Friday, March 13, 2009

cramer vs stewart

my comments are below the video.

for anyone who listened to cramer in the past, his candid 2006 comments should come as no surprise. the guy ran a hedge fund managing billions of dollars for institutions, pensions, and the very wealthy. he did not (and should not) serve the average investor.

stewart presents himself as a man of the people, yet it concerns me how he's directing his anger; at a television channel. a freaking television channel. perhaps more disturbing than stewarts misplaced anger is that people actually took cramer seriously. he's obviously intelligent and in the right arrangement his advice could be of value, but on his television program "Mad Money" he is an entertainer, nothing more. stewart knows as much as anyone what drives television programming; advertising. networks make money from advertisers, the more outrageous cramer acts (or anyone else for that matter), the more people who will watch. if more people watch, cnbc (or any other network) can charge more for advertising, plain and simple. there is nothing in the formula about being truthful or honest or on the side of the public; those are just fringe benefits if they happen to work out.

have we as a nation lost our ability to accept responsibility for our own destiny? i believe the american form of government crafted over 200 years ago was designed to give us just that, the opportunity to forge our own way, to work to improve our station, or not. somewhere along the journey we lost our direction, changed our course and asked a government to take care of us; an ironic twist of serve the servants. perhaps we've lost the skills necessary to navigate life without regulation and oversite, dependent on beauracracy to protect us from ourselves.

next time you hear of a financial scandle ask yourself, "how could the victims have protected themselves"? if the only answer you come up with is government regulation.....we might be too far gone.



  1. Joe, I like your take on this, though I think many more points could be made. Caveat emptor is the rule when listening to people like Cramer. In any case, there's nothing particularly new about what he does. What triggered Stewart's outrage was that he and his colleagues dared to question the wisdom of the Obama Administration's actions.

    Of course, they were only journalists repeating what the real players were saying. For example, Warren Buffet essentially said the same thing. I'd like to see Stewart try his schtick with Buffet.

  2. perhaps the concept of caveat emptor has been undermined by our regulatory and political environment?

  3. perhaps the concept of caveat emptor has been undermined by our regulatory and political environment?

    Yes, which is a symptom of the state of the political culture at large. Wards of the state, actual or presumptive, can't be expected to act like adults and take responsibility for themselves.

  4. Is it a symptom of the political culture, or simply human nature? Most people act consistent with the system of positive/negative consequences they are subject to.

  5. Your analysis seems to propose a steady state (mere human nature); mine is meant to suggest that human nature can manifest itself in more or less virtuous ways. We both see the system as influencing behavior (perverse incentives), but I am suggesting something beyond that: the loss of virtue or character in the form of diminished work ethic and a sense of entitlement rather than responsibility for one's survival.

    The system may be wrongly configured one way or another, and I agree that can cause havoc. However, character ought to be able to resist certain blandishments and have a clear conception of self-responsibility. The system may help to erode virtue—we are capable of being influenced—but I think this also requires a certain loss of moral muscle-tone, if you will. In any case, we might have local acts of folly but a more general cultural atmosphere in which those acts become more likely.

    This is one of those arguments that comes down to some form of the perennial question of determinism versus free will. However, I think it's clear that some people have sturdy self-responsibility, whether they came by it freely or through a deterministic process; others have a dependent mentality and dependent habits.

    Perhaps it could take something small to tip the balance of virtue, followed by an avalanche of developing consequence, something like the concept of ever-rising-home prices as support for rationalizing that one is richer than one really is. Whatever the case, I still think it's clear that we have a broad atmosphere of entitlement that has helped to corrupt American character. Perhaps one could think of it as the corruption of genuine self-interest where appetite gets an upper hand over reason.

  6. No, that's not quite right; I should say appetite gets the upper hand of prudence as these faculties influence the operation of reason.