Posts Tagged ‘robert reich’

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

July 17, 2010

"Play it again, Sam!"

The New Finance Bill: A Mountain of Legislative Paper, a Molehill of Reform by Robert Reich Friday, July 16, 2010 by RobertReich.org

Thursday the President pronounced that “because of this [financial reform] bill the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes.”

As if to prove him wrong, Goldman Sachs simultaneously announced it had struck a deal with federal prosecutors to pay $550 million to settle federal claims it misled investors – a sum representing a mere 15 days profit for the firm based on its 2009 earnings. Goldman’s share price immediately jumped 4.3 percent, and the Street proclaimed its chair and CEO, Lloyd (“Goldman is doing God’s work”) Blankfein, a winner. Financial analysts rushed to affirm a glowing outlook for Goldman stock.

The American people will continue to have to foot the bill for the mistakes of Wall Street’s biggest banks because the legislation does nothing to diminish the economic and political power of these giants. It does not cap their size. It does not resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated commercial (normal) banking from investment (casino) banking. It does not even link the pay of their traders and top executives to long-term performance. In other words, it does nothing to change their basic structure. And for this reason, it gives them an implicit federal insurance policy against failure unavailable to smaller banks – thereby adding to their economic and political power in the future.

Make no mistake: As long as there’s no fundamental change in the structure of Wall Street – as long as the big banks stay as big and are allowed to grow bigger, and have every incentive to invent new financial gimmicks with which to bet other peoples’ money – they will remain too big to fail, and too politically powerful to control.

Congress labored mightily to produce a mountain of legislation, but produced a molehill of reform to prevent the wreckage Wall Street wreaked upon the nation.READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/16-3

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.  Inequality Is the Real Debt Burden by Terry Link Friday, July 16, 2010 by Lansing State Journal (Michigan)

Just say, "Yes!"

Inequality Is the Real Debt Burden by Terry Link Friday, July 16, 2010 by Lansing State Journal (Michigan)

Recent polls indicate that many Americans are as concerned about growing government debt as they are about terrorism. It’s interesting that concern about debt occurs almost rhythmically when conservatives are out of power.

Conservatives supported a $3 trillion war in the Middle East without concern for “growing debt”. Their present claim that debt that supports the unemployed, sick, and education is bad while debt that truly imperils current and future generations is acceptable is dangerous and misguided.

Policies prescribed by Milton Friedman and his followers leave a wake of growing inequality both globally and within nations that is the seed of our current and continuing malaise.  We have unwittingly spent up the interest that nature provided and have been spending the capital for more than a generation. The proof is clear to the scientific world. Those convinced by the sales job of the Milton Friedmans of the world that free markets are some holy grail, ignore the environmental and social costs of doing business.

A recent study, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger“, two British epidemiologists demonstrate overwhelmingly that the real culprit for our predicament is growing inequality. It’s way past time to start talking about our real debt – the costs of inequality we bear and pass on to our children and theirs.

Terry Link lives in Laingsburg, Michigan.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/16-4

Conservatism’s Death Gusher by George Lakoff Friday, July 16, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

The issue is death – death gushing at ten thousand pounds per square inch from a mile below the sea, tens of thousands of barrels of death a day. Not just death to eleven human beings. Death to sea birds, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, oyster beds, shrimp, beaches; death to the fishing industry, tourism, jobs; and death to a way of life based on the beauty and bounty of the Gulf.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf.

Conservatism is an ideology of death. It was conservative laissez-faire free market ideology – that maximizing profit comes first – that led to:

  • the corrupt relationship between the oil companies and the Interior Department staff that was supposedly regulating them
  • minimizing cost by not drilling relief wells;
  • the principle that oil companies could be responsible for their own risk assessments on drilling;
  • maximizing profit by outsourcing risk assessment that told them what they wanted to hear: zero risk!;
  • maximizing profit by minimizing cost of materials;
  • maximizing profit by failing to pay cleanup crews and businesses for their losses;
  • focusing only on profit by failing to test the cleanup methods to be used if something went wrong;
  • minimizing cost by sacrificing the health of cleanup crews, refusing to allow them to use respirator masks to protect against toxic fumes.

