Despite High Unemployment—Here’s How to Find a Good Job!

Despite High Unemployment—Here’s How to Find a Good Job!

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From the March 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

There is a type of man who never goes without work for long.

“Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village—in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: He is needed, and needed badly ….”

At the turn of the last century, Elbert Hubbard described this man in “A Message to Garcia,” an essay that was printed and reprinted around the world and even given to every enlisted man in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps during both world wars.

This man is resourceful. He is industrious. He has initiative. He listens to what his boss tells him to do and then does it.

But in today’s abnormal global economic climate, even a man of this quality may still find himself without work, laid off with thousands of others. What can he do then?

If you find yourself in this situation, you need a strategy. Here are seven practical steps to take if you’re looking for work.

1. Assess your spending

If you’ve just lost your job, or the end of your present job is in sight (and by the way, today’s labor market is tough, so don’t ever quit unless you have another job lined up), then stop and take stock of your financial situation immediately.

Depending on how much money (if any) you have in savings, you may have to curtail or sharply cut your monthly expenses. Take a long, hard look at your spending habits. Don’t hesitate to drastically reduce your standard of living. You may need to get rid of some or all of your non-essential bills and discretionary spending in order to survive. For example, you may need to cancel such things as your cable tv, gym membership and magazine subscriptions, and curtail dining out and entertainment.

In some cases, it may be advisable to quickly pay down—or pay off—as many short-term debts as you can. You might consider refinancing your home mortgage or auto loan to a lower interest rate in order to further reduce monthly debt payments.

At the same time, you will need to work out a new, realistic budget. Get help from a public credit counseling service if you can’t work out a budget on your own.

Resist the temptation to use credit and dig yourself into a hole that you might not get out of for a long time.

When it is time for you to go job hunting, first calculate how much income you will need to earn in order to make ends meet. The classic career guide What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles lists these expenses to consider when determining your “minimal survival salary”: Housing; cleaning, maintenance, repairs; food; clothing; automobile/transportation; insurance; medical expenses; support for other family members; charity giving/tithes; school/learning; pet care; bills and debts; taxes; savings; retirement fund; amusement/discretionary spending.

2. Prepare for the long haul

Getting yourself back into the working sector requires a lot of confidence and enthusiasm. But don’t pin your hopes on unrealistic expectations of landing another job easily and immediately, or your hopes may soon fade. It could take time—perhaps a year or so—to find the right job, so you also have to have steely determination.

This is why it is important to diligently reduce your debt load and get into a good cash position when you are employed. If you currently have a job, set aside funds for unexpected expenses. Each pay period, you should budget about 5 percent of your net earnings until you have accumulated enough emergency savings to pay your essential expenses for six months. Then, when an emergency occurs—like the loss of a job—that reduces your reserve, build it back up with the same diligence as before.

3. Assess your skills

Analyze your main interests in life in order to find the job that is right for you—not just one that pays a high salary. You usually enjoy the activities at which you excel. Think slowly and carefully over your entire life and write down a list of areas in which you excel, including school activities, handicrafts, hobbies, and all of your past jobs. Do you enjoy working on cars? Are you a fast painter? Do you like tinkering with computers? Fascinated by nature and biology?

Also note any specialized vocational training you received in school, the armed forces, or elsewhere. For an even deeper look at your aptitudes, consider taking a vocational guidance test from a college, university, employment agency or other institute.

Such lists will probably reveal a pattern. You will begin to see the type of job that would make use of your talents and in which you can excel, and also the type of job in which you would be a miserable misfit.

Bolles says self-assessment “involves sitting down and doing some inventory on what are called your functional or transferable skills. Your education and previous experience don’t lock you into only finding a job in a particular sector of the economy or in a particular job title. You have to take the blinders off and think, ‘I’m a person who’ and fill in the blank. Not, ‘I’m a human resources executive,’ for instance. Rather, think ‘I’m a person who’s good at analyzing things’ or ‘I’m a person who’s good at organizing things.’ Then you look for an organization that needs these skills and interests” (ibid). Perhaps your skills can be adapted to a job other than what you have previously done.

