The State of Georgia, where I now reside under protest, was formed by James Oglethorpe, (really), a member of British Parliament, in 1732. It was a kindness that he did not name the state after himself.
He had the brilliant idea to empty the debtors prisons in London of overcrowding. In 1732 the primitive stone prisons were nearly bursting with people who had debts to merchants and bankers they could not pay. (So what else is new? Have a student loan? A mortgage? A car payment? A credit card bill?)
He shipped “ the miserable wretches” to the new world and formed the colony of Georgia with them.
So the state that vies with Florida for being the easiest of the 50 states in which to bribe a politician or bureaucrat was originally peopled by bankrupts who worked off their debts as indentured servants by farming the Georgian fields in order to pay off their debts to Englishmen..
Most of the proud old Georgian families and plantation owners originally came from this forced migration of debtors. Their debts were only relieved with the advent of slavery, which led to the large plantation farming system.
That history explains a lot.
It explains the relentless march toward the USA becoming a “Plantation Nation.”
The corporation, a big bank heavily involved in the financial shenanigans that caused the Great George Bush Memorial Depression,bet big against some of their own investments using the now infamous financial hedging tool, the credit default swap. This tool allows a financial institution to bet against itself; in effect insuring itself against losses incurred in its investments in other financial instruments.
It would be as if you loaned a home owner, for instance, the sum of $100,000.00 in a mortgage. You can then write a piece of paper that says you insure yourself against the homeowner losing his job and being unable to pay you back. Or, you can buy such a paper from an insurance company, like AEG. Company accounting books can then show the loan as a secure, insured asset. Your corporations value is increased by that amount. Your stock price goes up.
The hook is that there is no law, rule or anything that would require you or the insurance company to keep $100,000.00 in the bank to cover that piece of paper. So, if the home owner fails to make the payments on the loan, you can collect nothing for your investment insurance. Some estimates show that less than 3% of funds were set aside to cover credit default swaps.
J P Morgan kept no cash on hand to insure some very shaky investments, but issued themselves some credit default swaps to insure them. When the investments went south, the company suddenly was saddled with a huge loss.
The myth of the market regulating itself successfully is a license to steal and cheat and to cause unhealthy variations and swings in the economy. It is an outdated fiction that is in no logical way a useful or profitable philosophy.
This is yet another example that disproves the common wisdom spewed out by every Republican and CEO that the free market can take care of itself, and needs no regulation. It is further proof that greed always trumps good sense. The free market is, in fact, not free. It cannot be free, because it cannot regulate itself and therefore needs a strong hand to prevent excesses and sheer foolishness like that at J P Morgan.
This case proves once again that the market requires strict regulation to keep it from eating itself, and dragging the rest of us down with it.
Any market involving profit must have the balance of prudent and thorough regulation to prevent excesses and to provide steady and predictable growth.
Whom should the economy benefit?
A conservative politician will lean toward the benefit going to the investor class, since it is the moneyed class that supports conservative causes with the most money. He will see that as an equal opportunity all have to contribute and succeed monetarily.
A progressive politician will argue that the economy must benefit the working class, since it is the working class that backs progressive programs and issues. He will see that as an equal outcome, where all profit from the economic advances.
I will develop this concept further tomorrow. I need to think it through a bit.
[A conservative talks about and considers equality of opportunity a good thing. A progressive thinks equality of outcomes is a good thing. When they discuss this they cannot understand one another because they are, essentially, talking about two different concepts that happen to subtly be a lot alike.
To illustrate the difference: A conservative will chafe at the bit when a situation occurs where someone is given a favored status because of past wrongs. He or she sees the civil rights issue in this light, for instance. The concept of a quota controlling opportunity in any social sphere drives a conservative up the wall.
And yet a progressive sees a quota as being a necessary sacrifice for the society to right past wrongs which have a lingering negative effect on the society. Requiring more slots in an educational facility, for instance, for minorities who have been denied entrance to them for centuries, seems quite reasonable to a progressive.
