Primal Leadership - Daniel Goleman (also here and here)
Five Dysfunctions of A Team – Patrick Lencioni (also here and here)
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive
– Patrick Lencioni (also here and here)
Personal Development/Leadership/Role of an Executive
What Makes An Effective Executive – Drucker
Managing Oneself – Drucker
Managing For Business Effectiveness - Drucker
Leading Change – Why Transformation Efforts Fail – Kotter
What Makes A Leader? – Goleman
Leadership That Gets Results – Goleman
What Leaders Really Do – Kotter
Discovering Your Authentic Leadership – George
Five Minds Of A Manager - Mintzberg
Reaching Your Potential – Kaplan
What To Ask The Person In The Mirror - Kaplan
Ways CEOs Lead – Farkas
Managing Your Boss – Kotter
How Successful Leaders Think – Martin
How Senior Managers Think - Isenberg
Driving Radical Change – McKinsey Quarterly (registration required)
A Blueprint For Strategic Leadership – Wheeler et al; Strategy & Business
The Theory Of The Business - Drucker
Reclaim Your Job – Ghoshal
Beware The Busy Manager – Bruch
Managing The Right Tension – Dodd
Management Time – Who’s Got The Monkey – Orken
Stop Wasting Valuable Time - Mankins
Building Your Company's Vision - Collins
The Effective Decision – Drucker
What You Don’t Know About Making Decisions – Garvin
How Management Teams Can Have A Good Fight – Eisenhardt
Stop Making Plans; Start Making Decisions – Mankins
A series of articles written by Jonathan Byrnes; the articles originally appeared in a Harvard Business School newsletter called HBS Working Knowledge and focus mostly on the idea of managing profitability. The first article is called Who's Managing Profitability; links to pdfs of the entire series can be found here.
I'd also recommend the blog of Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing; the blog is called From Where I Sit.
From the publisher's web site: Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese
An early review from A Guy's Moleskine Notebook.
Comments and links at bookbrowse.com.
Q & A with the author at Publishers Weekly: Across Continents
Publishers Weekly review of the book (at the bottom of the page).
Info on the author tour.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Big City, Bad Blood, Sean Chercover
Trigger City, Sean Chercover
Envy The Night, Michael Koryta
Tonight I Said Goodbye, Michael Koryta
Sorrow's Anthem, Michael Kroyta
The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly
Chasing Darkness, Robert Crais
Moscow Rules, Daniel Silva
The James Deans, Reed Farrel Coleman
The Dawn Patrol, Don Winslow (author of one of my all-time favorites - The Power Of The Dog - very good but very intense and very graphic)
2008, the year in photographs (part 1 of 3)
2008, the year in photographs (part 2 of 3)
2008, the year in photographs (part 3 of 3)
One of my favorite pictures is this one.
In addition to making pepper jelly today, we built the gingerbread house in the picture above. Random House recently published an entire book on gingerbread houses (The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes) and in honor of our friend Phyllis we decided our first house would be in the Cape Cod style. The house was a lot of work but also a lot of fun and a great family project.
Today's other recipe was courtesy of the website Simply Recipes: Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. I was interested in this recipe as it used the natural pectin in fruits rather than including added pectin.
Both came out well and would be worth making again - though I'd definitely shoot to make them spicier next time....
The Wall Street Journal covers a new iteration of sharing online in The New Examined Life: Why more people are spilling the statistics of their lives on the Web.
Beautiful graph of the smallest details of a guy's life here. Nice tools to do the same for yourself at Daytum and mycrocosm. But perhaps things have gone too far....bedpost.
"living with a teenage girl [is] one of the most unpleasant experiences God metes out to the unsuspecting."
I'm currently enjoying my own medical odyssey - trying to get to the bottom of what's up with my back and leg pain and soreness. After seeing an orthopedist yesterday, my next step is to see a physical therapist who specializes in runners; I'll see him next week for a video analysis (!) of my running gait to check if there's something I'm doing that's causing the problems. No running for now, but I have been cleared to do biking; lots of spin classes in my future!
