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Businesses Math The Almighty Buck Science

Friends Don't Let Geek Friends Work In Finance 732

theodp writes "If Vivek Wadhwa remade Pinocchio, instead of The Coachman luring naughty boys to Pleasure Island to engage in mischievous behavior and be transformed into donkeys, you might find Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein luring bright engineering grads to Wall Street to engage in mischievous behavior and be transformed into, well, asses. While the practice of poaching engineering talent slowed after the economy tanked in 2008, Wadhwa is dismayed to report that thanks to hundred-billion-dollar taxpayer bailouts, investment banks have recovered and gone back to their old, greedy ways, snagging engineering grads who might otherwise solve the world's problems, making them financial offers they can't refuse, and morphing them into quants, investment bankers and management consultants. 'Not only are the investment banks siphoning off hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy with financial gimmicks like CDOs,' writes Wadhwa, 'they are using our best engineering graduates [25% of MIT grads in '06] to help them do it. This is the talent that our country has invested so much resource in producing.' He concludes: 'Let's save the world by keeping our engineers out of finance. We need them to, instead, develop new types of medical devices, renewable energy sources, and ways for sustaining the environment and purifying water, and to start companies that help America keep its innovative edge.' Amen, but how 'ya gonna keep 'em down on the Engineering farm after they've seen Wall Street?"
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Friends Don't Let Geek Friends Work In Finance

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  • by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:22AM (#35629922) Journal
    Heavier taxes on finance income, or some sort of legal restructuring or limitation of finance itself. If you can't get money for nothing... you can't get money for nothing. The wealth gap in the US is absurd. And don't talk about ability, unless I'm completely mistaken these people are not taking any more risks or putting in any more effort than any of the other MIT grads that continue to work as productive engineers.
  • Capitalism at work (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xetovss ( 17621 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:23AM (#35629936) Journal

    You sir have discovered capitalism at work! Why do people demonize businesses who seek out the best and brightest and PAY them for their knowledge and skill. Perhaps because they didn't get those well paying jobs themselves.

  • by modmans2ndcoming ( 929661 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:25AM (#35629964)

    since when is attempting to convince people to make a specific choice considered slavery?

  • by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:27AM (#35629974) Journal
    Since thievery became a profession.
  • Misplaced anger (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:27AM (#35629984)

    The author is blaming the financial industry of enticing smart people away from an industry that under-appreciates its talent. Horrors!

  • Oversight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:28AM (#35629986)
    Finance needs effective oversight, they need watching. If you solve that problem then your engineers won't be getting the offers they can't refuse.
  • The work itself (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ImABanker ( 1439821 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:29AM (#35629992)
    As a nerd that has a passion for finance, one thing worth considering is that the work of finance itself is tremendously fulfilling (outside of the demonizing that happens from some ill-informed quarters). The problems that you are presented with are fascinating, you are surrounded with motivated people of incredible ability, and have unbelievable responsibility at a young age - where else would I get to advise the CEO of a company on his strategy at age 25? If you have never helped a desperate company raise capital to avoid going bust by working consecutive 100 hour weeks, I suppose I can't really explain the feeling. Most of all, the work is just interesting. Or maybe I'm the devil.
  • by perlchild ( 582235 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:30AM (#35629996)

    I'd upgrade that to
    As long as the government views the biggest firms as untouchables, and pick one or two as examples/targets, this will continue on for some time....

    Letting a few of them fail in the last debacle would have been better for the economy

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:34AM (#35630046)

    Bullshit. Nobody is "demonizing" anybody. A discussion of whether intelligence can be better utilized in other sectors is not out of line.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:35AM (#35630050)

    Deciding which industries are best worked well for the Soviet Union. Let's do it here.

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:37AM (#35630064)

    Momma might actually like to get him out of the basement.. ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:39AM (#35630082)

    Or perhaps because many of these businesses can only afford to pay these people so much because they corrupted the government and got bailouts and handouts? I also don't begrudge sports salaries because I don't make that much, I begrudge them because they can only exist due to the hundreds of millions of dollars corrupted government officials dole out to them to build their stadiums (in some cases, after referendums specifically on the funding were voted down). Take away the corruption, takes away the billions of dollars in unnecessary handouts to these companies, and suddenly the playing field becomes much closer to level for more productive professions.

