The Crazy Truth

Bill O’reilly November 16th, 2011. 

“In the beginning, there was some sympathy toward the protesters, who believe the federal government should take action against financial institutions that cheat. In the face of the terrible recession, that message is a powerful one, and so the “Occupy Wall Street” movement got some traction.

But the more we saw and heard, the more fair-minded Americans came to believe that the “Occupiers” were not interested in legitimate issues. Many of them simply want to blow up the economic system.

In addition, some of their behavior was and is reprehensible: all kinds of violent crime, all kinds of provocation against the police, all kinds of depraved behavior in general.

A picture taken by the New York Post shows hypodermic needles that were taken out of the New York City site. Isn’t that nice? I don’t believe we saw any hypodermic needles at the Tea Party protests, or am I wrong?

The left-wing media is still trying to portray the “Occupiers” as the liberal equivalent to the Tea Party. One simple question: Would you prefer that your daughter demonstrate with the Tea Party people or with the “Occupiers”? You make the call, remembering the hypodermic needles.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll asked: Do you consider yourself a supporter of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement? Sixty-three percent of Americans say they do not support the movement; just 28 percent say they do.

Because President Obama was sympathetic to the movement in the beginning, along with many members of the Democratic Party, this presents a big political problem for them. And so officials in 11 cities got on a conference call to discuss how to deal with the “Occupiers.”

JEAN QUAN, MAYOR, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: What had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them.

And that’s true. To be fair — and we always are on “The Factor” — some of the “Occupy” protesters are well-intentioned folks who believe the financial system is no longer fair. That’s a legitimate debate. But they have been overrun by thugs, anarchists and the crazies who intimidate. If you are a violent person, people usually back off.

So the “Occupy Wall Street” movement is dead, finished as a legitimate political force in this country. And that’s a good thing.”

My response:

Isn’t this brilliant?  Notice how often Bill mentions hypodermic needles.  Bill, you are looking for needles in a haystack!  The fact of the matter is our country is messed up.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is an adolescent event that foreshadows more severe and broader protests to come.  So wipe that cocky smirk off your face Bill.   That is a memo.

Socrates, Jesus, Darwin, Beethoven, Einstein, and George Washington came back from the dead to review the state of America.  Socrates examined our souls, Jesus reviewed our spirituality, Darwin assessed our evolutionary potential and the environment, Beethoven observed our music and culture, Einstein analyzed our employment of scientific knowledge, and Washington reviewed our political and economic environment.  All of these men were terrified by what they observed, but they couldn’t all agree on a solution or compose a clear singular sound bite for the media. 

Bill interviewed this group of men and listened to each of their opinions on the current state of America and suggestions to make improvements.  He was shocked by their responses and inability to agree and design a “legitimate” solution within the current construct of our economic and political systems.  As such, he concluded they were a bunch of far left liberal loonies, crazies, and anarchists. 

Murder by Numbers

  1.  I.Q.
  2. GPA
  3. SAT, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT
  4. FICO (Credit Score)
  5. KLOUT (new term)
  6. NET WORTH
  7. AGE
  8. MARITAL STATUS (0 OR 1)
  9. NUMBER OF KIDS
  10. RACE (1 to 5)

Now, The Three Musketeers  — Employers, Government, Marketers (includes the media) have all the numbers they need to herd us into groups for the slaughter.  TWEET…herd em up cowboys. 

In order to make the round-up easier, important to minimize #1 and inflate #2-3. 

In order to grow and expand the system to show “progress” must maximize #8-9…use religion as an aphrodisiac and later as novocaine

Finally, over-time, slowly but carefully drain #6 such that #4-5 no longer matter.

Leave #10 in case they discover our scheme —  we can play the race card to turn them against each other while we pack up our winnings and get the hell out of the country.  We can take our dog and pony show somewhere else…afterall there are 6.7 billion other cows to herd up and slaughter.

Flaming Sword

Ah…an unexpected productive day on the blog.  Somehow, I was able to overcome Beethoven’s 7th symphony movement #2, to find some voice and words worth expressing.  My final poem or muse…and then sleep.  No need to wait and proof in the morning.  This draft is good enough for a blog.  One can always improve words, but I am tired and satisfied.  Good night fellow man…and woman…sweet dreams.

Here I float

Alone

Idle

Latent energy

Naïve hope

Potential

Available to ignite

For a purpose

A grand vision

But I know what the future holds

My fuel will again be burnt

On the banal task

For money

To “earn” a living

To make a profit

Flesh slowly decays

Muscles wither away

Brain turns to mush

Bones begin to crack

Spirit worn away

Like the rocks from the pounding surf

Forced to carve a small niche

A quiet cove

Away from humankind

To enjoy slivers of beauty

Scraps of fulfillment

Oh modern civilized man

How many more beings will you sacrifice?

Slaughter to your small greedy task?

