October 10, 2008

Is it impossible to truely plan our future? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, Blame, Business, capitalism, decision making, lie of the day, life, lobbyists, opinion, planning, Politicians, Politics, progress, societies, The Economy, voting, Wall Street tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:01 pm by jimwilbur

For over twenty years of my working life I designed large scale custom homes and developed working drawings and specifications for those homes. I can tell you based on my life experience that planning is very hard and that the hardest part of planning has to do with people. For instance, once after having spent hundreds of hours developing – first a written design program then a series of schematic designs then several versions of preliminary designs, designs that included detailed floor plans, elevations, site plan and sections; the owner was finally ready to sign off on the design so we could start the working drawings, and specifications, the actual documents a builder would use as a guide to build the house.

The married couple who was planning on having this house built was just about to sign off when the wife said, “before I sign off on this design, I have one question”. She pointed to a symbol on the floor plan and said, “my husband and I have both been wondering what this symbol means”. The symbol she was pointing to was one of the most basic floor plan symbols used to communicate an important element of home design, it was the symbol representing a door. So, I quizzed them a bit and I started to realize that they didn’t understand what many of the symbols on the floor plan meant but had been wasting many hours of their time and my time pretending they did and giving me written approval for this design.

At the time, I was a seasoned designer and had designed at least 100+ homes that were built. I began to wonder, how many times I had gone through this design process with people and they really didn’t understand what I was showing them.

I sometimes wonder if that is not a big part of the problem that we as humans have. We are lead down a certain path of planning by well meaning people or not so well meaning people, we think we know what we are approving when we approve it but we do not. We do not really understand and although we are included in decision making through a democratic process, we really have no idea what we are getting, we don’t even understand the basics but we are so opinionated about what we don’t understand!

And the well meaning try to lead us but we foil their plans because we are so opinionated and because we can be so easily mislead by those who are not well meaning or who are only driven by their own self interest and; although you have elected them and paid them to represent you, they expertly misguide you and persuade you to make decisions that help them personally and may very well be against your best interests.

How is it possible for a well meaning leader to succeed in a situation like this that is so deeply rooted in our own human nature? Are we capable of planning our future in any kind of a meaningful way? I don’t know the answer to this, I am curious what others like you might think.

October 6, 2008

A Ray of Hope in the Economy – Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, capitalism, Cobert, Comedy, crazy life in America, foreclosure, Humor, lie of the day, life, tent cities, The Economy, Trends tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:24 pm by jimwilbur

Everyone is so doom and gloom now about the economy but this video just goes to show that the Horatio Algers of this world who are in the right place at the right time can still go from Rags to Riches!!

October 2, 2008

Is this any way to run a society of human beings? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, bailout, belief, capitalism, Economic Pearl Harbor, faith, gambling, lie of the day, managing money, Policy, Politics, Sustainability, tent cities, The Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:26 pm by jimwilbur

This is an excerpt from an excellent article by William Blum:

Why do we have this thing called a “financial crisis”? Why have we had such a crisis periodically ever since the United States was created? What changes occur or what happens each time to bring on the crisis? Do we forget how to make things that people need? Do the factories burn down? Are our tools lost? Do the blueprints disappear? Do we run out of people to work in the factories and offices? Are all the services that people need for a happy life so well taken care of that there’s hardly any more need for the services? In other words: What changes take place in the real world to cause the crisis? Nothing, necessarily. The crisis is usually caused by changes inthe make-believe world of financial capitalism.

All these grown men playing their boys’ games. They create an assortment of financial entities, documents, and packages that go by names like hedge funds, derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and dozens of other exotic monetary vehicles. They create all manner of commercial pieces of paper, of no known real or inherent value, backed up by few if any standards. Then they sell these various pieces of paper to the public and to each other. They slice and dice mortgages into arcane and risky instruments, then bundle them together, and sell the packages to those higher up in the pyramid scheme. And some of those engaged in this Wild West buying and selling become millionaires. Some become billionaires. They get Christmas bonuses greater than what most Americans earn the entire year. Is all this not remarkable?

And much of the buying is not done with the buyer’s own money, but with borrowed funds; “leveraged”, they call it. The pieces of paper sometimes represent commodities, but the actual commodities are not seen, may not even exist; if the seller demanded the buyer’s own funds, or the buyer wanted to see the goods, the whole transaction would freeze. They sell “long”, expecting the price to rise; they sell “short”, expecting the price to fall; they sell “naked short”, which means they neither possess nor own what they’re selling; a name for each gimmick. They take ever-greater risks buying and selling increasingly-esoteric pieces of paper. It’s a glorified Las Vegas, casino capitalism.

