Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is Anything We've Been Sold True? The Banks, Federal Reserve and Treasury Have Blackmailed America: SS OK/CAFR's Have Trillions in Hidden Investments?

(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.) No wonder none of the wealthy are worried. Not really worried anyway.

Oh they may be a little bit worried that the people on the bottom may take offense when they learn the true nature of the con game, but really, not so much. I've come around to the position now that most of the people in this country have lost their faith in the original proposition that ensured that the vast majority would see the benefit of paying taxes in order to build a strong country that would be worth living in all their lives. (Even Paul Krugman knows it's true now - imagine that! And how did he come to this recognition? (See below.) I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention again that the start of this downhill journey for the Obama administration was the appointment of Summers and Geithner (taught so well by Bob Rubin) as his top financial advisors immediately after taking office; also that Karl Rove never disappeared from the political scene or stopped being a factor in any of these developments (read the facts for yourself below) - no matter what the Faux Snooze told you.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Follow the moneydonations by corporate political action committees. Look, for example, at the campaign contributions of commercial banks — traditionally Republican-leaning, but only mildly so. So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks’ corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P.

These are extraordinary numbers given the normal tendency of corporate money to flow to the party in power. Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in “a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury” toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What’s going on?

One answer is taxesnot so much on corporations themselves as on the people who run them.

The Obama administration plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets back to Clinton-era levels. Furthermore, health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals. All this will amount to a significant financial hit to C.E.O.’s, investment bankers and other masters of the universe.

Many Obama supporters have been disappointed by what they see as the administration’s mildness on regulatory issues — its embrace of limited financial reform that doesn’t break up the biggest banks, its support for offshore drilling, and so on. Yet corporate interests are balking at even modest changes from the permissiveness of the Bush era.

. . . From the outside, this rage against regulation seems bizarre. I mean, what did they expect? The financial industry, in particular, ran wild under deregulation, eventually bringing on a crisis that has left 15 million Americans unemployed, and required large-scale taxpayer-financed bailouts to avoid an even worse outcome. Did Wall Street expect to emerge from all that without facing some new restrictions? Apparently it did.

So what President Obama and his party now face isn’t just, or even mainly, an opposition grounded in right-wing populism. For grass-roots anger is being channeled and exploited by corporate interests, which will be the big winners if the G.O.P. does well in November.

If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of “real Americans,” not those soft-on-terror East coast liberals; then, once you’ve won, declare that you have a mandate to privatize Social Security.

It comes as no surprise to learn that American Crossroads, a new organization whose goal is to deploy large amounts of corporate cash on behalf of Republican candidates, is the brainchild of none other than Karl Rove.

But won’t the grass-roots rebel at being used? Don’t count on it. Last week Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who is now the Republican nominee for senator from Kentucky, declared that the president’s criticism of BP over the disastrous oil spill in the gulf is “un-American,” that “sometimes accidents happen.” The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.

I've seen good documentation for each of the following essays (that should make your head explode (several times)), and I'm guessing that after reading this you'll decide, rationally (or not), like everyone else has to just go back to watching the stars dancing and American Idiots prancing. Because this is waaayyy too big a problem for a small number of knowledgeable citizens to do anything about. But I wonder, and call me a dreamer, but, is it really? Could this possibly be (for the usual reason that drives all change programs - self-preservation?) the start of the real American Revolution? One where the people who actually worked and sweated to build the country would reap the benefits? (Notice how great it feels to be a member of the workers versus the fake financiers for a change.)

From our good reporter/friend at GeorgeWashington's blog (and please pardon me for running most of this, but it's very kick-in-the-pantsy and one can't fail to want to take action after reading it), we learn the facts surrounding the massive blackmail of the taxpayers by the investment banksters (again - but this time with feeling!) (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

The Giant Banks, Federal Reserve and Treasury Have All Blackmailed America

As I wrote last October: Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski and Senator James Inhofe all say that the government warned of martial law if Tarp wasn't passed. And Rahm Emanuel famously said:

Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.

Last year Senator Leahy said:

"If we learned anything from 9/11, the biggest mistake is to pass anything they ask for just because it's an emergency."

The New York Times wrote:

"The rescue is being sold as a must-have emergency measure by an administration with a controversial record when it comes to asking Congress for special authority in time of duress."

***

Mr. Paulson has argued that the powers he seeks are necessary to chase away the wolf howling at the door: a potentially swift shredding of the American financial system. That would be catastrophic for everyone, he argues, not only banks, but also ordinary Americans who depend on their finances to buy homes and cars, and to pay for college.

Some are suspicious of Mr. Paulson’s characterizations, finding in his warnings and demands for extraordinary powers a parallel with the way the Bush administration gained authority for the war in Iraq. Then, the White House suggested that mushroom clouds could accompany Congress’s failure to act. This time, it is financial Armageddon supposedly on the doorstep.

This is scare tactics to try to do something that’s in the private but not the public interest,” said Allan Meltzer, a former economic adviser to President Reagan, and an expert on monetary policy at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. “It’s terrible.”

. . . But it's not just government . . . If the too big to fails say that the world economy will crash and there will be martial law unless they are bailed out, politicians - most of whom don't understand finance or economics - will believe them, and sound the alarm themselves.

