Jobs, jobs, jobs

jobsJobs – isn’t this what everyone yaps about these days, politicians, businessmen and proletarians alike ? Jobs, jobs, jobs seems to be the theme of every candidate of any political stripe these days. Elect me and I WILL CREATE JOBS. Jobs is the magic word. It is supposed to be the catalyst that sparks economic growth. Create more jobs so that more people can have money to buy goods and services and enhance their quality of life and yes, pay taxes lest we forget. Taxes fatten the government coffers. Robust consumer spending makes corporations profitable. The pattern becomes a virtuous circle. More taxes allows the government to modernize public infrastructure creating much needed jobs. Corporations tend to expand and increase production output as the result of increased revenues, hiring more workers in the process. This is not what I am blogging about though. We all know that jobs can be created with the proverbial albeit controversial government stimulus spending. We also know that corporations never stop finding ways to invest in new products and services to spark consumer spending. What disappoints me is when jobs are to be had, people start bitching about the environment – pollution, carbon emission and what not and the holier than thou amongst us start bitching about the social consequences of jobs, its long term psychological effects on people, on families…yadada. Try constructing an oil pipeline these days and you would be bombarded with endless criticism from die hard evironmentalists, accussing you of endangering the planet by inviting a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions in event of an accidental spill. Try building a casino complex with the intent of employing thousands of people and you will be met with stiff opposition from the holier than thou crowd, accusing you of potentially destroying people’s lives and breaking families apart with the culture of gambling. Try buying modern, quiet, energy efficient small jet planes to replace noisy and sluggish propeller planes to improve service of a small airport by a downtown lake and you will be accused of polluting the environment. So where the hell are we going to get these much needed jobs to stimulate the economy, if we can’t compromise but bitch and moan and oppose every proposal because of our lofty ideals ?

FINDING A JOB

job_hiringIt is not impossible to find a job these days. What is difficult is finding the right job with the right pay. It is even more difficult when we lose our good paying jobs. Finding a job with the same salary becomes a real challenge. Most people hate the idea of starting again. Talking about Pinas now – how many well schooled people do you know who simply gave up of finding a job just because they don’t have the fortitude of starting from an entry level salary ? How many people do you know who can’t find a job on their own and rely on other people to find a job for them ? How many people do we know who simply gave up on the idea of supporting his own self become totally reliant to family for the rest of their lives ? How many people waste money by going to special courses upon finishing decide to stay at home, waiting for jobs to come to them ? How many people dream of working abroad yet never had the guts to try working to gain some experience ? If you can’t mingle and work with your compatriots in your own country, what makes you think you can easily work in another country with a different culture, a different language ?

 

 

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SILLY RATES

Long distance rates – a barometer of economic progress?

At a small Asian mall where I normally have my monthly haircut I saw a sign at a store window  : “ FREE OVERSEAS CALL – 30 MINUTES”. It was a promotion for a startup company competing in the VOIP ( Voice Over IP ) or voice over the internet space. The ad was true and you can call for free to any of the 20 countries the company covers under its unlimited overseas plan. Unfortunately, RP was not included in the list. I already got a sense that RP is a long shot, considering the ludcirous long distance rate it charges compared to other countries. I blogged about this issue in 2007 and things haven’t changed. After a couple of years, RP rates have just gone down a tad 2 cents per minute on the average, from 13 cents down to 11 cents. Pretty pathetic considering that other countries have opened up, making their countries accessible for business.

This company offers 9.9 cents per min for cell phone but 11.9 cents for landline. Still high. Moreover, businesses use landlines more than cell phones.  Very high compared to India, where the rate dropped from 7.9 cents to 1.9 cents over the last 2 years. Now this tells me that India is open for business. True to India’s reputation of being the world’s largest call center outsourcer, its cheap long distance rates certainly helps in promoting the business.   Contrast this with the high rates to RP  because  a clique of RP telecom carriers are playing their selfish game of enriching their treasure chests, trying to hold on to their monopolistic practices.  Blame the government for its lame policies, reneging on its mission to promote the interests of the country first, allowing itself to be manipulated by the powerful bigwigs of the telecom industry.  While the rest of the world are opening up and embracing deregulation, RP is acting only on the interests of  a  couple of telecom providers,  whose main mission is the preservation of their obscene profit margins and the systematic decimation of potential competitors.
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WHAT REALLY HAPPENED – THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

credit-crisisThis might be a little too late as the global financial crisis appears to have stabilized prompting the economic soothsayers to predict a recovery before the year ends but here’s a great video that explains what really happened with the financial crisis that shocked the world like a massive asteroid, nearly toppling down the earth’s biggest and the mightiest financial institutions.

