Tale Of Two Christmases CBS News (12.18.04)

It's a Charles Dickens Christmas — a Tale of Two Economies.

High-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Tiffany are thriving, while discount chains such as Wal–Mart are suffering...

Well, we're really torn here: on one hand this clearly isn't good, but we're happy that folks aren't shopping at Wal–mart (SERIOUSLY: FUCKING STOP IT)

Recent sales figures from the nation's largest retailers underscore the growing gap between the haves and the haveRecent sales figures from the nation's largest retailers underscore the growing gap between the haves and the have–nots.

Wal–Mart missed its November sales numbers, posting a meager seven–tenths–of–a–percent gain over November, 2003. The company had expected 3 to 4 percent sales growth. City saw a 3 percent decline in sales last month, and K-Mart's sales are likely to drop 10 percent.

"You have wealthy consumers spending in unprecedented proportions and the cash and credit starved consumers are suffering," says retail analyst Burt Fleckinger of the Strategic Resource Group.

Ho Ho Ho, here's a lump of coal for you and a diamond for them! Welcome to George W. Bush's America! Ho Ho Ho!

But look on the bright side: Wal–Mart missed its sales goals! And we call that a good start...

Bush considering Bernanke as White House economist Reuters (12.18.04)

The Bush administration is considering Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke as a possible replacement for Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Gregory Mankiw, U.S. officials said this week.


"He would be a good choice," said Bill Beach, an economist with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "He understands Washington."

Mankiw found himself at the center of some political storms as the election campaign began to heat up early this year.

One was sparked by his jobs forecast which Democrats derided as overly optimistic. Another erupted after he suggested that the outsourcing of jobs to workers overseas may benefit the economy -- a comment that stirred criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Hmmm, bullish on outsourcing and liked by the Heritage Foundation. Well, that's 2 big strikes against him.

Some analysts thought a stint at the CEA could burnish Bernanke's credentials for possibly taking the helm at the Fed but others said the timing might not work out that well because Bush would have to find yet another CEA chairman in a short period of time.

Bernanke's area of expertise is in macroeconomics and monetary policy -- not a field directly related to items at the top of Bush's economic agenda such as overhauling Social Security and revamping the tax code.

While a Republican, Bernanke is not an activist and has developed a reputation as an independent thinker. But that did not prevent dedicated conservative Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, from offering his stamp of approval.

"I hear nothing but good things about him," Norquist said.

Whoops! Clearly spoke too soon: Grover likes him and that means strike 3!

Keep an eye on this guy folks, keep an eye on this guy... no good can come of it.


Forget India; outsource jobs to Arkansas
MSN Money (12.16.04)

Kathy Brittain White is on a mission.

White's goal is to find high-tech talent in the heartland. "I think of this as an integration of all that I am," she says.

Why outsource to India, she's decided, when you can outsource to Arkansas?

"I've always tried to look for solutions to difficult problems," White says. "So when all you see is we're losing jobs and there's no ready answer, I thought this was a great one."

She was chief information officer for Cardinal Health (CAH, news, msgs), the big drug distributor, and under pressure to send computer work overseas. But recalling her roots in rural Arkansas, she knew there was a better way.

So she left her job, trading the corporate jet for a rental car. With $2 million of her money, she created Rural Sourcing, an information technology contracting company that she claims can do the same work companies are sending overseas, for virtually the same price.

"It really does come very close," she says.

Yes, that's all well and good but STOP SHOPPING AT WAL–MART! Wal–Mart is just as bad for America as outsourcing is.

Now, this woman isn't replacing the high–paying jobs we're losing with similar high–paying jobs, but at least she's working to keep them in the US. We're sorta torn on this one. As always, readthe rest of the article and decide for yourself.


Gonna skip a story today and focus, instead, and focus on 2 things:

1. TechsUnite.org - Tracks a lot of info and actual numbers on Outsourcing. Take a look and let 'em know we sent you

2. A thought: as I was braving the freeways here in working class Los Angeles, I happened upon an interview on KPFK (truthfully? I usually listen to Indie 103.1) with the CEO of American Apparel. They were talking about how you can treat your workers right—even in a super–competitive industry disappearing from our shores—and still be successful. We have no ties to the company other than we buy their products, but as working class Angelenos we urge you to give them a look.


Premium pay for networking skills on the rise Computerworld.com Australia (12.13.04)
A little good news perhaps? Perhaps...

A recent study from the US IT workforce research firm finds that an increase in hiring, retention concerns, disappointment with offshore outsourcing and high demand for IT consultants are all driving up skills pay for specific specialties.


"The remarkable part is that, at this time last year, these same skills groups were registering annual declines of 6% to 12%. It's a complete reversal and a clear signal that businesses are once again investing in their full-time employees," says David Foote, president and chief research officer for Foote Partners.

Well, they're investing in some employees at least...

In more good news for tech workers, Foote notes that drawbacks associated with offshore outsourcing are coming to light. "Offshore outsourcing has proven to be far riskier and tougher to succeed at than had been anticipated, in part due to employee retention issues, especially when workers tasked with knowledge transfer and vendor management are involved." As a result, companies are less inclined to outsource, and are focusing instead on ways to keep their top talent from bolting.

Yes, well we'll believe that when we see it.

Our Song for the Week...
Midnight Oil's My Country from the exceptional 'Earth Sun Moon'

Was it just a dream, were you so confused
Was it just a giant leap of logic
Was it the time of year, that makes a state of fear
Methods, were their motives for the action

And did I hear you say
My country right or wrong
My country right or wrong
My country right or wrong

Did you save your face
Did you breach your faith
Women, there were children at the shelter
Now who can stop the hail
When human senses fail
There was never any warning, no escape

And did I hear you say
My country right or wrong
My country oh so strong
My country right or wrong
My country right or wrong
My country going wrong
My country right or wrong

I hear you say the truth must take a beating
The flag a camouflage for your deceiving
Cause I know, (I know) I know, it's written on your soul
I know we all make mistakes

This is not a case of blurred vision, it's a case of black holes,pocket
holes, soul holes

And did I hear you say
My country right or wrong
My country oh so strong
My country right or wrong
My country right or wrong
My country going wrong
My country right or wrong

My country, my country, my country