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Thursday, April 22, 2010

What to do in these bad economic times

Today's economy has everyone worried. Rightfully so. Unemployment is the highest we have seen in our lifetime. Hiring is at an all time low. Banks still do not want to loan money for business operation capital and certainly not for new ventures. State governments are having to cut budgets by massive amounts. We have waited for years to see government reduced, but this was not the way we wanted to see it happen. Many states are having to balance this years budget by rolling fund from next year and the next into their FY 10 budgets. I call this funny money. It is not really money that they have for this year. They are playing games.

You probably are in a precarious situation because of these uncertain times. It is little consolation, but you are not alone. Many people who worked hard to get a good education that would buffer them against hard times are experiencing unbelievable financial problems. Never in our lifetimes have these conditions existed in America. Our parents told us to get all the education we could and we would always have a good job. That was true for many years. The game has changed, and now we have to adjust to a new paradigm.

What is the new paradigm and how does it affect each of us? If I knew the exact answer to that question, I could make a lot of money. To begin to understand that new paradigm let's begin by looking at things that we can see happening as a result of that new paradigm.

What are the Indicators of the New Paradigm
The first of course is high unemployment brought about by low sales, tight money, and numerous factors that affect all phases of business. Consumer confidence is low, fears of coming hyper-inflation are apparent, new government regulations are causing uncertainty in all parts of the economy, demands for greater entitlements are high, and frustration on the part of tax payers is increasing. For many, it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off and removed from service.

Change is in the offing. President Obama promised change, and it does seem that things are changing. The problem seems to be that many Americans are not pleased with the change that is coming down from Washington. For years there has been evidence that more and more Americans want a pay check without having to work for the check. There is an increasing demand for entitlements. There is a failure on the part of many to realize that someone has to pay for the services and pay checks that are given out.

The demand for liberty is high and the desire to personally defend those liberties is low. Most Americans today expect that this country will continue to enjoy our prestigious position of leadership among the greatest nations of the world. Many expect to work less and enjoy more pleasures and extravagant lifestyles. Saving for the future is at an all time low.

How does this New Paradigm Affect You?
The affect this new paradigm has on you is dependent on where you fit in the paradigm. We must remember that our society is composed of producers and users. The producers desire to either work for someone else in a productive venture or build their own productive venture. Users, on the other hand, choose to only be consumers who consume products produced by the producers. These users may, hopefully, be consuming by spending money they have previously earned that allows them to enjoy life. Unfortunately, most users are not purchasing products with their money. They are consuming products with money that is being given to them. These gifts are called entitlements. There are times when it is justifiable for someone to receive entitlements. People who have worked all their life and retired from a productive job deserve to receive the money to which they are entitled during retirement. People who have saved during the productive years and are now receiving dividends or interest from that saved money are totally justified in receiving the money to which they are entitled. There is another class of individual that is receiving entitlement money much as a tick receives free blood from a dog. These people have never worked to justify the receipt of the money. They expect to receive money because the are American citizens and therefore feel that they are "Entitled" to a free ride at the expense of the American tax payers. These people are parasites on the butt of America.

I hope that as you read the previous paragraph you began to figure out where you presently fit in this socio-economic fabric of our nation. Are you a producer or a user? Next, I hope you are beginning to decide where you will choose to weave your future into this fabric. Will you choose to be a producer who will spend your life helping to make this nation the envy of the world, or will you choose to be a user who spends your life sucking blood from the life of our nation? If you choose to spend your life as a user, I suggest you close this site and go back to playing Internet Backgammon and texting on that free phone that you got because you are too lazy to work. But if you have chosen to be a producer, then by all means read on.

If you are reading this paragraph, then you have chosen to be a producer. You have chosen to take your position among the many patriotic heroes of this nation who get up every morning, go to a productive job, support your family, and become an important member of your community. Now let's get on with deciding how this new paradigm is affecting you now, how you will prepare for the new paradigm and your place in the new emerging world, and how your present decisions will affect the rest of your life.

