Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Private Resort Ain't For the Public Good

Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Your family has lived in a home for generations. While you sometimes struggle to make ends meet, you always have paid your property taxes on time. Others have left the town in hopes of a better life, but you stay, because of your loyalty to the town you grew up in and to your family who still live there. You have often spent time and money to improve your property, building additions, redoing the roof, what have you. You expect to live in the town for the rest of your life and maybe give the house to your children when you’re gone. You never consider that anything would happen to change this.

Suddenly, there’s a knock on your door. You open the door and some bureaucrat tells you that you have to give up this home because of something called “eminent domain.” It’s not for anything public. It’s not for a new road or new park. It’s for private development. You are offered money for your house but it’s not much and it’s not what the house is worth to you. Besides, you want to keep this house. Your grandfather built this house and you are going to keep it in the family. If you were going to sell it, you would have sold it. At least if you sold it yourself it would have been your choice and you could have at least ensured that the house you treasure so much would keep standing. This guy is giving you no choice saying that you have to take this piddling sum and you have to see the house get torn down.

This is what’s going on in New London, Connecticut. For once, some people are standing up to this blatant abuse of eminent domain. And today, the Supreme Court has agreed to take up this issue and define what eminent domain is all about.

All of this goes back to the language of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution which states the following: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The reason this clause was included was to ensure that the rights of private property were respected. At the time, what “public use” meant was very clear. It meant roads, bridges, dams, canals, etc. It was limited to things that actually were going to be widely and clearly a publicly produced good.

It is crucially important that private property is respected and it is not stolen by the government by the whims of the politicians or a tyrannical majority. When you are forced to give it up against your will just so some private company can gain benefit and then supposedly increase the tax base, it is outright theft and even if it does benefit the community as a whole, when it actually usually doesn’t, the justification is not there.

The protection of private property is crucial to the success of our economy. When you are unsure that you will be able to keep property once you buy, the risk of losing it makes you much less likely to buy it. Once you own a property, if you are constantly worried about losing it, you are much less likely to make any improvement on the property. What’s the point? If someone can take away what you put your sweat and tears into, why bother making the effort? The downward civic spiral that this kind of behavior creates causes irreparable harm. Any short-term economic benefit that the private development gives to the community is dwarfed by the negative long-term results in both the economic and social sense.

As this case demonstrates, the issue of private property is not just a rich man’s problem. Most everyone owns property and it often is not a transfer from the rich to the poor. Instead it is a transfer from the poor and the middle class to rich and well-connected. Currently in the seaside of New Jersey, century-olds homes are being stolen and torn down just so resorts can be made to supposedly improve the tax base. Instead the area just gets richer and the poor people who lost their homes are forced to leave. The factory in Detroit that was made in the 80s and destroyed an old, poor ethnic neighborhood ended up closing soon after they were granted eminent domain in another abuse of this idea. This historic community was laid to waste for an abandoned factory? Was it worth it then? In that Poletown case, the courts failed to protect the rights of the powerless. Hopefully the Supreme Court will finally right these wrongs and put an end this horrendous practice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Miles Tax Instead of Gas Tax?

CBS News reports that some states are considering going to per mile taxes to deal with both the lower revenue from gas taxes due to fuel-efficient cars and the overall problem of congestion.

Congestion taxes in some ways are laudable, as they can help motivate people to use public transportation and use the road at less congested times of the day, but that doesn't appear to be the main point of the new, proposed tax. The article mentions that "[t]he system could also track how often you drive during rush hour and charge higher fees to discourage peak use. That's an idea that could break the bottleneck on California's freeways." However, it appears that the for the most part this new tax would be simply looking at how many miles you traveled. This is idiotic. The gas tax already is effectively taxing cars by the mile as every extra mile you travel leads you to consume more gasoline, thus a higher per gallon tax means a higher cost per mile. At the same time, the standard gas tax also taxes less fuel-efficient cars more and thus causes an incentive to be more efficient which is good from both an environmental and an economic perspective. Besides, the gas tax already achieves the main goal of a per mile tax without the costly new electronic installations and the privacy concerns.

