Saturday, March 28, 2009

Facebook Feedback on First Post

Wow! Not only have I received more comments than I had hoped for, but their quality has been amazing. What do you know, turns out we do actually have intelligent and driven young people out there. I hope to generate some more traffic for this site through referrals, well-placed and not-obnoxious link-postage, and a craigslist ad (yeah, yeah, I know its shady, but hey, I just got a job that was posted on there, so they're not all spammers out there). In the meantime, I'm doing much better on Facebook than I am on the blogspot.

So, for part two, here are some reposted comments from the Facebook corollary of this blog (I'll set up the RSS as soon as I figure out how and it'll all be nice and automatic): names are retracted here since Facebook has security measures in place that I can't replicate. Rest assured, I WILL NOT post names or any identifying information from a Facebook comment on this blogspot unless given express permission from Major League Baseball, and even the initials will be fake because we live in a small, small word and I am a fan of respecting my friends' privacy. That said, any readers that are willing to do so can make it easier by reposting whatever they said on Facebook on the blogspot themselves. On to the good stuff:

You can already see Juliebandmajor's two comments on the blogspot. For blog-ease, I'll reprint them:

Greed. Basic human greed is what's tearing the world apart. It's how we got in this situation, it's why all those risky decisions were made, it's why the AIG bonuses were paid & not returned, it's why lobbyists push through bad policy, it's why politicians give into them, it's why companies fire thousands of employees first instead of as a last resort, it's why everything is being privatized, it's why everything is being outsourced, it's why wars over resources continue, it's why genocide continues, it's why freedoms are suppressed worldwide, it's why government aid fails to reach/help its intended recipients, it's why damages aren't paid to those who deserve them, it's why subprime mortgages blew up, it's why none of the people responsible for the economic meltdown will be criminally charged, blah blah blah. No one wants to risk their piece of the pie, but they'll risk someone else's in a heartbeat.
Now don't hear me saying "the sky is falling." Greed is sexy and hard to resist and it has become something that is overwhelmingly rewarded instead of something so disgusting, we refuse to touch it. BUT, it's up to US as a generation to do business differently: to make personal sacrifice more admirable than wealth. To think about the consequences of our actions when WE are the heads of these economic institutions, when WE are the politicians, when WE are the professionals, the homeowners, the parents. To live as GLOBAL citizens first instead of Americans first. To think about the little people all the time instead of our own wallets. To do what makes us come alive instead of what gets us the best salary. To live according to our means instead of trying to achieve some unrealistic, unhealthy and ultimately unsatisfying ideal of wealth and success. WE can become a more other-focused generation.I will now get down from my soap box, thank you.

I responded:
I don't think it was a soapbox! I think it was a great response, exactly the kind that I'm hoping for. For those of you that don't know [Juliebandmajor], her actions speak at least as loudly as her words - she was the founder and president of [charitable campus organization; ident. information omitted]. As far the post goes, I have to say I'm in partial agreement. Greed is almost certainly what is tearing the world apart, but greed as both a disease and a symptom has been around forever, what's making it such a specific catalyst now? The phenomenon of credit as a corollary of greed is something that has spun out of control, and in certain respects helped to put us where we are now. Do you think that greed would be as much of a catalyst in our present crisis if it had not been so willfully and irresponsibly aided by a take-what-you-can-get credit establishment? I ask because I think (and may very well be corrected) that greed is in itself a human function, emotion, whatever you call it. It's always there.
Capitalistic leanings are probably inherent in humanity - its arguably the first system of doing business that ever arose. I think what led to our crisis was not only greed, but the conditions of the economy around us that exacerbated that greed. An irresponsible credit market, the growing if latent in American history belief that we should rely on the government to save us, the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality that spurred millions of us to take on mortgages and car payments that we really had no hope of realistically affording. And that said, I'm interested in everyone's thoughts. Especially yours, [Juliebandmajor].

