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Posts Tagged ‘Microtrends’

But the really, really big significance of the Working Retired is that, basically, everything we have been predicting for the last decade or so, regarding the collapse of Social Security, was wrong.  There won’t, in fact be ten retirees for every worker, because the retirees will be working, too.  The enormous Social Security burdens we’ve been haranguing about will be reduced, to some degree, by this trend — and largely on the part of people who want to do it.  According to Eugene Steuerle, and economist with the Urban Institute, if everyone worked just one year beyond expected retirement, we’d completely offset the anticipated shortfall between benefits and taxes in the old age insurance portion of Social Security.
  —  Mark J. Penn
From his book: “Microtrends
[Reality Check: What Penn is describing is that more and more older workers are “choosing” to continue working because they can’t afford to retire on Social Security retirement income.
A corollary to this is what we’ve seen over the last 40 years: a vast increase in the numbers of males (particularly white males) applying for Workers Compensation and riding this government program until (and past) retirement age.  Part of this is genuine injury, but the increasing rates correspond with the periods of domestic recessions.  That is when companies lay off older workers to retain those with lower salaries and fewer health issues (normal aging issues, not injury on the job issues).
Over time, the “word” has spread that there is a way to not work and still get some income to see you through until retirement (on Social Security).  That method is to get on Workers Compensation before you get laid-off or as soon as possible after being laid-off.
This trend is most evident in the announcement that the number of claims for Workers Comp exceeded the number of new jobs filled in recent months.  This “excess” is claimed, by the Republicans, to be proof that the Obama Administration is failing on the economy.  In fact, it is a realistic appraisal of the job market by older employees who seek an “income bridge” until retiring on Social Security.
Union pensions no longer exist for a sizeable portion of the work force (only 10% of American workers are in Unions), and corporations have shifted the responsibility for personal pensions from themselves to the individual employee.  That only leaves Social Security for the vast majority of American workers.  But — you have to be old enough to claim eligibility for Social Security.
For older workers facing long term (indefinite) unemployment (due to wage based lay-offs prior to reaching SSA retirement age), the economic pressure to try to get on to Workers Compensation rolls only increases with each year and with each recession.   —  KMAB]
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Honestly, though, can you think of any activity besides sleep deprivation that functions both as a form of torture for enemy prisoners and a badge of honor for super-strivers?
  —  Mark J. Penn
from his book: “Microtrends
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I learned from this that an average person cannot tell the difference between 4 percent unemployment and 8 percent unemployment.  If you have 100 friends, and a few more are employed or unemployed, you can’t accurately gauge whether the economy is going up or down.  If twenty of them were unemployed, you could; in other words, you can easily see firsthand the complete disasters and depressions.  But you can’t see the changes in the normal range of most statistics.  You can’t really see the difference between 4 and 8 percent unemployment.
   —  Mark J. Penn
From his book:  “Microtrends
[I see…  It’s a downturn when “they” are unemployed; it’s a recession when “you” are unemployed; and, it’s a depression when “I” am unemployed.  —  KMAB]
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We are undergoing massive change in contradictory ways — a society that is fundamentally older, yet working more; a society that is striving to be healthier, and yet has never had higher obesity or caffeine consumption, a society that is increasingly discussing politicians’ style and personality, and yet is more educated than ever before.
And the world itself is undergoing some very counterintuitive changes: As science becomes more important, we have had a rise in religion; as economic freedom and capitalism are winning out, democracy and human rights are lagging; societies that give the greatest encouragement to childbearing, are showing some of the greatest population declines.
  —  Mark J. Penn
From his book:  “Microtrends
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The domino theory was wrong because communism in its pure form has been unable to generate a sustaining economic model better than capitalism.  Democracy has actually had more trouble getting established than capitalism because enlightened communist states (which do not include North Korea) have been realizing they can hold on to political power if they loosen up on the economic reins.  By introducing modest economic freedom, they have been able to enjoy continued political domination — we see that on a huge scale in China and Russia, and now we see it here in Vietnam.  These regimes have learned that acknowledging and accommodating economic spirit is the only way to hold on to political power, and that as long as people have economic rights, they may not be so concerned about human rights.  America was founded on the opposite principle — that human and political rights must come first — but these states are turning that theory on its head with some surprising success.
   —  Mark J. Penn
From his book:  “Microtrends
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Very slight changes in the mix of the cultural atoms will trigger profound changes in the shape of our globe and the character of our society.
  —  Mark J. Penn
From his book: “Microtrends
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So for most subjects, people rely on a combination of news shows, Web sites, magazines, radio, chatter with friends, and their own gut.  And given how unscientific almost all of those sources are, most people end up being wrong much of the time about what is actually going on.  They are influenced by what looks right, and by what they want to see.  They rarely take the time to look at the cold hard facts of what is happening.
  —  Mark J. Penn
From his book: “Microtrends
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Underlying the idea of microtrends is that there is rarely a single right way to do things  —  and that similar people may make very different choices and start two totally contradictory trends.  And yet both of those decisions can be totally rational.
