Paying Student Loans & Less Work Available

PiggybankI read an article in the Sunday paper this week about recent college graduates who cannot find work. The focal point of the article was a girl who graduated in May. Her loan would be payable starting in November. Six months cushion I guess. But even though she was a great student, with a high grade point average and all that, she was unable to find work as a micro-biologist. This was until just recently a very hot job with a lot of demand here in Indianapolis. This young person is becoming very concerned. Her credit could be ruined for decades if she can’t meet the payments. It could negatively affect her whole life.

What should someone do in this current circumstance? Is more school that answer, when more debt comes with it? If there are no jobs, then what does an advanced degree offer?

Yesterday I read that political leaders in Washington are starting to talk about using 7 percent unemployment as the benchmark for full employment. The old benchmark was about 4 1/2 percent. That’s a huge difference and greatly concerns me. It tells me that work will not be found for everyone that wants it in the future.

Why can’t we go to a 35 hour work week then? Why work most people hard and leave others with nothing to do?

Mostly It’s About the Writing

Screen shot 2009-09-28 at 8.13.38 PMEach morning I try to sit down and write. Normally I write in my journal and go for about 500 words before getting off to work. I write here too. Not as much, but it is a little more structured and writing with a potential audience means that I take a little more care with the ideas. This takes a little more thought, and that’s good.

Over the weekend I took part in a symposium about getting published. The organizer meant ‘published’ in the conventional sense, through a publishing house. They were not bloggers. I didn’t learn much that would apply to what I’m doing as a writer here on-line, but it was interesting.

This blog is predominantly about the writing. Getting better as a writer and expressing ideas clearly. Writing here and in my blog about my industry tiletrade has helped me to become more succinct. I enjoy it.

Micro vs. Macro – Hope vs. Fear

It seems that I’ve been on a bit of a jag in the last couple posts writing about macro issues. But those types of issues aren’t going to be solved by someone like me writing in a blog. I write about it to clear my mind. Those thoughts tend to permeate my mind and can reduce the resolve needed to cope generally. If you read and watch the news it is difficult to avoid drawing conclusions and connecting the dots. As I wrote not long ago, talking about writing, what we take from the raw data of the news is dependent upon where our viewpoint starts us. That is our preconceived beliefs.

We can’t let these thoughts overwhelm us. If we can’t affect the outcome, we need to move on, to think and act on the things that we are able to modify for the better. The concept of simplifying life – the theme of this blog site – is something that we individually can do to change our situation. We can’t ignore these bigger issues. The economic crisis clearly shows how they can overwhelm our individual plans. But those crisis are like a flood or natural disaster – we can take precautions – but we can’t change the nature of our existence to account for each possible disaster. That would stop the process of living effectively.

I think that the outcome of terrorism on the airline industry is a good example. We’ve thrown every conceivable safety measure at the flying public; to the extent that flying is no longer desirable. We shouldn’t live our lives like that.

Fear vs. Hope. That seems to be the choice today. One is negative and one is positive.

Threat Level ChartI think that fear is so pervasive that it becomes the dominant emotion. We lived through eight years of fear. Our leaders put up terror alerts, colored threat levels, and a constant drone of fear in speeches. It’s no wonder that people wanted a change. Our souls were shriving up and dying under that level of fear.

So now, I am watching the news less. I’m trying to make actual changes in my life that mean something. Eliminating a cost here or there, taking a walk, attending a lecture. You can see that I have thought a lot, too much perhaps, about the macro issues. I need to consciously focus on the micro issues. I need to focus on what’s hopeful. So do we all.

Could We Simplify Nationally?

Debt Clock

Would it be possible for our nation to simplify? Could we take this opportunity to reflect on our needs and determine what we are doing now that no longer satisfies a requirement or desire for our people? The premise being that we have limited resources, even if they are, or have been, vast. The premise being that we HAVE TO chose.

I think of the family unit (what few we have left) as a microcosm of the nation. Each family, while having an infinite number of desires and wants, has a limited amount of resources with which to satisfy those wants and desires. This being true in terms of time and money. People chose what matters most, starting with food, shelter, etc.

When Johnnie is no longer interested in guitar lessons, or if little Sally becomes bored with gymnastics, their parents stop paying for those optional expenses. Nationally we don’t stop paying, or don’t do so quickly. Also, a family doesn’t simply opt for a new BMW 6 Series automobile, with no regard for the remaining needs of the family. If we can only afford a Ford Taurus or a Chevy Malibu, that’s what we buy. I’m thinking here of the F-22 fighter plane and the billions being spent. Can we afford to think this way? Can we give away money to other nations? The list of questions is long.

What would be wrong with reverting to a simpler approach to the world? Think of how China, Japan, and Germany are acting in these same times. Those are large countries with large populations and the means to affect outcomes in other places too. Why are they on the sidelines while we forge ahead? Leadership you say?