If you can spare a few minutes, of which I am certain you won’t regret, check this out :

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

The creativity of the financial institutions in concocting sophisticated deals that generated profits that looked like they came from the magician’s hat finally met its fate, one that wrought havoc to those players that played the game from both sides – financier and investors alike. When the stage came that  “those who can afford to buy a house already bought a house ( prime customers) ” the savvy deal makers focused their sights on “those who can barely afford a house” ( sub-prime customers), sold houses to them nonetheless, for if they defaulted on payments, the banks took ownership of the houses ( not a problem if the house value appreciates). Then came the proverbial “too much of anything is poison” phenomenon – too many owners defaulted, too many houses on the market brought the price down, even those good paying customers walked out on mortgages that were more than the worth of their homes that devalued so fast in a short span of time . In short, chaos reigned and financial institutions were saddled with tremendous loses as the result of the toxic mortgages they carried on their balance sheets. The big ones survived with government intervention but others collapsed into bankruptcy.

The experience is extremely painful and the economic fallout is still being felt by the world as we speak. I remember a TV interview with former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, when he was blamed for supporting the sub-prime mortgage strategy. He replied in a rather philosophical manner by saying that ” we will be talking about this thing again 10 years from now”. There is no antidote for man’s greed. As long as there is the motivation to make the most profit out of the smallest investment, man will continue to create new schemes in the high stakes game of risk vs. reward. These paradigm shifts will cause the bubble to burst every now and then. The turbulence it will create will be serious and may have life changing effects on society and people. But one thing is certain – we will survive, pick up the pieces  and continue our journey.

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Reflections On The New Year


2009The new year story can elicit mixed feelings , be it a mixture of some sense of boredom, thankfulness, anxiety and optimism. The celebration matters not, for whether you participated in the revelry, the fireworks, the familiar hugs with auld lang syne playing in the background or worked out a graveyard shift at your workplace during the eve, none of us can proclaim 2009 to be the year of boom or bust. One thing we know though – a forgettable 2008 is certainly way behind us.


A mere digit change on the year doesn’t automatically alter the destiny of our world. It does however startlingly resets the earthling’s psyche with some degree of synchronicity, that we may not be playing a new game but at least we have changed venue. Same players, same game but a new playing field makes one heck of a difference, psychologically speaking.


When thinking of 2009, I am reminded of a previous post which highlighted this short snippet – from a materialist’s point of view :

 
quote

“Creative response to challenges is good; evil is stagnation. Unlimited power or unlimited knowledge is not good. If perfection were obtained, it would be boring. Only where there are limitations and challenges is there a game. Things that seem evil, such as dark ages and barbarism, often clear the way for a greater good. What appears to be progress, such as technological growth and natural science, often destroy things more valuable than itself. Good and evil are real enough from one point of view, but from a higher point of view, it takes both together to produce growth. Good may be bad if it leads to stagnation. Destruction can be as creative as construction. Graceful acceptance or retreat is often more creative than strength, initiative and bravery. Forgetting can be as useful as learning. Life is beautiful, in its evil and terrifying aspects as well as its good and gentle. Indeed, one requires the other to complete it. Stagnation is the only ultimate evil, and because of the devil in mankind, stagnation is always temporary. ”

unquote

 
piggy_bankBad can be good and good can be bad. This time around the evidence is so compelling. Man’s propensity for greed and the sophisticated tools he developed to amass tremendous wealth had triggered the button of self-destruction. Perhaps it is nature’s way of bringing equilibrium to an overly stressed system but severe damage had been done. The resultant financial crisis had led to the retrogression of the collective wealth of this world. The comforting news is we recognized our actions of self-destruction. We might be in a state of decline but not stagnation in my opinion. My hope for 2009 is man will use his superior knowledge, indefatigable drive and unflagging fortitute to subvert the evil of stagnation. In short, I am optimisic of a healthy economic rebound in 2009. If good and bad work together to produce growth there is reason to be optimistic. My part in this would not be cheering in the bleachers but doing my job to the best of my abilities, paying my taxes and supporting my government in every way I could. 2009 is one unique year where it appears that my success no longer entirely depends on my individual efforts but on a societal scale to a greater degree.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE GREAT WHITE NORTH


