"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oddly familiar

The President of the Incorporated Estates of Earth got along with everyone, as if he wanted to. I found this odd, him odd, which is no matter. I am not the president and could never be. I am too opinionated. Too impatient. Too blunt, in my own mind if no way else.

The topic the President wished to discuss: the rebel insurgency deep in the heart of the Incorporated Estates of Earth.

Typically we ignore the rebels, the best strategy: First you ignore them, then you blast them, then you agree with them if need be - or plausibly pretend to agree - what cost a bit of rhetoric? - then you win. Again.

What I found most distressing and yet daunting and daring about the President is that he does not seem interested in winning. He assumes it. He is a winner. He wins. He gets along with everyone, not least those who fund him into power. This strikes me as terribly indiscriminate. He is willing to get along with anyone, even the rebels so long as playing nice does not cost him his job, or his funders - the banks and the incorporated estates, the class of the IEE - their power.

So the President plays nice and wins and called me in to deal with the rebels. He tells me it is my job to play nice with the rebels. Not in so many words, but I get it. He wants me to give the rebels the velvet glove covering the iron fist, via the brilliant tongue. He wants me to cut the rebels to size as if making love to them with a rock. First you ignore them, then you blast them, then you pretend to agree with them (if need be), then you win. "Do you understand?"
"I understand, sir."

"The rebels are IEEans like us. Only poorer, or disenchanted, or just cantankerous. We need them to love the IEE. They need to love the IEE. For their own good. For our own good. For the good. You see?"
"I think I know exactly what you mean, sir."

"I need a speech. Soon. I plan to address the rebels personally, visit their camp. I need real face-to-face words. Words that go beyond the teleprompter. Words that are easy to memorize. Easy to take deep into the heart. From my heart to their heart. Can you write that for me? I know you can. Yes, you can."
"You write it now for me, sir. You have a knack, that gift. You touch their hearts. You solace the vassals of the IEE."

-Lesson 15, The Vassal's Handbook--"first you ignore them"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Eliot Spitzer returns

Back from his "fall from grace"--no doubt greased by the Wall Street titans whom he terrorized, the former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has been hired by Slate magazine to put his opinions to pen and paper. His latest effort reflects upon the distracting hue and cry being raised over the millions of taxpayer dollars funneled to AIG employees who helped loot the company while largely ignoring the billions shipped to AIG counter-parties with names like Goldman Sachs, HBS, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Barclays... you get the picture.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How much for that drink?

What follows is courtesy of "Angela", a commenter at Elaine Supkis' blog which presents the current economic crisis in a refreshing new way:

Thank goodness there’s the occasional humor in all of this- making the rounds on the net…


· Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Berlin.
· In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed alcoholics - to drink now but pay later.
· She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).
· Word gets around, and as a result increasing numbers of customers flood Into Heidi’s bar.
· Taking advantage of her customers’ freedom from immediate payment constraints, Heidi increases her prices for wine and beer, the most-consumed beverages.
Her sales volume increases massively.
· A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi’s borrowing limit.
· He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.

· At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS.
· These securities are then traded on markets worldwide.
· No one really understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed.
· Nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.

· One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager (subsequently, of course, fired due to his negativity) of the bank decides that slowly the time has come to demand payment of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi’s bar.
· However they cannot pay back the debts.
· Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations and claims bankruptcy. DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95%.
· PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80%.

· The suppliers of Heidi’s bar, having granted her generous payment due dates and having invested in the securities are faced with a new situation.
· Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor.
· The bank is saved by the government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties.
· The funds required for this purpose are obtained by a tax levied on the non-drinkers.

· Finally, an explanation we understand.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

A voice of sanity

... and one you will never hear on CNBC

For more like this check out The Renegade Economist whom I've added to my blog roll.

PS: Speaking of my blog roll feel free to use the 'Lair as a way station to these other sites during my frequent absences.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Hey, where'd my job go?

Curious? Well here's Kathy Sanborn with something you should know.