She wrote:
oh i have so much to say :). i think greed is what has created the conditions of the economy -- the volatile credit market, insanely high interest rates, irresponsible lending, risky investments, etc. -- and yes, greed also further exacerbates them. While greed has been around since the beginning of mankind, one of the biggest things that might have caused THIS particular catastrophe is: public accountability has gone to ZERO. We are/were so absorbed in our own lives (we all have a lot to do! it's just how our high-tech, high-energy society is!), that no one is able to keep an eye on the big guys making the risky decisions, and we all didn't know enough to predict that it would all come crashing down as dramatically as it did. Even the guys at the top said all along that certain entities were "too big to fail." so they got away with it because no one stopped them, and they never considered consequences. Anyway, a great interview i heard recently that addresses exactly this topic-- how things got this bad:"Geoghegan writes, “We dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury, which had existed in some form in every civilization from the time of the Babylonian Empire to the end of Jimmy Carter’s term.”

After checking out the link (if you get a chance, it's fantastic), I wrote: Julie I loved the article! As a big proponent of small gov., I'll have to look more in the theory and practice of interest rate caps, but this guy explains it all in such a clear and easy way that a economics novice like me could understand. Definitely love and am reposting the interview. - "we, the little people in this country, helped finance the bloating up of this financial sector and really the downsizing of our own jobs in the real economy. We sent the signals, you know, to investors to put money into the financial sector and not into the manufacturing sector." When you put it that way, what happened here is strikingly simple.

[Btw, if enough people and respond about the Geoghegan article, I can start a separate thread for it.]

RT wrote:
Yea, joblessness is lame. I think it may also have something to do with the older members of our society refusing to quit working. Sometimes out of necessity, others, simply because they cannot leave the place that gave the a sense of worth, an escape from their homes, and a place to go and use the talents that have been given. Also, as scary it is for us, the unemployed and underemployed, imagine the fear of people who are looking into retirement as we speak. We know that our country will figure this out; we aren't going to be in this re(de)pression forever, but for those who thought this was the year to buy their boat and RV and head on down to Florida for the rest of their lives, it is arguably scarier. I know I would rather be in the position in which I currently find myself.

To which I responded:

RT, I think that's a vurry interesting point, but as you mentioned arguable. I could have this wrong, but overall I feel like the boomers getting ready for retirement are getting a lot more attention/suggestions, etc. than we as a demographic are - partly because they as a demographic, obviously, are in control of the institutions that are responding to the crisis, and were/are in control of the institutuons that got us into it. Plus, at least for me, there is a sense of the blame game, which I'm not a HUGE fan of, but I'll play - it was the irresponsible spending and "bad" debt-accumulation of some sections of that age group that led to the crisis - when they should have been a teensy bit more aware of what they were getting into than a flip-flop wearing college kid who accepted a credit card in return for a free pizza. I'd be willing to bet a lot of those Florida-bound RVs were charged - without the funds to back up the purchase. But the more urgent blame lies with the credit and banking establishment (see [Juliebandmajor's] link) encouraging this type of stuff.

KC wrote:
In my opinion, what we're experiencing now is something that is directly caused by capitalism. In order for a capitalist society to survive it requires for companies to be "weeded out" leaving room for only the strongest companies to survive- and setting things up for new growth to occur later. Now, regrettably, those companies that are surviving are huge cooperation's whose goals are a lot less noble than the little guys you'd want to survive. I recommend reading Karl Marx "a critic of capitalism" for a more detailed explanation of what I'm talking about. The guy might have been a little too pie-in-the-sky about communism but his ideas about capitalism are DEAD on. I graduate pretty soon, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get a job- because I'm planning on going into social work- but the closer I get to graduating, and the more I read about the economy the less I expect to make/the less I expect to find a job I really want.