A view from my driveway on New Year’s day taken with my new toy, a Panasonic Lumix DMC FX35 acquired during last day of Boxing week sale 🙂 The price drop was simply irresistible, although I craved for its bigger brother, the pricier TZ5 with its 10X optical zoom which didn’t go down much in price, dang 👿  When you shop on Boxing day it better be a knockout, and I feel like I did score on this one, yeah 🙂 Suffice to say I now have a dandy camera I can hide in the palm of my hand and slide out from my breast pocket ever so handily to capture those photo moments. But other than size it has to be special and this baby with it’s 25mm wide angle LEICA lens, HD quality video, 10.1 megapixels, 4x optical zoom and proprietary AI ( Advanced Intelligent) auto mode are all I can wish for in a “buddy” camera 😎 Stuff it with a 4GB Class 6 SDHC memory card and I’m ready to go 😆

Well, the white stuff will be around for another 3 months and I can’t play my favorite game but that doesn’t give me enough reason to be grumpy and bitchy eh ? 😆 Hey, for an optimist like me, let’s just said it’s a nuisance hehe 🙂

I had a blast celebrating new year’s and I hope you did too. Wish you all the best for 2009 !

CHEERS !

hny3_whny5_b

Pacquiao – Perfection Needed To Beat De La Hoya

tale_of_the_tape_bgI always thought this fight is a mismatch, sort of a David and Goliath duel. A 5’6” awesome boxer has no business fighting a 5’10” equally awesome boxer in a heavier weight class. This bout is pegged to weight down to the last ounce that if de la Hoya shows up heavier than 147 lbs he will have to pay Pacquiao $3M for every excess pound, maxed at 150 lbs. If he exceeds 150, the fight is canceled. The sole reason why I entertained the idea of this fight was when trainer Freddie Roach, who had trained both Pacquaio and de la Hoya, declared that Pacquiao can win this damn fight. He believes that Pacquiao can wear down “aging” dela Hoya and take him out in the later rounds.

Pacquiao gives 4” in height and 4 “ in reach to de la Hoya That’s too much concession methinks. Has he fought a 5’ 10 ½” hall of fame fighter before? No. I still put my bet on Pacquiao because I have a lot of respect for Roach…. until I watched this fight on TV.

Undefeated IBF Canadian super-featherweight champ  Steve Molitor 5’7” (28-0, 11 KO) fought Panamanian WBA super-featherweight champ Caballero 5’11” ( 30-2, 21 KO) in a title unification fight last Friday night. The tale of the tape reminded me of Pacquiao – de la Hoya, with the smaller guy giving up 4“ in both height and reach. Molitor who is a smart and slick counter puncher found Caballero’s arms like forklifts shielding his face. I thought the only way for Molitor to deliver damage to Caballero’s head which seemed to perch on a tower was with a slingshot. The fight woefully ended in a TKO with Molitor hitting the canvas in the 4th round. It was a mismatch.

Okay, okay… Molitor isn’t Pacquiao. He doesn’t punch as hard and doesn’t overwhelm his opponents like the Pacman . In fact, Molitor had to go the distance with Indonesian Fahsan 3K Battery who Pacquiao dispatched in 4 rounds. Pacquiao looked like big George Foreman when he hit the Battery Man with punches that lifted him off his feet.

The point I am making here is 4 inches in height and reach is a huge disadvantage, especially fighting a smart, best in class and strong-chinned fighter like de la Hoya. When Roach says that the Pacman can systematically punish de la Hoya to weaken him for the takedown in the later rounds, it is theory and whether Pacquiao can execute the plan remains to be seen. Moreover, Pacquiao’s execution must be perfect because de la Hoya is a maestro himself. Remember, aging de la Hoya isn’t 45 but 35. Will de la Hoya knock  Pacquiao out in the 1st round? Never. Even if he can. Remember, he is also the promoter 😉

 

FREDDIE ROACH

 

 

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The Bail Out Card

brokesamEver since the US Congress approved the manufacture of $700 billion dollars for the bailout of the ailing American economy people had been crying wolf over the government’s apparent preferential treatment of financial institutions. The $250 billion rescue package for 9 of the biggest Wall St. banks devised to assuage their pain and suffering was considered unfair by many. Why exculpate these institutions who brought havoc to the world as the result of their hoggish and gormandizing ways in the first place? Why not bail out the people instead? Good question. Methinks both need to be bailed out. Keep the rest of the money to bail out consumers who are in danger losing their homes to foreclosure. This keeps the equilibrium and alleviates the financial institutions of toxic mortgages.  There are talks about this plan and I hope it happens fast.

