Friday, December 16, 2011

Facebook and the Job You Always Wanted

Let's suppose you are 28 years old and have completed a graduate degree. You are going for an interview for the job you've always wanted. All your youthful indiscretions have passed into distant memory. You put on your new suit, tie your tie, and head into the future.

You expect to see a friendly face at the interview because you had a 3.7 as an undergraduate and did well in graduate school. But that face isn't so friendly, he's looking at you askance trying to decide whether you're the person on the resume or the pictures of you drunk as a skunk, in various versions of undress, on the new Facebook timeline?

America always has been the home of the second start. You could remake yourself into what you wanted to be by hard work and by changing your attitudes on life. That's going to be hard to do now since Facebook permanently has the picture of you and your then girlfriend on your site. This new feature should make a lot of people run from Facebook. The current generation's belief that everything should be open and available on the web will be tested now.

Facebook has already been selling your information to those sites who sell your life story people find near their Google mentions. One of the things a person in HR does is to protect the company from hiring loose cannons. In a job market which is very difficult, why would they hire you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where is America's Ethical Base?

We wonder what's happened to the America we imagined when we were children. I, like most people, really love my country. In some ways, it's gotten incredibly better. I dated the prettiest girl in college, but because she was Chinese, I didn't have a lot of competition. Today I wouldn't meet her expectations. African Americans were really mistreated openly, but a lot of that has changed for the better. I taught a lot of African Americans and Latinos in college and my life and the country's zeitgeist is better than it was before.

However, every time I gave a test, I knew 70% of the class had cheated before. Bankers used to be boring people that mostly tried to do the safe thing. Now they are people who would sell out their clients if they could make a buck. Investment bankers come from the top 5% of business school graduates, so they seem to be the best at manipulating the truth.

As I've said before, British political philosopher, Walter Bagehot, said in the 19th century that you could tell a lot about a country by the people they admired. John Corzine is the best example of how our ethics and morality have deteriorated. He was elected senator then governor of New Jersey, before he went on to lose $1.2 billion from restricted accounts used in trading for the fiduciary agent itself.

He's learned the American trick of fake humility when caught with a hand in the cookie jar. He clearly must have never had an ethical base, because anyone with any empathy wouldn't have done that to the small farmers and others who've suffered. Rumors have it that Obama planned to replace Geithner (who's wanted to leave for a while) with Corzine. It's hard to blame all our problems on the tea party when some Democrats have no ethical base. And that's true because Americans have placed money above ethics, empathy and inalienable values.

America, practically alone among nations, does not teach values in our school systems. We don't spend a lot of effort in our schools to explain ethics. The teachers union is a bunch of people who try to protect their tenure. Laws that require political correctness eat away at American values. We wait for the financial system to recover, but if those who are expected to play by the rules have no intention of doing so, then things will only get worse.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas and Schadenfreude

Because a friend wanted to spend Christmas Eve with his wife, I took the overnight shift at United Press International in Boston. This shift ran from 12 AM to 8 AM on Christmas morning. This shift promised to have nothing serious happen in the way of news. However someone has to be at work in the large bureaus across the country in case Elvis is not really dead.

The guy who I was subbing for and his wife stopped by to give me a Christmas drink. That was pretty nice of them because there were a lot of places I'm sure they'd rather be. After they left though I began to monitor some of the national news stories that that were running on the A (national) wire.

You would not believe what kind of stories, describing every different kind of tragedy, were running on teletypes no one was reading. They were almost uniformly depressing. The one-story I will never forget started with "Christmas came early for John Jones of Boulder Colorado who lost his hands in a tractor accident." The stories went downhill from there.

I did not understand if it was "schadenfreude" (taking joy in other's misfortune) or an attempt to remind us of how lucky we were on this Christmas. But this shift has to be accompanied by a major antidepressant.

All I know is that I finished my shift and walked out in the cold New England air happy I wasn't John Jones (name changed). I say a prayer for him every Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

America, the perpetual patsy

America is a very confused country. With a Congress that's close to being declared brain dead and a president who never even ran a city before, it's like a missile without a guidance system.

There are some things we know. When I gave a test in college, national statistics told me that 70% of the people in that classroom had cheated before. Ethical behavior on the part of business school graduates, probably only happens by mistake and by those among the bottom quartile. (Those in the top 10% become investment bankers). However, because of the corrupt practices act, we're not allowed to bribe people overseas. Everyone who has any brains knows you can't sell something in China without bribing an official or businessman. The name for this practice in China is hong bao (red envelope). If you don't have some guanxi wang, you just might as well mail them a proposal from Buffalo. China has this tradition and it's getting stronger every day. However, we want to put Americans in jail that are trying to sell stuff there.

On the other hand, the Republicans don't want us to slap controls on China, a country whose currency manipulation is legendary. They talk about free trade as if giving another country the advantage is part of how it's supposed to work. All they care about is letting American companies make a little more money before our economy is destroyed. They act this way even though unequal currency transactions force companies to produce goods without American workers. House Republicans have made it clear that they will do nothing to stop China from destroying American jobs.

We have lost interest in protecting the country the tea party swears it loves. I don't know what Democrats believe, but I know it has nothing to do with balancing the budget and helping us survive as a nation.

I can see us in ten years shipping a large number of people to China where they'll become janitors. This is sad, because Americans don't bother to learn a foreign language, so they won't even be able to order lunch.