Friday, April 30, 2010

Thirty Five years since Vietnam War Ended

Today 35 years ago on April 30, 1975, the last American forces left Vietnam after fighting a failed war against the communist insurgency there. Lots have changed since then like there is no draft in the Armed forces and the communism has failed and Vietnam is also a changed place. Vietnam has embraced capitalism to some extent and American companies are doing business and outsourcing their work from Vietnam. Vietnam is not harboring any ill feeling towards the United States, although long after the Vietnam war ended, we were still seeing movies based on the Vietnam War with some heroes and some reality also included.

Still the issue of Missing in Action and Prisoners of War has not died down, although everybody wants to movie on. Hopefully Iraq will also be the same ( I doubt it ). Although we lost almost 50,000 soldiers in Vietnam war and a few thousand in the Iraq War but the Iraq War has started to take a toll on the Psyche of the American Public. Hopefully we will end this war soon and not make the mistakes that we did in Vietnam like dragging it forever and leave the country not in haste but in orderly fashion.

European Union?-4

Then there is the power that the European Central bank (ECB) should get like the fed to bail out heavily indebted European countries if they are to get out of debt. The ECB should take the lead in dealing with essentially a European problem but first in order to do that, the above mentioned amount of funding should be in place right away. And each year depending on the requirements of the European Countries, the fund should be increased by 50 to 100 Billion Euros so that in times of crisis like these, the so called “proud” Europeans should not have to look at the IMF or the World Bank to bail them out.

Then the other policies matters like the retirement age should be moved up to 67 years with the pensions phased out. I know it is too much to ask especially since every country and culture is different in Europe. But if they truly want to be “European” and “Christian” continent then they should start taking measures in terms of Europe and not individual countries. Instead of ever increasing taxes, the amount of spending should be cut to the bear bottom, since it is a given that the aging of Europe has begun and there will not be enough young folks to care for the demands of the older people who would need health and other benefits. Now is the best time to tackle all this political and economic issues otherwise these crisis are not going to vanish with short term remedies.

European Union?-3

Now this debt crisis has hit the European Union, maybe now is the time to think what they can do to prevent another one if they are so damn proud about taking care of their own problems (that’s what the Greeks thought too until they were forced to ask the IMF to get their loans). I mean the Europeans are still reluctant to act like a one bunch and they are not sure how to lead especially Germany (although many in Europe think that they should take the lead due to their biggest economy).

I just wonder how coherent is this European Union when the times come to help another European country, they all become Germans and the French and the Italians and the Dutch etc. This whole experiment in the Europeanness is having a big hiccup. Since this was their true test in the time of crisis, in my opinion they have failed miserably. Everybody from the European Union President (if there is such a thing) to the European Central Bank (if there is also such a thing) were absent while Greek debt bled in the market and they had to turn to the IMF (the most American of all the non American institutions).

I just believe that if the European Union want to survive, they should include strong monetary steps to ensure nothing like this happens again and to do that they should be able to create a fund like European Monetary Fund (EMF) with at least Euro 250 billion to start so that if the debt of some country becomes unmanageable they should be able to step in and take the lead.

European Union?-2

So now we come to the biggest economy of Europe-Germany. It has the right to demand that Greeks do drastic cuts in its budget to get the loans from Germany. It is also true that the German people are also hostile to bail out the Greeks at this point. But to be fair, where is this European Union who should have been there in the first place. Why do they have to defer this to the IMF to take a lead and then they will think about putting their own two cents into it.

Even with all this talk about European Union and integrity, at the end of the day it just boils down to the nationalistic trends of the Europeans. They say why we should help the Greeks. Why can’t they say we should help another European Country? When it comes to money matters, Europe is still Europe, a continent of different ethnicities and language trying to stay together since they don’t have much choice going their separate ways, but when it comes to money matters, the European Monetary union is just a hollow slogan.

Even Turkey who is asking to join the European Union but which is opposed by most European since they are “ Islamic” and “ Poor” have a better economy than the so called “rich” Europeans of Portugal, Ireland and Greece. They should be allowed to enter Europe but I guess they will never be and they should concentrate on bettering their economy and stay out of Euro zone since they will not be able to get even the decent amount of loans from the other Europeans in terms of crises since they are “different”.

European Union?

With the Cradle of the western civilization going down the drain, where is the talk of all the unity that the Europeans were saying when they established this so called entity called the European Union? They just thought that putting in writing that such and such laws will not be violated or crossed will be enough to create a monetary union. That the budget deficit will not be beyond 3 percent of each country’s GDP (rarely followed) and that each country’s financials should be taken as face value. Well guess what this is what you get when you blindly accept what the countries say about their deficits.

Even though Greece has now become somewhat of a basket case but that does not mean that the other European Countries should be wavering in their role as rescuer of another European Country. Although like a spoiled child, the other countries should demand stringent measures on the part of Greece to bring down frivolous expenses, but they should still help Greece. The more delay there is to the big loans the more Greeks will not be able to come to terms with reality (which is still now happening since the Unions there have called for a strike against the austerity measures). I still wonder if the Greeks know how deep they are in debt.

