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      So, May has a Brexit deal. It’s a terrible deal, which makes the UK subject to many EU laws, and which doesn’t allow Britain to withdraw from the deal if the EU doesn’t want it to. This has caused ministerial resignations, and Corbyn has come out against it. But the interesting part is what the […]
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Thursday: Just get it done

Just Get It Done!

Those of us who live in the corporate world by day are coming to the slow realization that getting anything done in the era of outsourcing is becoming next to impossible.  The functions we once depended on are now being performed by mysterious outside groups who offer an off the shelf service that is not tailored to our specific needs or are so hobbled by the need to keep information secret that they can’t help us without contacting an inside third party or complicated by the redirection to new training requirements that must take place before we are able to perform an operation that used to take seconds but will now take hours.  We are scolded by snippy business types who can not possibly fathom why the people in R&D have not wasted hours and hours of our time to master the arcane minutiae and non-intuitive “user” interfaces for their business units, as if there were no other task more important.  Contractors are former employees hired back at vastly reduced salaries with concomittantly vastly reduced incentive for extending themselves even one nanometer outside of the tortured definition of services to help us with our problem or are disembodied voices with southern accents (I’m guessing Georgia) who do not make the effort to contact us at home during Christmas break to tell us our credit card info in our personal profiles (that THEY entered) is incorrect and the flight we thought we booked is now $800 over budget.  (Thank you very much, Billy Bob)

So much for cost saving measures.  Look guys, we don’t have time for this crap.  Just get it done.

The same goes for Congress.  I am getting tired trying to figure out what version of Kabuki theatre we are playing today.  Are the Republicans going to spend the next two years on focus grouped cultural issues because they know their base voters are senior citizens on limited incomes who watch Fox, are not employed and grew up in an era when women’s lives were constricted, gays were still in the closet and communities were as homogenous as vanilla milkshakes or are they going to block any measure to help regular Americans get back to work so they can blame Obama for the poor economy in 2012? (I’m guessing both)  Are the Democrats going let Republicans hang themselves and concede every mean spirited measure to them so Republicans can take the blame in 2012?  Is anyone going to step up and take responsibility for anything or are they are in it together to force some shock doctrine austerity plan on us so that the small evil group without any national fealty to whom they report doesn’t have to cough up any more money of their own?

In case you weren’t paying attention to the voters in 2006, 2008, 2010, we are losing our patience.  That doesn’t mean we are all panicking.  It means we don’t have time for this crap.  It makes us peevish and unpredictable. If you panic us, you may get something you did not expect. But don’t think we aren’t paying attention to who is doing what to whom.  We see the faux drama and we see the results and we are not amused.  You congresspersons are supposed to report to US, the citizens of the United States, not Dubai or the Caymen Islands.  Quit screwing around and get it done.

In the news:

The readers of the Washington Post were paying attention yesterday when the Post put up a poll asking readers to rate issues they wanted the new Congress to tackle and “jobs” was not among them.  Nor were several other issues like bringing the financial industry to heel or fixing the mortgage crisis.  You know, stuff that the average hard working American, who does not live in the swank suburbs around the beltway, actually cares about.  Eventually, in response to the pages and pages of comments in protest, WaPo relented and added Jobs but did not reset the poll results so the numbers were skewed.  The Republican talking points continued to nest at the top.  Way to go, guys.  “Non scientific poll” indeed.

Obama is replacing Rahm Emannuel with William Daley, who is currently employed by J. P. Morgan Chase.  Because having Rahm beating up the left on a daily basis wasn’t enough?  I only ask.

{{sigh}}

Natasha Chart pointed me in the direction of this American Prospect post that in turn refers me to an article in the Atlantic about how the wealthy see the rest of us wage slaves.  (Hmmm, Global Elites should really be issued their own passports identifying them as not citizens of any country and therefore not entitled to any country’s protections.  Sounds like a fair deal to me in exchange for disenheriting American children born to illegal housekeepers and landscapers.)  This gels with the other study referenced in the New York Times titled “The Rich Lack Empathy” (and water is wet)  about how rich people are less empathic people because they don’t have to be.  In other words, if you’re a working class bloke, you have to be nicer to people to get them to do things for you.  Business units might keep that in mind next time they need the inventors to come up with some get rich quick product.

