Categories
Journal

The New York Times and The Economist

The New York Times and The Economist

 

In the New York Times this morning there is a wonderful article entitled “The Economist Tends Its Sophisticated Garden.”  As a decade old subscriber I was very curious to see how my favorite magazine would be treated by the Times.

After treading the opening introduction of The Economist, I am extremely impatient to see how the Economist is going to respond.  Being a British publication I am quite sure they will come up with a stinging, witty response to The Times.  Or not, I have never been able to understand those British but I am voting for a STINGING, WITTY RESPONSE!

*Note to The Economist Editors – Please don’t let me down.

If you’re an avid reader of both The Economist and The Times, then you will know there has been an ongoing feud between Paul Krugman, The Times Senior Economic party-pooper in chief and the identity-less army of economists at The Economist.

*Note: I still like Paul Krugman and his articles.  🙂

The formula goes:

1. Paul writes an economic article – Usually that the apocalypse is coming.
2. The Economist, not liking their turf to be tread upon, tells Paul he is wrong.
3. Repeat.

I was aware of the recent spat but doing a quick search, the first article I came upon was from 2008:  Krugman’s conundrum

Recently, things have gotten ugly.

1. The Times – “I’m Gonna Haul Out The Next Guy Who Calls Me ‘Crude’ And Punch Him In The Kisser,” – Paul Krugman

This was in response to,

2. The Economist – Austerity Alarm – Which really upset Mr. Krugman by saying this:

“Mr Krugman’s crude Keynesianism underplays the link between firms’ and households’ behaviour and their expectations of future tax and spending policy.”

Which was in response to,

3. The Times – The Third Depression – Paul Krugman

Boy, things are becoming very interesting concerning The Times and The Economist.  Again, I’m very impatient for The Economists reply to the recent dig by The Times!!

The Times states:

“The newsweekly, a bible of global affairs for those who wear aspirations of worldliness on their sleeves, did not become a status symbol overnight. It took 25 years of clever advertising that tugs at the insecurities and ambitions of the status-seeking reader to help the magazine get there.”

I cannot say why others may read the Economist but I can tell you The Times definitely has my number as one “who wears aspirations of worldliness on their sleeves.”  I created a blog called The Global Citizen for God’s sakes and take pride in understanding other cultures, languages and keeping up to date on “worldly” affairs.  So there is no way I can escape the accusation.

However, as for “insecurities and ambitions,” I’m not sure how they came up with these.  Perhaps when interviewing people who read the Economist, the first reader couldn’t make eye contact but really had his mind set on becoming Secretary of State?

I was first introduced to The Economist by my father who is a very avid reader and whose opinion I hold in very high regard.  I was studying abroad at the time and the international focus of The Economist really appealed to me.  It was a very large breath of fresh air from the American sources of news that focused and continues to focus on one area of the globe.  America.

As I was looking for news sources like this, the only other quality “international” publication I could find was The International Herald Tribune published by guess who??  Yep, The New York Times.

However, with the IHT the formula followed that of many other newspapers whose articles simply report “this happened there, and this other thing happened over there.”  What I was looking for was in-depth reporting with a splash of opinion and The Economist provided this very well.  I wanted insight, not just a report of what has happened.

This does not mean I am not without criticism at of The Economist.  At times, I become a little tired of this group of Brits continually telling foreign countries what to do and that if they did “x” then everything would get better.  Perhaps they are mostly right, but it still feels like an uppity British banker telling poor countries how stupid they are and to get their act together.

My other criticism is that they see the world through an economic lens and it often seems that this is the only lens they use.  I have often thought that I would really love to read a magazine that is The Economist, but strips out a good majority of the economics.  But I guess with a name such as The Economist, this is simply a ridiculous thing to say.  🙂

My criticisms are very few however and I still love my Economist.  I love their liberal standpoint on social issues and I find their publication a very good counter to the current American conservatives.  The conservatives here in the USA now believe good economic management (free trade, low taxes, less government) belongs only to them.  There may be some truth to this but the problem is that they couple this with regression and stagnation socially.  One this first point, I am very much inclined to agree with them but what repels me is their stance on the social issues.  The conservatives are against things such as Gay marriage, Immigration and anything that smells of a “socialist policy.”  To be honest, they have relied too much on their extremest elements which no matter how many ways they try to justify their position, all too often boils down to simple raw hate.

