PDA

View Full Version : yet another work-related thread


yks 6nnetu hing
08-10-2010, 10:06 AM
http://www.theworkbuzz.com/news/no-cussing-at-work-what-the-bleep/?lr=cbmsn&siteid=cbmsnhpBOB&GT1=23000
One of the first realizations many professionals have early in their careers is the divide between personal preferences and the workplace reality. You don’t have to be a genius or even moderately intelligent to quickly realize that you’re an employee when on the clock. You don’t get to do whatever you want. The company tells you what to do, not the other way around.

Please note: We don’t advocate you becoming a mindless drone. We’re just saying that the boss sets office hours, dress code and other guidelines. If you walked in the boss’ office and said, “Hey, you need to get here early tomorrow,” she’d probably laugh at you and then hand you a pink slip.

Within reason, the company sets standards and you abide by them. Plain and simple.

For that reason, recent news that Goldman Sachs no longer allows its employees to use curse words in e-mails shouldn’t be headline news. But it is. How will workers adjust when profanity is a common part of their daily lexicon. The financial world is often stressful and its workers passionate. A *#@$ or !%*& is bound to slip out when large sums of money are on the line, after all.
In an article for The Daily Beast, Reihan Salam argues that the freedom to curse is one of the fundamental pressure releases an employee has:

“Swear words in the workplace might sound like a fairly juvenile way to build a sense of solidarity, yet they are essential. The pleasure of using a forbidden word can be pretty powerful. And when that pleasure is shared, it is more thrilling still. One feels like a renegade 13-year-old, armed with an illusion of competence and power. You might be a cog at a trading desk, compensated with nothing but money. But you can drop all the f-bombs you’d like. Until now, that is. Now your e-mails will be scanned and filtered by sophisticated software, heightening the sense that you are monitored and very much subject to discipline. A sense of powerlessness is the inevitable result.”

Based on Salam’s argument, banning curse words is akin to banning eye rolls and sighs. Workers need to vent somehow, and apparently a bad word now and then does the job for many people.

Many companies have rules about what language should be avoided in written and verbal communications. In some companies, the list of forbidden words isn’t confined to expletives that would earn a “bleep” on TV. Employees at some companies are given broader guidelines that prevent any talk of a potentially controversial topic. Companies aren’t just worried about you offending a colleague; they’re worried about being held responsible for your profane words. If you’ll recall, discussing the sexually tinged Junior Mint episode of “Seinfeld” led to one firing, which then snowballed into a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that gained national attention and a major headache for one employer. So employers are skittish about salty language for good reason.

Consider that companies can prohibit their employees from posting negative comments on Facebook and Twitter. They don’t want a digital paper trail of bad behavior, and e-mails are no different.

Are people making a big fuss over this because it’s Goldman Sachs and it’s an easy target? This story might not be newsworthy if it were a grade school instituting this policy on teachers, for example. It would likely be a noteworthy story if a construction company didn’t allow its crew to use expletives, I imagine.

Is the controversy much ado about nothing to you because you don’t think profanity should ever be used in the workplace? Or can you make exceptions and let out a few unsavory words when things just get too stressful? Leave your comments below.


What do you think?

IMO, everyone should try to contain themselves. That being said, there's a clear difference in whether you work with customers on a daily basis and whether the cussing is verbal or written. In either case, anything going out to the customer should be squeaky-clean. The emails within the office should be allowed some leeway... and verbal communication within the office should be no-ones business. If everyone needs to work on a project that is idiotic and everyone knows it then it is even more idiotic to praise the project when there's no outsiders to hear. Particularly if the project falls under company confidential and you're not supposed to discuss it with anyone outside of the work-circle anyways. Welcome to 1984 (or schitzophreniaville, whichever name you prefer), people!

I am rather amazed at the comments below the article, btw.

Davian93
08-10-2010, 10:41 AM
Swearing at work is completely unprofessional. Swearing in a work email is juvenile at best.

There are, of course, exceptions to that and they are private conversations but you run the risk of someone overhearing and that's on you at that point.

Caveat: No conversation at the office is truly private.

yks 6nnetu hing
08-10-2010, 10:53 AM
if it's shit on a stick then it helps to call it that. Instead of naming it "processed nutrients on a stick. with sugar coating. And I'm gonna eat it all and I'm gonna love it."

on a related note, there's another bit of news:
from CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/08/10/new.york.escape.chute.opened/#fbid=-5q2nYQRvgn&wom=false) and all over, really.

Basically, the flight attendant flipped when a passanger refused to follow safety measures, cursed at him and let (either by accident or purposefully, don't know) his suitcase fall on the attendant's head.

Now, not that I like the language used, I believe that in this case the flight attendant was damn right to get upset. If anything would go wrong, it would be HIS responsibility not the dumbass who endangered himself and his copassangers.