The lack of a clear diagnosis of the cause of the problem is a bit frustrating....but I'm hopeful that connecting with a good doctor will lead to some answers.
then check out 50 Beautiful Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography.
I haven't had the chance to try this yet myself, but I've found instructions for how to achieve the tilt-shift effect in Photoshop. John Nack's Adobe blog also has some tips.
Here's a story from the New York Times of one cook's experience with the recipe: How to Cook…Something: Pumpkin Pie.
"Outliers" offers an implicit message for companies as well: There is great competitive advantage for the organization recognizing that the work environment can nurture talent -- and also suppress it. The best companies will not only seek to provide their employees with enrichment but will also have the insight -- and courage -- to identify and recruit exceptional though neglected talent that could flourish under the right conditions. In the end, we aspire to be the graduate-school admissions officer at Iowa who selected John Irving for the creative-writing program -- not the high-school English teacher in New Hampshire who noticed only the poor speller struggling in the back of the classroom.
First, the fact that the savings rate in the U.S. is zero is extremely unhealthy and Americans need to start saving more (understandably hard to do when incomes are stagnant/falling and unemployment is rising). Second, solving the problems will be incredibly difficult and complex because it is likely to require close coordination of many countries around the world and such coordination is difficult under the best of circumstances; in addition, for Americans to save more, we will need to spend less - which doesn't exactly help an economy that is in recession. The final message I took away is that macroeconomic factors are likely to play a disproportionate role in the performance of businesses over the next several years, and it's therefore critically important to understand how those factors will affect each business leader's own business.
The class reminded me of two terrific articles by James Fallows which are linked below. The first article was written in 2005 and imagines what the world economy will look like in 2016; what's scary is that many of the things Fallows predicted have already come to pass. The second article looks more specifically at China and the nature of the economic relationship between China and the U.S. ; the bottom line is that they need us to buy their exports (which creates jobs in the rapidly populating Chinese cities, providing the stability the Chinese government desperately wants) and we need them to buy our treasury bills and bonds (to finance our deficits).
The first article is Countdown to a Meltdown; the second is The $1.4 Trillion Question.
It wouldn't surprise you to know I found the post Chicago Marathon 2008 - The data do not lie: The actual environmental conditions from the course to be MOST interesting.
Check out this sign from Route 39 between Sherman and Gaylordsville in Connecticut. Anyone surprised the sign is stolen just about as quickly as it's put up?
There were over 20,000 competitors in Sunday's Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. And 24-year-old Arien O'Connell, a fifth-grade teacher from New York City, ran the fastest time of any of the women.
But she didn't win.
Something similar happened at the Chicago Marathon on October 12. More details in the article, but the gist is that the person with the 4th fastest time didn't get the prize money for fourth place because he didn't run with the elite runners.
Last week's New York Times Magazine carried a new article by Pollan in the form of a letter to our next president: Farmer In Chief. The article provides a condensed summary of the issues reviewed in Omnivore's Dilemma and sets out a series of recommended changes. While I don't agree with all of his ideas, it does seem the system we have now is kind of crazy. To wit:
After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.
As I see it, the biggest question I have about Pollan's prescription is whether it's possible to effectively feed our population using the practices he recommends. I had the chance to ask Pollan about this at a dinner held at the Stone Barns Center for Food And Agriculture. He didn't have a definitive answer then, and while it seems his ideas have gotten more focused and specific, I'm still not sure it all adds up. What does seem clear is that there's great room for improvement and that a shift to more local agriculture, more polyculture, more humane treatment of animals, and pricing and policies that reflect the true costs of things is absolutely in order.
In any case....
There were 31,335 finishers last week, of which 17,669 were males and 2,768 were males between the ages of 40 and 44. My official time was 4:53:48.
My overall place among the finishers was 17,669 (57.4%)
My overall place among the male finishers was 11,514 (65.2%)
My overall place among the male finishers between the ages of 40 and 44 was 1,887 (68.2%)
In order to place in the top half of my age/gender group, I would have had to finish about 20 minutes faster than I did.
