Sunday, October 30, 2011


In some ways a remarkable story @ the NYTimes, yet in other ways it's exactly what we would expect.  As much as we brag about our charity and philanthropy... we're not a compassionate culture.  And these folks with their big houses and fine cars are, I'm sure, very well respected in their community. 

What the Costumes Reveal

"On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The party is the firm’s big annual bash. Employees wear Halloween costumes to the office, where they party until around noon, and then return to work, still in costume. I can’t tell you how people dressed for this year’s party, but I can tell you about last year’s."...

"Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding.

A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source.

A third photograph shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Another shows a sign that reads, “Baum Estates” — needless to say, it’s also full of foreclosed houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or mock foreclosure signs — or both. My source told me that not every Baum department used the party to make fun of the troubled homeowners they made their living suing. But some clearly did. The adjective she’d used when she sent them to me — “appalling” — struck me as exactly right."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Busyness and Well-Being

In the 'West' most of us have heard from a young age that 'idle hands are the tools of the devil'... and we've heard, or been told, "don't just sit there, DO SOMETHING!"  We were raised to keep busy, it was a measure of, and we were told a precursor to, success.   Joe Bageant pointed out in one of his pieces (sorry can't find it right now, will keep looking) that in redneck culture you could be not nice, immoral, and a drunk... but, as long as you work hard you'll have a good reputation.  In fact, I think the way he said it was that the worst you could say about someone is that they were lazy.   Joe's caveat notwithstanding, in general, we've most often measured success by accumulation of money, especially money that we used to buy houses and cars, and the path to get these things is to stay busy.

Similarly, we measure the success of our country, our region, and our communities based on how many companies we have that make money, and if we don't have enough of those companies we obviously need to get more.

Part of this transition led by technology, globalization, and demographics may well be that the way we measure success will change.  Perhaps from "Busyness" to "Happiness", from "More" to "Better"... part of the challenge is that Happiness and Better are a helluva lot harder to measure, and jesus we like to measure stuff.  How much we weigh, how tall, how far, how much money, how many companies, how many widgets, how many points, how high a test score, unemployment, GDP, etc.  Counting helps to keep us busy, I suppose.

If you don't have enough time in the day to get everything done... ask yourself why?  What if you had no mortgage payment?  Are you working for your house(s), car(s), other trinkets?  (Personally, I am.  By most definitions I'm in good financial shape, no consumer debt on credit cards, no student loans, no car payments... but I don't need the house I'm in... I can move to a perfectly fine house in a nearby neighborhood and nearly pay for it with the equity in my current house... I'm going to try and do this).

What does your community need?  A new Olive Garden? Target?  major industry? "cooler" downtown? Trader Joe's and Whole Foods?... or perhaps, it needs more volunteers at the schools?  more neighborhood block parties? people helping people learn all kinds of new skills?

Two pieces I read this week, along these lines, that I thought were very good -

From Zen Habits - The Silliness of Busyness:

"You may be lost in the silliness of busyness if…
  • Your usual response to “how are you?” is “so busy”, “crazy busy” or “busy but good”
  • You spend time worrying about how busy you are going to be tomorrow
  • You get angry when your spouse or friends aren’t as busy as you
  • Your busy life keeps you up at night thinking about everything you didn’t get done
  • You make a point of letting people know that you stay at the office after hours
  • You check email several times a day
  • You zone out during conversations thinking about everything you have to do
  • You volunteer for things you don’t care about
  • You spend time complaining about how busy you are
  • You make list after list to make sure you don’t forget anything during your busy day
  • You allocate time each day to clean your desk or organize your stuff
  • You regularly eat in your car
  • You use a phone in the car because “it’s the only time you have to talk”
If you are anything like me, you are busy because you want to be or because you don’t know how to be un-busy. You are busy out of misdirected guilt because you think if you do enough, you will be enough. When you decide that it is ok to live life your way, you can stop being busy and start doing things that matter. You can talk about your meaningful day instead of ranting about your busy schedule. Decide today that you are enough, even if you never do anything, accomplish anything or produce anything ever again. You are enough."

