Posts tagged as:

the economy

Earlier today I learned of these numbers today from Mature Landscaping:

Salary of retired US Presidents ……………$180,000 FOR LIFE
Salary of House/Senate ……………………..$174,00​0 FOR LIFE
Salary of Speaker of the House …………….$223,500 FOR LIFE
Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders …… $193,400 FOR LIFE
Average Salary of a teacher ……………….. $40,065
Average Salary of Soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN $38,000

 

I had been feeling unsettled by a gnawing sense of guilt and shame ever since. That’s probably why when we caught a glimpse of the evening news, I suddenly blurted out,

Did you know how much a soldier that is currently fighting in the war is paid? A year? $38,000. That’s how much!

The boys immediately were feeling just as outraged. “That’s not a lot of money right?” The Teenager got a bit emotional. “And they are risking their lives over there!”

8-year-old Mr. Monk got up on the coffee table and pontificated as he’s wont to.

You know what? What we need is for the economy to get better!

I swear I have no idea where he got this (or any others). We seldom watch TV, let alone news. I wonder whether this has anything to do with his endless viewing of The Simpsons. In fact, he watches The Simpsons so much he’s able to quote some of the episodes the way The Husband is able to quote The Princess Bride.

You know how you can tell the economy is getting lower?

(He is, after all, only 8 years old…)

The free ice cream at ______ Burgers is now so small that you only get the bottom part. It used to be as big as the Dairy Queen’s!

Hold the thought while I contact The Economist about the Ice Cream Index idea.

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Have you ever seen mean comments left by irate YouTubers for people who videotapes the television as a show was going on and uploaded the footage of that onto YouTube?

“Hey loser. Why are you taping your own TV and then put that on YouTube?!”

 

I am a loser so I take pictures of magazines that I read and I post them on the Interweb…

 

Rarely did I take one look at The Economist and burst out laughing...

 

 

The Economist can be raunchy, and it has a sense of humor. Who knew?!

 

Hey, at least they refrained from using the picture of the now famous "bulge"... The ending of this article titled, The Weiner War, (of course), once again showed The Economist can be raunchy, IF they want to.

 

"THE earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that struck Japan three months ago have revealed something important about the country: a seam of strength and composure in the bedrock of society that has surprised even the Japanese themselves."

“THE earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that struck Japan three months ago have revealed something important about the country: a seam of strength and composure in the bedrock of society that has surprised even the Japanese themselves.”

To me, this picture chosen by The Economist to accompany this article, says so much about what is quintessential and unique about Japan. From the “light-hearted” (as much as one could in this situation) reference to the ubiquitous 7 Eleven, to a quiet, subtle display of the much-vaunted attention to efficiency, adaptability, cleanliness, orderliness, and personal appearances (Notice how the mother looks much more put together than I am on a daily basis, and in such chaos and under such duress…)

And then read these two stories of exemplary spirits:

24-year-old Miki Endo, who used the loudspeaker system in Minamisanriku, a fishing port close to the focus of the 9.0 earthquake, to urge residents to do what they could to escape the incoming tsunami. She drowned at her post. Television footage shows the rising sea approaching, with her haunting voice echoing over the waves…

One fisherman tells of the four days he spent clearing the wreckage of his village, with no knowledge of the whereabouts of his eldest son. When his son eventually appeared, walking down off the mountain after a long cross-country trek to reach his parents, the two wiped tears from their eyes but did not say a word to each other. The son did not wish to disturb his father’s toil.

 

All the world is watching, holding their breath, especially their neighbors in Asia, because, as some commentators in the news media in China, India and Taiwan have said, If the Japanese people, with all their disciplines, their perseverance, their technological know-hows, their attention to details and rules, cannot pull through, we are all doomed when the same thing happens on our soil.

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I LOVE the smell of money.

I am being 100% serious here. Have you ever held a brand new bill in your hand? Rubbing it between your thumb and forefinger and feeling the intricate texture on it? Taking in a deep breath of the intoxicating smell that is so much better than the new car smell?

My love for the feel and smell of brand new bills stemmed from all the wonderful memories during Chinese New Year and the money we were given inside those good-luck red envelops. It is important to use only GOOD CLEAN CRISP, preferably brand spanking new, bills in the red envelops. Every year right before Chinese New Year, the government would print out new notes in anticipation of people waiting in line at banks to exchange their old notes for NEW and CRISP bills. As I am typing this, I can remember seeing my dad coming home with a big fat envelop filled with the CRISP NEW bills he just exchanged from the bank,  and I can also vividly recall the feeling of rubbing a $NTD 1000 bill between my fingers and my heart starts a-fluttering. The smell of new money wafts in from nowhere. Kinetic memories FTW.

