Mammon category archive
Andreas Kluth posits that Elon Musk, many of his fellow filthy rich, and their admirers, see them as Randian superheroes. He suggests that this is not a positive thing. A snippet:
Rand’s protagonists, such as the architect Howard Roark in “Fountainhead” or the Capitalist Übermensch John Galt in “Atlas Shrugged,” are cartoons of what Musk and his ilk aspire to be. They’re uncompromising, ultramasculine and hyper-individualistic visionaries. They’re in it for themselves, powered by an unapologetic egocentrism that rejects the serf morality of ordinary pencil pushers in their cubicle farms.
That might explain why Tesla founder Musk, Amazon titan Jeff Bezos and quite a few other hard-driving — and almost invariably male — tech tycoons adulate Ayn Rand.
I spent many years as a corporate trainer, doing mostly management training. Based on how Musk has been exercising his stewardship (sewership?) of Twitter, I venture that he could benefit from the “Basic Supervisory Skills” course that I used to teach to newly promoted supervisors.
I also had the privilege to work for a number of good bosses who were an absolute pleasure to work for (and with, because a good boss knows how to make you feel as if you are working with him or her, not just for him or her); I also had three really bad ones.
I would not nominate Musk for the former category.
Paul Krugman skewers the central myth of cryptocurrency. A couple of snippets (emphasis added):
After all, the 2008 white paper that started the cryptocurrency movement, published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, was titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” That is, the whole idea was that electronic tokens whose validity was established with techniques borrowed from cryptography would make it possible for people to bypass financial institutions. If you wanted to transfer funds to someone else, you could simply send them a number — a key — with no need to trust Citigroup or Santander to record the transaction.
(Snip ahead to now)
. . . .cryptocurrencies are largely purchased through exchanges such as Coinbase and, yes, FTX, which take your money and hold crypto tokens in your name.
These exchanges are — wait for it — financial institutions, whose ability to attract investors depends on — wait for it again — those investors’ trust. In other words, the crypto ecosystem has basically evolved into exactly what it was supposed to replace: a system of financial intermediaries whose ability to operate depends on their perceived trustworthiness.
At the San Fransisco Chronicle, Lorena Gonzalez looks at how Elon Musk’s arbitrary, capricious, and erratic (mis)treatment of employees at Twitter, then at his track record as an employer, and concludes, “No surprises here.”
Writing in the Portland Press-Herald, Adam Lee unveils a new cryptocurrency based on a renewable resource.
Follow the link for details.
It gets more gilded every day. From a report at SFGate:
As I have mentioned, I worked for the railroad (I loved the railroad!), which is a heavily unionized environment (though these days, the unions don’t seem to be as strong
as they should used to be). By happenstance, I knew a high-ranking union official, the chief lobbyist for one of the major railroad unions, a kind and honest and thoughtful man, indeed, one of the finest men I have ever known.
He was fond of pointing out that “unions are the creation of management.”
To put it another way, if management treats employees fairly, employees have no incentive to form unions.
Emma and the crew talk with a caller about the con. (The relevant portion of the clip starts about !:15 mark after a short discussion about China and Taiwan. Short commercial at the end.)
The companies have huge market caps based on nothing.
The Los Angeles Times’s Matt Pearce takes a long and thoughtful look at chaos agent Elon Musk’s stewardship (or perhaps that sever-ship) of Twitter. A snippet:
Demonstrating anything less than servility to the world’s wealthiest man seems to make Musk lash out, which is probably one of the reasons he hates journalists and left-wing politicians so much. Maybe you can get away with that more easily as the owner of a rocket company or a car company. But that’s a real risk for an owner of a social media platform, especially the service whose users are infamous for cyberbullying the thinnest-skinned targets they can find.
In a related vein, the EFF offers some guidance to those who might be interested in an alternative to Twitter.
Robert Reich reflects of the new Gilded Age and the two persons who most personify it. A snippet:
Musk is not exactly Donald Trump. They’re different generations, possess different skills, occupy different roles in the bizarre firmament of modern America. And Trump is far more dangerous to democracy — so far.
But both represent the emergence of a particularly American personality in the early years of the twenty-first century: the wildly disruptive narcissist. Both wield sledge hammers to protect their fragile egos. Both are utterly lacking in empathy. Both lie, and push baseless conspiracy theories (such as the one cooked up about Paul Pelosi).
And both are indefatigable self-promoters.
Both are billionaires but they are not motivated primarily by money. Nor are they fueled by any larger purpose, principle, or ideology. Their singular goal is to imprint their giant egos on everyone else — to exercise raw power over people. To make others grovel.