Market Madness

     As some of you may have noticed, the stock market was kind of insane last week. So insane that it affected my column writing – I had to scrap a column I wrote yesterday (in column-writing time) to write this one instead.
     And boy do I hate to do that. I’ve got more than enough to do without doubling my column-writing time.
     Still, it’s probably worth it because an important lesson emerged from the week’s financial turmoil: we can all get along. You just have to pay us to do it.
     Think about what happened last week (if you can bear it). First, the market takes a huge fall. The next day it gets back up a bit and the day after that it tumbles again.
     I write a column about how brilliant I was for staying out of the market – and how dreams are shattered so it’s best not to have any. Follow the advice of commencement speakers to pursue your goals and end up with a life of frustration and despair.
     This conclusion by me was followed by two days of triple-digit market gains.
     It’s all right to dream again!
     But why?
     What’s really strange about all this?
     I’ll tell you. What’s downright bizarre is that (at least for a few moments while I’m writing this version of the column) is that Republicans and Democrats seem to be banding together to fix the financial mess – in the middle of an election season, no less.
     They can’t agree on or fix health coverage, properly manage or end a war, do anything realistic about energy and the environment, or come even close to balancing a budget. But if the stock market is in trouble, those donkeys and elephants are locking arms around a campfire and singing kumbaya.
     The reason for this is pretty simple – people in Congress and people running the executive branch aren’t like most of the rest of us. You can bet almost every one of them owns quite a lot of stock.
     Incentives really do work and this concept needs to be applied elsewhere.
     If the federal budget doesn’t balance, take it out of Congress’s paychecks.
     You want environmental protection? Make those senators and representatives live near coal burners.
     Health care? Sign them up with an HMO (under assumed names).
     This concept applies to other aspects of life too.
     Take litigation (please!).
     What if attorney fees had to be paid by the losing lawyers instead of their clients?
     Suddenly there would be incentive for thrift and speed.
     Ask your economist.
     METHOD ACTING? There are some entities that you just don’t expect to see listed as a defendant in a sexual harassment suit – e.g. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc.
     After all, you’d think that anyone working for an outfit like Playboy would kind of be assuming the risk for that sort of thing.
     Yet there was Playboy listed as a defendant in a sexual harassment suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court the other day by a woman who worked as a producer on Playboy’s radio station (which is on Sirius).
     Apparently, at least according to the lawsuit, one porn star/talk show host took her job a little too seriously.
     The sensitive among you may want to stop reading at this point.
     Here’s what the suit said:
     “Playboy was forced to implement a ‘no penetration’ policy based upon the behavior of Christy Canyon during live broadcasts of Night Calls…. Plaintiff witnessed Christy Canyon continuing her outrageous behavior and creating a sexually hostile environment by, among other things, exposing her genitals and breasts to guests and co-workers, making requests to guests and co-workers to touch her genitals and breasts, and masturbating … during live broadcasts of Night Calls….
     “Plaintiff held a meeting with Christy Canyon … to request that Christy Canyon respect others’ personal boundaries regarding sexual conduct during Night Calls. Plaintiff stressed that because Night Calls was a radio show, actual sexual conduct was not needed; instead, the hosts could act/improvise the sexual conduct.”
     She probably hadn’t thought of that.

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