Tag Archives: NYC

Just My 2 Cents on Being Unemployed

Hello all and my apologies for such a long hiatus. If you have read About the Rabidwhole, than you can see that my life’s work, as it is for all I hope, is to set myself up to be able to live independent of The Clock, the Rat-race, a J.O.B – (which BTW on Wall Street means: Just Over Broke,) – but whatever euphemism you have for working day after day to the toot of someone else’s horn, that is exactly what I’m trying to avoid. There have been some nice developments in many areas which I am extremely thankful for, and just like a garden or even a newborn baby, Inspired Thought must be cultivated, nurtured, and most importantly actively engaged.

Along those same lines, while people are still losing their jobs as the Financial Earthquake continues to send aftershocks through different industries and markets throughout the world, more and more people are in position to actually look at themselves and see past their own résumés. More and more people are putting those Arts degrees to better use in their communities or at home and on the internet, than they were in the Customer Service Department, or in the stockroom, or at the front desk. More and more people are remembering forgotten skills, likes, and hobbies from their childhood or teenage years. Indeed, getting fired from your j.o.b. is quite liberating.

First of all, no matter what job you have, if you’re working for an hourly wage, the only way you make more money is to give up more hours, more time, more of Your Life to your company. All the while, that time that you are giving up allows your “bosses” to keep more and more of their time, do more and more with their lives, while you put more and more money straight into their pockets. This leads to the type of situation you see all the time, where you are working for someone whom you feel is an absolute and utter moron, and you are flabbergasted at how this company even stays in business with someone like this on the payroll, let alone in a managerial or even executive position. Well, he doesn’t have to be smart; he just needs to be smart enough to hire YOU. You’re a hard worker, he’s a lazy ass. You anticipate problems and solutions, he creates them. So, it only makes sense that the more you are there – working, slaving to The Clock trying to make your money – the less he’s there fucking shit up, and the more the business thrives. What does he get? A boatload of money (maybe even a boat.) What do you get? Time and a half…maybe a raise after 5 or 6 years, or even worse, you get overlooked for that raise…and stay in the same position. Not feelin’ it.

I say all this to say, that I know there is a mass of individuals out there that think just like this, that have presumably been recently alleviated of the aforementioned burden in the form of a pink slip. And even with all the complaining, it can be a bit daunting being unemployed for the first time in a long time. So, as someone with more than a few gaps in my own résumé, as well as someone who is independent/business-minded, here’s my 2 cents regarding what to do with that newly acquired time.

Newly Acquired Life is how that time should be perceived. Ever go to the park during your “lunch break” and see people there seemingly with no care in the world, and no job, so you wonder how they make money, or if they don’t, how the hell can they be so care free in the park at 2 in the afternoon on a Wednesday? Now you can be one of those people, and let me tell you, it feels great. FYI, right after you don’t have a j.o.b. anymore is of course the best time to take this “carefree” time in the park or walking around your neighborhood, whatever you choose to do. Theoretically, you will have some savings to be able to hold you over without a job for at least a little while, before bills and creditors, make you anxious about receiving income, so you can just enjoy the relaxing feeling of freedom.

You Don’t Need A J.O.B to create income. Living in NYC, every year there’s some article in the Post or in the Daily News about some panhandler on the trains that makes $100,000 a year asking people for change. I’m not saying go out and be a bum for a living, I’m simply saying that your own innovation and creativity can bring you more money than a traditional job working for someone else, even if it’s in a great industry. I know a lot of people in the IT industry – web programmers and developers, systems architects and engineers, even just kids that have always messed with electronics taking things apart and putting it back together – that were working for great companies and organizations, making $80,$90K a year. Now they’re doing their own thing, running their own sole proprietorships making money for no one else but themselves, and loving it!

But you don’t have to be an IT guru or even work in IT either, or any other already-lucrative industry to be successful making money independently. I know people that were working in stockrooms a year ago that are now getting grants for their own artistic or community oriented programs, former cashiers that are now selling their own homemade wares, or art, or doing hair out of their apartments, or writing ebooks, that are making just as much if not more than they were when they had their previous “occupations.”

