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"Try to remember the kind of September…” The song was from a musical named The Fantasticks. In that spirit, try to remember September of 2006. The media crowed that the state added 17,300 jobs that month, and Governor Schwarzenegger crowed even louder, saying the gain was “fantastic.” California’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, but San Diego’s fell below 4 percent to 3.9 percent. Among major metropolitan areas, only the San Francisco area, at 3.8 percent, was lower.

San Diego County had 1.3 million nonfarm jobs then, and 93,700 of them were in construction, 103,900 in manufacturing, and 147,300 in retail trade, which was booming. Consumer spending, as measured by taxable sales, rose 2.5 percent in 2006, although that was down from 5 percent in 2005 and an amazing 8.8 percent in 2004. Retail sales in the county peaked at $47.8 billion in 2006, according to a recent study by Kelly Cunningham of the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

The value of residential real estate had soared unbelievably, and people were borrowing against the inflated worth of their homes. Actually, there were signs in September 2006 that the party might slow down significantly someday. Housing prices had peaked in November 2005, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller data, although they remained at very high levels. The lead indicators of the San Diego economy, compiled by economist Alan Gin of the University of San Diego, had declined for six straight months.

But few paid attention to such economic esoterica. People thought housing prices would bounce right back up, along with the lead indicators. This was the time to take a job in private industry — say, construction or real estate sales or retailing. This was no time to take a stuffy, bureaucratic government job. Or a job in health care. Why minister to the sick when everybody was doing so well?

Uh, no. Fast-forward to September 2010, the most recent month of data released by the state Employment Development Department. This September, there were only 1.2 million nonfarm jobs in San Diego — down more than 7.5 percent from September 2006. The unemployment rate had climbed from that 3.9 percent of September 2006 to 10.6 percent in September of this year. California’s rate, meantime, had zoomed from 4.8 percent to 12.2 percent. Governor Schwarzenegger was no longer whistling that tune from The Fantasticks. He was looking forward to the fantastic day when he got out of office.

By September of this year, San Diego construction jobs had plummeted 38.1 percent to 58,000 from the same month of 2006. Manufacturing jobs had dropped 12.2 percent to 91,200. Retail employment had dropped 13.2 percent to 127,800. Financial jobs, including real estate, had plunged 18.3 percent to 68,000. Real estate jobs were down 15.3 percent to 20,000.

Cunningham’s study shows that between 2006 and 2009, San Diego consumer spending dropped by 17.4 percent — the biggest decline since 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. On an inflation-adjusted per capita basis, retail sales peaked in 2005 and fell an astonishing 25.6 percent through 2009.

Yes, try to remember that fantastic September of 2006, because those times aren’t returning soon. Although consumer spending is creeping up this year, Cunningham says it will take more than a decade to get back to previous levels of inflation-adjusted sales in San Diego.

So jobs have disappeared in almost every area of the San Diego economy. Have jobs expanded anywhere? Why, yes: government. Public sector jobs have risen half of 1 percent to 215,500 from September 2006 to this September. It’s not much, but at least it’s a gain. Federal government jobs have gone up 10.1 percent during the period while state and local government jobs have gone down only 1.8 percent.

Had you ignored the private sector’s whoop-de-doo party and taken a stultifying government job in September 2006, you would have been much better off. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for December 2009 (the most recent), the average hourly earnings for state and local government workers in San Diego County was $29.66, compared with $21.25 for private industry workers. The data were collected between May of last year and July of this year.

On a job-by-job basis, state and local government workers have higher hourly earnings. Consider business and financial management jobs: state and local government workers average $47.76 an hour versus $39.95 in the private sector. Government workers do more than twice as well in service jobs: $23.29 an hour versus $11.15 in the private sector. State and local government workers do better in office jobs: $20.26 an hour versus $16.75. There is a wide gap in transportation and material moving jobs: an average of $20.14 for state and local government workers and $14.54 for workers in private industry. And also a wide gap in construction jobs: an average of $27.86 for state and local government workers and $21.31 in private industry.

Government jobs pay better, both full-time and part-time: $30.21 versus $22.81 and $21.00 versus $12.67, respectively.

And, of course, government retirement remuneration is much better than that in the private sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year state and local government workers across the nation got $13.65 an hour in benefits. Private sector workers got $8.02. And there is more job security in government.

