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December 19, 2010 Political Science No Comments

… democracy without transparency is not democracy… it’s empty words.

It’s Not a Career Ladder, It’s an Obstacle Course

Excerpt form Adam Bryant’s interview with Barbara Krumseik of the Calvert Group Ltd:

…I think the key is that people who work for me honestly believe that there is going to be a win-win here. I’ll bring it back to my obstacle-course analogy. I believe that the whole career ladder concept is a very disruptive concept because what does it suggest? You can’t get past the person ahead of you unless you push them off the ladder. It promotes aggressive behavior.

When you think of an obstacle course, there are a lot of people on the obstacle course at the same time, and my success doesn’t impede your success. And I may be able to take a minute and help you over that next obstacle and still get where I want to get to.

I also think you have to be a little humble. You have to be maybe a little bit overly confident to break into new things, but a little bit overly humble about what you don’t know, and admiring of the talents different people bring to the table.

Corner Office: It’s Not a Career Ladder, It’s an Obstacle Course, New York Times, 5/21/10.

White House Correspondents Dinner: President got jokes!

This is GREAT!

It’s been quite a year since I’ve spoken here last — lots of ups, lots of downs — except for my approval ratings, which have just gone down. (Laughter.) But that’s politics. It doesn’t bother me. Beside I happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth. (Laughter and applause.)

By the way, all of the jokes here tonight are brought to you by our friends at Goldman Sachs. (Laughter.) So you don’t have to worry — they make money whether you laugh or not. (Laughter.)

Memo To Lloyd, the Morts Need Your Attention

$GS Trader (Michael Lewis) sends an email to the C.E.O., sharing 3 big ideas. HILARIOUS. LOL!

Copy + Paste from Bloomberg:

To: Lloyd Blankfein
Re: Winning the Public Relations War

Six months ago, with what I mistakenly took to be your tacit approval, I attempted to address ordinary Americans, almost as equals. (read it here)

They envied and resented our firm; I sought merely to correct their misunderstandings about Goldman Sachs and send them on their way, so that they might more briskly resume their quest for gainful employment.

In hindsight, I misjudged their ability to see the reality of their situation, and of ours. At the time I accepted your strong suggestion that I never again try to speak directly to mortals — or, as you referred to them, “The Morts.”

Now our predicament is suddenly more dire. Ordinary Americans wish to control not just our pay but our core values: We at Goldman have long stood for the right of every prop group to trade against its firm’s customers. If we abdicate that right, who are we, deep down?

In just the past few days many of us on the Goldman trading floor have wrestled with that question. We believe that rather than re-think our core values we should re-think our relations with the American public.

Hence this memo. Your recent non-verbal signals — your habit of passing directly behind my trading desk en route to the elevators, your selection of the urinal adjacent to my own — convince me that you continue to value my thoughts.
… Continue Reading

US President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech

December 11, 2009 Political Science, Read, World No Comments

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations — that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice. … Continue Reading

Obama’s Big Sellout by Matt Taibbi

Rolling Stone writer and the bane of Wall Street is at it again. Another great article (Issue 1093 — December 10, 2009) by Matt Taibbi.

Copy + Paste:

Obama’s Big Sellout

The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway.

Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers “at the expense of hardworking Americans.” Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it’s not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected.

What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

… Continue Reading

Left vs Right

October 24, 2009 Art, Political Science, Read, World 1 Comment

Click picture for full size

I share values and beliefs from both sides.

Link: Information is Beautiful

Introduction to Game Theory

Needing some mental stimulation, watched this great Introductory Lecture (about an hour) on Game Theory from Yale’s Benjamin Polak

We introduce Game Theory by playing a game. We organize the game into players, their strategies, and their goals or payoffs; and we learn that we should decide what our goals are before we make choices. With some plausible payoffs, our game is a prisoners’ dilemma. We learn that we should never choose a dominated strategy; but that rational play by rational players can lead to bad outcomes. We discuss some prisoners’ dilemmas in the real world and some possible real-world remedies. With other plausible payoffs, our game is a coordination problem and has very different outcomes: so different payoffs matter. We often need to think, not only about our own payoffs, but also others’ payoffs. We should put ourselves in others’ shoes and try to predict what they will do. This is the essence of strategic thinking.

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