Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Say Goodbye to Poland

My most recent project...A short trailer for my new novel being published by Amazon at CreateSpace. It was a little difficult creating a 4 minute video depicting a 550 page book that spans three generations!

> My Amazon's CreateSpace book preview:

> My Facebook wall with a video preview for the book - - - A few 99ers were mentioned in the credits ;)

The trailer for the book is below at YouTube and is now in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Entitlements on the Rise

The housing market and stock market crashed BEFORE Obama was elected. Mass layoffs began BEFORE Obama was elected. But the Republicans have been complaining that since Obama took office, "entitlements" (UI benefits, Social Security, disability, Medicaid, and food stamps) have all skyrocketed. 

Yes, during the AFTERMATH of the economic collapse (because of Republican policies under Bush) "entitlements" HAVE gone up. The Republicans have made my point for me. 

So stop the corporate subsidies, raise taxes on the rich, stop outsourcing jobs, and regulate the banks, the oil companies, the commodities markets, and the insurance companies. Maybe more people would find a job paying a "living wage" and won't NEED as many "entitlements" just to survive. 

But instead, the Republicans want LESS government regulation, oversight, and taxes. The Republicans want us to believe that Obama created a welfare state when it was the Republicans who created all the economic destruction. Obama was left with the litter...the millions of ordinary Americans who are just trying to get by. But the Republicans want us to believe that Obama single-handedly created 40 million lazy people who want nothing more than a government hand-out/entitlement. 

Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck also wants you to believe that me and 40 million others might burn down the country if these "entitlements" are taken away from us in exchange for more tax cuts for the rich. If they are correct, will anybody join me? It's time to roll.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bill O'Reilly Fears "Left Wing Loons" Rioting in America

He compares half of the American population to those with having the potential to be like violent anarchists in Greece if they are denied a "government hand-out".

Ellen at News Hounds writes: Bill O’Reilly sounded a lot like Glenn Beck this week (6/16/11) when he discussed the riots in Vancouver and Greece, and then he jumped to the conclusion that:

  • a) it was all about the far left (Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, labor unions, government workers),
  • b) it was fostered by a climate of government dependence (the elderly and disabled on Social Security, the unemployed collecting UI benefits, and the poor with Medicaid and food stamps),
  • c) and this has set the table for the same kind of violence to happen here (as is in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and all across Europe).


Near the end of his show O’Reilly brought up the riots that erupted in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. Rather than offer any kind of real discussion about the cause, O'Reilly announced that “far-left loons” had taken to the streets. He never explained how he knew their politics – was any polling done? Or does O’Reilly just “know” who did it? The answer seems to be the latter because he continued by saying, “As you may know, Vancouver’s a very permissive town, similar to San Francisco and there’s a hard-core anarchist group that lives there. They are responsible for the carnage. It had nothing to do with the game.”

It’s funny, FoxNews said nothing about the politics of anyone involved in the Vancouver riots in its AP article on the subject – other than to quote the mayor who said the inciters were “organized hoodlums bent on creating chaos.” The article went on to note that, “While police said it was mostly young people responsible for the mayhem, an equally young crew turned up in jeans and rubber gloves, some with Canucks jerseys, ready to help clean up.” It must have been the "far-left loons" doing the rioting, the "right-wingers" doing the cleaning up, while the "liberal media" (AP) missed that important distinction, eh?

But O’Reilly continued,

"The question is, could this kind of thing happen in America and the answer is, Yes. About half the population here now believes income redistribution is the right thing to do. We’re setting the table for violence in this country. Once people start depending on the government for their livelihood, for essentials, then those essentials are taken away, you’re gonna have violence. Also, the more far-left loons there are, the more potential for violence there is. Those anarchists want to burn down everything. So we can watch the stuff in Vancouver and Greece but we shouldn’t think it can’t happen here. The pinheads in America are mounting."

So, if I'm translating correcting: Bill O'Reilly is saying that in America we have 50% of the population who are hard-core anarchists that might burn everything down if we tax the uber-rich fairly (because we believe in income redistribution) to help pay for the essentials that old people, sick people, disabled people, unemployed people, and poor people rely on? And all these people are pinheads? And if you take away their "dependence on government" they will all engage in violence?

OMG! I can almost envision grandma in Harlem, throw Molotov cocktails at the police because her Social Security checks were abruptly cut off, as was her Medicare. But if it happened, I wouldn't blame her. And tax breaks for the rich didn't create jobs for 15 million Americans either, so if they joined grandma, I wouldn't blame them either. And if a Vietnam Vet had his disability payments squashed because the rich wanted MORE tax cuts, he should throw Molotov cocktails too - - - myself, I would throw one at Bill O'Reilly  ;)

It’s worth noting that what O’Reilly fears is not people losing or never getting “essentials”, but his belief that their rioting over the loss of what they should not get without “earning” it in the first place. OK, everyone is entitled to their own opinion – even if it’s an “I got mine, too bad if you didn’t get yours” attitude like O’Reilly’s.

But who made O’Reilly God to sit in judgment of all these "left wing loons"?

What’s inexcusable is his paranoid, incendiary, and unsupported contention that the half of Americans who disagree with him are “pinheads” and “setting the table for violence.”

Bill O'Reilly puts himself on his book cover as "the equal" or counter to the President of the United States...thinking that we've forgotten he is a sexual predator and a bully to defenseless women.

But Bill O'Reilly is just another greedy and selfish multi-millionaire who doesn't want to pay any more taxes on the books that he pimps and promotes on the Fox News propaganda channel. 

Bill pays a capital gains tax on his book royalties, and the tax rate is lower than what a person drawing unemployment benefits has to pay. Bill O'Reilly already "got his" so he doesn't really give a damn about the "folks" he says he's looking after...including most ordinary people who will most likely need unemployment benefits, Medicare, food stamps, or Social Security at some time in their life. Rich people like Bill just don't want to pay their share of taxes for these programs because they themselves no longer personally need them. (Funny how they change their mind after becoming rich). Glenn Beck, who hates unions, once belonged to a union himself. AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). But now that Glenn Beck is also rich, he hates unions now. (Funny how they change their mind after becoming rich.)

The globe has never had more wealth than at any other time in history, it's just that it has all accumulated at the top (or as Bill O'Reilly would say, it's been redistributed.) and that's why "austerity" measures are being implemented all across Europe, and why America is being threatened with this. Governments don't have the cash because all the banks and the richest 3% have hoarded the money supply. 

Why does America have a budget crisis? Low taxes equals low revenues, an increasing population, the aging "baby boomers", Wall Street and corporate greed, our corrupt politicians who receive corporate campaign contributions, and lying pinheads like Bill O'Reilly.

You can contact “no spin” O’Reilly at oreilly@foxnews.com 

Video via Media Matters:

Also: Vancouver Riots: Did "Left-Wing Loons" Cause Them?

YouTube: Bill O'Reilly: Rioting '' Loons '' In Vancouver

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who Wants to Tax a Millionaire?

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans — one of the biggest economic injustices of the Bush administration and one of the biggest drivers of our federal deficit.

These massive tax giveaways to the wealthy were supposed to expire at the beginning of the year, but Republicans went to the mat to extend them, and Democrats caved when it was most important that they stand up and show courage.

And now these same politicians who pushed for the tax cuts are saying we cannot afford our social safety net because "we're broke."

There is something deeply wrong with our priorities as a country if we're cutting back on services for children and the elderly, the sick and the destitute, and anything that helps the middle class stay afloat while simultaneously cutting taxes for the likes of Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers.

There's an epidemic of home foreclosures. Unemployment is rampant. The cost of food, gas and health care is going up. Families across the country are falling into poverty, while many more are struggling just to get by.