Davian93
08-10-2010, 11:21 AM
if it's shit on a stick then it helps to call it that. Instead of naming it "processed nutrients on a stick. with sugar coating. And I'm gonna eat it all and I'm gonna love it."

on a related note, there's another bit of news:
from CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/08/10/new.york.escape.chute.opened/#fbid=-5q2nYQRvgn&wom=false) and all over, really.

Basically, the flight attendant flipped when a passanger refused to follow safety measures, cursed at him and let (either by accident or purposefully, don't know) his suitcase fall on the attendant's head.

Now, not that I like the language used, I believe that in this case the flight attendant was damn right to get upset. If anything would go wrong, it would be HIS responsibility not the dumbass who endangered himself and his copassangers.

Yeah, I read the NY Times version of it...this man is my hero.

The version I read had it as follows: Plane lands and is taxiing to the jetway. THe passenger just can't wait to deplane so he stands up, pulls his luggage out of the overhead while they're still rolling and smashes the flight attendant in the head. The Attendant yells at him and tells him to apologize, the guy doesn't and instead tells the Attendant to "Fvck Off!" after a brief argument. The Attendant says it back, gets on the intercom and tells the entire plane to "Fvck Off!", grabs a couple beers from the beverage cart, pops the door, hits the emergency chute button, slides down the chute, walks to his car and goes home where he proceeds to engage in sexual acts with his partner. He was arrested in mid-coitus apparently.

If you're gonna quit, do it with style.

Sarevok
08-10-2010, 11:39 AM
If you're gonna quit, do it with style.
There's style, and then there's getting an airplane stuck on the taxiway for hours. The damages lawsuit he's gonna get from the airline and the airport alone will be for enough $$ he can't ever repay. And then there's the criminal case which will probably put him in jail for years.

On the topic of swearing in the workplace: there shouldn't be any need to make an official policy on that, apart from "let's all just try to get along". While, like Dav mentioned, it's kind unprofessional, it may be a relief to swear a little if things are really messed up. If the wording is in appropriate, colleagues should be able to talk about it like civilized adults.

Crispin's Crispian
08-10-2010, 11:50 AM
Huh. We swear at work regularly, but not in professional conversation nor over e-mail. Maybe it's completely unprofessional, but no one is getting fired over it.

Davian93
08-10-2010, 11:50 AM
There's style, and then there's getting an airplane stuck on the taxiway for hours. The damages lawsuit he's gonna get from the airline and the airport alone will be for enough $$ he can't ever repay. And then there's the criminal case which will probably put him in jail for years.

On the topic of swearing in the workplace: there shouldn't be any need to make an official policy on that, apart from "let's all just try to get along". While, like Dav mentioned, it's kind unprofessional, it may be a relief to swear a little if things are really messed up. If the wording is in appropriate, colleagues should be able to talk about it like civilized adults.


Still pretty cool...damn the man!



I will agree that swearing is okay in the office but I would propose that its never acceptable in formal settings like tele-conferences, meetings, talking to subordinates, etc. If you and your buddy are BSing about work and you slip in an occasional "This is total BS" type comment, its not a big deal.


As I'm now a supervisor (got promoted 2 months ago), I am very cognizant of anything I say or write as I now have to be aware that I cannot gripe in front of subordinates. Gripes go uphill, never down.

Ivhon
08-10-2010, 11:59 AM
I have no problem with banning curse words in emails. Emails are company property and company responsibility. Particularly in an industry that is as besieged as finance is, anybody getting hold of someone's curse-laden rant could set the company up for bad press or a lawsuit.

Need to vent? Fine. Curse verbally to a colleague behind the 2-inch mahogany door to your office. Keep it out of print.

GonzoTheGreat
08-10-2010, 12:02 PM
About the airplane: in none of the accounts I've read of the story so far (not many, I'll admit) was it said that the passenger was going to be charged with anything. I wonder why not. It seems quite clear that he was engandering security in a moving airplane, and he did so against the instructions he got from the air plane personnel.

As for the more general case: I think that the standard approach should be "no swearing", but I also think that it would depend on the circumstances whether or not that rule is followed to the limit.
If some nuclear power plant operator at Chernobyl had noticed something going a bit wrong, and then said "oh $4!+", that in itself shouldn't be cause to fire him. In other cases, though, things would be differently.
For instance, what I read about that flight attendant he did not act appropriately, and that could be a reason to fire him. That he got angry when the passenger ignored him was not professional, that he said something unprintable* when hit in the face with the bag is understandable and shouldn't be cause for actions, that he then left in the manner he did could very well be cause to fire him.

* Well, probably something printable which nice newspapers don't print. But that is how "unprintable" is used, isn't it?

