Archive for Economy

Babies and Budgets

SwampDaughter got home from work last night as the aroma of roasting chicken filled the air. “My check was deposited a day early; want to ride with me to Walmart to pick up some diapers and formula?”

“Dinner is almost ready, so I can probably go!” I answered. She had mentioned that morning that, if her check was in today, she needed to go. The kids had already done their homework, reading, and taken their baths.  They were good to go. Mommy just needed to sign their behavior reports and look over the notes and corrected work that had come home from school.

Dylan, the eight-year-old second grader, had bombed a language arts test because he hadn’t used a cedilla under his digraphs. Mommy and I looked at the test in perplexity.  He HAD answered the questions correctly, his spelling was perfect, but he forgot to put the cedilla. Every language arts test in his grade has multiple proofreader marks that must be used correctly, or the answer is wrong.

“What is up with this?” Mommy said.  “Granted, when I was in school, I did not see the need for algebra, yet now I use it daily in my job.  But this? What possible use could this be?”

“I think it’s called ‘creating employment for English majors through common core standards'”, I answered.  I have never, in my long and varied work history, had occasion to even know what a cedilla was, let alone the proper usage. I believe that he will see this multiple times in the future on standardized tests (sigh), so we had better make sure he uses same. I briefly pondered whether our news anchors and local journalists know about the cedilla.  Would knowing minutiae about diacritical marks help them to write (or read) news stories without sounding like 13-year-old girls with PMS? If so, they need to be put into diacritical re-education classes immediately.

After dinner, we headed to Wal-Mart for said formulas, diapers, wipies, and assorted baby paraphernalia. $150-some dollars later, we headed home.  Daughter looked over her bill in disbelief. “I got paid a day early, and I’m completely broke again!” she wailed.

“Well, that was a month’s worth of formula and diapers, right?” I asked.

“No, that was a WEEK’s worth of formula, maybe ten days. The diapers and wipies might last three weeks.”

DAMN! “Maybe we should consider cloth diapers….”

“I REALLY can’t afford those!”

Well. Maybe we can look into the cost of buying cloth for making diapers over the weekend. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the formula. They are shorthanded at Mommy’s job, so she barely gets to eat her lunch, let alone having a full 20 minutes at lunch in order to pump milk. Her milk supply is drying up.

Babies really are expensive.

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What Would I Do?

I was asked recently what would I do if I were in a similar situation regarding a job that had radically changed from what the person was originally hired for.

Well, that’s easy. I’d give the new situation a chance, if it were feasible from both an economic and family standpoint and, if it isn’t, I’d leave.

People have a tendency, and I’m no different, to stick with what is comfortable. As a situation grows more uncomfortable over time, we adjust our expectations. It is only when the discomfort is truly painful do we make that leap into the unfamiliar.

When we leap into the unfamiliar, we are often as uncomfortable with the new work situation and new people as we are with a pair of new shoes or new jeans. The old, worn ones are much more comfortable. Sometimes we slip back into the comfort of the old without making the effort to break in or get used to the new to where they, too, are comfortable.

Have you ever noticed that it is the same with a marriage? People grow apart over time and it is only when the situation is more painful than staying does the situation resolve. The fear of the unknown is a powerful force in people’s lives.

I know that is waaaaay too simplistic for the situations that most people face. I’ve found that I really only have to think about four factors in an employment situation:

Will this job fulfill my financial needs? If it pays less than my expenses, it is time for me to leave (which is what eventually happened with my last job).

Will this job fulfill my family needs? (I stayed with my last job for such a long time because of the generous time off policy because of family needs.)

Will this job help or interfere with my needs for self growth and mental stimulation? (Honestly, I should have left my last job five years ago.)

Do the people that are my coworkers share my values? Sometimes the pay may be good, the hours and schedule are great, the learning opportunities are fine, but you’re working with complete assholes. Do an attitude check and, if it isn’t YOU, you’re not going to be happy. I don’t believe in the liberal, politically correct bullshit espoused in most places.

