What do you care …

what other people think?

[amazonify]0393320928:right:product:concupwrires-20:::[/amazonify] Perhaps, you’d be more blunt and less polite in that way that meaning gets lost. You’d be like Richard Feynman, author of “What Do You Care What Other People Think.”

Maybe you’d be more like Margaret and Helen.

I would imagine selective memory works well for Rush (Limbaugh, who else?) considering he selects to use his brain as sparingly as possible.

I’d love to lunch with Margaret and Helen. I’ll buy the coffee, too.

Mass Stalking

The NY Times covers the anger and death threats against individuals at AIG over the bonuses they received.

Like many, my gut just wrenched over the bonus headlines. How could they? But of course they could: They live in a different world, one in which two comma pay checks are not especially remarkable.

Treasury Sec. Timothy Giethner came from that world, too, so is it possible that alarms didn’t ring when the bonuses, initially approved last September by Treasury/TARP under the Bush administration, crossed his desk. This isn’t meant as an excuse or rationalization — just that theirs is a Marie Antoinette world.

And, of course, the populist opposition to the bonuses has gone overboard in the threats against AIG employees. A group called Conneticut Working Families even organized a weekend bus tour of AIG executive homes. That’s mass stalking.

Did someone forget this?

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil

The moral high ground is hard to hold and we let it slip. I hope that Sy Hersh’s discovery assertion of a Dick Cheney-directed assassination squad proves false. Seeing Cheney this week unchallenged by the news heads, I doubt that it will.

Looting of America

Was the American financial system looted?

The New York Times raises this in a compelling discussion of a 16-year-old study that, essentially, followed the 1980s S&L and real estate crash. Writes David Leonhardt in a contemporary application of a suddenly very important economic research paper:

… when I spoke with Mr. Romer (a co-author of the study) on Tuesday, he was careful to make a distinction between classic moral hazard and looting. It’s an important distinction.With moral hazard, bankers are making real wagers. If those wagers pay off, the government has no role in the transaction. With looting, the government’s involvement is crucial to the whole enterprise.

The article is compelling and is a must read if you wish to separate out all the partisan bs about who’s to blame.

“Looting” takes on deeper meaning in tandem with the word “clawback” and recovery of the personal and misbegotten profits of the people involved.

Players in a Ponzi Scheme

A small church on my route between home and Conscious Cup once had a sign:

“Debt is borrowing from the future to enrich the present.”

Politically, we’re now engaged in debate over our federal deficit and our debt to be paid by our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The federal deficit as a percentage of GDP declined from the end of World War II to the beginning of the Reagan presidency. The deficit has, with the exception of the end of the Clinton administration, climbed steadily since Reagan. (See chart in Wikipedia.)

Continue reading “Players in a Ponzi Scheme”

Is Naked Really a Help?

The email I share with my family runs me through Yahoo’s portal where up popped an article about bike rallies — naked bike rallies — going on March 14 in major cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Northern Hemisphere rallies are planned for June 13 if this is an event you don’t want to miss. (See US cities where rides are “committed.”

I’m all for bikes. I love the time I can get on my Raliegh sport bike. Since I gave my mountain bike to my college son, I dream occasionally about getting a cross bike to ride the many trails in our area, the road bike not being appropriate

Nude cyclist with phone. Taken at the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade in Seattle.
Nude cyclist with phone. Taken at the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade in Seattle.

for crushed limestone paths.

The ride is a protest against car culture and a celebration of bicycles and the human body.  All fine and good. I like naked, too. Still, I don’t think the world is ready for my butt bent over on a bike. I would think that counter productive to the goals of World Naked Bike Ride.

Failing

John Maxwell writes about Failing Forward and it becomes a corporate retreat rah-rah cliche.

He’s correct, of course, but few corporations embrace the thought fully, except maybe investment bankers who have failed us all.  But then that’s failure without reason.

“… it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case you fail by default.”

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

What or who are you thinking of that is so exquisite that you’d risk failure to achieve it?

Loyal Opposition

Have we lost the concept of loyal opposition? When does “they fail” become “we all fail?”

Or, have we just forgotten our history and politics was always thus? Always thus, it seems.

Here’s a bit from an interview in the Freakonomics blog with Joseph Cummins, author of Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots, and October Surprises. Cummins said:

In 1840, the American Whig politician Thomas Elder had a eureka moment when he wrote to a friend: “Passion and prejudice properly aroused and directed do about as well as principle and reason in any party contest.”

My favorite, the accusation that Martin Van Buren wore a corset delivered by Davey Crockett. This piece of trivia pales next to Cummins’ discussion of the dirtiest campaign, that of Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater.

The article, published Nov. 7, 2007, a year prior to President Obama’s election, is great, retrospective reading, including the historical references to the bold nature of journalistic electioneering in the late 1800s. It doesn’t take much to think who today has pried that casket open and let out the bats.

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