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As the economy begins turning around, some CA local governments still struggle with high unemployment
An inquiry about job loss and the struggling economy sent out to our Public Insight Network prompted an interesting response from Scott Hutton, who has engineering training and management experience, but who has been out of work for a long stretch of time and is beginning to question his skills:
I have been debating whether to spend what money I have left on professional training courses and certificates to perhaps make up for the lack of advance degrees. Or, pursue coursework in computer engineering to try to land a job in the IT field. IT seems to still have some future here even in Los Angeles. But, this would be an investment using the last bit of money I have.
The conventional wisdom says that Scott probably should invest in himself and acquire the skills he needs to remain competitive. He doesn't have the benefit of an employer to turn to for additional job training. So he needs to finance it himself, and history indicates that these kinds of investments, while somewhat risky, can pay off.
That sounds technical, the but the upshot is that if you are close to zero on your Gini, you're very equal, whereas the closer you get to 1, the more unequal you are.
The most unequal place in the U.S., in terms of income, is the New York area, at 0.501 (tied with Santa Fe, NM, but representing a much larger population, obviously). That's why Occupy Wall Street picked Lower Manhattan as its first protest site. Although you could also say that they picked it because...well, that's where, you know, Wall Street is.
I know, I know, you're shocked. But wait! LA is also pretty unequal — and not too far behind New York, at 0.483. The point is that the worst places in the U.S. for inequality are also the best places to make a lot of money. The question is, Are the populations in the these regions becoming hoplessly divided into haves and have-nots? And is there really anything that we can or want to do about it?
A meeting of computer programmers.
On Monday, I posted about a new startup called Codeacademy and whether it makes sense to think of programming as an essential skill, right up there with reading and writing and math. I based the post on thoughts offered by Fred Wilson, a New York-based venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, at his blog, A VC.
Yes, it's a bloggy, bloggy world.
Anyway, as if on cue, this story appeared in the New York Times — it's all about how the advertising business is desperate for people with "quantitative" skills:
A talent gap is growing between the skills that many new advertising jobs require and the number of people who have those skills. The dilemma, one familiar to many industries across the country, is particularly acute for jobs that require hard-core quantitative, mathematical and technical skills....The talent pool, advertising technology company executives say, is not a deep one. And those who have the skills are in high demand, often fetching annual salaries that can reach $100,000.
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Frank McCourt has lost control of the Dodgers franchise as Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball association has seized ownership.
It's not clear to me that big-time sports is a business in any meaningful sense of the term. It seems based on economic principles drawn from the pre-capitalist era, when circuses roamed the landscape and people put their faith in shamans. But the way the Dodgers/McCourt psychodrama is playing out here in LA has led me to revise my view. Major League Baseball isn't even charming in some retro-feudal sense. It operates like a backwater banana republic, ruled by the iron hand of a Maximum Leader, Commissioner Bud Selig.
The sports media seem to have accepted this yucky paternalistic arrangement, which is worrisome. Here's Bill Plashcke in the LA Times:
Bud Selig owes us. The baseball commissioner who allowed a seriously underfunded McCourt to take the team from desperate Fox in 2004 owes us a strong and viable owner this time.
Selig will pick the person, believe me. No sports commissioner has a stronger influence over who is allowed entry in his league. Selig will pick this owner like he has picked other owners, but never before has his selection been more important, more mandated, and more tied to his legacy.
Selig owes us. He owes Los Angeles a well-funded, competitive-minded businessperson who understands that the Dodgers are about a family experience, Hollywood entertainment and, most important, winning.
After Halloween, James (left) has discovered the value of a barter economy. Lucia (right) looks on in awe.
Welcome to the second installment of "Invest with James," in which we learn about money, personal finance, and investing through the budding example of my almost-six-year-old son, James, who loves money and all that is associated with it.
Yesterday was Halloween, a day that is like Christmas, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Rio Carnival all rolled into one for my children. My daughter, Lucia, plans for Halloween in an elaborate, multi-phased way, months in advance, that culminates in the Big Night.
James had been more of a bystander. But this year, he discovered that there's something of value in Halloween. And that something is called "candy."
Of course, he knew about the candy. But this year, rather than just eat it, he recognized it for the first time as a medium of exchange and an opportunity to create a market. Yes, this was the first year that he sat down with his sister to trade the sugary haul.