It's possible to get some insight into the impact of the weather on performances by looking back at the stats from the 2006 race, which I believe was run under more favorable (i.e. cooler) conditions. A time of 4:53:48 would have been closer to the bottom performances of the Male/40-44 age range (84% rather than 68%), and placing in the top half of the Male/40-44 age group would have required a time of 4:01:47 - a full 32 minutes faster than the median time this year.
A few weeks ago the New York Times launched a new community feature - called Times People - which enables readers to 'recommend' articles - you can find a recommend button in the box which usually appears on the top right hand side of articles on the web site (with buttons to print, email, save, share, etc.) as well as at the bottom of articles. There's an extensive FAQ on the NYT site - (see: Times People FAQ) - which describes the feature in detail as well as how to use it.
I'm enjoying the feature so far, though it's far less interesting if others aren't using it as well (few are seeing my recommendations and I'm not seeing recommendations from many others). I'm set up as aweber9 for those of you who'd like someone to follow; if you get set up to use the service let me know so I can follow you!
Fallows: OK, I lied, one more thing about debates
Brooks: Thinking About Obama
If you read the Brooks column be sure to check out the reader comments; here's a link to 8 of the 636 comments which were judged interesting by the editors. You can also filter the comments down to ones that readers recommend.
The New York Times theater critic reviewed the show this week and seems to have enjoyed it (see Hip-Hop Coming of Age for Suburban Prince Hal). The NYT site has an audio slide show which will give you a sense of the look and feel of the show.
We loved it and plan to see it again during what is planned to be a short run. I can't recommend it highly enough. The show is about 80 minutes long and tickets aren't expensive....so go see it!
I'm feeling much better than I felt yesterday after the race, which
can only be described as exhaustion and wooziness marked by an upset
stomach, deeply sore and tight muscles, and a massive case of hiccups.
I also want to say thank you to everyone who sent well wishes and
words of encouragement before the race - I'm honored by all of the
supportive comments and had them in mind for inspiration during the
hardest parts of the race.
Latest weather report looks ok. It will be in the low 60's at the start and the mid-70's by the time we finish, with partly cloudy skies and moderate humidity.
We leave here in 45 minutes....
Here are some pictures:
(with an extra link in case you can't see the slideshow)
Chicago. I'm very excited and a little bit nervous.
Saw the doctor and physical therapist again yesterday and received a
clean bill of health (the x-rays were totally normal, including all
the signs of aging one would expect). Given the rest, a steady diet of
Tylenol, stretching, and some physical therapy, my leg feels much
better. This is the longest stretch I've gone without running (it will
be 7 full days by race day) in a very long time
DEFINITIONS: What is 26 Miles 385 Yards?
It’s more than a race, it’s a state of mind.
It’s sore muscles.
It’s stiff legs.
It’s pasta parties and port-a-potties.
It’s a number and four safety pins.
It’s 20 miles of hope followed by six miles of truth.
It’s cramping muscles and aching legs.
It’s sweat on your forehead.
It’s tears in your eyes.
It’s anguish and agony.
It’s elation and ecstasy.
It’s blisters and black toenails.
It’s aching armpits and tender nipples.
It’s knowing better, but not caring.
It’s orange slices in the hands of kids.
It’s crumpled cups underfoot.
It’s smiling volunteers.
It’s screaming spectators.
It’s uphills and downhills.
It’s potholes in the pavement.
It’s messages on T-shirts.
It’s signs in the crowd.
It’s training programs.
It’s pace charts and splits.
It’s the wind in your hair.
It’s Uta and Cosmas.
It’s Joes and Jacks and Janes.
It’s doctors and lawyers and teachers and secretaries.
It’s tight turns.
It’s long straightaways.
It’s passing and being passed.
It’s the last mile and knowing you can do it.
It’s a warm hug at the end of the finish chute.
It’s a medal.
It’s a certificate.
It’s a photo crossing the line.
It’s success and failure.
