The Morning Grumpy – 6/4/12

4 Jun

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. After a massive decline during the last recession, corporate profits have now skyrocketed to historic levels. Somehow, it’s the fault of the government fault that those companies are not using those profits to hire people who would then use their new salaries to, ya know, buy stuff and stimulate the economy.

As a reminder, the effective corporate tax rate in America is lower than most other developed nations and U.S. corporations ARE actually hiring, they’re just doing it overseas.

2. 32 innovations that will change your tomorrow

We tend to rewrite the histories of technological innovation, making myths about a guy who had a great idea that changed the world. In reality, though, innovation isn’t the goal; it’s everything that gets you there. It’s bad financial decisions and blueprints for machines that weren’t built until decades later. It’s the important leaps forward that synthesize lots of ideas, and it’s the belly-up failures that teach us what not to do.

When we ignore how innovation actually works, we make it hard to see what’s happening right in front of us today.

Worse, the fairy-tale view of history implies that innovation has an end. It doesn’t. What we want and what we need keeps changing. That’s what this issue is about: all the little failures, trivialities and not-quite-solved mysteries that make the successes possible. This is what innovation looks like. It’s messy, and it’s awesome.

An awesome list of cool things that reminds us what a tricky thing innovation can be. I’m a big fan of the “Shut-Up Gun”

3. Are people too dumb to participate in elections? A new study says they are.

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

If you live in Western New York, you know this to be fact.

4. Bill Moyers says we should pity the poor billionaires.

You see, according to the website, the so-called “mega-donors,” unleashed by Citizens Unitedand pouring boundless big bucks into this year’s political campaigns, are upset that their massive contributions are being exposed to public view, ignoring the right of every one of us to know who is giving money to candidates — and the opportunity to try to figure out why.

As a reminder, welcome to the plutocracy.

5. A fantastic long read, “Our French Connection“.

For some Americans, the Parisian way of life is best. Others simply prefer “freedom fries.” A two-week journey across the United States—passing through a handful of small towns named Paris—to find out what Americans really think about the French these days.

Our attitudes toward the French tell us as much about our xenophobia as it does our openness to culture. The story is a journalistic diorama of American attitudes.

Fact Of The Day: 12% of all the people ever born are walking the planet at this very moment.

Quote Of The Day: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal” – Oscar Wilde

Video Of The Day: Idea For “Canalside“! This would go really well next to the hot dog shed, deck chairs, and the solar powered whatnot they want to put down there. I’d love to see Donn Esmonde try it.

Song Of The Day: “Ain’t Good Enough For You” – Bruce Springsteen

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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12 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 6/4/12”

  1. Jesse Griffis June 4, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Hey Chris, just a note on #1: it’s not the task of a business to provide jobs.

    The whole point is to make a profit.

    • Alan Bedenko June 4, 2012 at 8:30 am #

      Right. Businesses make profit all by themselves. They don’t need people to do that, it’s the invisible hand and stuff. And entrepreneurs!

      • Jesse Griffis June 4, 2012 at 10:02 am #

        Hey Alan,

        If you’re lucky, yes, your business makes a profit without you having to hire anyone. Why doesn’t the firm you’re working for now hire 300 more lawyers? Surely there are unemployed lawyers out there who could use a job. You can hire every one of them.You guys don’t seem to have any idea why a company opens a position and hires someone to do it.Hey, I know, we should just hand everyone a spoon and tell ’em to go dig a new Erie Canal then! Then EVEYRONE can have a job! And it’ll be awesome! Living wage and stuff! And unions!

    • Christopher Smith June 4, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Yes, I know all about “maximizing shareholder value”, which in today’s MBA-driven world means, “cutting costs, paying as little as possible, creating an environment of uncertainty amongst your employees, pleasing the institutional analysts by meeting arbitrary standards of growth and progress, and valuing senior management at a rate of 325-1 over your rank and file employees”.

      • Jesse Griffis June 4, 2012 at 9:55 am #

        Bitter much?

        I have had a handful of good jobs in my life, both in the DC area and here in Buffalo, with mid-size public corporations and small private ones. None of which has performed anything like what you suggest here.

        Perhaps my skill set is better than yours? Perhaps I don’t just accept any ol’ job where some shitty boss can dump on me.

        I don’t know. Differing outlook on life, that’s for sure.

    • Kelly Sedinger June 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Wow. Usually Jesse is content to post things so goofily astray of any actual point that one gets the impression that if Missing the Point were an Olympic sport, he’d be the Bruce Jenner of it…but then he uncorks this little fortune cookie nugget, and manages to say something profoundly illustrative, though not in the way he probably hopes. Because here he’s unzipping the fly of American Conservatism and exposing its moral rot for all to see.

