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Martin Luther King Jr was a radical. We must not sterilize his legacy | Cornel West | Opinion | The Guardian
"The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one. King’s courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness – but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day.

In this brief celebratory moment of King’s life and death we should be highly suspicious of those who sing his praises yet refuse to pay the cost of embodying King’s strong indictment of the US empire, capitalism and racism in their own lives.

We now expect the depressing spectacle every January of King’s “fans” giving us the sanitized versions of his life. We now come to the 50th anniversary of his assassination, and we once again are met with sterilized versions of his legacy. A radical man deeply hated and held in contempt is recast as if he was a universally loved moderate.

These neoliberal revisionists thrive on the spectacle of their smartness and the visibility of their mainstream status – yet rarely, if ever, have they said a mumbling word about what would have concerned King, such as US drone strikes, house raids, and torture sites, or raised their voices about escalating inequality, poverty or Wall Street domination under neoliberal administrations – be the president white or black.

The police killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento may stir them but the imperial massacres in Yemen, Libya or Gaza leave them cold. Why? Because so many of King’s “fans” are afraid. Yet one of King’s favorite sayings was “I would rather be dead than afraid.” Why are they afraid? Because they fear for their careers in and acceptance by the neoliberal establishment. Yet King said angrily: “What you’re saying may get you a foundation grant, but it won’t get you into the Kingdom of Truth.”

The neoliberal soul craft of our day shuns integrity, honesty and courage, and rewards venality, hypocrisy and cowardice. To be successful is to forge a non-threatening image, sustain one’s brand, expand one’s pecuniary network – and maintain a distance from critiques of Wall Street, neoliberal leaders and especially the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and peoples.

Martin Luther King Jr turned away from popularity in his quest for spiritual and moral greatness – a greatness measured by what he was willing to give up and sacrifice due to his deep love of everyday people, especially vulnerable and precious black people. Neoliberal soul craft avoids risk and evades the cost of prophetic witness, even as it poses as “progressive”.

The killing of Martin Luther King Jr was the ultimate result of the fusion of ugly white supremacist elites in the US government and citizenry and cowardly liberal careerists who feared King’s radical moves against empire, capitalism and white supremacy. If King were alive today, his words and witness against drone strikes, invasions, occupations, police murders, caste in Asia, Roma oppression in Europe, as well as capitalist wealth inequality and poverty, would threaten most of those who now sing his praises. As he rightly predicted: “I am nevertheless greatly saddened … that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling.”

If we really want to know King in all of his fallible prophetic witness, we must shed any neoliberal soul craft and take seriously – in our words and deeds – his critiques and resistances to US empire, capitalism and xenophobia. Needless to say, his relentless condemnation of Trump’s escalating neo-fascist rule would be unequivocal – but not to be viewed as an excuse to downplay some of the repressive continuities of the two Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.

In fact, in a low moment, when the American nightmare crushed his dream, King noted: “I don’t have any faith in the whites in power responding in the right way … they’ll treat us like they did our Japanese brothers and sisters in World War II. They’ll throw us into concentration camps. The Wallaces and the Birchites will take over. The sick people and the fascists will be strengthened. They’ll cordon off the ghetto and issue passes for us to get in and out.”

These words may sound like those of Malcolm X, but they are those of Martin Luther King Jr – with undeniable relevance to the neo-fascist stirrings in our day.

King’s last sermon was entitled Why America May Go to Hell. His personal loneliness and political isolation loomed large. J Edgar Hoover said he was “the most dangerous man in America”. President Johnson called him “a nigger preacher”. Fellow Christian ministers, white and black, closed their pulpits to him. Young revolutionaries dismissed and tried to humiliate him with walkouts, booing and heckling. Life magazine – echoing Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post (all bastions of the liberal establishment) – trashed King’s anti-war stance as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi”.

And the leading black journalist of the day, Carl Rowan, wrote in the Reader’s Digest that King’s “exaggerated appraisal of his own self-importance” and the communist influence on his thinking made King “persona non-grata to Lyndon Johnson” and “has alienated many of the Negro’s friends and armed the Negro’s foes”.

One of the last and true friends of King, the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel prophetically said: “The whole future of America will depend upon the impact and influence of Dr King.” When King was murdered something died in many of us. The bullets sucked some of the free and democratic spirit out of the US experiment. The next day over 100 American cities and towns were in flames – the fire this time had arrived again!

Today, 50 years later the US imperial meltdown deepens. And King’s radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom, even if our chances to win are that of a snowball in hell! This kind of unstoppable King-like extremism is a threat to every status quo!"
cornelwest  martinlutherkingjr  2018  neoliberalism  capitalism  imperialism  materialism  race  racism  poverty  inequality  progressive  militarism  violence  us  society  politics  policy  courage  death  fear  integrity  revisionism  history  justice  socialjustice  drones  wallstreet  finance  stephonclark  libya  gaza  palestine  yemen  hypocrisy  venality  cowardice  honesty  sfsh  cv  mlk  xenophobia  christianity  carlrowan  jedgarhoover  love  freedom  extremism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama | Cornel West | Opinion | The Guardian
"Obama’s lack of courage to confront Wall Street criminals and his lapse of character in ordering drone strikes unintentionally led to rightwing populist revolts at home and ugly Islamic fascist rebellions in the Middle East. And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plans.

Bernie Sanders gallantly tried to generate a leftwing populism but he was crushed by Clinton and Obama in the unfair Democratic party primaries. So now we find ourselves entering a neofascist era: a neoliberal economy on steroids, a reactionary repressive attitude toward domestic “aliens”, a militaristic cabinet eager for war and in denial of global warming. All the while, we are seeing a wholesale eclipse of truth and integrity in the name of the Trump brand, facilitated by the profit-hungry corporate media.

What a sad legacy for our hope and change candidate – even as we warriors go down swinging in the fading names of truth and justice."
barackobama  cornelwest  2017  politics  berniesanders  populism  drones  wallstreet  economics  policy  elections  truth  integrity  media 
january 2017 by robertogreco
American Capitalism’s Great Crisis | TIME
"America’s economic problems go far beyond rich bankers, too-big-to-fail financial institutions, hedge-fund billionaires, offshore tax avoidance or any particular outrage of the moment. In fact, each of these is symptomatic of a more nefarious condition that threatens, in equal measure, the very well-off and the very poor, the red and the blue. The U.S. system of market capitalism itself is broken.

[…]

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

[…]

The changes were driven by the fact that in the 1970s, the growth that America had enjoyed following World War II began to slow. Rather than make tough decisions about how to bolster it (which would inevitably mean choosing among various interest groups), politicians decided to pass that responsibility to the financial markets. Little by little, the Depression-era regulation that had served America so well was rolled back, and finance grew to become the dominant force that it is today. The shifts were bipartisan, and to be fair they often seemed like good ideas at the time; but they also came with unintended consequences.

[…]

This sickness, not so much the product of venal interests as of a complex and long-term web of changes in government and private industry, now manifests itself in myriad ways: a housing market that is bifurcated and dependent on government life support, a retirement system that has left millions insecure in their old age, a tax code that favors debt over equity. Debt is the lifeblood of finance; with the rise of the securities-and-trading portion of the industry came a rise in debt of all kinds, public and private. That’s bad news, since a wide range of academic research shows that rising debt and credit levels stoke financial instability. And yet, as finance has captured a greater and greater piece of the national pie, it has, perversely, all but ensured that debt is indispensable to maintaining any growth at all in an advanced economy like the U.S., where 70% of output is consumer spending. Debt-fueled finance has become a saccharine substitute for the real thing, an addiction that just gets worse. (The amount of credit offered to American consumers has doubled in real dollars since the 1980s, as have the fees they pay to their banks.)

[…]

Remooring finance in the real economy isn’t as simple as splitting up the biggest banks (although that would be a good start). It’s about dismantling the hold of financial-oriented thinking in every corner of corporate America. It’s about reforming business education, which is still permeated with academics who resist challenges to the gospel of efficient markets in the same way that medieval clergy dismissed scientific evidence that might challenge the existence of God. It’s about changing a tax system that treats one-year investment gains the same as longer-term ones, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators. It’s about rethinking retirement, crafting smarter housing policy and restraining a money culture filled with lobbyists who violate America’s essential economic principles.