Speaking of inventorship, I sympathize with Peter Daou and James Boyce in their suit against Arianna Huffington over the genesis of the HuffingtonPost.  You have no idea how hard it is to get on a patent when a chemist who uses your ideas wants it all to himself like some spoiled child clutching his toy screaming, “MINE!, MINE!, MINE!”  Then there’s the documentation and lab notebooks and powerpoint slides and time stamps and endless meetings with lawyers.  Been there, done that.  For what it’s worth, I’m siding with Boyce and Daou on this one.  In my best, “I am not a lawyer” mode, I find argument that the pieces that were proposed and assembled were not unique or innovative to be specious.  The functional groups on a new drug entity are also not unique.  They occur in nature, er, naturally.  It is how they are put together and whether they solve a problem not previously addressed that makes them new creations.  I think we can all agree that HuffPo filled a need that did not previously exist on the left.  Well, some may argue that it *still* doesn’t serve that need but it is without a doubt a huge success and if it didn’t have this quasi libertarian Clinton Derangement Syndrome side effect, probably not intended by its creators, it would be a great addition to the left blogosphere.

But what can you expect from Arianna Huffington, whose former husband spent a king’s ransom for a senate seat he did not win?  I would have graciously cut Boyce and Daou in for a share of the immense wealth the site has generated. It must really burn their oatmeal that Breitbart is taking credit.   Even a token million or two would have been sufficient.  It’s a way to say, “Thank You”.  But then, I am an empathic working class person, not Arianna Huffington, who only kisses the asses of the people wealthier than her.

Podcast for the day: Melvyn Bragg of In Our Time has a two part series on the Industrial Revolution.  These podcasts are frequently entertaining when Bragg impatiently tells his guests to get to the point.  I think part 2, Consequences of the Industrial Revolution, is more relevant to our present day events as Bragg and his guests discuss the impact of the industrial revolution on society in general and tease out why it is so important for industrialists that religion remain the “opiate of the masses”.  Stick with it.  There’s some meaty goodness there.

And now, for something completely beautiful.  Anaheim Ballet has a youtube channel where they showcase the elegance coupled with strength of ballet.  Here’s a video of athletic loveliness.

 

 

 

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Epiphanies: My Dawning Realizations about Barack Obama

Dawning realization

Epiphany: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment

Yesterday, Riverdaughter suggested that we make this “Epiphany Weekend” at TC. The idea is to look back over the past couple of years and recall the epiphanies that we had early on that made us so highly skeptical about Barack Obama as a candidate for President.

For me, the very first wake-up call I had about Obama was this diary at Dailykos way back in September 2005. In the diary, then Senator Obama lectured the Kos community about “tone, truth, and the Democratic Party,” which defending Democratic Senators who had voted to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court. In the diary Obama strongly criticized people at Dailykos and other liberal blogs who wanted Congressional Democrats to stand up for Democratic principles and stop rolling over for Bush on every issue. (I have used bold type to highlight a couple of sections.)

According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda….

I think this perspective misreads the American people. From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon. They don’t think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent. They don’t think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game to the detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs. They don’t think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated, are worried that we have unnecessarily alienated existing and potential allies around the world, and are ashamed by events like those at Abu Ghraib which violate our ideals as a country.

It’s this non-ideological lens through which much of the country viewed Judge Roberts’ confirmation hearings. A majority of folks, including a number of Democrats and Independents, don’t think that John Roberts is an ideologue bent on overturning every vestige of civil rights and civil liberties protections in our possession. Instead, they have good reason to believe he is a conservative judge who is (like it or not) within the mainstream of American jurisprudence…

In the rest of the diary, Obama attempted to make a case for the kind of “consensus-building” we have been watching since he moved into the White House–the kind where the Democrats compromise their values ahead of time and continue to compromise them in the face of Republican (and Blue Dog) objections.

Let me be clear: I am not arguing that the Democrats should trim their sails and be more “centrist”…. Too often, the “centrist” label seems to mean compromise for compromise sake, whereas on issues like health care, energy, education and tackling poverty, I don’t think Democrats have been bold enough. But I do think that being bold involves more than just putting more money into existing programs and will instead require us to admit that some existing programs and policies don’t work very well. And further, it will require us to innovate and experiment with whatever ideas hold promise (including market- or faith-based ideas that originate from Republicans).

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will. This is more than just a matter of “framing,” although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required. It’s a matter of actually having faith in the American people’s ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.

Of course Obama never made clear what “core values” he would be willing to stand up for.