They have this ridiculous pay structure where they get paid 14 months of salary for 12 months of work, how is that even fair to other countries and then there is this rule that most of the work is hazardous to your health and the pensions and retirement packages are way to generous. All these things were going to affect their finances sooner or later and time has come now.

Sequels and prequels mania

There was a time when I use to watch a movie and the story ended and that was the end of the movie but the Hollywood machine decided that it is safe to keep on continuing the story beyond one movie and they have kept on going ever since. It all started with the James Bond movies. Although I agree that some sequels (and prequels) are better than the originals (like the Godfather II) but apart from rare one or two movies, the sequels have gone downhill from the originals.

I can give a number of movies whose sequels were not better than the first one. Let’s start Friday the 13 II and onward, Halloween II and onward, A Nightmare on Elm Street II (and further), Predator II, Jurassic Park II and onward, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Jaws II and onward, The Exorcist II, Speed 2, Scream 2 and onward, Airplane II, Caddyshack II, Cannonball Run II. Die Hard II, Death Wish II and onward and countless others that you can count. I just wish that once the movies finishes, it finishes and that is the end of the story. In the Sequels craze, the Horror genre gets the most points, since their monsters (or evils ) never die and keeps on coming back in movie after movie (case in point the recent Saw movies , we are on the sixth now). It can also be said that the people financing these movies just go with the name and don’t read the script and that is why every year, we see a plethora of sequels and prequels. I wish it could end and original movies come along. I will hate to see the sequels to Sound of Music, The Titanic, and other classic coming in the future.

The Hollywood remakes

Whenever I see a movie I believe it will be a last of it but NO that is not the case to be. These remakes that the Hollywood makes me really made that now I have to see what the fuss is all about, although I don’t see all the remakes but just out of curiosity I do see some remakes and they don’t seem to be good like the originals.

Today there was an article regarding how some movies don’t need to be remade again and again but does the Hollywood listen. No way, they want to update the movies with new technology and gadgets and sometimes it is scene by scene. Are they saying money or just don’t have the ability to find new story line. Anyway, the worst of the remakes can be summed up into one thing, flops not one but many. I can name a few like the Pink Panther, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, The Lady Killers, Psycho, Planet of The Apes, Land of the Lost (based on the TV series), Wicker Man, Death at a Funeral (the new movie of a British remake a few years ago) Predator is coming out, and countless others that on the top of my head I can’t remember suggesting that they are not worth mentioning in the first place.

It is just a shame that with so much talent in the United States, Hollywood has failed to find fresh material or are deliberately trying to rely on true and tried movie script thinking that the audience who are young enough will want to see them with new technologies and bigger budgets.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The disease spreads

With every day approaching, it seems that the disease of non confidence in European nations is expanding. Today it was the turn of Portugal and Spain to suffer at the hands of the rating agencies downgrading their debt. It seems like the larger investors are having a bout of no confidence in the ability of Europe to handle its debt or help its neighbors when they are in deep trouble. And the price of bailing Greece keeps getting higher and higher. It will not be out of context to say that how will the Greeks pay for all this debt upon the debt they already owe to the outside investors.

Even Spain is in trouble too since they have to come up with 225 billion euros to pay for the debt that they have amassed. If for example the investors go after Portugal and then Spain, what is there to stop them to go after Ireland and Italy? There is too much debt being taken by these countries and not enough revenue being generated by them and too many benefits given to their citizens who have become so used to it that they are willing to strike to keep them even when they know that it cannot be sustained for long.

This saga will keep on unfolding for the next few weeks and I will be writing about it more later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It’s Incredible

I watched some abstracts of the Goldman testimony today regarding the money they made on some bets (and lost some too) and it was incredible, how these people don’t believe that the market would go down so low. I can’t believe since these investment bankers use sophisticated models and hire the smartest people around and still they say that they were surprised to see the housing market go under. Even the rating agencies have expressed surprise by how fast the market went down and they were caught off guard. I still can’t believe this thing since these investment bankers and the rating agencies hire the best and their recruitment process is so selective that only a few out of thousands of applicants to their firms get hired, the so called privileged.

Now if these smart people can’t see what is coming in the future with all their sophisticated statistical models and their insight to the financial markets than I don’t know who can see this? I can understand that the models and people who use them can be off the mark by some standard deviation from the average but this much off the mark that they get a big surprise then I guess I don’t buy this argument.

I am not super smart, but I know that if I am in the market daily and the financial sector is my bread and butter, I will be able to see the future with more accuracy than other normal folks and I would try to make my self or my firm get out of the market as soon as possible before the financial tsunami can drown me. It just boggles my mind to see that super smart people can claim their innocence even when they know that something will go wrong in the future.

When kids take over

When you become a parent, your lives are taken over by your kids literally. In the beginning, the babies come and you have to take care of them over yourselves and it is not bad since you enjoy it a lot but when they grow to a level where they are able to watch TV, that’s when the trouble really starts. I have been through a whole lot of shows not of my own age where I have to see it just because my kids enjoy it. And that is not the end; even the repeats are enjoyed by the kids. That part I am really unable to grasp that how come you can enjoy the same episode of a show again and again when you know what is going to come next.