It’s also about starting a bigger conversation about all this, with a broader group of stakeholders. The structure of American capital markets and whether or not they are serving business is a topic that has traditionally been the sole domain of “experts”—the financiers and policymakers who often have a self-interested perspective to push, and who do so in complicated language that keeps outsiders out of the debate. When it comes to finance, as with so many issues in a democratic society, complexity breeds exclusion. "

[via: http://finalbossform.com/post/146159698129/americas-economic-problems-go-far-beyond-rich ]
ranafarhoo  culture  economics  us  capitalism  banking  taxes  accounting  policy  politics  finance  banks  hedgefunds  inequality  financialization  wallstreet  debt  speculation  interestgroups  corruption  government  instability  regulation  democracy  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Cornel West on state of race in the U.S.: "We're in bad shape" - CBS News
[via: "Showed kids 60 Minutes with Cornel West last night. ("I'm unimpressed by smartness.") http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-cornel-west-on-race-in-the-u-s/ "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908596540379136

"+ See also West on Mandela: "a militant tenderness, subversive sweetness and radical gentleness." http://www.cornelwest.com/nelson_mandela.html "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908847695368192 ]

"Cornel West is a different kind of civil rights leader. His below-the-radar presence at racial flash points across America recently, stands in stark contrast to many of the more traditional civil rights leaders and their bright light press conferences.

Some of the new generation of African-American activists seem to be gravitating towards West, a charismatic academic scholar who doesn't lead an organization or have an entourage.

Cornel West has a message about how poor and disadvantaged Americans are being treated today and he can be searingly provocative on matters of race, never more so than when he criticizes President Obama.

Cornel West: When I call the president a black puppet of Wall Street, I was really talking about the degree to which Wall Street had a disproportionate amount of influence on his policies as opposed to poor people and working people.

James Brown: Why use such harsh language with-- showing no respect for the office of the president?

Cornel West: I tend to be one who just speaks from my soul, and so what comes out sometimes is rather harsh. In that sense I'm very much a part of the tradition of a Frederick Douglass or a Malcolm X who used hyperbolic language at times to bring attention to the state of emergency. So all of that rage and righteous indignation can lead one not to speak politely sometimes.

Eight years ago, Cornel West was a fervent supporter of candidate Barack Obama. Today, he blames the president for not doing more on issues like income inequality and racial justice. A product of the turbulent sixties, West has joined protests led by civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter. Here in Ferguson, Missouri, he was one of many arrested for civil disobedience.

James Brown: The young people who are leading the Black Lives Matter charge, you're all behind them?

Cornel West: Oh, very much so. I think that's a marvelous new militancy that has to do with courage, vision. The fundamental challenge always is will their rage be channeled through hatred and revenge or will it be channeled through love and justice. You got to push 'em toward love and justice.

James Brown: Why do you think you have that kind of currency with young people?

Cornel West: They know that I take their precious lives seriously. When I go to jail in Ferguson and say quite explicitly, "I'm old school, and I want the new school to know that some of us old folk love y'all to death" and they hear that and say, "Well, dang, you know, we might not always-- agree with this brother, but this Negro looks like a fighter for justice."

[March: This is what democracy looks like. Justice!]

Nyle Fort: I think a lot of young people really gravitate towards him not only because he's a giant of an intellectual, he is somebody that you want to be around.

Nyle Fort is a 26-year-old activist and religion PhD student at Princeton. He first saw West speak at a rally four years ago.

James Brown: The manner in which Dr. West has been criticizing the president. Your reaction?

Nyle Fort: I think it's important for us to listen to the substance of his argument. And I think that his critiques not just of President Obama, but of our current state of democracy in this country, the current state of the world, is something that we need to pay attention to.

A favorite on the lecture circuit, we were with him at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, when the crowd of 1,500 broke into applause before he said a word.

Then, for more than an hour, an extemporaneous journey filled with biblical passages and quotes from philosophers and poets about decency and virtue. All in support of West's warning about the dangers of inequality.

Cornel West: I have nothing against rich brothers and sisters. Pray for 'em every day. But callousness and indifference, greed and avarice is something that's shot through all of us.

Cornel West has diverse influences to say the least; crediting jazz giants John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan with helping him understand human suffering. West sees civil rights pioneer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as one of the great treasures of the 20th century.

Cornel West: It's never a question of skin pigmentation. It's never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It's what kind of human being you're going to choose to be from your mama's womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave.

Cornel West was born 62 years ago in Oklahoma, but grew up in Glen Elder -- a predominantly black neighborhood near Sacramento, California. He is the second of four children. His father, Clifton was a federal administrator and his mother, Irene was a teacher. They were a close-knit, church-going family.

Cornel West: I feel as if I have been blessed to undergo a transformation from gangster to redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities.

James Brown: You actually were a thug when you were a youngster?

Cornel West: Oh absolutely, I got kicked out of school when I was seven-- seven years old.

James Brown: Doing what, Dr. West?

Cornel West: I refused to salute the flag because my great uncle had been lynched with the flag wrapped around his body. So I went back to Sacramento and said, "I'm not saluting the flag." And teacher went at me and hit me, and I hit back. And then we had a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali moment right there in the third grade.

Clifton West: He was the only student I ever knew that came home with all As and had to get a whipping.

Clifton West is Cornel's brother, best friend and was his role model growing up. He says behind his little brother's bad behavior, was a relentlessly curious mind.

Clifton West: We had this bookmobile. And we would come out, and check out a book, and go on back in the house and start reading it. So Corn, at one point, I don't know how long it took, he had read every book in the bookmobile.

James Brown: Excuse me?

Clifton West: I don't know it had to be 200 books, easy. And the bookmobile man, who was a white guy, went to all the neighborhoods, little chocolate neighborhoods, saying, "There's this guy in Glen Elder that read every book in here."

Anecdotes like that convinced teachers to give their troubled student an aptitude test. West's recorded IQ: 168.

Cornel West: I got a pretty high score. So they sent me over all the way on the other side of town. Mom used to drive me all the way to school and then drive back to her school where she was teaching first grade.

The new school had a gifted program that challenged his mind and changed his behavior.

James Brown: Was that when you first grabbed hold of the notion that you were smart?

Cornel West: You know, I never really thought I was that smart. Because there was so many other folk in school that I was deeply impressed by. But I'll say this, though, that I've never really been impressed by smartness."
cornelwest  barackobama  race  2016  via:ablerism  love  activism  socialjustice  blacklivesmatter  generations  inequality  values  nylefort  jamesbrown  cliftonwest  eddieglaude  decency  virtue  callousness  indifference  greed  avarice  jazz  suffering  humanism  abrahamjoshuaheschel  life  living  legacy  religion  belief  ferguson  racialjustice  racism  civildisobedience  wallstreet  intellectualism  intellect  curiosity  poverty  policy  language  malcolmx  frederickdouglass  rage  indignation  civilrights  johncoltrane  wisdom  smartness  sacrifice  conformism  sarahvaughan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
I Used to Be In Love With Hillary Clinton | theindependentthinker2016
"I used to be in love with Hillary Clinton.

These days, not so much.

It always hurts when you allow yourself to be duped.

I didn’t really know Hillary.

I projected my wants onto her.

I believed that she represented me and when I found out that she didn’t it hurt.

I’ve moved on and I sincerely hope others will learn the things that I did.

I do not believe that Hillary supporters are bad people.

I believe they are just like I was.

Life is busy.

Who has time to research politicians.

Pretty lies are more fun than ugly truths.



But I can’t support someone who has done the things she has done.

Maybe you will think I am just a scorned, former lover.

All I know is that the more I learned, the more it hurt me to see someone with so many people looking up to her, do things that hurt so many.

I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.

I cannot live with blood on my hands."
2016  hillaryclinton  us  politics  policy  corruption  money  campaignfinance  tpp  prisonindustrialcomplex  inequality  welfare  taxes  unions  labor  walmart  monsanto  climatechange  arms  miltary  democrats  podestagroup  childlabor  wallstreet  finance  racism  doma  iraq  history  libya  syria  campaigning  vicitmblaming  gender  feminism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s New Philanthropy - The New York Times
"THE enduring credo of Silicon Valley is that innovation, not money, is its guiding purpose and that world-changing technology is its true measure of worth.

