Oxfam: 85 People Control Half the World's Wealth

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 1/21/14. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

I think intellectually we all know that the game is rigged, and it's something we put out of our minds because we've been raised to believe that we could possibly be the exception to the rule. I mean, that's the basis of the American Dream: statistically, you don't have a Snowball's chance in hell of appreciably rising above the social class and economic situation you were born into, but because we all believe it's possible (however unlikely), we keep showing up day after day, making our employers more wealthy in the hopes that some of that scratch might "trickle down" and increase our own net worth. I'm not bemoaning that reality, mind you. I've been a willing participant since my first job at age 12, and I daresay I've done fairly well for myself.

But every so often the reality of the situation smacks you in the face, and if you haven't felt this particular bitchslap yet, get ready - because it's about to make headlines everywhere. According to Oxfam, wealth inequality on our planet has reached such an advanced stage that the combined wealth of the 85 richest people is now equal to that of the bottom 3.5 BILLION. Let that sink in for a moment. 85 people versus 3.5 billion.

Oxfam chief executive Winnie Byanyima said: "It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world's population - that's three and a half billion people - own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.

"We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table."

Riveting TED Talk on Government Corruption

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 4/17/13. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

This is a fantastic discussion about the mechanism of government corruption given in February by Lawrence Lessig. This is a subject that hits really close to home for those of us on Wall Street, and Lessig highlights how it's not only bad for the American people, it's bad for the infinitesimal percentage of the population with the power to corrupt. Ever wonder why Dodd-Frank has been in flux since 2009? It's because Congress can extort more from Wall Street as long as it's on the back burner. Same with the JOBS Act, and almost every other bit of financial legislation. Warning: you might feel like taking a shower after watching this:

Ever Been THIS Lonely?

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 4/8/13. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

Okay, I know it isn't cool to crap on somebody's broken heart, but this was just too ridiculous to let slide. Allow me to introduce Kevin Waldrum, a 45-year old former rent-a-cop. Waldrum has led an unremarkable life in every imaginable sense save one: he managed to ring up a PS91,184 ($140,000 USD) phone bill to a pay-per-minute chat line after his girlfriend dumped him. Naturally, now he's refusing to pay and believes Vodaphone (his cell phone provider) should be shut down for allowing him to ring up such a bill.

'The Vodafone need shutting down because they're ripping people off left, right and centre,' he said.
'I'm not putting all the blame on them but not even multi-millionaires would want to spend this much on a phone bill, surely, so why I have been allowed to go up to PS91,000.
'I admit I rang these numbers and it's partly my own fault but the line should have gone dead before I started to incur such high charges.
'They must be taking millions from poor people like me.

In fact, Vodafone tried to shut the lovelorn lothario down by disabling his SIM card, but Waldrum just got another one and kept dialing. In a further concession, Vodafone reduced his bill to PS29,063, but he still refuses to pay a penny.

How To Kill a Bank - The Final Chapter

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in October 2010. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

Many of you remember a series I wrote earlier in the year entitled How To Kill a Bank (here's Part 1 and Part 2). It was supposed to be a 3-part series, but the first two parts generated so much hate mail that I never bothered to post the final part. You guys have been asking about it ever since.

For those who don't remember, I created a 10-step plan that enabled consumers to destroy one of the four major commercial/investment banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, or JP Morgan Chase). I posted the actual plan on the site for about a half hour and then took it down because it got such a violent response. I was literally accused of economic terrorism.

Unbeknownst to me, the post got a lot of attention outside the site as well, and it wasn't long before I was contacted by Tim Schultz, a freelance writer in Tokyo, who convinced Playboy Magazine that it could be their financial story of the year. I'm pleased to present you with the end result, available on newsstands Friday, October 15:

How To Kill a Bank (Part 2 of 3)

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in 2010.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post in response to the nascent "Move Your Money" movement spearheaded by Arianna Huffington. To refresh your memory, her plan was to have people move their money out of the major Wall Street banks and into local community banks. The targeted banks would be Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

I opined at the time that a more effective approach would be to target one of the four banks and completely destroy it, rather than try to inflict the death of a thousand cuts that depository drawdowns might cause (and probably wouldn't). Putting one of the banks out of business would send a message.