There has been a health-care bonanza. Since September of 2006, the number of health-care and social-assistance jobs has risen 14.2 percent in San Diego. Nursing and residential-care jobs have soared 29.3 percent as the population ages and life spans increase.

And there is money in health care. Registered nurses average $38.29 an hour, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data covering civilians in both the public and private sector. Therapists make $33.60 an hour.

The hourly pay in these health-care jobs tops private sector automotive technicians ($21.36 an hour), truck and tractor operators ($16.18), machinery maintenance workers ($19.82), engineering technicians ($24.87), accountants and auditors ($29.78), financial analysts and advisors ($29.58), cooks ($12.58), bartenders ($8.17), fast-food and counter workers ($8.82), and maids and housekeeping cleaners ($9.18). Tips are not included.

But private sector financial managers average $51.73 an hour, and engineering managers make $66.35. Computer software engineers make $58.62.

The San Diego economy has sunk a long way since consumer spending peaked in 2006. Government and health-care workers have grown in numbers and prospered. But most private sector workers have seen jobs disappear. For the most part, their salaries are not competitive with government jobs.

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Comments

a2zresource Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:37 a.m.

2006 was a different time on a different planet.

At first, I merely imagined that the well-deserved financial sector wallop of the Crash of 2008 would mostly be restricted to that economic sector, that the Crash was a necessary bloodletting that we would soon recover from, as I imagined that the American economy would just shake that off and continue to march. How wrong I was.

I did not realize how much of American economic productivity was funded by vapors. I did not realize what a classic Catastrophe Theory free-fall was in store for our economy, and I am still glad that I had no equity position as I watched the DJIA drop 800 points in a single trading session, watching in alarm, amazement, and amusement...

There are still more sinkholes along our path into the near-term future.

"A sideways we will go."

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 11:25 a.m.

The numbers shown in the chart are for San Diego County. On a job-for-job basis, the public sector has the advantage, for the most part. The City of San Diego absolutely MUST prepare for bankruptcy. It can't afford the salaries it pays -- and, of course, the pensions it doles out. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:22 p.m.

I repeat: Greenspan has nothing to do but make speeches for $100,000 per. His influence has waned tremendously. Don't waste your 2x4 on him. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 10, 2010 @ 1:12 p.m.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for December 2009 (the most recent), the average hourly earnings for state and local government workers in San Diego County was $29.66, compared with $21.25 for private industry workers. The data were collected between May of last year and July of this year.

Nearly 50% more just in salary, now add in the benefits, and then the bullet proof job security-gov employment is out of control. . .

On a job-by-job basis, state and local government workers have higher hourly earnings. ...Government jobs pay better, both full-time and part-time: $30.21 versus $22.81 and $21.00 versus $12.67, respectively.

Again, this is just salary, no benefits used-where gov is ahead by 500% or more.

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 1:58 p.m.

We have known for a long time that public sector benefits are much better -- $13.65 an hour in the public sector, $8.02 in the private sector. Those are national numbers. But numbers for San Diego County show that salaries are also better -- considerably better -- in the public sector on a job-for-job basis.(See accompanying chart.) In the City of San Diego, bankruptcy is the only answer, in my judgment, and some heavyweights are quietly moving into that camp. (The grand jury and a committee appointed by Sanders have already both warned that BK may have to be the answer.) Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 10, 2010 @ 1:14 p.m.

At first, I merely imagined that the well-deserved financial sector wallop of the Crash of 2008 would mostly be restricted to that economic sector, that the Crash was a necessary bloodletting that we would soon recover from, as I imagined that the American economy would just shake that off and continue to march. How wrong I was.

====================== I saw the REO real estate tsunami meltdown coming, but I had no idea it would wipe out the entire economy like it has, no idea.

We can thank one person really-Mr Bubble, aka Alan Greenspan. I would like to whack that clown over the head a few times with a 2x4.

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 2:01 p.m.

Whacking Greenspan would do no good: he is moribund already. Why don't you use that 2x4 on Bernanke, who is hellbent on creating more asset bubbles? Best, Don Bauder

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zuzzette Nov. 10, 2010 @ 3:54 p.m.

I have worked for the City of San Diego for 7 years and in my departmental office there are 11 employees, there were 3 people including myself when I started working there in 2003, there is less work to do now than there was 7 years ago, but there is 8 more people to do the less work. What do we do all week? We go to meetings and meetings about those meeting and metings to discuss why we need a meeting, if it is an important subject we call the meeting a "taskforce meeting". Alot of meeting over the years have been about our job reassignments, which have never occurred, but we still meet and discuss the issue. Oh, why did the office workforce increase from 3 to 11 employees, because we had trainers and training sessions about how to handle our reduced workload, because the city was going to start accepting on-line payments for fines. Seven years later we still have the trainers and training sessions. Sad but True.

