There’s no other way to start this than by admitting I’m totally confused and need your help. The more I try to understand the facts in some recent news stories, the more at a loss I am to explain them. Certain elements just seem to run against all common sense and everything I’ve ever learned.

Here’s one. JPMorgan Chase – one of the largest banks on the world – lost $2 billion speculating in world financial markets a few days ago. But, at a shareholders meeting this week, the top guy responsible for running the whole operation was given a $23 million pay and benefits package. Considerably higher than the year before.

Now the financial gambling his minions were doing was apparently well-known in higher echelons of the company. Also recognized was it violated the spirit – if not the letter – of the Volcker rule which is meant to stop banks from using our dollars to invest for their profits. The investment officer in charge of that division was fired along with several traders. But the boss – responsible for running the whole empire and keeping things on the up-and-up – gets $23 million and goes right on with this privileged life.

What the hey?

Then there’s that Zuckerberg kid and his beardless cronies. Some eight years ago, they came up with an idea while sitting around a Harvard dorm room. Sort of an interactive college yearbook but with the ability of classmates to put up pictures of themselves and chat with each other using computers. One of the original “thinkers” said later he was really only concerned about finding more dates.

Now, Zuckerburg and several of his friends are multi-millionaires before reaching their 30th birthdays. And if a stock offering goes as planned one of these first days, Zuck and some others will matriculate to billionaire status while still in their 20’s. Without doing more than they’ve already done.

What the hey?

Here’s another. There’s a story this morning about the glut of oil on world markets. As I sit at the keyboard, crude oil prices are at their lowest point in over a year. $94 and change. But overnight, gas prices downtown went up 12-cents to sit at about $4.16 a gallon!

What the hey?

Then there’s this in the day’s headlines. Ol’ John Boehner – Speaker of the U.S. House of Reps – says we’re about to hit the debt ceiling again and it’ll have to be shoved up a notch. But not, he says, without bi-partisan agreements on “massive cuts in federal spending and no tax increases.” The old “cut-our-way-to-better-times” argument that’s been discredited by everybody from Donald Duck on up the economic brain chain.

So, the people we sent to Congress to do our business won’t do our business the way our business needs to be done while they ignore the professional counsel of economists and other experts who say it can’t be done the way they want to do it.

What the hey?

A common element of these stories is that each of them deviates from rules, laws, common business practices and even common sense when viewed from the perspective of us average citizens.

In the banking scenario, why does someone with the sole responsibility of keeping the affairs of an international company lawful and profitable personally make millions of dollars when what he’s responsible for runs into a ditch and loses an amount of money few of us can comprehend? That just seems to run counter to sound business fundamentals. Not to mention common sense. Risk and reward. Doing the right thing. You know.

The Harvard kids. In about eight years, Zuckerburg and friends have gone from sleeping two-to-a-room to billionaire status. How do kids who aren’t old enough to shave regularly go from mac-and-cheese dinners to international corporate status in eight years? How do those of us who’ve worked a lifetime for food on the table comprehend the making of obscene amounts of money by kids just trying to re-invent the old college yearbook?

The petroleum rape at the pump. When knowledgeable economists tell us $95 a barrel crude should result in no more than $1.50 a gallon gas, why does today’s $95 crude result in this morning’s $4.16 a gallon downtown? How did oil companies get so big and so independent that laws of economics – much less laws of government – don’t apply to them? The old rule of supply and demand has become demand and supply. At any outrageous price they want to charge.

And finally, Mr. Boehner and his politically-impaired Tea Party constituency. They’ve already cost this nation the best-in-the-world credit status we earned over the years. They’ve stalled, mutilated or killed any and all attempts by better-thinking members of congress to address any of this nation’s problems that don’t involve a uterus. They’ve been unresponsive to repeated polling showing their actions are not only opposed by most voters but their in-action has damaged large portions of our economy and families coast to coast and border to border.

Congress has perverted the constitutional system of checks and balances by simply doing nothing Economic and social harms inflicted over the last three years will leave permanent scars on not only our political history but also on millions of Americans whose lives have been adversely impacted by gridlock, arrogance and stupidity.

A common thread running through these four activities of our lives this day is that the old rules don’t seem to apply. A guy who oversees a bank’s gambling loss of a couple billion dollars is rewarded with new millions of his own. Kids with laptops becoming kings of industry – while still in late stages of puberty – as a nation struggles to keep itself afloat. Petroleum companies holding this country hostage while making obscene profits in the hundreds of billions of dollars as a political system greases their appetite for even more dollars through tax shelters and incentives. A congress expressly ignoring the needs of it’s constituency despite repeated proof members are at odds with a majority of voters on nearly every major issue.

I keep trying to understand. To apply the rules learned growing up that successfully applied to my life and the nation . Looking for systems of government and business to operate in ways we’ve always known. In ways that worked.

But – what the hey?

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