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Monthly Archives: December 2008

The bailout and bad news business

The bailout’s for the banking industry are a failure.  I say this because we don’t have a set of goals to accomplish.  The government just hands over billions of dollars to the same people to messed up the financial industry and says, have fun, don’t fuck up.  As investors in these banks, the public has no oversight, transparency, or accountability all of which the government promises.  This is, of course, nothing new with our government, and is why I partially blame the news media.

I was optimistic when David Cay Johnston wrote about how journalists need to change their approach to the financial crisis, saying “let’s not make the same mistakes as were made with the run-up to the Iraq War, and the PATRIOT ACT that so eroded our credibility, in terms of how we cover this financial crisis.”  But nothing changed.  The news media was incapable of covering such a complex and nuanced story.  Same for our politicians.  For eight years, politicians and news media have been teaching the public to accept one liner answers and he said/she said narratives.  No filter, no analysis, no answers.  Should we go to war, not go to war. Should we protect ourselves from terrorists or not protect ourselves from terrorists.  The financial crisis couldn’t be broken down to simple platitudes making it impossible for 24-hour news channels (and many newspapers) to fully inform the public.

Without a news media, there is no accountability in democracy.  Sure people can vote every couple of years in the polls, but that doesn’t change the system.  Public shaming is a powerful tool. That’s why accountability in the bailout matters.  AIG has already spent billions on vacations and retreats for the same executives who wasted billions before.

I’m late to the bailout bashing, but felt there are still lessons to learn and things to do, especially since there’s more bailing out to be done (credit card companies, the second round of mortgage failures). First, let’s understand the goals of any bailout.  If it’s simply to save jobs, then save jobs (most of the banks and car companies are already having massive layoffs even after bailout payments).  But let’s have some publicly stated goals so we, the public and news media, can judge progress.  And have the news media follow up on politicians passing these bills.  Create websites to follow who’s getting money (banks and politicians) so the public can see the full story.

I’m not expecting change as the same people who screwed up before are still in power, at the banks, in government, and at news organizations.  But I still have hope for change.

Finals week, then break, then lots more work

More excuses from your friendly neighborhood blogger.  This is hell week not just because I have finals, but it’s also the week of my concert for the chorus I sing in (don’t laugh).  Next week, I’ll start posting somewhat regularly. Of course, then the holidays come and then I get started on the next quarter and my thesis for my masters.  On a bright note, I’ll be working on an independent study next quarter that might interest some readers: I’ll be writing a paper on video game usability and its influence on consumer software and hardware.  Not sure what I’ll find out, but that’s what research is for, right? If anyone has any resource recommendations, please leave a comment or email me.  As for my thesis, I’ll be posting more on that topic when I have one (it’ll probably be some kind of adaptation of one of my better blog posts).

Also, I will be finishing the 365 Geek-Out Moments, hopefully all within the year.  I have to for the eBook I’m making with them for next year.