The Money Slant

Covid’s Collateral Contamination

For many Americans, the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming a life-changing event. As millions of jobs openings go unfilled, thousands, if not millions of American workers are quitting their jobs and seeking more rewarding opportunities; some of the workers claim that they are striking out on their own to start a business. As marketing classes taught those of us who went to business college, “find a need, fill it.” Business college also taught how to evaluate a market as well as determine what to charge your clients. A few numbers for the quitters to consider: Fifty percent of new businesses close within five years, and lack of management experience is the number one reason that small businesses fail.

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The Mindset of Our Mythical Meritocracy

In a very disturbing article by Noah Smith in “Bloomberg Opinion,” Smith seems to be of the mind described in the article’s title, “Too Many of America’s Smartest Waste Their Talents.” Smith cites a lawsuit by a group of students who call themselves Students for Fair Admissions, the lawsuit alleging that Harvard University used “highly subjective personality ratings to penalize Asian applicants.” By definition, subjective means “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.” Welcome to the world, Students for Fair Admissions.

One of the most painful lessons of Life is that your accomplishments might mean nothing to someone making a decision to give you an opportunity, but if it is any consolation, they will tell you how much you impressed them in the rejection email they send you.  

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Just Some Thoughts About Just In Time

For the past decades, corporations such as Toyota, General Motors, Walmart, and others have practiced a supply chain blueprint called Just In Time. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, and the Just In Time practice (which will be referred to as JIT in this article) is one of them.

JIT began with Toyota, manufacturing automobiles. The JIT supply chain model is where the assembly plant receives the parts for the automobile in a manner that is just in time, that is to say, the delivery of parts comes just when needed, and the parts are used in the assembly of the automobile within hours.

Just in Time Manufacturing

The JIT model saved millions (some say billions, but whenever I asked them to show me the actual figures, they declined) of dollars in warehousing parts as well as the managers and personnel required to maintain those warehouses. Thousands of parts all arrive and within just a few hours they are assembled into the finished automobile.

The JIT model became a blueprint for logistics managers all across many industries. I dare say that many of these JIT-educated managers never managed a fleet of a trucks, never handled crates on a forklift, or tackled a complex assembly process by hand on the factory floor.  

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The College Credit Conundrum

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The CARES Act, Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020) aka the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allows student loan borrowers to defer payments without accruing interest from September 2020 to October of 2021. The balances, or the total loan debt, will not increase in that time frame. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, none of more than half of the federal student loans totaling $1.6 trillion will be required to be paid back. Twenty-two million citizens who borrowed money from the federal government for college won’t be making an average payment of $400 a month .The interest that has been cancelled by the CARES Act totals $5 billion per month, with a total projected to be $90 billion. The taxpayers are footing that bill, all while the debt of the United States climbs to record highs.

Student Loan Forgiveness
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking President Biden to cancel $50,000 per student of their loan debts. The request is for President Biden to just cancel the debts, by presidential order. The prevalence of our “cancel culture” means whatever anyone wants is now just a presidential declaration away. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

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The Mortality of the Meritocracy Mentality

*Who is the luckiest person you have ever met or known? Were they all wealthy, or did they have some other sources of satisfaction with their lives, be it love, family, religion, other than being filthy rich?

Clifton Mark, in an article on the website Aeon, closed a disappointing essay on meritocracy with the following:  “Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It’s false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.”

My first question would be: Don’t those people who were born into wealth, sent to expensive private schools (fully stocked with legacies), and who then take positions in organizations where legacies are the rule and not the exception, also have a considerable amount of selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate? Why stop with meritocracy? Aristocrats have a long history of a callus disregard for those less fortunate than themselves.

The prevalence of the term “privileged” used to epitomize a generation that regards hard work as pointless is approaching its maximum; Mr. Mark is preaching to the choir of the privileged generation, who are dyspathetic to hard work of any kind. Keep Reading

Federal Government Fails to Properly Vet Candidates

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*The efficiency of government depends on human capital and that means hiring the right people. The federal hiring process is lengthy, and while background checks and steps in the hiring process currently in place seem to be sufficient, bad actors still get through.