Look in the mirror

Review your past

Contemplate the Great Abyss

Imagine the future

To understand our true purpose

We were designed to excel

To challenge our uninterested God

To fight the Grand War

Thrust the flaming sword

Into the heart of darkness

And die a Noble Death

Together

Not alone

Disgraced

Unfulfilled

Wasted unused potential

The Matrix — Economics

Even at the peak of my business career, when I was wrapped up in making great money and living like a whore, there were two scenes in the movie The Matrix that made me think about economics/capitalism and the life we are living.  In my imperfect perception, I view economics under our current construct as being analogous to the matrix…we are merely the batteries powering the machine.  Below are the two scenes I really enjoyed.  Most of us take the wrong pill….

Whores

We offer our being

Give and receive

Short-term distant pleasure

From work performed

Passion absent

No Eternal Love

For those yet to come

Spiritless energy

Spent and consumed

For money

Warm corpses

Sitting in homes

Driving cars

Painting our white picket fences

But the pimps have all the money

And in the end

We are all alone

Bankrupt

Soul Crushers

We all met in his relatively large office as requested at 8 am sharp. Dressed in our style less business casual costumes, with note pads in hands, some with coffee, we engaged in nervous small talk and meaningless office banter.  We all had inflated titles; salaries, bonuses, stock options, but our leader edged us out on all fronts.  Balding red hair, pasty pale complexion, tiny glasses, fabricated gym build, God-fearing man loaded with self-righteousness, he looked at us and said in a southern twang, “Boys, today is the day of reckoning”.      

Like most of the employees, our tragic hero probably pulled into the office parking lot between 8:30 and 9:00 am – just as he had done every weekday for over ten years.  His wife packed him a little lunch in a nap sack, just as she had done every weekday for over ten years.  It was a Friday.  Eight hours of work and he would be free to enjoy the weekend with his wife and two little girls.  To him, it was just another Friday morning.  He would take the elevator to the fourth floor, put his nap sack in the employee fridge, grab a cup of coffee, say hi to a few other employees in the kitchen, walk to his director sized office, boot up the computer, look at the most recent e-mails, check his voicemail, review his calendar, and then begin to prioritize his day. 

I was one of the fortunate puppet leaders.  I didn’t have to lay anyone off in my department, but I was given an assignment.  My job on this Black Friday, in which over ten thousand people were losing their jobs, was to assist another puppet leader with one of his sackings.  He would deliver the news read from a corporate published script and then call me when he was finished and move on to his next sacking.  My role was to stand there while the employee packed up his things and make sure no corporate property was damaged or taken.  I was required to obtain the employee’s corporate security card, office key, and escort him to his car.  I didn’t really know this employee, our tragic hero, but I had exchanged words with him on occasion in the company kitchen.  I didn’t really know what he did at work, but he was a nice intelligent looking gentleman probably in his mid forties and he managed a handful of employees.

By the time I arrived at our tragic hero’s office, the damage was done.  He had begun the process of packing his things away into a card board box.  I sat down on one of the chairs in his nice office.  I watched him pick up a picture of his two little girls.  He looked at it for a moment, let out a deep sigh, and said, “ten years…and for what?”  He put the picture in his box.  At this moment, he realized that his decade of work was perceived worthless.  Ten years of energy and youth spent and consumed resulted in zero perceived value.  All along he had been deceived.  Each year he had gotten a raise.  Each year he had received positive reviews.  Over time he had been promoted to greater responsibility.  The company and his work had become a dominant piece of who he was.  His identity and sense of self-worth had morphed into an exterior entity — an entity that appeared to have a mission, a soul, a purpose.  He gave this phenomenon his being and in exchange it gave him money and a sense of belonging.  On what was expected to be a typical Friday morning, in a single soul crushing moment, the truth was suddenly revealed.

Executive Bonuses — Whistleblower

WARNING: This post is a long one with just one picture…so bear with me WordPress bloggers.

I have spent over a decade in the Fortune 500 business environment and at some relatively high levels — therefore I may be considered as an insider.  Although my limited experience can’t be assumed as the truth for the entire Fortune 500 population, I will nevertheless offer my perspective and blow my whistle.  All other entities innocent until proven guilty.

Executives in the large corporations I have worked for had a high probability of hitting or exceeding their bonus incentives.   As you may know, bonuses can be very lucrative in addition to a multiple six figure base income.  So how do they have a high probability of hitting or exceeding their bonus target?

First, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is himself part of the executive crowd so he has an interest that he and his colleagues get “in the money”.  The creation of the annual budget, which is under his or her control, is the mechanism used to determine bonus payouts.  If you hit the budget for revenue and profit, executives get 100% of their target bonus.  If they exceed the budget, a multiplier is applied such that they can make exponentially more bonus payouts.  Conflict of interest?  You think. 

Second, the Chief Financial Officer reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  As such, the CFO is in an inferior position and must meet the needs and demands of the CEO.  In short, although the CFO can recommend budget targets for revenue and profit, it is the CEO that has the final say.  Conflict of interest and no power – a problem?  You think.