Wealth is treated as a pleasant byproduct, a bit like weight loss after rugged adventure travel.

The tech world is home to some of the planet’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and most dynamic philanthropists, 21st-century heirs to Carnegie and Rockefeller who say they can apply the same ingenuity and zeal that made them rich to making the rest of the world less poor. San Francisco also has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the nation, with the wealth distortion most concentrated among the very people who are driving the economy as a whole.

A similar paradox seeps into philanthropy. Tech entrepreneurs believe their charitable giving is bolder, bigger and more data-driven than anywhere else — and in many ways it is. But despite their flair for disruption, these philanthropists are no more interested in radical change than their more conservative predecessors. They don’t lobby for the redistribution of wealth; instead, they see poverty and inequality as an engineering problem, and the solution is their own brain power, not a tithe.

As Marc Andreessen, the venture capitalist and philanthropist who invested in, among other things, Twitter and Airbnb, put it in a Twitter post: “Thanks to Airbnb, now anyone with a house or apartment can offer a room for rent. Hence, income inequality reduced.”

Increasingly, though, idealistic tech leaders find themselves giving back to a world that complains that they took too much in the first place. The skepticism is all the more wounding because some tech luminaries ardently believe their businesses can solve social ills."



"But second-guessing in Silicon Valley is a pesky inevitability. As Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, put it at a Vanity Fair tech conference in San Francisco in October, “Basically, everything impactful you want to do has some controversy.”

In Silicon Valley, there is pious disdain for Wall Street’s showy, status-seeking ways of giving. “The primary reason my wife and I give to charity is to accomplish some change in the world,” said Elie Hassenfeld, who quit his job at a hedge fund to help create GiveWell, a San Francisco-based charity-evaluating service that guides the philanthropical choices of, among others, Dustin Moskovitz, one of the founders of Facebook. “We don’t attend galas or give to my alma mater.”

Those may not be such big distinctions. “There is a bit of delusion in Silicon Valley that they are not like the other rich because their technology is ‘making the world a better place,’ ” said Steve Hilton, a former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and a co-founder of Crowdpac.com, a political start-up. “But McDonald’s and Walmart also think that their businesses help society. Walmart says it lowers the cost of living for poor families. All corporations think they are having a positive impact.”"



"“The techno-utopianism of hackers has already transformed our lives,” Mr. Parker wrote. “But the greatest contribution that hackers make to society may be yet to come — if we are willing to retain the intellectual and creative spirit that got us this far.”

Bay Area nonprofits pride themselves on efficiency and “scalability,” applying sophisticated metrics to assess the success of social programs. Give Directly, for example, is a charity that uses cellphones to give unconditional cash transfers to poor people in Africa without government bureaucracy, corruption or costly overhead. The program relied on a 2013 study in rural Kenya that used satellites to distinguish thatched roofs from tin ones, because villagers with thatched roofs are poorer. It also monitored how the income was spent and even how it made recipients feel: the villagers’ saliva was collected to see if their cortisol levels decreased, a sign of reduced stress. The report concludes: “We document a 0.19SD increase in happiness.”

Back home, happiness is in the eye of the beholder. “There’s a lot of giving and impact investment and caring, but those people are not looking to change the fundamental rules of how power operates,” said Michael Gast, a consultant for social justice nonprofits in Oakland.

The disaffection isn’t merely manifested in a few protesters blocking Google shuttle buses or in Tesla-hating, or in labor unions fighting the “sharing economy.” Nor is it just the economists who complain that tech companies like Google and Facebook are monopolies — the Standard Oils of the moment.

Academics and relief workers have been grumbling for a while about so-called philanthrocapitalists who try to micromanage their giving. The writer David Rieff questions the tech-centric approach to fighting global poverty of the Gates Foundation in a new book, “The Reproach of Hunger.” In “The Prize,” the journalist Dale Russakoff looks at what went wrong with Mr. Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark to resurrect its schools.

And the transformative power of Silicon Valley is slapped down by one of its own in “Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology,” written by a Microsoft apostate, Kentaro Toyama.

Rob Reich, a political-science professor at Stanford who is also a co-director of the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, notes that the tax deduction that comes with a billionaire’s grant to charter schools is essentially money that won’t be spent on public schools, calling Silicon Valley largess “an exercise of power that is unaccountable, nontransparent and tax-subsidized.”

While tech titans champion efforts to strengthen the social safety net for the most disadvantaged, many express less concern for the stagnating middle class. Alec Ross, who was an innovation adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of state and is the author of “The Industries of the Future,” notes that entrepreneurs privately complain about workers, skilled and unskilled, who haven’t kept pace with the new tech-based economy.

“You hear derision for the working- and middle-class people who think that their education ends at the age of 22,” Mr. Ross said. “People who want their work to stay the same without doing anything to improve themselves.”

Nor is there much talk in these circles about taxing the rich to even the playing field. A few tech billionaires like Reed Hastings, a Netflix founder, have said they support raising taxes on the wealthy. There are many more who don’t publicly oppose a tax increase but feel they are paying plenty already. There is also a libertarian streak in parts of Silicon Valley that allows some to believe they can spend their tax dollars better than the government ever will.

There are, of course, some in Silicon Valley who blend tech savoir faire with old-school Carnegie-style philanthropy."
philanthropy  2015  siliconvalley  technolosolutionism  charity  nonprofits  inequality  middleclass  marbenioff  marcandreesen  marksukerberg  billgates  gatesfoundation  wallstreet  seanparker  economics  taxes  taxation  robreich  nonprofit 
november 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Robert Reich (The Political Roots of Widening Inequality)
"A deeper understanding of what has happened to American incomes over the last 25 years requires an examination of changes in the organization of the market. These changes stem from a dramatic increase in the political power of large corporations and Wall Street to change the rules of the market in ways that have enhanced their profitability, while reducing the share of economic gains going to the majority of Americans.

This transformation has amounted to a redistribution upward, but not as “redistribution” is normally defined. The government did not tax the middle class and poor and transfer a portion of their incomes to the rich. The government undertook the upward redistribution by altering the rules of the game.

Intellectual property rights—patents, trademarks, and copyrights—have been enlarged and extended, for example. This has created windfalls for pharmaceuticals, high tech, biotechnology, and many entertainment companies, which now preserve their monopolies longer than ever. It has also meant high prices for average consumers, including the highest pharmaceutical costs of any advanced nation.

At the same time, antitrust laws have been relaxed for corporations with significant market power. This has meant large profits for Monsanto, which sets the prices for most of the nation’s seed corn; for a handful of companies with significant market power over network portals and platforms (Amazon, Facebook, and Google); for cable companies facing little or no broadband competition (Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon); and for the largest Wall Street banks, among others. And as with intellectual property rights, this market power has simultaneously raised prices and reduced services available to average Americans. (Americans have the most expensive and slowest broadband of any industrialized nation, for example.)

Financial laws and regulations instituted in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929 and the consequential Great Depression have been abandoned—restrictions on interstate banking, on the intermingling of investment and commercial banking, and on banks becoming publicly held corporations, for example—thereby allowing the largest Wall Street banks to acquire unprecedented influence over the economy. The growth of the financial sector, in turn, spawned junk-bond financing, unfriendly takeovers, private equity and “activist” investing, and the notion that corporations exist solely to maximize shareholder value.

Bankruptcy laws have been loosened for large corporations—notably airlines and automobile manufacturers—allowing them to abrogate labor contracts, threaten closures unless they receive wage concessions, and leave workers and communities stranded. Notably, bankruptcy has not been extended to homeowners who are burdened by mortgage debt and owe more on their homes than the homes are worth, or to graduates laden with student debt. Meanwhile, the largest banks and auto manufacturers were bailed out in the downturn of 2008–2009. The result has been to shift the risks of economic failure onto the backs of average working people and taxpayers.

