Economist Anat Admati discusses the banking crisis with Bill Moyers, pointing out that real reform has not yet occurred.
BILL MOYERS: But as you surely know, the bankers tell us, not only do we have a safer system, but it’s getting even better as reforms are put into place. You look skeptical.
ANAT ADMATI: Well, they are truly trying to confuse people with their narratives. They just– either speaking a language that nobody can understand, or they say things, sometimes, that are completely wrong. And sometimes they’re just misleading.
But if you step back and look at the system, it’s very fragile. It’s one of those systems that’s like a big house of cards. You touch it, stuff can happen fast. And it’s far from any system that we would think of as reasonably stable, able to support the economy, all of that.
BILL MOYERS: You made that point in your TEDx talk. That the average US corporation relies on 70 percent equity and earnings. A company like Google, however, maintains 94 percent equity and borrows little. Banks, on the other hand, live on borrowed money and maintain very little equity— five percent. So when banks are over leveraged, and interconnected, and loans go bad, everything can topple, and there is poor old Uncle Sam trying to keep whole system from collapsing. And are they still taking these risks?
ANAT ADMATI: Oh, enormous. And by any measure of exposures to derivatives and the amount of debt versus their own money that they have, by most of these measures, it’s incredibly distorted and dangerous.
BILL MOYERS: I learned from you that two years before the financial crisis, the average size of the top 28 banks was $1.35 trillion five years ago. The average size last year, $1.7 trillion. And you say these too big to fail banks are particularly reckless and dangerous.
ANAT ADMATI: Look at them. They’ve basically become above the law. The people in them are able to do things that most other corporations would worry more about them doing because they can benefit from upsides all through the chain. And their creditors don’t worry enough, as much as other creditors would worry. And the downside eventually is everybody. So, by just taking the risk, they’re able to pass on some of their costs to other people. That’s kind of how it works for them.
I’ve often wondered how most of us in the United State would fare if we were forced to stand up and justify our jobs, one by one. We can do without most of the stuff in high-priced malls. We can do without casinos and all of the thousands of people they employ. Wall Street banks “make” only about the amount that they take in from federal government welfare, year after year. We could do away with all of these, and many many more.
Should your job even exist? David Graeber explains that people with make-work jobs envy those with real jobs:
All my life, there’s people, you meet them at parties, you run into them, you ask them what they do, and they kind of look sheepish and don’t want to admit it, you know? They say, well, it’s not really very interesting. It’s like, well, I’m a human resource consultant; I work at a computer firm where I fill out forms of a certain kind to make it faster for somebody else to do this, or I’m a middle man among seven layers of middlemen in this sort of outsourcing… They’re always embarrassed; they don’t look like they do anything. All those people out there who have these jobs that you don’t think they’re really doing anything, they must be suffering, they must know that their jobs are essentially made up. Imagine going to work every day knowing you’re not really doing anything. What must that do to someone’s soul?
Why America’s favorite anarchist thinks most American workers are slaves
How could you have dignity in labor if you secretly believe your job shouldn’t exist? But, of course, you’re not going to tell your boss that. So I thought, you know, there must be enormous moral and spiritual damage done to our society. And then I thought, well, maybe that explains some other things, like why is it there’s this deep, popular resentment against people who have real jobs? They can get people so angry at auto-workers, just because they make 30 bucks an hour, which is like nowhere near what corporate lawyers make, but nobody seems to resent them. They get angry at the auto-workers; they get angry at teachers. They don’t get angry at school administrators, who actually make more money. Most of the problems people blame on teachers, and I think on some level, that’s resentment: all these people with meaningless jobs are saying, but, you guys get to teach kids, you get to make cars; that’s real work. We don’t get to do real work; you want benefits, too? That’s not reasonable. . . . It’s envy of people who get to have meaningful jobs that actually produce something.
Many politicians would claim that college shouldn’t be free and that, in fact, the federal government, which is now a direct provider of many college loans, should pile interest onto student loans. I have two things I’d suggest in response, both of which speak to the systemic corruption of the United States Federal Government:
A mere $62.6 billion dollars! According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.
Susan Crawford, Former Special Assistant to President Obama on Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, urges that the internet is too important to be left to the private market.
- for more than 77% of Americans, their only choice for a high capacity connection is their local cable monopoly.
- Residents of Stockholm pay about 30 bucks a month for gigabit access. That’s something we can’t even imagine in the United States. Residents of Seoul and Japan and Hong Kong other Northern European countries have access to internet service 100 times faster than that in the U.S.
- Twenty states have passed laws saying, “Cities don’t have the choice to [build their own public internet options].” These laws have been rammed through by incumbents happy with the way things are. One thing that needs to happen is we need to block these state laws so that cities can make these decision for themselves. FCC Chairman Wheeler has announced that this would be a good direction to investigate.
From Free Press, the Comcast-Time-Warner Cable merger will be bad for you.
Free Press research shows that the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger would create a media behemoth with unmatched power to raise prices, squash competition and reshape the future of the Internet. If the merger is approved, all kinds of bad stuff will happen. (Click the thumbnails in the article (here, here and here) to get the full scoop.) First off, Comcast will be the largest pay-TV provider in 104 markets encompassing 65 percent of the U.S. population. Wait, it gets worse: Comcast’s service area will cover almost two-thirds of the U.S., and it will be the only broadband provider that can deliver Internet and pay-TV services to nearly four out of every 10 U.S. homes. (See the company’s reach.) And to top it all off Comcast will control half of the truly high-speed U.S. Internet market, half of the TV/Internet-bundle market and a third of the pay-TV market.
Here are some more positions he took (this list is from the Office of Bernie Sanders):
Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:
“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”
Mike Morris offers us a timely proposal at his website, Funmentionables. The article, complete with Mike’s brand of Bible quoting humor, ends ominously with a declaration that there are two Americas. Here’s his opening which, in his hallowed tradition, he supports with Bible chapter and verse:
On January 28, 2014, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) issued a direct verbal threat to a reporter inside the Capitol building by saying “I’ll break you in half” and “throw you off this f—ing balcony,” which was a direct violation of D.C. law (District of Columbia Official Code, Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 4, § 22-407): “Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than $ 500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months . . .”
Rep. Grimm was never arrested for his actions, and Congress has taken no punitive action against him. By its inaction, the US Congress is essentially condoning a Congressperson’s right to threaten to kill average Americans, though conversely, when average Americans threaten the life of a public official, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In keeping with this double standard and to codify for all time this special status, I propose the following:
Expressing support for designation of January 28, annually, as “Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day”.
Excellent points made in this article describing how Google hires. The title is, “Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates.” These approaches dovetail well with Paul Tough’s book, “How Children Succeed.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Google looks for the ability to step back and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better. “It’s ‘intellectual humility.’ Without humility, you are unable to learn,” Bock says. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”