Wednesday, November 30, 2011

US Credit Rating to be Downgraded Again

Fitch warns that the US might be downgraded again on its credit rating due to the failure of the Congressional super committee to lower its budget deficit by US$1.2 trillion for the next 10 years.

The US national debt has just risen above US$15 trillion as on 28 November 2011. Fitch affirmed the US's coveted AAA rating, but warned that this may be cut unless the country comes up with a "credible plan" to tackle the deficit.

If the US credit rating to be downgraded again, it will affect on the country's ability to keep borrowing money from the lenders with the lowest interest rates which the US used to enjoy this privilege for the past decade. When the US credit rating has been downgraded, the lenders (from overseas banks or other countries) will impose higher interest rate and it becomes more expensive to borrow. Thus, the US government must find alternative ways to reduce its budget expenses or increase the tax revenue in order to cover the high interest rates from the lenders.  

Talk to Aljazeera on 12 November 2011: An interview with Dagong Credit in China, Guan Jianzhong: Downgrading the US
The chairman of China's only independent credit rating agency warns they might have to downgrade the US again
While European leaders are struggling to deal with the crises in Italy and Greece, another debt crisis is looming. The US congress has until November 23 to agree on how to reduce its public debt, or face mandatory budget cuts. Many are concerned that failure to reach a deal might lead to a downgrade of the US credit rating again.
Barack Obama, the US president, spoke out strongly in August, when credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgraded the US, which caused a sizable downturn on stockmarkets around the world.
But nine months before S&P's decision China's Dagong Credit, China's only independent credit rating agency that grades foreign sovereign debts/bonds, had already sounded warnings about the US debt and downgraded America's rating.
Guan Jianzhong, the chairman of Dagong Credit, talks to Al Jazeera's Teymoor Nabili about the global financial crisis and how it is being handled in the US. Are the Chinese happy with progress made so far, or will China downgrade the US again?

"America has told the whole world that they are triple A, that there is no risk with America whatsoever. Obviously they are safe-guarding their interests, the interest of the state. Their rating standards have become problematic.
The measures available to them [the US] cannot be effective, so they have another way out which is to depreciate the US dollar, to print more money. And that will also make it a lot more worse, this has affected their credit and it is negatively affecting their credit prospects - so that their overall ability to pay back their debt will continue to go down.
We are continuing to monitor this closely. First of all we need to look at this year's economic growth and then predict next year's trends. If in the year 2012 the overall projections are not very good, meaning that the sources of payment, and liabilities, are bad and cannot be changed, or change for the worse, then we will lower the rating once again."
Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Dagong Credit
Guan also discusses Chinese investments in Europe and the future of the euro; and he explains why he thinks that Western credit rating agencies are biased and politicised. (Source: Aljazeera English)

Americans are being lied to about the deficit
Republicans want to gut social safety nets, not cut the US deficit.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2011 11:01 (Source: Aljazeera English)

Senator John Kerry cited Republicans' 'intransigence' for the committee's failure to come to an agreement [Getty/AFP]
So far the super committee charged with stepping up to the plate and dealing with America's deficit does not have a deal. But if they make one, they won't be what you see on the screen. They will be super heroes and they could change sentiment around the world and save America from a debt crisis like Europe's.
- Erin Burnett, CNN host, November 8, 2011

So we reach the end of yet another lengthy deficit reduction negotiation, and all signs at this writing point to failure.
This is actually very good news, although to hear the pundits tell it, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will be trampling down the doors of the New York Stock Exchange and everyone in the US will soon be force-fed poisoned baklava at gunpoint. Indeed, if you followed the financial and political press over the past couple of weeks, you would have thought the world would literally come to an end if this arbitrary deadline to cut an arbitrary percentage of the deficit isn't met.
And yet, no deal means "sequestration" (also known as "the triggers") will kick in, which will mean brutal cuts to discretionary spending and defence starting in 2013. If the goal is to cut $1.2tn in order to set the country's fiscal house in order, why should all these deficit hawks care how the government gets there? Well, it turns out that this isn't really about deficit reduction at all. The entire exercise is about gutting the social safety net, thus giving the markets "confidence" in the United States' ability to govern itself.
Ironically, this was considered to be so important that our democratic government had to convene a secretive committee to meet behind closed doors and enact policies that go against the explicit desires of a vast majority of American citizens. In fact, among the chattering classes, defying the citizens has become the defining act of political courage. Nearly all of them have demanded that the Democrats brutally slash their signature social safety net programmes to prove their seriousness while assuming that Republicans could never agree to substantial tax increases.
And sadly, Democrats were more than willing to go along with this lopsided demand, labouring under the bizarre illusion that they would be rewarded by the people for doing exactly what the people didn't want them to do. The only thing standing in their way was the Republicans' unreasonable refusal to consider raising any taxes at all on highly profitable corporations and the greedy 1 per cent. In the end, even that small concession to allow the Democrats to save a tiny bit of face was too much and the negotiations fell apart.
The GOP intransigence is somewhat mystifying, since Republicans know very well that cutting taxes is always popular and they would have the opportunity to restore the lower rates as soon as they come back into power. It's true that a right-wing ideologue named Grover Norquist has made nearly every Republican sign a pledge to never raise taxes under any circumstances, but that hardly constitutes a commandment handed down from Mt Sinai. And having the Democrats beg them to agree to slash the social safety net doesn't come along every day. Still, they cannot bring themselves to take yes for an answer. And thank goodness for that.
"The public cares far more about jobs than deficits, and a majority of Americns are opposed to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

