You Do Know That’s an Anchor – the Lie of Supply-Side Economics

I was raised by people born before The Great Depression. Their parents were part of the great migration from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. They rose from hardscrabble and meager beginnings to become the prototypical hard-working, high school educated, American middle class suburbanites who made the Golden Age of America post-World War II so Golden.

All things being equal, their lives followed an arc that worked out to be just about as good as any middle class citizen anywhere could hope to have.

They were not “makers”, nor were they “takers.” Make no mistake, though, it was they who built this country, not the rich, and it will be the middle class who rescues it and rebuilds it again.

Our chances go way up and our recovery will come much faster if some of us in the middle class stop buying into the lie of supply-side economics.

It is not just some failed economic theory. It is a lie perpetrated on Americans by those who stand to benefit from it – the rich and powerful who run our corporations and our government.

Robert Reich spells out again – for the umpteenth time – in his blog, “Why The Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten.”

But don’t let the title mislead you. The lessons have not been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, the only people who might be fairly accused of having forgotten these lessons are those allowing themselves to be duped by the precious few who benefit by having us forget important economic lessons.

The “precious few” to whom I refer are, of course, the oligarchs in both the private and public sectors. They have duped some of us into believing that trickle-down economics is anything but one incredibly big lie.

To those of you in the 99% who continue to buy into and to perpetuate the lie of supply-side economics, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

Why do you insist on selling yourselves and all of the rest of us in the 99% short by not acknowledging that it is we, not the rich, who are the true engines of capitalism?

Is it not our prosperity and our wealth that improves our economy and allows it to work to everyone’s benefit?

Is it not our purchasing power and our demand for goods and services that makes us and not the rich the true job creators?

Why do you persist in insulting yourselves and the rest of us by believing that all that we deserve in a capitalist economy is what trickles down as overflow from the rich?

It was 33 years ago last month when Ronald Reagan used his inaugural address to vilify the very government he had just been elected to lead. Are three decades not enough time to learn a lesson? Can we not yet conclude that he was wrong? Isn’t it time to abandon supply-side economics and go back in some ways to what we know has worked before?

What’s needed now and more than ever is for the private and public sectors to be brought back into balance in ways that resemble 1946 to 1974 more than 1980 to 2014.

It cannot be denied. The rich have gotten richer while most of us have either stagnated or fallen backward thanks to trickle-down economic theory. We have endured it long enough. If it actually worked, we would now be absolutely swimming in an ocean of opportunities buoyed up for everyone as the economic tide rose.

Anchor-submergedExcept for the very well off, all of our boats have remained tied to the dock while the water has risen up and over our heads. It’s time we all realized that those folks above us on their yachts are not concerned about us. We won’t be floating to the surface to join them if we don’t work together.

Some of you need to stop defending them and understand that the line they’ve thrown you has an anchor attached to it.

Remember when we were kids and we were taught that when we made a mistake the right thing to do was to admit it and to learn from it? Well, here’s your chance. Besides, what do you have to lose? The economic theory you like just hasn’t worked. It was a mistake, and now it’s time for you to admit that and learn from it. It’s time for you to join us Keynesians. History proves that approach works. Supply-side never has and it never will.

The first thing we do is work together on a common goal – getting money out of politics.

When (not if) we get the big and secret money out of our politics, our elected officials in both parties will actually have no choice but to represent us instead of their wealthy donors. Think about it. We still have a voice in our politics. It’s a voice that can be much, much louder in government than any voice most of us will ever hope to have at any corporate shareholder meeting, right?

Once we take back control of government from the rich, then we’ll have representatives with real power to control and contain the corporatists and to end crony capitalism. No, this is NOT Socialism in the scary-red-menace-under-the-bed sense. It’s about doing away with corruption and bringing fairness and balance that benefits all of society.

How and where to begin?

There are lots of grass-roots groups working hard out there to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Pick a few, or pick just one, but do something.

As Kathleen, a Coffee Party friend, advises us, “Get Engaged!”

Check out Coffee Party USA.

http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/

I no longer support or advocate for Coffee Party USA. Click here to read why, and please Comment if you find posts on this site that I missed with this update. Thanks.

