Tuesday, November 24, 2009

100 Money Experts You Should Follow and Learn From on Twitter |

The link is an great resource for twitterers who provide expert advice on numerous financial issues.  I am honored to be on the list.  

100 Money Experts You Should Follow and Learn From on Twitter |

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NHL Lawyer Serves Up Meat Loaf - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ

I have taken a bit of a break from blogging about bankruptcy, and have been diverted to politics, namely health care and Joe Wilson. That being said, I love the NHL case in Phoenix. In particular the attorney for the NHL, Tony Clark, who seems to find more obscure pop culture references that I can--this is, after all, how I evaluate brilliance. First, it was Seinfeld--please see my earlier post here Seinfeld Theory Argued In Coyotes Case - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ --now Meat Loaf (the singer not the dish).

Trying to prove a point, he explained that unlike the Meat Loaf song, 2 out of 3, was bad. Unfortunately, the Judge was not a fan of Mr. Loaf, and Mr. Clark was forced to explain his joke (never a good idea). Trying to explain Meat Loaf, Mr. Clark could only come up with the fact that "he is a big fat guy" who may or may not be around. Then he tried to smoothly remove his foot from his mouth (also an indication of intelligence) by saying he may no longer be fat. Well, he was close. Mr. Loaf, like many of us, fights an up and down battle with weight, and is still around (doing movies and commercials).

NHL Lawyer Serves Up Meat Loaf - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ

Hoping that Joe Wilson's blurt will unleash President Obama's inner black man.

A good friend of many often humorously quips that people have a moral obligation to live up to their cultural stereotypes. In that light, he believes that Irish should be able to hold their alcohol, Asians should be good at math and science, and Jews should be good with money.

African Americans have their own unique perspective, having made it through forced slavery, Jim Crow, and finally, a belated acceptance into the American Dream. Their culture is more dynamic, heterogeneous and diverse then most ethnic groups, though not any less forceful. It provides them a unique understanding of the force of federal power, and empathy for the disenfranchised.

One reason I supported Barack Obama was his background; though in the interest of full disclosure, based on the aggressive prodding of my wife, my 9 year old daughter, among other, I voted for Hilary in the Minnesota Caucus. I was hoping that his life experiences as a black man would give him a unique prospective in leading what is truly a multi-racial nation. He was approximately my age, and I had insight on his life experiences, due to may college roommate, an African-American engineering student from Edina, MN. For despite his success, in and out of the classroom, there were still little symbols of institutional racism; such as the times the police had to talk to his date, as a black man was seen walking into our place with a white woman.

My reason for my belief that Obama's life experiences as a black man would make him a better President is not only humanitarian, but also economic. After all, in a flat world, cultural diversity, empathy and adaptability is as crucial to remaining competitive as tariffs. A multi-racial President that understood what it is like be an outsider, both here and abroad, gave him a unique prospective on the challenges that American businesses face in the ever changing world. Moreover, unleashing the power of all Americans is essential in competing in the international economy--we don't compete against each other, but with people thousands of miles away.

Americans embraced this non-traditional candidate with a non-traditional name, and elected him with over 53% of the vote, showing we truly live in a post-racial nation. That being said, it doesn't prove that pockets of residual racism doesn't exist. President Obama must have taken this election as a huge obligation, with a real desire to show that he could and would be the President of all America; even the America that did not believe that a Black man would or should hold the prestigious office as President.

If the Birthers haven't proven this strategy flawed, if the Right Wing talk show hosts, who protested his speaking to school children(about such controversial topics as being good, and working hard) didn't prove this strategy wrong, I really hope that Congressman Joe Wilson's unprecedented shout of "you lie" during Wednesdays speech will finally prove to him that a group of people exist that he will not sway, regardless of his good intentions, and oratory skills.

Mr. President. Over 60% of Americans support this President. Of the remaining 40%, a majority of them sincerely disagree with his proposed policies, and are an important check against your power. With regard to the remaining minority, such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Joe Wilson, and their sycophantic supporters, I different strategy is required.

First, ignore them. Let them eat air time on cable television and radio exercising their free speech rights, but DO NOT allow them to impact the national debate. Don't respond to them, mention them, or give them any encouragement for their irrational, angry, and untruthful rhetoric.

But turning the other cheek will not be sufficient to win this battle. You are the President of the United States, and the Democrats control both houses of Congress. As such, please do what Marcellus Wallace did to the racists in Pulp Fiction, please go"medieval on their ass." Not by responding to their anger, but by passing your agenda, without their input. By standing up for the weaker among us without regard to the bullies who would maintain the status quo.

I believe we have reaching a tipping point in this argument. The President's response to the comment was encouraging; as the clip in my previous post shows. His jaw went stiff and his eyes went sharp. This was not the cool, calm President, who seems to enter every fight by walking straight into the middle, head up, arms down, looking to diffuse not engage. This was a man who had seen this before. Despite being the smartest man in his college class, he had been treated like this. Despite his Harvard law degree, he had been treated like this. Now, despite being the President of the United States, leader of the free world, a marginal Congressman from a small state has shown what he really thought of him. I hope he wakes up with anger and I hope he uses that anger to positive ends. I hope Joe Wilson has unleashed Barack Obama's inner black man.

YouTube - GOP Rep. to Obama: 'You Lie!'


