Friday, March 9, 2012

Reading "IS" Fundamental

While I have the time and inclination I've started reading serious material again. I was tempted to entitle this post as a little "Light" reading but was afraid the pun would miss. Besides, a light didn't really go off when I read the three books last week as much as a realization that many of the things I saw in our world were real and of concern to me. (Specifically while job and/or income hunting) And how I and millions of other Americans were blissfully ignoring the real condition of our world.

The first of the three books was "Freakonomics, a title from 2005. This book spawned a series of editions, a blog and a radio show. The book and related activities bring to light the erroneous nature of "conventional wisdom" and back up the findings with economic stats and calculations. This original take on our culture and economics looks at and defines actual drivers and motivations for things we either take for granted as natural occurrences in our world or have grossly mistaken understandings of the real cause and effect. As the little German soldier on "Laugh In" used to say; "Very Interesting."

From "Freakonomics" I moved on to "The Ascent of Money". This very interesting and somewhat more heavy reading material gives the history of how we came to have money, currency, loans, stocks, banks, insurance, bonds, and all the myriad financial instruments of our time. It highlights the need for much of what the financial industry does today to facilitate international commerce. It leaves the reader with a clear understanding of how we got to where we are concerning money, be it digital or physical.

Last but certainly not least and the one title I recommend for your perusal if you can only read one serious tome, is "That Used to Us." One of the authors is Thomas Freidman who you might recognize from his TV punditry. The material is quite dense, there is no getting around it. It is not however thick with graphs and studies like the very useful but tough work "Generations."

So.. You may need a little time to get through this one, but when you do you'll come out informed and hopefully inspired. The two authors lay out how we became a great country, the formula that made us that way and how we lost our way in the last 20 years. They favor no political party and they grind no axes. They do let the reader know what we did and are doing wrong, the consequences to America and the world if we don't change our ways, and they offer some ideas about how to fix it.

The bottom line from this reading is this. I and the millions of others in our country have to face the reality of our economy; that for millions of us our jobs are not coming back. That for a decade or two we ignored the effects of globalization and the IT revolution. That the financial meltdown just made it worse and that smart people must adapt.

I've also realized that in this climate of hyper-connectivity, highly collaborative workplaces and social networks that extend into the workplace; that I may need some help finding a place if I intend to prosper or even just survive.

While I continue to apply for the few traditional jobs that fit my age and experience, I will likewise search in other directions for workshops, support groups and any other resources that might help me find a new career or income opportunity.

One of things I took away from the books was the need to be flexible, be agile, and be willing and able to adapt. To do otherwise puts you on the path of extinction. I'm not ready for that just yet.


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