To that end, I engaged in a strictly academic exercise by figuring out how I would go about destroying one of the four above banks. I spent many hours, and thought out many contingencies, and finally arrived at a 10-step plan that would not only drive one of the banks out of business, it would also hamstring the Federal Reserve from being able to come to the bank's aid, and it also had provisions for eliminating the threat of government intervention to save the bank.

How To Kill a Bank (Part 1 of 3)

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in 2010.

There is a populist movement gaining steam that could spell big trouble for the major banks. Spearheaded in January by Arianna Huffington, the Move Your Money movement is proposing a strategy to exert public influence over the banks they've labeled the "Big 6". The Big 6 banks identified are Citi, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

The strategy is to encourage individuals to close their accounts at these 6 banks and move their money to a local bank. The reasoning behind it is that local banks re-invest in the community and generally have more conservative profiles. The subtext is that the only way to shrink banks deemed "Too Big to Fail" is to pull our money out of them. With government solidly in the bankers' pockets, the reasoning is sound.

The movement has picked up some high-profile supporters, and got a major boost by this video from Bill Maher:

For Those About to Propose

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in January 2011.

With Valentine's Day two short weeks away, some of your girlfriends are no doubt ratcheting up the pressure on you to pop the question on the most romantic day of the year. Maybe you already live together. Maybe you've been going out for a few years. Maybe you met her in a Chelsea dive bar on Tuesday. It's no matter. They all want the same thing.

Allow me to introduce Charles Brandes. Sure, he's a big shot today pulling in an estimated $16 million a month, but he wasn't always. He was once just a young monkey like all of you. And therein lies his cautionary tale. For it was at that point in his career that he met Linda King Formo, a single mother earning $6 an hour as a librarian.

Why Your Salary Matters to Her

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in January 2011.

When women get together with their friends and talk about the new guy in their life, one of the first questions that always comes up is, "What does he do?", which - let's face it - is code for, "How much does he make?". Your salary matters to women. Going all the way back to caveman days, women have always sought mates who could protect and provide. It's no different today.

But in today's world of empowered females, why does your salary still matter so much? Professional women today earn as much and sometimes more than their male counterparts. Yet these women expect even more from their mates than women who don't make as much. What gives?

This NYC Barmaid Hates You

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 02/18/2013.

First, a word of warning. The article I'm referring to in this thread was posted on BroBible, so you probably don't want to click the link at work unless you want all kinds of alarm bells to go off in your IT department. It's safe for work, but I've been told that some banks have BroBible on their blacklist so it probably isn't worth the risk.

Now, we've had some lively discussions here on the site about drinking etiquette, and even livelier discussions about tipping etiquette. So I knew you guys would be interested to read this piece written by a female New York City bartender entitled, "Confessions of a Bartender: 10 Things Every Bartender Absolutely Hates About You".

Based on the title you'd think that it would be pretty general stuff and not directed toward any one demographic in particular, but you'd be wrong. It seems the author, one Stefanie Williams of the Upper East Side, really has it in for bankers. Like, really has it in for bankers. Her favorite story, in fact, is the one about how she basically got three bank interns fired for leaving her a shitty tip (and being assholes about it).

New York vs. Houston

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally was posted on 12/15/10.

Monty09 may have gotten the best plug yet for his Energy Rodeo in Houston next month, and it came from none other than the New York Daily News. The Daily News piece on the ridiculous cost of living in New York pointed out that it takes six figures just to make it into the middle class in the city, and a New Yorker has to earn $123,322 a year just to match the lifestyle $50,000 a year buys in you Houston. On top of that, $60,000 a year in Manhattan is the equivalent of just $26,000 a year in Atlanta - just over the poverty line.

What the article doesn't mention, however, is perhaps the most compelling reason to choose Houston or another southern city over the Big Apple: GRITS.

No, I'm not talking about the delicious breakfast staple. I'm talking about Girls Raised In The South.


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