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Dec 08, 2015 | Economist's View\
Links for 12-08-15
sanjait said in reply to pgl...
Calling Cruz two-faced or a gold bug is a discredit to Cruz.
Cruz doesn't have two faces ... he has infinity. Because Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all.
A lot of people become ideologues because they strongly desire ideological consistency. Most of these people come to believe the things they say, because even though they know they lie sometimes, it's too hard for them to exist in the world perceiving themselves to be liars.
Cruz doesn't have this problem. He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants. He doesn't believe anything he says. His whole persona is an act. He wears the same smirk on his face that Glenn Beck wears, because he has the same business model as Beck: pretending to be an ideologue to try to maximize his appeal to the rubes.
Maybe somewhere deep inside Cruz believes something. Maybe he even believes in the gold standard. But just because he's talked about that issue at length in the past, I don't think it's safe to assume he has any sincere belief thereof. He's not the kind of guy who actually believes in things.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to sanjait...
The short hand for saying all that is that Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck are pathological liars.
DrDick said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
Actually, with these two, I am not sure how much is lying and how much is totally delusional. They both really seem to believe a lot of this BS. It doese not make them any less dangerous (it possibly makes them more so), but it does matter.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to DrDick...
I just do not know enough about Ted Cruz to say. Glenn Beck is a different matter and well documented. The article at the link below clearly shows that Beck's issues are in his personality (disorder) more than his ideology.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
Paine said in reply to Peter K....
One can be a gold bug and fully recognize the consequences [of] a system that magnifies unequal outcomes and accumulations. Cruz is a demagogic hand maiden of the wealthy. Useful in times of potential popular unrest
Peter K. said in reply to Paine ...
We all know what Cruz is. He even looks like Joseph McCarthy.
Nonethless his question to Yellen was correct. The Fed passively tightened during the financial panic over fears of inflation.
Fred C.Dobbs said...
After Months of Lying in Wait and Watching Rivals,
Ted Cruz Sees Payoff in Polls http://nyti.ms/1YVqqjT
NYT - MATT FLEGENHEIMER and NICK CORASANITI - DEC. 7, 2015
Hours after Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy last March at an evangelical university, his team openly cheered his meager position in the polls, where his support registered at around 5 percent. "You have to own a base in the Republican primary," the campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said then. "If you own the base, then you can grow it."
Less than nine months later - many of them spent drafting behind his rivals, lying in wait - Mr. Cruz's base of support has swelled, forcing his foes to grapple with the central premise of Mr. Cruz's bid, a bet many had long dismissed: that he could emerge as the first far-right conservative in recent political history with the strength to withstand a bruising primary.
For weeks, polls have shown Mr. Cruz climbing both nationally and, more decisively, in Iowa, where a Monmouth University survey on Monday placed him first, with 24 percent support among likely Republican caucusgoers. Donald J. Trump was second at 19 percent. (Another poll, by CNN, gave Mr. Trump a solid lead, despite gains by Mr. Cruz.)
Mr. Cruz, who had more cash on hand than any other campaign as of Sept. 30, boasts on the trail that the traditional primary script has been flipped: While many evangelicals and Tea Party supporters are uniting behind him, he says, several establishment figures are "fighting like cats and dogs" for their share of the electorate.
He has channeled much of the same voter frustration fueling Mr. Trump, positioning himself as an outsider with the Washington battle scars to effect conservative change, while remaining deferential enough to Mr. Trump to avoid his broadsides. (Mr. Cruz distanced himself, politely, from Mr. Trump's calls on Monday to bar Muslims from entering the United States.)
And while many rivals in the race, including Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, were elected in the Tea Party wave, no lawmaker has better internalized the Republican Party's mood under President Obama, placing conservative ideological purity above all else.
"He is a product of this paradigm shift," said Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host who supports Mr. Cruz. "He recognizes the direction the party is going in because if it wasn't moving in that direction, he wouldn't be one of 100 senators in the country at this moment."
Obstacles abound. Mr. Cruz, widely detested by the Republican establishment...
December 7, 2015
That 30s Show
By Paul Krugman
A few years ago de Bromhead, Eichengreen, and O'Rourke looked at the determinants of right-wing extremism * in the 1930s. They found that economic factors mattered a lot; specifically,
"what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was."
How's Europe doing on that basis?
And now the National Front has scored a first-place finish in regional elections, ** and will probably take a couple of regions in the second round. Economics isn't the only factor; immigration, refugees, and terrorism play into the mix. But Europe's underperformance is slowly eroding the legitimacy, not just of the European project, but of the open society itself.
anne said in reply to anne...
February 27, 2012
Right-wing political extremism in the Great Depression
By Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen, and Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
The enduring global crisis is giving rise to fears that economic hard times will feed political extremism, as it did in the 1930s. This column suggests that the danger of political polarisation and extremism is greatest in countries with relatively recent histories of democracy, with existing right-wing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create low hurdles to parliamentary representation of new parties. But above all, it is greatest where depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist.
anne said in reply to anne...
With more subtlety and contemporary relevance to political responses in the wake of crises, there is "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. That economists are unwilling to examine and credit the ideas of Klein, who is a sociologist, is a limitation on relevant analyses of economists.
Ted latest attempt to be more disgusting than The Donald
European migrant crisis - 1h ago
"Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he introduced bill to let states reject refugees - @ReutersPolitics"
Read more on reuters.com
pgl said in reply to im1dc...
Isn't Cruz Canadian? Can we pass a law sending him back to Canada and never letting him pass south of the 49th parallel?
www.counterpunch.orgI recently bought a collection of DVDs from the website Acorn that sells a lot of PBS stuff. The collection was called The Golden Age of Television and included a bunch of critically acclaimed dramas originally written for TV. The dramas were broadcast live, and with one exception, only once.
The exception was a play by Rod Serling called Patterns. Patterns is about the immorality of corporate America. A young engineer from Cincinnati, Fred Staples (Richard Kiley), is hired by Walter Ramsey (Everett Sloane), the ruthless head of a huge corporation in New York, to replace an aging executive, Andy Sloane (Ed Begley), whose ethics have become both an inconvenience and constant source of irritation to Ramsey.
Ramsey's plan is to make Sloane so miserable through unrelenting public humiliation of him that he'll resign. Staples doesn't realize he's been hired to replace Sloane, not at first anyway. He likes and respects Sloane and does what he can to help him and to ease the pressure put on him by the villainous Mr. Ramsey.
Ramsey's behavior toward Sloan is so vicious and sadistic it's stomach turning. The implication is that Ramsey is a sadist and that such sadism might be an inexorable part of corporate culture. Even Sloane understands it. Staples, being younger and new to the corporate world, doesn't get it, but Sloane explains it to him. Sloane knows what's going on, but he's determined to stick it out for just a few more years. He has a boy almost ready for college. Sloane is not merely psychologically dependent on his identity as the vice president of a huge and successful corporation. He's also financially dependent on his lavish executive salary.
So Sloane takes beating after beating. Ramsey finally accuses him, in a particularly nasty attack, of trying to pass off Staples' work as his own by affixing his name along with Staples' to a report that Ramsey insists is so good it had to have been prepared by Staples alone. The report was, in fact, a collaborative effort, so Staples rises to Sloane's defense. Sloane knows better, however, than to accept Staples' support. "It was a clerical error," he whispers, "my name wasn't supposed to go on the report. It was a clerical error." Sloane then staggers out of the boardroom and collapses in the hall of what would appear to be a heart attack. He dies later that same evening.
