Too Cool to Be Forgotten
First, I have to restate that I adore Ben Stein. I don't agree with all of his politics, but I never fail to learn something from every column that he writes. Today's Everyday Business column was no exception. When a card-carrying Republican gets fired up about greedy executives and the wealth gap, that means our current state of economic stratification is baaaad, y'all.
There is another interesting aspect to [stock buybacks]: the immense mass of stock that is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of families in this country — by some measures as much as 80 percent of all stock. And a very, very large portion of it is owned by the wealthiest 1 percent of families. In fact, the upper 1 percent owned about 44 percent of financial assets in 2001, the most recent year for which I could get data.
(If you said that the $2.6 trillion of cash owned by American corporations was yet another asset of the very rich, you would not be terribly far off. This makes it a bit sad — no, heartbreaking — for the roughly 80 percent of Americans who have no or virtually no savings.)
Or, to put it yet another way, this is a great, magnificent country, beyond all reason, with the doors of opportunity open to all. But it’s really, really great for the rich.You're preaching to the choir, Ben. But I liked the way he ended the column, returning our focus to that important but oft-forgotten resource we all have: our ability to affect others in a positive way.
Second, I loved this little nugget of an article about hipsters in Williamsburg and the cool quotient that is required before one creative type can become another creative type's roommate. I am endlessly fascinated by the Church of Cool. I wish there were a way to quantify how hard one has to work to maintain an aura of hipness or holier-than-thou-ness, especially here in New York. Loyal readers, you know that I am not cool in any way, shape, or form; I don't have the time or feel the need to discover obscure bands before everyone else and debate the merits of the various Safran Foers, though I am enthralled (in a Jane Goodall sort of way) by those who do. And maybe this is why I don't aspire to live in Williamsburg, but I'd much rather have a roommate with whom I can sit down and dissect "Beauty and the Geek" over cheap wine rather than one who wants to talk endlessly about cool bands, Misshapes, and blogs. Yes, I said blogs.
The Boyf said something great today: "Who was it that said, 'Making a blog is like peeing in a bucket'?" I laughed because it was so true. Blogging is not quantum physics. It doesn't require a degree or even a firm grasp of spelling, grammar, and syntax. Any monkey with a keyboard and internet access can do it. So let's stop seeing it as this vaunted possible vehicle to literary stardom and start accepting it for what it is: entertainment, maybe education (depending on the type of blog), and possibly a venue for dialogue. Or at least I hope it is here. Let me know in the comments if you feel I'm wrong.