So what about the revenue problem? If there isn't enough revenue coming in from the gas tax because of more fuel-efficient cars, then raise the tax. The higher tax will lead to better incentives and it will raise revenue. I guess that’s not as much of a sexy solution…

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Speaking of Badly Written Essays By Me..

I was looking through some of my old stuff that I wrote in high school and I found this gem. Basically, I had already gotten into college via early decision in December and I was really going crazy in the following spring. According to the paper, I wrote this my senior year on March 26, 2000. It was for my AP English Language class and the assignment was to reflect deeply on a great piece of art. I had no access to any great pieces of art at my home and I sure as hell wasn't going to make the effort and try to find some. Anyhoo.. so I saw an ad with some coupons in the Sunday paper and decided to write about that. So here it is...

In his cartoon-like visage, Colonel Sanders, depicted in the advertisement for Kentucky Fried Chicken, embodies the human condition: the yearning for happiness, joy and comfort. He has his hand outstretched in a friendly manner, inviting us to “love what the Colonel’s got cookin’.” After our daily struggles to make something in this world, we all want to do just that- to come home, and even if it is not exactly a home-cooked meal, to smell the pleasant aromas of fried chicken, Kentucky fried chicken. The food allows us to go back to a simpler time when we were younger, when we were carefree, when after a day of frolicking in the grassy meadows, we would look forward to delicious food to fill our bellies.

Although the new depiction of the Colonel has been jazzed-up to make him more appealing to the modern public, he still is a symbol of nostalgia that seems to be a terminal disease-afflicting mankind. Even with all our fireworks and Dick Clark specials to sound in a new millennium, we still wish to relive “how it used to be,” often even when we were yet to be born when it was “how it used to be.” Despite its many hardships and tragedies, the era that the Colonel came out of seems to be somewhat alluring to us when we fall victim to the stresses of the modern world. Dinners were not the greasy burgers from Micky Dee’s but were much more carefully constructed by wives and mothers slaving endlessly over the stove.

Although in many ways he is a symbol of an age-old aristocracy, the Colonel personifies more the values of the middle class than of his own class. There has been an amazing amount of abundance in this past decade, including amazing growth in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, so we are told that we should feel lucky to be living in such an wondrous time of prosperity. Yet, for some reason, wages have remained stagnant while profits have grown exponentially. Raises in wages have hardly kept up with the cost of living. We all wish we could go to such high-end restaurants such as the Olive Garden, but that sort of delicacy is out of reach for many of us. The Colonel benevolently offers low prices on hardy meal packages that can be shared by the entire family. Col. Sanders refuses to stop there: he offers coupons to give the customers even lower prices and perhaps bring about something that seems to be lost in our society of moral decay: loyalty, especially customer loyalty.

In the end, even with his jolly smile like the mythical Santa Claus, Colonel Sanders is really, truly a martyr. He is like Joan of Arc, the woman who died so that her country could be united. He is like the Christians who died for the entertainment of Caligula, and who would not betray their faith to save their own lives. Even with all his riches and fine white suits, he makes a profound sacrifice at a perhaps slightly lower level. He makes tasty chicken-meals that will make us love what he is cooking.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Just Remembered...

that during my freshman year in college, I was docked points for titling an essay about Ben Franklin "It's All About the Benjamins."

American Nomads

In the past, maybe going back a century ago, people did not move around as much as they do now in this country. Of course this simple picture is far from the whole story. The pioneer stories that we used to hear about in social studies aren’t false, but being a pioneer and moving out to the west in the United States was often either done by adventurous young men or families facing economic or social hardship. Immigrants quickly moving to the west at the time probably exaggerated the trend. More often than not, you stayed in the same town nearby your extended family.

I believe the change has been a gradual one, still happening today. Look at the obituaries in your local paper and you’ll see what I mean. So many of those mentioned, besides different stints here or there, spent so much of their life where they were born and grew up. Now compare them to the peers you have now. Today, everyone has been in different places, for college, then for their first job, graduate school, second job etc. There are certainly some real advantages to being able to be different places and experience life with a different perspective, but I wonder whether the advantages are sometimes overblown and if the disadvantages are being ignored.