Your jobless situation can be a time not only for self-analysis, but also for education in new skills. There are many training courses and seminars offered by vendors, local schools and government-sponsored institutions. If you are Internet savvy, consider taking an online course or “webinar” to enhance your skills or learn new ones.

Go to your local library or bookstore and read up on the career fields that are on the rise. In addition to What Color Is Your Parachute?, you might find one of these titles very helpful: Guide for Occupational Exploration, The Pathfinder, and The UnCollege Alternative.

If you’re considering going back to school to get a degree in some “hot” field, be aware that a college degree does not guarantee you a job. While in some cases a degree can help you find work, according to Danielle Wood’s book The UnCollege Alternative, the majority—about 70 percent—of all jobs in the United States only require alternative education and on-the-job training.

4. Make a job out of finding a job

Too many go on the job hunt halfheartedly. It’s no wonder so many can’t find work and/or are living on public welfare.

Being jobless is not an extended holiday. If you don’t have a job, now is the time to work “overtime” every workday looking for a job. Stay in a regular work routine every day. Resist the temptation to aimlessly surf the Internet or watch tv. Don’t view your seemingly endless “free” time as something to fritter away on hobbies and backyard projects. Force yourself to get up and get going each day.

Be zealous in your quest for a job. Get up early in the morning—every morning—and start researching for openings, applying for jobs, arranging interviews and pounding the pavement—before lunchtime! Don’t quit until you’ve put in a full eight- or nine- or ten-hour day’s work looking for work. Keep at it for at least 40 hours a week. Be resourceful and persistent. Job researchers insist a job hunter who is looking for a nonexecutive job should be able to submit 40 applications a week. Set a goal of a certain number of applications a day until you land your job.

Besides your traditional job search—sifting through job websites like CareerBuilder and Monster, looking in classified ads, reading trade journals and professional publications, and checking out employment agencies—try networking. Get out and talk with your friends, neighbors, relatives and business acquaintances. Word-of-mouth referrals are often much more effective at gaining job interviews than merely answering want ads. In fact, some employment experts say that the majority of jobs available on any given date aren’t publicized. Bolles says that “80 percent of all vacancies that are filled are never advertised. They use their own grapevines within the company. … [N]etworking is the single most important way of going job hunting” (Business Week, March 22, 2004).

With this in mind, you may also want to use the Yellow Pages (www.YP.com) to look up potential employers. Call them and ask if they are hiring for the kind of position you are interested in applying for. According to Bolles, this method has a 69 percent success rate.

If possible, ask to speak with the director, the department manager, the foreman or whoever has decision-making authority. If you have good qualifications, the director may hire you even if there is no opening at the moment, because he is looking ahead to future needs.

Too many job hunters rely on the Internet alone. This approach has a low success rate. “The Internet has obviously increased the ability of people to locate jobs. But sending your résumé out unsolicited and using the Internet doesn’t really work even during a good economy. These strategies are miserable failures when you have a sour economy. Forrester Research has found that 10 percent at best and 4 percent at worst find a job through the Internet” (ibid).

5. Knock on some doors

One of the best ways to try to find a job, says Bolles, is to “[knock] on the door of any employer, factory or office that interests you, whether they are known to have a vacancy or not” (op. cit.). This tactic may seem outmoded; however, Bolles states this method has a 47 percent success rate.

Before you go knocking on doors, develop a plan. Avoid trudging up and down the streets at random in hopes that some company out there will have a position available. First take the effort to find out the exact name and location of businesses that hire people who have your abilities and skills.

After targeting a business or employer you are interested in working for, try to get in to see the hiring manager. If you can, avoid going through the Personnel Office, because its job is usually to screen out job seekers. Strive to make a good first impression. Dress appropriately, be clean, and present yourself with poise and enthusiasm. Put your best foot forward. And, with each manager you meet, leave a neatly prepared résumé and cover letter briefly detailing your education, work experience and personal information (see our February issue).

