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» AnimationNation   » SideTopics   » The Economy...What's the real deal?

   
Author Topic: The Economy...What's the real deal?
Greg B
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Okay, maybe I'm "Mr. Brightside" and I see an economy that's adjusting itself and will get better in around 5 years. This idiotic war has spent a ridiculous amount of resources but Americans can make it up.

My cousin is an expert in economics. He told me last night that the economy is closest to a depression, that's right a depression, than since the 1920's/1930's! So tonight on the news, what do I see? Similar thing on the evening news. All due to the housing/funding/borrowing/lending icky doo. He admitted that I was smart in establishing and expanding a home based business because I can take great advantage of real estate cheaply and I've been getting offers to do work in trade for real estate. I knew something was up when I got those offers but didn't know it was this bad.

So what do you see? Do you see doom ahead or a slow rise back to prosperity? What do we have to do to get things back on track?

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Bruce
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Greg B said: “Okay, maybe I'm ‘Mr. Brightside’ and I see an economy that's adjusting itself and will get better in around 5 years. This idiotic war has spent a ridiculous amount of resources but Americans can make it up.”

While it’s always good to have a positive outlook, Greg, it isn’t wise to ignore the reality or magnitude of problems in order to maintain it. When the Comptroller General of the U.S. is warning that America is starting to look like the early stages of the fall of Rome (as he did here recently), we might want to pay attention.

So you asked, “Do you see doom ahead or a slow rise back to prosperity? What do we have to do to get things back on track?”

I’d say the main thing we would have to do is to get ourselves off of oil and fossil fuels – fast. We’ve been steadily importing more and more oil ever since the early 1970s, while new global discoveries and our own domestic production have continued to drop, this despite places like Alaska and the North Sea coming online. Both of those fields, as well as Cantarell in Mexico, are now past peak, and world production itself has been on a bumpy plateau for the past two years, while the world’s demand for oil has continued to climb. It’s energy, not money, that drives real economic growth.

The result: rising prices for everything – and things like the housing bubble that mask steady inflation, until the bottom drops out. We’re burning four barrels of oil for every one we find – that’s the same as paying your credit card minimums with another credit card. Forget for a moment the vast federal deficit, propped up by foreign investment; the savings rate of Americans has been in the negatives for almost two years now. We're spending money we don't have. The economy is looking more and more like a vast Ponzi scheme (the sub-prime mess is just one example), and you know what happens when you can’t find any more suckers who’ll buy in.

I don’t see utter doom ahead, but I do foresee a massive and painful enforced shift away from the way we have been doing things, an arrangement that relied on ready access to lots and lots of cheap fuel. We aren’t running out of energy, but it’s about to become a whole lot more expensive, both in terms of its monetary and environmental costs (in the form of climate change). If that happens and we continue to live the way we have been living, without making the necessary adjustments, borrowing against our future to make up the difference, the result will be a world of pain for a whole lot of people.

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JATG
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quote:
My cousin is an expert in economics. He told me last night that the economy is closest to a depression, that's right a depression, than since the 1920's/1930's!
Oh yes, exactly. I mean, look at how similar the unemployment rates are....no wait.

Okay...what about how the stock market has behaved...no wait.

Okay...how many people live in poverty... no...wait again.

If this is a depression "may we be smitten and never recover." (hat tip to Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof.)

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JATG
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I'm not saying that people aren't saving enough and there's plenty of things to fix... (I'm all about getting off oil just so we can get the frak out of the middle east but it ain't gonna be happening in the next little while.) but dude, there always are things to be adjusted.

I just roll my eyes at the whole ONOES THE SKY IS FALLING EVERYBODY PANIC AND IT'S ALL BUSHES FAULT attitude that seems so pervasive. Get a grip people.

If the economy is cooling, figure out NOW what you are going to do about it. Just because Americans aren't saving as a whole doesn't mean you can't. If the housing market is leveling out, figure out NOW what you are going to do about it if it even affects you. (Me, I'm hoping it really cools and then I can actually afford to buy a house.)

Take some personal responsibility.

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droosan
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I did. As of this week, I am 100% debt-free! [Cool] My only expenses now are rent, food, and gasoline.

It took about 5 years to get to this point, once I'd decided to do it. But I made it! [Smile]

Now, to start 'socking away' hefty percentages of my future income ..