It is conservative profit-above-all market fundamentalism that has led other oil companies to mount a massive PR campaign to isolate BP as an anomalous “bad actor” and to argue that offshore drilling should be continued by the self-proclaimed “good actors.” Their PR fails to mention that in Congressional hearings it came out that they all outsource risk assessment to the same company that declared that BP had “zero risk.” The PR fails to mention that they all use cost-benefit analysis to maximize profits just as BP did. Cost-benefit analysis only looks at monetary costs versus benefits, case by case, not at the risk of massive death of the kind gushing out of the Gulf at present. Death, in itself, even at that scale, is not a “cost.” Only an outflow of money is a “cost.” This is what follows from conservative laissez-faire market ideology, an ideology that continues to sanction death on a Gulf scale.

Finally, there is what progressive Democrats see as a contradiction: conservative advocates of smaller and weaker government and critics of governmental power trying to pin the Death Gusher Disaster on Obama for not having and using enough government power to prevent or lessen the disaster – even though the government has no capacity to plug oil wells. Those who are not held captive by the conservative worldview recognize the causal role of conservatism in the Death Gusher in the Gulf. Many progressive do, but keep it to themselves.

Progressives have been much too kind to conservatives on this matter. They have largely accepted the Bad Actor Frame, criticizing BP but not the whole industry and its practices. No one should be drilling miles under the sea, where oil comes out at 10,000 pounds per square inch. No matter how much profit is involved.

Conservatism gushes death – and not only in the Gulf of Mexico.

George Lakoff is the author of Moral Politics, Don’t Think of an Elephant!, Whose Freedom?, and Thinking Points (with the Rockridge Institute staff). He is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute. READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/16-5

 
 

War Criminal Waves to Suckers.

Tim Geithner Opposes Nominating Elizabeth Warren to Lead New Consumer Agency by Shahien Nasiripour Friday, July 16, 2010 by The Huffington Post 

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner opposes the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner’s views.

The financial reform bill passed by the Senate on Thursday mandates the creation of a new federal entity charged with protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

But if Geithner has his way, the most prominent advocate for creating the agency may not be picked to lead it: Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School, one of the leading reform advocates fighting on behalf of American taxpayers.

Yet while her work on behalf of a federal unit designed solely to protect borrowers from abusive lenders has been embraced by the administration, Warren’s role as a bailout watchdog led to strained relations with the agency her panel has taken to task with brutal reports every month since Obama took office: Geithner’s Treasury Department.

Geithner’s opposition could have political implications for a White House determined to prove it’s gotten tough on Wall Street. Since March, Obama has devoted four of his weekly Saturday addresses to highlight and promote the consumer agency.

In March 2009, in response to a question during a town hall event in Southern California about the bailout for Wall Street firms and whether Obama supported tougher consumer protections on credit cards, Obama promoted Warren’s academic work.

Three months later, the administration released its blueprint for how it wanted to fix the nation’s broken financial system. Warren’s idea for a consumer agency was a heavily-promoted part of it.  Warren, a Treasury Department spokesman and a White House spokesperson all declined to comment for this article.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/07/16-3

My Two-bits On Elizabeth Warren:

A really dumb student wrote, “He was as lame as a duck.  Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame.  Maybe from stepping on a landmine or something.”

Obama’s pretty much off on the wrong course.  He appears to sprinkle “public goodies” up to and including the health care insurance and financial reform acts, which achieve limited but not system change, while shoving our government ever more firmly into corporatist pockets.  He listens to Robert Rubin, Ben Bernowski, and Timothy Geithner, the corporate tools who crafted and executed the big rip-off that plunged our country into near-receivership for Bush Jr.  Obama is using the same old tools to craft and execute a brand new disaster.

Geithner needs to go, he’s the lame duck who stepped on a land mine.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is trying to block President Obama from appointing one of the best consumer watchdogs in the nation to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Congress to rein in Wall Street.  Elizabeth Warren challenges him because she doesn’t accept his b.s. and neither should Obama.

 

Bull Run Watershed

Water as Human Right Threatens to Split World Body by Thalif Deen Friday, July 16, 2010 by Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS – A long outstanding proposal to recognise the right to water as a basic universal human right is threatening to split the world’s rich and poor nations.