The Beltway conventional wisdom will be unsparing towards the Democrats, however, regardless of their willingness to throw their own legacy over the cliff. It is an article of faith that despite their clear willingness to slash spending, the fact that they wouldn't agree to only cut spending makes them just as guilty as the Republicans who refuse to raise any taxes, ever, under any circumstances. The Democrats will be given no credit for their fetish for a "balanced" plan and demanding "shared sacrifice". In fact, the Republicans will now go into the election honestly claiming that the Democrats have proposed to cut Social Security and Medicare as well as raise taxes.
The polls have been clear and solid over time: The public cares far more about jobs than deficits and a majority of Americans are opposed to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Even a majority of Republicans believe that the wealthy should pay more and that the "entitlements" should be left alone. Considering that the world is in the midst of an epic economic slowdown, this should not be surprising. At a time when average working families are feeling intensely vulnerable, the last thing they want is for the government to kick out another leg of the wobbly stool of their financial security. One can only wonder what would happen if the powers that be cared as much about the confidence of the citizen consumers as they do about the confidence of the markets.
But what about those triggers? Well, because they require large cuts in defence, which everyone knows the Republicans will never actually sign off on, it's highly likely that congress will find a way to scrap them too. After all, any agreement congress makes, it can also break. And it certainly appears that the Republicans have no intention of following through.
What about the threat of another downgrade, which has been furiously floated at the last minute? Well, it could happen. There's nothing stopping any of these unaccountable credit rating institutions from dispensing another dire warning. The problem is that the more they do that, the less anyone seems to pay any attention to them. When S&P dropped their ominous declaration after the debt-ceiling agreement, the Beltway had a collective case of the vapours, but the markets yawned. (Perhaps smart investors have figured out that institutions that gave triple-A ratings to sub-prime mortgage securities might not be the most reliable analysts.)
Does this mean that there will be no deficit reduction ever, and the country will careen off the cliff burdened by unending debt no matter what? No. In fact, if deficits are one's most immediate concern, there is another looming "trigger" out there that doesn't require anyone to do anything. If congress does nothing but name airports after Ronald Reagan and congratulate winning sports teams for the next year, the Bush tax cut legislation will expire in December of 2012 and most of the deficit will be magically gone. If they do the smart thing and put together a real economic recovery programme that works and fully wind down Bush's wars as well, it will be completely gone.

This chart tells the tale:
Obviously, those Bush tax cuts include tax cuts for the middle class, the expiration of which both parties have been unwilling to allow. And it may be unwise to do it at a time when there is already a lack of demand. But citizens have a right to some honesty from their leaders about what they are being asked to give up long-term in exchange for keeping those taxes below what they were during the Clinton years. And that is essentially what we are talking about here.
Perhaps they will agree that it's worth it to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on top of a whole host of other government functions rather than pay the same taxes they paid in the year 2000. Or they might say that they would rather the government turn its attention to getting the economy back on track by raising taxes on the wealthy to fund it. They might just say that they want the government to ignore the deficit for a time until the economy is working again and see what happens. (Certainly interest rates don't indicate that the markets are particularly worried, in spite of non-stop fear-mongering for months on end.)
The point is that the American people are being lied to about the deficit and their choices for fixing it (or not fixing it). And this dishonest campaign is being led by people with a long-standing animus towards the social safety net, who are seizing this moment of confusion to push through something without the permission of the people. This bait-and-switch is happening because financial and political elites insist on demanding "sacrifice" from ordinary people in order to preserve an unsustainable financial system, not an unsustainable debt.
Among those few politicians and economists who are not licking their chops over this unique opportunity to finally destroy any vestige of a welfare state, it is acknowledged that the economic slump and runaway healthcare costs are the main drivers of future debt, neither of which will be fixed by slashing government spending and health benefits. They will, instead, make both of those problems worse, in both the short and the long term. It is exactly the wrong thing to do at the wrong time. 
But austerity is the new black plague expanding across the globe, and there seems to be no stopping it. In the US in 2011, gridlock is the only medicine, we have to fight it. If we are lucky, this Supercommittee failure will break the fever and refocus the government where the people want it to be - on jobs, economic justice and financial reform. If they don't, there's a little election coming up about a year from now, and the people may decide to find some representatives who will.

Heather Digby Parton writes the liberal political blog Hullabaloo

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Young need Double Salary to Match Parents' Lifestyle

During our parents' generation, there were a small percentage of graduates with degrees. Most of our parents had high schools (secondary schools) qualifications but, they were able to find clerical or office jobs with decent pay and able to survive and support their families. Those who managed to graduate with degree papers, they had higher opportunities in job promotions and better salaries. During our parents' generation, they were able to get good meals for a decent price like, a few cents. As for their living standard was considered manageable, they were able to raise at least 4 children by giving the children with better education to colleges and universities from their small income earnings.

When it comes to our generation, the Generation X who born from early 1960s to early 1980s, we were still able to get clerical or white collar jobs even though we had high schools (secondary schools) qualification or Diploma papers. Most of the companies were willing to hire workers with high school qualifications or Diploma papers. At that time when we reached early 20s year old, between 50%-60% of this generation X graduated with degree papers. Although our starting salary was slightly higher than our parents' generation, we were still be able to support and survive in cities. As we are heading to 40s year old soon, we have already gone through the hardships to earn more money for buying property, marriage and raising children. We also struggle through hard times to strive for higher salaries and better job promotions in order to save more money for children's higher education and our retirement at later stage. However, the Generation X might be in jeopardy situation due to the uncertainty of the current economic crisis. They face higher risks to be the first batch to be laid off (unemployed) and restructured with pay cut, more than younger generations.  

Unfortunately, the younger generations of Generation Y & Z who born after early 1980s through to the present, they begin to feel bigger pressure to survive with low salaries. Nearly every child has the opportunity to enroll and graduate with masters and degrees in colleges and universities. Parents are willing to sacrifice to save money and sell their properties to give their children the best education as they can. Even the families from villages and farming and agriculture industries are also doing the same thing so that they are able to send their children to colleges and universities. Parents always believe that graduates with masters or degrees qualification, they will have better career prospects and salaries as white collar workers in offices rather than being blue collar workers with low wages. Like in China, Chinese parents will do anything to ensure that their children won't follow their footstep in farming and agriculture industries. Thus, more young generation graduate with masters and degrees papers, tend to move to cities in China for better prospect while leaving less young adults to stay in villages and work in farming and agriculture industries. The drastic of lifestyle changing and widening the wealthy gap can been seen in China since after China opened its free trade market to the world in early 1980s. The rich gets richer with business expansion in China and overseas market while the average and poor become poorer. As such, more Chinese university graduates are known as "ant tribe" who are struggle with low pay and live in poor condition without feeling secured with their jobs. Most of them don’t have labour contracts with their employers and are not entitled to any social or medical insurance. It's all because of over supply of degree and master Chinese graduates to fight for the limited job opportunities in the market.

