Survey Finds Over 1300 Optimistic About the Future of Their Careers … or Are They?

Over 1350 people have responded to the Elm Street Economy Sustainable Livelihoods survey since we put it up in 2009. The survey seeks to find out how secure people feel about the future of their current career path.

To determine this we asked a series of questions about how well respondents thought their career would hold up to the eight criteria we believe predict how enduring a particular career will be as our country shifts to an increasingly localized economy.

Here are findings to date to date:

First survey results to date show people are optimistic about their own careers.  80% believe what they do will still be in demand in five years.

  • Contributing to this belief is more than half (53%) say their job or work serves a non-discretionary basic need in their own or a nearby community. About the same number (54%) believe their skills are readily barterable.
  • Better than half (55%) believe they can do their work virtually, that is serve an employer or clients and customers located anywhere.
  • Three out of four respondents state their work can be done independently from home.
  • Only out of four people are concerned their work might be subject to being replaced by technology or being off-shored, but four out of think their work is not vulnerable to these forces.
  • Two out of three respondents say that the supplies and materials they need to their work are available locally and affordably.
  • Fewer than half (47%) identify with the term “Main Street Economy” and 58% think an “Elm Street Economy” is different than a Main Street Economy.

But most interesting is that after taking the survey, three out of ten people said their assessment of the future of their job or training had changed.

So what does this mean? If management guru Tom Peters is correct in his prediction that most of the white and pink collar jobs we now hold will no longer exist within the near feature, then our respondents either:

  • do not  reflect the majority of American workers – most of whom who work in some      form for management, technology, service, entertainment and retail or
  • Our survey is reaching a very narrow segment of the US population who have already      positioned themselves for the dramatic changes that are underway in  response to a weakening national and global economy, rising shortages and      higher costs of natural resources and significant climate change.
  • A   third of those responding “woke up” to the new reality for the future of      their careers by taking the survey.

The changes taking place in our world today are leading to as profound a shift in regard to work as when human kind stopped hunting and gathering and began farming or when we left the farmlands to work in factories and high rises.

To secure our future well-being we all need to think honestly about if the current jobs we have been trained for and hold actually involve meeting basic needs, could be carried out at home independently without an employer, serves their own or a close existing neighborhood, has all the materials they produced nearby and can be easily bartered.

To discover the type of livelihoods we believe will make us secure for the future we offer courses Finding a Sustainable Livelihood obtainable from and soon by the Learning Annex that feature 200+ Sustainable Livelihoods for a secure tomorrow.  An additional resource will be our soon to be  released Working From Home Encyclopedia as an interactive eBook.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

Community Management as a Sustainable Living

While community management of homeowner associations has been around for some time and even has its own trade associations, there are growing demands for management for other aspects of community life.  Three of the most promising in offering in career opportunities lie in housing that is association-governed, new community efforts arising from the localization movement, and  new types of housing association for seniors

Beacon Hill Village in Boston ( is a prototype community that allows residents to age in place.  The organization “contracts for household services (repair, cleaning, errands), transportation (to friends, airports, doctors), concierge services, meals and grocery shopping, and home health care.”

Community managers combine an interest in people, people skills, patience, a positive outlook on life, and the ability to manage employees and outside contractors.    Does a growing profession with a present and growing need, offers job as well as self-employment opportunities and requires no licensing, although low-cost credentialing is available, interest you?

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

Headstart Programs Face Cuts in Funding

An  article today in the Los Angeles Times once again mentions a federal study showing that “children in Head Start improve their language and literacy skills but that many of the gains disappear by the end of the first year.” I worked for a Head Start Regional office   for eight years after  the inception Read More … of the program and that claim was made in earlier research as well and consistently ever since. The implication is always that these results mean that there is something wrong with Head Start.  Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask instead what is wrong with the public elementary schools that they are unable to sustain the wonderful gains made by children in this program?

Despite such initial setbacks however, it should be noted that reliable studies have found resoundingly favorable long-term effects on grade repetition, special education, and high school graduation rates for Head Start children. (See Sadly somehow these more extensive long-term findings never makes into the articles about the excellent program, clerical oversights notwithstanding.

Sarah Anne Edwards, Ph.D.

