Posts Tagged ‘ economy ’

Out of necessity

I am making myself a schedule. A more scheduled schedule. The hardest part so far has been identifying a bed time and rising time. I know what it needs to be – I’m just scared of it.

But I think I have something.
One thing I cannot – for the life of me, understand, is how a working adult or student is supposed to get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. I’d have to go to bed at – I don’t know, 2000(8pm)?
My schedule currently has about 7 hours of sleep which will most likely turn out to be more like 5 – which, I know, from experience is disastrous (or a least very much not ideal). Should I fight for the 8 to 10 hours? Do you know how happy I would be if I got 8 hours of sleep each night?

I think I’m going to try. At least for 8. And I’m trying to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
I can just imagine how awesome I would feel if I was getting sleep and exercise and all of that. The question is – would I actually get more done? Would the time I take out to take care of myself pay off in more productive work/study time or would the taking-care-of-me routine eat at valuable work time and lower my gross product? Or maybe if I had better habits I could work better and more efficiently on average and recover faster from the occasions that I’d have to stay up late working/studying.

I am going to try it. 2 weeks – rigorous schedule keeping. Exercise, good food, adequate sleep. We’ll see how it works. That means I should end my blog now so that I can wrap my draft schedule up and go to bed.

The stock markets continue to dance to the wild tunes of I-don’t-know-who. I heard on NPR that yesterday’s massive market gains may have been due to a computer glitch, which explanation made more sense then the general “today stock’s fell as investors turned their attention back to the economy”. I find it hard to believe that the financial sector completely forgot about the economy for a day and feverishly bought back the stock they had just sold only to sell it off again with the same fervor 24 hours later (I am aware that the Fed made it’s announcement about interest rates yesterday, but that hardly seems to account for yesterday’s gains in light of today’s losses).

I heard a pre-campaign, anti-Obama add today about how much worse off we are since he’s been in office. In the clip that I heard, a disillusioned voter describes how she had voted for Obama because he was such a great speaker (?) but now we as a nation are in such a more dire situation than when he took office and she wasn’t voting for him again. I decided to check out what the Dow Jones Industrial Average could tell me about the past few years from the market’s perspective. I was actually a little surprised to find that the Dow has been steadily increasing over the past two years – in spite of the crazy ups and downs we’ve had over shorter periods of time.
Here’s a chart from Yahoo! Fiance. I found this on Google DJIA 2 year chart

Stopped by the lab for a little while today to help kids finish up their t-shirts. 😀 (Pictures will be forthcoming, but most likely on the TIE Project’s blog. I’ll post the link when it’s up and running.)
I am now a member of the International Fab Lab Association. 🙂 If you’re a FabLabber/Fab(ulous)Folk(sperson) (:P) – then join up:



SNL, Monty Python and whomever else – please stop messing with the economy. We take this stuff seriously you know.

Well well well…we’ve bypassed the legislative branch of our government (the super committee), shot our already slow economy in the leg with an austerity package and made a huge show of precisely how non-functional our great government can be – all to avoid a default, which, we were told, would damage our gold star credit rating, shake confidence in US T-Bonds, send the markets crashing to the ground, raise our interest rates and generally cause a financial Armageddon.

So we were told. So we were told.

Days – nay hours after the potentially crippling austerity bill came out of no where and was signed into law, guess what happened? 1 out of 3 credit rating companies, Standard and Poor downgraded our credit rating from AAA to AA+. They said they did it because our legislative system is dysfunctional (a very general paraphrase). In response, and despite the president’s comforting words, the markets dove straight for the bottom – the Dow Jones lost a total of 634.76 points on the first business day after the rating downgrade (more than 5%) and closed around the 10,800 mark (below 11,000 for the first time in months).

But get this: investors sold out of the stock market and bought gold and – no, you didn’t guess it: US Treasury Bonds.

Is anybody else confused?

So are we in trouble or not? Or are we in trouble or in trouble?

Over the next few days, I’ll do my best to unscramble the code and see what I find out.


We Are Both The Backbone and Future of America: Listen to Us.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.

