Sunday, December 15, 2013

Too Dumb to Run a Lemonade Stand

According to National Review Online, The Corner, April 29, 2010, this e-mail is made the rounds on Wall Street in the early days of the Great Recession.
We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether it's a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.
Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.
Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourselves. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don't take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don't demand a union. We don't retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that.
For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I'll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.
So now that we're going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we're going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren't going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.
The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it's really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.
We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?
Guess what, dude, you are not going to take anybody's job, because you don't have any useful skills. You push paper, and one particular kind of paper at that. I sided my house, designed and built a bay window, and converted a bathroom into a laundry room, doing all the plumbing and wiring myself. Can you even drive a nail without hurting yourself? Can you use a circular saw and come away with ten fingers? Can you change oil or spark plugs or a muffler? Can you use a soldering iron? Can you even write your own Excel spreadsheets? I can even code HTML, a frequent necessity because of the inept way Blogger writes it.

What kinds of stuff do you trade? Biotech? Great, tell me what a retrovirus is, and what a porphyrin is. You're international? Wunderbar. How many foreign languages do you speak? Aerospace? Tell me how they get a geosynchronous satellite into orbit. Information technology? What's the difference between RAM and ROM? A virus and a worm? What are VGA, EGA and RGB? Oil? Draw me a sketch of a saturated hydrocarbon. Draw a cross-section of a salt dome. What are migrated and unmigrated seismic sections? Defense? Pleased to meet you. What branch did you serve in? What's the difference between an Army first lieutenant and one in the Navy?

Here's a plan: you don't get to enroll in an MBA program - anywhere - until you have a professional degree or equivalent certification (say, master machinist) in a real profession, and five years' on the job experience. And to the business people who did it this way, it hardly needs explaining. (As of this writing, BP is taking hard hits over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but at least the CEO, Tony Hayward, started off as a geologist and worked his way up through exploration and production. He's not one of those airheads who studied "management" in a vacuum, as if managing a drug company was the same as managing an automobile plant.)

You're not dinosaurs, all right. Dinosaurs knew how to survive in the wild. You're more like the dodo: flightless, sluggish, and perfectly adapted to its isolated and safe little island - until the people, cats, dogs, pigs and rats came ashore. Free rides on your backs? No, you got free rides on our backs. Your lavish income was precisely analogous to a church usher grabbing a pocket full of donations as payment for passing the collection plate, or maybe a refinery worker siphoning off a tanker full of gas to sell on the side simply because he has access to the valves. Just being in the money stream doesn't entitle you to any of it.

You're "more vicious" than dinosaurs? Oooh, can I feel your muscles, you big strong man, you? Maybe in your new found free time you can read Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff," where he contrasts the hollow business conceit of "dog eat dog" with the 25 per cent career fatality rate among military jet pilots. That's not combat. That's just flying. Fighter pilots take risks. Soldiers, cops, and firemen take risks. In a typical year about 1200 construction workers, 500 truckers, 300 farm workers and 150 police die on the job. How often does someone on Wall Street die on the job?

$85K with no upside is harsh? Do you have any idea how insulated from reality you are? Surf the want ads and see how many jobs there are at $85K a year. Especially entry level and no experience, which will be you if you try to make a radical career shift. Sure, when the market was performing well, everyone was happy. You got big bonuses, Joe Shlabotnik on the assembly line got a small raise and a hike in his IRA. Then the market tanks. Joe Shlabotnik loses his job, his house, his retirement and you, in return, are willing to settle for what - a slightly smaller bonus this year? Instead, you are shocked to get no bonus and a salary cap. You're taking a hit only remotely comparable to his; after all, you still have a job, a home, and savings, and let's not forget a health plan, and it's all so - (racking sobs) - unfair. After all that blather about the risks of the marketplace, you actually experience the real results of risk, and you're shocked. You experience the tiniest, softest touch of karma and you claim a martyr's crown. 

"Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping?" Absolutely. You are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping. First of all, you don't have any practical skills. I hope you're not one of the people I have actually met who think you can teach third graders the way you teach adults. Second, you're not going to leave Wall Street because you like being where the action is. You'll still get a thrill out of steering millions of dollars around even if your skim is a lot less. You will still enjoy the view from your top floor office window. You will still enjoy having flunkies cower before you and having affairs with the secretaries. And this is why John Galt will never, in a million years, move to Galt's Gulch. You'll trade all that to landscape in Altoona or teach school in North Platte? And be at the bottom of the totem pole? With only your actual skills and attractiveness to rely on? In the words of the inimitable Nelson Muntz: "HAH-ha!"

And don't forger Mrs. Vicious. Do you recall the story of the businessman in London a couple of years back who asked his trophy wife at a party whether she'd still love him without his money? She said "####, no!" and everyone had a good laugh. Turns out she wasn't kidding. The economy went south and so did she. Maybe your marriage is true love. But before you go John Galt, better make sure your Significant Other can (will) make the transition from society in New York to Rotary luncheons in Boise.

And there's another reason. John Galt has a hundred people waiting to take over his job, and so do you. And every one of them can do it just as well as you can. You want to talk about unions? You're as tightly unionized as anybody. You restrict access to your career every bit as much as any other union, and you are no more in short supply than they would be if the artificial barriers were removed. Nobody can walk in off the street and challenge you for your job any more than you will be able to walk in off the street and challenge someone else for their job. Where you are now, it's who you know as much as what you know. Out here, it's what you know. And you don't know jack.

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