I just guess it is part of having a family and that takes precedence for the rest of your lives. Just when you thought you have left your childhood behind, your babies remind you that it is far from truth and you go through the same ritual of watching shows again which you have seen it long time ago. Even after your kids get married, you are really not out of the woods since your grandkids will again come back to the same shows and you are back to square. It is fun sometimes but to watch the shows several times again and again and all day long literally gets to you. Not complaining but just narrating what I have seen and experienced.

Mayhem in Ukraine

I was just flipping the channels today and what I saw on CNN was hilarious. There in the parliament of Ukraine, people were throwing eggs and smoke bombs on the members of parliament because they were protesting the renewal of the bases to the Russians. It was indeed chaotic when besides the eggs, there were fist fights as the nationalists who were opposed to the deal were rallying against the pro Russian government not to renew the bases deals as it infringes on the sovereignty of Ukraine. I have seen it at another time when the members of parliament in Taiwan were at each others throat fighting.

It would really be hilarious when the members of the U.S. congress come to blows over contentious issues like the health care bill and immigration reform and the like. Here we would like to be civilized and try to talk and discuss ourselves regarding a certain bill and we hold ourselves not to get the better of our emotions. Otherwise there have been many debates where a normal person will come to violence but just to compare our ways of doing business with those of other countries makes us stand a little proud.

Monday, April 26, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Mothman

Although I don’t usually review the movies that the Syfy channel originally airs on Saturday night since they are usually standard time killing fares. But this particular movie got me thinking. It is about some friends who accidentally kill one of the guys’ younger brother and decide to keep quiet about it forever. But there is a curse that justice will prevail and a moth like creature kills the guilty ones.

One of the things of this movie is the rehash of the old tales about keeping quiet about your crimes. You are better off seeing “I know what you did last summer”. A time killing movie but don’t waste your time on it. Not recommended. But the really thing that got me thinking is that why do these horror movies show that the teenagers are dumb and stupid and they do things which should not be rational. For once they should show older folks making mistakes not when they are young but when they are old so that we can see some reality into these movies. Showing younger folks as dumb should not be the basis of the horror movies. Everybody makes mistakes and the horror movies should reflect this fact.

Moving Up and Relocating

I am constantly reading about how the experts are saying that you should move to the place where the jobs are and employers also tend to like people who can relocate but it is not that easy as the experts seem to make it so. If you are single then it can be alright but even then if you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend who is entrenched in their places or who have jobs then it can be very painful to move. But if you have a family then it can be doubly hard to move. You have kids who are in school with their friends and they may not want to move even if you try to make them understand (since they don’t understand anyway). You may have your family or in laws who are living nearby and you don’t want to lose their support in times of need.

I just believe that if you are really want to move, it should rather be a six figure job to compensate for all you will be leaving behind, otherwise you should try your luck locally and if don’t can start your own business (again with the support of your family and friends nearby).

The Temptations of Fixing Resumes

An article has appeared recently suggesting that the in this bad economy there has been a tendency to distort facts on your resume. Although it is not new that people have been distorting facts like their degrees, experience and skills on their resume but this economy has made the trend even more perverse. I don’t know what to say, although I have been unemployed for a few months but it is hard for me to put on my resume what I have not accomplished. I can understand that desperate people who have been out of work for a long time may be desperate enough to try to cheat on their resume but ultimately you get caught no matter what.

It is now so easy to caught people cheating on their resumes like their degrees and their experience, but only the skills section is hard enough to find, but after a few weeks on the job you can figure out if the person knows the skills he has written on this resume or not.It is thus best not to distort your resume because ultimately you will get caught and the news will spread around that you are a cheater and a liar and it will linger on long after you have corrected any lies on your resume.

The Blame Game Continues

Now we have started to hear about the blame game that has started to come about who was to be blamed for the housing and financial crises. Accusations are flying from the government to the private sector. Whatever the outcomes of these accusations, it is true that when the economy was really good everybody was making tons of money so nobody was bothered about the ramifications for the future, be it the government or the private sector or the ordinary folks. Every body was reaching to the sky without any afterthought.

But now that everything has collapsed, people are trying to find scapegoats for who is to be blamed and the last man standing is typically now the target.
To say it again and again, everybody was involved in this massive debacle whether intentionally or unintentionally, it is useless to blame one party over the other. Now the best thing is the make sure this thing never happens again (yeah right, people don’t learn from history) and we should create comprehensive legislature and regulations to make sure every body plays by the rules.

The Greek Drama unfolding

So finally the Greek Government has asked the IMF and the European Union to bail it out. Although there is some resistance on the part of Germany to pay for the sins of the Greeks but ultimately they will pay for the loans that the Greek government has asked for. But with fewer exports of its own and a debt larger than its GDP, how will Greece cope with this financial crisis is yet to be seen. Although it will be a long time till we see any improvement in the Greece financial situation if any, we will see how it will manage to put out of this dire situation.