The Conservative sees that as unequal opportunity because it denies the slot to all others in society. A progressive sees that as equalling an outcome and a social redress of past wrongs.]
Economically, this difference shows up in the positions each side takes about economic issues.
This is a cute, humorous construction and — logically incorrect.
Most of the so-called "stimulus package" introduced by George W. Bush and approved by a mostly Republican Congress in 2007, was in the form of low interest loans, not grants. All but a tiny fraction has been repaid, with interest. (The Bank of America still owes some to the USA.) The US Treasury has actually made a significant profit on those stimulus loans. They are now being blamed on Obama, who implemented the package already approved when he took office. He is wisely taking the credit.
The auto companies (GM, Chrysler) are the most visible and striking success caused by those loans, and are largely responsible for the economic upturn we are now experiencing. Some, we might remember, objected mightily to loaning money to the auto companies, calling the loans a "bail out," and citing a "moral hazard" and saying failing companies should be allowed to fail.
Generally, I would agree with this sentiment. But the situation was that we were falling into a Great Depression, not just a recession, and something drastic had to be done quickly to stop the fall. The entire world-wide financial system really was in dire peril, and is not totally out of it yet. The USA would have only one auto company now, if these people had been heeded; the Ford Motor Company, and over a million more people would be out of work.
The part that was granted to banks, insurance and investment companies (and which also has largely been recovered) was from the Federal Reserve, a privately owned and operated central bank independent of Congress or the President. The Fed took ownership of most of the stock in those companies and fired many of the executives while the companies were re-structured. That action stopped most of the financial bleeding and stabilized the financial sector enough so a recovery could begin. (Some in Congress is hollering to audit them now. I'd love to see that happen.) The Fed is staffed by those Wall Street investment class (1%) types who primarily control and finance the Republican Party.
The whole issue is now causing a massive rethinking of the Free Market economic theory and its dogma. The general thinking of many economists now is that the market must have criteria and control, and government is the only institution strong enough to provide that. How that happens has not been decided.
The Germans really have their industries together. We could take lessons.
One of the factories was on TV the other day, and the CEO told how they avoid layoffs during bad economic times.
First, they train their people from the 10th grade on the job as apprentices, for the requisite three or four years, at a reduced but livable wage. Then they go on staff as permanent hires. Permanent, as in employed for the employees' working life with one company.
In bad economic times, no one gets laid off. Their theory is that the employees are way too valuable to lose. So all employees take reduced work schedules, taking a day off a week, for instance, along with fewer hours and therefore less pay. They manage by budgeting their personal finances (with company help and advise) just for such eventualities.
When the economy begins to rebound and order begin to increase again, the factory's response time is immediate — all they have to do is add days and hours to the working week for the full complement of existing working staff and they can begin producing more, literally, overnight. There is no 'tool up time.'
No lay-offs, no workers' lives ruined by bad management. They consider the American method of layoffs and rehires and retraining as wasteful, time-consuming, inefficient, bad personnel management and, although the CEO did not say it aloud, the look on her face said, "stupid."
That is why the German economy keeps clicking in high gear while most of Europe and the US went into the doldrums. Low unemployment and a highly trained and loyal work force is their strength, and our weakness.
I agree. The American theory of management is also bad for the economy and bad for the society.
First, they tend to join unions, and therefore cause concern among the moneyed elite because that means they also tend to vote progressive.
Secondly, they represent knowledge, and nothing is as dangerous to the control the 1% desire than a citizenry with knowledge, especially if they have the critical and logical tools with which to use it.
Play nice, children. There is no need to insult one another, regardless of the source of one’s income.
Clean energy is the wave of the future.While the cost of clean, renewable energy is on a steep downward trend, the cost for nuclear, with its intense disposal costs, goes up dramatically. Tax payers are asked to cover most of the research and disposal costs, relieving the investors of culpability for any mismanagement or safety lapses. One cannot, by federal law, sue a nuclear plant for damages in the United States.
