Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nick Hanauer Speech at TED University (Video & Text)

*** Editor's Note: Yesterday, the National Journal's Jim Tankersley had introduced the multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist from Seattle, to the audience. But as one of the first non-family investors in, Hanauer's speech at the TED University conference was at first deemed too politically controversial to post on their web site. Below is the video of his 5 minute speech and the full text. An important message for those who think the rich are America's job creators:

"It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies. Consider this one.

If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down. This idea is an article of faith for Republicans and seldom challenged by Democrats, and has indeed shaped much of the economic landscape. But sometimes the ideas that we are certain are true, are dead wrong.

Consider that, for thousands of years humans believed that the earth was the center of the universe. It's not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some pretty terrible astronomy.

Likewise, a policy maker who believes that the rich are "job creators", and therefore should not be taxed, would be equally terrible policy.

I have started, or helped start, dozens of companies -- and initially hired lots of people. But if there was no one around who could afford to buy what we had to sell, all those companies and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That's why I can say with confidence that rich people don't create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. Jobs are a consequence of a circle of life-like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary consumer is more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

That's why when business people take credit for creating jobs, it's a little bit like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. It's actually the other way around.

Anyone who's ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a course of last resort for capitalists. It's what we do if, and only if, rising customer demand requires it. And in this sense, calling yourselves job creators isn't just inaccurate, it's disingenuous.

That's why our existing policies are so upside down. When the biggest tax exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

Since 1980, the share of income for the top 1% of Americans has more than tripled, while our effective tax rates have gone down by 50%. If it was true that lower taxes for the rich and more wealth for the wealthy led to job creation, today we would be drowning in jobs. And yet, unemployment and under-employment is at record highs.

Another reason that this idea is so wrong-headed is that, there can never be enough super-rich people to power a great economy. Somebody like me makes hundreds or thousands as times much as the median American, but I don't buy hundreds or thousands of times as much stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and shirts a year like most American men. Occasionally we go out to eat with friends.

I can't buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and under-employed Americans can't buy any new cars, any clothes, or enjoy any meals out. Nor can I make up for the falling consumption of the vast majority of middle-class families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.

Here's an incredible fact...if the typical American family still retained the same share of income that they did in 1970, they'd earn like $45,000 more a year. Imagine what our economy would be like if that were the case.

Significant privileges have come to people like me, capitalists, for being perceived as "job creators" at the center of the economic universe; and the language and metaphors we use to defend the current economic and social arrangements is telling. It's a small jump from "job creator" to "The Creator". This language obviously wasn't chosen by accident. And it's only honest to admit that when somebody like me calls themselves a "job creator", we're not just describing how the economy works, but more particularly, we're making a claim on status and privileges that we deserve.

Speaking of special privileges, the extraordinary differential between the 15% tax rate that capitalists pay on carried interest, dividends and capital gains -- and the 35% top marginal rate on work that ordinary Americans pay -- it's kind of hard to justify without a touch of deification

We've had it backwards for the last 30 years. Rich people like me don't create jobs, jobs are a consequence of an eco-systemic feedback loop between customers an businesses. And when the middle-class thrives, businesses grow and hire -- and owners profit.

That's why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all, is such a fantastic deal for the middle-class and the rich.

So ladies and gentleman, here's an idea worth spreading...

In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are middle-class consumers. And taxing the rich to make investments will make the middle-class grow and thrive. It's the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle-class, for the poor, and for the rich.

Thanks you.

*** Editor's Note: This speech was originally posted at The Atlantic, but was wrongly transcribed. I downloaded the video, played it back, and re-wrote his speech verbatim. There's a related article at the Huffington Post.

GOP will Cut Foods Stamps to Starve the Beast

Government spending went up under President Obama because it was supposed to go up. The dramatic increases in food stamps, TANF, and unemployment insurance was supposed to increase because of the social safety nets that were put in place to protect average Americans in the event of economic downturns.

And because of the last catastrophic recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Obama (and Congress) had no choice but to increase government spending to help millions of Americans who lost their jobs and their homes (yes, even Republican voters benefited from these same programs).

But let's not forget how the recession started: Under George W. Bush we had more deregulation, the out-sourcing of 52,000 factories (which Mitt Romney helped along), two unpaid wars, tax breaks for the rich (for which people like Mitt Romney benefited the most), and trillions more in spending for many other pork barrel projects (e.g. "The Road to Nowhere" for Sarah Palin). The recession was years in the making, so how can any sane person believe that one man with only 4 years in office, and with 2 years of Republican obstructionism, be expected to turn the economy around on a dime?

During good economic times, we were supposed to build up our reserves (like we did under Bill Clinton), but instead, the Republicans went on a spending spree. It was part of the GOP plan to increase debt, which I'll get to later. Now the GOP is complaining about "kicking the can down the road" when it comes to our government debt. And to fix it, the GOP wants the very ones who were the most hurt by the recession to suffer more.

Simply put, the GOP's plan for reducing the deficit is to cut food stamps and Medicaid (and other social programs) for the poor, cut Medicare and Social Security for the elderly and disabled, while at the same time cutting taxes for the rich, subsidizing profitable corporations like big oil, and subsidizing the rich and famous -- including Tea Party politicians such as Michelle Bachmann.

The Tea Party darling and Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband's "mental health" clinic (Bachmann & Associates) received nearly $30,000 from the government. They also received another $260,000 in federal farm subsidies. And on average, they also received $600 a month from the government for each of their 23 adopted children --- to feed them. But she and everyone else in the Tea Party and the GOP wants to cut food stamps for the unemployed and poor to balance the budget.

As an aside: In 2008, Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus moved from their 3,056 square-foot Stillwater Minnesota home where they had lived for 16 years and moved into a new 5,300 square-foot home (built in 2007). The new house, also in Stillwater (West Lakeland Township, Minnesota) is located overlooking the 18th hole on the StoneRidge Golf Course where couples memberships are $4,150 annually. Their new home ( 4 bed/4 bath) was priced at $1.75 million when it first appeared in the 2007 Parade of Homes and featured as a “dream home". Later it was assessed at $1.27 million in 2008, but the Bachmanns nabbed it for a cool $760,000. Michele Bachmann also owns a share of a 950-acre farm in the town of Montana in Wisconsin. Her share is worth $500,000 to $1 million. She never need food stamps. (Her house and farm are pictured at the bottom of this post.)

You may remember when Tea Party radical Mike Pence, the Republican U.S. Representative for Indiana's 6th Congressional, said of the U.S. government: "Shut it down!"

He wasn't being overly dramatic or exaggerating...he was dead serious, as are most of the Tea Party members in the House. It's all part of a real plan the GOP had hatched decades ago.

The U.S. debt is real, but the "crisis" is fake. As James Kwak, an associate professor at University of Connecticut School of Law and co-author White House Burning writes, even though it's "a real problem that needs to be addressed; we need to address it in the way that's best for the American people as a whole; that means preserving the social insurance programs that almost everyone depends on."

Yet the Republicans, the Tea Party, John Boehner and Mitt Romney are trying to turn the national debt back into a major political issue again. And you can expect the Republicans to bang on this drum from now until November.