To which I now respond:
Ha! "Pie-in-the sky", love that! The more you get to know me as a friend and politically (sometimes those two don't go together, but anyone that lets it get in the way of a friendship is a jack-a%$), you'll come to find that although I'm not the biggest fan of Marx, and if Communism were on Facebook, I'd de-friend it, the guy definitely knew what he was talking about. That said, I don't think his ideas about capitalism are necessarily DEAD on; in certain of his writings they come close, but if he could have lived to see the deplorable and murderous ends to which his theories were put, I wonder if he would have in the end picked capitalism as the necessary evil. I do. I definitely did not misplace the word "evil" (in its commonly used figurative application) there, even as a self-proclaimed capitalist, I'm by no means unaware that it is deporable and murderous as well. I just think its closer to human nature than most other all-encompassing economic systems, and I'm one of the crazies that thinks human nature ain't all that bad, we've got a lot of good in us, and we tend to work best in environments that fit our intrinsic nature. Here's an internal battle I've been waging for years that I'm very interested in knowing your thoughts on, KC - I know the survival-of-the-fittest ethos that pervades capitalism is dead set on weeding out those businesses not deemed the fittest, at the detriment of the little guys that we want to survive. I haven't given Wal-Mart one red cent of my money in about four years. I do so because although they are not only a monopoly, they are a monopsony, dictating prices to suppliers, and I want no part in it. But I favor small government in the Jeffersonian sense, and would like to see this taken care of through little-people consumer action rather than big-gov. antitrust. I know we are getting a little off subject, but any thoughts?

HC proffered (I'm going to get creative with these verbs):
It is difficult for me to field the question of personal action when its been fused as such to our national circumstance. Not because the two don't mix - but rather, because as a resident of [country in Southeast Asia], I am not well-informed of the latter.I would say perhaps only this (you know me; that perhaps is a loophole for later!): The greatest generation of Americans fought in a war and lived through a great depression. they saved what they could, lived frugally, and in the end, a neoconservative movement had them voting in droves for more war and more spending. they were not stupid. our politics is unweildy and, at times, unconcerned about what may result because of that.The big talking heads of the right preach that governments are for drowning in bathtubs (pro-life with lots of death rhetoric has always amused me). I think government has a part to play, but our disinterest in anything below national politics ensures we will not see the effects of our efforts and will not be influential upon political leaders. local politics are of such great import, be they school boards, city councils, etc. the people who currently occupy these positions usually have one thing in common, at the very least: enough money to campaign. past that, their political philosophies and interests are usually, perhaps thankfully, weak.... So to those of you who Kami finds to be intelligent and active, I encourage you to consider contributing to or running for local electoral politics. it usually doesn't constrain one from having another job, and these economic times, I'd imagine some employers are anxious to underemploy people. and the effect you can have on local commerce, community affairs, and education is something you will definitely see and feel the results of - for better AND for worse.

To which I now proffer in response:
Totes. I love the response and agree. The only thing I'd like to know is how Superman one must be to run for (not hold, that's unfortunately the easy part) political office while being not "constrained" from having another job. A part-time is one thing, but most people to whom this blog is directed, with the exception of "boomerang kids," one of which I admittedly am and hope to not be for much longer, are probably trying to scrape together rent, etc., and working full-time. I have worked full-time (with a three-hour roundtrip commute added on), and I can say with confidence that there weren't no runnin' for political office available in that schedule. Its also a little difficult in these times to find a party platform that one can feel ethically, if that's the right/and/or only word, aligned with...that makes it difficult as well. Not trying to be argumentative, rather challenging, because these are important questions and answers, many of which I am trying to figure out for my own future.

The other responses related to what I hope my second post will deal with, and will be kinda amalgamated. We'll see where it all leads....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Since when is listening to your mom a good idea?

Hopefully, I'll be taking down those question marks at the top of the page if anyone (who doesn't share a last name with me and feels therein compelled) reads this thing. Until then, it doesn't even merit being a leap of faith - more like a skip. So we'll see how it pans out...

I've been told to get with the times and start bloggin' for awhile, but I put it off...and put it off. I was encouraged a few minutes ago (yep, by Dani) to just pick a topic that "interested" me and get it going. So I am. My interests are too broad to really be blogworthy - what is there really out there to add to conversations on how good Albert Pujols is or how bad we really need to get out of Iraq.

