Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tag, You're Out....The Sad Lives of Kids, Recess and Obsessive Adults

What is wrong with people? Earlier this year, I wrote a blog on whether we were a motherland or a fatherland? I repeat the question. What is going on here? It seems as if today's parents want guarantees that their child will be healthy, strong, smart, talented and rich. Life simply doesn't work like that. In earlier generations, people learned to worked BEYOND their capacities. They overcame shortfalls and learned to work around obstacles. Today we have a generation of parent who want their children hermetically sealed. Every surface is supposed to be germfree and every show is supposed to be educational. Is it any wonder that the phenomenon of childhood obesity and depression is growing? It appears that there is a virulent segment of the population that despises competition at any level. These are the same folks who wanted to get rid of juried art shows and simply give the scholarships based on a drawing. C'mon. At some point we have to be willing to say that there are some people that are basically better at some skills than others.

Perhaps the problems lie in our education system. Right now, I can walk down to a Bridging class where the majority of the students read one a third grade level or lower, and ask them what they will do upon graduation, and ALL of them will say they are going to college. I am not saying having aspirations beyond your skills is a bad thing, but we have to get over the idea that every kid who walks across the stage in May is entitled to go to college. Likewise, we need to get over the idea that a college degree qualifies someone for a job. Believe me, there are many people with degrees in my circle of acquaintances that are unfit for many jobs. And at what point did it get to be shameful to work with one's hands? I admire the man who can fix my air conditioner or car. We rely on the expertise of electricians, plumbers and carpenters. Yet seldom will you hear these jobs in the same breath with the aspirations of a high school student.

Something needs to change. We need to get away from elitist specialization and back to the basics of learning, living and loving. Perhaps it's our attachment to the internet, perhaps it's our shallow worship of all things celebrity, but whatever the cause, we must change direction soon. If not for our sake, or our kids sake, then for the kids down the road that will have to deal with the mess these approaches leave behind.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap???

Here's just a smattering of today's dismal financial news. It sent the stock market plummeting. But what caused these shortfalls? In most cases it was a situation in which banks, trying to outdo their competitors for future profit on balloon mortgages, qualified people for huge amounts of money. In many cases, these were people that really should not have been lent money due to poor credit history, unstable income and other factors. But banks are notoriously blind when it comes to seeing huge profits down the road. They speculated that the realty market would continue it's ridiculous upward spiral, without thinking about the tenuous financial bridges they were building. While you are pondering this situation, take a look HERE. This is a link for banks that accept matricula consulare for issuing accounts and loans. While such things as domestic drivers' licenses and social security numbers are verifiable, matricula consulare is issued to those who do not have "green cards" and the conventional documentation that would permit such banking transactions. Now, I am not saying this is the only problem with our banking system, but playing fast and loose with money is what caused a little problem locally known in Dallas as the Savings And Loan Fiasco. Read and consider that many of the proponents of less restrictions on illegal immigrants have come largely from the construction industry and their kissing cousins in real estate and banking. And then, ask yourself if this is a "real" drop, or one that was largely caused by a singular lack of clarity and legality on the part of certain greedy bank groups. Do you like having to pay higher interest to fund loans that are given out like cheap candy on Halloween? Speak up-the banks can't hear you.....

  • Citigroup, the biggest bank in the US, reported a 57% drop in third-quarter earnings from a year earlier, due in no small part to bad mortgages;
  • Bank of America, the second-largest US bank, just reported a 32% drop in earnings, led by a loss of $527 million in revenues at its structured products division;
  • J.P.Morgan, the third biggest bank in the US, has marked down $186 million in bad mortgages plus $339 million in debt-derivatives for June-Sept.;
  • National City Corp. of Cleveland – the ninth-largest bank in the US according to Reuters – now projects mortgage-book losses of $160 million for Q3, "the high end of its previous forecast";
  • The leading US savings and loan, Wamu, says it expects a 75% drop in profits, with a new set-aside of almost $1 billion to cover bad debts and a hit of $410 million to its current lending portfolio;

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