The Blog

Right Work and College Education

by Paula Apynys | July 9th, 2015

Many of my friends have children graduating from high school this year. Both parents and children are looking at the future and wondering what the kids should do with respect to education and training. There is a kind of anxiety attached to these decisions that didn’t used to exist in the way it does now.

For many years we shared the idea that a college degree guaranteed a good and secure living. I think, as a society, we shared this idea far longer than we should have. It hasn’t been true for a number of years but such things always take a long time to be generally understood. Now, the combination of high college costs and low entry-level professional employment has become so stark as to be hard to overlook.

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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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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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On Work

by Paula Apynys | March 16th, 2014

America has a schizophrenic relationship with “work”. On one hand, we absorb messages that boil down to “work is valuable, important, even required to justify existence.” On the other hand, we are told (in a variety of ways) that the worker has no intrinsic value — that he/she is valuable only to the extent that he/she generates profit for others. Work is important but workers are expendable.

Americans have a strong work ethic. Americans, in fact, work more hours than people in other developed nations; they have fewer paid vacation hours offered and must wait longer to be eligible for any vacation benefits at all.

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