Friday, March 07, 2008

Overqualified?

The Myth of "Overqualified"
Top floor skills at a bargain basement price. (7 March 2008)
 

I've been out in the job market for several months, now. Hitting the bricks, constantly scanning every web site I can think of for employment. We're not just talking about the standards (Career Builder, Monster, Yahoo! Hot Jobs, etc.), either. I'm going through city, county, state, and federal postings, as well. I'm hitting local school and community college districts, CSU sytstem, UC system, and major local employers like Knott's and Disneyland. I'm even combing the local newspapers and going "Old School." The problem is: The people who would hire me, aren't hiring; and the people who are hiring won't even consider me because they say I'm "overqualified."

Pardon my French, but that's a bunch of hooey. While, in an odd way, I appreciate their reluctance to take advantage of my situation and pay me less than I'm really worth, the bottom line is that they'd rather I lose my home to foreclosure than underpay me. Here, we have a difference of opinion. If I didn't want the job, I wouldn't be applying for it in the first place. I'd rather be working and underpaid (but still covering my bills), than not working, not being paid at all, and not covering my bills.

Furthermore, I have "mad skills" (to borrow a phrase from a friend). If my employer thinks they're underutilizing me where I am, they can move me elsewhere when a more appropriate position opens up. They don't have to worry about trying to hire me away from somebody else; it's an in-company transfer. They get to benefit from top drawer skills at a rock bottom price, then bounce me over to IT, or PR, or training, or [fill-in-the-blank].

So, employers: Don't tell me I'm "overqualified." Hire me anyway and count yourself lucky to be getting a computer/network/IT expert with 20 years of real world experience, well above average written and verbal communication skills, teaching ability, and a Bachelor's degree in Communications playing the role of the cherry on top.

The Floor Is Open.

French Tankers to Fuel U.S. Air Force Jets (WHAT?!!)

ECON 101:
Overseas Outsourcing Hurts
"Economies work better when people have JOBS!"
(7 March 2008)
 

The US Air Force recently awarded a $35+ billion contract to build military tankers (the "flying gas stations" that our military planes use to refuel in mid-air) to a French company. That's $35 billion of our taxpayer money being outsourced to foreign workers, instead of having our military equipment being built here, in the U.S., by American workers! Our economy is circling the drain (trust me, I'm out there looking for a regular, full-time position to replace the hugely variable income I get from freelancing), and the government is sending thousands of jobs to France (of all places)!

Furthermore, this means that our military planes (and our national defense) is partially in the hands of a European company... in a country that isn't always all that friendly with us.

This is an outrage, and this type of outsourcing has got to stop. If you agree that American taxpayer money should be used to pay American workers (NOT French workers!), then please take one minute to visit the following link to Representative Todd Tiahrt's web site, and sign his online petition. The government needs to know that we will not just sit back and allow this type of outsourcing to continue! Please forward to anyone who you think would support this movement to get this decision reversed.

Also, here is the list of other government web sites that you can use to write your government representatives and tell them what you think (and how you'll be voting).

The Floor Is Open.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Auto Industry Psych

PSYCH 201:
Auto Industry Psychology
"We decide what you want to buy, not you!" (4 March 2008)
 

I recently wrote a blog (over on MySpace) about the modifications the California Air Resources Board is proposing to make to the Zero Emissions Vehicle Program. This is the same program that was adopted in 1990 but, by the date it was supposed to actually come into force, had been so weakened and gutted, the vehicles that actually were Zero Emission did not survive to be mass produced and marketed. I got to pondering as to why, and an interesting thought occurred to me. The auto industry is more focused on maintaining a status quo they are comfortable with than they are in listening to what consumers actually want and producing the vehicles that we are asking for.

Let me see if I can explain this odd blind spot that seems to be ubiquitous throughout the industry. Back in 1990, when the Low-Emission Vehicle and Clean Fuels (LEV) regulations were first adopted, California essentially showed the auto industry which way the auto market winds were blowing. We want low-emission, clean-fuel, high-efficiency vehicles. Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? At that time, the only technology (other than internal combustion) that was practical for powering cars was electric motors driven by rechargeable batteries.