Zanguini
08-10-2010, 12:49 PM
i believe being forced to be someone else in the workplace slowly erodes you from the inside out.

a workplace that creates people without an opinion for themselves is only helping in ruining their long term production. and has helped to make the world a place of over specialization.

Davian93
08-10-2010, 01:16 PM
i believe being forced to be someone else in the workplace slowly erodes you from the inside out.

a workplace that creates people without an opinion for themselves is only helping in ruining their long term production. and has helped to make the world a place of over specialization.

I think a working group should be formed to investigate this issue. Perhaps we could meet bi-monthly?

Crispin's Crispian
08-10-2010, 01:19 PM
I think a working group should be formed to investigate this issue. Perhaps we could meet bi-monthly?

F*#@ that.

Ivhon
08-10-2010, 01:24 PM
F*#@ that.

Muttley, I need to have a meeting with you in my office this week. Im tied up for most of the week, but how about Friday at 3?

See you there.

Crispin's Crispian
08-10-2010, 02:17 PM
Muttley, I need to have a meeting with you in my office this week. Im tied up for most of the week, but how about Friday at 3?

See you there.

I'll be there, but I do have to leave at 3:15 as I'm going to the beach. I'll just make up the time next week, k thx?

Brita
08-10-2010, 02:35 PM
I'll be there, but I do have to leave at 3:15 as I'm going to the beach. I'll just make up the time next week, k thx?

Are you sh!tting me? I was gonna leave at noon, who's going to cover my work now? (and Ivhon, stop bcing me on these emails pls. thx)

Ivhon
08-10-2010, 04:17 PM
I'll be there, but I do have to leave at 3:15 as I'm going to the beach. I'll just make up the time next week, k thx?

15 minutes should be more than adequate.

Crispin's Crispian
08-10-2010, 04:27 PM
Are you sh!tting me? I was gonna leave at noon, who's going to cover my work now? (and Ivhon, stop bcing me on these emails pls. thx)

"You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Brita again."

Boooo

Sei'taer
08-10-2010, 05:10 PM
15 minutes should be more than adequate.


"Gather your shit and get out" usually takes less than a fiver if you go ahead and alert security ahead of time. Of course, if you have to do an exit interview then five minutes is plenty.

Firseal
08-10-2010, 05:51 PM
But Sei'taer - that's the point.

You can't tell an employee to gather their shit and get out.

Because then you'd be cussing.

Then you have to gather your own shit and get out...

Davian93
08-10-2010, 06:02 PM
"Gather your shit and get out" usually takes less than a fiver if you go ahead and alert security ahead of time. Of course, if you have to do an exit interview then five minutes is plenty.

Security should ALWAYS be notified prior to a firing and they usually are. I was always given at least a couple hours heads up if I had to disable accounts, log-ons, and badges for a soon to be ex-employee.

Sei'taer
08-10-2010, 08:15 PM
Security should ALWAYS be notified prior to a firing and they usually are. I was always given at least a couple hours heads up if I had to disable accounts, log-ons, and badges for a soon to be ex-employee.

My last exit interview went something like "Take you computer, your bridges, your CAD, and your engineers license and shove it up your ass and let me leave before I take a dump on your desk and, since I don't have any toilet paper to wipe with, I have scoot down the hallway draggin a hairy loaf like your yappy little fucking dog, you monkey nut eatin fuck. Have a nice day. By the way, Bradley could do with having his head pulled out of your ass for a breath every now and then."

It was more sweeties and lovies after that...the police were nice though!

2 weeks later they called and asked me for my work diary and as-built drawings. I told them that I didn't keep any records when I worked there. It's a good now, they're all kinds of out of business...

Uno
08-10-2010, 09:45 PM
My last exit interview went something like "Take you computer, your bridges, your CAD, and your engineers license and shove it up your ass and let me leave before I take a dump on your desk and, since I don't have any toilet paper to wipe with, I have scoot down the hallway draggin a hairy loaf like your yappy little fucking dog, you monkey nut eatin fuck. Have a nice day. By the way, Bradley could do with having his head pulled out of your ass for a breath every now and then."

Well, as long as you didn't swear.

Sei'taer
08-10-2010, 10:10 PM
Well, as long as you didn't swear.

That placed is where I learned the art of the swear. I knew how to do it before, but I was never aware of the strings of swears you could put together with other inane things and make them into coherent swears.

Uno
08-10-2010, 10:17 PM
That placed is where I learned the art of the swear. I knew how to do it before, but I was never aware of the strings of swears you could put together with other inane things and make them into coherent swears.

Where the magic began, one might say?

Sei'taer
08-10-2010, 11:01 PM
Where the magic began, one might say?

Exactly, it's like knowing how to say a couple of words in Mandarin and then waking up one day and being fluent.