"Starve the Beast" is a conscious strategy by conservatives to force cuts in federal spending by deliberately bankrupting the country. As conceived by the right-wing intellectual Irving Kristol in 1980, the plan called for Republicans to create a "fiscal problem" (or "debt crisis") by slashing taxes -- and then foist the pain of re-imposing fiscal discipline (austerity) onto future Democratic administrations (e.g. Obama) who, in Kristol's words, would be forced to "tidy up afterward."

Starving the beast is the fiscal-political strategy of American conservatives to cut taxes in order to deprive the government of revenue in a deliberate effort to create a fiscal budget "crisis" that is intended to force the federal government to reduce spending (rather than restore tax levels). The short and medium term effect of the strategy has increased United States public debt rather than reduced spending.

We saw this vividly played out last year when the Tea Party Republicans almost shut down the government, which resulted in having the United States' credit rating reduced.

Just recently Democrats controlling the Senate rejected for the second year in a row Wednesday a budget plan passed by House Republicans. The 58-41 vote against the GOP budget came after a daylong debate in which Democrats blasted Republicans for refusing to consider tax increases as part of a solution to trillion-dollar deficits.

The Republicans in turn attacked Democrats for not offering a budget at all. Republicans launched the debate, which was aimed less at successfully passing a bill than highlighting the failure of Senate Democrats to deal with a budget deficit expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year.

The Senate was to vote on five separate budget plans, including one based on President Barack Obama's February budget and offered by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and the White House. It failed on a 99-0 vote. Three GOP senators elected in 2010 with Tea Party support also offered plans in a competition to see whose budget could cut government the most.

Now the Leader of the House John Boehner is threatening to shut down the government again.

Each GOP plan would sharply cut domestic programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits, and also calls for a dramatic transformation of Medicare that would turn it into a voucher-like program. Democrats called for a "balanced" solution blending tax increases on wealthier people with less severe spending cuts.

"We will not allow the debt and deficit to be reduced on the backs of the middle class and most vulnerable Americans without calling on the wealthiest to contribute," says Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) "That is not fair, it's not what the American people want, and it's simply not going to happen."

Many Republicans have already publicly come out and said they refused to compromise.

The GOP will do anything to have their own way and to get Obama out of the White House, even if it means shutting down the government, and to hell with America's senior citizens, the unemployed, the disabled, and the poor -- even if it means another downturn for America's credit rating.

The GOP wants to convince voters that the U.S. is spending too much borrowed money, but the GOP wasn't so concerned about debt when George W. Bush was the president; and the GOP isn't concerned enough to raise taxes on billionaires. Instead, the GOP's plan to fix this "sudden and immediate crisis" is to cut food stamps for unemployed Americans -- and then give more tax breaks to all the billionaires who laid them off. To literally "starve the beast".

While although I realize that half the members of Congress are millionaires, but still, if the GOP wants to force a government shut down (and is so adamant about cutting off funds to the most needy in our country), I would suggest that we first start with government handouts congressional paychecks.

See my other related post "Paul Ryan and the GOP has Waged Class War with Food Stamps"

(Below) One Beast the Government Didn't Starve - In addition to all her other government handouts, Michele Bachmann also gets an annual salary of $174,000 a year from the beasts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mitt Romney Just Took Lemons and Made Lemonade

If I opened a lemonade stand and paid some kid in the neighborhood 5 cents an hour to sell lemonade, I too could call myself a "job creator". Sure, the guy that sells me the lemons, sugar and plastic cups is making a profit. But what good am I doing for the economy as a whole, and what kind of jobs would I creating?

But by its very nature, our economic system of capitalism and free markets isn't about creating jobs, it's about creating money. Jobs are just sometimes the by-product.

Banks gamble with derivatives and speculate in the commodities market to make profits, not to create low-paying bank teller jobs.

Manufacturers automate and robotize whenever possible to cut payroll costs, and technology and computers (called innovation), allow companies to produce more with less. Whenever possible, not only are their products exported, but their factories are exported as well to take advantage of low labor costs overseas.

Just since the beginning of the "Bush Years" alone, the United States lost most of it's better paying jobs in manufacturing. Over 52,000 factories had closed, but for almost 30 years before that, outsourcing became common practice as many companies had union employees with collective bargaining agreements that negotiated wages to help keep up with the rising costs of living.

And if a factory wasn't outsourced to foreign soil, companies like Boeing moved to places like South Carolina. As Governor Nikki Haley says: "We don’t have unions in South Carolina because we don’t need unions in South Carolina.

And when a company downsizes, if often means that hours are cut to deny full-time benefits, while many times employees are required to take on extra duties, creating "higher productivity".

The fast food, service, and retail industries (e.g. McDonalds, Dominos, Staples, and Wal-Mart) improve our lives in some ways in the matter of convenience and lower prices, but in many ways they do not. They propagate a vast number of low-paying jobs, both here and abroad, that reduces our standard of living and reduces our overall tax-base.

The research and redevelopment that takes place in our universities and government research facilities, are funded primarily by the taxpayers. Corporate R&D has become a much smaller share of their expenditures, but private companies greatly profit from the gains made by taxpayer-paid research and development (government jobs).

Bloomberg's Business Week has called "private equity" a re-branding of the corporate raider (leveraged buyout firms) of the 1980s. Among the most common investment strategies in private equity are: leveraged buyouts, venture capital, growth capital, distressed investments and mezzanine capital.

In a typical leveraged buyout transaction, a private equity firm buys a majority control of an existing company. There is a distinct difference from a venture capital or growth capital investment, in which the investors invest in young or emerging companies (like Staples in the 1986), and rarely obtain majority control.

Besides his other "investments", Mitt Romney's Bain Capital used venture capital to finance companies such Staples. The 100,000 jobs he takes credit for were all the low-paying jobs at Staples and the Sports Authority; but Mitt shouldn't take credit for that, Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg can take credit if you don't take into consideration their employee relations.

By the end of 2011, Staples had about 89,000 employees. And Bain Capital was only one of many private equity firms that invested in Sports Authority, now a private company.

The Gartner Group (information technology research) formerly Saatchi & Saatchi, a London-based advertising agency, was acquired in 1990 with funding from Bain Capital and Dun & Bradstreet. In 2001 the name was simplified to Gartner.

Mitt Romney's recent ad regarding Steel Dynamics implies that Bain Capital was a "lone white knight". But in truth, there were eight financiers. Even more telling, the state and local government pumped in $37 million — twice as much as Bain Capital did. Then, five years later, Bain sold its stake and walked off with an $85 million profit, courtesy of this "government largesse."

SUCCESS! Bain Capital bought Wesley Jessen Vision Care for $6 million in 1994. It had been a division of Schering Plough and was not profitable. Bain Capital and a new CEO turned it around and sold it to Ciba Geigy for over $300 million in 2001.Today, the company is part of Ciba Vision.

But Mitt Romney, as a private equity manager, wasn't about creating jobs, but profits. He didn't innovate and do anything to make the human condition of the economy as a whole any better for the common good. His "investments" sometimes produced the by-product of low-paying jobs in companies like Staples; but his efforts also produced many other low-paying jobs in foreign countries. The jobs that weren't outsourced or lost to downsizing were "re-created" to pay much less without healthcare and pension plans..