The Economist however, has a greater claim to “economics” and spells out why certain policies would be beneficial in numbers.  The American conservatives just yell.  Therefore, this gives The Economist more authority over anything economic and the fact that they also realize that some people are going to need a safety net really endears me to their publication.

Instead of “yelling” like American conservative media outlets, The Economist lays out a very clear and thoughtful argument to social problems and often supplements these with numbers.  Media outlets such as Fox news however, simply whip their audience into a froth on every issue with their underlying point being, “If we let this happen, America is going to die.”

My regard for the magazine became even stronger when they supported Barack Obama for president.  They were not afraid to point out the various catastrophes of the Bush administration and knew that a change was needed.  I came to respect them even more when they took Obama to task for some of his failings!

This is what every news publication should be.  One that praises the achievements and underscores the failures of every leader no matter their political affiliation.  This is how we do become smarter!

So when the times states the below in their article, my answer is “YES!  I do feel smarter!”

“They’ve always implied that if you read The Economist, you’ll be just a little bit wiser and smarter than the average guy,” said Joseph Plummer

When I first read this quote I was simply AGHAST as I thought The Times (who I also love) had quoted “Joe THE Plummer” who still manages to poke his head out of the sand like a ground hog and say something ridiculous on occasion.  I thought for a split second that the end of the world was upon us if one of my favorite publications was now quot
ing head dufus from the McCain campaign days.

Yet, I was quickly relieved when I read his title being; “adjunct professor of marketing at Columbia Business School and a former executive at McCann Worldgroup.”

*Note, that says McCann not McCain. – Just to make sure we are clear.

Finally, I responded with a quizzical Japanese head tilt when The Times claims in their opening sentence:

“Its fire-engine-red logo peeks out of fashionable handbags and from the back pockets of designer jeans.”

I’m not sure about other countries but here in downtown San Francisco (Union Square area) I would think that The Economist would make designer bag wearers heads tilt so much that they might actually fall over.  I’m not sure what those people read but I can be sure it is anything but economics.

 

Categories
Journal Politics San Francisco

Greece, debt and the European Bailout – How it affected me in S.F.

Before I get into how it affected me let’s do a quick recap of what is happening right now.

I also prefer to keep it very simple.

Greece owes a lot of money and they cannot pay it. This means they have to cut a lot of public services and since a VERY LARGE portion of their population is on Government payrolls many are not happy about it. So they all decided to go burn things in the street and all hell is breaking loose. This makes investors really really nervous and they pull their money away from the trouble or take it out of the market entirely which causes share prices to fall.

It is not just Greece but Spain, Portugal, France and even the U.K. have a lot of debt and this makes investors even MORE nervous so they pull away even more money from the markets.

The only solid one of the bunch is GERMANY but I don’t think Germans like the idea of having to pay taxes only to give it to the Greeks. Wouldn’t you be mad if you had to work very hard and endure hot/cold weather only to give it to those people down south who don’t have to work very hard and get to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea every week?

So Angela Merkel was justly concerned about providing HUGE amounts of Euros because her population would be pretty angry.

In the news today it was reported that President Barack Obama gave her a call to try and convince her to do the loan because the USA is also struggling to get back on its feet and if Greece has issues then it will affect America as well.

I always wondered how a conversation like that would go.

Obama: Hi Angela, how are you today?
Merkel: I’m fine Barack, how are you doing? Are they still drawing Hitler mustaches on you over there?
Obama: No, we won that one so now they are just putting a sombrero on my head and saying I might have been born in Mexico so…………
Merkel: Das macht nichts, those people are silly, don’t worry about it.
Obama: Thanks Angela, say was hoping there was something you can help me with.
Merkel: Natürlich
Obama: Could you please lend Greece 5,000,000,000 Euros? I would really appreciate it.
Merkel: Wie bitte?
Obama: Yes, 5,000,000,000 Euros to Greece please.
Merkel: Ok, sure Barack, I’ll see what I can do. Sonst noch etwas?
Obama: Nope, that’s all. Thanks Angela
Merkel: Bitte schön Barack. Bis später.
Obama: Bye-bye Angela.

So it appears a bailout package has been arranged for Greece. The bummer is that the bailout is borrowed money so Europe is financing debt with more debt. This is not good as many other members of the EU are also in debt trouble.

How it has affected me follows.

