Saturday, September 18, 2010

Don't Be Too Specialized If You Want A Top Level Management Job

Generalists, men and women who have amassed experience with a broad spectrum of management areas, stand a better chance of making it to top management positions than those with more specialized resumes, says economist Ed Lazear of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
 
STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS—Aiming for the C-suite? You're more likely to get there if you're a generalist.
 
Researching the question of just who is likely to land a C-level job (CEO, COO, CFO) and why, Stanford Graduate School of Business labor economist Edward P. Lazear has found that generalists, who have knowledge in a broad range of areas, hold a higher chance of reaching the corner office than do specialists. "The higher you get in an organization, the more likely you are to encounter problems from a variety of different areas," he says. Because CEOs in particular encounter so many different kinds of issues, "those people have to be generalists."
 
A CEO with strengths in only one or two narrow areas can tackle a problem in those fields, but "the difficulty is, if you get a problem in an area outside your expertise and have no knowledge there, then you totally blow it," says Lazear, the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and Economics and Morris Arnold Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. "A good CEO is someone who's very good, possibly not excellent, but very good, at almost everything," he says.
 
To determine the extent to which individuals are generalists, Lazear analyzed the number of prior jobs held by 5,000 respondents in a 1997 survey of 12,500 GSB alumni. Among those with at least 15 years of work experience, respondents who have had 2 or fewer roles had only a 2% chance of eventually becoming a C-level leader, while those who have held at least 5 positions had an 18% chance of reaching the top.
 
"People who are most likely to end up in leadership positions are ones who have had many different roles throughout their career," thereby gaining broad experience, says Lazear. In practice, becoming a generalist could entail making the rounds through various areas of a single company. Many types of organizations, ranging from the military to General Electric to small family-owned businesses, groom future leaders in that way, Lazear says.
 
Lazear also writes that the broader the organization an individual leads, the broader the skills he or she holds. For example, the chairs of academic departments within colleges or universities likely have a wider range of knowledge than do their colleagues, but their skills still aren't as broad as those of corporate CEOs. Analogously, the skills of political leaders tend to be the least specialized and the broadest of all, because political leaders confront the entire spectrum of possible decisions, Lazear writes.
 
But don't C-level leaders just hire other executives and managers to oversee individual areas of the company? Yes, but hiring someone requires that you understand enough about each area so you're able to identify the right person for the job. "Putting together a team is a generalist's skill. 'Just hiring someone' is not so easy," Lazear says.
 
Lazear's research also suggests that certain jobs, including those in banking, senior-level finance, and marketing, are more likely to lead to the corner office because they are, in a word, visible. Higher-profile jobs that put you in what Lazear calls "publicly observed decision-making situations" let you frequently interact with many others who can see your results and recognize your abilities, and who ultimately become followers. Hence, you're becoming a leader.
 
Of course, merely working in marketing isn't a guarantee of reaching the C-suite. Nor is hopping through a half-dozen positions. But by developing strengths in as many areas as you can, Lazear says, "you can enhance your probability of going into leadership."
 
Thanks to Stanford GSB News / Louise Lee / August 2010

Study: Chondroitin, Glucosamine Ineffective For Joint Pain

A new study published in the British Medical Journal is touting the ineffectiveness of popular joint care supplements chondroitin and glucosamine. The authors reviewed the results of 10 published trials involving patients with osteoarthritis and found no clinically relevant effect of chondroitin, glucosamine, or the two in combination. However, many patients do report significant improvement in symptoms with these supplements. The researchers believe that this is likely due to the natural course of osteoarthritis, which include periods of painful flares as well as periods of pain reduction.  A placebo effect is another possibility. The authors also point out that no evidence exist to conclude that these supplements are dangerous to take. Therefore, if you believe they help your condition or if you're interested in trying them, by all means. In 2008, worldwide glucosamine supplement sales totaled $2 billion dollars. [via Medical News Today]
 
Thanks to DailyDose

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Fat Reducing Methods Win FDA Approval

For fat-reducing treatments to receive FDA approval is a big deal – it could mean the difference between financial boon and bust. Which is why the approval of two non-surgical body contouring methods by the FDA has been in the news lately. The first is Zeltiq, a device used for Cryolipolysis – the process of breaking down fat cells by freezing them. Although the temperature never dips below freezing, it is cold enough to crystalize the fat cells, which are then naturally broken down and absorbed by the body. The second device, marketed under the name Zerona, is a low-energy lazer that dissolves fat cells through the skin. Both these procedures are aimed at people with almost an ideal body weight, but have small pockets of fat that are difficult to remove with diet and exercise. But, just because the FDA has given the greenlight on these two procedures doesn't necessarily mean they're safe. We still do not have significant long term safety data and many physicians remain skeptical. For example, some fear that the melted fat could overwhelm the body, leading possibly to fatty liver, or extra deposits in our blood vessels which could predispose to Atherosclerosis. Only time will tell.
 
