The Silver Lining

It’s nice to hear, amid the relentlessly gloomy news on the employment front, that several sectors of the economy have many well-paid jobs for which there is a perennial shortage of applicants, and show no sign of either downsizing or pay cuts.  Indeed, if any of the “talent,” were to get fed up and leave, why, no one might ever do those jobs again, preferring to live in their cars or mothers’ basements if it came to that, leaving vitally important work undone, and thus jeopardizing everything that makes America great.

First, we heard this about the banksters.  The only thing that was keeping them in their cushy, perk-laden sinecures was the multimillion dollar bonuses…  Take those away, and tumbleweeds would roll through the suites of Wall Street and Nobu would be down to offering Happy Hour specials to tourists from Iowa.  Nobody, of course, recession or no, is going to stare at a terminal and talk on the phone in a swanky office for just a million or two, although they do everywhere else in the world;  this is America, and we are better than that.  This irreplaceable  ”talent” that produced , in the final accounting, NOT A PENNY of actual profit for an entire industry over the last decade and more  simply requires bulging truckloads of legal tender from somewhere to keep them from heading off to Baja to make sand candles and do bong rips, and the direly necessary and plainly most patriotic thing to do was just give them money.  Uh, why…  Because they’re so good with it?  Not so logical when you think about it, but it worked, didn’t it?  And you can still hear the “Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah’s” whistling down the canyons of Wall Street to this day.

Then there’s just the rich in general, especially the legacy rich: the Waltons, Hiltons, Bushes, Cheneys, and the Seven Sisters of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.  None of these people actually claim to, well, do anything, but are nonetheless so convinced of the beneficial example they set for us all by their mere presence that America would be incalculably poorer for their absence, and you can bet that as soon as they can find a place where they’d be worshipped more and taxed less, they’re going to have somebody start packing for them, too.  (Perhaps this is why Bush got oddly excited about space exploration a while back…)   Esteemed economist and political philosopher Michele Bachmann is just as worried about this feared Gulfstream Exodus as virtually all of the media establishment, so it must be true.

Most absurdly of all, the latest sector to turn the unemployment crisis on its head is the Executive Branch of the US Government.  You see, unlike other fields, where even bad credit or a DUI can disqualify you before you are even interviewed, the government, being a little tighter with a buck than, say, Goldman Sachs, can only offer the less liquid but equally alluring bonus of lifetime immunity from criminality committed on the job.  This is clearly a no-brainer; if you can’t order people to be tortured, murdered, wiretapped, or imprisoned without charge, why bother being, say, Attorney General, when Wal-Mart is hiring part-time greeters?  The San Francisco Chronicle fell for that argument just today.  Writing about the lost lawsuits that would allow “terror fighters” like John Ashcroft, John Yoo, David Addington, et al to be personally sued for damages by their victims, the Chronicle turned to noted legal scholar and employment expert Mark Corallo, Ashcroft’s former spokesman, who said, wait for it, “No one will want to take these jobs if they’re going to have to face legal jeopardy for it.”  Ah, tumbleweeds at DOJ, too?  Where will it end?  Corallo’s wise and portentous notions made it unattributed into the lede and text of the story, despite the fact that the reporter and editor probably face much bleaker job and compensation prospects at the moment than the torture team, and they do, putatively, work at newspapers, so they presumably also read them.

Will somebody please tell our larcenous and criminal elite that this talking point is not only dumb, but painful and insulting to the nearly 30 million Americans who never tanked the economy, much less destroyed America’s ideals, and can’t get jobs bussing tables at Chuck E. Cheese?  This sacred doctrine of upward failure, though as inexorably as gravity where they sit, seems unlikely to garner much sympathy amongst the vast majority who actually work for an honest living.  More likely, a Bronx cheer.


  1. Karen M says:

    Silver lining… isn’t that similar to the golden parachute, but, in addition to its revolving door of financial & employment perks, it also includes absolute criminal immunity? That’s it, right?

  2. cocktailhag says:

    I just thought it was funny…. you just don’t hear so much about the employment crisis of too many jobs and not enough people to fill them, except from these nincompoops. I was starting to feel, as usual, my intelligence being insulted.
    (You mentioned a Seminal piece, but I looked and couldn’t find it. Have you a link?)

  3. Never fear. According to RMP, Ray Kurzweil says that in 20 years we’ll all be immortal. (I guess he’s over his gray goo phase.) If so, dearest Hag, you’re going to have to learn to endure before you can hope to prevail.

