Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The tax refund withholding outrage

News have started to pour in that since some of the states are in dire straits due to the money crunch, they have been preserving cash to pay their bills by delaying the state tax refund due to their tax payers, which is really outrageous. I can understand that the states are in dire financial stress due to their own follies and due to the economy but why penalize the people who gave you extra money and just want to get it back from them when they really need it most. If they are planning to keep it to pay their other urgent bills how would they have coped when they had only received the exact amount of taxes they were owed. How would they have then paid for their urgent services?

And furthermore if people don’t pay taxes on time they are penalized by interest penalties but the state have the leeway of at least two months or so in which they don’t have to pay any taxes on the refund amount. Although I am not affected by the tax refund from the state (yet) but it is really starting to become annoying that why the states can’t anticipate their revenues and expenses and why they have to keep on promising people future money when they know that they will not have enough to pay them. I can’t believe it for a moment that with all the top economists and accountants and financial experts that they have that they can’t predict their cash inflows and cash disbursements. The states know that they can’t raise money by just printing and they have to balance their budgets by law so if they can start behaving like a responsible household for a while, it would be a big favor to their constituents and tax payers.

The Year of Records (up till now)

The Year 2010 has become a very strange year. First it was the record snowfall that the northeast and the rest of the country endured. And now it is the record rainfall that the northeast has endured. Particularly Rhode Island which has not seen such a heavy rainfall in a century. All told for the residents of the Northeast it has been a year of misery and it is only the start of the second quarter. I do hope that we don’t have record heat also since then the year will become stranger.

Due this record rainfall people have been moving around boats in some areas since their houses and roads are flooded. I really feel for them since it is a great tragedy to see your home destroyed like this. But they have no where else to go since nobody is going to buy their house in such an economic climate. For the time being, the only thing they can do is to wait for the water to recede and then the clean their houses and return to their lives.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The rain misery

This time the rain has really come down hard in the month of March 2010. Right now when I am writing it is still pouring in New Jersey. Rivers are already swollen and people’s houses have been destroyed or inundated with water from overflowing rivers. Massachusetts and Rhode Island has declared emergencies to cope with the flood of their rivers. This time people really wish that the rain should go away for a while. Although it is spring right now but outside it is still cold.

Along with Rain is the wind which has really been going on this month. We should call this month, the month of misery and not march. Although I am not against rain as it gives us needed water to avoid a drought but to have so much in one month is just too much. But as they say, it is Mother Nature and we have to cope with it one way or the other.

Learning from failures/rejections and disappointments

As usual I read an interesting article today about how the very successful and elite people have learned from the failures/rejections and disappointments in life to carve out a successful career for themselves. It is really fascinating that the top of the successful people were rejected in their lives but they did not carry that burden on their shoulder but moved on to much better chances. It just shows how much resilience they have in order to succeed in life. I just envy these people who have overcome odds in their lives to achieve greater success.

It is really not the end of the world if you get rejected from admission in your dream (or favorite) university, get fired or laid off from your job or fails to pass a test or encounter rejections in your job search. Each time that happens you should just pick yourself up and try a little harder. I know it can be daunting (I am in the same shoes) but just by giving up you hurting yourself and your family and nobody else. It is only you that with the supports of your loved ones and your friends can succeed in life. You are your own master and it is you who have to face up to your expectation at the end of the day

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Spam story

Every body has been hit by some spam maybe each day or some days. Long time ago (in internet time capsule) I use to get materials of inappropriate content and I just use to hit the delete button. After a while it stopped and then there was the Nigerian money scam which I till to this receive and few and far between. But nowadays I have been blessed that I don’t receive that much spam. Anyway Spam is a nuisance but it is not what people have made it out to be. There are now installed spam filters and every operating system that typically filters out the spam and if you don’t have one then you can buy at your local electronic store and install it on your computer.

But still some spam do get escape from the spam filter clutches and end up in your legitimate email box, but you are not that annoyed about it so you just delete it. Some times my Spam filter has accidentally put a legitimate email of mine in the spam filter which if I don’t read carefully can end up deleted. No spam filter is perfect and spam will always be there. The best way to deal with this kind of nuisance is just to hit the delete button and situation is taken care of it in a second.

On the lighter Side:-Food

The basic human necessity. We are blessed to have this country where there is plenty of food to go along. There are parts of the world where kids go hungry at night for want of food. Anyway this post is not to make a statement about hunger but about food. Every culture has its own specialty of food; the most famous is the Chinese food and Italian foods. But there are plenty out there which are equally delicious and famous in their own cultures. But due to the global economy and immigration, we are able to enjoy other culture foods without even going to their countries (although I have to admit that other culture foods are adapted to their adopted countries). So you will see that the same foods prepared in their adopted homes are not the same as prepared in their original countries.

Due to the special place that we put on our food, we have a channel devoted exclusively for food fanatics. It shows different competitions and locations with their own distinct food tastes. Sometimes I watch the shows because it is fun to watch and sometimes just to see what kind of stuff can be made with different ingredients. If you go into a grocery store, you can see variety of food stuff there which you can choose from. We have many farm markets where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables and they are full of people.

