Sunday, March 29, 2009
I can't seem to escape that word these days. It starts with the letter o, and ends with the letter e. In case you just returned to planet earth from a distant galaxy, it's "Outrage." Merriam-Webster defines it as "An act that violates standards of behavior." We can't seem to get a break from politicians being outraged, the press-core being outraged and private interest groups being outraged over AIG bonuses, General Motors bailout fiasco, Bernard Madoff, the financial wizardry of Wall Street and the increasing failure of "Capitalism."
Bernard Madoff and his Ponzi Buddies did not steal enough money. They should have stolen a trillion dollars and then some. When the "ten-percenters" allow the two-man council to run everything then that's the price they should pay.
During the go-go good old days when the economic mafia, the academic mafia, the political mafia and of course the media mafia and their pundits enjoyed the spoils that membership in the 10% ownership club of American conferred on them, there was no outrage to be had. But now that mathematical magic brought down the house of cards created on Wall Street, it seems that everyone and their grandma is outraged in the name of the ordinary taxpayer. Well, I'm tired of the ten-percenters being outraged in my name.
Now that AIG and so many other firms are partially owned by the federal government, one would think that fair hiring practices would be put in place. These practices would ensure that those who are otherwise locked out from these lucrative jobs will now have a fair chance to participate in the selected club when the economy recovers, but no. The Federal Government and its ineptitude, lacked the gravitas to secure board representation on AIG's Board of Directors. This means that the same people who caused this financial calamity will continue to reap the benefits in good and bad times at our expense.
Sometimes during financial transactions, stocks are bought on "margin." This means that stocks are purchased on loans from brokers to be repaid at predetermined intervals or when these stocks are sold at a profit. "Margin Call" means that a stock broker requires a client to bring a margin account up to a certain level by depositing more money into that account. Like margin buys and calls, the consent to govern in a Democratic society is marginal. i.e., we the citizen-politic decides how we want to be governed and to what extent.
Although the economic mafia, the academic mafia and the communication mafia (Media) govern from the Divine Right of Kings playbook, that governance is marginal. I see no reason why millions of New Yorkers are not in the streets of lower Manhattan peacefully "calling" the manner in which we have been governed into question until things change. The Bretton-Woods style of capitalism is only working for 10% of the population.
The remaining 90% are left empty-handed no matter how diligent they toil. This is feudalism all over again. It's time for the body-politic to place that "Margin Call." The body politic in past times rejected feudalism and it also rejected slavery. Why is Capitalism allowed to stand when only 10% of citizens benefit, while 90% are left in the cold? When will we gather the courage and strength to place that "Margin Call on the Capitalism?"
Monday, March 23, 2009
The outrage and anger is thick enough, that it can be cut with a knife. Citizens far and wide are demanding the list of employees from American International Greed (AIG) who wrestled bonuses from the government's bailout program.
Now that these companies are owned by the tax payers, I want a list of a different kind. I want a list detailing the following: the total number of employees who are employed in the New York and Connecticut offices, the top one hundred managers, and most importantly, the composition of the work force, i.e., women, men, Black, Latino etc. Because AIG is now a government entity, the citizen-politic can demand fair hiring practices in line with not state, but Federal law.
This is the perfect opportunity to find qualified minorities who otherwise would never make it pass the glass and steel facade of these corporations. As the great Aristotle once said, "When an elephant is down, even an ant will kick him." This is a great opportunity to move in on the elephant and literally get qualified minorities in, before AIG returns to being a private entity where the ten percent club calls the shots.
Real wealth is a concept of the the past. Today, one's life which includes health insurance, retirement benefits and quality of life, is wholly determined by one's line of work or career. Many corporations functions as well organized mafia organizations in plain sight. Now that many of them are owned by the Federal Government, this an opportunity for outsiders. When the economy bounces back, the ordinary citizen needs to be part of it. Never has there been a more perfect opportunity to dismantle the 10% Club.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We cannot escape the call from various corners of society to vent some type of frustration or righteous indignation. It seems within the last few weeks the call to join the throngs of dejected citizens grows louder with each passing day and each new Wall Street Scandal.