It’s the ultimate test.
It’s never having to say you don’t try.
It’s 26 miles 385 yards of pleasure.
It’s 26 miles 385 yards of pain.
It’s the marathon.
It’s New York.
It’s more than a race, it’s a state of mind.
...the proximate cause of the Housing crisis were 1) Ultra-low rates; and 2) Abdication of traditional lending standards, thanks to 3) originators ability to resell mortgages for securitization purposes, and hence, 4) not have to worry about loan defaults.
The credit crisis was caused by 1) the above securitized mortgage paper, that was 2) rated triple AAA by Moody's and Standard & Poors, which then 3) Which was then "insured" by credit default swaps (CDS) -- the unreserved for, shadow insurance products 4) whose exemption was made possible by the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. That legislation exempted these derivatives from any supervision or regulation. The lack of reserve requirements is why there is now $62 trillion in CDS, many of which will never pay their counter parties the promised insurance.
And for the real die-hards, here's a Google Earth file with this year's course.
I'm a big fan of the Runners Lounge website and blog; it's been a great source of information during my training. I recently signed up to participate in a 21-Day test of a self-massage tool called 'The Stick'. I'll pick up the stick at the Marathon Expo in Chicago this weekend and will write about my experiences in a dedicated forum on the Runners Lounge site.
In spite of a full day of meetings, I was able to see a doctor, have a physical therapy session, and get a set of x-rays yesterday. While I don't yet have the results of the x-rays, it seems that my problem is just a strained muscle rather than something more serious (like a stress fracture). I can now go into the marathon Sunday confident in the knowledge of what's up with my body. For those of you who are interested in the details, I have a strained adductor muscle in my right leg...
I do have to say I was surprised to hear how many of you have physical therapists or massage therapists who you swear by - it makes me wonder what I've been missing out on! On a more serious note, the lesson learned is that it makes sense to develop a good relationship with a doctor and/or a therapist who can help you get through the inevitable aches and pains of training for a marathon. I was lucky in this case that everything worked out.
With yesterday's concern now addressed, I can turn my attention to today's issue: temperatures on Sunday which are forecast to be in the mid- to upper- 70's..... The good news is it makes the choice of what to wear a lot simpler.
Does reading the post make you feel better? I personally find it encouraging and share the perspective that while there's much pain ahead, at least we're on the path toward eliminating an unsustainable situation.
Welcome to race week for the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The race is only days away, and participants from across the country and around the world are waiting in eager anticipation to hit the ground running on the historic streets of Chicago, where more than a million spectators will be standing curbside and cheering them on.And...
Question of the Month
For our September Question of the Month, we asked: Marathon veterans, what last-minute advice would you offer someone who is preparing to take on the marathon for the first time?
“There is only one piece of advice, and it's an essential element to having a good marathon. Quite simply, ENJOY IT! You have to get into the whole event, not just the race. Make the most of the Expo. Get excited about buying new running kit that will proudly tell your friends that you ran the 2008 Chicago Marathon when you get home. Go and check out some of the race day course preparations, go and see the finish gantry. Imagine yourself running down the final straight, arms aloft in the time you want. Talk about it with anyone that will listen, and at night, sleep! Sleep with excitement, not with nerves. This is going to be one of the greatest days of your life! Yes it will hurt, yes there may be tears, but you will never forget completing your first marathon. So don't worry about it, experience it for all it's worth, and enjoy it!”
Week 16 target mileage: 27 miles
Week 16 actual mileage: 24.2 miles
Target cumulative miles through last week: 612 miles
Actual cumulative miles through last week: 586.1 miles
Variance: (25.94) miles
Training miles to go: 14*
At this point I've got just 5 days to go until the race; it's hard to believe that it's so close after more than 9 months of thinking about it, planning for it, and training for it.