Mister Romney, like all corporate raiders, specialized in buying financially troubled companies (many on the verge of bankruptcy), breaking them up, and selling them off in smaller parts at a price that's worth more than the whole company, for profit. The workers bore the brunt of the cost with lost pensions, lost benefits, and lower wages -- if they weren't laid off.

Corporate raiders such as Carl Icahn, T. Boone Pickens, Kirk Kerkorian, Michael Milken, (and Gordon Gekko and "Larry the Liquidator") bought a large number of shares giving them significant voting rights to enact measures such as replacing top executives, downsizing operations, and liquidating the company.

Companies have used a variety of strategies to thwart the efforts of corporate raiders that include shareholders’ rights plans (poison pills), super-majority voting, dramatic increases of the amount of debt on the company’s balance sheet, "golden parachutes", and strategic mergers with a "white knight."

The threat of the corporate raid would sometimes lead to the practice of "greenmail", where a corporate raider or other party would acquire a significant stake in the stock of a company and receive an "incentive payment" (effectively a bribe) from the company in order to avoid pursuing a hostile takeover of the company. Greenmail represented a transfer payment from a company's existing shareholders to a third party investor (like Bain Capital) and provided no value to existing shareholders but greatly benefited existing managers (like Mitt Romney).

Corporate raiders like Mitt Romney cause large economic disruption and create unemployment as factories are sold off and closed. While he might have made money (whether the company failed or succeeded) he just made money, so therefore he is considered "successful", while the company may have went bankrupt.

Bain Capital invested in Stage Stores in 1988 (family apparel, shoes, etc) when the company was young. Stage went public in 1996 with 9,606 employees. Bain realized $184 million from the investment. The company went into chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000.

Bain Capital bought Dade from Baxter in 1994. Bain Capital took Dade public in 1996 and cashed out $216 million. Dade went bankrupt in 2002.

DDI Corp produced circuit boards for the telecom business. It went public with 1,800 employees in 1999. The company’s business declined and it went into chapter 11 bankruptcy.

American Pad & Paper (Ampad) was a manufacturer and marketer of paper-based office products. In 1992, Bain Capital acquired Ampad from Mead. It went public in 1996, but declined soon thereafter, going into chapter 11 in 1999.

And of all those people who were laid off - - while he himself might not have been physically in the office at Bain Capital since 1999, these days his friends, his philosophy, and his money still works there. And since Mitt Romney "retired", even though some of these companies may have come back, it was with no thanks to Mitt & Co.

New York Times - "Mr. Romney never really left Bain. In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year."

But Section 83 of the U.S. Tax Code suggests that the granting of a stake in a firm's future profits in "carried interest" must be in connection with the performance of services. What service does Mitt continue to offer Bain?

And Mitt Romney pays only a 15% tax rate on his take, not the higher income tax bracket of 35%, or that of a firefighter, teacher, or someone in law enforcement who typically pay a 25% tax rate...those "high-priced government employees" earning an average middle-class income of $50,000 a year.

And Mitt pays ZERO in Social Security and Medicare taxes on that "investment income" as well.

And what about all those off-shore banks accounts?

After I made a profit on my lemonade stand, I laid off that kid, took my cash, and built an elevator for my car. Just like me, if Mitt Romany is elected, he'll take lemons and make lemonade for himself and all his pals, then lay us all off. It will do nothing for our economy or tax base as a whole, but will only enrich the top 1% more than they already are.

And what about his dog? I hope Mitt treats the rest of his family better.

My other posts about the King of Bain:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Will JP Morgan Executives Plead the Fifth?

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations may be compelled to maintain and turn over records. The court has held that the Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination extend only to "natural persons." [U.S. v. Kordel, 397 U.S. 1 (1970)]

But oddly, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [558 U.S. 50 (2010)] the court also ruled that corporations are real persons.

The court has also held that a corporation's custodian of records can be forced to produce corporate documents, even if the act of production would incriminate someone personally. [Braswell v. U.S., 487 U.S. 99 (1988)]

Former CEO of Columbia/HCA Health Rick Scott pleaded the Fifth Amendment for Medicare fraud. His company pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to pay a $600+ million fine, at that time, the largest fraud settlement in US history. (Currently over 2,600 pharmacies are also being investigated for $5.6 billion in Medicare fraud.)

Since then, Rick Scott became the Republican Florida Governor. Besides Governor Rick Scott, below are some other unregulated "job creators" who pleaded the Fifth Amendment:

  • Enron executives Andrew Fastow, Jeffrey Skilling, and Ken Lay.
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, CEO of AIG (American International Group)
  • Rajat Gupta, board member of Goldman Sachs
  • MF Global executive Edith O'Brien (former head of Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine)
  • Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover
  • Richard Scrushy, CEO of HealthSouth
  • Bernard Ebbers, CEO of WorldCom ($11 billion accounting fraud)
  • Richard Grasso, CEO of the NYSE
  • Jeff Neely, head of the General Services Administration
  • Stewart Parnell, CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America
  • Ann Baskins and Anthony Gentilucc of Hewlett-Packard
  • Richard Theriault of Revolutions Medical Corp
  • Marylin Star, the pornstar, arrested for insider trading with banker James McDermott
  • Executives at Bain Capital

Here's my complete list of other Wall Street Fraudsters. (Remember, the Republicans want less regulation.)

JP Morgan Chase: The Canary in the Mine

Does anybody remember the housing bubble, the stock market crash and the Great Recession? Since then, nothing has ever been fixed yet. The Dodd-Frank bill was just a band-aid, and the Republicans and bankers have been kicking and screaming to repeal it ever since.

Recently JP Morgan Chase took risky bets and lost two billion dollars in a matter of weeks. CEO Jamie Dimon hasn't pleaded the fifth, instead he went on TV and called his bank's bets “poorly reviewed" and even "sloppy." He added, "We will learn from it, we will fix it, and we will move on."

Elizabeth Warren says, "Frankly, I don’t think we should just trust Wall Street banks to regulate themselves. Because as we learned during the 2008 financial crisis, they are not just taking risks with their own money -- they are taking risks with the whole economy."

New York Times: JPMorgan Chase Executive Resigns in Trading Debacle by Nelson D. Schwartz and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

The Case for Repealing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act

Elizabeth Warren is calling on Congress to put Wall Street reform back on the agenda and to begin by passing a new Glass-Steagall Act. This was the law that stopped investment banks from gambling away people's life savings for decades -- until Wall Street successfully lobbied to have it repealed in 1999. (Sign her petition here and/or contact her to help.)

A new Glass-Steagall Act would separate high-risk investment banks from more traditional banking (like it used to since the start of Great Depression). It would allow Wall Street to take risks, but not by dipping into the life savings and retirement accounts of regular people.

And by making banks smaller, a new Glass-Steagall Act could also help put an end to banks that are "too big to fail" -- further avoiding costly taxpayer bailouts.

New York Times: Breaking Up Four Big Banks By Simon Johnson

Wall Street's risky bets nearly brought the economy to its knees in 2008. But instead of taking responsibility, Wall Street lobbied to water down the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010 and fought to weaken the reforms Congress passed.

