It’s pretty sad to hear a convincing argument on why Richard Nixon was a better president for the poor than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But when he explains that Nixon’s social programs were the result of a powerful liberal coalition that fought for those causes, it’s clear the results were inevitable.
The next time your crazy, Tea Bagging Uncle Muggs bloviates on how that Kenyan, socialist usurper in the White House and every pinko commie Democrat president (and he will say “Democrat” instead of “Democratic” because that’s the way Tea Baggers speak) are giving away the hard-earned cash of America’s job creators to the moocher class, pull out this chart (via Bloomberg):
1) The “job creators” put their money in the stock market because they have so much of it. There’s no where else to put it. The “moocher class” doesn’t put money in the stock market, because, hey, ya gotta eat. So, really, who do you think is suffering when a president actually talks about raising a minimum wage? That guy with the top hat and the monocle on the Monopoly board?
2) The premise of this chart is flawed, because anyone who knows anything about investing in the stock market will say you don’t pull all your money out of it when there’s a president of a different party in office. Surely, you can’t believe that the minute Bill Clinton and Barack Obama walked in the White House, the billionaires funding the Tea Party called their stock brokers and said “Sell everything. We’ve got to get out of this commie market!” They left their cash where it was, and the billions flowed in.
On the other hand, your crazy, Tea Bagging Uncle Muggs is the kind of guy who did sell all of his stocks and buried his cash in his backyard bomb shelter when the hated Democrats took power.
That might explain why he’s so pissed off that his retirement fund that “hasn’t done Jack” since he built his portfolio when Dick Nixon took office. (I would have said “began his 401(k),” but those didn’t exist until Jimmy Carter’s administration, and Uncle Muggs would never put his money in anything that was created when that peanut farmer was president.)
Yeah, that chart proves the Democrats hate capitalism. After all, it grows like weeds when they’re in office.
I went to see “The Lego Movie” under ideal conditions. A Thursday matinee in Louisville in a modern theater containing only three people. It’s usually fun to watch a kids’ movie with kids around, but it have to be your kid, and mine is now in his 20s and had to work that day.
So, anyway, I got to see the movie and hear all the jokes without the distraction of 5-year-olds kicking the back of my seat and asking their moms to buy them a Batman Lego set when the movie was over.
This was a pretty good marketing move for the Danish company. (What? You thought Lego was American? Think Lincoln Logs instead — which actually started in Japan). Lego is a multibillion dollar (euro? krone?) enterprise going through massive growth. Here’s a chart that shows how well it’s doing:
That’s a lot of building blocks.
A lot of these franchises are represented in the movie (and the voices of C-3PO and Lando are really the voices of C-3PO and Lando). And since it is, as they say, “Fun for the whole family,” expect a lot more currency to end up in Lego’s coffers. And since it comes from Fox studios, there goes more dollars into Rupert’s pockets.
Anyway, here are the (scripted) outtakes:
As you can tell, the movie’s a lot of fun. Even when there are a lot of kids around.
Because it’s important to understand that we think things are bad, but we can’t even conceive how horrible they really are. For all but 1% of the American population, of course.
Dave Coplin, the chief envisioning officer at Microsoft (yeah, I don’t believe that title either), talks here about flexible working, which translates to not working in the office. He says it benefits workers. They don’t have to go into an oppressive office, they can do their jobs wherever the technology takes them, and they will be able to contribute more economically to their respective communities by spending their dollars where they live.
So why does that last part raise red flags for me?
Yes, with the today’s technology, we’re on call 24 hours a day. Coplin says in the “Star Trek” part of the illustration that people complain about getting e-mails from work on their days off, and dismisses the complaint by saying it’s the employee’s fault for looking at work e-mail on his or her day off. Okay, I don’t think the chief envisioning officer would necessarily be called at home on his day off if a server goes down, or if some huge business deal materializes, but there are plenty of other workers (and I’ve been one of them) who end up on the hot seat if the boss can’t get them in the event of an emergency.
But even that doesn’t really bother me that much.
My question is: Who exactly benefits if a corporation decides that the new work model will be “flexible work?” I mean, if it’s a corporate decision, doesn’t that tell you the company is doing what it’s decided is best for the company, not necessarily what’s best for the worker?
Maybe I’m overthinking this, but anyone who’s worked for a company that has an IT department knows that when your computer crashes, the IT people who used to be on the next floor aren’t there anymore. You have to call someone off site. And anyone who’s gotten a call from a telemarketer or calls a company for tech support knows that the accent on the other end of the phone isn’t always from the American Southwest but from Southwest Asia.