I suspect that Greece will be able to pull out of this mess and it will create massive and unwanted hardship on the people of Greece which are not use to it and they will blame the international community especially the European Union and particularly the Germans for not bailing them out. Although it is premature to say this thing but ultimately the European Union with its Euro currency will be only used in countries with strong economies and Greece will not be one of them and there will be others to come so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The whole impersonal world

Our world has become very impersonal with regards to human contact. Take for example submission of resumes, even if you attend a job fair and hand in your resume, the recruiter always refer you to their website for submission of the resumes and updates on jobs. Similar is the case with dating, people have started to break up with their dates with text messages and sometimes people only come to know that they have been dumped by the way the facebook status is updated. Although it is true that the internet has really make the world smaller and make the people come in contact with other people and friends whom they have not seen for a while, but it is also a lonely site area where you can sit for hours without knowing the time passing by.

Now even the act of making friendship is done online first and then you meet someone. I guess it is the technology that is taking over peoples lives and habits and it will continue to do so since it is convenient and the easy way to go without leaving the comforts of your home.

Finally the sanity prevailed (somewhat)

The preliminary results from the New Jersey school districts show that for the first time in more than 30 years, majority of the school budgets which were incorporating budget increases have been rejected by the voters. I say that is very good. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation and to burden more on the voters who are suffering the worst recession in a generation is rather unfair. I know that people will say that it is the future of the children at stake. But do you believe that more money pouring into schools will make them even smarter.

To be fair, some towns did approve some school budgets and their property taxes will be hence increased. May be the voters there are rich enough to accept more taxes to fund their kids children but the majority of the folks who have either lost jobs or have their wages cut, it is really unfair to force them to accept more property taxes. The towns have to cut their budgets and let their employees accept the same kind of pain that is being burdened by private sector employees. That is what fairness demands and I am happy that fairness and justice prevailed. Now I know that there will be more demands on individual folks to pay for the shortfall in taxes by either more cuts in services or other cuts but that is the price we will all have to pay eventually.

State budget crisis- The morning after

Like when you are drunk and you go to sleep then in the morning you wake and have a heavy head and a headache and start to grasp about the things you did the night before. The same is happening with the schools throughout the country. Schools budgets are being passed and property taxes are being raised and maybe pink slips are going out to teachers because the recession and overspending before has created the same sort of the hangover that a drunken person gets. When times were good nobody cared about how this will come to haunt them if they do not save for a rainy day. Well now it is just the beginning of that rainy day coupled with thunderstorms and lightning.

Towns and municipalities are coming to the reality that either they will have to cut their school budgets or increase property taxes too much. This is especially hurtful in this economy when the New Jersey state, always with the highest property taxes in the nation is going to send the property taxes even higher. This year the budget was saved by the bell of the Federal stimulus package to the states but what will happen next year is anybody’s guess. When the unemployment is already super high and people are losing their homes, increasing property taxes is the least acceptable way to go but then where else would the money come from if not from the people who own houses. This is the largest part of any town’s budget. I hate to say this but more action packed budgets are going to come to entertain us in the future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sick of Passwords

This internet and our world have become full of passwords. Every time I have to access something, the first thing they ask is register and enter your password. I have so many websites to access that I really don’t care if I share my password with more than one site. Sometimes I have to access one site for a day or so and I will not create a unique password for that. I know here comes the experts saying that we should make our password strong and almost impenetrable so that nobody can breach it but come on now, do these experts access literally hundreds of websites and do they really create a unique password for each of them.

And how many unique passwords can you really create. The passwords are really made of the buttons on your keyboard and if somebody wants to access my password they can do it faster unless we create a keyboard (here is an idea) where we can incorporate all the worlds extremely different language alphabets and then create a unique password out of them. But even then one person will not create a unique password for each site that he is going to be registered or access. It is too much of a hassle to remember at what site you created your password. So layoff this password crap (only if you are accessing sensitive personal information is password necessary) since I have run out of combinations to remember in my head.

My Job fairs adventures:-4

Today I went to another of the Job fairs organized in a local hotel. As usual the long lines and wait outside the hotel is excruciating. Once you have been to one of the Job fairs, you have seen all. I keep on going to see if there will be difference to another one of them. Nope, the line outside was not bad as compared to what I saw inside. There were lines moving in a circular escalator. Since the longer the lines, the less time the recruiter is going to give you and sometimes they say that you have to go to their company’s website and apply there.

Most of the jobs advertised are those which you can find on any job website and you don’t really have to be physically there to deliver your resume. This is not a face to face interview but more like the people there are just middlemen collecting your resumes. It was even harder this time to find out which table belongs to which company unless you approach them very near since the long lines obscure your visuals.

Overall with my experience being in four job fairs in less than a month is that you can go to a job fair but just keep your expectations at home, since you won’t find any kind of specialized jobs there. It is far better for you to apply through an agency or just do a random search of companies and submit your resume there since the recruiters at the job fairs would not know you by face even if you meet them personally.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Oklahoma City Bombing-15 years later

Can’t believe that this is the 15th anniversary of the worst domestic terrorist bombing in the history of the United States. Some misguided person destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City with kids inside just to prove a point. Initially as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was still fresh in the people’s minds they thought that it would also have been done by some crazy Islamic fanatic. But by fluke, the guy was arrested by a simple human experience and the threat of domestic terrorism came to light.