Huffington Post: JP Morgan's Loss Could Be America's Gain by Joseph A. Palermo

As a Republican U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Phil Gramm introduced the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, deregulating the banks in 1999. Three years later after leaving office in 2002 Senator Phil Gramm served as Vice Chairman and a member of the Swiss banking giant UBS AG.

In May 2009 UBS AG completed the acquisition of the bailed-out AIG Financial Products Corp., including AIG’s rights to the DJAIG Commodity index.

Phil Gramm was also John McCain’s presidential senior economic adviser in 2008. Economist Paul Krugman named Phil Gramm as the # 2 man of the economic crisis. Alan Greenspan was # 1.

Personally, I would have also named Goldman Sachs CEO and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson as # 3 and President Bill Clinton as # 4 for signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law --- AND for lowering capital gains taxes below the "effective" corporate tax rate (funneling profits into pockets, instead of re-investment and employment).

Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006, had said, "The regulation of derivatives transactions that are privately negotiated by professionals is unnecessary. Regulation that serves no useful purpose hinders the efficiency of markets to enlarge standards of living."

Greenspan opposed the regulation of derivatives on free market grounds and thought the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission had no legal authority to do so. After all the financial mass destruction, in 2012 the Republicans are still demanding less regulation.

New York Times: Why We Regulate Banks By Paul Krugman

The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act since the 1980s, if not earlier. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report that explored the cases for and against preserving the Glass–Steagall Act.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and it repealed part of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among banking companies (e.g. Goldman Sachs), securities companies (e.g. Enron) and insurance companies (e.g. American International Group - AIG). The Glass–Steagall Act had prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company.

Respective versions of the legislation were first introduced in the U.S. Senate by Phil Gramm (R- Texas) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Jim Leach (R-Iowa). The third lawmaker associated with the bill was Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Virginia).

Most economists stated that the 1999 legislation (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) spearheaded by Phil Gramm and signed into law by President Clinton, was significantly to blame for the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis, the act that was widely known for repealing portions of the Glass–Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry.

Phil Gramm's support was later critical in the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives transactions, including those involving credit default swaps, free of government regulation.

In its 2008 coverage of the financial crisis, The Washington Post named Phil Gramm one of seven "Key Players In the Battle Over Regulating Derivatives".

The 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, a supporter of Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, described Gramm during the 2008 presidential race as "the high priest of deregulation," and has listed him as the # 2 person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008, behind only Alan Greenspan.

Gramm had joined the bank UBS AG in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate, and this is precisely why banks and corporations should NOT be allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and why members of Congress should be barred from accepting jobs from banks and corporations they legislated for.

New York Times: "Switzerland bowed to pressure from the U.S. government, and in an unprecedented step, gave up the details of wealthy American clients of UBS who were suspected of using the bank's accounts to evade taxes." Today UBS still allows Americans to evade income taxes by using secret numbered bank accounts (Didn't Mitt Romney have a few of these?)

According to the information filed in a criminal case against UBS, some UBS executives are being treated as un-indicted co-conspirators. “These executives occupied positions at the highest levels of management within UBS, including positions on committees that oversaw legal, compliance, tax, risk and regulatory issues related to the United States cross-border business.”

If you were a company that had hired the former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee that designed the regulatory system under which your company operates, wouldn’t if be a breach of your fiduciary obligation to your shareholders NOT to have him on the legal, compliance and regulatory committees?

Phil Gramm later became a senior economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign from the summer of 2007 until July 18, 2008. While shaping McCain economic policy, Phil Gramm simultaneously lobbied Congress on the mortgage crisis for UBS. Phil Gramm, vice chairman of Swiss-based UBS and McCain campaign general co-chair and advisor "was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy, federal records show."

Gramm, who was reported to have been advising McCain on economic policy back in October 2006, "had an input on McCain's March 26 policy speech about the mortgage crisis which recommended further deregulation of the banking industry as his response" to the ensuing mortgage meltdown.

In a July 9, 2008 interview on McCain's economic plans, Phil Gramm explained that the nation was not in a recession, stating, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession." He added, "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Gramm's comments immediately became a campaign issue. McCain's opponent, Senator Barack Obama, stated, "America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. This economic downturn is not in your head." McCain strongly denounced Gramm's comments and on July 18, 2008 Phil Gramm stepped down from his position with the McCain campaign.

As of 2009, Gramm had been promoted by UBS AG as a Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank Division. UBS states that a Vice Chairman of a UBS division is "...appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients."

His son Marshall Gramm is a professor of economics at Rhodes College, so if you hear his name nominated for economic adviser, start stockpiling canned food, gold, and bullets.

The Senate vote for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was primarily voted along party lines. The final bill was passed by the Senate 90-8, and by the House 362-57. This legislation was signed into law by President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton on November 12, 1999.

In Conclusion

After doing much research for the last three years, I can now say unequivocally and with certainty that it's primarily because of Republican deregulation, union busting, free market polices, and tax favoritism that's put our economy where it is today.

The Republicans allowed for depressed wages, the outsourcing of jobs, tax shortfalls for our treasuries, and the 2008 financial collapse of the stock market. And what's so frustrating is, today in 2012 the Republicans haven't learned a thing. The GOP and Tea Party STILL advocates for less taxes on the wealthiest among us, free trade agreements, and less governmental regulation.

Since the Great Recession began, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and many, their lives. There are more Americans unemployed today than there were at the height of the Great Depression. If it were not for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Medicaid (with only one job available for every five people out of work) where would these people all be today? And the Tea Party and GOP want more of the same...less regulation, tax cuts for the rich, and cutting social services for those who lost their jobs.

In a Wall Street Journalarticle (owned by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News, the propaganda arm of the GOP) on April 15, 2011, as a banking regulator that ruined the American housing market and collapsed our economy, Phil Gramm is now politicking as an economist...and now blaming Obama for everything, while praising Ronald Reagan. He takes no blame at all, and like the rest of the GOP, he too wants more of the same.

Some Unregulated "Job Creators"

Dennis Kozlowski, the Tyco CEO who was convicted in 2005 of grand larceny, conspiracy, and fraud, was sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison -- but he is out after only serving 13 months -- so sometimes white collar crimes does pay! Dennis Kozlowski walked with $600 million.

Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications Systems, had his conviction on charges of backdating stock options thrown out by a Federal appeals judge in August 2009.

John Rigas, CEO of Adelphia Communications Corporation, was forced to retire in 2002 after being indicted for securities, bank and wire fraud; prosecutors charged him with the personal misuse of corporate funds and with hiding $2.3 billion in liabilities from investors. Rigas was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison; Adelphia filed for bankruptcy after admitting that the former CEO and his two sons had failed to record $3.1 billion in loans. Rigas, who petitioned for a Presidential pardon in January 2009 and was rejected, will be 92 years old when his sentence runs out in 2017.

Joe Nacchio, CEO of Qwest International was convicted in April 2007 on 19 counts of insider trading. Prosecutors said he illegally sold $52 million in stock in 2001, even as he knew the company was taking on water. Nacchio was sentenced to 6 years in prison but remained free on $2 million bail pending an appeal. In 2008, a U.S. appeals court overturned Nacchio's conviction, saying a key expert witness had been wrongfully barred from testifying. But this February the guilty verdict was reinstated, and Nacchio was ordered him to serve out the remainder of his term. In a last-ditch effort to stay out of the slammer, Nacchio asked a federal judge in March to reconsider his request to remain free on bail while he appealed to the Supreme Court for a new trial. No such luck: in April he was ordered to report to prison. Nacchio is now sharing a cell at a minimum-security Federal prison camp at Minersville, Pa. His Supreme Court appeal is still pending.