It isn't happening in China only but we begin to see the trend of unequal wealthy gap in many developed countries in Europe, the U.S. and Asia regions. We see the rising costs of living expenses, food and property which become more burden and difficulties for the young generations to support themselves and their families. Although the younger generations are getting higher salary compared to our parents' generation but still, they are unable to survive and save as much as our parents do. Have the value of currencies depreciated a lot throughout the generations?

Like in China, more and more young generation migrate to the cities for better career prospects in white collars, we see a big decline in food supply. Less young adults are willing to work or take over their parents' farming and agriculture businesses. Food pricing becomes more expensive due to limited supply in order to feed more than 7 billion of human population on the earth. Properties become more expensive and unaffordable in most of the developed cities in Europe, the U.S., China, Asia, Australia and New Zealand because we see a big trend of migration from small towns and villages to the cities. Immigration is also another factor to the rising costs of the property in the developed countries. 

Since most of the young adults from Generations Y & Z are heading to earn degrees or masters in colleges or universities in order to compete and land into white collar jobs. It turns out that in today's society, the specialized jobs or blue collar jobs with specialized training, licensing or certification become more lucrative and highly demanding in the market.


The rising cost of living revealed: How young need 'twice the salary to match parents' lifestyle'

By Becky Barrow Last updated at 10:44 AM on 18th February 2011

Young workers would need to earn twice as much to have the lifestyle their parents enjoyed at the same age, research reveals today.
The dramatic salary increase would make it easier for them to marry, buy a home and have children – choices within easier reach of earlier generations.
The report said the average twenty-something earns about £21,000 – but would require £40,000 to match their parents.

Struggle: Research has revealed that huge financial deficits facing young couples 
are resulting in them delaying key stages in life, such as buying a home (photo: Daily Mail)

The massive financial deficit is forcing young people to delay key life stages, according to First Direct, the bank which commissioned the report.
‘Three in ten of their parents were married and on the property ladder by the age of 25,’ it said. ‘But money worries mean the average young Briton today does not expect to pass these milestones until their mid-30s.’
Three in four of the 3,000 polled for the study agreed with the contention that today’s young people ‘are the most financially pressured in history’.
One in five has postponed, or feels they should postpone, marriage plans. One in four is delaying having children.
Nearly a third are even considering not having children at all ‘because they cannot afford to do so’, according to First Direct which calls them ‘Generation Gap’. One of the biggest problems for twenty-somethings is the enormous cost of buying a property.
A couple who married in 1985 could have picked up a home for just £35,000 – the average price at the time and four times the average salary.
A child born to the couple two years later would now be 24 and need to find £163,000 for a similar house – eight times the average salary.
To make matters worse, the study shows that a university education would have left them with debts averaging £11,500. Taken together the financial pressures can make it all but impossible to buy a house or have a child.
Salaries are also under great pressure with a typical private sector worker able to expect a pay rise of only 1.7 per cent. State workers who get paid £21,000 or more are facing a two-year pay freeze.
The consequences for women can be devastating if money problems make them delay trying for children until they are in their late 30s and even 40s. By then, their chances of having a healthy baby have declined dramatically.


Cost of living crisis pushes 'squeezed middle' off the housing ladder

People on low to middle incomes have had their ability to buy their own homes dramatically reduced
By , Political Editor,

People on low to middle incomes are facing a "perfect economic storm", which is cutting their living standards and dramatically reducing their ability to buy their own homes, new research will show this week.
The independent Resolution Foundation is to launch a major inquiry into living standards among the so-called "squeezed middle", having identified economic trends – in existence since the 1970s – that have led wages for this income group to grow at a slower rate than the economy.
It defines low and middle earners as those with incomes between £12,000 and £30,000 for a couple with no children and up to £48,000 for a couple with three children. Broadly, they are defined as not wealthy enough to benefit from private markets but too prosperous to receive benefits from the state.

The foundation will say that 41% of young low-to-middle earners live in privately rented accommodation compared with 14% in 1988, suggesting a dramatic reduction in the number of those who can afford to get on the housing ladder.
It will also highlight evidence showing that someone at the lower end of these incomes will take 45 years to accumulate a deposit to buy a home if they save an average 5% of their income a year. This compares with less than 10 years during periods in the 1980s and 1990s.
The foundation, which is not allied to any political party, says low-to-middle-earning households have become more exposed as a result of the recession and the contraction of the consumer credit and mortgage markets, alongside recent rises in the cost of living.



As Asia booms, what is cost of success for its young

Increased prosperity

Economic growth in East and South Asia is seen running at close to 7% over the next year, according to a United Nations (UN) report on economic prospects.
That easily outstrips the slower expansion expected in debt- and recession-hit Europe and US.

Generation Asia graphic
Population of 0-29-year-olds as percentage of total population in 2010
  • China 43.8%
  • Hong Kong 31.5%
  • Japan 29.2%
  • Cambodia 64.7%
  • Indonesia 54%
  • Laos 66%
  • Malaysia 56.6%
  • Phillippines 63.7%
  • Singapore 38.3%
  • Thailand 43.4%
  • Vietnam 53.4%
  • India 58.3%
Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

At the same time, for hundreds of millions of people across the region, their earning power and standard of living are increasing.
Wages rose by 8% across Asia in 2009, mostly driven by China, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
That compares with 0.6% growth in more developed countries during the same period.
The youth unemployment rate, meanwhile, has been below 15% in most of the region for the last five years.
Compare that with figures of more than 30% in European economies such as Italy and Spain, and it is clear that more young people in Asia are getting greater opportunities to work.
"There's been increasing prosperity," says Marco Roncarati of the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
"If you look at the last 20 to 30 years, we see that aggregate levels of development have improved."
This focus on youth employment is particularly important because Asia is the region with the most young people in the world.
According to UN figures, 62% of the world's 15- to 24-year-olds live in Asia. Put more simply, it means that almost two out of every three people in that age group are in this region.
In terms of total numbers, that meant there were 745 million young adults in Asia in 2010, according to a report by the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs.
As a result, a number of countries in the region are experiencing a "youth bulge", where people between the ages of 15-24 make up the largest demographic segment of the population.
A look at the median age shows that the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos have some of the youngest people in Asia, with a median age of around 22.
That compares with a figure of almost 40 in the UK, according to the UN.

