Monday, August 10, 2009

Sponsorship and Biases: Musing on The Crack Game and Investment Banking

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The crack game, in it's essence, is pure capitalism.

Profit, over people, at all costs.

Eliminate enemies at all costs.

Take out the dominant political regime or competition at all costs.

Endless accumulation of property and capital, at all costs.

Domination through coercion, violence and if necessary legal
means
at all costs.

People, human beings, babies, addicts and quite simply,
the human toll, are all irrelevant.


This evening I was reading a piece on the Newsweek site
titled, The Fatal Flaw of Obamacare. By the bottom of the first
page, I decided to Google the author because the derisiveness of
his tone suggested that he was getting conservative think tank money.

I found out he that he was a writer, and in fact conservative cat, who
is down with the National Review.

I was half right. It also became clear that his money is tied up with
his
agenda.
To be fair, there are left think tanks and "liberal" writers at Newsweek
who are pushing their own agendas.


My issue is with the lack of disclosure.
The asymmetry of information
pisses me off, and when I sniff
it out, I stay on it until my point is made.

The asymmetry
tends to work in favor of he person who has more info.
Which
brings me to Twitter. A few weeks ago, I learned that Oprah,
Puffy, Shaq and arguably
others receive Twitter stock shares, in
exchange for tweeting.

That's cool,
but there was something that struck me about the fact that
this simply
was never mentioned, in all of the articles in the mainstream press
about the popularity of the site.
It became clear to me that everything is
for sale. (I know. Naive bear. Hang in there with me for
90 seconds. I will
explain.)


I hadn't really thought about the notion of everything being for sale
as a strict truth
since 1986, which is the year that the pure capitalism
of the crack game seeped into the streets
corners and blocks of
East Oakland.


With the notion of everything being for sale, this afternoon I tweeted
that when you seperate your money
from your art you are free.

This is material because I was once neutral regarding corporations.

There was a time when I thought that if I learned how corporations worked,
I could work for one, make my money, get in and get out. Never being one
short
on ambition, I wanted to work at Merrill or Goldman Sachs. I
began
to leverage my relationships, to the extent that I could try and
obtain
such a position. I reached out to the men that I knew who worked
in the field and asked them to help me.

With this experience in the back of my mind, I read Matt Taibbi's piece on
Goldman Sachs. In many ways it represents the convergence of art,
sponsorship and the essence of the crack
game as pure capitalism.

Taibbi writes like he is independent. The piece reminded me of
Gary Webb.


Moreover, he has done, what very few people have done, which
is criticize politicians, investment banking and implicitly,
capitalism in the mainstream press which in this case is Rolling Stone
Magazine. What is material is that the story was NOT buried on arrival.

In the article, The Great American Bubble Machine, Taibbi writes,

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup — which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the asshole chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multibilliondollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company.
What is interesting about the piece is both his passion, nerve and
the fact that he isn't a finance reporter, per se.


Furthermore, the article, gives me hope for the day in which
Black writers will themselves to write with similar fierceness,
criticism and vision.


On Alternet, Dean Starkman talks about the ways in which Taibbi's
piece
works, doesn't work, and its merits as an article as a whole.
For the most
part the mainstream press has dismissed it, yet and
still folks are talking
about the company, Wall Street and whether
his assertions in the article are in fact true. They can't rebut his arguement,
they are just opting to not take it seriously because he called Goldman a
"great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly
jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." Say word?

Ezra Klein offers a great sum up, of Starkman's piece when he writes,
writing that "the weakness of the piece is where others might find strength, its polemical nature and its hyperbole." In particular, he says that "when you call Goldman a 'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,' you’re in a sense offering a big fat disclaimer—this piece is not to be taken literally and perhaps not even seriously."
I am thinking about Goldman, I am thinking about Democracy
and I am thinking about the Crack game.

To create another future, one of the contradictions that many of us
who came up in the 80's will have to face, is the conflict that arises when
we are faced with choosing money over people.

Take the d-boy for instance. I am mindful of our willingness to love or
respecting a dope dealer who sends children in the hood to college.

Yes, the d-boy sent the children to school, but the d-boy
still sold crack,
that has to recognized and accounted for as well. Let me be clear.

I understand that cats in the hood didn't fly cocaine, Tech-9's nor AK's
into the hood. I get
that. And that isn't the issue at hand. I am
more interested
in who and what we respect and why.

I once thought that I could work at an investment bank, stack a little
cheese, pay off some school debt and move on.

I now realize that this is like saying, I will just sell crack for a few years,
make my money, and get out. It doesn't work.
I have known since I was
ten that how an adult makes their money
influences what they say and
how you say it.


When I saw, one, two and then three women be murdered
because they were
either addicted to drugs or were dating drug dealers
and subsequently
murdered in double homicides, it became clear to
me then that the notion of who I hung around with and or how I got money
DID and WOULD
have an impact on my life.

As an artist, today, I realize as a person who operates in that murky

space of not being a journalist, of writing and soon to be, as a
lecturer
and teacher, deciding to not marry my art to my income is a
scary, loaded
and freeing act.

As a Black woman, I am particularly attuned to, and have a criticism
for human beings and corporations who make their mortgages
trafficking in the disparity of Black women, Black men and Black
children.

We see what Black people, who have been given a little bit money,
some job titles, but no real power have done. They have pursued their
individual
gain at the expense of pursuing our collective advancement.

My preference is for the children to learn from these Black folks and
to do something different. What that something is, I am not sure.


Throwing folks under a bus for investment banking money
or crack
money isn't sustainable, just, nor Democratic.


I believe, today, that to be effective, our new pursuit must be along the lines for
pursuing the collective good
over the individual gain. Perhaps we
can discover what that looks
like together.

Lets Discuss.

1 comment:

Mista Jaycee said...

Very cool article. I will return. Please stop by and comment so I can return. Plus I have a cool site. 8-)

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