Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wall Street Virus

I see from this morning's news clippings that the Wall Street protests have gone viral, speeding across the so-called civilized world faster than a cold in a school classroom.

I thought for a time it would just go away. But it hasn't because conditions are ripe for spread. The world's economic body is ill, run-down, weak, suffering. It is open to all kinds of infections and bugs. So, damn. Now I have to think about it and adopt a posture.

That's what we bloggers do. Adopt postures.

Ahahahaha. I see the late Twiggy strutting her bony body down the fashion boardwalk, the late Mychael Jackson on stage tipping his hat with a white-gloved hand, and the very late Charlie Chaplin looking big-eyed and innocent whilst leaning silently on a cane. You youngsters might instead see Showtime dancers grabbing at their crotch or Kris Aquino fattening up on Goldilocks sweets or Manny Pacquiao smiling during his march to the ring where he knows he is about to pulverize another chump and make millions.

My posture is hunched over a Chinese keyboard whacking away at letters in hopes that something articulate might come out. Sometimes it does.

Here's my posture on protests.

The Occupy Wall Street movement fancies itself as a counter to the Tea Party conservatives. The Tea Party emerged from a bunch of old folks dissatisfied with the spending habits of Congress and blossomed as the megaphone for loud right wingers who tutored under the subtle charm of Rush Limbaugh and the calm introspection of Glen Beck and the fair and balanced perspective of the leaning tower of rightward tilt, Fox News.

My posture on that was to shrug. Even nitwits who require a collective to support them in their strident and irrational demands have a right to meddle with the American Way.

So I rather think the same thing regarding Occupy Wall Street. Even nitwits who require a collective to support them in their strident and irrational demands have a right to meddle with the American Way.

I do find amusing, and quite ridiculous, the media's obsession with things American. There's the CNN lady and the BBC yokel in downtown New York reporting breathlessly about "the several hundred" protestors gathered there. Now, frankly folks,  it is rather a bit of unmitigated gall for these hundreds of wayward bodies to claim they represent 99% of Americans, 98% of whom are in bed resting from last night's alcoholic or sex binge and looking forward to a day on the couch watching sports and gnashing nachos. Well, that's the guys, and the sex may only have been in their imaginations. The ladies are thinking about their nails or about running down to the mall to buy a new handbag. The youth are on Facebook being inane, as youth are wont to do.

Now what is going on in Syria is a protest. What is going on in Egypt is a protest. What is going on in New York or Denver or London is a youthful spit of frustration that is not based on very deep thinking. It smacks of trying too hard to be like other righteous malcontents raging in the streets.

It smacks of the same kind of jealousy you see in the Philippines where the "have nots" rip the "haves" because they can't figure out how to get even a little. Scape goats, excuse mongering. Venting.

"Corporate greed."

Baby, examined through a different set of colored glasses, it is called "profit motivation". It is the drive to succeed that underpins ALL jobs in America. It is the gold statue we all aspire toward, more wealth, more capability, self-improvement. It's just that these banking guys outdid us. They played it right, with their education, their connections, their achievements. Maybe luck was in there, too.

Why knock them down and undermine the fundamental dynamic that assures America's economic health and vibrancy, built on personal aspiration and success?

Controlling salaries and benefits for CEO's is like controlling rents. It creates so many anomalies in the economic bucket that holes pop out all over the place and it no longer holds water.

Stick with the principles. Markets define limits. Competition defines success.

Spending tax money to get the banks through an economic meltdown was a smart thing to do. It saved America. That the banks are back competing for talent again and paying their CEO's obscene amounts only means that the effort succeeded.

Indeed, I think exactly the opposite of the Wall Street crowd. I view America's corporations as a strategic strength, one of the ways to assure that Europe's shenanigans (subsidizing Airbus to undercut Boeing) or China's cheating (stealing every industrial secret they can get their hands on, whilst going around the world bullying small kids) don't undermine America's economic well-being. Don't CONSTRAIN big corporations by micro-managing how much they pay their CEO.

Let the dog's lose.