In American savings plans it is usual that a decent portion will be in the stock market whether it is through your employer, retirement savings plan or you buy stocks on your own. I have some money in each of these but what really concerns me is doing it on my own. The first time I bought stocks, the market crashed and we had the financial crisis. I held on and got out with a small profit but only a few hundred dollars and it really made me nervous about future investing.

I’ve been following the stocks since then, recently pulled out all my money and am waiting to invest my meager earnings again. Yet, last Friday the Dow Jones Industrial lost 1000 points which is the largest single day drop EVER! (If you don’t know what the DJI is, basically if it goes down by a lot then almost every other stock goes down as well). So here I am with my few dollars waiting to put it in the stock market and this happens!

This is starting to make me feel inadequate as I’m almost too scared to pull the trigger and by more stocks because who knows what is going to happen. If we take a step back isn’t this INCREDIBLE?

Here I am sitting at my desk trying to be a good investor but am getting a complex because I’m very scared to do so and it all depends on a country that is HALF A WORLD AWAY!!

I think that instead of trying to invest, I will go to Greece, get a government job and sit on the beach. If the government won’t pay me then I’ll go burn some things in the street until those Germans decide to pay my government so they can pay me and I can stop burning things and go for a wonderful swim in the Mediterranean. LMAO!!!!

Categories
Journal

The Sky is Falling

They are calling our current economic state “The Great Recession.” As I am bombarded (through my own fault and due to Iphone) with bad news in the media and almost wonder if it is worth reading anymore. I read for enjoyment but also to get a feel as to how things are going to go and to keep a pulse on the world at large. The reason it seems futile to try to get a clear picture is perhaps there is too much information and should there be a slight improvement in some economic indicator the media is all over it. Then things fall again and the media is all over that. It sometimes seems like a roller coaster and I could have just as much a sense of how things are going to go by not reading any news at all.

Instead, I simply need to look around. Living in San Francisco we do not get a true picture of the state of things because everywhere you look you can still find people going out, spending money in expensive restaurants, going to expensive theater shows and so on. However, if one pays attention the downtown foot traffic is not as heavy as it used to be. In my work I also spend a lot of time in high rise buildings and there is often plenty of office space available.
From when I came here three years ago a lot of businesses have disappeared. The video store in front of my apartment went out of business (due to Netflix). Virgin record store closed (Hello Itunes). I don’t know of anyone that shops on Market Street and a lot of places went out of business there too.

It also occurred to me recently that three out of the four companies I have worked for also went out of business. In Japan, I worked for the Nova English language school which was the 900 pound gorilla of language schools and had a branch location near just about every train station in Tokyo. However, due to very bad upper management they went bust even before the “Great Recession.” Nova was a great place to get a foothold in Japan and I am thankful for my experience there. Yet, I knew at the time it was the kind of business one had to move on from and relatively quickly. It was a shock when they went bankrupt and threw a lot of English teachers out of work, so much that, even national embassies had to get involved.

A much larger shock has come this past week with Japan Airlines going into bankruptcy. When this happened it almost seemed as the sky was falling (mostly for the Japanese) since Japan was one of the most celebrated corporations in Japan. When I obtained a job there in 2004 I was pretty ecstatic. This was one of the most popular corporations to work for in Japan determined by a survey of young people and the kind of place one does not leave. I really did not want to leave Japan Airlines but the aviation industry was falling on very hard times and I did not see any room for advancement given the situation at the time.

I really have a vague idea as to why it happened as the majority of “fat” in the company was in Japan. They were in bed with the government for way too long and the government really did not give them much leeway to make the tough corporate decisions companies have to make to survive. Basically, it was held hostage by the government in terms of routes it had to fly and airports it had to support even though they were not profitable. In the end, it took a change of government to force the airline to come to terms with it’s unprofitable model. Couple that with the horrible economic situation there was no room to avoid disaster.

It really is a weird time economically speaking. People of my generation do not have the luxury of taking a job and expecting that they can hold on to it for life. With technological change and the state of the economy entire industries are going down and there are no safe havens. As for loyalty, I do not think that really exists anymore. Companies are laying off at will (and to survive). But this is a double edged sword. The feeling is that if one does a poor job the company has every right to lay a person off. However, if one does a very good job then the company better pay handsomely or the worker would do well to simply move to another company that will pay.

