Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Struggling Book Store Industry

Today it was announced that one of the biggest stores of a book store chain will be closing its door next year due to escalating rents in Manhattan. Is it really the escalating rent or the fact that most of the people buying their books online cheaper. It has been acknowledged in one of the articles related to it that most of the people just browse the store and then go home and order online (which includes me). Although I can understand that the retailers have to pay for the rent and utilities and employees salaries and other overhead but to pay for the full retail price when you can get the same book online with no sales tax and free shipping is just plain unwise.

There is also the matter of choice and availability. You can only go to one store at a time and maybe the book store may have run out of that book or it is an obscure book. But on the internet you can comparison shop and choose from a variety of online book suppliers and even find that obscure book if you spent a little more time. People just go to the book store nowadays just to have some peaceful and quiet time and just relax and read and when they are done they head home and order the book they have already read. Bookstores are just now a trial stop to eventual buying on the internet. Things are changing due to the internet and the book stores are no different or immune to it.

Back to School Shopping

Although back to school shopping does get starts early but I went the last week of August to buy stuff and people were still there buying essentials or requirements for their next grade. Things are somewhat cheap but still even if they are expensive, back to school is one of those necessities that you have to fork over money no matter what, although you can save money if you comparison shop on line and through other stores but you still have to fork over money. This year due to the worsening economy and high jobless rates, people are trying to do with as less as possible or maybe using hand me down from their older kids to the younger ones.

This shopping season is also the second biggest of the year after the holiday season so we will have to see how the retailers fared this time around, although they are a little bit nervous as the retailers have been reporting lack luster foot traffic in their stores, but no matter what the school supplies apart from clothing or some discretionary item, will remain the same or even more due to higher prices.

Resume Critique and Analysis

Somebody during my search for a job, I usually venture into other people’s resume posted on one of the free websites and it is mind boggling what people write there to attract attention or put off one. To be fair I am not a resume critique or a resume writing experts or even a cover letter expert but the things that people write will put me off if I am a hiring manager. Many times I see people writing that I am a people’s person and am hard working. Well if you are not a people’s person and are not hard working, people are not going to hire you anyway so that is a nonstarter.

Another one I see is I get along with people, well if you will not then you should stay home. Another one is I am fast learner. After being in the corporate world for more than ten years I can say for sure that no body cares for that since everybody wants to have experienced people and not a student on their jobs. I don’t know but with all the wealth of information out there in the libraries and on the internet, some people still not makes the effort to make sure that some words are obsolete or just don’t fit in the resume. You can’t impress employers by words saying hard working, get along with people, and people friendly, fast learner or the many familiar words. Another one of the great ones is I will do anything; it just shows your desperation even if you are one. People really need to put some effort on their resumes and the lists that I mentioned above should be buried forever. That is why there are seminars out there just for teaching how to write a resume even for college graduates since it is just a snap shot of you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Financial Self Help Books and Common Sense

I was in a book store today and browsing around and I saw many books on financial self help and how to reduce debt and play the real estate market and how to manage your finances, etc. there are old experts and there are the new ones and the breadth of the books on these topics are endless. But still you can see what kind of a financial mess we are in. It just comes to show that people are irrational when it comes to financial education. No amount of books can help you if you are not going to use common sense.

Even if people say that they don’t have enough time to manage their finances it is just not true. Like other activities managing your finances is should be on top of your priorities. I sometimes watch a show, where people with decent amount of income and savings ask questions about if they could be able to buy some stuff or how to manage your finances. The scope of questions is so vast and most of the times the questions are so simple and straightforward that you begin to question the level of education or common sense people have. Unless you are going to use common sense, the financial crisis that we are not enveloped with will not be the last one. If reading books can make you feel a lot smarter than this financial disaster that we are experiencing should have never happened. Only with using your mind and brain can you live your live comfortably financially.

Bills never stop

Paying bills are never fun for anyone. Everybody complains about it but they have to accept it as a necessity of life. I for one keeps on paying bill and when you are done, you know that the month has ended and another cycle starts. It is a never ending story, the things that you are use or buy on installment will eventually be billed to you, now a days it is more easier to pay your bill than before, since you don’t have to wait for the end of the month to receive your bill but can check the bill online even before it is delivered to you by mail and some even have curtailed that choice too, signing up for email alerts to when their bill is due or automatically deducted from your paycheck if you have signed up for that.

