What we believe to be he case, what we think should be the case, and what is actually the case.
My blog: The War Department and Peace Heroes
See Class, Corporate Personhood, Corporations, Economics, Globalization, Go Not to Jail, Greed, Inequality, Information Control, Lobbying, Marx, Military Industrial Complex, Monopoly, Occupy, Rapacity, Regulation, Secrecy, Socialism, Too Big To Fail, US Economic Imperialism, Working Class, and related newsletters.
A Call to the People by George Monbiot:
After more than a quarter of a century of environmental campaigning I’ve come to see that the only thing that really works is public mobilisation: the electorate putting so much pressure on governments that they are obliged to take a stand against powerful interests. It doesn’t matter what weapons governments use to confront these interests: what counts is their willingness to use them. A system which undermines public involvement, boosts the power of the financial markets and reduces love and passion and delight to a column of figures is unlikely to enhance the protection of the natural world.
Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 at end.
Moyers & Co.: Victims of US Capitalism in
Scheer, Predatory Takeover, The Great Stickup
Taibbi, Big Banks Price-Fixing
Dick, Warrior Capitalism
Taibbi, Everything Rigged
Leech, Capitalism Genocidal, Rev. by Sethness
Kroll, 2012 Elections and Billionaires
Gibson, Public Banking
Cox: The Market as God
Moyers: Freeland, Taibbi, Income Inequality
Birdsell: Poverty of Working Poor
Ockert: SNAP Handouts Help Short-term
Hedges: Global US Capitalism, World’s Elites vs. World’s Poor
Trainor: And Climate Change, 180 Degree Turn Needed Now
Faulkner: Over-accumulation of Capitalism:
Defenders of a Modified Capitalism
Admati and Hellwig: Changing the Banking System
Haque: Changing the Economic System
Strong and Mackey: Conscious Capitalists Can Solve World’s Problems
Welch: Positive Vision Needed
Contents #15 Nov. 22, 2013 (11 essays)
DEREGULATION/MONEY COUP AND DESTRUCTION OF DEMOCRACY
Frontline, JPMorgan Fined $13 Billion, the Price of Business as Usual
essays on disintegrating
Moyers & Company: Interview of Heather Gerken and Joyce Appleby
Moyers & Co., Interview of Gretchen Morgenson, Author of Reckless Endangerment
Nichols and McChesney, Dollarocracy
Gotesdiener, A Dream Foreclosed: Black
NEW SUSTAINABLE, ECONOMICALLY JUST, DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM
Senator Sanders, Morally and Economically Sound Budget
Speth, Manifesto for a New Economy
Appleby, Libertarian View of Flexible Capitalism
Brown, Costa Rican (and North Dakotan!) Public Banking
US “Free”-Market, Unregulated Greed
Parramore, Ayn Rand
Video Documentary, Frontline, “To Catch a Trader”
Michael Klare: Carbon Dioxide Increasing
Building a New Economic System
Pierce, Economic Bill of Rights Needed vs. Corporations
Chomsky, An Economic System for the Common Good
Weissmann, A Different Federal Reserve
Public Banks, the
Bradbery, Adequate Regulatory Oversight
Stephenson and Miodema, Volker Rule One Step
The People’s Ally, Public Citizen
Staggenborg, Pledge to Amend, Anti-Corruption Act Petition
US “FREE”-MARKET, UNREGULATED CAPITALISM
Ayn Rand Destroys CEO's Empire
Lynn Parramore, AlterNet, Reader Supported News, Dec. 10, 2013.
Parramore writes: "Lampert created a business model predicated on the notion that the invisible hand of the market would magically drive stellar results. With his belief in economic fairy tales, he managed to kill the goose that laid his own golden egg."
GOOGLE SEARCH, PBS, FRONTLINE, Martin Smith, “To Catch a Trader” Documentary, Jan. 6, 2014, Page One
FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith goes inside the dramatic hunt that uncovered the biggest insider trading scandal in U.S. history, drawing on ...
To Catch a Trader ... In a never-before-published video, hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen, whose firm this week pleaded guilty to securities fraud, describes ...
Jan 7, 2014 - FRONTLINE
correspondent Martin Smith goes inside the dramatic hunt that uncovered the
biggest insider trading scandal in
From small-time options trader to King of Wall Street hedge fund managers, ... SAC Capital, and other Wall Street characters with never-before-seen video and ...
3 days ago - FRONTLINE Coming January 7th – correspondent Martin Smith goes inside the dramatic hunt that uncovered the biggest insider trading ...
Dec 12, 2013
A Trader. Billionaire Steven A. Cohen and the largest insider trading
That's how the CDC describes a frightening new threat spreading... 02:00. FRONTLINE | Preview "Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria" | PBS Play Video ...
