Category Archives: Life

AIG is Hiring

AIG is hiring although you wouldn’t know it from the ad. I was surfing the net this weekend when it was brought to my attention that AIG is hiring. What is interesting is that they are using their names or their subsidiaries instead of AIG, which they used to do. So first they took down the name on their building ,AIG, as if nobody in New York could figure it out, that’s where their headquarters is. Now they are trying to hide the fact they are hiring. Don’t worry, the positions they were offering require that you have a lot of insurance experience and who in the insurance world is in a leave where they are to work for AIG?

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The AIG Analysis

Months ago I promised an analysis of the AIG bailout.  Unlike AIG, I didn’t get a bailout and have spent my time, keeping businesses afloat that are the real victims of this financial crisis.  So, that’s why I’m late with this.  There is a lot to this situation but I have made it very simple, after all, AIG employees are going to be reading this, they don’t get anything complex, like derivatives.

 

To really understand the current crisis, you have to way back to the late 90’s.  Back then, the head of what is now Citigroup, had a dream!  His dream was a supermarket style financial services company.  He believed in this dream so much, that he lobbied congress like nobody’s business to change depression era laws that prohibited him from seeing his dream become a reality.  Other financial firms like AIG saw a chance to go from an insurance giant to a financial services giant and joined in the lobbying efforts.  Eventually, both parties signed off on dismantling those laws that prevented this idea from happening.  They said times had changed, we were in no fear of a recession.  After all, it was the dotcom era, people were rich!

 

Of course soon after that, things changed, the bubble burst, Enron, 9/11, etc…  But those “scrappy” financial services firms clung to the idea of this supermarket idea.  AIG grew and grew, it entered areas it had not before, areas it really didn’t understand.  It was 2004 when AIG had to restate its financials, the company that had the tag line “we know money” apparent couldn’t balance its own checkbook.  In 2005 I was looking at the stock and realized, this was a house of cards.  I told my friends, who said I was nuts, but sure enough, I was right.

 

It came as no surprise we had to bail out AIG, they had it coming for a while.  But the fact we are bailing them out is a problem.  See, everyone talks about how FDR brought us out of a recession, fact is, he didn’t.  He prolonged it with his version of the bailouts.  And Bush and Obama are doing the same, prolonging and spreading the pain.

 

AIG is a cancer on our economic system.  Normally you remove it or kill it, when it invades, instead our government feeds it by giving companies like AIG and Citi more money!  Seriously, this is stupid logic, we give money to companies that failed and brought hardship on others who were doing things the right way.  I have no sympathy for AIG, they knew they were screwing up years ago, there is plenty of evidence in the public forum to support that.  If I saw in 2005 with my very limited resources, I’m sure AIG saw it.

 

The fact is, the employees at AIG are getting a comfy deal, we bail them out, and we all lose our jobs while they keep theirs and go on spa retreats.  They are the ones who brought this economic hardship  on us.  These idiots and that’s what they are, lazy, self centered and worthless individuals, should have their personal assets revoked to help pay for this mess.  they created it, they should suffer.  Put them out of a home, they don’t deserve one.  Give them minimum wage until they pay us back.  It’s a joke to say it was only the top management, top management doesn’t do anything but go to meetings all day, the ones who carry out the crimes are the rank and file.  Yeah, the underwriters, the analysts, the brokers, and profit center managers.  Those people knew what they were doing.

 

In the end, they will never pay for what they did, a sign of the corrupt looking out for the corrupt.  But anyone reading this, do us all a favor. NEVER hire anyone from AIG.  Remember, they did this, so why hire someone who would create such a mess, do you want them creating that mess for your company too?  No, so don’t hire anyone from there.  Let them all stay there, contained, then when someone with brains comes along to run this country, we can cut them off like you are suppose to do with cancer.  As long as these people are allowed to do more damage to our economy, damage in some form will continue.  The employees should be punished, every profit center manager, hell, anyone with the title manager.  The only people who shouldn’t are the non-decision makers.  Call center, admin staff, the people that take orders from the managers.  In any big corporation, those people are never the ones at fault, it is the decision makers and decisions are not carried out at the top but at mid level.  Those people, put them on minimum wage, bonus amounts going back to 2004 paid back and put towards the bailout payments.  And then don’t let them quit until the money is paid back, if they want out, they have to work at it.  Everyone else is suffering for their mistakes, why shouldn’t they suffer the most.  It actually is not a lot to ask for when you consider the damage being done to main street because of the greed of these people.  It’s very small indeed.

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Merry Christmas

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4th of July

I think the 4th of July is a humanity celebration. Just so happened we Americans started it. I know most people think about the day off they get or the fireworks and all the fun sales. For some overseas they think of the negatives of the US the things they don’t like about us, the consumerism, the war, or whatever they find a reason to blame us for their own short comings. But I like to remember this day was started because a bunch of people had the guts to believe in ideals that have stood up over time. Ideals worth fighting for, worth believing in and worth striving to express to their highest potential.

Freedom to be who you want to be and having the right to pursue that. Our politicians have forgotten this for sure, communist have never understood this and many dictators and socialist can’t stand others having it. But I think it is important for those of us who can, to live these ideals to our best and show that it was and still is the best idea for living that anyone ever came up with.

A world with the spirit of America is really a world will never have that same spark of hope, of vision, of believing we can have the pursuits laid down by our founding fathers as rights we all have. Not rights because some government gave them to us, but because we are human beings we have these rights. So many have forgotten that we have these rights, I still remember and I know many others who do as well. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these are rights given to us by a higher power that no government can take from us or have the rights over.

