Sunday, December 4, 2011

A candidate in Uganda and Reflection of Politics

A story-

A while ago I went to volunteer in Uganda. While I was there I was working under a man named Mugabi Ronald. He was from sort of wealthy family, he went to a great school and now he runs a charity.

His sister went to a great school also, trained with the FBI in the United States, then went back to Uganda and became Chief of Police.

Ronald has a huge advantage in anything he pursues  because of his connections through his family and his charity. Now he is thinking about running for a position in government.

As he discussed with me once this prospect and how he was seriously considering it there became an issue. The people in Uganda would not listen to what he had to say. Most were uneducated and naturally had no idea what was right.

They were gullible to any candidate that promised them unrealistic things. In actuality, most candidates were horribly corrupt and would end up screwing over the people as they had in the past. Supposedly Uganda has a Democracy, but really, it does not. The government is very very corrupt.

People that are wealthy there want to stay wealthy more so than the people who are poor and want to become wealthy. Once you are at the top, the fear of going back down is far more powerful than wanting to be rich.

Anyways, Ronald was telling me of his frustration with people and government. He was frustrated that the government was corrupt. He was also frustrated with the people because if he ran he would not be able to be honest with them.

He realized that people wanted to be fed certain ideas. The corrupt candidates that won always did this. Ronald did not want to lie. He wanted to be sincere but he knew that honesty would not be enough, in fact, it would work against him.

Now I begin to think, what would our candidates say if they could? Should we have a Truth Serum Christmas Debate Special?


Throughout this entire class I have been trying to isolate what I find so disturbing about politics and the issue, of how politics is a stage, really isolates it.

Recently I was talking to a friend about some of the candidates. There came a point in our conversation where we both became nauseous from the topic.

So many people mutter to themselves, 'uh, i hate politics'. But what is that feeling?? Where does it come from?? Is it because there are so many sides to consider? Is it because there was a feeling of nothing can be done because everything is so corrupt?

Why do I often grab a news paper and just go straight for the business section and skip the political stuff.

Politics are not straightforward. There are layers upon layers or truths of what things seem to be.

Business is so much easier for me to understand because its all about following the money. Who profits and who looses.

Politics never seem objective. Viewpoints, opinions, theories- formulas and explanations that predict behavior. Watching politics- watching civil affairs, seeing how leaders are going to take care of people or organize their needs, or is it

With business its who wins and who looses, and you always know their incentives. The intentions are clear- to profit, and that is somewhat refreshing to know because it is not masked  by some good deed or gesture for good will.

With politicians you never know what their incentives are unless you know who's pulling their string; its a mixture of business incentives and doing good.

Its watching people balance business needs to public duties. We try to all take care of each other as a community and politicians are a part of that but at the same time, each want to benefits and defeat the other.

The country where we're all together but against each other... only here. The idea of a country made up of people with all different origins now seems odd in terms of evolution.

If we all human species competing against one another to produce the best kind of human, then isn't the idea of a country that helps the weak, just the opposite of that? Especially when a country is made up of people that come from all over the place and not just one race? Oh no? I just confused myself about what I think of humanity...

So long Herman Cain

Herman Cain pulled out of the race. I thought I would be ecstatic but seeing him pull out of the race brought about double sided feelings, ones which I did not anticipate.

"Still Mr. Cain took what may be his last moment in the national spotlight to denounce the political culture in Washington, calling politics a "dirty game.'"

And I agree.

Herman Cain had an interesting run, one that was very interesting to watch.

He was a non-politician that took no part in creating today's financial problems (though he was head of his state's Federal Reserve). He was a businessman with solutions. He worked his way from top to bottom and possessed some endearing human qualities.

"Mr. Cain appealed to voters who sought an anti-establishment candidate."

Just like Obama was not part of the Republican Party which started the war and  was involved with Financial Crisis, Herman Cain was appealing because he is so different than who is currently in power.

In times of crisis people will look to any other extreme without thinking about whether it is actually better. Candidates use that to their full advantage.

Despite my disagreement with his policies and views, i can understand his message and appeal. I am happy that he stepped down, but on the other hand he is right, politics is a nasty game, but its not even a game, its like who can play a better actor.

People that are fully qualified might not win an election just because they do not play the game right. Take Kerry and Gore for example.

We discuss in class what we would change about an election process, I would change it from being a stage to being an actual playing field where candidate's experience, abilities, and viewpoint are tested, not their abilities to articulate them.

I want to know who THEY are, not the people financing them. I want to know what THEY believe without all the political gorgon and censorship.