      We’ve been told for decades that it’s the Government’s taxing and the Government’s regulation and the Government’s This and the Government’s That which is holding everything back, and that if we could just get rid of all that, why, the Great Engine Of Wealth Creation that is the American capitalist system would crank out so much money that everybody’s lives would be better. Well, here we are, with corporations and the wealthy profiting like at no point in the country’s history before, and yet…well, that’s it. The truth turns out that the system’s not supposed to generate jobs or better the lives of everyone; it’s simply to ensure the flow of as much money as humanly possible to the top. It’s always fun when someone on the right openly acknowledges this, instead of resorting to their usual salesmanship (which is, admittedly, light-years ahead of the left’s in this country — they’ve got clean-cut people in suits and men with great beards in tricorn hats reciting paeans to our beleaguered ‘job creators’, while we’ve got people camping in public parks for months on end).

      The Great Engine of Wealth Creation in America is doing precisely what it’s supposed to do: create wealth and siphon its rewards upwards. That’s it. At least here it gets acknowledged: they don’t care one whit about creating jobs. They care about creating larger bank balances. And the country keeps enabling them.

  2. peteherr June 4, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    So, Jesse, I am increasingly amused by your trolling ridiculousness…so, if it’s not government’s job to provide jobs and its not the task of business to provide jobs? Who provides jobs?

    • Jesse Griffis June 4, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Pete.

      It’s amusing to me that you feel that someone must “provide” a job for you. It’s also a shame that you find someone who disagrees with your worldview “trollish”.

      As an entrepreneur, I’m trying to create something. Maybe it’s a product. Maybe I’d like to offer a service. In either case, I’ll hire people to help me to do that only if I NEED to hire them.

      My best case scenario is that I’ll work for myself. Hiring workers is a pain in the ass.

      As a laborer, I am actually an entrepreneur: I provide my skills as a service to someone else (my “employer”). If no one wants to buy my skills, then my skills must change. No one is just going to hire me because I have a pulse.

      • peteherr June 4, 2012 at 10:18 am #

        You used the word “provide” and I simply expanded on it. I don’t think anyone need provide a job for anyone, but business is in the job creation business. You can play semantics all you want.

        And the trolling has nothing to do with you providing an opinion that disagrees with mine. That happens all the time. Sometimes Alan even has an opinion that disagrees with mine. The trolling has to do with the fact that you appear to sit in wait for Alan and Chris to post so you can dive right in as quickly as possible and insult them while offering your dissenting opinion.

      • Jesse Griffis June 4, 2012 at 10:54 am #

        If I respond quickly, it’s because I get to work early and I have an RSS aggregator that tells me when something’s been posted. Sorry if it’s too qiuck for you. I tend to respond to Alan and Chris’ posts because they’re the most interesting things posted on this blog and they make me think. I don’t really care about parked cars or pretty pictures, sorry.

        “but business is in the job creation business”

        No, it’s not. Business exists because someone saw a need for something (product, service) and decided to meet it. Jobs created by a business are a byproduct of that business’s success. It’s not semantics when it’s a fact.

        The only thing government can do efficiently to help “provide jobs” is to make it as painless and possible to do business in a given area. Taxes don’t have to be low. Dealing with government officials and regulations must be straightforward and SIMPLE. That’s where NYS falls on its face, repeatedly.

        Chris (channeling ThinkProgress) crying about profits is wrong-headed if you ask me. Profits being up is GOOD. Period.

        Since the corporation is a government entity, and Chris feels moral outrage (as do I) at the fact that CEOs make 300x their average worker… Government would be perfectly within it’s power to say “you want to be a corporation in my state/country, you must not pay the highest earner more than 30x the lowest” or something like that.

        That’s not socialism, that’s a regulation as a requirement to be a corporation (and getting privileges such as you get when you’re a corp). Don’t like it? Don’t be a corporation (much like how many large companies are remaining privately held these days to avoid misguided nonsense like SarbOx).

        Of course, good luck when your neighboring states don’t do the same, and you lose much large business. But maybe you’ll become known as a more moral, equitable place, and you’ll attract entrepreneurs that way.

  3. Brian Castner June 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    We need the bag jump. NOW.

  4. Max Planck June 5, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Regarding #2; they’ll have to pry my dark roast from my cold, dead hands. If  it’s almonds and Seville oranges they want, let them have ’em but keep your hands off my French Roast.

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