Stop double-taxing corporations. Stop harassing them about taking jobs overseas or operating in countries where human rights conditions are a little loose (like the Philippines). Stop playing moralist to the world and expecting the driver's of America's wealth to stand as proxies for some kind of religious fervor in favor of kindness. Companies are not people, contrary to what Mitt Romney claims. They are apersonal organisms of productive might. They are a concept, a principle. Compete well and generate wealth.

Why beat on them with sticks?

THAT will create wealth and jobs???

That's my posture.


  1. Joe,

    As a rule, government has no place in dictating executive salaries and benefits.

    BUT if the certain banks FAIL and ask for government bailouts (which is essentially hurts taxpayers through deficits or inflation by money printing), then should the compensation of the executives of the mentioned failed banks be scrutinized by the public? I am sure you have read that many of these executives still get million dollar bonuses despite the failure of their banks. Did any of them have a conscience to think they don't deserve a bonus and should get a pay cut for the failure of their banks and getting bailed out by the American taxpayer? No. Apparently not.

    Also, are you aware that these TBTF (too big to fail) banks are still playing with toxic derivatives? If European banks blow up (soon), American banks and hedge funds will get hammered and another massive liquidation will occur. Sure, Goldman and JP Morgan will survive but many will not. So another round of bailouts will happen.

    On the subject of JP Morgan, I just finished reading The House of Morgan by Chernow and it is in the historical record that a JP Morgan banker was the father of the "military industrial complex" which started out of necessity during the first world war. The book makes you understand what Jefferson said: "Banks are more dangerous than standing armies." I suggest you read more about Goldman as well. America has many weapons to rule the world. Many Americans are not aware of this but those who do want it to stop.

    I am surprised that a former "banker" such as yourself does not understand point of contention and the anger building up in America. Perhaps you have been in the Philippines for too long. Or perhaps you just prefer to defend your banker buddies.

    Were you actually a banker? Are you actually an American? Do you know that the Federal Reserve is a private organization (nothing Federal about it) and its existence is unconstitutional? Go read OUR constitution if you do not believe me. We are sworn to defend it, right?

    See you at Starbucks :)

    Truly yours,
    Citizen of the American Empire

  2. Correction:

    "Many Americans are not aware of this but those who do want it to stop."

    Should be:

    Many Americans are not aware of this but SOME of those who do want it to stop.

  3. Conyo, thanks for the perspective. Actually, I start broadly and work down and wonder how the US is going to counter China, a nation which has different values, believes in bullying and stealing in the public interest, and I come up with the answer, not on the battlefield, but in the arena of competing for economic might. Then I work backward and see banking salaries as irrelevant and protests as counterproductive.

    I agree that weak management of esoteric risk instruments such as derivatives is a problem, and I did not address that, for I think it is a separate issue to that of constraining private enterprise or releasing it.

    The Federal Reserve is independent of government, which enables it to bridge caustic politics that inhibit constructive work by the Congress. If it is unconstitutional, I'm amazed it is still operating. Without it, we'd be in sorry shape.

    I am an American citizen and am a former banker to the extent that a marketing, planning and project guy who worked for a bank but was not trusted with the vault keys is a "banker".

    Thanks for the intelligent counterpoint to my argument.


  4. I see you're back, Joe, and with a vengeance! Just read your Rocket Club article before jumping here. Seems I've got a lot of catching up to do... Got caught up with tons of end-of-semester cramming. BTW, how was your vacation?

    I was surprised to see you really made an article out of that crazy idea we stumbled into before regarding the frogs and the rockets. To top it all, you mentioned my name, hehe!

    Just wanted you to know how your words had helped me 'think out of the box' more than usual, and that this aided me in my writings in school. Oh, and mimicking Mariano's well-executed sarcasm added much spice to my papers; at least, i think that was the impression.

    Sorry to deviate from the topic. It's just weird how one could find inspiration in the most unexpected places...

  5. 1DC, be careful. Once you are way out of the box others will see you as a tad crazy.

    Indeed, inspiration can come in the most unexpected places. My wife's half-sister is mentally retarded, and as such, is as simple and honest as a child, though walking in the body of a woman. She plays no games like the rest of us. She trusts those around her, and earns our love by being perfectly genuine. She helps me to see the games the rest of us play.

  6. I have to say I’m a bit disturbed after reading this latest blog of yours. Here’s why. (It’s a bit wordy but stay with me please.)