I think the reason why seeing Cain end his candidacy was bitter-sweet, was because on one hand I did not like him as a potential president, but also because I realized he was right about hating the game of politics.

He looses because he is not president, but he wins because he is no longer part of a ridiculous spectacle and by suspending his run he made a powerful point .

Now, I am left with candidates that are not much better than he is...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Advertisment Reaction Videos

Reactions to Herman Cain's Campaign Ad

More reactions to Herman Cain's Ad: "hes a devider, not a uniter", also a cancer survivor calls in and find it despicable.

A set of religious groups ran an anti-gay ad saying that they could be 'cured'. This meeting was held to express outrage over it. Many religious leaders speak including this reverend.

Campaign Advertisement Videos (not embedded just thought I would share)

Nixon Campaign Ad

Ford's Campaign Ad

Bush's Campaign Ad

"Charmer in Chief vs Disciplined Professional"

Alright, so earlier today was skimming through the Friday's paper when one article caught my attention. It was about Barack Obama's wife, Michelle Obama speaking at campaign fundraisers. She was not just speaking though, she was giving people a motivational talk.

Michelle has not spent much time in the media light since Obama's election. She does her own work in different health organizations and I do not really know why, but I like her. She seems modest, smart, and a pleasant person.

Barbara Bush does not really have the same appeal. She sort of stands by him and nods at everything but Michelle Obama actually does a lot without receiving attention for it.

My point is that for some reason, one which I want to get to later, I am drawn to someone for their personality without realizing it.

After realizing this, I began to think about how much a candidates personality play into an election. Are they just selling their views? Or are they selling themselves as a total package? Looks, personality, opinion, should they have it all? Are their views really the most determining factors.

Personalities and the Public

An article I round on this topic reads:

"We’ve evolved into a media-driven era of ever-shrinking attention spans and a relentless need to keep ourselves entertained. We enjoy public spectacles, prefer style over substance, and are regularly being bombarded with dueling ideological viewpoints that are too often misrepresented as fact. It stands to reason that with such cultural change comes an alteration in how we evaluate our presidential candidates."

My generation is superficial. I am, we all are. Yeah, I do not really like McCain partially because I do not want a shriveled up old raisin running the country with his old fashioned policies.

Now, put his opinions in a slightly younger, more energetic body, and I am pretty sure my views would be very different.

The article then goes on to say:

"Stuffy individuals like Walter Mondale, Al Gore, and John Kerry all exuded competence and carried impressive credentials, but they lacked the personable nature of their counterparts. Candidates like George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain all came across as genuine and thoughtful."

Mitt Romney seems a little bit stiff and flip-floppy, carefully choosing his answers, but overall he really does seem like the "Disciplined Professional". That's even how he was when he was running Bain Capital. He was said to be tough, he got his own lunch, and charged other top executives 20$ for being late to meetings.

Perry seems like a nice southern gentleman with religious ethics.

Ginrich is a historian, a scholar. He seems like he knows what he is talking about, can be clever at times, but does not really seems like a nice guy.

Ron Paul looks sick of life. But he is one of those candidates that if you put him in another younger, energetic, more personable persona, he would really shine I think. He seems very experienced but a little bit worn out.

Herman Cain is rebel. He does not do politics, he is not a politician, and he is going against the norm; from his outlook on the economy to the way he talks, he's just like us, but that might be a bad thing considering Obama has really Godly persona.

And I almost forgot about Huntsman and Bachman, which is my point. They just do not stand out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mitt Romney the business man - profits & lay-offs?

In one of the past debates Mitt Romney explained one of his tax theories: if you give big companies tax breaks, they will have more money, will be able to profit, and will then be able to have more workers.

The money trickles down from top to bottom, also known as Reaganomics or the trickle down theory.

The New York Times this past Sunday published an article on Mitt Romney the bussines man and told us the story of how he ran his company- how he profitted, laid off thousands of workers, then ran his company into bankrupcy.

This series of events is quite opposite to his trickle down theory in terms of what a company does when it profits.

Bain Capital and Dade International

Once upon a time Mitt Romney was executive chief of Bain Company, which he also owned. His company was a private equity firm.

It simple terms, private equity firms manage investments. They go into companies, analyze what they are doing and find ways for the companies to make better profits.

They are sort of like house flippers, (I think I have the right name for that), where they buy something, make it better, and then sell it for more than what they bought it for.

They had also done this sort of thing for other companies such as Staples and the Gartner Group.

In 1994 it led the buy of Dane. Funny enough, it was on the investment adventure with Goldman Sachs, a firm that was involved in the financial crisis.