In the future I will talk about specific kinds of food I like.

Friday, March 26, 2010

According to Experts

Have you ever read an article and you come upon a phrase called “according to experts”. Let us analyze this phrase. Any time there is some topic related to business or you can hold onto any topic and see this phrase quite often. Who are these experts and what are they basing their expertise on that they are held to a higher esteem than regular folks. In the economy, these were the same experts people relied upon to base their financial decision and look what happened (no need to go into detail here, you already know what happened).

These were the same experts who say that they were surprised that how the economy went down the drain with the housing market. I don’t understand this what happened to the expertise that they could not predict what would have been obvious from the start that what goes up will have to come down (unless you are in space, where you drift).
Another kind of experts are in the movies and most of the time the cinema goers have proved these critics (or experts) wrong by making a movie mega hit even if they (the critics or experts) don’t like a bit. Most of the time these critics are on the mark but when they are not they stand surprised. Why because human thoughts and actions are unpredictable and the future is no body’s exclusive domain (even if you are expert in it).

I don’t profess to be an expert in anything, I do mistakes and I am wrong quite often but when I see common sense I use it and analyze it instead of relying on these experts to make my decision (except when it is a life of death situation)

On the lighter Side:-Television

A long time ago I was an avid television viewer which had quality shows to watch and enjoy. But then the reality Television hit, which in the start was unique, a novelty and a curiosity. I starting to watch those shows but after a little while I just quit. I really don’t get the reality show part at all. If you may recall, there were great shows in the past which use to garner great ratings and good revenues. Great actors were made and they transitioned from TV to the movies quite easily and found fame but not anymore.

Now the reality shows are stuck in reality without any prospect of achieving real Hollywood fame. They may be on the cover of the magazines or tabloids but just for the curiosity part because of what they are “the reality stars” which means they are real people who are acting real and not following some tight script. There is no action or comedy in them, most of it is all drama and that is it. There are still some shows out there which are scripted and produced and gather great ratings and fun to watch, but for the rest of the reality TV, it is no fun to watch and a waste of time.

The changing face of Television

Not a few years ago, specific channels were showing only the show which they were supposed to show but now it is just plain confusion and chaos. Take for example the music channel which was suppose to show only music videos and things related to videos but now they have changed into the reality show that is not even remotely related to their core theme of their networks. And another music network is showing movies which may have been related to their core themes but it is not purely music. Now take a look at cartoon network which is now showing shows which have live human beings.

The line between what should be the real theme of the network and which should not be has been blurred so much that people don’t care for it. The networks in order to survive are experimenting with whatever will bring them ratings and revenue. There are still some networks which have struck to their main themes and flourished which is really great but for those which are still trying to find their way, my advice for them is to come back to their original theme of the network which they should have been doing and you can also flourish.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Internet Presence is essential

I was just looking for a job to apply to a recruiter and to my surprise I saw quite a few who do not have internet presence. I was surprised that since in this day and age, an Internet presence is essential part of doing business. I can understand if they are saying that they just deal with local clientele but still if you are searching for a job, the best way nowadays is not to go to a library but just open up your internet browser and check out the business’s website.

And it is really not a hassle to make one web site if it is just a rudimentary one. There are many web hosts out there who will give you free web design tools to showcase your business for just dollars a month. It is easier to put things on the web to see than to go out and print brochures and distribute or mail. And also your business gets expanded coverage and exposure beyond your local market. So it is just a word of advice that every business should have a basic standard web presence. It is the cheapest form of advertisement out there which can showcase your business and you can update any information there really fast.

Being Jobless is no fun:-2

You are desperately trying to find a job which pays you something and then there is also a pressure to find a job with health benefits (which only comes with a full time or permanent job whatever you want to call it). Then there are the ongoing expenses and bills which do not stop just because you are unemployed. You dip into your savings (if you have any) and just pray that by time it is dwindled to nothing that you get a job (right now any job) that pays the bills and keeps roof upon your head. This Joblessness makes a humble man out of an arrogant man who things he has the best of world when he has a job. I am here talking about men and not women since this economy has hurt the men most. Although single women with kids are also hurt but the men have traditionally been the bread winners and most women still think (rightly so) that men should take care of the household.

You start to feel the pains of fellow co-jobless and appreciate the people who have jobs. You feel that people who have not gone through the pains of being jobless are just plain old arrogant and highly proud people that you should not listen to if ever they say that they don’t like their jobs. Even if you don’t like your job, just do what you are hired to do and don’t give up hope for a better future for you and your family. Go to school or improve your skills or try to master a new skill while you are young and healthy or start your own business (even if don’t have the money or time, even an idea is a good start to begin with in your lunch time). Just don’t get bogged down in your nest and stay there, you should be dynamic and constant in your search for the betterment of life.

Being Jobless is no fun

Tell me about it. I have been jobless two times (hopefully the last one) in the last two years is no fun. There are no jobs out there in my field (like I very much wanted to be in it) and trying to crash (or enter whatever you want to call it) is the same as crashing a party without getting invited, you are not even considered or ignored (same as not been considered) even if you have a Masters degree in Business with distinction (which I have). It really sucks. Sending your resume each day, waiting for the calls from the recruiters and then hearing that they will let you know if you are the chosen one to be called for an interview is a constant agony.