Global youth populations

High expectations 
But while many of the region's youth are experiencing greater success, this also brings its own set of problems.
Young Asians today expect a lot more from their lives, and often face pressures that were unfamiliar to earlier generations.
Noreen, 26, lives in Hong Kong and counts herself as lucky because she went to the UK for her undergraduate degree.
"I went to university, whereas my parents didn't," she says, adding that, as a result of her foreign studies, she has the tools to make a better life and achieve the "upward mobility" that eluded so many of her parents' generation.
However, Noreen also has goals in life that she is not sure she can achieve, given the rapidly rising cost of living, not least owning her own home.
"I'd like to move out before I'm 30. I'd want to start my own family, have more privacy," she says.
But "it's difficult to save money for a down payment in Hong Kong. It's too expensive", she adds.

Hong Kong skyline 
High property prices in major Asian cities mean owning a home is not possible for many youth (photo: BBC)

Noreen is not alone, and this pattern is repeated across the more developed parts of Asia, such as Japan, China, South Korea and Singapore.
At the same time, frustration among the young is being stoked by the fact that while employment and spending power may be increasing as a whole, so is the competition for the jobs and resources that are on offer.
What this means is that even though they are making more money and are better qualified than before, for millions of young Asians, it is getting increasingly difficult to get ahead.
"It's universal, all young people want to succeed and they want to move upwards," says Noreen. "Any society or economy where there is no room to move upwards, young people get frustrated."

'Working poverty'  
India is one country where the problems facing many of Asia's youth are brought into sharp focus.
It is home to 714 million people under the age of 30, and while times are improving for many of them, a widening wealth gap has created vastly different fortunes.
For 21-year-old Mohammad in Mumbai, Saturday night is not about nightclubs and having a good time.
So while many of his peers are downing drinks and dancing, Mohammad is busy pouring milk into containers, loading them onto his bicycle and delivering them to nearby restaurants.

Youth unemployment

“Start Quote

There are by far more young people around the world that are stuck in circumstances of working poverty than are without work or looking for work”
Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update International Labour Organisation
Educated with the equivalent of a High School diploma, he has been doing the job for the past two years, earning as much as 5,000 rupees a month ($102; £64).
"I am in need, so I am doing this job," Mohammad explains. "Whatever I earn is not enough."
According to the ILO, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are now home to the largest number of "working poor".
The term, as defined by the ILO, is a measure of people who work but live in households where total expenditure is less than $1.25 (£0.8) a day.
In its latest report on youth unemployment, the ILO says that in the least-developed regions the poor cannot afford to be unemployed for too long.
"They have to do something. They have to scrounge for food and therefore engage in some activity, but they are not fully employed," says Sarah Elder from the ILO.
While this type of work may help lower the unemployment figures, in reality it does little to improve the lives of many of the region's young.
"There are by far more young people around the world that are stuck in circumstances of working poverty than are without work or looking for work," the ILO claims.
Growing frustration? Back at the nightclub in Singapore, the party continues for Nicol and his friends.
Even though he is enjoying the trapping of success, Nicol is clear about what needs to happen in the future if Asia's young are to keep buying into the region's sense of optimism.
"We are not seeing public anger because the fact that we are growing economically helps paper over that anger," he explains.
"When people are not getting raises, and real wages start to stagnate, that's when you'll see that anger come out."
The question now is how well governments can manage the expectations of Asia's new generation.
If they get it wrong, then they may find it an almost impossible task to ignore the frustrations of three quarters of a billion young people.
(Additional reporting by Kinjal Pandya in Mumbai.)


College grads forced to slums

China’s young professionals struggle to make ends meet because of rising living costs

By Chi-chi Zhang Associated Press   Thursday, July 1, 2010

 Associated Press photographs Shang Meirong, 21, (right) and friends play computer games 
in her rented room in Tangjialing, China. Rising living costs have hit college graduates.

