...What I'm Watching

The New Normal

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes aired an interesting and insightful segment on the rise and role of robots, and their impact on the job market. Despite the steady rebound of the U.S. economy, soaring corporate profits, and a strong stock market the nation’s unemployment numbers remain steadily high in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Initially this ‘new normal’ in the job market was seen as sign that companies have learned to operate and succeed in uncertain and tumultuous economic times by downsizing their workforces and thinning their labor expenses. Though the economy has rebounded, jobs have not, and this segment illustrates one of the unknown and growing factors which has attributed to the continued problem of joblessness in the country. Robots are cheap, efficient, and practical solutions for expanding economic growth in the U.S., especially manufacturing, while at the same time keeping costs to a minimum.

Opponents may decry this as yet another way for corporations to squeeze out more profits and deny workers fair pay. However, though the short term effects of such a transition to robotics may continue to hurt the job market, this should be a welcoming sign to the U.S. economy for a number of reasons. First, it has been a major catalyst and boost to the U.S. manufacturing industry which until recently has been steadily declining over the decades. Second, these new robots- though they may replace a worker- are eliminating the need for low-wage and low-skill jobs, thereby creating a need for more high-skill and technical jobs. Though these jobs may be less in number, they are more productive and pay better. This is the kind of job market we should we working towards, and not against. The simple and low paying manufacturing jobs of the past are gone, and will not come back. This is a practical fact that no company or political will say, but all know is true. Instead of burying our heads in the sand and hoping for companies to one day wake up and rehire the unemployed- which they will not- we must recognize the practical reality. We are going through the growing pains of a shifting economy. The quicker we understand this, adapt to it, and train our workers for it then we will be better off, perhaps not in the present but we will be poised for a better future.

This is a benefit and success for U.S. innovation, which has always been the main driver of our economic growth and success, both domestically and internationally. Though many may lament this new innovation, they should not  fear it but embrace it. It is not a threat to us or our workforce, these are not jobs we want, nor need. The real losers of this innovation are the low paid workers of the developing world, primarily India and China, and can bring about a turn of the tide in reducing out-sourcing and foreign manufacturing. By lowering the cost of production U.S. companies can reinvest in the U.S., hire skilled workers which will be trained here, and contribute to our economy. This new economy will require more investment in education and a better economic strategic plan, however it is a signal in the right direction and a positive new normal that we should embrace.

#Sharing #Memories

Last week Erin Burnett ran a short segment on her show Outfront regarding the social media explosion during President Obama’s inauguration. In this clip she made a compelling argument stating that people often get overwhelmed with taking pictures, tweeting, and sharing photos rather than enjoying the moment for themselves.

I can appreciate people wanting to share their memories, show others what they are doing, and broadcasting their lives. However, some things simply need to be enjoyed and remembered without the necessity to share, or at least not marginalized by such a necessity. Memories, especially significant ones such as a presidential inauguration, are momentous and historic events which ought to be cherished and remembered. Often times we forget this simple, yet profound, part of our lives. The act of recording and sharing an event has eclipsed the ability for an individual to enjoy the moment, appreciate it for what it is, and simply live in the moment and cherish it. In doing so people have become spectators of their own lives, an outside observer of the moment just as their friends and social media connections are. Watching an event, whatever it may be through the screen of your smartphone or camera, is not the same as seeing it with your own eyes, taking in the sounds, and enjoying the feel of the moment. Take a step back sometimes, or just keep your phones in your pocket, and enjoy life and memories for what they are.




General Solutions

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Former General, and Secretary of State, Colin Powell joined David Gregory on Meet the Press this past Sunday to discuss a wide array of pressing issues facing the country.

Powell, a lifelong Republican himself, gave his take on the current state of the Republican Party and criticized its trajectory as well as its stance on a wide array of current issues. He gave a strong and logical defense of Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense and spoke about the role of the U.S. military and the mission in Afghanistan. He also spoke about gun control and other pressing issues.

This is a great video to watch and some real logical perspective from a life long public servant, whether it be during his time in the military, in government, or now through his philanthropic activities, General Powell is a tue American Statesmen and represents the best in leadership that this nation has to offer.

Herding Elephants

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The past two articles dealt with my views of the Republican Party, their problems, and some potential solutions. Today’s Morning Joe panel had a great discussion about the divergent trends  happening within the GOP and how they can counter the Democrats. In the discussion, they cite a great article by liberal columnist for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof. In the article Kristof challenges liberals for inadvertently promoting a culture of dependency reliant on government programs. Though these programs  seek to assist those in need they sometimes have a reverse and adverse affect. He states

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

I highly recommend that article because it highlights the deficiencies of both parties, and ideologies, in tackling our daily problems with pragmatic and positive solutions. Both parties intend to do well, but unfortunately sometimes their solutions do not work in the real world where ideology is tested and sometimes fails. Read more…

Benghazi-Gate as Satire

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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There is nothing humorous about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred at our consulate in Benghazi on this past Septemebr, 11th. Clearly, there was some sort of institutional failure either from the intelligence community, or the State Department, or both. However, the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was turned into, and has continued to be, political theater for the Republicans. The fact that Jon Stewart can so easily turn this into a comedic skit illustrates what this entire episode is, political and theatrical satire. Read more…

Costly Problems

With the Thanksgiving holiday now behind us, and congress back in session, the impending fiscal cliff will be dominating the news and the markets. This clip by Fareed Zakaria, from CNN’s GPS, gives great insight and a real look at what the real issues are and what we could do to adress them and perhaps fix them. Read more…

Inherent or Learned?

60 Minutes last night had an interesting and important segment on morality. The age old question of whether morals are something inherent in human beings or learned though social experience is now being tested, on babies. Considering infants are a blank canvas they are the most ideal testing group, but not until recently were researchers able to put together proper tests to determine their mood and responses to such important questions. Read more…

Second Term Strut

Yesterday’s White House press conference with President Obama showed a new man, and perhaps a new president. Traditionally in his rare press conferences ( since  you can not program a teleprompter with answers to questions you do not know in advance) the president was aloof, professorial, talked slow and calculated, and seemed to not enjoy interacting with members of the media or to be questioned ( see first debate with Mitt Romney). Read more…

Historical Political Perspective

Ahead of Tuesdays election some historial perspective is much needed. 60 Minutes this weekend had two fantastic segments. The first, about the total dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, really caught my attention and was going to be featured. However, after seeing the next segment, with American historian David McCullough, I thought it would be a much more meaningful and substantive video worth featuring. Read more…

(Electoral) College Failure

I do not rely on YouTube videos for much information or unbiased opinons. However, this is a good clip on the role and background of the Electoral College, the method the we use to elect our president in the U.S. Take a few minutes and watch it. You do not have to agree or disagree with it, but it is simple and puts the whole electoral proscess into perspective.

In addition, here is a great clip from NPR on this years electoral map and what some states, more than others, are getting all the attention.