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Fred Williams Nov. 10, 2010 @ 7:10 p.m.

A question for Zuzette, boldly defying the ban on city employee communications with the Reader (be careful, please):

Can you tell us how the SAP implementation is going? This new all-in-one system that will finally comply with the SEC orders. What's your take?

Don, my friend, could you find out how much IT sector workers in city employment, whether directly or through shell corporations like San Diego Data Processing outfit..??

I had a classmate who went to work for the city water department as a programmer at better money than I was making in the private sector at the height of the dot com boom years.

What do they make now? (They weren't paid in useless stock options, at least.)

As always, thank you for your continued reporting on the reality (however unpleasant) of our world today, Don.

Best,

Fred

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:20 p.m.

Response to Zuzette: Very sad. And you know what is even sadder? The City is insolvent and nothing has been done about the situation you describe. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 10, 2010 @ 6:11 p.m.

Why don't you use that 2x4 on Bernanke, who is hellbent on creating more asset bubbles?

Bernanke would be #2 on my list-no mistake about it-but Greenspan would be #1.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 10, 2010 @ 6:27 p.m.

What do we do all week? We go to meetings and meetings about those meeting and metings to discuss why we need a meeting, if it is an important subject we call the meeting a "taskforce meeting".

Hahahahha...now that is pretty funny.

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:24 p.m.

Response to SurfPuppy: Yes, but too many people know the feeling. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 4:54 a.m.

It would be funnier if we weren't paying for it.

Actually. it sounds like her department is neck-deep in SAP software issues, which could explain the high productivity in churning out meeting agendas but not in taking in on-line payments...

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 6:37 a.m.

A lot of people working on their computers at home are neck-deep in software issues. No sympathy here. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 10, 2010 @ 7 p.m.

You left out the meeting to reorganize the meeting to reorganize.

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Twister Nov. 10, 2010 @ 7 p.m.

To return to 2006 may well be the popular fantasy, but bubbles are driven by phantasy. PhD's like Greenspun, Berankle, and other experts, and all those sucker enough to follow them, do not get the concept of sufficiency. Come to think of it, none of us do. We prefer to violate the Rules of Nature through which OPTIMAL allocation and exchange of (ALWAYS)SCARCE resources dampens out the hystericaleresis. Take the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, for an analogy (imperfect but illustrative)--all it had to be was adequate, but linear thinking produced a violation of an ignored principle. If we can't trust engineers, how, in God's Name, can we come to trust econometrics? We don' need no stinkin' numbers, man . . .

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:31 p.m.

That would make an interesting study. Once the tech/dot-com bubble burst, how much more did public sector techies make than their private sector counterparts working for stock options, expecting to get filthy rich? I see somebody's Master's thesis or maybe even PhD dissertation. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 10, 2010 @ 9:07 p.m.

I think programming and writing code MAY be one of the few areas the private sector does SLIGHTLY better than the public sector. But who knows-it would be interesting to have hard data on it.

One thing is for sure, all of the unskilled and semi-skilled blue collar government jobs comp MUCH more in the public sector.

I read in the OC Register a few days ago that one of the FF's in the county made $120K in overtime alone. The $120K standing alone would put you in the top 7% in the nation in income-add in the regular pay and benefits costs (another $200K) and the total comp would be in the $300K+ range which is above the 99th percentile nationwide. For a rank and file, semi-skilled, blue collar government employee.

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 6:35 a.m.

That OC FF takes the cake -- $120,000 in overtime alone. Question: what was he doing on overtime? Watching TV? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:27 p.m.

Econometrics -- which unfortunately got very big at UCSD -- was quickly seen to be a path to bad forecasting, if not a fraud. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 10, 2010 @ 8:56 p.m.

Re Don Bauder's posts of 8:27 and 8:31:

Academia is, if not the root of all evil, a major handmaiden. Thanks for Exhibit 1. (Actually, I have a trunkful of such exhibits.) I proclaim that that den of egocentric throatcutters is a Giant Sucking Sound that even Perot the Great failed to detect. I also proclaim that damage control is "job one." It's a natural law.

