Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday! Sunday!

Well, if you look to the right you'll see that it's a New Moon, and it is indeed, a new day. The four obnoxious French Brats from Paree have departed finalement! Peace reigns in the house once more. If you're wondering what I did, hiding in my room for the duration of their intolerable stay, I watched several of these RSA videos, and man! did I learn a lot. One talk/sketch in particular comes to mind as I scan the headlines and click on this bit in Times this morning: Wall Street is hiring (I know, incredible right? when everyone else is cutting back), and they're offering this New Batch Of Bozos even larger bonus packages that they gave the incompetents who brought on – or at the very least encouraged, actively or passively – the crash!

But here's the thing, according to psychologist Dan Pink, scientific data affirms that beyond work that involves regular everyday algorithmic skills (typing, plumbing, you know, basic learned skills), the MORE you pay someone, the worse their job performance! The carrot (i.e., financial reward) does not work as a motivator for upper level jobs. So please can we now just stop with the bs about how the "capitalist is taking all the risk, the CEO has more responsibility and should earn more, blah blah blah."

Pink's evidence comes as no surprise to us regular folk who have spent years of our lives working for overpaid, idiotic bosses, but the boys on Wall Street appear impervious to the wisdom of lessons learned; and here we see the lie of neo -Republican "conservatism" , the neo- liberal "third way", and the myth of the "free" market writ large. Wall Street will continue to throw more and more money at (while appealing to the greed of) already overpaid incompetents, hoping for a better result (another bailout where Wall Street will actually appear to go broke and then make unparalleled profits after we bail them out), despite mountains of psychological evidence to the contrary. Watch this ten minute vid and see if your mind isn't blown by what it reveals. Anyone who has ever actually worked for a living will not be surprised by it.

[Remember that the Bush administration made an art of deliberately hiring the most incompetent people they could find, praising their performance, and then finding some little underling to blame for the cockups when things went bad. All the while accomplishing, to an astonishing degree and right under our very noses, the serious dismantling of our government (by, of and for the people) in every imaginable office. That's the skeleton of a Republic we're left with at the moment that Oblimey seems rather slow and too polite to rebuild with the kind of pushy zest required to git er done.]

I highly recommend the other five or six RSA Animated videos as well. (Scroll down and click on 'older entries' on RSA page.) They're fun and full of information with which you can amaze your friends, after you amaze yourself. The one on Empathic Civilizations is amazing; The Secret Power of Time, mindblowing; and Smile or Die, well you gotta love that one. All aspiring pols should watch The economic Consequences of Mr. Brown, about how good intentions in politics can fail miserably. And if you, like nearly all Americans, are completely ignorant (despite your college degree and protestations to the contrary) about the nature of Marxism and socialism, I got news for ya. A new economic paradigm is right around the corner cause this one is toast. So why not set yourself a meaningful task this summer (I've already started the refresher course): learn what Mr. Marx really had to say about capitalism at the hands of someone who'll make it easy for ya? Be knowledgeable instead of just opinionated. (Remember, knowledge is power.) This series of talks is from David Harvey at CUNY, the guy who did the RSA on The Crisis of Capitalism, and probably the world's authority on Marx's Capital. You don't need the book to listen to the lectures, but it helps. I tell you, this is the info that will separate the men from the boys when the Great Public Debate about forming a new more humanistic economic society actually begins in the next few years. Be one of the people in the room who actually knows what they're talking about. And when Wall Street implodes again, every bloviating pol and would be economist will be trying to get your ear, and your vote. Know more than they do, take the course free online. Don't be a KnowNothing.

Finally, ever wonder how all that evil behavior by people in places like Abu Ghraib Prison (0r Auschwitz) who would never have imagined themselves capable of such things came about? This psychologist, again found on RSA, explains what he calls "The Lucifer Effect": How do good people go bad? This one will most certainly give you something to think about.

And that's what we're supposed to be doing here, isn't it? Thinking?

Back to the subject of wealth, here's a revealing bit from the Times the other day I stuck on my desktop: Rich people are far more prone to just bail on a mortgage than middle class or poor people. Are they more selfish than others? Well, in a word, Yes. It would appear they actually ARE. (Again, if I may reiterate, no surprise to those of us who've read our Marx. This is Why they don't teach it in high school, or colleges now for that matter. Marxism is full of dirty little secrets about rich people: capitalists.) RICH people, unlike the poor and the struggling middle class, make decisions based on their own best interest, not the interest of their neighbors or their community or anyone but their own "I've got mine" selves. They vote Republican. Get it? So why do you? From the article:

"Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population."

[And at a rate that's nearly TWICE that of homeowners with mortgages under a mil $.]

“The rich are different: they are more ruthless,” said Sam Khater, CoreLogic’s senior economist."

"In a recent column on Freddie Mac’s Web site, the company’s executive vice president, Don Bisenius, acknowledged that walking away “might well be a good decision for certain borrowers” but argues that those who do it are trashing their communities."

"The CoreLogic data suggest that the rich do not seem to have concerns about the civic good uppermost in their mind, especially when it comes to investment and second homes. Nor do they appear to be particularly worried about being sued by their lender or frozen out of future loans by Fannie Mae, possible consequences of default."


“Those with high net worth have other resources to lean on if they get in trouble,” said Mr. Khater, the analyst. “If they’re going delinquent faster than anyone else, that tells me they are doing so willingly.”

"The rich and successful often come naturally to this sort of attitude, said Brent T. White, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has studied strategic defaults.

“They may be less susceptible to the shame and fear-mongering used by the government and the mortgage banking industry to keep underwater homeowners from acting in their financial best interest,” Mr. White said."

Remember what Mr. Harvey said about how the American Dream (a house of your own) was really a debt trap to keep workers from striking? Why do people find this so hard to accept? Denial? Well, duh... The home ownership rate in Switzerland is 22 percent. (US, over 60%, higher if you're white. ) No one would say they have a crappy quality of life there. Europeans by and large are renters, not owners. This gives them the flexibility to strike for better wages, cause if the landlord's on your side (can you imagine a bank feeling that way?) you're good. The landlord needs to you work, not be fired. Get it?

And always, Joni comments on life in song: "Ah there must be more to livin than a mortgage and a lawn to mow.

Ok, so the heat wave seems to have broken. Somewhat. But July weather promises to be a challenge to our natural body cooling systems and our patience. Still, there's something lazy and old fashioned about hot weather that I like. Like enforced siesta in foreign country. And so I rather liked this brief oped in the Times the other day about the old days of heatwaves and no AC.

This all oughta keep you busy for a few days. Do check out all the videos and lectures. I gotta try and get some work done now the superentitled teenage richlings are gone.


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