Tag Archives: Wall Street

Replicators, the Need to Earn a Living and Wall Street

"BuckminsterFuller1" by en:User:Edgy01 (Dan Lindsay) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg
“BuckminsterFuller1” by en:User:Edgy01 (Dan Lindsay) – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg

Buckminster Fuller thought, some time ago now, that we should do away with the notion that everyone must earn a living. It’s a good thing my son never read this; it would only confirm his own views on the matter. An inveterate Star Trek devotee, he believed for some time (perhaps he still has a lingering hope) that the time would come when all would be provided by replicators. No need to work to get your food, your clothes or any other items to satisfy needs or wants—just make your selection on the replicator and out pops your stuff. Let’s not even go there in discussing the conservation of matter and energy; just consider the missing logical steps like: Who builds the replicators? Who fixes them? Who supplies the energy (and matter) required to power them? Hah, just little details. Fuller meant, of course, that people should be free to pursue creative endeavors rather than having to punch clock at a job. That the efficiencies of technology should aid in the process of transitioning from a mercantile/manufacturing economy to something more free. In truth, today there are a great many people who do not “work” in the traditional sense of producing goods or services that add value to society—they work on Wall Street as investment bankers, hedge fund managers, arbitrageurs, etc.

Clueless Cain; Brainless Bank of America

Cain thinks the Wall Street protestors are jealous or envious of the successful bankers, et al of Wall Street. He says the latter create the jobs and those protestors should go out and get one. Hahahaha! No, the protestors are not envious, they are angry–just like the Tea Partiers on the other side of the political spectrum. The Street, the bankers and big business have created jobs, just not many lately. The banks are loath to lend money to consumers or to business to get the economy humming, because they are “uncertain” about the future. When the wacky wizards of Wall Street were busy creating and selling derivatives, they weren’t creating jobs, they were just skimming money on transaction costs. When the bankers were giving large loans to home buyers who could walk or be rolled into a bank, sign their names or an X on an application with little or no credit worthiness, those uncertain bankers had no doubts about the rosy future (at least in the short run). Meanwhile, they were all bailed out by the government. We don’t have a purely capitalist economy as Cain should well know, we have a mixed economy with the Federal (and state/local) governments involved in pumping dollars into it. Those protestors are angry at Wall Street and the bankers for continuing to profit (not the plebian lower-level employees but the high level analysts and the executives) handsomely regardless of which direction the economy or the value of shares  in their companies goes–while failing to either share the wealth or create jobs.

Bank of America will impose a five dollar charge per month for using your own money, that customers have deposited with them. Of course, BoA is making much less interest on the funds people deposit, so they feel justified in charging customers to make up for it. Well, I for one have voted with my pocket book, closing my account with them three days ago. Banks pushed debit cards so hard for the last ten years that they have now grown to be the preferred means of payment over credit cards. To be sure, it forces those consumers who otherwise might incur overly large credit card debt to live within their means. But why should you or I be responsible for the profitability of BoA? We can choose to pay cash, switch to another bank, or use credit. For years, I have chose credit. I pay the balance off every month and get cash back. Of course now that will be more difficult now that Chase, my MasterCard company has converted my card to this very complex reward system–but that is a topic for another post.

Masters of the Universe

What news will come from the MastersButtheads of the Universe today, a continuing fall in the global economy perhaps? Maybe the MBAs should have “learned to play the guitar,” as Mark Knopfler suggests, instead of learning to play the market. At least then the suffering we are enduring would have been limited to our ears instead of our financial well-being. They have succeeded in getting money for nothing far in excess of what any member of a band might get (except maybe Mick Jagger and friends).

Nichiren says, “When great evil occurs, great good follows.” (WND, 1119). So something good can come from this, amidst all the political posturing and finger-pointing. It’s not inappropriate, rather it’s essential to look at the causes of this collapse if the effects are to be avoided in the future. When you have politicians enabling, through a laissez-faire approach to the financial sector, these Buttheads of the Universe to take free-market capitalism to its most extreme the outcome is certainly foreseeable. Not, of course, to George “Herbert Hoover” (or maybe we should call him Beavis) Bush and his friends in the Republican party. Government regulation has a place, to protect citizens and taxpayers from the worst excesses of human nature. We have laws that punish criminals. We also have regulations and regulators to help prevent crimes. It may not be possible, practical or sensible to try to protect everyone from greed and stupidity, but it certainly is reasonable to have more oversight and control of the financial sector than we have had in recent years.