Yet Republicans who support all the policies that created the deficit are holding Americans hostage in ongoing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget. And what are they demanding? Cuts, cuts and more cuts.

Progressives need to offer an alternative to the morally bankrupt and economically baseless dogma of "tax cuts for the rich, massive spending cuts for everyone else." And the alternative cannot be simply to propose slightly less brutal spending cuts. We need to put tax increases back on the table.

While some members of the Democratic leadership have fallen into this trap of accepting the rightwing framing of the debate, progressive champions Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the fight for a real solution to our budget crisis.

They have each introduced a bill to raise the income tax rates on people who make more than one million dollars a year. And they need our help to start changing the narrative around the budget.

We won't be able repeal the Bush tax cuts anytime soon, but on their anniversary we need to speak out for the principle that the rich need to pay their fair share.

Increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires won't be a silver bullet, but it would bring in tens of billions of dollars that would allow us to avoid some of the most brutal budget cuts we're now facing. And it would be a step toward making our tax system more fair.

The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing in a way that is deeply unhealthy to our society. The richest 1% of Americans are making 24% of the country's income, which is the highest share it has been since the 1930s. The 1930s were also the last time the richest 1% have so consistently paid such a low income tax rate. And as Michael Moore has pointed out, the top 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans put together.

This wide gulf between the haves and the have-nots not only affects our economy, it distorts our democracy. We have to take action before it's too late.

Our country isn't broke. But if the Republican's intellectually dishonest claim that we are is met with silence, our country's moral compass may become broken.

We cannot shred the social safety net when it's most needed. We cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the very people who've taken it on the chin during this economic crisis. It's long past time to require the super wealthy pay their fair share.

From Credo Action > Tell Congress: It's time to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Click the link below to sign  the petition.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alan Simpson - "Social Security is a milk cow with 310 million tits."

Alan Simpson served from 1979 to 1997 as a United States Republican senator from Wyoming before being appointed in 2010 to co-chair President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is tasked with coming up with a plan to bring down the federal budget deficit and to propose ways to hold down the surging costs of government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Last year in August when Simpson made that remark, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) had sent President Obama a letter urging him to fire Simpson. 

"Simpson's comments are highly insulting to the tens of millions of senior citizens, persons with disabilities, widows and orphans who have contributed into this highly-successful program and who now utilize it," the letter says. "It is false and demeaning to say that these people, the vast majority of whom have worked their entire lives and contributed into the Social Security system, are somehow 'milking' the system."

The commission's proposal for eliminating the nation's $14+ trillion in debt included components such as increasing taxes and gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security to 69 years, prompted an unprecedented amount of flak from opponents, to which Simpson responded to by referring to modern Americans as the "greediest generation".

Read the nasty e-mail Alan Simpson received in response from one very irate senior citizen (And Snope's assessment of the facts).

AARP Senior Vice President Drew Nannis blasted Simpson's "woeful disconnect from or disinterest" in the challenges facing many Americans, but oddly he stopped short of calling for Simpson's resignation.

But as of today in June 2011 Alan Simpson's still there, and now he's lashing out at both parties while debating the debt limit that must be resolved by August 2nd. 

SIMPSON on the Republicans: "You can't run a country without taxes. Ronald Reagan increased taxes 11 times, for God's sakes, in his eight years, to make the country run. Let's get serious here."

SIMPSON on the Democrats: "It's disappointing to me. I wouldn't have done this job if the president said everything is on the table. But what's really disappointing is to hear him [Obama] talk about bipartisanship all over the place to the big forums and then get into an intimate fund-raiser where he just rams it to [Paul] Ryan and the Republican Party. That's not right."

OBAMA's response: "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don't think there's anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don't have any clout on Capitol Hill."

Alan Simpson has been a long-time supporter of rolling back the New Deal, and when asked about cuts he would recommend to the President and Congress, Simpson said, “We are going to stick to the big three,” meaning Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Simpson starts from the premise that the Treasury will default on the bonds issued to the Social Security trust fund, because all the best people apparently know that it’s better to default on America’s senior citizens and plunge them into poverty than it is to default on, say, the Chinese.

Despite Simpson’s assertions, raising the retirement age to 70 is a benefit cut. It would put an estimated 1.5 million senior citizens into poverty. After two years of watching billions of dollars in taxpayer money being paid out to Wall Street CEOs in lavish bonuses while the White House breaks every promise they’ve made to rein them in, that takes a fat load of nerve.

The commission is also looking into cutting Medicare benefits, because the deal guaranteeing no-bid Medicare contracts to the pharmaceutical industry by both Republicans and Democrats can’t possibly be abrogated. The committee claims it’s independent, but it’s not THAT independent.

Maybe it was the way Alan Simpson was raised. Simpson's father, Milward Simpson, also served in the Senate and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Video and full transcript of the Alan Simpson interview with Alex Lawson.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tim Pawlenty - "Save the Rich!"

From TooMuchOnline.Org

How low can they go? Taxes on the rich, that is. Last Tuesday saw the tenth anniversary of the first George W. Bush tax cut for the rich, and, to honor the occasion, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty doubled down. Pawlenty, a leading “serious” candidate for the GOP 2012 Presidential nod, proposed a tax cut for the rich that makes George W. seem a Republican Robin Hood.

Pawlenty wants to eliminate federal taxes on all dividends, all interest income, all grand fortunes left to heirs, and all capital gains from wheeling and dealing on stocks and other assets. Pawlenty also wants to chop the tax rate on ordinary income over $375,000 from 35 percent, the current rate, to 25 percent.

In 2008, America’s 400 highest-income taxpayers — average income, $270.5 million — paid just 18.1 percent of their incomes in federal taxes. If Pawlenty’s tax cut went into effect, Citizens for Tax Justice calculated last week, the top 400 tax rate would plummet to an astoundingly miniscule 4.7 percent.

Pawlenty, says one reporter, is “essentially daring” his GOP rivals to try to out-cut him on the tax-cut front. Will they try? If they do, they’ll likely echo Pawlenty’s rationalization for rewarding the rich. This week, in Too Much, we apply that rationalization to some reality the rationalizers would rather we ignore.

Tim Pawlenty's Dive into 'Deep Doo-Doo'

One of the three 'serious' candidates for the 2012 Republican White House bid says the tax cuts for the rich he's proposing will expand America's 'entrepreneurial' class. What does history say?

Last week, in a “major policy address,” GOP Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty called for a massive tax cut that would save Americans who make $1 million or more a year, Washington tax experts estimate, an average $288,800.

One listener in Pawlenty’s audience, a University of Chicago student, had a question for the former Minnesota governor. How could Pawlenty, the student asked, justify still another round of tax cuts for the wealthy?

Pawlenty, a savvy pol, never missed a beat.

“Set aside whether the wealthy benefit or not,” Pawlenty urged the student. “The real measure of this proposal is: Is it going to generate, in a transformative, significant way, more jobs for more people across this country?”

Pawlenty, naturally, believes his tax cutting will do just that — by widening the ranks of what he calls the “entrepreneurial class.”

“There’s about 5 percent of the country that is our entrepreneurial class, the people who start businesses, form capital, deploy capital, add employees, build buildings, invent things, conduct research, commercialize it, and the like,” Pawlenty explained.

“If that 5 percent becomes 6, 7, 8, or 9 percent, we’ve got a very bright future,” he continued. “And if that 5 percent becomes 4, 3, 2, or 1 percent, we are in deep doo-doo.”

Clear enough. Giving the wealthy tax breaks, Tim Pawlenty believes, extends “entrepreneurial” wherewithal beyond our richest 5 percent. And we all benefit, he maintains, when that next “6, 7, 8, or 9 percent” do better.