Oil prices are also rising steadily, and coal dumps a massive amount of polluting and poisonous ash into man-made ponds that tend to break and spill.
Natural gas has its advantages, to be sure, and is expanding quickly. But even it has some problems with polluting groundwater reserves.The proponents for business as usual have already lost the battle.
The energy mix will never revert back to the primacy of oil and coal. Nuclear is so unpopular because of its danger, its continual and pervasive mis-management of safety issues and its disposal problems that it is untenable as a reliable source of energy. I mean, placing a nuclear plant on a coast near a known major earthquake rift that was also known as a tsunami zone? Silly, silly people pushed that one through, and the cost ended up being tremendous.
The fiction of “clean coal” is so silly it is laughable on its face.
he almost free market, so often ballyhooed by progressives, is in fact making its way through the maze of misleading advertising and rice-bowl protection.
As renewable sources continue to improve efficiency and reduce costs, they will replace much of the capacity now provided by the industrial revolution sources of power.
The police forces have traditionally been the Corporate Army of choice when putting down any form of dissent over corporate policies and dictates. Police forces have been used by corporate interests sInce the 1800’s when they killed Joe Hill in Utah through the 1900’s when they put down fruit pickers in the San Joaquin Valley, demonstrations against the Vietnam war, the demonstrations against the World Bank and the 99% occupiers.
It is no surprise that the police were excepted by the anti-union laws passed by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. He needed them to control the blowback.
The move by the Bank of America to charge debit card customers $5.00 a month was replicated by a raft of large banks, including Regions, the local bank in Georgia and some 17 other states.
In total these banks lost more than reputation points — they lost many valuable customers.
The Credit Union Association estimated over 650,000 new accounts in the sixty days following the BofA decision. Since then the number has risen to over 1,000,000 account shifts from big banks to smaller or credit union venues. This equates to over a billion dollars in reduced assets for these banks in a short two month period, with more losses to come.
The banks have found the tipping point for customer revulsion. Let’s hope cel phone, satellite TV and cable companies, et al, also find it soon.
People voting with their dollars. This is how democracy is supposed to work, but rarely does.
Taking the accounts from big banks lost them revenue at the very time they were planning on a big surge in revenue.
So the point should be not that you do it because you can do it, but rather that doing it can cost you big time.
CEO’s heads should roll in every one of those big banks that took this ill-advised gamble. They have proven to be ineffective and inefficient managers, and therefore do not deserve their positions in the corporations they now head.
But I’ll bet, [$10,000.00, Mitt?], that they are instead rewarded with huge bonuses for their bone-headed move. Such is the disconnect from reality enjoyed by corporate Boards of Directors members.
The corporate culture is incredibly skewed and inefficient these days. An MBA graduate is the least qualified candidate for any job I can imagine. Anyone who runs for elected office based on their corporate experience should be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.
Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich recently proposed that child labor laws be abolished, and poor children put to work as janitors in their schools.
This is not a new idea.
“I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of [beggar] children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.”
The writer goes on to explain a solution to the problem of poor children bothering the “right people” by begging and pestering them.
"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout." Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal;” 1729
The difference between the two is that Newt is serious, and Jonathan Swift was being sarcastic about the feelings of the 1% of that day.
2. Insurance companies cannot use more than 20% of the consumers health premium for fancy headquarters, office overhead, salaries, bonuses and profit for investors. They MUST spend 80% on actual health costs. This will bring health care costs down at least 15%, since corporations have been hogging up to 45% [35% avg.] for their own profit and bonuses for CEOs. * *
3. Insurers cannot refuse you insurance for a pre-existing condition. * *
4. Children cannot be refused insurance for pre-existing conditions. * *
5. Every American must be insured, or pay a small tax for being uninsured. That spreads the risk and makes each policy cheaper. * *
6. Hospitals MUST treat the sick, and can no longer turn them away and let them die for not having insurance. * *
7. Drug costs will come down because the cost will be negotiated by large groups of buyers for HMOs and insurance companies. * *
This is Obama Care that Republicans want to repeal, the Affordable Health Act. * *
Will you let them do this to you?