In big cities, and especially within big corporations, it may be difficult to get past security to talk to someone “in charge” without an appointment. Even so, Bolles says, “It’s uncanny how many people will say ‘Sure’ or ‘I’ll see if there’s someone who you can talk to ….’ It’s perfectly true that these monoliths that have 38 floors don’t pay off so well. But smaller companies are filled with people who are very interested in taking the time to talk to you” (op. cit.). Concentrate on organizations with 50 or less employees, he says. “When you approach companies like that—and when you know enough about interviewing—you often come as the answer to their prayers.”

6. Be flexible

The average person changes jobs at least eight times in a lifetime. Sometimes job changes involve career changes. Accept the possibility that you may need to switch careers. This involves thinking big: You may have to consider changing from a white-collar job to a blue-collar job—or vice versa. You may need to adjust to a lower pay scale. You may have to take a temporary or part-time job—or maybe two of them—in order to get by. You might be required to commute long-distance or even relocate.

Be open-minded about seeking a new job or career. Ideally, though, you should try to find a job where you can use many of your abilities and talents.

In any case, be adaptable. Don’t become overly anxious about the transitions you may have to go through along the way to becoming gainfully employed again. Excessive worry can hurt your health; it is nonproductive and can even be counterproductive.

7. Seek guidance

If you are unemployed or are thinking of changing jobs, be sure to seek advice and counsel. As Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Talk to a career counselor. Visit job sites and ask for personal interviews with experienced people in a variety of careers. Especially ask for help from close friends and relatives—those who know you best—since they may be able to see your strengths and weaknesses more objectively than you can and aid you in considering a career path or job right for you.

Above all, don’t forget to seek counsel from above—heavenly guidance from God. Many turn to God only out of desperation as a last resort. But the power of prayer can work, and has worked, miracles in the lives of many who have experienced unemployment woes in the past. Use this vital tool throughout the job-seeking—and job-keeping—process!

God knows your needs even before you ask. However, He won’t necessarily supply what you don’t ask for (Matthew 6:8; James 4:2). Be sure to seek His help diligently. Be persistent and wholehearted. James 5:16 states that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” If you expect God to hear, you must pray fervently, earnestly, zealously and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray, and then wait, with patient faith—doing your part all the while—to see the amazing results. God will never fail you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), so long as you put Him first in everything. Know that He can, most definitely, guide you to success in finding the job you need.

Many nations are heading into the worst economic times since the Great Depression. The struggle to find—and keep—a good job will only intensify. But if you do your part and follow God’s laws, God will bless you and provide for all your needs. As Jesus said, “[S]eek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these [material] things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Pray for favor. Stay positive. Realize that if Almighty God is with you, you will eventually succeed. Have faith: “Unemployment may reach 50 percent or more, but there is no reason that you cannot be one of the 50 percent with a job” (Solve Your Money Troubles!; request your free copy). In today’s global economic climate, finding a job can be tricky, but with God’s help it is possible.

Sidebar: More Americans out of work than reported

The state of the U.S. economy is shaping up to be a major issue in the 2012 presidential election. No presidential incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt has been reelected in a year when the national unemployment exceeded 7.2 percent. Perhaps this is why the current administration is trying so hard to downplay America’s joblessness. Most news media outlets made a big deal over the fact that the U.S. Labor Department announced that the U-3 unemployment rate fell from 9 percent to 8.6 percent during the month of November. Trouble is, the government-reported U-3 unemployment rate does not reflect how many people are actually out of work, but rather how many unemployed people are actively applying for government benefits. Further examination of the data shows that 315,000 people stopped looking for work during November, dropping out of the job market. The situation looks even worse when you consider the government-reported U-6 under-employment rate, which includes those who are currently working part-time until they can find a full-time job. The overall under-employment rate in America is currently at 15.6 percent.

Can You Identify These Beautiful Structures?

Can You Identify These Beautiful Structures?

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From the March 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Newly published Hubble images of distant galaxies, perhaps? Creatures discovered in the depths of Earth’s oceans? Maybe they are meteor fragments, insect brains, newfangled Lego pieces, or shells from exotic crustaceans? The correct answer is even more mind-boggling than any of these guesses.