TANGJIALING, China | Liu Jun sleeps in a room so small that he shares a bed with two other men. It’s all the scrawny computer engineering graduate can afford in a city so expensive that the average white-collar professional can’t afford to buy a home.
A dim fluorescent bulb hangs from the ceiling of the 180-square-foot room on the fringes of Beijing. The floor is littered with cigarette butts, dirty laundry and half-eaten paper bowls of spicy instant noodles.
“This is what I get for living with two guys,” the 24-year-old Mr. Liu says, hunched near a pile of used computer parts. He’s a chain-smoker who speaks rapid-fire fast. “It’s not just the mess and lack of privacy, but it’s also embarrassing to bring girls home.”
The dreams of many young educated Chinese are running up against the realities of China’s rapid economic ascent. Rising living costs and low salaries - the result of a surfeit of university graduates - are dashing high expectations.
His home is about an hour north of downtown Beijing, down a tree-lined path where a rusty sign welcomes newcomers. Once a small village of farmers and laborers, Tangjialing emerged as a cut-rate bedroom community in 2003 after the opening of massive software parks nearby, including the headquarters of computer-maker Lenovo Group and the widely used Internet search engine
Now four- to six-story cement buildings in pastel hues dot the village. Most rooms contain little more than a wardrobe, a bed and a nightstand. There’s no air conditioning in weather that can reach above 100 degrees. Rent is $45 to $100 a month. Those willing to pay $15 more get a bathroom. Others use the public bath.
The term “ant tribe” was coined by Lian Si, a professor who wrote a book with that title about the post-1980 generation.
“Unlike slums in South America or Southeast Asia, these villages are populated with educated young people as opposed to laborers or street peddlers,” says Mr. Lian, who teaches at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
The Chinese born after 1980 are among the most privileged generation in China’s long history. Living after the communist government gave up the radical politics that tossed their parents and grandparents between chaos and penury, they have known only ever-rising levels of prosperity.
In their lifetimes, gleaming new office towers have remade China’s cities. Hundreds of millions have been lifted from poverty. Travel abroad, private cars and apartments. and a university education - all once the preserve of the elite - are increasingly common.
Vibrant megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai are the epitome of this good life. So the ant generation comes, bringing its aspirations.
But their very abundance keeps entry-level salaries low, while housing and other costs rise. Real estate prices have doubled in just three years in major cities, outpacing a 40 percent increase in urban wages from 2005 to 2009.
“This is the biggest struggle for China’s young generation today,” says Liu Neng, a sociology professor at Beijing University. “People in their 40s and 50s, now leaders in society, have already experienced hardships, but it’s the younger generation’s turn to face challenges before they become part of the country’s elite.”
The competition for jobs is fierce. Nearly 70 percent of high school graduates are expected to enroll in university this year, according to state media, compared with 20 percent in the 1980s. There are more college graduates than readily available jobs - a once unthinkable situation.
“Trying to find a job that pays enough to survive is much harder than I imagined,” says Ren Yanguang, who makes $150 a month as an intern at a local software company in Beijing, where the average income is four times that. “It’s frustrating because if I don’t find a job soon, then I’ll have no choice but to leave.”
Most Tangjialing dwellers, Mr. Lian says, come from farms and small cities and don’t want to return, fearing the boredom or being labeled failures.
“It sure sounds good if you’re a parent and you tell the whole village your son is working in the capital,” Mr. Lian says. “And it’s a huge deterrent because they want their family to be proud.”
For Mr. Liu, the computer engineer, coming to the capital city was a chance to live China’s version of the American dream. In his final year at Northeast Petroleum University, he rebuffed his parents’ efforts to get him a cushy job at a state-owned company back home in Jixi city. “I came to Beijing because I wanted freedom from them, too,” Mr. Liu says.
He wound up in Tangjialing late last year, about eight months after moving to Beijing. The village is near the software park where he landed a job, and he recruited two college classmates as roommates.
For about $90 a month, they got one of the better rooms, furnished with a queen-sized bed, two desks and a small wardrobe. It has a bathroom and, unlike the cheaper apartments, a small window that lets in slivers of light. They have attached a lounge-chairlike folding bed to the mattress in case someone rolls over or wants to spread out.
On the evenings he and his roommates aren’t clocking overtime, they grab dinner together - often instant noodles but sometimes stir-fried shredded pork and vegetable dishes bought nearby.
Entertainment is mostly chatting online with friends or playing computer games. Without much money, Mr. Liu confesses on his blog, life in the big city can be quite dull at times.
After taking a new job selling computer hardware in April, Mr. Liu’s $30 share of the rent allows him to set aside much of his $400 salary for a nest egg that he hopes will help him start his own software company one day.
“I always ask myself if it’s worth it,” he says. “When I was in school, this isn’t how I wanted life to be, but I chose this path so I can’t look back.”


In the USA:

Upward mobility in the USA

Americans continue to think that their society is egalitarian but the data suggest otherwise

A family collecting perishable and non-perishable food at a food centre in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 
A record number of Americans are counted among ‘poorest poor’ which inhibits their upward mobility. (Photo: NST)

This week's Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals what we have all sensed, that most Americans are increasingly concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor in this country.
The issue quickly divides along partisan lines, as do so many, with liberals urging the government to do more to reduce this gap and conservatives opposing such measures. (Overall, a significant majority does favour government action.)

But on an issue even more significant than income inequality, there does appear to be bipartisan agreement: the importance of social mobility. Indiana Republican Gov Mitch Daniels accurately noted that "upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise".

Some believe we're still doing fine. In his address to the Heritage Foundation last month, Representative Paul Ryan  declared: "Class is not a fixed designation in this country. We are an upwardly mobile society with a lot of movement between income groups." Ryan contrasted social mobility in the United States with that in Europe, where "top-heavy welfare states have replaced the traditional aristocracies, and masses of the long-term unemployed are locked into the new lower class".

In fact, growing evidence shows pretty conclusively that social mobility has stalled in this country. This week, Time magazine's cover asked, "Can you still move up in America?" The answer, citing a series of academic studies was, no; not as much as you could in the past and -- most devastatingly -- not as much as you can in Europe.

The most comprehensive comparative study, done last year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, found that "upward mobility from the bottom" -- Daniels' definition --  was significantly lower in the US  than in most major European countries, including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark.

A 2010 Economic Mobility Project study found that in almost every respect, the US  has a more rigid socioeconomic class structure than does Canada.

More than a quarter of US sons of top-earning fathers remain in the top tenth of earners as adults, compared with  18 per cent of similarly situated Canadian sons.

US sons of fathers in the bottom tenth of earners are more likely to remain in the bottom tenth of earners as adults than are Canadian sons (22 per cent v 16 per cent). And US sons of fathers in the bottom third of earnings distribution are less likely to make it into the top half as adults than are sons of low-earning Canadian fathers.

Surveying all the evidence, Scott Winship, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, concludes in this week's National Review: "What is clear is that in at least one regard American mobility is exceptional. Where we stand out is in our limited upward mobility from the bottom."

When you think about it, these results should not be so surprising. European countries, perhaps haunted by their past as class-ridden societies, have made serious investments to create equality of opportunity for all. They typically have extremely good childhood health and nutrition programmes, and they have far better public education systems than the US does. As a result, poor children compete on a more equal footing against the rich.

In the US, however, if you are born into poverty, you are highly likely to have malnutrition, childhood sicknesses and a bad education. The dirty little secret about the US welfare state is that it spends  little on the poor -- who don't vote much -- lavishing attention instead on the middle class.

The result is clear. A student interviewed by Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan group founded to address these issues, put it succinctly, "The ZIP code you're born in shouldn't determine your destiny, but too often it does."

Tackling income inequality is a difficult challenge. Tax increases on the rich will do relatively little to change the basic trend, which is fuelled by globalisation, technology and the increasing gains conferred by education. (Getting back to 1990 levels of income distribution in the US, for example, would mean hundreds of billions of dollars of redistribution every year, which is exponentially larger than the biggest tax hikes anyone is proposing.)

But we do know how to create social mobility -- because we used to do it. And we can learn from those countries that do it so well, particularly in Northern Europe and Canada. The ingredients are obvious: decent healthcare and nutrition for children, good public education, high-quality infrastructure -- including broadband Internet --  to connect all regions and all people to market opportunities, and a flexible and competitive free economy. That will get America moving again --  and all Americans moving again.


