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November 2007 Off-Road Forum - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on November 1, 2007
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Editor's Note: If you have anything you'd like to say to us or ask us, please feel free to write to: OFF-ROAD Magazine, Off-Road Mail, 2400 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 700, Anaheim, CA 92806. You can e-mail us at

I just received my Sept. '07 OFF-ROAD and read the editorial by Editor-in-Chief Phil Howell. As the saying goes, every coin has two sides. Mr. Howell chastises all who think ill of the Detroit automakers just because they "for generations have lied, cheated, performed shoddy work in service departments, and sold parts at prices that would be called highway robbery in any other industry." He goes on to say that we "need to think what would happen if GM, Ford, and Chrysler went away."

Well, here's the other side of the coin: Maybe GM, Ford, and Chrysler should have thought, generations ago, of what was going to happen when the American public got tired of being lied to, cheated, having shoddy work done on their trucks and autos, and charged outrageous prices for parts and service. If I did this in my business, I could see the handwriting on the wall pretty clearly.

As for the United States economy, I think the U.S. responded well after World War II when millions of Americans were out of work literally overnight when the war ended and the need for tanks, guns, ammunition, Jeeps, ships, and all other military goods came to a screeching halt. As well as thousands of American military personnel that came back into the labor force. Sure, it would be devastating for a time, but our American economy has a way of taking a hit and recovering. I'm not wishing bad for the Big Three - just saying that they made their bed and now they must lie in it. I don't think that it's too late for them to remake their beds, but they had better hurry.George, Littleton, Colorado

George, I wasn't chastising those who think ill of Detroit. The quote you used was about many dealerships and pointed out some reasons why I think people might not like American automakers.

Your letter's insightful. Thanks for writing.- Phil

I'd like to comment on Phil Howell's editorial about foreign and American vehicles by letting you read this:

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A senior management team was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired consultants and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents, and one assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder with rewards like free pens and movie tickets. There was some discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment.

The next year the Japanese won by 2 miles. Humiliated, the American management team laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all expenditures for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses, and the next year's racing team was outsourced to India. The end.

Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last 30 years moving its factories out of the U.S., claiming it can't make money paying American wages. Toyota has spent the last 30 years building more than a dozen plants inside the U.S. The last quarter's results: Toyota made 4 billion in profits, while Ford took 9 billion in losses. Ford folks are still scratching their heads.Anonymous, via e-mail

I enjoy your magazine. I was, however, disappointed in Phil Howell's editorial on Moab (Aug. '07). I understand his frustration, and many of his points are well-taken, but we all need to remember that the Red Rock 4-Wheelers does an excellent job of working with local, state, and federal officials in an effort to keep the Moab trails open year-round for everyone's use. I think it is very little to ask that unless you are a paying participant at the Easter Safari that you stay away that week and allow the club to have exclusive use of the trails to put on its event.

I have been to the Easter Safari twice and plan to go in 2008. I enjoy the town and the event, but I did find that too many nonpaying people show up and seem purposely to try to disrupt the organized trail rides. This creates difficulties for the organizers who, by the way, are volunteers. I do agree that if you are a paying participant in Moab the police should be more understanding and allow nonconforming rigs to ride the roads to the trails and to get around town to the motels and restaurants.

I was in Las Cruces in early 2007 and in 2006 and I saw a large number of people on the trails who were not paying participants. Here again we have a local club doing a great job of keeping the trails open for all of us, and a few noncaring and nonthinking people take advantage of these volunteers' efforts just to save a few dollars. I also notice that many of those who elect not to be part of the group are the ones who leave trash all over the place for others to deal with. I suggest that we all do our part to promote clubs like the ones in Moab and New Mexico that do so much for off-road enthusiasts.

I like your idea of promoting Monticello as another area to go wheeling, and I hope a local club will take on this as a challenge to help all of us have more places to ride. You might also consider Harlan, Kentucky. We went there to ride a couple of years ago and were warmly welcomed to town by the mayor who came by the motel to tell us how to get maps of the area and give us phone numbers to call to get other information. The people in the town are friendly, and there are enough places to eat and stay to accommodate small groups. If you are going to promote the newer areas to ride, Harlan, Kentucky, should be on your list.

Another place that has local and regional clubs doing a great job is Tellico. They put on a great ride in October of every year, but they too are plagued with nonpaying people showing up and taking advantage of a group of volunteers who work tirelessly to help keep the trails clean and open for all of us. At this event, you can see fresh litter and beer and soda cans left on every trail. As the organized events and leaders of those trail rides pay close attention to their groups' actions, we can be sure the nonpaying groups are the ones making the mess.

I like to go and ride with a few friends, but I also go with organized events. I enjoy both, but I would not go ride in an area that had an organized event that week or weekend and not pay my fair share. There are too many weeks in the year to pick one that interferes with an organized event if I do not wish to be a part of that event. If we all do not act more responsibly and help others who are trying to do the right thing, we will wake up one morning and find the only places to ride are on private property at the invitation of the owner or in private, ride-for-a-fee parks.

You have a great magazine. Keep promoting four-wheeling.Raymond T. Holland, via e-mail

Raymond, thanks for your thoughtful letter. For many years, as a member of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, I led the Behind the Rocks Trail during Easter Jeep Safari. I now go to Moab during Easter week because it's a good place to get together with friends I only see once a year, and it's a place I've been heading to for decades (we used to have a house in Moab). Some people go to Moab then, as it's the only time they can go. That the RR4W holds its event at that time is fine. I don't agree that people aren't acting responsibly if they visit Moab during Easter week and aren't EJS participants. Moab is surrounded by public land that can and should be enjoyed by all. That includes hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, motorcyclists, ATV enthusiasts, off-roaders, etc. Easter week is crowded. Those who are there need to work together and get along, whether they like the other groups or not. Those who don't like the crowds should take our advice and go somewhere else. Thanks for the suggestions, by the way.

Now, Raymond, this doesn't have much to do with your letter, but it's a point I'd like to make: We need to act responsibly off-road. Acting responsibly and doing the right thing does not mean lying down and caving in to those who try to enforce laws that don't exist. It seems that the only time off-roaders are "working with" others is when we let them take away more roads and trails in the backcountry. Any person or group that tries to keep anyone else off public land for any reason needs to be fought, not appeased. In the fight for land access, the only people compromising, meeting others halfway, or appeasing are us. Those who would keep us off public land aren't compromising, and they're winning. If they knew they'd get bloody noses every time a closure was proposed, maybe they'd think twice before acting. The enemy is no longer just green groups or enviro-Nazis: Some in our own community want to control everything we do and limit access to a few elite people (them) or types of vehicles. Thanks again.- Phil

Phil, I just now read Off-Road Notes in the August '07 issue and I commend you. Say it like it is, name names, and be right. Great job calling out the Red Rock 4-Wheelers to control its ranks and keep Moab open for all to enjoy without being harassed.

Also, local law enforcement there and elsewhere needs to get back to a "protect and serve" policy of days past rather than merely creating income. Four-wheeling has changed little over the years - it's the attitudes toward four-wheeling that have become the problem.Jeff Mello, via e-mail

Jeff, those in Moab who support off-road enthusiast visitation need to make themselves heard to overpower those who want to close the place down. Runaway enforcement of laws that don't exist and the in-your-face attitude of many law enforcement officers and rangers in Moab during Easter week need to go away. I've found that most of the attitude and problems came from officers and rangers imported to help that week. Most of the local Moab law enforcement didn't seem to like what was going on either.Good to hear from you and thanks for writing.- Phil

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