Contract laws have been altered to require mandatory arbitration before private judges selected by big corporations. Securities laws have been relaxed to allow insider trading of confidential information. CEOs have used stock buybacks to boost share prices when they cash in their own stock options. Tax laws have created loopholes for the partners of hedge funds and private-equity funds, special favors for the oil and gas industry, lower marginal income-tax rates on the highest incomes, and reduced estate taxes on great wealth.

All these instances represent distributions upward—toward big corporations and financial firms, and their executives and shareholders—and away from average working people."



"The underlying problem, then, is not that most Americans are “worth” less in the market than they had been, or that they have been living beyond their means. Nor is it that they lack enough education to be sufficiently productive. The more basic problem is that the market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average workers have steadily lost bargaining power—both economic and political—to receive as large a portion of the economy’s gains as they commanded in the first three decades after World War II. As a result, their means have not kept up with what the economy could otherwise provide them.

To attribute this to the impersonal workings of the “free market” is to disregard the power of large corporations and the financial sector, which have received a steadily larger share of economic gains as a result of that power. As their gains have continued to accumulate, so has their power to accumulate even more.

Under these circumstances, education is no panacea. Reversing the scourge of widening inequality requires reversing the upward distributions within the rules of the market, and giving workers the bargaining leverage they need to get a larger share of the gains from growth. Yet neither will be possible as long as large corporations and Wall Street have the power to prevent such a restructuring. And as they, and the executives and managers who run them, continue to collect the lion’s share of the income and wealth generated by the economy, their influence over the politicians, administrators, and judges who determine the rules of the game may be expected to grow.

The answer to this conundrum is not found in economics. It is found in politics. The changes in the organization of the economy have been reinforcing and cumulative: As more of the nation’s income flows to large corporations and Wall Street and to those whose earnings and wealth derive directly from them, the greater is their political influence over the rules of the market, which in turn enlarges their share of total income.

The more dependent politicians become on their financial favors, the greater is the willingness of such politicians and their appointees to reorganize the market to the benefit of these moneyed interests. The weaker unions and other traditional sources of countervailing power become economically, the less able they are to exert political influence over the rules of the market, which causes the playing field to tilt even further against average workers and the poor.

Ultimately, the trend toward widening inequality in America, as elsewhere, can be reversed only if the vast majority, whose incomes have stagnated and whose wealth has failed to increase, join together to demand fundamental change. The most important political competition over the next decades will not be between the right and left, or between Republicans and Democrats. It will be between a majority of Americans who have been losing ground, and an economic elite that refuses to recognize or respond to its growing distress."
robertreich  2015  economics  inequality  histoy  corporatism  politics  policy  wealth  productivity  globalization  markets  capitalism  labor  work  insecutiry  greatrecession  recession  unemployment  underemployment  finance  banks  banking  wallstreet  education  government  ideology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Sweet Briar Dilemma: Will Predatory Lending Take Down More Colleges? | Next New Deal
"What we can say, though, is that a million dollars here and a million dollars there adds up to real money that was desperately needed as Sweet Briar fought to stay afloat.  

We know that Wall Street collects higher fees on risky and complicated deals involving variable rate debt and hedging instruments, like the ones found in Sweet Briar's last few decades of financials, than from fixed rate debt deals. We know that they add on things like credit enhancements, further driving up the costs. We know that those higher fees mean that there is a clear financial incentive to sell schools, municipalities, and pension funds on these risky deals. And we know that it works in Wall Street's favor that someone like me can spend days digging into this stuff and still not be totally sure what the exact costs of these deals are.  

What we don't know is how all these things were allowed to happen at this particular school in this particular timeframe.  

Sweet Briar appears slated to close because it is a small organization without the resources to counter the huge information imbalance that has helped precipitate the financialization crisis. It is closing because it signed some terrible deals to get what must have felt like "needed" money at the time. You can see the reasons: a $14 million bond (with swaps) in 2001 for campus improvements. A $10 million bond in 2006 to pay off other bonds that had revealed their ugly side and were costing the school too much to be allowed to fully mature. But, as has so often been the case in everything from municipal finance to personal home loans, there was a problem in the small print. Like many other colleges, what appeared to be vital and even beneficial deals turned out to be nothing of the sort. Unlike many others, Sweet Briar was already close enough to the financial brink that these ongoing debts made the difference between staying open and closing its doors.

There are, of course, other very real pressures on Sweet Briar. Lower enrollment numbers do really hurt a school, and there are real questions about how to keep small, rural liberal arts institutions competitive in a higher education economy. None of these issues, however, compare to the fees, fines, penalties, and other losses that are all over Sweet Briar’s books.

Is Sweet Briar the canary in the coalmine? Banks are certainly making obscene profits on the backs of the swap deals in the UC system, at the University of Michigan, and at American University — and those are the places that we’ve found in our first month of looking. While those schools are solvent enough that these swaps are not pushing them to the brink of closing, they are exacerbating budget shortfalls and passing debt on to students through increased costs. These deals are also clearly making money for many school trustees whose day jobs happen to be with the giant banks. Here I find myself agreeing with Mark Cuban, at least in part: these trends are a part of a vicious cycle of borrowing that is wholly unsustainable, and will eventually lead to a crisis.

This is why the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network is working to track the ways in which financial institutions are extracting wealth from our colleges and universities, and make a clear case for demanding our money back. I hope that the storied institution of Sweet Briar can find a way to keep it's doors open in 2016, but even if it fails, that failure should wake us up to predatory practices at colleges and universities around the country."
sweetbriarcollege  education  highered  highereducation  wallstreet  banking  finance  2015  alansmith  predatorylending  banks 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A negative interest rate world? Why? | Ian Welsh
"Why there is too much money chasing returns is important, however, so I’m going to tease apart some of the reasons.

Central Bank Policy

Look, the ECB is buying bonds. The BOJ is buying bonds. The US was doing so. This is demand. It pushes the yield of bonds down.

China is printing piles of money, Japan is printing it, etc… That money isn’t staying in those economies, it is hunting through the world for returns or even just security. Federal Reserve policy has put a floor under losses from various securities by accepting that at near par, and Fed policy of free money has underwritten an epic bull market in securities.

No cleanup of the banking or shadow banking systems.

Most money is created by private actors. Banks, shadow banks (brokerages, etc…) There is no effective oversight of these organizations, still (you’d think after 2007, but you’d be wrong.) In fact, not only is there not enough oversight, but in most cases they’ve been effectively encourages to create more money. We have another derivatives bubble underway, we have housing bubbles in multiple countries (e.g. Canada and the UK), and while the US doesn’t have one, parts of the US, like Manhattan, do.

Oligopolistic profits.

US broadband profits are almost 100%-annualized. Every app store takes a 30% cut (a level which would have been shut down by regulators of the post-war liberal period.) Copyright law makes it difficult to impossible to create generic alternatives to common items. These have all led to very high profit levels, and those profits have largely been plowed back into stock buy backs (most corporate borrow is matched by stock buy backs). But much of the economy is not available to be bought on the stock market, many large investors can’t invest on the stock market by law (they have to invest in high-grade bonds), and much of those profits are now priced into stock prices anyway.

Inequality

In the United States more than all the gains of the last “recovery” have gone to the top 10% (really the top 3% or so.) There has limited broad based demand for new goods. Luxury goods, investment art, and London and Manhattan real-estate do not scale. Without widespread demand, opportunities for new businesses, with new employers, are limited.

Barriers to Entry

Much of this came under oligoplistic profits. Draconic “intellectual property” laws make it difficult to compete, bringing prices down and increasing volumes while freeing up money for people to spend on other things. 30% cuts from app stores and other virtual marketplaces make many businesses simply unprofitable—first they must make 30% for Apple or whoever, then they get to make a profit for themselves. But if you aren’t on those virtual marketplaces (and there is usually one which controls most of the business) you will not make enough sales to be viable. This sort of “you make no money without us, so we’ll take all the profits” behavior is little different from what the railroads did to farmers in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries.

And while there’s tons of credit for big business and people who are already rich, a new business trying to get funding faces huge barriers to getting money. It’s boutique investment, it requires a lot of time, and most investors would rather just buy bonds, structured securities, or play the stock market. Money may be cheap, but not for you.



