Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lynda Bell just doesn't get it, does she? … by gimleteye

Lynda Bell posed for a Miami-Dade library poster with a book by Ayn Rand at the same time as Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, her booster, was axing the library budget. Plenty were offended.

Of all the writers whose books she might have held, why Ayn Rand? Lynda Bell might as well have her hand out for money.

There is extensive documentation how conservative foundations distribute Ayn Rand to libraries and schools at the time as seeding college economic departments with money provided those colleges exclusively promote Rand's anti-regulatory theses.

The extremist GOP embraces Ayn Rand as the anti-regulatory, pro-selfishness brand leading to improvements in the economy. So how does that work out in the real world? In "Ayn Rand Killed Sears", July 2013, Salon recounts how Eddie Lampert, a hedge fund investor, and Ayn Rand acolyte tried to use Rand's theories and in the process helped ruin the iconic retail giant.
At Sears, Lampert set out to create the Ayn Rand model of a giant firm. The company got a radical restructuring. It was something that had been tried at giant industrial conglomerates like GE, but never with a retailer. First, Lampert broke the company into over 30 individual units, each with its own management, and each measured separately for profit and loss. Acting in their individual self-interest, they would be forced to compete with each other and thereby generate higher profits.

What actually happened is that units began to behave something like the cutthroat city-states of Italy around the time Machiavelli was penning his guide to rule-by-selfishness. As Mina Kimes has reported in Bloomberg Businessweek, they went to war with each other.

It got crazy. Executives started undermining other units because they knew their bonuses were tied to individual unit performance. They began to focus solely on the economic performance of their unit at the expense of the overall Sears brand. One unit, Kenmore, started selling the products of other companies and placed them more prominently that Sears’ own products. Units competed for ad space in Sears’ circulars, and since the unit with the most money got the most ad space, one Mother’s Day circular ended up being released featuring a mini bike for boys on its cover. Units were no longer incentivized to make sacrifices, like offering discounts, to get shoppers into the store.
In May 2014, the Ayn Rand acolyte tried to paper over the company's hideous collapse. "Most retailers are trying to come out with predictable numbers that appeal to the largest possible audience, both in terms of shoppers and Wall Street. Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) does under $7 billion in sales per year and is followed by 27 different Wall Street analysts. When the company missed earnings estimates by $0.02 earlier this week executives spent more than an hour explaining precisely why. Sears, with nearly five times the revenues of Dick’s is almost totally ignored by Wall Street. The two analysts bothering to publish estimates for Sears Holdings expected the company to lose $1.87. The company came in with a surreal $3.79 loss." Lampert, the Ayn Rand hedge fund operator said, "“Sears is undergoing a significant transformation, and we fundamentally are changing the way we do business."

I doubt Lynda Bell has a clue when she shops at Sears that Ayn Rand's teachings -- straight out of the book she holds in her hands -- is a real life example of conservative ideology harming Americans.

In "Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, Henry Giroux writes": “The United States is a country that is increasingly defined by a civic deficit, a chronic and deadly form of civic illiteracy that points to the failure of both its educational system and the growing ability of anti-democratic forces to use the educational force of the culture to promote the new illiteracy. As this widespread illiteracy has come to dominate American culture, we have moved from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting and in doing so have restaged politics and power in both unproductive and anti-democratic ways.” (The shocking numbers, Americans are dangerously ignorant on politics, Salon, June 18 2014)

This describes Lynda Bell, incumbent county commissioner, facing Daniella Levine Cava in an August election for Distrit 8 in Miami-Dade County. Too busy to pay attention, too invested in her own political fortunes to care about the mess she helps to make. Lynda Bell just doesn't get it.


Geniusofdespair said...

Gee, I see we have the same post twice and I don't know which to take down. Let's hope Gimleteye gets around to looking at the blog today.

Anonymous said...

"It's complicated" maybe Bell needs to read it twice..

Anonymous said...

Lol. And to think, I always assumed that sears executives just woke up stupid one day. Actually, they were reading a book.

I was working several several times over my life for Sears including as a model in high school. As I ended up in retail management after college, I am grateful that Sears did not suck me in.

It is sad to go into their stores, they look like a markdown palace.

Anonymous said...

1. Pol Pot took just the opposite approach, but his ruthless idealism was about as effective in the end. Moral, avoid ruthless idealism of all sorts.
2. Machiavelli, as the master of the practical, gets an unjustly bad rap today. His book, written exactly 500 years ago, was a lesson in how to create a stable princedom. He was very clear how a prince needs to look after his subjects, and how valuable it is to a leader to be loved by them. Machiavelli's own prince ignored him, of course.

Anonymous said...

Ironic Quote of the Week: Library-Closing Carlos Gimenez Says Favorite Book is Fahrenheit 451

Anonymous said...

Who is Ayn Rand?

Anonymous said...


Geniusofdespair said...

Who is Ayn Rand? Wikipedia