Staples decides he's had enough of corporate ugliness and that he's going to return to Cincinnati. First, however, he resolves to avenge his friend Sloane by telling off Ramsey. He calls Ramsey every name in the book, says he's not even human. But Ramsey is unperturbed by Staples attack. In fact, he asks Staples to stay on with the company as Sloane's replacement. Ramsey explains to Staples that Staples doesn't have to like him, or be nice to him, and that he can oppose him whenever he wants. Staples needs the challenge, Ramsey asserts, that taking over Sloane's position would give him. He needs the challenge of running a large company, the challenge of making it an even larger company than he, Ramsey, has made it. He will grow with this challenge, Ramsey asserts, even as the company grows. So then, in what film critic Andrew Harris calls "an anti-cliché ending to end all anti-cliché endings," Staples accepts Ramsey's offer.
But Staples' acceptance makes no sense. We learned earlier from Sloane's secretary that Ramsey doesn't like people who oppose him. Not only do we, the audience learn that, Staples learns it because we learn it when she explains it to him. That's why he persecuted Sloane, because Sloane opposed him whenever he wanted to do something morally indefensible. Staples is just like Sloane in having scruples, so why would he agree to stay and work for a man to whom scruples are an intolerable threat?
Staples wouldn't accept such an arrangement, and, in fact, he didn't accept it, not in Serling's original script. Viewers learn from the introduction to Patterns provided on the DVD that Serling's original screenplay had Staples telling Ramsey off and returning to Cincinnati a hero. That's how director Fielder Cook describes the original ending anyway. Cook explains that he had to do some revision of the script and that Serling also had to labor mightily to make it acceptable. Cook makes it sound as if the motivations for the revisions were aesthetic, but the rest of the events surrounding the eventual broadcast of the play suggest otherwise.
Patterns had been written for CBS's Studio One, but the executives at CBS didn't like it so Serling had to shop it around. No explanation is given for why what had been unacceptable for CBS was soon afterward deemed acceptable for NBC's Kraft Television Theater. The implication is that it was the script doctoring performed by Cook and Serling, or more specifically, that it was the replacement of the original ending with one that would have been more palatable to television executives and, more importantly, to the advertisers they hoped to attract. Media moguls and the corporations that paid handsomely to advertise on popular programs such as Studio One and Kraft Television Theater would undoubtedly have taken offense at Serling's original denunciation of the immorality of corporate America, so the denunciation was replaced by what was effectively a defense of that immorality.
Dec 3, 2015 | BBC
The questions for this quiz were inspired by questionnaires developed by Delroy Paulhus and Daniel Jones (Assessment, vol 21, p 28). Our quiz was designed solely for entertainment, and the results should not be considered a scientific measure of your personality. If you would like to learn more about Paulhus’s personality research and his serious explorations of the dark triad, read our profile “The man who studies everyday evil”.
Oct 24, 2015 | The Guardian
"Phoning in sick is a revolutionary act." I loved that slogan. It came to me, as so many good things did, from Housmans, the radical bookshop in King's Cross. There you could rummage through all sorts of anarchist pamphlets and there I discovered, in the early 80s, the wondrous little magazine Processed World. It told you basically how to screw up your workplace. It was smart and full of small acts of random subversion. In many ways it was ahead of its time as it was coming out of San Francisco and prefiguring Silicon Valley. It saw the machines coming. Jobs were increasingly boring and innately meaningless. Workers were "data slaves" working for IBM ("Intensely Boring Machines").
What Processed World was doing was trying to disrupt the identification so many office workers were meant to feel with their management, not through old-style union organising, but through small acts of subversion. The modern office, it stressed, has nothing to do with human need. Its rebellion was about working as little as possible, disinformation and sabotage. It was making alienation fun. In 1981, it could not have known that a self-service till cannot ever phone in sick.
I was thinking of this today, as I wanted to do just that. I have made myself ill with a hangover. A hangover, I always feel, is nature's way of telling you to have a day off. One can be macho about it and eat your way back to sentience via the medium of bacon sandwiches and Maltesers. At work, one is dehydrated, irritable and only semi-present. Better, surely, though to let the day fall through you and dream away.
Having worked in America, though, I can say for sure that they brook no excuses whatsoever. When I was late for work and said things like, "My alarm clock did not go off", they would say that this was not a suitable explanation, which flummoxed me. I had to make up others. This was just to work in a shop.
This model of working – long hours, very few holidays, few breaks, two incomes needed to raise kids, crazed loyalty demanded by huge corporations, the American way – is where we're heading. Except now the model is even more punishing. It is China. We are expected to compete with an economy whose workers are often closer to indentured slaves than anything else.
This is what striving is, then: dangerous, demoralising, often dirty work. Buckle down. It's the only way forward, apparently, which is why our glorious leaders are sucking up to China, which is immoral, never mind ridiculously short-term thinking.
So again I must really speak up for the skivers. What we have to understand about austerity is its psychic effects. People must have less. So they must have less leisure, too. The fact is life is about more than work and work is rapidly changing. Skiving in China may get you killed but here it may be a small act of resistance, or it may just be that skivers remind us that there is meaning outside wage-slavery.
Work is too often discussed by middle-class people in ways that are simply unrecognisable to anyone who has done crappy jobs. Much work is not interesting and never has been. Now that we have a political and media elite who go from Oxbridge to working for a newspaper or a politician, a lot of nonsense is spouted. These people have not cleaned urinals on a nightshift. They don't sit lonely in petrol stations manning the till. They don't have to ask permission for a toilet break in a call centre. Instead, their work provides their own special identity. It is very important.
Low-status jobs, like caring, are for others. The bottom-wipers of this world do it for the glory, I suppose. But when we talk of the coming automation that will reduce employment, bottom-wiping will not be mechanised. Nor will it be romanticised, as old male manual labour is. The mad idea of reopening the coal mines was part of the left's strange notion of the nobility of labour. Have these people ever been down a coal mine? Would they want that life for their children?
Instead we need to talk about the dehumanising nature of work. Bertrand Russell and Keynes thought our goal should be less work, that technology would mean fewer hours.
Far from work giving meaning to life, in some surveys 40% of us say that our jobs are meaningless. Nonetheless, the art of skiving is verboten as we cram our children with ever longer hours of school and homework. All this striving is for what exactly? A soul-destroying job?
Just as education is decided by those who loved school, discussions about work are had by those to whom it is about more than income.
The parts of our lives that are not work – the places we dream or play or care, the space we may find creative – all these are deemed outside the economy. All this time is unproductive. But who decides that?
Skiving work is bad only to those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
So go on: phone in sick. You know you want to.
friedad 23 Oct 2015 18:27
We now exist in a society in which the Fear Cloud is wrapped around each citizen. Our proud history of Union and Labor, fighting for decent wages and living conditions for all citizens, and mostly achieving these aims, a history, which should be taught to every child educated in every school in this country, now gradually but surely eroded by ruthless speculators in government, is the future generations are inheriting. The workforce in fear of taking a sick day, the young looking for work in fear of speaking out at diminishing rewards, definitely this 21st Century is the Century of Fear. And how is this fear denied, with mind blowing drugs, regardless if it is is alcohol, description drugs, illicit drugs, a society in denial. We do not require a heavenly object to destroy us, a few soulless monsters in our mist are masters of manipulators, getting closer and closer to accomplish their aim of having zombies doing their beckoning. Need a kidney, no worries, zombie dishwasher, is handy for one. Oh wait that time is already here.