I’ve been hired in the past and, when I went to work, found that the position had been completely misrepresented as to the hours, the compensation, or both. If it doesn’t fit, I leave. I have found that when my gut and my head are in conflict, my gut feeling is more correct. If my gut says go, I should go.

There are unscrupulous employers that try to make employees bend over backwards and work ridiculous hours because they think that they can. Well, I seem to recall that slavery is illegal. If you do not want to work those hours, that schedule, or those wages, you do not have to. You just have to commit the time and energy to finding something that you CAN work for compensation that you can live, and even thrive, on.

I know that times are hard. You might need to put some extra time and training in, but there are always options. I’m a big proponent of self employment but there aren’t many benefits, and the boss is always a bitch.

UPDATE: SwampMan said it was *VERY* important to include that I do not actually do any of those things. He said that it was far more likely that once I was aware of the deception, I would pitch a HUGE fit along with nearby equipment, shriek very ugly words, and probably break the glass in the door on the way out.

Now, now. I have left many jobs under good circumstances. As long as somebody isn’t a low down deceiving deceiver, I’m as calm and mellow as any ol’ well-fed gator basking in the sun on a warm summer day.

Plus, what I do and what is the right thing to do can be two very different things. I think that tossing the annoying drunken people who run up and down outside hotel rooms, making a lot of noise and banging on doors in the wee hours of the morning waking up sleeping travelers and children just to be funny, off the third floor balcony of said hotel is perfectly reasonable. SwampMan thought it was a litle extreme and actually held me back from doing so, shouting out a warning to the dipshits that he wasn’t going to be able to hold me for long and that they better run like hell. I take these little differences in personality into account with my advice.

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Should I Improve the Outside of My House Now?

Since I was taking time off to fix the place up (reroof, put up fences), I mentioned painting and landscaping to my little brother. Note: The livestock had eaten all of the landscaping during a drought when I let them into the yard to graze. I am, therefore, starting over with a clean slate, as it were.

“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea!” opined my lil’ brother.

“Um, why?” I asked curiously.

“Well, look at it from the point of view of a thief. He’s looking for the greatest return on his investment in time and thievery because he’s risking his life for valuables that may be in that house. ”

“Riiiiiight. And the only way he has of knowing what’s INSIDE the house is to base it on the appearance of the OUTSIDE of the house!”

“And there are a lot of unemployed pissed-off people right now. Thanks to Obama, they think rich people owe them. You have a house. Therefore, you are rich.”

“YOU FIXED UP MOM’s PLACE AND PAINTED IT!” I protested.

“And somebody’s home almost all the time. Besides, her place is wood and would deteriorate if there weren’t a fresh coat of paint. Yours won’t.”

I have to say that I do not find fault with his reasoning. If I were going to break into a vehicle, it would not be an old clunker. If I were going to break into a house, would I break into one where it looks like the inhabitants can’t afford paint?

I have to think about this some, because I really wanted to get the outside all pretty again. But, when I go back to work, I probably couldn’t keep up with the maintenance necessary on the shrubberies and flowerbeds.

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Obama Administration Set to Make Cuts That Would Most Hurt Taxpayers

Instead of removing folk at the Department of Justice and ATF who are busily running guns to foreign drug gangs (God knows that they wouldn’t deign to help anybody in the U.S.), or the people at the EPA who are trying to shut down the nation’s power supplies, the Obama administration has instead decided to move on to furloughing people that do a job that is essential to the wellbeing of millions of Americans: The food inspectors.

Sanderson Farms, Inc., the third- largest U.S. chicken processor, said the removal of food-safety inspectors because of federal budget cuts set to go into effect next week would disrupt its operations.

The company is prohibited by law from operating poultry- processing plants without the presence of federal inspectors and would have to shut plants in their absence, Laurel, Mississippi- based Sanderson said in a filing today.

The closing of plants owned by Sanderson, a supplier to grocery chains Kroger Co. and Supervalu Inc., would be one of the effects of the automatic U.S. federal budget cuts set to begin March 1 unless President Barack Obama and Congress work out a deal to avoid or postpone them.