No Future Till The Current Rich Can Monetize It

We could have had a lot of what we have today many years ago.  But the rich control the politicians, and the politicians won’t allow it to occur.  There was great squealing for years about subsidies for solar, and corruption in how they were given out, but they were always a rounding error compared to subsidies for oil, let along the military-industrial complex, big agriculture, pharma, health insurance, and so on.  All of those industries were powerful enough to strangle subsidies to competitors (solar, generic drugs, whatever) and strong enough to insist on new laws which strangled startups and competition (every copyright extension is nothing but an anti-competitive measure intended to keep profits coming to incumbents.)

Bottom Line

We have too much money chasing too few returns because we’ve spent 40 odd years making sure that ordinary people get less and less money; the rich get more; and that oligopolies are nurtured and protected.  The rich control government, and they intend to make sure that all the money goes to them.  Unfortunately, in a mass market economy, that means the economy becomes lousier and lousier.  This doesn’t matter to the rich because they are comparatively better off. Better a Czar amidst serfs than the CEO of General Motors in 1955."
deflation  inflation  labor  capitalism  power  inequality  economics  2015  ianwelsh  wealth  us  policy  banking  finance  wallstreet  oligarchs  intellectualproperty  copyright  patents  business 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Evidence Grows Showing Wall Street as a Negative Economic Force
"Wall Street’s overarching function today is that of an institutionalized wealth transfer mechanism, propped up by compromised regulators and a dysfunctional Congress. As the PBS program Frontline reported in 2013, if your work career spans 50 years and you receive the historic return of 7 percent on stocks in your 401(k) plan, the 2 percent typical fee charged by Wall Street mutual funds will gobble up almost two-thirds of your account.

The Frontline program was called “The Retirement Gamble.” Wall Street On Parade checked the math and found this was not a gamble but a certainty: “under a 2 percent 401(k) fee structure, almost two-thirds of your working life will go toward paying obscene compensation to Wall Street; a little over one-third will benefit your family – and that’s before paying taxes on withdrawals to Uncle Sam.”

All of these examples cited above are part and parcel of why the United States has the fourth most unequal income distribution in the developed world. That income inequality, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) is dampening growth prospects. The OECD found in a study released in September of 2014 that “countries where income inequality is decreasing grow faster than those with rising inequality.” The study noted that in Italy, the U.K. and the United States, “the cumulative growth rate would have been six to nine percentage points higher had income disparities not widened.”"
wallstreet  finance  capitalism  2015  government  policy  politics  economics  inequality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Karen Ho - Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street
"Financial collapses—whether of the junk bond market, the Internet bubble, or the highly leveraged housing market—are often explained as the inevitable result of market cycles: What goes up must come down. In Liquidated, Karen Ho punctures the aura of the abstract, all-powerful market to show how financial markets, and particularly booms and busts, are constructed. Through an in-depth investigation into the everyday experiences and ideologies of Wall Street investment bankers, Ho describes how a financially dominant but highly unstable market system is understood, justified, and produced through the restructuring of corporations and the larger economy.

Ho, who worked at an investment bank herself, argues that bankers’ approaches to financial markets and corporate America are inseparable from the structures and strategies of their workplaces. Her ethnographic analysis of those workplaces is filled with the voices of stressed first-year associates, overworked and alienated analysts, undergraduates eager to be hired, and seasoned managing directors. Recruited from elite universities as “the best and the brightest,” investment bankers are socialized into a world of high risk and high reward. They are paid handsomely, with the understanding that they may be let go at any time. Their workplace culture and networks of privilege create the perception that job insecurity builds character, and employee liquidity results in smart, efficient business. Based on this culture of liquidity and compensation practices tied to profligate deal-making, Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image. Their mission is the creation of shareholder value, but Ho demonstrates that their practices and assumptions often produce crises instead. By connecting the values and actions of investment bankers to the construction of markets and the restructuring of U.S. corporations, Liquidated reveals the particular culture of Wall Street often obscured by triumphalist readings of capitalist globalization."

[via: http://disabilityhistory.tumblr.com/post/90108204719/shrinkrants-laura-nader-quoted-from-up-the ]
wallstreet  culture  ethnography  anthropology  capitalism  2009  books  kernho  insecurity  corporatism  ideology 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Chris Hedges: As a Socialist, I Have No Voice in the Mainstream - Pt 6 of 7
"I think we’re in this kind of strange period when the language we use to describe our economic and political system no longer matches the reality. I mean, laissez-faire capitalism—we don’t live in a system of laissez-faire capitalism when the federal government bails out these institutions to the tunes of trillions of dollars and then keeps pumping out free money from the Fed and handing it to—that’s not laissez-faire capitalism. And yet I’m sure that if you went to Wharton or Harvard Business School, they would still be teaching this fictional system. And we haven’t yet moved into a period where the vocabulary we use to describe our reality matches that reality. And that’s always a revolutionary period, because there’s a disconnect between the way we speak about ourselves and the way we actually function. And that’s where we are. And so we in many ways are searching for the words to describe what’s happening to us and then to articulate another vision of where we want to go. And we haven’t gotten there yet."

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/56796659481/i-think-were-in-this-kind-of-strange-period-when ]

[The rest in the series at The Real News website with transcripts:
part 1 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10441
part 2 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10449
part 3 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10456
part 4 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10461
part 5 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10468
part 7 http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10486

And on Youtube:
part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1JF94vovww
part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR0oGJ2yrmc
part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vWcyetC3CI
part 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCjMdOo7KkY
part 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff-G0DPkBv8
part 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX6n861Gu6Q
part 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNm_GAIXOWw ]
change  revolution  chrishedges  socialism  economics  language  capitalism  corporatism  environment  sustainability  2013  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  bailouts  corporatesocialism  businessschools  corruption  society  reality  transition  disconnect  nationalization  coldwar  neoliberalism  activism  socialunrest  socialactivism  movements  barackobama  trends  pauljay  elites  elitism  liberalelite  justice  gender  multiculturalism  identitypolitics  workingclass  nafta  outsourcing  stagnation  labor  wallstreet  finance  power  us  history  poverty  journalism  radicalism  radicalization  class  nytimes  socialjustice  goldmansachs  moralimperative  ralphnader  alternative  christiananarchism  anarchism  anarchy  richardnixon 
july 2013 by robertogreco
New data shows school “reformers” are full of it - Salon.com
"In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education “reform”) go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.

That gets to the news that exposes “reformers’” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 … up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”

Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

Because of who comprises it and how it is financed, the education “reform” movement has a clear self-interest in continuing to say yes, we should believe such fact-free pabulum. And you can bet that movement will keep saying “yes” — and that the corporate media will continue to cheer them as heroes for saying “yes” — as long as public education money keeps being diverted into corporate coffers."
education  politics  reform  edreform  2013  statistics  poverty  schools  accountability  michellerhee  teaching  learning  us  policy  michaelbloomberg  nyc  rahmemmanuel  chicago  inequality  wallstreet  specialinterests  unions  teachersunions  teachers  arneduncan  incomegap  davidsirota  seanreardon 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Philanthropic Complex
"The truth is that organizations whose missions foreground the “sociological and spiritual” go mostly without funding. Take for instance the sad tale of the Center for the New American Dream (NAD), created in 1997 by Betsy Taylor (herself a funder with the Merck Family Fund). NAD’s original mission statement gave a priority to “quality of life” issues.

We envision a society that values more of what matters—not just more…a new emphasis on non-material values like financial security, fairness, community, health, time, nature, and fun.

This is exactly the sort of “big picture” that philanthropy has been mostly unwilling to fund because, it argues, it is so difficult to provide “accountability” data for issues like “work and time” and “fun” (!). (To which one might reasonably reply, “Why do you fund only those things that are driven by data?”)…

One of the most maddening experiences for those who seek the support of private philanthropy is the lack of transparency…"
nonprofits  halclifford  orion  markets  publicadvocacy  nad  newamericandream  95-5  corruption  investment  conflictsofinterest  gatesfoundation  transparency  anonymity  self-preservation  wealth  thephilanthropiccomplex  privilege  mediocrity  influence  wallstreet  2012  riskmanagement  ngo  biggreen  environmentalism  change  government  policy  environment  restrictedgifts  control  fear  foundations  jacobinmag  progressivism  power  money  capitalism  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit 
june 2012 by robertogreco
The Biology of Bubble and Crash
The hubris that traders experience during a bubble can be as overwhelming as passionate desire or wall-banging anger. They are under the influence of some naturally produced narcotic, one that can transform them into different people. I have come to think of it as the “molecule of irrational exuberance,” and to take seriously the possibility that during bubbles — and crashes — the financial community turns into a clinical population [...]

we found that higher testosterone led to greater risk-taking. These experiments are continuing, but the preliminary data was strong enough to be published by the National Academy of Sciences. We collected equally powerful data suggesting that the molecule of irrational pessimism — which we suspect can promote chronic risk aversion, driving a bear market into a crash — is the stress hormone cortisol.

