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Legislative grandstanding makes for “Sh*tty” TV
Apr 27th, 2010 by scaredpoet

A while back I ranted about the complete and utter usefulness of senate and congressional hearings, and how they just end up being a dog & pony show for polticians to try and look good to the public as they grill the Bad Guys in testimony, while in fact doing absolutely nothing of real use.

Well, they’re still grandstanding. As if we haven’t figured it out by now, after 2+ years of a crappy economy, the Senate is just now “getting to the bottom of” that Big Bad Financial Scandal. In particular, the Goldman Sachs thing.

My prediction: Next week, the Senate will open hearings on indecency and profane language on cable news networks. Because today during that Goldman Sachs Senate hearing, this went out over the airwaves, uttered by a senator. Into people’s homes, into workplaces and offices, in waiting rooms and airports, and certainly within earshot of children…

WARNING: AUDIO IS NSFW

No, I’m no prude. The profanities spill out of my mouth so often that sailors blush. But these lawmakers are the same people who get all in a huff over indecency in the media now and then. Shouldn’t they practice what they preach? We certainly could’ve gotten the gist of the message without the “s” bomb landing on TV at least 5 times in less than two minutes.

That was a shitty thing for Carl Levin to do, if you ask me.

Just sayin’...

So what do we do now?
Mar 27th, 2009 by scaredpoet

I’ve spent the wee talking about just some of the less-obvious things, actions and people I hate “in this economy.” So what do I think people should be doing about it? For me, the answers seem fairly straightforward:

stop whining

  • Shut up about it already

  • “You won’t BELIEVE what I heard this morning about the bailouts!”

    No actually, I will believe it. Because I heard it too. See, I read the news, check CNN, watch TV and live video feeds, catch up on articles on my iPhone. I probably know as much about the next Big Crisis as you do. Or at the very least, I know all I want to know. So please, quit assuming I’m an illiterate doof, and stop expecting me to act surprised.

  • Worry about your own situation

  • Critiquing the lives of Bernie Madoff and AIG execs, and then having loud YouTube fits is actually kinda making things worse. Our congressional leaders, unfortauntely, are more concerned about camera whoring than they are about actually finding a sustainable fix to this mess, and so they’re passing knee-jerk solutions to media-manufactured problems that have no overall useful benefit. Chances are, whether some corporate Fat Cat gets a million dollars in bonuses or not isn’t ultimately going to affect your paycheck at the end of the week. Ignoring how good or bad your personal situation is because you’re too busy making your opinion heard is probably going to have a bigger impact.

    So, consider this: we all get it. You’re pissed off. We’re all pissed off, and life sucks. Get over it, and get busy finding ways to make your life a little better.

  • Keep your job, find a job, or find a better job
  • In keeping with point #2, if you’re laid off and indignant about it, go focus that indignation on finding a new job. In the meantime, there’s a good, productive guide to surviving a layoff that might help you out.

    In the meantime, consider the following: you might find it useful to vent at banks and large corporations getting handouts now, but don’t make an ass of yourself over it. No one wants to see that. Besides, some of these very faceless corproations you’re having a fit over now might very well be signing your paycheck in the coming months. Won’t that be embarrassing?

  • Calm down and be rational
  • This needs to be economic mantra way more than “where’s my bailout?” The economy isn’t going to get better if we automatically assume someone else is going to take care of us. Not to mention, a lot of people are doing some pretty irrational things and assuming their situation is a lot worse than it is… sometimes begetting self-fulfilling prophecies.

    The economy is based on psychological constructs, and thus it crashed almost solely because people panicked. Oil is till oil. Food is still food. Cars are still cars. Money is still money. And yet, people perceive needing more or less of things. And this is the ONLY reason why prices or demand for them have gone drastically up or down over the past year.

    People still need, food, oil, houses, cars, and money. People will still be needed in some capacity to make, sell, and fix these things. Things will get better. It’ll just take longer if we continue to refuse to acknowledge it.

    Bad Economic Cliché #3: Congressional Soapboxing
    Mar 26th, 2009 by scaredpoet

    I’ve seen congress huff and puff over the aftermath of 9/11, the Enron crisis, the Basbeball Steroid scandal, and now this new Economic Mess. There’s one thing I’ve learned from watching these things: Damn, these congressional windbags can talk!

    Ostensibly and nominally, a congressional hearing is “the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyze information in the early stages of legislative policymaking.” Presumably, this means that lawmakers are supposed to obtain testimony so that they can be informed about the issue at hand and take some kind of action. So, why the hell are these pompous asses talking so damned much?

    C-SPAN brought the television camera into congress, and they believed they were doing the citizens of the US a favor by casting sunlight onto the machinations of government and letting us all see how it works. Unfortunately, it also means that some of our elected officials are using the same medium to grandstand, expound, rant and show off their bellicosity, wondering aloud with their ill-informed opinions, and showing off their feathers like the ugly old turkeys they are. They also use these opportunities badger and berate witnesses, cashing in on public anger and fostering demagoguery, having already formed their own opinions and judgements about the people who are presumably there to help them form those opinions and action plans.