21 hours ago - Uploaded by PBS
This video is unavailable. Alert icon. You need Adobe Flash Player to watch this video. Download it from Adobe.
Watch Frontline (To Catch a Trader) on DIRECTV. An ongoing seven-year investigation into insider trading includes a profile of Steven A. Cohen and his ...
By Janine Jackson. EXTRA! (Jan. 2014).
“The man in charge of a bank that engaged
in massive mortgage fraud [Jamie Dimon] chatted with a corporate media host
(CNBC Squawk on the Street, 7/12/13) about the fact that virtually none of
those who enriched themselves while eviscerating the life savings of many
blameless people, derailing the US economy along the way, have faced criminal
prosecution: Jim Cramer: Shouldn't they have indicted somebody who actually did
bad things in banking? JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon: I think if someone did
something wrong, they should go to jail. Cramer: Well, who did? Who went to
jail? Dimon: One of the great things about
T. Klare | Peak Oil Is Dead, Long Live Peak Oil!
Michael T. Klare, TomDispatch, 09 January 14 PM, Reader Supported News
Klare writes: "As the year begins, we know more about
what's in our future with somewhat greater certainty and, generally speaking,
as record amounts of carbon dioxide continue to pour into the atmosphere, we’re
doing remarkably little about it."
Building a New Economic System
WE NEED A BILL OF RIGHTS THAT PROTECTS THE PEOPLE NOT ONLY FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUT FROM THE CORPORATIONS [The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights helps, but The Earth Charter is better. –Dick]
The Tyranny of the Brand
What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being?
s the day went on, I heard an unfortunate number of progressive friends address the issue of the suspension of the crackerfamilias with the flat assertion that the First Amendment doesn't apply to corporations and that therefore, A&E was within its rights to suspend the guy. (Which, as Steve M. points out, isn't really a suspension but rather that the crackerfamilias is sort of banned from A&E world HQ while his program is on hiatus, which many of the show's fans likely believe is a form of hernia.) I do not deny the basic legal correctness of this point, but I do wonder if progressives should be quite so blithe about it.
The Bill Of Rights is supposed to be durable and universal. Now, though, in our schools and in our workplaces, it has taken a severe beating. Regularly scheduled drug testing without cause eviscerates the protections of the Fourth And Fifth Amendments. Just this week, Senator Professor Warren proposed a bill that would decouple credit checks from the application process, which at least is a step toward reasserting a right to privacy. To say that, well, Phil Robertson doesn't have a First Amendment right to a TV show is only to make half an argument. What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being? As it happens, I had disciplinary action taken against me at the last newspaper I worked for because of things I had written on the Esquire.com Politics blog prior to coming to work here full time. When I asked my immediate supervisor why this happened, he replied, "My primary obligation is to the company." (I looked down to make sure I wasn't wearing a nametag with the word Wal Mart on it.) If I showed you the official letter of reprimand, you wouldn't believe that it actually was written by anyone who worked for a newspaper in any capacity except hawking it from a steam grate. They were within their rights to do what they did, but if you believe in civil liberties, you have to start wondering how truncated those liberties are in daily life.
According to the new policy, "improper use of social media" includes any "communication through social media that":
"ii. when made pursuant to (i.e. in furtherance of) the
employee's official duties, is contrary to the best interest of the
university"; "iv. subject to the balancing analysis required by the
following paragraph, impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among
co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which
personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, impedes the performance of the
speaker's official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the
university, or otherwise adversely affects the university's ability to
efficiently provide services. "In determining whether the employee's
communication constitutes an improper use of social media under paragraph (iv),
the chief executive officer shall balance the interest of the university in
promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its
employees against the employee's right as a citizen to speak on matters of
public concern, and may consider the employee's position within the university
and whether the employee used or publicized the university name, brands,
website, official title or school/department/college or otherwise created the
appearance of the communication being endorsed, approved or connected to the
university in a manner that discredits the university. The chief executive
officer may also consider whether the communication was made during the
employee's working hours or the communication was transmitted utilizing
university systems or equipment. This policy on improper use of social media
shall apply prospectively from its date of adoption by the
Does your job own your civil liberties when you're off the clock? Does it own your thoughts, expressed freely, when you're home? Are we saying that the government can't abridge your constitutional rights, but that The Brand can? If you answer instantly, "yes," think again about what you're saying, and about the kind of country in which you want to live.
Noam Chomsky, How Can We Escape the Curse of Economic Exploitation? Noam Chomsky, AlterNet, 09 January 14, Reader Supported News
Chomsky writes: "Concern for the common good should impel
us to find ways to cultivate human development in its richest diversity."