Over the past century, the power of unions has varied as the forces against them have relaxed and then strengthened. In the last few decades, however, it has become much tougher to organize a new office or shop. Entire industries have moved off-shore. Corporations have organized themselves and have developed multiple strategies to keep unions from getting a foothold in their companies. Some company tactics have been downright cruel, but are nevertheless effective.
Although the union movement appears to be back on a slight political upswing, it still is faced with almost insurmountable odds. Between massive layoffs, mechanization, globalization, and consolidation through mergers, companies have managed to thwart the union organizing strategy. Working people are feeling it through diminishing paychecks and benefits.
The long and short of it is that the people need the unions. They may not know or even believe it, but they do. And yet most people are not eligible for union membership. The nation, the economy and the society needs unions.
A major difficulty in enrolling new union members now is that the character of employment has changed drastically from the industrial model. In the old economy, most workers would develop a trade within a specific industry, and would then spend most if not all of a working life within that trade. From the turn of the Twentieth century until the 1990s that was the predominant model for a working life. It was possible to organize union shops around that model because people stayed put in their jobs for many years, and in many cases for all their working life.
But the new economy has changed all that. Now an average worker does not stay in the same job more than three years. One in three stay for less than a year. It is predicted that the average worker will have eight different jobs by the age of thirty-five. That means the worker will not stay put in a shop, a factory or an office for many years. And it is difficult to organize shops in a service-oriented economy. A high-school graduate today will have a tough time finding a job, and an even tougher time holding it for an extended period.
Organizing a work force that is mobile and changes careers over a lifetime is challenging. How can an organizer succeed if the worker turnover in his local is so high? Workers change jobs every few years and float around the work force, doing different jobs at each stop.
The managerial opposition to unions seems to hold the majority of the cards in this game. They can thwart organizing in many ways; laying off workers and hiring new ones, moving their operation to a state or country with less worker regulation and less chance of union organizing, going bankrupt one day and reforming under a new name the next day and making organizing difficult through personnel actions, threats and intimidation. Under the current rules you cannot organize without a stable worker situation and a friendly corporate environment.
Unions must find new ways to organize if they want to survive.
There is a solution. There is a strategy that industries cannot thwart through threats, intimidation and stalling. I think unions should change their basic model of organizing from the traditional to the modern. I am not recommending they abandon organizing on a shop by shop basis, but that they augment and meld the old model with a new one.
I think unions should follow the example of the AARP, and offer a general union status to folks who are unaffiliated for a small annual dues rate of say, $15.00 to $25.00 a year. This type of union membership would cross all trades, all states, all nations and all industries at the same time. It would satisfy the need for representation for people who jump from job to job and career to career whether in the manufacturing, building or service industries.
Unions might consider developing a layered membership:
1. Anentry level that earns the right to be informed of union activities and issues by mail, email or text messaging.
Benefits offered may include discounts for health, dental, vision, auto, home and rental insurance. Discounts could be offered for travel accommodations, cruises and tours. A union might offer special deals for retirement accounts. It might also have special loan deals for schooling and career education available. A special network of labor-oriented lawyers and counselors might be on call for members having problems with employers. Unemployment help and assistance might be made available. All these would entice people to join and become a part of the union base of influence. Many self-employed people, a huge market, would also join for the benefits.
2. Ajourneyman level that allows a person to do some local organizing, like holding introductory meetings and have official union speakers attend. Get-out-the-vote campaigns and such can be enhanced within a community by journeyman members of this new organization.
3. Aprofessional level that allows a person to organize and recruit for traditional shop and industry union membership.
This would provide a way to join the union movement without having to organize an entire office or factory. It would eliminate the barrier many non-union people feel toward monthly deductions of dues from paychecks. It would make union members of folks whose companies have successfully blocked a union shop from being set up, like Walmart, Target and other large concerns.
It would eliminate the problem of workers who jump from job to job, field to field. A person could be a life-time member, regardless of where he or she works or whether they are working currently or unemployed. It could expand the unionized base by a hundred-fold.