Politically, it is a hard situation because some expect the government to take action while others would prefer the government take no action at all. Both sides feel that if the government would just follow their belief then everything would be better. In reality, it seems that the government is between a rock and a hard place because the ship is sinking anyway no matter which way it decides to turn. My personal feeling is that it should have the courage to do less but this would most likely be political suicide. In fact, even in business upper management needs to be seen doing *something* even if the best course of action is to do nothing.

The Dow has also taken a beating this week due to the unemployment report and perhaps that the government is going to put some restrictions on the banks. Again, this is a tough situation because the banks through reckless lending did cause a lot of trouble. Yet, it is loathsome to think that some bureaucrat in Washington would be telling companies how they should do business. The financial sector is in the business to make money, not to make the world a better place. This is the ugly side of capitalism but the prevailing though is “What is the point of business other than to make money?”

Sometimes, the blame is laid on the consumer and Americans by far really went on a spending binge for a long time. It can make one feel good to rebuke these people that spent too much. I actually heard a commercial today saying that “the big banks got bailouts, but where is my credit card debt bailout?” To me, this is despicable. People spent more money then they had and the taxpayer should compensate them for being financially retarded.

Yet, on the other hand, I was having a discussion with a bright young Chinese woman and really like how she put that situation. “The consumers were LEAD to these un-advantageous loans.” In effect, the consumers trust institutions and the sales pitches and besides, everyone else is doing it! They see their neighbors buying large houses and cars and they want to do the same. When the economy turned sour that really bit them in the arse but how much blame should they be accountable for? Most people just trust the system and sales pitches and thought they really were getting a good deal! It’s almost like we have to keep on our guard, but being a hyper-capitalist society we are bombarded with sales pitches all day long!

A most recent one on the conservative talk shows is the hosts hawking gold. They get everyone whipped up into a frenzy and some people put their faith in what these hosts are saying. For anyone who recently bought gold and are now losing money, it would be wise to use your own head and not trust anyone who gets paid to hawk any certain item.

Again, it just seems like a very weird time in terms of the economy as there seem to be no more safe havens. When thinking about my own future I wonder which industries would be a safe bet but it’s hard to come up with even one. Everyone is talking about Asia being the next big economic engine and that is just fine with me. I feel that I have had a great time in San Francisco but would not hesitate for one minute to work back in Asia again. I am almost tempted to stop trying to plan and just let things proceed as they will. Companies (and people) rise and fall with the tide. In fact, I believe it was Thomas Moore who said “A rising tide lifts all boats.” I wonder when the tide will come back in or if we are all going to have to scramble for a while.

The only conclusion I can come to is to simply enjoy life and being alive and let things come as they may. Try not to think about what the future holds as we are in turbulent waters but instead to simply enjoy the ride.

Categories
Journal Politics

We're All Socialists

For the past year I keep hearing this word “Socialist” being flung around like a 10lb bag of crap. On the “conservative” channels it seems this is an extremely dirty word and akin to calling someones mother a so on and so forth. In the political blogs there is always some comment or other about socialism and for the few of you that actually do read my blog your feelings are already starting to tilt one way or another.

However, everyone can relax because this isn’t skewed to one side or another and frankly I’ve become bored with the whole political drama scene. It’s like being stuck watching a play that keeps getting more ridiculous and they are just pushing to see how far they can go before people walk out,, but unfortunately half the crowd knows they are locked in and the other half are starting to root for one side or the other!

So back to Socialism, before I studied abroad I really didn’t know what it was. I did know the USA was “Capitalist” and ergo Socialism must not be correct. Then, I met all these Europeans who seemed to be a bit more sophisticated about politics than I and half of them were from Socialist countries! One part of me thought they should be wearing all red with hammers and sickles on their heads trying to get me to join a commune.

But, no, they were wearing normal clothing (even slightly stylish) and did not ask me once to join a revolutionary party. Over time as I became familiar with other countries I thought whatever system they were in must not be all that bad because everyone seemed pretty normal. Granted, I did not study the different systems (except Capitalism because I did go to business school) and therefore did not write a Ph.D thesis on the topic but I felt I knew enough and would learn a sufficient amount through osmosis. The point is, I learned that their countries were pretty cool but did not give any other thought to their economic models.
Fast forward to today I keep hearing people yell and scream about this or that being socialist. So I got to thinking, well, what is Socialism? From my laymans perspective it seems it is a system where the Government puts constraints on people concerning taxes with the aim of leveling out the inequalities to varying degrees. In other words, it gives to people with less and takes from people with more.

