Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Signs of the Times

Thank God election day is over. Now we can take down the signs and all get back to important things. Like, what the hell difference does passing a school levy make if real property values are now literally in the basement?

Today the news was more of the same. With oil prices hovering around a hundred bucks a refined barrel, we could be in deep trouble.

Well, no shit, says the common man.

This here is the guy who runs Countrywide Home Loans. Countrywide is among the biggest subprime lenders in the loan debacle. But he still has a job, at which he made something like $57 million a couple of years ago. He's not alone. There are lots of culprits in this mortgage mess.

What bothers me is that a handful of selfish bastards have created one hell of a mess. Homes are appraising at less than they sold for years ago. Meanwhile, a couple years ago Mr. Mozilo made around $57 million, larger than the budgets of most school districts in Ohio, which being the bass-ackwards state it is, still relies on home property real estate taxes to support its local school districts. So what's next? Public school systems will tank, but who will have money to send their kids to private schools?

I work around a 50 to 60 hour week and sometimes more. The difference is, I don't get paid nearly as much as Mr. Mozilo and his peers, or the oil execs, or frankly, a lot of every day people. But I work really hard, and as I've said, I really do love my job. On the rare occasion I make a mistake, I do something about it, not sit around on my fat ass while the world turns waiting for conditions to change or for someone else to accept responsibility.

This, more than anything, is what pisses me off. Even lying doesn't piss me off as much as people just evading accountability. The worst of these crackers are the ones who take a situation they created and then turn around and blame it on the ones who are suffering. Can't tell you how many times I've seen that trick.

In China, when people screw up, or their companies screw up, they just take 'em out back and shoot 'em. That's it. I can't say a lot of good things for that country, but given the state of things, sometimes I wonder what it would be like if people at the top of the corporate food chain actually had to pay for their mistakes. But shooting these bozos is too kind. It might be fun to to see refinery execs taken out back and maybe rolled in some oil before dipping them in a big vat of, oh I don't know, ABC bubblegum.

If everyone behaved as though they were responsible for their own actions, the world would be a different place. No God to rescue you, no one else to blame for the people you've hurt, no knight in shining armor or lady in waiting to bail you out of your past. No more waiting on the wind to change before you change your life. No more looking around, just, looking within. Then we will really see.



At November 07, 2007 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great pair of posts, MM!

At November 08, 2007 9:22 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

Here, here. Nice post.

I loathe these stuffy businessmen, and I thoroughly agree that they should be held accountable for their actions. It would be nice to watch them marched out back for a little "justice."

That said, I find most (that's most, not all) businessmen that succeed to be completely devoid of any real sense of ethics. In the words of hack movie producer Joel Silver, they'd "stab themselves in the back to get ahead."

Same with lawyers.

To succeed at what they do, they must be rats. And when those rats mess up - which they often do at the expense of the friendly little mice around them - they just continue acting like rats; shifting blame and covering their tracks. It's no surprise.

Yeah, I know there are great business folk out there, and even one or two lawyers with the rudimentary beginnings of a "soul," but I just think the norm is that awful guy pictured in your post.

...let's send 'em all to China!

At November 08, 2007 9:52 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Thanks, Anon. Just had to get a few things out of my system.

Hey MBB, what's shakin? I think you're right. The reason people go into business is to accomplish one thing: to make money. Those of us dopes who try to help folks in the process never get to the top. In our line of work we call it "corporate social work".

Let's send 'em to China, in barrels of oil.

Did you all see that Congress overrode a veto today?! And it was about WATER! No pun intended but, that's like deep! I mean, I wouldn't have cared if it had been about Snyder's Cheese Curls, they did it! Awww, it's so cute. Our little federal legislators are all grown up. :-)

At November 09, 2007 9:30 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

As you've all said, the system is completely messed up. We live in an environment where over 90% of the wealth lies in the hands of less than 5% of the population. And the kicker? Those who control that money have convinced most of the population that this is good for them!

Boring is right. This will not change because these sleazy business people carefully set up their empires so they are insulated from blame. Even on the rare occasions when they take the fall, it's not without cushioning from a golden parachute. How many times do we see execs from companies like Ford forced to resign because of dismal performance but they still get a severance package of millions of dollars. Yep, can't afford to keep the $40K auto worker but we can afford to waste billions on executive perks.

This is the only industrialized country where the pay of CEO's so far exceeds that of workers. It's something close to 400% higher. That's just crazy.

And then the powers that be continue to ask the middle class for levies and taxes to pay for more and more. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is unsustainable.

Mando, you've been a firebrand lately!

At November 09, 2007 9:55 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

oYeah, I'm all worked up these days. Not much has to do with bluegrass, except that, between the stuff being shoved down our throats by the corporate sector and right wing government, and a couple of delusional freaks bringing their bullshit into my otherwise rational world, playing and listening to music has probably kept me from losing it.

At November 10, 2007 9:47 AM, Anonymous piepiepie said...

Props to you, MM, for another spot-on post. This is all driving me nuts right now.

It's definitely a hell of a mess. My cousin's family put their home--newish, nicely decorated, and in an adorable community about an hour from Seattle--on the market in July. They have had one person even LOOK at the house. In an Open House, nobody came. They've dropped the price several times and are below what they paid ... no nibbles. This is happening in communities all over the country, and meanwhile The Powers That Be deny it all (Bob Herbert wrote a great editorial this week titled "Recession? What Recession?").

Those who have commented are also right on the money. I have been thinking a lot about Dr. Don's point that those in power have convinced most of the population (and especially the poorest and most powerless) that it's good for them. I got about a third of the way into Deer Hunting With Jesus before I had to put the book down--so depressing and frustrating to see the most disempowered people embracing those who push them down and keep them there.

At November 12, 2007 7:09 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey PiePie,
You are right on there as well. This is the entire problem with Ohio's split vote. The people whose interests are constantly being undermined by the Right are just letting their throats get slit. I swear the next time I hear the "Gay Marriage Undermines Family" argument I am going to pull that person aside and say, "Help me understand, really, how does this affect your family? Because I don't think it has anything to do with you at all, any more than who I marry."

What am I thinking. People are simple.


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