From PhilosopherNotes - Flourish - downloadable at the bottom of the page @ Experience Life Mag.:

"Gross domestic product measures the volume of goods and services that are produced and consumed, and any events that increase that volume increase the GDP.  It does not matter if those events happen to decrease the quality of life.  Every time there is a divorce, the GDP goes up.  Every time two automobiles collide, the GDP goes up.  The more people who scarf down antidepressants, the more the GDP goes up.  More police protection and longer commutes to work raise the GDP even though they may lower the quality of life.  Economist, humorlessly, call these "regrettables."  Cigarette sales and casino profits are included in the GDP.  Some entire industries, such as law, psychotherapy, and drugs, prosper as misery increases.  This is not to say that lawyers, psychotherapist, and drug companies are bad, but rather that GDP is blind when it comes to whether it is human suffering or human thriving that increases the volume of goods and services.

This divergence between well-being and gross domestic product can be quantified.  Life satisfaction in the United States has been flat for fifty years even though GDP has tripled.

Even Scarier, measures of ill-being have not declined as gross domestic product has increased; they have gotten much worse.  Depression rates have increased tenfold over the last fifty years in the United States.  This is true of every wealthy nation, and, importantly, it is not of poor nations."
Martin Seligman from FLOURISH

Kristof - Crony Capitalism Comes Home

"But, in recent years, some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy."...

"So, yes, we face a threat to our capitalist system. But it’s not coming from half-naked anarchists manning the barricades at Occupy Wall Street protests. Rather, it comes from pinstriped apologists for a financial system that glides along without enough of the discipline of failure and that produces soaring inequality, socialist bank bailouts and unaccountable executives."

Read the rest HERE

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Education reform... continued

As Valerie Strauss points out in the Washington Post today (via this Steve Karp commentary), corporate school 'reform' is all about testing/grading, control, and, ultimately, money.  These reforms, to repeat myself from the previous post, are teaching the exact opposite skills our children will need to succeed in the world in which they will live.

What skills do we need to be teaching?  I've talked about that previously, HERE and HERE... here's another good skill to add to those - (from Re:Focus)

"The greatest thing any parent or teacher can give a child is the support to solve their own problems. The goal is not to force a kid who struggles to work harder at being like everyone else. The goal is help a kid who struggles to find a workaround for the specific thing that’s holding them back. The skills our children learn to overcome adversity when they are young will become their talents when they are older. And it is these talents that will invent and build the products and companies that will help and inspire the rest of us when they’re older."

So, where do we start?  How about we start with doing away with grades?

From Alfie Kohn latest piece - The Case Against Grades:

"Indeed, research suggests that the common tendency of students to focus on grades doesn’t reflect an innate predilection or a “learning style” to be accommodated; rather, it’s due to having been led for years to work for grades.  In one study (Butler, 1992), some students were encouraged to think about how well they performed at a creative task while others were just invited to be imaginative.  Each student was then taken to a room that contained a pile of pictures that other people had drawn in response to the same instructions.  It also contained some information that told them how to figure out their “creativity score.” Sure enough, the children who were told to think about their performance now wanted to know how they had done relative to their peers; those who had been allowed to become immersed in the task were more interested in seeing what their peers had done.

Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world” -- unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.  Nor are grades a necessary part of schooling, any more than paddling or taking extended dictation could be described that way.  Still, it takes courage to do right by kids in an era when the quantitative matters more than the qualitative, when meeting (someone else’s) standards counts for more than exploring ideas, and when anything “rigorous” is automatically assumed to be valuable.  We have to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, which in this case means asking not how to improve grades but how to jettison them once and for all."


In times of drastic change - why can't we change?

We're in a dynamic, global economy where knowledge becomes obsolete very quickly.  This transition in our economy, with some interesting similarities to what happened between 1900-1920 (see link below), is completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.  Companies are becoming much more productive using technology and don't need as many workers.  Many people are finding they can work from home and/or telecommute, and even more are struggling to figure out just what to do.  Google, et. al. allows us to find rote facts in a matter of seconds,and  we can get online and watch a youtube video on everything from programming our DVR, to changing our oil, to making a French Omelet. 

