Sunday, January 26, 2014





Pretty Something, But Not Great

There are a 2:38 video (below) and a :31 second television commercial (further below) for the Honda Civic, called "Today is Pretty Great."  David Atkins of Hullabaloo and the Ventura County (CA) Democratic Committee comments

Let's be clear: this is a perfect distillation of the message that corporate executives and the politicians who feed out of their hands are peddling to Millennials everywhere. And it's bullshit.

No. Today is not great. Today is terrible. All the petty personal freedoms to dress up funny, grow funny facial hair, watch funny videos online and do silly things doesn't make up for the fact that jobs are less available than ever, wealth is more concentrated than ever in fewer hands than ever, wages are lower than ever, and the climate is spinning out of control.

Let's be clear: this is a perfect distillation of the message that corporate executives and the politicians who feed out of their hands are peddling to Millennials everywhere. And it's bullshit.

No. Today is not great. Today is terrible. All the petty personal freedoms to dress up funny, grow funny facial hair, watch funny videos online and do silly things doesn't make up for the fact that jobs are less available than ever, wealth is more concentrated than ever in fewer hands than ever, wages are lower than ever, and the climate is spinning out of control.










In the article (summarized here in The New York Times) he wrote for the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Miles Corak graphically displays The Great Gatsby curve (below), in which "countries with greater inequality of incomes also tend to be countries in which a greater fraction of economic advantage and disadvantage is passed on between parents and their children."    He found more income inequality in the USA than in the UK, Italy, Australia,France, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Norway,Denmark, Finalnd, or Sweden.  And not coincidentally, there is less mobility across the generations n the USA than in each of these countries except the UK and Italy.







Jaime Dimon, however, is doing just fine. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the board of directors of JP Morgan Chase

gave the bank’s chairman and CEO a 74% raise. Compensation for 2013: $20 million. Now true, that’s a mere fraction of the $23 billion in fines the bank incurred in the same year for a variety of criminal and civil offenses. The cost of doing business one supposes.

And as far as his board of directors are concerned, Dimon, has been conducting business just fine. Didn’t he play the leading role in negotiating the settlements? Without his sure hand and charismatic personality, the fines could have been even bigger. He actually saved the company money, not to mention presiding over another boffo year of profits. And he only gets half of the $49.9 million he got in 2007 –  just prior to the entire financial system going down the tubes.

Forgotten, it seems, is the list of JP Morgan’s crimes and misdemeanors on Dimon’s watch — mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, illegal billing, kickbacks, manipulating California’s energy market, rigging the Libor benchmark interest rate, turning a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme; and who could forget the London Whale? Shouldn’t there be another price to pay?

So for some, today is "pretty great" as long as, Atkins points out, "you can take selfies, watch Nyan cat, grow out a beard, dress up like a comic book character, maybe get fifteen minutes of fame on Youtube, put on a virtual reality mask and volunteer for causes."





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