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Tips for Adapting to the New Global Economic Reality

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

By now, it should be pretty clear to anyone with even the faintest pulse that regardless of who ends up winning any future elections, they aren't going to change your personal economic reality quickly enough to suit your liking. And that's only if they even manage to find the courage to sufficiently cut through all the lobbyists and special interests to implement any significant ideas at all -- which is unlikely in all cases. Forget relying on politicians to determine your fate. Take charge of your own situation. Here's how:

1. Don't wait around for employment. Create it for yourself. The relationship between work and pay has been so corrupted by entitlements that our society has lost sight of the basic formula for survival. Figure out what you think your time, education, skills and experience are worth, slap a price on it, then get out there and sell yourself. Research market demands, then decide how your skills can best serve them. Don't wait around for someone to give you money to start a business -- start small, grow organically and re-invest any profits back into the business. Don't worry about starting from scratch with very little -- everything has to start with a first step. You may as well invest in yourself. A new study by the National Employment Law Project has found that 58 percent of new jobs created during the recovery are "low-paying," as in under $13.83 per hour, anyway. If your time is worth more, then start demanding it. While no one is paying your way, you aren't beholden to anyone either. You're totally free. Partner with other independent contractors like yourself when you need to. No one ends up leaching off anyone else. The flipside though is that you can't ask to get paid not to work, but you can vacation whenever you want.

2. Look abroad. America's shop floor is now in China. The likelihood of any American politician slapping adequate export duties on any goods made there to level the playing field is slim-to-none. And despite Mitt Romney constantly calling Russia a "geopolitical foe" or variation thereof, the country joined the World Trade Organization on August 22. As much as politicians spout protectionism, it just doesn't reflect reality. Increasingly, barriers to doing business abroad are dissolving completely. Why not look to the opportunities available to you outside the U.S.? Research another culture. Learn a new language, or even move overseas -- which many countries make easy for the self-employed. At no other time in the history of the world has technology provided the average person with greater access to the world market.

3. Ignore Wall Street. Just opt out of it completely. "But that's impossible!" you say. No, it really isn't -- just as it's not impossible to avoid gambling at your local casino. Just keep your money away from both. How complicated is it to spend only what you earn? When you earn less, you spend less. And when you earn more, you don't go gamble it away on Wall Street or anywhere else. You put it in a no-risk bank account. How much of a "return" have you ever made investing on Wall Street anyway? Likely little-to-none. There's no magical formula here, despite what financial advisers might try to sucker you into. You work; you get money; and you spend only what you earn. Before you hit rock-bottom, you step away from the ATM and go watch television or work some more. You don't buy a house you can't afford, and you rent until you can.

4. Make sure your kids are ready for reality. Tell them while they're still in primary school that they're going to have to find a way to pay for college themselves, lest they be stuck in a minimum-wage job for the rest of their lives. That means that, instead of excelling at Xbox playing, Facebook status updating, tweeting or Twinkie face-stuffing, they'll have to find something college scholarship worthy, like sports or academics. Make them think about all of the things they dream of having, and then ask them what kind of education they plan to pursue to pay for it all. If, for example, they hope to buy Ferraris and have five kids after earning a philosophy degree, then ask them to show you how that math works. The imposition of this critical-thinking effort will save parents having to wade through crowds of protesters on Wall Street to find their kid when he later decides to act out in order to fill the massive discrepancy between his expectations and reality.

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