Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A job...

I am looking for work I can do at home. If you need administrative help of virtually any kind, please let me know. Resume available upon request.

Now, as I think this post is generally off topic and a request for help, I think it is only fair I give something of value back to you. Below is a list 'definitions' I wrote the last time I was looking for work...

Entry Level Low pay, lotsa work, no future
Ability to work independently No support staff, you're on your own
Experienced No training provided
Team player Boss gets credit, you get blame
Salary history required We don't want someone we have to pay a lot for
Salary requirements We don't want to read all the resumes we'll get...note: see above
Salary negotiable We don't know how much to pay, or the more you can do, the less we can pay
Excellant benefits The salary is below average
Flexible hours Overtime and weekend required with no notice
Self starter You must know the job in the first week
Room for advancement We want to replace your future boss but pay less for the position
Casual environment 1. Dress down on alternate Fridays

2. Personnel reviews done in company lunchroom or at company parties

Supervisory position We'll blame you for the other people's screw ups
Leadership abilities Your boss wants someone to cover for him while he golfs
Ability to take charge Your boss works 60-70 hours a week and has been looking very pale lately
Boss' right hand 1. Boss has two left hands, or...

2. Boss needs someone to do his work also

College grads encouraged We hope you'll take anything to pay off your loans
Re-entering work force You earn the same as you would as a stay at home mom without the cute smiles....or

We'll pay you entry level rates and expect managerial experience

Managerial experience You'll be expected to supervise a bunch of children
Diverse environment We have one of everything here
Experienced only You'll be the only one that can do the job
College degree required We want to say that we have a college degreed person doing this menial job
Customer service You'll have to answer the phones when the Receptionist is at lunch
HS Diploma or equvalent required We need a warm body
Some college required Teenagers need not apply
Advanced degree required We mean it...you have to know something about this
MBA We want a fast track program and you're it!
No experience required, we'll train It's our way or no way
Some experience We'll let you do the grunt work
10 years experience You teach us
Support busy manager You make the coffee and pick up the laundry
Family environment Babysit the bosses kids

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A good economy?

My friend Tom over at BizzyBlog and I have slightly different opinions about the state of our economy. His opinion is that the economy is doing great and the doomsayers are taking molehills and making mountains out of them. I am by nature an optimistic person but because of our business, we see a lot of molehills.

First, foreclosures. When a family faces foreclosure, their financial condition is usually in very serious distress. Many people facing foreclosure have judgments against them for non-payment of credit cards, utilities or medical bills. The foreclosure is usually the last in a long line of non-payments. Still. Foreclosures occur even in the best economic conditions, so in and of themselves, they do not indicate a systemic problem with the economy. Despite the 70% increase in foreclosures nationwide during the first quarter of 2006, we are talking about less than one million foreclosures in a market of over 75 million. A relatively small percentage. In our area, we saw a similar foreclosure rate in our area, but it has settled down to about 30% increase for the 2.66 quarters of this year. Based on previous history, it will probably finish the year nearer 50% increase. A troubling issue, but we are talking about 2500 foreclosures in an area of about 850,000 people. Of those 2500 foreclosures, about half will actually be able to come up with the money to stave off the loss and keep their homes. This will of course lead most reasonable people to dismiss the issue as a molehill. But I do want to use one more stat to suggest it is a bigger problem. Last year about 14,000 homes were sold in the area, meaning about 10% were foreclosures. There is a current unsold inventory of almost 5,000 homes in our area. Foreclosure increases will lead to additional inventory and because of their nature, pressure on pricing.

The impact of foreclosures will not show up in many econ stats: people still need a place to live and most people evicted by foreclosure will end up in rental housing. Based on a general opinion, most people will net a reduction in housing costs freeing up money for other expenses.

Foreclosures and housing bubble? Markets that had significant investor involvement were getting very overheated last year and those markets are the ones experiencing 'bubble' like results. Other markets with moderate increases in values and sustainable growth seem to be weathering things just fine. Regional housing recessions are likely but not expected to spread - IMO.

Second issue: gas prices. We have several truck drivers as clients. Over the last 18 months, they have experienced almost 100% increase in fuel costs. Even average drivers have seen significant increases in fuel expenditures. Miles driven have not decreased (though the increase is minor) over the last year. I will be interested to see how the 'vacation' areas did over this summer.

I think we have a good economy. Two million people filed bankruptcy last year with practically no impact on the economy (or the profit margins of the credit issuing industry...kinda makes you wonder why they were all in a huff to get the law changed). Katrina practically wiped out New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast also with little or no economic impact to the country. However, there ARE problems.

