Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hoarders: the update

Guess what! After news reports focused attention on the company's unnecessary hoarding practices of metal, Goldman Sachs now pledges a way to make the delays disappear.

The news is too late for at least one institution that decided to change a key business practice due to the recent high costs of metal.  

I wonder how this will change Goldman's strategic outlook on metals. Perhaps metals are not so lucrative now that the artificial shortage is alleviated?  

Metals are not the only market Goldman likes to manipulate. Goldman's sacrificial lamb has been found liable in the massive CDO fraud case that lost one of its clients $1 billion as the same deal gained another client an equal sum.

And there are other recent stories about the damage inflicted by Goldman in other areas:

At some point, someone, somewhere is going to have to halt the predatory practices of this company. What's good for Goldman is NOT good for the rest of us.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Seems I moved to Oceania...

Two years ago, I moved from Illinois to North Carolina. It was a jarring move - I'm a life-time resident of the Land of Lincoln, a state where politics are considered a true sporting event. Yet despite the state-wide passion for political sport, governance of that state is at an all-time low. Governors tend to end up in jail. Illinois is facing a terrible fiscal crisis caused by unfunded pensions. Pat Quinn, Illinois' current governor, is now withholding legislator salaries until the passage of pension reform; House Speaker Mike Madigan, the most powerful man in the state, has filed suit because he wants his paycheck regardless of whether or not a significant, long-term problem is solved for the state.

Because of the serious and ongoing political issues of Illinois, I was, to be frank, looking forward to a change of pace. 

And the Tar Heel state CERTAINLY has provided that for me... in spades! The GOP has taken charge - and as a colleague told me the other day, the state today is vastly different than the state I moved to two years ago.

What is the Tar Heel State?
North Carolina is a fascinating state; very rural in many places, but with an extraordinary focus on innovation in the Research triangle area (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). According to the US Census, the median family income is about $46,000, ranking it in the bottom half of the United States. Poverty is a significant issue - about 16 percent of the state's residents live in poverty.

Geographically, it's the widest state in the nation; bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful Outerbanks, and on the west, it holds the magnificent beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains. This is a state with historical significance - North Carolina is one of the 13 original colonies; home of some of the first English colonial settlements. 

The Wright brothers first took flight here in this state, at Kitty Hawk. Sometimes, what happens in North Carolina can transform the world. 

Education long a priority
North Carolina has been known for its focus on education. My children are in the local schools; I've been exceptionally happy with their teachers, with their principal, with their supplementary teachers in band and art. I love my school; I appreciate the local businesses who support our fundraisers. 

It seems, however, that North Carolina is in a transformational moment right now. And not for the better. The 2013 legislative session was one that seized (for a moment or two) the attention of the nation, with stories by the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, among others.

At one point, the 2013 North Carolina legislative session floated the idea of creating a state religion. This was the session that introduced "motorcyclevagina" into our cultural lexicon, shut down abortion clinics in the state and created what some call the worst voter suppression bill in the country.

And then there's education. The 2013 budget has an enormous impact on education as well.

Why I live in Oceania
If you look at the governor's website, the new budget seems like a dream come true for educators, with more money than ever before for education, allowing for investments in early childhood education, $10 million set aside for merit pay for deserving teachers, more resources for digital learning.

But people are not happy. Why is that?

Because North Carolina has become an Orwellian Oceania. Because the governor who likes to give cookies to people protesting serious issues is being disingenous with the facts.