Frenzy
08-10-2010, 11:38 PM
Hey 'taer, is THIS work-related?
http://failblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/goldfail.jpg?w=400&h=299
i'm not sure what i'd do if i saw this at a construction site inspection.

Other than not go searching for THAT pot of gold...

Frenzy
08-10-2010, 11:43 PM
On a similar note, this statue (http://www.sanjose.com/underbelly/unbelly/Sanjose/Quetzy/quetzy.html)is at the park down the block from my office. It really DOES look like a pile of poop. i had to send an inspector out to it last Friday because someone overturned a porta-potty that was placed near it due to a concert at the park.

Ahh, irony.


Oh, and i'm currently dealing with a "situation" where one inspector sent a scathing e-mail to another group calling them... jerks. The office-types in HR are horrified at the language. i'm horrified that my inspector was dumb enough to put it in an e-mail. ~sigh~

Ozymandias
08-11-2010, 12:09 AM
I think the whole thing is a ridiculous part of the populist attack on the financial industry in general.

Swearing at work (in finance) has been, approve or not, an almost indispensable part of the corporate culture for decades. Billions are on the line, hours are insanely long, and just the pressure of making trades or sales especially necessitates the need to vent. My coworkers throw phones, pound desks, and shove entire monitors off screens when they take a huge hit. I know those sound like apocryphal stories, but they're not. Last summer when I was an intern my analyst started pounding his phone on the desk at 10pm until it cracked and broke because his mother wasn't coming in to NYC that weekend. Steam just lets out at random times and stopping it might actually be unhealthy for the employee. I'm not saying this is right, but its part of how they cope with a stressful job.

The whole backlash against the financial industry is ridiculous. I love how now we're starting to get a glimpse at the consumer activity thats been overlooked despite being such a huge part of this whole crisis like strategic foreclosures and the like.

Anyways, my condensed, non rant opinion is that swearing should be allowed as long as the corporate culture allows it and as long as one is respectful, or at least civil, to clients and customers.

Frenzy
08-11-2010, 12:15 AM
The whole backlash against the financial industry is ridiculous. I love how now we're starting to get a glimpse at the consumer activity thats been overlooked despite being such a huge part of this whole crisis like strategic foreclosures and the like.
Kind of like when Upton Sinclair published The Jungle. Or when journalists went to Vietnam during the war.

Reality is a bitch, ain't she.

Ozymandias
08-11-2010, 12:30 AM
Kind of like when Upton Sinclair published The Jungle. Or when journalists went to Vietnam during the war.

Reality is a bitch, ain't she.

HAH! You're not honestly naive enough to believe those are legitimate parallels, are you? I could spend hours educating you why they're not.

Banks aren't free of guilt. But the government, regulators, and most importantly, every day investors were greedy and profit driven morons who didn't look past the money bags in their own hands long enough to smell the coffee.

Banks don't force products down the throat of the market. The market takes them out of our hands so they can shove it down their throats like the gluttonous fools they are. Sounds heartless, I know.

But I don't see any public outrage over people purposely defaulting on mortgages so they can take advantage of low interest rates. I don't see anyone looking at themselves and thinking, "I can't afford this mortgage, maybe I should step back despite the bank offering it to me," or "it does seem a LITTLE suspicious that Bernie Madoff has been turning in 10% returns annually like clockwork, without deviation, maybe I should pull out."

Banks have paid more than their share in terms of fines, losses, public backlash, new legislation, etc. I'm not intimating the public should be fined or anything... but it would be refreshing to see a little honest introspection in addition to the finger pointing.

The problem with democracy is that the people always blame someone else, regardless of the fault.

Frenzy
08-11-2010, 02:03 AM
aah, i've hit a nerve it seems.
Banks aren't free of guilt. But the government, regulators, and most importantly, every day investors were greedy and profit driven morons who didn't look past the money bags in their own hands long enough to smell the coffee.

Banks don't force products down the throat of the market. The market takes them out of our hands so they can shove it down their throats like the gluttonous fools they are. Sounds heartless, I know.
Yeah!! Don't blame the drug dealer, man. It's the market that wants to buy the product, man. it's not my fault, i'm just meeting demand, man.
But I don't see any public outrage over people purposely defaulting on mortgages so they can take advantage of low interest rates. I don't see anyone looking at themselves and thinking, "I can't afford this mortgage, maybe I should step back despite the bank offering it to me,"
so? i don't see public outrage over the 35,000+ traffic fatalities every year in the US. But that doesn't mean it isn't outrageous.