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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droosan, that's GREAT NEWS!!! Congrats.

[cheers]

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I don't know if we're headed for a depression, despite the recent bank run on Countrywide. Even the rule-bending by the Federal Reserve to allow Bank of America and Citigroup to make larger loans to their brokerage affiliates could turn out OK.

However, the ARM resets early next year could send us into a bear market and a recession.

We'll see.

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SoleilSmile
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Droosey you paid off all your student loans?!
CONGRADULATIONS! I'm so proud and envious of you!
You may now do the Snoopy dance!

WooWoooHOOO! [guitar]

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HipChick Comics and Animatress Blog

www.hipchickcomics.com
http://www.animatress.blogspot.com/

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droosan
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yup; student loans, car, and credit cards .. all paid off (and staying that way, for as long as I can help it). Thanks for the kind words. [cheers]

I should also note 'utilities' (electricity, cell phone, internet) among my recurring expenses. But I'm pretty well 'set', otherwise. It will definitely be easier to survive the periods 'between' jobs. [Yes]

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Bruce
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droosan wrote: "yup; student loans, car, and credit cards .. all paid off (and staying that way, for as long as I can help it)."

Excellent! I'd advise that for anyone, and agree with at least that part of JATG's post: take personal responsibility. Once you’ve gotten past the debt, though, you'll be forced to confront the decision of what to do with your accumulating savings, and the whole problem of economics becomes a part of "personal" considerations.

Leave them sitting in a bank account and they're likely to get eaten up by inflation (unless the Fed can keep it under control.) That's the point where what happens on a national level impacts your personal wealth, and that's why keeping an eye on national trends (e.g., cost of living, housing bubbles, savings rates, etc.) is wise.

But by all means, first and foremost, get yourself out of debt. Way to go, droosan.

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-FP-
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A Sobering Census Report: Americans’ Meager Income Gains

Excerpt:

The median household income last year was still about $1,000 less than in 2000, before the onset of the last recession. In 2006, 36.5 million Americans were living in poverty — 5 million more than six years before, when the poverty rate fell to 11.3 percent.

The fortunes of middle-class, working Americans also appear less upbeat on closer consideration of the data. Indeed, earnings of men and women working full time actually fell more than 1 percent last year.

Over all, the new data on incomes and poverty mesh consistently with the pattern of the last five years, in which the spoils of the nation’s economic growth have flowed almost exclusively to the wealthy and the extremely wealthy, leaving little for everybody else.

Standard measures of inequality did not increase last year, according to the new census data. But over a longer period, the trend becomes crystal clear: the only group for which earnings in 2006 exceeded those of 2000 were the households in the top five percent of the earnings distribution. For everybody else, they were lower.

This stilted distribution of rewards underscores how economic growth alone has been insufficient to provide better living standards for most American families. What are needed are policies to help spread benefits broadly — be it more progressive taxation, or policies to strengthen public education and increase access to affordable health care.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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Sobering stuff, FP. [Frown]

quote:
Leave [savings] sitting in a bank account and they're likely to get eaten up by inflation (unless the Fed can keep it under control.)
Heh. Ain't that the truth. For years I left my savings parked in a brick-and-mortar savings account, earning a whopping 0.5% interest. I don't like to think about how much purchasing power I lost by doing that.

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For what it's worth, late last year I moved my savings to a high-interest online savings account. More recently I opened up a high-interest online checking account to warehouse the $$$ I use to pay my bills.

I also started parking some of my savings in a Treasury money-market fund. That way I can earn interest on my rent checks while waiting for my landlord to cash them.

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I still have that brick-and-mortar bank account, but only for the convenience of ATM deposits. The bank demands too high of a minimum in my checking account, though. I'll eventually replace it with an account at a brick-and-mortar credit union.

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JATG
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Congrats Droosan! That's got to feel wonderful!

I'm working on that debt snowball myself. Got my credit cards paid off, my car paid off, some debt to family members paid off... one more thing to go and I too will be debt free!

I'm rather looking forward to a paycheck where I don't have to automatically slice it out and hand it off to waiting hands.