Reading this diary was my first wake-up call–it gave me my first real clues to who Obama really was. Before that, my only impressions of him were based on the speech he had given at the 2004 Democratic. He had come across to me as really smooth and slick, but nothing he said in the speech was really earth-shaking and none of it was memorable enough to stick with me. Still, I think I my overall impression was positive. But after reading Obama’s Kos diary, I my impression of him started to turn more negative. Continue reading

The sh&t is really hitting the fan at the progblogs!

This has been building for a long time, and it seems like we’ve finally reached a tipping point. The prog blogs are in an uproar! Of course Glenn Greenwald has seen Obama for what he is for awhile now, but today he’s really letting it all hang out. Just watch this appearance on MSNBC (h/t Jane Hamsher at FDL):

From Greenwald’s latest post: White House as helpless victim on healthcare

From the start, assuaging the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries was a central preoccupation of the White House — hence the deal negotiated in strict secrecy with Pharma to ban bulk price negotiations and drug reimportation, a blatant violation of both Obama’s campaign positions on those issues and his promise to conduct all negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN). Indeed, Democrats led the way yesterday in killing drug re-importation, which they endlessly claimed to support back when they couldn’t pass it. The administration wants not only to prevent industry money from funding an anti-health-care-reform campaign, but also wants to ensure that the Democratic Party — rather than the GOP — will continue to be the prime recipient of industry largesse.

But where will they get the votes to stay in office?

Then Greenwald quotes Russ Feingold from The Hill:

“This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” said Feingold. “I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect.”

Ah…the Schadenfreude… We tried so hard to warn them…

Back to Greenwald:

Yet numerous Obama defenders — such as Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein and Steve Benen — have been insisting that there is just nothing the White House could have done and all of this shows that our political system is tragically “ungovernable.” After all, Congress is a separate branch of government, Obama doesn’t have a vote, and 60 votes are needed to do anything. How is it his fault if centrist Senators won’t support what he wants to do?

Is there something wrong with me? I’ve gotten to the point where I’m actually laughing about this ghastly mess. I know it’s tragic, but it has gotten so bad that it’s like a horror movie that is so bad, you can’t help laughing at the gore splattering all over the place.

Here is a sampling of the writings of other outraged and disillusioned former Obots.

Jane Hamsher: Robert Gibbs Says Howard Dean is Irrational for Opposing LieberCare (Yes, she has been awake for awhile now too, but why was she banning everyone who questioned Obama back when we could have done something about it?)

From the Big Cheeto:

Even McJoan is finally upset

The White House Lashes Out At Howard Dean

Get this–the commenters are talking about electing Howard Dean in 2012, “after all, if Nixon could make a comeback….”

Barack Obama, Inc., by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks

At Open Left, Adam Bink The Dangers of Deal Making (Isn’t he the guy who virtually led the Obamabot attack at the Cheeto last year?)

At TPM: Poll: Loss Of Public Option Causes Big Increase In Opposition To Health Care Bill

Josh writes:

A NBC/WSJ poll is coming out tonight that shows a substantial spike in opposition to the Health Care bill. And the internals show the movement is mainly from liberals disappointed in the the decision to drop the Public Option.

How it must have hurt him to write those words!

And at Huffpo, the president and publisher of Harpers Magazine writes: More and More, Obama Seems a Faux Liberal

Ya think?

I knew this day would come, but I never expected it to come in Obama’s first year! Feel free to add your own Schaedenfreude links in the comments. {still can’t stop laughing}

What will it take for Koolaid drinkers to finally accept reality?

Some still refuse to see the truth

Some still refuse to see the truth

The Obama administration’s betrayals of liberalism are ubiquitous. Has he ever kept a single one of his campaign promises? They could hardly be called promises anyway, since Obama had such a long history of voting “present” before he ran for President. Way back in January, 2008, I was asking Obama supporters to name an issue that he really cared about enough to stand and fight.

I never got a clear answer–because Obama never made those kinds of commitments. He was always wishy-washy and all over the place when it came to important issues. Yet we are still seeing passionate Obama supporters who fail to deal with this reality. Here are three examples of Obama administration betrayals that I found today in about 10 minutes of ‘net surfing.

Outrage #1

Long-time Obama stooge and Huffpo columnist Sam Stein reports today that unnamed “Hill aides” have complained to him that the votes for the public option would be there in the Senate if only President Obama would step up and fight for its inclusion in the health care reform bill.

“There is a clear sense that it would be helpful,” said one senior Democratic aide. “Throughout this entire debate the White House line has been ‘We will weigh in when it is necessary’…. Well now we need 60 votes. So if it’s not necessary now, then when will it be?”

