Thursday, April 15, 2010

"More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military" & Banks Vow That Federal Reserve Will Not Divulge What They Received

video Nature Calling (EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.) Two of the most interesting pieces of data crossed my path this morning and I thought you, gentle readers, might also be interested in what they connote for our future. Seems that the largest commercial banks in the U.S. don't want the Federal Reserve to disclose exactly to whom and for how much they intervened in the economy in 2008 (around $2 trillion is the low-ball estimate). But we remember. Like it was yesterday. All the unaccounted-for taxpayer money given away by the Fed in emergency lending in addition to the outright bailouts (which somehow never made the hot MSM news hounds slobber to get that story). All for a good purpose, of course. We just don't get to know the facts. The public facts. Yet.

Fed Shouldn’t Reveal Crisis Loans, Banks Vow to Tell High Court

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- The biggest U.S. commercial banks will take their fight against disclosure of Federal Reserve lending in 2008 to the Supreme Court if necessary, the top lawyer for an industry-owned group said.

Continued legal appeals will delay or block the first public look at details of the central bank’s $2 trillion in emergency lending during the 2008 financial crisis. The Clearing House Association LLC, a group that includes Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., joined the Fed in defense of a lawsuit brought by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, seeking release of records related to four Fed lending programs. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled March 19 that the central bank must release the documents. A three-judge panel of the appellate court rejected the Fed’s argument that disclosure would stigmatize borrowers and discourage banks from seeking emergency help.

“Our member banks are very concerned about real-time disclosure of information that could cause a run on the banks,” said Paul Saltzman, the group’s general counsel, in an interview yesterday. “We’re not going to let the Second Circuit opinion stand without seeking a review.”

Regardless of whether the Fed appeals, the Clearing House will take the next legal step by asking for a review by the full appellate court, Saltzman, 49, said at his office in New York. If the ruling is unfavorable, the bank group will petition the Supreme Court, he said.

Joined Lawsuit

The 157-year-old, New York-based Clearing House Payments Co., which processes transactions among banks, is owned by its 20 members. They include Citigroup Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., UBS AG, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co.

The Clearing House Association, a lobbying group with the same members, joined the lawsuit in September 2009, after an initial ruling against the central bank in federal court in Manhattan. The Fed is “reviewing the decision and considering our options,” said Fed spokesman David Skidmore in Washington. He had no comment on Saltzman’s plans.

Attorneys face a May 3 deadline to file their appeals. “We’ll wait to see the motion papers,” said Thomas Golden, attorney for Bloomberg who is a partner at New York- based Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. “The judges’ decision was well-reasoned, and we doubt further appeals will yield a different result.”

Bloomberg sued in November 2008 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, after the Fed denied access to records of four Fed lending programs and a loan the central bank made in connection with New York-based JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns Cos. in March 2008.

The central bank contends that 231 pages of daily reports summarizing lending activity, which were prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the Fed Board of Governors in Washington, aren’t covered by the FOIA. The statute obliges federal agencies to make government documents available to the press and the public. The suit doesn’t seek money damages. The Fed released lists on March 31 of assets it acquired in the 2008 bailout of Bear Stearns.

The New York Times Co., the Associated Press and Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, are among media companies that have signed up as friends of the court in support of Bloomberg. The Fed Board of Governors’ “refusal to disclose the names of borrowers renders public oversight of its actions impossible - it prevents any assessment of the effectiveness of the Board’s actions and conceals any collusion, corruption, fraud or abuse that might have occurred,” the news organizations said in a letter to the appeals panel.

The case is Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 09-04083, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Ivry in New York at bivry@bloomberg.net

The second little tidbit of news totally overshadows the first "More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military." Are you surprised? Can't believe the figure is that high? Well, read on because in the era of over a decade with wars being waged willy-nilly and tax cuts for the wealthy being given out as though this was actual "war funding," how can one be surprised? (And to whom is all this nobliged largesse directed?) But there again. Most people are continuing getting up and going to work every day (if they still have a job), and drinking heavily once they get home. Or drowning their sorrows in the tube or video games or sports or porn. Or if you're rightwing and religious - gambling. So who cares how high the figure? Or at least that's what you'd have to believe is true once you see the true figures. You decide, but I can't help wondering about how historically other so-called civilized people knowledgeably viewed their demise.

Dave Lindorff does the honors (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

If you're like me, now that we're in the week that federal income taxes are due, you are finally starting to collect your records and prepare for the ordeal. Either way, whether you are a procrastinator like me, or have already finished and know how much you have paid to the government, it is a good time to stop and consider how much of your money goes to pay for our bloated and largely useless and pointless military.

