Archive for November 4th, 2011
If the Fourth is such a happy time, shouldn’t we now be equally furious that the government has been rigged to ignore the needs and wants of the People? Over the past few years, I’ve heard dozens of educated middle class Americans admit that Congress has ben bought―federal corruption at the highest levels is now accepted as unquestionable truth.
More recently, I’ve run into more than a few people who have become frustrated with the Occupy movement. For instance, last week I heard this from an acquaintance, who was speaking of the protesters:
Acquaintance: “They should get a job. What the hell are they expecting to accomplish out there?”
Me: Isn’t it a huge problem that all three branches of our federal government make decisions to accommodate large corporations, often ignoring the needs of ordinary citizens? Isn’t that worth protesting.
Acquaintance: “Still, the protesters are stupid.”
Me: What is your solution? Ordinary people are barred from participating in a government that is supposedly to be run by ordinary people. Further, the news media is largely under the control of these same interests―they are too often serving as stenographers for the corporations that pull the strings of the federal Government.
[Fourth of July flag photo]
Along the same lines, here’s an excerpt from an email I recently received from a DI reader:
About your note regarding ways to support the Occupy movement… yes, you are right to encourage people to talk about what is going on, but don’t you think that it is time for those who are actually doing the “occupying” to go home and do their homework. It seems pretty apparent that it is mostly the late teen to early 20 year olds that are involved and that they don’t seem to have any really intelligent, well thought out ideas or goals. The media and general public are already bored with the story, and the whole thing will have been an exercise in futility unless they move on in a dignified way. Their goal should be to have an effect on the 2012 election which is a full year away. They should go home and get organized and become better informed in order to form a voting block that will further their agenda (that is if they can come to a consensus as to what that agenda is).
In short, this reader wants the Occupiers to return home to do the same thing that millions of people have been doing for the past decade, i.e., doing nothing likely to invoke change.
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“Corporations are not ‘people.’ I’ll believe corporations are ‘people’ when Texas and Georgia execute the next corporation…”
(Reference: 6:00 on the above video)
Billionaire hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam was sentenced recently to 11 years for insider trading in a Manhattan federal court. Mr. Rajaratnam was convicted by a jury of 14 counts of insider trading for illegally conspiring to obtain and using insider information from individuals at Goldman Sachs, among others. Prosecutors argued that Rajaratnam made over $74 million from his scheme.
While some might praise the effort to convict Mr. Rajaratnam, how did the folks who he bribed or whatever fare? Why does the name Goldman Sachs keep coming up in all the Wall Street scandals? Did the government get anything from Goldman Sachs or any other bailout recipients for the money used to keep these operations alive? Just what the hell is Goldman Sachs still doing in any investment banking business at all? Goldman Sachs and 3 other banks are still trading in the risky derivatives which brought down the financial markets in 2008. Goldman and the other 3 banks hold some 95% of those contracts.
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The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on one of the most important issues that most folks aren’t well tuned into: Net Neutrality. If this vote goes badly, or if Barack Obama fails to veto the result, that will be the end of the Internet as we know it, because the Internet will become much more like cable television, with corporate controlled options regarding permitted websites and acceptable software and devices.
Free Press is offering a basic Q & A on net neutrality here.
I’m in Chicago for a consumer law conference. While walking to the conference site a young woman approached me on the sidewalk, asking me to donate to the Red Cross. I told her that I’m not interested, because too much of the money I would donate would go to over-paid executives. She quickly responded that the head of the Red Cross only makes a bit more than $600,000. I told her that this was outrageous.
She asked, “So you would never give to a charity where the person in charge makes $600,000?”
I said, “Never.”
The Red Cross is not alone in paying huge salaries to its executives. Here is a list of the salaries of some of the executive salaries of some of the biggest charities in the United States. Many of these charity leaders earn less than $200,000.
I know a lot of teachers who work every bit as hard as any executive, yet they are paid a pittance compared to $600,000. I know many people who believe in a cause enough to work untold hours for the cause for no pay at all. It seems to me that charities ought to work harder to find leaders who believe in the cause enough that they will do it for outrageous salaries. For comparison, the salary of members of Congress is $174,000 per year. A justice on the United States Supreme Court earns $223,000 per year. Ralph Nader lives off of $25,000 per year. The average chief executive (charity and non-charity) in the United States earns less than $300,000/year.
At Truthdig.com, Robert Scheer offers the following condensed bio of Robert Robin, one of the architects of too-big-to-fail banks. It puzzles Scheer that, while Bernie Madoff is sitting in prison, Rubin, whose actions have caused far more damage than Madoff, remains out and about, after having served as an Obama advisor. Here’s the an excerpt from the bio:
Rubin’s tenure atop the world of high finance began when he was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, before he became Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and pushed through the reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act, an action that legalized the formation of Citigroup and other “too big to fail” banking conglomerates.
Rubin’s destructive impact on the economy in enabling these giant corporate banks to run amok was far greater than that of swindler Bernard Madoff, who sits in prison under a 150-year sentence while Rubin sits on the Harvard Board of Overseers, as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and as a leader of the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.
Rubin was rewarded for his efforts on behalf of Citigroup with a top job as chairman of the bank’s executive committee and at least $126 million in compensation. That was “compensation” for steering the bank to the point of a bankruptcy avoided only by a $45 billion taxpayer bailout and a further guarantee of $300 billion of the bank’s toxic assets.