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by Henrik

Tim Russert, we wish you were here

June 13, 2009 in Politics

Today is one year since Tim Russert died, and although I never knew him, he was still a part of my life. My interest in politics meant that I was destined to get to know his TV persona with the intelligence, clear-headedness and humor that cannot be tought, but is pure talent. Tim really understood the world of politics and could explain it to the rest of us. Probably because he understood the world outside of politics just as well.

Meet The Press is no longer the same without him. Don’t get me wrong, David Gregory is a good journalist, but he doesn’t have anything close to TIm’s talents. Actually, the only one I see at NBC with the deep, intellectual everydayness that Tim had is Chuck Todd, and I think that he would have made the best possible Meet The Press host, rather than have him sit at the White House and try to trip up Robert Gibbs.

But that is not what I was going to write about, and I’m sure that Tim Russert would have been a big enough man to accept any role and then make it into something extraordinary. Tim, when I doubt myself and find the going tough, I think of you, your enthusiasm and the enourmous warmth you spread around you, and it inspires me. I’m sure you continue to inspire and influence other people too, so in a way, there is no reason to miss you. You are always here.

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American International Greed

March 21, 2009 in Politics

In the old movie Wall Street we were told that greed is good, although it is one of the seven deadly sins. Actually the foremost in my mind, since all the other ones are really just greed for something specific (food, sex, leisure, etc.). And now this whole AIG debacle has made the letters stand for Arrogance Incompetence Greed. Just the kind of image you would want your company to have. Anyway, I think all the outrage is an outrage. It is not as if this comes as any surprise. I mean that the corporate high fliers help themselves to amazing riches, on the dime of the general public. If it’s not tax payers’ money it’s the pension funds for you and me that buy the stocks that keep theses fat cats fat. In the case of the AIG financial people that just got their money, I can understand the underlying reason for wanting to pay them the award. You know that you’re in for a tough time and you need to decouple certain things as fast as possible, and to make sure that it’s timely you tell the people that knows the mess from the inside that if you stay with the company and help us wind this down we’ll pay you a little bit extra at the end. So far I fully agree. And I think that maybe two or three months salary would be a reasonable amount. After all, they are getting paid in the mean time anyway. But the amounts that they got paid.

Sheesh! If $6.2 million is equivalent to a year’s salary, that person should have been fired on the spot for getting AIG into the situation they were. And what does congress do? They do what they should have done long ago. They make sure that there is a law that caps the payments for companies getting bailed out by public funds. After all, the alternative is bankruptcy, which would pay most people very little, if anything. But the irony of the House of Congress bill is that that most of the AIG Finance people are located in London, UK, and as far as I know they are not affected by US tax law. So they still get their money untouched. All this while AIG is suing the IRS to get some tax money back. They are suing their majority owner. That’s some cojones. Read the rest of this entry →

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by Henrik

Six and a half million dollars bonus

March 16, 2009 in Politics

Yes, you guessed it. Some of the bonus for AIG top executives for last year’s stellar performance. And note, that this is just the bonus.

I made a quick calculation on this. What about if this was the full year’s salary, and not just the cream on top? What if you were to hire this person out as a consultant, since the person i question has to be absolutely brilliant to deserve such a salary?

Long time ago I learned a very rough rule-of-thumb for how much you had to charge a client for a consultant. The rule was that you would have to charge about 3 times the salary you paid to cover for all the other costs involved (including the risk of having them sitting on the bench).

So how much is $6,500,000 really if you start to break it down? Well it’s $125,000 per week, or $25,000 per day if you assume a 5 hour work week. If you then assume 8 hour work days we get to $3,125 per hour.  So to hire a person earning that amount of money as a consultant would require you to pay roughly $10,000 per hour.

If you need somebody I’m available…

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Is this for real?

February 10, 2009 in Politics

I was reading the New York Times and I came across an article called “Trying to live on 500K in New York City.” After reading it once and then re-reading it twice I’m still not sure whether the author is serious or if it’s satire. For example, take the following quote:

But more than a few of the New York-based financial executives who would have their pay limited are men (and they are almost invariably men) whose identities are entwined with living a certain way in a certain neighborhood west of Third Avenue: a life of private schools, summer houses and charity galas that only a seven-figure income can stretch to cover.

Well, if you have done your job in such a way that you have run not only your company, but the whole economy into the dumpster, then maybe you have to realize that you just have to stop living in luxury with a home in the “right” place, summer houses and kids in private schools. Not to mention stop running to galas.

An accountant quoted in the piece, Martin Cohen shows that after taxes a poor person earning only $500,000 would take home $269,000 per year. And then the article goes on to explain how you need your apartment for $200,000, your summer house for $250,000, your driver for $125,000, your personal trainer for $12,000, your garage at $10,000, etc. ad infinitum. Oh, I forgot, yearly vacations for $16,000, private school for $65,000 and a nanny at almost $50,000.

If this is meant as satire I think it’s not sharp enough. If it’s not, then the revolution is not far away.

Oh, and the article says that a middle class salary in NYC is about $125,000, so getting paid 4 times average middle class is not good enough for the people who after running the economy into the ground probably doesn’t even deserve to be on par with the average working man or woman.

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by Henrik


June 5, 2008 in Politics

At last, we have a change agent we can believe in. It was a long and painful process, and I believe that Senator Clinton should have stepped out of the race earlier. After North Carolina as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, the result is in, and now we can all focus on getting Senator Obama elected. That will take unification in the Democratic Party, as well as people pulling together to get some of Hillary Clinton’s campaign debt to Senator Clinton paid off.

 I’m happy with the result.

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Divisiveness is not attractive

January 29, 2008 in Politics

We’re involved in a very intense presidential campaign right now, and although I’m not allowed to vote I have long had a favorite, somebody I toot my horn for. That man is a Democrat, and he is the most inspirational I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Barack Obama.

In the last few weeks we have all seen signs of strong political campaigning from all leading Democrat candidates, and until recently I would say that I also admired Hillary Clinton, because she is a very professional and competent politician. However, the last week has made me change my mind. It’s not that she is no longer professional and competent. It’s more that she is so old school when it comes to campaigning.

We now have a choice between “divide and conquer” and “unite and improve”. You will have to guess which candidate stands for which.


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