Posted by Al Lewison October 21, 2009 Main Street /
William Phillips, right, couldn’t find a job when he lost his financial aid at State University of New York Institute of Technology. So he boarded a Greyhound bus for Bismarck, N.D., which boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. He now works as an information technology specialist at Fireside Office Solutions with Dan Vondrachek, left.
One minute Barack Obama is telling Wall Street to cool it on the bonuses, the next, he’s saying, Hey, give me some of that money.
The president will be raising funds for the Democrats at New York’s flashing Mandarin Oriental hotel this evening, at a dinner costing more than $30,000 per couple. Clearly, this begs the question, why do Republicans think they are better at business than the Democrats?
After all, who can kick an industry and squeeze it for donations better than Democrats?
It seems like all the heated rhetoric about financial reform, and enforcement of financial regulations, is to keep the voting taxpayers mollified while the welfare program for the richest Americans keeps racking up the national debt. Nothing is changing on Wall Street. Who ever is in charge, the banks get a bailout and their executives get a bonus.
I remember layaway plans as a kid, in the 1960s and 1970s, before the insane expansion of consumer credit we enjoyed until the beginning of the recession. Looks like we’re headed back to that era, which is not a good sign for consumer spending, or our growth-at-any-cost economy.
Layaway plans can give consumers a sense of accomplishment when they finally make that last payment and get the item they’ve desired for so long. But they don’t do anything to satiate Americans’ ceaseless quest for instant gratification.
Make payments for weeks or months and then get the product? Where’s the fun in that?
The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal, examining whether he got a fair trial and whether prosecutors’ “honest services” argument was properly applied. Click here to read my column on my brief brush with Skilling at his first trial.
The “honest services” theory is a handy tool against white collar defendants, because it allows prosecutors to broadly argue that an executive deprived shareholders of honesty, and not necessarily prove it was for personal gain.
I remember when Skilling abruptly resigned on Aug. 14 2000. He’d taken Enron from a natural gas pipeline to an admired master of the commodities trading universe. But, ho-hum.
“I can honestly say I’ve never felt better about the company, its business model, its prospects and, probably most importantly, our incredibly deep pool of talent.,” Lay said told in a conference call as he took the reins from Skilling.
Investors weren’t the least bit concerned.
“This is purely a personal decision,” Skilling explained. “I can’t stress enough that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Enron. I’m doing it solely for personal and family reasons.”
I flew to North Dakota this week to write about places with some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.
One part of the unemployment equation, is of course, jobs. Another part is people. There are not many people here, just about 641,000 in the whole state.
That movie “Fargo” where they ran actor Steve Buscemi through a wood chipper. That was just a movie. They don’t really do that. They don’t have the luxury. They need every warm body they can get. Continue reading…