Read the Tea Leaves

Aug 1st, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, application, aptitude, Career advice, career challenges, career choices, challenges, economy, negativity, recession, retraining, sales, skills, success
PacticaL Mentor

PracticaL Mentor

This week there was a lot more bad news for the economic recovery. Although some companies reported huge profits, the overall conclusion is the U.S. economy is sputtering, and there could be even more lay offs. For those of us already unemployed the hopes of finding work seems to be fading even more, and those of us who still have jobs are sitting on the edge of our seats with fingers crossed that we can continue to stay employed.

Unfortunately the current situation seems to be serving the politicians and financial community who created the problem in the first place. The government has millions of unemployed workers on the roles, and is using them like as pawns treating to cut off benefits to achieve political ends, and the financial community is making billions getting no cost money to loan, and betting against the recovery. It is no wonder that consumers do not want to spend, and productive industries do not want to hire.

There is a lot of rhetoric on retraining the American worker for the new economy that is supposed to rise out of the ashes of this great recession. The problem is the training is in career fields that are shifting to offshore industries. Even healthcare is being outsourced on an ever-increasing scale. Soon it will be more economical for your health insurance to fly you India or China for surgery and recovery. Just think how inexpensive it would be to run a nursing home in Bangladesh.

There is a flaw in the retraining scenario retraining workers in aling and dying career fields driving down wages and ensuring increased long term unemployment. Perhaps the goal is have a endless pipeline of professional students. Like a perpetual motion machine we could train the unemployed to retrain the unemployed. However, like Social Security and other pyramid (Ponzi) schemes where an ever-expanding workforce will easily bear the financial (tax) burden of the preceding generation are all on the verge of collapse. Is unemployment the new Social Security? This is same ever expanding market theory caused the tech bubble, from which we have never recovered, and the current housing bubble, that was the straw that broke the camel’s (economy’s) back. The administration is smiling, actually more a sneer in the recent photos I’ve seen, because it has the citizens cornered into a frightful huddle, and ever more dependent on the government. Are we reentering the age of the indentured servant and surfs where the citizens are considered chattel by the goernment? As the economists and politicians look at history to find the answer, and remind us that we are much better off than the citizens that endured the great depression, the model they use is not to end the current situation, but to extend it to perpetuate their importance, power and profit. Perhaps we should relook at what really ended the great depression – World War II. Is that where we are headed? I hope not, for the current engagement of the U.S. military is not a war to end all wars, but a more like the crusades that were fought over a period of nearly 200 years, between 1095 and 1291. (Other campaigns in Spain and Eastern Europe continued into the 15th century. ) Not something to look forward to, and certainly not a remedy for the current economic situation.

So even if one looks at the current situation analytically what career strategies seem viable in both the short and long term? The popular perception of the best way forward for the foreseeable future is to latch on to the government in one way or another. This is the era of big government spending, where contractors are making huge profits performing almost every conceivable task (real and imagined) for the government. Although competition can be fierce and there is a lot of politics involved, it is one of the few remaining roads to riches. There is a huge lucrative lobbyist industry whose sole purpose is to extend feeding at the public trough for their clients. If you consider the number of former politicians and government workers who are lobbyist, it makes you question the integrity of the system. If you want a more secure, but a little less lucrative job, consider becoming a federal employee. It is one of the few remaining long-term careers with health and retirement benefits. Once we are all working for the government the recession will end by definition. There has got to be a better way. Look at the societies that embraced socialism and tell me which one you want.

No storm lasts forever, and neither will this one. The way forward is the same as it has always been self-reliance and initiative. Choose a career you like and become very good at it. If you are unemployed use the time to improve and increase your skill set. Take the time to analyze where the US economy is heading. It does not take a genius to figure out that sales and service are going to continue to be the mainstay of the US economy for the foreseeable future. Adjust your career strategy to take advantage of the shifting of values. There was no Facebook a few years ago and now it is a worldwide phenomenon. Pittsburgh used to be the steel making capital of the world, now that is a fading memory. Be flexible, resilient, and observant and you will do fine.

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