But if you want to see outrage, mention those statistics to Sei'taer then stand back.
or "it does seem a LITTLE suspicious that Bernie Madoff has been turning in 10% returns annually like clockwork, without deviation, maybe I should pull out."
People are stupid. Does this surprise you?
Banks have paid more than their share in terms of fines, losses, public backlash, new legislation, etc. I'm not intimating the public should be fined or anything... but it would be refreshing to see a little honest introspection in addition to the finger pointing.
Hold your breath and wait.
The problem with democracy is that the people always blame someone else, regardless of the fault.
No, that's the problem with people.
HAH! You're not honestly naive enough to believe those are legitimate parallels, are you? I could spend hours educating you why they're not.
watch me hold my breath and wait.

Ozymandias
08-11-2010, 08:02 AM
Yeah!! Don't blame the drug dealer, man. It's the market that wants to buy the product, man. it's not my fault, i'm just meeting demand, man.

Drug dealers provide an illegal service. Banks facilitate growth of national and personal wealth by offering credit. Did I mention they are legally obligated to give out what amounts to bad loans every year by the government?

Don't position the financial industry next to an illegal, black market drug trade. Its a completely different scenario.

so? i don't see public outrage over the 35,000+ traffic fatalities every year in the US. But that doesn't mean it isn't outrageous.

Are you nuts? I see plenty of outrage over traffic fatalities. Hence drunk driving laws, seat belt laws, cops who stand in crosswalks and useless direct (read: slow) traffic. How about that huge brouhaha with the Priuses that "randomly" accelerated? There were like... 20 cases of that, and they found that something like 60% of them were driver error, right? And the remainder, the problem was the accelerator getting stuck to the floor carpet thing.

The public is plenty outraged by traffic fatalities/injuries.

But if you want to see outrage, mention those statistics to Sei'taer then stand back.

People are stupid. Does this surprise you?

No. I have an unfailingly negative opinion of people in this world and every day proves me right again in some way or another. That doesn't mean I should be content with it.

Hold your breath and wait.

Again, merely because it won't happen doesn't mean I don't have a right to be upset about it. I don't even expect to get some measure of self reflection from relatively intelligent and self aware people, such as I consider you all, or even that kind of introspection on behalf of your fellow, foolish, Americans. But like my job, which requires the occasional crazy moment to maintain sanity, sometimes you gotta vent somewhere.

Davian93
08-11-2010, 08:47 AM
So, to clarify, when a business does a strategic foreclosure, that's just good business. When an individual does the same thing, they're an evil horrible person that should be punished?

Turnabout is fair play.

GonzoTheGreat
08-11-2010, 09:11 AM
So, to clarify, when a business does a strategic foreclosure, that's just good business. When an individual does the same thing, they're an evil horrible person that should be punished?Well, nowadays, as SCOTUS has said, a business is a person, at least when it comes to politics. So there shouldn't be any difference between the two anymore, now should there?

Sei'taer
08-11-2010, 09:56 AM
But if you want to see outrage, mention those statistics to Sei'taer then stand back.


Since I was dragged into this, I hate to say it (not really) but I agree with Ozy.

It's like my friend. He's hopelessly addicted to Lortab. He goes to 8 different doctors and gets pills to satisfy his needs. If he can't get them from the docs, then he goes on the street looking for them. I don't blame the docs, or the pharm, or the manufacturer, I blame him. He's the one who decided taking them felt good and kept going with it until he was taking 30 to 40 Lortab a day (I've literally watched him take 10 in one swallow). Now he's pissed at me because I won't talk to him anymore until he gets himself straight. He told me I was abandong him and I told him I was abandoning the pills and the I dug the old Jerry and would rather have him back than this new Jerry who was bumming off the system. Nobody shoved those down his throat or made him take them. He should have been blackballed for doctor shopping a long time ago, but when you go to the gov't and tell them you want to go on disability, they do everything they can to help you along, including hooking you up with several new doctors open to helping you get on the disability rolls and give you plenty of pills to help you on the way.

Responsibility is a many faceted jewel as far as I'm concerned. Pills, mortgages, seat belts, electric cars, litter, runoff, whatever. If you don't take responsibility for it then you didn't learn the lesson you needed to learn and you'll keep making the same mistake over and over again.

I could give you anecdote after anecdote of people around here who took shitty loans trying to make a little money down the road. The economy crapped out and they are paying for it now. It's their fault for taking a loan they knew they wouldn't be able to pay if they went beyond the terms of the agreement...yet they took them anyway. Maybe they viewed the risk as acceptable, in which case they should understand that their house is going buh-bye, or maybe the thought/hoped/prayed their financial situation would improve before the piper came around. Don't know, don't care. They screwed up and it's not my resonsibility to do anything to help them. In the same situation, I took the loan that I knew I could afford and I'm doing ok right now...at least nobody is threatening to take my house or my car.