They’re a bunch of volunteers keeping Americans informed, and they’re doing a better job of it than the 1% media channels. They are also focused on getting Americans to engage in civil, fact-based dialog meant to find solutions to our social and political challenges. You can find them and join the conversation at their web site, Facebook page, Twitter, and Scoop.it pages. They pride themselves on being inclusive, so you’ll find lots of voices with lots of different perspectives.

https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

There’s also Represent.Us. They are led by some really, really smart people who are working to reform campaign finance laws and to put elections back in our hands instead of in the hands of wealthy donors and super PACs. Their work is focused on the American Anti-Corruption Act which would make reform possible tomorrow if more of us demanded it from our elected leaders.

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

Wolf PACThere’s also Move To Amend and WolfPAC who are calling ordinary citizens to actions in their state capitols and all around the country. Their work is directed toward ultimately amending the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the money floodgates into our elections.

History doesn’t lie. It might get written by the victors, but we live in an age now where it’s easy to vet it and to discover and understand the truth. The truth is that supply-side economics does not work.

It’s time some of us let go of the anchor.

UncleSamWantsYou

“I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?” – One Engaged Citizen Who’s a Model for Us All


I’m extremely proud to report that Coffee Party USA posted this essay and invited Kathleen as a guest to speak about her experiences on one of their BlogTalkRadio shows, Lunch With Louden.

keep-calm-and-get-engaged-18Kathleen’s laughter is contagious as she happily explains her use of the word, “chatty,” as part of her email ID.  She’s one of the most genuinely engaging people I’ve had the pleasure to talk with thanks to CoffeePartyUSA and the Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio shows, and it’s my privilege to tell her story about her visits to her state legislators’ offices.

Kathleen is too modest to say this, but I will. She’s a model citizen. She shows us all how powerful we as citizens can be. And without intending to (and without wanting any fanfare for it), she offers lessons on how we all can have an impact and more influence in our government.

Kathleen (yes, she’s too modest to let me use her last name) emphasizes throughout our conversation that she’s not some Constitutional expert. She says, “I’m just following my conscience.”

She loves animals, volunteers at an animal shelter and, not surprisingly, has adopted a few! She hosts an annual cleanup of a local beach, and is so genuinely modest that when she bakes desserts around the holidays and delivers them to the local firehouse “just because it’s the right the thing to do,” she won’t even give the fire chief her name.

You can tell by talking with her that Kathleen stays well-informed. She talked about always voting in elections, but says that that was the extent of her involvement with government until recently. Like many of us, she, too, had begun to lose faith in politics, politicians, and in our government.

That was until Facebook and her discovery of groups like Coffee Party USA and Wolf PAC. In fact, she credits a Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio show interview with Michael Monetta, Director of Organizing for Wolf PAC, a grass roots organization intent on reversing the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, for changing her perspective about what needs to change and how she could be part of that change.

That show awoke in Kathleen the possibilities for how she and the rest of us can help to fix our broken political system. The energy and enthusiasm in her voice is electrifying as she says, “He [Monetta] gave me hope that I had lost. He moved me so much that I looked him up on the Internet, and I jumped in with both feet!”

It’s people like Kathleen, Michael Monetta, Harvard Law professor and respected activist, Lawrence Lessig, and thousands of other ordinary Americans across the country who are working to make a difference. They are visiting their elected officials and state houses to encourage them to call for an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution to end corporate personhood and to publicly finance all elections in this country – essentially a reversal of the Citizens United decision.

So what did Kathleen do?

She started out by attending her first-ever public hearing on resolutions in the Massachusetts state house and senate. You hear genuine excitement when she talks about it. “I didn’t know they had hearings! I didn’t know you could just show up and speak!”

So she and some of her new Wolf PAC friends went to the hearings in Boston. Kathleen wasn’t ready to speak, but she sat and she listened to people like Lessig and Monetta and others. She learned, and she became inspired and confident in her newfound knowledge and understanding of what an Article V Convention was all about, and why it’s being proposed as the solution for fixing our broken campaign finance and political systems.

After that, the next step was easy. Kathleen called her state representative and her state senator and asked for a meeting to talk about the resolutions calling for the Article V State Convention.

Literally days later, she was in their offices.

Kathleen started by calling the office of her state representative, James Cantwell. She simply told the aide that she lived in the district and that she, “…had something I wanted to discuss with him.” She was pleasantly surprised when the aide then asked if she preferred coming into the state office or the district office.