Paul’s note: One can conclude that Headstart educates while the public schools dumb kids down. While there is enormous need to cut government debt, that most people understand and support, the preparation of coming generations to operate our society and country is a priority. If you read my blog entitled “Tutors for All,” you can see I believe there are less expensive approaches to educating our young. Sarah also wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Los Angeles Times.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

Health Care for All

Do you remember the Harry and Louise ads used by the health insurance industry to help defeat the Clinton health care initiative in the 1990’s? Chances are today a couple like Harry and Louise, who were so happy with their employer-provided health insurance plan then,  are worrying now  about whether they can afford the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, or they may not have any health insurance at all. In the past few years, the number of employers offering any health coverage has slipped from 7 in 10 to 6 in 10.

In fact, when medical bills now prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies. This is a dramatic shift from when in the late 1960’s I did a study for the Bankruptcy Court of Western Missouri to determine why people were taking bankruptcy.  Only one in fifty – just 2% – cited medical bills as the reason.

Who doesn’t know someone who has delayed or gone without treatment because they can’t afford it and don’t have health insurance to cover what they need? How ironic considering Americans spend more per capita on health care than any other advanced country.

While there is no single reason for our health care predicament, one factor that contributes mightily to what prompts  so many personal health calamities are are big insurance companies motivated primarily by profit, are systems for denying care at any chance. Consider how they routinely deny coverage to people who consider themselves to be in good or excellent health. Here, for example, are some of the grounds insurance companies are using to prevent people from qualifying for health insurance:

allergies, breast implants, ear infections, herpes, high blood pressure, impotence, infertility, mild depression, migraines,miscarriage, pregnancy “expectant fatherhood”, planned adoption, psoriasis, recurrent tonsillitis, ringworm, swelling from a spider bite, three months of psychological counseling after a marriage breakup, and varicose veins.

The shame is that every American could have health insurance for about what is being spent on health care today if we did just one thing – wring out the administrative cost and profit out of health insurance that accounts for one dollar in four of what we pay for health insurance. Before 1990, insurance companies like Blue Cross charged only about 5% for their services.  Even today non-profit systems like Kaiser Permanente and Medicare can offer care for less than 5% for such costs, not 25%; Canadian Health Insurance runs below 3.2%.

In other words, we know about one dollar in every five  could be saved from what’s now going into processing paper, corporate marketing, executive bonuses, and shareholder profits.

How could this happen? Many people advocate Medicare for All. How might this be funded? Congressman Dennis Kucinich calculates a 7.7% payroll tax will enable universal coverage. The State of California calculates that a 4% payroll and a 2% income tax would provide health coverage for all Californians.

But there are other alternatives, too, such as:

Returning to an all cash system and allowing new community-based health insurance plans and pricing to emerge.  Right now the cash price for health care in the U.S. is a fraction of those billed insurance companies, exceeding the co-pays. They could enable U.S. health care costs more in line with those in countries that are now attracting medical tourism when people who needing hip replacements, for example, spend $10,000 on  travel in order to get a new hip for $5,400 instead of the $45,000 it would cost in the U.S.

One example of the kind of insurance companies that could emerge is the Freelancers Insurance Company in New York State. The for-profit company is wholly owned by the nonprofit Freelancers Union. It insures 25,000 independent workers and family members charging premiums more than a third below what they would otherwise pay for health insurance. Another example is Grand Junction, Colorado. Such a plan would be possible in an Elm Street Economy.

Regardless of the alternative we settle upon, no one should profit from insuring the illness of others. We need to wring the administrative costs out of the system, provide professionals with a decent income, and quality health care for all without raising the overall cost of health spending.

Let’s use our voices and voting power to make this happen. It can start by creating  local Elm Street Economies.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.


RX for the 99%

As the Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading across the globe while gathering
public support, a persistent question is “What are you asking for?”

Given that underlying this movement is a sense of fairness that what people value
most should be better distributed, I modestly offer this simple idea:

Education for All, including Tutors for All
Health Care for All
Housing for All
Jobs for All

In future blogs, I will offer ideas about how to provide Health Care for All, Housing for All, and Jobs for All.

Speaking of 9’s – instead of Herman Cain’s 9 Zero 9, I suggest adding another zero to his first “9”
to  make it 90% for earnings above five million dollars. This would not be an all-time high as it
was 94 % on taxable income over $200,000 ($2.5 million in today’s dollars during
World War II), which was  another time of crisis. This would help pay for Health Care
for All, Housing for All, and Jobs for All.

For more information about the need for a progressive tax, take a look at Robert Reich’s
recent  blog entitled The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.