Sunday, November 14, 2010

Top 5 Things Goatmug is Cynical About --

Over the last few days I've simply been cynical.  Here are a few of the random thoughts I've had in those cynical moments.

1)  The idea that every student and person in the US needs to go to college makes me cynical.  For a very long time I've been a proponent of the idea that we need to justify job descriptions and job requirements to the real world person that would actually do the job.  We have so many positions that require degrees when the requirement should be nothing more than an associates degree or other some real world experience.  Our system that suggests that a call center employee for the phone company needs to have spend 5 or 6 years at a university to earn $25,000 a year is simply crazy and a misuse of resources.  I believe it should be required that all people do a full calculation of the present value of their career track and the cost of their college education in order to justify the expense.  This calculation would therefore make it impossible for students to go to private colleges that cost $30,000 to $40,000 a year in an attempt to be an elementary school teacher.  I have seen too many people with $100,000 student loans balances that are earning $40,000 a year.  It is simply a recipe for disaster.  Don't get me started about for-profit colleges either.

If you're getting a sense that I've gone commie-red suddenly, you'd be wrong.  What you are reading is disgust at seeing wasted years and money spent trying to earn a degree that adds little or no value in relation to the income production power of the job.  Always inflating college expenses must reach a point where they cannot compensate a student for the future job they will be able to earn.  We are there.

2)  The Susan B Komen Breast Cancer Cure Organization was probably started with great intentions, yet I cynically find myself wondering if it carries on the same legacy that it did originally.  Let me start by saying that my mother died of brain cancer and therefore I am sensitive to the terrible loss and destruction that cancer creates.  My cynicism about this foundation (and others) is that it has become more of an "organization" or movement and a very big business rather than a real attempt to "find a cure".  When you have NFL players and MLB players wearing pink on the field and looking ridiculous, you have big money in play.  I often find myself wondering what would happen if any of these researchers actually did cure cancer how many folks would be out of work from there well paid positions within this non-profit?  Something to think about.  Are we finding a cure, or finding a cause to have people open their wallets?

3)   I'm cynical that the Federal Reserve really is being honest about anything.  Here are a few things we can be quite sure they are not being straight forward about;
A)  That they know what they are doing and can begin and end it well.
B)  That they are telling the truth.
C)  That they really want to create jobs.
D)  That they have a mandate to stabilize prices (what stability have you seen).
E)  That the FED is truly an independent body.
F)  That inflation as measured by CPI is representative of anything.
G)  That our economy is really improving.  - This is clear since we keep having new renditions of stimulus.
H)  I'm skeptical that "asset" price increases will fix anything except make speculators wealthy until the bubble is popped, which will make them unwealthy and in need of a bailout.  (And then we will repeat it again).

4)  I'm cynical about people today.  We are having an issue in my neighborhood where everyone wants to do things their way without concern or care about those around them.  Interestingly, they don't like it when their neighbors take matters in their own hands and do things their own way to deal with the problems they cause.  I've noticed that the people that cause problems don't engage in discussions about issues as a way to avoid them and then complain loudly when avoiding the issue is unavoidable or not to their liking.  I think people are funny (in a not so good way)- and that makes the Goatmug cynical.

5)  Our foreign policy is one issue that strikes me as laughable.  In contrast to the Neo-con approach we now have an apologetic leader that believes that words are a substitute for action in every sphere of the world.  Our leadership doesn't contemplate that soft speech in places like the Far East or Middle East will work as effectively as it does in Western Europe.  Our President talks strongly about reducing our active presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet deploys just as many troops and creates as many mixed messages as possible.  Our leadership embraces India and therefore isolates Pakistan.  We talk tough to Israel yet continue to neglect to ensure that bellicose Iran is without nuclear arms.  The strategy of unending talk and passive hope will yield the same results as the Bill Clinton's North Korean experience.  My view is that we are attempting to be seen as "friendly and good" by people that see us as eternally evil and imperial.  While the evil and imperial aren't nice words, they certainly do garner respect and in many cases fear, while being viewed as "friendly and good" will most certainly invite intentional subversion of power and physical attack.  In a Utopian context it is better to be liked.  In the real world it is often more desirable to be feared.  I'm therefore cynical because I feel that our administration wants to be a model global citizen more than it wants to have our citizens be alive.