Kathleen said, “I was shocked! I had no idea it was that easy!” She said it was easier and less painful than getting an appointment with her dentist, and she’ll emphatically tell you, “It was a lot less stressful than going to the dentist, too!”

Just two days after her call, there she was shaking hands with Representative Cantwell.

“I know you,” he said as they met. Kathleen was pleasantly surprised that he did. You see, she remembered him, but didn’t expect him to remember her. Mr. Cantwell was one of Kathleen’s customers at the bank where she used to work, and she had voted for him early in his political career when he ran for Selectman in the town where they both had lived at the time. Kathleen had also prepared by reviewing Mr. Cantwell’s biography at the state web site where she was able to educate herself on his voting record and even learn about his volunteer work.

This really does reinforce the point that we are our government, doesn’t it? The people we elect to state capitols and to DC to represent us really are our neighbors. It’s something worth remembering when we interact with them, and that we hope they’ll remember, too. It sure turned out that way for Kathleen and James Cantwell.

“It was good to make a personal connection with him,” Kathleen said. “It made the quality of the meeting better. He knew I had taken an interest in him, his history, and his voting record.”

Kathleen also talked about how it was her preparation that really put her at ease.

In addition to his biography, Kathleen spent the night before and that morning reviewing what an Article V Convention is and how it works. She also read up on the Supreme Court’s Buckley v Valeo and Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission decisions. She reviewed the now eviscerated Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (often referred to as McCain-Fiengold), and the notes that she took with her included the House and Senate resolution numbers and who sponsored them.

She spent 45 minutes talking with Mr. Cantwell. Kathleen described it as a pleasant and even personal conversation, and says it would have been easy given the shared history of volunteerism and community to just have a casual discussion.

But, Kathleen was on a mission, and she kept her focus.

She was careful to describe her concern as, “An Article V Convention of the States,” instead of as a “Constitutional Convention.” Why? Because as Kathleen describes it so aptly and with a tone of good humor, “That can scare the hell out of people. The thought of amending the Constitution terrifies government officials.”

She gave Mr. Cantwell a general overview of what she knew about amending the Constitution, what she wanted in terms of an Article V Convention, and then asked him for his support. She’s happy to report that she has it.

The resolution in Massachusetts, however, is in Joint Committees now. Kathleen knows that Mr. Cantwell, not being on the committee, can’t have an immediate impact until it comes out of committee.

Ah, but Kathleen also knows this. “People talk. They go out to lunch together. They pass each other in the hall. Hopefully, he’ll be an advocate and get into conversations with other reps or senators to move the resolution forward.”

She also made a point of telling Mr. Cantwell that she believes that there are good people in Congress who want to do the right things, but that too many of them are too beholden to money. He agreed with her that Congress is broken, and that something must be done about it.

It might surprise you to learn that Kathleen’s political party affiliation was never brought up. Neither Mr. Cantwell nor his aides ever asked her about it. To her credit, Kathleen stayed focused on her concerns. It wasn’t about ideology for her (even though she and her rep share a party affiliation) and she didn’t take an ideologue’s approach. It’s undoubtedly a big part of the reason why Mr. Cantwell allowed Kathleen to do most of the talking, and why she reports him as listening attentively to her.

It was a little different story with her state Senator’s office.

When she called Senator Hedlund’s office, she got an appointment just five days later but it was with the senator’s aide and not the senator.

She resisted the temptation to demand a meeting with the senator. She felt that wouldn’t get her very far. She accepted the aide’s invitation, and they met for an hour.

As opposed to her meeting with Mr. Cantwell, Senator Hedlund’s aide interjected things into the discussion that had nothing to do with Kathleen’s agenda.

Kathleen kept her cool. She said she kept telling herself, “It’s not what I’m here for. It’s not what I’m here for.” She stayed calm. She stayed focused. She kept trying to steer the conversation back to her agenda without being rude. She was there to determine whether or not the senator would support the resolution for an Article V Convention.

Despite admitting having to bite her tongue a little, she still felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

“I still felt good,” she says. “The one thing that I took away was that he [the aide] stated unequivocally that the senator takes amendments to the Constitution seriously. In my mind, I said, ‘You don’t think I do?’ I kind of knew that I couldn’t push it, but in the follow-up I would offer him sources and more information about an Article V Convention.”