Third, the Board of Directors, which consists of high-ranking business men from other companies, have to approve the budget.  The problem here is that they don’t really understand the business or the details of the company’s operations and financials.  Sure, they are successful business men or women, but they don’t have a clue about the nuts and bolts of the business at hand.  And since they have a vested interest (stock options) in the company exceeding budget and the expectations of Wall Street, they have little incentive to stretch the budget targets. 

So, here is how the budget is created in my experience.  First, those in the regions or in the field, the folks actually driving the results, receive a revenue and profit target.  There is much negotiation that occurs in setting those targets, but in the end, the targets are set.  Once these targets are set, the corporate executives often create a “hedge”.  For example, those in the field or regions will receive their bonus if they hit $5 billion in revenue and 15% profit off that revenue.  Corporate executives will then create a “hedge” for themselves such that their actual revenue target is just $4.5 billion and 10% profit.  These softer targets increase their chances to hit their bonus targets.  In short, hold those responsible for actually doing the work to tougher targets than they themselves, the Executives, must endure.  Of course, when they report goals to Wall Street, they communicate an even less aggressive target than the “hedged” revenue and profit targets they enjoy. 

So, the folks responsible for executing the company goals are given aggressive targets to hit their bonus, the Executives give themselves less aggressive targets, and finally, the Executives and Board of Directors give Wall Street even less aggressive targets.  Who makes out on this deal?  The Executives, the Board of Directors, and Wall Street.  Keep in mind that the Board and Executives (stock options) and Wall Street (Stocks) have a vested interest in results exceeding “expectations” that are simply communicated by “management”.  

And, think about all the tools Executives have at their disposal during the year to ensure they hit the budget targets.  They can lay people off and claim these are “extraordinary expenses” and exclude them from Wall Street expectations and their own bonus calculations.  They can find cheaper labor in other countries that will gladly perform mundane activities for a ridiculous hourly rate, they can adjust pricing, they can play with reserve accounts, and so much more.  Remember, the external auditors are in their pockets.  Remember Enron? 

Well, I blew my whistle.  More than likely the sound will be unheard like the fall of a noble tree in a dense people-less forest…if such a forest still exists.  I fear…and I could be wrong…that this is just the very very very tip of the iceberg.  Enjoy your weekend

OWS — “Product Personhood”

Several Occupy Wall Street protesters have been raising their concerns about “Corporate Personhoodwhich essentially treats the corporation as though it were an individual citizen.  But let me take this a step further.  Do we not treat products with the same level of respect that we do individual citizens?    

Let me dive a little deeper.  What do most of us spend our time on?  Well, making and consuming products — if we aren’t spending our time making products, we are out shopping for, buying, or using products.  Products or things seem to control or account for the greatest use of our time and energy.  Our obsession with product creation and consumption has almost morphed us into becoming a product ourselves.   Do products serve us or do we serve products?  Are we simply becoming commodities?  Is the cliché true that you are what you do?

Should the protestors in fact be attacking “Product Personhood”?   I offer some images that may help illuminate what my words have failed to adequately describe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

A Muse for the Wall Street Protesters

Don’t stoop down to their level and speak in a language they can understand.  Aim high, far, and wide, otherwise you will achieve little more than mediocre results.  In other words, occupy the human direction. (Edit addition:  Think long-term…think five generations out and beyond…eventually we will have to make sacrifices and tough decisions to break the cycle of insantity).

“It is because Humanity has never known where it was going that it has been able to find its way.”

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”

Oscar Wilde

 

“I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know.  Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly.”

Richard Buckminister

 

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

Dr. Carl Sagan

 

“There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream.  They are right.  It is the American Dream.” 

 Archibald MacLeish

 

“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”

Tom Robbins

 

 “A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”

“To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 “If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.”

“I love those who yearn for the impossible.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

“Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us, and never stop learning”

Ludwig van Beethoven

 

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

“Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.”

Socrates

 

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

Marcus Aurelius

Do WE Control Economics or does it Control US?

I walked into a local grocery store the other day and realized it had been completely reorganized and remodeled.  The biggest change was the checkout stations.  There used to be about six checkout stations manned with people — now there are only two “manned” stations and the rest were replaced with computers.

Replacing people with machines and technology to do work has been going on for quite some time in manufacturing, science, technology, military, and customer service, at gas stations, toll booths, airports, and retailers (including on-line purchasing).  Indeed, these machines are more efficient and less expensive than people, but I have to ask the question — if our population keeps growing or stabilizes at the current level and if our education system doesn’t pick up the pace, how we will keep employment up?    

Alternatively, could we in fact use machines to do a large percentage of the work for us?  If machines can do most of the work what could we do with more spare time?     

The big question is — does economics serve the human being or does the human being serve economics? Why can’t we find jobs for people?  Why aren’t companies hiring?  Why are companies laying people off?  Why do we have under-employment?   

If we indeed serve economics, then we better start ramping up the “quality” of education or we are going to experience huge unemployment and social unrest – and we know where that leads.