The bottom line is, there are a million and one ways to make money, and bring in income independently and be able to make a good living, spending your time and your Life the way you decide. Do you knit? do you garden and know how to grow fresh fruit and vegetables? do you paint? do you sew? can you repair electronics? do you do photography? etc., etc., etc.

Don’t Sit Still! You get stuck like that. Period.

Remember, Education Never Stops! I don’t know anyone that knows everything. There’s always something you could be learning. Current events, worldly issues, a different culture, welding, woodcutting, carpentry, sculpture, dance, Economics, accounting, book keeping; how many things can you learn that might give you a feeling of pleasure and accomplishment in some way or help you run a business?

 

Finally, here are 3 resources, among millions, on the internet that I think are pretty phenomenal for finding jobs, or projects if you will, that can become great sources of income, or at least help you get a job in an industry interests you more than the one from which you may have just come, or the one you are in (if you still have a job, but perhaps feel the “heat” coming.)

Etsy.com. Already a pretty popular site, but if you don’t already know, this is a site where if you make a lot of your own jewelry, clothes, blankets, artwork, anything that you can make – even pastries and other baked goods that are good to travel through the mail – you can sell it to a much larger audience on this site.

Elance.com. This website is like an online supermarket of freelance jobs. Writing jobs, art jobs, all types of IT jobs, even online secretarial jobs, (they’re called virtual secretaries and I still don’t know too much about it, but I’m certainly trying to learn more.) Ever wonder how certain ads on sites like craigslist get posted over and over and over again? It’s because someone is willing to pay you to do it. For someone like myself, with writing and artistic talent, that hasn’t been published anywhere, you can get small jobs, make some cash, and work on building your portfolio. That goes for music artists as well, as there are music jobs on the site too. How the site works seems a little complicated at first, but if you’re as serious as I am about making a living independently and making your own time, your own life, it’s certainly an option worth exploring.

Twitter.com. Now, I know a lot of people are going to be turned off to the rest of this post just for having to hear about twitter again. There’s not much left, so bear with me, but I used to be that way too…until I actually signed up. I won’t even get into the reason I signed up for twitter, but once I was in, I have to admit I was hooked, and I still am. Let’s just say you live in Alaska and you’re looking for another j.o.b. because as it happens to all of us, you need that paycheck. You can log into twitter and search “[Your city] Alaska jobs,” and voila, anyone on twitter that has posted a link to a job in Alaska (i.e., AnchrageJobAds or JobsAnchorage) comes up in your search. Not only do you now have a list of jobs in your area, but each post is time-stamped so you know when it was posted. Search the industry in which you work and your area, or the industry in which you’d like to work, and see what you get. (Just put in “Jobs” and see what you get.)

I have to point out that aside from all this job info, twitter really is an unbelievable resource for being on top of the latest information in many different arenas. If news stories like the bombings in Indonesia are breaking faster on twitter than through any other mode of receiving information, consider what else it is possible to be on top of before most other people, like a job opening, by being on twitter. That’s all I’m gonna say about it.

 

At the end of the day, and at the end of my Life, I don’t want to look back and see almost half of all the hours that make up my time spent on this Earth were spent lining some jerk-off’s pockets, while I stressed myself out to be “just making it,” and can only afford to leave my family and kids just over broke savings.

 

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” –Frederick Douglass

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Manipulation of Law Over Morals and Ethics

In his Senate hearing on his decade long quest for justice, Harry Markopolos seized the opportunity to reveal himself as a true patriot, populist, and Authentic American Hero in his sweeping indictment of the joke of a financial regulatory system that has exposed itself in the wake of this economic crisis. In a modern day “David vs. Goliath,” tale, Mr. Markopolos told Congress how he and a handful of industry executives and insiders were in affect committing career (and possibly literal) suicide in attempting to go after not just the monster now known today as Bernard Madoff, but the entire financial regulatory Gestapo that controls the wealth of our great nation

If nothing else is apparent from the findings of Harry Markopolos and his league of extraordinary gentleman, it should be that the “Wild West” nature by which the SEC, the NASD, and FINRA (“Regulators! Mount up!”) operates, in collusion with the very organizations they are charged with regulating, is by far the greatest factor in the systemic risk chained to the ankle of our economy as our society sinks deeper into these uncharted waters. Rep. Alan Grayson of the 8th District of Florida, has an excellent exchange with Mr. Markopolos during the Senate hearing, when he essentially poses to Harry to explain the concept of “capture.” “It’s basically when the regulator is in bed with the industry they proport to regulate and do not regulate the industry. In fact, they consider the industry the clients, not the public citizens,” Markopolos explains.

There it is ladies and gentleman. All the complicated mathmatical calculations, financial products, swaps, CDO’s, derivatives trading and analysis, risk models, connections between housing, banking, and insurance industries, and Main Street companies like Robin’s Book Store in Philadelphia, and The Republic Windows and Doors Company out in Chicago…forget about all of that, it’s just the details. Too many Americans, and too much of society is not educated enough to even wrap their heads around the bare bones of how these devastating events shape our current stance, let alone the details. However, the current season of 24 on Fox makes at least the concept of capture easy to understand and easy to explain. If you’ve been watching, you know Jack Bauer (Markopolos) and the old CTU team is working “Palin”/”rogue” right now, because they know that the current threat to America(fraud) goes all the way up to those with power(the regulators) in the President’s Cabinet(SEC,NASD,FINRA, etc.). Even the bad guys at the top don’t know the identities of the other bad guys on their level or above, so that the entire atmosphere is steeped in suspicion of everyone’s intents and a “cover-your-own-ass” mentality. Now, applying this to our Regulatory situation, Markopolos, like Bauer and Tony, had been “whisteblowing” and shedding light on the threat, the fruad, for years. But after being ignored time after time, it’s no surprise that he figured the very process set up for handling the threat, the regulatory system, was clogged and cluttered with individuals who were either too stupid, young, and naive to see a threat themselves, or so caught up in the status quo – that Markopolos himself attributes to a “code of silence” among industry insiders and regulators alike – that being charged with the responsibility of making sure this type of fraud doesn’t happen, although it might feel nice for the soul, does not amount to a good enough paycheck for them to take that responsibility seriously.

When asked what other organizations could be charged with participating in “capture,” Markopolos is quick to name the FDA along with the SEC. He suggests incentivizing the compensation structure of the regulatory bodies, and making it similar to that of the financial industry. With this type of structure, the philosophy is that anyone working for the regulators will not allow themselves to be stopped or hindered, and will run over people that present themselves as barriers in their investigations of fraud like a “bulldozer,” if they knew their paychecks might get a nice boost. Regulators like Meaghan Cheung, the New York Division SEC Branch Chief, might have paid attention to the chief executive of midsize, Boston based, Equity-Derivatives trading business when he walked through her door in 2000, with volumes of provocative information revealing what has become the largest and longest fraud scheme in American History…so far.

Markopolos also offered his insight in the arena of human intelligence gathering, which the workers at the regulators sorely lacked. “When they [the regulators] come in to inspect a firm, they are led to conference room, they meet the compliance staff, and they are fed controlled pieces of paper. That’s what they do, they inspect pieces of paper, because they’re too untrained to realize what to look for on the financial end. All they’re looking for is the pieces of paper.” He goes on to say that if they actually probed the company’s, and spoke with the various workers, traders, executives, and salesmen, and asked them, “Do you see anything fraudulent going on? Is there anything going on here I should know about?” then that would have, and still would go a long way towards accomplishing what the SEC was created to accomplish. As far as Markopolis is concerned, the SEC did not ask these questions nor make any real attempt at gathering any information on questionable companies, “because they were afraid the answer[s] would be ‘Yes.'” That would have meant more mountains of work for the regulators, which brings us back to their incentive and motivation…not enough. Combine that with the fact that Bernard Madoff, as a former chairman of the entire NASDAQ Stock exchange and the amount of respect and power gleamed in the “white swan” public view by holding that powerful a position within the industry, and there is almost no incentive for any one regulator to investigate anything other than how they themselves can capitalize somehow, and join the club. It’s that same view of power that “sophisticated investors” scammed by Madoff allowed to lull them into such a sense of safety in the very idea of having their money managed by a man with such financial clout, that they didn’t feel they had to pay attention to or investigate how they were making such high returns, so consistently, even though the investments they were making were labelled as “high risk” investments.  This obliviousness and drunken greed is an attitude that pervades American society, and it is the “systemic risk” that we as a society must fully recognize and deal with if we are going to have any chance of passing this planet on to future generations.