Thanks to Daily Dose

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pause More Between Sentences

In a recent study, a team of scientists showed that in listening to a musical symphony, just a one to two second break between movements triggers a flurry of mental activity. So could a one to two second pause between sentences be just as powerful in helping others comprehend our information? Any comedian will tell you that is the timing of pauses in their delivery that determines their success.
 
Thanks to Listening Leaders

Poetry:- Teri Har Ada

Teri Har Ada Mohabat Lagti Hai

Eik Pal Ki Judai Sadiyon Si Lagti Hai

Pehle Nahin Socha Tha Ab Sochne Laga Hoon

Zindagi Kay Har Lamhe Mein Teri Zaroorat Si Lagti Hai

5 Reasons Couples Cheat

Every day in the news we hear another story about a rich, famous or powerful couple caught in the act with their proverbial pants down.  We are fascinated by the infidelities of others, especially those with success and a seemingly perfect mate.

We feel shocked and maybe even secretly smug and reproachful.  If we had that spouse or that career, we would never cheat.  But the reality is that almost half of all  married couples do.

Studies show that anywhere from 25% to almost 45% of women and up to 55% of men will cheat at some point in their marriage.  And even with all the self help books out there, it is still not clear why they do it.

The number one reason infidelity happens is OPPORTUNITY.  This would explain how some partners can cheat on their spouses when everything seems fine at home.  The more the opportunity presents itself, the more difficult it becomes to resist the temptation.   Some specialists believe that couples should limit all outside relationships with the opposite sex to avoid this possibility.  This advice doesn't sound very practical;  it would seem that if you "fast" from all outside temptation the urge to binge on the first delivery person that comes to the door unexpectedly would be greater than sticking to a steady "diet" of casual acquaintances.

The second reason people cheat is to AVOID CONFLICT.  Many couples use an affair as a way to avoid communicating with their partner about their needs at home.  Sometimes conversations with a partner end up in endless loops of frustration and conflict.  Marriages can end up on parallel tracks, both spouses going along fine in their own groove, but never coming together to talk about what's really on their mind.   If someone else comes along, at first it can feel like a relief.    Eventually, however, conflict follows you wherever you.

The third reason couples cheat is sexual VARIETY.  No one wants to hear that their partner cheated because they were bored.  But the reality is that we all need adventure and novelty in a relationship to keep it alive.  Long term domesticity, although safe, doesn't breed good sex.  It can make us feel taken advantage of, and eventually we stop appreciating what we have.  The way to avoid this type of affair is to focus on shaking things up in your love life every week.  Not just once a year on vacation, but trying new things in bed and out of bed, for a lifetime.

The fourth reason people cheat is DEVELOPMENTAL.  This really has nothing to do with the couple but everything to do with the individual.  Sometimes this happens when one partner has to work through their own childhood issues.  Childhood abuse, trauma and having parents who cheated can create sexual compulsivity.   This person may need therapy to heal from their wounds.

The fifth reason people cheat is really to END their relationship.  I call this the "can opener" affair and it happens when people want to get out of a marriage but they don't know how.  They may want to be caught so that their spouse will end the marriage for them.  This can be the most painful type of cheating, because it indicates the end of both the affair and the marriage.

If you or someone you know has experienced infidelity, they may be depressed, angry, or be having trouble coping with their relationship issues.  Contact a therapist that can help.