"Bain Capital, sent in a team of 10 turnaround experts from Boston to ferret out waste, motivate executives and study untapped markets."

Dade International doubled in size, and Bain Capital also bought two of its competitors while also receaiving a profit of eight times what it had invested.

Then came another business opportunity. Dade was considering buying DuPont, a medical equipment manufacturing company which could be useful for Dade.

Bain pushed for the buy and it became a success and Dade continued to grow. After this time of growth and profits soaring however, there came many odd consequences. Lay-offs.

Tough love or just mean?

Around 1997 plants began to close and around 1,700 workers were laid off. It was to save the company money and increase revenue.

"There was absolutely no concern for the employees. It was truly and completely profit-focused." Said one of the former human resources managers.

This was after workers were persuaded to move from Puerto Rico to Miami after their plant shut down there to find that the one in Miami had been shut down also.


The article states that "cost-cutting became a mantra". Earlier in it however, it stated that Mitt Romney, as an executive, was a tough love kind of guy. He believed that sometimes the medicine was bitter, but at least the patient would be saved.

When comparing some of his business strategy to his political strategy he says that this tough love view also applied. That GM should have gone down, the housing market should have fallen, the government should cut wasteful spending, and that businesses that made bad decisions should have hit bankruptcy and not been bailed out.

This is approach is I think what lead to all the lay-offs. The company was trying to cut costs by all means even while it was profiting greatly.

Bankrupcy, almost

[alright I have to admit this part sort of confuses me but I am going to try my hardest]

After a while, Bain decided it would cut Dade lose meaning, it wanted to sell it. It was offered a good sum by a company but it was not satisfied with the amount the company proposed.

In 1999 they persuaded Dade to borrow money to buy half of Bain's shares. This borrowing is what lead to the company going deep into debt while also giving Bain's executives gracious bonuses, 242 million bonus to be exact.

Many agree that it was this transaction that set the company deep into debt and looking back, they say it was probably not the best move but at least they got some cash out of it.

After this Dade fired a few hundred more people and as it was going into bankruptcy it was bought by another company.

"Mr. Romney’s career at Bain Capital, which he owned and ran as chief executive, is a cornerstone of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination — a credential, he argues, that showcases the management skills and business acumen that America needs to revive a stalled economy. Creating jobs, Mr. Romney says, is exactly what he knows how to do."

The end

So... the next time Mitt Romney says "How do you create jobs? You cut corporate taxes and then companies profit. Then what do they do? They can then hire more workers."

WRONG, and he should know better.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So where does money come from?

During the November 9th debate, Ron Paul mentioned the Federal Reserve, it prinitng money, and interest rates going up. He has also mentioned in the past that he has wanted to abolish it.

He questioned what it is. Why should the U.S payback money to the Federal Reserve? What is it anyway? Where does it get money? He asks.

And aggree with him? How does the Federal Rerserve just produce money?

A while back a heard a program on This American Life about where money comes from, what it is, and who owns the Federal Reserve. It brought up the very questions that me and Ron Paul ask.

No one knows from where the Federal Reserve produces money from. The more the FD prints money, the less value existing money has. It then brings interest rates up and by that the government attempts to attract investors.

The program went into an interesting story about how Brazil solved it's financial crisis. Before it had many problems. Inflation rates kept going up and the economy was getting worse and worse. So what did they do? They replaced the currency and gave their currency a fixed value so it could not go up and down.

People bought into it and it solved a big problem. The message of the story to me, at least, is that the value or the worth of money is determined by people's belief in it.

That example proves it along with how the stock go up and down. Three major companies that have recently suffered are Bank of America, Netflix, and Apple.

Bank of America suffered by introducing its five dollar fee which has been taken back, after costumers were outraged and began to leave. Netflix lost worth when it introduced Quickster people were horrified and left Netflix. Apple suffered when people publicly did not believe that the company would be the same without Jobs.

Investors were watching the entire time and I'm sure they felt uneasy which brought down the companies worth.

Another example of how bizarre money's worth is the radio shows section on an indigenous culture that uses stones for currency. The stones don't move, they do no even physically have to be traded but people know who those stones belong to.

If it falls in the water or it cannot be moved, it does not matter. People believe in its worth.

How is having a credit card any different? Or trading money digitally? Or the Federal Reserve just producing money? The only thing it takes for that to work is people believing that it works.

To conclude, I agree with Ron Paul's statement. Why should we pay back the Federal Reserve? In fact the last time this country had no debt was during Andrew Jackson's presidency when there was no Federal Bank.