Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Good Idea

Too bad it will never happen, because we are owned by the bankers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

David Brooks seems Confused

Not that it's terribly surprising. I don't think of him as a terribly good columnist. Nor is he entirely a terrible columnist. Mostly he spouts things that are deemed "conventional wisdom"...so deemed by people who, typically are neither conventional nor wise. This column is a pretty good example.

While he states some definite truths--our systems today are more open and merit based than they were 100+ years ago, people do feel very disconnected from most "leaders" of our community be they government or top business execs--he has plenty of other comments that are either confused or just wrong--that common people (serfs, workers, slaves) were more connected to "leaders" in the past (royalty, business tycoons, plantation owners) or that we have, in fact, established something approaching a meritocracy. For every Barack Obama story there are tens (and likely hundreds) of millions of stories about someone doing about the same as their parents, give or take a tiny margin. Rich people and families stay rich. Poor families pretty much stay poor. Moreover, he comments on Ivy League schools, and how all these Wall Street execs went to Harvard or some other, but the best and the brightest are not attending Harvard: the best of the people with the means to go to Harvard get in along with a handful of idiots whose families provide well for their endowment.

On top of that, lots of elites are respected. People have lots of respect for doctors, architects, engineers, and, despite the sometimes veiled insults from the intellectually challenged on the right, most people have lots of respect for scientists and professors. Really, people even have lots of respect for some politicians.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NBC: Ruining the Olympics Once Again

It's no fucking wonder that NBC loses money on it's Olympics coverage: they never show the damned games!

Between their networks there should never be a time that I can't tune into some sport. Further, when they are actually on and I watch, I want to watch the Olympics, not some story about whichever athlete they have decided to drool over that day. I like Shawn White, and I enjoy watching the half pipe, but when that is done, I don't need to see 10 min of celebration or an interview with the athlete, or even worse an interview with a former athlete about a current one or a sentimental montage put to music about the trials and tribulations of some individual. Feel free to talk about those things in the background while ACTUALLY SHOWING THE DAMNED GAMES but there is already way too much time dedicated to commercials, so don't waste the time that you are not advertising.

It's no wonder Olympic viewership is never what they want. If I turn it on and they are doing some crap background story, then I switch over to something else. I want to watch the games, not sports reporters discussing the human stories that are ancillary to the games.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Ads: Misogyny is Cool Again!

So it seems that the folks at CBS hate gay people (apparently money is tainted by the gay and so no commercial for gay dating sites), but they are cool with the creepy anti-choice folks, oh, and they also detest women.

Super Bowl ads have never been the stuff that gender equality are made of, but I don't remember seeing quite so much hating on women in the past. I will never buy a Dodge anything (not sure that I would have anyway, but that commercial was just vile). I'm pretty sure that whatever the mobile tv thing was will never be something I own either.

From watching Super Bowl commercials one would get the feeling that women are evil and out to destroy the happiness of men. What. The. Fuck?!?

Now, I don't doubt that there are women who would kill to get their very own vagina dentata, but the real data out there says that women have it much harder than men: higher rates of depression, lower pay, more likely to be abused (physically, verbally, sexually). And you don't hear much about successful men feeling like their success has made them bad fathers, or that they must chose. Men can have both. Women get either or.

This isn't all to say that men don't have our own areas of excessive misery, but I'll take being more depressed about a layoff over more likely to be beaten by my significant other any day.

Women have far more freedom and opportunity today than they did 50 years ago, but that the most watched television event in the US (with ~50% female viewership) can be so obviously and painfully misogynistic is depressing and frightening.

I have read several comments about the voice actor for the Dodge commercial being Dexter and that has lead to several...jokes?...along the lines of "I put up with your shit so let me drive a Dodge or I'll kill you." Is it any wonder that Chrysler is dying? What dinosaur thought this commercial was a good idea?

Securitization fix

I don't understand why banks don't have non-FDIC insured accounts that they offer (at higher rates) for people who want to really invest in typical borrowers. Maybe that is what money market accounts do.

It would be easier than investing in the stock market. It might give bank customers somewhat more impetus to pay their loans/credit cards/mortgages on time. It could help people understand finances (which is why banks will hate it...they get better profits through ignorance). Most importantly, by having the accounts not FDIC insured it reduces the need and size of the securities market by essentially internalizing a portion of it.

One of the big reasons people invest outside of banks is because banks tend to pay a crappy return, which is partly because they are greedy, partly because they have to offset the statistical uncertainty (standard accounts allow depositors to take and put in money with little to no charge whenever and in whatever quantities they chose, and also most accounts are designed to not ever have losses so the bank has to reduce payouts to offset the fact that some accounts won't be paid) and partly because they have overhead and FDIC insurance. By offering these accounts banks can pass on some losses, not have to pay as much to maintain (no FDIC) and can penalize early withdrawal or charge for any transaction, like with other investing.

So an auto loan account would pay out, say 75% of the return on auto loans outstanding that the bank has. If the bank is taking in an average of 8% the account would pay 6%. The risk here would be low to moderate. Credit card accounts would carry higher risk, but could see return rates >10%.