    It’s a waste of time. Nothing new has been exposed from these hearings that haven’t already been made known via the numerous media outlets that are picking at shreds of information on these scandals 24/7. Frankly, I’m disgusted, and I don’t know who to be more mad at: the AIG execs who got huge bonuses, or the old codgers we’re paying $151 per hour EACH to sit there and flap their gums and get nothing done.

    SHUT UP AND LEGISLATE, YA BUMS!

    Bad Economic Cliché #2: “So who’s gonna bail ME out?”
    Mar 25th, 2009 by scaredpoet

    bailout shirt

    I gnash whenever people in one breath rant and rail against government bailouts made to some of these companies, and then demand to know where their handout is. You wanna know where your bailout is? It’s very simple: You need to bail yourself out. And in a way, if you’re a taxpayer, you kinda already are.

    Bailout packages and financial assistance to banks aren’t happening just because the government enjoys throwing money at these entities. Bailouts are occurring because the perceived, predicated consequences of NOT doing a bailout are far worse and farther-reaching. If you drive a car, any car, you will be affected in a major way if GM goes bankrupt. Their bankruptcy means the risk of bankruptcy for supplier companies that make major components for both American and “foreign” cars, and the very least, it means that parts for cars – whether you’re repairing your existing heap or buying a new model – will be harder to find and more expensive to buy, assuming they’re still being made at all. And if you bought an American car within the last three to five years, then don’t expect a bankrupt GM or Chrysler to fix your car under warranty if something happens.

    Some “experts” and pundits seem to disagree with this… a lot of them are the same talking heads who thought subprime mortgages were an excellent idea back in the day. When the fact remains that no one’s going to want to make parts that they aren’t sure they’re going to be paid for, a basic fundamental truth is exposed: driving – or even taking the bus – to work every day is going to be a little harder to do all of a sudden.

    Clunker

    What about banks? Certain banks are perceived as “too big to fail.” Media pundits want to sell the idea the the public that “too big to fail” means catastrophic repercussions through the banking system will occur of a Bank of America or Citibank ends up going under. And there’s a very good reason for this: our government promised they would insure common citizens against bank failures, and yet allowed these banks to get rather large to be sanely insurable.

    You see, banks “work” on a simple principle: people are supposed to put money in banks because they’re supposed to be safe places to keep your cash. There’s just one problem with this principle: when word gets around (true or not) that maybe a certain bank isn’t so safe after all, people start to panic, and that panic can sometimes ensure that a bank that would not have otherwise failed ends up failing.

    To help offset this potential for panic, the US government got in the middle of the situation and said “don’t worry! If a bank were ever to fail, we’ll make sure you get your cash.” And for decades now, this has been good enough.

    This concept is just fine when banks are of a certain size. A few million in assets in this bank, a billion or two in that bank, and FDIC insurance looks quite viable. But over time, certain banks have started to get really big. Combine that with the fact that the exsting smaller banks are failing at a fast rate, with 18 already gone this year, totalling $17 billion ins costs since the start of the crisis, and I have to wonder a bit. If a bank with $2.88 trillion in assets fails, will the FDIC really be able to insure most of people’s deposits? I suspect that if the government weren’t able to absorb such a big one, we’d wake up and see lots of suddenly-nonexistent checking and savings accounts. By contrast, a few hundred billion spent now is a real bargain, sadly enough, when you consider the potential consequences.

    So, where’s your bailout? It’s simple. If you happen to have money in the bank this very moment, you’ve already been bailed out at least once. And if you drive a car or ride a bus to work, you better HOPE the car companies get a bailout soon enough so you can continue enjoying that freedom with minimal interruption. In the meantime, feel proud that you still have cash of some sort, and that your savings, however large or small it might be, hasn’t been wiped out. Money is still money. Life is challenging, but it goes on. And people in the US aren’t lining up outside of grocery stores with wheelbarrows, bringing zillions of dollars to buy a single loaf of bread.

    Zimbabwean Dollar

    Our society, banal as it is, continues. There lies your stinkin’ bailout. I suggest you shut up and try to enjoy it.

    Bad Economic Cliché #1: “In this Economy…”
    Mar 24th, 2009 by scaredpoet

  • “In this economy, I can’t possibly think about buying that!”

  • “Not in this economy!!”
  • In this economy...

    This clich?, by far, just tears at my soul, and I have to look hard within myself not to strangle the person who utters it. I’m sure you’ve hard it zillions of times, too. It’s the cookie-cutter scapegoat response people have for turning into Panicky Petes and pinching every penny beyond the pale of reason. It’s uttered by accountants and bureaucrats who are stalling decisions and canceling projects that might actually help preserve or create jobs if allowed to work itself out. And it’s also used as a poor excuse by people for even the stupidest, most irresponsible decisions.

    Apparently, I’m not the only one who hates this phrase, and hates the people who actively use it as a petty excuse for everything they do or don’t do. The economy is a problem, but it shouldn’t be a scapegoat. Ironically, there’s a very could chance we could all get out of this mess if people took simple steps to stop worrying about “this economy” and started working towards the “next” one. This is really the bottom line: the stock market, the value of subprime loans, the price of oil, all of these things have little to do with actual market forces anymore, and a LOT to do with merely how much people think these things are worth. We thought ourselves into a recession. And if we keep thinking in recession-mode, it’ll just be harder to get out of it.


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