  • by rwyoder ( 759998 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:41AM (#35630098)

    1. RollingStone: "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?": []

    2. "Inside Job"(2010): []

    After reading/watching these, I found myself wondering why I spent all those years accomplishing nothing in IT, when I could have been robbing banks from the inside with no worries about being prosecuted.

  • by sa666_666 ( 924613 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:47AM (#35630148)

    Right, pull out the jealousy card as soon as someone sees a problem with this recruitment. The only possible reason one could have for disagreeing is that they're jealous they don't have the job themselves.

    I don't demonize all (or even most) businesses who seek out the best. What I do object to is the organized cesspool of crime that is the finance industry. They are directly responsible for the current economic conditions (a recession that could lead to a depression). They produce nothing of value, and now want to leech away the best and brightest so they can make billions more. These filthy rich will do everything they can to amass more wealth, even as society crumbles around them. It doesn't matter to them, they have a huge buffer zone, and can just up and move out of a country after it's been screwed up enough.

    And before you mention again that it's just sour grapes, note that I don't live in the US and haven't really been adversely affected by current economic conditions. Its just really boils my blood that people that could be making real improvements in this world are being sequestered into amassing wealth for the top 1% elite. Pure, unadulterated, unrestricted capitalism at work no doubt, but destructive just the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:49AM (#35630170)

    If you want more engineers, make the field more attractive. If the industry sucks people are going to avoid it no matter how badly we need it.

    And I took exception with the statement "This is the talent that our country has invested so much resource in producing." That makes it sound like we gave them loads of valuable training for free and then they wandered off and left us holding the bag. What a crock. Most of them graduated with smothering debt in order to get that it seems that the greater part of the investment was their own. That debt just further drives them to an industry that will pay big.

    Lately I have really been lamenting the fact that I chose to program computers for a living. I see how much money people in the finance industry make. They are in a higher income bracket, and yet they don't seem to be in a higher talent or workload bracket. Why shouldn't I be envious, and why shouldn't I leave my boss high and dry for a different job that pays twice as much?

  • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:51AM (#35630186) Homepage
    It's not slavery. Working for the betterment of mankind instead of its hasty demise is liberating. On the contrary, working for greedy pigs is slavery, no matter how much money they give you.
    I used to work for the military-industrial complex. It paid very well, but it's a soul-sucking job. After one of my kids developed cancer and 9-11 happened, I decided that I couldn't go on in that line of work, and left the industry. I now work at a university for 1/3 the income, and feel much better about what I do for a living.
  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @11:56AM (#35630212)

    If the career path you choose is to be a thief, robbing the country blind, then yes, the government has every right to try to discourage you from that choice.

  • Re:The work itself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:06PM (#35630296) Homepage
    Yes, but there's fascinating work elsewhere too. And when you're done, you've built a system that does something, as opposed to shuffling money around. I realize that everything comes back to money if you're going to get paid, but most other places have a layer of "actual product" in between their work and the money it generates, and that product has some intrinsic value in itself. My sincere feeling is that working in Finance, you miss out on creating a tangible product that's useful to people outside your 20-person company.
  • by zoroaster37 ( 1950444 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:06PM (#35630298)
    Here's a thought. Why not add a stick to that carrot? When Wall Street screws the rest of us, find the people responsible, throw them in prison, and seize their assets to pay back the taxpayers. If current law doesn't allow this, then the law should be changed. This will have 2 outcomes. Fewer people will go after the really lucrative positions (those that involve stealing from the rest of us) if there is an actual real risk of punishment. Second, possibly we might see a Wall Street evolve that actually does some good, rather than the greedy parasite we have now.
  • Re:The work itself (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:07PM (#35630310)

    I'm sure bank robbers (not you, the types with guns) get the same thrill.

    The demonizing isn't coming from ill-informed quarters. It's coming from the people who know what you do, know where you get your money from. The cash you get from HFT isn't just magically appearing from no where. It's being stolen from legitimate investors. You're all a bunch of thieves, skimming money off the top of every transaction, and using every loophole you find so that you don't even pay taxes on it. You've drained the country of its lifeblood, and in a few decades will leave it a rotting husk while you move on to another nation to loot. If telling yourself that I'm just "ill-informed" is what lets you sleep at night, then go ahead. Keep lying to yourself. But when your middle-class friends and family (do you even have any?) are suffering, know that it's because you helped your company loot their savings and run their employers out of business.