Apart from waiting and waiting, you kind of feel unwanted and wasted, and you feel that you are not doing enough to find a job (from the spouse standpoint). Then understandably you get nagged (or harassed) by your family that you are just sitting on your bottom doing nothing. In this economy even the most shunned jobs (like the minimum wages) are hard to come by. You call your friends, acquaintances, people you barely know, anybody who has a job to give you leads for your own job and at the same time applying for the unemployment insurance (although humiliating but once you get past it after seeing that it is your money you are getting back in hard times)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


After much thought (Yeah Right) I came up with this name. The classic definition of inflation is increase in the general level of prices. Since too much rise in the general level of prices can lead to inflation. Now my take on the inflation is too much unemployment coupled with too few jobs. The jobs are few and far between even the ones where you seek as the last resort like the minimum wage jobs. It is really becoming difficult to find a job when you are unemployed, even the unemployment insurance which used to cover only 26 weeks now stretches to almost 99 weeks. This is how chronic unemployment is leading to lost productivity. People are idle and have nothing to do but look for jobs which if they have been doing for a long time is a waste of the human resources.

If you are unable to find a suitable job within a certain period of time, then depression and despair sets in and you feel helpless and unproductive and kind of lost spirit. It is such kind of depression that is dangerous to society as the productive factors are wasted at home and the economy when the productive parts are idle.

Being Labeled Again Revisited

I just went to a recruiting agency since I lost my temp job and you know what happened. No surprise here, I got a rude awakening about my prospects of a job in a very specialized position. I really wanted to do accounting but was told that since I don’t have the requisite experience I will not be able to get a foot hold in that area of work. Which sucks because I have an MBA and doing my accounting degree right now. It really makes me so mad that once I have worked in a certain area (not entirely my fault) I have been labeled with that position. The employers now a days want a degree and experience and since they are in the driver’s seat (meaning they hold the jobs purse) they can dictate what they want in an employee.

I am really sick and tired by this perception that I can only do a certain kind of work in which I have experience and can’t do anything else. Well if somebody would have paid my bills I would have a job of my choice. It is just kind of saying that you have dug your own grave and should not have been there from the start. It just makes me so depressed and the only way out of this situation is to start your own business.

Finally it’s done-The New and Improved Health Care

Finally the Health Care was passed by the House of Representatives with Partisan support and sign today by the President. It was a close vote but it did manage to pass and now we will have to see how it affects our lives. The Republicans are adamant that it is too expensive and bad for the country. Well we will have to see if it is that bad but I know for sure it will be expensive because the projections of the bill are just that projections, it can change many times over the course of ten years.

But for all the commotion and time spent on it, we did finally manage to pass it and now we should move on to other important issues like JOBS Creation. I wish it was that easy to pass a bill to create all the jobs lost like we did with health care. But it is a completely different animal to tackle.

On the lighter Side:-Music-Heavy Metal

I was introduced to the Heavy Metal genre by a friend and got hooked to it. Although there are many heavy metal groups out there when I was listening but now you can hardly hear one or two, the most enduring of them is Metallica. Heavy Metal was very popular in the 70s and 80s but it got out of favor in the 90s when rap came and never got the popularity back again. Their characteristics was long hair and loud (very) music sometimes accompanied by unintelligible lyrics. I liked it because the music was loud and I got to shake my head like crazy. But to be fair, the music was good too which made it very popular. But it was popular among the biker and the far out crowds and never got into mainstream music scene.

The British invasion of the Heavy Metal era was the best with top bands of the U.K. topping the charts like DIO, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and also other non U.K bands like AC/DC and Scorpions, Faith no more, Megadeth and more. But sadly now that era is gone and only the CDs and the videos on YOUTUBE are the sources you can watch the bygone era.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

It is being said that the MBAs due to the tough economic situation are going out on their own by opening up new businesses. It is tough to find a job right now and so these resourceful MBAs instead of waiting for new job opportunities to arise, are going out on their own, which is kind of a nice thing. This is the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we need to make America work again and be competitive in the world. But if the economy was good as before, maybe these MBAs would have gone the traditional way of looking to work for some big Wall Street Firm.

Although it is not easy starting your own business when you have your mind set on a job and you are doing this just our of necessity but if these business grow, then you don’t have to work for some company and it can be nice addition to your resume in the future.

I encourage more people to start their own business even if it fails because failure is also an experience that you can learn from for your next business venture.

Coming Back home

I read an article recently regarding people losing their jobs and coming back to their parents’ house because they don’t have much money to be on their own. It is not like they are in their early 20s but are in 30s.Although the parents don’t mind being with their kids but the kids are being a little hesitant since they believe that their privacy will be all gone.