Once you sign up for automatic deduction, it is your duty to make sure that your account is fully stocked with money like your refrigerator so that your bills are covered. No matter what form of bill payment you use, the bills will never stop coming and that is the hard and fast truth even if you are unemployed.

The self fulfilling prophecy of double dip recession

Nowadays there are increasing materials in print and electronic media on fear that the economy will have a double dip recession meaning a recession followed by a short recovery and back to recession in quick succession. Although data being released suggests it that way but to see it as double dip is misleading since there was no recovery to begin with. If you see the government unemployment numbers they never budged that much during the recession, so to say that we may experience double dip recession is not correct. It is that the recession never ended since millions of people are still unemployed and the GDP (Gross domestic product) is still in recessionary territory.

If you surf the web and the newspapers you would see numerous stories of people who have been unemployed for a long time, desperate for any job to come by. This has never been happened before and it is not just the blue collar workers, but also lawyers and financial people, the one we think that they were recession proof. So the economists instead of living in world of utopia should come out clearly that the recession is still out there and there is no such thing as double dip recession.

The way to success-Education

I was talking to somebody a few days ago from another country and they were surprised to see so many of us taking education even after we are married and have kids. And it occurred to me why we do that. The answer is simple since we are all immigrants here; in order to get ahead we don’t have our families to support us to get ahead so the natural thing to do is to get an education. The more education we have the more chances we have in life to go ahead. And the more prestige and status we have in life.

If we see the most successful immigrants, they are the ones with all the higher education and thus have access to seats of power. This is the only country where if you are have higher education, doors to opportunities open regardless of where you have come from and from which background. Although some one would say that there is racism here too but that is true of all places. It is just fear of the unknown that breads racism and if you show that you have integrated fully into the society you have adopted then there is no reason why you cannot overcome racism. Racism will always be there no matter what you try but you can buttress its effect by being more educated then the people you encounter and thus crave your own niche in society. So for now and as ever the only means of success in the United States is education and lots of it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On the lighter Side- Travel- Virginia

Recently I had to chance to travel to Virginia. It was not for sightseeing but to meet friends and relatives, so there was no chance to even visit the neighboring Washington D.C. although I just went to two counties but it was telling to see so many new developments sprouting up all over the place. There are still places where there is all land with lots of trees and you feel like you are in a forest, but during the day you see lots of traffic coming and going. The malls are big and driving is easier if you know your way though you should be wary of driving carefully since the laws are stricter in Virginia than in New Jersey (no idea why that is since they sell guns like we fruits in store).

Another curious thing if you are from the Northeast is that you can see signs in store where you can buy your groceries along with guns (no idea what that means). Although people live everywhere they can find job or family but for now I am happy living in the New Jersey.

Frustration and Still keep on going

As you all know by now that I have been blogging (alongside infinite topics) my predicament of being an employed educated person. It has been a long and frustrating ride till now. Apart from applying to numerous jobs (getting no responses) I have been improving myself by attending a state university for another bachelor degree. It just shows that I am not going to give up that easily. Although sometimes you feel that your previous education is just useless, since most of the employers want experience to go with it, but I feel that my education has been the greatest achievement of my life and I would not trade it for anything.

But again how will somebody break into a new field if the employer insists on you having an experience. Somebody has to be the first one and nobody wants to do that. It does not mean the end of the road, it just means you have to savvy enough to beat the employers to their own game. Have your skills updated and education going on so that there is no more excuse. Online courses and skills update and if nothing else start your own thing and gain experience there and then you will be wanted more than other people.