...cash-outs from refinancing to total $162 billion for the year but, as rates continue to rise, the figure would fall back to $69 billion for the whole of 2006. In 2004 homeowners extracted $140 billion in equity through refinancing their homes.

Based on the refinancing, there was a net pre-tax savings of over $31 billion in 2003. That number was certainly higher in 2004 and 2005. Equity refinancing added almost $200 billion to the economy in each of the last three years, not an insignificant change. If however many of the refinancings were to ARMs or other non-standard mortgages (interest only for example) then interest rate increases will make it harder to refinance in the future and increase the demand upon family budgets. 3 year ARMs sold in 2003 are coming due for their increases and we are seeing contractual limit increases (2-2.5%). On a $150,000 mortgage, payments are jumping as much as 28%. Those that can, are selling their homes when faced with stiff increases, but the market has slowed. Home sales are down almost 5% over last year. This situation is worse in those markets that had active investor involvement driving prices.

Over the last 5 years, real estate has driven a lot of our economy. A slowdown in housing sales and construction, already underway in many markets, will lead to increased unemployment as the fall progresses. Unable to refinance and faced with higher gas and maybe mortgage payments, retail sales may slow also - though there is little indication of that occurring yet. Consumers are getting pinched.

We have a good economy, but certain pillars of that economy are showing serious signs. High fuel prices are going to force prices in many parts of the economy higher. Unable to refinance and facing higher mortgage payments, consumers will be unable to sustain their current spending habits. A slow down in housing will increase unemployment. Every good economy ended, sometime. In hindsight, the writing was on the wall.

Remember this: By the end of the year, 500,000 families will have lost their homes.

The question for us optimists is: are we looking at the wall now, or keeping our backs to it...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Give me liberty or give me...

Plenty of people are writing about the foiled plot, I shall not add to the din.

I have heard, after some shock has worn off, the same refrain from the left about liberties and security:

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

And I am really tired of the thought process that thinks that any attempt to protect people is a slippery slope to a police state. So, I sat down with the above saying and let it roll around in my pretty little head and I now have some responses to the dweebs:

1. He who would sacrifice security for liberty, seeks to act against his neighbors freely.

2. Liberty without security is like freeing the tiger from his cage, he will neither thank you, nor withhold his hunger.

3. Liberty is not freedom without security.

4. The monster at your door is not seeking security and sacrificing liberty, it is seeking your life; open the door at your peril.

5. Liberty without security is anarchy.

6. My security establishes a limit on your liberty, not mine.

Although 6 is my favorite, I leave you with the following thought:

Every night I lock my doors, I trade liberty for temporary security; do you want to give up YOUR locks?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's the premise...

I was taught a long time ago that when debating someone, the first person to agree with their opponent's premise, loses.

1. What military purpose do the rockets fired by Hezbollah serve? None. They are random shots into civilian areas. They are too rudimentary for anything other than 'terror'.

2. Hezbollah says they will continue to fight until every single Israeli is off Lebanese soil. That's great, but Hezbollah currently is holding two Israeli soldiers hostage in Lebanon. Israel would be HAPPY to leave if Hezbollah would just return their two soldiers - UNHARMED.

Every single sentence out of official Israel should start with the question in #1 and end with Israel's agreement to leave as soon as the two soldiers held by Hezbollah are returned. My preference is that nothing be said between those two points.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

If it bleeds, it leads...

...but where is the blood?

In the top of the hour news on Fox at 11 am central, a report was aired about an Israeli 'incursion' into Gaza in the early morning hours. Near the end of the report, we are treated to the usual people being rushed into a hospital for treatment. Flash to a little girl (10-11yr old) with a red print dress. She is on a bed and the doctor/nurse/attendant puts a clump of gauze on her forehead right at the hairline and begins wrapping her head. As everyone KNOWS, a head would bleeds profusely. Yet, there is no blood on her face, her dress or in her hair. There is no indication that her hair is even wet. The picture lasts 3-4 seconds and then we see her again being carried by someone, her head wrapped in gauze. Again, we see no blood in the dressings.

I have often wondered about news coverage. But the coverage of the events in Qana have made me very suspicious of 'injury' coverage. This report from Gaza appears to be an attempt to claim another 'unwarranted' injury of a child.

BTW, the little girl was alert, looking right at the camera and not crying.....curious no?