Yet, somehow, the most important institutions find it impossible to recognize this new world and continue to act like it's 1938.  Our educational institutions are convinced that their job is to create a docile labor force that can sit quietly, do a repetitive task with some consistency, and memorize rote facts.  Last night I talked to a long time educator, and he said what every other public school teacher will tell you when no one is listening, "It's pitiful, we just teach to the test, if a kid has a question or a thought we don't have time to explore it, we have to get 30 kids ready to fill in the next bubbles on the test."  Yet, for the last 20 years every President has called for more testing, essentially doubling down on a failed model, doubling down on a system that is ruining the future of generations of children and our country.  So called 'reformers' are throwing out models for transformation that do nothing more than test prep more effectively (actually most of the models simply weed out most of the poor test takers and claim success).    I'm want to say their just being stupid, but when you consider most of the 'reformers' didn't go to these test factories and went to private schools, I actually believe they're being systematic in creating a world with clear have's and have not's.  It's also fascinating to look at where the leaders of today's most dynamic companies went to school, and as this NYT's piece from Sunday - Will Dropouts Save America - pointed out, how many of them dropped out of college.

There are other models out there that clearly help students develop skill sets much more closely aligned with what our world needs (people that love to learn and know how) -  Sudbury, Progressive, Waldorf, etc.  but, nobody is paying attention.  Implementing these different models, or creating public schools with similar characteristics, will require a radical shift of the populous at every level, from every political stripe, and they must put pressure on elected officials.   Perhaps, Occupy Wall Street can be the beginning of this movement?

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."
Eric Hoffer


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taibbi - OWS's Beef: Wall Street Isn't Winning – It's Cheating

Good point by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone... one of the right-wing's talking points about the Occupy movement has been that it is "class warfare" and that these are just people who "hate the rich" for their success.  But, as Matt points out, we don't hate the rich, we love them.  Ask a young person who their hero is and you'll be hard pressed to hear them name a poor person.  Essentially, we've been fed a diet of "he who dies with the most toys - wins" logic from the media for 30 years, the very idea that this is a culture that wants to have a war with their idols is's not the rich they protest, it's cheaters and a rigged game.

From Taibbi - Read the full piece HERE
"Americans for the most part love the rich, even the obnoxious rich. And in recent years, the harder things got, the more we've obsessed over the wealth dream. As unemployment skyrocketed, people tuned in in droves to gawk at Evrémonde-heiresses like Paris Hilton, or watch bullies like Donald Trump fire people on TV. Moreover, the worse the economy got, the more being a millionaire or a billionaire somehow became a qualification for high office, as people flocked to voting booths to support politicians with names like Bloomberg and Rockefeller and Corzine, names that to voters symbolized success and expertise at a time when few people seemed to have answers. At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate.
And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners.  But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.
We cheer for people who hit their own home runs in this country– not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.
That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Skills Gap"

These two pieces point out one of our great challenges - manufacturer's are making record profits, with fewer workers... and they're using a shell game to explain why they're not hiring, when in fact, thanks to technology and (in many cases government funded) training in lean manufacturing, six sigma, etc. they don't need more workers to make these profits - Both of which lead to the question - how will these 'extra workers' prove they are worthy recipients of that green paper that is necessary to live?

On MSNBC yesterday they had this story about the profit's of U.S. manufacturers' and  posted this chart  -

Roger Bybee, at In These Times, then does a great job writing about the myth that corporations have been effective at making a part of our national dialogue for years - which is - it's the people's fault that they don't get hired, they just don't have the right skills... Story here - Alleged 'Skills Gap' Takes Spotlight Off Who's to Blame for Massive Jobs Shortage - an excerpt:

"But in reality, this whole “Education, Training, and Skills” narrative serves to divert attention from the massive shortage of jobs and Corporate America's misdeeds to “failing” teachers and supposedly under-educated workers. Corporate America has failed to produce virtually any net gain in U.S. jobs since 1999; the period was the only decade when U.S. employment grew by less than 20 percent.
In short, the Education, Training and Skills "frame” on our economic problems plays several useful functions for the CEOs and the rest of the richest 1 percent. It takes the spotlight off CEOs' decisions to wipe out decent-paying job opportunities. As Gordon Lafer writes in The Training Charade,
Workers are encouraged not to blame corporate profits, the export of jobs aboard, or eroding wage standards—that is, anything that they can fight—but rather to look inward for the source of their misfortune and the seeds of their resurrection.
It also distracts from a few other things:
With 15 million Americans officially unemployed (the number rises to about 25 million when you include the discouraged jobless and those involuntarily working part-time), the relative number of positions going unfilled is infinitesimal in comparison. Just 5 percent of all current manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants.
Conceivably, a firm commitment by Corporate America and the federal government to maintaining and expanding America’s industrial base, accompanied by an equitable sharing of the massive productivity gains accruing almost solely to corporations, would make work in skilled manufacturing once again attractive. But as illustrated by the direction of leading corporations like General Electric, major firms seem less committed than ever to keeping their manufacturing production in the US. Moreover, leading figures in both political parties resist the notion of an “industrial policy” to foster U.S. manufacturing, as economist Jeff Faux has emphasized.
When displaced workers successfully complete retraining programs, they are generally unable to find jobs comparable in pay and benefits to the ones they lost. "Out of a hundred laid-off workers," says New York Times economics writer Louis Uchitelle in his book The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, "27 are making their old salary again, or more, and 73 are making less, or not working at all."
CEOs like Caterpillar’s Oberhelmer feel free to demand that our schools produce well-trained workers. However, corporations like Caterpillar and GE are unwilling to pay the taxes necessary to support quality education for all children. These and other corporations have skillfully avoided paying any federal taxes in some years, and paying minimal taxes in others.
Caterpillar’s Oberhelmer used a frequent corporate ploy in response to tax increases in Illinois. Despite massive increases in profits for the Peoria-based firm, he sent a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn with a thinly-veiled threat to relocate the corporate headquarters because of a 2 percent tax increase for wealth executives.
Without corporations paying their fair share of taxes, how can they expect a top-notch workforce?
Let us be clear: more education, training, and skills for the unemployed will not produce job opportunities when Corporate America is unwilling to invest in new U.S. jobs, despite the deceptive arguments presented by corporations and allies like Friedman and Zakaria. Nor will public education be able to improve for the children of poor and working-class children when corporations like General Electric and Caterpillar use blackmail threats of relocation to reduce their taxes.
Lafer offers a cold splash of reality on the whole Education, Skills, and Training charade:
Whatever the problem, it seems job training is the answer. The only trouble is, it doesn't work, and the government knows it. . . . Indeed, in studying more than 40 years of job training policy, I have not seen one program that, on average, enabled its participants to earn their way out of poverty."

Friday, October 21, 2011

More on the Metamovements

The Metamovement: Moving Beyond Marches and People in the Street

Another interesting post from Dave Pollard on the Metamovement.  What happens next - will the momentum essentially fade away?  Or is it possible to build on some concrete actions steps, perhaps those suggested by Mr. Pollard below?

(Another potential actionable item, related to Pollards first, offered here by Cenk Uygur - How to Regain Our Democracy - )

A. Demands of Governments B. Street Actions C. Ongoing Local Initiatives
1. Re-empowerment of the people and communities Campaign finance reform; Reinstate anti-monopoly laws;  STV voting; nationalize essential goods and services industries Occupy the mainstream media, megapolluters, and the offices of corporate oligopolies and dysfunctional regulators (e.g. telcos, the Fed, Monsanto, Exxon, the Big 6 banks, ADM, Cargill, Koch, Wal-Mart)
2. Reining in corporate rights and privileges End to corporate ‘personhood’; replacing ‘free’ trade with ‘fair’ trade Marches Ongoing boycotts of the most egregious corporations (see e.g. list above left)
3. Debt forgiveness Mark all ‘underwater’ mortgages down to current market value of property; Student loan amnesty; Extinguish third world and oppressive international debts Blockades to prevent forced evictions (done in Madrid); Mass refuse-to-pay actions and mortgage burnings Buy up foreclosed homes and return them to the people (Sam Rose suggestion);
4. Banking and money system reform Reinstate anti-usury laws; Reinstate Glass-Steagall; break up the banks; nationalize the Fed Bank Transfer Day: Move your money from banks to credit unions November 5; Marches Create and support local currencies
5. Wealth and income redistribution Guaranteed annual income; increase capital gains taxes, taxes on passive (non-employment) income, excessive wealth and inheritance taxes, and speculation taxes; Reinstate progressive taxes on the rich and on corporations; Maximum income (beyond which tax is 100%) Campouts and “March of Shame” actions at the homes of the 1%
6. Free universal  health care (Varies greatly depending on Occupiers’ country)
Community-based preventative, diagnostic and self-treatment health programs
7. Free universal education (Varies greatly depending on Occupiers’ country)
Unschooling and community-based self-directed learning programs
8. Decent livelihoods Reform taxes, duties and regulations to encourage instead of discourage creation of local employment; Improve teaching of and support for new cooperative enterprise creation
Disseminate and offer free programs to teach and support the creation of new cooperative sustainable local enterprises that meet real human needs
9. Social security Guaranteed “living wage” pensions for all over 65 and for those unable to work or unable to find work