A handful of sand viewed at a magnification of around 250 times real life. (www.sandgrains.com)

These remarkable objects are ordinary grains of sand.

Under normal circumstances, a handful of sand looks drab and featureless, not much more pleasing to the eye than it would be to the palate. But all that changes with the right focus. Viewed at a magnification of around 250 times real life, that handful of sand is revealed to be thousands of tiny, multicolored particles of prismatic crystal, volcanic rock and spiral fragments, which time and the elements have jointly sculpted into striking formations.

Last year, for the first time, sand was photographed in a way that exposes the awesome beauty interlaced into every grain, and the images on this page are a few samples of the new photographic technique developed by University College London Prof. Gary Greenberg.

But God’s masterful artistry is hidden not only at the microscopic level. Beside these images of sand, you could place telescopic photographs of the unfathomably vast Horsehead Nebula, and both sets of pictures would embody equally breathtaking beauty, but on scales so distant from each other they could not be compared. Beauty also permeates aspects of creation far smaller than sand grains, like the winding, curvaceous symmetry of a strand of dna. It also saturates far broader vistas than that of the Horsehead Nebula, such as the stunning image that appears after we step away from the telescope, and that distant nebula becomes a small, empty space between the stars of a radiant constellation.

God is the Author of beauty, and He wove it generously into every level of His creation, from the macrocosmic to the nanoscopic. Every facet and every layer of His physical creation reveals His awesome splendor!

New Spanish Government More Aggressive Over Gibraltar

New Spanish Government More Aggressive Over Gibraltar

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to give it away. Can Britain hold on to Gibraltar now?

Spain’s new government is pushing Britain to negotiate over Gibraltar without consideration for the wishes of the inhabitants of Gibraltar. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo wrote to his British counterpart to this effect after British Prime Minister David Cameron promised last week to respect Gibraltar’s right to self-determination. The majority in Gibraltar wants to remain British, but Spain does not recognize this right.

The Times reports that new Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will demand that Gibraltar not be a part of negotiations over its future. This, wrote the Times, “marks a hardening of Madrid’s position over its controversial claim for the return of the Rock.”

In recent years, negotiations have been tripartite, between Britain, Spain and Gibraltar, and Gibraltar has held a veto over any potential deal.

The Gibraltar news source Panorama writes: “The new PP [People’s Party] government is obviously seeking to go backwards to the days of General Franco when they did not like to refer to the government of Gibraltar, because they probably see that as ‘independentist’ in Gibraltar’s case, and prefer to speak about the ‘Gibraltar authorities.’” It notes how “hurriedly” the new government has brought up the issue after its election in November.

This push to exclude Gibraltar from negotiations comes just over a week after former Europe Minister Peter Hain said that then Prime Minister Tony Blair came close to giving up the Rock in 2002. He said that Mr. Blair was “contemptuous” of the wishes of the inhabitants of Gibraltar to remain British and wanted “to secure a better relationship with Spain” and remove Gibraltar “as an obstacle to our relations within Europe.”

Mr. Hain claims that Britain made a deal with Spain on April 18, 2002, to share sovereignty over the area and allow Britain to keep a naval base there. The Spanish vetoed the deal.

Britain has already come close to giving away the Rock. With the Spanish pushing for Gibraltar once again, will Britain have the will to hold on to it? Bible prophecy says it won’t.

Vatican Renews Negotiations With Palestinians

Vatican Renews Negotiations With Palestinians

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Vatican officials met with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (plo) in Ramallah on January 29 to resume bilateral negotiations. The Vatican is seeking “a formal agreement regulating and promoting the presence and activity of the Catholic Church in the Palestinian territories,” according to the Catholic News Service.

“[T]he talks took place in a positive atmosphere to strengthen further the special relations between the two sides,” a joint communiqué on the meeting said. The Vatican presented a draft agreement that both sides will look at before meeting at the Vatican “in the near future.”

