Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Few Thoughts On Bernard Madoff Fraud

Can't help but think what might have led to the biggest investment fraud in all of history, the Bernard Madoff scandal. Loose SEC regulation certainly played a role along with the climate of let business self-regulate their activities. But the more I think of this, a Ponzi scheme requires a very essential element, no matter how big or small the scheme is. And that is greed on the part of the investors who think they can make a quick profit by investing with a Wall Street legend, with little questions asked. Do I feel bad for multi-millionaires and billionaires losing half or more of their assets? I seriously doubt they'll be worrying about next month's bills so the answer is no. Do I feel bad for non-profits losing everything? Maybe, but again, they elected or appointed financial directors who they feel can make them the most profit. So I think the Obama administration will change this culture of non-oversight fairly quickly within the financial industry but at the same time, I don't think any amount of reform can change the way the majority of Americans think about greed and the accumulation of wealth.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Other California

I'm trying to understand where people are coming from. Literally. Spent Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday in Lake Isabella with my brother-in-law's new house. Anyway, at the grocery on Friday morning, while waiting for everyone to get their items paid for, a bearded man, maybe in his mid 60's approached me. What country were you born? Excuse me, I said. What country were you from? Seriously, this man had never seen a Filipino before or what. The Philippine Islands, I said. Oh, we had some Filipinos in the Seventh Day Adventist church and they are very nice, he stated proudly. I try really hard to be non-judgmental but I suppose with a population of 3300 people, 90% are white, the odds of finding a non-Caucasian is really low so I must really stick out like a sore thumb. Come think of it, I did not see a single black, Latino, Asian or non-white these 2 days. Except for my 2 hapa haole boys. I don't know what to say to this gentleman other than "Oh, that's really nice." Thank goodness, the checkout lines were fast so he ended the conversation with "Well, we welcome everybody!" I guess you really don't have to go too far from Los Angeles to see that not all of California is a melting pot. In the past, I used to feel very Filipino when visiting places like Michigan, West Virginia or Ohio but in this case, I only have to travel a hundred miles. Nonetheless, I think that he was truly sincere in stating that he welcomes me to his part of America. And in this case, while I was driving home, I felt bad for feeling so defensive at being asked where I was born. Race relations is a two-way street indeed.

NPR Shapes American Culture

I can't even remember how many times I've bought something (book, movie, CD, toy, etc.) after listening to a feature of that particular item on National Public Radio (NPR). Most of Los Angeles is pretty lucky to have two NPR stations, namely 89.3 KPCC and 89.9 KCRW. Used to be a KCRW listener when I lived in West LA but had been a KPCC loyalist since moving to Pasadena in '95. Anyway, I did it again recently, buying a non-fiction book titled "The Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell and a novel "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. I dare say that if it weren't for NPR, I would spend less money of books, music, film and the like but then again, what's life without these necessities? (Thank goodness, those podcasts are free.)
So I figured out why conservatives hate NPR. It educates the masses and an educated population is not to the benefit of conservatives who want as narrow a definition of American culture as possible.