(updated on 29 Nov 2011:) MSNBC reported that more American families rely on food stamp during this economic recession. Idaho (one of the states in the USA) reported its unemployment rate of 9.1% and its food stamp participation has increased by 15% in the state itself. If the U.S. government has to release the actual report on its unemployment and food stamp participation throughout the nation, it'll be shocking to the world. Although the recent research that a a family with 2 children with monthly income of less than US$3,000 is considered as below poverty level, I feel that it's not accurate at all. If a family with 2 children live in a small town then, the household income of $3,000 per month might be sufficient to survive. However, if a family with 2 children live in metropolitan cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York etc. where the home property costs at least US$500,000 or more, it's impossible to survive with the household income. Children's education isn't free in the U.S.A. It depends on the neighbourhood you live. If you live above average/rich neighbourhood, then you will be assured that your children will be enrolled to good schools but if you live poor or average neighbourhood then, your children don't enjoy the same privilege as the children from the above average or rich neighbourhood. Besides that, parents also need to give generous donations to schools yearly as well as paying for the children's sports activities participation in schools. Visiting doctors or admitting to hospitals aren't cheap if the family isn't covered with medical insurance. The cost of healthcare insurance (medical insurance) keeps rising each year which becomes unaffordable to poor and average families. Apart from that, the Americans must pay the state income tax and the sales tax (service tax or VAT tax) on top of the federal income tax. The state income tax and sales tax is different for every state in the United States. California and New York are the most developed states which impose higher state income taxes and sales taxes compared to other states in the USA. Therefore, I believe that the monthly income for a family with 2 children in a city, has increased to at least US$8,000 per month in order to pay for the loan and mortgage, taxes (income and sales taxes), healthcare/medical insurance, home and other expenses as well as children' education.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Angry Birds in Malaysia

How popular is Angry Birds in Malaysia? It's really surprising to me as I am away from my home country for two years without realising that Angry Birds has spread its popularity among children and the adults. Children are exposed to Angry Birds from their peers in schools and family members who have the interactive games on their iPhones or iPads. Malaysians are really crazy and obsessed to Apple products thus, I was told that about 60% of Malaysian adults are using iPhones by commiting to data plan contracts from the telecommunication companies in Malaysia in exchange for free iPhones.

My nephew at 2 years plus, is exposed to Angry Birds from his friends in his play school. His parents haven't  introduced the interactive game and don't have the intention to do so. His grandmother bought his Angry Birds clothing and he insists to wear it frequently because he's in love with the character. Another friend told me that her nephews and nieces who are currently studying in the elementary schools (primary schools), are obsessed to Angry Birds. They aren't obsessed to the interactive games but they also collect all kinds of Angry Birds merchandisers like, stationery, clothing, stickers, key chains, plush toys etc. In adults' world, branded goods like, Louis Vuitton is a dream to get if we can afford to spend while Malaysian children must have some Angry Birds merchandisers because none of them can resist of the cute little characters.

Copyright ruling hasn't been regulated as tough and strict as in the U.S. It's very difficult and sometimes, I think it's impossible to combat the imitation / piracy products in Asia region. It keeps the small operators to run businesses and increase purchasing power of consumers with low and tight earnings. You can find all kinds of imitation / piracy products from DVDs, fashionable bags, shoes, mobile phones and merchandisers in street markets in Asia countries. The prices range between RM10 (US$3.34) to RM40 (US$13.34) per piece depending on the types of Angry Birds products. 

In order to understand how huge is the popularity of Angry Birds in Malaysia, you can find some of these pictures taken by my friends, Elysia and Pauline at street markets in Malaysia:

Angry Birds children bed sheets and comforters

Angry Birds children pants

Angry Birds children clothing (Pyjamas)

Angry Birds Door Foil Curtain

Angry Birds children clothing

Angry Birds mobile phone casings

Angry Birds fans and bags

Angry Birds pencils, pencil cases and note pads

Angry Birds stickers

Angry Birds rulers

Angry Birds erasers, pens, pencils, rulers, colouring and sticker books

Angry Birds pens, pencils and correction tape (liquid paper)

Angry Birds balloon

Angry Birds sweets

As Malaysians are still fascinated with Angry Birds game, Nokia decided to work closely with Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, to create the World's Biggest Angry Birds Playground at Low Yat Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in attempt to create the Guinness World Record for the Most People Playing in a Mobile Phone Game Relay on June 11, 2011.

Nokia had been losing its market share and appeal from Malaysians since the fierce mobile brands competition from iPhones and Android handsets. Therefore, Nokia had to revitalize its brand imagery and reestablish and reconnect the preference drive and needs with Malaysians. As such, Nokia decided to tap Malaysians' fun mindset to experience playing the Angry Birds game on a single Nokia mobile phone on the relay day.

Malaysia is now the Guinness World Record ™ holder for 'The Most People in a Mobile Phone Game Relay." Attendance and participation surpassed targets.

Nokia N8: Nokia's World's Biggest Angry Birds Playground event. About 2,032 registered participants in the Most People Playing in a Mobile Phone Game Relay

Monday, November 14, 2011

Children are trapped by Materialistic Culture

I remembered my mom gave me 50 sen (15 cent) every day for my school snack (lunch). With 15 cent, I could get a bowl of noodle soup or the popular Malaysian food, Nasi Lemak. Throughout my years of childhood life, we didn't have fancy electronic gadgets or crazy for branded goods. We lived throughout the typical childhood life like socializing with friends at the playground, biking or playing with dolls. Unfortunately, children these days live different childhood lives compared to what we had been. My friends told me how their children, barely reaching at 4 year old and some of their children at elementary schools (primary schools) have begun demanding for iPads, iPods, iPhones, smart phones and even filling up their wardrobes with expensive and branded clothing similar to what their friends have. There are some teens demand for their own new and expensive cars the moment, they get their driving licenses. It is pressuring and becomes shocking to the  parents when children perceive these material goods as necessities due to  great pressure and competition among their friends. 

