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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Of Turning Tides

This is an interesting time in so many ways. On a very macro level, the weather in the great Northeast seems like it is finally turning for the better. We now have daytime temperatures above freezing for the foreseeable time ahead, which should melt all of this dirty snow laying around. In fact, the weather forecasters have been saying that we could hit 50 degrees by Wednesday, which would be nothing short of remarkable.

On a national level, it looks like the United States Senate has passed an economic stimulus package that will cost in the neighborhood of $800,000,000,000 (that's 800 billion dollars). That's a mighty big number, and I have some real reservations. Now that's not to say that some things in the package, such as infrastructure repair, shouldn't be undertaken; rather, I wonder how much of this is really the responsibility of the Federal government. I also worry about all of the thousands of pet projects that are in the package. Simply put, when it comes to politicians and money, I have about as much trust in them do to the right thing as I would with a Meth-head running a pharmacy. On the flip side, I don't necessarily trust congressional Republicans to do any better; we all know that they secretly just want to lower taxes on rich folks and let the results "trickle down" on the rest of us. No, I'm not resorting to class warfare here, but it seems to me that the recession isn't really hurting the Paris Hilton's of this world, so why give them a break? Look, I think that everyone agrees something needs to be done, to turn the economic tide if you will. Let's just hope that things get better in spite of what Congress and the President actually do about it.

On an employment level, my company released its 4th quarter earning information this week, and it wasn't the best of news. However, in a true twist of the ironic, it wasn't as bad as what other similar companies are experiencing, so the stock has actually gone up in value. I'll take that. In fact, I started buying company stock in January precisely because the price is low and over the long term I expect it to increase dramatically in value. Hopefully this will create a part of my longer-term nest egg. Also on the employment front, we have all been warned that bonuses will be down for this year, in some cases significantly. By way of explanation, I am paid a salary plus I receive, depending on performance (mine, that of my team, my business division and the firm as a whole), what we call "incentive compensation"...a fancy way of saying a bonus. It's not an insignificant part of my overall pay. While I expect it to be far less than last year, I'm not expecting it to be cut in half either. Now anything is possible, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. I just need enough to pay college tuition and maybe get myself a flat screen TV. The rest is gravy.

In the "real change" department, my two youngest daughters are going to a semi-formal dance tonight. Damn that makes me old. I'm looking right now at pictures from 2000 when they were all just little kids. I am far too young for this kind of thing. Wait, just how old am I anyway?

Finally, and for something completely different, I love the song "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who. It's one of those songs that I think many folks can relate to on some level...I know I can. No deep psychological meanings here, but I think we all sometimes have to do things we don't want or like to do. Our dreams don't always seem to be as empty as our conscience seems to be.

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