Last week's training - the second week of a three week taper - was ok. I didn't feel particularly relaxed or refreshed from the reduced mileage, and while my knees and ankles feel great, the soreness in my groin/thigh got worse. I've talked with a number of people about what to do and the one point on which there is great consensus is that I should not run any further this week. I have to give a particular shout out to Tom at Runner's Lounge, which is a terrific running community on the web. Tom is one of the co-founders of the site (as well as an experienced marathoner) and generously offered to talk with me after I emailed him yesterday. We spent more than half an hour on the phone together and he had some great suggestions. I was also glad to hear that Chicago is his favorite of all the marathons he's run.
So....while the injury has me a bit concerned, I'll take it easy this week and hope that rest, ibuprofen, etc. have me ready to go on Sunday.
nagging groin injury. I've finally been convinced to get it checked
out, though time is admittedly short before this weekend's race.
If you have a recommendtion for a PT or sports doctor, please let me
know via email or in the comments.
No risk at this point that I won't run on Sunday as far as I am
From twelve time zones away, it looks as if the United States is in one of those moments where the capacity to get serious and face big problems is sorely tested.
In the short term, a worldwide financial panic and crisis. Just beyond that, the real economic and social problems that come when large numbers of people lose their jobs, their businesses, their investments, their homes, and even larger numbers become fearful about what might happen to them. And then, when we get a minute to think, profound global energy and environmental challenges, security concerns that range from loose nukes to terrorist organizations, plus a couple of ongoing wars and ever-rising medical costs. Just as starters. The United States is still incredibly rich, powerful, and productive. But the current situation is no joke, for America or the world.
In these circumstances, and with a presidential election four weeks away, is it conceivable that candidates will waste time arguing whether one of them has been in the same room with a guy who had been a violent extremist at a time before most of today's U.S. citizens were even born? (William Ayres was a Weatherman in the late 1960s. Today's median-aged American was born around 1972.) Of course, it's not only conceivable: it's the Republican plan for this final push -- "turning the page" on economic concerns and getting to these "character" and "association" questions about Barack Obama.
Grow up. If John McCain has a better set of plans to deal with the immediate crisis, and the medium-term real-economy fallout, and the real global problems of the era -- fine, let him win on those. But it is beneath the dignity he had as a Naval officer to wallow in this mindless BS. I will say nothing about the dignity of a candidate who repeatedly winks at the public, Hooters-waitress style. A great country acts great when it matters. This is a time when it matters -- for politicians in the points they raise, for journalists in the subjects they write about and the questions they ask of candidates. And, yes, for voters.
From the 2008 Chicago Marathon confirmation brochure:
Help Nike Inspire Your Favorite Runner
Join forces with Nike as they support the marathoners along the course. Nike will feature a cheer station at the 25k (mile 15.5) mark near Ashland & Jackson, as well as a motivational zone near mile 22.5 at 33rd & Wentworth. Both stations will offer cheer supplies and entertainment to help spectators motivate and encourage their favorite runners. The 33rd Street motivational zone will also feature a live video feed of runners, music, an emcee and cheer groups who will work to give runners an extra boost as they enter the final stretch of their marathon.
Bank of America Cheer Zones
Bank of America is with you every step of the way from start line to finish line. To demonstrate support of your mission, Bank of America will host four Cheer Zones in four different neighborhoods to provide encouragement throughout the race and when you
need it most. Look for the Bank of America Cheer Zones....
The Energizer® Keep Going Superstar Contest
®The Energizer® Keep Going ®Superstar contest celebrates your greatest Marathon supporter: someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty during your training, on race day and after you've crossed the finish line. When you are struggling to make the next mile and you've almost hit a wall, who do you think of first? Who gives you the inspiration you need to put one foot in front of the other? That person is your Energizer® Keep Going ®Superstar. ®On Monday, October 13,Energizer will begin accepting nominations for the Energizer® Keep Going ®Superstar Contest. Visit chicagomarathon.com after the race for more details on how to submit your nomination. Prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions, and winners will receive a special gift basket from Energizer. Join Energizer on race day at one of the five Energizer® Keep Going ®Zones to help cheer on the pace setters and the go getters. Energizer will provide the Energizer Bunny® ears for never-quit inspiration and you provide the encouraging words.