Can we test this notion, this claim that tax cuts for taxpayers at the top pay off big in expanded entrepreneurial energy? Turns out we can.

If cutting taxes on America's richest really helps extend “entrepreneurial” wherewithal beyond our richest 5 percent, then folks in that “6, 7, 8, or 9 percent” should have done just splendidly over the past 30 years, a span of time that has seen taxes on America’s rich drop to their lowest level in generations.

Did these folks do just splendidly? The numbers, please.

In 1980, the year before President Ronald Reagan began lavishing tax cuts on America’s rich, those taxpayers just outside the top 5 percent — the folks statisticians describe as sitting in the 90th to 95th percentiles of our income distribution — averaged $97,687 in income, after we adjust for inflation.

In 2008, the most recent year with IRS figures available, this same group averaged $127,184, a 30.2 percent increase. In other words, after three decades of Reagan and Bush tax cuts for our wealthiest, taxpayers just outside the top 5 percent saw their entrepreneurial wherewithal increase all of 1 percent a year.

Not a particularly impressive increase. And this exceedingly modest increase becomes even less impressive when we compare the three decades since 1980, a time when tax rates on rich people fell, to the three decades before 1980, a time when taxes on rich people ran consistently high.

Between 1950 and 1980, average incomes in the 90th to 95th percentiles jumped from $49,646 to $97,687, a 96.8 percent increase, after taking inflation into account — over triple the income boost this income cohort has seen since 1980.

So who has benefited significantly from all the tax cuts for the rich since 1980? Let’s phrase that question a little differently: Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? The rich — surprise, surprise — have benefited the most significantly from the past 30 years of exceedingly generous tax giveaways to the rich.

Since 1980, University of California economist Emmanuel Saez has detailed, the inflation-adjusted incomes of America’s top 1 percent have increased 166.5 percent, from $426,906 to $1.14 million.

But incomes in the upper reaches of that top 1 percent have soared even faster. Taxpayers in the top 0.1 percent have seen their incomes jump 288.9 percent since 1980. And taxpayers in the top 0.01 percent have seen their incomes skyrocket 402.8 percent, from $5.4 million in 1980 to $27.3 million in 2008.

This top 0.01 percent, over these same years, has quadrupled its share of America’s national income. In other words, that “entrepreneurial” wherewithal that Tim Pawlenty so prizes isn’t spreading out beyond the top 5 percent. It’s concentrating within the tippy top of the top 1 percent.

We have moved into what Tim Pawlenty might call “deep doo-doo” territory. And Pawlenty, incredibly, wants us to step even deeper in it.

Pawlenty's tax plan, if ever enacted, would erase all federal taxes on the capital gains, dividends, and interest that pour into rich people’s pockets — and, just for good measure, drop the top tax rate on rich people’s ordinary cash income down to 25 percent, a 10-point drop from the current 35 percent and a 66-point drop from the 91 percent top rate in effect 50 years ago.  

Center for American Progress tax expert Michael Linden is dismissing Pawlenty's new tax plan as “sheer fantasy.” But this fantasy plan could well become reality. Not one of Pawlenty's GOP rivals, after all, has yet disavowed it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Screwed by My Government Again

I need a lawyer. I just got the letter today....Social Security disability was denied to me...my last and only hope of surviving this ongoing nightmare.

I suppose being 55 years old with a GED who has atrophy after being out of work for 3 years, and who has degenerative arthritis in both the neck and lower spine (and stress and depression for the most obvious reasons) doesn't qualify as "disabled" because the Social Security administration says the "severity" of my disabilities doesn't preclude me from doing "substantial" work, meaning it can be part-time work earning at least $900 a month.

They also say my condition shouldn't last for more than 12 months, even though it's gotten worse over the last several years. My back can't get any better (it can only be made to feel better with 2 prescriptions I'm now taking). But my condition can only remain the same or get worse from putting more strain on it. There's no cure for arthritis.

They say that I'm skilled enough and healthy enough to work 20 hours a week for $10.00/hr gross (or at McDonald's who pays about $8.50/hr X 24 hours a week = $900 gross). After taxes, that's how much, $700 a month for rent, heat, bus fare, and food? They say I'm in good enough shape to stand at a McDonald's window 4 or 5 hours a day and earn enough to live on?

I'm 7 years away from qualifying for an early SS retirement with reduced benefits. I'm only qualified for the service and hospitality industry (which is not hiring in Las Vegas anyway), and it's the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. I no longer have a car or any cash in the bank, and I can barely get out of bed in the morning, and yet they say I'm perfectly ok to work. Well, maybe I can do a congressman's job but that's about it. Name one boss who will hire me.

My doctor said some people with a much worse case of arthritis than I have are denied SS disability and some people with a far less severe case are approved SS benefits. So it's more like a pot-luck lottery getting qualified for disability benefits. In Nevada where I live I have read that the odds were good for first-time approvals (a 50-50 chance), so it's just my fu*ked up luck that I fell on the wrong side of the fence. When will something in my damn life ever go right?

This country and our whole system of government is totally screwed up. I busted my back for almost 40 years and when I finally needed help I'm told that everything is perfectly ok, that I should just go get a job and go about my business. RIGHT!

I really wish I had a "nuke" right about now. Before, I was ready to take myself out, but now I'm so damned pissed at this government that I'd like to take out a few @ssholes with me!

All this time going to appointments, making calls, filling out forms, etc...and all the damn waiting, hoping to finally get some kind of good news for a change, but all I ever get in another damn knife in my back. It really gets old after a while.

Now I have to go through more months of appealing their decision by filling out more papers, getting a lawyer, making phone calls, and more waiting, etc....hoping to win an appeal. I'm so frustrated and depressed and at my wits end that I might just have to resort to "PLAN A" again. This really sucks big time!!!

But HEY!!!!!!!!! Let's send a few more billion to the middle east, let's build some more aircraft carriers, let's bail out a few more banks and corporations, let's give oil subsidies away, let's give congress a raise, let's save a desert turtle....ANYTHING but give Bud his itty-bitty disability check!!!!

.......................................STOP.........................END OF RANT.......................END TRANSMISSION

The Bush Tax Cuts Years

America has lost millions of jobs over the last four decades because of both robotizing and animation; and from outsourcing to countries that have no environmental or child labor laws, using global sweatshop economics; and from "free trade" agreements.

But the two biggest contributing factors to the current recession/depression are:

1) the banks, because of the 1999 Republican sponsored Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act deregulating financial institutions, allowing for the the derivative markets and the housing crash.

2) the Bush Tax Cuts in 2001 and 2003, depriving our treasury of much needed revenue to run the county, causing severe budget shortfalls and more layoffs. Corporations and the uber-wealthy have not been paying their fair share of taxes. America needs The People's Budget and we need to raise taxes on large corporations and the uber-rich.

But instead, the Republicans want more of the same...more "free trade agreements" to expand into other countries so as to exploit them for ever more cheaper labor, more deregulation of the banks and multi-national conglomerates, more subsidies to large profitable companies, and even less taxes for the richest 2% and multi-billion-dollar corporations.

Yet the Republicans also want to cut the budget for government workers and programs for the disabled, the poor, the sick, and the elderly...but the Republicans also want to give MORE tax breaks to those that don't need them.

One would think that after over a decade of Wall Street's reckless "Wild West" antics and excessive greed, as well as the extended tax holiday for the rich and corporate America, we would have learned something by now. One thing I have learned is, we also need the Congressional Reform Act of 2011. Our politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle need booted out. They are ALL beholden to the banks, big corporations, and their campaign donors.