Hemulen6 23 Oct 2015 15:06
Oh join the real world, Suzanne! Many companies now have a limit to how often you can be sick. In the case of the charity I work for it's 9 days a year. I overstepped it, I was genuinely sick, and was hauled up in front of Occupational Health. That will now go on my record and count against me. I work for a cancer care charity. Irony? Surely not.
AlexLeo -> rebel7 23 Oct 2015 13:34
Which is exactly my point. You compete on relevant job skills and quality of your product, not what school you have attended.
Yes, there are thousands, tens of thousands of folks here around San Jose who barely speak English, but are smart and hard working as hell and it takes them a few years to get to 150-200K per year, Many of them get to 300-400K, if they come from strong schools in their countries of origin, compared to the 10k or so where they came from, but probably more than the whining readership here.
This is really difficult to swallow for the Brits back in Britain, isn't it. Those who have moved over have experiences the type of social mobility unthinkable in Britain, but they have had to work hard and get to 300K-700K per year, much better than the 50-100K their parents used to make back in GB. These are averages based on personal interactions with say 50 Brits in the last 15 + years, all employed in the Silicon Valley in very different jobs and roles.
Todd Owens -> Scott W 23 Oct 2015 11:00
I get what you're saying and I agree with a lot of what you said. My only gripe is most employees do not see an operation from a business owner or managerial / financial perspective. They don't understand the costs associated with their performance or lack thereof. I've worked on a lot of projects that we're operating at a loss for a future payoff. When someone decides they don't want to do the work they're contracted to perform that can have a cascading effect on the entire company.
All in all what's being described is for the most part misguided because most people are not in the position or even care to evaluate the particulars. So saying you should do this to accomplish that is bullshit because it's rarely such a simple equation. If anything this type of tactic will leaf to MORE loss and less money for payroll.
weematt -> Barry1858 23 Oct 2015 09:04
Sorry you just can't have a 'nicer' capitalism.
War ( business by other means) and unemployment ( you can't buck the market), are inevitable concomitants of capitalist competition over markets, trade routes and spheres of interests. (Remember the war science of Nagasaki and Hiroshima from the 'good guys' ?)
"..capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt". (Marx)
You can't have full employment, or even the 'Right to Work'.
There is always ,even in boom times a reserve army of unemployed, to drive down wages. (If necessary they will inject inflation into the economy)
Unemployment is currently 5.5 percent or 1,860,000 people. If their "equilibrium rate" of unemployment is 4% rather than 5% this would still mean 1,352,000 "need be unemployed". The government don't want these people to find jobs as it would strengthen workers' bargaining position over wages, but that doesn't stop them harassing them with useless and petty form-filling, reporting to the so-called "job centre" just for the sake of it, calling them scroungers and now saying they are mentally defective.
Government is 'over' you not 'for' you.
Governments do not exist to ensure 'fair do's' but to manage social expectations with the minimum of dissent, commensurate with the needs of capitalism in the interests of profit.
Worker participation amounts to self managing workers self exploitation for the maximum of profit for the capitalist class.
Exploitation takes place at the point of production.
" Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!' they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wages system!'"
Karl Marx [Value, Price and Profit]
John Kellar 23 Oct 2015 07:19
Fortunately; as a retired veteran I don't have to worry about phoning in sick.However; during my Air Force days if you were sick, you had to get yourself to the Base Medical Section and prove to a medical officer that you were sick. If you convinced the medical officer of your sickness then you may have been luck to receive on or two days sick leave. For those who were very sick or incapable of getting themselves to Base Medical an ambulance would be sent - promptly.
Rchrd Hrrcks -> wumpysmum 23 Oct 2015 04:17
The function of civil disobedience is to cause problems for the government. Let's imagine that we could get 100,000 people to agree to phone in sick on a particular date in protest at austerity etc. Leaving aside the direct problems to the economy that this would cause. It would also demonstrate a willingness to take action. It would demonstrate a capability to organise mass direct action. It would demonstrate an ability to bring people together to fight injustice. In and of itself it might not have much impact, but as a precedent set it could be the beginning of something massive, including further acts of civil disobedience.
wumpysmum Rchrd Hrrcks 23 Oct 2015 03:51
There's already a form of civil disobedience called industrial action, which the govt are currently attacking by attempting to change statute. Random sickies as per my post above are certainly not the answer in the public sector at least, they make no coherent political point just cause problems for colleagues. Sadly too in many sectors and with the advent of zero hours contracts sickies put workers at risk of sanctions and lose them earnings.
Alyeska 22 Oct 2015 22:18
I'm American. I currently have two jobs and work about 70 hours a week, and I get no paid sick days. In fact, the last time I had a job with a paid sick day was 2001. If I could afford a day off, you think I'd be working 70 hours a week?
I barely make rent most months, and yes... I have two college degrees. When I try to organize my coworkers to unionize for decent pay and benefits, they all tell me not to bother.... they are too scared of getting on management's "bad side" and "getting in trouble" (yes, even though the law says management can't retaliate.)
Unions are different in the USA than in the UK. The workforce has to take a vote to unionize the company workers; you can't "just join" a union here. That's why our pay and working conditions have gotten worse, year after year.
rtb1961 22 Oct 2015 21:58
By far the biggest act of wage slavery rebellion, don't buy shit. The less you buy, the less you need to earn. Holidays by far the minority of your life should not be a desperate escape from the majority of your life. Spend less, work less and actually really enjoy living more.
Pay less attention to advertising and more attention to the enjoyable simplicity of life, of real direct human relationships, all of them, the ones in passing where you wish a stranger well, chats with service staff to make their life better as well as your own, exchange thoughts and ideas with others, be a human being and share humanity with other human beings.
Mkjaks 22 Oct 2015 20:35
How about don't shop at Walmart (they helped boost the Chinese economy while committing hari kari on the American Dream) and actually engaging in proper labour action? Calling in sick is just plain childish.
toffee1 22 Oct 2015 19:13
It is only considered productive if it feeds the beast, that is, contribute to the accumulation of capital so that the beast can have more power over us. The issue here is the wage labor. The 93 percent of the U.S. working population perform wage labor (see BLS site). It is the highest proportion in any society ever came into history. Under the wage labor (employment) contract, the worker gives up his/her decision making autonomy. The worker accepts the full command of his/her employer during the labor process. The employer directs and commands the labor process to achieve the goals set by himself. Compare this, for example, self-employed providing a service (for example, a plumber). In this case, the customer describes the problem to the service provider but the service provider makes all the decisions on how to organize and apply his labor to solve the problem. Or compare it to a democratically organized coop, where workers make all the decisions collectively, where, how and what to produce. Under the present economic system, a great majority of us are condemned to work in large corporations performing wage labor. The system of wage labor stripping us from autonomy on our own labor, creates all the misery in our present world through alienation. Men and women lose their humanity alienated from their own labor. Outside the world of wage labor, labor can be a source self-realization and true freedom. Labor can be the real fulfillment and love. Labor together our capacity to love make us human. Bourgeoisie dehumanized us steeling our humanity. Bourgeoisie, who sold her soul to the beast, attempting to turn us into ever consuming machines for the accumulation of capital.
patimac54 -> Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 17:39
Well said. Most retail employers have cut staff to the minimum possible to keep the stores open so if anyone is off sick, it's the devil's own job trying to just get customers served. Making your colleagues work even harder than they normally do because you can't be bothered to act responsibly and show up is just plain selfish.
And sorry, Suzanne, skiving work is nothing more than an act of complete disrespect for those you work with. If you don't understand that, try getting a proper job for a few months and learn how to exercise some self control.