On the lighter Side- Movies – The Final Destination (2009)

The newest installment of the movie The Final Destination in 3D. Although I watched it in 2D since it did not matter much, this movie (like its predecessors) should have been called Death by different ways. Bloody gore and violence starts with a race track and shows how the people are followed in random deaths. Not a great story line but if you like the first three and wants to complete your collection of watching this in the now crazed 3D technology watch it, otherwise you won’t miss much if you skip it. Not Recommended

Back to the table of hopeful (?) peace

Now that the Palestinians have agreed to hold talks with the Israelis after about a two years absence (obviously under U.S. pressure), the same routine starts again to seek a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it is just hopeful or a waste of time since both parties agree to disagree and wants to talk just because the U.S. wants them too. The U.S. influence already considerably reduced due to the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan is still the most influential party who can force both the other parties to talk and it is just that, a photo opportunity and a signal to the world that the United States is interested in a resolution to the decades old conflict.

But I believe that after careful analysis, it has been decades since the conflict started that it is just a waste of time and energy to even follow that path. Since both the parties want the status quo to continue. Nobody is interested in give and take and everybody wants to eat the whole pie. Just to show the world is not going to impress anybody since the world is now sick and tired of this conflict and wants to move and also the economic situation has greatly diverted the attention of the people. So for now you would be reading more of the same talk and nothing else.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Prison Life

The most interesting show on television isn’t some action or comedy or even a reality show with script running wild. It is a show highlighting the true struggles inside the U.S. prison system. It is a sorry and scary state of affairs as you see the stories of different range of criminals most of them showing regrets of what they did and trying to cope with life in prison whatever way they can. Some of them would not see the outside of the prison till they die and for them this harsh reality breeds innovative ways to spend their time which is all they have there.

The there is the female prison population which has its own set of problems. Most of inmates have families and it is hard for both the families and the children to stay separate but since the shows tell the stories from the inmates’ point of view, you see painfulness inside the mothers that they are missing out on their kid’s lives.

The occurrence of violence is much more for males than for females. And then there is the gang problem and the race problem and all this is being held in check somewhat by the prison guards who have a tough job handling these dangerous criminals. All in all you have see these shows which is so shockingly real and scary than any horror movie you can ever see and you feel like lucky to be not amongst them and try to obey the laws as much as possible.


Whatever you want to call it, tattoos are an art and a fascinating one at that. Almost every has it and you can even have a fake one too. Although some people assign tattoos on a body to some outlaw (some of it is true) but for others it is a just a fashion statement. Tattoos are not just confined to some particular part of the body but also you can have it at any place and any form and picture, text or anything. Although the best advice I can give it that it will be permanent if you don’t choose it very carefully. The way to remove it is surgical which not all that fun is.

The tattoos to avoid is the have your boyfriend or your spouse name on your body or some offensive statement. The best tattoos I have seen are the ones the prison people have it and you know that it is not legal to have them in prison. But watching some shows on TV tells you that how the prisoners use simple tools to make amazing tattoos on their bodies. Some people use foreign languages to be tattoos on their bodies. No idea where that comes from. For the record I don’t have one nor do I have any intention to have any time soon or even in the future. But just to elaborate that tattoos are a great and very interesting art and you can find tattoos parlor in all the major or even small cities of the country.

The Perennial basket case Nuclear Power

The floods in Pakistan have devastated its economy and increased the misery of its already poor people. The thought that the world would help fast has not being that so. But this flood of historic proportions would set back Pakistan economy by many years since the economy was not that good to start with. Accompanying that is the perception of the outside world to Pakistan being a source of trouble maker for different countries of the world. Although it is true that Pakistan has indeed been the source of numerous terrorists’ outfits but the poor people have nothing to do with them but to unfortunately share their religion with those terrorists (and mind you more than an overwhelming majority don’t know much about the religion if you care to investigate deeper).

Adding to the chaos and destruction due to the floods is the continuous violence in the biggest city of the country and the separatists’ insurgency in the Baluchistan province and all this mix create a highly combustible situation. This so called Nuclear power is unable to fix its economy or feeds its people but they still have the money to fund Taliban in Afghanistan and tolerate terrorists’ organizations in their country. If some of the foreign media has the time to look closely, they will see that most and overwhelming majority does not know the religion but become emotional when somebody evokes the name of the religion. This perennial basket case Nuclear Power knows that due to its unstable situation and sitting on a Nuclear stockpile will make the world (read The U.S.) comes to rescue them all the time. But you never know when the U.S. will get fed up finally because there is a limit to how much you can help a country when the country hates your guts but still want your money.