Former porn star Kathryn B. Gannon, who goes by "Marilyn Star", was charged with receiving stock tips in 2000. Gannon was the mistress of James McDermott, former CEO of Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, a multi-billion dollar Wall Street firm. Kathryn Gannon (who has appeared in films such as "Strap up Sally" ), passed the stock tips on to her other lover, New Jersey businessman Anthony Pompino, who, along with McDermott, was convicted of insider trading. Gannon fled to her native Canada, but was arrested and extradited back to the United States, where she was sentenced to only three months in prison. McDermott was sentenced to 27 months in prison, a $25,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service.

James McDermott and Kathryn Gannon ("Marilyn Star")

Not only do we need more regulation, but we also need more regulators --- and we need more people to watch the regulators. And we also need more IRS tax auditors too, because tax evasion is rampant.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The GOP's War on Americans

Today I re-posted two articles that I think are significant to the unemployed if they rely on any type of government assistance. One article debates what the Republicans define as "welfare" and the other article refers to the Republican's proposed cuts in spending next year.

Also read "The Human Disaster of Unemployment", posted in the New York Times by Dean Baker and Kevin Hassett on May 12, 2012:

"Older workers have seen the largest proportionate increase in unemployment. The number of unemployed people between ages 50 and 65 has more than doubled. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job. Economists estimates a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss. There are various reasons for this rise in mortality. One is suicide."

I am the 'Beast' the Republicans want to 'Starve': Starve the Beast is the well-documented and radical 34-year-old plan that Mitt Romney, the Republicans, and the Tea Party endorses for deliberately bankrupting the government."

Define ‘Welfare State,’ Please

Even those who denounce our “unsustainable welfare state” don’t agree on what it is or how its spending should be measured. Brandishing the phrase in his recent call for a structural revolution, David Brooks of The New York Times didn’t get specific.

The Heritage Foundation sometimes offers a narrow definition of the “unsustainable welfare state,” based on means-tested programs – benefits directed to those with income below a poverty threshold, like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid.

Like many conservative Republicans, however, the Heritage Foundation often includes bigger entitlement programs that are not means-tested, like Social Security and Medicare, within its unsustainable category.

The ball seems to get bigger as it rolls downhill. Some critics consider the entire government payroll part of the unsustainable welfare state. Others use government spending as a share of gross domestic product as a warning sign. By these measures, military expenditures also count.

Academic researchers also disagree about specifics. The economists Irwin Garfinkel and Timothy Smeeding, for instance, assert that spending on education should be considered part of the welfare state, emphasizing its productive contributions to the development of human capital.

Like many other researchers, including Christopher Howard, author of “The Hidden Welfare State,” they insist that analysis of government spending alone provides an incomplete picture, because tax expenditures, such as the costs of tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, or for children, should also be counted.

It seems odd to give the same “welfare state” label to all these different categories of spending. Their distributional impact varies enormously. Means-tested government spending on low-income families is small relative to other transfers. Social Security and government employment tend to benefit the middle class. Tax expenditures, in particular, tend to benefit the rich.

Spending trends also vary enormously. Spending on means-tested programs other than Medicaid has not increased much over the long run. According to the Budget of the United States Government for fiscal 2011, it represented about the same percentage of G.D.P. in 2007 as in 1976 – about 1.3 percent. It increased to 1.7 percent in 2009 as a result of the great recession.

When unemployment goes up and stays up, spending on programs like food stamps and the earned income tax credit goes up, helping people who can’t find a job and buffering the economy from the effects of income loss.

Spending on Social Security, often treated as the greatest bugaboo of our aging society, has remained at 4.5 to 5 percent of G.D.P. since 1985. The already carried out transition to a higher retirement age is contributing to cost containment.

The scary increases in government spending have come in Medicaid and Medicare. These two programs, which consumed 1.2 percent of G.D.P. in 1975, reached 4.1 percent of G.D.P. in 2008.

These increases have less to do with government spending than with the increased costs of health care, regardless of who is paying the bill.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research offers an online calculator showing how much lower our projected deficits would be if we could reduce health care spending per person to levels comparable to those of other affluent countries. The center also graphs the improvement that would result from successful fulfillment of the Affordable Care Act.

If you distrust these calculations, consider that government spending on retirement and health security is largely a substitute for private spending. Try projecting your personal expenditures on retirement and health care if Social Security and Medicare are downsized. Your taxes might go down, but you might need to spend more out of your own pocket to buy the services you need.

All government programs deserve critical scrutiny, and there is plenty of room for meaningful debate over the relative efficiency of public versus private provision. But there is no evidence that social spending in the United States is approaching some upper limit of feasibility.

What is unsustainable (or should be) is the current level of confusion, misinformation and paranoia about the future of the so-called welfare state.

My Post: Obama's 'Welfare State'

  • "Define Welfare State Please" posted in the New York Times by Nancy Folbre on May 14, 2012

Democrats: Raise taxes & Make Cuts - Republicans: Just Make Cuts

Today I re-posted two articles that I think are significant to the unemployed if they rely on any type of government assistance. One article debates what the Republicans define as "welfare" and the other article refers to the Republican's proposed cuts in spending next year.

Also read "The Human Disaster of Unemployment", posted in the New York Times by Dean Baker and Kevin Hassett on May 12, 2012:

"Older workers have seen the largest proportionate increase in unemployment. The number of unemployed people between ages 50 and 65 has more than doubled. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job. Economists estimates a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss if they previously had been consistently employed. There are various reasons for this rise in mortality. One is suicide."

CEOs Press Congress on Debt

(Editor's Note: Starve the Beast is the well-documented and radical 34-year-old plan that Mitt Romney, the Republicans, and the Tea Party endorses for deliberately bankrupting the government.)

Without a deficit-reduction deal by the end of the year, the Bush-era tax cuts and this year's payroll-tax cut will expire at year's end, and about $1.2 trillion in spending reductions—half from defense programs and half from domestic programs—will take place over the next decade. Of those cuts, $98 billion are scheduled to take effect next year.

Democrats want to use tax increases and spending cuts; Republicans want to rely on cuts alone.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives just approved their plan by a vote of 218-199 that would prevent the military cuts but make deeper cuts in antipoverty programs -- and has virtually no chance of approval by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

(*Editor's Note: The main hurdle to a deficit deal was the polarization of the parties, with the Republicans opening admitting that they refuse to compromise, citing "principles", as though the Democrats don't also have principles.) The GOP's principals are based on protecting large corporate interests and pampering the most wealthy, while the Democrats are concerned with working Americans and the poor.)

Some in Congress have tried to advance a measure in the House modeled after Simpson-Bowles, but it was defeated 382-38.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), has began openly discussing on finding ways to delay the tax increases for at least three or six months.

The shape of any post-election deal would likely be influenced by the outcome of the November vote, which has led both parties to hold back on substantive bipartisan talks.