So pass the idea on to a bright young person not yet dulled by "education," have them start a "think-tank" shell, and write a book. Were I to profess anything (I only proclaim), I would assign all my propagandees the reading of DB's blogs and working on confirming its proclamations. Or is it iderations?

And get their learnin' on Wikipedia, the Gutenberg Project and all the other Open Access stuff that they can while the Internet lasts . . . But most important, in the dog-eat-dog real world. And eschew obfuscation and other bad academic habits like grantsucking and shinin' 'em on on steroids. PhD's are a ripoff, and nobody reads the piles of dissertations anyway.

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 5:10 a.m.

RE "Academia is, if not the root of all evil, a major handmaiden":

This is a little too simplistic for me.

I prefer to think of it as the deliberate improper application of academic theories as used by con-men to defraud people who are awed by overly-complex gimmicks. It does not help when the otherwise ethical academic is hailed as some sort of genius to the public, as part of achieving a sufficient level of mind-numbing complexity in bringing the con to fruition. My best current example of this is the credit default swap, and it appears to be ready for replacement by the ETF.

If academia were the root of all evil, then where would we be without the technological advantages that our five percent of the world's population enjoys over everyone else as the only strategic superpower on this rock?

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 6:41 a.m.

I once again repeat my statement: the essence of white collar fraud is contrived complexity. Why do you suppose lawyers, sociologists, economists, etc. have their own lingo, often impenetrable by those on the outside? Think about it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 6:32 a.m.

I don't think academia is the root of all evil. That honor still goes to love of money. But academia's complete capitulation to those who obsessively love money is certainly responsible for a lot of evil. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:10 p.m.

NOTE TO THE READER'S PROGRAMMER: Is there some reason why the comments are no longer numbered?

In response to a2zresource and DB:

a2zresource: Your post validates my point.

Twister

"Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds," as quoted by Robert Oppenheimer from the Bhagavad-Gita, upon demonstrating the superiority of a technology to end all technology.


DB: Well, how about handmaiden then? Academia has its very roots in fraud, of not only failing to facilitate learning, but ensuring the enshrinement of "knowledge" within the priesthood, the guild, the hierarchy. It's one thing to be a white-collar (is this IRONY or what?) criminal out of belief, a failed upbringing (education again), or mental defect, but quite another to provide, knowingly or indifferently, succor, data, and justification for their evil, asocial schemes.

Let the Ivory Towers come down, the ivy-covered walls crumble, and let a thousand million flowers of learning facilitation bloom, set seed, and regain dominion over the Earth . . . It is not "written," but it is inevitable. "We" can be a part of the solution to the depravity of culture, or we can go with the wave. It is a sine, eh?

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Reader Staff Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:36 p.m.

We've just launched threaded comments, which allow you to reply directly to specific comments rather than having to reference them by name/number. Threaded comments appear on every story and blog published on or after November 10. Numbered, non-threaded comments appear on any story or blog published prior to November 10. You can email us at webadmin@sdreader.com with questions/concerns/comments.

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David Dodd Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:11 p.m.

Excellent improvement. I presume there's a limit for each thread?

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Reader Staff Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:44 p.m.

No limit that we've yet uncovered. Time will tell!

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:50 p.m.

At MyFarce, a comment limit usually prompts me to start a new top-level comment (with a quote of what I am replying to above my response to it)...

Dang... I just admitted to being the last person on MyFarce...

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David Dodd Nov. 11, 2010 @ 3:30 p.m.

You'll find that eventually, the replies will get pushed to the side again and again to where the margin will run out. Be prepared!

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:35 p.m.

Actually, if you were to list society's bad institutions, academia would be low on the list. And if you were to list the good ones, it would be high. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:38 p.m.

RE "Your post validates my point":

If your point is that academia is necessarily evil, then I leave it to Reader readers to decide if your assessment is correct.

My point is that con-men take advantage of the educated as well as the un-educated as long as the con-men can get away with it. On reflection, perhaps we could simply shorten my validation of your point to "caveat emptor" or something similar with no loss of generality?

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:38 p.m.

Maybe the use of "caveat emptor" in our society is still another example of contrived complexity being the essence of white collar fraud. Somebody tells you "caveat emptor" and, not knowing what it means, you jump into a scheme offering 10% returns a week. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:46 p.m.

Then that would be my fault for not taking Latin at USD!

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 8:46 p.m.

"Caveat emptor" is not in the Latin Mass. Try "Dies irae." Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 11, 2010 @ 1:01 p.m.

