September 22, 2003
I am beginning to think that President Bush has simply lost his mind. I actually didn't mind the man so much in the beginning. Even during his premature arrogance when he had declared himself president before the presidential elections were final and official.
Now he must be viewed as a threat and a menace. Not just to the terrorists, and not just to countries like France and Germany, but to this country, the United States of America. His cavalier attitude, childish tantrums, and the ever-present smirk on his face just screams lunacy to me. His response to terrorism has been two failed wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, and his domestic policies, when he does care to pay any attention to, might as well be planned by a five-year old. They have all been complete flops.
While he rests at Camp David watching television, with his delusions of patriotism and godliness, Americans lose their jobs to the Chinese and the Indians, lose their lives to the disgruntled Arabs, and lose their pride to the Europeans.
I'm not sure if Howard Dean is the right man for the job, but if he wins the Democratic nomination, he deserves a chance. At least he will unseat the petulant children running the White House now. If Dean does nothing else, just removing this inept administration can be viewed as a crowning achievement.
September 17, 2003
The Overseas Threat
Last night, sitting on a barstool with friend who works for the IT department of a large organizations, our conversation drifted to the topic that's on every IT person's mind who works in the Western hemisphere. The Indian invasion. Of course it was jobs we were talking about and India is by no means the only country that's taking the IT jobs away. But somehow due to its pro-IT policies and the prevalence and resourcefulness of its programmers, it has become the symbol of blame for the current disgruntled masses.
My friend was expressing that the accountants at his company bill the average American IT worker at $70 per hour while the outsourced work gets billed at $20 per hour. What would I do if I was the top boss in that company? What any one of us would, go with the cheaper supplier of course. That's business and business has no heart and soul. Thankfully, I am not a big shot boss and belong to the majority who either have lost their jobs or feel they will be out of work soon. The unfortunate fact is that many of these jobs won't ever come back. How could they? With such giant expense disparities there can be no doubt that these jobs are exported overseas permanently. Manufacturing never came back, no reason to believe that IT jobs ever will either.
Surprisingly, my friend has accepted the situation as global fairness. In his view, Western countries cannot indefinitely monopolize certain areas of trade and lock out the rest of the world. the lob-sided global distribution of wealth that exists today could result in generating scorn and hatred by the poverty-stricken countries and could eventually lead to acts of terrorism, riots, war and anarchy on the global level. If Indian programmers are allowed to compete with their Western counterparts, then a more just distribution of wealth will result and a more balanced status would emerge.
I sympathize with the plight of the poor around the world, but allowing such unbridled competition for jobs is at best reckless. I believe that the government has a responsibility to its people who have worked hard years only to see their dreams dashed by the swarms of cheap labor. If companies want to hire labor from other countries, they should be required to pay a tariff for each foreign worker to give local workers a fighting chance.
But there is yet a second point to all this. There is enormous wealth in many of these countries already. It may be in the form of oil, or mineral deposits or tourism, real estate, or niche industries. The problem is that the riches of these countries are predominantly controlled by a corrupt few and their cohorts whose opulence generally surpasses even the standards of excessive wealth in the west. The truth in most cases is that the cheap worker will only get to see a tiny fraction of the proceeds collected by the fattened offshore companies.
If wealth should indeed be more fairly distributed, perhaps it's time to start the trend locally in each country first.
September 15, 2003
The other day I was talking to friend and musing about how unfair it is that hardened criminals meet their destiny in absolute peace and serenity through lethal injection. Strapped to a gurney, they are mercifully put to death by inducing unconsciousness followed by a painless death via the injection of a heart-stopping chemical.
While the criminals get the luxury death treatment, millions of people must suffer under unspeakable conditions until their lives are mercilessly squeezed out of existence. I am referring to people diagnosed with terminal cases, individuals near death, accident victims and others that are strewn about in hospitals and other institutions and are kept alive simply because it is morally wrong for a physician to end life.
One cannot imagine the excruciating agony some of these people must endure before they are finally released from their pain. Yes, It would be morally wrong to take a life when a person desires to continue. What is disturbing is the number of patients who would prefer to be the masters of their own destiny and meet death in dignity, but are forcefully kept alive to suffer. It is wrong for a government to deny them this right because it is conflicted over moral issues.
Religious scholars would argue that life is given by god and therefore can only be taken away by god. Unfortunately the ethics of many governments are victims of such interpretations. When my final hour comes, I want to say my goodbyes to my family in dignity and leave this world under my own terms. No one, not even god, should have the right to torture a person to death, or witness suffering without intervention. Now that's morally wrong.
September 12, 2003
the dollar gyrations has got me worried about our future prospects in this country (usa). in this global economy, it's no longer how many dollars you have, but how much can you get for your dollars.
the euro continues to show definitive and resilient strength against the dollar. word has it that the street currency peddlers in third world black markets are shifting their businesses from dollar to euro. while the news is that foreigners are investing in this country (usa) at a fast clip, somehow i don't get a feeling that it's helping. they are probably just piling on assets because they can buy things real cheap.
don't listen to the politicians. they are, by nature, deceitful and fake. when the dollar is strong they gloat about the strength of the US economy. when the dollar is weak, they claim that it helps businesses domestically by boosting exports and curtailing imports. even with the weak dollar, the US continues to carry a sizeable monthly trade deficit and the budget deficit is in the stratosphere.
so, what's the small guy to do? diversification is always key. these include investing in global commodities such as precious metals (or companies that operate in that field, such as mining companies), companies that do business internationally, a mixture of domestic and foreign companies (plenty of funds that play both sides of the table) or investing part of the assets in other currency denominations. everbank is a one of the better known institutions that let small-timers (you and me) save their money in other currencies, such as euro.