The problem is that this is not a technology Detroit has extensive experience with. Detroit has the experience, the factories, the personnel, and the robotics to make big, powerful, internal combustion engines. Instead of taking an honest look at the changes going on in their own industry and investing in being a leader in those changes, Detroit invested in legal challenges to the changes. I don't know exactly how much money the auto industry spends in legal fees, resisting the change to greener cars, blocking or gutting every low-emission regulation that gets proposed, filing lawsuits, and lobbying government representatives. I'm sure there is an accountant out there with that number. I feel a compelling need to ask, though: If Detroit had spent that money in research and development, instead of legal fees, where would we be now? What would we be driving? And would the environment be in any better shape?

Back in 1990, California sent the auto industry a clear message: We want cleaner, more efficient cars. Instead of responding with, "OK, we'll do our best to give you what you want," the auto industry responded with, "No! You'll buy what we build!" Now, who has the most fuel efficient cars on the road? Japan. Toyota and Honda. Who has the best market share? Japan. Toyota and Honda. Who's getting spanked (economically, anyway) for their intransigence? Detroit. Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford.

Perhaps a more important question would be: How can Detroit fix this problem? My own, admittedly knee-jerk, reaction is this: Drastic times call for drastic measures. Everybody who is making seven figures or more a year either takes a pay cut down to something a bit more reasonable, or retires... let's try to avoid the $210 million golden parachutes, too; spending millions giving executives a cushy retirement is not going to help keep the company afloat, much less profitable.

Replace them all with young, energetic, go-getters who have fresh, new ideas... preferably ones who will work for a salary in the low six figures (or less). Look for people who are familiar with what today's younger market wants, and are passionate about making that kind of car. You'll probably need to redefine your concept of where the company makes its profit, but those youngsters will have ideas about that, too. Take the money you saved on executive salaries and dump that directly into making efficient cars efficiently. Shorten the R&D cycle as much as possible; focus on making inexpensive, low maintenance cars; learn to be versatile.

You'll end up with a smaller, nimbler company that can tack with the wind more easily. Better yet, the company will be going the same direction the market is headed, instead of fighting the headwind, as it were. Perhaps you could accomplish the same thing with the Old Guard, but my instincts say otherwise. Should the Old Guard prove me wrong, I will beg their pardon right here on these pages, for all to see.

Whatever you do, don't lay off the people who are actually making the cars! Then you don't have a product to sell, and you don't have people to buy it. That's just slitting your own throat. No matter how you slice it, the American auto industry must change or it will go under, California laws or no. If any of you have other ideas, chime in! Maybe together we can hash out a plan to Save the American Automobile Industry.

The Floor Is Open.

Monday, October 23, 2006

November 7th Election

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day...”

What with November 7th just around the corner, the pace of time seems not so petty, but rather preternaturally accelerated. Politicians, who really should know better, are wasting their campaign dollars driving voters away with negative, mud-slinging, attack ads on their opponents. It will be such a relief when the Wednesday after rolls around and I don’t have to worry about muting the TV every time one of those annoying commercials comes on. It’s a good thing I’m the only one who uses that remote, ’cause the word “Mute” has been worn off thanks to constant overuse. Yet another minor irritation to cast vindictively at the feet of those ungrateful wretches... uh... er... I mean... our beloved public servants. Now that I’ve vented a bit, I think it’s time for me to chime in with my recommendations on the ballot measures and my reasoning behind each. You don’t have to vote with me, but I would hope that you’d take my logic into consideration when you step into that booth. Most folks vote the party line for the government offices so I won’t waste my time or yours talking about those.

Bear in mind that I make a distinct point of reading the text of each ballot measure and working out the legalese. The commercials bear little, if any, impact on my selections beyond checking to see if the commercials are being intentionally misleading or giving us out-and-out, bald-faced lies. They also give me a clue as to who is supporting or opposing each measure, which may or may not play a part in my reasoning. Now, on to the measures!

Proposition 1A: Transportation Funding Protection

Background: The state sales tax on gasoline and diesel fuel currently provides about $2 billion a year. Until 2002, this money went into the state’s “General Fund” to be used for... well, whatever. Health, education, corrections (i.e., prisons), social services, etc. Proposition 42, approved by voters in 2002, amended the State Constitution to require that those funds be transferred to a “Transportation Investment Fund” that would be used for transportation projects (highways, streets, roads, transit systems, etc.). However, that transfer from the General Fund to the Transportation Investment Fund may be suspended if the state faces “fiscal difficulties.” Should the transfer be suspended, there is no stipulation [in Prop. 42] that the amounts not transferred should be repaid. Since the passage of Prop. 42, the state has suspended (either partially or fully) the transfer every year (2003-2004 partially, 2004-2005 fully).