Technological and societal change has played a large role in changing people’s behavior in this regard. Obviously, innovations in transportation and in communication make it easier and the economic and social cost smaller to move far away from home. Also, the increase education consumption has led to many to take short stints in different locations to better their selves. The job market has also changed significantly and this too has motivated people to move more often and farther away. It is very unlikely for you to work at one company in one location for your entire working life. Even if you are able to stay at one company, changes in their business and promotions will likely take you to different states and towns. There are other smaller forces playing a role here, but these are the largest ones at play.

There are some obvious questions to all of this.

Is this trend really a bad thing?

I would argue there have been significant drawbacks to this trend. Yes, it may be nice to be able to seek out the best opportunities and experience new places and people, but this is often overblown. The new experience thing can add some excitement to one’s life but after awhile any new place you live in becomes mundane and old. There are certain unique cities but most of them have the same stores, the same Olive Gardens, etc. The biggest difference place to place is the weather and with our climate controlled homes and offices even this matters less. Job opportunities are a more reasonable reason to relocate but sometimes the job may not be that much better than the one you have and if it is, is it worth the cost? The cost is the social cost that we incur when we move from place to place. We have less contact with our families and we have less connection to the general community. The majority of couples now have dual-careers making it very difficult if not impossible to handle the care of their children alone. The extended family could help enormously in this regard but when you are so far away from them, this is impossible. This is besides the loss of fulfilling time with your extended family that occurs when you are far away. This occurs just when moving away from where one grew up but being generally nomadic makes maintaining community especially difficult for most people. There’s an investment in time and effort to get started in organizations, clubs, poker nights, etc. that is much more costly for the benefit for a nomadic person. Many people end up thinking what’s the point? I am going to be moving soon anyway.

Is being nomadic really our destiny or do we have choice?
I would say that yes things are pushing us to be this way as I mentioned before, but a lot if it is our own making. We frown upon going to college nearby where we grew up. Popular culture celebrates those who are making their start someplace new, especially if they are doing so in a major city like NYC and DC. We put being just marginally more successful above having successful relationships with our family and on and on…

I do not propose any radical change nor do I intend to judge the difficult choices that everyone has to make. Just maybe it’s something to think about next to you have to make this choice. What exactly is motivating you?


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Boxing in 2005 Equals Poker in 2004?

The big poker craze has lasted for awhile and thinking about that has made me start to wonder whether boxing might be the next pursuit that suddenly becomes hot again.

I have not tracked the poker craze too closely, but I believe you could begin telling the story back when the movie Rounders came out. I do not think it made much money in the initial box office, but positive word of mouth certainly fueled an impressive new life for the film on DVD and video. It was a well-made movie that glamorized poker, dropping bits and pieces of history along the way. If this movie didn't help the craze develop, the movie is at least a symptom of the rise of the craze. Then of course the World Series of Poker and other shows started to jazz up their coverage, allowing people at home to see the hands develop and know the odds of a given person winning in real time. The ratings began to explode for these shows, private games started to increase in number and more and more people got addicted to the game online. If you want to see how far the hobby has come, just watch a recent "Cheap Seats" show where they lampoon a 90s WSOP game when they still were paying out the winner his weight in silver. Now, watch "Tilt" on ESPN. Do this, and you'll see what I mean.

There are a couple of signs indicating to me that boxing will resurge in popularity. All of a sudden boxing movies and biopics are in vogue again. First there was Million Dollar Baby which probably doesn’t really glorify the sport, but it at least brings more attention to it. After MDB, there has been a popular and well-done documentary on Jack Johnson by Ken Burns, and this year Russell Crowe will be starring in a new boxing movie called “Cinderella Man.” Besides these movies, HBO started bringing some new life into the subject by making some entertaining, tightly packaged retrospectives on historic boxing fights in the show “Legendary Nights.” Before all of this happened, women have already begun getting involved in the sport through actual competitive boxing and aerobic boxing exercise. Although it is more difficult to participate in boxing as a general individual than it is with poker, getting interested in the sport is a natural off-shoot of the increase interest in poker and gambling in general. There’s a reason why major prizefighting always ends up in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The real test as to whether I am right or not will be the public perception of Mark Burnett’s new show “the Contender.” Considering how unpopular Oscar de La Hoya’s derivative product was on Fox, many believe the odds appear stacked against the new show. I disagree as I think that the better set-up (actual competitions) and the story-telling arcs in the Contender will make it a smashing success much like Burnett’s other shows. Whether or not you think they are quality programming, both of his previous shows have significantly changed network television.

