Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How They Really Feel

This man's comments speaks volumes on the attitudes of the wealthy. His disdain for those with less money is palpable. He clearly is equating people's value with the size of their portfolio. Rich people are better.

And it is not just an arrogant attitude; he is also egregiously wrong,his intellectual honesty clearly compromised by his ideology. Notice that he claims to be subsidizing the 99% because he is making big bucks. It is especially ridiculous in light of the massive amounts of money our government has directed at the 1%, and especially the 0.1%, who operate under a self-serving delusion that everything they have is because of skill and hard work. Overlooked by this dickhead are the endless flows of government contracts and concessions to big Pharma, defense contractors and the like. Overlooked are the multi-million dollar giveaways by state and municipal governments as they compete to entice corporations to locate in their areas.

Richie Rich also ignores huge sums given to banks as part of their bailout, money bank executives then used to pay outsized bonuses. And just this week we read that those banks earned roughly $13 billion in interest directly the result of the sweetheart deal they received for tanking the US economy. Here is the gist of it, as related by AllGov:
Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s generous lending during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, banks that were teetering and at risk of collapsing wound up making billions of dollars in profits, according to Bloomberg Markets magazine.

After combing through 29,000 pages of Fed documents released to Bloomberg by court order, the publication determined that banks earned about $13 billion in income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates. These loans were made without informing the public or Congress of which institutions were borrowing heavily to stave off disaster.
Finally, have a look at the chart below. The corporations in these sectors are generally run by individuals who espouse rugged individualism, a can-do attitude, and the glories of a free market. They also almost always bitch about high taxes and government regulation. As you can see, they rarely pay their share of taxes, but they sure know how to pull in those tax subsidies- nearly $223 billion from 2008-2010.

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice

That's some serious corporate welfare. And from their government-subsidized profits, they pay outsized compensation to people like the guy in the video. If corporate boards claim that their executives deserve their often huge compensation, then those corporations don't need and don't deserve government support.  If you cannot live without taxpayers like me subsidizing your bottom line, then your insistence on fat bonuses is even more morally obscene than it already is.

Or is this a problem only when the recipients are the 99%?

The implicit message: It's just good business, complete with tax write-offs, when rich guys are in on it, and it's socialism only when the poor receive it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Semi-Happy Thanksgiving

I would prefer to believe that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, that they enjoyed a safe and sane feast with family and loved ones. The reality is that many did not.

I believe this is the official start of the holiday season, although every year it looks more like Halloween is. Either way we are now in the most frenzied period of consumption, the time of the year corporate America loves the best and depends upon the most.

In view of that it seems appropriate to recognize how unhappy many are. They've got good reasons. Here are just a few links, each with additional links and source material, that address the growing poverty in America. Read them and learn, but don't characterize the poor, sick, homeless, or unemployed as "unfortunate." Poverty in America is the direct result of reckless policies designed by and catering to ideologues and an avaricious oligarchy, not misfortune.

Extreme poverty is growing

The growth in the "near poor," just above poverty, startles US Census

Inequality is even worse than we thought

More than 1 in 5 of American children are poor

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moyers on Plutonomy

Here is Bill Moyers taking a page from the late Edward R. Murrow when he says having a bias is not a bad thing as long as you don't try to hide it.

Their bias is my bias: Plutocracy and democracy don't mix. Moyers explains how we have now arrived at plutonomy and why it matters.

For teabaggers inclined to obsess over what our founding fathers and past patriots had to say about wealth inequality, I offer some insights.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Social Security's Biggest Defender

Here is the guy voters have been told to shun, ridicule, and oppose at every opportunity. Why? Because Senator Bernie Sanders is un-American, he hates your values, and he wants to enslave you in government-run welfare camps.

Right? I mean these are the kind of tight, reasoned arguments that true patriots like Sarah Palin make about Sanders. They must be true. After all, Sanders is the only avowed socialist in Congress and we all know what they want. If you have any doubts, Sarah will tell you, for a fee, all you need to know about socialism (and everything else).

Those who value facts over diatribe know that Senator Sanders is one of the few who consistently works for the rest of us. Listen to Sanders on social security in the video below. His is one of the few voices in Congress that pushes back against the asinine and palpably wrong argument that social security doesn't work, it is killing the budget, and must be cut. Republicans are leading the assault, but more than a few Dems are willing to give in instead of defending your interests.

Aggressive, moneyed interests in the Republican party; Weak, hand-wringing facilitators in the Democratic party. No wonder Sanders is an independent.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It'll Ruin Us, I Tell You

Yep, it is the most contemptible, onerous regulation you could possibly impose upon commerce. Just ask the business organizations quoted in the video below.

What is this horror? An August 30 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that requires businesses to display a single poster reminding their employees of their rights.

We can't have employees knowing what their rights are. Better get that black man out of the White House. More analysis at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Are The Many

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is in town. Security is tight and Waikiki is cordoned off.  Among the festivities was a performance by Makana, a popular local musician, for the numerous leaders from Asia, including China and Japan, along with the US. President Obama was there. You can read more about how the APEC forum turned out here.