The day an American conglomerate decides that flexible work or remote work or working from home, or whatever you want to call it, is the official policy, somewhere in the company strategy, there’s going to be a proposal to move jobs offshore, because, as our chief envisioning officer says:
For the average knowledge worker, you don’t have to be in a specific location, a specific point in time, to access specific services. You have all the tools that you need … in your pocket or in your bag, and you can work from anywhere.
Anywhere means “ANYWHERE.” You don’t have to be in a specific city, or state, or region. You can be anywhere on the planet.
And if your saying you’re safe because you work for an American conglomerate, you probably should kiss your job goodbye. Because there is no such thing as an American conglomerate. Conglomerates are global. Microsoft has offices all over the world. So it could one day look at worker salaries at a global level, figure that it could pay a chief envisioning officer in India a modest salary by U.S. standards, which would be a fortune by South Asian standards, and get the same quality of work at a lower price. This video, in a way, proves how easy it is to work from anywhere in the world. Microsoft is on the West Coast. Coplin’s accent is found on the European west coast. And the illustration of the commute. That’s not Washington state. That’s the London Underground.
Your tax returns can be done in South America. (Because I worked abroad, some of my tax returns are still being done in Europe.) Your newspaper editing can be done in any part of the world that has a strong English speaking population. (A lot of news organizations have editing operations that aren’t in the cities, the states or the countries their subscribers are in.) The animation of a movie can be done in Japan or Korea (Next time you to a science fiction blockbuster, look at the names in the end credits of the people who worked on the CGI.).
Job competition is a global matter now. Blue collar manufacturing jobs that used to build the American middle class are now in the developing word. The jobs that Dave Coplin talks about are white collar jobs. Those are now just barely sustaining the American middle class, but they can just as well be done where labor is cheap.
I’m not saying that bad from a global perspective. Higher paying jobs throughout the world will bring a lot of countries out of poverty. Look at the economic growth in China and India. That means more people worldwide have more money to buy more stuff. But that also means that those jobs don’t have to be on our shores.
The only jobs that are safe for now are service-sector jobs, where people have to deal face to face with people. But, as I noted a couple of posts back, those jobs are going to be done by robots.
Oh, and for the record, I’m one of those people who can work from anywhere, and I wouldn’t mind having a flexible work setup. My family lives in one city and I work in another, hundreds of miles away. I can do my job from home in either city.
But, just on a gut level, I really need to be in the same room with the people I’m working with. But I’m from a generation that didn’t have chief envisioning officers.
I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it:
It was truly a celebration of rich people behaving badly, and Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent in it.
Technically, it’s not supposed to be an inspirational movie. You know, bad people doing bad things and all that. Apparently, some stock brokers don’t see it that way (from the London Evening Standard):
Cinemas across London are preparing to welcome thousands of bankers, brokers and traders to bespoke private screenings, the Standard has learned, and a cinema booking company says there is more corporate demand for this film than any they can remember.
With one company planning to dress up Nineties Wall Street-style for the occasion, the City’s buzz about [Jordan] Belfort has the ring of an enthronement. It is tempting to think that DiCaprio’s character might be a new cult hero for a new generation of bankers, as Gordon Gekko (protagonist of 1987’s Wall Street) was to their bosses. You can imagine the Square Mile’s new generation quoting Belfort’s corny phrases about money, drugs and women like their pre-crash predecessors did Gekko’s.
A comedy email flying around between bankers in London and New York this week makes the link, plotting a market index since the Eighties with arrows showing major price falls on the release dates of Wall Street and its 2010 sequel Money Never Sleeps, and a Wolf of Wall Street arrow pointing at today’s high price. Will the Wolf consign so many bankers and traders to therapy and rehab that the markets will plummet on its release, the jokes goes. At least I think it’s a joke.
For those of you not familiar with international financial markets, “the City” referred to here isn’t London. The City is what the Brits call their version of Wall Street. They’re treating this movie like it’s a blueprint for success. Maybe they’re thinking all they have to avoid will be the drugs, the prostitutes and the money laundering. That way, they can steal people’s money legally, I guess.
Oh, by the way. The Wolf lives. Jordan Belfort is now a motivational speaker in California. Here’s an interview with him:
Got to admit. The guy is smooth.