Friday, August 20, 2010

U.S. Combat Forces out of Iraq

After seven years of war, the final combat forces are out of Iraq, but the responsibility of the U.S. forces has not finished there yet. Although the violence is down from where it was before but it is spiking now since the insurgents know that the Americans will be leaving and the Iraqi forces are not equipped yet to deal with the increasing violence. But now going with the history of the U.S. forces, Iraq will always have some kind of American soldiers in their midst, and they may not be so visible as before but behind the scenes they will be working to make sure that the insurgents are not that strong enough to challenge the Iraqi regime in the long run.

The main point is the attention grabbing headlines that the American forces are leaving that is going to make the most impact because the Iraq war had been unpopular from the start and to give such a headline will mean that the people will become now more occupied with what is happening in Afghanistan. So one less war protest to deal with it now and also maybe less expenditure for the ever increasing budget deficit in the future (I hope).

Small businesses struggle

In this economy, the hardest hit (besides the obvious millions of jobless) are the small business owners. Although everybody is struggling but the plight of the small business is much more, since they don’t have that much of a financial security when things fall through and since this economy has battered communities and people across the country, they have to work even harder to attract more people into their store to compete against the big box retailers.

With the increase in marketing to attract customers, the small business are being squeezed by whatever small profit they are making by spending more money to chase a few new customers. Although the government says that it is doing enough to help the small business, but until the economy improves no amount of money will be able to attract customers. Since their overhead is much greater than big box retailers since they may own few products line and the economies of scale are not just there, they have to rely on word of mouth, free internet marketing or free giveaways to fuel their business. And also with this new health care law stating they have to buy insurance or pay penalty, I believe that most of them will opt for paying penalty since it will be much cheaper than buying health care for their employees because of the fact that it is cheaper to get group insurance when you have hundreds of employees then less than 20 so it is much cheaper to not give their employees insurance. Some small businesses have shuttered their business since the cost of doing is more than the expense of maintaining it. When the demand picks up then there will be an uptake in hiring by small businesses and not sooner.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The JetBlue flight attendant saga

By now everybody who reads the news know by now the famous (infamous) blowup of the JetBlue flight attendant who in a fit of rage over a customer blew up in the microphone of the plane took two beers and open the plane shoot to bail out of the plane and also quitting his job. The whole story is still unfolding but up till now he is being hailed as a hero on the internet and elsewhere for his so called stylish and ceremonious exit and quitting his job and telling off his customers.

He has almost become a folk hero who are supporting him due to his thumping up his nose to corporate America and quitting it very loudly and clearly but is that the right thing to do. He has become a folk hero due to the fact that the overwhelming majority will never do what he did nor they have the guts to do it so they secretly admire this act of courage. He may get some time on the news and talk shows but would he be able to work in a corporate environment, which is a highly unlikely scenario since the corporate world does not want the attention of the public and they don’t like the fact of the prospective employee to diss out on the former employer. So unless he fades into the limelight or manages to get his job back, based on my experience he will not be able to get a long shelf life in the corporate world. But you never know.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Now it is Britain’s Turn to Cry Debt-2

A few months ago (around June 9, 2010) I wrote a post commenting on an article regarding the state of the British economy and how they will have to cut spending and how it will effect their standing in the world. A few days ago the impact of the austerity measures started to become more apparent. The debate is what to cut and what not to since everybody feels that their program is important and it should survive the spending cut. But as the other industrialized countries are finding out that on a practical level they are basically bankrupt (you can call it otherwise or anything else) but that is what they should be calling in the markets.

Spending needs are increasing due to various factors but the revenue generation is just not there. It is just the sign of the times to come as an aging and growing population will demand more and more services and the government at hand at a loss to how to provide it without saying no or just declaring bankruptcy. But wait the country cannot declare bankruptcy since it can always issue more currency. But at what cost then the inflation will destroy it eventually (see the history of Germany after World War I). I know it is hard and difficult but better do it now and suffer now because of cuts rather than it gets out of control and then nobody amount of spending will bring back the economy from the brink.