But the fact of the matter is that they don’t have much choice, some are grudgingly happy and some are just thinking about the time when they will be on their own again.
Although it is sad situation that the economy is so bad that people who have held long jobs are now returning back to their parents houses but this is what it is and there is no denying that the economy is really battered out there and whatever news you are hearing about the economy growing, it is because the productivity of the workers is increasing not the actual employment. Most of the jobs which use to require two or more persons are being done by one person, so the employer is not particularly interested in hiring more people and now this health care bill (discussed below) will make their finances tighter.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- 17 Again

This is a Zach Efron (High School Musical Fame) movie, regarding a high school basketball player guy who marries his pregnant girlfriend and regrets the fact that he has wasted his time for the last 20 years. By some fluke he goes back in time to be the same high school guy again and realizes that he was wrong all the time and then gets back to his girlfriend/wife a happy guy. The elder Zack is played by Matthew Perry. Overall a good but formulaic movie. If you did not watch it, it will be fine and you can move on to other finer things in life. Recommended with reservation.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Successes (or not) from the War on Terrorism:-2

As we have seen lately the terrorists have adapted new sophisticated techniques to stay one step ahead in their war against the West. By this I mean, that they have now started to use western educated and born people to their cause (like the shoe bomber, the attempted Christmas bombing, the so called Jihad Jane). It may be just a matter of time before they start to recruit people who live on the fringes of our society. The terrorists hate the West and everything it stands for and yet they have utilized western technology in spreading their cause. They are increasingly using the internet to recruit disenchanted youths, from time to time they release videos, and they use western weapons to spread their terror agenda.

It is thus not likely to say that we are not winning the war on terror, but we have certainly made a dent in their infrastructure. Due to the unrelenting and indiscriminating terror tactics without regard to religion or ages of their victims, they are started to being alienated from the general Muslim population. But still we need to be vigilant, since even if their support has been eroded in all Muslim countries, but it has not completely gone.

One thing I would like to point out here is that even if the Israel- Palestinian issue which they so strongly support and give their main cause of all the terror is resolved overnight, they will still not put down their weapons, since they want the whole world to adapt their ways or perish and in their struggle they will target all the moderate Muslims societies no matter what.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Successes (or not) from the War on Terrorism

Now hear this we are hearing that the threat of terrorism from the people who attacked on 9/11 has diminished tremendously and their leaders are on the run. This is the new assessment from our No. 1 intelligence agency. If this is true than we should be ecstatic about it and reduce our guards. Or maybe not. Although it is true that we indeed had a huge success in targeting the terrorists by our Drone attack policy in Pakistan and also by persuading that ally to clamp down on the terrorist (which they have reluctantly taken on with huge casualties) but we are still not out of the woods.

Although our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq and somewhat in Pakistan has made the terrorists spread out in other unstable countries like Yemen and Somalia. Since the majority of the Muslims are poor in these countries (and other Muslims countries as well) the frustrated youth in those countries have started to believe the propaganda of the terrorists that the United States and to a lesser extent Israel is behind their miseries and are propping up their corrupt governments. Unless this propaganda is rebuked and counter attacked with our own favorable and truthful propaganda, there will always be an attraction among the Muslims youth to fight against the United States (meaning the West basically).

Crunch time (again?) for Health Care Reform

We are back again to the same old Health care reform. I am sure it is extremely important to many people (including me) but the amount of time that is being expensed on this one item since last year is becoming ridiculous. Really why it is getting so much difficult to get this done with. I can understand that it is one sixth (or whatever) percentage of our huge economy. But health care costs I believe will continue to rise no matter what kind of legislation is passed. We can make little or some adjustments to what we are currently having and we may add more people to it but the premiums are not going to remain static unless the Federal Government wholly takes over the entire health care system.

That is not probably is going to happen here as compared to Europe and other countries since we are not yet ready to embrace higher taxes and accept more bureaucracy and red tape in our system. Individualism and independence is alive and well in the United States and people are already grumbling about too much government (but surprisingly not so in the health care sector). As you may have already know that the Medicare and Medicaid system is well on its way to insolvency unless we dramatically increase taxes or reduce benefits (as mentioned countless times by me in my previous posts) and this is what we are going to get latter on in our lives with this new health care bill. I still do not believe that we will be able to manage this bill without significantly adding to the deficit if we do not increase taxes and we will have to do it sooner or later. I am not sounding an alarm here but that is what I am seeing into the future. Correct me if I am wrong.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Great Natural Calamities of 2010

The year is not even one fourth finished and the northeast has been pounded by more snow and rain than in previous years. First it was the record breaking snow that was wrecking havoc in the north east. And now we had enough of the rain that several rivers in the northeast especially in New Jersey have risen high above their flood level stage. Accompanied the heavy rains were Hurricane strength winds that knock down trees and utility poles in several cities in the Northeast. I have watched many areas submerged in flood water with countless homes destroyed and inhabitants uprooted from their homes.

You see it is nice that one has a home near the river when it is tranquil and serene, but when the rain comes, the same river can and have destroyed homes. There are people who have said that they will move from their homes as they are sick and tired of cleaning but there are some who still are defiant and have said that they will clean up, fix their homes and stay put like the people in Hurricane prone areas of Florida. Either these people have no place to go, they are defiant and arrogant, they love where they live or whatever you want to call them but I feel for them for if I have these kinds of situations where your house is flooded and you have nowhere to go even in the interim period will be very devastating for me and my family.