    In many of your blogs you’ve been critical of Filipino culture. Equal opportunity in relation to health, education or employment does not exist. The poor are doomed to generations of poverty while the powerful get richer. Consideration for others does not exist beyond family boundaries.

    I agree with you.

    For positive change there has to be an ethical framework for making decisions about the way we live, all the way though society, including politics and business. Ethics tells us that advancing our own circumstances at the expense of others is wrong. Ethics tells us we must do something about high rates of infant mortality that is often caused by malnutrition. Ethics tells us that all mothers have the right to know about their options in relation to reproduction and that fathers must understand and respect their partners’ decisions. Ethics tells us that giving and receiving bribes is wrong. Nepotism is wrong. Secret commissions are wrong.

    So far I think we are mostly in agreement.

    But here’s the point at which I disagree with you: I believe ethical behaviour does not stop at national borders. I don’t believe it is right to tell Filipinos to get their act together as a nation but when your companies compete on the international stage it is ok for them to get down and dirty because that’s the way China (or some other country) does it.

    I believe ethical behaviour is universal. When we are faced with unethical behaviour we should not compete with it. We should not “let the dogs loose”. That is a race to the bottom. Instead we must talk about it and work to change it, whether it’s in our neighbourhood or in China. It’s hard. I know I often fall short. But if we give up I can’t see any future for our kids.

  7. Greg, I appreciate the elaboration. I wish more would do that so I know where they are coming from.

    I will answer by saying I actually agree with you in the main. My clarification is that sometimes I write for effect ("let the dogs out") and it distorts my proper thinking. I do think a commercial intertwining of interests is a positive step toward a peaceful world, and I need not express it so confrontationally. But that said, I would not want to see the US weaken itself in a way that creates such an unbalanced field that it risks everything. China plays by rules that are unethical and I would opt for the principle that balance is better than concession. Or an unprincipled nation would rise to dominate more than Asia.

  8. Greg,

    Filipinos do not want to know who and what they are. It's cultural. That is why Filipinos do not and cannot change because they do not want to know their issues.

    In total quality it is always said "To know the solution to a problem is to know the problem first". Since Filipinos are extremely religious, therefore, they do not need to know the problem BECAUSE GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF IT ! And god failed for the past 480 years. They must have misconstrued Einstein when he said "doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result". So they pray and pray and pray and pray and pray hoping there will be answer from their God!!!!

  9. ... and not knowing the problem they cannot know the solution ... if they have the solution, they always have a problem ... that is why those countries accepting Filipinos cannot allow the Filipinos to think because if they alloW, GOD FORBID, IT WILL BE THE END OF THE WORLD.

  10. ... ONE NEAT THING ABOUT FILIPINOS is they do not blame themselves ... THEY ALWAYS BLAME THE ONE THAT THEY ELECTED ... and not blaming themselves for perpetually making bad choices ...

    See? Even making decisions they make bad choices. So, Filipinos are not goot managers. They are very goot in placing blames.

    That is why I am in favor of outsourcing the Philippine Government because FILIPINOS HAS NO BUSINESS RUNNING A GOVERNMENT. They are FOR separation of the state and the church BUT CANNOT SEPARATE THE CHURCH AND STATE FROM THEIR STATE OF MINDS.

    Then they line up rain or shine to go to secular America and Europe reap what the secular devils has sown. I JUST DO NOT GET IT. And once they get their visas they go to church for thanksgiving to thank god FOR GIVING THEM VISA TO GOD HATERS IN AMERICA AND EUROPE. I JUST DO NOT GET IT AT ALL !!!!! I JUST DO NOT GET IT ALL !!!! MAYBE BECAUSE I AM CONFUCIAN, an art of getting confused !!!!!

  11. Yeah, Filipinos knows ethics but do not know how to practice it. They see ethics when they see one but cannot know it when they practice beyond the bounds of ethics ...

    There are so many wrongs in Filipinos that one generation of my filipino bashings would not be enough ... well, it's been like four centuries and 80 years and counting and there is still no end to it ...

    That is why I am here in the Philippines because I feel superior and most of all it arrest my ageing because it's a daily entertainment but a struggle to comprehened. That is why I read "Laughter the Best Medicine".


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