Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Poverty Reduction Technobabble vs. New Deal Action


The Urban Dictionary defines "technobabble" as "The art of using a bunch of nonsensical ramblings to solve or explain a problem. Usually used by SCI-FI writers once they have written themselves in a corner."

The financial powers-that-be also use technobabble, probably because they have written themselves into a corner of greed. This technobabble was on full display in a recent op-ed by Sergio Ermotti, CEO of UBS, a global wealth management firm, in an article titled (if you can believe it) "Furthering the Fight Against Poverty."

Mr. Ermotti tells us that, by "testing and stimulating innovation...Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) are also a tool that UBS is using to encourage 'pay for performance' in a model where investors provide financing for an essential and effective development project and, if agreed outcomes are achieved, returns are provided by an 'outcome payer.'"
Confused face

Gosh, why didn't someone think of that before?!? Poverty, your days are over!

How much do you want to bet that, by the time we figure out what this actually means, UBS will have sucked another few billion dollars out of the global economy for the personal enjoyment of their clients?  

In addition to technobabble, Mr. Ermotti uses many of the happy-words that we've become accustomed to hearing when the powers-that-be discuss unemployment and poverty-level wages: "Entrepreneurs!" "Innovation!" and "Creativity!" These are the buzzwords that financial elites use when they are trying to avoid tax increases (or fraud-curbing regulations), and the buzzwords that government elites use when they don't have the will, or the courage, to promote real action.


Perhaps the most laughable part of Mr. Ermotti's op-ed is the statement that "Today less than 1-in-5 live in extreme poverty, which we now measure at $1.25 a day." Wow, I feel so much better. People making $1.36 a day, or $2.12 a day, must be doing a-okay!

The fact of the matter is, we don't need poverty reduction technobabble from financial industry elites any more than a rabbit needs advice from a rattlesnake on how to live a long & prosperous life. What we need is a new and stronger New Deal. Social Security, the minimum wage, and public job programs for the long-term unemployed did far more to reduce poverty than fraud, tax evasion, interest rate rigging, and technobabble ever will.

(A WPA worker looks at his paycheck in Washington, D.C., 1939. New Deal policymakers didn't twiddle their thumbs waiting for free market fairy dust or billionaires sipping martinis by their pools to create jobs. They simply paid unemployed men and women to work on projects created by local communities and governments. It wasn't rocket science. But perhaps for today's clueless Congress, it is rocket science--and thus they can't figure it out: "Wow, jobs for the jobless?? I don't understand!" Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

***Emoticons courtesy of

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