Archive for the ‘Financial Industry’ Category

Art Robinson

October 10, 2012

Art Robinson contemplating what kind of bullshit people will believe next.

When I was driving through rural Oregon the other day, I was dismayed to see signs promoting the congressional candidacy of the bizarre cult leader respected scientist and politician, Art Robinson. Robinson’s website is worth checking out. It is a compendium of many of the pea-brained sophistries that pass for informed opinion in this country nowadays. For example, here is Robinson’s discussion of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:

    Nevertheless, our congressional representatives – all of whom swear an oath to uphold the Constitution – flagrantly disregard the 10th Amendment. They do this largely by using public funds to pay for government agencies that constantly violate this Amendment and by the issuance of “mandates” that dictate “required” state and local actions.

    Robinson lost the 2010 election to Pete DeFazio. Several months later, Robinson began telling people that Oregon State University was planning on expelling his three children, who were graduate students there, as retaliation for his running against DeFazio.

    What excuse do congressmen give for violating the 10th Amendment? Mostly, they just ignore it, without giving any excuse at all. If pressed, some point to the Constitution.

    “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    ~ Preamble

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States . . .
    ~Article 1, Section 8

    Citing the phrase “promote (or provide for) the general Welfare,” they claim that this permits Congress to do anything it decides will be good for general welfare – anything at all! This is bogus.

This is what the 10th Amendment says:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So, if the Constitution says that Congress has the power to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” that means that power has been delegated to it by the Constitution.

Robinsosn has a PhD in chemistry. One can only wonder how a man with such apparently poor reading comprehension skills was able to earn an advanced degree (or even a high school diploma, for that matter). One can only assume that he did it through sheer force of will.

On the issue of energy, Robinson writes:

    Nuclear and hydroelectric electricity are inexpensive, clean, and safe. Spent nuclear fuel – so-called “nuclear waste” – is easily disposed of by nuclear fuel re-cycling, a method used in other countries but prohibited by misguided government policies in the U.S. Coal, oil, and natural gas are indispensable for many purposes. Solar and wind are expensive and resource-intensive, but useful in remote locations.

Wow, that PhD didn’t do Art much good, did it? Other countries have the same problems disposing of spent nuclear fuels that we do. Art writes:

    Energy development need not cost the American taxpayer a single cent.

Especially since nuclear energy is not economically viable without government subsidies. I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that PhD’s are over-rated.

Robinson is opposed to women’s reproductive rights. He calls for the immediate deportation of all “illegal” immigrants. And he blames government regulations for the poor state of the economy, although it was actually under-regulation of the banking industry that led to the financial meltdown of 2008.

Robinson lost to Pete DeFazio in the 2010 election. Several months later, Robinson began telling people that Oregon State University was planning to expel his three children, who were graduate students there. He initially claimed that this was being done as retaliation for his opposing DeFazio. However, when a reporter asked Robinson for more details, he became mysteriously vague:

    I don’t have definitive proof,” Robinson said. “That is what I believe. Basically, I know what happened. I cannot tell you the motives of the people doing it.

Nevertheless, this shocking news compelled a group of gullible idiots
red-blooded Americans to take action. They held a demonstration at the OSU campus demanding justice for the Robinson children. This was met by a counter-demonstration of students, who did not care to have their school’s reputation impugned by a group of illiterate yahoos
concerned citizens.

This is the type of man who wants to represent us in Congress. Art Robinson: a choice, not an echo.

Cory Booker: Mitt Romney’s Best Friend

May 22, 2012

Cory Booker sharing a laugh with his good buddy, Chris Christie, the morbidly obese governor of New Jersey.

The Democrats have always been an extraordinarily feckless lot, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker has set a record for sheer stupidity. The most potent weapon in the Obama campaign’s meager arsenal is Romney’s history of sleazy business dealings. So, what does Booker do? He goes on Meet the Press and says of the Obama campaign’s criticism’s of Bain Capital, “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough.” In almost no time, the Republicans put out a campaign ad featuring Booker’s comments. They also put out an online petition urging people to “Stand with Cory”. What Booker did was the political equivalent of hitting Obama in the knee with a tire iron.

Booker now complains that the Republicans have “manipulated” his comments. Well, duh. Booker attacks his own party’s electoral strategy, and he is surprised when the Republicans take advantage of this. Oh, please.

The Democrats are a joke. Always have been, always will be.

Third party anyone?

Margin Call

December 17, 2011

Years ago I applied for a job as a financial advisor. The interviews went great. I seemed to be a shoo-in for the job. The hiring manager, however, told me that every applicant was required to take a personality test. He assured me that this was just a formality. I took the test, and several days later I received a phone call from the manager. I could tell from the tone of his voice that it was not good news. He said that they could not give me the position, because, according to the test results, I was “too nurturing”. I swear, I’m not making this up.

Today I have a job working in a warehouse. The company that told me that I was “too nurturing” was generously bailed out by the government following the 2008 financial crisis. No doubt they have given bonuses to their unnurturing employees.

I was reminded of all this when I went to see Margin Call, written and directed by T.C. Chandor, a loosely fictionalized account of the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, which triggered the global economic meltdown in 2008. Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is laid off from his job at a financial firm. As he is being escorted from the building, he hands, as an afterthought, a thumb drive containing a program he has been working on to Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), warning him to “be careful”. Puzzled by this enigmatic comment, Sullivan begins crunching numbers with the program, and late in the evening he discovers that the company is in immediate danger of becoming insolvent. Right away, he calls his fellow employee, Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley), and senior salesman, Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), who then tells the head of sales, Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), about this. By the early morning, a meeting has been convened with the top members of the company, including the head of risk, Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), the head of securities, Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), and the CEO, John Tuld (Jeremy Irons). Tuld decides that the best thing they can do is sell off all of the company’s assets during the next trading day, even though this could cause a financial panic and put them out of business.

This film features fine ensemble acting. I especially liked Irons’s performance. He oozes smug complacency as he makes a decision that will ruin many people’s lives. Spacey is, as always, completely on the mark.

Margin Call quietly points out the insanity of an economic system in which bad decisions by one company can cause a global crisis. It also points out how non-productive and personally corrupting the financial system is. Rogers, for example, is strongly opposed to what the company is doing, but he ends up going along with it, because, as he explains, “I need the money”. The need for money guides the actions of all the characters in varying ways, while one gets the uncomfortable feeling that there is something lacking in their lives. In one scene, Tuld tries to console Rogers by telling him that he could have spent his life digging ditches. “If I had spent my life digging ditches, I would at least have holes in the ground to show for it,” Rogers says. This is one of the best lines I have ever heard in a movie. In another scene, Dale, a former engineer, reminisces about how he once designed a bridge. He inwardly yearns for a time when he made a positive contribution to other people’s lives. (Uh, would it be cynical to say that he wants to be “nurturing”?)

Margin Call is one of the best films of the year.