Posts Tagged ‘sec

23
Feb
09

Best Videos From Last Week 2.23.09: Fox’s Right Wing Agenda, Concentration of Wealth, Regulation

There was some good TV happening last week, here’s what I found notable (hint – read the stuff at the bottom. really):

  • With more and more voters edging toward the left or moderate (and, ahem, away from the Radical Religioner Party), Fox is having a harder time hiding their right wing agenda. CNN’s Howard Kurtz catches the latest Oh No, They Didn’t! moment on Fox.
  • MOST WORTH WATCHING: I very much appreciated this 20 minute clip of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski on Morning Joe as he discusses the concentration of wealth over the last few years. It is important for the public to understand that Republican policies enable the top few to get richer off the backs of the lower masses and unless we want the government to determine labor costs (we don’t), it is up to the public themselves to deflate the culture of extreme corporate wealth. Watch the video.
  • CLASSIC GO GET ‘EM! CLIP: Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero goes off on Fox over the suggestion that laborers have to shoulder the burden when companies lose competitiveness (many times due to executive decisions). Lots of talking over each other, which is annoying and Bernero obviously had an agenda when he went on the show, but still…it’s a good clip.
  • Repubs are already lining up their big guns against the upcoming attempts at health care reform. Some of the guns are not new and this one in particular, Betsey McCaughey, is having a clear problem locating the truth. Warning: it’s a Keith Olbermann clip, so if you don’t like him…watch the clip anyway.
  • IF YOU HAVE ITUNES: Dan Rather Reports aired an excellent program on the housing crisis with an even more excellent interview with TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren. She is one of the few honest heroes of the Wall Street bailout. If you don’t have Itunes, you can get the transcript at the bottom of this page – I recommend the PDF version because the online version has formatting issues. Here are some highlights from the interview that are extremely worth a read:
    • RATHER
      Well, you’ve written– a great deal about family economics and the middle class. Are we in danger of– for all intents and purposes– losing the middle class? Or is that too much of a fear?
      WARREN
      No, I think that’s the real fear. So, here’s the– here’s what’s happened over a generation. Somebody out working 40 hours a week is making less than he was making 30 years ago. Household income has gone up a little. How? Because we put the second earner to work– if she could do it. But that has now flattened out. There’s no one else to put to work. We’ve put to work as many moms as we can possibly do. So, where we stand now is income has flattened out again. But core expenses; housing, health insurance, transportation, child care and taxes, because they’ve got these two salaries, have all gone up. And that’s left the basic family with less money than they used to have a generation ago. So, then we hit the skids of this recession. The bottom falls out of the housing market. They can’t tap home equity. These crazy mortgages for many of them are forcing their expenses up. They’re losing jobs. And that means we have not a few people, we have literally tens of millions of Americans, hard-working, play-by-the-rules, middle class people; people who got decent educations, people who got decent jobs, people who got married, moved out, bought houses, the backbone of what we are as America, those people are now hanging on by their fingernails.
    • RATHER
      If we lose the middle economic class do we have an America approaching anything what we’ve known in my lifetime and yours and our father and mother’s lifetime?
      WARREN
      No. It’s a different America. It becomes a two-class America. It may actually have a larger upper class. You know, maybe– maybe that moves to ten percent of the population who really do quite well. You know, the kids; you can send the kids to college with no debt and they graduate with no debt. They do fine. Nobody gets sick. You know, that’s the group that works. And then what we have is a big underclass. It’s folks who just live basically paycheck to paycheck. If– if you can hang on, if you don’t get a layoff or a cutback in hours