Opposition to the proposal is coming mostly from Western nations, says Maude Barlow, a global water advocate and a founder of the Canada-based Blue Planet Project.

“Canada is the worst. But Australia, the United States and Great Britain are also holding up the process,” she said.

If the draft resolution is eventually adopted by the 192- member U.N. General Assembly, “it would be one of the most important things the United Nations has done since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she said.

“International and local community groups fighting for water justice have long been calling for leadership from the U.N. in clearly recognizing that water and sanitation are human rights,” said one source. Whether the provision of water and sanitation is carried out by public or private actors is not relevant to the status of water and sanitation as a human right.

Meanwhile, a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Council of Canadians, Food and Water Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Blue Planet Project, has appealed to members of the European Parliament seeking their political support, “in light of the European Union’s recognition of water as a human right, the EU can play a key role in promoting this key resolution at the United Nations.”  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/07/16-7

RELATED ARTICLES on issues above:

 

 

PUBLIC ENEMIES 1 and 2

LAST WORDS:

If someone takes the time to etch a poem on a plaque, you’d better take it seriously, particularly if it rhymes.”  Muriel, Courage the Dog.

THE END:

No! No! No!

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BLOODY DIRTY OIL

June 1, 2010

Why Obama Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership by Robert Reich June 1, 2010 by Robert Reich’s Blog

It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way for the public to know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being used to stop the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.

If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary. Under temporary receivership, BP would continue to have the equipment and expertise. The only difference: the firm would unambiguously be working in the public’s interest. As it is now, BP is responsible first to its shareholders, not to the American public. As a result, the public continues to worry that a private for-profit corporation is responsible for stopping a public tragedy.

[Five reasons for taking such action:]

The President should temporarily take over BP’s Gulf operations. We have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in the United States while remaining under the direct control of that company. The oil meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent.  READ MOREhttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-5

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes. 

 BP Clashes with Scientists over Deep Sea Oil Pollution

Oil Plumes

 Obama team ‘incensed at being kept in the dark’ as company denies existence of underwater oil clouds  by Chris McGreal June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

BP has challenged widespread scientific claims that vast plumes of oil are spreading underwater from its blown-out rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The denial comes as the oil giant prepares for a new operation to put an end to the worst oil spill in US history – which could see the leak get worse before it gets better.  The company’s challenge to scientific studies puts it further at odds with an increasingly angry Obama administration, which accuses BP of minimizing the size of the leak to limit the size of probable fines.

BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, said it had no evidence of underwater oil clouds. “The oil is on the surface. Oil has a specific gravity that’s about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity.”  Hayward’s assertion flies in the face of studies by scientists at universities in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, among others, who say they have detected huge underwater plumes of oil, including one 120 metres (400ft) deep about 50 miles from the destroyed rig.

BP’s claim is likely to further anger environmentalists and the White House, which is increasingly suspicious of the company’s claims to be frank and transparent. The president’s environmental adviser Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy director, Carol Browner, has accused BP of misstating the scale of the leak.

The start of the hurricane season has added more urgency stop the oil flow.

Forecasters are predicting an unusually high number of storms over the next six months. A hurricane is likely to disperse oil spread on the sea over a wider area and push it deeper into marshlands and other inland areas, making the environmental disaster worse.

The US military has ruled out taking charge. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, said military chiefs looked at available equipment and concluded “the best technology in the world, with respect to that, exists in the oil industry.”

A day earlier, the former US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said the military should step in because the crisis was now “beyond the capacity” of BP to stop. “.READ MOREhttp://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-2  

Nigeria’s Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It 

Nigeria's Agony

The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades by John Vidal, environment editor Sunday, May 30, 2010 by The Observer/UK 

We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike. Ahead lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garages and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.

 The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for months.  Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico.  Worse may be to come. One industry insider said: “Major spills are likely to increase in coming years as the industry tries to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond.”  Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and few people seem to care.  Big oil companies act as if they are beyond the lawWhat we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control.  It is clear that BP has been blocking progressive legislation, both in the US and here. In Nigeria, they have been living above the law. They are now clearly a danger to the planet. The dangers of this happening again and again are high. They must be taken to the international court of justice.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/30-0

BP Faces FBI Probe over Oil Spill by Giles Whittell, Robert Lea, Ian King June 1, 2010 by TimesOnline/UK  

BP’s future as a global concern was at stake tonight after the US Attorney General, announced that he was launching a criminal and a civil investigation into the Louisiana oil spill.