  —  Mark J. Penn
Quoted from “Microtrends” by Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne
[Chaos Theory and Complexity all rolled into one, big, happy, human experience called LIFE…   —   KMAB]
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Today, after work, I went to see the new movie: “Green Lantern“, with my daughter Sarah.  I had read the reviews over the weekend and got James’ (my son) review.  He saw it at the mid-night premiere last Friday morning.  I also got a short review from a guy I know at work who goes to a lot of movies.  Everyone had mixed reactions.  The professional reviews were the harshest.  James said he didn’t think much of the main Green Lantern actor, but thought the rest of the movie was good.  My work friend said it was more of a comedy movie than a super-hero movie.
I don’t know what they were all expecting, but I thought it was terrific!!!  It had very good special effects, good comedic moments, a little romance, and some pretty good battle scenes.  I thought the main actor (Ryan Reynolds) carries the movie and is certainly better than many of the actors in the early days of comic-movies – including some more modern actors / roles  like Ben Affleck in Daredevil.  I think the best way to describe it is that it is a kind of comic book / sci-fi / space opera (minus the Italian singing).  Considering Green Lantern has always seemed a third tier super-hero to me, I found the movie to be on a par with the two most recent Batman movies.  I have read rumors there may be a trilogy, and if so, I will definitely go seem them as well.
On Sunday, I finally completed the book: “Microtrends“, by Mark J. Penn (2007©).  The author is a pollster who had his claim to fame in the Presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.  Penn is attributed with the invention of the term “Soccer Moms” and the targeting of them, which is supposedly what pushed Clinton over the top to victory in the election.  The book is a collection of short essays about over seventy microtrends (defined as a trend which is or is soon expected to be at least one percent of the population).  Many of the trends do not “seem” new to me, but one has to remember the book is now over four years old, so some of these trends have now become mainstream.
As usual with many of the books I read, I will be putting some of interesting quotes up in this blog over time.  Again, it’s not so much the newness of the idea as it is the conciseness of the ideas expression which interests me.  More critical and more favorable reviews can be found at the various on-line book sales sites.  I would only note, I tended to agree more with the positive reviews than the negative.  I also find it interesting that some reviewers simply can’t get past the “he worked for the re-election of Clinton”  factor and that seems to completely cloud their judgement (and reviews) to the point of vitriol.  It must be a sad life, not being able to get over something after all this time.
On Sunday, I also completed a very short book from my past: “The Wisdom Of Gibran“, edited by Joseph Sheban (1966©).  I first heard of Kahlil Gibran when I was in high school.  I’m not sure if I read this book or another very much like it, but I remember  being very touched by this “strange” person, who seemed to write as if he were from a fictional, medieval place and time.  Back then, I used to keep a journal and I remember writing quote after quote from Gibran in the journal.  As strange as it may sound, Gibran was like a “Star Wars” Yoda figure to me, speaking honestly to me, but in a funny version of English.  It was only on reading this book yesterday, that the image of Yoda came back to me.  It’s funny how life can go around in circles and create its own chain of links.
A couple of months ago, I bought Gibran’s collected works in a single volume.  This collection of short quotes has reminded me they (the full works) are on the shelf calling to me…
Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
  —   Kahlil Gibran
From: “Mirrors Of The Soul
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Of course, congregational membership is not to be confused with truth.  All of the world’s great religions started small.  So while a denomination’s fall in membership may say a lot about what the people want, many would argue it doesn’t say anything about what God wants, or about what congregants will want over time.  The cold statistics now show that this new class of women clergy is having a tough time, as the stricter religions are growing and the liberalized religions are shrinking.  But this pendulum has swung many times before, and the role of religion today in so many of the world’s conflicts may cause a reaction against religious polarization, and then Stained Glass Ceiling Breakers may be the pioneers of a new movement poised to become the mainstream of modern religion.  Consensus and compassion may be on the outs right now, but they are bound to make a comeback.
  —    Mark J. Penn
Quoted from:  “Microtrends” by Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne
[The idea of “Stained Glass Ceiling Breakers” reminded me of “The DaVinci Code“.  Bold prediction time:  Women in the Catholic priesthood is just a matter of time.  Keep the faith, ladies.   —   KMAB]
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If everything is up for self-determination — from gender to religion to expectations about marriage — then there can be no unity, no community, no single America, no universal peoplehood.
Well, there probably never was as much national unity as mythologizers like to remember.  This is a nation that has always spoken hundreds of languages.  This is a nation that fought a civil war over the enslavement of one-third of its people.  Indeed, the most famous and celebrated of the The Federalist Papers, the intellectual cornerstone of America’s very founding is James Madison’s treatise on “factions” describing the inevitability (and productivity) of America’s intensely competitive special interest groups.
  —    Mark J. Penn
Quoted from: “Microtrends” by Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne
[For another take on errors in perception, see:  “In Broken Images“, by Robert Graves.  And yet, as an American I believe “E Pluribus Unum“, (“Out of many, one”) is fundamentally correct!   —    KMAB]
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The great fear of the future has been that mass societies would become faceless societies, with people forced into conformity — everyone looking alike, dressing alike, and being required to think alike.  This was seen as almost a necessary sacrifice in order to feed and clothe growing populations with diminishing resources.  But I suggest we are headed in completely the opposite direction — a future in which choice, driven by individual tastes, becomes the dominant factor, and in which these choices are reinforced by the ability to connect and communicate with communities of even the smallest niches.
The future rarely turns out as predicted.
  —    Mark J. Penn
Quoted from “Microtrends” by Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne
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