Understanding the effects of human biology on the markets should profoundly change how we see them, and their pathologies. At the moment, I fear we have the worst of both worlds — an unstable biology coupled with policies that encourage too much risk-taking during bubbles and too little during crashes, as well as a bonus scheme that penalizes prudent risk-taking. Nature and nurture conspire to create recurrent disasters. Risk management needs to dampen these biological waves, not amplify them [...]

One way to do that would be to encourage a more even balance within banks among men and women, young and old. Women and older men have a fraction of the testosterone of young men, so if more of them managed money, we could perhaps stabilize the markets. We could also look to sports scientists for guidance, for they are the ones with the most skill at managing biology in the interests of performance, at developing a resilience to exuberance, fatigue and stress.
humanbody  hormone  stress  cortisol  wallstreet  diversity  prediction  human  body  via:Taryn  bodies 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Fables of Wealth - NYTimes.com
"ethics in capitalism is purely optional, purely extrinsic. To expect morality in the market is to commit a category error. Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian ones… Capitalist values are also antithetical to democratic ones…

…neither entrepreneurs nor the rich have a monopoly on brains, sweat or risk. There are scientists — and artists and scholars — who are just as smart as any entrepreneur, only they are interested in different rewards.

…“Poor Americans are urged to hate themselves,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote in “Slaughterhouse-Five.” And so, “they mock themselves and glorify their betters.” Our most destructive lie, he added, “is that it is very easy for any American to make money.” The lie goes on. The poor are lazy, stupid and evil. The rich are brilliant, courageous and good. They shower their beneficence upon the rest of us."

[See also: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/421662-america-is-the-wealthiest-nation-on-earth-but-its-people

"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves…. It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."]
politics  classwarfare  poverty  lies  incompatibility  democracy  kurtvonnegut  finance  wallstreet  1%  policy  government  jobcreation  wealth  psychopathy  morality  ethics  motivation  science  art  corporations  corporatism  corporateculture  businessschool  business  entrepreneurship  christianity  capitalism  2012  williamderesiewicz  vonnegut  slaughterhouse-five 
may 2012 by robertogreco
DEAR AMERICA: It's Time To Say A Big 'Thank You' To Amazon
"Amazon is investing (and hiring) while many other American corporations are milking incumbent businesses, under-investing in research and development, and hoarding cash. To the chagrin of some traders, Amazon is distinctly NOT "maximizing near-term profits" — it is sacrificing near-term profits. It is making less money now in the hopes of making more money and creating more value later. And it is ignoring the howls and screams of short-term traders who couldn't care less about Amazon's long-term prognosis, add nothing to the economy, and just want to make money now.

If more American companies started to do what Amazon does — ignore short-term pressures, sacrifice near-term profits, and invest for the long-term — the American economy would start to heal itself quickly."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/12030550839/amazon-is-investing-and-hiring-while-many-other ]
amazon  shortterm  longterm  investment  2011  self-interest  capitalism  business  economics  wallstreet  occupywallstreet  ows  greed  finance  self-interestproperlyunderstood 
october 2011 by robertogreco
30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died | Common Dreams
"It all began on this day, 30yrs ago. [Reagan fired every member of air traffic controllers union] One of darkest days in US history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had money, media & cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset & wanted their country, life, job, weekend, time w/ kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget the 20% who support Tea Party—we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. & not through online petition or tweet. We are going to have to turn TV, computer & video games off & get out in streets (like in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine & stop taking corporate money—or step aside.

When is enough, enough?…middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves & Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?"
michaelmoore  1981  2011  wisconsin  protest  wallstreet  greed  havesandhavenots  politics  policy  economics  apathy  ronaldreagan  activism  passivity  unions  collectivism 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Nothing 'mindless' about rioters - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"The global economic crisis is at least as political as the riots we've seen in the last few days. It has lasted far longer and done far more damage. We need not draw a straight line from the decision to bail out the banks to what's going on now in London. But we must not lose sight of what both events tell us about our current condition. Those who want to see law and order restored must turn their attention to a menace that no amount of riot police will disperse; a social and political order that rewards vandalism and the looting of public property, so long as the perpetrators are sufficiently rich and powerful."
2011  capitalism  uk  class  london  riots  society  crime  punishment  inequality  finance  wallstreet  banking  law  order  danielhind  classwarfare  economics 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Dodd-Frank Update - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 07/28/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
"The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act sings about having its ass f**ked raw for a year."
dodd-frank  fraud  finance  financereform  elizabethwarren  wallstreet  corruption  congress  lobbying  government  us  2011  via:cburell 
july 2011 by robertogreco
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace Episode 1 | varnelis.net
"But I had high hopes for this series. It had been some time since he had made a new one and I thought that by now he would have reworked his style and produced something of striking originality. I had hoped for a fresh take on network culture. After all, I will be the first with my hand in the air to accuse network culture of promoting elitism and individualism. Its influence on our society, particularly on the academy and the creative fields, has been pervasive and pernicious.

All Watched Over, alas, almost descends into self-parody. The first episode seems to loosely take Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's fifteen year old Californian Ideology article as a reference point (although he fails to mention that they coined the term in a critical essay and misses the point about the critical influence of the counterculture in forging Silicon Valley's libertarian mindset) but he veers off into a protracted discussion of Ayn Rand."
aynrand  kazysvarnelis  allwathedoverbymachinesoflovinggrace  adamcurtis  networkculture  networks  californianideology  andycameron  richardbarbrook  alangreenspan  wallstreet  chicagoschool  billclinton  geoffwaite  davidharvey  cyberculture  fredturner  thecenturyoftheself  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Have we officially returned to when the Robber Barons ruled? | Thom Hartmann - News & info from the #1 progressive radio show
"We know millions around nation have been screwed over by predatory lenders & fine print credit card contracts—& now are swimming in debt.  But can you believe that some of these people are actually being thrown in prison for going into debt? That’s right—American in 21st century is bringing back debtors’ prisons.  People who can’t pay off their credit cards can be thrown in jail in a third of states in our nation—& since the start of 2010—5,000+ arrest warrants have been issued against people who owe as little as $1,000 to massively profitable corporations like Capital One. <br />
<br />
So let me get this straight—a few years after the financial crisis where massive fraud was perpetrated by Wall Street—not one bankster is in jail—but 5,000 low or middle-class Americans who were screwed over by these banksters were sent to debtor’s prison?<br />
<br />
It’s official—Republicans have set our country back more than 100 years—to 1800’s—when Robber Barons ruled & our politics were corrupted to the core."
debtorprisons  thomhartmann  us  policy  economics  crime  law  wallstreet  debt  creditcards  robberbarons  2011 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About
"It's not clear how this will get turned around. Unions, for better or worse, are history…

And yet: The heart & soul of liberalism is economic egalitarianism. Without it, Wall Street will continue to extract ever vaster sums from the American economy, the middle class will continue to stagnate, & the left will continue to lack the powerful political & cultural energy necessary for a sustained period of liberal reform.…