The more I listened to Kathleen, the more convinced I became that she behaved like a model constituent. She prepared, she stayed focused, and she remained respectful in both offices knowing that was how she would be taken seriously. She could have allowed herself to be distracted by the things the senator’s aide wanted to talk about but with which she disagrees. Instead, she picked out the things they do agree on, and she made sure to even express her gratitude for the senator’s service as she left the meeting.

In addition to meeting with their representatives, Kathleen and other Wolf PAC citizens all over the country make calls every week to their legislators asking them to support resolutions in their states for an Article V Convention. She also supports the American Anti-Corruption Act, a proposal for reforming campaign finance laws that does not require an amendment to the Constitution. “Essentially, whatever fixes the mess we’re in,” she says, “and gets us to the goal of a true democratic government; restoring the power to where it belongs, with the people! Whatever the solution, we cannot rely on Congress. Congress will not self-reform the system.”

Kathleen then quotes what she considers to be one of John McCain’s best comments about money in politics. He said, “Corruption is the impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle…Unlimited amounts of money given to political campaigns have impaired our integrity…Who is corrupted by this system?  All of us are corrupted by it because money buys access and access is influence. I am attacking a system that has to be fixed. This system makes good people do bad things.”

Kathleen agrees, and there are two words of advice that she wants to share with all of us. “Get engaged!”

She explains it this way. “Do something instead of complaining and do something tangible! I read a quote somewhere that, in effect, said…Since political speech equals speech, it follows naturally that more money equals more political speech and less money equals less political speech. Well, we are sending a message that we will make sure politicians hear loud and clear.  We’re drawing a line in the sand and intend on taking our government back and changing the way it functions.”

These are the words of a courageous and committed citizen. It comes as no surprise that the words of other courageous people such as our Founders also resonate with her. “It’s a Government for the People, by the People,” she says as our conversation begins to draw to a close.

There’s a pause before she makes the point all of us really need to understand and remember.

“It’s our government,” she states emphatically. “We’re their bosses. We hired them to do a job, and if they’re not doing their job it’s up to we the people to tell them, ‘Listen. You’re not doing what we hired you to do.’”

Kathleen wants us all to pay attention and do something. To help us, she pointed out another absolutely salient truth that ought to be another rallying cry for citizens everywhere.

“Proposed legislation that comes with a majority of support throughout the country and it doesn’t get enacted? How’s that possible? That’s a clear indication that they are being bought and paid for by special interests. Unless people step up and do something, the status quo will continue and continue and continue.”

“There’s power in numbers,” she reminds us, and then adds, “The Supreme Court declared that money is free speech. Well, I have a voice and that’s free speech. I’m going to use it. If enough people do the same, do we have a chance to drown out the money? I believe we do!”

When asked about her transition from frustrated citizen to more activist citizen, Kathleen offered this simple two-step advice. “First, I found I have power. Second is how easy it is.”

“I was blown away!” she exclaimed.

“I was pleasantly surprised and happy that my state government was responsive. That thrilled me! It gives me hope that maybe things will be ok. This is the first step in fixing what’s broken, and getting our government to respond to the will of the people. This is where we have to start, and I hope it will have a ripple effect. I think we all share similar concerns about what’s happening in the country, but I don’t think anything’s going to happen until we end the influence that the wealthy and corporations have over our democracy.”

Kathleen assures us that it’s not as hard as we all might think. She will tell you that she’s “…not an expert. I’m just a layperson and am just going with my conscience. There are a lot of people like us.”

And, that should be encouraging to us all.

Kathleen doesn’t really consider herself to be an activist. What she says is this. “I’m an American. I’m a proud American, and I don’t want to leave this mess for the next generation. In all good conscience, I can’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try.”

The Civil Rights Movement also gives Kathleen inspiration. The question she asks herself is, “Why wouldn’t I do this? It’s not going to require the level of bravery those people showed. It’s like donating blood. I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?”

These are questions we should all be asking ourselves.

A Plea to Ordinary Republicans

Here’s a peek into how our elected officials were working for us last week…….or not.

Toomey Email 2

We all know now how Toomey and the rest of the Senate voted. The Republican junior senator from Pennsylvania voted to send our government into default.

We all know now that 144 House members – all Republicans – did the same.

