Showing posts from March, 2009

It Seeeems the Numbers Are Off a Bit...

I have a question, a legitimate question. I really don't have the answer to it. I think I may know, but I confess I do not know for sure. I am on the lookout for the answer, and look forward to meeting the kind soul who does know it. I was introduced to a figure that is the most reasonably accurate assessment of the value of the world's assets. Essentially, it is the total dollar value of all the world's "stuff," and, pretty much, the claims people have on that "stuff." That figure: $250 trillion, give or take a few trillion. I then came across another figure, the total value of the world's derivatives claims. Derivatives are those fuzzy investment instruments that apparently comprise mathematics/finance experts' genius calculations that make up their value assessment claims. That figure? A little over $1 quadrillion. Now, there's a bit of a disconnect here, and seriously, I don't know how to resolve it. I emphasize this because I really

The World Racket Dilemma

As if we haven't heard it enough, for review, here's the AIG dilemma: Company does really stupid things, but it is too big to fail. Government rescues it with gobs of financial capital. Company's executives who did the really stupid things are also the only ones who can sort out the mess it's in. Said executives still expect to get what they consider is their fair compensation for services rendered. Million dollar bonuses ensue, as does righteous rage throughout America. Yeah, uh-huh, that's just about it, right there. What struck me was what a talk radio guy said yesterday morning, and it cracked me up--in kind of a bad way--simply because this is indeed the way the World Racket works. It is just so typical. He said this whole thing is much like the suave, sophisticated terrorist who rigs an elaborate bomb to detonate and kill a lot of people. But once arrested, the authorities can't exactly prosecute him because, well, (you can see it coming, of course...) He&

The Tales of the Black Freighter Factor

I ended up seeing Watchmen the day after it opened , and I am intrigued by all the comments about it put through the World's megaphone. The ones I see mostly are along the lines of, "It's an excessively violent mess, something only fanboys would like." I'm not averse to being called a fanboy since I did enjoy the graphic novel -- and I should add I also enjoyed the film -- but the condescension that reeks from these kinds of remarks is a bit annoying. My response: while I am not fond of the extreme violence like that in Watchmen , the violence is kind of the point. You can't deny that Rorschach, so devoted to uncovering the truth that he casually breaks fingers, represents our visceral desires to "choke the living shit outta some asshole who desperately needs it," as it is said on that T-shirt. Sure Bernard Madoff deserves many years in prison, but when the judge sent him straight to jail after his guilty plea, I didn't see anyone who did not che

The Watchmen Factor

As every Economics class I teach begins, I give my students an assignment to provide them with some insight into the principle of scarcity. I ask them to write a list of everything they'd ever want if they could actually have it. I tell them it would be as if a genie appeared and would give them as many wishes as they wanted, absolutely no restrictions... except one . This genie must have everything in writing. My students enjoy this because it gives them a chance to be imaginative and connect with their deepest desires. Along with all the suped-up cars and mansions on islands and time machines there is the heartwarming request for food for everyone and a nice house for mom and dad. When I last did this, one student wrote this among all the things he'd want: “For zombies to be real, and to have lots of weapons to kill the zombies with.” Hmm. Interesting. You want to have something just so you can not have it. I've often pondered what I call the activity antinomy , the par

The Even Better Good Lie

"Oh yes, I lied, but, well, I didn't know any better and to get over it we might as well all just admit we lie and huddle up and hang in there together. Feel better now?" This is the essence of what Joel Lovell said yesterday in the Washington Post , and I can't think of many things more putridly reprehensible than this. Well, actually, one of those things worse is this: That so many get schlurped right into buying the good lie . So many millions of World inhabitants, who when told about the freedom that comes with Christ and the real coming clean--"a repentance that brings true sorrow"--will just as soon tell you to take a hike so they can continue to snarf down this pap. Lovell opens with some very transparent truths, namely that all these celebrity financial experts don't really know squat about what to do with money because first and foremost they don't know squat about authentic value. But he concludes with the very typical World blather about t

The Good Lie

This past week's Newsweek cover says just about everything you'd need to know about the way the World System operates. Barack Obama is strolling across some red carpet in some official looking building, presumably the White House, to a podium to address everyone--God, Walt Disney, everyone . Across the page are the words, "The Confidence Game," and underneath the subheading, "How Obama can talk us out of a depression." Never mind that getting out of a depression kind of involves people actually doing certain things to produce things that would make people's lives better in some way. Instead the World seems to think Barack Obama's inspiring words will do the trick. The trick. That's what a confidence game is. The con for short. "You guys are really good," he'll blap. "Really really good. And those other people, they're very very bad and we're out to get 'em." The ooo's and ahh's will follow for this r