Over the past 40 years, the American left has built an enormous institutional infrastructure dedicated to mobilizing money, votes, & public opinion on social issues, & this has paid off with huge strides in civil rights, feminism, gay rights, environmental policy, and more. But the past two years have demonstrated that that isn't enough. If the left ever wants to regain the vigor that powered earlier eras of liberal reform, it needs to rebuild the infrastructure of economic populism that we've ignored for too long."
politics  left  us  policy  plutocracy  wealth  power  income  finance  wallstreet  unions  future  egalitarianism  history  reform  change  wisonsin  2011  disparity  stagnation  society  taxes  incomegap  labor  middleclass  wealthdistribution 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Kevin Slavin on Lift 11: Geneva - live streaming video powered by Livestream
Quotes transcribed by David Smith: "things we write but can no longer read"; "three problems … opacity, inscrutability … The third one is darker and a little bit harder to describe — I don't even know what to call it yet"; flash crash; dark pools; 60% of all movies rented on Netflix are rented because Netflix recommended them; 70% of current Wall St trades are algorithms trying to be invisible or other algorithms trying to find the invisible algorithms"
kevinslavin  technology  algorithms  evolution  wallstreet  cities  darkpools  netflix  trading  finance  invisibilealgorithms  financialservices  realestate  nyc  manhattan  songs  film  television  tv  opacity  inscrutability  elevators  lift11  roomba  robots 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics
"So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: 1. Bankers: 0. The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons & fill them with people for selling dime bags & stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion $? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It's not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they're sorry, & move on. Oh, wait—let's not even make them say they're sorry. That's too mean; let's just give them a piece of paper w/ a government stamp on it, officially clearing them of the need to apologize, & make them pay a fine instead. But don't make them pay it out of their own pockets, & don't ask them to give back the money they stole. In fact, let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay & benefits last year. What's next? Taxpayer-funded massages for every Wall Street executive guilty of fraud?"
economics  finance  politics  us  policy  corruption  wallstreet  crime  2011  fraud  matttaibbi  wealth  discrimination  favoritism 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Wall Street, investment bankers, and social good : The New Yorker
"What Good Is Wall Street? Much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless."<br />
<br />
"Since the early nineteen-eighties, by contrast, financial blowups have proliferated and living standards have stagnated. Is this coincidence? For a long time, economists and policymakers have accepted the financial industry’s appraisal of its own worth, ignoring the market failures and other pathologies that plague it. Even after all that has happened, there is a tendency in Congress and the White House to defer to Wall Street because what happens there, befuddling as it may be to outsiders, is essential to the country’s prosperity. Finally, dissidents like Paul Woolley are questioning this narrative. “There was a presumption that financial innovation is socially valuable,” Woolley said to me. “The first thing I discovered was that it wasn’t backed by any empirical evidence. There’s almost none.”"
wallstreet  finance  economics  investment  meltdown  investing  politics  social  policy  society  value  banking  money 
november 2010 by robertogreco
So Simple, So Very Simple | ATTACKERMAN
"Like Wall Street recruiters, TFA recruiters are “really in your face & make it very easy.”...they soothe anxieties of lib-arts majors w/ 1 hand by promising that no prior substantive exp is necessary, while w/ other hand feed Ivy elitism by promising recruits they are uniquely qualified...both emphasize skills recruits will learn for rest of careers—ability to navigate system—at least as much as what they’re actually going to do for 2 yrs, & whom it will affect.
us  policy  economics  recruiting  tfa  schools  education  wallstreet  ivyleague  liberalarts  experience  elitism  teachforamerica 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: Tobin Tax!
"If education was partially funded by a tax on financial transactions, a Tobin Tax, as Robert Reich proposes below, the net effect of today's market hiccup would be... more money for schools!

This is a good thing to bring up whenever a hedge fund creep or other millionaire starts talking about what's "best for kids.""
robertreich  tomhoffman  tobintax  schools  funding  publicschools  education  policy  taxes  finance  transactions  money  wallstreet  economics  humancapital 
may 2010 by robertogreco
The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future | Beyond The Beyond
[taken from: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Impact-of-the-Internet-on-Institutions-in-the-Future/Main-Findings.aspx?r=1 ]