For those of you who were – and who still are – cheering the ideas of government shutdowns and defaults, perhaps it would be useful to bring the discussion down to a more local and personal level. Perhaps you should consider this reality: Even the staffers who were furloughed by Mr. Toomey are people.

They are people just like you, and your vote for people like Toomey and the 144 House Republicans is, for all practical purposes, a vote to put more Americans out of work. Americans who have chosen to work FOR YOU as civil servants.

Yes, there’s waste, fraud, and abuse in government just as there is in every large organization. Attacking the problem with broad cleaves like sequestration and the abject lunacy of shutdowns and defaults is not how to address those challenges. That’s simplistic and, frankly, juvenile thinking.

My plea to ordinary Republicans is this. Is there any hope that you will rise up and take your party back from the extremists in the tea party who claim to be patriots but who really are corporatists?

UncleSamWantsYouIs there any hope that ordinary Republicans will finally wake up to the fact that a vote for people like Toomey, Tom Corbett, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and any so-called tea party Republican is actually a vote to DESTROY OUR DEMOCRACY and to PUT MORE OF OUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, and FELLOW AMERICANS OUT OF WORK?

Joe Scarborough makes a very telling observation along these lines in a Politico Opinion Column on Oct 18:

…Republicans were licking their wounds around this time last year after being blindsided by a presidential election whose outcome they should have seen coming a mile away. But ignorance was bliss as conservative politicians and talkers pushed bogus polls and political fairy tales to angry voters who were once again on the losing side of history. Media outlets that released polls showing President Obama winning were attacked as biased and conservatives who warned of Romney’s weaknesses were rhetorically burned at the stake as heretics.

So, to ordinary Republicans – my fellow Americans – I ask these questions:

Are you going to allow your fellow Republicans to continue to go unchallenged in their insistence that reality is something different for Republicans?

Are you going to keep believing and perpetuating the false and failed ideology (it doesn’t deserve the moniker of ‘policy’) of trickle down economics?

Are you going to stop watching, listening, and repeating the lies from fraudulent news sources that operate based on agendas that work against you and America?

Are you going to accept the truth that the Tea Party is a corporatist movement, NOT a grass roots movements?

This is on you, Republicans. Independents and Democrats can’t change your party. Only you can do that.

When you ordinary Republicans stay home during primaries, when you stay all too silent at times like this while people like Cruz try to turn our system of governance into a sham, and when you allow your Grand Old Party to be usurped by big money masquerading as a grass roots movement, well, this is on you.

I hope that you ordinary Republicans will work to end the support – yours and your fellow Republicans’ – for the dangerous ideology of Tea Party corporatists. They are the real Tea Party; groups like The Heritage Foundation, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club For Growth, and their ilk. They don’t care about you or ordinary Americans. Their only mission is to lie to enough Americans to get them to vote for people who, once in elected office, will pass legislation to further corporatize America.

I believe that the Republican Party is populated by a majority of intelligent, well-meaning people. I hope that this majority will seize this opportunity to start pushing back against the extremists in their party now, in a big way, and in big numbers.

I’d like to offer a few nonpartisan ways you can do precisely that right now.

I truly hope that you will, and that you will spread the word to your fellow Republicans.

Move To Amend
You can sign the petition to overturn Citizens United because money is not speech and corporations are not people.
https://movetoamend.org/ and http://movetoamend.nationbuilder.com/petition

American Anti-Corruption Act
Citizen-sponsored nonpartisan legislation that transforms how elections are financed, how lobbyists influence politics, and how political money is disclosed
Details at http://anticorruptionact.org/ and here to become a Citizen Co-Sponsor http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

Coffee Party USA
A grass roots, nonpartisan group that encourages inclusive, civil, fact-based, solution-oriented dialogue, online and in public places.
Coffee Party USA no longer has my support or endorsement. Click here if you’re curious as to why that is, and please drop me a Comment if you see any links to them on this site I may have missed.

Let’s #NeverForget915 and the Lies of Trickle-Down Economics

NeverForget915On this, the 5th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Americans should take time to pause and remember this as yet another heinous crime of historic proportions perpetrated on Americans on a day in September.

It wasn’t terrorists and it wasn’t Main Street who killed our economy. No, this crime was perpetrated on us by a conspiracy forged between Big Money on Wall Street and Small (not Big!) Government politicians who carry their water and actually pass rules and laws that make the crime legal.