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ben4jammin ( 1233084 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:13PM (#35630356)
    It is not completely ridiculous.

    While investment banks and the like do make important contributions, their industry just recently had a negative effect on the WORLD economy due to their shady practices. Then when it hit the fan, they used their influence to socialize the risk/losses while still keeping the profits. So the taxpayers lose, and they still win, even when it was their poor decisions that caused the mess.

    Some would say that because of the above, any benefit they provide comes at too steep a cost. I certainly understand that not all participants in the finance industry should be painted with this same brush. But none of this has to do with "communistic ideals". And you don't have to find money distasteful to find it distasteful when taxpayers are footing the bill for the mistakes of others.

    I'm not saying that I agree with the article (I haven't read it yet). But I would hope that it is not that hard to understand why the finance industry is not very popular...when you put everyone on the planet at risk, that is the kind of blowback you can expect.
  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:17PM (#35630378)

    The old idea that people working in some specific profession produce nothing of value to society.

    I take it you've just come back from Mars: currently, "producing nothing of value to society" would be such a massive improvement for the finance sector that even I wouldn't begrudge them a bonus...

    The inventor of the mobile phone fart app has more to be proud of than the inventor of the CDO.

    Of course, some people in finance might still be doing useful work - e.g. taking deposits from people with surplus cash and lending it, at a slightly higher rate, to people with short-term cashflow problems. Maybe such people should find a new name for what they do, because that sort of thing ceased to be the main business of the banks when they found that they could play insane money games with our cash, keep the winnings and send us the bill if they lost.

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:19PM (#35630400)


    Look, it's ok. You feel guilty of having sold out, but really, it's alright: we are all free. There is nothing reprehensible in deciding that you need money to support your family/loves/drug habits (bar useless mentions).


    Money for research overwhelmingly comes from government and industries. Not the financial sector. And the point of research is that all of Humanity benefits: ideas created/crafted/refined there benefit all. Only in theory is the investment baking industry responsible for better investment. Because as it happens, they are way too much into short-term (crazy short) benefits for that. And they sustain themselves through fees, meaning that they have a strong incentive for the creation of opaque products no-one really knows how to price (but the fees are charged anyway :) ).

    If Nash had been a quant, a couple billions would have been added to the bottom line of some Wall Street firm, and the Nash equilibrium would have been called the Smith (or Jones) equilibrium. And been invented later. And game theory would have lost a couple decades. And the whole of Humanity would be a couple decades back in that respect.

    This is precisely why it is particularly bad that the financial industry hires the brightest: if they were into banking for the love of it, chances are, they would be indeed be interested in better investment strategies. But most of them hate their jobs, and compensate by loving their lifestyles and trying to be extra-clever for the sake of their egos. Thus the mess we are in.

    Did you know? Monetary incentives prevent people from lateral thinking and seeing the big picture. Doesn't it explain a lot?

  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:20PM (#35630402) Homepage Journal

    Or perhaps because many of these businesses can only afford to pay these people so much because they corrupted the government and got bailouts and handouts?

    Or perhaps the "bailouts" were actually loans that are being repaid with interest, and the Government was working for the benefit of the people, who are better off with a strong financial system?

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:27PM (#35630466) Homepage Journal

    I take strong exception to everyone in the financial sector being labeled a thief. I've worked for some excellent financial firms that have helped people to manage their finances and invest for the future. That there are amoral scumbags in the world is no shock, but just as most of the lawyers I've known are good people who try to do good in the world through their work (while their profession is tainted by the loudest minority), bankers and other fiduciaries provide an essential service which all too often does not receive the respect it deserves.

  • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:29PM (#35630486)

    The idea is fine. Roll together a bunch of mortgages (debt obligations) backed by property (collateralized) and you have a security. It's actually a useful idea because it gives banks another market to sell these to. It gives people with money to invest another place to invest it.

    The problem was basically fraud. Wrapping steaming piles of dog crap together and claiming they weren't risky was an outright lie. CDOs plus outrageous lies were the problem. I still remember well just being amazed at things like low-doc and no-doc loans. I remember applying for a loan from my bank and they offered me more than double what I could actually afford.