(*Editor's Note: CEOs and Republican lawmakers involved in the effort don't want to wait until after the election to start looking at options -- they want their tax breaks made permanent now, despite whatever else might happen -- because they fear a Democratic victory and the Buffett Rule will be implemented on the ultra-rich.)

  • "CEOs Press Congress on Debt" posted in the Wall Street Journal by Damiam Paletta (excerpted) on May 10, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mitt Romney's Mormonism & Gay Marriage

"You might be able to ask Mitt anything, but it doesn't mean you'll ever get a 'straight' answer from him." - Bud Meyers, 2012

Purpose of Marriage / Mormonism / Romney Family History / Today's Argument

Mitt Romney recently said:

"Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. I believe that marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history." (Editor's Note: If Romney was being truthful, shouldn't he have said "Between one man and three women"?)

Most marriages in earlier Western societies were often arranged. Moreover, the wife usually had much fewer rights than her husband and was expected to be subservient to him. To a considerable extent, marriage was also an economic arrangement. There was little room for romantic love, and even simple affection was not considered essential. Procreation and cooperation were the wife's main marital duties.

On the other hand, Sparta, while encouraging sexual relationships between men, nevertheless insisted on their marrying and producing children to populate their military.

Marriage was usually treated as a practical matter. A father arranged the most advantageous marriage for his son. As a rule, the bridegroom was in his thirties and the bride was a teenager.

In addition to this disparity in ages, there also existed an inequality in education and political rights. Women were considered inferior to men and remained confined to the home. Their main function as wives was to produce children and to manage the household while their husbands were away tending to public affairs and prostitutes (like many do today).

For their erotic needs, men often turned to prostitutes and concubines. As Demosthenes, the orator, explained it: "We have prostitutes for our pleasure, concubines for our health, and wives to bear us lawful offspring."

Many men also cultivated intense emotional and sexual relationships with male adolescents (paiderastia). The legal inequality of the sexes was further reflected in the divorce regulations. It was always easier for a husband to divorce his wife than vice versa. However, since a divorced woman could take her dowry back with her, men normally asked for a divorce only in cases of female adultery and infertility. (Read More...)

To better understand Mitt Romney (and maybe his own "arranged" marriage), let's explore his core beliefs and what guides him through life (excluding his assault on that young gay man while he was a senior in high school.)

The religion of Mormonism was invented by a (Vermont-born) New Yorker named Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830. That was only 182 years ago, almost two millennia after Christ, and 40 years before my great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Germany.

According to Joe Smith, beginning in the early 1820s he had visions. In one such vision an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates, inscribed with a Christian history of ancient American civilizations. (I'm just guessing but, this may be where the History Channel got their idea for the series Ancient Aliens).

17-year-old Joseph Smith said he had found these "golden plates" on September 22, 1823 at a hill near his home in Manchester, New York after an angel directed him to a buried stone box.

These plates were described as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds, being golden or brassy in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages, engraved on both sides and bound with one or more rings. Smith named these golden plates the "Plates of Nephi".

(Pictured below, top left) A full-scale model of Joe Smith's golden plates based on his own description (along with some other inventions of the day).

Smith said at first, the angel had prevented him from taking the plates, but instructed him to return to the same location the following year.

Four years later in September 1827, on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve the plates, Joseph Smith returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. Though he allowed others to heft the box, he said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original "reformed Egyptian" language. (He said the angel had directed him to translate them into English, but didn't say American English, Old English, Middle English, or British English.)

Joe Smith dictated a translation using a seer stone in the bottom of a hat, which he placed over his face to view the words written within the stone. It was translated at an average rate of eight or more of its printed pages a day.

Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

Scholarly reference works on languages do not, however, acknowledge the existence of either a "reformed Egyptian" language or "reformed Egyptian" script as it has been described in Mormon belief. No archaeological, linguistic, or other evidence of the use of Egyptian writing in ancient America has every been discovered.

According to Joe Smith's Book of Mormon, a Nephite (e.g. the "Plates of Nephi") is a member of one of the four main groups of ancient settlers to America in 600 B.C. The other early settlers described in the Book of Mormon include the Lamanites, Jaredites and Mulekites.

* A Choclodite is a slang term that is often offensive and refers to an African American. A Hermaphrodite is an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes. The suffix "ite" is derived from the Greek word lithos (from its adjectival form -ites), meaning rock or stone. The first Greek-speaking tribes, known later as Mycenaeans, are generally thought to have arrived in the Greek mainland between 1900 B.C. and 1600 B.C.

Some Mormon scholars believe that the forebears of the Nephites settled somewhere in present-day Central America after departing Jerusalem. (Not to be confused with the Neolithic societies who lived along the Nile River from 3600 BC to about 3100 BC .)

The Book of Mormon is the sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement who believes contains the writings of ancient prophets who lived in the Americas from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421.

Radiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed along the Savannah River in South Carolina indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age.

The story about the ancient prophets begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem, just before the Babylonian captivity. They constructed a ship* and sailed to a "promised land" in the Western Hemisphere, where this civilization was supposed to have existed from around 600 BC and ending in 421 A.D.

During this time in history, in 525 B.C. the Persians conquered Egypt and Hieroglyphs (hieroglyphics) continued to be used under Persian rule. No "reformed Egyptian language" is ever referred to by historians.

* The first known vessels date back to the Neolithic Period, about 10,000 years ago, but could not be described as ships. By about 2000 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete had evolved into a naval power exercising effective control of the sea in the eastern Mediterranean.

According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC.

The Phoenicians were the Mediterranean maritime trading culture from 1550 BC to 300 BC. and then the Greeks gradually mastered navigation at sea, and were also exploring the Mediterranean.

The ancient Romans rarely ventured out to sea. The traditional birth date of the Roman navy is set at 311 B.C.

In recent years massive wooden planks, ropes, and cargo boxes were discovered in a series of caverns near the Red Sea and have been identified as parts of the oldest seafaring ships ever discovered. The find supports evidence that ancient Egyptian mariners set sail on ocean waters as much as 4,000 years ago on voyages that spanned about 1,000 miles each way. Previously, the world's oldest known seafaring ship dated from 1300 B.C., and only small fragments of it are left.

According to Joe Smith's Mormons, we can assume these ancient early Americans were not African-American either, nor related to American Indians -- and that the Italian, Christopher Columbus, didn't really discover America -- and that a "reformed Egyptian" language" had existed at a time in human history in 671 B.C. when the Assyrians had attacked Egypt.

Both the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society have issued statements that they have seen no evidence to support these claims in the Book of Mormon, and furthermore, no secular archeologist or historian has supported their existence.

The Fremont culture, a pre-Columbian archaeological culture, lived in what is now north and western Utah from approximately 600 to 1300 AD. - - Mormons first came to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

After Joe Smith's translation of this mystery language was completed, Smith said he returned the golden plates to their angelic guardian. Therefore, if the plates ever existed, they cannot now be examined. Critics assert that Smith manufactured the plates himself.

Polygamy was taught and practiced by Joseph Smith and his Mormons openly practiced polygamy. After Joseph Smith died in 1844, Mormonism and polygamy was carried on and led by Brigham Young.

