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Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Microchips vs. Poker Chips"

Engineers, Financial & Otherwise

OK, so I'm not coming down on the side of buying more Intel stock (vs. selling what I did buy, way back in 1995; see, "To Buy Intel (or not) . . . that is the question").

But I still like what Intel does a whole lot better than what Wall Street does:

For a decade we sent our best minds not to make computer chips in Silicon Valley but to make poker chips on Wall Street, while telling ourselves we could have the American dream — a home — without saving and investing, for nothing down and nothing to pay for two years. Our leadership message to the world (except for our brave soldiers): “After you.”

--Thomas Friedman, "We're No. 1(1)!"; The New York Times (9/12/2010)

Brain Drain

My only quibbles with the above?

First, Friedman's casting his lot with the "we're all to blame" camp ("Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it").

I take strong exception to that analysis, for reasons discussed in "No (Financial) Cure Without Proper Diagnosis."

Second, Friedman's timeline.

I'd substitute "a generation" for "a decade" to describe how long Wall Street has been vacuuming up our "best and brightest" (albeit most morally bankrupt).

One of the more dismaying things about Wall Street continuing "business as usual" -- notwithstanding the economic carnage it's wrought on the rest of the economy -- is that it leaves that "brain drain" dynamic intact.

As Dan Quayle might put it, "what a waste it is to lose one's mind . . "

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