That means we’re also to blame. Actually, it’s not all of us who must share the blame.

There’s no other way to say this. It’s Americans who vote for politicians who want to further deregulate all kinds of industries, including the financial services industry, who share in the blame. By electing people who work to shrink government and deregulate industries, we’re actually creating a “Socialism of Wall Street” where the gains of capitalism are privatized to an infinitesimally small number of people while all the losses are socialized to all the rest of America.

How much more proof is needed that deregulation, coupled with greed and power, leads to terrible outcomes for everyone except those with wealth and power? I consider myself to be a capitalist, but I also know from experience that corporations have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves alone.

For an excellent accounting and timeline of events that led up to the crash of ’08, I recommend reading this 2011 Forbes piece, Lest We Forget: Why We Had a Financial Crisis.

In it, Steve Denning writes:

Many actors obviously played a role in this story. Some of the actors were in the public sector and some of them were in the private sector. But the public sector agencies were acting at behest of the private sector. It’s not as though Congress woke up one morning and thought to itself, “Let’s abolish the Glass-Steagall Act!” Or the SEC spontaneously happened to have the bright idea of relaxing capital requirements on the investment banks. Or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of its own accord abruptly had the idea of preempting state laws protecting borrowers. These agencies of government were being strenuously lobbied to do the very things that would benefit the financial sector and their managers and traders. And behind it all, was the drive for short-term profits. <emphasis added>

I think “…being strenuously lobbied…” is too polite a euphemism.

It was the Big Money One-Percenters exercising their control over politicians who got agencies to do their bidding. 2008 was the result of the lies Reagan told America about trickle-down economics and the size of government, and the perpetuation of those lies coming from Republicans, extreme neo-cons, and the One Percent ever since. They are the ones who killed our economy in 2008, and they will do it again unless we do something to stop them.

Need more evidence?

Here are some facts about the 2008 bailout, courtesy of Public Citizen.

  • Amount the crash cost the U.S. economy: $22 trillion
  • How much everyone would get if that $22 trillion were divided equally among the U.S. populace: $69,478.88
  • Assets of the four biggest banks in America — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wachovia/Wells Fargo — when they were “too big to fail” in 2008: $6.4 trillion
  • Assets of those four banks today: $7.8 trillion
  • Of the 63 former Lehman Brothers employees identified by a bankruptcy examiner as being aware of an accounting scheme Lehman used to mask its true finances, number who are employed in senior financial services positions today: 47
  • Number of the 25 banks responsible for the bulk of risky subprime loans leading up to the crash that are back in the mortgage business: 25
  • Chances that an American voter thinks that regulating financial products and services is “important” or “very important”: 9 in 10
  • Chances that an American knows the Earth orbits the sun: 8 in 10
  • Amount spent in 2012 by Wall Street and other finance industry behemoths on lobbying to roll back, water down and weasel out of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: $487 million
  • Number of registered financial industry lobbyists in 2012: 2,429
  • Number of lawsuits filed as of April of this year by Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to hold up implementation of Dodd-Frank rules on legal technicalities: 7
  • Rank of finance industry among all corporate election spending by sector in 2011 and 2012: 1
  • Amount the industry gave to political candidates in 2011 and 2012: $664 million
  • In 2012, rate at which revenues of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., matched Public Citizen’s operating expenses for the entire year: Every 80 minutes

To my friends on the right, isn’t it time to wake up to the reality that trickle-down economics is a lie? The One Percent don’t care about you, and you are extremely unlikely to ever become one of them.

Isn’t it time to join forces as average, middle class Americans to make our voices heard about getting big money and it’s corrupting influence out of politics, and to get our democracy turned back over to us ordinary citizens?

You can start by joining and supporting CoffeePartyUSA and by becoming a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act.

UPDATE 9/16/2016:

I am no longer a supporter of any kind of Coffee Party USA. To understand why, click here.

http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

Whale-Sized Gambles, Lies, and Empty Apologies

Wall Street is the apex of legal gambling. It always has been.

It’s not called gambling, of course, but we should understand that that’s precisely what it is.

Perhaps the question for those of us living in a free market economy ruled by this astronomically lucrative gambling is, “Should we trust the gamblers to do anything except what benefits them the most?”

