Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don't Tell Mr. Snowden About the Chinese

Here is a dose of reality:
A Chinese energy firm offered big money and access to women to entice an engineer at a U.S. company to launch a cyber raid on his employer, stealing sensitive computer codes and “thereby cheating (the firm) … out of more than $800 million,” according to newly unsealed court documents and internal messages and emails obtained by NBC News. 
Federal prosecutors call the alleged cyber theft from American Superconductor (AMSC) in Devens, Mass., one of the most brazen cases yet of Chinese economic espionage in the United States. The techniques the Chinese used to rob the company of three quarters of its revenue, half its workforce, and more than $1 billion in market value were straight out of a “spy novel,” the firm's CEO said in an interview with NBC News.
This is barely news and it is not unique to China. The French, for example, are near masters of subtle economic and industrial espionage. The Chinese, in fact, could learn from the French methods, which are much less overt and clumsy.

It is considered rude to point out how bad the Chinese are at collecting industrial information. They operate as if it is 1975 or so and cannot be bothered to try very hard. And people like Edward Snowden are convinced America is the source of all of the evil in the world.


Do you remember the lecture about 401ks?

Do you remember how people used to talk down to you about 401ks?

Do you remember the projections--up and up and up--and the promise of having hundreds of thousands of dollars right there, waiting for you, on the eve of your retirement?

It was bullshit. A mountain of bullshit that allowed firms to set up these elaborate schemes and fleece their customers. Why there are any--any--big name investment firms still in existence is beyond comprehension.
Yet whether the stock market goes up, down or sideways, the financial services sector makes out when it comes to your retirement accounts. How much do they earn? Astonishingly, we don’t know the answer. In 2008, Bloomberg magazine polled a group of pension consultants and came to the conclusion that 401(k) fees alone totaled $89.1 billion annually. Ghilarducci, who recently took a more all-encompassing look at American retirement assets, and included IRAs and pensions in her total, pegged the number at $500 billion.
Where are your savings? Gone. Where are the pensions. Gone. Who will guarantee anything anymore? No one. What will happen when the safety net is completely destroyed? People will live and then die in abject poverty, needing tremendous amounts of government assistance.

That's the thing people need to remember--when you destroy someone's retirement, you are simply passing the costs on to whoever has to foot the bill to keep people alive. You can make a lot of money right now wiping out a pension fund or a 401k portfolio but all you are doing is ensuring that these same people will need an increased amount of future government assistance.

Score one for the wingnuts.