The Vatican desperately wants control of Jerusalem and Israel, which makes its negotiations with the Palestinians and Israelis important to watch. For more information on its agenda in the area, read our article “Why Does the Vatican Want a Palestinian State?” from the latest print edition of the Trumpet magazine.

Occupy Oakland Protests Turn Violent

Occupy Oakland Protests Turn Violent

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Expect violent rioting of the type seen last week in Oakland to engulf cities across America.

A march to take over a vacant building by members of the Occupy Oakland movement turned violent on Saturday, after protesters began tearing down barricades and destroying construction equipment.

When police ordered the crowd to disperse, officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares. According to an Oakland press release, the police responded to these attacks with smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles.

Some of the protesters even pre-constructed elaborate shields in anticipation of police resistance. One such shield, on display at City Hall on Sunday, was about 6 by 4 feet and built of corrugated metal on wood panels, complete with multiple handles. “Commune Move In” was painted on the front of the shield. “The shields are becoming stronger, larger and more mobile,” said Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson. “We’re in a dangerous area for law enforcement …. We are being assaulted, and when we react to those assaults, we can’t penetrate shields like this.”

Apparently the protesters wanted to “occupy” the empty Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and use it as a commune-like command center for further protest. After being expelled from the area surrounding the convention center, the protesters attempted to “occupy” the nearby Oakland Museum of California. Later, the protesters entered the downtown Oakland ymca and broke into City Hall.

Three police officers and at least one protester were injured in the hostilities. So far, over 400 people have been arrested.

In an open letter to Mayor Jean Quan, the group threatened actions like “blockading the airport indefinitely, occupying City Hall indefinitely” and “shutting down the Oakland ports.”

The mayor reiterated to the press that the damage done by the protesters to the City Hall plaza alone has cost $2 million since October. City officials estimate that another $2.4 million in damage was suffered when the protesters closed down the Port of Oakland last December.

For the latest damages, Mayor Quan said the city would seek monetary compensation from protesters.

Ironically, a protest movement that sprung up to demonstrate against joblessness and poverty is only making matters worse. Closing ports and occupying public buildings are not just anti-Wall Street; they are anti-trade and anti-business. In the end, such a strategy of shutting down businesses and harming profits will harm the average American worker far more than it will harm Wall Street bigwigs.

Yet, such protests seem to be growing in strength despite, or perhaps because of, police action taken against them.

Last week, billionaire investor George Soros warned of all-out class warfare as the economy deteriorates. “Yes, yes, yes,” Soros told the Daily Beast on the subject of whether “riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable.” Soros then went on to claim that the solution to such violent rioting was for President Barack Obama to increase taxes on the rich in an attempt to solve social inequality.

While Soros is right about the inevitability of rioting in the streets, his solution is only likely to further escalate class tensions. Taking money from those who own businesses and giving it those who are threatening to shut them down is not a viable solution to American joblessness.

Expect violent rioting of the type seen last week in Oakland to soon engulf cities across America. The political establishment is gearing up for a presidential election campaign based on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. The Occupy protesters are likely to become a major component of this campaign. For further information, read Philip Nice’s article “Blood in the Streets” and the most recent editorial by editor in chief Gerald Flurry, “U.S. Attorney General Ignites the Race Bomb.”

Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and American ‘Creative Destruction’

Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and American ‘Creative Destruction’

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Could a private equity president save America?

Venture capitalists are really vulture capitalists, says former presidential candidate Rick Perry. And Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital was a venture/vulture capitalist. Such firms swoop down on sick companies, devour them, and leave only bones and lost jobs behind. Getting rich off destruction is deplorable, Perry said.

Are venture capitalist/private equity firms really devouring America? This might be a good time to ask that question, since one of the men who might be president was an innovator in this industry that has become increasingly influential in American-style capitalism.

According to Mitt Romney, venture capitalism is what makes America’s economy so dynamic. “The reality is in the private sector that there are some businesses that are growing and thriving, and we were fortunate enough to be able to be a part of that in a small way,” he said. But “there are some businesses that have to be cut back in order to survive ….”