As Eric Holder made his announcement, the British company’s chief executive fought to halt a headlong slide in its stock price.

After losing a third of its value in just six weeks, BP is expected to promise shareholders their full annual dividend in a last-ditch bid to retain their loyalty. More than £12 billion was wiped off the company’s value today alone, as Mr Obama dispatched his top prosecutor to Louisiana and vowed to bring to justice those responsible for what he called “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history”.

Shares in what used to be Britain’s biggest company endured their worst day’s trading in more than two decades, dragging down the FTSE 100 index and with it the value of dozens of leading pension funds.

Any cut in BP’s dividend would be a traumatic event for the company. It last cut its payout to shareholders in August 1992 after reporting its first-ever quarterly loss.

With much of today’s share price fall being attributed to fears that the company may have to cut its dividend, BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, is expected later this week to assure investors that the payout will be maintained.

The company’s share price fell to as low as 412.25p at one stage today before a partial rally. That followed an admission from BP that the cost of its repeated failed bids to stem the flow from the blow out, the clean-up operation, and early payments of claims by affected American and by states around the Gulf has already topped $1 billion. BP is privately putting the total cost of the disaster at $4 billion by the end of the year.  READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-6

Israel Reveals Its True Face

The murder of these peace activists will count. Sanctions must surely be the price by Ahdaf Soueif June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

This will count. A flotilla of relief boats attacked in international waters. Armed commandos boarding a vessel carrying supplies for a besieged civilian population. More than 10 peace activists reported killed. This has to be made to count.

The dead have joined Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, James Miller and Brian Avery in giving up their lives for the Palestinians. None of these young men and women went out to die or wanted to die or was accepting of death. Each and every one of them ultimately believed that they were safe; that there was a boundary – call it a boundary of legality, a boundary of civilisation – that Israel would not cross. They were wrong. And in proving them wrong, Israel has revealed, once again, its true face to the world.

My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening. Many of us feel that Palestine is nearing its South Africa moment. This latest outrage must push it closer. And it will.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-2

Ahdaf Soueif is an Egyptian writer, novelist, political and cultural commentator

Related article:  NOTHING IS HOLY IN THE “HOLY” LAND:  Any claim to “holiness” in ownership of the “Holy” Land, by any constituent of any side, is preposterous.  People of every persuasion have been killing each other over this crap hunk of real estate for thousands of years, to no apparent resolution, pretty much to malign purpose, and to the point of certifiable mental diseaseREAD MORE:  FOX NEWS, HOLY LAND, SUPERMAN

SIGN THE PETITION

PETITION FROM AVAAZ

Dear Friends,

Israel’s deadly assault on a flotilla of aid ships headed for Gaza has shocked the world.

It’s an outrageous use of lethal force to defend an outrageous and lethal policy — Israel’s blockade of Gaza, where two thirds of families don’t know where they’ll find their next meal.

The UN, US, and nearly every other government and multilateral organization have called on Israel to lift the blockade and, now, for a full investigation of the flotilla raid.  But their words aren’t backed by action. The European Union, Israel’s top trading partner, could change Israel’s course — if the people of Europe and the world demand it.

Let’s call on Catherine Ashton, EU Foreign Affairs High Representative, to demand that Israel comply with an international enquiry and lift the Gaza blockade — or lose its special trade relationship with Europe. To be heard, we’ll need a massive outcry; click to sign the petition and then forward this message.

HARD LABOR II

February 26, 2010
 
 
CORPORATE GIVEAWAYS:

The federal government spends at least $180 billion per year on corporate tax breaks and handouts – an average of $1500 per taxpayer (not including subsidies from counties and cities, hazardous waste cleanup costs, or limits on corporate liability).  By contrast, as of September 2012, 47.7 million Americans were receiving on average $134.29 per month in food assistance, or $6.4 billion total.