TettyBlaBla -> FranzWilde 22 Oct 2015 17:25
It's quite the opposite in government jobs where I am in the US. As the fiscal year comes to a close, managers look at their budgets and go on huge spending sprees, particularly for temp (zero hours in some countries) help and consultants. They fear if they don't spend everything or even a bit more, their spending will be cut in the next budget. This results in people coming in to do work on projects that have no point or usefulness, that will never be completed or even presented up the food chain of management, and ends up costing taxpayers a small fortune.
I did this one year at an Air Quality Agency's IT department while the paid employees sat at their desks watching portable televisions all day. It was truly demeaning.
oommph -> Michael John Jackson 22 Oct 2015 16:59
Thing is though, children - dependents to pay for - are the easiest way to keep yourself chained to work.
The homemaker model works as long as your spouse's employer retains them (and your spouse retains you in an era of 40% divorce).
You are just as dependent on an employer and "work" but far less in control of it now.
Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 16:41
I'm all for sticking it to "the man," but when you call into work for a stupid reason (and a hangover is a very stupid reason), it is selfish, and does more damage to the cause of worker's rights, not less. I don't know about where you work, but if I call in sick to my job, other people have to pick up my slack. I work for a public library, and we don't have a lot of funds, so we have the bear minimum of employees we can have and still work efficiently. As such, if anybody calls in, everyone else, up to and including the library director, have to take on more work. If I found out one of my co-workers called in because of a hangover, I'd be pissed. You made the choice to get drunk, knowing that you had to work the following morning. Putting it into the same category of someone who is sick and may not have the luxury of taking off because of a bad employer is insulting.
Oct 03, 2015 | www.nytimes.comHow Not to Be a Networking Leech: Tips for Seeking Professional Advice Sept 26, 2015
By Margaret Morford > Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story
Businesspeople generally think of networking as a mutually beneficial meeting for both parties. But that's not usually what it is. Far more often, it is one person asking the other for a favor.
I have been a management consultant, business owner and speaker for more than 12 years. Before that, I was a business executive and a trial lawyer. Along the way I have received invaluable advice from others — guidance that educated me and helped me make important professional connections. Because this advice has been such a great help to me, I believe in helping others in the same way, without expecting anything in return.
During the course of a year I receive numerous requests from people I do not know, asking me to network. I respond by meeting at least once a week with someone who is seeking advice on their careers or businesses, either in person or on the phone.Preoccupations
A collection of "Preoccupations" columns published in The New York Times.
See More "
In the course of these meetings, I have come across people who fall under the category of what I call "networking parasites." These are people who fail to understand that I am giving them information that my regular clients pay for.
I am not alone in this. Doctors, accountants, plumbers, computer experts, lawyers and financial advisers all must deal with people shamelessly asking for meetings, free advice or free services or treatment — without remotely acknowledging that these professionals make their living selling that time and expertise. Over the years, dozens of experts have told me about being accosted at parties and on airplanes by strangers who ask for a free consultation under the guise of "conversation."
Surely you do not want to be the kind of person who antagonizes professionals in this way. So here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a networking parasite.
Make the meeting convenient. Ask for time frames that would work well, and meet at a place that is convenient for them, even if you have to drive across town. If they leave it up to you, give them three options and let them pick the one that works best.
Recently, someone asked me to meet him for coffee, and I told him I could make "just about anything work" on a particular Friday. He responded with, "I like to start my day early, so let's meet for coffee near your office at 6 a.m." I wrote back that 6 a.m. was too early, to which he responded, "O.K. Let's make it 7 a.m." If you want me to pull out all the stops for you, this is not the way to start.
Buy their coffee or meal. Insist on doing this as a sign of how valuable you consider their time and advice. If you are on a tight budget, ask them to coffee, but insist on paying for it by saying, "This is a huge favor to me, so please let me do this small thing for you." If you can manage it financially, try to meet for drinks or dinner after work. You will get more of their attention if you are not sandwiched in during their day.
Go with a prepared list of questions. People whose advice is worth seeking are busy. They don't have time to sit through your stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Figure out in advance what information you want from them, and send your list ahead of time so they can be thinking about the answers.Advertisement
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Don't argue about their advice or point out why it wouldn't work for you. You can ask for clarification by finding out how they would handle a particular concern you have, but don't go beyond that. You get to decide whether or not to use their advice.
Don't ask for intellectual property or materials. I am amazed at the number of people who ask for copies of my PowerPoint presentations and seminar materials to use in their organization, with no understanding that these materials are original and copyrighted — and how I make my living.
Never ask for any written follow-up. It is your job to take good notes during your meeting, not their job to send you bullet points after the meeting. No one should get homework after agreeing to help someone.
Spend time at the end of the meeting finding out what you can do for them. Do you know anyone who could use their services, or who would make a good professional connection? At the very least, consider writing a recommendation for them on LinkedIn.
Always thank them more than once. Thank them at the end of the meeting, expressing your appreciation for the time they have spent with you. Follow up with a handwritten note — not an email or a text.
Do not refer others to the same expert. I just helped someone (whom I didn't know well) polish her résumé and craft her job-search pitch. Then I worked my contacts and helped her land a great new job. The result? I received emails from two strangers, asking me to "network" with them, because the person I had just helped suggested they contact me to do the same for them.
Ask an expert for free help only once. If the help someone offered you was so valuable that you would like them to provide it again, then pay for it the next time.
As you ask people for help, always consider how you in turn can help others. At the end of each workweek make a list of the people you have helped, and the favors you have done for which you received nothing in return. If your list is empty week after week, then you really are a networking parasite.Margaret Morford is the owner of the HR Edge, a management consulting firm, and the author of "The Hidden Language of Business."
September 21, 2015 | The naked capitalism
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Let me provide the spoiler at once: Not entirely.
Much of what Fiorina says is vacuous, and (as with all the Republican candidates) there is the occasional gem amidst the muck. But wowsers! Fiorina's relationship to the truth is, at the very best, non-custodial. To come to this conclusion, I read Fiorina's answers to questions in the recent Republican debate (transcript here). I apologize for not color-coding the text, but the length is so extreme, and in any case I want to focus not on rhetoric, but just the facts. So, I'm going to skip the answers I regard as vacuous, and focus only on the answers that contain outright falsehoods, which I will helpfully underline, and the rare cases of genuine insight.
This is a campaign of firsts: The first socialist Presidential candidate, the first woman Presidential candidate, the first billionaire candidate, and, with Fiorina, the first corporate executive Presidential candidate. And each of these candidates has a different source for their personal authority or ethos: Sanders with genuine, long-held and consistent policy views, Clinton with smarts and  process expertise, Trump as the wealthy mass media personality, and now Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don't gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.)
In the Financial Times ("Leadership BS") Dan Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, comments on Fiorina as an executive:
[E]ven "people who have presided over catastrophes" suffer no negative consequences. On the contrary. Ms Fiorina, "who by any objective measure was a horrible CEO, is running for president on her business record. I love it! . . . You can't make this stuff up — it's too good!"
Yes, we laugh that we may not weep; I've often felt that way, even this early in the 2016 campaign. In CNN, Pfeffer ("Leadership 101") comments on Fiorina's toxicity:
Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do:
Number one, tell your story. If you won't, no one else will. By telling your story repeatedly [like Clinton and Trump, but not Sanders], you can construct your own narrative. …
Second, Fiorina [like Trump] has and is building a brand — a public presence. Recognizable brands have real economic value. … Running for president, even if unsuccessful, transforms people into public figures often widely sought on the speaking circuit, so in many ways, they win even if they lose.