No two economists are alike

There is a debate going on regarding whether we need another stimulus since the one before has not made much difference. Various economists are for or against it and some even pessimists economists are suggesting that we may be heading for a double dip recession. But on the other hand some economists are saying that it is not true and we are not heading in that direction. What to make of all of this. This is just causing more confusing than solving it. If the economists who are the experts are not in consensus on what or where the economy is heading how the common person can know about it.

There was a famous president that said that show him an economist with one hand since they are always saying on the one or the other hand. The problem is that economics is not an exact science like chemistry, physics or biology or math. It is based on human behavior and how they act during a certain circumstances and also since the future is unpredictable, the economists have to make do with history, finance, guesswork, formulas and apply it to the imperfect world. So we would never see any consensus of what and where we are headed in these uncertain times.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Natural Disasters-Global warming?

Millions of people with natural disasters nowadays around the world. We here in the northeast are facing a drought like situation due to excessive heat and less rain. The situation in Russia is more critical with temperatures rising to more than 100 F in Moscow alone and wild fires consuming lots of area due to drought. The Russians have not experienced this sort of thing for a very long while and they are unable to cope with it. The mother of all disasters in terms of misery is being played out in Pakistan where according to the UN one fifth of the country is underwater and millions of people have lost their homes and desperate for food and shelter. On top of this misery has not stopped and more monsoon rains are coming.

With the worst monsoon to hit Pakistan since its birth in 1947, the impoverished country-the ground zero of all things combustible (nuclear weapons, Taliban, terrorists and the like) the civilian government even if it had the resources would have been overwhelmed and that is exactly what has been happening. The credibility of the civilian government or any government for that matter there is so low or even negative that people are reluctant to give to any charity associated with the government.

China and India are also having problems with rains but not too much. So what do we see in here. Is it a one time event or is it a long running Global Warming phenomenon. Any way you see it people really don’t care if it is man made or Nature induced. They need to find food and shelter and if that cannot be provided than the loose hope in any government capable or not and they can turn to radicalism since they don’t have anything to loose and the blame can easily shift to the government in power.

Plan B, C or D?

The so called experts always say that you should have a plan B for everything but especially finances. When you apply for a college, you get three choices and sometimes more. When you try to buy a house you have many houses in your mind and the brands that you eat and wear and use also have plans B and so forth that if in case some store ran out of your favorite brand you would be able to buy somewhere else or maybe have in store in your house. But I have rarely seen someone who have a plan B or C or D in case they are laid off (I included). Why is that and why does it happen.

Maybe people like their job (highly doubtful) or they don’t find an alternative to what they are doing or they are busy. Even here if they get laid off they don’t have enough savings to last for a couple of months let alone half a year or a year. Doesn’t this economy have taught people to have a plan B or C or D.? I know some people will be scrambling for that but the most of it are just going to have only a Plan A that is get the job and pray that you keep it till you retire or find a job fast when you get laid off. There is no incentive or motivation to have a back up Job or a small business to ride off the rainy days. I believe that everybody should have a Plan B or C or D in case they are suddenly out of a job and the best way is to have a side business on the weekends even if you are extremely busy with your family life, you can still take out some time to start something which is not expensive and which will provide you enough money during the downturn. You can save this money for that while spending the money out of your day job.

On the lighter Side- Movies – John Rambo

Sylvester Stallone is back as Rambo, the Vietnam veteran bent on fighting forever. In this movie he plays a boat man wasting his days in Thailand until a group of charity people comes to him requesting him to take them to the Burmese border so that they can deliver food and supplies to the rebels. He reluctantly helps them and in the process becomes a one man army fighting off hordes of Burmese soldiers. Very graphic violent and bloody movie like the classics of old Sylvester Stallone movies but with more body count. Recommended but with caution regarding violence.

On the lighter Side- Movies – Triangle

A weird Thriller/Horror/Mystery that keeps you guessing till the end of the movie and leaves you scratching your head that what is happening. It is about a woman who takes an excursion trip with some friends and end up in a big passenger ship when a freak weather accident rocks their boat. The ship is eerily empty with passengers but otherwise full of supplies and that is where the fun/ mystery begin as Melissa becomes two identical women with different personalities. You have got to see this to understand the movie. Good Recommended movie.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Credit checks for Job hopefuls

Another hurdle in finding a job is now being said to be credit checks for job hopefuls. It is not encouraging since many of the jobless have exhausted their savings and put more debt on their credit cards, have less money available overall because of their job situation. So how will they be able to land a job when their credit score will be affected by more debt and possibly late or missed payments, bankruptcies and defaults? It is just another excuse on the part of the employers since they have so much choice in finding the right employee that they are now trying to find the perfect employee and they could, but what would happen to the less than the perfect one.