Brigham Young is credited with having been responsible for revoking the priesthood and temple blessings from black members of his church. He said, "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."

Does this somehow imply that Brigham Young though that Adam and Eve's first born son Cain was a black man? It's been said that the cradle of mankind was is Africa, and that President Obama himself, proved through DNA sampling, has genetic ties to this part of Africa. This might help explain Mitt Romney's resentment of Obama (envy).

Soon after Brigham Young died in 1877, Mormon colonies in Mexico were established near the Sierra Madre mountains in northern Mexico by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints beginning in 1885.

Many of the original colonists came to Mexico due to federal attempts to curb and prosecute polygamy in the United States. The towns making up the colonies were originally situated in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora, and were all within roughly 200 miles of the U.S. border.

Members of the Pratt-Romney family have roots in these colonies, including both Marion G. Romney and George W. Romney, both having been born there.

Mitt Romney's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, was one of those in the Mormon colony in Mexico, and was mentioned in the book "The Real Romney". He had been a successful carpenter, house builder and farmer (Mitt called him a "contractor"). Gaskell headed the most prosperous family in the colony. Mitt's father, George W. Romney, was born there in 1907 to one of Gaskell Romney's three wives.

By the early 20th century, many of these Mormons were very prosperous. However, in the summer of 1912, the colonies were evacuated due to anti-American sentiment during the Mexican Revolution and many of their citizens left for the United States to never return.

Just like today with the top 1%, more than 95% of Mexico's land had been owned by less than 5% of the population, and helped spark the uprising because of wealth inequality. This vastly unequal distribution of land—and, therefore, wealth—had plagued Mexico for many years, to the anger and dismay of the working classes, as this corrupt system allowed the rich to get richer while ensuring that the poor remained poor, or got even poorer.

Mitt's father, George Romney, was about five years old at the time. The Romney family fled and returned to the United States in July 1912, leaving their home and all of their Mexican property behind.

The Romney family lost most of its money and moved from State to State, much like unemployed hobos. Gaskell Romney eventually found success again as a builder in Utah, but lost much of his money again in the Great Depression.

"He never took out bankruptcy, which he could have done several times," George Romney wrote of his father, according to the book "The Real Romney."

Fast forward to exactly 100 years later in 2012. Mitt Romney explains, "My dad, as you might know, was born in Mexico and, ah, of American parents who'd been living there for some time. There was revolution in Mexico, around the early part of the 20th century, 1910 or so, and so his family came back to the United States and his dad went from place to place. His dad was a contractor, and as you may know contractors have financial difficulty from time to time." (Yes they do Mitt, yes they do.)

But when Mitt Romney says that "marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history", he's excluding his own faith, his grandfather, and his family history to make the argument against gay marriage...especially when Joseph Smith had only invented the religion Mormonism a mere 182 years ago in 1830...when marriage for them was defined as between a man and a wife and a wife and wife and another wife (usually very young and perky wives, teenagers usually. Others call this pedophilia.)

Marriage should only be defined by his or her own religious beliefs and/or their Church -- the government is obligated respect that. It's called freedom of religion. Just like Glenn Beck is free to practice his Mormonism, Mitt is also free to practice his Mormonism...and his cronyism; but at least allow other people to practice their own beliefs too, so long as nobody is getting hurt.

(Pictured below, left to right) In 1965 when Mitt Romney was 18 years old, he led a group people in an assault again a gay boy, held him down, and cut his hair. One year later after graduating from high school in 1966, Mitt dashed off to Europe for 2½ years to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. In 1969 he came crawling back to the U.S. to marry his sweetheart Ann, to keep from losing her to another man after receiving a "Dear John" letter from her. In 1977 Mitt became a ruthless (but proud) corporate raider at Bain and Company, laying off people, cutting their wages, stealing their pensions, and generally ruining other people's lives for personal gain. The Republicans call this "success".

(Pictured below) A young Mitt gives his dad a little sage advice.

(Pictured below, left to right) Mitt's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, Salt Lake City, 1917 - Mitt's father, Governor George Romney - Governor Mitt Romney (still competing with his father, just like the younger George Bush did with his father.)

Today Mitt Romney claims:

  1. he doesn't remember the attack on that gay boy,
  2. but he does remember that back then, he didn't think of gay people in that way.

When Mitt Romney was asked about the assault, he shrugged it off and chuckled as though recalling a fond memory. But only a sadistic sociopath would answer," If anybody was hurt by that, or offended by it, obviously I apologize."

Maybe it was his good Mormon upbringing that taught him to be polite when he was caught in bad behavior.

But just like poor people, God must love gay people too, because He created so many of them -- and they've been around much longer that Joe Smith and Mitt Romney's family.

I'm always amused when I hear the pompous "believers" use the Biblical argument that "God didn't create Adam and Steve, He created Adam and Eve." So by their own words, because God is always referred to as "He", therefore there must be a Mrs. God solely for the reason of pro-creation (or necessary for creation), and that it's not possible to procreate with only one sex, such as hermaphrodites.

Full Disclosure: I'm not gay, never have been, never will be; but just like Mitt Romney's family, I do have family members who are gay.

The GOP was Dead Wrong About the Unemployed

For almost four years the GOP has said that jobless Americans would find work as soon as their employment benefits ran out. Well, they ran out, so where are the jobs?

The Federal Relief Administrator said: "Three or four million heads of households don’t turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime. They don’t drink any more than the rest of us, they don’t lie any more, and they’re no lazier than the rest of us. An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the moulding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.” – Harry Hopkins was the Federal Relief Administrator under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

Paul Krugman recently wrote in the Huffington Post: "There's one economics-driven thing that matters enormously to human well-being...having a job. People who want to work, but can't find work, suffer greatly. Not just from the loss of income, but from their diminished sense of self-worth. And that's a major reason why mass unemployment, which has now been going on in America for four years, is such a tragedy."

There are economists like the University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan, who has written multiple articles insisting that the sharp drop in employment after the financial crisis four years ago reflected, not a lack of employment opportunities, but a diminished willingness to work.

At the Maine GOP convention, Republican Governor Paul LePage received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work welfare recipients need to "get off the couch" and go find employment.

For four years unemployed Democrats and unemployed Republicans have had to endure the GOP's slurs, slanders and disparaging remarks about their personal character and work ethics.

In a June 2011 poll of likely voters, Democracy Corps found that a third of Americans had either themselves suffered from job loss or had a family member lose a job. Another third knew someone who had lost a job. Moreover, almost 40 percent of families had suffered from reduced hours, wages, or benefits.

The Republicans have falsely claimed, and constantly repeated, that as soon as someone uses up all their unemployment benefits, they find jobs. What's pitiful is, it seems that only "employed" Republican voters believe this outrageous lie -- that, or they are either in denial or just plain ignorant -- just like many people were during the Great Depression.

Below is a short list of some notable quotes from the Republicans about American workers, the unemployed and unemployment insurance benefits during the Great Recession. Keep in mind, while reading this list, remember that currently there are at least 8 million Americans that were laid off during the recession who have been out of work for two to four years now, and they have already exhausted all their unemployment benefits a long time ago -- and still they haven't found another job.