10. Making the economy sustainable Create national and international programs to move from a ‘growth’ economy to a steady-state economy ‘Buy Nothing’ and ‘Buy Local’ day information protests (staged at malls and other major retail locations) Local programs to help wean citizens off pensions, jobs and debt burdens that are dependent on the ‘growth’ economy; Community-based car-share, tool-share, swaps and other consumption-reducing and cost-saving programs; Re-learning how to make locally and repair/reuse products instead of buying new, imported ones.
11. Peace and social justice End wars in Middle East and covert anti-democratic actions elsewhere; close Guantanamo and other torture prisons; stop harassment of minorities and immigrants; legalize gay marriage; increase access to abortion and birth control Peace and pro-diversity (e.g. pro-immigration) marches Mass war tax resistance/ refusal
12. Ending environmental destruction End factory farming; Shut down tar sands and other megapolluters; Ban GM foods/seeds/agricultural chemicals; Introduce carbon taxes; Ban bottled water Blockade and occupy megapolluters, factory farms and GM facilities
13. Measuring what matters Replace collecting, publishing and using GDP and other ‘growth’ statistics for decision-making, with measures of well-being, resource waste, pollution, social justice, and equality; Have deceptive government data on ‘unemployment’ and ‘inflation’ replaced by independently calculated and audited data on true unemployment, underemployment, equity of wealth/income dissemination and real changes to the cost of living of the average citizen Mass dissemination (posters, placards, press conferences) of true measures of well-being, wealth and income distribution, pollution, inflation and un/underemployment Collect and widely publish (including sending to the mainstream media until they report them) true well-being, pollution, inflation and un/underemployment data
14. Food security End subsidies to Big Agriculture and replace them with subsidies to local, organic, fair trade foods; Regulate the private ownership, use and waste of freshwater; Tax unhealthy foods and keep them out of schools Buy Local, Buy Organic “Buy-Ins” to support local producers of healthy food Teaching about healthy foods and how to prepare them, and the dangers of unhealthy foods; Community kitchens and cooperatives to make healthy eating easier and more affordable

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Death and Taxes

Seth Godin's Domino Project is publishing it's first 'one-page book' today... fascinating marketing (really it's just a poster)... and a fascinating subject matter for the first "book" - DEATH and TAXES

I have to agree with Seth when he says, "It is not possible to spend less than ten minutes looking at this, and more probably, you'll be engaged for much longer. And it's definitely not possible to walk away from it unchanged. That's a lot to ask for a single sheet of paper, but that's the power of visualizing data and turning it into information."

Click below to order

Monday, October 17, 2011

Joe Bageant - Redneck Writer

Nice tribute at Daily Yonder of Joe Bageant from Lisa Pruitt -

Redneck Writer -

An excerpt:

"Bageant unflinchingly revealed the American dream for what it has become—a sham, an ideal now accessible to relatively few:  “If your high-school dropout daddy busted his ass for small bucks and never read a book and your mama was a waitress, chances are you are not going to grow up to be president of the United States, regardless of what your teacher told you.”

Indeed, one of Bageant’s most powerful insights regards the “intellectual bareness and brutality” associated with the working class and poverty.  In his plea for universal access to a decent education, he keenly observes that “[n]ever experiencing the life of the mind scars entire families for generations.” He was correct that what holds back the working class is a powerful combination of the material and the cultural, including bias against them.  “[J]ust like black and Latino ghetto dwellers,” Bageant wrote, “poor and laboring whites live within a dead-end social construction that all but guarantees failure.” At no time in recent history is that more true, surely, than this age of declining mobility."

Reich: The Regressive Right

I wrote briefly HERE about the "Glory Days" - that period after WWII that most Republican's in your community would point to as the high water mark that they yearned to return too - and I make the point that their visions don't often match the reality.  Robert Reich has an interesting piece today that points out the period that those Republican's who pull the strings of the Republican's in your community, long for...

