15 Different Types of Toothpaste

Yes and am sure I am not the only one left scratching my head in front of the toothpaste section wondering which brand to buy, or trying to find a particular brand amongst a kaleidoscope of many trying to outdo the other for your $$$….and I am one of the many American consumers who is fed up with having too many choices that don’t seem to fit the size of my wallet.

Now how can a customer see this as a negative thing?

Well…for starters, how many variations of the same product do we need?  Especially when they are more expensive compared to a store brand?        

Walmart had pulled their Hefty trash bags off their shelves, favoring their own Great Value brand but looks like they are returning Hefty back to the shelves and that is one brand I have bought in the past but now favor the “no-name”.

I have slowly changed my shopping habits and it seems I am not the only one.

Americans are becoming more conscientious shoppers, not letting their money go so easily.  Before I would simply buy a name brand without second thoughts but these days I want to be wise on how I spend my hard earned dollars. And who can blame a consumer trying to survive these difficult economic times?  Some of us have to re-learn how to shop (maybe that sounds simple but when you have bought the same name brand since forever and you developed a “trust” for the product) it can be difficult to change but in order to survive these times sometimes we have to embrace change.

And if Walmart continues to follow this lead who knows what this will mean down the road for companies that sell these products? Hopefully they will lower their prices to a reasonable level. Sure, make your profit but quit inflating the prices!

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Job loss worse in 34 years

This means the last time jobs were cut was back in 1975 when I was  only 7 years old:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Employers slashed another 598,000 jobs off of U.S. payrolls in January, taking the unemployment rate up to 7.6%, according to the latest government reading on the nation’s battered labor market.

The latest job loss is the worst since December 1974, and brings job losses to 1.8 million in just the last three months. It is worse than the forecast of a loss of 540,000 jobs from economists surveyed by Briefing.com

The rise in the unemployment rate was worse than the 7.5% rate economists expected. The unemployment rate is now at its highest level since September, 1992.

January was a brutal month for layoffs, as major companies ranging from Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) and Caterpillar (CAT, Fortune 500) to Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) and Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) all announced substantial job cuts.

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On the flip side more Americans are joining the military:

In today’s political climate, with two wars being fought with no end in sight, it can be difficult for some people to understand why young folks enlist in our military.

The conservative claim that most youth enlist due to patriotism and the desire to “serve one’s country” is misleading. The Pentagon’s own surveys show that something vague and abstract called “duty to country” motivates only a portion of enlistees.

The vast majority of young people wind up in the military for different reasons, ranging from economic pressure to the desire to escape a dead-end situation at home to the promise of citizenship.

Over all, disenfranchisement may be one of the most accurate words for why some youth enlist.

When mandatory military service ended in 1973, the volunteer military was born. By the early 1980s, the term “poverty draft” had gained currency to connote the belief that the enlisted ranks of the military were made up of young people with limited economic opportunities.

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I can see more young people turning to the military for a job in the near future if this continues.

Good for the military but bad for business later on I suppose. 

The military was something I wanted and was prepared to handle.

So, those individuals thinking the military is a better alternative to being jobless they need to make sure they have the right mindset in joining.  I have seen plenty of men and women discharged from the service (at times honorable, allot of ther times dishonorable or general discharge) due to not adapting to the lifestyle.

The service isn’t a regular 9-5 job and when you’re told to do something you had best be able do it.

Not the time for Wall Street Bonuses

….uhmmmm……you think?

Wall Street gave itself over $18 billion in bonuses for 2008.

Now, I never begrudge people bonuses we work hard for it.

But when does it reach to the point of ridiculous regarding what some individuals get for their job?

Especially now when the economy is reeling from the housing market along with other issues plaguing my society today.

$18 billion?

Where did they get the balls?  And these are the very same indivduals whose asses we are bailing out with taxpayer’s money. WTF?:

President Obama: “When I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses, the same amount of bonuses they gave themselves in 2004, at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don’t provide help that the entire system could come down on top of our heads, that is the height of irresponsibility.

‘No Bias, No Bull’
“It is shameful. We’re going to be having conversations as this process moves forward directly with these folks on Wall Street to underscore that they have to start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to together get this economy rolling again.

“There will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now is not that time.”

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It’s OUR money bailing these individuals out and when the government told the banks HOW our money was to be spent over 20 said:  “No thank you.”

I don’t know about some of you but I sure as hell don’t want my hard earned dollars paying on someone’s salary.

Instead, let the federal government take on some of these housing loans and those individuals who can pay on a 5% interest rate (which would go to the government) let them keep their homes.

I am glad my new President was pissed. He and every single American out there suffering from this economic spiral deserves to be!

Expanding our horizens

Snowed in and not at work (yeahhhh) I decided to read about some of the stories of the American and unemployment.  Trust me, right now I wouldn’t trade my Federal job for anything in the private sector (knock on wood).  One of the benefits of being a civil servant which I discussed in the past relates to job security.