“Scale is still important. Companies like Cisco have shown how to continue to innovate by acquisition, but big question is how do corporations gracefully end? How can we break cycle of Wall Street, a strong financial services industry is simply not good for society. WS does not improve productivity, the model is parasitic, transferring huge resources out of system. I am looking forward to next phase of the industrial revolution.” – Glen Edens..."Institutions are in dire crisis. Most institutions (schools & universities, political parties & governments, enterprises, clubs, & associations) were created to lower the costs of gathering information, engaging w/ our peers & taking decisions or performing some tasks. When these costs drop because of digital technologies, many institutions have to re‐think where are they adding value & where not, having to be able to get rid of the value‐less activities they perform & concentrate in the ones that still make sense." —Ismael Peña‐Lopez
accountability  transparency  education  institutions  disruption  internet  pew  change  2010  glenedens  ismaelpeña-lópez  wallstreet  finance  organizations  gamechanging  reform  parasites  corporations  businesscycle  information  teaching  learning  communities  evolution  value  efficiency  productivity 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Wall Street's Bailout Hustle : Rolling Stone
"the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of bailout was implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating & prosecuting insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money & guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. & what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit & bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, & looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence that they still don't get it."
matttaibbi  banking  goldmansachs  corruption  finance  business  policy  wallstreet  fraud  bailout  economics  politics  economy  crisis  aig  2010 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Builders' Manifesto - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today's biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations slightly better. It's building better organizations in the first place. It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism. Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected "art for art's sake," so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization's sake — instead of for society's. Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, & societies. They're the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, & customers."
constructivism  innovation  business  economics  future  design  productivity  umairhaque  leadership  barackobama  middlemanagement  finance  2009  policy  politics  healthcare  creativity  motivation  work  management  administration  builders  organizations  value  evanwilliams  billgates  wallstreet  elinorostrom  matttaibbi  nicholaskristof  maureendowd  benbernake  mohammadyunus  statusquo  sarahpalin  nelsonmandela  power  thomasfriedman 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Obama's Big Sellout : Rolling Stone
"What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside."
barackobama  economics  politics  bailout  government  finance  policy  matttaibbi  wallstreet  banking  fraud  democrats  corruption  banks  citigroup  goldmansachs  money 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Arianna Huffington: Barack Obama Must See Michael Moore's New Movie (and So Must You)!
"while...shooting climax of movie...mark[ing] Wall Street as crime scene, putting up yellow police tape around some of financial district's towers of power...unfurling tape in front of a "too big to fail" bank, he became aware of a group of NY's finest approaching...in this case he knew he was, however temporarily, defacing private property...shooting schedule didn't leave room for a detour to the local jail. So, as the lead officer came closer, Moore tried to deflect him, saying: "Just doing a little comedy here, officer. I'll be gone in a minute & will clean up before I go." The officer looked at him for a moment, then leaned in: "Take all the time you need." He nodded to the bank..."These guys wiped out a lot of our Police Pension Funds." The officer turned & slowly headed back to his squad car. Moore wanted to put the moment in his film, but realized it could cost the cop his job & decided to leave it out. "When they've lost the police," he told me, "you know they're in trouble."
michaelmoore  huffingtonpost  politics  economics  greed  wallstreet  capitalism  crisis  finance  film  police  us 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: Those Young Idealists
"Tom Friedman's column from yesterday on education is perverse in every facet, but this line made me smile: With Wall Street’s decline, though, many more educated and idealistic youth want to try teaching. Ah yes, those "idealists" who were in recent years going to Wall Street, for idealistic reasons, and have now thought better of it, on equally idealistic terms. Can we have some of those?"
thomasfriedman  tomhoffman  teaching  crisis  idealists  scary  markets  2009  wallstreet  education  schools 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The Big Takeover : Rolling Stone
"As complex as all the finances are, the politics aren't hard to follow. By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below."
2009  crisis  banking  wallstreet  politics  economics  recession  corruption  aig  us  matttaibbi  money  finance  business  bailout  investing 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Atlantic Online | December 2008 | Why Wall Street Always Blows It | Henry Blodget
"So what can we learn from all this? In the words of the great investor Jeremy Grantham, who saw this collapse coming and has seen just about everything else in his four-decade career: “We will learn an enormous amount in a very short time, quite a bit in the medium term, and absolutely nothing in the long term.” Of course, to paraphrase Keynes, in the long term, you and I will be dead. Until that time comes, here are three thoughts I hope we all can keep in mind." [via: http://askpang.typepad.com/relevant_history/2008/12/the-atlantic-on-financial-bubbles.html]
wallstreet  markets  2008  finance  realestate  politics  history 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Wallet : What A Bear Market Might Teach Us
"So I know what it means to scrimp and save, to do more with less, even to do without. The most important lesson that I learned, I believe, is that money is not wealth. Benjamin Graham once wrote that the secret to happiness is learning to live well within your means. Did he mean to “live well” within your means, or to live “well within” your means? I think he intentionally left the sentence ambiguous." ... "My kind of childhood might not have been for everybody, but a couple of steps back in that direction wouldn’t hurt anybody. Take it from someone who most emphatically was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth: Thrift really is a virtue. Like all virtues, you have to practice it to keep it. And most people won’t ever practice it unless they feel they have to."
money  economics  wealth  life  simplicity  frugality  thrift  culture  us  investing  finance  wallstreet  cv 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Geoff Canada: Fixation on “outcomes” will hurt poor communities | GothamSchools
“We’re giving huge amounts of money to people who admit that not only have they failed … but they almost destroyed the whole economic system of the world,” Canada said, his voice rising as he referred to the Wall Street bailout that is costing taxpayers more than $700 billion. “Then somebody asks me if kids should take violin and do I have evidence?!”
bailout  finance  education  policy  funding  money  teaching  schools  wallstreet 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Blaine Lourd Profile - Executive Articles - Portfolio.com
"The problem was the entire edifice of modern Wall Street, in which some people —- brokers, analysts, mutual fund managers, hedge fund managers -— presented themselves as experts and were paid fantastic sums of money for their expertise. But essentially, Ellis argued, there was no such thing as financial expertise. "I read this book," Blaine says, "and I thought, My whole life is a lie, and everyone around me is facilitating this lie.""
economics  business  money  wallstreet  trading  investing  michaellewis  finance  banking  investment 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The New Trough: The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq — a "free-fraud zone" where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create [also at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/24012700/the_new_trough/print]
"There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury's plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped - a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals - and there will be more - has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control - from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment - are limitless.
world  capitalism  bailout  naomiklein  us  crisis  2008  banking  finance  wallstreet  corruption  money  henrypaulson  iraq 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Wall Street Lays Another Egg: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
"Not so long ago, the dollar stood for a sum of gold, and bankers knew the people they lent to. The author charts the emergence of an abstract, even absurd world—call it Planet Finance—where mathematical models ignored both history and human nature, and value had no meaning."
crisis  economics  finance  2008  wallstreet  collapse  banking  politics  culture  business  history  us  money 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The End of Wall Street's Boom - National Business News - Portfolio.com
"In the 2 decades since then, I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting internet bubble, the crisis following collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over & over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents’ world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces? At some point, I gave up waiting for the end. There was no scandal or reversal, I assumed, that could sink the system." ... "moment Salomon Brothers demonstrated potential gains to be had by investment bank as public corporation, psychological foundations of Wall Street shifted from trust to blind faith."
michaellewis  creditcrunch  crisis  finance  markets  subprime  economics  history  business  money  2008  banking  corruption  wallstreet  liarspoker  politics 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Pharyngula: Where's Charlton Heston when you need him?
"Some Christian fanatics are concerned, quite reasonably, about the economy, and have chosen, quite absurdly, to try and correct the problem with prayer. So far, so typical, but then … well, they picked a peculiarly oblivious way to do it. They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street."
humor  christianity  politics  culture  economics  wallstreet  irony  goldencalf 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Reversal of Fortune: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
"Describing how ideology, special-interest pressure, populist politics, and sheer incompetence have left the U.S. economy on life support, the author puts forth a clear, commonsense plan to reverse the Bush-era follies and regain America’s economic sanity." ... "When the American economy enters a downturn, you often hear the experts debating whether it is likely to be V-shaped (short and sharp) or U-shaped (longer but milder). Today, the American economy may be entering a downturn that is best described as L-shaped. It is in a very low place indeed, and likely to remain there for some time to come."
josephstiglitz  economics  us  crisis  bailout  2008  banking  finance  money  policy  politics  sustainability  energy  longterm  future  taxes  biofuels  oil  gamechanging  regulation  subprime  meltdown  recession  wallstreet  reaganomics  georgewbush  housing  jobs  markets  unemployment  freemarkets  greatdepression  wealth  disparity  lending  reform  change 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Open Left:: Yes, There Are Deeply Angry Democratic Members of Congress
From the email of an anonymous lawmaker: "Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers. Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible." And he goes on from there...
politics  economics  us  housing  government  2008  finance  anonymous  bailout  congress  democrats  recession  crisis  wallstreet  money 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab - Lessons From the Macropocalypse
"the Fed bailing out AIG is kind of jaw-dropping as a total evisceration of the bedrock of the financial system - and orthodox finance and economics.
umairhaque  massivechange  gamechanging  economics  us  2008  crisis  banking  finance  wallstreet  opportunity  change  revolution  wealth  strategy 
september 2008 by robertogreco
BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » What $700 billion could buy
"$700 billion to bail out the idiots who got us into this mess...end up with nothing to show for it...[what else could we get]...national wi-max buildout would cost between $5 billion and $14.5 billion...we could give every American free broadband access for 20 years...3.5 billion One Laptop Per Child machines...4.4 million free college educations at private institutions...triple total annual R&D spending in the U.S...."
finance  crisis  economics  future  investment  wallstreet  banking  via:preoccupations 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » Financial Melt Up
"I’d rather spend these precious minutes explaining why the financial meltdown is not a bad thing for a lot of us...All this means is that you can’t count on capitalism anymore. Your wealth is not how many paper assets you have. It’s not even how much land you have (or think you have). It’s what you can do. It’s your value to other people...The sooner you “drop out” of the speculative economy and its abstract concerns, the sooner you will be able to create and provide real value for the people all around you, and the better position you will be in to get what you need for yourself and your family. This is not bad; it is good. The pain that people are about to go through now is not the product of the speculative economy’s failure, but its former and intentional unjust success."
economics  finance  capitalism  crisis  wallstreet  value  speculation  2008  douglasrushkoff 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Stock Market Meltdowns - Why they will happen again and again and again - Blog Maverick
"There is one major problem on Wall Street, that until solved, will result in meltown after meltdown in future years. I can't say if the meltdown monkey will hit every 2,3, 5 or 10 years. But I can say with certainty that it will happen again. Why ? Because Risk and Reward have been decoupled for CEOs on Wall Street. If you are the CEO of a major public company, once you qualify for your golden parachute there is absolutely no reason not to throw the Hail Mary pass, and do high risk deals every chance you get. If you run a major hedge fund or fund of any kind, once you have put enough cash in the bank to get to your "F U Money Level" there is absolutely no reason not to throw the Hail Mary pass and make high risk investments every chance you get."
wallstreet  markcuban  economics  politics  business  finance  markets  money  stockmarket 
september 2008 by robertogreco
U.S. financial crisis spreads toward your wallet | csmonitor.com
"In 2006, well before the financial crisis broke on the shores of the American economy, Ann Lee wrote a 22-page paper on "Wall Street's House of Cards." It warned of the danger to the nation from the sale of trillions of dollars of complex financial products called "structured credit derivatives" ... Seeking a reaction to her paper, she sent it to officials in Washington. Lee received an e-mail reply from Lawrence Lindsey, director of the National Economic Council under the first President Bush, who wrote that "both the practitioners and the regulators are well aware of the risks that are out there," including those in the subprime mortgage market. Mr. Lindsey held that the deregulated mortgage market was "much better" in early 2007 than the more regulated one in 1991, when there were also credit-market problems."
banking  finance  dept  economics  us  derivitives  wallstreet  mortgages  subprime  hedgefunds  regulation  deregulation  fauxpenmarkets  transparency 
september 2008 by robertogreco
The decline and fall of the American empire of debt - How the World Works - Salon.com
"If you believe all the furious activity on Wall Street...is just bunch of speculation & froth that doesn't result in creation of anything real...never been better time for pointing out disasters that ensue when rest of world also realizes that WS is wear
finance  us  economics  markets  world  productivity  debt  wealth  oil  wallstreet  peakoil  energy  global  politics  geopolitics  corruption 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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