OK, we've all read the headlines over the past few months. We've seen job losses left and right, leaving individuals scrambling for scraps, in the form of whatever few jobs are still available. Manhattan, the city hit worst by the credit crisis, has become a veritable jungle of sorts, with laid-off bankers, lawyers and hedge fund managers (but why stop there?) baring their teeth, clawing at each other and trampling their kin to get first dibs at the bloodied carcass. It's all very Darwinian: Those with the most professional experience and extensive networks (and charisma never hurt anyone) will be rewarded with staying power, and will almost certainly be at the head of the pack in their quest for survival.
Of course (and thankfully), society has put up barriers that prevent humans from sinking to the level of jungle animals, but at times like these, our animalistic tendencies do tend to come out. I'd say it's more like a zoo, with animal instincts coming into play, but with bars and limitations preventing all-out chaos (though Bernie Madoff seems to have evaded such bars for now, at least).
And what of our zoos? We learned this week that even they are not in the clear these days, as states are considering cutting funding for zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. For example, to address a $15.4 billion budget shortfall in New York, Governor Patterson has proposed cutting funding for the above from $9 million to $4 million in 2009, and eliminating funding completely in 2010. Similar efforts are under way in California, Kansas, Florida and Maryland. The Wildlife Conservation Society hasn't wasted any time in producing viral videos to unite supporters against the proposed cuts, which would eliminate educational and outreach programs, cut back on free and reduced-admission hours and close exhibits.
If these cuts do come to fruition, I'd put big money on increased circulation of cute animal videos on YouTube and cheesy websites devoted to the cuteness cause.
This news only makes the zoo analogy that much stronger to the current state of the job market. Perhaps it's fairer to say that zoos are now like investment banks?
--Posted by Naomi Newman, Vault Global Consulting Editor
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