  • Glenn Beck: "Two years is plenty of time to have lived off your neighbor's wallet. Work at McDonald's, work at two jobs!" (McDonald's received 1 million job applications last year for 60,000 part-time summer jobs. Glenn Beck's net worth is $85 million.)

  • Rush Limbaugh: "The longer you pay people not to work, the longer they're not gonna try to work. Unemployment compensation is just another welfare program."

  • Florida state Senator Nancy Detert wanted their UI department to "more closely scrutinize those applying for benefits to get rid of slackers and malingerers."

  • Florida Republican governor Rick Scott thinks the jobless aren't looking hard enough and wanted to end benefits to give more tax breaks to the rich.

  • Texas Republican representative Blake Farenthold compared Americans on unemployment insurance to alcoholics and drug addicts. 

  • Fox News John Stossel calls the unemployed "freeloaders" and Sean Hannity accused them of "living above their means".

  • Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah: "We shouldn't be giving people cash who basically are just going to blow it on drugs." He, like many other Republican politicians, wants the unemployed to face mandatory drug tests.

  • Representative Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) also equated the unemployed with alcoholics and drug addicts.

  • Newt Gingrich: "Paying unemployment benefits to America's unemployed, only makes them lazy."

  • Senator Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina: "There are a lot of people gaming the system right now."

  • Sharron Angle, Republican candidate for senator of Nevada in the 2010 election, called the unemployed "spoiled".

  • Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip: "Unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting because people are being paid even though they're not working...they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

  • North Carolina State Representative George Cleveland, claiming that extreme poverty doesn’t exist: “We have no one in the state of North Carolina living in extreme poverty."

  • Former Nixon speechwriter and TV personality Ben Stein writes that the people who are unemployed right now are “generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities.” He claims that unemployed Americans have “unpleasant personalities who do not know how to do a day’s work“.

  • Rick Santorum: "I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates.”

  • Representative John Linder (R-Georgia): “Even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some.”

  • Michelle Malkin, Republican rightwing extremist: “Extending unemployment benefits will encourage people not to look for work.”

  • Republican governor Nikki Haley: “I love that we are one of the least unionized states in the country. We don’t have unions in South Carolina because we don’t need unions in South Carolina, and we’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted, and not welcome.” (Besides the federal government, which also includes the military and members of Congress, Wal-Mart and McDonalds are America's two biggest job creators, which are non-union and pays an average wage of $8 an hour. The GOP is anti-government, anti-union, and pro-Wal-Mart and McDonalds.)

  • Michele Bachmann: “Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat. If we took away the minimum wage, we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely.” (Like all in the GOP, she advocates for slave wages while receiving a hefty government salary and tax subsidies.)

  • Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay: "Unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs."

  • Ron Paul: “You don’t have a right to a house, you don’t have a right to a job, you don’t have a right to medical care.” (Just a right to freedom.)

  • Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire): "Extended benefits undermine the economic recovery for the reason that they basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.”

  • Ron Johnson, the Tea Party-backed Senate candidate: "When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to go take other jobs."

  • Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa: “We shouldn't turn the safety net into a hammock."

  • Republican Congressman Dean Heller of Nevada: “Is the government now creating hobos?”

  • Rick Santorum: ”I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money."

  • Paul Ryan, regarding the Georgia Plan to have the unemployed work for free: “It's something we’re looking at.”

  • Fox News host Bill O’Reilly: "You gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period."

  • Republican Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett: "The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are going to sit there...they say, I'll come back to work when unemployment runs out."

  • New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie: “We need to take on the teachers’ union once and for all.”

  • Minnesota State Rep. Mary Franson, comparing the poor to wild animals: “Last week, we worked on some welfare reform bills. And here, it’s kind of ironic, I’ll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, ‘Isn’t it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.”

  • Andre Bauer, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, also comparing the unemployed to wild animals: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."

  • Herman Cain: "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

  • President Ronald Reagan is still being quoted: "Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."

  • Of the young male veterans (those ages 18 to 24) who served during Gulf War Era, 21.9% were unemployed as of  last year. Glenn Beck said, "I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans."

As Paul Krugman quoted in his article: "The classic answer to such people comes from a passage near the beginning of the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (best known for the 1948 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston):

"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason why he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world."

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is probably the only Democrat who doesn't care about average American workers or the unemployed. He votes against the Democrats all the time, and is more like a Republican when it comes to protecting corporate interests over the people's common good. But other than that, the Democrats definitely care more about the living conditions and the employment situation of average Americans than any Republican every would.

But in all fairness to the Republicans, they did offer a few jobs with a bill that included the TransCanada XL Pipeline, but what other realistic jobs bills have they proposed in the last four years? And the TransCanada XL Pipeline will only create 20,000 "work years", not 20,000 permanent full-time jobs. And the big oil companies will only sell that refined oil to China anyway.

With more than 20 million Americans out of work (12.5 million the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, plus at least 8 million long-term unemployed who are no longer being counted), what other ideas have the Republicans come up with to put 20 million lazy drug addicts back to work - especially when there are only 3.7 million job openings?

But regardless of all the Republican slurs, slanders and disparaging remarks about the poor and unemployed (which was meant to divide and marginalize the jobless, so that the general public would not feel empathy and favor the continuation of extending unemployment benefits), the GOP has been proved wrong about the unemployed. Millions have exhausted all their unemployment insurance benefits a long time ago and are still out of work. So what's the GOP's theory now?

Instead, the Republicans will continue to lay off government workers while cutting jobless benefits, food stamps and anything else that the people who were hit the hardest by the recession might need for their survival. The GOP doesn't care if they live or die...even if they're Republican voters.

Another "new" Paul Ryan budget plan passed the house. It will slash about $48 billion from Medicaid programs and cut food aid by more than $36 billion. "How do we reconcile more money for bombs while cutting money for bread?" asked Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). "The real deficit that we are dealing with here is a moral deficit, and it's time that we face the truth." (Editor's Note: Paul Ryan is a pencil dick.)

People like Paul Ryan know damn well that it's not old sick people who are costing the government for Medicare, it's corporate fraud. The inspector general's office says their team will turn over the names of the 2,637 pharmacies it identified in a $5.6 billion billing scheme.

But the Republicans will still's all a part of their bigger plan for de-funding government and "starving the beast". The old, poor, sick, and unemployed are the "beasts" that the Republicans want to starve.

The GOP was dead wrong about the unemployed, they weren't lazy and they didn't find jobs when their unemployment benefits ran out -- and that's why 100,152 Americans died from suicide over the last four years, in part because of record long-term unemployment, divorces, illnesses, homelessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The suicide rate has gone up, and calls to the suicide hotline has increased by 33%. The annual rate is 10.7 per 100,000 nationally and 34.5 in Las Vegas. In a study conducted by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it found that in 2008-2009, some 8.3 million U.S. adults had suicidal thoughts in the previous year. About 2.2 million people reported making suicide plans in the last year. One million reported an actual suicide attempt in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, the GOP would rather cut unemployment benefits rather than tax the rich a little more.

William Shakespeare: "You take my life when you take the means whereby I live."

Below: A Tribute to the Republicans from the Unemployed

(* Editor's Note: If you know of any other remarks the GOP made about the jobless, please feel free to leave a comment.)