the raw and the cooked Feed

In Defense of Capital Markets as God Given Social Good

If God is a market, and God is just, how can so many things be so messed up? Is this not the problem of evil? The best answer I know is from Alexander Pope's Essay on man, via Leibnitz's theodicy, then, unkindly satirised by Voltaire in Candide. "This is the best of all possible worlds." All the evil done by markets, all the injustice, is a necessary evil. In this way our Theory of Shared Value, of Blended Value, of Triple Bottom Lines, and Blended Value Scorecards, of Social Return on Investment, all come out even. Wealth Bondage is not a perfect system, it is just the best system ever conceived by the mind of Almighty God. Virtue, generally, is rewarded, as the history of my boss, and generous patron, clearly shows.

First, Candidia, she who rules us all, bought a tobacco company using a loan against that same company. She bled the company white, ended the pension, and fired 45% of the workers, briefly raised the profits, sold out, and make a bundle.

Second, she started a Foundation to fund social ventures and the rhetoric thereof. That is how I got involved as an English Major, busted for selling my body on the street out behind a Dumpster, then released on Parole for time served and good behavior as a stoolie. Having fingered a hitman for a drug cartel who had run drugs for the CIA, in a drugs for arms for hostages deal, I was hired in the witness protection program, in a bakery run by the Foundation to give ex-cons and high value detainees deemed innocent in military courts a work history and get them back on the job market and off the dole. I started out greasing baking pans, and keeping the FDA agents out of the pantry where we stored the flour and the rat poison. I stayed on to write up the theory and practice of Wealth Bondage Philanthropy. That got me a job as Adjunct in Charge of Meaning at the local community College, where I tortured Biblical passages in an English writing skills class for pre-law students,  which in turn got me hired by Wealth Bondage in Public Relations.  From there it was an easy move to Editor of Gifthub where I write puff pieces on Hyperagents, and Platinum Preferred Wealth Bondage Clients. But enough about me. We are talking about social justice here.

Third, Candy, shorted the tobacco company, betting its stock would decline, given how she had gutted it. But to make sure, she gave a grant from the Foundation to fund a Public Information campaign on the ills of smoking. She also used Catalytic Philanthropy, funding politicians to pass laws raising the cigarette tax. And she provided a grant to a Tea Party group, Citizens for Freer Speech to hire a Surpeme court Justice's wife as its Director. (Apparently his mistress was unwilling to accept the money, said she might have been an adulterer but she was no whore. She said she would rather go broke than sell her country, a quaint thought for a woman well past her prime with little left to peddle except influence or her country.) When the Supremes passed the law, making Corporate money Free Speech, Candy, bought both Presidential Candidates to insure that Speech and Markets remain Free.

Fourth, Candy, made a generous grant to Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the tobacco company. The stock tanked, and Candy covered the short, making billions. In this way she has done well by doing good.She single handedly destroyed an evil company!

Fifth, as the first tobacco company went under, she bought their closest competitor whose sales boomed, as their market share grew. Now she is gutting that company. What works, works. More money made, more good done, blended closely in an inextricable Value Proposition for the Good of All. 

Now, I am writing a best practices white paper arguing that Markets are Just and Candy, though not perfect, is as good as she can reasonably be expected to be in this the best of all possible worlds. Not everyone finds my paper credible, but I notice that my boss does. And when Candy is happy, I get a paycheck and sometimes even a merit award. It is only fair. At one time I could have amounted to something as a real intellectual. I can't blame Candy, though. It was the bum wine that did me in.  I have been clean and sober for three days now, I think, not including the bottle of cooking wine, which is regrettably almost gone. One day at time. It is the hallucinations that bother me. I should know better than to blog when walls of my Dumpster are moving like polka dots lungs, or the walls in that padded cell. When I am feeling better, I can do a more businesslike job on this post. Basically, what I am trying to say is that it is all good. But you already knew that.

The Ponzi Plus Plan

James Kunstler:

What the mainstream is truly missing here en masse is that another tsunami is building right behind the finance fiasco, and that it will render moot the whole reeking cargo of schemes and wishes that comprises the Great Bail-out. I am speaking of the global oil problem. In fact, the problems in banking and money currently roaring in the center ring of the world circus, can be described categorically as a product of the oil problem -- since oil is the primary resource of industrial economies and therefore the motive force behind our ability to generate "wealth." Without reliable and ever-growing supplies of oil, there is no industrial growth, and without industrial growth things like capital investment instruments lose their legitimacy. That is why the Frankenstein family of Ponzi securities was invented in the first place -- to compensate for the demise of industrial growth by creating wealth out of... nothing!