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Greg B
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http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aP3CFLmKC2CQ&refer=worldwide

What's this? Bloomberg covers:

U.S. Economy: Expansion Was Faster Than Estimated
(Update 2)

By Courtney Schlisserman

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Surging exports and business spending propelled U.S. growth to the fastest pace in more than a year before turmoil in the credit markets forced the Federal Reserve to warn of a bleaker outlook.

Gross domestic product rose at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said in Washington, up from an initial estimate of 3.4 percent. The median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg News was 4.1 percent.


You've got to read the whole story to see what's going on.

As I noted at first, I don't see a 'depression' coming just a major adjustment that's really going to shake things up on this planet. I don't see a depression coming here in the states but in countries relying on oil we could see a catastrophic event. What am I talking about? A final collapse of the stranglehold on petroleum dependency. I've had a first hand look at other alternate energy technologies. Many of them if not most have been around for decades and decades. It's too long a story to go into here but the groups who'd kept these technologies under wraps can't hold them down anymore thanks to the internet. The exchange of data unencumbered by the mainstream media is allowing the public to become aware of the history of these devices, their suppression and the resurgence of said.

Once the common fellow is able to utilize some of these technologies which should become a fast growing home business, you'll see a drop in the dependency on foreign and domestic oil of such magnitude that the foreign countries that depend on the revenue will collapse and have to resort to their old livelihoods.

It's gonna be a fight lemme tell you but believe it or not, the majority of the inventors of these devices are conservatives and they've become more outspoken over the years. There are far too many people to police in the world and online so I'm sure within the next few years we're going to see breakthroughs that will topple the energy moguls to a considerable degree.

That shift in economics will hurt lots of people but it won't change the power the U.S. has except in a shifting of political clout held by the oil industries and the criminal groups that have held them for almost a century.

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http://www.spacefool.com

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
...one more thing to go and I too will be debt free!
JATG, that's wonderful. I'm always glad to hear about a fellow artist defeating debt.

[cheers]

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-FP-
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Ford and GM say factories in US face axe

Excerpt:

Ford and General Motors have threatened to leave Detroit and take their car manufacturing operations overseas if unions do not agree to a massive pay cut for hourly paid workers.

If a deal cannot be reached, Ford and GM negotiators have said the companies will have no choice but to move their North American operations to countries in Latin America and Asia where manufacturing costs are cheaper.

Sources close to senior GM executives confirmed that the prospect of shifting operations away from North America was very real. 'We have seen it in every other industry,' one said. 'There are no sacred cows today. Globalisation means just that, it's a worldwide playing field.'

The talks must reach a conclusion before their current contract with the UAW expires on 14 September.

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Greg B
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Wow FP, that story is living lightning!

That kind of move would cripple the U.S. to a degree but knowing the folks here they'd just figure out a way to make their own cars.

This global 'Star Trek Utopia' stuff is in my opinion another attempt to undermine America for personal profit by the greedy.

We need a president who can't be bought. Someone who will put a stop to this outsourcing and influx of illegal workers who work for under wage.

As a society we're being undercut, "We the People" are now the middle men being cut out from the deal. It's about time we stood up.

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eboles
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quote:
We need a president who can't be bought. Someone who will put a stop to this outsourcing and influx of illegal workers who work for under wage.
But Greg, why should companies be forced to pay higher wages to employees under protected conditions when there are people hungry and willing to do the same work for less?

We're living in the era of the internet, where almost anything can be bought and sold online and shipped to anywhere in the world. U.S. companies have to be able to compete with foreign companies working in other parts of the world at lower expense.

Some people see this as the so-called 'race to the bottom', an undercutting process that will lead to lower wages across the board until the majority are living in poverty. But the reality is that's the situation we are in now. Globally speaking, the majority are living in poverty. Even if globalisation means lower wages in richer countries, it also means higher wages in poorer countries, and lower prices globally.

It's not that I think this is the answer, that it's not without problems, or that it will necessarily lead to a utopia, it just seems to be the logical way for things to go.

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Greg B
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Eboles, in the words of Capt. Hendry,

"Sorry Scotty, I'm not working for the world, I'm working for the Air Force."

In other words, I'm not concerned with 'the world'. I'm concerned about America first because when all is said and done we're the only hope between advances in civilization or regressing into some tribal nonsense.

I could get down and dirty here but I'm tired of arguing on AN.

