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Posts Tagged ‘bloomberg’

On this day of dreary election post-mortems, I couldn’t help reflecting on an article from Bloomberg News that I read  last week.  It reminded me of the ways in which the constant noise messes with our ability to think for ourselves.

I’ve got a larger point here, but indulge me while I take a detour: call it politics as metaphor.

Bloomberg Business News — hardly considered a pillar of the “liberal press” even by those who try to pigeonhole news orgs as necessarily left or right — conducted a poll in late October that found that by a margin of two-to-one, prospective voters believed that in the past two years of the Obama administration:

taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) won’t be recovered.

You may believe that too.  And clearly, the poll’s findings were borne out by the results of Tuesday’s election — the biggest Republican upset, by the way,  since the Truman administration.

But here’s the thing, as the Bloomberg piece points out.  Those popular beliefs, the ones that may well be responsible for what Obama called Tuesday’s “shellacking”, are at complete odds with the reality.   It’s as if it’s sunny outside, but people are continually being told it’s actually raining, so all they do is bitch about the weather.  Let’s check back in with Bloomberg, shall we?  (This is business news, remember.  Not a partisan editorial.)

The Obama administration has cut taxes — largely for the middle class — by $240 billion since taking office Jan. 20, 2009. A program aimed at families earning less than $150,000 that was contained in the stimulus package lowered the burden for 95 percent of working Americans by $116 billion, or about $400 per year for individuals and $800 for married couples. Other measures include breaks for college education, moderate- income families and the unemployed and incentives to promote renewable energy.
and:
In an October report to Congress, released as TARP turned two years old, the Treasury said it had recovered most of the $245 billion spent on the Wall Street bank part of the rescue, and expects to turn a $16 billion profit. In the Bloomberg poll, 60 percent of respondents say they believe most of the TARP money to the banks is lost and only 33 percent say most of the funds will be recovered.
and:
The perceptions of voters about the performance of the economy are also at odds with official data. The recession that began in December 2007 officially ended in June 2009, making the 18-month stretch the longest since the Great Depression. In the past year, the economy has grown 3 percent and is expected to show improvement in the second quarter of this year.
Bloomberg’s point was that Democrats have done a singularly lousy job of getting their message out and would pay the price on election day. True that, as we found out Tuesday.  But my point goes beyond the ballot box and here it is:  Are we so surrounded by noise, engulfed in mind clutter, that the message flat out gets lost?

Do we get sucked so far into into the rhetoric that we never have time to think for ourselves?  Do we buy a seat on the bandwagon without even without even considering whether we want to be there?

When it comes to making political decisions, the noise comes at us from all directions: straight news, op-eds, blogs, cable TV, campaign ads, facebook share tags, tweets, bloviators, opinionators and blahdeblah.  The list goes on, but the bottom line is this.  Too. Much. Information.   And the result is that all of it, every bit, becomes so confusing that it becomes a real chore to sort the real from the rhetoric.  So that we’re tempted to  just walk away and say:  Screw it.  I’ll just have what she’s having.   (We know how that one ends)

And so I wonder.  As in politics, so in life? Does this constant state of TMI, this state of confusion, super-saturate us when it comes to life decisions, too?  Consider the cacophany: opinion pieces, media images, personal essays, status updates, tweets upon tweets,  messages from everyone from family to friends to Suzy from Ohio, all selling their own version of “ought.”  Small wonder, then, that going quiet, taking the time to figure out what’s real and what’s not, deciding who we are and what we want to be becomes a pretty impossible task.

Unless, of course, we cover our ears.

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First, because we play fair in this space, a response to Barbara Ehrenreich’s commentary on the happiness gap — if you aren’t sick to death of it (FYI: we are) — from Justin Wolfers, one of the authors of the original study, in the New York Times. Read it here.

Second, a piece from Bloomberg by Sylvia Hewitt (You remember her from the piece Shannon posted a couple of days ago, yeah? If not, catch it here.) that again extols the virtues of flextime, points out that, though women will soon outnumber men in workforce, they are often the family’s sole breadwinner, shouldering “a disproportionate load of family responsibility and earn 20 percent less than men” All of which puts an “extra pressure on an already strained work-life balance.” Her solution, which benefits everything from families to the bottom line (and — hello, duh — the new majority of the workplace): more flextime.

Moreover, it’s been proven that flexibility is a powerful lure in recruiting and motivating top talent. Employees are able to concentrate without being interrupted by phone calls, meetings, and other workplace distractions. Eliminating watercooler gossip sessions — a significant time sink in a high-anxiety environment — is a huge boost to productivity. And knowing that an employer trusts and respects its people enough to help them do what it takes to perform better — through remote work options, staggered schedules, and reduced-hour arrangements — pays back in greater appreciation and loyalty.

Finally, last but hardly least, yesterday’s post ended with the question:

Sure, we’ve got the options we wanted, but why do we still have trouble navigating them? Which leads to my question: Why did our work stall, and how do we get rolling again?

The best answer, along the lines of “we need to get over ourselves” came from Colleen:

I think it all goes back to what my parents used to tell me when I complained as a child… Life isn’t fair. Or easy. Be careful what you wish for. Don’t wish your life away. The list goes on.

Sadly or maybe not, I think it is a part of human nature to always want more and to not be content with what you have. It’s what got us these F*%&ing choices in the first place, what makes us work through the imperfection of the choices now and what will make the choices even better in the future.

But, sometimes you just need a little time to vent… complaining feels good, it does! So, we feminists need to do what I did as a kid, lay down on the kitchen table, kick and scream and pound your fists for a minute or two, and then get to work.

Dig it. And have a good weekend.

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