The Bush Tax Cuts Years (the video) - The soundtrack is "Money" from the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd - from their 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. Written by bassist Roger Waters.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." - Patrick Henry

The 26th amendment, which granted the right to vote for 18 year-olds, took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, and before cell phones.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, 7 took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011 

1. No Tenure / No Pension. 

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. 

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. 

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. 

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. 

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. 

The American people did not make contracts with Congressmen. Congressmen made contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned "citizen legislators", so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work...if they can find a job in the private sector. 

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS. Please e-mail this link to your representative.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why do Republicans Exist?

One has to wonder why the Republicans are so adamant about cutting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and food stamps...especially now, after the economic collapse when millions of Americans we're left unemployed and millions more will soon be reaching their retirement years.

Especially now when it's become common  knowledge who caused the collapse and we've learned that the uber-rich and corporations have been paying less taxes today than have been since 1950.

Especially know since we've learned that CEOs are earning record salaries and their companies and banks have made record profits.

One has to wonder why the free market, trade agreements, low taxes, and de-regulation over the last 30 years didn't prevent the economic collapse - nor save or create all the promised jobs. Just the opposite: we had a stock market and housing collapse while millions lost jobs. Yes, long before Obama was made President.

One has to wonder why the Republicans are insisting on "more of the same" and why they blame Obama for a catastrophe that was decades in the making...the economy didn't just collapse overnight after Obama was elected.

According to the Economist, “In the years between 1940 and 1999 the number of Americans employed outside farming grew by an average of 27 percent each decade,” but the 2000s saw the employment rate actually fall by around 1 percent. 

Companies are increasingly able to maintain or even expand production without adding workers. That's one reason the country is going through a "jobless recovery." The process has been underway for decades, but it appears to have accelerated. In the last two years, U.S. companies have spent billions of dollars on new equipment, but unemployment has remained near 10% and the economy has replaced only 1.8 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost between 2007 and 2009, when the recession technically ended.

And expanding markets have attracted one American company after another. From 1999 through 2009, U.S. multinational firms added 2.4 million employees overseas while cutting their domestic staffing by 2.9 million, according to the Commerce Department. And these figures don't include outsourcing of jobs to non-U.S. companies abroad.

But let's blame Obama!

One has to wonder...

Especially when all the cuts the Republicans are proposing ONLY affect the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, and disenfranchised. And why now, when these people need assistance the most. One only has to wonder, especially when these cuts are made to ONLY give more tax cuts to the uber-rich and large corporations while small businesses and ordinary working-class Americans have been suffering.

Read The Coming Economic Hell For American Families - "Most Americans realize that things seem "harder" these days, but most of them also have faith that things will eventually get better.  Unfortunately, things aren't going to get any better.  The number of good jobs continues to decline, the number of Americans losing their homes continues to go up, people are having a much more difficult time paying their bills and our federal government is drowning in debt.  Sadly, this is only just the beginning."

Why are the Republicans always ignoring these facts when they know very well that the Bush tax cuts and the de-regulation of the banks (all Republican ideas) gave us the budget shortfalls in the first place. One has to wonder what Republicans think about regular working (or unemployed) Americans earning less than a million dollars a year.

One has to wonder...

Especially when taxpayers and voters have specifically said, that when polled, wanted to keep programs such as Medicare, and wanted to end the wars, and wanted to cut the defense budget, and wanted to raise taxes on the rich. Why do ELECTED Republicans, conservative talk show hosts, and radical right-wing evangelists want to throw old and poor people under the bus? One has to wonder...

If the rich aren't suffering, and earning record profits, and STILL aren't hiring, how would "more of the same" help? How would making rich people richer by making poor people poorer be better for our country, help the budget, and get people back to work (and with only low-paying wages)?

One has to wonder what the Republicans want for the infrastructure of this nation, its schools, and other government services that this nation relies on tax revenues use to fund. Do the Republicans and Tea Party want NO GOVERNMENT at all...except for $700 billion a year budget for military spending? What of the unemployed, the poor, the disabled, and the elderly? Why shouldn't they be able to survive and live in dignity as well? Ask a Republican this and they will stare at you with blank eyes...like the eyes of an unsympathetic serial killer who has no conscience at all and couldn't give a damn.

One has to wonder if the Republicans (who represent the uber-rich and large corporations) only want those who are less fortunate to perish. They don't want the very wealthy to have to carry the "burden" of supporting those less fortunate....and equate it with stealing. But they rich have stolen from the poor for decades, that's how they got so damn rich! They also got rich from human right's violations and child abuse by using sweatshops in foreign countries.

Why do Republicans feel this way about their own countrymen, as though they weren't "real" Americans, and think that the poor and unemployed are all lazy parasites? Didn't America used to always take of her own down-trodden before, and wasn't that what was supposed to make this nation so "exceptional"? Now it's become a nation of excess and greed, and the rest be damned!

One has to wonder why the Republican senators and the radical conservative radio and talk show hosts, who are millionaires themselves, want the poor to have nothing at all, as though they would have to lower their standard-of-living one iota if they had a measly 5% tax increase. These are the very people who are so bitterly opposed to tax hikes. Like pigs, they simply don't want to share. But one wonders, if they don't want to share, why do they have to be the MOST critical of others who have so much less than they do? Are they so afraid that they may have to dole out a few crumbs?

One has to wonder...

One has to wonder why ANYONE making less than one million dollars a year would EVERY vote for a damn Republican. I'd be ashamed. I WAS ashamed, because I too was once a Republican. But the collapse of the economy has clearly shown me what the Republicans have been about all along. 

One has to wonder why Republicans even exist at all.

And one has to wonder what the Republicans want to do with the millions of jobless, poor, and elderly Americans...bury them in a deep hole and forget about them?

Maybe they should rise up against the Republicans like they are in Europe.

The Republican's Master Plan in 2012 for fixing the economy, restoring the middle-class, creating millions of jobs, balancing the budget, paying off the national debt, and fixing our infrastructure:

1) Eliminate all taxes for the rich and big businesses.
2) Cut all programs for the poor, sick, and elderly.
3) Increase military spending for national "defense".
4) Give more subsidies to huge profitable corporations.
5) Repeal healthcare and all labor laws. Ban OSHA.
6) Outlaw all abortions.
7) Incarcerate and/or deport all undocumented migrant workers.
8) Ban PBS, NPR, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post.
9) Bust all labor unions and jail their organizers.
10) Lower the minimum wage to $1.00 an hour.
11) Privatize all government-owned utilities.
12) Privatize all natural resources (water, crude oil, air, etc.)
13) De-regulate all banks and corporations completely.
14) Eliminate voting rights for poor people, college kids, and non-land owners.
15) Raise the age of Social Security to 85, then when someone reaches the age of 84, tell them that Social Security is broke and that they'll have to work until the day they drop dead....for $1.00 an hour while very sick without any healthcare at all.

This why Republicans exist.

Friday, June 10, 2011

America's Race to the Bottom

Corporate America is guilty as sin for human rights violations all across the globe. In that they are complicit, they are no less guilty than if the CEO took a whip to beat the back of a 12-year-old girl himself; or if he had picked up a gun and shot and killed a foreign labor organizer. Just like the kingpins of international drug cartels, American CEOs know EXACTLY how all their blood money is being made.

And right now they are looking to expand their operations in places like Columbia. There's big push by massive multi-national corporate conglomerates for "Trade Adjustment Assistance" (TAA).

"I looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. This went on for what seemed a ghastly eternity. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street. Life nets held by the firemen were torn by the impact of the falling bodies."

Many of you have heard about New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 in when 146 young girls died. Labor unions rose up and worker's rights were born because of sweatshop abuses in America. 

