Archive for March, 2009

Maybe Just One…

March 31, 2009

I hope the recession ends soon:

A world where 8 billion to 10 billion people are competing for diminishing resources will not be peaceful. The industrialized nations will, as we have done in Iraq, turn to their militaries to ensure a steady supply of fossil fuels, minerals and other nonrenewable resources in the vain effort to sustain a lifestyle that will, in the end, be unsustainable. The collapse of industrial farming, which is made possible only with cheap oil, will lead to an increase in famine, disease and starvation. And the reaction of those on the bottom will be the low-tech tactic of terrorism and war. Perhaps the chaos and bloodshed will be so massive that overpopulation will be solved through violence, but this is hardly a comfort.


Not Fair

March 26, 2009

So this one is about how those belonging to the  “lower upper” class may be starting to feel that our economic system is unfair:

In the old days, if you didn’t end up on top, it didn’t say anything about you personally. It was God’s will; you were playing your role in the great chain of being; you’d get your reward in the next life. But now, if you’re merely a corporate lawyer or a senior vice president of marketing in a world where your former classmates have private planes, something has to be wrong with you. And if they got the plane by engaging in activity that wrecked the national economy, the insult is even more galling – and the world itself more perverse.

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“I’ve seen it in my research,” says Doug Schoen, a pollster who has counseled Mike Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton, among others. “If you look at the lower part of the upper class, or the upper part of the upper middle class, there’s a great deal of frustration. These are people who assumed that their hard work and conventional ‘success’ would leave them without worries over the quality of their lives. It’s opening their eyes to things that are wrong with the economy more broadly.

Brain Science and the Grail of Money

March 20, 2009

This is the last section of this NYT article about Dr. Joseph Biderman, an huge asshole who also appears in this NYRB article (if only I had a Harper’s link!) – I have nothing particularly to add to the discussion, rather I simply continue to marvel at the audacious mendacity of pricks of this nature, and wonder when oh when there will be some effort to rein in this flavor of monstrous corruption in our craven lil’ culture. What fiendishness! Utilizing utterly biased research, these wild eyed motherfuckers claiming to be scientists fabricate a medical consensus prescribing expensive pills for everyone (infants on up) with an Attitude Problem, thereby placing tremendous financial, sociological, psychological strain on vast segments of the subject population as they spend years and years and thousands and thousands worrying about Fixing their bad brains, which are probably not bad at all, and which might to the benefit of all be better engaged examining and critiquing this world of bullshit. Not that I’m a raving crank or anything.

In a contentious Feb. 26 deposition between Dr. Biederman and lawyers for the states, he was asked what rank he held at Harvard. “Full professor,” he answered. “What’s after that?” asked a lawyer, Fletch Trammell. “God,” Dr. Biederman responded. “Did you say God?” Mr. Trammell asked. “Yeah,” Dr. Biederman said.

Corner Office

March 20, 2009


Q. Do you have a favorite gadget?

A. I’m pretty addicted to the BlackBerry. I love the iPhoneApple because I think they’ve so figured out computing. It’s hard in business to make that leap when you’ve distributed systems that use I.B.M. and Microsoft so much. But I’m pretty addicted to that BlackBerry.

I started taking them away in meetings at Quiznos, but the C.F.O. there is just addicted to it, beyond probably what most people are, and he was just watching that light, and he wouldn’t answer it because I said you couldn’t answer your BlackBerry in this meeting. But he’d look at the light and the light would drive him nuts, so I had him turn it over. And then, of course, I took it. He was doodling during the meeting as we were talking, and when he got up to leave the room I grabbed the paper he was doodling on, and he had doodled a complete, to scale, picture of a BlackBerry. Subconsciously, he doodled one while we were sitting in the meeting. That’s how addicted he was to it. I actually still have this. I’m going to give it to him framed.

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I think it’s important to talk to people about how we’re in a fundamentally different world. Ask the question, “If compensation isn’t going to be the same for a while, where do you get your fulfillment in life?” Certainly, work is a big piece of that and work is rewarding well beyond compensation. But faith, family, friends and hobbies create real balance. The conversation I’ve had with a lot of people, both in large groups and small, is make sure you have balance in your life and make sure that all your fulfillment doesn’t come out of economic gain.

I’ve talked to a lot of people on Wall Street where their entire fulfillment came from the answer to, “Is my bonus bigger this year than last year?” Or, “If I worked 100 hours a week this year, can I work 101 next year?” It’s actually a great time for us as leaders to help people to step back and ask the question: “Where do I get the fulfillment in my life? And how do I make sure my job is a big piece of that?” I’ve found that employees who are fulfilled on a much broader basis in their lives usually do a much better job of work than those that are completely, single-mindedly focused on and get all their value out of work.

I think that’s one of the bigger questions we have as a society. We’ve gotten so used to every generation doing better economically than their parents. Are our kids going to do better than we’ve done? I hope so, but I’m not sure. So it seems like we ought to tell them that socioeconomic wealth is not the only, or even the most important, metric of personal happiness.