The entitlement big hole:-2

By just wishing it away or just putting it off till the next election or let the next elected official do it will not do anymore. These countries have already promised enough that they will have to generate thousands of times their GDPs together to pay their citizens.

I don’t have to go into much detail regarding how they got into this mess, but now they will have to deal with it whether they like it or not. And the more they promise the messier will it get.

Then we are back to the United States, where by one calculation we have already promised so much of the debt in the future decades that by one estimate it is 500 times more than our total gross GDP and we will have to raise taxes to almost 86 percent (by one calculation) just to balance the federal deficit. How are we going to do it without hurting the younger generation or the older generation or both? It is a dilemma neither of the political parties here, nor in other European countries is willing to confront.

As I have said countless times in my previous posts, we will have to either reduce or sometimes eliminate entitlement (which is unlikely I fear) or raise taxes on the young and also on the old on everything that is conceivable which is now not been taxed. Are we willing to have that nightmare scenario now or maybe later when it will be beyond nightmare? I guess I can never be a good politician by raising difficult and unpopular issues.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The entitlement big hole:

You know in this economy everybody is suffering. It is not just the individuals, but also the municipalities, cities, counties, states and even countries. Today Moody announced that the biggest industrialized countries finances are being watched carefully for a possible downgrade in their ratings if they don’t fix their budgets and finances. We already know that if our debt is more than what we can handle, our rating goes down ( you should try to see your credit scores for one year to see this), but unlike individuals it was assumed that the countries have unlimited to power to generate income through printing money, exports or raising taxes to the bearable level. But it seems that the day of reckoning is near when you can’t do all of this anymore.

Case in point is Greece and to a lesser extent, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. I don’t really understand that with all the best minds on economics (in their respective countries) how they all screwed up with their finances. Maybe it was their arrogance or just plain shortsightedness (with an eye on the votes for the next election) that they promised people things that they knew or just ignored it that let the next government do it were not going to happen. Now the real pain is being implemented in European countries and the people are not happy about it and they are saying let the banks pay for it not them.

Gender inequality in salary:

I have been reading all this news about how there are more women enrolled in Universities and how there women are climbing up the corporate ladder etc. But for all this news also comes the fact that the women make less money as men do for a comparable piece of work. With all the advances that women have done during the past few decades and far more women graduating from colleges, it is still strange that they are getting paid less for the same amount of work.

I for one am all out for equal pay for every one without regard to who is doing the work since the same amount of effort is required for the same work. Although some people may not agree with me but women are as smart as men if given the chance to prove themselves (which they have by the overwhelming majority of women graduating).They have proved themselves in almost every field and the need is now to change the mindset of the corporate world so that they can get their fair share of salary without regard to overt or hidden discrimination.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The homework break:

I don’t know about you but my kid does not get any homework on Friday. Although to tell you the truth I hate homework but for the kids not to do anything on the weekend and do other stuff beside school work sound strange to me. Although I can understand that in the elementary schools there is not that much to work to do. But still my kid gets homework every day except Friday when it is like Party time for the kids. In the Far eastern countries, children get a lot of homework (I am not sure if they have this no Homework on weekend rules). But we should be giving at least some homework to our kids to do during the weekend to stimulate their mind.

The Young Entrepreneurs:-2

It is not that you don’t have to be young to go on your own, but the young can inspire the older folks. Sure the young don’t have to pay mortgages, have families or have too much health worries. But there are examples out there where the people in their forties and fifties have started their own business, maybe it is out of necessity due to this economy or just plain entrepreneurial spirit. And now due to the internet you don’t have to have loads of money to start your own thing. All you need is some internet skills (which I am sure lots of people of all ages now do) and some great or unique idea or need that has yet to be fulfilled.
You don’t have to have a broad customer base to succeed either. If you can find a niche within your own age group or fulfill a need which is not being filled by traditional retailers or website, you can market to these people and see what happens. There is no harm in trying, if you fail for some reason, it will be lesson that you will avoid next time when you start again (I hope) or when you advise someone who is thinking about starting his own business.

The Young Entrepreneurs:

As I have said before countless of times in my posts, the internet has really created lots of opportunities for young people to experiment with their entrepreneurial spirit and take charge of their lives. They are not content with just sitting in the corporate offices doing their jobs. They want to be the boss and not the employee. I read that a young guy age 22 has started a startup internet company and another guy in Russia has similarly started a company which has created a lot of buzz lately.

It amazes me that how these young folks are trying to take charge of their lives so early on. You can also see that they are not the only ones out there with young faces abound in the internet startup business. My philosophy was that to just work for some company and then retire but due to the fact that I have been through two layoffs in less than two years I have come to the conclusion that there is no security anymore in the corporate world.