Third, don't worry about being liked — Fiorina doesn't. … In that choice, Fiorina is following the wisdom of Machiavelli, who noted that while it was wonderful to be feared and loved, if you had to choose one, being feared was safer than being loved [like Trump and Clinton, but not Sanders. "Nobody hates Bernie," as one insider commented."]
The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders "successful," people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don't perfectly coincide. [Oddly, since Trump is a brand, his corporate and personal interests do coincide. And since the Clinton Foundation is a money-laundering influence-peddling operation, its interests and Clinton's coincide as well. Sanders has no business interests.]
At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. As someone quite senior in H-P's strategy group told me, disagreeing with Fiorina in a meeting was a reasonably sure path out the door. By not brooking dissent, Fiorina ensured that few opponents would be around to challenge her power. But disagreement often surfaces different perspectives that result in better decisions. The famous business leader Alfred P. Sloan noted that if everyone was in agreement, the discussion should be postponed until people could ascertain the weaknesses in the proposed choice.
Fiorina has a pragmatic view of what it takes to be successful. And that's one reason she should not be underestimated, regardless of the opinions about her career at H-P.
The fourth point is especially toxic, and may show up — despite the current adulation — further along on the campaign trail. If Fiorina insists on surrounding herself with sycophants, and on making all the strategic decisions herself, will her Presidential campaign turn into the trainwreck (see under "demon sheep") her Senate race did?
To the transcript!
* * *
FIORINA: Good evening. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop.
Anybody listening to this might conclude that Fiorina rose from working class roots — especially with the borrowed cachet of a truck driving man for a husband — to CEO, and at H-P. Her actual biography paints a different picture. Here's her background and career path, from WikiPedia:
Fiorina's father was a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He would later become dean of Duke University School of Law, Deputy Attorney General, and judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her mother was an abstract painter. [S]he was raised Episcopalian.
Oh. An Episcopalian secretary.
During her summers, she worked as a secretary for Kelly Services. She attended the UCLA School of Law in 1976 but dropped out after one semester and worked as a receptionist for six months at a real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, moving up to a broker position before leaving for Bologna, Italy, where she taught English.
So, speaking of bologna…
Fiorina received a Master of Business Administration in marketing from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980. She obtained a Master of Science in management at the MIT Sloan School of Management under the Sloan Fellows program in 1989.
So that's when Fiorina's rise began; with degrees in marketing and management. Fiorina's one of those MBAs you get called into a windowless conference room to hear how you're going to lose your job because bullet points. That's what she was trained to do, and that's what she does.
FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn't talk to him at all. We've talked way too much to him.
What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I'd probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. …
Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.
We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven't.
On the Sixth Fleet and imperial strategy generally, Ezra Klein comments:
The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it's hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin — after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over. Her proposal for more military exercises in the Baltics seemed odd in light of the fact that President Obama is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics. And the US already has around 40,000 troops stationed in Germany, so it's hard to say what good "a few thousand" more would do.
And pushing on a missile defense system in Poland is a very long-term solution to a very current problem. In total, Fiorina's laundry list of proposals sure sounded like a plan, but on inspection, it's hard to see why any of them would convince Putin to change course.
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Zero HedgeSpeaking of Goldman Sachs and income inequality, back in April, Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin sat down with Sheryl Sandberg and Tim Geithner at an event hosted by Michael Milken (no less), to discuss a variety of topics. Around a half hour into the discussion, Sandberg asks Paulson about income inequality. Here's what happens next:
Sandberg: "Yeah, so let's follow up on a bunch of the things we were [talking about]. Let's start with income inequality."
Paulson: "Ok, well.. income inequality. I think this is something we've all thought about. You know I was working on that topic when I was still at Goldman Sachs.."
Rubin: "In which direction? You were working on increasing it."
Paulson then bursts out laughing: "Yeah! We were making it wider!"
Here's the clip:
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JS Bach - Always enjoyed your.commentary. However, let us not paint too broad a brush here. I will not condemn every Jew for the actions of a very tiny minority. For disclosure I am not Jewish. I am a reformed sociopath. My prior actions under law would have me in the clink.
That said, the central bank model that exacerbates boom and bust, in other words skims our time and preys on human weakness must change. Governments know this too and are complicent. ALso, I not see any asking of forgiveness which would go far but only 'eat shit'. Still, a good sign sociopaths such as these can endure a Roast.
The model does not get a pass and sociopaths cannot continue to lead. Even as a reformer you wont see me in government. I would succumb to money and ass rape you all. Lobbying must end. If that is prohibited by law of harsh jail time or death that would solve 90% of world problems damn quick. What is Central Banking corporatio but the biggest of all lobby's? End the 'Fed' is just the biggest head of the hydra.wendigo
Sorry to burst your bubble, but sociopaths cannot be rehabilitated according to psychiatrists.....
Facts about sociopaths/psychopaths:
- The term "sociopath" is often interchangeable with "psychopath," with a related term being the disorder -- antisocial personality disorder.
- A sociopath, once in the adult stage of life, cannot be rehabilitated. When diagnosed early he or she can be somewhat rehabilitated. In the adult stages of life sociopaths can be taught to enter into mutually beneficial relationships.
- Sociopaths and psychopaths are considered to be social predators. Sociopaths are skilled liars and con artists. They are cunning and manipulative, with some being violent.
Sociopaths, like any mental state, represent a spectrum. You are on that spectrum, but likely far on the low end.
I am somewhere in the middle. Not diagnosable, but not zero either. Many people fall into this category and life can be quite uncomfortable. The people in limbo between being and not being a sociopath can often live fairly normal lives.
Jul 24, 2015 | The New York Times
A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.
Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago.
City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.
These developments seem to be linked to some extent, according to a growing body of research. Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.
But just how a visit to a park or other green space might alter mood has been unclear. Does experiencing nature actually change our brains in some way that affects our emotional health?
That possibility intrigued Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who has been studying the psychological effects of urban living. In an earlier study published last month, he and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterward than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic.
But that study did not examine the neurological mechanisms that might underlie the effects of being outside in nature.
So for the new study, which was published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Bratman and his collaborators decided to closely scrutinize what effect a walk might have on a person's tendency to brood.
Brooding, which is known among cognitive scientists as morbid rumination, is a mental state familiar to most of us, in which we can't seem to stop chewing over the ways in which things are wrong with ourselves and our lives. This broken-record fretting is not healthy or helpful. It can be a precursor to depression and is disproportionately common among city dwellers compared with people living outside urban areas, studies show.
Perhaps most interesting for the purposes of Mr. Bratman and his colleagues, however, such rumination also is strongly associated with increased activity in a portion of the brain known as the subgenual prefrontal cortex.
If the researchers could track activity in that part of the brain before and after people visited nature, Mr. Bratman realized, they would have a better idea about whether and to what extent nature changes people's minds.
Mr. Bratman and his colleagues first gathered 38 healthy, adult city dwellers and asked them to complete a questionnaire to determine their normal level of morbid rumination.
The researchers also checked for brain activity in each volunteer's subgenual prefrontal cortex, using scans that track blood flow through the brain. Greater blood flow to parts of the brain usually signals more activity in those areas.
Then the scientists randomly assigned half of the volunteers to walk for 90 minutes through a leafy, quiet, parklike portion of the Stanford campus or next to a loud, hectic, multi-lane highway in Palo Alto. The volunteers were not allowed to have companions or listen to music. They were allowed to walk at their own pace.