It would strike at the very limits now enjoyed by corporations; that unions must get a majority of workers within a geographic shop or office or company to vote to join before the union can be ratified and workers can enjoy union benefits. This old strategy puts the battle on the company’s turf. Unions need to put the battle on the unions’ turf.
This strategy would also eliminate the disparity between right-to-work and at-will states and states that allow labor organizing. It would cut across state and national boundaries and create a world-wide constituency for unions to use to further their issues.
Corporations would be reduced to using publicity to fight mass unionization. And the 99% would win that publicity battle. This plan would provide the money and audience to fight industries in the field of public opinion, the unions’ turf.
Should a majority of folks in any company or shop join through this program, then the union would have an opportunity to organize it in the traditional union shop model, if they so choose.
I think many people would join such a union effort if given the opportunity. There is gravitas in numbers. As the membership expands, so does the political clout of the union. Imagine for a moment the size of the mailing list of union-oriented voters unions could have if this succeeds.
It is the time in history for unions to do something bold and aggressive.
(Comment to Congressional “Super Committee” Failure to Compromise on Budget Deal, November, 2011.)
I congratulate the Democrats in Congress for standing up and being counted about requiring tax revenue increases as a part of any budget deal.
It only makes good sense that a budget must be balanced by both revenue increases and spending decreases. Money in, money out. A dollar more coming in, a dollar less going out. Fifty-fifty. The American Way.
The resistance to this common sense is simply a ridiculous attempt to continue to shift favorable tax policy on the 1% and Corporations. Such a position ignores totally the tens of thousands of people in cities all over the country that are incensed at such bald and overt favoritism
Congressmen that recommend such foolishness are obviously bought and paid for; corrupt, bribe-taking and ignorant of their duty to the people of the United States.
• Investment firms do not want recreational drugs to be legalized because it would significantly reduce their transactions fees and the value of their managed portfolios.
• Pharmaceutical corporations do not want legalization of recreational drugs because it would reduce sales of many of their doctor-prescribed painkillers, drugs prescribed for psychological illnesses and over the counter sales of medications.
• Religions do not want recreational drugs to be legalized because they consider them sinful.
• Enforcement agencies do not want recreational drugs to be legalized because their budgets would be reduced severely. Entire Federal and State enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency, (DEA), would be eliminated.
• Penal systems, including privatized and government run prisons as well as prison guard unions, do not want recreational drugs legalized because it would reduce their inmate population and income by 70%, which is the percentage of inmates serving sentences for drug offenses nationwide.
• Federal and State court systems do not want recreational drugs legalized because it would reduce court trials and the need for judges also by nearly 70%.
• District Attorney offices also do not want recreational drugs legalized because it would severely reduce their caseload and office staff.
• Drug cartels from the kingpins to the corner dealer do not want recreational drugs legalized because it would put them out of business.
• Politicians do not want recreational drugs legalized because they do not like losing the control over people who might choose the freedom and liberty to treat their own bodies as they wish.
Legalizing recreational drugs is not possible in the United States of America.
Legalizing recreational drugs would:
• Eliminate all of the drug cartels, and eliminate much of the money laundering conducted by major banks.
• Eliminate the violence threatening our southern borders with Mexico.
• Seriously reduce governmental enforcement expenses and the size of government for the drug war at all levels.
• Eliminate over the border smuggling, contaminated products, violence, deaths connected with drug trafficking and many drug overdoses.
• Reduce the budgets and size of all governments at all levels.
• Eliminate many current restrictions on freedoms and liberties induced by the drug war.
• Seriously reduce governmental corruption induced by incredible large amounts of available drug money.
There are too many Americans and businesses and governmental agencies making a living off of illegal recreational drugs to hope for an end to the drug war.
So, what is the most reasonable Department to cut to reduce Federal expenses?
I have not only studied history — I have lived it.
