The Man with the Sign is iconic and depressing. He is seen in parking lots and at intersections, holding up a piece of cardboard asking for help. Is he scamming or does he really need help? It’s such a common sight that we usually just stare straight ahead, ignoring his plight, and pass by without acknowledging him (or her) in any way. If nothing else, we thus deny these people their humanity.
So this morning I went over to Maceys in Riverside Plaza in Provo, Utah, withdrew a stack of ten dollar bills (a SMALL stack) from my bank, and stood next to the Plaza exit holding a sign that read: “PLEASE HELP ME GIVE AWAY $10. THANKS!”
In two hours about 50 cars went by me. 45 of them did not look at me or acknowledge me in any way. The other 5 stopped, rolled down their windows, and offered ME money. They couldn’t understand the sign, or didn’t bother to read it – just assuming I was asking for money.
I assured them I was NOT asking for money; I was giving away ten dollar bills.
The looks I got from these 5 strangers ranged from incredulous double-takes to deep suspicion (I must be up to no good!) But each of the 5 took my ten dollars and drove away either happy and laughing, or deeply disturbed and worried that they had broken some law or contravened some basic principle of the Universe.
Two Provo police cars passed by me and didn’t bother to stop; I wonder if they treat all sign holders like that?
Today I am $50.00 poorer, but immeasurably richer in . . . hmmm.
Well, hell – maybe I’m just $50.00 poorer.
ADDENDUM: Dr. Lawrence Gray, of the University of Minnesota, had this to say about my post.
“Very funny, but the outcome was not at all surprising. People’s prior experience is so uniform about people on the streets with signs, it takes more than a sign that says something different to overcome that experience. This is an example of Bayes Rule, which implies among other things that if your prior probability is strongly in favor of one hypothesis, then it takes a lot of contrary evidence to change that in favor of a different hypothesis. I’ll use your example in my probability class!”
Money is a monster that most regulators find
Cannot be distracted from its customary grind.
Whether used by Wall Street or the I.M. F. or as rubles,
Money doesn’t care about recessionary troobles.
Financial products in the private sector will display
A tendency to crash and burn most any bizness day.
To regulate this juggernaut through governmental means
Requires skill and tact and, most of all, right hardy spleens.
If you can understand derivatives without chagrin,
You’re a better financier than regulator, Gunga Din.
Laissez-faire continues to remain the sine qua non
Of ev’ry buccaneer and financing Genghis Khan.
I used to be just like you. There was always too much month at the end of the money.
I struggled to find a decent job with decent pay. And when I found a good job with good pay I was always getting downsized in a corporate strategy that I had no input about!
I was an intelligent, hardworking guy with no bad habits that could keep me from going straight to the top.
But instead I kept getting thrust down to the bottom. Having to start over. Working a second job just to make ends meet.
If that sounds like you, I want you to know that I can empathize with you and truly want to help you get out of that frustrating rut.
I’m here today to tell you that it CAN be done!
With very little investment you can be enjoying a gorgeous and luxurious lifestyle IN JUST A FEW SHORT WEEKS!
That’s right – I said “IN JUST A FEW SHORT WEEKS!”
How can it be done? And why should I share my secret with you at no cost?
Simple. I already have all the money I’ll ever need, and I like helping other people become successful.
Are you ready to begin living the lifestyle you’ve always wanted? Can you follow a few simple instructions? Are you willing to just show up and do the work? If so . . . you’ll soon be as rich as I am!
Here’s how it works:
- Write out a note on a scrap of paper that reads “This is a hold up. Put all the money in this bag.”
- Purchase a linen pillow case.
- Buy a Halloween mask (any kind will do).
- Go to a bank near you.
- Put on the mask.
- Give the clerk your note.
- Collect the money in the pillow case.
- Walk briskly out of the bank.
- Count your money at home.
- Make reservations on a Bahamas cruise ship.
- When you come back repeat the above steps.
Perhaps you are saying to yourself “That is all very well for you, but what about getting caught?”
Well, that is an occupational hazard of the business. But every business, especially those with high dividends and returns, has a few occupational hurdles. Don’t be discouraged by it. Statistics show that only 9 out of every 10 bank robbers get caught after their first heist; so it’s still better odds than going out and looking for a new job in this economy.
There is no need to thank me for sharing my secret with you. But if you want, you can make a small contribution to my defense fund. Just send it to Sing Sing Prison in New York State.
Network News Goes Dark on Dark Money
WASHINGTON, – Network news broadcasts seldom mentioned campaign finance reform during a period when the Supreme Court gutted limits on how much millionaires may spend to influence elections and Congress considered a constitutional amendment to undo the court decisions, according to a Media Matters for America study that Sen. Bernie Sanders called disappointing but not surprising.