To be fair, going on your own is a scary prospect especially if you have a family but looking for a job right now is also brutal. You can keep on looking but if you have just a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit, you should go for it and not wait for the right moment since there is no right or wrong time. It is up to you to make it the right time. You may encounter failure and discouragements from lots of people but at the same time lots of encouragement too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Housing Preferences Mystery

Every month or so and even more regular than that we see reports coming out regarding how well or well not the housing market is doing. I was reading a report regarding the somewhat rebound of the housing market in Manhattan in New York city and it just blew my mind. People are willing to pay more than million dollars for a little bit of space (like 2000 to 3000 square feet) with no back or front yard just to be in a so called chic neighborhood of the city. It is really fascinating how the mind of each individual works in every thing and especially when it comes to buying houses.

Although I agree that there are perks of living in the city where you don’t need to have a car in order to buy your groceries and your discretionary stuff. You can go out to clubs by just walking or don’t have to take care of your lawn or clean the snow in front of your building. Every thing is right there but to pay seven figures money just to enjoy these perks and with crammed apartments (to me at least) is just plain ridiculous. But as one of the realtors said long time ago when I was trying to buy a house in the suburbs that every house (or for that matter, studio, apartment, condominium etc) has a buyer. It is very true every buyer has its own tastes and preferences and requirements. But for me I like a big house with lots of space and a huge backyard even if I have to stay in the suburbs.

The retirement funds obsession continued

Another one of those reports bemoaning how the young generation is not heeding the call of experts and putting their money in retirement accounts (401k, IRAs and money market accounts). Well what do you expect from them since they are deep in debt and every money that they bring in has to go either to pay their daily bills, rent, car payments (if they have), education loans (a huge one) etc. It is not that these people don’t know how to save but it is just that they don’t have enough to save anyway. With the escalating cost of health care premiums and prices of every thing going up, it is truly remarkable that they are barely making ends meet. And if you have a family then you should forget about it. The whole notion of saving is that after all expenses are taken care of then you can put some in your retirement funds but people are going overboard with their expenses and they are trying to put their daily expenses on credit cards.

Then these same people are looking for jobs amid all the recession and outsourcing so it is a great achievement that you can find a job where you can save enough to put into your retirement accounts. It is a nice notion to have some money saved for the rainy day but for some folks rainy day is here and almost every day. So instead of sounding an alarm of low retirement funds (and paying some financial guy to tell them what they already know) and advising what to do (since advising is always easy),we should be creating good paying jobs so that we can fulfill all our financial responsibilities.

Coupons Hunters

Due to this economy, many people have started to rely on coupons to pay for their groceries and stuff. Although coupon cutting have long been done but due to this economy many people are taking more time and even going into extremes to get coupons. There are many sites on the internet where you can get coupon easily without waiting for your Sunday news paper to come. It is as easy as printing them out on your printer. This has in turn squeezed many groceries whose margin are already thin and getter thinner due to these coupons. When I do groceries I see a lot of people standing in the checkout counter having their coupons scanned and reducing their grocery bills by at least 30 to 40 dollars. I envy them for saving so much money. Although most of the people let go of these coupons because of the hassle of cutting and printing them and finding them but if you are going to save some money(a lot of it sometimes) you have to make a good deal of effort.

Whenever I get my hands on some coupon I do use them but overall I am not a fanatic in trying to find sites where you can get coupons easily. I should do it or let my significant other do it (if they have the patience) because in the end you can save a lot of money by doing this)

The Fearful Generation

In a new survey (what else is new) it has been reported that the younger generation is losing faith in its ability to juggle life. It is worried about the job prospects after graduation, its ability to pay bills, how to pay for college education and if it can live up to the standards of the previous generation. It was a pretty depressing report to read and it shows the gloom and doom of the young generation (ages 19-29).

What to make up of the report, other than to say that they are not wrong in assessing the situation realistically. Times are pretty hard and it is going to get harder because of the huge amount of debt that we are taking upon ourselves. It is not just the younger generation that is fearful of the future but the baby boomers too who have lost a bundle in the stock market and their retirement funds and have been forced to cut back on expenses and sometimes going back to work. Apart from this the baby boomers are helping their offspring weather this storm of unemployment and the debt they have accumulated. It is all a said real life story which is not being addressed by the politicians and will not be addressed by them anytime soon unless forced too.

The Continuing slow saga of World Trade Center Construction:

There was a loud protest outside the proposed world trade center by workers regarding the slow pace construction of the center. It has been now almost nine years since the 9/11 attacks and the construction has still not been completed half way for the site. In the start there was much fanfare that we would build the site again as fast as possible but the bickering and lawsuits after lawsuits and the democratization of the site has delayed this well intentioned construction to its ninth year.

Although the respect should be there for the victims who lost their lives and for the loved ones it remains a sacred site but to keep it that way will signal to the terrorists that they have won. We should have right away build this site to its original structure to show America’s defiant face to the world but sadly it is still mired in money and politics.

Meanwhile the intended jobs that were supposed to come with the construction of the site and the resultant revitalization of the downtown New York area is still a distant thought. I just wish that things come to a satisfying conclusion and we should build the site as soon as possible.

Monday, March 8, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Music

And you thought that I don’t like music. Well guess again. But instead of sticking with one genre I diversify myself and like music which clicks with me. It can be hip hop or rap, disco (from the old era) to rock and heavy metal (one of my favorites), Classical and kids music, if music is good to listen and to my ears I listen, I don’t discriminate among music genres.