As a spectator sport, boxing has become less and less popular in the past few decades. Focusing entirely on the short-term with pay-per-view has lost them the ability to attract future fans. The sport has gone from rivaling the major team sports in interest to being a completely niche sport ignored by all but the most passionate fans. Will these new shows and movies herald prize-fighting’s return to the limelight? I don’t know, but I think it’s dubious until the sport moves away from the pay-per-view business model. Instead, I I believe boxing’ new resurgence will lead a new popularity in boxing as a recreational activity. When I say this, I don’t mean the kind of beat the other person until he falls to ground kind of boxing, I mean the padded helmet have fun with your buddy kind of boxing.

I often incorrectly predict these sorts of trends and perhaps others have already noticed this, so I am not being original. Oh well, for the time being, I am putting a little bit of money where my mouth is with a small purchase of Everlast stock. Time will tell if I am right.


Disrespecting the Pats

Dan Shanoff writes on ESPN.com complaining about how teams and athletes keep on saying they don't get respect but actually get plenty of it. I like his top choice in the list which mentions the New England Patriots:

New England Patriots
Hey, who let them sneak back in here? Was that you, New England Sports Fans??? What's wrong with you?!

Category of Disrespect: Totally Manufactured

Solution: Apparently, nothing can truly fix the inferiority complex. (No disrespect intended.)

Seriously, they could claim some disrespect when they became underdogs in the second round to the Colts, but I was hearing players being quoted, like Willie McGinest afte they beat the Steelers that no one gave them a shot to win, get where they were, whatever.

Didn't give them a shot or enough respect? They were favored on the road against a team who had beat them during the season and had a better record. That's not respect? Having everyone pick them to go back to the Super Bowl before the season, calling Belichick a genius and make dubious claims that Tom Brady is the best QB in NFL history? That's not respect?!

The Patriots are beginning to sound like platinum-selling rappers on their follow-up album.

Vagina Massages?

The Johnnyblog's girl pointed out to me an interesting posting in Denice Cassaro's Community Center News. (This is a regular mass-email that goes out to students at Cornell University).


V-Week is a week of celebration around the Vagina Monologues. V stands for Victory, Vagina, and Valentine's.
See it. Feel it. Demand it. No more violence. Not here. Not anywhere.
Join us in celebrating women and speak out against violence against women and girls.

Vagina Carnival
An Extravaganza to celebrate the Vagina Monologues and kick off V-WEEK!
Activities include:
Decorate/draw your vagina booth
These hands don't hurt women booth
Pin the Clitoris on the Vagina game
Free massages
V-Week and Vagina Monologues merchandise
Information on V-Week and the Vagina Monologues
Tuesday, February 8th
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm"

We're all hopeful that the free massages deviates slightly from the vagina theme...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Boil Mr. Lobster All You Want!

Apparently worms do not feel pain on a hook and lobsters and crabs do not feel pain while being boiled.

"Farstad said most invertebrates, including lobsters and crabs boiled alive, do not feel pain because, unlike mammals, they do not have a big brain to read the signals.

Some more advanced kinds of insects, such as honeybees which display social behavior and a capacity to learn and cooperate, deserve special care, she said."

Did they actually do studies on this in some way or are they just assuming this based on how big a brain these things have? Although I might agree with their assumption, it seems like a pretty big one to make.

Two New Innovations I Would Like to See

1. In the form of either a seperate program or a feature of a web browser, I would like to see something that I could turn on that would not only track where I surfed, i.e. like the current history features in a web browser but actually downloaded complete copies of what I was looking at automatically to my hard drive. So often, I surf to something interesting and I would like to find it again but either it becomes paid content, is moved to some other location or is removed entirely. In general, I just like to save this stuff. Also, it would be nice to be able to just search content that I actually saw in the past on the Internet not what is located on an entire site or the entire web. Perhaps this program would only be useful to me, but I think there's some others out there who would like it as well. My pitiful programming skills prevent my invention of this product...