“I think folks in general in Congress were looking to the president to clearly define his feeling on the issue,” another aide said. “And I don’t think he has done that on the public option from the get-go… With a lot of senators nervous because of elections or other political dynamics, it would be helpful for the president to send a strong signal that this is what he wants in the final bill.”

Let me get this straight. There are still people working for U.S. Senators who actually believe that Obama supports the inclusion of a public option in the bill?! And these morons are helping to run our government? No wonder things are so f**ked up! These “Hill aides” need to put down the Koolaid glass and step away from the punch bowl. Time for a reality check. Obama doesn’t care about the public option. He will only accept one if it is either completely neutered or forced on him. Pull up your britches and fight for it yourself! Continue reading

Chuck Schumer Might Need to Watch His Back

You tell 'em, Chuck!

You tell 'em, Chuck!

Wow! In an interview with Huffington Post over the long weekend, Chuck Schumer said that with Franken seated, there is no more need for compromise on health care legislation.

Schumer offered a detailed and frank assessment of the political landscape of the current health care debate. Predicting that the final bill will include a public plan, he painted the Republican Party as rigid to a fault when it comes to negotiations.

“This is where we are going to end up,” he said of a health care overhaul that included a public plan. “And I think, it would be much better for the Senate Finance Committee if we did it in the committee… I think the Senate HELP committee compromised already, because you have a lot of members on the HELP committee who would’ve liked [the public option] to be much closer to Medicare. The idea seems to be catching everybody’s imagination, and sense of fairness. And the only holdouts are sort of ideologues on the Republican side of this saying no government involvement whatsoever.”

Schumer didn’t add, but I will that we have a President who is too wimpy to stand up to the Republicans and fight for a public option and who opposes singer payer because it would “suddenly upend” the current health care system.

Back to Schumer:

“My bottom-line criteria is that it has to be strong, national, and available to everyone on day one, to keep the insurance companies honest and I’m not sure we can get there,” Schumer said. “I’ve been talking to [Sen.] Olympia [Snowe] about this,” he added, referring to the trigger option’s main proponent in the Senate, “but I’m not sure we can bridge that gap.”

Similarly critical remarks were offered for the idea of replacing a public plan with health care co-ops, which Schumer described as insufficient and unpractical.

“[Sen. Chuck] Grassley hasn’t closed the door, but it seems in general that his model of co-op is little co-ops popping up like they do in farm country,” he said. “And the model that we are saying we need is they have to be strong, national and available everywhere from the first day. And I think we are very far apart on this.”

I wonder if the Senator from New York has discussed this with the big boss. Hasn’t Obama been making noises about compromising on the public option in order to get Republication votes? And then when people keep complaining, “expressing concern” about grass roots effort to get single payer health care?

Can Schumer withstand the presidential blowback? I just hope he sticks to his guns, even after Obama returns from his latest trip and starts talking about compromise and trying his best to make sure his buddies in the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are well taken of. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I do have hope.

And maybe Shumer has been hearing from his constitutents. Today’s Washington Post has an interesting on-line post by Doug Feaver on the views of “health-care lobbyists vs. real people

Our Readers Who Comment are nearly unanimous this morning in condemning the news that more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress are lobbying for major health-care firms in the legislative attempts to reform the broken system.

Feaver provides a sampling of reader responses. Here are a few examples:

sashab1 wrote, “…Single-payer, universal health care is the only reform that will actually work. The insurance industry is going to water down the public option until it won’t work, and they will be back in business (and we will be wringing our hands again) in a couple of years.”

lionelroger predicted that “Obama will most certainly be a one-termer if he falls in with a corrupt Congress and does not deliver a public option Plan or single-payer universal health care… It is a monumental travesty for Congress and Federal employees to enjoy a cafeteria-style Health Benefits Plan subsidized by taxpayers but not available to all our citizens. Enough of this injustice.”

texanrme said, “This a war for the survival of those that have profited at the expense of the sick and elderly for generations… They want to argue how government can not handle healthcare administration, but they have proven beyond a doubt that neither can they…”

Of course some commenters still think that Obama is looking out for their best interests, but it does seem that generally people are starting to wake up and smell the corruption.


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PDS: How Bad Can It Get? Really Bad.

