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August 2011

The Consolations of Philosophy

 "The nude Cynic fears no fire for his tub; if broken, he will make himself a new house to-morrow, or keep it repaired with clamps of lead."

Juvenal, Satires (XIV.308ff)

I got a job for $3 an hour distributing the ancient wisdom above in leaflet form to homeless people. All part of the Rockefeller social justice grant. Typically, the recipients ask me, "Who can afford a clamp of lead?" I tell them it is a metaphor to uplift their spirits. It might be metonomy, though. Back in the day I would have known.

All Lives Have Equal Value

All lives have equal value is the founding ideal of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Likewise, all victories, whether that of the home team or the opponent, have equal value. Why do we cheer for one and against the other? It is totally irratarional, so likewise is funding poverty relief in the US rather than in the Sudan.

Slaves vs. Employees: Cost/Benefit Study

From What is Debt - An Interview with Economic Anthropologist David Graeber:

And, I might add, if Aristotle were around today, I very much doubt he would think that the distinction between renting yourself or members of your family out to work and selling yourself or members of your family to work was more than a legal nicety. He’d probably conclude that most Americans were, for all intents and purposes, slaves.

A slave does not get Employee of the Month. That is one difference.

Hope within the Shit Hole

Hope within the Shit Hole, by H. Peter Karoff. I nominate this for philanthropy post of the year. In the hopes of maintaining decorum, however, I would suggest that shit hole is actually spelled shit-hole.  Men have two holes one to shit with and the other to do little better. That is why we are such strong strategic philanthropists. I wonder if women are wiser because what passes through them is not only death but life. And a woman knows that "output" may be controlled, if only aborted, but that outcomes are in the lap of the gods. Call no man happy until he is dead, was a Greek proverb. Today, though, Caesar wants results. And so in this shit-hole we toil without hope.

Golub responds to Buffet

Here's my message: Before you "ask" for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely. Then you'll need less of my money. Mr. Golub, quoted here from the WSJ is a former chairman and CEO of American Express, currently serves on the executive committee of the American Enterprise Institute.



Jumo and Good Merge

Jumo (nonprofit) + Good (forprofit =?

A triumphalist business perspective from Antony Bugg-Levine, a managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation, the board chair of the Global Impact Investing Network, and co-author of Impact Investing (Wiley, 2011). The Rockefeller Foundation provided funding to Jumo.

When one worldview contains all others, we have what? I was taught to call it ideology, or hegemony, or metaphysics, but it's real name I now realize is Wealth Bondage, a giddy whirl of money, power, and rhetoric - a blended value proposition that has no outside, no contrasting term, only an increasingly claustrophobic inside. Well, back to my cubicle. With any luck Gifthub will soon get a Rockefeller grant to find the root causes of social injustice. Please, Sir, Antony Bugg-Levine, may I have some porridge? If I were not so hungry, Sir, I could better defend the triumph of business methods, and your contribution in particular. You and other fine McKinsesy minds are the root cause of Goodness! I know that sounds feeble, but it has been days since I have eaten.

Race and Class As Natural as Disaster

Albert Ruesga, writing from New Orleans, on the persistant myths about Hurricane Katrina.

Outside of Louisiana I frequently encounter the notion that the inequities surfaced by Katrina were endemic to the South and that it took a disaster like Katrina to expose them.  This is wrong on both counts.

What happened was that a category 5 hurricane blew ashore and laid bare what was already in plain sight not only in New Orleans, but in many cities across the United States and indeed across the world. All we had to do was look and see.


The Satirist Wore Tweed

Moral insanity in high places - to depict the normal as insane is insane and should be embraced and celebrated as such. For a young grifter on the way up it is hard to know whether to recommend business school, law school, a degree in finance, or a brothel as the best career preparation. Perhaps a major in Politics and a minor in Religion? The main thing is to have something to sell - your body, a product, your country, justice. Then you need logos, flags, religious symbols, a fine rating from a rating agency, a good business suit, clerical garb, or other costumes and props. The professor who taught me satire, years ago, said, "Sometimes nakedness is the best disguise." And I have done business stark naked ever since. I now realize what he meant by "sometimes." And why he himself wore tweed. He made it to 90, as did Diogenes. If I gave up the bum wine, I might make it to Christmas.

Systemic Corruption at the SEC?

Is the SEC covering up Wall Street Crimes?, by Matt Taibbi. I asked Smokey Joe, our inhouse Legal Counsel here at Wealth Bondage, formerly with the SEC. He said, "Phil, this is America, what I did or did not do for Wealth Bondage while at the SEC is not criminal. I was never convicted, much less indicted. Allegations of graft are serious and require some evidence! All records of my work there have been shredded, per orders of my then boss, Jenny Diver, who is now Senior Vice President of Business Ethics in Wealth Bondage. My hands are clean. Washed clean. Her hands my hands. We wash them clean. You, Phil, might do better to get with the fricking program."

So, on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation, my hunt for root causes continues undaunted. So far all I have are tiny shreds of paper from the Dumpster about behind the SEC.