Saturday, March 31, 2012

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I'm not entirely opposed to restructuring Medicare but the notion there should be no shared sacrifice where we reward one segment of the population with tax cuts at the same time seems utterly idiotic. Paul Ryan's budget seeks to do just that, turning Medicare into a voucher program, while drastically gutting social programs and giving the rich ever more tax breaks. Why do they seek to punish everyone that is not just poor but Middle Class as well?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Decision to be Pro-Choice

I don't make this decision lightly and please don't feel it was inevitable given my previous politics. I've thought long and hard on this issue for several years. For a while I was even pro-life, but I finally realized at long last, it could never be as simple as that. Should abortions be legal? If not, when does life begin? Should a woman be forced to carry a dead fetus until a natural birth, as is being debated right now in legislatures? Should she be humiliated with transvaginal ultrasounds because of her choice to get an abortion? It is my opinion if given an inch, the law will take a mile. Women sacrificing reproductive rights, even if to just give up abortion, has allowed legislatures to debate taking ever more draconian measures, among them, limiting contraception. As evident in the hullabaloo over Rush Limbaugh's remarks, double standards are not just the norm, they are for many the ideal. Is it really equality for an employer to cover Viagra and not birth control? Keep in mind despite rantings to the contrary, the issue had nothing to do with the government paying for anyone to have sex. This, however, returns to my initial point: it is far more than life and death. The issue has become more and more about control and who has it: the men in congress who invited no women to speak? Or, the female and her body, who understands what's at stake far more than courts, judges and lawyers?

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Part of being human is learning to use the animal within and not supress it. We will never be more than nature but we shouldn't reduce ourselves to less."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Goldman Sachs Executive Director Greg Smith's Resignation Letter

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for. It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief. But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied. I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work. When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival. Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave. How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence. What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Blood Inside My Hands By Ben Ditmars

Blood inside my hands
Cries out for its brothers
On the outside looking in
Through pores like glass
But really prison bars
Dividing comfort from
Uncertainty, the haves
From the have-nots.
Fresh droplets red
Instead of blue;
Oxygen choked out
By atmosphere so cruel
But not unyielding if
You have the bones and
Strength of noble birth.