But atrocities are still happening all around the world today...this is how corporate America stays "competitive in the marketplace", and why they outsource our jobs. Rather than set an example of decency and fair play, and show human respect, they abuse human rights and use slave labor for profits, all while putting Americans out of work and forcing them into poverty.

For over 40 years American corporations have exported American jobs to produce cheap products made from slave labor in foreign countries to import to the United States.

As but one example: Today the clothing store GAP pays under-aged girls 28¢ an hour to produce jeans that costs us $26.95 to buy in our malls across America. There are no labor laws protecting worker's rights in most of these countries. Just the opposite, the dictators and leaders use their police forces and armies to brutally quell any worker uprising when fair pay and working conditions are demanded. In many of these countries their workers are being paid what would be equal to one tenth of what the wages were being paid in America 100 years ago. Bangladesh is now the 3rd largest exporter in the world for garments to the United States.

Is this what the Republicans and Tea Party mean by "free trade" and "free markets"? Is this what American corporations refer to as "global competition"? This is slavery in a global sweatshop economy...the exploitation of labor, sometimes brutally, for ever more corporate profits. The CEOs of these companies and our government leadership are VERY AWARE of this, yet they have failed to pass a law, or any other legislation to protect American jobs and maintain our middle-class. 

Even today, as this re-distribution of wealth is all going to the top, the rest of us are racing to the bottom. Read: U.S. Profits From Booming Chinese Sweatshops


So the next time John Boehner asks, "Where are the jobs?" Tell him," They are being done by 12-year-old girls who work in sweatshops owned by American based "multi-national" corporations who rarely pay any corporate taxes in America to help pay down our debt and to fix our infrastructure."  

These little girls slave for 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 28¢ an hour so fat rich guys can earned multi-million-dollar bonuses while laying off American workers; and then they whine about having to pay unemployment insurance to the families that they betrayed and abandoned here in the United States.

An no, contrary to the Tea Party’s "talking points", Progressives ARE NOT anti-capitalist. Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century, had argued that " individual capitalists are duty bound to play a broader cultural and social role to IMPROVE the world." 

But the American corporate scumbags we have today are just the opposite. They deliberately engage in child abuse by using under-aged girls to slave for them...just so the CEOs will get their bonuses.

America's Race to the Bottom 

S. 367 - Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act - A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to prohibit the import, export, and sale of goods made with sweatshop labor, and for other purposes. This bill was created in the 110th Congress in 2007-2008 and sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan [D-ND]. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee and Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce, Trade, and Tourism. Action: Hearings held....stalled. Forgotten?

Co-sponsors S. 367 - Of course, when it comes to representing American workers, we can expect most to be Democrats

Barack Obama [D-IL]
Evan Bayh [D-IN]
Joseph Biden [D-DE]
Barbara Boxer [D-CA]
Sherrod Brown [D-OH]
Robert Byrd [D-WV]
Benjamin Cardin [D-MD] 
Robert Casey [D-PA]
Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
Richard Durbin [D-IL]
Russell Feingold [D-WI]
Thomas Harkin [D-IA] 
John Kerry [D-MA]
Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ]
Patrick Leahy [D-VT]
Carl Levin [D-MI]
Robert Menéndez [D-NJ]
John Reed [D-RI]
John Rockefeller [D-WV]
Charles Schumer [D-NY]
Debbie Ann Stabenow [D-MI]
Jim Webb [D-VA] 
Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]

Independent co-sponsor:

Bernard Sanders [I-VT]

Republican co-sponsor:

Lindsey Graham [R-SC]


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anthony Weiner: Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Hypocrites, liars, thieves, cheats, and sexual predators are nothing new in our government leadership. Since our Founding Forefathers there's always been controversy and scandals. But just like we have with the disproportionate amount of African-Americans and other minorities in our prison system, there also appears to be a disproportionate amount of our politicians engaging in nefarious affairs, ranging from adultery to bribery.

Anthony Weiner's transgressions (via his Twitter account: sex-texting and lewd photos) almost pales in comparison when looking at the behavior of others in our leadership.
But the worst offenders are those who preach their morality to others, then pass laws to force others to live by their code of moral ethics, when they themselves are the worst offenders. Then when they are caught, they either deny everything, or make an insincere apology and expect us to all just to just forgive and forget. Many are still serving in office today, and many have not yet been caught.

Oddly, too many of them seem to be "socially conservative Christians" and reign from the Bible Belt.
So if one were to look at Anthony's behavior in honest perspective, his actions were more of a sexually immature man, rather than that of an evil and conniving monster. The media whined that he lied to them...so what! The media lies to us all the time, especially Fox News and Bill O'Reilly, who's a sexual predator and had to settle a lawsuit for millions of dollars, (but because Bill pimps his books on his TV show, he HAD to lie about that!) And HIS lies harm far more people than Anthony's lie had. We've ALL lied about one thing or another in our lives for one reason or another. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."

The frivolous complaints by the Republicans about Wiener's wiener and Wiener-gate is really more of a waste of time and a distraction than anything else. There are too many far more important things going on right now. The worst part of it is, because of Anthony's stupidity, now the rabid and radical right-wing has some fresh red meat to chew on for a while. Very little was said by Bill O'Reilly about Senator John Ensign, who screwed his best friend's wife and paid to try and cover it up (and who Rick Santorum had tipped off). I expect Fox News to run the Weiner story up until the 2012 elections, but I wish CNN and MSNBC would report on more important matters so I and others can blog about something else.

Anthony Weiner will be a great loss to the Progressive movement and I hope his fellow Democrats don't throw him under the bus, because we know how spineless they can be when standing up to Republicans.

The list below represents those who are guilty of much more egregious offenses, many who are repeat offenders. So unless, or until, it can be shown that Anthony Weiner participated in other, more "criminal" activity, I say get off his damn back and let he and his wife sort it out.

The short list of our government adulterers:

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada)
Sen. John Edwards (D-North. Carolina)
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona)
Gov. Mark Sanford (D-South Carolina) (who fell in love)
Sen. Jim Talent (R- Missouri) 
Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-New York)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) 
Spkr. Newt Gingrich (R- Georgia)
Sen David Vitter (R-Louisiana)
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas)
Sen. Strom Thurmond (Dixicrat/Republican - South Carolina)

...and then there were Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Bill Clinton...just to name but a few...on both sides of the aisle.

REPUBLICAN Hypocrites 

George W. Bush - 1976 Arrest and Conviction of drunk driving in Maine. Lied to Congress and U.S. citizens about Iraq's nuclear capability just to justify his pre-emptive war. Covered up Saudi aid to 9-11 hijackers. Lied on a juror form about his arrest record, a felony in Texas. Lied under oath during a private lawsuit.

George H. W. Bush - Linda Tripp says he had an affair with a woman named Jennifer Fitzgerald.

Henry Hyde - Broke up a family during his seven year adulterous affair!

Mike Bowers - Cheated on his wife for FIFTEEN YEARS!

Newt Gingrich - Dumped his ex-wife while she was in a hospital bed suffering from cancer. Was screwing his aid while sitting in judgment of President Clinton. He resigned as Speaker of the House. Also funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to his campaign donors. His district received more taxpayer's money than all the other districts in America.

Bill Bennett - When not telling Americans how to be virtuous could be found in Las Vegas gambling the night away.

Bob Dole - Cheated on his first wife with his later wife, Elizabeth Dole.

Bob Dornan - Reported to have cheated on and beaten his wife.

Oliver North - While guest host on the Rush Limbaugh show he advocated the assassination of President Clinton. Lied to Congress. Sold arms to enemies. Guilty of obstruction of justice, shredded Iran Contra documents, ordered his secretary to smuggle out incriminating evidence in her panties.