I’m not rich. My family isn’t rich. And it had nothing to do with us being lazy. My dad is one of the best science teachers in one of Boston’s toughest Public schools: a distinction he earned from years of excellent service. He was even a finalist in the Einstein Fellowship competition. We are all active in our community. My brother is an MLK Scholar for two years now and was selected to speak as a teen empowerment speaker to the 600 youth in the John Hancock summer youth program. He spoke on how he has started his own photography business. He mentioned how he has worked through various challenges – including a severe hand injury. He continues to coax professional quality images out of a point-and-shoot tourist camera – as neither he nor his family can afford a higher end, more professional machine.

I will be a freshman in college this year. I will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering. However, my career began 4 years ago. For the past 4 years I have worked and served as a youth teacher in informal STEM education. I have worked with professional educators to develop STEM programs for young people based on my own experiences. I teach people ages 4 and up the basics of digital fabrication and modern engineering. I’m working with a project right now to bring access to modern fabrication technology to the members of my community. We are the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project (TIE Project). We just installed our first temporary lab in our local YMCA. I have been invited by MIT to travel internationally and share my experiences at symposia. I’ve served as a lab manager and technician in two different community labs and traveled around the US and abroad, consulting, developing programs and teaching.

We are contributing citizens. Hard working, patriotic Americans. However, for the first 15 years of my life, my family (which soon totaled 6 persons) and I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment in the depressed area of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Why did/do we stay in this situation? Because our income vs the cost of living simply doesn’t allow us to afford otherwise.

In light of this, you can imagine that it really bothers me when I hear government officials and policy makers pushing rhetoric that suggests that we, the other 99% of Americans just need to work harder. We need to pay more taxes and let go of some of our entitlements. I wonder what is the purpose of government, in their eyes since its not to support its citizens. Not when you suggest cuts to Medicare and education, social security and welfare programs.

No. We don’t want big government. We don’t want the government to tap our phone lines and tell us which bank to trust with our money, or where to buy our clothes, or how to raise our children. Or strip search us at the airport, or ask us for our “papers” at random checkpoints.

We want our government to let us protect ourselves and we want it to help us do that. We want it to use its vast resources to put food in the mouth of our American children, who’s parents are working as hard as they can to keep up with rent, utilities, education, clothing and food for their families but because of inflation and a million other things – just can’t make it. We want our government to help us care for our elderly who have devoted their lives to building up this country. We want our government to help hard-working American students get a good education, so that we can join the workforce, care for ourselves and our families and build up this great country we call home.

Whatever happened to “serve and protect”? Whatever happened to “government for the people, by the people”? I want to know. Americans demand to know.

When I filled out my Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) this year, in-spite of the size of our family and the fact that our financial obligations are very nearly equal to our income, our Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) was close to $10,000 per year. This is not something we can even begin to afford and excludes us from various sources of much needed help in the way of scholarships and grants. And with my brother starting college in the next couple of years? I wonder how this will happen.

The school that I am currently attending is meeting less than 25% of our demonstrated need according to FAFSA. My school gave me a merit scholarship based on the competitiveness of my application. The scholarship plus Federal Aid I received totaled $15,900 for the year, leaving us to scramble for the rest of the college’s $43,000 per year Cost of Attendance tag. I should mention that the entirety of federal aid I received was in the form of loans and work-study.

I remember one particular article on college financing that my mother and I read. This article was directed towards parents who were not helping pay for their child’s education. It suggested – nay implicitly stated, that the parents who do not pay for their child’s education are not willing to sacrifice – that they should care enough for their child to go with out that vacation to Aruba, or the weekly nights out. Neither of these (or similar expenses) are luxuries my family has ever taken. For example, we don’t even have cable. What do you say to caring, dedicated families who simply don’t have the money to educate their budding engineer? These people really and truly, do exist.

I want an answer to the question our President asked tonight regarding the debt ceiling:

How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

I’m not of the opinion that since you make more money then I do, I am entitled to some of what you make. Not at all. I am of the opinion that the strong ought to bear their burden just as well as the weak must bear theirs. Not pass it on for the weak to bear, in addition to their own. This kind of policy crushes and destroys. It kills the weak before they can become strong, which, if they were allowed to, would enable them to bear more of the burden.

Simply put: I am a hard working African-American woman with the potential, drive and desire to contribute much to her country. I have already begun in my local area. As you can see, it’s difficult for me to get the education I need to move on. If the government would choose to use its resources to make it possible (or rather stop making it close to impossible) for me and millions of other Americans like me to get the education we strive for, that would be one of the greatest and most productive economic investments the nation could make.