    We want to blame the finance guys, but the problem was banks giving loans to people they knew couldn't repay them because they could just sell the loan to someone else and not care. The problem was the liars who falsely represented those CDOs that were composed of crap as being safer than they were. The problem was investors not doing due diligence, seeing anybody with a pulse getting $100k+ in money to buy a house, even if they didn't have a job and NOT being damn sure those types of loans weren't in the CDOs they were buying. The problem was investors not seeing a massive streak of systemic risk running through adjustable mortgage rate backed securities. When rates go up, defaults go up on ALL of them. Systemic risk, which is exactly what bundling things together is supposed to mitigate.

    People, the very same issue would exist if this happened with savings accounts. There's nothing wrong with savings accounts, but if a chain of people did stupid things with the money in them causing it all to be lost, would we be up in arms that savings accounts are bad, or would we be up in arms about the criminals who misused them? I hope the latter.

  • by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:31PM (#35630506)

    Actually, this is what is Pigouvian tax is. The problem is that if we taxed the banking industry to compensate the externality they generate, I don't believe there would be much profit left in it...

    Wealth redistribution is another issue. And for the sake of it, yes, it is both fair and necessary. The point is this: whether you earn 1 million a Year or 2 millions a year, your lifestyle is pretty much identical. However, that second million can cause 20 paupers to be middle-class. Or 10 great teachers to be paid, or kilometres of road to be maintained, or a couple research projects to be run. All these are much more necessary for society than you keeping you second million.

    And the fact is that the odds that you will invest it in anything as remotely necessary (not useful, people are rather good at useful) but necessary are vanishingly small. You keeping this second million actually hurts society, because it is not spent on vital infrastructure or common goods. Paying the papers is in fact probably the most necessary of those expenses: the alternative is that they will either end in the emergency room and cost a lot, or commit crimes and cost a lot, or end up in prison and cost a lot. In the best case, they will be on the street begging, inconveniencing people and propagating unhappiness.

    You should like paying taxes: this is the way you pay for civilisation.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:34PM (#35630532)

    Agreed, the 99% of them do make the 1% of you look bad.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:36PM (#35630550)
    So you don't like working for the DoD because of personal ideological conflicts? I'm a left leaning life-long Democrat who has worked for the DoD for 20 years. My job is very satisfying, I am not a slave, and am well-paid for my work. As a patriotic individual that believes in a strong national defense, I am also supporting the welfare of my country. Don't assume that all "right thinking Liberals" think as you, and those that don't are somehow dupes of the Right Wing Nutters.
  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:40PM (#35630580) Homepage

    .so it seems that the greater part of the investment was their own.

    In some cases, perhaps. The 12 years of elementary school education, however, was not, and neither were the numerous public grants to their institutions. Nor was the decision of their professors to teach instead of going into other sectors (like, say finance) a matter of no worth. Many professors sacrifice their prospects out of a sense of duty to society at large.

    You are right that the student debt problem is crazy, but it is hardly unreasonable to hope for, persuade, and praise the development of a sense of civic responsibility in our graduates.

    Besides, I seem to recall it was the financial sector lobbyists that managed to screw as much cash out of privatized student loan programs as they could, until congress finally managed to get the program back into more efficient government-run hands...

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:43PM (#35630598)

    You're describing the financial sector as it existed in the 70s. Back then, it really was about helping businesses grow and finding the next big idea. These days, the pigs on top have discovered that they can get WAY more money by playing around with "creative" instruments. Like bundle a bunch of bad loans, sell them claiming their good loans, and then bet money that they'll fail. Or buy a healthy company, make them layoff of a bunch of their workers so that their stock price jumps, and then sell. Shit like that doesn't create wealth; it just steals it.

  • Re:The work itself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IICV ( 652597 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:55PM (#35630698)

    If you have never helped a desperate company raise capital to avoid going bust by working consecutive 100 hour weeks, I suppose I can't really explain the feeling.

    Whoa, really? Sounds like it's been explained already. []

    No company is worth 100 hour work weeks, much less consecutive ones.

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @12:55PM (#35630702) Homepage Journal

    This was true when the financial system was focused on directly investing in real businesses and better financial systems meant a better and less costly allocation of capital to those who could use it.

    Increasingly however, the talent is being wasted on what are at best zero sum games against other similar players, such as high frequency trading. At worst these activities are actually harmful, and parasitical, on those that benefit the wider economy by profiting traders at the cost of investors (OK those groups are not well defined, you we both know what I mean well enough).

    There is also the problem that even on the most optimistic "markets are always right" take on this, there is too much investment in the financial activity because the socialised risk together with privatised profit means that the level of investment no longer reflects the level of risk/

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:07PM (#35630810)

    You are defencive, for a happy guy...