John Linder - Has a wandering eye for his female staff members.

Ronald Reagan - Dumped Jane Wyman by cheating on her with several Hollywood starlets. Secretly sold weapons to terrorists then lied about it.

William Cohen - Dumped his white wife for a new black one.

Guy Millner - Has been married three times, partly because he has sex with women he wasn't married to.

Rush Limbaugh - Fat as he may be, he cheated on two of his three wives. Dope addict. Avoided draft during Vietnam by saying he had an anal cyst. Fired seven times. Money launderer.

Mitch Skandalakis - Hired hookers from his Las Vegas hotel room!

Michael Deaver - Was so drunk he doesn't remember hiring hookers.

Bill Randall - A Florida Congressional candidate and minister, he fathered an illegitimate child during his affair!

Phil Gramm - Funded porn movie. Draft dodger. Laundered illegal campaign funds. Wife Wendy corporate crook. INTRODUCED LEGISLATION TO DEREGULATE THE BANKS IN 1999!

Rep. Bob Barr - Used pro-lifer's money to get elected and then forced his wife to have an abortion. Also was a member of the CCC, a KKK like organization.

Bill McCartney - Promise Keepers founder who didn't keep his promise to his wife and then lied about it for 20 years!

Bob Dornan - Regularly beat his wife but he is a "family values" Republican

Rep. Dan Burton - Had at least six adulterous affairs, and fathered a bastard son who he ignored!

Pat Robertson - Impregnated a girl and refused to marry her until her parents threatened to contact the media. Owns interest in gold mine in Liberia and supported the ruthless dictator Charles to protect his mine.

Rep. Bob Barr - Cheated on all three of his wives - and coerced one into having an abortion - then lied about it!

Rudolph Giuliani - Boffed his assistant in Gracie Mansion while his wife stayed home with the kids!

Sen. Strom Thurmond - Cheated on his fourth wife at age 88!!

Gilbert Davis - Paula Jones' attorney, who allowed himself to be videotaped DrUnK during his adultery!

Bob Packwood - Drank huge amounts of hard liquor and then tongue-kissed his female staffers against their will!

Gov. Kirk Fordice - Got so hopped up by his mistress that he crashed his Jeep Cherokee and got himself hurt!

Beverly Russell - The Christian Coalition coordinator who molested his stepd-aughter Susan Smith, who later killed her own kids.

Marv Albert - Called himself a Republican, bit his longtime mistresses, and had sex with her while wearing women's panties!

N.C. Rep. Sue Myrick - Who cheated on her husband and left him for another man!

Bob Livingston - The GOP Speaker-to-never-be, who cheated on his wife Bonnie - with at least four women!

Michael Huffington - The Former GOP Congressman who cheated on his wife Arianna (of the Huffington Post) - with other men!

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin - Who had an adulterous affair with her security guard - a state trooper!

Rep. Helen Chenoweth - Who screwed most every married male member of the Idaho Legislature!

Jim Bakker - Cheated on his wife. Stole millions of dollars. Eventually got locked up in chains and sent to federal prison.

Jimmy Swaggart - Who broke down crying after he got busted with an ugly hooker!

Rep. Susan "Congressional 'Ho" Myrick 

DEMOCRATIC Hypocrites 

Grover Cleveland (President of the United States)
He fathered an illegitimate child before running for President.

Bill Clinton (President of the United States)
The 42nd President was impeached following a sexual relationship with White House intern.

Ted Kennedy (U.S. Senator; presidential candidate)
The Massachusetts Democrat has remained a major national political figure despite the Chappaquiddick incident, where his late brother’s 29-year-old ex-staffer, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned when a car Kennedy was driving went off a bridge. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident; he received a two month suspended sentence.

Barney Frank (U.S. Congressman)
The Massachusetts Democrat was reprimanded by the House after his partner ran an escort service out of the Congressman’s home.

James E. McGreevey (Governor of New Jersey)
The married Governor resigned after admitting to an affair with another man – his Homeland Security advisor.

Wilbur Mills (U.S. Congressman; presidential candidate)
The Arkansas Democrat was the powerful House Ways & Means Committee Chairman when he was caught, intoxicated, driving into the Tidal Basin with stripper Fanne Fox.

Gary Hart (U.S. Senator; presidential candidate)
The Colorado Senator was a major candidate for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, but his campaign ended after being photographed cavorting with Donna Rice on a boat called Monkey Business.

Gary Condit (U.S. Congressman)
The California Democrat’s former Intern, Chandra Levy, was found dead in a Washington, D.C. park, and questions about their relationship – and his poor handling of the media frenzy that followed – led to Condit’s defeat.

Mel Reynolds (U.S. Congressman)
The Illinois Democrat resigned during his first term after having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old campaign worker. He later went to prison.

Neil Goldschmidt (Governor of Oregon)
As Mayor of Portland, Goldschmidt had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old babysitter.

Brock Adams (U.S. Senator)
The Washington Democrat didn’t seek re-election to the Senate after eight women alleged misconduct that included harassment, sexual assault and rape.

Wayne Hays (U.S. Congressman)
The Ohio Democrat, Chairman of the powerful House Administration Committee, put his mistress on the House payroll. He was forced to resign after 28 years in Congress. Comeback: won election to Ohio State Legislature.

Eliot Spitzer (Governor of New York)
The Democratic Governor is allegedly John #9 in a scandal involving high priced call girls and a prostitution ring. He resigned after just 14 months in office. Now has a show on CNN.

Gerry Studds (U.S. Congressman)
The Massachusetts Democrat was censured by the House for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male House Page. He continued to win re-election.

Allen Howe (U.S. Congressman)
The Utah Democrat was a one-term Congressman after he was arrested for soliciting two prostitutes – actually, both cops – in his home town of Salt Lake City.

Fred Richmond (U.S. Congressman)
The New York Democrat was charged with soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy. He was re-elected two years later.

Paul Patton (Governor of Kentucky)
The Democratic Governor had an extramarital affair with a nursing home operator; after she broke it off, the state cited the nursing home with a bunch of violations.

Chuck Robb (U.S. Senator; Governor of Virginia)
The Virginia Democrats admitted to spending time with former Miss Virginia/Playboy model Tai Collins and to getting a nude massage. He won re-election three years later.

Kwame Kilpatrick (Mayor of Detroit, MI)
The Mayor of Detroit faces a possible criminal probe and recall over his relationship with his ex- Chief of Staff that included sexually explicit text messages.

Bob Wise (Governor of West Virginia)
The West Virginia Democrat did not seek a second term as Governor after disclosure that he had an affair with a state employee.

Too many others to list...

* Disclaimer: This information was compiled from information I found in various blogs on the internet. You can research each individual first before making a final conclusion. I myself have never cheated on ANY wife ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How We Keep Getting Robbed...Again and Again

(Excerpted from an article by Glenn Cox "The Success of Failure" and a newsletter from Too Much.)

Were you aware that the Federal Reserve has been lending money to member banks for 0.10 percent? Banks can borrow at the Fed Funds target rate of one tenth of one percent. (video below: The American Sucker)

One million dollars can be borrowed for the cost of $1,000. The Treasury then offers up one million dollars in treasury bills which will pay the bearer 3.10 percent interest - or that one million dollars that was so casually handed over to the banker for $1,000 will cost the taxpayers $31,000 . 

The bankers can buy those treasury notes and make three percent interest without even getting out of bed in the morning! And you pay for this!

This program has been in place over two years since the end of the Bush administration, and now the Federal Reserve has decided to expand the money supply by $600 billion dollars more. Who gains from this? 

