Letters: Plenitude, financial reform, etc.

Marketplace Staff May 25, 2010
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Letters: Plenitude, financial reform, etc.

Marketplace Staff May 25, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal: And write letters you did. E-mails, actually, but you get my point. My interview with Boston sociologist Juliet Schor struck a nerve. Schor’s new book, “Plenitude,” is all about how we ought to spend less time worrying about work and money and more time taking time for relationships and the environment.

Lee Borden from Tallassee, Ala., loves that.

LEE BORDEN: Go Juliet! My kids are tired of hearing me say this, so I’ll say it here: When I was growing up, we defined “success” as a function of how much money you made. In the next two or three decades, we will define “success” as a function of the extent to which you can be happy while making little or no money.

Which would be great. But Maria Rosales from Greensboro, N.C., takes issue with something Schor said: that the benefits of large scale production, companies like Wal-Mart, are just going to go away.

MARIA ROSALES: I’m not yet convinced that this is true at all when it comes to something like the billions of people in the world who live on less than they need to sustain themselves. Local agriculture isn’t enough. Many people live where there is no arable land, where there are droughts and floods, etc.

From floods we’re going to turn to financial reform. In a commentary yesterday former Bush administration economist Glenn Hubbard criticized the overhaul bill that Congress is working on. He said it doesn’t do enough to stop “too big to fail,” that it just encourages government bailouts.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the Banking Committee that wrote that bill, heard that and got in touch. He sent us a statement that said, in part, Mr. Hubbard ignores the fact that the Senate’s bill limits leverage, it imposes increasingly strict capital requirements and requires regulators to either sign off on a funeral plan or break up the company. And Hubbard’s claim that the bill establishes a permanent bailout authority, Senator Warner says, is simply wrong.

On our Weekly Wrap this past Friday one of our contributors noted that economic crises and bubbles happen because investors underestimate risk and over value assets. But that that kind of human behavior is just hard to regulate.

Adam Feerst of Denver, Colo., says you can indeed reform bad investment behavior.

ADAM FEERST: There is a misalignment between the risks and rewards. The people making the bets — stock/bond traders, fund managers, etc. — don’t have any skin in the game, at least not nearly enough. Would they have made the same investment decisions if they were playing with their own money?

Finally, we aired a story last week about a new social media site for kids, 6-to-10-year-olds, called Togetherville. It’s ad-free and all that. But still, not enough for Jeanne Miller of Minneapolis.

JEANNE MILLER: I’m not opposed to Togetherville, but I don’t think it should be linked to Facebook. The most valuable thing to learn from sites like Facebook is that there is a lot of information you never wanted to know about anyone else. I got on to Facebook to keep up with relatives and now I want to unfriend them all.

Oh, don’t we all, Jeanne. If you want to be our friend, we’re on Facebookand Twitter, too.

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