The Blog

Violence and the Economy

by Paula Apynys | December 3rd, 2015

We’ve had another mass shooting. The immediate aftermath of these events automatically initiates a firestorm of accusations, counter-accusations, arguments about gun-control, terrorism, the media, political positioning, etc. More people buy guns, we call each other a new round of names as disagreements get heated and then we settle back into our lives and wait for the next shooting (at which point that whole cycle spins again). Mixed in with the blaming is always the analysis by various folks as to why these things happen and keep happening, and what we might do about it all.

It occurred to me today that, as with many things, we are focusing a bit too granularly on the individuals and their lives, when it might help to take a few steps back. It then occurred to me that we can spin our wheels and spend lots of time and money trying to solve the host of problems/issues of which violent outbreaks are the symptom, or we can get down to root causes.

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Fracking: A False Choice

by Paula Apynys | April 23rd, 2015

There is plenty of coverage about fracking available for interested people, with cheerleaders on one side and opposition on the other. I’m in the opposition group. 

The major problem bedeviling the issue is the complete disconnect between the pros and cons. The people that support fracking do so because it makes money (for some). The people who oppose it do so because we think it hurts the environment. Both are right. So the question becomes: what’s more important?

Some fracking supporters try to cross the barrier by claiming natural gas is cleaner than coal so using fracking to increase our supply of natural gas leads to less coal-burning, thereby reducing carbon emissions. That may be true, but it’s basically a “lesser of two evils” argument. Especially given the down sides of fracking: toxic wastewater getting into our rivers and groundwater, and earthquakes. What might be a better approach to reducing carbon emissions? A full-scale embrace of Solar and Wind power. If the U.S. put its collective intelligence and resources into serious development of Solar and Wind we could change the world.

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A “New” Economy: Start by Increasing Minimum Wage

by Paula Apynys | December 6th, 2014

The reality that our economy doesn’t seem to be working particularly well for much of America seems to be seeping into our collective consciousness. It’s a topic I’m seeing addressed in more and more outlets, which is good news. Of course the screaming question is “what to do about it?”

I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with friends the other night in which we discussed and debated that question. We didn’t arrive at any definite answers but we did start to agree on a couple of basic ideas:

  • New conditions require new approaches;
  • We have to stop the relentless reduction of value being assessed in dollars, and people being viewed as expendable units who’s primary purpose is to consume;
  • localize, localize, localize!

But when I suggested raising the minimum wage, some folks balked. It was interesting. People immediately began listing the reasons why it couldn’t be done, which boiled down to: “folks at the top won’t let it happen” and “won’t it destroy jobs?”

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Survey of Consumer Finance Report a Downer

by Paula Apynys | September 10th, 2014

Last week The Federal Reserver released their Survey of Consumer Finances report, covering 1989 through 2013. Here are two discussions of the report:

From the Institute for Policy Studies: The Fed Finds an America Deeply Divided and
from the New York Times’ The Upshot: How Are American Families Doing? A Guided Tour of Our Financial Well-Being.

Key point: the survey is comprehensive, lengthy and often conducted in person so the conclusions are taken seriously.

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America’s Non-Employment Policy

by Paula Apynys | August 29th, 2014

Currently America lacks an Employment Policy. There are a hodge-podge of efforts trying to mitigate unemployment but there is no proactive effort in Washington to develop and sustain employment in America.

I think  (obviously this is a broad statement) there is a widespread belief that jobs are the natural fruits of other things — that if deficits are low or taxes are at the “right” levels and/or the stock market is thriving or new markets become available overseas — if some combination of these is effectively managed, then jobs will naturally follow. So far they haven’t. But rather than questioning the underlying assumptions, our leaders continue to try to improve the results by adjusting interest rates (or refraining), trying to open overseas markets through trade agreements and making various tweaks to the tax code, etc.

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Most People Like to Work

by Paula Apynys | March 23rd, 2014

I spent about ten years (from my mid-twenties to mid-thirties) in the employment industry, working with recent college graduates, laid-off “blue-collar” workers (and other hourly folks) and graduating MBA’s.  There are a number of insights I carried with me from those jobs, insights that color my views about employment, jobs, the economy, and so on.

Today’s insight: Most People Like to Work.

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