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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ross Rambles: Filling this space with stuff

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Once again, I'm filling space with short random thoughts because I have no long, non-random ones.

Billionaire buddies Buffett and Gates are teaming up to fund charitable projects, including disease prevention in impoverished nations and high school improvement in the U.S.

Sounds positively heartwarming, doesn't it? Many people will regard such philanthropic projects as the noblest accomplishments of these men. Perhaps it will be for Buffett, who made his billions by choosing the right companies to invest in without contributing much to what those companies did. However, the primary legacy for Gates will always be the technology he developed and the employment he has provided to thousands of workers.

Some years back, when Gates was first establishing a charitable foundation with about a billion dollars in start-up funds, I heard a comment that Gates wasn't providing much money to the foundation, considering all the billions of dollars he had.

When people hear an estimate of a business person's wealth, they usually picture a pile of money. Hopefully, most of the net worth of a wealthy business person, as well as that of the business itself, is not in cash but rather in the value of assets needed to manufacture a product or provide a service.

A business should support community betterment projects in the towns where it has facilities, but I have misgivings about a major diversion of funds from the primary function of a business.

If a company or the owners of a company have billions of dollars to spend on projects that are unrelated to what the company does to earn its money, one or more of the following can be assumed:

1. The company is charging too much for its product.

2. The company is paying its employees too little.

3. The company is reinvesting too little in research and infrastructure development.


A coworker found some inspirational words on the Internet and I've been wondering how I could work them into a column. You may have already read them, but in case you haven't, here they are.

"When I die, I want to die like my grandfather, who died peacefully in his sleep, not screaming like all the passengers in his car."


I've been getting emails lately extolling the virtues of grass-fed meat, particularly grass-fed beef. The producers want to charge a premium price for grass-fed beef because it is leaner and therefore healthier than the corn-fed alternative.

This is a reversal of the traditional labeling of beef, which is based on the fat marbled in the meat. The more fat marbling, the more tender and flavorful the meat is. Now we're supposed to pay extra for meat that is below prime grade and below choice grade, all the way down to the "chew toys for dogs" grade.

I've eaten range-fed beef, or what I assume is range-fed beef. I was in Albuquerque, N.M., for a time one year. I was unable to find a decent steak there. I didn't try out all the restaurants, actually none of the truly fancy ones. Maybe there's some restaurant in Albuquerque that serves decent steaks from corn-fed beef but I gave up on eating steak in New Mexico.

That would seem to be the best alternative to corn-fed beef, no beef at all, or only beef that is made tender by grinding it into hamburger. If a person wants to reduce fat content, it would make sense to eat less meat than to eat meat that is not worth eating.

Of course, that is not the goal of cattle producers. They want health conscious consumers to eat as much beef as they do now, but to have a leaner alternative.

I have recently become a health conscious consumer. I try to reduce my fat intake, but it is not easy. Whenever I go to McDonald's, I try to purchase radishes and celery but they never have any available, so I have to settle for a double quarter pound cheeseburger.