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Random thots

Pretty busy lately.  Will show pics of my new screen porch at some point.  In the meantime, I’m trying to catch up with the news.  So, here are my random thots.

Syria- NOW we want to bomb the shit out of Syria??  A couple of years ago when Assad’s forces were picking off little kids in the streets of Homs we couldn’t be bothered.  But when they pull out the chemical weapons we get our knickers in a twist?  Syria isn’t like Libya.  At least in Libya, there was an endpoint.  A deft touch of air power was all it took to bring down the regime.  In Syria, who knows what it will take?  In any case, if we were going to deter Assad, it probably would have been better to catch it early.  At this point in time, it just looks like another clever way to get around the sequester for the wealthy and well connected, in this case, the defense industry.

And don’t stick that fricking “If we don’t support the president’s actions in Syria, it’ll be the end of Obama’s presidential career” guilt trip shit on us.  You know what will permanently tarnish his legacy and make him the least effective president ever?  If he can’t restore food stamp funding.  Yeah, that and high unemployment sucks and has been going on for too long.

Harvard business school has conducted an experiment in the past couple of years to make the place more equitable for women.  I’m not sure HBS was entirely successful.  But whatever.  Gender equity is the least of its problems.  It’s a horror story of American aristocracy simultaneously distancing itself from the rest of us while figuring out newer ways to take over everything.  Chilling.  Depressing.  Places like HBS shouldn’t exist.

Speaking of unemployment, it turns out that cutting wages to the science community was not an accident.  Nooooo.  It was a plan that Alan Greenspan floated in 2007:

Allowing more skilled workers into the country would bring down the salaries of top earners in the United States, easing tensions over the mounting wage gap, Greenspan said.

“Our skilled wages are higher than anywhere in the world,” he said. “If we open up a significant window for skilled workers, that would suppress the skilled-wage level and end the concentration of income.”

Thank you, Alan for murdering the American R&D infrastructure.  It will never be the same in our lifetimes.

Other stuff:

I started taking the bus to work.  Thumbs up to the East Busway.  Thumbs down to the people who decided to cut service to the eastern suburbs once you get off the east busway.  Stranding people in Wilkinsburg because the last bus to Oakmont leaves at something like 6:30pm, not very wise, especially considering how packed the Oakmont bus is all of the time.  Otherwise, I can’t complain about the buses.

Alan Greenspan: Who could have predicted?

Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress today that he had no idea that Wall Street tycoons would abuse the system:

Greenspan was the head of the Federal Reserve for 18 1/2 years. In testimony prepared for the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, he voiced shock over the present turn of events and called conditions deplorable.

He said that he and others who believed lending institutions would do a good job of protecting their shareholders are in a “state of shocked disbelief”. And Greenspan also blamed the problems on heavy demand for securities backed by subprine mortgages by investors who did not worry that the boom in home prices might come to an end.”

Ok, I have to stop right there for a second. The subprime mortgage problem was *completely* predictable. Alan Greenspan worked his ass off to keep inflation low and one surefire way to do it is to depress wages. When mortgages are skyrocketing and wages increase by a lousy 3% for year after year, what else can we expect but that people eventually won’t be able to afford the house they live in? How could he not know that the most productive workers in the world haven’t benefitted from their productivity in the past 20 years? He set the conditions for it.

And as for investors not looking out for shareholders, well, that comes as a bit of a shock but shouldn’t be surprising when human nature isn’t held in check by regulation. But Alan, self-actualized, Ayn Randian, Greenspan didn’t think that the finance industry should be forced to play by the rules of the rest of society. It might inhibit creativity. So, now we have some extremely creative players who found out-of-the-box ways to lose our money. But at least they were allowed to live freely without conformity.

And Greenspan is *shocked* that investors would go gangbusters and be selfish and greedy? Really? I thought that was the point.