The answer seems clear to me. We cannot.

Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times has hit the nail squarely yet again in The Problem With Wiggle Room in Securities.

“…the case against Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, two of the bank’s traders, has larger lessons for investors and regulators. One has to do with the risks inherent in opaque, over-the-counter markets, where securities’ prices can’t be seen and so can be easily manipulated. Another involves the fairly significant leeway that financial firms have in valuing the securities they trade and hold.”

Personally, I have a hard time feeling any empathy with or sympathy for either the speculative bankers or their large clients. If two parties agree to place bets on something, I’m ok with that. And while I have only contempt for people who obfuscate the truth in “the real world”, I’ve played enough poker to know before the cards are dealt that that’s part of the game.

But, we’re not playing poker here. The gambling on Wall Street affects all of us, especially when loses mount. It just seems that Wall Street continues to prove that they cannot be trusted, and our elected leaders seem to refuse to fight them on our behalf. 

It’s stunning to realize the bankers’ defense in the London Whale case actually seems to be that they lied within the law. Officials at JP Morgan Chase – including Jamie Dimon – are apologetic and say, “…the bank has significantly ratcheted up its risk management.”

Does anyone else feel like the only reason this case is even being brought against these traders is because of who got hurt? Does it seem like it’s only when the rich and powerful get taken advantage of that it’s a sufficient enough crisis and scandal that people like Bernie Madoff get prosecuted and go to jail? Can anyone name another tycoon of Wall Street behind bars? (Hint: His name is among the tags on this post.)

For their part, JP Morgan “…and its executives have been deeply embarrassed by the trading fiasco and the internal failures of judgment it exposed. They have learned their lesson, they say.”

So, we’re to accept their apology and their proposed solution to basically go on trusting them to police themselves?

FILE-In this June 13, 2012, file photo,  JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, head of the largest bank in the United States, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Banking Committee about how his company recently lost more than $2 billion on risky trades. Morgan Stanley, the storied investment bank, reported Thursday, July 19, 2012, that its revenue was down sharply for April through June and its profit missed Wall Street expectations. The report capped a dismal season for the banking industry. This spring was marked by choppy financial markets, concern across the global economy, awkward adjustments to new regulations and one scandal after another.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File )
FILE-In this June 13, 2012, file photo, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, head of the largest bank in the United States, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Banking Committee about how his company recently lost more than $2 billion on risky trades. Morgan Stanley, the storied investment bank, reported Thursday, July 19, 2012, that its revenue was down sharply for April through June and its profit missed Wall Street expectations. The report capped a dismal season for the banking industry. This spring was marked by choppy financial markets, concern across the global economy, awkward adjustments to new regulations and one scandal after another. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File )

With all due respect, Mr. Dimon, I think you know what you can do with your apology. That goes for the rest of Wall Street, too.

People like Mr. Dimon and those operating in and controlling the financial services industry are out of control. They are maddeningly under-regulated, and we’re going to keep paying for their losses until radical and severe regulatory pressure is put on them and their industry. And, until more of them are investigated, prosecuted, stripped of their wealth, and sent to prison for a long, long, long time, nothing is likely to change all that much. (Let’s be real. It’s the wealth-stripping that will serve to really change their behavior.)

If all of this were only about bankers and their rich clients losing money, I dare say most of us wouldn’t take much notice. There’s a reason they’re referred to as the 1%.

The problem is that their bad bets get paid off with things like federal bailouts and tax policies that favor the wealthy and which serve to perpetrate the lie that is trickle-down economics. What’s needed is much stronger leadership in Washington; leadership who will actually stand up for us and against those on Wall Street who would privatize all the gains and socialize all the loses.

The way to do that starts with reforming how campaigns are financed. We need to stop the flood of big and dark money coming from the uber-wealthy and Wall Street. Our elected leaders are beholden to that money, and we have to change how they get elected if we want to change how they represent us.

How can we do this?

http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

First, take 30 seconds to become a citizen co-sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act. You can get more details and sign on here.

 

 

 

 

Second, make your voice heard by your elected officials. Tell them you want to know what they’re going to do about Citizens United. Do that by joining and supporting Coffee Party USA and their 535 Campaign for fixing Citizens United here.

Coffee Party
http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/ask_your_representative_to_be_a_leader