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The Invisible Hand Is Jerking Off the Bosses!

by Jacob Freeze Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 12:11:38 PM EST

If you think capitalism lacks the sort of supernatural mystery that distinguishes religions from other human constructs, you probably never heard of the the invisible hand, which Adam Smith postulated to explain how "every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can."

Without quibbling about the exact meaning of "annual revenue," we can take it to mean the sum of all payments, and observe that more and more is bought and sold in the United States in almost every succeeding year, and likewise with our capitalistic brethren in other countries.

So our economic demiurge is easier to detect than its supernatural counterparts in other religions, even when it slips into deeper obscurity under the grand table where all the CEO's of our booming economy are gathered.  I can't see exactly what goes on under that table, but it's easy to deduce from the rapture on so many faces that the invisible hand is jerking off the bosses.

They do not sow, neither do they reap, and yet Solomon in all his glory never had a retirement package like the CEO of Exxon. $400,000,000! No wonder Lee R. Raymond is grinning like an idiot!

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And it doesn't take much more than an idiot to make a mountain of money for Exxon, in a world where the price of oil has quadrupled in the last six years. But economics has a logic of its own, and the invisible hand is obviously giving Lee R. Raymond a heck of a handjob!

Those same semi-divine fingers are also busy with Edward Lampert, who made $1,020,000,000 last year at the hedge-fund ESL Investments. That's a salary of 1.02 billion dollars!

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A little credit for Lampert's gratification should also be reserved for the tax code, which taxes hedge-fund managers at the delightful rate of 15%.

For some lucky CEO's, the invisible hand never stops diddling, and all that non-stop action has apparently frozen a permanent smile on the face of Jeffrey C. Barbakow.

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USA Today calculated that even if Mr. Barbakow worked 14 hours per day 365 days per year, he would still be making $22,785 per hour at Tenet Healthcare. It takes balls as big as watermelons to grab a $116,000,000 slice of the healthcare pie, especially when 47,000,000 Americans have no pie at all!

There used to be Chinese walls - now it must be chinese eyes.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 01:05:04 PM EST
As they used to say in the City when ah were a lad, the problem with Chinese Walls is that they are full of chinks....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 01:48:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am very sad about political correctness. It has taken a big chunk out of humour.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 02:28:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps Mel Brooks could put that into the context of humor, but otherwise it is just degrading for the person who said it, and impolite toward the person it is directed to.

How being polite and not being degraded is confused with political correctness confuses me.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Nov 29th, 2007 at 07:48:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now these three boys are earning decent money, perhaps they can get their teeth fixed.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 02:40:20 PM EST
They can't afford too. At $22,000 per hour, going to the dentist would be robbing their own wallets.

And remember, these people are of course really worth even more than that amount of money to their companies, because of their high productivity. So the company can't afford to let them go on even unpaid leave for an hour, because of the big drop in company income during that hour. So the company has armed guards that shoot the CEO if he stops working for longer than a few minutes.

Or more precisely, it's what I would do if I had an employee that was worth $22000 per hour.

by GreatZamfir on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 02:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, at those rates, just taking a slash is a veritable 'golden shower'!

hey jacob, your diary title just clued me in in the true meaning of 'golden handshake' too!

kudos for bring a little light and cheer into this dark cold dawn...

come on back soon, i like the cut of yer jib!

welcome to the EuroTribe!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 29th, 2007 at 12:51:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ew, i hope the invisible hand is wearing a sanitary glove!

hilarious diary, jacob, excellent skewering of the true villains in this global capitalist melodrama.

i remember time magazine covers of the 50's showing business titans, with names like homer lucius III, plump, squat little toad-people with a fat cigar in their manicured fists.

pillars of society!

role models for your sons!

then during the 60's these clowns started to realise they were as prepossessing to the public eye as yesterday's porridge, and faded into media obscurity, preferring to wreak their havok more privately, hehe...

i mean, have you ever seen a face that summed up all that's wrong with the human race more than that vanity shot of lee raymond?

although the capacity for swollen lymph glands is impressive, in a carnival freakshow kind of way....

the comments reminded me of a surreal conversation i overheard on a yacht sailing to elba one day.

my friend skippered a charter, and there was an empty berth, so she invited me along.

i was settling a queasy stomach in my cabin, with door ajar, and this is what i heard:

tanned, lithe 40-something to equally tanned, lithe 40-something:

'i'm getting way too stressed lately, i'd like to give up my job, but
$200,000 a day is really hard to walk away from...'

to which the other replied:

'i know, but three quarters of my graduating class is dead of cancer'.

i'd heard enough, and suddenly became aware my nausea had nothing to do with the med's motion.

the other two characters in your diary look like the incarnations of smug cunning.

this diary has made me question the idea of man's journey through spacetime, and the idea that we might possibly be evolving!

get 'em back on the front page, i say!

mothers can use them to scare the kids straight!

this what you'll look like if you grow up believing The LieTM...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 29th, 2007 at 12:43:54 AM EST
Thanks for the kind words, and also the tagline from Wallace Stevens. I haven't thought of that beautiful poem in a long time.

About sailing...

Way back when I was just starting college, I had a summer job at a Long Island marina, where old and new money intersected without exactly mixing. I wouldn't claim the old money was altogether more charming than the new money, but the old fortunes incorporated some very charming people into their circle, and the outcome could be a a level of courtesy and douceur de vivre more or less incomprehensible to the latest zillionaires.

I remember one ghastly afternoon when a boatload of the new people had drafted me off the dock to be their busboy, dog's-body, and slave, as they saw it, and I was thinking seriously about slaughtering the whole gang of them with a boathook, when a man named Johnny Galliher appeared out of nowhere and asked if he could "borrow" me for a few minutes. He needed my opinion about some refitting a friend of his had commissioned for his sailboat, and damned if we didn't walk all over that boat for half an hour while he solicited my advice about every line and cleat, all of which of course he understood infinitely better than I did, but the whole show had the intended effect, and my former "masters" promoted me into a class of person that they couldn't pester with impugnity, and backed off.

I'm not going to try to squeeze any more sociology out of this story... This just seemed like a good opportunity to share it with someone who might appreciate it, and if you're interested, there are also a couple of good stories about Johnny Galliher with Greta Garbo, of all people, in a really heart-felt memorial by David Patrick Columbia here.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Thu Nov 29th, 2007 at 02:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a summer job at a Long Island marina, where old and new money intersected without exactly mixing.

lol...come back soon and often, jacob!

it is one of history's choicest ironies, how some people who swim in the deep calm of wealth, and obtain the cultural awareness that the poor could also avail themselves of, if they had the privilege.

that cultural awareness has indeed produced some gallantry and douceur, as you so beautifully put it.

noblesse oblige...

there's a story i like of some monarch presiding over a royal repast, at which one foreign guest ignorantly drank from the bowl of fragrant water that was placed at each setting in order for the guests to rinse their fingertips with between courses.

some of the guests started to snigger behind their napkins, when the king, observing the contretemps, deftly resolved the tension by picking up his fingerbowl and drinking up the contents himself.

all the guests followed suit immediately, and the awkward moment passed without further ado...

noblesse oblige...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 30th, 2007 at 03:51:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This thread reminds me of an exchange I had with an old girlfriend.

"Well, he is the richest man in the world now."

"Yes," she said. "But he's still Bill Gates."

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 29th, 2007 at 08:59:15 AM EST

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