      RATHER
      Or you don’t get very ill?
      WARREN
      If– and one of the kids doesn’t get sick, if grandma doesn’t fall and break a hip, if you don’t get divorced or have a death in the family, you might be able to skirt through. But if anything goes wrong, you’re living one pink slip, one bad diagnosis away from complete financial collapse.
    • RATHER
      You did a special report on regulation. Take us back quickly over the last 25 years. What’s happened to regulation or supposed to have happened to regulation.
      WARREN
      So– so, here’s one way to look at it. In 1792 our young republic, George Washington is president, hits its first economic crisis. And credit markets freeze. Does this sound familiar?
      RATHER
      Yes, it does.
      WARREN
      And– it almost brings the country to its knees. And here’s what happens. About every 15 to 20 years we have another crisis. We call them panics. We have different names for them.
      RATHER
      Depression?
      WARREN
      Depression. But they happen about every 15 to 20 years for 140 years. The pattern is just unmistakable. Then we hit the Great Depression. And coming out of the Great Depression we put three new regulations in place; Glass Stiegel, which divides our community banks basically from the Wall Street investment banks, FDIC insurance, put money in the bank and know that it’s safe and some SEC regulations so you can invest on Wall Street and they can’t cheat you too directly. That’s what we put in place. For 50 years we have no bank failures, no major crises. It works. Now, there’s innovation. There’s change. It’s time to change regulations. It gets to be the early 1980s. And what do we do? Instead of saying new products, we need to change regulations to adapt, we take a different path. We say–
      RATHER
      We let banks to go in the insurance business and vice versa?
      WARREN
      Let’s deregulate. That’s exactly right. We begin to break down the old regulations. We say, “Who needs regulations? They’re so pokey. So old.” So, we go with this idea of let’s get rid of regulation and what happens? Late 1980s, savings and loan crisis should’ve been a warning. Late 1990s, remember long term capital management, hedge fund? Should’ve been a warning. But we let it go. Early 2000s, Enron, bad books, not telling the truth. Should’ve  been a warning. But we let it go. And where do we end up? In the biggest crisis since the– Great Depression. Markets are wonderful. They produce great wealth for us. But they are by their very nature something we call pro-cyclical. When they’re going up, they chase themselves up. Hey, wow, it’s doin’ great! Up they go. And when the go down, they chase themselves down. And they go lower than actual supply and demand would suggest. Now look, we can live in a world all ups and downs for the rest of our lives. We can say, “Who needs regulation? Let’s just ride that roller coaster wherever it goes.” But, you know, we have to remember when it goes down, it doesn’t just take down the people who gambled. It doesn’t just take down the people who invested on Wall Street. It takes down everybody who’s got a pension. It takes down folks who have jobs in construction industries and– and other industries that get hit by this. It takes down– in this case, it takes down homeowners, people who thought they were doing the right thing to protect themselves for the future. It takes down the prudent along with the gamblers and the wild ones.
      RATHER
      Which is where we are today?
      WARREN
      Which is exactly where we are today. So, we could say, “Hey, no more regulation. That’s fine.” But look what it’s brought us. We are not willing to let these big financial institutions fail. We’ve got this too big to fail notion. So we are going to shovel billions of dollars in their direction and still take the position we shouldn’t regulate them? I– this is a world that may be a lot of fun for
      the high flyers who get theirs and keep theirs. But it’s not a world that works very well for ordinary families.
Advertisements
05
Feb
09

