Saturday, April 17, 2010

Latest score: The People 1, Goldman Sachs 0

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Goldman Sachs with civil fraud, alleging that GS cheated investors who bought securities linked with subprime mortgages. It's about time. Is there anyone who seriously thinks that Goldman Sachs didn't do it? I'm waiting for the SEC to file more charges against the many criminal participants in the subprime mortgage meltdown that caused worldwide financial terror. Let justice prevail.
Here are a couple current links to the breaking news on CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/16/news/companies/sec.goldman.fortune/index.htm

http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/16/news/companies/goldman_sachs_questions.fortune/index.htm

[ UPDATE: As of April 21, 2010,  here's a ProPublica link that mentions Merrill Lynch and "failing to disclose" and "risky CDO" in the same sentence:  http://www.propublica.org/feature/merrill-lynch-did-a-deal-precisely-like-goldmans-suit-asserts  ]

Why isn't there more public anger about the bankers and mortgage lenders and the backroom quants who recklessly gambled with other people's money and ended up causing so much heartbreak to hundreds of millions of people around the globe? Why isn't this the top headline day after day? Why are so many people apparently willing to quietly tolerate the fact that most of the bad guys who committed this horror have held onto their millions and billions in profit and have stayed out of jail?
Do you know somebody who had a hand in this unethical, destructive binge of risk-taking? Have you made a point of telling someone that you are not well pleased?

[UPDATE: As of June 9, 2010, here's a contribution from a friend, the author of this only slightly wacky piece is known only as Nurse Noose:


GOLDMAN SELLS A WHATZIT


In the land of Maglop, just south of Canack

A rich man named Goldman McSachy-McGlack

Arrived into town with a large golden sack

It was stuffed full of whatzits and slung on his back

The foos that inhabit the land of Maglop

Watched as McSachy-McGlack set up shop

The new shop was chic, it was shiny, compelling

"What are you selling?" the foos started yelling

McSachy-McGlack smiled and answered the foos:

"Come see for yourself, you've got nothing to lose."

Inside the shop, there was box upon box

And each box was locked up with five golden locks

"What is it?" they asked, their eyes bright with greed

"It's a whatzit, that's what, and it's just what you need"

"What does it do?" asked young Cindy-lu Foo



"Well" said McSachy-McGlack "I'll tell you"

"It makes the poor rich, and it makes the rich richer

And the richest more richester, now get the picture?

Just buy one or two, put them under your bed

And leave them alone, get them out of your head

And then sell them back, and worse comes to worst

They will be worth ten times what they cost you at first"

"But" he continued "there's one caveat"

The impatient foos said in unison "what?"

"The whatzit will work only if it stays locked"

"What's in a whatzit?" the older foos mocked

"It doesn't concern you, just don't open the box

Keep it under your bed, and don't unlock the locks"

"I'll take one" said one foo "I'll take three or four"

"I'll take a dozen" "put me down for a score!"



Each foo soon had his own whatzit stash

And each knew that soon they'd be rolling in cash

So they bought foo-mobiles and they mortgaged their huts

They had foo boob jobs and foo liposucked butts

What happened next? Well, what do you think?

The whatzits, one-by-one, started to stink

They reeked to high heaven, all icky and rank

Like bungle-beast farts, that's how much they stank

The foos plugged their noses, they cursed and they swore

Til Cindy-lu Foo couldn't take anymore

She took out her whatzit and unlocked the locks

She took a deep breath and she opened the box

What was inside? Well I've got the scoop:

Each whatzit was stuffed full of snorgle-pig poop

When word got around, every foo would lament

"My whatzit portfolio aint' worth a cent!"



They soon lost their jobs, and then lost their houses

They started to drink, they were beating their spouses

By the time they were left with no foo-pot to piss in

Goldman McSachy-McGlack turned up missin'

What happened then? It just keeps getting better

Taped to his boarded up shop was a letter

"I'm sorry you're left with nary a cent

But look on the bright side! I've made a mint!

See, to tell you the truth (and I know the truth hurts)

I placed a side bet that the Foos lose their shirts."

"The moral" it said "you should know now by heart:

A foo and his money are destined to part"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Are You A Great Manager?

This started out as another one of those "Top 10 Ideas For...." but I whittled it down to three, for your delectation.

This was distributed by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), see their website:  http://www.ascd.org/
and originally appeared on  Edutopia    http://www.edutopia.org/maine-project-learning-ideas-school-leadership    as "Ten Big Ideas of School Leadership" by middle school principal Mike McCarthy.

I'm pretty sure Mike is pretty much on track, and his take on leadership is motivational and instructive for leaders or wannabe leaders in any organization. A few samples:

6) Take Responsibility for the Good and the Bad
If the problems in your school or organization lie below you and the solutions lie above you, then you have rendered yourself irrelevant. The genius of school lies within the school. The solutions to problems are almost always right in front of you.

I think of it this way: If you think only the folks below you are causing all the problems, and you also think only the guys above you can fix ‘em, what does the boss or your subordinates need you for?

7) You Have the Ultimate Responsibility
Have very clear expectations. Make sure people have the knowledge, resources, and time to accomplish what you expect. This shows respect. As much as possible, give people the autonomy to manage their own work, budget, time, and curriculum. Autonomy is the goal, though you still have to inspect.

I think of it this way: Be the boss, mostly by setting the tone, setting the example, sometimes setting the boundaries, setting the aiming stake in the right place, setting the time for the next team meeting, setting the “But We’ve Always Done It This Way” rule book on fire, etc………..and every so often check to make sure that nobody has set the factory on fire….

9) Consensus is Overrated
Twenty percent of people will be against anything. When you realize this, you avoid compromising what really should be done because you stop watering things down. If you always try to reach consensus, you are being led by the 20 percent.

I've found that most students--and most folks--usually think that “consensus” means that everyone has to agree. No, no, no. I embrace the idea that “consensus” means that every member of the group either stout-heartedly endorses the idea or at least acknowledges that she can live with it and support it as a reasonable alternative to her own favored decision/plan/concept. And yes, it’s true that sometimes the group or the boss must say to the high-principled or defiant holdout: “we respect your view and your input, but we’ve talked it through, we’re gonna do it a different way, and you need to support that.”

The Only Good GPA Is A Higher GPA....

Loyola Law School in Los Angeles will raise previously posted final grades for current students and for alumni going back to 2004. A grade of B will be raised to B+,   A- will be raised to A and so on.

See this Apr 1, 2010, post by The Chronicle of Higher Education:
http://chronicle.com/article/A-California-Law-School-Will/64949/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Loyola's Dean, Victor Gold, said the old grades didn't reflect Loyola's "academic rigor," he put it this way: "We concluded that the grading curve was sending incorrect information about our students, and, frankly, it was putting them at an unfair competitive disadvantage in a pretty tough job market."
I read the dean's rationale for what he's doing, here are a few possible inferences:

“We concluded that the grading curve was sending incorrect information about our students.”
Perhaps he meant this: Our students weren’t smart enough to pick other schools that give higher grades.

“Mr. Gold announced the faculty's approval of the new grading system.”
Perhaps he meant this: Our faculty suddenly realized they’ve been doing the grading all wrong.

“We're not trying to make them look better than other comparable students at other schools. We just want them to be on an even playing field."
Perhaps he meant this: We’re pretty sure that no prospective employers will find out that we have done this.

Now, I’m very sympathetic to the great difficulty of finding a job these days………so what’s Loyola Law School gonna do if some of the other 19 California law schools decide to bump their grades up a bit?

...and by the way, as of June 17, 2010, check my web page at:        
 
                                                          http://moravian.academia.edu/RichardSubber