Pirates at the helm

The corporate parasites protect their own:

After months of anger at Bank of America (BAC) chairman and CEO Ken Lewis, shareholders voted to fire him as board chairman yesterday at the company’s annual meeting in Charlotte.

Lewis had a terrible year in 2008, as did everyone in the banking industry, but he had the added baggage of having withheld material adverse information from his shareholders about the forced merger of BAC with Merrill Lynch late last year. After shareholders approved that merger (which was instigated by government authorities), it came out that Merrill’s losses were going to be considerably worse than anyone knew. To add insult to injury, Merrill’s recently-installed CEO, John Thain, found it prudent to accelerate the payment of Merrill’s annual bonuses by a month. This meant they would be largely complete before the BAC merger completed, making it impossible for BAC’s shareholders to nix or reduce them…. It gets interesting at this point, because even though shareholders did what they think is the right thing, the rest of the company’s directors unanimously voted to retain Lewis as CEO, the top management position.

What the board was saying in effect was: Lewis is the best guy for the job; we’re not going to easily find anyone as good; and his malfeasance in withholding information about the Merrill deal was not sufficient grounds to dismiss him.

Speaking as an entrepeneur, let me state unequivocally that one of the biggest problems in corporate America is the fact that the professional executive class is the most useless bunch of thieving scum in the country. (The Human Resources departments are useless too, but at least they’re not thieves.) Most corporate executives are not businessmen, they’re not capitalists, they’re simply parasites busily engaged with siphoning off as much corporate money as they think they can get away with. Every single member of that board should be fired. If Lewis hadn’t violated his responsibility by keeping his mouth shut about the massive devaluation of the company that the Merrill merger would entail, there’s no way it would have gone through.

It’s sickening the way that the parasites chant “increasing shareholder value” like a mantra while doing their damndest to reduce it in every way. Lewis is a parasitic poster boy; he was willing to sink the entire company rather than risk – risk – the chance that the U.S. Treasury would try to break the law and fire him.

Interest query

If you’re going to compare the effect of interest rates on GDP and housing prices, would you use the Fed Funds rate, the Discount Rate, the Prime Rate, or the 30-year mortgage rate?

Please note that I said “interest” query, I didn’t say it would be an interesting one….

The asteroid theory craters

So much for the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction:

Supporters of the Chicxulub impact theory suggest the impact crater and the mass extinction event only appear far apart in the sedimentary record because of earthquake or tsunami disturbance that resulted from the impact of the asteroid. But Professor Keller said: ‘The problem with the tsunami interpretation is that this sandstone complex was not deposited over hours or days by a tsunami. Deposition occurred over a very long time period.’

The scientists also found evidence that the Chicxulub impact didn’t have the dramatic impact on species diversity that has been suggested. At one site at El Penon, the researchers found 52 species present in sediments below the impact spherule layer, and counted all 52 still present in layers above the molten droplets or spherules.

‘We found that not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact,’ said Professor Keller.

I always thought that the asteroid extinction event was a rather dumb idea. And I particularly enjoy the attempted explanation which involves nonexistent earthquakes and tsunamis to explain away the problem of the sedimentary record. Even more amusing will be the typical reaction of scientists, who always rush to remind everyone that it is scientists who have dismantled the previous scientific consensus… even when that’s not actually the case.

The problem is that even when it is true, such a reaction completely misses the point. The relevant point is that what scientists were previously telling us that we were stupid and ignorant to doubt was, in fact, false.

Now, I understand it can be troubling to have to rethink your basic assumptions. For the first time in twenty-five years, I find myself forced to seriously question the basic assumptions of the Smith-Ricardian free trade theory, and I increasingly suspect that national protectionists, such as Pat Buchanan, are correct in certain circumstances. But whether one has doubts about a particular theory or not, there’s simply no cause or excuse for the attempted intellectual bullying to which so many scientists and science fetishists are prone, and such behavior does nothing but increase the rational observer’s doubts about the theories they are advocating.

UPDATE: Mendoscot points out that part of the reason for the hissy fits may be that scientists really don’t want anyone looking too closely at their, ah, very strict peer-reviewed “science“:

“Experts in the field contacted by Nature have been taken aback by the extent of the methodological errors getting through the supposedly strict peer-review systems of the journals in question.”