    I know scientific research _is_ a grind. You do it for the rare moments where you have a brilliant breakthrough. But then, though I program, I am not the whipping boy :)

    Again, the issue is that the level of compensation in banking is disproportionate to the value created (but then, it is the other fields which underpay, not the reverse). Which is bad because:
    - it does not cause better outcomes in banking
    - causes worse outcomes in the rest of the economy.

    Of course, if we were to discover that the paying scale in the rest of the economy was imposed by the (banker) investors, then you would be the first against the wall the week after. But clearly, you would not advise another human to try and impose the equivalent of indentured servitude to his employees to improve the bottom line. Especially since you believe that paying well attracts the best employees.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:21PM (#35630926) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I know left-leaning people who work for the military, usually because they wound up there at some point years ago and made a commitment. They thought they could do some good, then George W. Bush got elected.

    But. Human beings are evolved to work together in groups to accomplish goals together. They get great satisfaction from doing that. The military does that in a big way.

    However, it makes a difference what the goal is. It's one thing to protect your country during WWII. It's something else again to do what Smedley Butler described, which is overthrow elected governments and replace them with dictators in order to let American corporations get rich.

    The war in Iraq killed 150,000 (if you believe the New England Journal of Medicine) to 600,000 people (if you believe the Lancet). That's a lot of tragedy. Do you feel sorry for those soldiers coming back crippled from IEDs? There were probably a million Iraqis with similar injuries, who will have to struggle without the benefits of artificial limbs, rehabilitation and disability pay. We destroyed one of the most developed countries in the middle east, and turned it into a battleground for al Qaeda. We attacked Iraq with the excuse of weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be a lie.

    You know all of this. You've obviously reconciled yourself to it. I don't tell my friends to quit the military. It's their decision. Military medicine is less directly responsible for the evil ends than other branches, and easier for me to accept.

    But I wouldn't want to support these political ends of the military myself. And I wouldn't like to see my friends do that either.

  • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:29PM (#35630996) Homepage Journal

    So because of "investment" the government has made beyond their control, you believe society now has the moral authority to decide for them what they should do with their lives?

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:32PM (#35631022) Homepage Journal

    Investment banking is less and less about investment which is good for the economy, and more and more about arbitrage and pumping transactions to make a fee, ...

    So when was it different? There have been many explanations that a great part of the recent worldwide financial disaster wasn't because the finance industry wanted to commit the shady deals that caused it all; it was because the government's financial regulators (and the judicial system) has for several decades been looking the other way. This gave the financial industry permission to do the things that they've wanted to do, but knew they couldn't get away with.

    In a sane world, the people who committed the shady financial deals would have been prosecuted and jailed. This has happened to a few, true, but very few. Most have been rewarded, including at taxpayer expense.

    The saying "Bad money drives out good" is rather old, and should be recalled at times like this. As long as the crooks in the finance industry know they can get away with it, they will.

  • Re:Mama don't..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:34PM (#35631034)

    "This is a completely ridiculous notion"

    In fact it is. Do we want our "best engineering graduates" out of financial banks? Easy: pay them more than the banks.

    Oh, but we don't want to do that!

    That is the real issue - companies want the "best engineering graduates" on the cheap. Guess what - some are motivated by money, and go where it is. You want them, pay the market rate. The market rate, BTW, is not what other companies in your industry pay but what the grad can get at any company.

    We should remember then it's a free market economy: you don't want "them" to tell you how do you have to live your life, then you can't tell "them" how should they have to live theirs.

    Right now has been known that Moody's CEO has rised his salary this year almost 70%, well over 9 millions a year. And we allow for that. *That's* the problem.

    If you believe in the first paragraph you no doubt see the irony in the second.

  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:34PM (#35631042)

    As an engineer that went into the financial industry let me tell you why:

    1) It pays more (duh)
    2) It is more exciting from an algo point of view
    3) It is more exciting from a thought point of view

    I love building structured products and building automated trading routines. Want to know what sucks? Patents! I can't innovate anymore because I have to worry about some corporation or patent troll stopping me from building my toy. And if I wanted to patent it would literally cost ten's of thousands! The idea that patents are there to protect the little guy is a pile of hot steaming s**t.