“There is a reason why confidence in the American media is declining. More and more people say the media is not paying attention to the issues of real importance to the American people. This study confirms that,” Sanders said. Sanders cited a recent Gallup poll that found Americans’ faith in television news and newspapers is at or tied with record lows.
The sparse coverage of money and politics, in the words of the Media Matters report, “is part of a larger pattern in which the networks have largely underreported the rolling back of campaign finance reform and the unprecedented influx of billions of dollars into the federal election system.”
Said Sanders: “To my mind, the single most important issue facing our country today is that, as a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, we are allowing billionaires to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who will represent the wealthy and powerful rather than the needs of ordinary Americans. This is an issue of enormous consequence. I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the study’s finding that the major networks barely covered the issue of money in politics.”
The study tracked coverage on network evening newscasts and Sunday shows since February of 2013 when the Supreme Court agreed to take up McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that a 5-4 majority eventually used to further gut campaign laws that already were shredded by a 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.
During that 19-month period, each commercial network devoted less than one minute per month to campaign finance reform, according to the study. The PBS NewsHour stood apart with more coverage on campaign finance reform, money in politics and the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions than all the other networks combined.
The Senate last week debated an amendment that would restore the authority of Congress and state legislatures to regulate campaign spending. During that four-day debate, there was not a single mention of the issue on network newscasts, according to Media Matters.
Last Sunday, after Senate Republicans blocked the consideration of the constitutional amendment, the issue was mentioned on two Sunday shows. “This Week” showed a brief clip of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggesting that the amendment would subject the “Saturday Night Live” creator to jail. And during his first ever appearance on “Meet the Press,” Sanders mentioned Citizens United. He said it “will go down in history as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever” and has put the nation on a path toward oligarchy.
This important blog is brought to you by Hidden Springs Farm. For the best pure maple syrup you ever tasted, order it direct from Hidden Springs Farm. It’s worth every penny!
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan sponsors of a Senate bill to combat corporate secrecy that provides anonymity to terrorists, money launderers and other international criminals today welcomed the announcement that the advocacy organization Global Witness will use the $1 million TED Prize to campaign for corporate transparency around the world.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act, S. 1465, which would combat transnational crime by requiring U.S. states to include in their incorporation applications a question asking for the prospective corporation’s true owners. Cosponsors of the bill are Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
“Today, money launderers, arms dealers, drug lords, terrorists and tax evaders are too often able to conceal their misconduct behind a wall of corporate secrecy,” said Levin, who has introduced similar legislation in the past three congresses. “Our legislation already has the strong support of the law enforcement community, and Global Witness’ plan to use its $1 million TED Prize to fight for corporate transparency will add momentum to the calls by police agencies, anti-corruption groups, human rights organizers, business groups and labor organizations to pass our bill.”
“Prosecutors of financial crimes follow the money,” Grassley said. “It’s hard for them to do that when criminals are able to exploit corporate transparency laws. The more focused attention on the need for our legislation, the better, as we work toward passage.”
President Obama cosponsored the 2008 version of the bill as a senator. A similar bipartisan bill, HR 3331, has been introduced by House Members Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; Peter King, R-N.Y.; Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; and Michael Capuano, D-Mass.
Charmian Gooch, cofounder of Global Witnesses, announced Tuesday that the organization would use its $1 million prize to encourage governments to end corporate secrecy. The annual prize is awarded by TED, a nonprofit that organizes the well-known TED Talks featuring business, art and technology leaders. Since 2005, TED has awarded an annual prize in support of ideas with the potential to change the world. Past winners include U2 lead singer Bono’s ONE Campaign and chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
Global Witness is an international nonprofit that brings to light the economic networks that enable corruption and crime.
The TEA Act offers a fresh approach to transportation funding with better results
WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee released the following statement on the president’s transportation proposal:
“Today, the president has offered the country the same old idea: send more money to Washington where the special interests get their cut, the politicians get the credit, and future generations get the bill. Unfortunately, his proposal is more about preserving a dysfunctional system than improving our roads. It’s a top-down, DC-knows-best approach to do to our transportation infrastructure what Obamacare has done to our health care.
“Conservatives have a fresh approach that will save money, reduce commuting times, grow the economy and create jobs, and allow state and local officials, who are ultimately responsible for infrastructure projects, to respond more quickly to the transportation needs of each state.
“The Transportation Empowerment Act creates a new system where Americans would no longer have to send significant gas-tax revenue to Washington, where politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists siphon off precious resources before sending it back to the states with strings attached. Instead, under this proposal, states and cities could plan, finance, and build better-designed and more affordable projects.
“Some communities could choose to build more roads, while others might prefer to repair old ones. Some might build highways, others light-rail. And all would be free to experiment with innovative green technologies, and new ways to finance their projects, like congestion pricing and smart tolls.
“All states and localities should finally have the flexibility to develop the kind of transportation system they want, for less money, without politicians and special interests from other parts of the country telling them how, when, what, and where they should build.”