Friday, September 11, 2009

Home - Gegax Advisors

I came across this blog post by my friend Tom Gegax with regard to executive pay.  This blog post was written on June 12, 2009, and I am somewhat embarrassed that I did not read this before.  That being said, I think it has more relevance now, than it did when it was written.  After all, just 3 quarters after Henry Paulson gave his Dr. Evil speech " I need 1 Trillion Dollars or we are all going to die," Goldman Sachs, which received 10 billion dollars of TARP money was giving out over 1000 bonuses in excess of $1,000,000.00. 

Those are do not study history are doomed to repeat it, but this isn't history.  For g-ds sake, it isn't even recent history.  It is the present.  Corporate America has an addiction, I would call it "greed" but I almost agree with Gordon Gecko in that greed is good.  Greed, when properly directed, can lead to innovation, improvement of processes, advancement of technology.  This isn't greed, it is a pathology need for money you aren't entitled to.

As a bankruptcy attorney, many of these businesses will no doubt wind up in my office.  Maybe I should follow the pathology of the CEO's and encourage this type of behavior.  Then again, it has to stop somewhere.

Home - Gegax Advisors

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why Joe Wilson is a Racist and Republicans Who Object to Obama's Health Care Plan are Patriots

I created quite a ruckus on my Facebook page this morning with the following posting:

"Two observations from last nights speech. First, President Obama's oratory skills will be what sells American's on the need for national health care. Second, there is still a strong undercurrent of racism at the highest level of media and politics."

While not mentioning Joe Wilson by name, I received over 15 comments(more than my biting commentary on who should have won last year's American Idol), some arguing that Joe Wilson's outburst showed the existence of overt racism, and some arguing vehemently that objection to Barack Obama's admittedly liberal agenda does not make them a racist. I agree completely with both of these statements, and they are anything but mutually exclusive.

First, with regard to Joe Wilson, I don't see how his outburst can be seen as anything but overt racism. The only question is who he is prejudiced against; African-Americans or Latinos. If the outburst was merely an uncontrollable reaction by a Southern white congressman who seemed to wake up after a 8 month slumber to find the country he loved taken over by an African American President, his hatred is focused against African Americans. In contrast, if his outburst is directed at the the phantom benefit of health coverage (god forbid) to the hard working undocumented members of out society, this uncontrollable anger against a group of people who can't vote and have no Constitutional rights, it is squarely directed at Latinos.

I don't know what is worse, anger at an African American in a position of power, or anger at 12 million nameless, faceless individuals who are currently handling the least desirable jobs in our immigrant nation (at the encouragement of corporate America) without full benefits of citizenship. Personally, I think that later, as Obama has proven to have shoulders broader than the city that birthed his political career. Regardless, this is a man unsuitable to public life, who should resign, or hopefully will be voted out by his constituents.

Now, getting to the fact that opponents to Obama's health care plan are patriots. I was amazed at how many of my conservative friends were concerned, I believe sincerely, that their opposition to the President creates the inference they are racism. Obama is a politician, a Democratic politician, who is the leader of a liberal progressive movement. Obama's race provides him no special status. In fact, Obama has argued for a post-racial look at our world; one in which he would be subject to the same standards of any of the previous 43 Presidents. As such, he should be subject to all the criticism, disdain, jeers, anger, etc. that any President would be. For conservatives and Republicans to exercise their right to dissent is patriotism, pure and simple. More than that, it is the responsible conduct of a minority party. Now I could argue that conservatives labeled any dissent from our march to war in Iraq as treason (Ann Coulter even wrote a book on that), but that really isn't the point.

I believe that guaranteeing health care for all American's is a moral imperative. That being said, I don't have an answer to how that goal should be accomplished. Applying the best that free market has to offer, while removing inappropriate and market-destroying profiteering, should be a part of the final plan. Conservatives have much to offer in formulating this solution. I believe that Obama's speech was an attempt to engage them in the process. A rogue Republicans inappropriate outburst with regard to a point which really isn't central to the debate distracted us from the real arguments. That is generally what racists do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Death of Ted Kennedy

I have thought long and hard about whether, and how, I would comment on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. There is no doubt he was an incredibly effective and powerful senator, and was integral in the passage of some incredibly important legislation. In addition, he was a man of who faced almost unfathomable tragedy, from the death of all three of his brothers, a plane crash, and bad health. Ultimately, however, he was a man who used his position of privilege and wealth to avoid responsibility for the death of another person. Like Robert Byrd's membership in the KKK, that incident is something that will, and in my opinion should, define his life.

However, there is no question that instead of dwelling on his life's limitations, he worked to overcome his past by doing great works for the public interest. His talent was the ability to craft and pass legislation with long lasting human benefits. Civil Rights was one of his focuses.

It was this arena in which his death has irony, poignancy, and in my position, is being under reported. President Barack Obama will be giving the eulogy at his funeral. The first major piece of legislation that Senator Kennedy pushed was the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A Bill that was intended, and did in fact, give African American's basic human rights in the United States. A bill that was in trouble at the time of the death of his brother, Jack Kennedy. Ted used the outpouring of grief to change the tenor in Congress, and push that bill through. 45 years later, the 45th President of the United States was sworn in; our first African American President. That was, and in an exclamation point on the success of that Bill.

Today, we face another civil rights issue, that being access to affordable health care. Without health care, noone is free from the fear of sickness without care. There was no more passionate Senator in favor of access to health care than Senator Kennedy. From Medicare to schip, Kennedy is was always pushing for increased access for all to health care.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if some senator and congressperson, from either party, took up the mantel of health care reform and used the death of Senator Kennedy to fulfill is mission and goal. In 45 years who will be giving his or her eulogy?