Really bad, tasteless, disgusting. A stunningly repulsive headline was posted a short time ago at Huffington Post by Erik Sean Nelson, a self-described “fiction author and comedy writer.” The post was pulled quickly by someone at Huffpo, but here’s the screenshot (h/t Sweetness and Light)

Huffpo screenshot

Note that “Trig” is included in the tags. I guess Nelson thinks his readers at Huffpo are too slow to get his meaning without being hit over the head with a hammer.

The post is also still linked at the news site Memeorandum.

From Sweetness and Light:

We really don’t accept The Hill’s suggestion that Mrs. Palin is resigning her office so as to run for the Presidency. If anything, her comments imply just the opposite.

It is painfully clear that she is sick of being the target of the politics of personal destruction from the Democrat and their lickspittle slaveys in our watchdog media.

And who can blame her?

Anyone who seeks to run for or hold office as a conservative should have their head examined. They and their family and friends will be endlessly savaged in every way possible.

Mrs. Palin in every way embodies the kind of citizen-statesman that the Founding Fathers envisioned when they created our republic.

That she could be hounded out of office, and possibly politics altogether, by a ravening mob marks another nail in the coffin for representative government in our country.

This is a terrible day for our once great nation.

It truly is a sad day when anyone thinks it’s OK to publish something like that at a supposedly “progressive blog.” Arianna needs to dump Erik Sean Nelson immediately.

The hatred being directed at one woman and her family in this country is truly frightening.

UPDATE 1: Here is the full text of the original Huffpo article by Erik Sean Nelson. (h/t Hot Air)

“Palin Will Run in ’12 on More Retardation Platform”
Friday, July 3, 2009

It was posted at the Huffington Post at 6 p.m. EDT.

The text of the article:

In Sarah Palin’s resignation announcement she complained about the treatment of her son Trig who always teaches her life lessons. She said that the “world needs more Trigs, not fewer.” That’s a presidential campaign promise we can all get behind. She will be the first politician to actually try to increase the population of retarded people. To me, it’s kinda like saying the world needs more cancer patients because they teach us such personal lessons.

Her first act as President: To introduce a Pre-K lunch buffet that includes lead paint chips. Sort of a Large HEAD-START Program.

She will then encourage women to hold off on pregnancies until their 40’s just to mix up some chromosomes.

She now is in favor of abortion only in case of diploid birth.

Her policies will increase jobs because Wal-Mart is building new stores each day and someone has to be the greeter.

This will lead to smaller government because fewer Americans will have the cognitive ability to hold a government job.

Look, she says she’s resigning as governor because people are making attacks on her and Trig. If she ever did become president, all Osama bin Laden would have to do to defeat the United States is Photoshop a picture of Trig and she’d surrender the country that night. As she said, “That’s not politics as usual.” It isn’t. Politicians don’t usually quit for so stupid of reasons.

UPDATE 2: Nelson’s scary-obsessive anti-Palin website.


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Monday: Who appointed the financial wizards as Gods anyway?

Greed is Good Gekko

"Greed is Good" Gekko

Automakers are on the frontpage of the NYTimes again today.  It looks like someone is trying to replace the finance giants smarting asses with a new whipping boy.  Who can feel much sympathy for the guys who ran Detroit?  They’ve known for at least 30 years that the oil would run out and that we would all have to switch over to more fuel efficient cars.   Back in the early eighties, they had even made some lame attempts to produce some of them.  But they were poorly designed, half-hearted attempts, as if someone was forcing them to eat spinach.  The Japanese killed them in the small car area and that, combined with an oil glut, caused the automakers to forget all about fuel efficiency.  They partied like it was 1999.

Of course, it is the union workers who have to pay for that.  Well, naturally.  It goes without saying.  Why does it go without saying that the unions must pay for the mistakes of the guys in the boardroom?  I don’t know.  It just is.

And now, bonddad at Huffington Post tells us we shouldn’t get down on the finance guys either.  They provide a valuable service:

But that does not mean that finance in and of itself is evil or that all people involved in this area of the economy are corrupt. I have often read the criticism that “The US doesn’t make things anymore” as if creating financial structures is somehow less valid than making a physical good. In fact, both activities are equally valid and should be treated as such. Individuals who prudently manage other’s money and take well-thought out risks provide a valuable service to the economy; they should not be publicly vilified because other members of their profession have made huge mistakes. In essence, there are good practitioners and bad practitioners in any profession; but the presence of bad practitioners does not nullify the contributions of the professions as a whole.

