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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

What a sad couple of weeks it has been here at Criticism As Inspiration.  I offer a sincere apology to all readers who visited our blog numerous times in the past couple of weeks, each time disappointed with our lack of posts.  But here’s a conversation starter…

Mirek Topolánek is currently serving as the prime minister of the Czech Republic (though he was ousted with a no confidence vote today…) as well as the president of the European Union.  Granted he is more right-of-center, he is very much against President Obama’s economic recovery plan.  I have not voiced much regarding this legislation, primarily because I don’t know much about it.  I desired change for American politics, but hiking up the national deficit is all too familiar.

What’s this?  The commie is upset about government spending and his beloved President Obama?  Yes, I am upset about the current state of the economy all over the world.  This is the perfect time to enact Plan “C”

WORKINGMEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!

Of course I am being facetious.  I suspect that the market system has flaws, though I am convinced that neither Wall Street nor the big banks are solely to blame for our economic recession.  If you look at the chart below you will see that household (personal) debt in the United States has officially reached and surpassed our GDP:

debt2

I am not one for staring at charts (I’m more of a map kind of guy), but it’s rather easy to observe that our household debt has certainly been climbing over the past 25 years.  You can see it passing our GDP in 2007 and over the past two years it is continuing to climb.  What does that mean?  Who cares about our household debt in relationship to GDP?  What is most striking about this chart is that household debt has reached this level before.  Think 1929:

household

If you look at this chart you can see that last time American household debt was near 100% of our GDP was in 1929, followed by a rapid depression (which is called the Great Depression).  This gives us an interesting insight into a possible cause of the current recession.  Columbia Business School professor David Beim worded it well:

The problem is us.  The problem is not the banks, greedy though they may be, overpaid though they may be.  The problem is us…  We’ve been living very high on the hog.  Our living standard has been rising dramatically in the last 25 years.  And we have been borrowing much of the money to make that prosperity happen.

This is old news (I heard it on NPR almost a month ago), but bearing it in mind, perhaps we Americans ought to reorient the way that we see life (especially success, wealth, meaning, and fulfillment).  I’ve seen families living what would be considered “poverty-stricken” lives (according to information brought to light in this insightful post) while driving Escalades.  We’ve put ourselves in debt up to our ears (and climbing), and perhaps more borrowing ought not be our next step.  Maybe we ought to drive the cheaper, more fuel-efficient car.  Maybe we ought to eat out less and cook at home more.  Maybe we ought not purchase that big screen nor update our DVD library to Blu-Ray.  Maybe we ought not give Hollywood another record-breaking year.  I’m not sure where to draw the line, but smalls steps in the right direction would be a good start.

If we don’t choose change the way we live we will most certainly be forced to.

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What better place to wander than the real world?  I’ve decided to spend the next Weekly Wandering outside of cyberspace, in Los Angeles County.

People seem very polarized by Los Angeles.  Morrissey declares that “we look to Los Angeles for the language we use, London is dead.”  Ben Gibbard inquires, “Is this the city of angels or demons?”  I once told someone that I love Los Angeles and, visibly bothered, they asked, “Have you ever been anywhere else?”  That’s a bit harsh, and to readers who might be asking the same question, yes, I have been several other places.  It is a passion of mine to explore.  I have a keen sense of direction and memory for locations, and I am most fond of Los Angeles and its surrounding cities.  It’s true that I’ve spent more time in Los Angeles than any other city and there are various reasons outside of the objective value of Los Angeles that influence my passion for the city.  But I’m convinced that there are plenty of positive and negative things to go around in any metropolitan area.  I don’t particularly like the weather in Los Angeles (I’m more of a North Atlantic or Pacific Northwest type of man), but I am bewitched by the city and I feel called to serve in and explore Los Angeles for the rest of my life, so deal with it naysayers.  Maybe I’ll post something more in depth regarding Los Angeles and culture, but for now I offer locational wanderings to readers.

In light of my constant state of near-poverty, or at least my slight frugality, I am primarily going to include places that are free (aside from transportation), which is a truly great thing in both a thriving economy and a recession.  Maybe you’ve been to these places, maybe you’ve never heard of them, maybe you don’t live in Los Angeles County and you’re completely disinterested.  Either way, this place has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike.

This week I will mostly focus on some fun places within Griffith Park that I have explored over the past six years of being a licensed driver.

Griffith Park (4,210 acres) was a donation from Griffith J. Griffith (ridiculous name, ridiculous man) to the City of Los Angeles.  It offers a wide variety of activities, many of which are free:

  • The Mulholland Memorial Fountain – This beautiful fountain is located off of Los Feliz & Riverside.  The fountian (like Mulholland Drive) is named after William Mulholland was an Irish immigrant who worked as an prominent civil engineer and is responsible in part for the rapid growth of Los Angeles at the beginning of last century (thanks to several projects he undertook while working at/heading up the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power).  It’s easy to get to and is a nice place to enjoy hot tea (or coffee if you prefer), a walk, and/or a smoke.
  • Griffith Observatory – This place is a Los Angeles landmark and it showcases a beautiful building and a beautiful view of Hollywood/Los Angeles/South Bay/Palos Verdes/Long Beach/etc.  You might have seen it in a number of films including Rebel Without A Cause.  There are a number of interesting exhibits, a Tesla coil, several telescopes, and a free theater (now showing a short film about the observatory).  If you’re willing to spend a little money be sure to buy tickets to the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, currently presenting an enjoyable show, “Centered in the Universe” ($8 with a student ID and well worth it).
  • Bronson Caves – These manmade caves were originally built for transporting rock for a Union Rock Company quarry there, have been used in numerous films and are a fun little hike.  Just take Bronson (or Canyon Dr., which Bronson merges with) north of Hollywood Blvd. and then park where the road ends.  There is a service/fire road on the east side of the canyon, which is the beginning of the trail to the caves.  It is probably a ten or fifteen minute light hike.  Once you’re there you can also see a nice view of the “Hollywood” sign (which I would talk about hiking to, but it would be tresspassing and I would never do that…again…maybe…ever…).
  • Walk – Never underestimate the power of a nice walk.  I typically scoff at the prospect of walking (which is different than “hiking”).  Most of the time I’d rather ride a bicycle or run.  But when I do start to walk I find myself enjoying it greatly, especially with company.  It’s like watching “Home Improvement.”  I usually hate television, and “Home Improvement” never sounds especially attractive, but when I have watched an episode here or there I just can’t get enough of that Tim Allen.  Griffith Park offers a lot of beautiful scenery and much of that is enjoyed to a far greater degree while strolling.  The best places to wander on foot are located on the north side of the park, off of the 5 freeway at any of the “Griffith Park” exits (Los Feliz, Griffith Park, Zoo Drive).

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