My position is and will be America-first and the world will follow.

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http://www.spacefool.com

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
We're living in the era of the internet, where almost anything can be bought and sold online and shipped to anywhere in the world. U.S. companies have to be able to compete with foreign companies working in other parts of the world at lower expense.
Recently, BusinessWeek ran an article called "How to Keep Your Job Onshore." An excerpt:

quote:

... The safest bet is having a job that absolutely requires your physical presence, such as being an electrician or brain surgeon. Failing that, sustainable careers typically are those that involve deep relationships with customers and extensive knowledge of local market conditions. It helps if you have multidisciplinary skills that aren't yet common in many low-cost countries. (Think computer science plus biology, or law and international business.) Bonus points go to those who perform well in person with the boss. And while entire jobs are being moved offshore, in many cases it's discrete tasks that are shifted. So U.S. and West European workers need to break down their jobs into the tasks that are easy to move and those that are not—and make sure they're excelling in the second category.

The face-time factor was one of the variables that Alan S. Blinder, a professor at Princeton University, built into the "offshorability index" he published in March. Atop Blinder's list of the most likely white collar jobs to be sent overseas are software programmers, data entry clerks, draftsmen, and computer research scientists. Overall in the U.S., Blinder classifies 8.2 million people's current jobs as highly offshorable and 20.7 million more as offshorable. "The message is: If your job can be done by a person in India who is just as smart as you but works for a fraction of the wage, you're in a perilous occupation," he says.

...

View Blinder's "offshorability index" here:
http://www.princeton.edu/%7Eceps/workingpapers/142blinder.pdf

The PDF lists jobs in order of "most likely to get outsourced" to "least likely to get outsourced." Animators rank #39 out of 291.

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eboles
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quote:
I could get down and dirty here but I'm tired of arguing on AN.

I can respect that.

Rest assured, there is a world outside of America, and we're not all of us savages.

[cheers]

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Tobias A. Wolf
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Blinder lists Music Directors and Composers at 285 yet he puts Artists and Related Workers, All Other at 145. What kind of metric is this guy using here? Visual Arts or what?

So somehow visual creativity and it's relevance is less culturally tied to a shoreline than the aural type? I can understand this to a certain extent, given the use of local styles and spoken language in popular music (Brazilian late 60's bosa nova, 50's country and western, german 80's techno, etc.), But to think that visual sensibilities aren't just as culturally significant, is just...

retarded.

It's blind spots like this in the thinking of the business community/investment class where the real opportunity exists for all artists. Great treasures always lay where no-one else is looking.

I mean no disrespect to you Jennifer in posting this list, and I probably sound like an ass for saying this, but in all honesty this kind of stuff is for suckers. If most of us here paid attention to these kind of measurements for "careers", none of us would have become professional artists in the first place.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
Blinder lists Music Directors and Composers at 285 yet he puts Artists and Related Workers, All Other at 145. What kind of metric is this guy using here?
On page 18 of the PDF, there's a flowchart that shows Blinder's thinking. Jobs that require a physical presence have less of a chance of getting bumped offshore than jobs that can be done remotely.

For example, I've done freelance work where I never physically met with the client. In those cases, I conducted business over the phone and through email, submitted my finished work over the Internet, and received my payment in the mail. The client didn't need to hover over my shoulder when I did the actual work. For those projects, I could easily have been replaced by an English-speaking artist in another country.

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Maybe producers/directors prefer more face-to-face time with composers than they do with artists. A lot of television animation work may get outsourced to studios overseas, but I have not heard of an animated TV show that outsourced its composing work to a faceless individual overseas. I could be wrong, though.

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Tobias A. Wolf
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Your response still doesn't answer my basic question Jennifer; does that mean he was speaking of Visual artists in reference to position 145 in the list?

To not clarify that in my eyes demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the market we work in. And if the author of this study can't even clarify such basic delineations of labor, I find it hard to take his results very seriously. Sorry.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
Your response still doesn't answer my basic question Jennifer; does that mean he was speaking of Visual artists in reference to position 145 in the list?
Oh! I see what you mean now -- "Why does Blinder group composers separately from artists? Are composers not artists themselves?"

