Thursday, December 4, 2008

People And Businesses Get Creative To Get By

I happened to read two separate stories this morning on CNN.com, both of which made me do a double take. These are two great examples that show just how bad things are in the economy right now, as well as the creativity that people have. The first article was about a school teacher who had his budget cut so dramatically that he could no longer afford to print out tests and quizzes, but using his creativity he was able to make. The other article talks about the dire condition of the auto industry, and specifically what local dealerships are doing in order to scrape by.

The first story is both an example of innovation in the face of desperation and the poor state of our educational system. The title of the article sums up the story fairly well: “Cash-strapped teacher sells ads on tests.” A teacher in California saw his printing budget cut so dramatically that he no longer could afford to print out quizzes and tests for his class. Instead of simply cutting back on the number of tests, thereby dropping the quality of education, he chose to do something about it and approached parents and local business owners to sponsor quizzes and tests. By placing ads on the tests the teacher was able to raise more than enough money to cover the printing costs for the tests.

While I applaud the creativity of this teacher, and his willingness to go above and beyond to ensure his students receive the best education possible, it is frustrating that it had to come to this. How is it that the richest country in the world can’t even afford to pay printing costs for tests? We are throwing billions—if not trillions—of dollars around like it is nothing, but we can’t spare a few hundred bucks per classroom to make sure our kids get a proper education? Children already have a hard time concentrating, and putting advertisements on their tests, when they should be focusing the most, is not the answer. Talk about a horrible time to be a child—Merry Christmas, kids. This year you get $8 trillion in debt and a sub-par education. Good luck!

The second story is titled, “Car dealers get creative as brethren shutter shops.” This article talks about all the creative things local dealerships are doing to stay in business. One of the most widely talked about offers was by a car dealership in Miami that is offering a buy-one-get-one-free promotion. Interest in new cars has fallen so much that dealerships are doing whatever it takes to drum up business.

I have my doubts that they will be able to sustain these types of promotions for long. Dealerships take out millions of dollars in loans to stock their lots, and at this point nothing is moving, forcing them to take these extreme measures just to avoid shutting down entirely. In addition there are the problems with the big three U.S. automakers to worry about. If these companies are forced to start restructuring, some dealerships fear that banks will not be so willing to lend them the money they need to continue to operate.

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