“And every time that we invested in a business, it was to try and encourage that business to have ongoing life.”

It is all about the economic gospel of “creative destruction.” Sometimes jobs have to be destroyed, so that others can not only survive, but thrive.

Sounds relatively reasonable. As evidence, Romney points to his successes in revitalizing struggling companies such as Sports Authority and Domino’s Pizza. He says he has created 100,000 jobs by making companies such as these stronger so that they could grow again.

Yet, even if you believe Mitt Romney’s job creation numbers, his description of venture capitalism is not how many private equity firms—including Bain Capital—actually work.

Consider the case of KB Toys. Remember KB Toys? In 2000 (one year after Mitt Romney retired as a director, but remained a major shareholder), Bain Capital bought KB Toys for $305 million. To do this, it borrowed $297 million from big banks and other investors. It used only $18 million of its own money.

Immediately following the purchase, Bain Capital made the toy company borrow $297 million so that Bain could pay back the initial money borrowed from investors. Now KB Toys, not Bain Capital, owed investors the $297 million.

At this point, Bain Capital was free and clear. It was the owner of a profitable, if now indebted, company.

But Bain wasn’t satisfied. Nor was it interested in cutting fat from the company, or increasing long-term corporate profitability. The evidence shows it wanted a fast buck. Those who got hurt in the process were, apparently, collateral damage.

Even after the additional $297 million in extra debt, KB Toys was still valuable enough that Bain Capital could direct it to borrow tens of millions more over the ensuing months.

But here is where Bain Capital illustrates the dirty side of corporate America.

While Bain Capital was directing KB Toys to borrow more and more money, what was Bain Capital doing with it? Developing a bigger online presence? Building factories? Expanding product lines? Adding distribution capability? Creating a better company? Innovating new products? No.

Bain Capital was sucking KB Toys dry.

Over the next 16 months, Bain Capital paid itself a whopping $85 million in dividends from the now super-indebted toy retailer.

It was too much for KB to endure. In the face of growing competition from Toys R’ Us and other retailers and with basically a giant parasite as majority stakeholder, KB Toys filed for bankruptcy in 2004—at the direction of Bain Capital. Over 500 stores were shuttered. Thousands of employees lost their jobs, their retirements and their livelihoods. And all those investors that lent money to KB were left holding an empty toy box.

But what about Bain Capital? With tens of millions in dividends—plus consulting fees paid to itself from KB’s borrowed money—it still made around a 400 percent return on investment! All legal. And all ugly.

There was no “creation” in the destruction of KB Toys. It was never about “cutting back in order to survive,” or always and “every time” investing with the intent to encourage “ongoing life.”

And KB Toys was not alone.

Some call it vulture capitalism. But that is an insult to vultures. Vultures generally eat the dead and dying. Bain Capital seems to have very deliberately killed KB Toys—by sucking the life out of it. Parasite capitalism may be a better description. But even most parasites don’t kill their hosts so quickly.

If KB Toys was just one sad case, it would be regrettable but survivable for America. But the leveraged buyout boom of the pre-2008 Wall Street meltdown was massive. There are thousands of formerly healthy U.S. corporations now struggling under dangerous debt loads that, like KB, may be destined to kill them.

And with all that extra debt, when interest rates start to rise from their historic lows America’s parasite-bloated companies will become actual vulture food.

Are private equity and venture capital firms good for America? Just like anything else, how they are used is what counts the most. Many venture capitalists do actually seek to make money by making companies more efficient, by both investing and growing—and also cutting dead wood. But sadly, in too many cases, Wall Street is a place where tools like these are used for greedy destruction, not productive creation.

Can a private equity president save America?

America truly needs a Creative Destruction moment. But can any human save an economy so infested with wrong practices, greedy human nature and fraudulent foundations? If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we need to admit that it’s not an overhaul or a new set of regulations that we need. It’s a complete wipeout of the entire system so that a new, equitable, productive, honest foundation can be built. And if we are honest with ourselves, in the long run, and despite the short-term pain, wouldn’t that kind of creative destruction be a good thing to look forward to?