Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I didn't want to say it, but I told you so :-P

While I was sitting in the jury waiting room today, I was going through last week's issue of Newsweek and catching up on my reading. I came across an article by Daniel Gross entitled, "Reigning In Bubbles So They Won't Pop" and I instantly thought of my Panic! at the Banks! post from last fall. In it I mentioned how I thought that there should be some sort of watchdog which would spot and curtail bubbles before they get carried away and take us into dangerous territory. D. Gross says the same thing and suggests the need for "automatic brakes" on these bubbles. From my understanding, this seems very Keynesian in nature. Basically zig when the economy zags. I guess we've all gotten accustomed to going with the flow when the good times are rolling and then dealing with the hangover when the party's over. But maybe if we had some self-control at the party, we wouldn't have to deal with a hangover the next day. Pump the economy when we're down and reign us in when the bulls are stampeding - pun intended. They call me mellow yellow.

Friday, March 6, 2009


S and I were talking today and she mentioned that one of her coworkers is paying $800 a month for their kid's preschool. An outrageous a sum though it may be, I understand why the parents would be willing to spend this amount of money for it. One doesn't really spend $800 on preschool for the education it affords. They spend it because of the opportunities which the school will provide for their child's future. It's always been a dog-eat-dog world out there, but I presume that the notch has been raised for what constitutes providing opportunities for your kid. When I was young, the opportunity my parents provided me was a move to America and a public school education. It was quite the classic immigrant story. However, today is a different day than it was 25 years ago. Colleges are so competitive and so is the job market. Heck, if you don't stand out then your job may even be outsourced. So if someone has the means to do so, then why wouldn't they send their kid to a premier preschool?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh Tevye, What Happened to Traditions?

I have a friend who had been talking to a guy for quite a few months. They had gone out for a while and then things cooled down but he kept showing interest in her. Recently, they were hanging out and out of the blue, he looks over at her rings and makes a comment about them. You see, she wore these specific rings after getting an astrology reading done because she was told that they would bring her good fortune. Horoscopes and astrology reports are not uncommon among Hindus and have been used for many years when two people wanted to see how compatible they were. I've even had my astrology report done! Now, whether you choose to believe the report or not is a different story. My astrology report was done without me actually being there; my mom went to get it done for me haha. She came home and reported to me what it said, and I initially didn't give it much thought. However it did mention specific things that would happen at certain ages in my life and these things did end up happening so I figured I'd play it safe and abide by the astrologer's recommendations. That's why I wear a ring on my index finger as well.

Anyways, I've strayed from my original story. The guy then went on to say to my friend that these sort of beliefs make her seem like she's from the 18th century and he needs a modern girl, and that really pissed me off. How does that make her seem like she's from the 18th century? Since when does "traditional" equate to "backwards"? What makes a modern girl? (Ironically, this girl is probably one of the most techy, gadget-loving people I know.. she's even got an IPhone!) I completely understand that when one culture is introduced into a different environment, there is a tendency to assimilate with those around you, and certain trademarks of that culture are no longer evident. However, there's a difference between assimilating and abandoning. It's funny because this girl grew up in the U.S. and this guy moved to the states much later in his life. So, if anything, he should be more Indianized and she should be more Americanized. At the very least, he should've been more understanding.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fareed Zakaria Agrees with Me!

When I got my latest issue of Newsweek, I saw on the cover that Fareed Zakaria had written the cover article entitled "The Bright Side." After reading it, I was so excited that he echoed some of the points I made in my previous post! I'm not blowing steam out my behind after all! Someone else thinks like me and that someone has the ability to reach the masses. Let's face it, not that many people are going to read my blog but thousands of people will read his article. He says that we shouldn't "as some noted economists advocate, stimulate the economy with more tax cuts. That would be only one more way to keep the party going artificially - like asking a drunk to go to AA next year, but in the mean time to have more whiskey. A far better stimulus would be to announce and expedite major infrastructure and energy projects, which are investments, not consumption." And not only that, but in the Inside Business section titled "Yes, It's a Wreck But We Can Fix It" a few of the contributors also echoed what I wrote. Joy! I think we just feel like we need to stop borrowing so much and learn to save first. That's what my parents taught me but that's not what we're doing as a nation. Why promote tax cuts now only to pay for it later? And regarding the fallout of our economic crisis, I believe we just need to take our lumps (huge lumps!) and grow from this experience for the future. Ah well, I don't want to start lecturing again.