I tried to think of something more timely...and it hit me right away. This economy....yep, we've heard it all there too, at least enough to be bored to tears by our own current events. Or made too impatient by our light-speed Internet culture to take the time to find out exactly what happened, and why - "I can read a BBC guide explaining the Bear Stearns meltdown and what it precipitated in five minutes? That's gonna take waaaay too long. In that time I can change my profile pic five times and tweet seventeen times and -" at least those are the kinds of things that go through my head! Sound familiar? Well, these are our times and this is our crisis, as easy as the world around us has made it for us to just sit by and watch passively online as it happens.

And by the above pronouns "us" and "our" I do mean pretty much every American, but as a blogger (ooh, okay, maybe I can get into this, I like the sound of another self-manufactured title), the people that I'm specifically interested in bringing into this are young grads. I got out of Mizzou in May of '08, and the people that I most hope might include me in their blogosphere (it is a word, right? I'm probably using it incorrectly) are people who are young, educated, and making it/trying it make it/utterly failing in an national economy and a global crisis that we totally did not bargain for on that night four or five years ago that we went to bed early/made new friends/passed out in the second floor lounge - before freshman orientation the next day. In the interests of full disclosure - I have a bachelor's degree, minored in a foreign language and studied abroad there, wrote a senior thesis in international crimes law, and earlier today happily accepted an hourly-wage job at a drycleaner's. I promise you it is nothing like the internships or passionate campaign work that I envisioned for myself at this stage of my life four years ago. And I didn't even study art history! (Sorry.) The world is just not the same place it was four years ago.

But I definitely think it can, and is going to, get better. And I do believe a huge part of the solution lies with us - the young, unemployed or underemployed, frustrated but proud degree-holders (or the couple of almost-theres that I'll tag in a corresponding facebook post). I was motivated to write tonight because I think I'm just so sick of the talking heads - the daily routine of the blah-blah-blah this is what we need to do to get ourselves out of this. That stuff only works if people listen. And if what they're listening to makes sense to them.

That's why I want to hear what you guys think - and write about what you tell me. We have a serious talent pool out there - let me drop some initials. The two RNs in my life are intelligent, driven, and bound for success. RL is a gifted and fantastic reporter and he knows it. He's employed, doing well, and really enjoying it. KP is going to be a nurse, and brings a patience and a sense of humor to her work that is truly admirable. JA is a dedicated teacher, who brings each day to the classroom enthusiasm and a willingness to truly understand and help that I think every teacher could learn from. TR is a business student with knowledge in more areas than I could ever hope to have, and a heart to match it. EJ is a young attorney who astounds me every time I talk to her with her intelligence and desire to understand the world and be good to it.

And there you have it. A nice dish for the fear-mongers to chomp on. A musician, a reporter, two attorneys, a nursing student, a high-school teacher. Smart, successful, ready to take on the world. What about us makes the world not want to invest in us?

With candidates like these, how could we not win? How can this generation not regenerate the U.S.? You, yourself, whoever had the decency to read this blog post (thank you!!), what do you bring to the table? Chances are, something good. Because of that, I want to know what you think, and repeating, I want to write about you. WE are the people who are going to get us out of this, young grads entering a daunting America and somehow making it work, not the morning talk show yappers who probably don't even practice what they preach (spend, yeah right, we all know these people are pulling stocks left and right). The real responsibility lies with the people getting up and going to work - and confidently spending and investing the money that they make.

I think the first step is realizing what an impact we now make. We've been eating Easy Mac and untagging embarassing pictures for four or five years, but now we're at the forefront of any substantial change. We have got to do this, and if we want to look around in another four or five years and see a country in which we are still proud, secure, and happy, we've got to do it well. So here's what I want to hear from you guys: what do you think is happening? Why? How do you feel about it? Who's to blame? Should they/how should they be punished? Is it affecting you? Is is affecting people you care about? What should we as a demographic do about it? What CAN we as a demographic do about it?

Anything and everything, I want to hear about. Personal stories, philosophical ramblings, political rants, informed criticism, uninformed criticism, productive ideas. Let's get something going here!