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Thu

22

Oct

2009

A World of Abbreviated Criterions
Thursday, 22 October 2009 07:09
by Mathew Maavak

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to US President Barrack Obama is another revelatory instance of our shortening standards. We are not governed by reason but by acronyms. In fact, our self-worth is set by them.

How do you describe a leader who vowed to condemn the 1915 Armenian genocide once in office and makes a U-turn soon after? What if that leader spurns a meeting with a Buddhist monk to avoid provoking a dictatorship that actively undermines his nation?

This is appeasement not peace. Yet, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to US President Barrack Obama for reasons which are baffling. Recipients of the same prize, namely the Dalai Lama and Barrack Hussein Obama, ironically cannot meet as it might discombobulate a delicate international order.Perhaps, the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee was rewarding Obama for not launching a war under false pretexts the way his predecessor George W. Bush did just nine months into office. Otherwise, Obama has achieved nothing except for an exaggerated engagement with the Islamic world.

According to the Daily Telegraph, an "Obamameter" run by the political accountability organization PolitiFact lists “seven broken promises, a dozen stalled initiatives and 117 pet projects still ‘in the works.’”

The Nobel award is symptomatic of all that is wrong with our system.

Our standards are literally being shortened. There is a duality of metrics that separates the rulers from the ruled. When the ruler fails to deliver, a prestigious award provides the fix.

One class sports a long list of titles, awards, “achievements” and those meaningless two-, three-lettered acronyms on ponderous coattails while the other class desperately cling on to the hems for their daily crumbs.

We live in an SMS world defined by abbreviated value-added jargons (VAJ) like ROIs, ERPs, KPIs and thousands of other acronyms that favour paper credentials over knowledge, Ponzi schemes over gold and venality over industry.

One class throws out such jargons, titles and acronyms as yardsticks that others should live by. When ruination knocks at the door, it is the agenda setters and the main culprits who walk away with the fat bonus.


It is not easy to shake off the power of acronyms. If they were alive today, Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays may have used them in case studies of population control.

There is power in stilted vocabularies. In a corporate meeting, jargons are routinely resorted by one clueless group to beat the senses of another. Statistics and glossy power points are shoved down your throat. Few seek clarity. No one wants to be seen as a hick. Resolutions are finally passed. Over time, it leads to pseudo-sciences within the once respectable socio-economic fields of study.

Abbreviated terms of reference (TOR) are great trinkets for a self-delusional professional rabble. They revel in the mass-manufactured credentials available at schools, universities and e-bay.

In the end, we have an acute global talent shortage in a world brimming with paper qualifications.

Ever heard of the search consultant who slogged more than a year to find a suitable vice president for an international bank? Standards were high; the two-, three-lettered credentials required would fill up a page, including the never advertised GF – Good Family. (If you applied these standards to the military, a field medic is not allowed to man the 20-mm gun at a crucial point in battle).

Six months later, the bank collapsed! Few four-flushers at this bank knew what was going on. Their tasks were neatly delineated. Yet, armed with their vaunted acronyms, they are free to peddle their rattlesnake oil elsewhere. They are in demand as, like Obama, they can promise the world and con the common man into parting with their future.

Welcome to the real world. Like the financial world, “notional” and “fiat” flips into “real.”

War becomes peace! Fiction becomes fact. The worrying signs are there. A startling number of Britons actually consider Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi to be fictional characters while they vouch for the authenticity of Baker’s Street Sherlock Homes!

The Daily Mail hypothesizes that such ignorance “could well have something to do with the TV insurance adverts inviting viewers to ‘challenge Churchill’ and featuring a lugubrious talking dog.”

That’s the power to sell. The power of fictional imagery! According to a Wall Street Journal report, an astonishing 61% of sub-prime loans were palmed off to those who actually qualified for a conventional loan. The problem lies not with greed per se, but with Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) governing the Job Descriptions (JDs) of bank executives. To meet such metrics, they have to inveigle large quantities of loans in the shortest possible time to achieve maximum profit.

