Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bank Settlements for Criminal Activity—and Willie

Would you buy a used car from a dealer who had been repeatedly sued for false claims and screwing his buyers? I guess not and yet we keep doing business with major banks that do the same.

Bernie Madoff is in jail right now, serving 150 years for duping investors in a Ponzi scheme. Justice served, but Bernie’s a bit-part player in widespread international fraud, a very small fish in an enormous pond of barracuda.

Yet the top seven major American banks settle enormous claims against them for fraud out of court, with no jail time for CEOs and what amounts to a hand-slap penalty.

Last week, leaders of seven of the country’s largest banks testified before the House Financial Services Committee that, a decade after the global financial crisis, the industry is financially healthier and less risky.

Monday, April 15, 2019

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

That quote comes from Verna Myers, inclusion strategist, cultural change catalyst, influencer, thought leader, social commentator, and author. It charms me in its simplicity and truth.

Ah well, it seems perhaps we’ve finally had enough of tribalism. The politics of clinging to this base or that have failed to served us well and some 40% of the electorate no longer identify with a major party or candidate. Why, you might ask, is every choice in modern times a vote for the least-bad candidate?

But the times they are a changing. The young, those ignorant upstarts we old white men denigrated for so long are on the march and not only here in America.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Is It Really the Business of Business to Destroy Ourselves?

I suppose that, depending upon where you see the glass, this is just another of these half-full or half-empty conversations. Perhaps the title deserves a question-mark.

Pessimists (and I am very close to being one) will argue that Wal-Mart, Amazon and their like have grabbed an outsized slice of the American Pie.

There are markers for this for anyone over the age of sixty and that leaves out 80% of you. Historic memory is a short-lived thing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Letter to Trump Supporters

I’m a liberal. You are my people.

How can that possibly be?

Well, you’re mostly (but not all) Republicans and you’ve elected the most divisive president the nation has ever known. I didn’t vote for him, but I understand why you did and if he survives to be the nominee you will quite likely put him back in the White House.

Can we have a conversation about that? I hope so.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Facebook, an Enormous Company Run by a Child

Well, Move Fast and Break Things may be a great motto in a dorm room, but it hasn’t worked out all that well for Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook rose to a Forbes rating of the 4th most valuable brand in the world.

There’s a lot at stake.

Facebook has moved fast. Blindingly fast and lots of stuff has been broken, most notably when lying to its users about confidentiality and selling user-data for profit to bad actors, including those who most likely have criminally swung elections in America and misrepresented the Brexit referendum in Britain.

Monday, March 11, 2019

When American Moral Codes Die, Democracy Ain’t Far Behind

“We may have democracy in this country, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
- Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis

C’mon, Jim, there’s always been a gap in human morality. Back in those good old days of the 1950s through 70s you keep harping about, we had good guys and bad guys then as well.

Yeah, the other side of my brain replies, but we mostly fought off those intruders by laws or strikes or civil disobedience. And now all that seems in the past and, am I wrong, or do we celebrate getting ours first as some kind of mantra?

The unions have been all but killed off. The laws, all the way to the Supreme Court, favor the monied crowd that paid off Congress to advantage them. Civil disobedience, when it even shows its face is a march here or there that quickly fades in the news-cycle. We used to have push-back, but now no one gives a shit.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Why Can’t We Fix the American Tax Base?

What, you didn’t notice it’s broken? Yeah, it’s gone. We haven’t had a tax increase since 1993 and the reason for that is interesting, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that either.

We’ve got a guy in America, not a Senator or Representative but just a common ordinary guy, who’s never been elected to any office and singlehandedly threw a monkey-wrench into the powers given to Congress by the Constitution.[1]

Amazing, huh? Let me tell you more.