Saturday, May 10, 2014

Last Call For The New Titans

Pity the junior banksters fresh out of school, who according to Bloomberg News aren't sticking around for the abuse of 90 hour work weeks and $300,000 salaries, when they can make real money in Silicon Valley.

Hamilton Colwell started as a junior banker at JPMorgan’s structured-foreign-exchange desk in 2006, when he was 27. His specialty was helping clients manage risk through interest-rate derivatives. His skills were in high demand both before and during the crisis. In 2008 and early 2009, Colwell often worked day and night, he says, returning home only to shower and change.

In dealing with friends and family, “I learned quickly not to make promises I couldn’t keep,” Colwell says. He had a girlfriend. “Weekends away and dinners out with her were always sacrificed,” he says. “It quickly became normal.” The two eventually broke up.

After Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, the crush of work made Colwell, now 36, realize he couldn’t stay in banking. Even after the markets calmed, Colwell was still working 13 hours a day during the week and often on weekends. He says for a while it was invigorating. That faded.

“I saw the light and realized that I needed to do something more meaningful,” he says.

They've gone from the dudebros of Wall Street to the Dudebros of  Infinite Loop.

After leaving JPMorgan in 2010, Colwell used the money he earned but never had time to spend to start a company called Healthy Mom LLC, which produces Maia Yogurt. A foodie in his meager spare time, he made the first batch on the stove of his Manhattan apartment after his cousin bet him that he couldn’t make a tasty yogurt that would also be good for her during her pregnancy.

The company manufactures its products at a dairy plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It now sells 100,000 cups a week of the low-sugar, low-fat yogurt, which is enhanced with probiotics, to supermarkets including Whole Foods Market Inc., Safeway Inc., Giant Food Stores LLC and Stop & Shop Supermarket Co.

Roger Wu, who was an intern at Goldman Sachs in 1999, also decided that the banker’s life was not for him. He remembers being angry and frustrated when clients made unreasonable demands, such as requesting at the end of the day a presentation for the following morning.

“So guess who’s staying up all night?” Wu asks. “You are, because the client gives you this thing at 6 o’clock, and they need it on their desk by 9 a.m.”

Wu, 37, recalls that even when he wasn’t actually working, his life was not his own.

“A lot of what you’re doing is twiddling your fingers,” he says. Leaving the office, while sometimes encouraged, isn’t really a viable option because the work flow isn’t predictable.

“If you go to a museum or the movies, your BlackBerry goes off and you’ve got to get back to the office,” Wu says.

He turned down a job offer from Goldman to join a technology company that converted organic waste into fossil fuels. He currently helps run Cooperatize Inc., a business-to-business advertising platform he co-founded with a friend.

Hooray!  Yogurt and poop!

You know, I have little sympathy for investment bankers, and even less for investment bankers who go off to work for Silly Valley.  It's like going from the group that destroyed our economy to the group that's trying to destroy our economy yet again.

It takes a special kind of person to be that much of an arrogant douchewad, and frankly I don't want to know about it.

The Only Winning Move Is Not To Play

Spoilers for a 30-year old Matthew Broderick/Ally Sheedy movie:  In the end, the AI running the Pentagon's nuclear missile program realizes that 80's era nuclear war is bad with the above title quote.  Fast forward to Washington DC today and Democrats have again hit upon this same quote as the correct response to the GOP's ludicrous Benghazi idiocy.

Although the GOP bill creating the select committee passed the House on Thursday, the offices of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are in talks to define rules that will govern the panel in the face of Democratic allegations that Republicans simply want to embarrass the White House ahead of this year's elections.

With that in mind, Republicans proposed several overtures on Friday, which were soundly rejected by the Democrats.

"I consider it a slap in the face," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said after a closed-door meeting with Democratic leaders in Pelosi's office in the Capitol. "It is actually worse than the current situation that we have in Oversight and Government Reform [Committee]. It's a step backwards."

In a Friday letter to Boehner, Pelosi echoed that message.

"Regrettably, the proposal does not prevent the unacceptable and repeated abuses committed by [Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)] in any meaningful way, and we find it fundamentally unfair," Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said, "The ball is in their court."

Hopefully Democrats will continue to remember this lesson.  For the GOP to get any traction on this mess, they require willing participation from the Democrats to give the circus any sort of legitimacy.  All the Democrats have to do is refuse to oblige them.

And We're Back To Dinosaur Steve Again

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has made me proud on several occasions with his vocal defense of Obamacare and our state's exchange, Kynect, continues to serve as an example to the rest of the nation.  Kentucky has reduced its uninsured by almost 40% under the program, by any measure an astonishing success.

But don't ask him any questions about same-sex marriage, because then he turns into a bigoted old Southern white guy.

In February, a federal judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex couples’ marriages from other states, a decision that was stayed pending appeal. Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who hired outside counsel because of Attorney General Jack Conway’s (D) unwillingness to defend the state’s ban, has filed his first brief in the appeal, presenting a novel economic argument against recognizing same-sex marriage.

Beshear’s argument to the Sixth Circuit echoes claims made by many other states defending marriage bans. Notably, because same-sex couples cannot “naturally procreate,” they are “not similarly situated to man-woman couples” and thus do not deserve the same benefits of marriage. Same-sex marriage, the brief argues, is a “new right,” so the state’s ban does not violate same-sex couples’ equal protection when it comes to marriage. But Beshear applies these assumptions in a new way: because same-sex couples do not contribute to the birth rate, it’s not economically beneficial for Kentucky to recognize their marriages.

Though there is a cost to Kentucky by granting tax and other benefits to man-woman couples, a stable or growing birth rate offsets the cost,” the brief argues. “Only man-woman relationships can naturally procreate, and only those relationships, therefore, are afforded the state sponsored benefit.”

Which may be the most moronic statement I've ever read the man make, given all the time I'm lived here.  How many childless couples are married in Kentucky?  I'd like to know the percentage, because under Beshear's excruciatingly stupid logic, they don't deserve the benefits of marriage either.  What about infertile couples?  Are we now going to take marriage benefits away from them?

Is this clown serious?

I expect this kind of rank idiocy from Republicans, but not from Steve Beshear.  If there's any part of his record that is abysmal, it's his stance on LGBTQ folks in the Bluegrass State. Steve seems to think they don't exist.

Thankfully, Jack Conway has filed to run to succeed Dinosaur Steve as Governor in 2015, and I'm hoping that he can pull it off.

By the way, add Arkansas to the list of states where a federal judge has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage as a violation of the Fifth Amendment.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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