Immediately after completing their walks, the volunteers returned to the lab and repeated both the questionnaire and the brain scan.
As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people's minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged.
But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.
They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter.
These results "strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments" could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.
But of course many questions remain, he said, including how much time in nature is sufficient or ideal for our mental health, as well as what aspects of the natural world are most soothing. Is it the greenery, quiet, sunniness, loamy smells, all of those, or something else that lifts our moods? Do we need to be walking or otherwise physically active outside to gain the fullest psychological benefits? Should we be alone or could companionship amplify mood enhancements?
"There's a tremendous amount of study that still needs to be done," Mr. Bratman said.
But in the meantime, he pointed out, there is little downside to strolling through the nearest park, and some chance that you might beneficially muffle, at least for awhile, your subgenual prefrontal cortex.
“They wanted the candidates to empathize, not pontificate. Is that really so much to expect?” [Crooks and Liars]. Sadly, the appearance of empathy can be simulated by sociopaths, as is surely well-known in the political class.
Absolutely! Some of the nicest seeming people are really empathy free psychopaths. Remember Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain”? A few years later we got the repeal of Glass Steagall in the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999, followed by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which restricted the regulation of credit default swaps. These actions set the stage for the Great Financial Collapse of 2008, which hurt Americans of all races. People in the financial top 0.1% survived the collapse nicely, though. They’re the ones who profited well from the fake recovery of the past 7 years.
A neuroscientist transforms the way we think about our brain, our health, and our personal happiness in this clear, informative, and inspiring guide—a blend of personal memoir, science narrative, and immediately useful takeaways that bring the human brain into focus as never before, revealing the powerful connection between exercise, learning, memory, and cognitive abilities.
Nearing forty, Dr. Wendy Suzuki was at the pinnacle of her career. An award-winning university professor and world-renowned neuroscientist, she had tenure, her own successful research lab, prestigious awards, and international renown.
That’s when to celebrate her birthday, she booked an adventure trip that forced her to wake up to a startling reality: despite her professional success, she was overweight, lonely, and tired and knew that her life had to change. Wendy started simply—by going to an exercise class. Eventually, she noticed an improvement in her memory, her energy levels, and her ability to work quickly and move from task to task easily. Not only did Wendy begin to get fit, but she also became sharper, had more energy, and her memory improved. Being a neuroscientist, she wanted to know why.
What she learned transformed her body and her life. Now, it can transform yours.
Wendy discovered that there is a biological connection between exercise, mindfulness, and action. With exercise, your body feels more alive and your brain actually performs better. Yes—you can make yourself smarter. In this fascinating book, Suzuki makes neuroscience easy to understand, interweaving her personal story with groundbreaking research, and offering practical, short exercises—4 minute Brain Hacks—to engage your mind and improve your memory, your ability to learn new skills, and function more efficiently.
Taking us on an amazing journey inside the brain as never before, Suzuki helps us unlock the keys to neuroplasticity that can change our brains, or bodies, and, ultimately, our lives.
Bassocantor TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 19, 2015
We Have An Enormous Capacity To Change Into The Very Best Version Of Ourselves
HEALTHY BRAIN, HAPPY LIFE is a fun read, filled with all kinds of exciting ways to expand your brain power. My favorite parts of the book are these little sections that the author calls "Brain Hacks." These sections are lists of easy ways to really supercharge your brain and make use of the latent power in it.
Here's the theme in a nutshell: "One thing I know for sure is that brain plasticity endows us with an enormous capacity to change into the very best version of ourselves that we can be." Dr. Suzuki explains that she uses 20 years of research in neuroscience to apply these same principles to her own personal life. She admits that she "Went from living as a virtual lab rat --an overweight middle aged woman would had achieved many things in science, but who could not seem to figure out how to also be a healthy, happy woman..."
One of her main discoveries is the powerful mind-body link. The author emphasizes how powerful exercise is. "Exercise is responsible for the majority of the positive brain changes seen with environmental enrichment." And so, Dr. Suzuki invests much time talking about the power of the brain-body connection. Towards that end, she combines physical workouts as a way to energize your brain: "The body has a powerful influence on her brain functions and conversely but the brain has a powerful influence over how are bodies feel and work and heal." Exercise causes definite changes in your body--it boosts the level of three key chemicals that affect mood.
The key is to make your workouts intentional. Towards that end, the author suggests ways to do this--for example, proclaiming affirmations out loud. "Intentional exercise happens when you make exercise both aerobic and mental...You are fully engaged in the moment and trigger a heightened awareness of the brain body connection." In the Brain Hacks suction, the author lists different exercises that would best fit you.
Another great section is the section on creativity. You can actually improve your creative thinking; it is "a particular version of regular thinking they can be practiced and improved like any other cognitive skill." Once again, the author lists great suggestions in the Brain Hacks section on ways to jumpstart your creativity. The key point is to learn something new and "Try to use as many senses as you can." For example, one fun suggestion is to "Sit outside and blindfold yourself for 4 minutes. Then, listen to the world sounds in a new way."
All in all, HEALTHY BRAIN, HAPPY LIFE is a fun, inspiring read. The author is full of great, uplifting ideas. My favorite chapter is the one on creativity. The end of the book contains an extensive Reference section, in which the author documents the various points she makes.
Advance copy for impartial review
love2dazzle on June 10, 2015
Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is all about focusing on ...“Healthy Brian, Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is all about focusing on expanding your brain power. Our bodies and mind have a very powerful link. Dr. Suzuki has invested her life to focusing on the brain. She goes on to state that “Exercise is responsible for the majority of the positive brain changes seen with environmental enrichment.” Dr. Suzuki is making the point that we need to exercise to work our brain to its fullest potential. She goes on to make the point that you want to make sure the exercise is intentional because that is what exercise you both mentally and aerobically.
The second best way to expand your brain is by creativity. The point of creativity is to learn new things that will improve your brain and your senses. One is able to find different ways to help build and exercise their brain. The author calls some of the tips she gives “Brain Hacks” so I thought this was a great learning tool.
I thought “Healthy Brain, Happy Life” was very insightful. I thought this book had a lot of good tips and was also able to explain the brain and how things worked really well. I did enjoy reading it and learning new things on how I am able to improve my brain function.
Bruny Hudsonon June 13, 2015
Interesting theory for improving one’s life
The book “Healthy Brain, Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is about a success story, about the author’s life. It’s entertaining and enriching but sometimes out of touch with reality. Considering that the author is a neuroscientist, her line of reasoning sounds dubious in parts of the book, especially her generalizing concepts of life. Just because an effort has worked for her, it does not mean it will work for someone else. Nevertheless, the book deserves a five-star rating because of the author’s pleasant writing style and the well-explained examples of research in neuroscience.
Transporter chair reviewer, on July 9, 2015
I saw her interviewed on CBS and found her a charming and energetic person. I am not sure what take aways I have from the book, though it interested me since I am also an Asian American woman who is an over achiever, and many of her experiences resonated. I enjoyed the read. I am not sure what type of person I would recommend it to . I am also a doctor. It was fun to review some of the neurobiology and learn some new things.
January 30, 2015 | BBC
Why are some people extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and unkind? David Robson asks the scientist delving into the darkest sides of the human mind.
If you had the opportunity to feed harmless bugs into a coffee grinder, would you enjoy the experience? Even if the bugs had names, and you could hear their shells painfully crunching? And would you take a perverse pleasure from blasting an innocent bystander with an excruciating noise?