It isn’t leadership to give away your means of life. I don’t think that the world wants leadership. They want what we have.

Lastly, it isn’t just money. It’s our young peoples lives and our older citizens comfort and sense of well being in the later part of their lives. Can we afford this way of reasoning? Do we want to?

What Matters Now?

I have a feeling of late that things have changed. Not in a subtle way either. I feel that we have reached an inflection point in the trajectory of our society. A place where we change direction, and in this case forever.
A lot of the change has happened because of our leadership. But much of it has to do with our own reduced attention to the macro issues in our society. By and large, we simply aren’t paying attention. Individually, but en masse, we have decided to let someone else think and act for us. We for a time stopped caring about the larger issues concerning us as a people.
I think that the current uproar over health care policy, the trajectory of the national debt, and our waining influence over world events, has developed as we as a people re-awaken. Possibly only for a little while, or maybe because of our discomfort for an extended time. The issues or problems are scaring us as we realize how far we’ve traveled without awareness.
I wonder if this is how it felt to live in the waining days of the Roman Empire, or perhaps what a perceptive person would have realized in the time of Nazi Germany before the end. Both being societies that had taken nasty turns, and were destined to suffer as a consequence.
We have taken on too much since then end of World War II. We’ve attempted through our own hubris to solve all the problems of the world that have caught our interest. It seems to me that the USA is going to flash out of existence faster than any other civilization in history. We are like a filament in a light bulb that burns too brightly just before it burns itself away. We can’t find a way to compromise or limit ourselves, so we will simply burn away.

world-war-2-airplane-on-carrierI have a feeling of late that things have changed. Not in a subtle way either. I feel that we have reached an inflection point in the trajectory of our society. A place where we change direction, and in this case forever.

A lot of the change has happened because of our leadership. But much of it has to do with our own reduced attention to the macro issues in our society. By and large, we simply aren’t paying attention. Individually, but en masse, we have decided to let someone else think and act for us. We for a time stopped caring about the larger issues concerning us as a people.

I think that the current uproar over health care policy, the trajectory of the national debt, and our waining influence over world events, has developed as we as a people re-awaken. Possibly only for a little while, or maybe because of our discomfort for an extended time. The issues or problems are scaring us as we realize how far we’ve traveled without awareness.

I wonder if this is how it felt to live in the waining days of the Roman Empire, or perhaps what a perceptive person would have realized in the time of Nazi Germany before the end. Both being societies that had taken nasty turns, and were destined to suffer as a consequence.

We have taken on too much since the end of World War II. We’ve attempted through our own hubris to solve all the problems of the world that have caught our interest. It seems to me that the USA is going to flash out of existence faster than any other civilization in history. We are like a filament in a light bulb that burns too brightly just before it burns itself away. We can’t find a way to compromise or limit ourselves, so we will simply burn out.

That’s what leads to the posts title: What Matters Now?

Writing – Slanted to Fit Our Own Beliefs

Writing3People who write draw from within themselves. They take something that is stored up from memories and experiences when writing. Even if the topic is factual, the writers view of the matter can affect the way the material is presented.

Just yesterday I was reading an article about a new tablet PC that Microsoft is evidently about to present as a new product. I am still a little unclear about the facts. Many of this sort of article can be more hype than real. The thing that stood out for me was the tone of the articles. I read three in total about this product and its supposed introduction. Each one was slanted toward the idea that this new computer product was evidence that Microsoft was back and Apple was in deep trouble as a result. Not about the tablet PC itself, as much as what this portended for Apple. They all were a sort of ‘in your face’ slap at Apple and Apple fans. It was a disappointing read.

Now I might have gotten tricked by the subject matter inadvertently. Perhaps these are scam articles – although I started the string at a reputable news site. Who knows?

My thought though has to do with viewpoint of the authors. These writers hold strong convictions. They are clearly looking at the push and pull of these two companies and taking the events personally. The feature sets of products and the breakthroughs that each company demonstrates are lost in a competition in their own minds.

How much of what we read and write is like this? Probably all of it. Even when we are attempting to express a neutral tone in our writing, there is a pre-existing prejudice that leans our emphasis one way or the other.

As far as the new Microsoft product – the concept looked interesting. I just wish that I knew more about it after three articles.

Chicago for a Winter Vacation

cool-chicago-winter-shot

My wife and I have been talking about vacation again.

We went to Paris about nine months ago. The year before we were in the British Isles. This year though we think that we will head for Chicago. We only live three hours away.

We go on vacation during the holidays – late December to January. That’s because my wife works at a High School and has off during that time. It’s also a time to get in some fun before winter really hits us.

Chicago. Not as exciting as Paris or London, but we’re thinking of bringing along some of the family. My son, our daughter-in-law, their kids – two of our grand children. The plan is to visit the museums of history and technology, shop, and eat.

Sometimes enjoying things thorough and with our loved ones, and seeing things through their eyes, is more important and enjoyable than getting to the next destination. At least we think so.