Modernizing the hiring process to include more nascent, emerging, credential verification technologies is needed. This is not just to prevent wasted resources spent on hiring the wrong candidates, but can prevent national security threats by instituting modern credential verification processes. Modern technologies can go a long way to protect our country from bad actors, while saving the federal government a lot of money by preventing bad hires.

The Cost of Fraud

In just the recent history, the 2019 college admissions scandal, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, rocked the nation when it exposed a criminal conspiracy to influence admissions decisions at several top American universities. It was disclosed on March 12, 2019, by US federal prosecutors. At least 51 people are alleged to have been part of the scandal for paying more than $25 million over several years to bribe college officials, fraudulently inflating entrance exam test scores, athletic abilities and so forth. Keep Reading

Tumblr’s Tumultuous Tumble

*David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, didn’t invent Tumblr. According to Business Insider: “In March 2005, a 17-year-old German high school student named Chris Neukirchen invented this tumblelog system, specifically for super-short blogging.” Karp is in no way guilty of purloining the software, as demonstrated, again, by Business Insider: “It’s important to point out that Karp didn’t ‘steal’ Tumblr. His format was new and advanced the short-form blogging format in several ways.”

Lots of good ideas are started, and then someone takes the idea to a higher level. Andrew Carnegie didn’t invent steel, Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but both became wealthy by capitalizing on an existing idea. Originally, the internet was a way for scientists to communicate with one another. Look where it has gone. Keep Reading

College Cash Calamity

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*As the French say: “Those that profit from crime are guilty of it.” Your parents slid $50k to a university official and got you in to the college of your dreams. Some of the parents had people doctor their children’s SAT tests so that the higher score would smooth their way to getting into an elite college.  One of the “internet sensation” applicants spoke of the excitement of “game days” and “parties” and, for some strange reason, never mentioned long hours in the library researching hypnotic age regression, poring over financial reports to find the best company for which to write a paper, or going to the math lab for help with calculus.

Ah, college, all of the great memories; not having money, driving and older car hoping it doesn’t break down, lack of sleep, staying up late for tests the next day, the pressure of exam week, and all for the reward of letters and emails of rejection. They’re glad you got that degree, not that it means anything to them, mind you. Well worth it. Keep Reading

Automation’s Animus Against the Affluent

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*It has come to pass, that AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robotics (the word robot comes from the Russian language, meaning work) are moving ahead as fast as they can be built. AI and robotics are inseparable, presenting a one-two punch to anyone who gets in its way, or, in the way of the people who are creating it.

AI, robotics, the internet and the global economy, a synergistic economy-changing juggernaut, have made things very good for some and quite painful for others. As the unions in the U.S. declined, the wages of the non-union employees fell, as when there were unions they lifted all wages as workers tried to get a job at the union shop and the non-union employers had to compete with employers paying union wages. Why couldn’t the unions embrace the internet? Why couldn’t the unions organize around programmers and coders?

Unions couldn’t get the attention of programmers, systems analysts, and the like, because the demand was so high that wages skyrocketed, and there weren’t many companies abusing programmers for every long, because they would just be poached by another organization where the grass was greener; their gourmet  lunch could be ordered and prepared in-house and they made, median salary, $175,000 per year at Google or $240,000 at Facebook. (Those numbers might be dated, as supplied by The Wall Street Journal some time ago.)

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Glassdoor Reviews – Miscreant Managers Mangling the Message

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*We all know that internet is teeming with liars. Conspiracy theorists and quasi-governmental “officials” claiming all kinds of things that never happened, and denying things that actually happened, in order to create doubt or encourage beliefs that will help them advance their atrocious agendas. As long as the liars stay within certain parameters, their impact is minimized and their fraudulence doesn’t affect many people. But then, not to affect many people would not serve the motives of the lying internet scoundrels. Keep Reading

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