A year ago, there was news reported that a Chinese girl from China offered her virginity in exchange for an iPhone 4 while  a Chinese boy sold his kidney for 22,000 yuan ($3,400) in the black market in order to purchase an iPad 2. Another shocking news arise in Singapore recently where a 14 year old school girl slapped her mother, stole her mother's S$10,000 (US$7,756) jewellery and pawned it in order to buy a Louis Vuitton wallet. Some of the young working adults also believe that the material goods are necessities hence, they are willing to spend their entire salaries and savings on branded and fashionable goods and the latest gadgets. The young generation (either children or young adults) do not understand and appreciate the hardship of their and parents' earning money. Sociologists blame the rising importance of materialism amongst the young generation and their belief have gone beyond their limits to satisfy their desires. To improve stable and healthy family culture,  parents should balance their work and family life by spending more time and showing their parenting skills like communication and participating with their children in their world such as role playing, reading, involving in outdoor and school activities. It's also crucial to teach children about the values of life rather than exposing them to materialistic culture.

Yahoo! UK and Ireland compiled and reported their research on today's children and teens rely heavily on material goods in order to be fit in their friends' circle and society.

Children unhappy without material goods

Children unhappy without material goods

Forget the penny sweets and a peashooter. It seems today’s children feel they’re “materially deprived” if they don’t have an iPod, the latest branded trainers and a family car.

In the latest sign that 21st century consumerism is impacting our kids, a study by The Children’s Society found youngsters rely on material goods to make them fit in and feel ‘normal’.

Children aged between eight and 15 were quizzed about the ‘essentials’ of life for someone their age.
A list of the ten ‘must-have’ possessions was then drawn up – including iPod, pocket money, family holidays, a satellite TV, garden and “the right kind of clothes”.

After surveying 5,500 boys and girls, researchers found that those children lacking two or more of the items were “significantly more likely to be unhappy” than those given everything they wanted.

And those without five or more of the ‘must-haves’ were five times more likely to have “low levels of wellbeing”.

It is the first time children themselves have been polled about what they see as deprivation.

Despite their apparent obsession with material goods, however, The Children’s Society says the survey shows children value family togetherness during days out and holidays, and that their happiness is as much tied up in these events as it is in trendy possessions.

The charity’s chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: “Too often we try to understand what it means to be poor from the perspective of parents and ignore the children. For the first time, this research asks children themselves what they need to live a normal kind of life.

“It shows that many children are missing out on normal, everyday things, like pocket money, or trips out with their family. Children have shown us they have a clear idea of what makes them happy, and those missing out on these items are much unhappier than their peers.”

The items most needed for children not to feel deprived were, in order:
  • Some money you can save each month
  • A garden at home or outdoor space nearby
  • At least one family holiday away from home each year
  • A personal music player
  • Monthly trips or days out with the family
  • A pair of designer or brand name trainers
  • The right kind of clothes to fit in
  • A family car
  • Cable or satellite TV at home
Pocket money was the item the children were most likely to be missing out on, with more than a third (37 per cent) saying they did not receive it and 22 per cent saying they missed having it.

This was followed by family trips or days out, with 25 per cent saying they did not have any and 18 per cent saying they missed them. Children similarly felt the lack of ‘some money to save each month’, with 18 per cent saying they had none but would like some.

An iPod and a family holiday each year were the next two things children felt the lack of most sorely.

A spokesman for The Children’s Society added: “It is not all materialistic. There is lots of stuff about wanting to spend time with their family and playing.” He said only one ‘possession’, a personal music player, appeared in the top five items children were found to be missing out on.

The charity said the research showed traditional measures of poverty, such as household income, the number of adults in paid work and receipt of free school meals, might not be the only predictor of children’s unhappiness but that their own sense of wellbeing and material deprivation ought to be considered.

The study, undertaken with the University of York, also shows that ‘materially deprived’ children might not necessarily be living in households conventionally classified as poor – meaning political measures designed to address child poverty could be missing a large tranche of society.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

UCLA & UC Berkeley students joined Occupy Protest

Since the UK students took the storm and protested against the education budget cut and increased tuition fees in London city on November 9, 2011, the American students from UCLA and UC California Berkeley followed and expressed their frustration against the education budget cut and hiked their tuition fees by 81 percent, bringing in-state tuition fees to over $22,000 a year per person. California State University students saw tuition increases imposed just a few weeks before classes began this semester, and after federal financial aid was settled.  The current tuition fees at $22,000 per year applies to Californian students only. Different tuition fees will be imposed to the students from other states of the U.S. and foreign students. To my understanding, the current tuition fees for an international student has increased to $50,000 per year.

According to Mercury News, California's colleges and universities have been hit with massive budget cuts and steep tuition hikes in recent years. University of California tuition fee has risen seven times in the past five years to help offset the state budget cuts by $650 million each from the UC and California State University systems this year. The cuts have led to class cancellations and layoffs in both systems.

UC Berkeley students protested  in front of the university campus on November 9, 2011 (Source: AP / Huffingtonpost)

Riot police hold back protesters as tents are dismantled during Occupy Berkeley protest at UC Berkeley (Source: Karl Mondon /Contra Costa Times/ Los Angeles

Traffic blocked by UCLA students at the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards on November 9, 2011 (By Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Traffic jam at the intersection of LA downtown (By Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photos: 2nd month of Occupy in London and the U.S.

Occupy Movement worldwide has entered into the second month as on November 8, 2011. Occupy Wall Street protest was started on September 17, 2011 and began to gain media and worldwide attention. By October 9, 2011 Occupy protests had taken place in over 95 cities across 82 countries and over 600 communities in the United States.

Status of Occupy Movement as on November 9, 2011 (

According to the news report by Aljazeera English, a mass rally took place on November 5, the 407th anniversary of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament - a plot led by Catholic religious extremists intended to strike back against lawmakers who were endorsing the persecution of their religious minority - attracted thousands of protesters.

(Updated) Based on today's news, Bloomberg on November 9, 2011, U.K. students protest in London's city against the education budget cut and rising tuition fees.

Students take part in a demonstration against higher tuition fees and privatisation in universities 
on November 9, 2011 in London. (source: Bloomberg) (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

On the other side, Huffingtonpost reported that hundreds of people marched through Los Angeles's financial district on November 5, 2011 to take part in "Bank Transfer Day." Bank Transfer Day was started by Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old gallery owner from Los Angeles. She had sparked a national conversation when she posted this on her personal Facebook profile: "If you don't want to pay the likes of Bank of America $5 a month to access your money via debit card, just transfer your cash to your friendly, local credit union."