Prop. 1A: What proposition 1A does is to amend the State Constitution to limit the conditions under which the transfer could be suspended. Furthermore, if the state does suspend the transfer, that is considered a loan that must be repaid, in full, including interest, within 3 years of the suspension; suspension may only occur twice in a ten year period; and the state may not suspend unless prior suspensions [loans] have been repaid in full.

Opponents claim that this “hurts education” because it takes transportation money from the General Fund and devotes it to... well... transportation. Hogwash. The State Constitution requires a minimum amount to be devoted to education. As it now stands, the state government can spend recklessly because, when the time comes to fund education, if the money isn’t in the General Fund (because they wasted it), they can just steal it from transportation. Proposition 1A puts a stop to that. It will force the government to spend a bit more wisely to begin with so they don’t run short when the time comes to fund education. Ultimately, it forces them to [GASP!] budget! I’m shocked... shocked! That we might expect our elected representatives, our public servants to spend our tax dollars wisely seems to be a foreign concept to those same representatives. It is long past time for us to remind them that they work for us, not the other way around.

Bottom Line: YES on 1A.

Propositions 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, and 84: Bond Acts

Background: A bond act allows the state to sell “bonds” (e.g., Treasury Bonds). These bonds must be paid back to the purchaser, with interest. Basically, bonds are the debt vehicles of the state. They are the method the state uses to borrow money from the people. Now, anyone who has ever financed a purchase (car, house, etc.) knows you can wind up paying more in interest than you do in principal. Many years ago, when I bought my place for $130,000, the interest on the mortgage was in the neighborhood of $170,000. I was paying more in interest than I had borrowed in the first place! The interest more than doubled the cost of the house! I would be paying that over 30 years, mind you, but I’d still be paying it! Being fiscally conservative, I was horrified! I hate, loathe, and despise debt, so I don’t want to have that hanging over my head. I don’t want it hanging over the head of my state, either. I think my government officials should take the money that have and spend it more wisely. When they have shown me that they’re not going to get themselves in over their heads in debt (like so many young, new-credit users do), I will consider approving bonds. As long as I see them spending poorly, wasting my tax dollars, and basically taking the attitude “we can spend however we want because, if we get into trouble, we can just float a bond,” I will continue to vote down bond acts across-the-board, no matter what project they are slated for.

Bottom Line: NO on 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, and 84.

Proposition 83: The Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act (Jessica’s Law)

This act is 12 pages of confusing and poorly-written legalese. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man. When I get a headache trying to figure out what the act is really saying and still feel like the guy in that hardware store commercial wandering around with a big question mark on my shoulder, I get a little suspicious. If you’ve written the measure in such a way that I can’t understand it, I think you’re trying to hide something, and that leans me toward the “NO” side of the scale. Furthermore, even the summary and analysis of the measure does nothing to counteract that. I come away with the overall feeling that this will be an expensive act that does not accomplish the goals it sets out to, and pushes these offenders out to rural areas where there is less law-enforcement manpower and fewer neighbors nearby to keep an eye out. I certainly agree that something should be done... but this is not it.

Bottom Line: NO on 83.

Proposition 85: Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protection Initiative

“Child Protection Initiative...” [heh heh heh heh heh... chuckle chuckle chuckle chuckle... HAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAHHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHHHHAHAAAAHAHAHHAHAAA  *snort*  *cough* *cough*  *sigh*] This act has absolutely nothing to do with “protecting children.” It is an effort to legislate family communication. Think this through: If this girl didn’t feel she could tell her parents when she first got pregnant, what makes you think she’s going to be willing to tell her parents now? If she knows the doctor will be violating the doctor-patient confidentiality and ratting her out to her folks, she won’t be going to the doctor. She’ll get her abortion from some back-alley abortionist who will do it in the most unsanitary conditions on the kitchen table with a coat hanger. Is that what you want? If you’re a parent, put your child’s welfare ahead of your own control issues for a moment and ask yourself this: Would I rather hear about my daughter’s pregnancy from my daughter because she feels she can talk to me, from her physician because I forced him to tell me, or from the coroner calling me in to identify her body after she bled out following an amateurish abortion? If the least of these three evils is one of the last two, vote yes - It means that the illusion of control over your daughter is more important to you than her welfare. If you actually want a relationship with your daughter, vote no and take a good long look in the mirror to see if you are the type of parent your daughter can confide in. If you are a good parent, this measure is completely unnecessary, as your daughter will either not get pregnant or will tell you when she does. If you are not a good parent, this measure will only hurt your child.