Harry Markopolos, and others like him (Pat Tillman, Dalton Fury, Robert Baer –  real men that have put their lives on the line to defend the fabric of this nation’s security and safety, so that we can rise and sleep soundly “under the blanket of the very freedom that [they] provide,”) represents what is best in the Spirit of America. It is not only that they, and countless others who remain nameless, have put themselves in harms for us, but that they have excercised their own freedom in informing us what happened, and been through serious ordeals just in trying to do that. They are the real John McClain’s, Jack Bauer’s, and Solid Snake’s, that have worked within the system and gotten so fed up with the amount of “friendly fire” they’ve received in the form of inaction and outright stonewalling by the very agencies and governments for which they’ve worked, that they’ve realized they can’t trust anyone, and have to “go rogue” on their quests to safeguard us, the American public, from real terror.

And that very real terror that we are currently experiencing is coming from within. It is being perpetrated on us by the very leaders that are sworn to protect us. It is “capture” at the highest order, and it is the embrace of greed based politics and principles that is the only thing that has trickled down to the public like a cancerous disease. We have to wake up and let our government know, the way we did this November, that enough is enough. We have to maintain the interest, and continue to grow the amount of involvement we have, in simply knowing exactly what our elected officials are doing and how they are “representing” us. Remember, just because a guy gets elected, it doesn’t automatically make him a good leader. Let’s make sure we are electing proven leaders, and not admitted sex offenders, like some of our current officials, who shall remain nameless and should stay out of controversy if they don’t want people bringing up their previous sexual indiscretions.

 

Lastly, let’s wake up and realize the reality that taxes are extremely difficult for even tax professionals to get right all of the time. The media is spending too much time talking about the current Administration Appointees and their tax records from 2001. Who cares? Taxes are like parking tickets. There are those who deliberately take advantage of the fact that it’s a parking ticket, therefore a minor infraction, doesn’t have to be paid immediately, and so they don’t mind getting them and therefore keep getting them. Then it spirals out of control as they “forget” to pay the tickets, and before they know it, they’re getting their car towed and they owe the local government a lot of money. Now, the tax equivalent of a person or a public official that exhibits this behavior would probably be Senator Ted Stevens. He was indicted for using his position and accepting bribes among other things, but basically, had he reported these “gifts” he received from these “questionable” people or organizations on his taxes – either as personal spending or what have you – things could have been totally different for this now tarnished elder of the Senate. (Not saying that would have been the moral thing to do, but if you’re gonna accept bribes, wouldn’t you at least try to cover your tracks as best as possible, or slow down the process of your capture in any way?)

Then there are those who when they get parking tickets, it’s few and far between, so since it’s not as routine for them as for the previous example, it’s understandable that they might forget to make a payment for that ticket. To round it all out, there are of course those people that pay a parking ticket as soon as they get it, no matter how frequent an occurrence, but the group in the middle, the understandably forgetful group, is the group I would place most people in with parking tickets and taxes. We screw up on our own taxes from time to time, forget this rule and that, (or more likely don’t know it in the first place) and sometimes it’s in our favor, and sometimes not, but there’s no deliberate manipulation of any tax code involved in how we go about doing our taxes. It’s unfortunate that Tom Daschle had to withdraw from the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services, although I think it was the noble thing to do to take one for Team Obama. I place him in this group of understandably forgetful tax infraction holders. I myself owed New York City taxes after I thought I was done for 2008, but my accountant screwed up on the city taxes. Does that make me any more or less trustworthy that I chose to go to the same accountant I have for 3 years with no problems to get my taxes done? I think not. I have a friend that found out, also in last year’s tax season, that he was owed about $10,000 more in deductible income. Does that make him or his tax professional business or tax guru’s that have a leg up on the entire franchise? I think not. More likely, it means that single tax professional he went to on that very day was a more focused, harder worker than average. But it means nothing about the character or the integrity of my friend, the person that went to that professional for a service. Wake up people, please!