In addition, many finance people provided invaluable advice to their clients throughout this recession — advice which preserved their client’s money during an incredibly difficult time. Market watchers such as Barry Ritholtz, Mish Shedlock and Tim Iacona all provided invaluable advice to their clients and the public at large. Yet the criticism of finance groups all people in this industry together — or provides asterisks and caveats regarding industry professionals who are agreed with while still spilling a fair amount of bile at the industry as a whole. Throughout this recession I am often reminded of the public’s attitudes about criminal defense lawyers — a profession which is ridiculed and roundly criticized on a regular basis until you need one. Then you can bet your bottom dollar that you want Johhny Cochran at your side saying, “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.” The point is broad brush strokes about any profession are inappropriate at best.

In short, Dr. Krugman’s analysis is wrong. Securitization has provided many benefits to the economy as a whole. It is not the sole problem with the current situation; we arrived at out present crisis because of a combination of numerous ill-thought out events and decisions. Finally, finance is not in and of itself bad and not all “wizards were frauds.” Securitization has been around a long enough time to indicate that properly done it does not pose a threat to the economy as a whole. The current mess is not solely caused by securitization, but instead a combination of many inter-related events.

In short, I respectfully disagree with Dr. Krugman’s analysis.

Is it true that the US doesn’t make things anymore?  Probably not.  Oh, sure, we don’t really make the world’s steel, appliances, furniture, textiles, computers and now, cars.  I think we can still give the world a run for the money in munitions, aircraft and pharmaceticals.  Agriculture is still pretty strong, though it’s mostly owned by big agribusiness.  But mostly, we have a lot of small businesses and the service industry.  Thank God we still have the finance industry.  It would never put out shoddy or poorly designed products like the auto industry.

Heck, didn’t we all gladly turn in our pension funds for cash-balance plans that we could manage ourselves?  And weren’t the finance wizards so very helpful in telling us how to set up our 401k’s that would steadily grow and grow and grow until we were 65?  And didn’t we listen to them when they told us that we didn’t put aside enough for our retirements and we should put more and more and more of our compensation into the stock market that, over many decades has shown only to increase in value?  Surely, they deserved all of the fees they wracked up whenever there was a transaction.  Surely, the work they did warranted the billions of dollars in bonuses.  It is very hard to skim money off the top of all those trillions of dollars of our hopes and dreams of adult communities on the golf course of our futures.

What I can’t understand is how they managed to appoint themselves Gods in the first place.  And was there a plan to first convince us to fork over our cash and then defraud us of the profits or did it just “happen”?  The rise in the financial genius class happened right about the time Reagan took office.  Reagan who preached “rugged individualism”, “voodoo economics” and the Laffer Curve. What we have 30 years later is a stratified society, a true class system, where the finance giants justify their existence in life as creating wealth, mostly for themselves.  What is their purpose in life really?  Who would be harmed if we got rid of the whole lot of them?

Let’s try that thought experiment.  Without the finance Gods handling our money we might still have pensions.  We might be making more money because the investor class wouldn’t be cheering for the increase in quarterly earnings that happen every time a company announces a layoff.  We might not have to have teleconferences at ridiculous hours with programmers in India.  People who need to get stuff done at work wouldn’t have to spend half of their time negotiating contracts with outsourcers, trying to get multiple contractors to handle what a single full time employee with benefits used to handle.  We might be making more fuel efficient cars if CEO’s had spent less time resisting the future, skimming the profits off the top, and more time encouraging the design of cars that would take advantage of that future.  But that would require hiring more designers and letting them design instead of figuring out how to make changes without incurring any additional expense.  They might have gotten good at car design, had they been allowed the creativity and money to do it.  We might have a Michigan that doesn’t resemble Blade Runner.  We could have dispensed with Six Sigma, “rank and yank” and other silly management theories that justified the MBA’s existence and wasted our precious time.  Workers everywhere could have been spared the biz speak jargon than made our ears bleed and meant that our pink slips were right around the corner.  We could have actually been rewarded for the work we did instead of being subjected to the stress of “what have you done for me lately?”.

That last question has been the focus of the finance giants for the last 30 years.  The finance industry has been focussed on their own bottom line with such intensity that producing anything of value has been an afterthought, just like the lives of the people who were affected by their machinations and securitization have been an afterthought.  And we can’t heal ourselves as a nation until we ask the finance giants “What have you done for me lately?” and impose the same performance based standards on them that they’ve forced on us for the last 30 years.

It’s time for a performance review.


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