These pieces of paper can be so complex that many of those buying and selling them do not fully understand them; no problem, they just resell the pieces of paper to someone else at a higher price, even when one or both parties know that the paper, while pretending to be payable debt, is virtually worthless. The government, even when it tries to moderately regulate this Monopoly board, can at times also be confused by the complexities of the pieces of paper, compounded by the less-than-transparent practices that envelop the transactions; a potpourri including speculation, manipulation, fraud. Billionaire financier Warren Buffett has called the pieces of paper “weapons of mass financial destruction.”

The boys of finance have been playing their games for years, and so at each stage of the process there are insurance policies allowing the players to hedge their bets; they insure, and they re-insure; hopefully covering themselves against the many risks of the game, often knowing that they’re trading in questionable debts; the giant corporation AIG, a major player in the insurance game, has just been taken over by the federal government. And with each transaction, at each level, someone earns a commission or a fee. There are also other firms whose purpose in life is to go around rating various players and their pieces of paper and their credit worthiness and giving seals of approval which are relied upon by investors. Some of these rating firms, we’re now learning, have been surprisingly incompetent, when not simply dishonest

President Roosevelt, confronted in the 1930s with similar players, called them “banksters”.

It’s all built on faith, as fragile as the religious kind, the belief that something is worth something because it comes with a piece of paper with reassuring words and numbers written on it, because it’s traded, rated, and insured, because someone will sell it and someone will buy it. The same market psychology, the same herd mentality, that went into constructing this house of cards built on pillars of greed can cause the house to collapse in a heap. But the Monopoly players keep their bonuses, and bow out with multimillion-dollar golden parachutes; while tent cities are springing up all over America.

Is this any way to run a society of human beings?

And the government is in the process of trying to bail out these reckless traders, these parasites, rescuing them and their system from their own nonsense. With our money; without a major restructuring of the Alice-in-Wonderland rules of the financial games, without instituting the toughest of regulations, oversight, and transparency, and with no guarantee that the spoiled-little-brat Masters of the Universe will act in any way other than their own narrow self interest, the rest of us be damned.

Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good. 

If you would like to see the whole article here is a link to: The Anti-Empire Report

What is your opinion? Is this anyway to run a society of human beings?

September 25, 2008

Video: Can Mama Make it all better? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, bad decision making, Business, Cheating, Crime and Punishment, decision making, democrats, gambling, lack of integrity, lie of the day, managing money, McCain, No humor in this, Policy, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, responsibility, satire, self help, Taxation, The Economy, the poor, Trends, trust, voting tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:03 pm by jimwilbur

Students at WASU have been talking about this video and others. Many students have expressed dismay and wonder if this can really be happening.

Join the students of WASU and let us know what you think.

Can Mama make it all better?

Here at We’re All Screwed University students seek the truth!

September 22, 2008

Video about what we learn in the school of life – Truth or Lie?

Posted in belief, life, meaning of life, philosophy, Policy, Politicians, Republicans, Robert Reich, The Economy, the poor tagged , , , at 8:12 pm by jimwilbur

I can relate to this video and believe some of the big lessons in life are conveyed in it.

What do you think the video conveys?

Should taxpayers demand five conditions on trillion dollar blank check? truth or lie?

Posted in America, Blame, Business, Cheating, decision making, democrats, gambling, lack of integrity, lie of the day, life, losing, managing money, Policy, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, responsibility, Robert Reich, Society, Sustainability, The Economy, trust tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:07 pm by jimwilbur

Robert Reich suggests that five conditions be added to the “blank check” the Bush Administration is requesting to bail out Wall Street:

The public doesn’t like a blank check. They think this whole bailout idea is nuts. They see fat cats on Wall Street who have raked in zillions for years, now extorting in effect $2,000 to $5,000 from every American family to make up for their own nonfeasance, malfeasance, greed, and just plain stupidity. Wall Street’s request for a blank check comes at the same time most of the public is worried about their jobs and declining wages, and having enough money to pay for gas and food and health insurance, meet their car payments and mortgage payments, and save for their retirement and childrens’ college education. And so the public is asking: Why should Wall Street get bailed out by me when I’m getting screwed?

So if you are a member of Congress, you just might be in a position to demand from Wall Street certain conditions in return for the blank check…

1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year’s other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability. Why should taxpayers feather their already amply-feathered nests?

3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street’s outsized political power – especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?

4. Wall Street firms agree to comply with new regulations over disclosure, capital requirements, conflicts of interest, and market manipulation. The regulations will emerge in ninety days from a bi-partisan working group, to be convened immediately. After all, inadequate regulation and lack of oversight got us into this mess.

5. Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?