Some difficult decisions ahead for Mrs. Longest Run and her friend E. (Chris' wife) - whether to hang out at an Energizer® Keep Going ®Zone or at a Bank of America Cheer Zone. To wear Energizer Bunny® ears or to use the Nike cheer supplies....
I discovered Political Browser via the Publishing 2.0 blog - see washingtonpost.com’s Political Browser Uses the News Judgment of Journalists to Filter the Political Web
Here's what you'll get (according to the official Chicago Marathon website):
Spectators can electronically track multiple runners along the race course by receiving real-time updates via e-mail or text message throughout the race. Updates will be received as runners cross the 10K, halfway (13.1 miles) and 30K checkpoints, as well as the finish line.
Week 15 target mileage: 35 miles
Week 15 actual mileage: 28 miles
Target cumulative miles through last week: 585 miles
Actual cumulative miles through last week: 561.8 miles
Variance: (23.15) miles
Training miles to go: 41
Last week was ok. I had a great couple of runs in the middle of the week (including Wednesday's new PR) but somehow ran out of steam at the end of the week. Torrential rain knocked me off my game Friday morning (I couldn't run my typical 3 mile warmup in Central Park before doing strength training) and the hard session with my trainer Friday left me sore and achy going into Sunday's long-ish run; the run was supposed to be 15 miles but I went out assuming I'd only do 11. Conditions were gross - warm and humid - and it was one of those runs where every step was a chore. I've not gone back yet to look over the full training program, but I have the sense that my good training weeks (such as last week) are often followed by so-so weeks.
In any case, I've got fewer than two weeks to go until the big day. We're close enough to race day that I can begin to obsessively check the weather forecast for race day (currently expecting lows in the low 30's and highs in the mid 50's - pretty good if that's how it turns out).
Given recent events (Sarah Palin's disastrous Katie Couric interview (see Part I and Part II) and economic turmoil), I'm starting to think it could be impossible for McCain to win. I was therefore interested to see this chart from the intrade prediction market in a Paul Krugman blog post today: Politics of Crisis. I'm not sure I buy his point that Paulson's decision to let Lehman Brothers fail 'may have delivered the White House to Obama', but the fact remains that it's been a tough couple of weeks for the McCain campaign. As context for Krugmans, point, check out the excellent article on Lehman in today's Wall Street Journal: Lehman Triggered Global Cash Crunch.
On the intrade web site, you can see that McCain is down 25% in the past two weeks while Obama is up a similar amount.
2008 Broadcast Information
Whether you are in Chicago or across the world, you can catch live action of the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on TV, radio and/or the Web. Check out exclusive coverage from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon’s broadcast partners:
*All times are Central
Universal SportsNBC 5 Chicago
NBC 5 News coverage begins at 6 a.m. followed by live on-air and on-line coverage of the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, 7 to 11 a.m.
The Score Sportsradio 670 AM
On race day, The Score Sportsradio 670 AM will bring you all the race action live from 7 to 11 a.m. Prior to race day, Bank of America Chicago Marathon preview shows will air on The Score Sportsradio 670 AM on Saturday, September 27, from 7 to 8 a.m. and Saturday, October 4, from 7 to 8 a.m.
Watch the Bank of America Chicago Marathon live Webcast from 7 to 11 a.m. and on-demand at universalsports.com. The race Webcast will be available to entire world.
|From Jeppesen/New York Times 9/26/08|
I did a lot of traveling early in my career, flying often between New York City and Chicago. I distinctly remember the sharp left turn described in this New York Times article about pilots and Shea Stadium (To Pilots, Shea Is Less Ballpark Than Landmark). Truth be told, the big left turn is a bit scary as it's a sharp turn at low altitude; if you're sitting on the left hand side of the plane and can see the airport, you wonder how the plane will manage to get lined up in time to land.
The first article, The New President and the Global Landscape, was posted yesterday. It's a great overview of the range of issues the next president will face, how they are interrelated, and what options the President will have to address them. Definitely worth a read.
