"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Public College Tuition Rises Despite Recession

Hoping for a tuition break in the recession? Fat chance. The price of a college education continues to rise, with costs at public schools rising faster than those at private institutions. Tuition and fees at a public 4-year college now average $7,020, versus $26,273 at a private college. That's a 6.5% jump for public schools and a 4.4% increase for private ones over last year, the Washington Post reports.

Google Moves In on Online Music

Google is getting into the online music business. TechCrunch has learned that the search giant will partner with iLike and LaLa to integrate clips into its search engine. An announcement is planned for October 28. Both companies allow streaming on first access, a 30-second clip thereafter, and the option to buy the song, which will be replicated in Google search. The music industry is backing the mo

Undergrad's Search for Assistant Meets Mockery

How's a busy undergrad supposed to juggle study, a social life, and a part-time job? For one 19-year-old at Georgetown University, the answer is hiring a personal assistant. The sophomore sparked controversy on campus this week by placing an ad on the university's student employment site seeking a personal assistant to tackle chores like doing his laundry and filling up his car, reports the Washington Post.

The student—who plans to major in finance and management—received a few serious responses, along with the wrath of plenty of students who complained he wasn't doing much to dispel the stereotype of Georgetown being full of lazy rich kids. "Everybody probably knows who he is now," one English major said. "People are not happy. They think he's just ridiculous and full of himself."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Australia Dodged the Recession

Australia has weathered the financial crisis better than any other developed country. Last week its central bank raised interest rates, indicating its primary concern is now inflation, not growth. What were the keys? Phil Dobbie of BNET explains:

Befriending China: Australia used to export much of what it made to the US and UK, but over the last decade much of that trade has shifted to China. In fact, some economists argue that Australia didn’t need a stimulus package—Beijing’s stimulus was enough.
Cool-headed bankers: Australia’s proper banks have much of the credit market sewn up, largely because the country’s small population means the overall market for loans is modest. So the incentives to create insane, opaque financial products just weren’t there.
Population growth: In the year before March 2009, Australia’s population grew 2.1%, due to both immigration and reproduction. Economists point out that per capita GDP declined over the last year, but with more people, total output still grew.
A sensible housing market: The rising population has kept demand for housing high, which has cushioned home prices—and the family wealth tied to them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Disney Reinventing Stores as 'Imagination Parks'

Disney has unveiled ambitious plans to bring the theme park to the shopping mall by turning its network of stores into interactive "Imagination Parks." The overhaul—designed using the expertise of Steve Jobs and his Apple Stores team—will cost some $1 million per store and focus on providing entertainment and a sense of community. Computer chips in packaging will trigger interactive features, and kids will be allowed to watch film clips of their choosing and chat with Disney stars via satellite.

"This only works if it’s an experience,” Disney Stores Worldwide president Jim Fielding tells the New York Times. The reboot for Disney Stores was approved after much internal debate, with some execs fearing parents might treat the stores like day-care centers. The new look will be rolled out next May at the company's existing stores and some new ones, including a possible new flagship store in Times Square.

At 'Felony Franks,' Ex-Cons Serve Dogs to Wary Populace

A snarkily named hot dog stand has its up-and-coming Chicago neighborhood sizzling. Felony Franks employs ex-cons to sling hot dogs with names like the “Misdemeanor Wiener” and the “Cellmate” (two dogs). Step up to the bulletproof serving window and an employee will ask you to “plead your case.” But some locals aren't amused. “Felony Franks is a step back,” one resident tells the Wall Street Journal.

The owner, who employs ex-cons at another venture, finds the hubbub perplexing. “I don't understand it,” he says. A local preacher denounced him as a “pimp” for exploiting black workers. But his problems go beyond disapproval and outrage. A local alderman has denied a request to install a sign, and even introduced an ordinance to limit signage on the block. Though he says it “has nothing to do” with Felony Franks, he’s no fan. “I'm all for hiring ex-offenders, but why give more stigma to the fact?”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tax Breaks for New Jobs Gain Bipartisan Support

Support is building in Washington for the idea of giving companies tax breaks when they hire new workers. President Obama’s economic team has been exploring the possibility for weeks, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle like the idea of helping unemployed constituents. “There’s a lot of traction for this kind of idea,” says GOP Rep. Eric Cantor. “I’m fairly positive it would be welcomed in a bipartisan fashion.”

Under one proposal, employers would get a credit worth twice the first-year payroll tax for their new hires. The last time something similar was tried, following the '73-'75 recession, employment shot up. “It’s a pity that this wasn’t done a year ago,” says Nobel laureate Edmund Phelps, one of several big-name economists behind the idea. But naysayers say the proposal’s just corporate welfare. “Some bad ideas never go away,” says one Urban Institute researcher.

America's Most Promising Jobs

Jobs like beer taster and video game tester are nowhere to be seen on CNNMoney's list of the 50 best jobs in America, ranked by pay, job growth, and quality of life. Systems engineer was rated the best overall job, while anesthesiologist—with a median pay of $292,000—topped the high pay list. Telecommunications network engineers can expect the greatest job growth over the next decade, while education/training consultants were judged to have the best quality of life.

Also in the top 5:
Physician assistant—These "MD lites" get the job satisfaction that comes with treating patients, minus the paperwork hassles
College professor—The starting pay is pretty low, but the freedom is almost unrivaled and there are usually positions available, even during recessions.
Nurse practitioner—The growth in clinics and a shortage of doctors means many opportunities for nurse practitioners, who can diagnose and treat many ailments as well as performing nursing tasks.
IT project manager—"Just about all companies need tech-savvy people who are great managers," says one Houston recruiter, and the best often become chief technology officers, where salaries can hit $300,000.