These are just some of the tests that Delroy Paulhus uses to understand the “dark personalities” around us. Essentially, he wants to answer a question we all may have asked: why do some people take pleasure in cruelty? Not just psychopaths and murderers – but school bullies, internet trolls and even apparently upstanding members of society such as politicians and policemen.
It is easy, he says, to make quick and simplistic assumptions about these people.
“We have a tendency to use the halo or devil framing of individuals we meet – we want to simplify our world into good or bad people,”
says Paulhus, who is based at the University of British Columbia in Canada. But while Paulhus doesn’t excuse cruelty, his approach has been more detached, like a zoologist studying poisonous insects – allowing him to build a “taxonomy”, as he calls it, of the different flavours of everyday evil.
Paulhus’s interest began with narcissists – the incredibly selfish and vain, who may lash out to protect their own sense of self-worth. Then, a little more than a decade ago, his grad student Kevin Williams suggested that they explore whether these self-absorbed tendencies are linked to two other unpleasant characteristics – Machiavellianism (the cold, manipulative) and psychopathy (callous insensitivity and immunity to the feelings of others). Together, they found that the three traits were largely independent, though they sometimes coincide, forming a “Dark Triad” – a triple whammy of nastiness.
It is surprising how candid his participants can often be. His questionnaires typically ask the subjects to agree with statements such as “I like picking on weaker people” or “It’s wise not to tell me your secrets”. You would imagine those traits would be too shameful to admit – but, at least in the laboratory, people open up, and their answers do seem to correlate with real-life bullying, both in adolescence and adulthood. They are also more likely to be unfaithful to their spouses (particularly those with Machiavellian and psychopathic tendencies) and to cheat on tests.
Even so, since Paulhus tends to focus on everyday evil rather than criminal or psychiatric cases, the traits are by no means apparent on the first meeting.
“They are managing in everyday society, so they have enough control not to get themselves into trouble. But it catches your attention here or there.”
People who score particularly high on narcissism, for instance, quickly display their tendency to “over-claim” – one of the strategies that helps them boost their own egos. In some experiments, Paulhus presented them with a made up subject and they quickly confabulated to try to appear like they knew it all – only to get angry when he challenged them about it. “It strikes you that yes, this fits into a package that allows them to live with a distorted positive view of themselves.”
Once Paulhus had begun to open a window on these dark minds, others soon wanted to delve in to answer some basic questions about the human condition. Are people born nasty, for instance? Studies comparing identical and non-identical twins suggest a relatively large genetic component for both narcissism and psychopathy, though Machiavellianism seems to be more due to the environment – you may learn to manipulate from others. Whatever we’ve inherited cannot take away our personal responsibility, though. “I don’t think anyone is born with psychopathy genes and then nothing can be done about it,” says Minna Lyons at the University of Liverpool.
You only need to look at the anti-heroes of popular culture – James Bond, Don Draper or Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street – to realise that dark personalities have sex appeal, a finding supported by more scientific studies. Further clues to the benefits might come from another basic human characteristic – whether you are a morning or evening person. Lyons and her student, Amy Jones found that “night owls” – people who stay up late but can’t get up in the morning – tend to score higher on a range of dark triad traits. They are often risk-takers – one of the characteristics of psychopathy; they are more manipulative – a Machiavellian trait – and as narcissists, they tend to be exploitative of other people. That might make sense if you consider our evolution: perhaps dark personalities have more chance to steal, manipulate, and have illicit sexual liaisons late while everyone else is sleeping, so they evolved to be creatures of the night.
Whatever the truth of that theory, Paulhus agrees there will always be niches for these people to exploit. “Human society is so complex that there are different ways of enhancing your reproductive success – some involve being nice and some being nasty,” he says.
Recently, he has started probing even further into the darkest shadows of the psyche. “We were pushing the envelope, asking more extreme questions,” he says – when he found that some people will also readily admit to inflicting pain on others for no other reason than their own pleasure. Crucially, these tendencies are not simply a reflection of the narcissism, psychopathy or Machiavellianism, but seem to form their own sub-type – “everyday sadism”. For this reason, Paulhus now calls it a “dark tetrad”.
The “bug crushing machine” offered the perfect way for Paulhus and colleagues to test whether that reflected real life behaviour. Unknown to the participants, the coffee grinder had been adapted to give insects an escape route – but the machine still produced a devastating crushing sound to mimic their shells hitting the cogs. Some were so squeamish they refused to take part, while others took active enjoyment in the task. “They would be willing not just to do something nasty to bugs but to ask for more,” he says, “while others thought it was so gross they didn’t even want to be in the same room.” Crucially, those individuals also scored very highly on his test for everyday sadism.Arguably, a rational human being shouldn’t care too much about bugs’ feelings. But the team then set up a computer game that would allow the participants to “punish” a competitor with a loud noise through their headphones. This wasn’t compulsory; in fact, the volunteers had to perform a tedious verbal task to earn the right to punish their competitor – but, to Paulhus’s surprise, the everyday sadists were more than happy to take the trouble. “There wasn’t just willingness to do it but a motivation to enjoy, to put in some extra effort to have the opportunity to hurt other individuals.” Importantly, there was no provocation or personal gain to be had from their cruelty – the people were doing it for pure pleasure.
He thinks this is directly relevant to internet trolls. “They appear to be the internet version of everyday sadists because they spend time searching for people to hurt.” Sure enough, an anonymous survey of trollish commentators found that they scored highly on dark tetrad traits, but particularly the everyday sadism component – and enjoyment was their prime motivation. Indeed, the bug-crushing experiment suggested that everyday sadists may have more muted emotional responses to all kinds of pleasurable activities – so perhaps their random acts of cruelty are attempts to break through the emotional numbness.
More immediately, his discoveries have attracted the attention of police and military agencies, who want to collaborate with Paulhus to see if his insights might explain why some people abuse their positions. “The concern is that these people might deliberately select jobs where you are given the mandate to hurt individuals,” he says. If so, further work might suggest ways to screen out the dark personalities at recruitment.
He’s also excited about new work on “moral Machiavellianism” and “communal narcissists” – people who perhaps have dark traits but use them for good (as they see it). In some situations, ruthlessness may be necessary. “To be prime minister, you can’t be namby pamby – you need to cut corners and hurt people, and even be nasty to achieve your moral causes,” he says. After all, the dark personalities often have the impulse and the confidence to get things done –even Mother Theresa apparently had a steely side, he says. “You’re not going to help society by sitting at home being nice.”
All of which underlines the false dichotomy of good and evil that Paulhus has been keen to probe. In a sense, that is a personal as much as a professional question. He admits to seeing a dark streak in his own behaviour: for example, he enjoys watching violent, painful sports like Mixed Martial Arts. “It didn’t take long to see I would stand above average on these dark traits,” he says. “But given my abiding curiosity as a scientist and my enjoyment of investigating such things – I thought that perhaps I was in a good position to take a closer look at the dark side.”
May 27, 2015 | The Guardian
Why do so many decent people, when asked to pretend they're CEOs, become tyrants from central casting? Part of the answer is: capitalism subjects us to economic rationality. It forces us to see ourselves as cashflow generators, profit centres or interest-bearing assets. But that idea is always in conflict with something else: the non-economic priorities of human beings, and the need to sustain the environment. Though World Factory, as a play, is designed to show us the parallels between 19th-century Manchester and 21st-century China, it subtly illustrates what has changed.