Bottom Line: NO on 85.

Proposition 86: The Tobacco Tax of 2006

Short version: It’s poorly written, it tries to do too much, and it implies that certain medical organizations are exempt from anti-trust laws. It doesn’t come right out and say that, but you and I both know if it can be inferred from the terminology of the measure, the legal departments of HMOs will push for the precedent. This act is 13 pages of complicated legalese. I don’t trust it. I think they’re trying to hide something in the terminology. Whether I find what they’re trying to hide or not is irrelevant, the suspicion that they are trying to hide something is enough.

Bottom Line: NO on 86.

Proposition 87: The Clean Alternative Energy Act

I was on the fence for a long time about this issue. I debated it with my mother and sister. I debated it with my friends Michael and Donna. Both sides are telling the truth... well, half of the truth, at any rate. Neither side is telling the whole truth. Yes, Prop. 87 would create a new bureaucracy. Yes, Prop. 87 would probably (though not certainly) mean higher gas prices. The opposition argument that it lacks “accountability” is hogwash, as is the argument that it “denies revenues to schools.” It does fund “grants, loans, loan guarantees, credits, and buydowns” for alternative fuel research, production, and usage. For example: A top-of-the-line Honda Accord will run you about $25,000. The exact same model in a hybrid or alternate fuel costs around $30,000. If you qualify for the buydown, the “Clean Alternative Energy Authority” pays the difference (or part of the difference), making the hybrid/alternate fuel option more competitive and, thereby, providing an incentive to switch. This is a good thing. The opponents scream “Gas Tax!” in the hopes that voters will blindly vote “NO.” Proponents say that it would be illegal to pass the tax on to consumers. This is not true. The measure points out, correctly, that the price of oil is fixed in the international market. However, there is a 20 to 30 cent difference in gas prices between Mission Viejo and Fullerton, both in Orange County. That’s more than enough “wiggle room” for oil companies to slip the tax in and have consumers pay for it. Still, even if it were “illegal” for them to pass the tax on to us, the tax is on oil produced in California. All the oil companies have to do is stop using California wells, in which case California consumers will have to pay more for the gas to be transported in from out of state. Either way, gas prices go up.

Now I have to ask: Is that a bad thing? The more the consumer market gets ticked off at Big Oil, the more they will pressure auto manufacturers, service stations, and the government for options that are not dependent on Big Oil. That is what Prop. 87 is trying to accomplish in the first place! It will wind up being a short-term pain (higher gas prices in the near future), but a long-term gain (more alternatives and potential freedom from Big Oil). Ultimately, it was the fact that Chevron is campaigning against Prop. 87 that pushed me off the fence. If Big Oil is fighting this proposition, it will probably be bad for them and good for us.

Bottom Line: YES on 87.

Proposition 88: Classroom Learning and Accountability Act

Short version: It’s a nasty, regressive tax that hits the poor harder than the rich. If it had been a percentage, rather than a flat dollar amount, I’d consider it.

Bottom Line: NO on 88.

Proposition 89: California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act

First off, there’s nothing “fair” about this act. It is content-based and probably unconstitutional. Just looking at the analysis by the legislative analyst, minor party and independent candidates (defined as parties whose nominee for Governor in the last election received less than 10 percent of the vote), even though they might qualify for public funds, get less (at most, HALF) than the “major” parties. If you want “fair elections,” every party must be treated equally. Period. Other than that, I confess I do like the idea. With that minor party and independent candidate limitation, though, I can’t support it.

Bottom Line: NO on 89.

