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Wall Street, your corporation and baseball

I’m about 60% through Karen Ho’s book Liquidated- An Ethnography of Wall Street and I think I’ve finally figured out what it is we can’t understand about what Wall Street has been doing to American corporations.  Think baseball.

*WE*, clueless American workers think Wall Street is playing a game of rotisserie baseball where they look at the stats of the teams and their players and they trade and swap the players in order to make up a better line up.  In this ordinary, everyday, American working stiff view of the world, what the players can do is important.  The productivity of the team has value.  Most Americans want to maximize the productivity in homeruns per game because that makes sense.  Teams with more homeruns per game than the other team have winning seasons and lots more fans turn out and they sell more tickets and hot dogs and beers and souvenirs and the team makes the playoffs and everyone benefits.

No.  No, no, no.  That’s not they way Wall Street sees it at all.

Wall Street isn’t trying to optimize the line up.  They are swapping baseball *cards*.  They want the original Honus Wagner and Pie Traynors.  They put an artificial value on the card and swap the cards with each other.  In this scenario, the team doesn’t matter.  The productivity of the team going forward doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that the card still has the shine and gloss on it and that the corners aren’t frayed and the sucker hasn’t got any creases in it.  Your job as a corporate manager is not to make the team more productive.  Your job is to make the card look as attractive as possible to the card swapper.  The reason why you cut and dismantle is not to make the company more efficient and productive.  It’s to package up a product that can be sold to another buyer for the highest possible price.  The value of the product doesn’t have anything to do with the actual productivity of the team.

Now, I’m getting into the nitty-gritty of *why* American corporations are valued less for their productivity and more for their gloss.  It has to do with the temporal nature of the banker’s job on Wall Street.  And at this point in time, it looks like Wall Street workers are the Americans most in need of a union.  At the very least they need an intervention and about 6 months at a spa where they can destress and gain some perspective.

No, I am not kidding.  It’s a mixed up, jumbled up shook up world.

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11 Responses

  1. (reading it now)

    • ( After thinking about things I have or had read in line with Rachel Maddow’s book about how we got where we are, the absolutely fewest I can narrow it down to are a book and two websites. I couldn’t find an email address either because it may not be posted for any passing reader to see it or because Microsoft masks it on this computer. So I offer the comment here and if it is good enough to move to the Rachel Maddow book thread then good or if not, then not.)

      15 or so years ago I read a book by Charles Walters Junior called
      Unforgiven: How America Exchanged Parity War for Parity Agriculture.
      The updated Second edition is called Unforgiven: The American Economic System SOLD For Debt and War. It offers a very detailed and case-made set of reasons not usually advanced as to how our New Deal-WWII economy based on regulated earned profits and wages for every major economic sector was replaced with a rollover-increasing debt-based economy biased towards military employment and production “paid for” with public and private debt issued to cover for missing earned-profits and wages/salaries. One wouldn’t think that the anti agriculture policies instituted starting in 1948 would have anything to do with an ever growing military industrial complex, but Mr. Walters made a very good case that they did and do. I will offer a link to Amazon’s little description, but there are better places to buy it from than Amazon.
      One websource I have randomly visited is David Emory, of Spitfire List and Anti-Fascist Radio/ For The Record. I have heard a few of his broadcasts on the student station here. To radically oversimplify the sum total of hundreds of broadcasts, he strongly documents his belief that America is functionally occupied by the same pro-Nazi elite which helped the Hitler Nazis attain power in Germany in 1934, and that the social-economic elite “biz-nazis” if you will abandoned Germany in 1943 leaving the Germans and the “race-nazis” in place to keep fighting while the “biz-nazis” moved billions of dollars and thousands of key people from Europe to North and South America and Australia to be placed in ready reserve for the coming battles to “biz-nazify” America and the rest of the world. He refers to them as the “Underground Fourth Reich” in America. I suspect a lot of his broadcasts have strong merit but one has to “wear the tinfoil without letting the tinfoil wear you” while handling David Emory material. I will include a link to a particular broadcast I liked as a good example of his potential value.

      The other website is a blog called Rigorous Intuition 2.0 which is an updated version of Rigorous Intuition. Jeff Wells the blogkeeper writes about various power elites and how they interlock and intersect
      to wage their power-pursuit warfare against the societies, particulary America, which they dominate and infest. The tone is best described as measured nonhysterical tinfoil based on many what-I-take to be verifiable facts and theories taking off from there.

      But time is limiting and if one had time for only one of these things, I would suggest getting and reading the Charles Walters book and letting the two websites go unvisited. If all this seems a little too conspiratorial-smelling to see print here, then I will swallow my unhappiness at seeing this post deleted, and not complain here or anywhere else about it. I myself think these sources offer a real guide to where we are and who got us here.

      • sub-reply with links: Charles Walters’s book:http://www.amazon.com/Unforgiven-Charles-Walters/dp/091131167X
        David Emory:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Emory

        Here is the transcript and also the way to listen to a particular broadcast called The Engineer Intends to Wreck The Train, about how
        the Bush deficit was engineered on purpose to bankrupt the government so comprehensively that social security, medicare, etc.; would have to be abolished. I expecially enjoyed an emblematic quote I still remember hearing in the broadcast: “The Bush Administration is the visible nexus of the Underground Fourth Reich in America today.”http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-412-the-engineer-intends-to-wreck-the-train/

        Rigorous Intuition 2.0http://rigint.blogspot.com/

  2. Have you seen the tumblr textsfromhillary?
    So funny.

  3. I remember trying to read many years ago a book by Richard Ney called The Wall Street Jungle … about (among other things) the way that the “Wall Street Community” related to “production Corporate America” the way a tapeworm relates to the host, or the way a vampire bat relates to the large animal target. I had trouble understanding it but he did seem to get down to methods and cases.http://www.hermes-press.com/neyint.htm

  4. ( to Nakajima Kikka . . .

    I just ran across a strange and disturbing little blogpost called: “What if the Peak Oil movement isn’t about Peak Oil? ” It appears to describe accurately the nearterm reality we see unfolding and talks about somebody who seems to have predicted it this way in a post on The Oil Drum. Was the predicter lucky or good? And what should we be preparing for then? )

  5. Love this tweet from Steve Martin:

    Steve Martin ‏ @SteveMartinToGo Close
    So beautiful today in New York. Each leaf on every tree bloomed with life. Every person wore a friendly smile. I wish I had been there.

  6. So many books, so little time. This one sounds like it should be front-of-the-lined ahead of many others.

    I can’t help remembering that there are bussinesses and entire industries committed to the pursuit of terracidal evil . . . Wall Street aside. I am thinking of the coal and oil industry in particular, all of whose participants are devoted to mining or pumping oil or coal to be combined with atmospheric oxygen leaving atmospheric carbon dioxide in its place. This process is driving global warming to the next stage of global heating and global scorching after that, leaving large parts of the planet to be sterile Venusian hellscapes within historical time. This is just as true of Wall Street Immune private corporations like Koch Industries as it is of Wall Street vulnerable corporations like
    Exxon.

    Nor can we forget our old friend the cigarrette industry, which marched to riches on a road of lung cancer victims’ bones. That has nothing to do with Wall Street. I suppose the moral is that one can have many enemies at the same time, and any one of those enemies can destroy us unless we destroy them first.

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