[Journal Menu]

[Home Page]

[Oakland Cam]



[100 Books]

[Other Sites]


SF Chinese New Year Parade

February 28th, 2002

Money and War
I went by the brewery pub after work and learned one of the people I know in another department had been laid off. Unexpected. This led to a free for all discussion of what was going on in the company and I learned for the first time that maybe it's not all just bad management. One of our problematic out sourcing partners seems to be ripping us off. This put our circumstances in another light. Stupidity you expect. Outright larceny is a surprise. Naive I. Another jolt of reality in the world of Enron America. When was the last time you met someone in power who wasn't on the take: in the news, in the government, in life? Well, we had a few beers, and then we had a few more beers, this night.

Probably just the news and the times. The Enron thing reminds me of my years in an investmentSF Chinese New Year Parade related business. You learn over time how deals are put together, how investment money is raised both by your own company and other investment companies. It isn't done strictly by the book, there are always conflicts of interest. Some are just standard: the financial management company that feeds client business to a related broker who kick backs a piece of every transaction. Similar to, but not quite the same as the conflict between the auditor who also functions as the company's investment banker where the fees can be enormous. A given in the business. Not stated, not emphasized, not right, but standard operating practice. The investment advisors who place other people's money for a fee often receive compensation that isn't reflected on the books, that technically could be called a bribe, that more than presses up against the letter of the law, but passes, in the business, as OK.

I've seen it, I've never been smart enough or greedy enough or in the position to take advantage of it. I tell myself I'd rather not spend the necessary time and psychic energy. That may be shorthand for lazy or stupid or not bright enough to pick up a piece of what is (or was) all around me, but I suspect it's more likely naivete and something akin to sloth. I would like to say it's because I'm Trustworthy, Honest and Brave, but I'm too old and too familiar with my own bullshit for that.

My father had the affliction. An architect who designed very large projects. More than once he was offered a new Cadillac parked out in front of the house with the keys inside if he'd just sign off on a construction method that cut the corners here or cut the corners there. Nothing spectacular. Nothing that others didn't do every day to their advantage. Maybe not altogether bright, my dad. Except if your office is in one of his buildings, if you shop in one of his stores when the earthquake strikes, they're not coming down around your ears, they're not failing when they shouldn't. Not many earthquakes where his buildings were built. But they happen.

I'm no great Bush supporter or admirer of the people we now have in government. I'd rather bet on a Clinton in a crunch. But what a whore, Mr. Bill, what a whore. A brilliant practitioner in a business of whores. Which can, if you let it, be depressing. Better the whore you support, I suppose, but what a choice. Business and politics, money and war.

Photos taken at the Chinese New Year parade last Saturday in San Francisco.