2. Some truly reliable archival medium. Apparently CD-Rs hardly ever live up to the promises of 100 year lifespans. Instead, the poorly made ones can sometimes last only two years or so. So all those important documents and pictures that you thought were kept safe on a CD-R might already have disappeared. (Of course you should probably have backed up this stuff in multiple forms but I am not going to fault you for that). But seriously, what altenatives are there besides repeatedly copying things over. Hard drives certainly don't have an infinite lifetime and neither do disks of any sort. Someone should be working on some thing that is cheap and realible. The person who eventually does this will be a billionaire I am sure. Hopefully this will come sooner rather than later.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Random Show on PBS

For many years, I have been trying to find a show that I used to watch when I was a kid. It was on PBS and it had all of these "aliens" who basically were just people in orange jumpsuits with cheap handbands. They were like on some sort of post-apopcalyptic version of Earth fighting for their lives, but they had some human ally who was like a librarian and she constituted the educational part of the show, teaching them about copyrights and the Dewey Decimal System. Maybe I imagined this show, but I think not. If I did imagine it, I really must start to question my sanity.


Farm Subsidies

Lost in all of the histronics about a larger defense budget, Bush has proposed some smart reforms on farm subsidies. Of course, he didn't really stand in the way of a grossly bloated bill a few years ago, but he is proposing some pretty good legislation here.

The New York Times goes into this in detail, but the following quote from that article sums the up issue pretty well:

"Mr. Bush would set a firm overall limit of $250,000 on subsidies that can now exceed $1 million in some cases."

There are usually two main defenses for farm subsidies: they help ease the hardships of uncertainty that affect small farmers and they help ensure a secure food supply. Unfortunately, the farm subsidies often help more than just small farmers and much of farm subsidies end up going to large agribusinesses whose need is dubious. The existence of this agribusiness support is very popular among many southern politicians, but it also undermines general public support for subsidies since they would rather only help small, family farms. Bush proposals on this, if enacted, will end up helping to ease the budget deficits and also ensure that subsidy money is spent more for poorer farmers. It will be an uphill climb, as true economic conservatives oppose large farm subsidies but many in the Republican party support them. The security benefit of farm subsidies might be brought up, but I would bet that these large agribusinesses can handle fair competition and domestic farm production success will remain intact.

This is one of the stories that might fall through cracks during talk about about social security and foreign policy concerns but here's to hoping that this proposal will succeed.


Blog Consolidation

I'll be moving in some old posts from my old blog attempts going back to 2001 that were on LiveJournal. They will be put in the archive under the original posting times on LJ. Not great content, but I'd like to take down my old blogs and this will allow me to do so.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Why didn't the box car children ever move out of the fucking box car? I mean, they find some rich relative and they still want to live in the stupid boxcar?? C'mon.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Just started watching the new season of 24. I watched the first one, liked it, but didn't have the time to really follow any of the subsequent seasons. I am actually not sure how many seasons they have had. I do wonder though, does every single season have a mole fucking things up? Please tell me....


The 51st State

When you are visiting another state and people ask where you are from, you can usually get away with just naming your home state. Say you are from Idaho, Arkansas or Ohio and people get your point. Usually, state names mean something to most people. It is different for New York State. If you are from New York and tell people that’s where you are from, they will immediately assume you are talking about the dense metropolis in the southeast corner of the state. It doesn’t matter if you are from Syracuse, Elmira or Buffalo, they will assume you are talking about NYC and you will get the inevitable follow-up questions: Wow how’s it like living in such a large city? Do you take the subway? Which borough?

