Archive for January 29th, 2012
That line, read exactly as a line of movie dialogue, popped into my head as I was reading “Charlie Rose talks to the SEC’s Robert Khuzami” in the Jan 30-Feb 5 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, page 51.
I was thinking about the SEC and its laid-back attitude toward Wall Street investigations, much less prosecutions (Bernie Madoff could have sent them a certified letter spelling out the scam, and they would have refused delivery—more or less what they did), and how, when they do prosecute and it looks as though they will win, or when the company feels it’s wasted enough time, the company will pay a fine of some tens of millions, neither admit nor deny wrongdoing, and the show hits the road again.
And that’s when the line went through my head, out of nowhere. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized what was missing from the tidy SEC/Wall Street universe: suffering. In our world, on our end, there’s plenty of suffering: people losing their homes, not being able to feed their family, not being able to find work because corporations make more money putting the jobs overseas, and there they also can drive the workers harder—see the earlier post on how Apple is artfully dressing up what is happening to make it not be happening, sort of, only it. keeps. on. happening. And how our social support system and government services are going away—and watchdog agencies like the FDA are defunded so they can’t protect us from rapacious businesses (cf. Extra Virginity)—all so that the wealthy can cut their taxes even further, for the wealthy—and those they control—believe that only the poor and the middle class should pay taxes. Taxes, they believe, are the sort of thing you can buy your way out of.
And the companies and those who head them and make the decisions—and the SEC-lytes who carefully do not rock the boat—they never get suffering. Show me someone who thinks paying a big fine is suffering and I’ll show you someone who has never suffered. Paying money is not suffering, not even close—certainly not when what is paid is above a million dollars. Choosing how to spend one’s last $20, probably. Paying a $75 million fine, no. The things I described above, even they are nnot suffering. Not the first day, or the first week. But when it goes on and on and you can’t see the end: that’s suffering.
So rather than taking checks from these guys, let’s take some of their time: say, 3-5 years. That’s a reasonable sentence. 3 year minimum, no matter how good and how influential the person once was (and of course s/he’s going to have to find a new line of work, since returning to the field of finance will be verboten: tried that, didn’t work. “Fool me once, shame on you,” and the rest most of us know by heart). 5 year maximum, to keep the old Hope engine turning over.
And the time spent in prison must involve some suffering. So 10 hours every day but one day a week (prisoner’s choice: Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, etc.), the prisoner will work at hard labor, breaking big rocks into smaller rocks. If prisoner refuses, prisoner will be lashed until enthusiastic compliance is shown or the lasher tires. 4-lash minimum. (Harsh, perhaps, but we are talking suffering—and I would guess that in most cases, one or more deaths can be attributed to the fallout of the prisoner’s reckless greed.) Prisoners who, in civilian life, saw that their outdoor workers were provided with sunscreen will be provided with sunscreen. To those who turned a blind eye to such things, we shall turn a blind eye.
Come to think of it, I’ve seen this same idea: The Mikado.
Alaina Sullivan points out how wonderfully the flavors of carrot and cumin do blend:
Carrot and cumin is a flavor pairing worth tattooing into your brain. Here, dressed simply in olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper, the carrots are roasted at high heat until they become tender, caramelized, and smoky. You can eat them straight from the baking sheet, or turn them into soup as I did (see below.) Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
Roasted Carrots with Cumin
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 35 minutes
1 to 1 ½ pounds baby carrots, or full-sized carrots, cut into sticks
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (you can also use ground cumin)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper [kosher salt or Cyprus sea salt, I think – LG]
Heat the oven to 425ºF. Put the carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil; sprinkle with the cumin and salt and pepper. Roast until the carrots are tender and browning, about 25 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
*How to turn Roasted Carrots with Cumin into Soup
Prepare a double batch of Roasted Carrots with Cumin. Sauté 1 cup chopped onions and 2 teaspoons ground coriander in olive oil until the onions begin to soften. Add 2 – 2 ½ cups chicken stock, and the roasted carrots. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and use a blender or food processor to purée the soup. Thin with more chicken stock if the soup is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and/or chopped walnuts. [I’ll probably use pine-nuts.]
Not seriously at all. Talk about “bending the needle,” big corporations invented and perfected the practice. Corporations are legally persons, and any reasonable diagnosis shows that they are sociopaths. Read this article. And Apple is probably one of the better companies, at least in the arena of creating needle-bending window dressing.
I understand that many believe that a corporation has no social responsibilities, that it’s only function is to maximize return on the shareholder dollar, and if workers are killed or maimed in the process, so much the worse for them. I would guess that, were shareholders penalized by the loss of a finger for a certain number of worker deaths, then shareholder opinion would change drastically. People being killed by company practices is one thing, but for a wealthy shareholder to lose one joint of a finger! My God! The barbarity!!
This must be the sort of thing Jesus had in mind about the difficulty of serving both God and Mammon. I think the modern choice is clear.
Best electric toothbrush. That’s good to know but—let’s face it—you are not very excited about it, are you? But now take a look at the gadgets in this post. Steve is undoubtedly already all over the camera, but attaching a camera to your own drone? Man, that is going to drive authorities nuts, especially if you include a directional microphone.
We’re going to the store. Perhaps some baby back ribs will fall into my cart if I maneuver it smartly. Take a look (and note the link).
I referred in an earlier post to the common practice of higher management to react swiftly to signs of serious problems—not by tackling the problems, but by tackling the signs: much cheaper and much easier. So when the needle moves into the red zone, higher management’s first effort is to bend the needle so it points again to green: problem solved!
The earlier post deal with a policing problem, in which statistics show upticks in crimes. Police have found that by refusing to record reported crimes, the statistics look ever so much better.
And now, Google reports, police have tackled head-on the problem of police brutality and unprofessional conduct, captured on video and posted for the world to see on YouTube, by requesting that the videos be removed from YouTube:
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.
The number of content removal requests we received increased by 70% compared to the previous reporting period.
So do not say that the police are ignoring the problem of brutal and unprofessional conduct on the part of officers. On the contrary, they recognize the problem and they are doing everything in their power to hide it, including (in some states) making it a crime to record (in photographs, video, or audio) policemen who are out of control and abusing their position.
That should make the problem go away—or at least become less visible. Oh, for the days when Big Business and the powerful completely controlled channels of communication, eh? Now just anyone can have a platform. But they’re working to correct that. (SOPA/PIPA and other acts to come.) (Thanks to Nick for the pointer.)