"They'd like to return to the 1920s -- before Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, worker safety laws, the Environmental Protection Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Voting Rights Act.

In the 1920s Wall Street was unfettered, the rich grew far richer and everyone else went deep into debt, and the nation closed its doors to immigrants.

Rather than conserve the economy, these regressives want to resurrect the classical economics of the 1920s -- the view that economic downturns are best addressed by doing nothing until the "rot" is purged out of the system (as Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover's Treasury Secretary, so decorously put it).
In truth, if they had their way we'd be back in the late nineteenth century -- before the federal income tax, antitrust laws, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the Federal Reserve. A time when robber barons -- railroad, financial, and oil titans -- ran the country. A time of wrenching squalor for the many and mind-numbing wealth for the few."

Read the rest HERE

Friday, October 14, 2011

Insight Workers...

Interesting piece @ Big Think - Goodbye, Knowledge Workers. Hello, Insight Workers! -
"As technology becomes increasingly available to not just compute data but synthesize and analyze it, automation will become all-encompassing. Knowledge workers, who manipulate  information, will be replaced by "insight workers," who bring a new set of skills to the table: judgment, critical thinking, empathy.
Where the knowledge worker knows how to manage an office, an insight worker understands how and why the business works. While a knowledge worker networks, an insight worker builds authentic relationships with his or her coworkers and clients."

Tom Peters has been talking about this idea for at least 10 years - and when you think about the skills to be a successful "insight worker" - empathy, build authentic relationships, etc. - Tom makes a powerful argument about who should, and is, leading in this new economic reality... see this powerpoint by Tom

 - Issue Y2K The Great War for Talent! Women Rule!-

A few quotes:
"Women’s Strengths Match New Economy Imperatives: Link [rather than rank] workers; favor interactive-collaborative leadership style [empowerment beats top-down decision making]; sustain fruitful collaborations; comfortable with sharing information; see redistribution of power as victory, not surrender; favor multi-dimensional feedback; value technical & interpersonal skills, individual & group contributions equally; readily accept ambiguity; honor intuition as well as pure “rationality”; inherently flexible; appreciate cultural diversity. Source: Judy B. Rosener, America’s Competitive Secret"

"TAKE THIS QUICK QUIZ: Who manages more things  at once? Who puts more effort into their appearance?    Who usually takes care of the details?    Who finds it easier to meet new people?    Who asks more questions in a conversation?    Who is a better listener?    Who has more interest in communication skills?    Who is more inclined to get involved?       Who encourages harmony and agreement?     Who has better intuition?    Who works with a longer ‘to do’ list?    Who enjoys a recap to the day’s events?      Who is better at keeping in touch with others?”
Source: Selling Is a Woman’s Game: 15 Powerful Reasons Why Women Can Outsell Men, Nicki Joy & Susan Kane-Benson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 7 Biggest Economic Lies

Robert Reich, in this excellent 2 minute and 30 second lecture, explains the fallacy of the Republican economic propaganda we've listened to for 30 years...

Article @ Huffington Post HERE

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - The Metamovement

Dave Pollard has a very good piece at his blog today entitled - Why the Metamovement Will Ultimately Fail - in it he makes this point:

"Neither the target nor the goal of the Metamovement is clear in North America or much of Europe. To some extent the protesters are not for anything — their solidarity is in opposition, not in intention."

Dave's post has caused me to rethink my last post... While this strikes me as different than the conservative's "what do they stand for" criticism of Occupy Wall Street, (for one thing at least it's sincere, hell Fox acts like these folks have nothing to be ticked off at Wall Street about and are clearly all Marxist) - Pollard's point (and he includes all of the worldwide protest) is that they don't have a clear plan of the impact they want to have.  In essence, if Pollard is correct, they need to be able to answer the question - If Occupy Wall Street is successful,what are the policies that will be different in 6 months?

