Golden parachutes

I think all the focus on the bailout about not providing a golden parachute is annoying and minor and ultimately irrelevant. I understand and share the anger, but let's take a quick look at something bothering me. I'm somewhat estimating amounts, but I think it's accurate. If we can limit these golden parachutes to executives at the firms we assist/takeover/bailout/whatever it we will be doing, let's say the total savings to "owners" of the organizations, I'm thinking stockholders, is seemingly substantial. Let's say 100 firms and we save $100,000,000/firm in executive pay. That sounds good, and over 100 firms is $1,000,000,000 (1 billion)! That is a lot of money.

It also happens to be 1/700 of the total estimated cost, or .14% of the amount the treasury asked for and received. So we got some sort of limit on this for a very small number of people who are already extremely wealthy and paying very low taxes and we considered it a win? Do you think those people learned anything? If that can't go to jail for fraud or incompetence, this is better than nothing maybe but I don't consider a win. Even saving an average of $1B/firm is only 1.4% of the total bailout amount.

For me, I'm still confused where the number $700 billion came from, nor does anything I read explain where it came from (help me if I missed something) or if it is even enough.

Here is how I would have come up with a number. Base premise: I need a very large number in the hundreds of billions, and the more the better. However, if it is overly excessive the media (damn liberal media!) and everyone else is going to round it up to $1 trillion, which won't fly publicly. Therefore, I need a high hundreds of billions amount that won't round up to 1 trillion. 800 is a little too high and rounds up. 700 billion is closer to 500 billion than a trillion, 750 billion might be discussed as "three quarters of a trillion dollars...". And here we are. I made that up, but it wouldn't surprise me.


My problem?

Did I miss something, but why do I have bail anyone out? Why am I responsible for irresponsible corporations and irresponsible homeowners? Why is it my job to help you refinance a house you couldn't afford? Why is it my job to help you refinance a company you can't run? Also it seems to me the credit rating agency for bonds (Moody's etc) really botched their analysis as this entire problem developed, yet they aren't out of business. How does that happen? Can anyone explain that to me, I have looked online and it seems to me to be a minor point but a critical one (people trusted their horrible ratings, they realized they were WAY off on their "analysis," dropped the ratings and companies suddenly didn't have equity and couldn't get credit - how are they NOT guilty of something, at least such poor business performance they should be bankrupt? Those people should be publicly flogged. Remember when some company was writing internal memos saying "Tech Stocks are a terrible investment" while at the same time recommending external clients buy them? Remember that? It wasn't that long ago. How are you going to legislate that? Remember how they were going to legislate that?)

I realize there were predatory lenders out there, and maybe there is some way to identify, tar, and feather these people and help those homeowners. But many homeowners just made stupid decisions based on what somebody told them about housing prices (always going up), refinancing (easy and always available), and their lives (happily ever after! nobody ever faces financial hardships!). Don't you have a brain? I am just incredibly angry at the lack of accountability in this country and how this is not going to change it. It won't change it for people. It won't change it for corporations. And I'll see this again in another 15 years no matter what bail out plan passes, who becomes president, whether or not another famous wall street fails (who cares, things change).

I realized that I am basically a fairly strict market supporter who believes in strong government oversight, but cynically believes the people in wall street are generally more incentivized to find ways around regulation (new products, lobbying, etc) than the regulators are to punish them. In no way do I believe Obama can fix this, although the obviousness of the fact he would be a strong step in the right direction barely needs to be mentioned. So to some degree, let the fucking market eat itself and the head of Goldman Sachs can dine on the carcass of other CEOs for thanksgiving, I don't care.

However, I also believe in strong social programs. The role of the government is strong and should extend beyond the defense of our borders, although that is important. It is also creating fair and equitable schools, providing housing, supporting community opportunity, and maintaining infrastructure. I think our military is strong but I'm not really sure about our ability to defend ourselves (army vs. army we win, but who is going to attack us army against army?), also a problem being that everyone seems to hate us right now. The rest I think we are pretty bad at, and everyone in congress and the white house are to blame for not having money for infrastructure and schools and community development but having lots and lots of money for this giant bailout. And the war. And still nobody will say my taxes are going to go up. How can they not go up? If I spend all my money now and pretend I had no idea taxes would go up, can i whine and get them to go down again until we just bankrupt our entire country?

This entire democracy is, in my sour northwest mood as I sit in a hotel bar outside seattle staring at a baseball game, a giant fucking failure. And from what I can tell, nobody has any idea how to fix it. Nobody. Anywhere. No idea. Or I haven't seen it.


Bailout plan

For some reason everyone was pissed off with Paulson's 3 page proposal to fix the financial industry, roughly simplified to: "give me $700,000,000,000 in non-sequential bills, go on with your life and patriotically buy something you can't afford, and we'll all live happily ever after." But it was short and simple and even republicans could understand it (except John McCain). Off the topic but for the record, my sources tell me Paulson was going to hide the pile of cash behind a bunch of glowing barrels under a mountain in Nevada so nobody could find it.

Anyway, now Chris Dodd has a counter proposal and it's really long and complicated and goes on and on and even numbers the lines because it's so long and sounds like something important when it's really as simple as giving someone smart full freedom to fix things (like a James Bond for the financial industry, except here maybe we should pick a name more tightly linked to the financial arena, something like maybe James Bond).