But how big is $700 billion? Before we can appreciate the size of this immense amount of money perhaps we must dimension how large a billion is. They say when you count a billion 1 dollar bills at a rate of 1 second per bill, it will take you 32 years. That’s continuous counting – without sleeping. Counting 700 billion will take you 22,400 years!

What can you buy with $700 billion? Over the last week, I kept notes of what I read  and here’s a list I compiled :

  • Buy a country – Denmark, Peru, Nepal or Iceland
  • Write 301 million checks of $2,325 dollars to every American
  • 2.5 million Lambhorghinis
  • 2,000 apple pies for every American
  • A cup of Tim Horton’s coffee a day for every Canadian for the next 45 years
  • 210 high end hockey sticks for every Canadian
  • 700 million omelets with 10 ounces of sevruga caviar, a whole lobster, and six eggs
  • 100 years worth of continuous $2000/hr call girl services for 410 lucky people
  • 21 new Florida Marlin baseball stadiums
  • 2 cups of Starbucks every day for a year for every person in Brazil
  • You could literally buy the world a Coke. One 2-liter bottle per week for a year.
  • A brand new Hummer for each of the 11 million people on the island of Cuba
  • 2 mountain bikes for everyone in China
  • 10,000 dollars for every Pinoy
  • 438 lbs of rice for every person in Africa

 Remember, you are only 12 times richer than Bill Gates so in reality, $700B is really not that much 🙂

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Rethinking Capitalism

About a year ago, as I was flipping through my cable channels, I stumbled upon author Jeremy Rifkin lecturing to his studio audience the context of his interesting but rather disputatious book – The European Dream. Disputatious in a sense because he predicts that the recently formed European Union will replace America as the superpower of the future. To make the story short, according to Rifkin, “the European Dream, which champions communalism, sustainability, and human rights over property rights and radical individualism, is better-suited to 21st century challenges than the “American dream” of personal fortune, which may be obsolete”. Rifkin went on to say that Canada is caught between the American and the European dream but rightfully managed to preserve its identity and carve its own vision of the future.

The recent financial meltdown saw the US government manufacture money so it can bail out its ailing financial institutions. It likewise sought the help of its G7 allies to save the world from a paralyzing economic catastrophe. In the midst of the bedlam, French president Nicholas Sakorzky threw a curve ball by exhorting the leaders of advanced nations to “rethink capitalism”.  Perhaps the capitalism that America championed and revolutionized had grown into a runaway train that is bound to collapse into a barrier and disintegrate and derailment is the only cure. The CNN investigative report “ The Fall of the Fat Cats” seem to accentuate Sakorsky’s foreboding. The report said that prior to the financial crisis, Wall Street players were spending about $250 billion a year on personal acquisitions, a staggering amount that eclipsed the annual spending of the entire population of Italy.

The Greenspan economic poker strategy of betting heavily on debt as a prime mover and shaker of prosperity had finally unraveled and paid back all its gains. As early as 2005 , economist Ravi Batra wrote the book “ Greenspan’s Fraud” to warn the world of the impending disaster of an economic policy that put too much premium on productivity  yet freezing wages but encouraging people to get in debt to satisfy their acquisitiveness. Here’s a 10 minute interview of Batra on the Canadian Business News Network (BNN) on the subject.

RETHINK CAPITALISM

 

Noam Chomksy underscores a strong point that resonates very well with the European dream and that is capitalism that works to seek for the interest of the greater whole, the community rather than personal gain. With this statement I am reminded of those capitalist nations that took a bit more taxes from the pockets of its citizens to institute a universal health care system for everyone. I also think that it is incumbent upon countries to prune capitalism to its needs, rather than emulating the system to the letter. Emulating the American style capitalism in Pinas may not work at all because the playing field is completely different and there are dynamics such as culture that can be incompatible hence ruinuous . Persisting in such an incompatibility is akin to stuffing the latest Microsoft Office Suite on a Windows 98 PC. It is recipe for disaster.

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