Frenzy
08-11-2010, 10:31 AM
oh, i agree with him too for the most part. Bankers have been demonized for centuries because "they have the money and i don't." And people are stupid for taking loans they had no business getting into. But banks were stupid to offer them. And other banks were stupid to buy those bad loans off of the first banks. The government tells you to make bad loans, and you do? a little window-dressing compliance is fine, but the volume of bad loans goes beyond stupid.

i have no idea what this has to do with workplace swearing. Can we fucking stay on target for shit's sake? :p

Davian93
08-11-2010, 10:34 AM
oh, i agree with him too for the most part. Bankers have been demonized for centuries because "they have the money and i don't." And people are stupid for taking loans they had no business getting into. But banks were stupid to offer them. And other banks were stupid to buy those bad loans off of the first banks. The government tells you to make bad loans, and you do? a little window-dressing compliance is fine, but the volume of bad loans goes beyond stupid.

i have no idea what this has to do with workplace swearing. Can we fucking stay on target for shit's sake? :p


Simple solution to both problems: Make it illegal for a bank to sell a loan like that.

I guarantee that banks wouldn't make risky loans if they couldn't pass them off before they are defaulted on. Terrible decision to allow that to be legal. And I agree that people suck too.

Ivhon
08-11-2010, 11:06 AM
I disagree with the notion that all responsibility lies entirely with the individual. Which is not to say that I think no responsibility lies with the individual.

If I am an MD and you come into my office complaining about a sore muscle and I sit there and impress upon you the need to amputate your leg because that makes me more money than telling you to get some tylenol, is it your fault that you dont have equal knowledge of medicine to call my BS? No. I am at fault.

The financial institutions did the equivalent of this in many many cases (witness the recording of the Enron assholes talking about how they can bilk little old ladies out of their money).

And yes, Ozy, I have TONS of friends who are and have been on Wall Street. Many have left because of the pressure to lie, deceive and essentially rob people of their money. So while a good deal of the responsibility does fall on the individual acting within the culture of greed and quick fix, one also has to point the finger at those who created that culture...which is assuredly NOT the schmuck on the street.

In other words, as Dav was getting at. When both individuals and institutions are doing whatever they can to game the system and turn a buck, you can't absolve institutions by saying "its just business, they shouldve known better" and point the finger solely at individuals.

To bilk the system and take andvantage of the individual as an institution, you have to be an expert in one thing.

To "know better" you have to be an expert on:
finance
cars
medicine
insurance
construction
the internet
just to name a few

All at the same time. Furthermore, only institutional advertising dollars and research can create the culture of greed that this entire country is awash in. Joe sixpack cant do that.

So I give it 60-40 corporate/institutional - individual blame.

Brita
08-11-2010, 12:39 PM
Standing ovation for Ivhon- well said. And I love your signature quote btw.

Sei'taer
08-11-2010, 01:17 PM
I disagree with the notion that all responsibility lies entirely with the individual. Which is not to say that I think no responsibility lies with the individual.

If I am an MD and you come into my office complaining about a sore muscle and I sit there and impress upon you the need to amputate your leg because that makes me more money than telling you to get some tylenol, is it your fault that you dont have equal knowledge of medicine to call my BS? No. I am at fault.

The financial institutions did the equivalent of this in many many cases (witness the recording of the Enron assholes talking about how they can bilk little old ladies out of their money).

And yes, Ozy, I have TONS of friends who are and have been on Wall Street. Many have left because of the pressure to lie, deceive and essentially rob people of their money. So while a good deal of the responsibility does fall on the individual acting within the culture of greed and quick fix, one also has to point the finger at those who created that culture...which is assuredly NOT the schmuck on the street.

In other words, as Dav was getting at. When both individuals and institutions are doing whatever they can to game the system and turn a buck, you can't absolve institutions by saying "its just business, they shouldve known better" and point the finger solely at individuals.

To bilk the system and take andvantage of the individual as an institution, you have to be an expert in one thing.

To "know better" you have to be an expert on:
finance
cars
medicine
insurance
construction
the internet
just to name a few

All at the same time. Furthermore, only institutional advertising dollars and research can create the culture of greed that this entire country is awash in. Joe sixpack cant do that.

So I give it 60-40 corporate/institutional - individual blame.


I don't agree. I'm not an expert on any of those things. I do have a general knowledge of all of them though.

If I went to the doctor and he told me he was going to have to cut off my leg, then I'd go get another opinion, out of network if I felt like I needed to, before I let anyone cut parts of me off. There should always be a second opinion.

On finance, I know what I can afford and what I can't. You can't get screwed into a shitty loan if you know this, and if you pay your bills and keep up with your checkbook, then you know this. If I only make $25,000 a year and you are offering me a $500,000 loan, then we both know I can't handle it. Also, when you buy a house (in TN anyway) you have a real estate/property transaction attorney look at everything. Never, never, never use the lawyer that the realty company or the bank recommends. That's something that's everyone has been told, but few people pay any attention to.

