Poor Bank Executives Aren’t Getting Their Millions

I know it’s not American when the government limits pay for anyone, but that is precisely what they are doing for executives of banks that required bailouts.  After all, they only lost $1.2 trillion worldwide, bringing on the worst world recession since at least 1991. And really, why should the American people control wages of people who had to borrow from us in order to stay afloat?  Why don’t these people deserve their $10 mansions, yachts, and airplanes?  Oh wait.  They get to keep all of that?  And they get to keep their jobs?  Perhaps there are no qualified people to replace them, although one would think that with over 10% unemployment out there, someone would like to try.  Surely the American people would do this for my industry too, so I should be quiet, right?  Oh wait.  Our industry did have a downturn in 2001.  But unlike our industry that brought such hits as pets.com,  none of this was the banks’ fault, right?  Oh wait. didn’t this start with subprime loans that couldn’t be repaid because the banks were handing money to just about anyone?  And weren’t the banks offering housing loans for only 5% down payment where the mortgage didn’t pay back principle?  And these people still get to keep their jobs?  And they’re complaining about a salary limitation?

How about this: pay back the money we lent you and then you can choose your salaries.  Either that or let me buy your mansions and not pay for them.

WSJ: Let’s Differentiate!

As some may recall, I have had a love-hate relationship with the Wall Street Journal.  Over the years they have had some great news, but their editorials have often been nothing short of ridiculous.  I threatened some time ago to part ways with them, taking my money with me.  Three changes make me think I should go ahead and cancel. First, there are videos now on the Journal home page.  Here’s some news for the newspaper: if I wanted to watch the news, I could turn on CNN.

Today, however, the headline reads, “Dow Jones to Launch ‘Professional Edition’ of Wall Street Journal”.  That’s right, for $45 per month, one can get news for professionals.  To quote the article:

The targeted users are businesses and individuals who need more specialized information about energy or corporate bonds, for example, than is available from WSJ.com, but aren’t the large companies targeted for costlier services by Dow Jones Newswires or Bloomberg L.P.

That all sounds great, except isn’t that why I was already paying $149 per year?  While the reporting on the Journal is good, it’s certainly not as good as it used to be.  And indeed the New York Times has been doing a better job for all but financial news.  I wonder where all the money to start up the new service is coming from?  Might some of it be some of my subscription dues?  Why should I believe this is anything other than a clumsy attempt to create differentiation?  Sort of like when airlines added Business Class.

What’s your source for financial news?  Maybe I should move my money.

This Post Brought To You By…

paperworkToday it was broadly reported that bloggers must inform consumers when they receive contributions for promotions they make on their blogs. But one wonders where it stops. Shouldn’t one’s day job have as much, if not more, material impact on what one says and doesn’t say? What about one’s stock portfolio?

For the record, this site makes me $0.  I work for Cisco Systems.  I won’t reveal my stock portfolio, but will tell you that I constrain my postings on this site to at least not completely inflame my superiors on business-related matters.  That means that if you’re looking for someone who is critical of MPLS and many Internet Service Providers, while I am, I’m probably not going to rant here about it.  Some of those people are customers, and they might reasonably ask what I am doing to make things better.

I will say this about my stock portfolio.  It hasn’t stopped me from talking negatively about some of the companies whose shares I have owned, believe it or not.

There really is nothing Easy about EasyJet


Dear friends Steve & Mary have returned from living in Australia, and so we will visit them in the UK.  To do this, I did my level best to try and find a cheap flight from Zürich.  “Cheap flight” and Zürich?  Say it isn’t so?!

It isn’t so.

EasyJet advertised a low fare on their web site.  Indeed it was fantastically low at CHF 312.27 for the three of us.  And so I clicked on buy.  But wait, not so fast.  First we had to turn down travel insurance for 71.85  CHF, and then we had to spend 108 CHF so we could check luggage (anyone with a kid checks luggage), bringing the total to 427.

But wait!  Want seats?  Forget it, but you can spend some extra bucks to get on the plane first.  We didn’t.

But wait!  That will be an extra 20 CHF for using your Mastercard over the web.  Only a certain Visa (not all Visas) get you a break on that.

But wait!  They didn’t even accept my Mastercard for reasons passing understanding (of myself or my card’s issuing bank).

So after all of that, we’re flying Swiss.  819 CHF, but at least we can book them.

The TSA is Still At It.

courtA recent article in the Wall Street Journal brings to light continuing abuses by the Transport Security Agency of people’s freedoms.  In the article several cases are depicted in which the TSA expanded their role from protecting against terrorism on planes to general law enforcement.  Here’s the issue: the only reasons the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution allows anyone to screen at all in advance are that the screening is not viewed as a law enforcement activity, and that it is impossible to undo a successful attack.  The principle, then, should be that TSA should be required to invade our privacy to the minimum extent possible to protect against such attacks, so that we can continue to enjoy what little we have left of our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  The courts have held as such repeatedly, and it is the same logic used to uphold drunk driving checks.

Technology actually hurts and helps.  For instance, new scanners make it possible to see through clothing and detect all manner of substances.  On the other hand, because they can do so, there should be less need to open containers if those scanners have said that they are safe.  Similarly, technology can improve the way we identify individuals.  By doing so, quizzing people about their identity should become less necessary.  Just to be clear, I do not view anything having to do with RFID in such a vein.  We’ll discuss this more soon.