So you say what I am listening now, it can the latest hits or I just browse around on the internet to listen to the oldies from yesteryears. Although I still don’t an IPOD or any other listening device to listen to my favorite music, I may in the future but for now I keep listening in the car or when I am on the internet. There are so many distractions in life now that it is hard to concentrate on the music alone if you are at home or somewhere else where your attention is distracted and diverted. But still I try to listen to it whenever I can. I will keep on talking about music in my later posts.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Pineapple Express

An action comedy staring Seth Rogen who witnesses a drug dealer and a corrupt cop shoot a cop in cold blood and runs away from them. James Franco is his drug dealer buddy friend whom he drags along as they try to stay one step ahead of the cop and the drug dealers. Crude jokes and vulgar language mark this buddy movie with an explosive finale in a drug green house.

Jokes come and go and some are on target and some misfire, although it is a passable and stupidly violent movie, it is not that great as compared to the Superbad (which was made by the same people). I would not recommend it because of graphic language and violence for the kids; otherwise watch it at your own risk. It is a hit or miss movie

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recession and Deficit:-2

And the private sector people long time ago lost their pension plans or it were converted into private savings plans which are not guaranteed as they are subject to the vagaries of stock market and other things. All I am saying is that even with all the cuts and reduction in expenditure, if the deficit of the public service companies don’t come down then we will have to reduce other benefits and reduce salaries since we can’t keep on increasing fares and cutting services to a point where there is no use of these services. Times are hard and we will have to make sure that these essential services are to the benefit of the common people and not make a burden on them lest a vicious cycle starts which can be people will start car pool and find other means of transportation and in turn the rider ship on these transit services will plummet and then they will have to cut more services and raise more fares in order to provide the minimal essential services. Then the people who are using these services will have to pay much more making them think about alternatives and then the whole cycle starts again.

Recession and deficit:

Today the NJ transit announced that they will increase fare by 25 percent and cut jobs and services since they are in a huge deficit. I can’t understand one thing, every time there is a deficit, the prices go up. It is really a shame that when unemployment is high and people are looking for work and are scrapping for money, for most of them the only viable piece of transportation is getting very expensive. And the New York transit authority is also trying to raise fares because they also have a shortfall of funds.

My point is that why that is every time we are in a recession, the price of everything used by common people goes up. Many it is because everybody is demanding more of the same stuff or maybe in good times, the governments spend recklessly and lavishly and don’t save enough for a rainy day or may be because they don’t rein in costs and think that good times will never stop.

You know I am one of the persons who is sick and tired of doling out my dwindling income on things which we need the most because when we have surplus, usually raises of essential things don’t go down. It is only a one way street. I know that I will be cruel and heartless to say this but since we the private sector people don’t get pension benefits anymore why not reduce this thing from the public sector also. But now the people will say that since the private sector people get paid more they may not need the pension benefits. But not all of the private sector people get paid lavishly. Most of them are just surviving check by check.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Baby Boomers Dilemma

Read an interesting and sobering article today regarding the baby boomers job and health situation and it is an eye opener for anyone who is entering the golden age or who thinks he or she has enough for retirement. The article states that the baby bombers who lose a job in the fifties are having a hard time find a job since there are so many of them. Apart for this, their health care costs are also rising and it has made them realize that they should forget about the early retirement that they were thinking of. The article goes to say that these baby boomers (the ones who are approaching retirement in a few years from now) have lost so much income due to the shrinking stock market and their home equity and retirement funds that they are not likely to retire any time soon and besides the health care that they will need in their old age will overwhelm the economy as a whole.

The society has not been able to solve this health care problem and I believe it will be hard to solve it with more aged people and less workers to pay for all the health care bills. As I have said so many times in my previous posts that either we will have to reduce the entitlements that we expect to receive (like medicare, social security benefits, etc) or we will have to raise taxes very high to care for all our retirees. Other thing is that the young people should not wait for their 401K to support them during their retirement years since as they say in Finance a dollar today is worth more than what it is worth tomorrow. And who is to say that we will have lower taxes when (and if) we retire. So folks it is now up to the individual to take care of themselves since the government is already under pressure in so many fronts and the health care reform that is having so much time devoted to it will just merely postpone not reduce the high expenses.

The cost of Textbooks

Books have been becoming of late but the cost of textbooks has been skyrocketing like there is no end. Textbooks of all kinds are becoming expensive but the books for professional education like medical, engineering, law and business has become prohibitively expensive. This issue has been raised before but there was no resolution to it or no protest from anywhere. I guess the students have no choice but to buy these books. Even with the advent of the internet and the rent a book websites, it is still expensive to buy these textbooks because there is no competition and the prices are fixed even if you buy on the internet.