Not many politicians talk about this.  A rare exception is former Labor Secretary Robert Reich who said to the Democratic Leadership Council in November 1995 that people are mad because “we are on the way to becoming a two-tiered society composed of a few winners and a larger group left behind.”  Then, he said, “Since we are committed to moving the disadvantaged from welfare to work, why not target corporate welfare as well?”

The White House quickly distanced itself from Reich’s speech, but activists of all kinds picked it up: Perot’s United We Stand-America made it a major target of angry-middle groups; the right-wing Heritage Foundation and libertarian Cato Institute joined Ralph Nader to present a list of corporate pork barrel reforms.  Yet, neither Congress nor the White House makes much of corporate giveaways in budget-balancing plans.

What are the giveaways?  The active variety includes agribusiness, military contractor subsidies, loan guarantees, and the bailout of the S&Ls, and computer databases.  The rights to lumber and minerals on federal lands are routinely granted for $5 per acre, making the United States the only country in the world that virtually gives away its depletable natural resources!  Drugs developed with taxpayer money are routinely given to drug companies for monopoly marketing with no restraint on price, or royalties returned to the people.  The major television networks get free broadcast licenses with minimal public responsibility or obligation.

Passive corporate giveaways come in the form of tax breaks and loopholes.  Private individuals pay taxes at higher rates than corporations.  The investment tax credit designed to increase economic activity is historically taken as a windfall.  Tax breaks granted to be put back into productive equipment, plants and jobs, are commonly used to buy out other companies, creating no new jobs or wealth.  Subsidies actually debilitate innovation and efficiency.

In the debate over budget deficits, many ask, “How can we take food out of poor kids’ mouths and continue to subsidize the rich?”  Scant legislation has been introduced to rid us of tax loopholes for the rich. There’s been no serious move to initiate cost-benefit analysis of corporate giveaways, in the same way they’ve meticulously reviewed health and safety regulation for years, and assaulted affirmative action and the minimum wage.

One problem is that connections are frequently not made between things that people don’t like and what causes them.  Well-funded corporate lobbies and toadies are too adept at directing people’s anger against government in a massive, daily, Rush Limbaugh-/Lars Larsen-esque hate-your-government drumbeat.  They work to keep the focus away from corporations, which are the dominant institution in our society.

Government has been only a minion, a simply willing agent, for transferring tax dollars to corporate coffers. We are the richest nation in the history of the world and our richest (corporate) citizens behave as if divine providence, rather than selfish market decisions doom the poorest (human) citizens.  However, if the corporate greed issue is connected with people’s deprivation – and we brand-name the greediest corporate kings in the United States – we can turn the tide against the self-interested, compassionless and undemocratic aspects of the corporate institution. Corporations should pay their fair share to the citizens and communities, which enable their success.  That can result in real tax reform, without creating unnecessary hardships for the poor and middle class.

WALL STREET LIES BLAME VICTIMS TO AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR FINANCIAL MELTDOWN by Nomi Prins, Wiley Press.

To hear it from the big financial companies, the big crash started when poor people bought homes they couldn’t afford. But that was at most 1% of the problem.  Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Nomi Prins’ new book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.

The Second Great Bank Depression has spawned so many lies, it’s hard to keep track of which is the biggest. Possibly the most irksome class of lies, usually spouted by Wall Street hacks and conservative pundits, is that we’re all victims to a bunch of poor people who bought McMansions, or at least homes they had no business living in. If that was really what this crisis was all about, we could have solved it much more cheaply in a couple of days in late 2008, by simply providing borrowers with additional capital to reduce their loan principals. It would have cost about 3 percent of what the entire bailout wound up costing, with comparatively similar risk.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/142944/wall_street_lies_blame_victims_to_avoid_responsibility_for_financial_meltdown

ORGANIZED IRRESPONSIBILITY

The Guardian/UK

US DOLLAR SET TO BE ECLIPSED World Bank President Predicts by Heather Stewart

The United States must brace itself for the dollar to be usurped as the world’s reserve currency as American dominance wanes in the wake of the financial crisis, the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, warned yesterday. United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency, says Zoellick. Speaking ahead of the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Istanbul, he said it was time for a “responsible globalisation”, in which decision-making was shared between the old powers and developing countries such as China and India.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/28-7

The Real News Network

CLEAN COAL IS FICTION says Jessy Tolkan: Washington saying coal industry can be “clean” is pure fiction.