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A real Chinese sweatshop owner is playing a losing game against something much more sophisticated than the computer at the Young Vic: an intelligent machine made up of the smartphones of millions of migrant workers on their lunchbreak, plugging digitally into their village networks to find out wages and conditions elsewhere. That sweatshop owner is also playing against clients with an army of compliance officers, themselves routinely harassed by NGOs with secret cameras.
The whole purpose of this system of regulation – from above and below – is to prevent individual capitalists making short-term decisions that destroy the human and natural resources it needs to function. Capitalism is not just the selfish decisions of millions of people. It is those decisions sifted first through the all-important filter of regulation. It is, as late 20th-century social theorists understood, a mode of regulation, not just of production.
Yet it plays on us a cruel ideological trick. It looks like a spontaneous organism, to which government and regulation (and the desire of Chinese migrants to visit their families once a year) are mere irritants. In reality it needs the state to create and re-create it every day.
Banks create money because the state awards them the right to. Why does the state ram-raid the homes of small-time drug dealers, yet call in the CEOs of the banks whose employees commit multimillion-pound frauds for a stern ticking off over a tray of Waitrose sandwiches? Answer: because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle.
Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt- ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.
The computer that runs the data system in Svendsen's play could easily run a robotic clothes factory. That's the paradox. But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better. Maybe the next theatre game about work and exploitation should model the decisions of governments, lobbyists and judges, not the hapless managers.
Earl Shelton -> phil100a 27 May 2015 14:14
Avoid arguing with Libertarians -- unless you have lots of patience. Their philosophy boils down to: Greed is good; government is bad.
And they will stick to those dubious premises -- despite the tons of contrary facts, evidence (and stories of human suffering those ideas cause) that you might present -- from Jesus Christ to John Maynard Keynes....
NomChompsky -> imipak 27 May 2015 12:04
You spilled some pseudo-intellectual gibberish on your post. You also ignored that the number of computers isn't a constant, in particular, and that zero-sum economic theories are, by nature, incredibly fucking stupid in general. You also seem to think that the Pareto principle is some sort of a law instead of a rule of thumb that has numerous exceptions.
asquaretail 27 May 2015 09:25
We won't discuss whether or not a UK resident can be a "Hipster." Sounds like cultural theft to me.. What I really want to point out is something more basic. Banks are not empowered by government, at least not initially. Initially, they were restricted by government which then reduced the restrictions to allow banks to function. This has profound analytic consequences for those brave and courageous enough to pursue the chain of thought.
toffee1 27 May 2015 08:12
This validates that Marx's was right. A capitalist (or a manager in a capitalist firm), acts as a capital personified. His/her soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. So, the problem is the system. The liberal view is wrong. What needs to be changed is the system.
Thomas G. Wilson 26 May 2015 23:15
So, the choice is sack one third of the workers or spread the pain by cutting the worker's pay by a third? The unstated third choice is do nothing and go bankrupt.
"Decent liberal hipsters" don't usually confront these problems-they only complain about those who do. "Ruthless capitalists seated at the boardroom table" are just liberal hipsters that had to grow up.
Hiring people and giving raises is fun and heartwarming-firing people and denying raised when finances are tough -- not so much. I've done both.
Michael Pettengill 26 May 2015 20:36DoRonDoRonRon 26 May 2015 19:26
Employers in this "factory world" do not need to find or create consumers, so the employers are free to destroy consumers to save themselves from bankruptcy. But when the retailers who pay the employers cut the size of their orders, the employers have no choice but to fire workers and destroy consumers.
That this is what is going on is hidden by the long chain the money flows through. The workers are paid by employers paid by retailers who sell to workers paid by other employers who sell to retailers who sell to workers which eventually needs to be the original group of workers in that original factory. Cutting their wages will cut their buying which will ripple back to reduced sales by the retailer paying the factory paying their wages by buying goods.
Adam Smith argued this value chain would work without fail to employ all workers in producing just barely what the workers desired, but not more and just enough less to motivate workers to produce more to be paid more.
Keynes argued, after it was conventional wisdom, that unemployment would cut demand causing more unemployment, so government needs to force spending to cause workers to be hired and paid.
Keynes did not argue for paying people not to work. FDR in 1935 laid out the case for the moral imperative to pay people to work for the good of the nation.
In any case, the wealth of nations depends on the collective action of all the people of the nation, and Keynes argued and FDR demonstrates that collective action through people acting through government works.
The play merely teaches that you are a cog in a machine that is beyond your control.
"Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. ... But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better."
The author sees capitalism as flawed because it is "set of conditions created and maintained by states." But how is the "re-regulation" he thinks will make it better be carried out? It would, of course, be carried out by states.
The Burning Platform
WALTHAM, MA—Frustrated with a growing list of unacceptable workplace indignities, fed-up Catamount Systems employee Marc Holden is just about 14 years away from walking out the front door of his office and never returning, sources confirmed Thursday. “I swear to God, if things don’t improve around here real fast, I am out of here in 14 years or so—I am not bluffing,” Holden said, noting that if he has to endure just a decade and a half more of company-wide incompetence and pointless micromanagement, he is gone for good. “Seriously, I don’t think I can take any more than 3,000 more days of this before I snap.
Mark my words, if 2029 rolls around and it’s still the same old shit around here, I’m cleaning out my desk, getting on that elevator, and never coming back.” Holden added that if his boss belittled him in front of the entire staff just 200 more times, he would storm right into his office and tell him exactly where he can stick it.
Apr 20, 2015 | NYTimes.com
Discussing Bad Work Situations
I have been in my present position for over 25 years. Five years ago, I was assigned a new boss, who has a reputation in my industry for harassing people in positions such as mine until they quit. I have managed to survive, but it's clear that it's time for me to move along. How should I answer the inevitable interview question: Why would I want to leave after so long? I've heard that speaking badly of a boss is an interview no-no, but it really is the only reason I'm looking to find something new. BROOKLYN
I am unemployed and interviewing for a new job. I have read that when answering interview questions, it's best to keep everything you say about previous work experiences or managers positive.
But what if you've made one or two bad choices in the past: taking jobs because you needed them, figuring you could make it work — then realizing the culture was a bad fit, or you had an arrogant, narcissistic boss?
Nearly everyone has had a bad work situation or boss. I find it refreshing when I read stories about successful people who mention that they were fired at some point, or didn't get along with a past manager. So why is it verboten to discuss this in an interview? How can the subject be addressed without sounding like a complainer, or a bad employee? CHICAGO
As these queries illustrate, the temptation to discuss a negative work situation can be strong among job applicants. But in both of these situations, and in general, criticizing a current or past employer is a risky move. You don't have to paint a fictitiously rosy picture of the past, but dwelling on the negative can backfire. Really, you don't want to get into a detailed explanation of why you have or might quit at all. Instead, you want to talk about why you're such a perfect fit for the gig you're applying for.
So, for instance, a question about leaving a long-held job could be answered by suggesting that the new position offers a chance to contribute more and learn new skills by working with a stronger team. This principle applies in responding to curiosity about jobs that you held for only a short time.
It's fine to acknowledge a misstep. But spin the answer to focus on why this new situation is such an ideal match of your abilities to the employer's needs.
The truth is, even if you're completely right about the past, a prospective employer doesn't really want to hear about the workplace injustices you've suffered, or the failings of your previous employer. A manager may even become concerned that you will one day add his or her name to the list of people who treated you badly. Save your cathartic outpourings for your spouse, your therapist, or, perhaps, the future adoring profile writer canonizing your indisputable success.Send your workplace conundrums to email@example.com, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld for publication). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.
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