It's time to take our democracy back.
There is only one idea that stands the slightest chance of succeeding, and in fact, its omission is the Primary Cause of the “roughshod over our democracy”: Comprehension and application of Energy’s Evolutionary Stages - a Survival Requirement, as natural and necessary as breathing.
As GreenChipstocks’ article (6/12/10) asked: “Will the BP oil spill be an energy game-changer? ....It's the question everyone has; it's the question no one can answer…..Because honestly, no one knows... http://www.greenchipstocks.com/articles/nicks-title/996
In a free country, why does no one know?
Going beyond the pre-kindergarten concept of energy (i.e., lack of comprehension of the nature and total interdependence of Space, Time, Mass, Matter, Gravity, Fields - with Energy) is a natural fundamental evolutionary survival requirement, a requirement as natural as breathing.
Imagine the consequences, if you did not know that breathing was required for survival.
On a larger scale, Energy is the breath of all Existence in the Universe. Without energy, not even space & time exist.
"Poverty in all its forms is the greatest single threat to peace, democracy, human rights, and the environment. It is a time bomb against the heart of liberty" World Trade Organization Director Mike Moore.
"Inadequate comprehension and application of Energy, in all its forms, in an increasingly complex and evolving civilization, is the single greatest causal factor of poverty - and the vehicle to self-destruct." Decatalyst
"As systems increase in complexity, their energy intensity and energy requirements to sustain life rise accordingly." Hydrocarbons ceased fitting the energy bill, became obsolete, years ago. Nobel Prize winner, Ilya Progogine
Greed: BP’s Mess, and Wall Street’s NYT 6/10/10
Just because you can do something, does that mean you should? It’s a question that might have saved us a lot of pain in recent months if both Goldman Sachs and British Petroleum had asked it of themselves during the last decade.
Sure, Goldman, and other Wall Street firms, could — and did — create “synthetic C.D.O.s” to allow consenting investors, including Goldman itself, to gamble on the risk in the U.S. housing market. Sure, Goldman and others could — and did — package up mortgages that should never have been issued into mortgage-backed securities and sold them to investors around the world who, in turn, abdicated their responsibility to investigate the soundness of the investment because some rating agency — paid by the underwriters — had slapped a AAA-rating on them. That technology existed, and Goldman and others just availed themselves of it, right? Besides, they were simply supplying the demands of the marketplace, right?
The Gulf of Mexico spill, like the financial implosion, was largely the product of people taking risks and knowing they wouldn’t be held accountable if things went wrong.
Few people on Wall Street — let alone on Main Street, or regulators in Washington — had any idea what a “synthetic C.D.O.” was or what a “mortgage-backed security” was, or what they were designed to do, or the risks they were injecting into the global financial system. One thing bankers and traders — and their high-powered bosses — knew for sure was that they could make billions of dollars for their firms manufacturing and selling these toxic securities to investors around the world, and pocket millions of dollars in annual bonuses for doing it. And that’s what mattered most, right? Everything seemed fine, until one day it wasn’t — and fear overwhelmed us, credit markets froze, unemployment ratcheted up to 10 percent, a deep recession took hold and the American taxpayer got left holding the bag to the tune of around $12 trillion. We’re still digging out.
A similar story, as we now know, with similarly devastating consequences, occurred 51 days ago a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. BP — and other oil companies — simply took advantage of the prevailing technology to drill for oil at unheard-of depths of seawater. The risks inherent in such a dangerous enterprise seemed minimal, right? And BP was simply meeting customer demand for oil, right? And oil companies were raking in the profits doing so — last year, BP made $16.7 billion; ExxonMobil made $19.3 billion (Goldman made $13.4 billion). And that’s what mattered most, right? But thanks to BP’s extraordinary level of incompetence — and an apparent failure to anticipate or plan for a well blowout — the American people now have been handed not only the senseless deaths of 11 men working on the BP rig but also the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. It is both heartbreaking and sickening.
What these two disasters — one financial, the other environmental — prove beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the right incentives no longer exist to get corporate executives to do what they should want to do, and what they must do, to prevent such calamities from happening. The “corporation,” as a legal entity, is very good at attracting capital, providing jobs, maintaining a focus on profitability, creating wealth for the people who work there (especially at the top). It is also very good at shielding executives and boards of directors from liability for their poor own decision-making.
What these two crises reveal is that some corporations and their leaders aren’t very good at making decisions that take full account of the risks they and their companies are taking. It is a truism that human beings do what they are rewarded to do. But the corporate structure these days rewards bad behavior. The problem is that the corporate veil protects the decision makers from the consequences of their decisions and, accordingly, they are encouraged to take asymmetrical risks — huge paydays for them if everything works out; huge consequences for us if they don’t. As Senator Christopher Dodd correctly said in April 2008, during the first Senate hearing about the unfolding financial crisis, “We’ve socialized risk and we’ve privatized reward.”
Unfortunately, the financial reform legislation that Senator Dodd and his colleagues are working so hard on to make law does nothing to change that dynamic. Nowhere in the approximately 1,500 pages of the proposed bill is there anything about making Wall Street executives financially and legally liable for their decisions, as they once were when Wall Street was a series of private partnerships and a partner’s entire net worth was on the line every day. Talk about accountability! But that ethic was lost 40 years ago when Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette went public and the rest of Wall Street followed soon thereafter.
As a result, our financial crises come fast and furious these days, since Wall Street bankers and traders get rewarded for selling, and generating revenue, not for worrying about what they create. The time has come for actions to have consequences. You can be sure that if Jimmy Cayne, the former C.E.O. of Bear Stearns, or Dick Fuld, the former C.E.O. of Lehman Brothers, had their entire net-worth on the line every day instead of being able to gamble with the house’s money, they would have been much more focused on the risks their firms were taking.
Americans are angry, and rightly so. One measure of how far in the public’s estimation Goldman has fallen off its once lofty perch came from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 adults last month. Goldman’s positive approval rating stood at just 4 percent, below that of BP, at 11 percent, and that of Toyota, the Japanese car manufacturer experiencing acute quality problems, at 31 percent. Goldman’s negative ratings clocked in at 50 percent, fairly dreadful for a firm that was No. 8 on Fortune’s 2010 list of the world’s most admired companies, up seven spots from 2009. (Toyota was number seven on the list.)
Although there is no equivalent (yet) of the “spill-cam” in front 200 West Street — the site of Goldman’s sparkling $2.1 billion headquarters building across from Ground Zero — perhaps there should be, because it sure seems that what Goldman and other Wall Street firms are manufacturing every day has proved every bit as toxic as what’s spewing from a pipe at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. High-def, please.