So I'm writing in Paulson for President, love the chutzpah and the blind unfettered arrogance. That's a man I would follow into battle (monetary or otherwise).
8 more years!
2 more wars!
1 more bubble!
Retire no more!

I should write jingles.

Red white and blue baby.


Escaping the black hole

I was searching online for how to avoid the inevitable suck of the black hole being created under switzerland somewhere by nefarious physicists and I found the answer (obvious in retrospect): tinfoil. Start wrapping yourself in tinfoil today and the gravity can't find you. That is because gravity is complex, complex because it is both attractive and repulsive apparently (only if you consider dark matter a type of gravity as it is just as confusing but from a large scale repulsive way), complex like teenagers and indian food. Fortunately for us, gravity is also sort of like mole rats and can't see well and depends on intuition to find people. The reflection and heat insulation of the tin foil protects you. Hope! Exactly how you are going to live without the earth and wrapped in tinfoil is a problem I'm still trying to solve...

The other solution I found was to contort yourself into a thermos bottle. Not a cooler, only a thermos bottle. I have now given you two options, good luck to you.


David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was found dead today. That's too bad, he was an incredibly talented writer. I don't know what type of person he was.

When I was travelling to Mexico I wanted to take along a great big book to read on the buses and in the parks and everywhere so I could be somewhere else but also somewhere inside me. That's reading, right? Anyway, it came down to Ulysses, Infinite Jest, or Gravity's Rainbow. My friend said Infinite Jest was one big intellectual jerk off. That might be true. I chose to read Gravity's Rainbow (I'll figure out what the hell that book was about some time, but it's a book all right). Infinite Jest is a non-fiction book with hundreds of footnotes, some of which could basically be chapters and are phenomenal. Others are the patent for aspirin or some other unnecessary tidbit. But it's his book and it's a helluva book and it's a great book and although I didn't read it in mexico I did read it and I am glad I did. For the record. I almost read it again a few months ago, and if I ever finish Against the Day I might. Now. Maybe. Sad how things like this work sometimes.

However, I also read a book of his essays entitled A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again. The entire book is solid, some essays are better than others as you would expect. The title essay of that book is one of the greatest essays about an activity (taking a cruise) that I have no desire to do, and he perfectly captures exactly what I think a cruise is and why I don't want to do it. I read that essay a handful of times before returning it to the library. If I had it right now, I would read it again. I strongly recommend that particular essay if you want to know how he wrote. Then you can be anti-cruise snobby like me.

It's always sad and a little scary to see a person commit suicide, to know there are demons out there stronger. It happens everyday. Famous people, nobodys, people in between. I wonder sometimes what those demons are like, what it's like to feel that helpless, to lose hope so completely that you choose the eternal abyss before another sunrise. Or another sunset. As much as I complain and I tend toward solitude and negativity, I can't imagine that type of isolation, how the mind could so deny itself. Then again, when I'm healthy I can't really imagine having the flu either.


Tunnel comparisons

Two tunnels created. One under the mountains of Switzerland, one in Boston. One may tell how and when the universe was created (cool). The other cuts the travel time from downtown Boston to the airport down (cool). The first cost somewhere around $10,000,000,000 ($10 billion). The other a slightly higher $15,000,000,000 ($15 billion). The first could finally bring about the prophesied golden event horizon that will destroy the world. If read properly, then ignored and modified and imagined upon for my own convenience, the biblical book of Revelations is all about this particular black hole. What could be more rapturous than being sucked into a black hole, c i r c l i n g c i r c l i n g circling ever more quickly as we approach until we are torn apart and nothing is left but our soul, which everyone knows if you really think about it can in fact move faster than the speed of light and escape a black hole. But only if our soul is light and free of sin. Repent! Repel! Repent again! Actually a little known fact is Einstein knew the soul was so light but his editor scratched it out of his papers (that right, papers with an s, he did it multiple times) because he said it was, and I quote, "a bit nutty even for you, Al." His editor was allowed to call him Al but nobody else was. Some people are quirky like that.

To put those numbers in perspective, and some people have complained about the size of both, the combined cost would support our occupation of Iraq for around 2 months. On the bright side, our new vice-president has seen Russia and is apparently a foreign policy savant so we should be fine. Quite frankly, I would rather be invited into a black hole than have her as our vice-president. And I'm almost convinced republicans are going to win.

I wrote a prayer in preparation - it's also a Haiku!:
Dear God our father
Creator in heaven high
Please suck me in now!

That should keep my soul light and faster than light regardless of whether it's god or the mythical Ukiah, the god of haiku, who finally does us in. I should probably quote the numbers but I'm lazy. I'll double check them later, promise. I'll also fix the bad wording and expand on this when I'm feeling less lazy.


the world

The world feels very angry today and has for the last couple of days. I can't really describe it, just every time I look outside, I feel it. It's in the clouds and the people passing by, the dull isolation of the street and stale stench of people as they pass by me as I sit drinking coffee or standing on the corner or listening to music. It's angry, whether it be the collective soul of the people, or a downturn in the city, or just a few cloudy days I can't say.

Some could say this is really just me projecting, but I never much believed in psychology. I wonder how that makes me feel?