Proposition 90: Eminent Domain

First of all, let me tell you about “eminent domain,” from the perspective of someone who has experienced it... first hand. Basically, it is legalized state robbery. If the state decides they want your property, they can claim “eminent domain” and force you to sell it to them. They have to intend to use your property for “public benefit,” and they have to pay you for it. However, the definition of “public benefit” is extremely loose. They can take your home, sell it to a developer who builds condos on the property, and say that the increased tax revenue they will receive from the higher-density housing is “public benefit.” They will low-ball their offer to you. If you complain, they will up the offer a little, but still nowhere near what your property is really worth. They will advise you to take the second offer because, if you don’t, they’ll just condemn your property, kick you out, and pay you nothing. Yes, they can do that... legally. Yes, this is exactly what happened to my family shortly before my 15th birthday. Yes, this is the voice of experience. Yes, this is a first-hand, eyewitness account.

Proposition 90 puts a stop to that. Opponents say it’s a “trap,” and, in a sense, they’re right... it’s a trap for the government and developers. Proposition 90 is nothing but good for homeowners. If the government wants to take your property, they have to publicly state what the purpose is (and “public use” is MUCH more narrowly defined than before) and they must offer you fair market value for your property. If you don’t like their offer, you can opt to take it all the way to a jury (not a judge, not a government commission, but 12 good men and true... to quote someone I can’t remember) and let them decide if the government’s stated use qualifies as “public use” and what “fair market value” for your property really is. Furthermore, they may only use your property for the stated use and, if they stop using your property for that use, they must offer it back to you (or your heirs or beneficiaries) before selling it to anyone else. Should you decide to reacquire the property, your tax base goes back to what it was when they took the property in the first place.

The only loopholes I can see are that the act doesn’t apply in a state of emergency (which is declared by the Governor under specific circumstances), and it doesn’t “prohibit the use of condemnation powers to abate nuisances such as blight, obscenity, pornography, hazardous substances or environmental conditions, provided those condemnations are limited to abatement of specific conditions on specific parcels.” That leaves it open for the government to use condemnation to drive out adult bookstores, sex shops, etc., which seems to me to be a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I may not agree with what porn stores have to say, but I will defend to the death their right to say it. Still, this act may be amended and that provision stricken at a later date, should it become necessary.

Bottom Line: YES on 90.

I hope my logic and reasoning help you to determine which way you intend to vote this coming November 7th. Until then, the only way to waste your vote is to not cast it at all.

Monday, July 31, 2006

ESPN Baseball “Coverage” Is Horrible!!

I’ve seen two replay games on ESPN and I have to say: ESPN replay coverage of baseball games is the worst on television. By far. Let me give you an example: after a long commercial break, we see a talking head for a little while, then the voice-over says, “Due to time constraints, we now move ahead in our coverage.” Then they cut back to more commercials. After the commercials, “Due to time constraints, we now move ahead in the action.” We see two pitches. TWO! TWO PITCHES!! Then another commercial break. Apparently, ESPN has not realized if they had fewer commercials, they wouldn’t have so many “time constraints” and could show more of the game!

Can somebody please smack them upside the head with a clue-by-four? Please?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hamas just doesn’t get it.

From Israeli aircraft strike Palestinian PM’s office:

‘In a statement, Haniyeh called for foreign intervention to stop the Israeli offensive. “The international community must shoulder its responsibility,” he said.’

All Hamas has to do to stop the “Israeli offensive” is the LET SHALIT GO!

‘Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad urged Israel to be more flexible...“I think that if the Israeli government will understand that it’s possible to release prisoners, things will end OK,” Hamad told Army Radio.’

The Hamas “government” needs to understand that invading a neighboring country, killing some of their soldiers, and taking another hostage is an ACT OF WAR. Governments are generally held responsible for their actions. If the Hamas government is going to behave like a bunch of undisciplined street thugs, that’s how they will be treated.

To Hamas: Grow Up!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Greetings and Current Legislation…

Greetings Blogospherians! This is a post to test the template and other settings. I chose legislation currently in Congress so anyone who is politically active may write their congresspersons regarding these bills: Vote NO! Anti-Abortion Bills Senate Resolution 51 / House Resolution 356 Flag Desecration Constitutional Amendment Senate Joint Resolution 12 / House Joint Resolution 10 Vote YES! The “Cheeseburger” Bill - Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act of 2005 House Resolution 554 No Congressional Pay Raises for FY2006 Senate Amendment 2062 / House Resolution 4134 Any of you who correspond with your representatives are encouraged to keep up with current legislation (available online at the congressional web sites) and tell your reps what to think and how to vote. Get involved! Good night… and good luck. The Bear That Looks Like A Man