Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

I don’t know what I’m doing here

I’ll level with you: I’m in a pretty negative mood about…well…everything. I’m not talking about big-picture stuff like the direction of the Republic, or the future of the economy. I’m talking about my life. I’ve gotten to the point that literally everything that happens outside the door to my house is a hateful burden. I just don’t seem to have a sense of purpose anymore.

I was looking back at the old QandO archives, and I noticed that, I used to write and post four or five different posts every day. Now, I post my little economic statistics posts, and I’m done. I just get no sense of joy or usefulness in blogging any more. It seems like it just takes up time, but offers no reward. No money, no recognition, nothing that makes blogging about politics worth my time. Sometimes, something especially interesting comes up, so once every other month or so, I write about it here, but that’s because by far the exception, rather than the rule. Blogging about politics just seems like a burden.

It’s all so pointless. We will never convince the majority of people to embrace liberty, instead of looking to government to be Mommy. At least not until government fails so badly that its incompetence is made clearly manifest. And even if that happens, I suspect that the majority of the electorate will look for a man on a white horse, rather than freedom, and the responsibility for their own lives. There’ll always be a cohort that thinks government could do everything for everyone if only the right people were running it. And, it seems, quite a lot of people will listen to them.

Arguing with progressives is pointless, too. It’s like arguing with people in a movie theater who won’t stop texting. It’s a waste of time to say anything to them, because if they had a shred of civility or decency, they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you’re a Progressive, I just assume at this point that you’re too abysmally stupid to waste time with on reason or debate.

We talked about that in the podcast tonight. A podcast that maybe 200 people or so will listen to, despite the fact that it’s one of the oldest political podcasts in existence. I enjoy talking to Bruce and Michael, but, really, it just seems like a vanity exercise. Hardly anyone will listen to it. Is it worth interrupting my Sunday afternoon for 1.5 hours to record and post a podcast that no one cares about? I don’t know.

But really, it all goes much deeper than that. I suspect the root cause of my problem is that my professional life is hateful to me.

I work full-time as a software developer for a defense contractor. I hate it. I hate programming. I never wanted to do it for a living.  I got out of the air force in August, 1993 solely to get into radio. By December, I was the main daytime line producer for a 24-hour business and financial news station in Los Angeles. By April of 1994, I was the on-air anchor for four hours a day. The station management was a bunch of money-losing incompetents, however, and when they sold off 12 hours at night to a company that ran ethnic Chinese programming, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I bailed, and took a job running the training department of a software training and consulting company in Orange County. A year later, I was running the programming department. From there, a series of decisions that made sense at the time led me to the job I have today. I’m a highly-paid senior software developer who hates developing software. I have to think of an excuse every workday to go to work instead of calling in sick.

A few months ago, things seemed to be looking up. We did a bit of a re-org, and someone in each section got promoted to be the lead contractor and liaison with our DoD customer. I was appointed the lead contractor for my department. I was just starting to get into a couple of more interesting things, when, last month, my company hired an outside guy to lead my section, and sent me back to the prgramming ghetto, while all the other guys similarly promoted internally kept their jobs. I was told my technical skills were to valuable to lose to become a manager. So, once again, I’m just a code monkey, with no prospect of moving upwards.

I also have an LLC that does web development, and has kept Chris employed full-time since 2002. We just got a $20,000 contract with a major business to develop a web site. I know exactly what has to be done to do it successfully. I’m going to do it. And I’m going to hate every minute of it.

If I never wrote another line of code again, I wouldn’t miss it. At all. I’d feel nothing but relief.

I enjoy teaching, so the job I have that I really love is being an adjunct professor at a local college. But, of course, there are no full-time academic jobs available—and even if there was, I couldn’t afford to take the massive pay cut that teaching full-time would entail. So, I’m stuck at a job I loathe because I can’t afford to leave it. I still like writing, too, if not about politics. Writing about cars and motorcycles is something that I love doing. I enjoy spending a day or two with a new car or motorcycle and playing with it, and writing it up. But, of course, there’s no money in that either, even for people who do it full-time. Auto journalism is a low-paying career. I do—and have for years, done—photography and videography. I still love that. Occasionally, I get a job to do a photo or video shoot, or video editing job, but not enough to make it pay as a full-time career. I’d love to do radio again, but broadcasting doesn’t really pay the bills, either. It’s not nearly as high-paying a career as people think it is, unless you’re at the top of the profession. And with corporate consolidation, there’s no room for doing anything original anymore. Terrestrial radio is pretty much unlistenable as a result.

In short, everything I love is more or less professionally worthless to me, and the thing I hate—absolutely hate—is what pays the bills. This wasn’t the life a planned, and it’s certainly not the life I wanted. I think the disappointment of that is coloring everything else. I’m trapped in a career I despise, working for people I dislike, and I don’t see any way out. I still have a mortgage, and a family to feed, so I can’t just go off and start over in a new career from scratch.