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Last week, TMQ asked why no one was paying attention to the fact that the national debt ceiling was quietly raised by $800 billion during the summer. Well, toss that column: The White House just asked the national debt ceiling be raised another $700 billion, for the proposed financial-sector bailout. If that happens, in 2008 alone, $1.5 trillion will have been added to the national debt: every penny borrowed from your children and their children. Stated in today's dollars, in 1979 the entire national debt was $1.5 trillion. George W. Bush and Congress have in a single year added an amount equal to the entire national debt one generation ago. And the year's not over!
It took the United States 209 years, from the founding of the republic till 1998, to compile the first $5 trillion in national debt. In the decade since, $6 trillion in debt has been added. This means the United States has borrowed more money in the past decade than in all our previous history combined. Almost all the borrowing has been under the direction of George W. Bush -- at this point Bush makes Kenneth Lay seem like a paragon of fiscal caution. Democrats deserve ample blame, too. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leaders of the Senate and House, have never met a bailout they didn't like: Harry and Nancy just can't wait to spend your children's money. Six trillion dollars borrowed in a single decade and $1.5 trillion borrowed in 2008 alone. Charles Ponzi would be embarrassed.
If you borrowed, borrowed, borrowed, you could afford to live high for a while -- then there would be a reckoning. Hmmm … that sounds a little like what many Americans did with gimmick mortgages in 2005 and 2006. They were only imitating their political leadership! Why is it both parties in Washington think the United States can borrow, borrow, borrow without a reckoning ever coming? Bush, Reid and Pelosi seem poised to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowed public money to political insiders on Wall Street and in banking, whose bonuses will now be tax-subsidized. The capitalist maxim is, "She who reaps the gains also bears the losses." Now Washington wants those who reaped the gains to shift the losses to those who lived humbly. The young will pay and pay for these cynical ploys to insure the luxury of the powerful old. Why aren't the young outraged?
TMQ's pal Isabel Sawhill, among the leading public-policy economists of our day, says Washington does indeed need to intervene in the financial system -- the harm to the average person of letting credit markets freeze would be greater, she thinks, than the harm caused by more public debt. Fair enough. But it doesn't inspire confidence that on Sept. 12, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the financial system had been fixed and "under no circumstances" would there be further bailouts; on Friday, Paulson said the system was collapsing and another $700 billion was needed. Suddenly Paulson is insisting the country has no choice other than immediately to hand over $700 billion to Wall Street fat cats, with barely any debate or even explanation of the plan. Why should anyone believe this guy, when just one week previously he said no further bailouts would occur? It seems clear Paulson had no idea what he was talking about then, while if the problem is really as bad as Paulson says now, his past delay in facing the problem has made the cost far higher. With such a poor track record, why is the treasury secretary suddenly viewed as a superbrilliant genius whose marching orders must be followed?
It is not public intervention that is objectionable. University of Chicago Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker, among the top conservative economists, just said, "I have reluctantly concluded that substantial intervention was justified." Rather it is size of the bailout, and the hurry-up-give-the-money-don't-stop-to-think aspect, that are troubling. Much of the $700 billion will flow to investment-community friends of Paulson, Bush and other administration figures. Average Americans who behaved irresponsibly by signing gimmick mortgages may get some taxpayer aid from the Paulson proposal, and maybe they should get none. But in the end, average Americans will still be liable for most of what they owe -- that is, will still be held responsible for their actions. Wealthy, politically connected insiders who run banks and companies such as American International Group will be exempt for responsibility for their actions, and will stuff taxpayer-subsidized millions into their pockets.
On Sunday, Paulson called the self-serving actions of top Wall Street figures "inexcusable" -- yet the plan is not only to excuse them, but to shower them with free money. Paulson said Wall Street pay levels were "excessive," but should be discussed later, after the bailout is done. Now is the moment of maximum leverage! Once they are holding the public's money and laughing about how easily they got it, financial executives will have no incentive to compromise on pay. Here's an idea: Any company that participates in the bailout agrees to limit its top-tier executives to the federal minimum wage. That is, after all, the amount Washington says is enough to live on. Meanwhile, of the two jokers who drove Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the ground, one was paid $19.8 million in 2007, the other $14 million; each will get nearly $5 million in taxpayer-funded "retirement" bennies.
