Tuesday, August 17, 2010

slick talk

As a habit, I watch the BBC news on television at 6 p.m. on most days. Not that I can't read most of it on the internet, but the visuals are sometimes useful.

At 6:30, there is a program called "The Nightly Business Report." I guess it's a good report, but the thing that continues to astound me about it is that no one seems to be skeptical, let alone ashamed.

Besides telling what particular stocks and bonds did on a particular day, there are a smattering of analysts poised to bring focus to particular aspects of the world and its investments. Last night, a fellow who seemed to be in his 60's said his company was advising people to get into selective junk bonds ("though we don't call them that any more").

And that seems to be the essence of an edgy economy whose brokers and bankers want to part people from their money: Rename the product and suggest that such investments deserve the trust of the 60-70% of the American public whose work creates the wealth that bankers and brokers pissed down the drain not so long ago.

People are working longer hours for the same pay ... when they have a job. It's not at all certain they will keep their job, so the tendency is not to spend on something as iffy as a much-lauded junk bond. Food and family count to those who watch TV. Those who are on TV have nice clothes and seem to think the money they are talking about is as easy as playing Monopoly. In hard times, it has a kind of arrogance: 15-30 million people without work depending on who you listen to and these people are still pretending times are flush.

I have a hunch that Main Street is a bit smarter than Wall Street. P.T. Barnum's "There's a sucker born every minute" has less force when the servings of macaroni and cheese increase in number. When the government asks for the people's trust, the people have a right (and plenty of evidence) to ask "why?" And without that trust, the hard times that are today are unlikely to be the good times of tomorrow.

Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." I guess that people who tout a Monopoly-money world don't mind if they can't fool everyone ... just as long as they can rake in enough for their own purposes.

There really is something obscene in all of this.


  1. Was typing my curriculum vitae and spent a good 2 hours putting together a bunch of credentials, personal goals and objectives, and education history, all of which once made me so proud. i got stumped when i came to a point that asked, what to write down for Personal Interests?

    I read somewhere on Tuesdays with Morrie, a major bookstore seller, that some rich guy's main interest in life is to make sure that when he died, his tombstone did not say that he did not own a TV Broadcast Network.

    Amused I am, but it does sound more catchy than what I had on mind, photography and zen-sitting.

    Onion peeling is fun. The more I peel, the more I have to respect onions. But I need to take care of the practical side of me. Onions don't fall from skies. They grow from soil.. heck. I don't even know if they grow in the air or from the soil. Bloody ignoramous.

  2. oh. it was not me

    Damn that bloody lizard on the ceiling. If it doesn't come down onto the ground how the heck am I supposed to kill it? Tear down the whole ceiling?