

Another hurdle that needs to be cleared is the requirement regarding the source of materials and supplies used in these projects. Again, I am in favor of using as high a percentage of domestic-sourced materials and supplies as is humanly and realistically possible. This issue needs to be addressed carefully and in such a way that we don’t end up boxing ourselves into a corner.

You’re probably wondering how things are at the World of Concrete in Las Vegas. Friends on the floor are saying that while the number of attendees, as compared to last year, is down the quality is good. One manufacturer commented that they had done more business in the first day of the show than they had done during the entire show last year.

Contractors attending the show are all commenting that they’re ready to buy but can’t get financing; that money has become extremely tight. No surprise. This has been the case for some time now. Hmmm… makes you wonder why some of those “bailout bucks” haven’t made it to our industry.

What’s new? I haven’t gotten any of the press material yet but people are telling me that the most significant equipment changes are upgrades as a result of meeting Tier 3 requirements.

What’s on the agenda for tomorrow, Thursday, the last day for scheduled press conferences? Leading the day’s schedule is Syntheon Inc. with new concrete additives; Dramatic Surface Products, introducing a new line of self-leveling products; Gerdau Ameristeel introducing Z Bar; Clemons Concrete Coating introducing its new super-tough coating; Bartell Morrison has a new ride-on-trowel; Kubota Tractor showing it’s latest entree to the construction market; Thermomass Building Insulation Systems; Zip Level; Ceme-Tube; Pathway Polymers; Maxwell Systems; and Specialty Solutions.

As you can see, the last day is not as equipment-oriented as were the first two but the information is good and can give you an advantage over your competition. New coatings, additives and reinforcing steel could end up saving you money, helping you get the job done faster or eliminating re-dos.

For your convenience, we’ve added a list of Las Vegas restaurants. One thing about Las Vegas is that it is home to some of the best restaurants in the world.

Greg Sitek

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