Bankers are cashing their bonus checks again while Real Estate losses are swept under the rug. Tax rates for the wealthy are lower than they've been in a century. The sales of new Jaguars and Rolls Royce are up, up, up and the sales of new corporate jets are at full capacity with waiting lists. There is no crisis at the upper echelons of society, in fact, things have never been better.

Under the TARP agreement the banks can take your defaulting mortgage loan and present it to the Federal Reserve and the kindly Fed bankers will write the bank a credit for the full amount of your loan. Crisis? What crisis?

Say that you bought your home in 2006 for $200,000 but the homes in your neighborhood are now selling for $140,000. At auction your house might only bring in $110,000 but that's for the other guys, that's for suckers. The bank presents its deed to the Federal Reserve and says my customer defaulted owing $185,000 and the Fed writes them a check for $185,000.

Of course the banks must make it look like they're at least trying to help homeowners. The back log of homes on the market is as high now as it was during the beginning of the mortgage crisis so the banks make a few modifications just to keep up appearances, just to make it look good.

So these banks are flush with cash and anxious to spend it - - - anxious to spend it, that is, on anything but you. This is how conservatism works. Let the free market do what is best for the free market. During Roosevelt's New Deal the government regulated the banks, they created work programs and public construction programs to restart the economy. This time around the banks have, through the offices of Bush and Obama, obtained a free money policy.

The stock market crashed in 2007 and the banks were reimbursed for their losses and there was money to be made picking up bargains on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs made money every day of the last quarter except one. Ask yourself, if you played cards with a guy who won every hand except one, would you assume that he's just a really good card player?

"All of Wall Street is just a ponzi scheme." ~ Bernie Madoff

Recently the Justice Department issued subpoena's to Goldman Sachs, there is an election year coming up, you know. So somebody's got to go down, somebody's going to be made an example of to appease public sensibilities and outrage. A public hanging or two ought to quell the public's appetite for vengeance.

A veteran CEO of a $68-billion regional U.S. bank, M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers charged in an interview that overpaid executives have turned American banking into a “virtual casino” that no longer services the needs of average Americans. 

Former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett, meanwhile, blasted GOP leaders in Congress for asserting, without evidence, “that cutting taxes for the well-to-do and big corporations” will solve what ails America. In truth, says Bartlett, federal taxes on corporations and the rich remain “very low,” and we have “no reason to believe that reducing them further will do anything to raise growth or reduce unemployment.”

How the Banks Benefit

The economy is sputtering, I wonder why? Home prices are falling faster than ever; prices are falling at double last year's rate at one percent per month. Home prices have fallen for fifty two consecutive months so the Federal Reserve tries a second round of quantitative easing, quantitative = money, easing = add more.  (video below: The American Sucker)

Suppose then that you owned a hamburger stand and you earned a one dollar profit from each hamburger sold. The hamburger stand is one million dollars in debt; you will have to sell one million hamburgers just to break even. Suddenly the currency becomes inflated or quantitatively eased, your cost to produce hamburgers doubles. You do the only thing that you can do and raise the price of hamburgers. The price of a hamburger has doubled but you now earn two dollars for every hamburger sold. You are now only half a million hamburgers in debt.

Suppose it is not a hamburger stand that you own but a bank. Quantitative easing helps you to bury your debt through currency inflation. Wages for working people have risen on average one percent per year so in effect with three percent annual inflation working people take a ten percent wage cut every five years. This is how consumers were led to spend beyond their means. This is how the economy was brought to the brink of collapse.

This is how the banking industry is subsidized by free money from the Federal government. This is how so called Free Trade empties the treasury while filling the pockets of the investor class. This is how Wall Street is juiced; this is how the deficits soar. This is how politicians justify calling for cuts to Medicare and Social Security. This is how state and local government justify cutting 28,000 employees just last month and cutting benefits to millions more. A class war Hiroshima strike, where failure is success.

A Call from Labor: Ban Big Bank Stock Options

Federal agencies are now preparing new regs for enforcing the banker pay reforms enacted last summer. These new regs, says the AFL-CIO, need to prohibit the 'incentive' that's still stuffing bankers with billions.

If you wear a power suit to work every day, you probably don't care all that much about your salary — because most of your income doesn't come from salary. Most comes from something called “incentive-based compensation.” 

This “incentive-based” pay can come in many forms. You can get cash as an incentive if you meet certain “performance” goals. You can get actual shares of stock as a incentive. Or, maybe best of all, you can get stock options.

Stock options, in today’s corporate and banking world, essentially serve as lottery tickets for big-time executives. Lottery tickets with a difference. 

The first difference: These executive lottery tickets come free. Executives pay nothing to get them. The second: This executive lottery pays off big — and often. 

Regular folks who play the lottery can, of course, certainly hit the jackpot. But the odds against scoring a major windfall can routinely run up to 76 million-to-one, the equivalent of throwing heads on 26 consecutive coin tosses. 

Financial industry execs who play the stock option lottery don’t have to toss 26 heads in a row to score big. They merely have to jack up their share price. And they’ve become quite adept at doing just that, by any means necessary.

Those means, we’ve learned from various investigations into the 2008 financial industry meltdown, have included everything from bankrolling sub-prime loan scams to cheating their own clients. Why do top execs take all these risks? With stock options, executives simply have no incentive not to take risks. 

Stock options give executives the “option” to purchase a specified number of their firm’s shares, at the current share price, at some future date. At that future date, if the shares have jumped in price, the executives “exercise” their options. They buy shares at the old price and then sell them off at the new one.

If their firm’s shares should decline in value over time, the executives lose nothing — since they’ve paid nothing for their options. But their gains, on the upside, have no limit. The higher a share price rises, for whatever reason, the bigger the executive personal profit from exercising the option.

These personal profits have been — and continue to be — enormous. Consider the power-suited executive phalanx at Goldman Sachs. Since 1999, the New York Times reported earlier this year, some 860 top Goldman execs have cashed out $20 billion from selling off shares from their personal stock stashes*.

* And they only pay 15% in capital gains taxes, thanks to the Bush tax cuts for the rich. See my post: Capital Gains Taxes - A Rich Man's Poison. Currently Tim Pawlenty endorses slashing corporate tax rates by more than half from 35 percent to 15 percent, and abolishing taxes on dividends, investments, capital gains and estates - - - making the rich even richer, while making our national debt even greater, and endorsing cuts to programs for the elderly and poor. Oil speculators like Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers have made billions and paying so little in taxes, causing you to pay $4 for a gallon of gasoline.

Those shares came, in part, from option grants. In 2007, for instance, Goldman's board approved grants that gave execs options to purchase 3.5 million shares. But then came the 2008 meltdown, and Goldman shares plummeted in value. 

Goldman’s response: more options. Lots more. In December 2008, with Goldman shares trading at record lows, the bank’s top execs received nearly 36 million stock options, ten times the previous year’s total.

Goldman’s top execs also received, at about that same time, a massive bailout from Uncle Sam that saved the bank from collapse and set the stage for a robust share price recovery. By January 2011, the bank’s top 475 execs could look forward to $2.7 billion in personal profits from the 2008 stock option grant. 

Last summer, members of Congress took a stab at curbing such gross excesses. The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation they passed includes a section that expressly prohibits “any type of incentive-based compensation” that “encourages inappropriate risks by providing excessive compensation.”

But this section 956 leaves the enforcement specifics up to the seven federal agencies that monitor the financial sector. This past March, these seven proposed draft regulations for implementing the lawmaker intent. Bank lobbyists and public interest groups have been sparring over these draft regs ever since. 

