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

Halloween is going to suck this year – Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, capitalism, Comedy, decision making, fail, faith, foreclosure, gambling, halloween, Humor, lie of the day, life, losing, Policy, Politicians, Politics, responsibility, tent cities, the poor, treasury, Wall Street tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:44 pm by jimwilbur

Here at Lie of the Day – what can we say? We are just doing our job and hoping for the best.

September 25, 2008

Wallstreetbailout at treasury dot gov Is this letter a hoax? truth or lie?

Posted in America, bailout, blank check letter, hank paulson, Humor, lobbyists, phil gram, treasury, Wall Street tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:39 pm by jimwilbur

September 29, 2008

The stock market has been dropping today, I think at one point it dropped more than 700 points. Want to know how we got to this point? As I understand, it is actually rather simple. Someone came up with the idea that banks could in essence sell the risk they were taking and the potential profits they could make by loaning money. Banks could do this by packaging multiple loans then selling the loan packages to companies with names like Fannie Mae, Ginny Mae or Freddie Mac who would then assume the potential risks and the potential profits. These companies would then sell these loan packages to other investment companies.

Loans earn interest and a loan instrument has value to an investor because of the potential interest income that loan can generate during the amortization period of the loan. This is only true though if the borrower is a good credit risk and pays off the loan as promised and per the terms of the loan.

Banks over time became excellent at assessing whether or not borrowers were good risks and banks used to have a reputation for being extremely cautious about who they would lend money to. With the advent of being able to sell their risks to companies like Freddie Mac, banks became less concerned about assessing risk and instead focused their concerns on being able to sell loan packages per the criteria established by companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This created a situation where their risk assessment was no longer of a high quality so the loan instruments they were selling as investment quality were also of low quality.

To make a long story short, the loan packages ended up be sold to retirement fund investment groups and most retirement accounts are heavily invested in these faulty instruments. So, people who are near retirement age are really going to take it in the shorts if this bailout does not go through.

Fix the problem then figure out who is at fault. Follow the money and make them pay. Seize assets and fortunes. Don’t throw them in jail, tax them for the rest of their lives at really high tax rates like 95%. Let them keep enough to survive but that is all. 

 

You will find the viral, funny letter about the bailout below v.

I recently received this email, do you think it is a hoax or should I respond?

Dear Friend:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.  
 
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.  
 
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe. 
 
This is matter of great urgency. We need blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.  
 
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.  
 
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury, 
 
The Honourable Hank Paulson

September 22, 2008

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?