    And if for some instance I could patent something the bar to get it to market is absolutely stunning! The entire market is against the little guy the innovater. If America was really interested in new technology jobs they would stop the crony capitalism. For example did you know GE paid zero taxes? That lost income has to be made up somewhere. Since it is not GE, guess where it is?

    Finally, there are female quotas, and minority quota's. I say we need techy quota's in politics. Say 35% of all politicians must have techy cred! Stop the lawyer assault in politics.

  • Re:The work itself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:43PM (#35631104) Homepage Journal

    OK, I accept that, especially the part about working 100 hours a week to help a company raise enough capital to avoid going bankrupt.


    It depends on what the company is doing. If they're developing a new drug to alleviate suffering, fine. But if they're patent trolls who are gaming the system to figure out a way to sell needed drugs for 100 times their cost [] not so fine.

    What percentage of the companies financed by Wall Street are actually producing something socially productive, and what percentage are just manipulating the system and grabbing a percentage for themselves? I honestly don't know, but sometimes the percentage of manipulators seems to be awfully high.

    And the more you get into financial instruments and stuff, the less I can follow it. I do know about mortgage default swaps. Sometimes it seems that the more socially harmful it is, the more profitable it is.

    Put all the little investment projects together and you get a system that may or may not be doing good for society in the long run.

    And of course, the industry protects itself from government oversight and regulation, and even criticism, by huge campaign contributions to politicians. Hell, many of them are ex-politicians.

  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @01:51PM (#35631160) Homepage

    I get the feeling that were I to embark on that highly philosophical argument, all I would accomplish would be finding that you do not think there should be morals.

    The long and short of it is, yes, it is moral to participate in society, given they have participated in giving you more opportunity than would be offered by hunting in the woods for food.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Sunday March 27, 2011 @02:31PM (#35631418) Homepage Journal

    You're not talking about "participating" in society. You're talking about, at best, guilt tripping students into a path that's less profitable for them, and at worst, coercing them into that path, because YOU think it'd be good for society. It's a good thing that you don't have any authority about it.

  • by wkurzius ( 1014229 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @03:16PM (#35631728)

    Since you obviously value money more than anything else, let's rewrite those choices for those that are bit more progressive.

    1) Start something great

    2) Be part of something great

    3) Fuck doing anything great and become a parasite

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @04:13PM (#35632016)

    Those of us that dislike Goldman feel that way because Goldman has used it's position to ruthlessly manipulate the system both politically and technically.

    There is a revolving door between Goldman and Democrat administrations, giving them an unfair political edge. Lehman brothers was bailed out so they could pay off their counter parties, mostly Goldman. Did Goldmans risk management system ever consider 'Counter party risk'? If it did it was never looked at. Counter party risk is not a hard number to calculate. I can do it with 1 query on 'Position' for future, 1 query on AR for past. (I wrote risk management for Electric Power trading systems at a previous job).

    Goldman has co-located with the NYSE giving them an unfair technical edge.

    Any company too big to fail is too big to exist. Goldman is prime example. It should have been broken into at least 3 peaces.

  • by benhattman ( 1258918 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @05:36PM (#35632560)

    You're so right. Every time that someone suggests we should increase taxes on activities that harm society, what they really mean is "I want communism".

  • by Creechur ( 847130 ) on Sunday March 27, 2011 @08:06PM (#35633680)

    I know this is Slashdot and all, but how did this get modded 5 - Insightful? Pointing out that the wealth gap in the US is absurd and suggesting that we should work to shrink it or just restrain its growth is not the same as advocating communist-style wealth redistribution (which I assume is the indended comparison).

    One can easily imagine a scenario in which extreme lack of oversight/regulation results in a wealth gap that grows until the disparity between rich & poor yields undesirable living conditions and possibly even social collapse (perhaps where the US is headed), while too much oversight/regulation and "wealth redistribution" (shrinking the class gap too much, down to near across-the-board equality) stifles competition and financial incentives for improvements in efficiency (i.e. your envisioned communist scenario). Trying to strike a balance in between that maintains most of the capitalist incentive structures without promoting an ever-widening class gap is a rational middle ground. The US is probably leaning more toward the "ultra-captialist" end of the spectrum than that ideal middle ground at the moment, as demonstrated by statistics showing that the class gap growing at an alarming rate, and is substantially wider than historical levels. A more progressive income tax rate is one possible way to counter-balance that growth without unduly harming overall productivity.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...