Politicians: Corporatocracy Whores

It seems most politicians are members of three clubs: former big biz, lawyers, and academics. Of course, there are exceptions. Ron Paul, Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and Tom Coburn were also doctors. California offers up actors from time to time, and Jesus give us his peeps:  Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee. Sarah Palin crawled out from under a rock in White Trashville, as will have Joe The Plumber when he undoubtedly attempts to run for some public office.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at where our politicians come from and what type of background offers the most successful selections. By successful, I don’t mean longest-serving or highest-ranking. I mean most effective, the politicians that benefited the American people the most.

In pondering this topic, the most pessimistic observation regarding the state of our government is that there is an undeniable rotating door between government and big business. As I’ve said, this is not a democracy, but a corporatocracy. Lobbyists and politicians are one and the same and this is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Sure, this is a well-known reality. So, what could have triggered my need to blog on the topic today? Well…

On Morning Joe this a.m. Joe Scarborough, in his usual pithy tone of egotistical disgust and certitude, derided Obama who, just like Bernanke, Joe said, is a professor. They’re just professors. And this is true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s not a bad thing.

Yesterday, Robert Scheer pointed out in his Huffpo blog entry, Runaway Wallstreet, that Geithner’s choice for top aide is Mark Peterson, Goldman Sachs VP and lobbyist. “It was confirmation that Goldman Sachs runs the Treasury Department–no matter which party is in power.” He also sites The NYTimes’ “The Guys From ‘Government Sachs'”, which details Goldman alumni in the government – Paulson, of course, but also Joshua B. Bolten, Neel T. Kashkari, Robert Rubin, World Bank Pres. Robert Zoellick, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a BUNCH, bunch more.

Goldman Sachs is one of the many Wall Street, financial institutions with a revolving door between itself and the Treasury Dept., the Fed, the SEC and more. What about Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg? And, most recently John McCain was greatly considering naming shamed former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain – you know the one who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office – for his Treasury Secretary. How can our government be expected to enact the best policy when they are all big biz wankers who have no priority over increasing wealth among their ranks?

The financial industry isn’t the only extreme conflict of interest in the government. Remember Dick Cheney? Yes, that ex-Halliburton CEO called in major energy execs to help write the government’s energy policy. No wonder Bush thought Kyoto was a bad idea. No wonder Bush wouldn’t let California set high fuel emissions standards. No wonder Detroit refused to acknowledge the growing demand for greener autos. No wonder Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and other companies close to Bush & Cheney received no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions while our underfunded military continued to fight wars on two fronts. Nothing new – former head of Enron Ken Lay would trip over himself licking the heals of Bush I, leaving little surprise that the company was able to get away with manipulating the California energy market before its bubble collapsed.

Where do you think Tom Daschle went after his senate career? Yeah, a lobbying firm with clients in the health care sector. He would have made a great health care secretary. No conflict there. And you know how recruited him? Bob Dole. Even Bill Frist went to work for a health care investment firm after leaving the senate.

And there’s always a new crop of big biz lackeys knocking at the door all the time: Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and  Meg Whitman are biding their time, waiting to make their big break on the national circuit. But it’s not just the politicians – it’s their spouses, their children, congressional aides, government inspectors for the FDA, SEC, CDC and more – everyone around these politicians are in bed with lobbying firms and corporations. Lower level government employees, eying big dollar jobs in the private sector, push their bosses toward pro-biz legislation and deregulation. The mainstream media, dependent on sponsor dollar, rarely publicize the siamese twins our government and big business have become.

And the American people suffer for it. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the vaccination of teenage girls with Gardasil – interesting because of his ties to Gardasil’s maker, Merck. The governor thinks he can issue executive orders regarding the health of our children, ordering them to take a new drug with multiple questions regarding its side effects. The man should be jailed. He also tried to rush the building of coal plants before new “clean coal” (cough, cough lie) regulations were put in place. Yeah, we got a winner down here in Texas. Hey Perry – this isn’t a fucking autocracy! Asshole.

Now, sure most of the Democratic politicians are lawyers  – funny how they want to study law before becoming professional legislators. And many other government participants are academics. The main attack line against these people – and we heard it quite a bit this last election – is that they never ran anything. Somehow the recent big biz execs are winning elections to become today’s politicians on platforms that they were in charge in the business sector. And the last eight years have been the most pro-biz in recent history. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Maybe before we jump to criticize these professors and lawyers, we should take a look at how well the big biz peeps fared. Last I looked, our civil liberties were greatly reduced, we spent far more on a war sold with lies than we did on education the children of our country, a credit bubble formed and popped, health care costs became astronomical, unaffordable and the leading cause of bankruptcy, speculation drove oil & gas prices sky high and unemployment reached record levels.

At least the top 400 richest people doubled their wealth while Bush was president. The poverty sector grew by leaps and bounds, but who cares about those people? We have a corporatocracy on our hands and until we establish policy on data, information, evidence and reality and leave ideology and theory in the books where they belong, we will continue to suffocate the middle class. And without a healthy middle class, a healthy American economy cannot exist. The idea of a free market has become a joke, a myth. There’s nothing free about our market. It’s very, very expensive. And it’s not the rich who are paying for it.




Scarlet Letter of Atheism

a

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Blog Stats

  • 96,622 hits
WordPress Political Blogger

Top Clicks

  • None
Advertisements