Jeremy J. Jones – Stranded in Thought

March 15, 2009

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Jeremy @ 6:50 am

The New York Times has reported in an article dated March 14, 2009 (AIG Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout) that A.I.G. employees in its Financial Products Group, the group largely responsible for the company’s collapse, must be paid a total sum of approximately $165 million in bonuses by March 15, in accordance with legal contracts.

Edward M. Libby, the government-appointed representative at A.I.G., informed Timothy F. Geitner, U.S. Treasury Secretary, last week that the bonuses were legally required to be paid. He further advised Mr. Geitner that if the government completely removed the ability to pay bonuses, the “best and brightest” talent could not be attracted to lead the company from the brink of financial ruin.

We hear a lot of talk about these “best and brightest” executives, who have collectively destroyed the greatest economy in the history of the world with their arrogance, incompetence, and greed. I’m sure I speak for most Americans when I say I’ve had enough.

I have a better idea, Mr. Libby: let’s refrain from attracting the “best and brightest” executives in the future; they’ve shown demonstrated unreliability. Instead, why don’t we try and attract some less-wealthy, apparently “average and moderately-intelligent” executives who won’t demand bonuses in excess of $3 million per quarter per person for posting record failure numbers that couldn’t be exceeded by the most uneducated, incompetent people in the United States? One could jest that a group of trained monkeys might be able to avoid backing subprime mortgages to the tune of several hundred billion dollars because it just doesn’t sound right and they’d have a funny feeling in their bellies while making the decisions.

Rather, let’s look to the upper-middle class, where we might find some recently unemployed people who are willing to work for A.I.G. – and other companies for that matter – for less than the previous group receive in bonuses per quarter. I’d be stunned if we didn’t find some really great people this way. And we might just have the added benefit of stumbling across someone (maybe one or two) with some intelligence, common sense, and a conscience.

March 13, 2009

Looking Forward to the Past

Filed under: Thoughts — Jeremy @ 6:06 pm

Recently, I was going through my high school yearbook, the Claymore, from my senior year (1989 to 1990), and I came across a rather unusual advertisement from Pioneer Trust Bank of Salem, Oregon. It was titled “Suddenly It’s 2001 A.D.,” and it made me think of September 11, perhaps naturally. But that is not the point of this article.

Here is the text as written in this advertisement:

It all happened so fast. You’ve finished your apprenticeship … maybe college … possibly military service or whatever chore you assigned yourself on graduation from high school.

While it doesn’t seem possible, in the year 2001 you’re creeping up on “middle age,” you’re 28 … or 29 … 30 … at best you’re in that neighborhood.

So, how’s it going? How’s the job? How’s the family? Everything going the way you felt certain it would back in ’90?

Impossible to answer? Yes … and maybe.

What you are today tells a great deal about what you will be tomorrow.

The failures of the corner-cutters and the goof-offs as well as the accomplishments and successes of the straight arrows … while not always … often tell us much about where they will be a decade or two hence.

It’s something to think on because 2001 is just moments … not milleniums [sic] away.

This struck me as rather poignant, looking back eight years to the date mentioned in this forward-looking document. Perhaps we should look to 2011 and ask the same questions. Or even better, look to 2010 and the 20-year anniversary of our graduation from high school. But it’s important that while we might look back with regret, we also look forward with hope and optimism, no matter how bad it gets. The power to control our lives resides within us. We need only take the reins.

In any case, it’s always worthwhile to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’d like to go. We are then far more likely to end up in the places we’d like to go.

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