The first time I tried to celebrate Chinese New Year with my children here I walked in and asked to withdraw $100 in $1’s. The bank teller was not amused but she obliged. I stared at the pile of old and dirty dollar bills in dismay.

“Don’t you have NEW dollar bills?”

“Hm. No.”

“But it’s Chinese New Year!”

I was baffled by how she was baffled by all this.

Because of my childhood, I could understand when Mr. Monk first started receiving allowances, he asked for actual, physical money and not some “virtual money” registered in our family Quicken account the way his older brother does. Every Saturday, he goes to the family change jar and takes out 8 quarters ($1 for each grade you are in). He counts them. He rearranges them. He puts them in his wallet, takes them out again and then puts them all back in. He would beg me to walk to Walgreens across the street with him so he could buy something with his own, actual, money in all its physical glory.

The idea that money in the modern world, for the most part, is virtual not only sounds  ridiculous to him but seems to insult his intelligence.

“So you mean your money is just numbers inside your bank’s computer?!”

Nowadays, like many people, I do not carry a lot of cash nor do I pay with cash unless absolutely necessary. I use my credit card for everything and for any amount. Yes, I stopped feeling guilty a long time ago for using my VISA to pay for a small soda. Hey, I figure, at least I am not using my AmEx which would cost the retailer at least 2% more in processing fee. So I am actually being nice. But I miss being awed by the sight, smell and feel of crisp new bills which, in my experience, are extremely hard to come by in the U.S.

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Despite my nostalgia for the smell of crisp new bills and my persistent discomfort with the idea of virtual money (Think: Stocks. Think: Bernie Madoff. Think: Facebook valued at $50 Billion), I listened to a story on NPR, twice, of how a “magical” idea of virtual currency by four economists fixed the inflation problem in Brazil and saved the country. I was flabbergasted and can’t stop thinking about it since.

Long story short: Brazil suffered inflation since the 1950s when the government decided to print more money in order to fund the building of a new capital. They had not been able to get out of the vicious cycle and things got so bad in the 1980s that the inflation rate was 80% per month. Can you imagine that? Per month!

In 1992, the new minister of finance as well as the president asked for help from a group of four economists and what’s more, they promised the economists that the government would go along with whatever crazy idea they came up with and the economists would have total reign. The plan was not only to slow down the printing of money but more importantly, to change people’s behaviors and mentality. For the plan to work, the Brazilians needed to have faith in the stable value of the currency, after suffering years of crazy inflation rates. “People have to be tricked into thinking money will hold its value.”

What followed was nothing short of brilliant and fantastical, and the plan, however insane it may sound at first, actually made sense in theory and worked in real life.

The four economists wanted to create a new currency that was stable, dependable and trustworthy.  The only catch: This currency would not be real.  No coins, no bills.  It was fake. [It was] called it a Unit of Real Value — URV… It was virtual; it didn’t exist in fact.

People would still have and use the existing currency, the cruzeiro.  But everything would be listed in URVs, the fake currency.   Their wages would be listed in URVs.  Taxes were in URVs.  All prices were listed in URVs.  And URVs were kept stable. What changed was how many cruzeiros each URV was worth…  after a few months, [people] began to see that prices in URVs were stable. Once that happened, [the four economists] could declare that the virtual currency would become the country’s actual currency. It would be called the real. — NPR Abridged Transcript or Full-length Podcast

Imagine that: economists as national heroes. Virtual money that saved an entire country from inflating itself out of oblivion.

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Speaking of those who are in the business of money printing aka the Federal Reserve in the U.S., of course you know who Alexander Hamilton is. The dude on the $10 dollar bill. Yes! He who had the good fortune of being the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. But I did NOT know that he was born and grew up in the West Indies, an illegitimate child whose father abandoned them early on and whose mother died of a fever when he was 13.

Who’d have thought that Alexander Hamilton would make a great subject for Hip Hop and Rap and jam poetry? The Tony Award winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda did. Watch him do his Alexander Hamilton Mixtape at the White House. Really, history has never been so hip. Andrea, this one is especially for you, you High School teacher and Economics Geek you. 🙂

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The Lipstick Index: Myth Busted?

February 2, 2009 Making sure you know I read the Economist so you know I'm not dumb, just obnoxious

The first time I heard about the Lipstick Index was from a Mary Kay rep: I learned from her that the three recession-proof products are lipsticks, alcohol, and cigarettes. It is not difficult to understand why alcohol and cigarettes are recession-proof: if you are addicted to something, you are going to get your drink on, […]