The poor student already burdened by high tuition and living costs have to spend enormous amounts of sum on even one text book which is outrageous. These same textbooks costs almost one fourth outside the United States. Since we the American Students are so rich that we have to buy these expensive books so that we can subside the poor students overseas. It is time to stop ripping off the American students and have the same price every where since we are not that rich enough considering that the average American student graduates with enormous amount of student loans in the first place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Store brand vs. Name Brand-2

Here I just want to caution you that not every thing will have a store brand to it because obviously the store does not want to lose out customers who will prefer the name brand no matter what. You don’t see in the vegetable or the fruit section that they are store brands or some times the appliances section that they are made by the store. In the appliances case or in many other store brands, you will see a marking stating that it is distributed by the store; they rarely say that it is made by them. They just put their own store brand label on it and sometimes say compare to the name brand ingredients or something like that.

This trend of the store brand has become huge in terms of more and more stores (not just the grocery stores) are trying to have their exclusive brands (which can be called store brand) displays in their stores to show that they are the only ones selling them. These stores have teamed up with top designers to design stuff for less for their stores without cheapening the designers’ original work. And it has been working for them quite well in terms of the margin of profit. There is a subtle difference in the brands quality but apart for this if you are not into too much status quo you can still buy the store brand or lower quality brand and still be hip and also save money in the process.

Store brand vs. Name Brand

Have you ever gone into a store and went straight to the store brand instead of the name brand. Well first the store brand is the name given to products which are exclusively made for that store and they only market it and Name brand are nationally advertised similar products. In this economy where everybody is pinching money, people are looking closely at store brand. Granted some of the store brands may not be up to mark as compared to the name brand but apart from that what attracts people is the amount of savings that they can get by buying store brand. I have tried both the store brand and the name brand and there is definitely some difference in taste (although the ingredients maybe the same) and style and I would definitely get the name brand if my wallet allows it but for once you start using the store brand, you get use to it after a while.

And another thing store brand does not mean that the store is manufacturing the stuff itself. It does not, it just out sources the manufacturing to a third party (and sometimes to the same company making the name brand but they don’t want to advertise it because they don’t want to cheapen their name brand). And then markets it in their stores. People has been warming up to these store brands and they are becoming more popular in terms of saving money.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The pursuit of livelihood-2

All we hear from the politician whom we have elected is health care reform, bailouts and free trade and wars etc. What about the bailout of the students in form of student loan reform. The students are not asking for a handout but real policies where they can work and earn a living and pay off their debt and bills.

It is assumed that since the students after graduating will be earning enough to pay for the loans so it is not wise to bail them out. Well as I have said countless of times, this economy has been ruthless to every body and if you don’t have a job creation growth, how are these poor souls be able to pay off their debt. Their families are not rich and they are not either to ride out this economy. These students are really struggling but I have not seen any decent or workable reform to reach out and fix this debt problem. I can understand that there maybe some students who were ill informed and took out loans against college degrees which will not be able to pay them decent salaries or they choose schools which were hopelessly expensive for them to afford. But most of them thought that they will be able to get jobs to pay for all the students’ loans that they have accumulated but the shock they are experiencing right now is nothing short of devastating. We need to make policies where these students can find decent jobs and also for people who have lost their jobs after a long time and are new to the market. If the job market does not improve then there is no recovery whatever the economists may come to think otherwise.

The pursuit of livelihood

In an economy, especially this one which has turned upside down all the conventional wisdom regarding who is fired or hired, it is tough to earn a livelihood. It is especially tough for people who are laid off and trying to get back on their feet. There is so much competition for few jobs that it is really like you have to stand out in the whole crowd to say that I am a unique person to get attention.

It is just almost makes your ego destroyed and your thinking twisted about who you really are. If you have a family then you are doubly worried, one for your self and one for your family that how are you going to put food on the table. It is no longer necessary that you should have a college degree, since the college graduates are more in a dire strait with all the student loan debt and pressure regarding find a job to support and pay your bills.

But have a college degree is not a sure shot bet that you will have a job of your choice or any choice for that matter, since the employers want a combination of skill set to match the description of the jobs they are advertising. But for newly minted graduates somebody has to give them a job in order for them to acquire experience. Since the employers are in the driver’s seat regarding whom to hire or not, it is now come down essentially to whom you know rather what you know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Earthquake in Chile

The world had not recovered yet from the massive earthquake in Haiti that another super massive earthquake has stuck Chile a few days ago. It was more powerful than Haiti but since the people of Chile are used to massive earthquakes they were more prepared with stronger codes of building regulation. Furthermore they are richer than the people of Haiti and may need less aid but we should not diminish the magnitude of the earthquake. Even richer countries like Japan and the United States are sometimes ill equipped to handle earth quakes since even stricter building codes are no match for the nature’s fury.

We can only hope that the world has not run out of kindness for the earthquake victims and don’t think that since Chile is better equipped to handle earthquakes they may not need our help. Every little help counts and the people of Chile needs our help maybe not as much but they may still need our help.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Fracture

I can only say that this is a fantastic movie starring Anthony Hopkins as an engineer whose wife is having an affair with a police officer and Hopkins kills his wife and gets scott free and Ryan gosling is the up and coming hot shot attorney in the LA district attorney office who is assigned to his case. Intriguing twists and plots turns makes this movie suspenseful and a must see along with a superb acting by the veteran actor Anthony Hopkins who is cool and calculated here.

I would definitely recommend this movie but only for adults. Watch it and you won’t be disappointed.