Weissman, Learning to Love the Federal Reserve.
Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News , 09 January 14,
Weissman writes: "At the risk of being tarred and feathered, let me suggest that a very different Federal Reserve could become an indispensable tool for extending politically conscious, democratic control to the nation's economy."
NEED FOR PUBLIC OVERSIGHT AND SAFEGUARDS
Standing Up to Corporate Power
You’d think the financial crash in 2008 would have taught us some lessons. But apparently, we haven’t learned. Despite the fact that deregulation – which allowed the big banks and financial institutions to operate without oversight – contributed to the near collapse of the economy just a few years ago, we still haven’t instituted the safeguards needed to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“,” a book released today at an event at Public Citizen, provides an in-depth look at how deregulation derailed the economy and puts forth a series of case studies that counter allegations made against public protections in recent years. The book is by our own Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch program.
“Four years ago, hardly anybody disputed that the housing bubble and financial crisis cried out for better regulation, but that lesson was soon forgotten,” said Lincoln. “We hope that our book will provoke a more thoughtful debate moving forward.”
“Reality Check” chronicles the damage caused by insufficient oversight of mortgage lending, financial derivatives, commodities and residential electricity services. The book illustrates that even the bailed-out mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were often incorrectly portrayed as government agencies, succumbed because of a shortage of government oversight.
“Reality Check” also debunks myths that have flourished in recent years about how safeguards work.
Today’s symposium at our Washington, D.C., headquarters featured a discussion with Neil Barofsky, a federal prosecutor who was chosen to serve as the special inspector general overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program; Brooksley Born, former chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), who was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (You can .)
The discussion was lively and fascinating, and the speakers were surprisingly candid about the challenges of crusading against powerful Wall Street interests. For instance, Barofsky recounted how he was told that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of his long-term career to be too hard on the banks. The solution Barofsky and others advocate: breaking up the big banks.
Contrary to claims that new rules are written by civil servants with little oversight, the book provides case studies illustrating that federal agencies are among the most regulated entities in the United States. Agency obligations have slowed the rulemaking process to a crawl.
For instance, the book recounts a 12-year saga surrounding the effort to complete a much-needed and uncontroversial update to a rule on the operation of cranes. More broadly, the book documents that delays in completing workplace rules concerning well-understood hazards have resulted in tens of thousands of avoidable illnesses and injuries.
Members of Congress often accuse agencies of handing down rules willy-nilly without oversight. But the rulemaking process has become so cumbersome that agencies fail to meet deadlines set by Congress nearly 80 percent of the time.
Meanwhile, the allegations surrounding public safeguards have kept many in the public arena from understanding that such rules tend to be well-crafted. A series of case studies in the book shows that regulations have a remarkable track record of success. Not only do rules tend to exceed their public protection objectives, they often do so at a fraction of predicted costs and to the benefit of industries that earlier fought mightily to stop them.
Finally, the book revisits the oft-recited trope that regulations are responsible for “killing jobs.” Numerous studies have found that new public safeguards have a beneficial effect on employment. Meanwhile, surveys have consistently found that small businesses rate regulations low on their list of concerns when contemplating whether to hire new employees.
Overthrow the Speculators
From TRUTHDIG Posted on Dec 29, 2013
Traders work at the Goldman Sachs posts on
the floor of the
By Chris Hedges
Money, as Karl Marx lamented, plays the largest part in determining the course of history. Once speculators are able to concentrate wealth into their hands they have, throughout history, emasculated government, turned the press into lap dogs and courtiers, corrupted the courts and hollowed out public institutions, including universities, to justify their looting and greed. Today’s speculators have created grotesque financial mechanisms, from usurious interest rates on loans to legalized accounting fraud, to plunge the masses into crippling forms of debt peonage. They steal staggering sums of public funds, such as the $85 billion of mortgage-backed securities and bonds, many of them toxic, that they unload each month on the Federal Reserve in return for cash. And when the public attempts to finance public-works projects they extract billions of dollars through wildly inflated interest rates.
Speculators at megabanks or investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are not, in a strict sense, capitalists. They do not make money from the means of production. Rather, they ignore or rewrite the law—ostensibly put in place to protect the vulnerable from the powerful—to steal from everyone, including their shareholders. They are parasites. They feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They just manipulate money. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged.
We can wrest back control of our economy, and finally our political system, from corporate speculators only by building local movements that decentralize economic power through the creation of hundreds of publicly owned state, county and city banks.