    My advice: sell off the news network; keep the lounge. As entertaining as your insights are, and as beautifully expressed, lately I’ve found them to be even more satisfying with a martini glass close at hand.

    • cocktailhag says:

      No one is expected to approach this blog without a beverage close at hand, WT…. I only hang onto the news network because of sunk costs and crippling dearths of ideas at times. Thank heaven Silvio has calmed down a bit…..

      • Karen M says:

        CH, William may be right. After all, if we have not learned from the BigMedia guys that entertainment sells better than real news, then we haven’t learned anything at all.

        Still, I admire your journalistic integrity in determining to hang on to your news division.

      • Well, then…. (And believe me, I understand. If I owned a seaplane with the proud globe-and-glass emblazoned on its tail, I’d be reluctant to part with it, too.)

        Anyway, with Silvio gone suddenly quiescent, might I suggest that the intrepid band of CHNN reporters pay a visit to Germany in the wake of the recent elections? It seems to me that with Frau Merkel appearing so awfully housewifely on the surface and all, there just must be something juicy afoot, especially since she no longer has the SPD hung around her her neck like a millstone.

        WIll she become the new Thatcher? Will she take a lover? (How about that dashing cowboy who’s so adept with the backrubs? He must be itching to get out of Dallas, wouldn’t you think?)

        And goodness me! Can that dapper little Putin really be the monk that everyone claims he is? I’ll betcha he dresses all in mink on weekends, and moonlights as a cabaret singer.

        And then there’s China. How inscrutable can they be, really, with all those stacks and stacks of renminbi set to shove the almighty dollar off a cliff? I’m also thinking that maybe Harley could pick up some of those distress-sale blue cotton suits real cheap. You could make a killing if our current economic distress triggers a rebirth of communist nostalgia amongst the Michael Jackson supporters.

        Yep, Cocktailhag Import-Export Ltd. That’s the ticket.

        • sysprog says:

          Hey W.T., don’t blaspheme the Almighty

          Washington Irving claimed, perhaps truthfully, to have coined the phrase, “almighty dollar.”

          It caught on quickly.

          1836, Washington Irving, “The Creole Village”:

          “The almighty dollar, that great object of universal devotion throughout our land, seems to have no genuine devotees in these peculiar villages; and unless some of its missionaries penetrate there, and erect banking houses and other pious shrines, there is no knowing how long the inhabitants may remain in their present state of contented poverty.”

          1842, Charles Dickens, “American Notes for General Circulation”:

          “There is no doubt [...] of the intellectual refinement and superiority of Boston [...] The golden calf they worship at Boston is a pigmy compared with the giant effigies set up in other parts of that vast counting-house which lies beyond the Atlantic; and the almighty dollar sinks into something comparatively insignificant, amidst a whole Pantheon of better gods.

          Above all, I sincerely believe that the public institutions and charities of this capital of Massachusetts are as nearly perfect, as the most considerate wisdom, benevolence, and humanity, can make them. I never in my life was more affected by the contemplation of happiness, under circumstances of privation and bereavement, than in my visits to these establishments.

          It is a great and pleasant feature of all such institutions in America, that they are either supported by the State or assisted by the State; or (in the event of their not needing its helping hand) that they act in concert with it, and are emphatically the people’s. I cannot but think, with a view to the principle and its tendency to elevate or depress the character of the industrious classes, that a Public Charity is immeasurably better than a Private Foundation, no matter how munificently the latter may be endowed.”

          2008, William Safire:

          • Good to see that the Sysprog Research Bureau is alive and feisty as ever. Can it be that the alliance with CHNN presages the rise of a new rival to the AP? One can hope, surely. A hat tip to RMP, too, who always brings us news of labors-of-love in progress.

            What with the Hag’s trenchant observations on the real estate market, and her sublime editorials, and the fine collection of folks working on the comics and advice sections, CHNN seems to be an enterprise for the ages — there’s really no need for me to leave the lounge at all.

            Call me the happy consumer, and let it go at that.

        • The Heel says:

          Frau Merkel is what Germans want. Somebody who manages rather than leads. She is good at it. I cannot imagine her having love affairs (although that deep cut cleavage last year leaves me wondering) and I think she really is a “value-conservative-middle-of-the-road” type politician. Just what the modern, humble and likable Germans want.