Regardless of your age, you probably have been preparing for a career for several years. You have looked at many options. You have assessed your interests, your desires, and you have investigated several options. But you may be finding now that the game is changing. Some formerly appealing occupations may be waining. Some of those occupations may be paying less money now and facing elimination in a few years. It is hard to know the future. We can only look at trends and try to predict the future.

Where Will the Future Take Us?
The world around us is changing rapidly. Companies that once were sought after for the dependable life-long jobs they offered are now falling from favor. Some companies have stood still while new technologies have made those companies obsolete. They no longer hold a place of prominence in the market place. So where will the job opportunities of the future be, and what do you need to do to prepare for one of those jobs?

I mentioned technology making some companies obsolete. That same technology has raised the curtain on a new breed of companies that will pave the way into a bright future for you. Your first thought might be the field of computers. Computers will continue to play a huge roll in the developing of new technologies and new companies that will develop and make use of these new technologies. However, the computer field is not exactly one of the fields of which I speak. Newer technologies are emerging daily that will change the way we live our lives and the way we work in the future. Let's take a look at some of those technologies.

Energy has been, is today, and will be in the future one of the most important fields for our nation. Our country uses a tremendous amount of energy in all phases of our lives. Unfortunately, we have become dependent on foreign oil for our source of energy. We must break that dependency and become more self sufficient. We have tremendous natural gas reserves that must be tapped. New technologies are making this endeavor more profitable. Our coal reserve is tremendous, but we must find ways to use coal in the production of energy that will be less detrimental to the environment. Also, mine accidents of recent months call out for mining methods that will be less dangerous for the people that extract the coal from the earth. There will be new exciting jobs in both of these fields helping to bring both of these industries to a new level of production and safety. The oil industry is presently plagued with problems as BP works to contain a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This will certainly become an environmental disaster beyond any we have witnessed in our lifetimes. There seems to be technology available that would have prevented this disaster, but the desire to reduce production costs by cutting corners will be very costly in the long run. There are still discoveries to be uncovered that will make the oil industry safer for the environment and for the people who work to bring oil to the market place. These are old, easy energy sources compared to the new sources we now see being developed.

As we move beyond the low hanging fruit of the energy tree we see exciting methods being used to harness energy from the sun, from wind, from tides, and from geothermal sources. Though these industries appear mature and ready to provide massive amounts of energy, we know that each of these fields is still in their infancy. New discoveries are making each of these energy sources more efficient, more appealing, and more available for use in providing our energy. There will be tremendous job growth in each of these fields.

Once energy is produced it must be transferred to the point of use. Our traditional methods of transfer have worked for a long time, but in most cases those methods are getting old and new methods will be used in the future. Pipe lines that carry oil and gas are aging. There are now new materials for building pipe lines that are less resistant to the substances being passed through the pipes. New pipe lines are being built of these materials. Electricity transmission lines in the future will not have to be as large to carry more power than todays lines carry. This is because of new discoveries that make it possible to build the lines with less resistance. Not only can the newer lines carry more electricity, but they will use less energy to move the energy.

The really big factor that will have the most profound effect on our job market is America's declining infrastructure. From highways to sewers, bridges to dams, and subways to buses our infrastructure is wearing out. It has to be rebuilt over the next 25 years. It will not be rebuilt as it was built the first time. New methodologies will make it possible to build an infrastructure that will last much longer than the present one did. Concrete has grown up since it was first used in bridges, buildings, sewers, dams, sidewalks, and all parts of our constructed environment. Concrete can now be made harder, more flexible, denser, and smoother. By building smoother roads cars and trucks will not bounce up and down on the road beating the sub-base of the road and causing settling of the surface. This one factor can improve our lives immensely.

How Do You Get Ready for the Coming Opportunities?
The short answer is education.