Should we the citizen-politic continue to voice our anger and frustration at say AIG, Bernard Madoff, General Motors and other Bailout Babies and thieves? During the Go Go days of the 90/10 Rule i.e, ten percent owning 90% of the wealth, power and decision making, no one cared about the average worker.
In fact, conservative talk show host vehemently criticized any measure designed to help the American worker. Tax reform, health care reform and most social programs were viewed as clever government efforts designed to take money away from hardworking Americans and give it away to poor lazy people. This philosophy echoed by Rush Limbaugh and many other conservatives is nothing more than double speak aimed at Black and Brown People. Although the largest percentage of welfare recipients are poor white single mothers who reside in the middle of the country, Blacks and Hispanics bear the brunt of conservative outrage.
Now that the country is in a self created financial mess they seek our angst. The average worker was asked to accept less and less from American corporations during the last decade. Any questions asked by him was met with a "stiff no" for a response. Only Chief Executive Officers and other members of the 10% club were allowed full membership.
This financial crisis is an opportunity to take back the country and a vibrant opportunity for the working class to reassert itself. We should avoid getting too emotionally involved. We were locked out during the good old days and now they want us to be upset. In my opinion, Bernard Madoff did not steal enough. Hevesi's good old pals did not siphon enough money from the New York State Pension fund.
I was utterly disappointed that former State Comptroller Hevesi's two-man crew made off with only a few million dollars New York State's Pension Fund. Those thieves should have destroyed the entire fund that they stole from. They, the ruling class has established the limited council of control. Let the financial chickens that they created roost where they belong.
I happen to like David Brooks, a brilliant New York Times contributor. However, the Times like so many other Pseudo Donkeys got it wrong with the endless outrage for American Incompetence and Greed (AIG). There are many axes to grind from those who are screaming murder with Wall Street Chief Executive Officers who by virtue of their jobs, are entitled to whatever they desire, while ignoring the very capitalist market response that they bow to.
The moral outrage can be summed up on these two fronts: Moral outrage just for the hell of it. For most people, their moral outrage with AIG's behavior emerges from the tea leaves of the bonuses themselves, or the 90/10 rule. The 90/10 is a new capitalism phenomena that asserts the following: Only ten percent or a very small percentage of society deserves the spoils of life. This theory and practice has served to eliminate whole sections of the American body-citizen and the Democratic ideals that they adhere to.
Left out of the fray on the Sunday Morning political talk shows is another outrage, unearthed last week, by New York State investigative officials. Two top advisers of Alan Hevesi, former state comptroller, had their way with $122 billion dollars of state pension funds in a pay-to-play scheme. The 123 count indictment that followed is by state prosecutors is a "damn joke."
We have grown accustomed by now, to these gargantuan figures. What's even more troubling about rumors and evidence of financial slight-of-hand, is the small number of people who benefit, ruin and control them. What many citizens are becoming more weary of, is the creation and expansion of an economic mafia. A small group of mostly old men and women who determine who eats, when they eat and how much they eat, literally. Th AIG bonus scam is quietly awakening the common sense in us, while slowly washing away the braying donkeys in the press, government and other institutions, whose commentary serves to do nothing more than reinforce the status-quo.
We are on the verge of a much needed uprising of some sort. Calling for the rubbing out of Chief Executive Officers and their families is counter to the ideals of freedom and Democracy and the rule of law, but something needs to be done. That something cannot and should not be left in the hands of politicians from either side of aisle,political pundits or the media. For they represent the dangerous and out of control pseudo donkey of our society. The one voice and minority ideology that contends: Only they know what's best for us and when.
As I listened to those who believe that things will get better and the economy will recover, the question remains, for who? The same 90% that wins all the time.
