On the Contrary, or, More People Being Wrong

March 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Business, News, TV | Leave a comment
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I have heard, today, two of the more chilling opinions on the future of our country.

The first: Robert Sheer on KCRW’s Left, Right & Center this week (I listen in Podcast form and thus am always a few days late) lambasting the banks for having the audacity to raise interest rates on their credit card customers after they miss payments. Almost more shocking – the banks are limiting consumer’s credit or even canceling their cards!

A bit of a tirade, if I may say so, on how banks shouldn’t be doing this to people that had lost their job, or were dealing with health issues, or had, I don’t know…stubbed their toe.

Hrm. Have we really arrived at a moment in this country’s history where the ability to spend money that you haven’t yet earned has become such an unassailable right that a company is wrong to tell you that:

a) We can’t let you to spend that much, because you can’t, you know, mathematically, ever pay it back, or

b) We’re going to have to charge you more to do so, since you know, mathematically we know you’ll never pay it back so we have to earn money from you somewhere.

Even more disturbing, later:

Rachel Maddow debating Duke Energy CEO, Jim Rogers, on the President’s proposed Cap and Trade program for carbon credits. Rogers is in favor of the idea, and the outcome, but made a very reasoned argument that the plan should be phased in so as not to produce a 40% price increase in a single years for consumers.

To this, Maddow asked if Duke Energy was profitable last year. 

Yes, Rogers replied.

Why not just cover the increase costs in your profit and lose money for a few years until emissions decrease, then, Mr. Rogers?

Is what she said.

Out loud.

Like, with her mouth.

As Duke Energy, one of the larger utility employers in the country, hemorrhaged money in support of this new government policy, how many jobs would be lost? How far would the stock value decline, and how many kid’s college funds or grandparent’s pensions (full of Duke stock) would get sucked right down with it?

How quickly would it be before their bonds were de-rated to junk status and their cost of debt became so high (stop me if you’ve heard this one) that the company became completely fiscally insolvent? How long after before this mega-industry (the utilities) was standing in line for a government bailout, another casualty of well-intentioned government policies that are financially untenable in a global economy?

She concluded, rather rudely, actually, by implying that since Duke Energy enjoyed all of the benefits from polluting the environment (by building government encouraged coal plants in the 70’s – stop me if you’ve heard this one), they should have to lose money as a form of apology to the citizens that had to live in the polluted environment.

Really? Duke Energy enjoyed all the benefits of cheap, mass electrification in the US? All of them?

Methinks you would sound a bit less silly saying that if you didn’t do it from a brightly lit neon room full of 600-watt plasma televisions.

Secret Shame

January 19, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Life | 4 Comments
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I am, and always have been, a member of the gotolunch society. Our organization stands in vigilant opposition to our arch-enemies, the scourge of the American office, the bringalunch gang. The bringalunch gang is vicious and evil, their weapons of war not as obvious as the sword or gun, but instead the subversive tupperware, the sneaky microwave, the shifty plastic fork.

Worse yet, in this time of economic uncertainty, I find that their numbers are growing

In our modern age of electronic communications and conference calls, I often think that the only reason for even going into the office is to get lunch. That hour, that sweet break in the middle of the day, is a sacred thing, dear readers. The company. The conversation. The food. Thai, sushi, Chinese, Italian, Mexican. A veritable United Nations of flavor offered up every day in our quiet little Connecticut town.

Regardless of the location chosen, though, one thing is certain. We will leave the building for lunch. Eat at my desk? Why don’t I just light the American flag on fire. As far as I’m concerned the two actions are analogous.

I provide this rather lengthy preface if only to ground you in my typical behaviors so that you can see how rather atypical my alternative behavior is.  You see, there are days I forego all this, the company, the conversation, the ethnic food, for a different, more personal alternative.

These are the days that I spend my entire lunch break driving around and eating fast food in my car.

I really don’t know why I do this, why I find this act so tremendously comforting. It could be yearning for my days spent in sales, wherein several days at a time were spent driving around in solitude between visiting my accounts. It could be that, because we’re located in such a small town, it is the only absolute foolproof way to guarantee that you won’t accidentally run into a co-worker when you were trying to eat alone. It could be because I probably wouldn’t be successful at convincing the staff at Taco Bell to play last week’s This American Life podcast over their loudspeakers while I ate.

imagesWhile the cause of my bizarre lunchtime ritual may escape me, here is what I do know: driving down Route 10, dunking a chicken nugget into sweet & sour sauce (nestled neatly between the stick shift and the radio) while listening to Arianna Huffington espouse on the virtues of universal healthcare…

That, my friends, is heaven.

This only becomes problematic when you arrive at your 1:00 meeting carrying, say, a Taco Bell soda cup. Three other people have a Taco Bell soda cup. “Hey, we were just at Taco Bell,” they say, “we didn’t see you.”

Really. Hmmm. How odd.

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