The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America's imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government).

Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.

That figure includes the Pentagon budget request of $708 billion, plus an estimated $200 billion in supplemental funding, called "overseas contingency funding" in euphemistic White House-speak), to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some $40 billion or more in "black box" intelligence agency funding, $94 billion in non-DOD military spending, $100 billion in veterans benefits and health care spending, and $400 billion in interest on debt raised to pay for prior wars and the standing military.

The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing.

Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.

It's also a budget that is rising at a faster pace than any other part of the budget (with the possible exception of bailing out crooked Wall Street financial firms and their managers). For the past decade, and continuing under the present administration, military budgets have been rising at a 9% annual clip, making health care inflation look tiny by comparison.

US military spending isn't just half of the US budget. It is also half of the entire global spending on war and weaponry. In 2009, according to the venerable War Resisters League, US military spending accounted for 47% of all money spent globally on war, weapons and military preparedness. What makes that staggering figure particularly ridiculous is that America's allies - countries like France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan - account for another 21% of the world's military spending. Fully 12 of the top-spenders among big military-spending nations are either allies of the US, or are friendly countries like Brazil and India. That is to say, America and its friends and allies account for more than two-thirds of all military spending worldwide.

China, in contrast, probably the closest thing to a real "threat" to American interests because of America's treaty commitments to the island nation of Taiwan, and China's claim that it is a part of the PRC, spends only some $130 billion on its military, much of which is actually devoted to maintaining military control of the country's own 1.3 billion people, some of whom might prefer to be independent, or to be freer. The next biggest military spender, Russia, spends less than $80 billion a year on its decrepit military, and isn't even technically an enemy of the US anymore. Its military is largely busy keeping restive regions from spinning off from the mother country, anyhow.

Meanwhile Iran, which the White House and Congress are portraying as America's arch enemy despite its not having invaded another country in hundreds of years, isn't even on the list of the top 17 military big-spenders. Iran's current military budget is a teensy $4.8 billion, about the same as the estimated $5 billion spent on the military by North Korea--America's other "major enemy."

Each of those country's military budgets is about one-quarter of the military budget of Australia, or a third of the military budget of the Netherlands.

Just to give one an idea of how small $4.8 billion is in comparison to the $1.6 trillion that the US is spending each year on war and planning for war, that number is roughly what the Pentagon plans to spend over the next year on childcare and youth programs, morale and recreation programs and commissaries on its bases!

It's about what the Pentagon will spend acquiring replacement Seahawk, Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters this year. For the average American, what all this means is that of every dollar you send to the IRS, 53 cents will be going to pay for blowing stuff up, fattening the wallets of colonels admirals and generals, bloating the portfolios of investors in military industries, and of course funding the bonuses paid to executives of those companies, and the campaign chests and expense accounts of the members of Congress who vote for these outlandish budgets.

Your money will also be going to pay for the salaries and the bullets of those brave heroes over in Afghanistan who are executing kids, killing pregnant women (and then digging out the bullets and claiming they were stabbed by their families), and for the anti-personnel weapons that are creating legions of legless Afghani kids.

Next time you hear that the government needs to cut funds for providing medical care to the children of laid-off workers, or that supplemental unemployment funds are running out, next time you hear that federal funds that are needed to fund extra teachers at your school are being cut, or that Social Security benefits need to be cut back, or the retirement age needs to be increased to 70, next time you hear that your local post office has to be shut down for lack of funds, next time you hear that Medicare benefits need to be reduced, think about that 53% of your tax payment that is going to finance the most enormous war machine the world has ever known.

And ask yourself: Is this really necessary? Is this really where I want my money going?

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/

video Suzan ____________________

3 comments:

One Fly said...

Hi Suzan-thank you for your passion on these matters.

It's pretty simple actually. It's my money and I want to know what the hell you did with it. What's so hard to understand about that.

What in the hell will it take for this country to say enough and demand and end to our wars. I don't have the answer to that but wars for lies and no money for schools and a failed economy sure isn't enough. One can go on and on and nutters and baggers don't seem to go there. It's Bama ya see dere ya know.

Lisa G. said...

Suzan,
We all know why the Fed won't release that info - if they did, those CEOs of those banks would be in a world of hurt, as if people didn't hate them enough already.

I knew the # was high going to the war machine, but $.53 of every dollar - that's just damned ridiculous. Think of the good we could do with all that money.

BuelahMan said...

I guess we could all just pay in $.47 on every dollar they say we owe.

Or maybe nothing is better.