          You may find a little bit of excitement in that her junior partner Guido Westerwelle is openly gay. So Germany may very likely have a fag as a foreign minister, soon (the FDP traditionally gets the secfretary of state department equivalent).
          I can’t avoid a smile imagining the awkwardness in having homophobic statesmen (e.g. Middle Easterners) shake his hand or hug him – knowing where that hand has been and who else hugged him. Maybe he will bring his spouse along to state dinners. I can picture Guido discussing politics with Ahmadineschad while his lover is in the tent with the harem, discussing decoration details. It’s all good ;)

          • Na ja, if we can have a Green as defense minister, why not a Rainbow as foreign minister? Here’s what I would tell my good German friends:

            Im Hintergrund flüstert noch immer der Blechtrommel. Wer der Meinung ist, dass die Gefahr endlich um die Ecke verschwunden ist, mag wohl mit Frau Merkel zufrieden sein. Der Guido bleibt aber ein zarter Wink, dass heutzutage — sogar in Deutschland selbst — kann etwas ganz neues auf die Weltbühne treten.

            And for the plain English folks:

            The Tin Drum still whispers in the background. Anyone of the opinion that the danger has finally disappeared around the corner may very well be content with Mrs. Merkel. This Guido, however, remains as a gentle reminder that these days, even in Germany itself, something completely new can still appear on the world stage.

          • two_cents says:

            WT and Heel,
            I’m late to the lounge and the lighting is dim – so if you’re gone you won’t mind my rambling on in the darkness I hope, when I call out “Westerwelle, a gentle reminder?” Reminder for sure, but gentle? Hmmm …. He’s a severe irritant with null Format. CHNN will have to hire a German speaking news correspondent just to get near him or face being rebuffed, as was the BBC with ‘In Deutschland spricht man Deutsch’. But even if he did speak English, CH wouldn’t be ‘amused’ but landed with a splitting headache. So I would just like to warn our dear CH that I doubt Westerwelle would provide him any excitement at all, except for maybe his Thacherite handbag (handbag only, not the contents). Nor, I doubt, will his warmongering on Afghanistan be sufficiently tarted up as to create any frisson, unless from the radioactive pulsations off his beloved nuclear reactors. Now that CH has admitted to being smitten by the homely truth-teller Grayson, I feel certain homely Guido would engender nothing in CH but an irrepressible urge to write a withering post on the first foreign minister to have been on Big Brother, along with some keen satirical observations on his boring wardrobe, replete with the occasional bow-tie and crowned with an award as ‘tie-man’ of the year in 2001. The FDP has been a dickey party since its inception and Genscher was an absolute exception. Westerwelle is to Genscher what Quayle is to JFK. I hope Merkel knows what she is doing.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Now, thanks to two_cents’ comments, I must know more about this Westerwelle person…. Any relation to Wendy, the Last of the Red Hot Mamas? Didn’t think so.
            Send me a link or two, Heel.

      • rmp says:

        If the booze doesn’t work, here is a good economic news story the Hag think about in down times:

        Lone Frank Lloyd Wright gas station gets makeover,CST-NWS-gasstation29.article

  4. Karen M says:

    It’s always such a pleasure to see you here, William!

  5. The Heel says:

    WT, you speak German?

    If so you will possibly like to read this:

    Former secretary of state Hans-Dietrich Genscher (aka “Genschman”) – one of my all time favorite politicians (together with his former Boss Helmut Schmidt) – writes a fascinating review of the events 20 years ago. Reads like a novel and I bow to the integrity and determination this impressive man was bringing forward. I wish we could clone him and Schmidt and have them run things here…

    • Those were amazing times. It must have been what storming the Bastille felt like — crying and laughing at the same time. I remember on TV, a middle-aged, somewhat frumpy-looking woman in a cheesy flower print dress, standing slightly apart from a crowd just this side of the Brandenburg Gate with tears streaming down her face. An American network reporter stuck a microphone under her nose, but she just kept repeating, over and over in German: They have stolen my youth. I had to turn the TV off at that point, as I was crying myself.

      Genscher goes to show what a politician with a bit of decency and courage can accomplish, particularly when he has some personal experience of how the other half lives. Thanks, Heel — reading that account really made me feel a lot better about a lot of things.

      (In answer to your question, my spoken German is halting at best, but I can read it pretty well, and also write it intelligibly, if not idiomatically, when I have to.)

    • bystander says:

      Thank heavens for Google’s ability to Translate this page. Putting the full URL into a Google search window kicked up the article, and the option to have it translated. Thanks for sharing that link.