Born in the middle of the Great Depression, raised during thee Second World War, i served in both Korea and Vietnam. I demonstrated in the seventies in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Monterey and even in Tokyo. I taught at a California State University. I served in non-profit community-based treatment and service centers for decades, dealing with the casualties of class warfare first-hand.
The problem has alway been money in politics. Money has always frustrated positive change and reversed it when it did slip through.
Your points are valid except they do not take into account the fact that money eventually destroys whatever advances occur.
Eliminate money in politics entirely, then human beings can affect the political process and make advances in the way government and corporations treat people.
All your recommendations can then be safely discussed and, if popular, implemented.
First you take away the power corporations and the investment class have to force us to accept the unacceptable. You neutralize their most potent weapon.
Then you use the people power to force positive changes.
Hundreds of times more people have been arrested for protesting against the theft of trillions of dollars by Wall Street bankers and investors than have been arrested for the crime itself! — Al Jazeera
And the main news channels, owned by the same investors that perpetrated the crime are ignoring it.
The purpose of the Defense Department should be re-directed solely to defense of the North American continent, and not a projection of military strength to protect corporate interests on other continents. Let those corporations fight their own battles.
Most of this money, by far, does not produce a single job, product or service.
A major industry exists to roil money through these profitable but unproductive investment instruments. Hedge funds and insurance on investments come to mind.
In order to reduce the national debt, we first must balance the budget, Like Bill Clinton did in 1998-9.
If we cut annual spending by the 40% necessary to eliminate the annual budget deficit, we would have to mothball over half of our Naval carrier fleets, cut the Air Force fighter force in half, reduce Army strength by 50% and eliminate many of the drug interception operations and other enforcement actions now in place.
For the Defense Department we would have to eliminate the two full war theory of operation, and think in terms of defense of the North American continent, rather than exerting military power world wide.
And that is after eliminating ALL unemployment checks and food stamps, reducing Social Security, Veteran’s Disability and Medicare payments by half and eliminating all social programs like the Endowment for the Arts, support for NPR and all subsidies to religious organizations and corporations.
Or we could ask millionaires and billionaires to help share the load of the deficits and national debt they had a major hand in developing for their own profit.
We’d still have to cut spending along the lines shown above, but less severely. Cutting those programs by a third, perhaps, would do the trick.
We'd also be required to stimulate the economy to increase economic growth and employment, because economic growth and increased employment equals increased revenue.
I’d push for a one for one split. One dollar in revenue increases to match every dollar in spending cuts.
It is well known that spending cuts never reach the level of 100% savings, but result in something close to 45% savings. That is because most cuts are for services or materials not already bought and paid for, or are for things not now in the budget.
Revenue increases, on the other hand, always result in 100% of deficit reduction for every dollar of increase.
The two together provide the best long term chance of balancing the budget and reducing the national debt.
The Koch brothers of Texas want to eliminate public education. They are spending millions in that effort across some 14 states as this is written.
These two are Texas billionaires who inherited oil and coal fortunes and companies. They are into political bribery, total financing of the so-called Tea Party and funding preachers of corporate anarchy.
They are right in line with the conservative think-tanks strategy for the future.
Two major reasons; Corporate control of workers and the oldest profession in the world, the profit motive.
Public education often informs children of logical thought processes, and therefore allows them the mental tools to embarrassingly question their bosses and overseers.
But privatizing schools also is a major reason for this attack on a free public education.
Privatizing allows the tax money to flow more directly from the workers into investors’ pockets.
It also allows a choice of what subjects will be taught, what [free market?] philosophies to be stressed and what values to impart to the young minds.
It would result in a complete elimination of educational unions, which are pesky and tend to vote a progressive ticket. Unions interfere too much with the investors making money, because they insist on benefits, living wages and good working conditions.
In order to facilitate that objective, privatizers will allow religious education to also be vouchered into the mix, since that segment can easily be weeded out later by using the courts to enforce the Constitutional wall between Church and State.
That will happen once the transfer from public to privatized education is total and religious leaders are no longer needed to help push the political fight to privatize.