Seems like we Americans are going to have to broaden our horizens as far as honing skills that employers need.

If we pigeonhole ourselves into one job type then it can bite us in the ass down the road.

It’s smart long term thinking to be diverse because it means you have another skill to fall back on.

One reason I decided to expand my knowledge base and  earn a good education was seeking of the longterm..that and to get a degree which focuses on not just social services (which is my 1st choice) but in HR as well.

Read the following story online and wanted to share:

Amber Easton has gone from $80,000 a year in salary to scrambling for work. At a time in her life when she should be scaling the corporate ladder, she has instead spiraled into a deep depression. She recently lost her car and now faces eviction from her apartment.

Across the nation, people like Easton are feeling the pinch. Good jobs have evaporated. Former full-time employees are now working part-time contract positions just to get by.

Dr. Rosalind Dorlen is a clinical psychologist in Summit, New Jersey, an area she calls a “Wall Street ghetto” where formerly high-flying executives are out of work.

“Here, the people earn millions of dollars with bonuses that are astronomical,” said Dorlen, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association. “There is a demoralizing aspect to having a huge salary and a huge bonus and then having to look for a job that is going to pay much, much less.” (In this I have to say, where did the millions go?  If you invested it did you lose it all when the market turned sour?  Did you diversify your portfolio?  My compassion for these people simply isn’t the same as say for a family, who are good friends of mine, and sole bread earner works at a factory…and no he isn’t making $80,0000 a year–he keeps being laid off because of the current problems with the auto industry. His wife, a stay at home mom, had to find a job so they could meet their basics.  THESE are the Americans I cry in my heart for).

CNN’s user-generated site, iReport.com, has been flooded with messages from people out of work. One woman held up her husband’s résumé and said, “Please, please, please take him off my hands.” Watch woman plead case for hubby

Manoj Philip, 24, said he had a full-time job in 2007 with Agilent Technologies making about $55,000 a year, including all the perks and benefits that came with it. But in July 2007, he quit that job to pursue a career in real estate.

By September 2008, Philip needed a second income because of the withering housing market. He picked up a full-time contracting job and continues to do real estate about 20-30 hours per week.

It was a shock, he said, to return to full-time work while putting his real estate dreams on hold. “It took a lot for me to change that mental outlook. Because before I would’ve thought of it as something holding me back,” Philip said. “But I don’t look at it like that anymore.”

He’s since learned the value of living within his means, budgeting and making every dollar he spends count for something. “These are really important lessons to learn. I’m glad I learned it at such a young age.”

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And here is one of the key life lessons we have to learn as Americans…to live within our means and quit looking at:  The Grass Is Always Greener.”

I think as Americans we NEED to reevaulate our short term/long term goals, on how we spend our money (you earned it so spend it wisely) and riding out this recession logically so that you won’t end up in the unemployment line.

39% of economists believe their industries will lay off employees in the next six months

Job cuts

Job cuts

Scary thought.  Bloody Monday as Julianne Pepitone, from CNNMoney puts it.  Already Home Depot plans to lay off 7,000 workers this year.  The auto industry is taking a severe hit.  And this affects me personally.  A good friend of mine, her husband is ready to be laid off again for another month and he just came back from a layoff for almost a month since December. 

American businesses are simply going to have to rethink their strategic planning methods when it comes to running their businesses. There’s no other way around this.  I think the economic boom of the past so inflated the job market with mass marketing of cars and consumer products, that when American buyers started to curb their spending habits due to the rising cost of gas and consumer products it created a tricle down effect.

Companies will lay off more workers and hoard more cash during the next 12 months, according to the National Association for Business Economics survey, a quarterly take from a panel of economists at private-sector companies in various industries. A vast majority of the 105 economists polled believe the country’s gross domestic product will continue to sink in 2009.

If business conditions indeed worsen during the year, they will be sinking from already historic lows. The survey’s measures of consumer demand, profit margins and capital expenditures all hit their lowest-ever levels in January’s edition of the 27-year old survey.

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It seems when businesses expand rapidly without any forethought to the future (examining the mitigating factors of gas prices, the war, rising consumer costs, typical futuristic business strategies) lay offs are inevitable.  Makes me wonder what the hell some of these companies were thinking when they expanded as they did….an implosion of the worst kind.

The American Work Ethic

One thing I can say, Americans are hard workers. Especially my parents’ generation.

I am still apprehensive about today’s generation and their quest in keeping this country afloat but I have seen individuals who desire to better themselves and respect authority.

BNET discusses the American Work Ethic and how it has evolved:

The work ethic in the United States is a construct of work that has a long history of evolution, with roots in religious concepts from Biblical times, Calvinist and Protestant asceticism, and the Industrial Revolution (Hill, 1996; Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2002; Peterson & Gonzalez, 2000; Tilgher, 1930). Major theoretical changes in religious views of work and the impact of those changes on societal perspectives across decades have affected the attitudes people hold toward work and its value. In addition, the American work ethic continues to evolve as a result of current events and their sociocultural impact.