Hopefully lessons have been learnt by now that terrorism knows no faith, race, religion, creed, national origin or color. If some misguided person is hell bent on killing people than he is just that a person with no aspect of human character in him or her. They will kill just to have their own satisfaction. We should be on guard against judging people by their looks or otherwise, since terrorism comes in all shapes, forms or sizes. I sincerely hope that we may not seen any more destruction of private property or lives and in this regard should thank our always constantly vigilant law enforcement personnel to keep us safe and sound.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Job fairs adventures:-3

This is the third job fair that I have now gone too and it was conducted in my college.There was a long line of students recent and graduated with their business attire waiting for their turn to go inside. It was held in a Gym. The best thing about this fair is that you don’t have to stand outside in a long line waiting to go inside. All you need is a College ID. Anyway, the registration is done via your College ID, so no hassle here.

Once you go inside then you are on your own, every table is neatly stacked with company brochures and pamphlets and their representatives sitting or standing waiting for the prospective employees to approach them. You have been provided initially a list of companies and the positions they are hiring, so you can browse through it and go to only the one you feel is a good fit for your major. No need to waste time on approaching companies who are not to your liking. One thing I have noticed about the fairs so far is that once companies take your resumes (some do not) they always will refer you to their websites to post your resumes and apply for the jobs there. Although you see some recruiting managers there but I guess it was just their turn to man the post. So after attending three of the job fairs, I have come to the conclusions that you have to post your resumes on the company’s websites and apply for the specific position and have a contact of the person who will see your resume, otherwise your resume will be gone to abyss.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ashes to Ashes in Europe

A remote part of Iceland volcano erupted sending ash clouds up thousands of feet in the sky and the whole of northern Europe is in a lockdown stage. All flights to London from New York have been halted or diverted to other places and many northern European airports and airspace has been closed for a few days. Apart from disruption to normal human activity, there will definitely be economic consequences, like vacations disrupted, meetings canceled, transatlantic flights and business travel will be affected.

The authorities are saying that is this has been the biggest airline travel disruption since 9/11. Hundreds and maybe thousands of flights have been canceled or diverted causing huge economic and fuel loss apart from human misery in the shape of life disruptions. I guess no government can do anything but to wait for the ash cloud to clear in a few days and then the losses will be tallied up or not and everything will be back to normal.

Long term unemployment benefits-Disincentive to work?

An interesting notion has crept up which is not being told so much as to how the extension of long term unemployment benefits is creating a disincentive to work. People tend to start looking for work just weeks before the exhaustion of their benefits. I don’t know if the long term benefits are incentive or disincentive but there was news that people who have taken up work which pays slightly less than the unemployment benefits tends to lose out on the benefits.

Actually in the start the benefits were supposed to last only 26 weeks and by time it was assumed that people will find a job but this recession has created the long term chronically unemployed, who even when they are trying their best are hard pressed to find a job and for these people the extension are now almost 99 weeks. Although I sympathize with them ( I am in the same boat but I am a new passenger), instead of extending the benefits why not the government create a program where these people are legally employed and pay them the same or slightly higher wages. In this sense the money would be well spent and there would not be that many complaints from you know who. Even after this extension, the unemployment situation remains the same then what would happen, another extension. It is the same with the loan modification program that it keeps on going and going, but for how long?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The toilet fees on Airlines

So a European airline has now decided to charge one Euro for using the toilet on their airlines with duration one hour or less. I can understand that it is capitalism and you can charge whatever you want to see if that market can bear but come on. I am also sure that they may have done a market research to find out if it was feasible to do. But what will be the limit to charging passengers. Maybe there will be an airline which will just give a flight with only the fuel costs and all the other things are extra. Let’s see what is the extra will be, maybe the window seat will be expensive or every time you ask for water will be another charge.

Magazines and newspapers will be rented out and if you need pillows and blankets extra for that (I believe this is already been done). Carry on luggage fees is being implemented; maybe there will be limit to how many times you can call your flight attendant. The airlines are coming with numerous ways to charge for every thing which was free a few years ago. Let’s see what happens next.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Well as you must be reading the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Is it because the recession has created so much job insecurity that people are going out on their own or is it the news media reporting more of it than ever before. I think both can be true and interconnected, since there is so much reporting about the miseries people are facing in getting a job that this going out alone on your own is the better option and thus it is being reported as part of being joblessness.