Private Equity and Small Businesses in Transition

Question for You: I take this essay in Private Wealth Magazine as suggesting that the big money investors have been getting 25% returns from buying out Main Street businesses? And, given the disproportionate returns, more money from hedge funds, pension funds, family offices, and wealthy private investors is now flowing into these private equity funds? Is this another example of a community being drained for the benefit of the forces of homogenization and centralization?

More Questions: As boomer business owners age, will they sell out to Wall Street? And will we see fewer locally owned and operated businesses on Main Street? What influence will absentee owners have or fail to have on the quality of life in a community?  For those in the life insurance business who use insurance to make a market for otherwise illiquid business interests at death, does the rise of private equity reduce the need for life insurance produts for business continuation and transfer?

Wall Mart Orientation Program

Reflections of a grad student in literature who has a place at Wall Mart.  He learns in his orientation that the company he had thought of as exploitative is actually philanthropic and socially responsible. In a year or so he may get health insurance.  Meanwhile, Customer Satisfaction is his purpose in life.  Reminds me of my days early as an entry level Customer Satisfaction Specialist III in Wealth Bondage. Thank God, I got promoted into the Philanthropy Division.

Que Pasa?

Mr. Matrullo reflects on  Reinhold Niebuhr. To see the mote in another's eye, but not the beam in your own is an ethical failing. For that matter so is being blind to the murders traditionally committed by those in your station in life.  What is going on? Best not to see or say, lest you be the one to whom bad things happen in secret with nothing said and no appeal. How well Americans will adapt themselves to these blindnesses and insights remains to be seen. So far we are doing very well, I think, at least in the not seeing what is going on area of our social obligations. Philanthropy helps too in that regard being so polite and inoffensive. Leadership in selective attention is provided by our media. Who can blame us for not seeing what is really going on?

Wealth Bondage News Pro Reflects on Her Complicity in War Propaganda

Katie Couric, (quoted on MediaCitizen) reflecting on McClellan's charge that the media were complicit with the war propaganda that he promulagated:

"I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism," she said. "And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective."

Ah, so will Katie now interview her owners on camera and ask them the hard questions? "Knock, knock, Sir?  Excuse me. Can I bring the camera crew in now, Sir?"

Getting Your Phlanthropy Advice from a Loan Shark?

Maxed Out is an excellent 120 minute online video documenting America's addiction to debt and who profits from it. To me this sad story connects to philanthroy in the form of a personal moral dilemma. Those who profit most systematically from pushing subprime debt, credits cards to college students, and even payday loans and pawn shops are the same big banks whose names are a whose who of philanthropic services providers (and campaign contributors). Many of my closest colleauges and thought leaders in philanthropy draw their paychecks from the banks some of whose divisions operate like loan sharks. Does this mean that if I give a talk on philanthropy for some nonprofit and the sponsor is a big bank that I should refuse to drink the Perrier they paid for or eat the brie? Something, or many things, are so wrong in this country that one looks in vain for a place to begin. As some say, "There is no 'outside' of Wealth Bondage." Even Gifthub is sponsored by them. I mean I got to make a living somehow.

Here is a thought: If you are getting your advice on philanthropy from a Trusted Advisor inside Wealth Bondage, consider asking a more independent source, if you can find one.  Remember, for a philanthropic operation to prosper inside a Fortune 100 bank its return on capital must compete with the credit card operation. How? Well, that is what a SVP would need to explain to stay on top of that particular philanthropic heap.  If he or she can't make that kind of money off keeping your money invested in some account, philanthropic or otherwise, they will find someone who will.  I only wish they would call me with a job like that. I could double my salary and do good at the same time.

You see how this works? If you do have philanthropic capital, take care where you put the principal and where you get your advice. We can do better, but I am increasingly convinced it has to start with the donor/client/social investor. The rest of us are just going to batten off your money, and go where you go. Please consider providing some leadership. Write me if you want to talk about real social change.