Occupy Wall Street

Jon Stewart does an excellent job of comparing the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street versus that of the Tea Baggers at Fox News, et. al, in this video HERE

The thread through the Republican talking machine has been - 'what do they (meaning the protestors) want?  They call the protest incoherent, they don't know what the message is, etc.  Jon takes this on, but I would just add that just because the memo from the Republican party to their propaganda wing says it's an incoherent message doesn't make it so... the message is very clear  -  Wall Street executives completely wrecked our economy, we bailed them out, they continue to make millions and continue to make risky bets, and we are being asked to pay for it all with our social security, 401K's, medicare/medicaid, Pell Grants,  crumbling infrastructure, etc.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs - Stanford Commencement

Amazing commencement address from Steve Jobs -


In the first 5 minutes, he talks about his decision to drop out of college, and makes the point that doing so allowed him to learn what he wanted/needed to learn... An important point and completely lost on our K-16 system

Tim Ferriss has a blog post that makes clear that what matters is to not stop learning...

8 Steps to Getting What You Want...Without Formal Credentials

I don't know that our formal education system will ever get there - but, the goal for our own education, formal or informal, must be to find that place where our passion and skills, intersects with opportunity.

Third World Country...

Michael Lewis, famed author of Money Ball and The Blind Side, talking to NPR's Terry Gross on Tuesday about his new book Boomerang -

""I feel like I live in a place that's going to be dealing with problems that one associates with the Third World: radical declines in public services, the real possibility that municipalities don't repay their debts, [and] kind of a fraying of the civil fabric that's all the more peculiar because it's taking place in the context of great affluence. There's a real connection to Third World problems. An hour north of us in Berkeley, there's an actual bankrupt city in Vallejo. You go there and you wander around the streets that are not being paved and the public services that are not being rendered and the police force that can't do its job because it's been cut in half, and you think, 'Oh my God, it can happen here.' " [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]"  Full Transcript HERE

It is happening here... and I wonder if we've got the gumption to continue what the protestors have started on Wall Street?

Lewis on the Wall Street protest:

"Wall Street, in recent years, seems to have become an engine of unfairness. And you can see why people are outraged by what's happened there. Just back away from this financial crisis, and the truth is, we're still in it. The story I'm telling in this book is just an extension of the story I told in The Big Short. It hasn't gone away. We haven't put to rest the problems that were created during the subprime bubble. But Wall Street private enterprises — these big Wall Street firms where people were paid more than anyone in the society because they supposedly know what they are doing with money — orchestrates the biggest misallocation of capital, of money in the history of the world. And they pay themselves an awful lot of money while they're doing this. The result of this is this crisis, and the crisis leads to Wall Street being essentially bailed out of its own mistakes — that the government decides that these big Wall Street banks going down is unthinkable. And so, once the Bush and Obama administrations decided that you couldn't let these firms fail and they didn't want the mess of nationalizing them, there was really only one way forward — and that way was to gift money onto these banks until they're back on their feet and can function at the center of the economy again. But that, to any normal person who is outside the system, just looks ridiculously unfair. It looks like socialism for capitalists and capitalism for everybody else. So it's no wonder people are marching in southern Manhattan."

Click below to purchase Lewis latest - 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reagan - RINO

As sad, and scary,  as it may seem the ole' Gipper would be a Republican-in-Name-Only in today's GOP... note this quote from Reagan in 1985, highlighted in this piece @ Common Dreams:

"We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary, and that's crazy. It's time we stopped it."

Today Obama's called a Socialist for his similarly modest proposal...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quick to believe that which isn't true

Good piece from Reed Richardson @ Eric Alterman's blog on The Nation site - HERE

Too Bad to Be False -
"Psychologists have long identified a human phenomenon known as the negativity bias. Broadly defined, it essentially means that we humans are intrinsically hard-wired to give more credence to negative rather than positive information."... "This past week was nothing if not further proof that this negativity bias also impacts the all too human practitioners within our “objective” press, and distorts our political discourse in the process. For Exhibit A, look no further than the media tempest kicked up by the $16 muffin myth. The latest in a long line of allegedly outrageous examples of wasteful government spending, this story was little more than a case of imprecise invoicing and, once it was actually examined for veracity, it fell apart faster than dry cornbread."

The challenge is, like Acorn, Sherrod, etc., the damage has been done... thanks to commercialization our attention spans are like those of a gnat, and, in fact, most look at politics like a commercial.  Just like that Jeep that blew out of a volcano but kept on truckin' - people don't know where they heard it, but those Jeeps are pretty tough.  People won't know where they heard it, but they know that the government buys $16 muffins and pisses "our" money away down 14 carat gold toilets.