About the Author: Tammy Nelson, PhD is a psychotherapist and author who conducts trainings, teleclasses, workshops and sessions for couples. Thanks to ThridAge / The Age Of Change


Freshly Engineered Fish At A Supermarket Near You Soon

The U.S. Food and Drug administration is on the brink of approving the nation's first ever genetically engineered fish for mass consumption. The fish in question is an Atlantic salmon which has been engineered by AquaBounty Technologies to contain a growth hormone gene and a genetic "on-switch" to allow the fish to grow continuously (salmon do not grow much during the winter months) so as to reach market size in 16 to 18 months, rather than the usual three years. Quite obviously, food safety and environmental groups are opposed to the potential approval citing lack of transparency in decision making by the FDA, as well as research showing that accidental release of the genetically modified salmon into the wild could potentially result in extinction of the wild salmon population in less than 40 generations. Currently, the FDA is evaluating the genetically engineered salmon as a veterinary drug, rather than as food. By doing so, the entire FDA deliberation process is held behind closed doors and much of AquaBounty's filings are considered confidential. "Critical information about the whole process has been kept from the public and organizations that focus on these issues," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, part of a coalition of 31 organizations and restaurant chefs that is demanding that the FDA deny approval of the altered fish. "There's a transparency problem." Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency is simply following rules. "We do have obligations under the regulations to protect company confidential information," she said.
 
Thanks to Daily Dose

 

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Choose The First Measure That Comes To Mind!

The human brain is a pattern recognition machine and this is a very practical skill to make life better – just think about easily we can recognize faces, or sense when our better-half is in a good mood or bad. But the downside of pattern recognition is that we can rush too quickly to conclusions. We draw too readily on past experience and don't open our minds to what else might be possible.
 

Selecting the first measure – or even one of the first two or three measures – that come to mind when you're selecting measures for a goal or performance result is a mistake born of this tendency to draw too readily on past experience. Just because you're familiar with the measure of Customer Satisfaction doesn't make it a great measure for every goal that has the word "customer" in it. It's not a measure of how loyal your customers are and it's not a measure of how engaged they are in your services or products. But it's still the most used customer-related measure.

No doubt part of the reason why people tend to select the first measure that comes to mind is that not enough time has been allowed to consider alternatives. But if you were to give three hours to selecting measures instead of a half-hour, you'd be saving hundreds and possibly thousands of hours wasted in measuring the wrong things.

Instead of making this mistake, allow more time to really think through a wider range of potential measures for your goal or performance result. Don't be afraid to list half a dozen or even more potential measures for a specific result. Overwhelmingly from my own experience, best measures rarely ever come from the first two or three that are suggested. You almost get on a roll, too, and the quality of measures improves as you list ideas, as if building from the first few ideas.

Then, for each potential measure you list, discuss how strongly related it is to the goal or result. Think carefully about what is the best evidence of that goal or result and you may even be able to design your own measures – better measures than the standard and all-too-common measures that everyone's been using, that are familiar and top-of-mind but not necessarily all that useful or powerful.

About The Author

Stacey Barr is the Performance Measure Specialist, helping strategic planners, business analysts and performance measurement officers confidently facilitate their organization to create and use meaningful performance measures with lots of buy-in. Sign up for Stacey's free email tips at www.staceybarr.com/202tipsKPI.html and receive a complimentary copy of her renowned e-book "202 Tips for Performance Measurement".

Five Tricky Questions

1. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

2. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?

3. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and grey when you throw it away ?

4. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday?

5. This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit,  you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!

THE ANSWERS TO ALL FIVE RIDDLES ARE BELOW:

Answers:
1. The third room. Lions that haven't eaten in three years are dead.  That one was easy, right?
2. The woman was a photographer. She shot a picture of her husband,  developed it, and hung it up to dry (shot; held under water; and hung).
3. Charcoal, as it is used in barbecuing.
4. Sure you can name three consecutive days, yesterday, today, and tomorrow!
5. The letter e, which is the most common letter used in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph.

Ranking Employees: Why Comparing Workers to Their Peers Can Often Backfire

We live in a world full of benchmarks and rankings. Consumers use them to compare the latest gadgets. Parents and policy makers rely on them to assess schools and other public institutions, and sports fans like them for help in sizing up their favorite teams. But what about when rankings are used at the office for appraising staff performance?

It's often assumed that employees who are benchmarked against each other work harder, to either hang onto a high ranking or raise a low ranking. However, Iwan Barankay, a management professor at Wharton, calls that assumption into question in a new study titled, "Rankings and Social Tournaments: Evidence from a Field Experiment."

"Many managers think that giving workers feedback about their performance relative to their peers inspires them to become more competitive -- to work harder to catch up, or excel even more. But in fact, the opposite happens," says Barankay, whose previous research and teaching has focused on personnel and labor economics. "Workers can become complacent and de-motivated. People who rank highly think, 'I am already number one, so why try harder?' And people who are far behind can become depressed about their work and give up."

