Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wrap Up for May '14

What a relief to finally view a major task through the rear view mirror. It took months to put together and price, but all the "bits and pieces" finally formed an actual yard sale - certainly the most labor intensive of any I've experienced. Like so many of its ilk, not exactly a moneymaker, but extra room to move about in the house afterward is always a good thing. So much back and forth was involved that the day afterward, I could scarcely walk.

Why bother with all the work, then? To be sure, clearing clutter is a factor. But in spite of the exhaustion afterward, I felt really good. Ordinarily there's too few reasons to talk to neighbors, and so a full day to do so was most invigorating. It reminded me of the days of retail that I loved, and sometimes still miss.

Plastic as the new "collectible"? Collectible glassware doesn't seem to have the panache it held prior to the Great Recession. Fortunately Mom played that particular market right by selling much of her best glassware in the height of its popularity. I even gave an old plastic watering pitcher to a young man who enthused about his backyard garden, which he presented on his tablet. What a surprise to see plants growing in the same weathered plastic pots (decades old) as some still taking space in the garage! A young woman purchased some of the pink plastic dinnerware had which graced the dinner table fifty years earlier. Odd to think we were both sentimental about old plastic! I showed her one of the salad bowls I still used - stains and all.

Of course, the main thing that stood out in this month of May: lots of resignation all around, regarding lowered growth levels in the economy. Let alone the fact the "winding down" process is apparently just beginning. Who knew: agreement seems to exist between the Fed and Washington elite about this whole state of affairs. But why haven't new possibilities for growth and economic direction even been discussed? It almost feels as though our government is telling citizens, "Sorry, we're just not that into you". Because if renewed growth mattered to Washington, by extension it should matter to the Fed as well. Combating inflation is mostly an excuse.

This wrap up includes some additional links which proved too numerous for inclusion in the midweek MM postings. First I want to highlight a quote from Michael Strain (HT James Pethoukis) in this Washington Post article, "Robot workers could tear America's social fabric".
Today, it is tempting to think of creative destruction as a relatively benign thing - Starbucks replacing mom-and-pop coffee shops, or companies going out of business from time to time. In reality, creative destruction can be a massive, painful force.
That's not to say creative destruction isn't needed, of course. But all too often we're left with limited circumstances where creative destruction is allowed to take place, versus the scenarios where creative destruction doesn't get a chance. Often the latter are the ones which could have provided significant societal gain. Why the difference? And how can economic environments continue to exist, for the social activities which people miss most? I hope that Strain's article gets the attention it deserves.

Sometimes creative destruction doesn't get a chance to happen because of concentrated markets:

Or, creative destruction doesn't get a chance because of the way the rules of the game are written:
Robert Litan for the WSJ...A Start-Up Problem That Extends Beyond the U.S.

An interesting statistic indeed:

And, some rather inspiring posts:

Tiny Houses with Big Ambitions from Time

These words from a commencement address given by a Navy SEAL made me feel better in a despondent moment:

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed, into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.
There were many students who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right, it was unappreciated.
Those students didn’t make it through training. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.
Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.
If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

The above quote was a great finish for this post, but there's one more link worth reading, for those who have time:

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