I do want to talk about a recent experience I had with a colleague of mine. Normally I don't like to discuss my political beliefs at work - I just feel like it stirs up so many emotions in people and pins them against each other and that's not really what I want in a working environment. When asked about the debates, I talk about both sides because both seem to present at least something. However, last week I went to lunch with a guy from work and he asked me who I was leaning towards in the election. I responded by saying that I think that I'm leaning towards Obama. BIG MISTAKE. Afterwards, this guy would not stop talking about how that is the wrong decision. He said to me, "I don't know how any intelligent person would vote for Obama knowing that he's going to take money from your pocket." Apparently this colleague of mine makes enough to be placed in the tier that would be hit with a tax increase; I certainly don't make that much. "Obama is a socialist who wants to redistribute wealth," he said, pointing his finger angrily towards me as if that's a bad thing. Why is it OK for the gap between the middle and upper class to continue to rise? Color me a socialist if it means that I prefer to think that every one of us gets lifted if we look out for the majority. The way I see it is that the more that the majority earns, the more they'll be able to save or spend and thereby increase liquidity in our economy, or at the very least, save for that 20% downpayment for a house and the subsequent mortgage payments. The trickle down theory is a nice theory but the wealth still lies in the hands of a minority. Anyways, after I opened my mouth in support of Obama and realized what I had gotten myself into, I chose not to say another word for fear of having to hear more crap spew from him. It's one thing to have a political discussion with someone with whom you can bounce ideas off ofand gain mutual insight into the other's point of view and it's another thing to have to listen to what I had to sit through. This is why I don't like to discuss political beliefs at work. Lesson learned.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Panic! at the Banks!

The world is so different now than it was when I last posted on this blog. Large firms, insurance companies and banks have folded or have been bailed out. A $700 billion bailout package was passed by Congress (won't be implemented for a while though) . Phrases like "bailout", "Wall Street to Main Street", "PANIC!"and "Depression" are seemingly interwoven into every newscast I watch. More recently Wall Street has spiraled out of control and pretty much brought the entire world with it. Unemployment's creeping up, energy prices are through the roof and - even though the government says it's not the case - inflation is going up (heck, I feel it in my wallet, how can they say it's not a problem!) These are definitely trying times. This scenario seems to be a Perfect Storm of sorts to bring down our country's economic and foreign relations power.

Coincidentally, all of this is going down as we get ready to select our next president. Politics and the economy are going to definitely go hand-in-hand in this election race but I find it disconcerting how each candidate promises to cut taxes and cut spending, because I personally think that's the wrong way to handle the economic crisis that we're in. Let me tell you something, the DEFICIT is killing us! It's devaluing our dollar, increasing our dependence on foreign countries and weakening our ability to conduct diplomacy. Most importantly, it's taking away real wealth from the average American household. In recent history, the government's been cutting taxes and banking on the hope that these cuts would spur enough growth to eventually cover the deficit caused by the cuts. Then they cut spending to make it look like they're doing all they can do to save us - the regular Joe Six-Packs of the country - money. But the government is the biggest spender in the country and I think it needs to spend money to spur growth in a New Deal-esque way. You need to spend money to make money right? Spend money on our infrastructure, on alternative energy sources for the short term and the long term, on services that improve the quality of life (health care) and build a stronger, more competitive workforce (education), etc. All of this has to be paid for in some way. Tax us fairly so the rich don't get richer through tax loops; widening the gap further between the middle and upper class. I personally do pay a lot in taxes but wouldn't mind the tax burden if it meant that I would be getting grade-A service in return.

So let's talk more on the topic of services provided by the government. In light of the current financial sector meltdown, I think that the government should provide oversight over and regulation of the various sectors of our economy. Many argue that it's sacrilegious to our capitalistic foundation to grant government so much power over firms and businesses. Hell they're using the bailout package to essentially buy a stake in these companies! A colleague of mine states that so much regulation would put a stranglehold on innovation and the creative means by which businesses generate money. He argues that no one had a problem with these companies when they were making money during a boom and tax revenue was coming in. This is true. It's easy to turn a blind eye to situations when the good times are rolling, but that doesn't necessarily mean that when everything heads south we shouldn't take a step back, evaluate where things went wrong and how to prevent them in the future.

Everyone is scared about where this economy is heading. Wall Street is scared about the future and the markets have really plummeted in the last week. When the Great Depression hit, it was the lack of movement of money which really made things worse and fed the panic. In order to prevent that scenario, our Congress passed a $700 billion bailout package to ensure liquidity. However, even after they passed the bailout package the markets continued to plunge. So why are investors still hesitant about the economy? Well, one of the reasons is that although the amount of money was agreed upon, the actual implementation will take a few weeks and possibly months to feel the impact. But I think that the traders on Wall Street need more assurance. What sort of regulations will be put in place to ensure that this doesn't happen again? Heck, what the hell are they even going to regulate? Derivatives? In speaking with my cousin, it doesn't seem like derivatives are all that bad if used properly. It seems like it was the underlying contracts that were risky. Regardless, it's Congress's and their subcommittees' jobs to figure this out. And I think that eventually a set of checks and balances will restore confidence back in the market.