So, all you folks on a fixed income out there (that would apply to anybody earning a paycheck, by the way, because the boss can’t afford to give out wage increases every time the Federal government is out of control which would be constantly) or on a limited income retirement are about to be screwed AGAIN by the people that have already screwed you pretty seriously on food prices by putting food into your vehicle’s gas tank (to the detriment of said vehicles, I might add). Now, out of all the people that the Federal government COULD pick for furloughs that would never be noticed, they just happen to pick the folks whose absence will shut down entire industries. WHAT a coincidence!

The USDA is considering furloughing inspectors for 15 days as part of automatic U.S. federal budget cuts, known as sequestration. The move could spur the “first widespread shortage” of meat, poultry and egg products in generations, according to a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (DEMOCRAT) on Feb. 11 by three dozen trade groups from across the country.

I believe that “widespread shortage” of meat, poultry and egg products is EXACTLY what the Federal government wants. This is not an accident, folks.

A 15-day furlough resulting from the cuts could cost more than $10 billion in production losses and industry workers could lose more than $400 million in wages, Vilsack (DEMOCRAT) said in a Feb. 5 letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski, (DEMOCRAT), chairwoman of the appropriations committee.

Sounds like an e-mail probably went out that said “Barbi, we believe we have identified the folks in this department whose loss will do the greatest damage to the taxpayers, the food industry, and the economy! Everybody else’s job is secure. Give my regards to Barry. Y’all have fun with this now!” to me.

If the Federal government has enough power to petulantly shut down food operations that will negatively effect millions of citizens and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, they have too much power. It is waaaaaay past time that states got together and cut the Federal government out of their business.

I’m pretty sure that those Federal inspector positions could be filled pretty darn quickly by the states and/or private sector, and probably at a lower cost, too.

Edited to add that a lack of poultry or eggs at the grocery store won’t affect me AT ALL.

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Debt Bomb

Fair warning–striptease and bouncing tatas may not be considered by some to be family friendly. Not safe for work, yo. Nice explanation of the problems facing us but I’m not sure if the male viewers will be listening to the lyrics.

Does economics need something a bit more extreme, like maybe pole dancers, for people to get the idea that you can’t run a deficit forever?

And a shout out to Karl Denninger at Market Ticker who has been busily scouring the internet for visual examples of the economic problems besetting this nation and, indeed, the world. I may not always agree with his solutions, but I have to admire his work ethic.

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If I Wanted America to Fail

You don’t really think that our politicians and media have our best interests at heart, do you?

h/t Sullivan’s Travelers

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Rising Oil Prices Gonna Put a Whole New Hurt on People’s Lives

It looks like it will soon cost me $80 per week to commute to my (low paying) job. If I were paying day care costs, I couldn’t afford to go to work now, for my pay before taxes is considerably less than what I was bringing home 30 years ago even before a college degree. Did I mention that sad sum purchases way, way less now? Oh, yes. I’m in the ranks of the underemployed.

Luckily, Swampman is adept at keeping my old vehicle going. Other people at work are not so lucky. Some people are depending on riding with others for they can’t afford to pay for repairs to their vehicles. This often involves getting to work two hours early and leaving an hour or more late.

What a lot of people that are struggling to pay their bills every month do not know is that they’re about to be hit by another round of disastrous (for them) price increases. Livestock growers are reeling NOW from the price increases in forage and grain for livestock. Hay is almost impossible to come by here. The pastures are dry. The cost of making eggs, farmed catfish, beef, pork, and chickens is skyrocketing here, and it will be passed on to consumers. The increased price of oil means that fertilizer prices are going to shoot higher. Grain prices will be higher. Produce prices trucked across the country (or from other countries) will be higher.

Last time this happened, there was a huge increase in defaults as people had to decide whether they needed to buy food, pay for gasoline, pay for daycare and clothing for their children, pay for transportation, or pay their mortgage. Think that will happen again this time?

I’m delighted to see that I, as a taxpayer, will be paying for Michelle’s transportation costs as she hits the ski slopes. Of course, I won’t be going anywhere for vacation again this year. I won’t be able to afford the gas. I had to buy Michelle’s.

Of course, this is all according to Obama’s Grand Plan:

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