A computerized database of such performances sifts out the “high achievers” from the “underperformers,” the conmen from the common man and, in some instances, the barely literate from the educated. Your worth is spelt out in stats and acronyms. Every trick is employed under the veneer of letters to cheat the uninitiated.

These charlatans set the universal discourse for civilized behaviour, educational standards and career achievements.

The most pressing task for the CEO of America Inc is a financial one. How will he deal with a one quadrillion dollar plus (more than 1,000 trillion) derivatives market that is waiting to explode? It is largely an American creation. The Chinese are threatening to default on a fraction of them and a few trillion in defaults is enough to sink the Western Economy.

Nobel Economics laureates will tell you it is all business as usual, and the bulls are being warmed up for the mother of all matador markets (MOAMM). It is only matter of time...

Time, however, is revealing a disturbing reality.

The Obama Record

Has Obama brought peace to Afghanistan or is he building up troops there? Read the news. The Taliban writ runs throughout half of Afghanistan and slowly, across the western half of Pakistan. Has Muqtada Al-Sadr kissed the cheeks of his Sunni and Kurdish brethren in Iraq with a salam? Isn’t Pakistan’s Jihad Inc. run with US-supplied weaponry?

Why are the entities known as Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda still free to thread the terror mill? Why hasn’t the United States sued for peace and diplomatic ties with neighbouring, little Cuba when it can tolerate every gross human rights violation in China?

If Obama is afraid of Turkish sensitivities over a century-old Armenian genocide, can he be expected to stand up for international justice today?

Has Obama brought universal healthcare to millions of Americans who can’t afford it? How are the deteriorating manufacturing and employment sectors measuring up to reality? Do the marginalized need another sound bite or another lying statistic to reassure them that things are shaping up?

Will the deteriorating value of the US dollar prompt Washington to embark on another Persian Gulf adventure? Every major war in history was fuelled by the re-liquidation needs of an empty treasury. Like the psychology of acronyms, the casus belli is buried under jargons, lies and patriotic grunts.

ROI, ERP, KPI, T-Bill ...CIC, Rah, Rah Rah!*, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil!

The historical progression is time-tested. When financial systems collapse under the weight of fraudulent practice, it is time for a Fuhrer to step in with catchphrases. They will be earthy and populist and will be addressed to a horde of the disenchanted.

And the clueless!

Let’s face it. This is the first modern generation not to have produced a Nikola Tesla, an Albert Einstein, or a financial whiz who can match the genius of Nikolai Kondratieff. Or how about a Mahatma Gandhi who was rejected five times for the Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe things were not rigid then. Einstein could not fix his hair right, Gandhi wore a loincloth. People could think!

Obama sets Gandhi as his standard. It is a clichéd fashion statement. The contrast cannot be depicted with sufficient brevity. One was born to privilege but “came down” to his true roots. The other was fast-tracked out of a ghetto possibility to the presidency of the United States. It was something unreal and remains so, much like Obama’s tinsel-tinged predecessors.

Mahatma Gandhi eschewed violence. He brought down the greatest empire ever through non-cooperation, by boycotting the financial foundations of Imperial rule. His actions triggered self-rule and independence for many nations. He fought for the poor and wanted them to live in dignity.

Obama the Nobel Peace laureate may turn out to be the anti-Gandhi. Out of the crumbling foundations of our financial system, he and his cohorts must do something. The metrics of today leave him little choice. There is no thinking outside the box.

Instead of fortifying the nation-state, Obama may dissolve them for a borderless commune. Force will be met by force, violence will increase and the foundations of a New World Order will be built on the ashes of the faceless poor.

The Norwegians must have given that award to prevent this spectre.

* It was this American cheerleading phrase which Adolph Hitler adopted into his Sieg Heil (Hail Victory) Nazi rallies

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