Additionally, the government should set up a "bubble watch" committee which would keep an eye on bubbles in various sectors report them to Congress once a quarter. It's not hard to see that there's a bubble forming and once Congress is notified, steps can be taken to differentiate a speculative bubble from a genuine boom. This ability to nip a bubble in the bud may also restore confidence in the stability of our economy.

I recently came across transcripts of FDR's fireside chats online. He held these chats to reassure the United States' citizens during the Depression and explain to them in layman's terms what the government was doing to restore the economy and their reasons for taking those steps. I wish the next president holds the modern day equivalent of these fireside chats. .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Politically Incorrect

I watched Obama's speech last night and I have to admit, he's a good public speaker. He seemed very comfortable up there on stage. I look forward to listening to McCain's speech next week. See, I'm not really one to associate myself with a party. I'm not Red and I'm not Blue. I'm more of a Purple - kinda Red and kinda Blue. And I think that's probably the case with most Americans. I agree with Obama on some things and I agree with McCain on some things. We all essentially gavitate to the middle.

What I don't understand are the hardcore Democrats and Republicans. We have a few of those at work. I don't really enjoy discussing politics at work because it's such a divisive topic, but some people love to wear their Red or Blue on their sleeve. So this Democrat, we'll call him Elephant, was raving on and on about Obama today. I liked the speech too, but come on! This grisley bear of a man sounded like a 13 yr old school girl gushing over Justin Timberlake. And the Republican, we'll call him Donkey (not to be confused w/ Donkey from Shrek), turned beat red (pun intended) talking about how McCain's choice for VP doesn't take away from the Republicans' attack that Obama is too inexperienced to become president. I find it comical. I wonder if they make their own choices or just adopt their party's choices because they're loyal to that party.

I'm Purple. I think that the artist formerly known as Prince would love it if a party adopted Purple to represent them. He can perform "Purple Reign" at the innaugural. I wish they had a font for the symbol which represents the artist formerly known as Prince so I wouldn't have to type "the artist formerly known as Prince."

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Work.. that's the magic word lately. Everywhere I look, someone's talking about how much work they have. My friend, S, has been swamped lately. She's been working until all hours of the night and stressed with having to deal w/ a crappy project manager and incompetent consultants. Pobresita.

We have also been swamped at work since we're in the midst of a huge web re-engineering project. My manager's been putting in a crap-load of hours on it. Late night calls testing printouts to the client in Japan, db back-up and restores a million times over, canceled vacations. The list goes on and on and it seems that whenever something goes wrong, it inevitably falls on his lap. I try and help out where I can, but it's been getting to me too. These consultants - though they're nice guys - are a pain in the ass! Their requests are becoming more and more demanding and we have to cater to them like WE work for THEM. And even though H & M have put in work to the project, most of these requests go to my manager or myself. That wouldn't even be so bad if it's the only thing we were working on. A lot of people have the luxury of working on one project and then going on to the next project. Not so for us. It seems like every IT related project goes through our Network group at some point so we get dragged in a million different directions at a time. The best is when someone from one of the project keeps asking for your status and you really don't have anything to tell them because you just haven't had the time to work on it.

I've learned, however, that no matter how bad you have it, you'll always find someone who has it worse than you. I was talking to one of the Indian consultants at work and he was at the brink of cracking up. He was telling me how he's been working until 11pm or later for the past 2 weeks and how his wife is mad at him and doesn't understand the pressures at work. He had planned to take his mother-in-law (who's visiting from India) on a trip to Niagara Falls last weekend but had to cancel it for work. So I'm sure that didn't go over too well w/ his wife. This man was on the verge of breaking into tears as he was telling me this. Thank God he didn't start crying. I don't know how to act in front of a crying man!

So, yeah, work has been a bitch lately but I don't have it so bad in comparison to him. Plus, I'm on a 100-day plan right now. Basically, ever since I got back from Florida, my plan has been to push myself harder than ever for the next 100 days. It's not like I'm going to coast afterwards, that's not my style, but the idea is that during these 100-days, I'm going to just go all out in everything I do. "I don't sleep, cuz sleep is the cousin of death."