Saturday, February 18, 2012

If US Land Were Divided Like US Wealth...

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Krugman: 'People Should Be In Jail' Because Of Financial Crisis

'People Should Be In Jail' Because Of Financial Crisis
Huffington Post, 2/17/12

"...We know, you just bought that copy of Playboy for the Paul Krugman interview.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist may not be center-fold material (or maybe you're into that middle-aged bearded wonky economist sort of thing? We're not judging), but he's using the iconic magazine to discuss his views on the sexiest of topics, you guessed it: the financial crisis. Read full interview here

"It's hard for me to believe there were no crimes," Krugman told Playboy. "Given the scale of [the financial crisis], given how many corners were being cut, some people must have violated laws. I think people should be in jail."

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Saturday, February 4, 2012


" If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." 
                                                                       -- Jerry Seinfeld
So, if you are an editorial writer at the Wall Street Journal, it's always a good time to chop wages, fire workers and ship jobs overseas.

On Friday (2/3),  the WSJ chided Mitt Romney for trying to walk back from his blunt statements that he didn't particularly care about helping the poor.
"...If Mr. Romney wanted to help the poor and stay true to his free-market principles, he'd have cited the youth and minority jobless figures and proposed a special sub-minimum wage for teenagers. It's hardly a radical position, and it would get him back on the moral and political offensive."
Yes, that's right, the way to help young workers is by doing the opposite of what would help them.  Perhaps if the minimum wage is reduced to a dime or a nickel, Apple will open FoxConn-style assembly plants here, so teenagers can have the privilege of assembling their own iPhones.  Of course they would then hardly be able to afford an iPhone, their rent, or a meal at McDonald's (which would seem like a high-road job by comparison.)  But who knows, maybe wages and prices will fall there as well, in a veritable orgy of Dickensian capitalism.

The lineage for this counterintuitive approach goes all the way back to laissez-faire and the invisible hand.  But it really hit its stride in the 1980s, when Greed became Good, shareholder value became preeminent, and "lean and mean" became a badge of honor.

When you throw away a factory, you are ripping up social contracts and often squandering the public's co-investments in education and training, research and development, roads, bridges, and ports.

But, Earth to Wall Street Journal -- America tried your approach -- remember?  You had your enterprize zones, and your subminimum wage in the maqiladoras along the border in Mexico, and many other satellite sweatshop republics -- and most of those jobs ended up going to China anyway.

Maybe the current conditions of mass unemployment and stagnant wages are a wake-up call to start doing the opposite of what the corporate raiders and corporate business heroes have been telling us.  Why not do some things that actually help workers, like improving wages and benefits?  This isn't rocket science.  Investing in infrastructure, education, clean energy, and caregiving yields many more jobs per billion, when compared to investing in the Wall St. Journal's preferred industries -- finance, military spending, and oil and gas drilling.

Yes, let's do the opposite of what we've been told.  Guarantee the right to a job for all, and develop good jobs that will stay here in the United States.   Let's see how that turns out, for a change.

George does the Opposite (Seinfeld show script)

George : It's not working, Jerry. It's just not working.
Jerry : What is it that isn't working?
George : Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but ... I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat ... It's all been wrong.

( A waitress comes up to George)

Waitress : Tuna on toast, coleslaw, cup of coffee.
George : Yeah. No, no, no, wait a minute, I always have tuna on toast. Nothing's ever worked out for me with tuna on toast. I want the complete opposite of tuna on toast. Chicken salad, on rye, untoasted ... and a cup of tea.
Elaine : Well, there's no telling what can happen from this.
Jerry : You know chicken salad is not the opposite of tuna, salmon is the opposite of tuna, 'cos salmon swim against the current, and the tuna swim with it.
George : Good for the tuna.

( A blonde woman looks at George )

Elaine : Ah, George, you know, that woman just looked at you.
George : So what? What am I supposed to do?
Elaine : Go talk to her.
George : Elaine, bald men, with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don't approach strange women.
Jerry : Well here's your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.
George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
George : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do
( He goes over to the woman )
George : Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you were looking in my direction.
Victoria : Oh, yes I was, you just ordered the same exact lunch as me.
( G takes a deep breath )
George : My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents.
Victoria : I'm Victoria. Hi!

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