Barankay's interest in rankings as a motivational tool intensified during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which "showed us that offering employees financial incentives based on their performance can have unintended consequences," he notes, referring to the sky-high bonuses earned on Wall Street in the run-up to the downturn.

"The practical question I wanted to answer is: What should employers do to make their employees work harder when financial incentives [aren't effective] anymore? It is often thought that people care about their status compared to others -- that people derive some happiness or dissatisfaction from knowing they're better or worse than their reference group," Barankay states. "Of course, rank should matter if money is at stake. But I looked at rank as its own reward. I wanted to find out whether workers truly want to know how they rank against their peers and ... if they knew how they ranked, did it cause them to adjust their effort?"

Unintended Consequences

His study involved 330 employees recruited via Mechanical Turk, Amazon.com's "crowd-sourcing" platform for work conducted and submitted online. Employers post jobs on the website's listings section -- most of which involve piecemeal, routine work, such as organizing photos, writing or editing text, and basic data entry. Prospective employees scroll through the list and select a task they want to complete.

When workers, also called "turkers," click on a job, they are led to a web page that presents a set of tasks. After completing the tasks, a worker can decide whether to continue on to the next job. The jobs typically pay $.03 to $.50 per task, and tasks usually take between a few minutes to an hour to complete. Among the companies that use Mechanical Turk are Google, Yahoo and Zappos.com, the online shoe and clothing purveyor.

"It's a platform that represents the new frontier of work," Barankay states. "The assignments on offer are things you can't program [a computer to do]. They're tasks that require human input, but they're not worthy of [creating] an entire job. It's a way for employers to get some back-office work done and for workers who need flexibility to make some extra cash."

According to Barankay, using Mechanical Turk for a field experiment is attractive for a number of reasons. First, it is a natural environment in which to study human behavior in a way that laboratory settings aren't able to accommodate. Second, the timeframe is short: Experiments can be completed in a couple of hours, although long-term tests can be conducted if needed. Finally, the demographic profiles of the turkers are generally broader than the conglomeration of workers in most companies or in a group of participants in laboratory experiments. "Most important," Barankay adds, "is that the platform gives you data from the real world. Nothing is more compelling than data from actual workplace settings, but getting it is usually very hard."

For his experiment, which lasted two weeks, Barankay advertised jobs on Mechanical Turk that involved analyzing images. Nothing about the jobs appeared to be different from the listings on the site offered by the likes of Google or Yahoo. He paid $.05 for every four tasks completed, irrespective of the quality of the responses. In other words, the turkers made money no matter how well they completed the task.

In the experiment's first stage, Barankay posted two identical jobs, but one offered feedback on the worker's accuracy at the end of the assignment, while the other didn't. Because conventional management wisdom contends that people want to know how they rate, Barankay thought the first job would be more popular. Instead, the job without the feedback attracted more workers -- 254, compared with 76 for the job with feedback.

"This was a surprising outcome, but it speaks to the paradigm of revealed preferences," he notes. "Economists are usually very skeptical about what people say they will do. We focus on what people actually choose to do. Their choices convey information about what they care about. In this case, it seems that people would rather not know how they rank compared to others, even though when we surveyed these workers after the experiment, 74% said they wanted feedback about their rank."

Coming Back for More

In the second stage of the experiment, Barankay randomly divided workers into two groups -- a control group receiving no ranking and a treatment group receiving feedback with a ranking. He then sent an e-mail to all of the workers inviting them to return to do more assignments. The content of all the e-mails was the same, except that individuals in the treatment group found out how they ranked in terms of their answers' accuracy. The aim was to determine whether giving people feedback affected their desire to do more work, as well as the quantity and quality of their work.

Of the workers in the control group, 66% came back for more work, compared with 42% in the treatment group. The members of the treatment group who returned were also 22% less productive than the control group. This seems to dispel the notion that giving people feedback might encourage high-performing workers to work harder to excel, and inspire low-ranked workers to make more of an effort. "This indicates that when people are great and they know it, they tend to slack off. But when they're at the bottom, and are told they're doing terribly, they are de-motivated," says Barankay.