I do not usually care much about something so trivial. The state and the city have the same name. Honestly, people are far more likely to want to discuss New York City than any of the other modest-sized towns dotting the upstate landscape. It’s therefore only natural that people will assume you are talking about the metropolis rather than the whole state considering the former’s international significance. I anticipate this, so when people ask where I am from, I say “Upstate New York.” If they know or care enough to want further details, I simply say Central New York, between Syracuse and Binghamton, or the actual city name. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

That being said, it is beginning to seem as if the shared name for the city and state represents the woes of those living north of Yonkers. Let me tell you why. Ask yourself, what are the poorest states in the country? I would bet that most guesses would include Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina or some other southern state. Well maybe those states languish in the bottom rung of per-capita-income, but if Upstate New York was its own state it would be anywhere from the poorest state to the bottom five. Few Americans know about this fact and I suspect that some of this comes from how little consideration Upstate New York receives from the public at large. I will outline several reasons why the upstate region should split off from the downstate region, but unmasking the poverty and stagnation found in Upstate New York is the most crucial reason. Clearly stated, Upstate New York would be better off as its own state.

I can see you easily objecting to what I just said. First off, you could claim that New York City sends a lot more money to Albany than it receives in return. Secondly, you could say any state could be selectively cut into two halves and find another poorest state in the union. Either reason indicates that Upstate New York benefits staying with the status quo. To address the last objection first: most other states do not have a clear marking point between two dramatically different areas of the state like New York does. I will not deny that New York City gives more money to upstate New York than vice versa, but this is quickly changing. A recent court ruling will force Albany to send billions and billions more dollars downstate for education than it ever did before. Besides, the main problem is that NYC’s affluence masks poverty in upstate New York not that it actually causes it directly. How does it mask it? First of all, if upstate New York was its own state, the problem would be right out there screaming for something to be done. “The State of Niagara is one of the poorest states in the country. This is a travesty! The federal government must intervene!” Also, being its own state, Upstate-New-Yorkers would have a much greater ability to elect politicians to solve their own problems and not just be a constituency that has to compete with NYC for attention.

A large problem is that having NYC part of their state forces Upstate-New-Yorkers to accept public policy decisions that exacerbate their woes. Obviously, unemployment and low-paying employment are making the upstate area poor. There are three main reasons for employment problems: the transition of the American economy from a manufacturing economy to a service economy; the advent of A/C making living in the south more pleasant than living in the north and the higher cost of doing business in New York State. The first reason is affecting every state in this country, so it does not explain why the upstate economy is doing so much worse than other parts of the country. The second is a problem facing all of the north half of the country, yet so many areas are booming economically. Why is Pittsburgh having so much more success rebounding from job losses than Buffalo? Why is Massachusetts doing so much better now? Why did Wisconsin survive the recent, short-lived recession so much better than other states? Clearly being in the north with its more depressing weather puts the North and the NE at a disadvantage now, but it’s clearly not the destiny of the region.

So this leaves the third reason as the real problem for upstate NY and the only one that can really be addressed. Simply put, the high cost of doing business here is driving companies away and the ones that remain can simply get away with not paying as much. So what do I mean by high cost of doing business? Well there are number of policies coming from Albany that raise it. Friendliness to tort lawyers and more prohibitive red-tape certainly makes business more time-consuming and risky. However, taxes are an extremely large part of it. Studies have shown that one of the primary determinations of where a company is located is how much taxes the top executives of a company are paid. Wonder why Connecticut has so many companies were formerly located in New York? The comparative tax-rates for CEOs is why. Redistribution of wealth may make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it does not just hurt the rich guy living in that mansion, it also hurts you because of the jobs it drives away. If you want to do redistribution, lobby for it on the federal level. People are much more likely to skip the state than skip the country. This of course is in addition to the general fact that higher property, sales and income taxes paid by workers means that equal employees in each state need to be paid more if all things being equal, the taxes are higher in one state or the other.

So this begs the question: if all of these policies are detrimental to the overall economic health of the state, why don’t the residents of the state simply force the government to make a change here. It’s not the inertia from the inept legislature; the problem really is New York City. New York City ends the possibility of any change in Albany’s policy make-up. First off, NYC doesn’t need to worry about business leaving in the same way that upstate cities need to. There’s a certain cachet to a firm being located next to Wall Street, a major port and the most important city in the world. Suffice it to say, Buffalo doesn’t offer the same bang for the buck. NYC also just matches the pattern of any other large city: a large appetite for government services. And, of course, they need state taxes to pay for a lot of these desired services. It’s more than just religion making Republicans getting support from the rural areas and suburbs while Democrats gaining support from the largest cities. The latter just want more government help in their life, the former simply do not. No value judgment there; it is just that the lifestyles are different for each and this pattern repeats itself in the upstate/downstate divide.