Every day I read in the newspapers and magazines that many young people are opening up shop, which has become easier due to the internet and also colleges and universities, are offering entrepreneurial courses in increasing numbers. Although I have seen many people looking for a job and I become curious about those people who have been employed for a long time and I wonder why don’t they go and try to open up shop. Maybe they have family obligations or they are afraid to jump into being their own boss or they think that the costs are too high or they have not enough education to pursue this route. Whatever the reason, if you don’t try you would never know if you have the right material or if you are lucky. Anyway everything is possible and every help is available out there to succeed if you willing to look and try hard and have an idea which you feel is great. So my suggestion is that everybody should try it once in their lifetime so that there are no regrets later on that had they tried it they could be somebody

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Outsourcing your business:-2

If I were a business man I would also want to outsource my work. Actually since the outsourcing has gone outside the country, it has become a dirty word otherwise outsourcing has been going on for a long time. Many small companies outsource their work which they are too busy to handle to some outside company, but mostly it is done in the States that is why there was no hue and cry about it. But once outsourcing involved higher levels of education and going outside the country, then it became a big deal.

As I mentioned in my first article, due to the burdensome rules and laws in this country and the pressure of the quarterly profits to satisfy the investors, companies have resorted to outsourcing. Even when the work is outside the United States, the company maybe American but the work would be done by overseas cheap and to acknowledge the fact highly educated and efficient workforce. So outsourcing can take many forms. But if you are not burden with the laws of this country, you can really do your outsourcing over here and many firms are doing it here without being acknowledged. It is time now that we should be developing our own outsourcing infrastructure with people willing to take much less pay in order to compete internationally and create jobs here.

Outsourcing your business:

Outsourcing has become a huge business for the very large corporation. They can go into virtually any country and give their back office operations to them and can reduce the amount of expenses by a fraction of what they are doing in the United States. It is true that some work cannot be outsourced (like plumbing, carpenting, electrician etc) but financial services and computer companies have outsourced hundreds of thousands of jobs since this craze begin.

How can you compete with people in less developed countries when all the U.S. based companies have to do is to pay a lump sum agreed amount to the company involved in the outsourcing and that’s it? No hassle of social security tax, unemployment insurance, health insurance, payroll tax and retirement sharing plans etc. Also they don’t have to deal with labor laws (which are very lax in other developing countries). If you have seen clothes in departmental stores, they are rarely made in the United States and they are still expensive, why is that? Are we paying for the label of the clothes which are made in very less developed countries at a fraction of the costs?

Same is the case with software and computer work. Any company can hire a software developer or programmer in India for a fraction of what they have to pay her and still get the same quality of work. Can there be any way out of this. We have been told that the outsourced work is not going to come back and that seems to be true unless the same labor laws and same taxes are applied in the outsourced countries.

My Job fairs adventures:-2

My second job fair was yesterday and boy what a nightmare. The line was at least two blocks long and it was the point I was standing at. Even when I left the fair, the line to enter was still quite long. All kinds of folks were in the line from the young to the very old. Even I saw some executive type which is a sad commentary on the state of joblessness in America today.

Standing in line for an hour is like standing in line at a theme park (except you enjoy at the time of your turn and you don’t have to wear a suit). Then you have to register and pass through security and then when you are there you see a lot of folks looking around and handing out their resumes. If you see a long line, it means that it is a popular and desirable recruiter but they have only two people to handle all the prospective employees and so you wait your turn and when it comes you can just drop your resume and talk a little bit since you have to go to the next one. My advice is to wrap up with the ones with small lines and then at the end tackle the big one. Another thing is that most of the employees have websites where you can go directly and input your resume. I don’t see any point in going to these job fairs where you will have less than a few minutes to describe who you are since they will say that you can post your resume on their websites or they are not currently advertising your type of desirable position.

I feel that the best recruitment job fair is the College job fair, which I will describe at the end of this week.

My Job fairs adventures

Since right now I am unemployed and looking for a job, I have been to two job fairs conducted in New York City (near where I live) and boy that was a great experience. The last time I went to a job fair was in the early nineties when it was just fine and dandy (and easy to find a job). But now people are desperate to find any job which puts food on the table and pays the bills.

For those of you who have never been to a job fair. Be prepared to come at least an hour early if you want a decent spot in the long line in the hot weather (if you are wearing your suit and tie for men and for business attire for women). Even if you see the stated time, don’t think that it will start right away since you won’t be the first one to enter and not the last one either. My first fair was jobs advertised were most sales and marketing, now if people are looking for a job or are out of work how are you going to do your sales.

I have noticed one thing that even if the fair advertisement says business attire (meaning what I wrote above) some people come dressed casually to the fair. May be they have low expectations about their prospects or maybe they have been to so many that they have been desensitized about the whole process.

Back to Reality on Interest rates

It was inevitable that news will come out stating that the end of era of cheap credit is coming. But the point here is that the interest rates which were somewhat stabilized (or artificially kept low ) by the Fed with its mortgage rate subsidy and almost zero short term interest rates will not be seen by us for a very long time (bar some very unusual events).

This is due to the increasing amount of debt that the Federal Government has taken upon itself and also the fear by the Fed that too low an interest rate when the economic indicators are stating that the recovery is on its way will invite inflation which is their number one enemy. The housing recovery has not yet started in earnest and the mortgages have started to rise, which may mean slow housing recovery, but more importantly the economy recovery is not generating much job which is the key engine of growth in any economy. If the jobs are not there or if there is low confidence of gaining and keeping employment than how it should be expected that people will buy houses even if the rates are low. People buy houses because they have jobs even if the rates are high. Even when the rates on mortgages were low, people were short selling or foreclosing their houses since they did not have the means to pay for their mortgages.