As our local newspaper explains, Makana gave an unexpected and gutsy performance in which he sang his new song, We Are the Many, while he shows off an Occupy with Aloha shirt. The video below shows him singing. You will see why it was bold. In my view it was also highly appropriate.

Was anyone offended? Tough shit. If any world leader was offended, it serves to demonstrate why Occupy Wall Street is necessary in the first place.

The second video is a better-quality, professionally recorded version of the same song. Good job, Makana.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pigs Fly

Jim Cramer gets a lot of things wrong, especially his stock picks, which are running roughly the same as a chimp and a dartboard. He has generally been a cheerleader for Republicans because Wall Street can buy them so easily. But even he has had enough of the small-minded buffoons at the last Republican debate.

Our problem, as Cramer says, is "unregulated, rapacious capitalism."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Greatest Speech, the Greatest Creed

Here is the most profound single speech I believe I have ever heard. Unfotunately, no America politician will ever give a speech like this one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More on How People Are Fighting Back

Here is more on how people are fighting back against an unsustainable and deeply damaging banking system; not the one most of us grew up with, to be sure, but the one it has become. It was a good weekend, what with my beloved mother's birthday, Guy Fawkes Day (for which the BBC dutifully broadcast V for Vendetta), all in addition to #OWS efforts to encourage the 99% to move their money. 

Growing anecdotal information suggests that quite a few of us pulled accounts from the likes of Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo, and took their business to credit unions and community banks. 

The Credit Union Times reported 40,000+ new accounts on Saturday. Other branches around the country reported hundreds to thousands of new accounts.

For their part, mega-banks say they are pleased with the action, because it is cleaning out the small accounts, the ones with high margins and low profitability. A Motley Fool apologist admits to much, but still defends Wall Street banks:
What’s important is realizing there are injustices with bailouts, cronyism and money in politics. People should really be upset about them. But they should realize at the same time that the economic system we have in the United States, compared to the rest of the globe, has created more wealth for everybody than almost any other country on Earth.
Bullshit, the banking system we had until a few years ago did indeed, play a crucial role in America's development, but not the one we currently have. Apparently it is too much trouble for him to show even the dimmest awareness of the massive changes that have taken place.

America's small regional banks are (mostly) not the problem. It is the global banking giants that are undermining the middle class. Read some details on this from a British banking perspective at George Monbiot's excellent column called The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen. 

Reinstate Glass-Steagall

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Cain Connects With Republicans

This is another reason why #OWS is fighting back: The country's socio-economic standing in the world continues to deteriorate. One measure of that can be seen in a widely disseminated story that America's poorest of the poor now represent 1 in 15 citizens, those who's income is 50% or less than the official poverty level. 

Let that sink in a bit. That is about 21 million people. They are not just unemployed, or down on the luck, or facing lean times, or whatever other cliche' gets bandied about. These are America's very poorest, and the number--and proportion-- are now higher than ever. As the original AP article states:
The ranks of America's poorest poor have climbed to a record high — 1 in 15 people — spread widely across metropolitan areas as the housing bust pushed many inner-city poor into suburbs and other outlying places and shriveled jobs and income 
New census data paint a stark portrait of the nation's haves and have-nots at a time when unemployment remains persistently high. It comes a week before the government releases first-ever economic data that will show more Hispanics, elderly and working-age poor have fallen into poverty. 
In all, the numbers underscore the breadth and scope by which the downturn has reached further into mainstream America.
And yet, some presidential candidates seem to think there is no connection between unemployment and the high crimes on Wall Street, Herman Cain for one. Cain, whom I view as the intellectual equivalent of a freak show at a second-rate carnival, argues instead that significant tax cuts for America's wealthiest are what is needed. This is at the core of his asinine 9-9-9 plan. Never mind that we have been cutting taxes on the wealthy for a generation; they are apparently not rich enough. Another round of tax cuts on the top 1% will somehow induce them to create jobs.

In effect, Herman Cain is telling us that there really is no banking problem in this country. Those mobs at #OWS are just lazy and disaffected; they just want to blame others for their own problems. You just aren't working hard enough, that's all.

Holy freakin' shit. Cain, you cannot be serious. Are you saying the big banks have not created a crisis? Not only is this a miserable misreading of America's deep economic difficulties, you want us to think that simply getting a job, never mind their scarcity, somehow fixes an entrenched banking issue, just makes it all go away. Or maybe we just need to keep working because the banks have not really created a crisis anyway, so don't worry about it. Is that it?

Herman Cain's position on complex politico-economic issues is what we so often find in conservative ideologues; it comes down to simplistic moralizing about what he considers to be other people's personal shortcomings, their defective characters, their basic immorality. His economic policies make no sense, and his bravado intertwined with appalling ignorance may be galling for some of us, but that is beside the point for most Republican primary voters. Cain is demonstrating a punitive, stern, father figure sense of morality. And that is what most Republicans instinctively look for in their candidates.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fight Back, With a Message

Here is a way to make your voice heard. It isn't new, but I like it. Send them a message --and make them pay for it.

Not sure about the wooden shingle; you can probably find some free cardboard lying around.