Presidential helicopters aside, life isn’t getting much better for the upstate economy. There’s great education here given to people who just end up leaving for a more vibrant place. I will soon be following the people I grew up with. Leaving less money to pay for the great education, leaving higher costs for the businesses remaining here, leading to less jobs and so forth, leaving more costs for social welfare, etc., etc. They have been trying to fix the problems in the existing framework for many decades, what makes anyone think that continuing to work with the same conditions is going to change things?

A new state consisting of upstate New York would allow the more economically-starved area control its own fate, make the best decisions for its residents and have its own identity. What would we really lose? A connection to the Yankees? Marx encouraged the workers to rise up because they only could lose their chains. Well, upstate New York, I am calling on you to rise up, all you have to lose is your crappy economy.


Survey of College Freshman

CNN just posted an AP Story on college freshmen. Nothing too interesting to me there except the following:

"A record 47.2 percent of the 289,000 freshmen who started college last year said there is a good chance they will get a job to help pay for college, with 53.3 percent of women and 39.6 percent of men saying they would need to find work."

Why are more women trying to find work than men? More risk averse, less support from families, what?


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Work After Graduation

If you know much about me, you know that while I have a job now and have had one since two days after graduation. You also probably know that it isn't the best job in the world either. So I have been spending most of my time exploring what to do next.. but.. anyway, I was thinking that maybe college graduates worry too much about the job they do and if they do anything that doesn't really require a college degree, they reject it even though it may be the right job for them.

I am not immune to this kind of thinking. I am not a big fan of the paper shuffling jobs, or the idea of working at them, but yet I take them and look for them because they are the highest paying and the highest status jobs that are there.

I never have done much, but sometimes, I wonder whether I would be happier in a job that allows me to work with my hands like carpentry or something similar. But who do I know who does that and will this be giving me the kind of lifestyle I want. At some level, I rather just do it for awhile just to get out of this rut. A roommate that I had over the summer once told me a couple of months ago that he was making boats in Mass. after just graduating from a pretty good school. I sometimes wouldn't mind joining him...

Cubicle Life

I have noticed this more since I actually started working in one, but cubicles suck ass and a lot of people bitch about them. As I sit in one, I start to wonder a couple of things. First, why do people dislike them so much and if people dislike them so much, why are they so prevelant?

I wonder if people dislike them so much because it sort of combines the bad aspects of social interaction and the bad aspects of being alone. The combination of these two features seems not to work too well together. The cubicle kind of forces you to be alone and apart from people but it does not give you any real privacy. Usually your little doorway shows your computer screen and you and anyone passing by can bother you or just invade your privacy. Also, if your cubicle is anywhere close to other's then you end up hearing everyone's phone conversation and improptu meeting. This would be fine if you were actually interacting with people, but it's not really that way. You are apart from everyone by default and have to make an effort to have conversations with others. You can't just take a minute to break from your work to talk to someone, you have to leave your cubicle and go have a cubicle visit. During that visit, you have to have enough to say to make it worthwhile to go see someone.

So you've got that and you've got the whole drab, boring office feng shui or whatever. I am starting to believe that physical surroundings play a huge role in mood. Maybe the Sims wasn't so wrong in that regard....

So anyway, that ends up getting to the question as to why they still exist if they suck so much. I can see their advantages to those in charge. They are cheaper than real walls and more flexible. But I wonder whether the savings are worth the cost in morale, which lowers worker productivity.

Of course, maybe it's more the job itself that makes the difference. I often come across people saying fuck working in cubicle I am through with that. I wonder if it's just that they just hate the jobs that usually lend themselves to the cubicle and it's not so much the cubicle but the work that usually leads you to work in one.