New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced that the city would like to spend $45 million to retrain laid-off financial industry workers and provide capital and resources for businesses they might start. The New York Times reports that the city is hoping to gain access to $30 million of federal incentives to attract businesses to New York City.

Coping With the Economy

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would like to spend $45 million to retrain laid-off financial industry workers and provide capital and resources for businesses they might start.

    Louis Lanzano, AP

    Denny's Super Bowl ad, announcing a free Grand Slam breakfast for a limited time, drew crowds early Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, 2009.

    Alex Slitz, The Saginaw News / AP

    Denny's gave away Grand Slam breakfasts for one day in its 1,152 restaurants nationwide.

    Alex Slitz, The Saginaw News / AP

    Salvage groceries are items that get returned to warehouses for some reason -- dented cans, over-ordering, use-by dates are getting close or items that don't sell well. This "remainders" business is getting hot in our bad economy.

    www.wiswebpro.com

    Many libraries across the country are experiencing an increase in patrons, especially job seekers who use the Internet to look for work and borrow DVDs for cheap entertainment. Even with budget cutbacks, some are thinking of buying more computer terminals and expanding wi-fi options.

    Pat Wellenbach, AP

    To try to spur tourism and help out local businesses, the state of Massachusetts is sponsoring a new program called MassValuePass which has coupons, special offers and huge discounts.

    www.massvacation.com

    You don't have to just let unwanted gifts sit around in your house, gathering dust. With belts tightening, you need to make use of all your assets, so a new site, barterquest.com has found a way to match up people and their stuff to barter.

    barterquest.com

    To deal with the rising cost of food, Royal Caribbean is adding a surcharge for steaks served in its dining rooms.

    AP

    Hybrids are one option for fuel-conscious drivers, of course, but many are now opting for even smaller vehicles: scooters. Sales are up 66 percent so far in 2008. Honda is releasing its 2009 model early to capture as many customers as possible.

    M. Spencer Green, AP

    Blaming inflation and rising food and energy prices, the 99 Cents Only discount store announced it was bumping its top price to 99.99 cents -- or one-hundredth of a cent less than a dollar -- the first price increase in the chain's 26-year history.

    Nick Ut, AP

Wait. Stop. Hold up. Does Mayor Bloomberg mean to tell me that after the New York City financial geniuses ruined the economy and then used taxpayer funding to pay themselves bonuses and save their jobs, taxpayers are now supposed to send them more money so that they can start their own businesses, find new jobs, or gain skills that actually have value beyond the Alice in Wonderland world of financial engineering? In making the case, the city reports that the financial services industry has "been central to the health of the U.S. economy." What? Isn't that kind of like saying that tobacco has been central to the health of lung cancer patients?
I can understand the point of providing help to secretaries and back-office staff who were earning a relative pittance before they lost jobs at firms that collapsed as a result of factors they had no control over or knowledge of. In a press release announcing the initiatives, the city pointed out that "More than half of the people working in the City's financial services sector make less than $100,000 per year." That's all well and good but keep in mind that that's still a heck of a lot more than most people make. In 2007, that national median income was just $36,140. So more than half of people on Wall Street earned less than 2.75 times what the median person earns. And those are the people most deserving of free help?

But nevermind the people who are earning less than $100k. What about the slightly less than half that are earning more than that? Is job training and discounted office space for former jet setting investment bankers really a valid use of public money? I know: We're supposed to feel bad because they spent their lavish bonuses on private school tuition and yachting, but somehow I just don't buy that that makes them candidates for glorified welfare.

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