Again, I do not have any strong feelings one way or the other because I felt that economic models didn’t really matter in my daily life and were best left to people that want to concern themselves with such matters.

But, as this word kept being tossed about at anything even remotely seen as “liberal” I got to thinking that in some way or another we are all Socialist.

How can this be?!! Certainly, the USA was founded on the entrepreneur by whose sweat, tears and brains the USA has lead the world in so many categories! But then, how many entrepreneurs do I actually know? And, how many people do I know that go to work for some business and expected to be paid accordingly for their work?

In other words is it not true that most people work for some company and expect to be GIVEN a paycheck? The more I thought about it, a true Capitalist starts his/her own business and gives the workers money for their time and effort. But you may say, it’s a fair trade, money for services rendered! This is true, but how many of us could say that another could not do as well or even better than we do? Therefore, we rely on our company and try to hold on as tightly as possible so we are not replaced by another. Is it not true that very few people are so indispensable?

More specifically, could it not be said that employers take care of their employees and in their benevolence not fire and hire so quickly? If we look at Unions which were designed to look out for the easily expendable, would that not be considered a form of Socialism? Surely HR managers are aware of image and lawsuits that could arise should they be so careless with their personnel.

As individuals move out of the blue collar work and to white collar then these hints of socialism do become less as they have to perform quite well to keep their jobs. The sales team has to bring revenue, accountants keep the books and so on. But if we examine a corporation carefully how much “fat” is there in that company?

In this financial crisis we do see a bit of Capitalism at work with so many being laid off from their jobs. Another phrase I’m seeing quite frequently is that “people are looking for jobs.” In other words they need an employer to give them something to do and pay them money for their time. Our economy has become so advanced and diversified that it would be very difficult for any one individual to be completely self sufficient. Instead, we all have to learn skills to function in very specific categories. The workers RELY on the system to pay them a salary. For example:

1. The barber needs people to come to his/her shop so he can cut their hair.
2. People that sell guns and butter (economics 101 anyone?) need people to buy their wares and the purchasers need people/things to shoot or to make confectionery.
3. Lawyers need people to sue.

Therefore, if nobody needed a haircut, there was nobody to shoot, confections were not being baked and there was nobody to sue then the professions above would be worth nothing. Instead, these people rely on others to come give them employment.

Perhaps we all need a haircut now and then so unless we want to cut our own hair barbers are necessary. AND if I want to shoot someone then the gun seller would come in handy and should I want to eat cake then the confectioner would be useful as well. The point of the whole matter is that in such a complex economy we are all relying on each other one way or another. In a way, this could be considered a bit socialist as we all need to be a bit social to buy and sell to each other. If we were not social then perhaps we would be stuck inside all the time with very long hair, not shooting anyone and have nothing nice to eat and nobody to sue!

In it’s most basic form wouldn’t the Capitalist go out into the woods, build his own house, hire lumberjacks to harvest trees, sell the trees to China, buy wooden products from China and sell them to his lumberjacks ensuring a wonderful profit! This man would be a true capitalist and everyone else could be considered socialists because without the capitalist they would have nothing left to do but sit inside their house with long hair!

Now if we multiply this scenario by a million and add other employment besides cutting trees would it not be a similar scenario?

As for fair pay for fair work, well the lumberjack had to learn how to cut down trees somewhere. Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a society where either our parents or the state provides us, nay GIVES US, an education. Sure some of us come out with loans which we have to pay off but would that not require a company to GIVE US a paycheck?

In fact, thinking like a Capitalist, it would be much better to bring in workers from another country who demand much less of a wage to cut down the trees and then the Capitalist could make even more money! BUT Wait, THERE’S MORE! (R.I.P. Billy Mays). It would seem that we have laws limiting immigration so the Capitalist cannot bring in cheaper workers and therefore must hire the more expensive lumberjacks here locally.

Well, that to me doesn’t seem very Capitalistic at all. The Capitalist has a right to make as much money as possible and shouldn’t be forced to use local labor. Tree cutting doesn’t take that much expertise now does it? So there we have it! People having their jobs protected to a varying degree from Unions, to immigration laws. So how can these so called CINO (Capitalists in Name Only) be for immigration laws? Don’t they want to make more money? How absurd!

