Margin Notes - Blog

Boomers & the Sunset

It’s not yet time for Boomers to ride off into the sunset. There’s still work to be done.

The country is ill. It is suffering from PTSD of the soul. From the post traumatic stress of the continuous conflicts Americans have faced since World War II. The Korean War, Viet Nam War, Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and back in Iraq and the battles over civil rights, poverty, gender and sexual rights and income inequality. This cycle of constant warfare has conditioned a class of Americans to see every aspect of human endeavor – business, politics, investing, even sports – as a gladiatorial pit where there is only one winner and the rest are losers.

If you have any doubt about that, look at the behavior of those on Wall Street and in the hedge funds on Connecticut’s Gold Coast, in the U.S. Congress and the chattering class in politics today, and among the executive elites of American business and their lobbyists on K Street in Washington, D.C..

Look at the president of Volkwagen in the U.S., for example. The New York Times reports that he knew about the company’s cheating on U.S. emissions test over a year ago and did nothing. Why? Because when you are afflicted with PTSD of the soul, you will stop at nothing and do anything to come out on top. You are a warrior as ruthless as any jungle fighter – you take no prisoners and wage unconditional warfare.

And that’s what Boomer must fix. That’s the great challenge awaiting this generation. Forget retirement. Forget the sunset. It’s dawn and the time has come for Boomers to claim their spot in the long line of great generations that have preceded them in America. It’s time to step forward and cure what ails our nation’s soul.


       October 9th, 2015    

Thoughts on Collateral Damage

Another theme I explore in my book is the nature of modern warfare. I refuse to accept the notion that “collateral damage” is inevitable in today’s conflicts. There is no doubt that it happens frequently – today’s report of what appears to be the accidental bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan is the most recent case in point – but that does not mean there is some rule of nature or cosmic algorithm forcing it to happen and therefore should be something we simply accept.

Moreover, collateral damage comes in several stripes. The example is Afghanistan was apparently an accident, neither intended nor, as far as I can tell, accepted as a normal course of operations. There is, however, a second form of such perverse behavior that comes close to being evil – intentionally inflicted collateral damage. And that’s what’s happened to millions of American workers thanks to the unconditional warfare waged on them by some of the biggest companies in America.

Here’s how it was described in an October 4, 2015 article entitled “The Hypocrisy of ‘Helping’ the Poor” in The New York Times. The author, Paul Theroux, describes his journey through the desolate battlefield of America’s workplace today:

“… China has been enriched by American-supplied jobs, making most of the destined-for-the-dump merchandise you find on store shelves all over America, every piece of plastic you can name, as well as Apple products, Barbie dolls or Nike LeBron basketball shoes retailed in the United States for up to $320 a pair. ‘The uplifting of impoverished people’ was one of the reasons Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, gave in 1998 for moving his factories out of the United States.

“… if there was one experience of the deep South that stayed with me it was the sight of shutdown factories and towns with their hearts torn out of them, and few jobs. There are outsourcing stories all over America, but the effects are stark in the Deep South.”

That damage was intentional. The pain it caused was known in advance and ignored. Those who perpetrated it suffer from the dementia of PTSD of the soul. They’ve forgotten their connection to their fellow citizens and, therefore, their responsibility to avoid harming them simply to advance their own interests and wealth.


       October 4th, 2015    

Unconditional Warfare at Work

One of the major themes in my book is the impact of “unconditional warfare” in the America’s contemporary politics, business and investment practices and culture norms. Here’s my latest margin note on that theme.

On September 30, 2015, The New York Times reported:

“For four weeks this spring, a young woman from India on a temporary visa sat elbow to elbow with an American Accountant in a snug cubicle at the headquarters of Toys “R” Us here (Wayne, NJ). The woman, an employee of a giant outsourcing company in India hired by Toys “R” Us, studied and record the accountant’s every keystroke, taking screen shots of her computer and detailed notes on how she issued payments for toys sold in the company’s megastores.

… By late June, eight workers from the outsourcing company, Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, had produced intricate manuals for the jobs of 67 people, mainly in accounting. They then returned to India to train TCS workers to take over and perform those jobs. The Toys “R” Us employees in New Jersey, many of whom had been at the company more than a decade, were laid off.”

This is what the sickness of “unconditional warfare” looks like in America today.

The executives who order such barbaric practices and the people who carry them out are slaves to a condition that inflicts “collateral damage” on innocent Americans. They aren’t responsible for having the condition, but they are responsible for not curing themselves.

And since they won’t – since they don’t have the courage or the honesty or the self-respect to fix themselves – we must do it for them. We must use our collective economic and moral might to induce the companies that practice “unconditional warfare” on Americans to get better by being better.


       October 1st, 2015