Saturday, February 06, 2010

why is this man smiling?

He's doing his part for America by taking only 9 million in compensation as CEO of Goldman Sachs instead of the 68 million in compensation he secured two years ago as his company led our nation into the worst recession since that following the stock market collapse of 1929. His company would have failed completely but for its bets with AIG that the housing market would plummet, bets which forced the US to rescue AIG, and thus transfer billions almost directly from the US Treasury and the pockets of our children to the coffers of Goldman Sachs. So Lloyd Blankfein is feeling pretty good, leading the company to record profits, and making such a huge sacrifice at the same time. Some suggested that by taking such small compensation he was "taking a bullet" for other company employees. Such heroics during a near catastrophic recession should make us all feel better, right?

Educational Sloyd was intended to foster a sense of the dignity of all labor, a sense of the worth of each of those who make a contribution to the well-being of others and contribute to society... even those who work with skilled hands instead of through the manipulations of information and the economy. It is too bad that educational sloyd fell out of favor in the early part of the last century. Without hands-on learning, we have an economy dominated by a whole generation of leaders in nearly every industry who are completely out of touch. Banking and insurance are the worst. Matti Bergström, a professor and neurophysiologist from Finland, said the following which I repeat for your reading pleasure:
The density of nerve endings in our fingertips is enormous. Their discrimination is almost as good as that of our eyes. If we don't use our fingers, if in childhood and youth we become "finger-blind " this rich network of nerves is impoverished-which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual's all-around development. Such damage may be likened to blindness itself. Perhaps worse, while a blind person may simply not be able to find this or that object, the finger-blind cannot understand its inner meaning and value.

If we neglect to develop and train our children's fingers and the creative form building capacity of their hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers.

Those who shaped our age-old traditions always understood this. But today, Western civilization, an information-obsessed society that over values science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten it all. We are "values-damaged."

The philosophy of our upbringing is science-centered, and our schools are programmed toward that end.... These schools have no time for the creative potential of the nimble fingers and hand, and that arrests the all-round development of our children and of the whole community.
The way that Goldman Sachs pushed AIG off the cliff, necessitating a huge rescue of AIG by the American Taxpayer is described today in the New York Times. There are millions of people in the US who would love to be working and earning a paycheck, while the CEOs just keep on smiling as though nothing happened. At some point in the past we decided that our national interests were better represented by trading on Wall Street than by the productivity of the American worker. When you extract our most highly educated students from any comprehension of the contributions of skilled labor, you virtually cut our economy off at the knees. At one point in American history, a man or woman of means would imagine his or her greatest potential being met by putting others to work in meaningful occupations. But extract individuals from the lessons of skilled creativity, and the full extent of their imagination is limited to finding new means to employ their dollars in schemes of dollar growth. These best and brightest invented such things as "credit default swaps," derivatives and trading schemes that led to near financial collapse.

On the subject of manufacturing in the US, check out Charles Hugh Smith on the future of manufacturing. Are we moving to a new model in which individual craftsmen, or very small groups of craftsmen meet demands for limited manufacturing of goods marketed through the world wide web? Check out my work on


  1. Seems to me that you are only highlighting just one part of the cause of the financial collapse by focusing solely on the banking and insurance industry. While I agree that the private sector certainly had it's part there is PLENTY of blame to pass around... including a naive electorate who continues to place in office incompetent politicians.

    Both major political parties are a very sad case in point and both are/have spent our country into the ground from which there may be no return. And the sad part is that politicians like Barney Frank are in complete denial when it comes to his own oversight of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. Yes, the private sector had it's part but it's mainly the incompetent politicians who spend like there's no tomorrow that will leave behind the saddest state of affairs for our childrens future.

    Perhaps there is some hope when a state as left as Massachusetts even seemed to get in the recent election for Ted Kennedy's seat... or better yet, "the peoples seat".

  2. Goldman Sachs may be the most blatantly criminal of all in that they saw the housing bubble coming, knew that it would collapse and then bet that it would collapse all the while selling financial products to the unwary. But of course as you suggest, there is plenty of blame to pass around. The CEOS of banking and insurance companies are not the only ones to be out of touch and many others would have benefited from experience in wood shop.

    My own predictions of the collapse of the housing bubble were documented in the blog back in 2006.

  3. Anonymous4:38 PM

    From Charles Hugh Smith: "This can be expressed very simply: we are what we do every day.

    In a very real way, we "vote" for our health by what we choose to put in our mouths three times a day, just as we "vote" on which kinds of food and companies we support when we buy the food.

    Every purchase we make is a "vote" for or against a high-cost, debt-serf lifestyle that serves the interests of Power Elites and cartels.

    Every hour we spend "consuming" mass media "entertainment" is a "vote" in favor of passivity, powerlessness and propaganda. Every time we turn off the mass media we are "voting" for our own productivity and well-being.

    Every time we offer our effort to others in voluntary social networks, we "vote" for the reciprocity and trust which are the foundations of sustainable communities.

    Every vote for the incumbent politician is a vote for a doomed status quo that is in servitude to Power Elites (with rare exceptions). "

    Scrap Wood