Sometimes the credit checks can be helpful like in the case of some jobs of accounting /finance/banking or anything dealing with cash or credit but for other jobs do we really need to go over their credit history and waste more time in screening potential employees. I guess the employers have more time on their hands to go over these reports which do contain sometimes erroneous history. The best way to deal here is to disregard the credit check or rely more on references because they can be better judge of the type of personality of the employee and it may also include their financial health as well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Comments and counter comments

Whenever I read some article, I try to read the comments if any associated with it. It is fascinating to see different people expressing their views on the article. Some of the times the comments are in favor or in agreement and sometimes they are don’t. Then you happen to have counter comments to comments which just results into a shouting match and the whole issue behind the comments are lost. Some times the comments are somebody peddling their wares or giving some advice to people regarding some job websites. And sometimes there are nasty comments about the article and it just shows the ignorance of some of the commentators.

My point here is that instead of giving an intelligent analysis of the articles, some of the comments just strays away from that path and the ignorance and nastiness of the people comes out which just shows that sometimes misery loves company. If people are not happy themselves than no positive or unbiased comment will be posted. But all in all I encourage everybody who reads the articles to always check out the comments posted after it since it shows the different intelligence levels of different people and internet is a perfect way to hide your identity behind their uncalled for remarks or comments

Follow your dreams?

People and experts alike always say that you should follow your dreams, but in this economy is it realistic. You have to pay your bills and take care of things which you don’t like but have to do it anyway in order for bills to be paid and debt to be reduced. Very few people have the luxury of following their dreams. And how many of those dreams come true. Very few. That is why they are called dreams. And even if you are willing to pursue your dreams regardless, then it does not happen overnight.

Stars and superstars are very few among us and they took a long time to become one and then to tell all our kids that if you work hard and follow your dreams you can become one of them is a cruel mistake. I am not saying that to discourage them in following their dreams but sometimes you need money for your dreams to come true and sometimes dreams have to be either postponed or completely destroyed in the face of the realities of life. So all you folks out there who are trying to follow their dreams, the best dream would be to get an education (preferably a four year college degree and beyond or some technical skill) and when you are secure financially then on the side follow your dream which can maybe lead to your destination.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The so called Chinese Military threat-3

As compared to other military powers, the Chinese armed forces are not based in other countries and they are now trying to make sure that the lanes of commerce remains open. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, we don’t know yet. But the U.S. of today is more preoccupied internally and also has increasing worries due to the War on Terror. Plus it really does not have the money to project its power as it use to be. We are spending more than half a trillion dollars on our armed forces and we still feel less secure. How much higher can we go on spending with our economy in not good shape? Our so called allies have left us defending their borders without any monetary compensation. This could have been done during the cold war years but not now.

If we really do perceive the Chinese as a military threat then we will have to fix our own house in order. Although everybody thinks that our economy can handle the expenses of our armed forces but the fact is that we have other obligations to consider too like, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and debt servicing. We can not continue to assume that we can fulfill all our obligations by issuing securities to be sold to international investors. We should start to live within our means. If we are strong economically, then we will be able to counter the so called Chinese Threat.

The so called Chinese Military threat-2

But do we have to worry about this Chinese threat. Different opinions are emerging with the Pentagon saying yes and other people are saying it was a matter of time before the economic power is translated into military power. This has happened before with the British and the United States, so it is no surprise here. Furthermore the Chinese do need to modernize their armed forces and it will take decades for them to have the reach of the United States navy, army and the air force. Nobody knows about the future but I for one believes that there should not be any worry regarding the Chinese intensions since their economy is so intertwined with the U.S. and the rest of the world that it would be foolish on the part of the Chinese to do anything to disrupt their economy by going on foolish and ill advised adventures.

