Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cramer vs. Cramer

My teenage son knows about economics. He has a debit card. He knows who Jim Cramer is. Most adult children can relate to the format which for me is a cross between a sports-talk thing and a kiddie show emceed by a Mr. Rogers on crack. When I watch this, I am reminded that some obscene percentage of serious computer gamers are in their 30’s.

Of course everyone is suddenly trashing Cramer when they secretly watched the guy on their gym screen or at home while they answered email. His viewing audience, despite the fact that he has been exposed as the pathetic duped victim of his own hubris, is even larger. It is truly remarkable how what is essentially a cheap gameshow affected the market. Poor schmucks were Etrading like mad according to Cramer’s recommendations which were about as reliable as sports commentators’ prattle back and forth during a close game. When the score is up, it’s fairly safe to side with the winner.

Cramer always reminded me of that double-headed guy in MIB2. And during recent weeks he’s undoubtedly had to up his daily dose of ADHD medication, not to mention the extra antiperspirant. But this version of economics for dummies—the same version the Republicans stuffed down our throats and the Hedge funds perpetrated and supported with a slick desperation which makes Gordon Gekko look like Mother Theresa-- is no longer working. So why does Cramer still have a job? Why is there not a 24-hour network where the heads of these investment firms get dunked in a tank? Along with Cramer. I can picture both of his heads wearing a shower cap. Is there anyone out there who would volunteer to get behind the Mad Money camera and throw a pie?

Instead, we get this maybe less confident version of Cramer who backtracks within a one-hour show, reverses positions, speaks out of 2 mouths like the market is an Andy Roddick tennis match. Accountability? And why not? No one else tells the truth. Both presidential candidates are guilty of mis-stating facts, underestimating, over-calculating. Half of our news is speculative.

Which brings me to the thing that woke me up this morning. I was dreaming about the girl who gives me my afternoon coffee, that she was explaining to me how she volunteers at Starbucks and how I was admiring her philosophical and peculiar work-ethic while also realizing suddenly why her co-workers treated her with such disdain. I am not used to such prosaic kinds of dreams…usually they involve Andy Warhol among red poppies or finding myself onstage with a band I’ve never seen or collapsing bridges.

So what is real? The stuff we read in the news, most of which is someone’s version of whatever? Even journalists skip research, accept biased sources as reliable, blink.
Where is our money? What does it stand for? What are all these charts and graphs we see every day? The theoretical polls and opinion barometers?

Where is the music? Bits of digital information on a disc? Where is art? What is the meaning of the Nobel prize, or any award in a culture where more information is ignored and suppressed than shared. How many artists come out repeating notes that have been done thousands of times before? If no one calls them on it, they get away with it.

So what’s the solution? Some kind of Big Brother? To insure that people don’t cheat? To watch out when some computer hacker simply deletes the balance of your bank account and the ATM teller doesn’t shrug its shoulders or express any kind of remorse when you try to withdraw something? Does anyone come on the Cramer show, in the flesh, and beat him because they have no retirement fund?

How about simple human honesty and accountability? Realizing that what you dreamed or schemed doesn’t really cut it. How about actually facing your neighbors down? Your shareholders? The candidates go out and shake hands and hold babies. How many do this after the fact?

Suze Orman didn’t shift positions. She is the real uncorrupted Martha Stewart. She is the new American mother figure. If McCain had picked her as running mate instead of the Stepford Barbie, he might actually have had an edge. But she wasn't cheesecakey. She'd definitely support gay marriage. And I have no idea of her politics and of course would never vote Republican. But why doesn’t someone appoint her to the Federal Reserve? She’d have Paulson running like a skinned rabbit. He and Cramer have a fat bank balance. She does too, but I salute her. How bad does Paulson feel? Not. He’s a little hoarse, but that’s just the strain of concealing reality from Americans. He doesn’t have a letter in his mailbox describing the new automated foodstamp system. Which is bound to be abused within days.

The new American dream is reality. The messed up, bankrupt version they’ve served us.
I know life is getting pretty hallucinatory and the media has us all seeing and hearing double. But we can wake up and find the dream. I believe this. At least one of my heads does.

No comments: