Published on: January 30, 2009
Yet another story from the “tone deaf” file.
It is being widely reported this morning that even as the nation deals with the worst recession since the 1930’s, as the banking industry faces collapse and looks for a series of government bailouts, and as unemployment rises and credit tightens, the nation’s bank executives awarded themselves a total of nearly $20 billion in bonuses.
Actually, this is worse than tone deaf. It is arrogant. In the extreme.
The excuse is that such bonuses are the only way to keep the best people.
Which seems like so much crap. Because these so-called “best people” are the same people who helped propel us into this mess to begin with.
And besides, where are they going to go? It isn’t like there are any other jobs out there.
Here’s what the rule ought to be. You ask for government bailout money, nobody in your organization gets a bonus. Nobody. No exceptions. Because we, as taxpayers, ought not be funding bonuses for these people.
And let’s say it once again. No executive jets for anyone.
In some ways, I love this idea.
There was a story in the Associated Press
the other day saying that in France, the government is giving free newspaper subscriptions to teenagers when they turn 18 years old.
According to the story, the move isn’t just a way to make teenagers better informed. It also is a kind of bailout to France’s newspaper business, which is ailing for many of the same reasons that the US newspaper industry is in trouble.
Now, while I think the idea makes sense to provide ways to illuminate young people about the issues of the day, it also strikes me as an investment in an increasingly obsolete business model.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love newspapers and magazines. I began as a daily newspaper reporter, and until MNB
, it was the best job I ever had. But a simple recognition of reality tells you that young people are often better informed than their elders, but that they are getting their information through the digital media.
I don't care if you’re talking about private industry or federal bureaucracies … both have to stop investing in obsolete technologies and business models. We have to move into the future…quickly. Or risk irrelevance.
As an extension of this reasoning, it ought to be a matter of national shame in the US that when the Obama administration moved into the White House, it found technology and communication systems that were more appropriate to the 20th century than the 21st.
It sounds like I have a better backup system in my home than the White House has for its email systems, when they actually work.
The government ought to hire some small, entrepreneurial companies to wire the White House, and give them tax breaks for doing it. Or just give the gig to Apple, and let the future unfold.
This is the kind of story that makes me nuts.
There are numerous reports out there that as gas prices go down, demand for big cars and SUVs is going up.
As if gas prices will never go back up. As if there will never be a gas crisis again. As if somehow we in the US are simply entitled to use as much energy as we want, as wantonly as we wish, without regard for the realities of supply and demand.
As if the last couple of years never happened.
This is insane.
We demand – or should demand – intelligent leadership from our governments. We demand – or should demand – accountability and transparency from corporate entities and business leaders. We expect – or should expect – a measure of ethical responsibility from both the public and private sector.
And then we show an appalling lack of memory and good sense when it comes to the cars we buy.
This makes no sense.
And yet, it seems so…American.
Shame on us.
So, USA Today
had a story the other saying that as scientists try to find energy alternatives to fossil fuels, one of the options being developed is the use of chickens – or, at least, the fatty parts left after processing - which “could be powering jet flights across the country and around the world in the next few years.”
And I’m thinking to myself, that’s ironic. Because wasn't it essentially bird leftovers that caused that emergency landing of the US Air flight in the Hudson River a couple of weeks ago?
A good measure of how self-involved Bay Boomers are could be seen in the Wall Street Journal
a few days ago, when it ran a story about how Boomers, now that they are having grandchildren, are trying to avoid being called “grandma” or “grandpa,” because those nicknames make them feel old.
Gimme a break.
First of all, if you are a grandparent, you are a grandparent. Get over it.
What does it tell your grandchild when you communicate that you are so insecure about your age and physical/mental condition that you need to find ways to deny both?
Now, I grant you that while I am 54, I am probably at least several years away from grandparenthood. And when it happens, I’ll be married to a pretty hot grandma, so that works for me.
But here’s what I want, eventually.
I want some little kid to call me “grandpa” while we’re out playing catch or riding bikes, and have someone be startled because they thought I was young enough to be the parent.
Now, that’ll be a moment worth savoring.
I finally saw “Slumdog Millionaire” the other night, and was completely blown away by this unique and passionate portrait of two impoverished boys growing up in India. The life story of one of the boys is framed by his appearance, of all things, on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, but the movie never seems forced or even unlikely. Rather, it is kind of a fairy take with hard edges…there are moments that are profoundly depressing and you wonder if the movie will ever be able to find its way beyond them. And then, as the movie moves toward its resolution, it actually manages to soar and lift the spirits.
“Slumdog Millionaire” is an extraordinary movie.
I also saw “Defiance,” which is a good – but not great – portrayal of how Polish Jews came together to resist and even fight Nazi persecution during World War 11. While the movie plods a bit , it features strong performances by Daniel Craig and Live Schreiber, as the small time criminal brothers who find themselves as unlikely leaders.
It should be noted that “Defiance” worked better for me than for Mrs. Content Guy, who read the book on which the movie is based and said that it lacked the subtlety and nuance of the real events. Which I don't doubt. It is, after all, a movie.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.