Yet there's scant outrage. Maybe this is because in an era of fiscal irresponsibility by both parties, everybody wants a bailout. Wall Street, bankers, homeowners who lied on their mortgage applications, Detroit automakers, farmers -- gimme, gimme, gimme! Rather than asking whether the $700 billion giveaway is too large or being structured in a way that benefits the rich, numerous members of Congress are instead demanding more bailouts be appended: for seniors (see below), cities, states, more "stimulus" checks, you name it. Give money to whoever will fund my re-election! The money is being forcibly extracted from the pockets of our children and their children. Every dollar borrowed today by the irresponsible old of Washington will subtract two dollars from future economic growth, leaving our children and their children a legacy of stagnation.
The 1980 Chrysler bailout, which was nationally debated for months before happening, cost $3.2 billion, in present-value dollars, and was financed by revenue rather than by borrowing. Here is the borrowing that's happened in 2008 alone, with precious little public debate:
• $29 billion to bail out Bear Stearns.
• $40 billion in the first mortgage-holder bailout.
• $80 billion for an additional year of Iraq war operations. (Another $150-$200 billion in war costs such as future veterans' disability benefits were incurred but not funded.)
• Up to $85 billion to bail out AIG.
• $153 billion to households for "economic stimulus."
• $200 billion, and possibly more, to bail out Fannie and Freddie.
• $290 billion in farm subsidies, despite agricultural prices and grains profits being at record highs.
• $700 billion general bailout of securities backed by bad debt. (The International Monetary Fund estimates this figure will rise to at least $1 trillion.)
That comes to $1.6 trillion, explaining the debt-ceiling rise, and does not include roughly $300 billion in essentially interest-free cash issued to banks by the Federal Reserve on an emergency basis, which may or may not be repaid, but which in any case make all existing money somewhat less valuable. Why is the debt aspect of the splurge barely being remarked on by the mainstream media and by politicians? Why are the young not furious? And about that $700 billion about to the shoveled to the Wall Street elite -- in 2007, George W. Bush vetoed an increase of $7 billion per year in health care spending for the poor, saying the country couldn't afford it.
And on a related note:
Yet Another Federal Giveaway: Here's another giveaway on which the media have been silent. Tossed into last summer's bailout bill for people behind on their mortgages -- many of them freely signed something-for-nothing gimmick loans, and don't deserve subsidies any more than Wall Street does -- is a tax favor for senior citizens. The break allows seniors to deduct their property taxes, even if they have paid off their homes and thus do not itemize deductions because they no longer have any mortgage interest to declare. The senior citizens' lobby has long wanted retirees exempt from the property taxes everybody else must pay, even though seniors are, as a group, the best-off American demographic. Property taxes are deducted on Schedule A, where home mortgage interest is deducted; those who lack home mortgage interest generally benefit by not filing Schedule A, instead claiming the standard deduction. Now seniors can claim the standard deduction and write off their property taxes, while people below age 65 can do only one or the other. This new tax favor quietly slipped into the summertime bill helps only those seniors who have paid off their homes, which in most cases will be well-to-do retirees. Not only is this yet another favor for the well-off at the expense of the average -- the new handout has nothing to do with the distressed-mortgage problem the bill was supposedly about. The seniors receiving the new handout don't have mortgage problems, because they don't have mortgages! The summertime bill was simply another gimme, gimme, gimme situation. Congress was giving away money borrowed from future generations, and well-off seniors wanted to grab some.
According to Mary Wittenberg, who is in charge of the New York Road Runners:
"Our overwhelming concern is safety, but I think somebody is crazy to wear an iPod at this marathon for other reasons,” she said. “You want every single sense tuned in to the experience of running the race of a lifetime."