So if the rates are going to rise (which it will certainly) then all the interest rates on all types of debt will rise making it even more difficult for people even with jobs to buy and hold onto their cars and houses.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Movies- X-Men Origins: Wolverine

A good movie regarding the origins of Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine whose violent past is revealed in this action packed movie. With good special effects and story line, it is sure to please any action fan. A must see for those who want to keep track of all X-Men movies. Recommended but with violence not for little kids.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The New Arms Reduction treaty

Today the United States and Russia signed a treaty to reduce their nuclear arms by a large number. Although it is noble cause since between both of them they still will have enough to destroy the world several times over but at least it is start. Although I don’t want to take a happy moment out of all this. But what was the use of these nukes anyway when they were not going to be used. We spent hundred of billions of dollars and then we destroy them. Is this what we call a deterrent? And what about the nukes which are being produced by other nuclear powers like Pakistan and India. Will this new treaty (which by the way has to be ratified by both the U.S. Congress and the Russian Parliament) reduce their future nukes too? The answer is NO.

The fact is that the United States and the Russian Federation will almost never go to war but the war between Pakistan and India is more real than anybody care to acknowledge especially in the West. It is time now to turn the attention of the world to the more dangerous and real specter of a nuclear war between the two neighbors than anywhere else in the world. Unless we solve their problems, this arm reduction treaty will be an isolated joyous event which will not enhance any security of the world.

Are human beings rational?

It has been said that the human beings mostly act rationally and in their best interests and that may be true most of the time but what to call this irrational action by an Arab diplomat to light up his shoes in mid air at a time of high anxiety because of the terrorists acts and the joke about it like it is silly.

Since 9/11, the security on the airlines and at airports have been becoming tighter and tighter and any joke or any kind of odd behavior is no longer tolerated. Don’t people get this simple thing in their head? I can’t tell you how many countless of times, people act irrationally and then after their head clears start to think that why did they act the way they did. Either I think that they are trying to test the patience of other folks or are really in other dimension (mentally) that they act irrationally. Anyway my point was that, you can’t judge a person by the way they look and you have to go deeper and be on your guard all the time and for the last time, people don’t act dumb or irrationally especially on the planes and in the airport areas otherwise there will be no mercy in these times.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fed testimony and the Reality nobody wants to face:-2

The former Fed chief in his testimony to the congress has refused to acknowledge the Fed’s role in the economy’s collapse. Furthermore he said that it will be nearly impossible to prevent the next financial collapse if more regulations regarding capital requirements etc are not put in place.

Although I don’t agree with the fact that the Fed was completely blameless in the whole financial fiasco (remember the time when it was said that the adjustable rate mortgage is better than the fixed rate one if you are just staying for a few years in the house). But I do agree with the statement that unless we have stringent capital requirements in place plus other regulations to monitor the risky trades, we would not be able to help out the next recession (depression) since we are used almost our all the resources (in the shape of stimulus (borrowed) money) and other Fed measures. Right now we simply don’t have enough money to pay for all the bailouts and if in the future we need such thing that from where are we going to get the money since we are now borrowing anyway and who will trust us with their money since out debt has grown way to much and increasing second by second without paying any of the principal.

These are the things which the law makers and the Fed has to ponder as we move forward.

The Fed testimony and the Reality nobody wants to face

What I have been saying all along has finally come out from the mouth of the chairman of the fed that the United States ought to start taking care of its financial situation. In his speech to the a chamber, he said that due to the aging population and explosion of federal debt, the U.S. ought to either raise taxes or reduce the Medicare and Medicaid entitlement or reduce the defense and social security budgets or a combination of all of the above. Because in the future we will have to fund all these entitlements and we won’t have enough money to do all at once.

This is what I have been saying all along that it would not be possible to do everything by just cutting taxes, they will have to be raised and the entitlements will have to be curtailed. But here is the dilemma, the Republicans don’t like to raise taxes and the Democrats don’t like to reduce entitlement and both will loathe reducing the defense budget due to the two wars and other unexpected wars and the ongoing war against terrorism. So unless everybody gets serious about these things and not worry about the next election, everybody from now on and our future generations will suffer immensely.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The lost productivity

Although the productivity of the American workers have increased because of numerous factors but still the burden of almost 9 million adults out of work is reducing our productivity even more. These unemployed folks are not only the less educated but also highly educated and experienced people who can rightly contribute more to the economy then to just collect the unemployment check. Even looking for a job means that a very productive person is wasting his time looking for a job when he or she is supposed to be working and contributing to the GDP of the economy.

Since now the health care reform has been passed, the next big issue (to me the biggest one) is how to put all these unemployed people back to work. Even the FED today in its minutes released said that the weak recovery can loss steam and that is why they will keep the interest rates low for a while.

The main thing is now confidence on the part of the businesses that the recovery is real and the demand for their products is going to go up. Unless the business confidence is recovered, there can be no new hiring. So the top most priority (apart from all the talk) is to devise plans to restore this confidence without which there will be no sustained recovery.