Now changing gears and arriving to the opinion if someone is against or for Capitalism an
d or Socialism. (It would seem to me that one could be both – I am depending on the day and my mood.) All these people spewing one opinion or another seem to have recently obtained them from these national Media types. They watch their show (On Fox or MSNBC ,,choose your poison) get all fired up, and then go onto the comment pages and cause a raucous! But the little devil on their shoulder should constantly be whispering “These opinions were GIVEN to you……..”

Therefore, could there not be such a thing as an intellectual socialist who listens to opinions in the media, chooses which side he/she agrees with then gets up on the soap box and starts singing the praises of either idea!

I can’t imagine that these ideas have come spontaneously into their heads without some assistance. If we imagine a person in the woods who has never had human contact, do we really think they would be considering which is better, Socialism or Capitalism? How about the super professor who has written a lot of books on the subject. Has not the professor spent countless hours in the library studying up on the matter and would it be inconceivable that his/her opinions are derived from the books they have read? How many of the talking heads came up with truly unique ideas to these competing ideologies?? AND how many have stitched together the ideas of others to formulate something they believe might be unique, but in reality is just an accumulation of other peoples ideas!? I suspect that those talking heads are in reality “intellectual socialists” as they borrowed (or stole) from the ideas of someone else.

If we were truly Capitalist would it not be prudent to take this idea of Capitalism, break it down to its individual parts and pay the creators of these ideas accordingly? Perhaps everyone would have to pay royalties to Adam Smith (or his descendants since he is dead.) MAN, what a cluster that would be. Every time the talking head said something their bank account amount would become less! And where did Adam Smith get his ideas from? Perhaps some investigative work into antiquity would be required and soon enough we would perhaps find ourselves back with the Greeks!

In conclusion, could it not be possible that everyone with a job and or an idea, has been given such, and could be regarded a socialist unless of course the individual in question was the outright owner or came up with the idea with absolutely no academic inputs!
As a last thought, and breaking my previous statement that I had “concluded,” I also hear this word called “freedom” being tossed about quite randomly. To be honest, every time I hear that word I can’t help but imagining the commenter as some renegade with a bandanna tied around his head with a gun in hand running around the words yelling “Freeeeedoommm” as Mel Gibson did in Braveheart.

Now I’m not against freedom at all and am actually quite for it. But again, if we are going to go for something lets go all the way and not take half measures. It would seem that in the USA I have to carry a passport and cannot get in our out of the country without one. Did you know that it wasn’t until WWI that people were actually saddled with these things? When I come into the country I also have to answer a series of questions which not answered correctly could put me in the slammer.

Furthermore, I am not allowed to drive my car at 150 miles per hour.

Ok,, forget that last one, I understand that the law is there and in it’s essence says I’m free to “swing my fist as long as it does not hit anothers nose.” Well, what if I want to smoke a pound of crack? I’m not allowed to do that either and I’m not hitting anyone in the nose. I’m also only allowed to have one wife! Who was smoking the crack when they made that law eh?

Now, back to seriousness, it would seem that laws are made to keep society functioning well based on the principles of some party-poopers called the Puritans! And these Puritans came from England! Thus it just goes to show we can blame all the worlds problems on the English. AND these ideas about Capitalism apparently came from some bloke named Adam Smith who was also ENGLISH!!! Man, for such a small country they certainly cause a lot of trouble.

But getting back to Freedom, it would seem there are all sorts of laws derived from England which do not allow me to be free. So what is all this hooting and hollering about freedom? It would seem we are already compromised and just begging for more yard time even though we are mostly stuck in our cell at the jail. If I were completely free then I think I would move to Japan and become a ninja but unfortunately I could only stay for three months without a work permit and the USA would try to take my yen in taxes. So I’m not exactly free with these yokes around my neck am I?

In conclusion (part deux) it seems that we are not completely Capitalist nor completely free at the moment. It would also appear that we all have to compromise a little to keep society functioning and it all just comes down to arguments about how much. Uncle Sam already takes an obscene of our money so why is everyone just complaining about it now? I believe that before and after the Civil War there were no taxes (or very little). Shouldn’t that be the true aim rather then complaining about healthcare??? My healthcare plan is to not get sick, not take any drugs and go to the gym.

Yet those complaining on both sides either want it from the Government or from their employer. Either way, to a purist like me, both sides want to be GIVEN it one way or another. Some just put a bit too much worth in their skills which could most likely be outsourced to India so it would probably be wise to not be so pompous. The entire system is taking care of people one way or another.