Further more like the United States, the Chinese want to make sure their lines of supply with the world is open and they are just trying to catch up with the other military powers that have far superior technology and the reach than they have right now. They have only one aircraft carrier (as compared to the U.S. 11) and its navy and the air force has far fewer reach than other major powers. Plus they have the most borders with other countries and have to contend with a rising India and they also have the money now to pursue their modernization of their armed forces.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The so called Chinese Military threat

Nobody doubts the fact that China is a rising power and would continuously be so for the foreseeable future. It has the land, the people, the economy and the aspirations to be a great power competing head to head against the United States. It has already (or will be) in the near future, the world’s second biggest economy overtaking the Japanese and will be the biggest in the next 10 years or so (according to some estimates). Every country is trying to cash in to the Chinese Miracle but at the same time, fears are being raised that along with the economic rise, the Chinese military is also being modernized. It was just a matter of time, before the military would have its budget raised.

The main complaint is that the budget which is being presented to the world is not transparent and it masks the hundreds of billions of dollars in more hidden expenses. The United States and the rest of its allies are worried about it, mainly the United States since it is seen as competing with the Chinese for influence in Eastern Asia. It is also worried that the Chinese have never renounced their desire to ultimately force the unification of Taiwan which the U.S. has by law declared to defend in case of Chinese invasion. Other countries of the region while profiteering from the Chinese market are also warily looking at the increasing power of the Chinese armed forces.

The ups and downs of the Economy

You see that every time the stats for the economy comes out then the experts start to get worried or happy depending upon how it is looked at and whether it is a good report or a bad one. When the economy (like the weekly job data, retail sales, productivity and the like) shows signs of going up, all kinds of experts come out and start celebrating and when it goes down, then the same experts say we are in a slump. What wrong with the picture here.

We are told not to look for data in small or one time periods but since the situation is so uncertain and everybody is looking desperately for some clues, and since nobody knows about the future, any glimpse of hope or despair is attacked like that is the trend for the future. It can also be that the mid term elections are coming and there is a scare among democrats of losing one or both the houses or even narrowing their majority. Anyway unless the situation is consistent in a quarter or so, we should not be jumpy on stats which can change drastically from one month to another.

Monday, August 2, 2010

House Sells no matter what

No matter what the housing market seems like today or in a year, people will still keep on selling or buying houses according to their needs. The incentives do help but if there are no jobs or job security or ability to hold down jobs, the housing market will have its ups and downs. Recently I have seen houses going up for sale. Despite all the negative news about the houses not being sold quickly or sometimes below their listed price. People still put up their houses for sale. Maybe they want to downsize, move to another place, move to a bigger house or have a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy, divorce or death, the interest rates have not that much effect on the housing market.

I always see signs coming up saying house are for sale and wonder if what the experts say that do not put your house up for sale right now because the market is bad. Well it may take more time to sell (like the job hunting) but eventually it will be sold maybe at a low price but it will definitely have a buyer. But right now it is true that the houses are not going to sell that fast as the government and real estate professionals will like but it will sell.

The Wiki leaks of Afghanistan war

Almost 91,000 documents have been allegedly leaked out regarding the Afghanistan war and it seems that there is nothing important that was not known earlier, although now it is somewhat official. The gist of the documents deals with how we are not winning the war (whatever the criteria that is based on), that Pakistan is helping the insurgents and the like. The founder of the website that leaked these documents promises to release more of it in the future plus more of the documents on the Iraq War. The American officials have condemned it and the Pakistanis have shrugged it aside. Although the leaked documents are old but the U.S. officials are saying it will endanger the work of the spies hired by them in Afghanistan.

As I wrote it before, Afghanistan is not Iraq and as such would need to have an entirely different approach to war notwithstanding the surge in troops. The criteria of what it means to win the war should be defined and stick to it rather than change it with each success or failure in the war. The timetable of troop withdrawal to appease the public should be shelved immediately since this is a war and not some TV episode that will end in two to three episodes. Here Pakistan is the key and we should be focusing more there since any failure in Pakistan would bound to have repercussions in Afghanistan. As for the leaked documents, only the most curious would find the time to read all of it and still would not find any thing which has not been said before. So we should get past it and focus on the real war.