Before the holiday, Matt Damon was quoted saying “the system is rigged.” Immediately, I felt horrible. If the world is against this handsome, famous millionaire, what hope does a business hobbit like me have?
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this feel-bad, defeatist mantra. It was a cornerstone of the 99% protests and famously reiterated by Elizabeth Warren, now Senator Warren. (And brilliantly rebutted by Adam Carolla). On the right, an anarchist flavor of the same pessimism is brewing. Conspiracy ringleaders like Alex Jones are quietly mobilizing an angry, disenfranchised army. In uncertain times, it’s easy to succumb to paranoid defeatism. Why? Because it excuses failure. It de-stigmatizes the shame of not trying. It justifies hating the other guy’s success or telling those with nothing to fend for themselves.
Let’s say the system is rigged and everything is a conspiracy. Now what? Do you keep stocking your bunker with guns, canned goods, and homemade jerky? Or, sleep until noon on mom’s couch, then rail online against your oppressors – in your underwear? Instead you can focus on the incredible list of things you can control. In fact, the only time better and more empowering than today is tomorrow. The real revolution already started, but an entire generation of young and able-bodied Americans is about to miss it. Here is their recipe for The Great Unrigging – and to never accepting excuses again.
As we play with our kids, dodge barbecue stains, and enjoy a mojito or three, you could hardly tell we’ve just been in two wars. We’d look more frazzled after a full day at Disney or the mall. I’m not saying we should spend today reciting the name of every fallen American hero; I do ask the comfy among us to consider what we’ve lost by becoming so detached - and why we won’t need a hot tub time machine to reverse it.
One thing that’s clear is we’ve come to expect lots of amazing things – almost instantly. Facebook, Google, news, games and Amazon’s free shipping are amazing. Our iPads and phones are flawless and infinitely molestable. We can enjoy them all from the comfort of the couch, as a local restaurant dispatches the hardworking Miguel to deliver our food. It’s a matter of time before he stays over to feed it to us. It’s all so perfect, so gratifying.
This is an abridged version of the original article I wrote for Business Insider.
In a forgotten corner of the White House sits a huge, Parthenon-shaped cake. Nearby, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner are dancing like Zorba and dripping with hummus. Why all the glee? It’s because Europe just gave the U.S. an amazing gift – the gift of greater incompetence. I call this glitch in time ‘America’s Last Stimulus’. It may be our last chance to stimulate growth, kick-start our export engine, and make sure every European gets a big, wet kiss at the airport.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »
Just got this confidentially from a friend working on this project for the US Post Office… Unreal!
—– Forwarded Message —–
Sent: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2012 4:54 PM
Subject: Proposal: New Post Office Business Model – Go Postal!
I love the idea of this Forbes article, but it has all the comprehensiveness of a Twitter post. Yes, auto workers in Germany produce more and get double the pay of US workers, but this article narrowly attributes this to employer-union relations. A broader discussion needs to include things like:
- Variances in cost structures (eg who pays benefits the state or the company)
- Degree of automation (a highly automated company will have fewer, higher skilled, higher paying jobs)
- Culture-driven variances in worker performance (eg Germans are notoriously efficient, timely and meticulous)
- Variances in how premium the product lines are. The US produces far more mass market cars, which have lower margins than the more high-end German ones.
- Differences in quality of management, innovation and strategy
- The full article only alludes to the nationalist obligation Germans feel for their companies. The other angle is the degree of national accountability the companies themselves have.
I do agree we need a substantive debate on manufacturing unions and the future of employment in the US, but this only scratches the surface.
Last Saturday, my father gave me a ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Not only was this a great way to get a life lecture from an all-knowing immigrant while trapped in his car, it was also a lesson in price inefficiency. Driving is a series of small decisions. The biggest one on this trip was whether to take the Brooklyn Bridge (free) or the Battery Tunnel ($5.50 toll). Hundreds of other drivers were making that same choice. Guess which one had unbearable gridlock? Yes, the free one. An indicator that the toll was mis-priced, at least for that time or group of drivers.
Another day, another disappointment for the hapless Obama administration. Today it’s AIG bonuses. Already, our eager beaver President has taken on stimulus, healthcare, bailouts, education, war, the return of blue M&M;’s. You name it, everything’s a priority. Unfortunately, he’s done it all with the soft-touch of a trusting, gentle Democrat. I started wondering, OK fantasizing, how would Tony Soprano handle AIG and the other alchemists on Wall Street?
Let’s start with a basic premise: anyone who can fondle a Thinkpad for 4 hours and claim to have generated a real asset worth millions – without exponentially increasing risk – is a liar and should be treated that way.
So when someone like that suddenly pleads poverty, you have to be suspicious – very suspicious. Tony Soprano would be. Instead of breaking with the Bush administration on funding bailouts, Obama has continued this welfare program. And who lines up for welfare faster than a good capitalist?