Paul Jay speaks to Jessy Tolkan at the Tides Foundations’ Momentum conference in San Francisco. They speak about Tolkan’s coalition on climate change fighting Obama to establish a moratorium on all coal mining. Tolkan says that Washington’s push for “clean coal” is not enough because the coal industry’s and President Obama’s argument that the production of coal can be clean is “an absolute, 100% lie.” She also says that “the science is clear that if we don’t address coal head on, it’s almost “game over” for the planet.”

http://www.commondreams.org/video/2009/09/28

The New York Times

CASSANDRAS OF CLIMATE by Paul Krugman

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you’ve been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

And here’s the thing: I’m not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire warnings aren’t the delusional raving of cranks. They’re what come out of the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09/28-3

ENVIRONMENT-POPULATION JUMBOPAK

POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE

gonefishin'

Donna Edwards’ No Corporate Monopoly of Elections Amendment by John Nichols February 4, 2010 by The Nation

Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards turned to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis for guidance in framing the Constitutional amendment she proposed Tuesday as the right and necessary response to the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and a high court majority to abandon law and precedent with the purpose of permitting corporations to dominate the political discourse.

Brandeis knew that giving corporations monopoly power over our economic life or our politics would be deadly to democracy.

“The ruling reached by the Roberts’ Court overturned decades of legal precedent by allowing corporations unfettered spending in our political campaigns. Another law will not rectify this disastrous decision,” Edwards said Tuesday. “A Constitutional Amendment is necessary to undo what this Court has done. Justice Brandeis got it right: ‘We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.’ It is time we remove corporate influence from our policies and our politics. We cannot allow corporations to dominate our elections, to do so would be both undemocratic and unfair to ordinary citizens.”

Edwards explains the amendment in a powerful video

Edwards does not stand alone. In addition to an array of public interest groups including Public Citizen, Voter Action, The Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance, the congresswoman’s proposed amendment is being backed by House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is the dean of civil libertarians in Congress.

Here is the text of the legislation proposed by Edwards and Conyers:

JOINT RESOLUTION:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

‘‘ARTICLE—

‘‘SECTION 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.

‘‘SECTION 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.’

Edwards and Conyers may soon have a Senate sponsor for their amendment proposal.

Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who chairs the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee declared: “As legislators, we have a duty to carefully consider the constitutional questions raised by legislation.  I urge you to do your duty but not be dissuaded from acting by fear of the Court. This terrible decision deserves as robust a response as possible. Nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake.”  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/04 

“He was the biggest asshole at Goldman Sachs!”

HARD LABOR

September 29, 2009
Hard Labor 
 
CORPORATE GIVEAWAYS:

The federal government spent $167 billion in 1994 on corporate tax breaks and handouts – an average of $1400 per taxpayer (not including subsidies from counties and cities, hazardous waste cleanup costs, or limits on corporate liability).  By contrast, the total price tag for Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps and public housing came to $50 billion, or $400 per taxpayer.

Not many politicians talk about this.  A rare exception is former Labor Secretary Robert Reich who said to the Democratic Leadership Council in November 1995 that people are mad because “we are on the way to becoming a two-tiered society composed of a few winners and a larger group left behind.”  Then, he said, “Since we are committed to moving the disadvantaged from welfare to work, why not target corporate welfare as well?”

The White House quickly distanced itself from Reich’s speech, but activists of all kinds picked it up: Perot’s United We Stand-America made it a major target of angry-middle groups; the right-wing Heritage Foundation and libertarian Cato Institute joined Ralph Nader to present a list of corporate pork barrel reforms.  Yet, neither Congress nor the White House makes much of corporate giveaways in budget-balancing plans.

What are the giveaways?  The active variety includes agribusiness, military contractor subsidies, loan guarantees, and the bailout of the S&Ls, and computer databases.  The rights to lumber and minerals on federal lands are routinely granted for $5 per acre, making the United States the only country in the world that virtually gives away its depletable natural resources!  Drugs developed with taxpayer money are routinely given to drug companies for monopoly marketing with no restraint on price, or royalties returned to the people.  The major television networks get free broadcast licenses with minimal public responsibility or obligation.

