Saturday, February 28, 2009

Consumer Society

DHinMI at Dkos has a great post today explaining the problems when one views society as nothing but an aggregation of service consumers as opposed to a society. Crystalizes a lot of things I've thought about for a while, but hadn't been able to put into words.

In catching up with blogs I follow irregularly, I came across a post on Andy Tobias' site that echoes much of the above and puts into clear questions. Great stuff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Northern Lack of Trust

Chris at Americablog has a bit of a rant about the shindig Northern Trust threw recently here in LA. I felt compelled to respond, and then decided the comment was good enough to post here (SUCH modesty!) :)

First, let me say that, in general, I'm disgusted by the performance of most of the major banks, before and after the 'collapse'. Banks like Citi, and some (most?) of the investment banks need to be reamed, nationalized, broken up and sold off. And, I think NT showed pretty poor judgment in hosting their event.

With that said, two points: At no point in all of this, did NT request TARP funds. They are one of the (many) banks that had funds thrust on them by Paulson in his misguided attempt to spread the panic around and conceal from the market which banks were the bad apples in the barrel so that they wouldn't get nuked in the market. NT has its problems (mostly stemming from being a conservative institution (which saved its bacon in the previous market insanity) catering to the wealthy (which has caused most of its PR and legal problems over the years), but wasting money has never been one of them. This kind of event has always been one of the PR costs of running a 'trust' tyoe bank (gotta wow the richie riches to get them in the door and keep them there).

The second point is that an event like is wildly stimulative (altho somewhat localized). NT spent a fortune on this providing (or at least temporarily maintaining) a wide variety of jobs (hoteliers, service personnel, caterers, limo drivers dont count for stimulus purposes?!?!) and pumping a lot of money into a variety of businesses for gifts, hotel rooms, airfare, etc.....

The whole slamming people for spending money on things (as opposed to say, Citi's purchasing stadium naming rights) strikes me as shortsighted and hypocritical. Congress is trying to save the banks AND stimulate the economy. We dont object to Citi, BofA, or Wells Fargo running TV ads; events like this cost a lot less than a TV ad campaign and are proportionally much more important to banks like NT. This isnt about paying obscene bonuses or redecorating the Titanic as Thain was doing.... this about attracting and keeping BIG customers.

It strikes me that the griping is mostly about jealousy/envy. Trust me, I'm broke and wish I had been there and partaken. But I do understand why they do events like this, and it doesnt bother me a bit. At least not quite as much as the two-headed shouts of SPEND! STIMULATE! on the one hand, and DONT SPEND MONEY YOU RICH BASTARDS! on the other.

Just sayin.... :)

My first self reflective quote! :) Probably my last, but hey!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Roger Ebert remembers Gene Siskel. This is incredibly good writing, incredibly great stuff!

I always thought of Siskel as the more annoying one, altho our tastes were very similar. Ebert reminisces about their 'love/hate' relationship and what a great relationship they had in spite of it all. Very moving.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quash This Now!

There's a plot afoot, according to The Nation, to loot Social Security (and Medicare and Medicaid) to help pay for the stimulus. This is bad fiscal policy and bad politics. Call everyone you can think of in D.C. and put the kibosh on this before it even gets started.

The fiscal 'conservatives' (think surplus to trillion dollar deficit, and two wars, and torture, and.....) have lost the election(s), and need to lose the tactical battle too. NOW! This is just one more (hopefully vain) attempt to disassemble the New Deal, even as we're in the process of enacting the Newer Deal. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot in the hopes that it'll make us run faster! Stop the insanity.

(Channeling my inner Susan Powter (no one under 4o will get that!))

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Healthcare Hope?

Looks like the general populace is more with us than I thought. Dailykos has a post up reporting on a CBS/NYT poll on the subject. 59% support at least some form of government support healthcare, way up from a 'generation' ago.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Go F*ck Yourselves

Obama to the public. Sigh. Are we going to have four (eight) more years of this shit?

Glenn Greenwald tears this apart (and Obama a new one....)

On to Conference (OOPS)

According to CBS News Radio, the Senate has passed the Stimulus Bill (61-36?) The bill is awful, but survivable, and hopefully, the 'awfulest' parts will get fixed in Conference.

Update: Sorry, it didn't 'pass'... they merely got the sixty votes to end debate. Sorry... damned radio news! :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Obama is preparing to set a salary cap of $500k for execs at companies that accept TARP funds (retroactive? if not, why not?) There is a lot of screaming (I'm looking at you, Joe Kernan!) that this will drive 'good' people out of the businesses.

My question is this: if they were so damned good, how did they get into this predicament? And exactly where will they go when they leave? There's not a huge boom in the financial services/investment/funds/banking biz these days.

If they want to make it work, they should (and probably won't) put in incentives, so that if the execs stick around for $500k, turn things around, and save the day, there's some payoff down the road (for rescuing the companies AND saving the taxpayers some money.

But, if they don't want to stick around whatever the setup, here's a suggestion for their exit package. A final check and a certificate that says 'Don't let the door hit ya!'

(cross posted at Precise Walk)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

New Blog

Carrie Fisher, the queen of Queens, has a new blog. Pretty funny.

Updated with actual linkage!