The American worker has helped to raise the country to the super power it is today.  I feel the bulk of the Middle Class has categorizely sustained this leadership role for many years…..since WWII.  And now, with the current state of economic affairs in my country, it is imperative American’s don’t lose our identity, to continue striving forward and capture their American Dream, taking pride in our country despite the pitfalls we have experienced the last few years, and especially now with a new administration about to take the helm.  We must remember we are Americans and together we can sustain this nation.

Congress Temporarily Avoids Government Shutdown

Thought this was interesting to post since I work for the federal government. I remember when there were spending issues before and an aunt of mine who works for social security had to go without pay because both parties could not make up their minds on how to fix the budget.

Now all this money is being finagled. Bush wants half to still be spent on the war and Democrats want more funding at the home front. WHO do you think I am siding with????

I wish that this war would end soon. It has so many mistakes and false claims made. Another Vietnam. Not in regards to soldiers’ lives but just what it has cost a foreign citizenry and what is costs us emotionally, our $$$$$$$$$ and our reputation overseas. It feels like this administration KNOWS it is wrong but DOES NOT CARE! Some that serve in the highest offices seem to only want more money in their pockets, to irradicate people who believe differently in themselves and curtail those who believe that our government was wrong to go into Iraq.

I love my country so very much and it hurts to see what is happening to it. I want peace, I want for us to be respected again for all of our accomplishments, for what we did in the past to promoting science, medicine, and education, being on the forefront of space, technology….I love how we as a people are from so many ethnic varieties, creeds………we are what make this country great. WE the citizens!

Campaign 2008: Get the latest news, video, and polls!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate on Thursday passed and sent to President George W. Bush a temporary spending measure to keep the federal government running through November 16, giving Democrats and Republicans time to work out budget disagreements.
By a nearly unanimous vote of 94-1, the Senate approved the bill that is designed to avert government shutdowns that could have begun as early as next Monday if agencies ran out of money on the first day of the new fiscal year.
The legislation, which Bush is expected to sign into law, is needed because Congress failed to complete any of the 12 regular spending bills to fund government programs beginning October 1. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the temporary funds on Wednesday.
As they put off crucial spending decisions, the Senate on Thursday also agreed to raise the government’s credit limit by $850 billion to $9.815 trillion. The added borrowing authority is needed because of huge budget deficits during Bush’s presidency.
Over the next seven weeks, Democrats in Congress and the Bush administration are expected to negotiate over how much money should be spent next year on law enforcement, health care, education, domestic security, foreign aid and an array of other programs.
In his February budget plan, Bush asked for $933 billion for these programs, which must be renewed by Congress each year. He said any spending over that line would be vetoed.
Nearly half of the money Bush requested would fuel the military, including Pentagon weapons procurement. But it does not include the $189 billion Bush more recently has sought to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters Congress will send three spending bills soon to Bush to “see what he does with them.”
Democrats, who won control of Congress in last November’s elections, want to add about $22 billion to Bush’s request for these mostly domestic programs, saying they were shortchanged during six consecutive Republican budgets.
In an attempt to rally support, Democrats have contrasted the $22 billion with Bush’s $189 billion war request for next year.

http://mj.z1077.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=104668&article=2716516

The American Dream Program

I am a single mom also a veteran and Hispanic. I want to aquire my own home, have a safe haven so to speak. Something I can decorate to suit my tastes. I am doing research in trying to make this dream come true and for those interested found this article:

St. Louis, MO – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Mayor Francis G. Slay announced that affordable new homes will rise in St. Louis thanks to a new $15 million public-private venture launched by a collaboration of housing industry leaders. Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE), U.S. Bank, Pulaski Financial Corporation, Mary “One” Enterprises/ Mary “One” Home Team Realty, Beyond Housing/Neighborhood Housing Services of St. Louis, Mother’s Way/Opportunities Industrialization Centers of the Midwest forged an alliance to create an innovative approach to homeownership called Catch the Dream St. Louis.

Catch the Dream St. Louis is designed to expand affordable homeownership opportunities in the St. Louis area, especially for moderate-income and minority families. The new initiative will provide access to special low-downpayment mortgages with flexible credit terms, proven homeownership education and counseling programs, and HUD funds earmarked for helping qualified borrowers with downpayments and closing costs.

“Freddie Mac plays an important role in helping families realize their dreams of homeownership,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson. “We look forward to Freddie Mac’s continued emphasis on making affordable housing available to the underserved persons in our nation – those who have been shut out of homeownership in the past.”

“All families deserve access to decent, safe and affordable housing,” said Senator Kit Bond, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “It will be exciting to watch this new partnership in St. Louis transform the lives of so many families. I will continue to work to find innovative ways to expand the dream of home ownership to more families in Missouri and nationwide.”
http://www.freddiemac.com/news/archives/afford_housing/2004/catchthedreamstlouis_060404.html