Passive corporate giveaways come in the form of tax breaks and loopholes.  Private individuals pay taxes at higher rates than corporations.  The investment tax credit designed to increase economic activity is historically taken as a windfall.  Tax breaks granted to be put back into productive equipment, plants and jobs, are commonly used to buy out other companies, creating no new jobs or wealth.  Subsidies actually debilitate innovation and efficiency.

In the debate over budget deficits, many ask, “How can we take food out of poor kids’ mouths and continue to subsidize the rich?”  Scant legislation has been introduced to rid us of tax loopholes for the rich. There’s been no serious move to initiate cost-benefit analysis of corporate giveaways, in the same way they’ve meticulously reviewed health and safety regulation for years, and assaulted affirmative action and the minimum wage.

One problem is that connections are frequently not made between things that people don’t like and what causes them.  Well-funded corporate lobbies and toadies are too adept at directing people’s anger against government in a massive, daily, Rush Limbaugh-/Lars Larsen-esque hate-your-government drumbeat.  They work to keep the focus away from corporations, which are the dominant institution in our society.

Government has been only a minion, a simply willing agent, for transferring tax dollars to corporate coffers. We are the richest nation in the history of the world and our richest (corporate) citizens behave as if divine providence, rather than selfish market decisions doom the poorest (human) citizens.  However, if the corporate greed issue is connected with people’s deprivation – and we brand-name the greediest corporate kings in the United States – we can turn the tide against the self-interested, compassionless and undemocratic aspects of the corporate institution. Corporations should pay their fair share to the citizens and communities, which enable their success.  That can result in real tax reform, without creating unnecessary hardships for the poor and middle class.

WALL STREET LIES BLAME VICTIMS TO AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR FINANCIAL MELTDOWN by Nomi Prins, Wiley Press.

To hear it from the big financial companies, the big crash started when poor people bought homes they couldn’t afford. But that was at most 1% of the problem.  Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Nomi Prins’ new book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.

The Second Great Bank Depression has spawned so many lies, it’s hard to keep track of which is the biggest. Possibly the most irksome class of lies, usually spouted by Wall Street hacks and conservative pundits, is that we’re all victims to a bunch of poor people who bought McMansions, or at least homes they had no business living in. If that was really what this crisis was all about, we could have solved it much more cheaply in a couple of days in late 2008, by simply providing borrowers with additional capital to reduce their loan principals. It would have cost about 3 percent of what the entire bailout wound up costing, with comparatively similar risk.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/142944/wall_street_lies_blame_victims_to_avoid_responsibility_for_financial_meltdown

ORGANIZED IRRESPONSIBILITY

The Guardian/UK

US DOLLAR SET TO BE ECLIPSED World Bank President Predicts by Heather Stewart

The United States must brace itself for the dollar to be usurped as the world’s reserve currency as American dominance wanes in the wake of the financial crisis, the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, warned yesterday. United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency, says Zoellick. Speaking ahead of the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Istanbul, he said it was time for a “responsible globalisation”, in which decision-making was shared between the old powers and developing countries such as China and India.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/28-7

The Real News Network

CLEAN COAL IS FICTION says Jessy Tolkan: Washington saying coal industry can be “clean” is pure fiction.

Paul Jay speaks to Jessy Tolkan at the Tides Foundations’ Momentum conference in San Francisco. They speak about Tolkan’s coalition on climate change fighting Obama to establish a moratorium on all coal mining. Tolkan says that Washington’s push for “clean coal” is not enough because the coal industry’s and President Obama’s argument that the production of coal can be clean is “an absolute, 100% lie.” She also says that “the science is clear that if we don’t address coal head on, it’s almost “game over” for the planet.”

http://www.commondreams.org/video/2009/09/28

The New York Times

CASSANDRAS OF CLIMATE by Paul Krugman

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you’ve been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

And here’s the thing: I’m not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire warnings aren’t the delusional raving of cranks. They’re what come out of the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09/28-3

ENVIRONMENT-POPULATION JUMBOPAK

POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE

gonefishin'