His research also challenges the idea that rankings could provide poor-performing employees with empirical feedback that will dissuade them from staying in their jobs -- at no great loss for the employer. "There has been this sense that people on the bottom will realize they're in the wrong job and just leave, which would also be beneficial to the company," Barankay notes. "There is also the hope that giving feedback about rank helps retain the top performers. But that's not the case. Perhaps this is because top performers move on to new challenges and low performers have no viable options elsewhere.

"Of course, in some instances, providing feedback will be a motivational tool that entices people to work harder. But overall it does not appear that way," he adds. "So the question becomes: Is [ranking employees] worth it?"

Barankay notes in his paper that future work needs to be done to test the effect of rankings in other work environments and "also to explore whether the underlying parameters can be recovered to pinpoint more detailed mechanisms in the data. Only then can we establish if targeted feedback that takes into account the underlying [differences among workers] can be established to generate a positive casual effect on performance." At this stage, however, "the aggregate result is that feedback about rank is detrimental to performance," he writes.

But while his research shows that giving feedback about rank doesn't necessarily lead to increased productivity, it is well documented that tournaments, where rankings are tied to prizes, bonuses and promotions, do inspire higher productivity and performance. When considering these two things together, a lesson emerges, he notes.

"In workplaces where rankings and relative performance is very transparent, even without the intervention of management ... it may be better to attach financial incentives to rankings, as interpersonal comparisons without prizes may lead to lower effort," Barankay suggests. "In those office environments where people may not be able to assess and compare the performance of others, it may not be useful to just post a ranking without attaching prizes."

The critical lesson for employers is to consider how each employee will respond to feedback and then decide whether sharing that information will be beneficial for everyone involved. "A good employer knows its employees very well and should have a good idea how they will respond to the prospect of being ranked," he says. "The key is to devote more time to thinking about whether to give feedback, and how each individual will respond to it. If, as the employer, you think a worker will respond positively to a ranking and feel inspired to work harder, then by all means do it. But it's imperative to think about it on an individual level."

Thanks to Knowledge Wharton

Engaging Your Workplace

The Gallup Management Journal has surveyed U. S. employees over many years and found that "engaged employees are more productive, profitable, safer, create stronger customer relationships, and stay longer with their company than less engaged employees." They go on to say that engaged employees are also more open to creating innovation and listening to the creative ideas of others.
 
The Gallup research has defined three categories: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Actively Disengaged. They have found that approximately 56% of the U.S. workforce is Not Engaged, which means they basically come to work and do their job, no more-no less. They don't cause trouble, but they don't get involved or support change either.  This statistic is a few years old, so I wondered if it is less accurate or more accurate in today's economy. Either way, with workers staying in jobs they don't like and unemployed workers looking for any job, the potential for unengaged workers seems pretty high to me.
 
So where do you fit in this range of engagement? And, more importantly what can you do about it?
 
First of all, you have to look in the mirror and ask if you are personally engaged. If you don't have enthusiasm for your work and your company, how can you expect your employees to have it? You must demonstrate by your actions and your words that you respect the work of the organization and the people who do it. You must demonstrate that you want to hear fresh ideas and work to help implement those that you can. You are the leader and therefore, you lead the way in the kind of behavior you want to see from others.
 
Second, be involved with people. People tend to be more engaged with leaders who show an interest in them because they trust them more. They believe you have their best interests at heart and want to see them succeed. You must show them that to succeed they need to be engaged by not only doing their job well, but by looking for innovative ways to improve processes and add value to their work. Ask for feedback and encourage suggestions-no matter how large or how small. It's the small improvements that sometimes pay the most dividends.  Remember that if everyone worked to be one percent better each week, the magnitude of improvement would be enormous.
 
Third, help people understand your business. Many organizations today are sharing more financial information with their employees to help them understand the impact of their work on the company's bottom line. Through quality and lean process improvements people input data and "keep score" on their own production, error rate, and customer satisfaction. You reinforce what you measure because you elevate it to importance. Some people are afraid of being measured because they don't want to be held accountable, but when you are able to show them the connection between activity and results, they can begin to shoot for excellence. Consider the Olympic skater who wins the gold medal by thousandths of a second. To him or her, that measurement is the difference in payoff for all the years of training. To you, it may mean the difference in getting the order or not.
 
So, look around. What would engagement look like in your workplace?  How engaged are you and your workforce? What can you do to encourage more engagement? What would be your payoff if you personally were more engaged?
 
