Saturday Readings & Viewings

I spent some time reading various articles on the internet today, and thought I’d share the interesting ones with my readers.

    Voting for Obama on the WFP Line

    Voting for Obama on the WFP Line

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous – Those AIG executives receiving bonuses whose names were leaked are receiving visitors – some organized by the CT Working Families Party.  Speaking of WFP – I am an e-active member of the NY Working Families Party – I even voted for Obama in the WFP column, as did nearly 160,000 other New Yorkers.
  • Fashion designers are having a tough time figuring out what fashions to push during these tough economic times. Some have tried looks reminiscent of the Great Depression, but that didn’t turn out too well.
  • Obama on Jay Leno

    Obama on Jay Leno

  • After a nice walk and lunch with Husband, I was given homework to watch Obama on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  So I accessed it on the web – the full interview is available on nbc.com.  I loved what he had to say about “commen sense regulations” and making sure the the average consumer and the average taxpayer aren’t taken advantage of.  I especially loved what he said about the pseudo-growth in the financial sector, and the real steady growth we need instead:

    And what we need is steady growth; we need young people, instead of — a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher.

    And if we’re rewarding those kinds of things that actually contribute to making things and making people’s lives better, that’s going to put our economy on solid footing. We won’t have this kind of bubble-and-bust economy that we’ve gotten so caught up in for the last several years.

    That spoke to me so strongly, as a recent graduate with an excellent NYC-based degree in chemical engineering, I believe I could have easily gone straight into the financial sector and made 6 figures right out of school. I know a number of people who did. I chose, instead, to be a research scientist, and more recently to move to environmental engineering. I did this because I care about a lot more than just money, but I often felt alone in my decisions. I believe we need a system that rewards the agents who do positive things for society, not just the people who can push around numbers all day on Wall Street. Apparently Obama believes this too, and it makes me feel so optimistic and confident in our country’s current leadership.

  • On Thursday First Lady Obama celebrated Women’s History Month by bringing together inspiring women leaders and sending them out to disadvantaged schools to share their stories.  The First Lady herself visited Anacostia:
    Michelle Obama hopes to inspire in celebration of Womens History Month

    Michelle Obama hopes to inspire in celebration of Women's History Month

    At Anacostia High School, the site of a violent melee in November that sent several young people to the hospital with stab wounds, Mrs. Obama gave hugs, slapped knees and sat down in a semi-circle with 13 students, who were all juniors and seniors. (All but three were girls.)

    And when one girl asked, “How you get where you are now?” the first lady told her story.

    “There’s no magic to being here,’’ Mrs. Obama said. “What I want you to know is that my parents were working class people.”

  • Eco-Button sends your computer to sleep

    Eco-Button

  • Buying Green: 9 Environmentally Inventive Products.  I think I’d like an eco-button to put my computer to sleep easily and awake it quickly.
  • The House approved a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out firms.  This is an interesting way of getting the money back and restricted executive pay and bonuses, but I’m glad they found a way to do so.

    Its backers said the companies had forced Congress to act by inexplicably handing out generous rewards to employees after tapping taxpayer funds to survive an economic calamity brought on by irresponsible and risky executive decisions.

  • Battlestar Galactica

    Battlestar Galactica

  • Finally, I’m really looking forward to watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica later today.  Husband and I watch all of our tv using the internet, so our viewing party will be tonight instead of last night.
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    You can’t live on $500k in this town? Bull.

    I just read this article in the NY Times, on the effect that a plan by Obama to cap top executive pay at $500k for banks accepting bailout money will have on these executive’s lifestyles.

    And I just had to write a post, because nothing pisses me off more than some of this crap. The author nears the article’s conclusion with this:

    The total costs here, which do not include a lot of things, like kennels for the dog when the family is away, summer camp, spas and other grooming for the human members of the family, donations to charity, and frozen hot chocolates at Serendipity, are $790,750, which would require about a $1.6-million salary to compensate for taxes. Give or take a few score thousand of dollars.

    I read a NY Times magazine article during the election season on Obamanomics, and found that I really felt good about his economic policies, ideals, and views.  His positions are probably the closer to my own than those of any other politician, and certainly any president or even major presidential candidate, ever.  One of the things in the article that stood out to me was the tenet that society functions the best, driving production and increasing economic success, when the top executives of a company make about 25x more than the bottom employees.  So if the lowest employees at the bank make $40,000 a year, then the top employees should make about $1 million.  In that case, the $1.6 million/year that the article is claiming is needed to lead the common lifestyle of a bank executive is roughly 50% more expensive than it should be for all of the employees and the company to perform their best.

    The article goes on to explain the need to fit in with other bank executives:

    Does this money buy a chief executive stockholders might prize, a well-to-do man with a certain sureness of stride, something that might be lost if the executive were crowding onto the PATH train every morning at Journal Square, his newspaper splayed against the back of a stranger’s head?

    The man would certainly not feel like himself on that train, said Candace Bushnell, the author of “Sex and the City” and other books chronicling New York social mores.

    “People inherently understand that if they are going to get ahead in whatever corporate culture they are involved in, they need to take on the appurtenances of what defines that culture,” she said. “So if you are in a culture where spending a lot of money is a sign of success, it’s like the same thing that goes back to high school peer pressure. It’s about fitting in.”

    My response? Ok, but the point is, your bank failed and is looking for a government bailout.  You need to suck it up.  Top executives are supposed to earn the pay that they receive, and banks that need bailouts, regardless of how common that may be, failed in their jobs.  So what’s the harm in instating laws to encourage them to work towards success in order to earn the money they make?  That’s what capitalism is supposed to be about.  When they’re able to give themselves huge salaries regardless of whether they lead their companies towards success or complete failure, capitalism isn’t working the way it was meant to, and I’m pretty sure that’s not the capitalism that people like my father hold so dear.

    Even if they’re rare, there are a number of chief executives who lead successful companies without living such extravagant lifestyles.  As far as I know, Warren Buffett, one of the most successful men in the world, is one of them.  Obama’s plan would be hoping to help change the culture of the self-absorbed members, not trying to sink companies in need of a bailout by sinking the self-esteem of their chief executives.  Maybe when they lead their companies to overwhelming success through good decisions and leadership, they can start making over $1 million again.

    These people can’t live on $500k in this town?  I live on $50k in this town.  Maybe I should be teaching them a few things.