Cars...don't know what to tell you. Cars suck. Doesn't matter who you buy it from, where it was made, whether it's battery, gas, diesel, horsedrawn, it's going to break down on you at some point. Hell, even if you use your feet, they are going to break down on you at some point. Pay attention, take care of your car and keep a little money stashed so when it does crap out its transmission you can get it fixed. That's all you have to remember. One of my favorite quotes about cars is; Why buy the piece of shit of yesterday when you can own the piece of shit of tomorrow.

Insurance, cars, finance...all of it. The old adage that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is should be first and foremost in your mind or you are setting yourself up to get screwed and if you allow it to happen, then it is your fault.

Most of the time it boils down to paying attention. You don't even need to know much about whatever it is you are looking at because usually the problem is obvious even to the least knowledgeable among us. If you don't do your homework then it's your fault, as far as I'm concerned.

Ozymandias
08-11-2010, 06:08 PM
So, to clarify, when a business does a strategic foreclosure, that's just good business. When an individual does the same thing, they're an evil horrible person that should be punished?

Turnabout is fair play.

How is that turnabout? Businesses don't do strategic foreclosures. Businesses lend money (or the kind we're talking about anyway) and if you can't pay, they take the collateral because, after all, it is their money and not yours.

A strategic foreclosure is you deciding you don't want to pay the bank for a mortgage you can afford, because it offers a quick arbitrage opportunity. When banks do that, they get called rapacious and pay fines. Or at the very least pay a significant call premium which gives you more money in the short term. We pay for it, you don't.

I guarantee that banks wouldn't make risky loans if they couldn't pass them off before they are defaulted on. Terrible decision to allow that to be legal. And I agree that people suck too.

Yeah except if this were the case economic growth would grind to a halt and minorities would be screwed. Thats why they introduced the damn CRA in the first place. We tried this path for a long long time and it didn't work.

And CMOs are securities like any other. And the A tranches and even most of the B's are still doing pretty well, I believe.

I disagree with the notion that all responsibility lies entirely with the individual. Which is not to say that I think no responsibility lies with the individual.

My point is not that banks don't deserve a lot of blame. We do. But we took our punches; billions lost, huge institutions left to fail, thousands of layoffs, new legal restrictions on our activity. That seems like a lot of punishment, most of it deserved. And yet we're still demonized. The SEC is hounding Goldman for no reason except public sentiment. That latest case about betting against securities they were selling was a pure PR move, and thats not why the regulators are there. They're bureaucrats, they aren't supposed to give in to public opinion and stop doing a responsible job, which they aren't anymore. Hell, they're investigating themselves over the damn thing!

And yes, Ozy, I have TONS of friends who are and have been on Wall Street. Many have left because of the pressure to lie, deceive and essentially rob people of their money.

You know, I've grown up around people in finance. My family is heavily involved. I went to school with a lot of business school types. I work on the Street now. And I honestly believe that those reasons are pretty false. Yeah, we're out to sugarcoat everything and screw the other guy. But the other guy is never Joe the Plumber, to revive a nice political persona. Its Joe the JP Morgan banker. We're out to screw each other, because thats all we can legally do. Screw Prudential, screw Deutschebank, screw the Street and the hedge funds and the PE guys. And while some of that trickles down to hurt the little guys, you're well protected. Even the S/T guys with the best interests of the Main Street investor at heart CAN'T sell to them due to legal restrictions. I feel like the average American thinks that investment banks are out to screw them, when in reality, we need their capital to function and by screwing them, we screw ourselves. I'm going to leave finance because the hours are brutal, the job can be menial at the lower levels, and its just to stressful to do it continuously unless you downright love the thrill of the deal.

People think that money just grows in investments without risk. We risk other people's money and charge for it, I suppose, but thats all fine when the 9% returns are flowing in. Investing in ECM/DCM is just like gambling; the long term results are fantastically better, and so are the average returns, but no one remembers that they ARE risking money when its gone.

No one bitches about the system when the casino beats them in blackjack, and in this sense, we're not even the casino. We're like the cabbie who takes you there.

Davian93
08-11-2010, 10:03 PM
How is that turnabout? Businesses don't do strategic foreclosures. Businesses lend money (or the kind we're talking about anyway) and if you can't pay, they take the collateral because, after all, it is their money and not yours.


LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL


Yes, businesses never cut their losses and walk away from a bad investment...they never enter Bankruptcy to avoid paying off bad debts.

~falls over laughing~

Ozymandias
08-12-2010, 08:09 AM
LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL


Yes, businesses never cut their losses and walk away from a bad investment...they never enter Bankruptcy to avoid paying off bad debts.

~falls over laughing~

They're severely punished for that, in some way or another. And they only do that when they can't pay. I can't remember an example of a bank, in particular, saying, "well we can pay off our debts but we don't want to, so lets go file for Chapter 11." It just doesn't happen.