That is a good question. I scoured his list for anything remotely artistic:

  • #3 - Electrical and Electronics Drafters
  • #3 - Mechanical Drafters
  • #9 - Film and Video Editors
  • #21 - Desktop Publishers
  • #30 - Architectural and Civil Drafters
  • #30 - Drafters, All Other
  • #37 - Fine Artists, including Painters, Sculptors and Illustrators
  • #39 - Multi-Media Artists and Animators
  • #40 - Graphic Designers
  • #43 - Commercial and Industrial Designers
  • #57 - Designers, All Other
  • #76 - Fashion Designers
  • #105 - Painting, Coating and Decorating Workers
  • #105 - Etchers and Engravers
  • #145 - Artists and Related Workers, All Other
  • #157 - Model Makers, Metal and Plastic
  • #162 - Art Directors
  • #169 - Model Makers, Wood
  • #206 - Camera Operators, Television, Video and Motion Picture
  • #224 - Producers and Directors
  • #224 - Actors
  • #285 - Music Directors and Composers
  • #285 - Photographers

I left out the three "Patternmaker" categories, since those seemed even more techincal than drafters.

I'm guessing the "All Other" label covers any artist/designer/drafter who could not match a specific category. Blinder seems to draw a distinction between artists, designers, drafters, editors, photographers, camera operators and composers. He also has only four categories for "Art/Artists." Because the other three categories for "Art/Artists" deal with the visual arts, it suggests that the "Artists, All Other" category deals with the visual arts as well.

"Artists, All Others" definitely are not photographers, composers, animators, designers, directors, actors, editors, camera operators or drafters, since he has specific categories for those.

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eboles
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quote:
Great treasures always lay where no-one else is looking.
A lot of truth in that. The flipside is when you take the road less travelled, if you mess up, you look like an idiot. Nobody knows anything.
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Greg B
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Man, I was taking part in a media debate with several authors and political reporters who were discussing the economy. Both sides, conservatives and liberals beat me senseless when I said I had hopes of the economy recovering over the next several years.

I got hit with so many statistics regarding the lack of liquidity of cash, the use of offshore conservative caches of loot, the imminent collapse of the debt/credit market they made it sound like the Great Depression was still on.

I didn't know Germany had so many banks collapse and China getting hit hard. They bought lots of debt so that's why.

More things than I had ever imagined are going on economically and it's ironic that the attention is for people to go back to investing in gold and platinum.

What's more surprising is that the worst forecasts came from conservatives as well as the accusations of massive theft BY conservatives. It figures. It's a pattern I've been seeing over the past 10 years.

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Tobias A. Wolf
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Thanks for trying to answer my question Jennifer. I imagine it's got to be somewhat difficult to measure the creative fields given the list of criteria he used. Although I think the adoption of new technologies for solving large labor staff overhead poses much more of a threat to commercial visual arts related jobs than offshoring does. The Xerox reproduction process eliminated the ink and paint department at Disney long before they had an overseas studio working on Features. Why pay for any labor and all the related costs at all when you can find a automated solution?

Still, akin to what I alluded to above, when everyone is doing it, a vacuum is created in markets. And in that vacuum there is money to be made. There are still portrait artists working with oils to this day with agents and all for a reason. Maybe I'm goofy with this, but the personal touch and personal connections will always count especially when it comes to art.

If I walked into a gallery, music store, movie theater, game shop, or bookstore and the first thing I saw Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard as Director, Author, Game Designer, etc. I guarantee you, in the multitude of product clutter out there, that would be the first thing I would look at. Not that I'm saying your anyone of those things, but I would recognize your name and be drawn to the fact that your familiar through exchanges here.

The bottom line for me in these worries is; your input, and voice can't be automated or offshored. Don't be a nameless wrist. Lean into your work.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
Maybe I'm goofy with this, but the personal touch and personal connections will always count especially when it comes to art.

...


The bottom line for me in these worries is; your input, and voice can't be automated or offshored. Don't be a nameless wrist. Lean into your work.

That's not a goofy thought at all. The "personal connections" part ties in with Blinder's notion that a physical presence protects a job from getting off-shored. If the client wants to meet the artist in person to discuss the work, the client must choose a local artist and not one overseas.

The "personal touch" part makes good sense when it comes to building up a fanbase, too.

[Yes]

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