By cutting down the middle and lower economic classes of America, and keeping them in perpetual and ever more crushing financial slavery, we cut out the foundation out of our country. It is the government’s job to use its resources to nurture, serve and protect it’s people. A functional government does not stand back and feed the rich, turning it’s back on their abuse of the poor while the working class languishes and dies. This is what the French Monarchy did. Do you remember what that led to?

If we were to default, as our president said:

More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Washington, please don’t let this happen. Please serve and protect us like you are supposed to do. Like we elected you to do.

America’s Future (The People)

You can read the full text of tonight’s speaches here.

BIG NEWS: Today we installed the beginnings of the Roxbury/GroveHall Fab Lab in the YMCA! You have no idea how big this is for me. I’m sooo excited! XD

We are looking for volunteers. If you are interested, contact me at

Big Ambitionz
Day 26
74 Dayz to go

What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Defaulted on It’s Debt

….the [U.S.] government will default on its debt — a nightmare event that would gut investor confidence in U.S. bonds, send our borrowing costs soaring,…

Source: CNN Fortune article: April 2011

One of the things on everybody’s (at least every reporter’s) lips or pen is the subject of our national debt. Word on the Hill is that we pretty much have two options: default on huge amounts of national debt (basically not pay back what we owe), or raise our debt ceiling to legally accommodate our growing indebtedness to foreign and other entities.

On one side, it has been argued that raising the debt ceiling is simply piling on debt for our children to pay after us – therefore we should default and let the chips fall where they may.

The other side says that raising the debt ceiling is our only way forwards at this point; it will allow us to implement long term savings/cutback plans and avoid a national embarrassment and higher interest rates while maintaining confidence in American bonds.

Adding to the high levels of alarm are claims that this instance of the US defaulting on bonds is completely (or almost completely) unprecedented and therefore an indication of the extremely dire nature of our national financial situation.

Over the weekend, Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, argued that Congress should raise the debt ceiling. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he said, “If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. [Emphasis supplied] The impact on the economy would be catastrophic.”

Source: Fearing (Another) U.S. Debt Default by the NY Times

This claim, that the US defaulting is entirely unprecedented, is incorrect. Apparently it has happened before.

“Terry Zivney and Richard Marcus describe the default in The Financial Review (sorry, I can’t find an ungated version):”

Investors in T-bills maturing April 26, 1979 were told that the U.S. Treasury could not make its payments on maturing securities to individual investors. The Treasury was also late in redeeming T-bills which become due on May 3 and May 10, 1979. The Treasury blamed this delay on an unprecedented volume of participation by small investors, on failure of Congress to act in a timely fashion on the debt ceiling legislation in April, and on an unanticipated failure of word processing equipment used to prepare check schedules.

Source: The Day The United States Defaulted On Treasury Bills:
When Did The US Last Default on Treasury Bonds? Listen to the story on NPR

“Ok then,” one might say, “it’s not so bad after all. Better default then take on more debt.”
Is it really better?
Lets take a quick look at what happened in this 1979 instance.

The government “forgot” to pay small bonds holders (individuals as opposed to nations etc) a total of about 120 million dollars – by accident. This by no means represented a significant portion of the Treasury’s total debt (which was close to 1 trillion dollars at the time). It did however raise interests rates – but only by 6 tents of a percent.

Not bad shall we say? Not so fast.
In fact, according to Prof. Zivney, this 120 million dollar mistake cost the U.S. about 6 billion dollars in interest. The new, raised interest rates applied to the entire debt that the U. S. owed at the time. In addition, the rates showed no sign of going back down by the end of Prof. Zivney and Marcus’s study.

So, by not raising the debt ceiling and allowing our nation to default, we would be in effect piling our children with exponentially more debt then if we handled this “in house” (and raised the debt ceiling) in addition to a bad reputation in the international financial community (loss of confidence in U.S. bonds, etc).

But think about it, the value of the dollar has gone down, so it follows that numbers representing value and expressed in dollars (such as the debt ceiling) would go up.

No, I am not an economist, I’m just an American who’s thinking about the future.

Speaking of the future – let me share a couple notes regarding the Casey Anthony case and Caylee’s Law:
Why Caylee’s Law is a Bad Idea Source: Huffington Post
Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges Source: (referenced in “Why Caylee’s Law is a Bad Idea”)

“A man [country] is as good as his [her] bond”

Day 13
77 Dayz to go

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