It is time for the people to stand up and take back what is rightly theirs. Dignity, a fair wage, stability and a larger piece of the pie than the 90/10 rule that has been shoe-horned down our collective throats. If that action leads to uncharted territory, then so be it. Capitalism, like other political systems that it usurped needs a major overhaul, and it needs that overhaul today. Not next week, next month, or next year, but right this minute. This once revered system has quietly turned into a dinosaur. How much more ruin, dreams stolen and souls displaced must we tolerate, before we insert the balance that is needed to safeguard and guarantee the equality that is desperately needed.
Friday, March 13, 2009
The idea of merit has been hailed as one of the hallmarks of democracy, freedom, upward mobility and career enhancements. Those who have excelled based on merit are often Gods of self righteousness. Examining the current financial crisis, the golden parachutes given to failed executives and one quickly realizes that merit is nothing more than rules created by the powerful elite to restrict climbing underclassmen.
What's even more dangerous is hordes of honest and talented individuals who are being brain washed about merit. Conversations these days can't seem to escape the Bernard Madoffs of this world. The question remains, "Would anyone of us have acted differently given similar circumstances?"
This world is nothing more than what it has always been. "A dog eat dog world." It's every man for himself! As Hobbes once said "Life is Nasty, Brutish and Short."
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Should you really remain on a job for a minimum of six months before moving on the next assignment? It's a question that many employees are quietly pondering during these tough economic times. The answer depends on who you are and where you are in your career.
Six months or more represents stability or does it? It is a well known fact that employers spend a pretty penny training new employees. Therefore, if someone has a history of short stints, potential employers might be weary of hiring them.
If you fall into this bracket and you do not want to pass up a great opportunity, you can simply delete assignments that are less than six months. With a record number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, this is a great explanation to account for periods of unemployment. Time is critical in landing your dream assignment. Don't pass up a once in a life time opportunity simply because you want to conform to an academic schema.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Habits are behavior that require little or no thought. No matter who you are, you probably have some habits that are less than desirable. So what happens if you've been laid off from an old job where your bad habits were tolerated and now you're forced to confront them in a new less desirable job?
For starters, don't beat yourself up too much. What makes us unique is the good and not so good in us. Procrastination may sometimes feel like a weight around your neck. If you're in a leadership position, that procrastination could provide you with extra time to think of more innovative ideas for your department. If you must break some of your old habits, simply replacing them with a new one is probably the best way to go. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Separating yourself from the stimulus produced by that not so good habit is yet another step in the right direction.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
So much has been written and debated about President Obama's stimulus plan, that I am forced to weigh in. The huge gripe stems from two main issues: President Bush's tax cuts will be allowed to expire and employees earning $250,000.00 will see a tax increase.
The real issue here is a gigantic income and wealth inequality in America. While I'm not advocating socialism, or a command economy, those who make more should pay more. With 90% of the country's wealth held tightly in the hands of the top ten percent of citizens, there is a real problem in this country. I'm not sure how we should pay for two wars and many other essentials in this country.
The Republican philosophy advocates a nation with a few wealthy patrons and massive poverty everywhere else. We've seen the disaster that significant spending cuts by average citizens has on the economy and still, conservative Republicans are raving mad about taxes. Conservatives are entitled to their opinions but not their own facts.
Finally, the Government should not prop up the failing auto industry. Americans do not buy American cars in drove anymore. Why prop up a dinosaur auto industry that the car buying public has and continues to ignore in larger numbers quarter after quarter?
A trillion dollar stimulus package to Detroit will not change consumer's perception of American cars. Consumers simply want safe, reliable products that work. That's it, nothing more. The Japanese has proven over the last three decades that they are capable of designing cars that the world swears by in droves.
Detroit for some strange reason, did not get the message. Although there has been some improvement, the car buying public continues to ignore their product year after year. Hardworking citizens will not now, start buying American cars if their design and engineering sucks. Patriotism is out the window when hard dollars are at stake.