The struggling lender of last resort:

As usual an excellent article in WSJ detailing the lives of the struggles or very upper middle class families caught unaware with the economic situation and how it is affecting their grown up kids. Even the elite of the Americans who were making more than 200k a year are feeling the pinch as they have been either laid off or have lost a lot of investment in the stock market and other investments and are now trying to rebuild their battered investments for their retirement.

In the meanwhile when their offspring need their support the most, they are unable to give them that due to their own precarious financial situation. This economy has really been merciless and relentless with no regard to class, race or social structure. Everybody is scared stiff and they are also helpless that how they will be able to retire or even help their offspring. Now that even the cream of the crop of the American society are feeling the pinch, maybe they will come to realize how the lower ladder of the society are coping with far less resources and more worries.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Role Models

Tale about two irresponsible and losers in life who are sent to do community service instead of jail time by mentoring two secluded kids. The movie is really good if you can just go past the very frequent R rated language that everybody in the movie is using. Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd to a good job in carrying the movie and Elizabeth banks is the love interest/attorney for Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott.
Not recommended for kids though with nudity and bad language (especially) galore.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- 21

Kevin Spacey stars in this fact based movie regarding number counting by MIT students in Las Vegas and how they won millions of dollars through their mathematical genius. Spacey leads the pack as their Professor and partner in crime and Laurence fishburn stars as the security consultant hired by the casino to track them down. Overall a good movie since it is based on fact but if you are not into fact based stuff then you can skip it and watch The Usual Suspects in which Spacey gives an excellent performance. Recommended

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Job Market (Again)

Again one of those surveys which gives you insight to the minds of jobless and not jobless people. A very high majority of employed people have said that they are willing to take a pay cut in order to keep a job and an overwhelming majority of unemployed people said that they are willing to take a pay cut in order to land a job. Although right now anything will do but in the long run, these same people will get hurt in terms of lower standard of living (which has already started) and fewer increases in their pay.

Even with all the news coming out that the economy is gaining momentum, but in the area of jobs it is not that situation. People are still finding it hard to find a job.

The long term unemployed are gaining in numbers and even the so called highly educated are finding it hard to find a job even if they are willing to take a pay cut. The main problem here is that the employers are finding it hard to find employees which are the exact match for what they are looking for. Since the employers have a larger pool of experienced candidates to choose from, they take their own sweet time to find the best employee. No employer has the time to teach an in experienced but College educated guy how to work in their companies. They just want a guy with experience and college degree. There is a huge mismatch between what the employers want and what the employees can provide them. It is very frustrating and scary thought that you may be the one who will be the long term employed (unless you start your own business).

Finally a nice day to celebrate the weather.

Today was definitely one of the nicer days of the week when there was no rain and they weather was sunny enough for kids to play outside their homes and parks. It is as if everybody has come out of hibernation and enjoying whatever few days of spring and summer they have to enjoy to the fullest. Families were out in force with their kids for the first time in a long time. After the miserable record snow and record rain, it seems that the families were not in any mood to waste this perfect day of sunshine.
We in the northeast love the summer and spring season better than other parts in the country due to the fact that we have so few of them. So if you something few, you cherish is more than if you plenty. So hopefully we will be having lots of these days in the coming months before another bout of fall and winter season.

The Russian Bombing

So now the bombing in the Russian subway has awakened by the Russians of their believe that every thing was fine and safe in Russia and the Chechen rebels have been defeated. Well think again, as I said before it is a long and brutal battle that every body has to fight but we must also look on the other side of the prism that why did this happen. Was the Russian state and people became complacent about a silent war so far away from their borders or were they so arrogant to believe that the rebels have been defeated in a short time.

Well it has been almost ten years that the U.S. has been fighting the terrorist and they have certainly not been defeated so how come the Russian thought that their terrorists will be defeated in a few years time and they are far more sophisticated than the U.S. when it comes to fighting against terrorists. The fact is that in the U.S. the media is free to report terrorists act and the Russian have been having a complete blackout of news regarding what is happening in their own country. Now either they should recognize that they have a terror situation on their hands and deal with either with military or political means or they can just bury their head in the sand and wish it would go away by itself.

The coming age of air racial profiling

The President has just order a new set of rules to put into place for the safety of flights that come to the United States. Although it is too early to tell if it is just a simple case of profiling or not, but the changes will affect anybody who will fit the profile that the intelligence agencies have gathered based on a number of characteristics attributes like age, religion, ethic origin, origination of flights etc.

Although it will come to be also criticized by the some people but we don’t have any choice in this matter. It all started with 9/11 and now enhanced with the attempted Christmas day bombing. We are still in the process of refining our intelligence for the flight safety procedures and there will always be lapses but this is a one good step. You know unless we adopt the Israeli method of full fledged security clampdown, we will be vulnerable to terrorists’ threat and any kind of enhancement of security is done for our safety even if some people won’t believe it. Unless we live in utopia (whatever that means) where every thing is at peace, we would and should always be one step ahead of terrorists since they show no mercy.