Everyone is a socialist.

Categories
Journal

General Thoughts

Once again, long time no post. I’ve been extremely uninspired lately and feeling a bit disconnected. “Disconnected” seems like an ironic word to use since I’m now flooded with information on a daily basis through my PDA, Google Sidebar, news and magazines. Yet, for some reason I feel like this information really does not help me understand anything at all!

While living abroad, I was exposed to so many new things and experiences. Couple that with the grave mishaps (the Bush administration) America was up to I always had the drive to write. Here in America I feel like I’m constantly subjected to one big advertisement telling me to buy something and the wonderful experiences that I had in Asia no longer happen here. Instead, new “experiences” are simply different ways to spend money.

It might be that living in the city has something to do with this. There are always things to do but require sums of money to do. Restaurants, shopping, even Napa involve money. Also, the constant noise, honking, sirens make me unable to concentrate unless I’m at work. Throughout the workday I only think about my accounts and sales opportunities which, while good for my career, do nothing for personal growth.

Thus, my longing to return to Asia. In Asia I feel like I can “slow down,” spend time with interesting people and always be learning. Here, I feel like I’m simply always spending.
To get away from spending I turn to information, the news, magazines, etc. Yet, I feel like I never really learn anything. For example, I’ve spend a lot of time trying to figure out the whole “economic stimulus” idea yet have gotten nowhere. I read the “Economist” and listen to politicians from both sides but in a nutshell this is what I hear.

1. We need a large stimulus to revive the economy. We have to get the banks lending again.
2. What happened to the last stimulus package? Nobody is quite sure!!!!!
3. Will the new package work? — Absolutely no real answers.

As for the hope that the politicians will be able to help, that is fading quickly. I still support Obama but the whole fiasco with Tom Dashle in health care puts a damper on this. I cannot understand why someone who is supposed to manage national programs cannot manage his own affairs!!! As for the economic team, I think Summers will do a good job and there are plenty of smart people in there AND they must do SOMETHING but no matter how hard I try to understand I feel like nobody really has the answer and this package will not work just like the first one did not.

The scary thing is that nobody is sure how far this thing will go. In the news the benchmark is that things will be tough through 2009 but should be improving in 2010. Yet, the reality is that this thing could be very very severe with the entire American financial system in complete meltdown at the extreme end. Even though the probability of that being on the low side, America could enter into a “dead economic period” such as that of Japan during the 90’s.

For me, all this economic talk does not affect me directly and will not until heaven forbid I get a pink slip from my employer. I hear all this bad economic talk but am still able to sell and did make goal last year and am just a bit under this year. Personally, I’ve never been in a better position financially. During the “boom times” I found it more difficult to maneuver than I do now so it would seem I move in an opposite way to the actual economy and what the news is broadcasting.

Even if I were to get laid off which is unlikely, I have an escape hatch right back to Asia where I could always find work even if there would be a big pay cut. For me, money does not translate to happiness. Happiness is reserved for new experiences and “living life to the fullest” which does not mean I have to spend money. The only area where money comes into play is providing for my wife and future family which would involve a house, kid etc.

Therefore, the only solution I can find to actually “be happier” is to cut out the news, ignore the honking horns and not rely on my environment to provide happiness but instead to make it a “mental state.” This can be done but I honestly think it was much easier to accomplish when I was in Asia.

Yet, should I move from San Francisco I know I would sorely miss this town just as I missed Tokyo when in Saigon, and Saigon now that I am here.

Therefore, what have I learned since being here?

1. Money does not buy happiness.
2. I am extremely restless always looking for new experiences.
3. The news does nobody any good and only puts me in a bad mood.
4. I am addicted to information (including the news) and will read it anyway.
5. It’s harder to relax in a city.
6. I really enjoy the peacefulness of my parents porch swing in Ohio but would get bored if I went there to live (In Ohio,,, not with my parents).
7. I like reading the Economist put get tired of the economic angle on everything and would really like to read more from a social point of view.
8. I am more informed but have less answers.

To wrap this post up, I feel as though it is not as exciting as my former posts. Yet, this is my mental state at the moment and it might make good reading for my expatriate/foreign friends. Now, the rest of the day will be spent at the gym, reading the economist and news and playing video games. Seems I’m in a bit of a cycle with no real out at the moment.