Businesses go into bankruptcy BECAUSE of bad debts, which is a far cry from defaulting on an obligation merely because its a bad loan obligation.

Again, Dav, your opinion of banks seems to be far more negative than the reality of the situation is. We want the best for you; huge returns, solid cash flow and capital appreciation, the works... because that benefits us too. Your gain is our gain. We're not trying to game the system, because we're too heavily regulated for one thing, and because as I just said, our bottom line interests are tied up with yours. Individual investors often do try to game the system, because the goals of an individual don't always line up with the institutional goals. You can make money trying to find the loopholes in the system, which isn't necessarily an option for us.

Sei'taer
08-12-2010, 09:24 AM
They're severely punished for that, in some way or another. And they only do that when they can't pay. I can't remember an example of a bank, in particular, saying, "well we can pay off our debts but we don't want to, so lets go file for Chapter 11." It just doesn't happen.

Businesses go into bankruptcy BECAUSE of bad debts, which is a far cry from defaulting on an obligation merely because its a bad loan obligation.

Again, Dav, your opinion of banks seems to be far more negative than the reality of the situation is. We want the best for you; huge returns, solid cash flow and capital appreciation, the works... because that benefits us too. Your gain is our gain. We're not trying to game the system, because we're too heavily regulated for one thing, and because as I just said, our bottom line interests are tied up with yours. Individual investors often do try to game the system, because the goals of an individual don't always line up with the institutional goals. You can make money trying to find the loopholes in the system, which isn't necessarily an option for us.

But, But...according to this administration you're a big business and big business sucks! How could you possibly be in the business of helping people? Only government can help people, everyone else is just out to screw people!

yks 6nnetu hing
08-17-2010, 04:12 AM
Swearing at work is completely unprofessional. Swearing in a work email is juvenile at best.

There are, of course, exceptions to that and they are private conversations but you run the risk of someone overhearing and that's on you at that point.

Caveat: No conversation at the office is truly private.

Yeah, I read the NY Times version of it...this man is my hero.

The version I read had it as follows: Plane lands and is taxiing to the jetway. THe passenger just can't wait to deplane so he stands up, pulls his luggage out of the overhead while they're still rolling and smashes the flight attendant in the head. The Attendant yells at him and tells him to apologize, the guy doesn't and instead tells the Attendant to "Fvck Off!" after a brief argument. The Attendant says it back, gets on the intercom and tells the entire plane to "Fvck Off!", grabs a couple beers from the beverage cart, pops the door, hits the emergency chute button, slides down the chute, walks to his car and goes home where he proceeds to engage in sexual acts with his partner. He was arrested in mid-coitus apparently.

If you're gonna quit, do it with style.

*hypocricy meter explodes*

apples and oranges in a way, since the guy was quitting with a bang and the original reply was to swearing at work (and not being penalised). But still.

They're severely punished for that, in some way or another. And they only do that when they can't pay. I can't remember an example of a bank, in particular, saying, "well we can pay off our debts but we don't want to, so lets go file for Chapter 11." It just doesn't happen.
So are individuals, and so do individuals. And, as always, in both categories of corporations and individuals you've always got some who want to "bilk the system" as Ivhon so charmingly put it. The problem is, when individuals do it, they don't cause NEARLY as much damage to as many others, be they individuals or corporations or the government, as when corporations do it.

Ozymandias
08-18-2010, 08:22 AM
So are individuals, and so do individuals. And, as always, in both categories of corporations and individuals you've always got some who want to "bilk the system" as Ivhon so charmingly put it. The problem is, when individuals do it, they don't cause NEARLY as much damage to as many others, be they individuals or corporations or the government, as when corporations do it.

and so do individuals

Again, this is quite frankly not true in the slightest. Individuals are much more likely to pick up and walk away from a bad investment, take their credit rating hit (and honestly, it can be worth it in these cases, especially if you are actually someone who pays bills on time and thus avoids most of the penalties). Banks don't. Can't. Its an unsustainable business model to keep screwing the little guy. But since we rely on the little guy for money, we can't afford to blackball too many of them.

Secondly, most major financial crises come about not because of banks trying to illegally screw the system, but because of large market dislocations that upset fundamental assumptions about the right and wrong investments. LTCM for example, wasn't doing anything wrong... they got mauled because Russia decided to default on its debt. And that was THE poster child for huge failures for a decade. So understand there is a difference between being caught with your pants down, and with blatantly trying to game the existing system.

And thirdly, is a question of scale. You might find the odd bank doing something wrong, the people who run the damn things are only human. But on the whole they tend to be much more responsible with their corporate charges than individuals are. Something like 33% of the country doesn't pay their taxes? Or not in full? I'll have to find a source for that, but it was recently quoted to me and I believe it.