If you are an American, it is your obligation to live these words of the declaration, as a citizen of this great nation, it is what you have been tasked with to live up to the ideals people fought to ensure you would have. If you are not an American, I hope you can find some way to live these ideals in your home country. Simple yet profound in everyway, the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A simple 10 word sentence that can change the world for the better.

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Inspiring Success

A recent conversation with a friend caused me to ponder the meaning of success. By modern measures, he is a successful guy, big house, high paying job, vacation anywhere he wants, family, etc…, yet he told me of how he feels like a total failure and it makes him feel that way even more when people say how successful he is. By modern standards, he is successful, so why does he feel like he is not?

I had to divorce myself from the usual line of thinking to get to the answer on this one, but some how, our definition of success has altered over the years. Truly looking at the world of business and media influences, if we are not perfect and perfect is an ever changing definition, we are a failure. I remember in school being told “if it isn’t an A grade, it might as well be an F.” Meaning, nothing less than perfect was to be tolerated. In a way this kind of sums up what success has become today for many. It is why you see billionaires caught stealing, or other so called successful people doing some rather stupid things, because they know they are not perfect and it really bothers them and then they do something stupid.

That very day I was watching a show on CNBC about the new wealthy. The interesting thing was, the net worth of these people were $50 million or more, and yet they didn’t feel successful, they wanted more, they could buy pretty much anything they wanted yet it wasn’t enough. They had to get more because the bar was constantly being raised and they had to keep up. As one guy put it, when he was growing up, having a million dollars made you rich, today, you can’t give up your day job with a million dollars of net worth.

Modern day definition of success has a healthy dose of failure in it. I think this is from a misconception of what success and failure are and their relationship to one another. Take Rush Limbaugh, he was a failure just as long as he has been a success. It is when he stopped caring what the opinions of others and did things his way, did he get the rewards of millions. Now the New York Times saw him as a failure and even that his drive not to be a failure was the point of his success. However, I think for Rush and having been there myself, failure helps you define success, but it is not the root of it.

Rush had true failure, after that, you are not afraid of failing. Many people today have run away from failure their entire lives and have no concept of it. It hurts, it’s humiliating, it’s humbling and after a while, it has no power over you. Why be afraid of failure again once you have had it, you know the worst and you get up and go on and you stop bothering with the should have or could have comments of others and just get in there and do what you know is best as you see it.

Look around, the really successful people in live had failure and got up and moved on. They don’t run from it. The people who rise up and crash, they ran from failure and will fail because they run from it and you can’t run your whole life.

In the end, I think we have a somewhat unhealthy definition of success by many people. One that does not equate success with running away from failure is needed in more quarters. I know I have worked with companies that fear failure or anything out of their norm and it cripples them to a point that it threatens the very survival of the business. They are successful at running away from failure that eventually they also run away from the success they need to stay in business.

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The Price of Gas, Europe and the US

I hear a lot of people say we should not complain about the price of gas in the US because in Europe they pay twice as much for gas. I find this argument to be a bit misleading and used to create a false argument for why Americans should pay even more for gas.

Yes the price at the pump is higher in Europe, but the cost of gas itself is not. There are two issues involved, the price of gas and the tax on gas. In the US we have 11% federal, in Europe (France, Germany, Netherlands) you are looking at about 60% for gas taxes. So if the base rate on a gallon of gas is $3.35, the price at the pump in the US is going to be $3.72. In Europe you are looking at about $5.36 for the same gas. The difference is in the taxes.

There is not a price for Europe and price for the US, we all buy our oil on the same global market, so no, Europeans are not actually paying more for gas, they are paying more in taxes. Huge difference in how you look at the fundamentals. Of course there are other factors like local taxes, regulations on emissions, transportation costs, etc…

One thing people don’t realize is the fuel efficiency in Europe is much higher thanks to the lower emission standards on diesel. Yes, that’s right; the Europeans have less stringent standards than the US. Lets take the Honda Fit, which is a diesel version in Europe, it is far more fuel efficient than it’s gas driven American cousin. Same car, a just different engine. So yes, the European is paying more per gallon of gas, but is driving further on that same gallon. If it was not for the higher standards on emissions in the US, the American driver could probably also be driving just as far and being as fuel efficient.

So when people claim Europeans are paying more for gas, remember, they are paying the same, they are just paying more for the taxes on gas and that is what makes the difference in price, not the gas itself.

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Secrets

Secrets

Secrets, we all have them. I generally don’t have many issues with other people’s secrets, people seem to like telling me their secrets for reasons I still don’t actually understand. However I was recently faced with a person that was holding secrets from me and when found out; they reacted in a rather hostile way. As if it were my fault they were lying to me. Of course it was not but some how people always find a way to blame someone else when caught in a lie and their secret gets put out. Of course I didn’t see a problem with knowing their secret, but they apparently did.

I to have secrets, like my love of tango, yeah, I love tango, I have a bunch of tango albums at home, listen to it alone in the car, pretty much nobody knows I enjoy the music and find the dance to be really interesting even though I’ve never tried it myself. I like the new style, the mix of tango with other genres like electronica. I guess I don’t have a problem with my secrets because it is a little pleasure of life I enjoy to myself, if you know, so what, I’m still going to crank it up while driving alone in my car. Probably more to do with the fact that I have no moral issues with my secret, I find when people get hostile about their secrets it is because deep down they know they are wrong.

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