NOTE TO WEB ADMIN: I don't want to blow my cover by sending you an email. Clicking on "Reply" at your post produces nothing. Same for the next post. References to, for example, "Post 20" mean nothing because no "Post 20" can be found. Apparently the system change wiped them out? Otherwise, the improvement sounds good, but it (or I) may have to be debugged. I anxiously await seen how much better this works than the old system of numbering posts.

Thanks, Twister

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Reader Staff Nov. 11, 2010 @ 1:26 p.m.

Clicking "reply" produces a post-comment box below the comment. Maybe you just need to scroll down?

You can send webadmin (or any other user) an anonymous email by clicking on their user name, then clicking on "Contact [Reader_Web_Admin]."

Understood about "Post 20." Working to clean that up. Bear with us through the transition....

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2010 @ 1:55 p.m.

I don't want to blow my cover by sending you an email. Clicking on "Reply" at your post produces nothing.

I clicked reply on your #29 comment Twister and the box opened up for me.....lets see if it posts.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2010 @ 1:55 p.m.

Yes, it is working for me.....I would like a spell checker too if possible! (since we're working on things)

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David Dodd Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m.

That's an easy fix, SP. Download Firefox (it's free) and use that as a web browser instead of IE. It's not only more stable than IE, there's a built-in spell-check; if you misspell a word it will appear underlined in red the minute you type it. By right-clicking on the misspelled word, Firefox even offers correct spellings (unless you really mangle a word).

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a2zresource Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:45 p.m.

Yes, switching from Internet Exploder to FireFox has been very helpful, although "FireFox" gets flagged as a misspelled word!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2010 @ 3:50 p.m.

I am a creature of habit-that is why Ii have not switched browsers-they All HAVE SPELL CHECK... EXCEPT IE!!!

I know you can download a program for IE for spell check, I just don't know why it is not on it out of the box.....

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 8:47 p.m.

Yes, you could use spell checker, SP. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:40 p.m.

I'm sure the system will be debugged. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 11, 2010 @ 11:20 p.m.

Re: I clicked reply on your #29 comment Twister and the box opened up for me.....lets see if it posts.

By SurfPuppy619 1:55 p.m., Nov 11, 2010 > Reply > Report it

Ok, I clicked on > Reply > but the only box was this one at the end of the "thread," i.e., after:

"I'm sure the system will be debugged. Best, Don Bauder

By dbauder 2:40 p.m., Nov 11, 2010 > Reply > Report it"

That doesn't seem to (intuitively, at least) be in context order, but we'll see where it ends up . . .

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2010 @ 6:52 a.m.

Some things got out of order upon launch. Just hold on. We'll get it fixed. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 11, 2010 @ 11:23 p.m.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I'm not getting a box after clicking on > Reply > . . . I must be missing something.

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a2zresource Nov. 12, 2010 @ 4:26 a.m.

This is just a guess, but it appears that from doing a "mouseover" with the cursor on the "reply" link, there is some Common Gateway Interface-Binary [server-side executable] (CGI-BIN) processing done when clicking on the "reply" link that your web browser security settings may not allow to go to completion? Or maybe it's a browser-specific bug AKA "feature" that still needs addressing by somebody... Like I said, it's just me guessing...

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2010 @ 6:54 a.m.

If an old technophobe like me can get it to work, you can. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2010 @ 6:56 a.m.

I guess I didn't get it to work after all, because I was responding to Twister and it landed in the wrong box. I sure don't know what a2z is talking about. Me: Luddite. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 12, 2010 @ 9:49 p.m.

In "Steamboat "Round the Bend," Will Rogers' lecture about a can opener is still valid. Luddites Unite!

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2010 @ 10 p.m.

I confess I am not familiar with that one. But it sure sounds vindicating to people like me. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 23, 2010 @ 10:37 p.m.

I figger it's futile to fiddle with this string, as it seems to be untoned, but would not a return to 2006 be a return to a bubble?

To what halcyon year could we sustain if we returned to it, even if by mild deflation? Or would we be able to get there via inflation?

Specifics, please.

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2010 @ 3:30 p.m.

In 2006, San Diego's residential real estate bubble was slowly leaking. It had peaked in Nov. 2005. The stock market was in a bubble, as later events proved. The biggest bubble was Wall Street's -- derivatives, other fraudulent instruments being foisted on pension funds. Best, Don Bauder

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