The demonstrators from the worldwide voice out their frustration and protest against the corporate greed, leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed, facing homeless and suffer with heavy debts which drive them to become from poor to poorer while the rich gets richer. Now, let's look at some pictures during the protests demonstration in London, UK, California (San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles) and New York on November 5, 2011. 

Occupy in London on November 5, 2011

Hundreds of frustrated Londoners marched in the demonstration against perceived corporate greed at St. Paul, London [Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

More than 200 activists have taken over the churchyard in front of the cathedral, riding on the wave of the Occupy Wall Street protests [Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

Demonstrators protested against the social inequality they believe to be caused by the accumulation of wealth by the very few in London [Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

The protest has been dubbed 'Occupy LSX' - for the London Stock Exchange, housed next to St Paul's Cathedral, London [Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

Protesters swarmed through London's streets, normally packed with tourists visiting luxury brand stores in London [Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

Police blocked Parliament Square to prevent demonstrators from reaching the famed Westminster landmark in London[Mariagrazia Petito Di LeoAl Jazeera]

Occupy in San Francisco, California

Occupy San Francisco 2 Stop Occupation
Occupy San Francisco camping area and it will soon occupying San Francisco Civic Center Plaza. (Photo: Brian Imagawa)

Occupy San Francisco 2 Tree and Ed Lee
Occupy camping area has been occupied since October 2011 (Photo: Brian Imagawa)

Protestors Camp Out In front of Wells Fargo HQ on November 5, 2011 (Photo Kenneth Yeung)

Occupy San Francisco demonstration on the march on November 5, 2011 (Photo Kenneth Yeung)

Occupy San Francisco, California on 5 November 2011 (Photo Kenneth Yeung)

Occupy in Oakland, California becomes very tense since the police fired tear gas at protestors on October 26, 2011

Political activist Angela Davis speaks to protesters assembled in the streets of downtown Oakland during a general strike in the city (Photograph James Fassinger)

Protesters march in downtown Oakland during a general strike called for by the Occupy Oakland movement in California (Photograph James Fassinger)

Protesters block the entrance to the Citibank branch on Broadway during the general strike. They have the telephone no. of the Nat. Lawyers Guild on their arms in case they are arrested (James Fassinger)

 An Occupy Oakland protester smashes a window at a Wells Fargo Bank during a citywide
general strike. By Kimihiro Hoshino, AFP, Getty Images

Protesters march on the port of Oakland, California. (Photograph James Fassinger)

Protestors climb on a truck at the Port of Oakland during Occupy Oakland's general strike.
By Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Sheriff's deputies advance on Occupy Oakland protesters (Photograph Noah Berger AP)

Occupy Oakland protesters on a railway scaffold at the Port of Oakland in California (Photograph Noah Berger AP)

A demonstrator waves a flag as rubbish burns at the Occupy Oakland demonstration in California
(Photograph Stephen Lam Reuters)

Occupy Oakland protesters claim a vacant building during a march (Photograph Noah Berger AP)

Occupy Oakland protesters gather in front of City Hall after taking down a fence surrounding Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. (By Kimihiro Hoshino, AFP Getty Images)

Occupy in Los Angeles, California on November 5, 2011

Protestors marched along Los Angeles downtown on Nov 5

An Occupy Los Angeles protester marches through the financial district during a Bank Transfer Day demonstration.
(By Rogyn Beck, AFP Getty Images)

Banks Transfer Day in LA on Nov 5, 2011

Protest in front of Bank of America, LA on November 5, 2011

(Pictures Source: Huffingtonpost)

Occupy in Wall Street, New York in the month of November 2011

Military veterans stand in formation outside the New York Stock Exchange during a march from the
Vietnam Memorial to Zuccotti Park.  By Robert Deutsch, USA Today

OCCUPY-WALL-STREET-WINTER-WEATHER-camping. The protestors resist to leave the 
camping area even though it's snowing in New York.

Police officers on horseback stand guard on Wall Street. (By Don Emmert AFP Getty Images)

 A protester from Occupy Wall Street Movement stands in Zuccotti Park 
in New York City. By Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators march up Broadway, New York. The protesters were on 
their way to the offices of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. By Don Emmert, AFP Getty Images

An Occupy Wall Street protester holds up an American flag with corporate logos replacing 
the stars on Broadway in New York City. By Don Emmert, AFP Getty Images

Musicians Graham Nash, center, and David Crosby perform for demonstrators from Occupy Wall Street 
in Zuccotti Park in New York City.  By Timothy A. Clary, AFP Getty Images

(Pictures Source: USA Today)

Occupy in other states of the U.S. (in the month of November 2011)

A police officer watches members of Occupy Atlanta during a protest on the sidewalk 
outside Woodruff Park in Atlanta. By Erik S. Lesser, AP

Amy Barnes protests with Occupy Atlanta as police move in to clear the street of demonstrators. By David Goldman, AP

Demonstrators with the Occupy Tulsa group protest outside Centennial Green as police enforced 
a park curfew downtown. By Jeff Lautenberger, The Tulsa World via AP

Occupy Atlanta demonstrators, left, attempt to save a fellow protester from arrest as police clear 
a downtown street. By David Goldman, AP

Police officers form a perimeter around Centennial Green in downtown Tulsa. 
By Jeff Lautenberger, The Tulsa World, via AP

Occupy Portland protesters camp out at Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland, Ore. Several protesters chained themselves to a 50-gallon drum filled with rocks and concrete  By Rick Bowmer, AP

(Pictures Source: USA Today)

Occupy in Chicago on November 7, 2011 by Alan Caruba

According to the latest news, USA Today, Occupy Wall Street is going on the road — a two-week walk from New York to Washington. A small group of activists plans to leave Manhattan's Zuccotti Park at noon Wednesday and arrive by the November 23, 2011 deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Barack Obama's extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.

Now, we have to wait and observe as how long this occupy protest will last. Will the U.S. government make amendments to the needs and demands from the people? If the occupy demonstration keeps going on by occupying the parks and marching at the downtown of San Francisco, New York, Portland, Chicago or other parts of the world, it will leave ugly impression and chase the people and tourists away from traveling to the cities and countries. As such, I believe many businesses which rely on tourism and international trade, will be affected badly and crimes like, looting and vandalism, will be rising too due to this occupy protest.