Thanks to Vicki / Anderson Resources

15 Economic Statistics That Just Keep Getting Worse

A little over a week ago, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner penned an article for the New York Times entitled "Welcome To The Recovery" in which he touted the great strides that the U.S. economy was making.  But with unemployment still dangerously high and with foreclosures and personal bankruptcies continuing to set all-time records, should we really be talking about a "recovery"?

The truth is that the numbers don't lie, and statistic after statistic shows that the economic fundamentals continue to get progressively worse.  The U.S. government can continue to try to pump up with economy with more debt, but the reality is that there is not going to be a legitimate "recovery" until consumer spending rebounds.  Consumer spending makes up the vast majority of U.S. GDP.  But without good jobs, consumers are not going to be able to spend money.  Unfortunately, our jobs base continues to be erode as millions upon millions of middle class jobs are shipped over to China, India and dozens of third world nations by the global predator corporations that now dominate the world economy.

The U.S. government cannot create real wealth out of thin air.  It can borrow even more money and flood the economy with even more paper currency, but the short-term "buzz" that creates does absolutely nothing to solve our long-term economic problems.

It is the private sector that actually creates wealth.  But unfortunately, over the last several decades we have allowed that wealth to become highly concentrated.  Now the giant global predator corporations have decided that American workers aren't really that desirable after all.  They are slowly taking away their factories and their offices and they are moving them to where people are willing to work for one-tenth the pay.

So where does that leave middle class American "consumers"?

Well, it leaves us in a world of hurt.

The following are 15 key economic statistics that just keep getting worse and which reveal the horrific economic plight in which we now find ourselves….

1 – The number of Americans who are receiving food stamps rose to a new all-time record of 40.8 million in May.  The number of Americans receiving food stamps has set a new all-time record for 18 months in a row.  But there is every indication that things are going to get even worse.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the number of Americans on food stamps will increase to 43 million in 2011.

2 – The U.S. economy lost 131,000 more jobs during the month of July.  But the truth is that the U.S. economy has been bleeding jobs for a long time.  According to one analysis, the United States has lost 10.5 million jobssince 2007.  Meanwhile, immigrants (both legal and illegal) continue to pour into this nation in unprecedented numbers.

3 – Americans who are out of work are finding it incredibly difficult to get back into the workforce.  In the United States today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to an all-time record of 35.2 weeks.

4 – The U.S. government keeps trying to pump up the economy with debt, and in the process things are getting wildly out of control.  According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

5 – The interest on all of this debt is becoming increasingly oppressive.  As of July 1st, the U.S. government had spent $355 billion so far in 2010 on interest payments to the holders of the national debt.  The total for 2010 should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 billion.  According to Erskine Bowles, one of the heads of Barack Obama's national debt commission, the U.S. government will be spending $2 trillion just on interest on the national debt by 2020.  Keep in mind that the entire U.S. government budget is less than $4 trillion for the entire year of 2010.

6 – If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the annual U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion.

7 – Social Security will pay out more in benefits in 2010 than it receives in payroll taxes.  This was not supposed to happen until at least 2015.  In the years ahead, these new "Social Security deficits" are projected to be absolutely catastrophic.

8 – There are simply far too many retirees and not nearly enough workers to support them.  Back in 1950 each retiree's Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.  Today, each retiree's Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.  By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

9 – Wealth continues to become highly concentrated at the top.  Since 1973, the average CEO's salary has increased from 26 times the median income to over 300 times the median income.

10  According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

11 – The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one mortgage payment during the January to March time period.  That was a new all-time record and represented an increase from 9.1 percent a year ago.

12 – A recent survey of last year's college graduates found that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.  That was up substantially from 63 percent in 2006.

13 – During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

14 – The total number of U.S. bank failures passed the 100 mark in July of this year.  In 2009, the total number of U.S. bank failures did not pass the century barrier until October.

15 – The U.S. dollar continues to rapidly decline in value.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you$112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Any rational observer (and clearly U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner does not qualify) can see that the foundations of the U.S. economy are coming apart.  The rapidly accumulating mountain of debt that has fueled our "prosperity" is impossible to repay and is going to progressively choke the life out of our economic system.  The good jobs that we have allowed to be shipped out of our country are never coming back.  Every single day, more wealth flows out of this country than flows into it.

Anyone who claims that things are getting "better" is either ignorant, completely deluded or is purposely lying.

The U.S. economy is not getting "better".

The U.S. economy is dying.

You should adjust your plans accordingly

Written by The Economic Collapse Blog - 8/11/10