The establishment of city, regional and state banks, such as the state public bank in North Dakota, permits localities to invest money in community projects rather than hand it to speculators. It keeps property and sales taxes, along with payrolls for public employees and pension funds, from lining the pockets of speculators such as Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Money, instead of engorging the bank accounts of the few, is leveraged to fund schools, restore infrastructure, sustain systems of mass transit and develop energy self-reliance.
Banking Institute, founded by Ellen
Brown, the author of “Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our
Money System and How We Can Break Free,” Marc
other grass-roots activists are attempting to build a system of public banks.
States such as
“The debate about
public or private control of the monetary system has been going on for hundreds
of years,” Armstrong, the executive director of the Public Banking Institute,
said when I reached him by phone. “The American Revolution had everything to do
with who controlled our economic destiny. The money supply is central to that
“When a public bank such as the bank in North Dakota funds
infrastructure projects the interest costs, which [otherwise] are often 50
percent or more of a project, in essence fall to zero because the interest is
returned to same people who own the bank and paid the interest in the first
place,” said Armstrong, who previously worked for IBM Finance. “[Americans
typically] hold labor costs under a microscope, but ... don’t hold interest
costs under a microscope.
The Bank of North Dakota, the vision of socialists from a century
ago, has been in operation for 90 years. It offers the state’s farmers and
businesses low interest rates on loans. After floods
destroyed much of
SEC Votes to Adopt Volcker Rule to Ban Proprietary Trading
Emily Stephenson and Douwe Miedema, Reuters, Reader Supported News, Dec. 10, 2013
Stephenson and Miedema report: "U.S. regulators toughened key sections of the Volcker rule's crackdown on Wall Street's risky trades on Tuesday as they finalized one of the harshest reforms after the credit meltdown."
[But “harshest”? Harsh? Have any of the reforms been harsh? Even altogether have they been adequate to end the corruption and boom-bust fluctuations at the injurious heart of the market system? Other essays in this newsletter suggest not. –Dick]
Some bank regulation finally passed
"On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) along with 4 other agencies passed , while a 5th agency has stated it will also pass the rule, but behind closed doors. The Volcker Rule is a huge win for President Obama in regards to financial reform, fundamentally changing the way banks on Wall Street operate and severely limit the relationship between commercial and investment banks.
More specifically, the new law separates investment banking, private equity and proprietary trading (hedge fund) sections of financial institutions from their consumer lending arms.
The future of the amendment movement is here
Rick Staggenborg [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Rick Staggenborg [email@example.com]
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 4:35 PM
is great news regarding the move to end corporate rule in the
This pledge strategy is essentially what Represent US has been pushing to get reform legislation passed by planning a campaign to call for pledges of support of congressional candidates for the Anti-Corruption Act.
Now RepresentUS has teamed up with Free Speech for People to launch a joint petition calling for BOTH the Act and an amendment. This is a significant breakthrough and the timing is fantastic! We are organizing in
If we successfully build a movement in Oregon that mobilizes people to attend campaign events and make the issue prominent, I fully expect the strategy to be adopted by other groups working on the issue and go national in time to affect the 2012 elections.
Please help by signing and sharing this petition.
In solidarity for peace and justice,
Rick Staggenborg, MD
Board President, Take Back America for the People
Founder, Soldiers For Peace International
Coos Bay, OR
Contents #9 Nov. 12, 2012
Hedrick Smith, Who Stole the American Dream?
To Schneiderman: Prosecute or Resign
Why Government Doesn’t
Barofsky, Bailout on TARP
Nader: Where Were the Whistleblowers?
Reich, Book on US Capitalism
Reich, Interviewed About US Capitalism
Survey: Confidence in Capitalism Declines
Wolf: Global Financial Fraud
Looking Back at Capitalist Greed, PBS: Remember the Triangle Fire
Ha-Joon Chang, About Capitalism
Hacker and Pierson: Winner-Take-All Politics
Bybee, War on Wages
Foster and McChesney, Monopoly-Finance Capital
Pollin, Full Employment
Wenz, Progressive Taxation
Mondiot, Unregulated Capitalism and Climate Change
Taibbi, Lies about Bailout
Ad Busters on US Capitalism
Ad Busters on Canadian Capitalism
Moyers & Co. Programs
Richard Wolff’s Books
Jim Wallis, Serving the Common Good
Animated Film on Nature of Capitalism
Moyers Interviews Sheila Bair and Richard Wolff March 22
Tunnel People and Economic Collapse
Dauvergne and Lister, Corporate Takeover of Sustainability
Smil, What We Have Taken from Nature
Blinder, Cause and Cure of Economic Crisis
Leopold, World of Top Hedge-Fund Managers
Garson, How the 99% Lives in the Recession