Chris says most people hate their jobs. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m just hitting my mid-life crisis. I just know that I feel trapped and unhappy in my professional life, and I just can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for a lot of things I used to love doing. I just feel so drained and dissatisfied at the end of the work day, I just want to go home, and watch TV or read, staying up as late as I possibly can, because I know that sleeping will just bring the next workday that much closer.

What I really want to do is sell my house in California, and move back to Texas.  With what we would make on our current house, I could buy a house outright there, and pay off the rest of our debt, besides. That would take a huge amount of financial pressure off me, and maybe give me some space to do more things that I would enjoy as a profession. But, for a variety of reasons I can’t go into right now, that doesn’t appear to be an option.

So I feel trapped in a career that I absolutely loathe, but that I can’t escape. Every workday, I wake up, and the first thought of every single day is that all I want to do is spend the day with Chris, my dogs, my reading, and my writing, and tell the rest of the world to go to hell. Every morning, I know that literally nothing I do at work today will provide me with any positive feeling at all.  I’ll just endure it, as I always do. And if everything goes as well as it possibly can, I’ll just get another chance to endure it tomorrow.

This may not be an entirely healthy attitude.


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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 19 Dec 14

This week, Michael and Dale just talk about stuff.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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Style Evolves

I dunno, I just thought I’d dial it back a notch on the text size. Swap over to a san-serif text font. Go with a more responsive web design for tablets and whatnot. Generally just monkey around with it a bit. Still keep it really simple and text-based, though.


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Economic Statistics for 16 Jan 14

Weekly jobless claims fell 2,000 to 326,000. The 4-week average fell 14,000 to 335,000. Continuing claims rose 174,000 to 3.030 million.

Consumer prices rose 0.3% in December, with the core CPI up 0.1%. On a year-over year basis, the CPI is up 1.5%, and the core rate is up 1.7%.

Foreign holdings in long-term US securities fell by $-29.3 billion in November.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -2.7 points to -31.0.

The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey for December rose 2.4 points to 9.4.

The Housing Market Index for January fell 2 points to 56.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $43.3 billion last week, with total assets of $4.072 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $24.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $24.8 billion last week.


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Administration has no idea who has or hasn’t paid for ObamaCare

You remember the post a couple of days ago when I broadly hinted that you shouldn’t believe a single statistic (or most of anything else) this administration proffers?

More proof.  You might recall a number of administration spokespersons and Democrat mouthpieces telling us that millions have enrolled and paid?

Yeah, not so fast:

An official from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services admitted at a House hearing today that no one knows how many people have actually paid for Obamacare coverage.

“So we don’t know at this point how many people have actually paid for coverage?” asked a member of Congress.

“That’s right,” the CMS official conceded.

Inept, incompetent and unfortunately, in charge.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 15 Jan 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications surged 11.9% last week, with purchases up 12.0% and refinancings up 11.0%.

Producer prices rose 0.4% in December, with the core PPI up 0.3%. On a year-over year basis, the PPI is up 1.2%, and the core rate is up 1.4%.

The Empire State manufacturing index jumped to 12.51 in January, with widespread improvements in NY business conditions.

The Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations survey stayed steady at 1.9%.

The latest Beige Book stated that the economy expanded at a "moderate pace," in 9 of the 12 Fed Districts.


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US drops out of top 10 for economic freedom

I’m not sure that this will surprise anyone, given the size and intrusiveness of our government:

World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.

For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.

Obviously the decline began before the Obama administration, but the policies of this administration have certainly hastened the decline and are certainly a primary reason for the US dropping out of the top 10:

Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.

It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.

And that’s certainly been the case these past 5 years.  Regulation has exploded, government intrusiveness has increased, freedom is in retreat.

Bottom line:

Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. But it is an appalling, avoidable human tragedy how many of the world’s peoples remain unfree—and poor.

The record of increasing economic freedom elsewhere makes it inexcusable that a country like the U.S. continues to pursue policies antithetical to its own growth, while wielding its influence to encourage other countries to chart the same disastrous course. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom documents a world-wide race to enhance economic opportunity through greater freedom—and this year’s index demonstrates that the U.S. needs a drastic change in direction.

Drastic action needed, dithering and inaction expected, continued decline the result.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 14 Jan 14

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index jumped 1.4 points in December to 93.9.

December retail sales rose 0.2%, with sales less autos up 0.7%, and less autos and gas up 0.6%.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 2.9% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales decrease of -0.1%, and a 1.3% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Export prices rose 0.4% in December, while import prices were unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, export prices

Business Inventories rose 0.4% in November. A 0.8% sales increase left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.29.


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