Much of the debate has revolved around a proposed regulatory rule that would require big banks to defer 50 percent of incentive compensation for a minimum of three years. The goal: to prevent executives from enriching themselves with short-term moves that end up wreaking long-term havoc.

Public interest groups like Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen are pushing for rules that require banks to defer a greater share of executive incentive pay — and for a longer deferral period. They’re also pushing for a clearer — and tougher — definition of  “excessive compensation.” 

The AFL-CIO, America’s biggest union federation, is pushing for even stiffer changes. Last Tuesday, the AFL-CIO’s top investment analyst, Daniel Pedrotty, asked regulators to place an outright ban on all big bank stock option incentives.

“Stock options promise executives all of the benefits of share price increases with none of the risk of share price declines,” noted Pedrotty. “In other words, stock options provide executives with asymmetric incentives to shoot for the moon.”

Options, he continued, also let top execs “inappropriately profit from share price volatility without creating additional value.”

The AFL-CIO bottom line: Stock options don’t rate “as an appropriate form of compensation for executives and should be prohibited.”

Mary Jo Carey would likely agree with this AFL-CIO appraisal. Before the 2008 financial collapse, she worked as a loan officer with a small brokerage firm in her Taos, New Mexico hometown. Carey recently sent the Securities and Exchange Commission a letter asking for tough restraints on Wall Street's “outrageous pay practices,” one of thousands of citizen letters the agency has received.

“Currently, most bankers receive stock options,” Carey wrote. “So if they can generate more profits, the stock price goes up, and their options become more valuable. This is insane! This will just cause another collapse.”

“I watch the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, etc. and think,” Carey added, “that will be us someday. We are run by rich guys.”

How much those rich guys get their way on Section 956 will soon be apparent. The SEC and other involved federal regulatory agencies could be adopting final regs on financial institution executive incentive pay as early as this August. 

A new financial industry report by Global Wealth that was released last week says the world’s millionaires and billionaires are now sitting on $47.4 trillion in stocks, bonds, and other investments. A mere one-tenth of 1 percent tax levy on these assets would raise $47.4 billion a year...but the GOP wants to LOWER taxes even lower than they are now for the uber- rich and for large corporations.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, total world wealth (defined as cash deposits, money market funds, stocks and bonds, among other onshore and offshore assets) has jumped $10 trillion over the 2007 pre-Great Recession wealth level, the previous all-time record.

We have, in other words, never been as wealthy as a human race as we are now. Yet governments the world over are pleading poverty and imposing austerity on their people. No mystery in that paradox. Just beaucoup heaps of inequality.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Open Letter to Newly Elected House Members

It's usually the "well-bred" and well-connected, those from "important" families, mostly of wealth (or who marry into wealth), that become U.S. Senators.

So I would only like to appeal to those of you who run as candidates for the House of Representatives; those who run and are elected on the basic principals and values of your local constituents (the common people), and usually come from modest backgrounds; and can be as unknown, poor, and as anonymous as myself.

Once elected, please don't fall into the trappings of  the Washington D.C. elite (such as the U.S. Senators). While I imagine many of you will be well-educated, professional, and come from more "worldly" backgrounds, some of you might be like more like Jed Jed Clampett when he first moved to Beverly Hills. You might be intimidated by the presence of the powerful men and women of our leadership, maybe even overwhelmed. But the Washington insiders will try to influence all of you, and make you feel naive and uninformed. They might smile and be polite, but they will only try to manipulate you into being a part of their inner circle, to continue on with the present polices, and make you a part of "the club" that has caused so much hardship for the once-middle-class.

At first, you might feel giddy with the dramatic increase in your pay ($174,000-a-year) and be surprised by all the perks and benefits, such as the fantastic government healthcare, something that the GOP wants to deny to everyone else. You'll have the financial independence to shop and travel, and to live a much better life than you previous could have before - but please don't forget the millions of others who are still struggling just to survive.

Stay true to your reasons for running for public office (as a public servant, not as an opportunist), and don't be corrupted by the power that comes from holding office; we've seen with certainty that power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Don't forget your roots, as it will take an extraordinary will and strength to overcome the temptations, influence, and status quo that prevails in Washington D.C. - - - we've already seen too many of our elected leaders promise one thing just to get themselves elected, then turn around and do just the exact opposite. It's infuriating to the voters.

We've seen people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann go on "glamour-thons", riding around in pimped-up buses while traveling the country on their book tours...or making the rounds in media appearances as if they were famous celebrities, rather than humble servants working diligently for the causes of the common people.

You will be overwhelmed by the trappings of Congress, the elaborate hallways and offices and meeting rooms; all those famous political faces you  once saw on TV will now be a part of your daily life. You'll be invited to VIP gala affairs, and attend fancy dinners and banquets with expensive menus, and receive Five-Star service as thought you were royalty. You'll be assigned a staff of people that answer only to you and given an office allowance. People will seek you out, and some will adore you with admiration. After a while, too many politicians begin to think about themselves as being "special"...that they ARE one of the privileged and elite, and very different from us "commoners"...those who you left behind in your small home town to represent.

Don't become ruthlessly ambitious with your new-found fame and power...don't be awed when the president shakes your hand for the very first time; and then think, "I'm now one of them", or soon you'll begin to aspire for even more wealth, power, and fame. You'll begin playing favorites and maneuvering to get on influential sub-committees or entertain dreamy thoughts of running for U.S. Senator, or even for President of the United States. Lofty goals to be sure, but don't forget the middle-class while you're being driven around Washington D.C. in a limousine or flying home in a private jet, financed by the corporate influences that is a cancer in Washington D.C.

Don't be a "flip-flopper" on the issues you campaigned on and be too afraid to stand up to others that would bully you by holding some legislation hostage to your vote on someone else's pork-barrel spending. Don't be afraid to expose the corruption and wrong-doing in government...making waves. Don't be blackmailed, and if you're a man, TRY to keep it in your pants and don't pose for pictures and post them on Facebook or Twitter...women aren't impressed.

When you do get to Washington D.C., wearing your brand new spiffy suit and polished shoes, don't think of yourself as special or better than those you represent back home. Don't be taken in by the backroom diplomatic deals that compromises your values. Don't let lobbyists attempt to influence your votes with "campaign contributions". Don't think about the next election cycle, think about what your constituents need today.

If you see a Koch brother in the halls of Congress and he approaches you with a false smile and a fat envelope, spit in his face. Then vote the exact opposite way he would want you to, and then you will know you are doing the right thing for the folks back home - - - and you'll be re-elected in a landslide without ever having to pay for one single campaign ad. As many of you already know, you don't have to be a rich big shot to get elected to the House of Representatives, just be honest, sincere, and hard-working.

And finally, don't impose your personal views on others, and represent the majority while at the same time, protecting the minority. If all polls show that 85% of Americans want to end oil subsidies, but want to save Medicare, don't vote against the wants, the desires, and the will of  THE PEOPLE....in other words, please don't be another lying, back-stabbing, hypocritical and greedy politician...but rather a bold and noble statesman who has dignity, morality, and class (like the few we once had many years ago).

And finally, when you DO vote against your constituent's wishes, the next time you hold a town hall meeting, don't have it on private property so you can have anyone who disagrees with you arrested for speaking up - - - as was the case with Colonel Allen West when he had Nicole Sandler arrested. Instead, rather than being a sniveling two-faced coward by trying to control the message, be open and honest and face the wrath of those you betrayed.

Do all these things, and encourage others in the House of Representatives to do the same thing by setting an example, and if they don't, go on TV to expose them. Then maybe, like a huge cargo ship, we can slowly change the course of this country...and restore the American Dream for the middle-class....the "commoners".

“I,______________ do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”