As Karl Denninger wrote yesterday:

[S]ounds like "Bail me out or I will crash everything."

Isn't that analogous to walking into a bank, opening one's coat to reveal an explosives-laced belt, and saying "gimme all the money or everyone dies!"

I noted in November: In the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, Cleavon Little plays the new sheriff in an old Western town. The sheriff is African-American, and when he rides into town for the first time, the [racist] townspeople pull out their guns and are about to shoot him.

But he quickly puts a gun to his own head, pretends he's scared of his own gun, and says "BACK OFF OR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN GUY GETS IT!!!" The townspeople are dumb and fall for it, suddenly terrified that he'll kill himself.

Here's the scene.

That's what Wall Street is doing with the bailout. The fat cats on Wall Street are saying "give us a lot of money, and buy all of our bad debt for a lot more than its worth, or Wall Street will get it and we'll go into a depression!"

Are Americans stupid enough to fall for it?

In a recent interview, William K. Black uses the exact same Blazing Saddles sheriff-bank analogy.

Miles Kendig has a different - but parallel - analogy for the giant banks:

In essence, what we have here folks is a characterization of the banks and the government that has assumed the risk profile of these banks as some sort of 1,000 pound men, unable to move without assistance.

They have suckered everyone else into the idea that if anything is done to move these overweight, unhealthy "persons" to health they will have a heart attack and kill us all since they sit upon the crossroads of commerce and have sold most folks the idea that they are the heart of the nation and indeed the world.

Given these "objective" circumstance the government is not only beholden to the 1,000 pound persons, but is one of them itself, will do everything to make the rest of us carry them so as to save them the indignity of actually addressing their morbid obesity and the cycle of codependency that enables them all to remain so fat.

Any way you look at it, the too big to fails are not needed and they are dragging our economy into a black hole. Like the sheriff in Blazing Saddles or Kendig's 1,000 pound men, they are playing us for fools.

[Yves Smith] shared another analogy with me . . . a man with 15lbs. of Semtex strapped to his waist . . . . She says "any surprise (that) people in the vicinity are very attentive to his desires?"

As Bloomberg notes today:

The vote was another victory for the Fed, which months ago faced one of the biggest challenges to its power and independence in its 96-year history as lawmakers responded to public anger over bailouts of Wall Street firms. The amendment Ensign supported was included in the financial regulatory bill the Senate approved yesterday.

The Fed’s authorities seemed to be under serious threat,” said David Nason, a former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who’s now a managing director at Promontory Financial Group LLC, a Washington-based consulting firm. Instead, the Fed “appears to have regained its footing and now appears to be emerging with at least as much authority and likely more.”

***

The Senate bill contains most of what Fed officials sought. In addition to preserving their bank-supervisory powers, it maintains a ban on congressional audits of interest-rate decisions that some lawmakers had sought to strip away.

***

The outcome puts Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in a stronger position to withdraw record monetary stimulus as the economy recovers ...

And Tyler Durden provides details of how the Fed blackmailed Congress into expanding the Fed's powers.

A reader provides us with the following letter he received from Senator Mikulski in response to dissatisfaction expressed about Bernanke's reconfirmation. The response from the Senator demonstrates [that the Fed is pressuring] gullible and incompetent senators ... to pass law after law that is only in the Fed's, and thus Wall Street's interests, as the alternative would always be a "market nose dive" ....

Thank you for getting in touch with me about Ben Bernanke's nomination to chair the Federal Reserve. It's great to hear from you.***I was advised that rejecting his nomination would cause markets to nose dive, which would hurt retirees and families saving for their future. I am not enthusiastic in my support. But I think Mr. Bernanke understands the job that he still has to do. . . .

Sincerely, Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Senator

And for the counterpoint, here is an example of a Senator who does not fall for the Fed's racket:

. . . Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about President Obama's decision to nominate Ben Bernanke for another four-year term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve (the Fed). I voted against approving Mr. Bernanke, who was nevertheless confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 70-30.***

While I have heard the concerns of many that the failure to confirm Mr. Bernanke would have damaged the financial markets and jeopardized our economy recovery, I do not believe that anyone, including Mr. Bernanke, is too big to be replaced. We should not hold our economy hostage to the Wall Street threat that total economic collapse is the sure result of not doing everything they want.

Thanks again for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to do so again about this or any other issue that may concern you.

Sincerely, Tom Harkin, United States Senator

I want to mention at this point (in order to clear up a few misunderstandings with various readers over the past year or so) that I've taken a lot of flak about my inability to understand the implications of the sell date of the Social Security trust fund. My economic comprehension of this so-called problem from all the existing data is that there would be no endangerment at all if we as a country decided to tax the wealthy (who draw from this very large taxpayer-funded surplus (which is still used every year to offset the U.S. budget's losers - like the MidEast Wars) far more for far longer than do those at the bottom of the wealth pyramid) fairly for it by eliminating the top earners over a certain amount of income from their current noncontributing status (not to mention the unfairness of only levying this tax against wage and not all income earners)).

And anyhoo - why not just not worry too much about it today (and therefore avoid shooting our current retirees, who paid into it all their working lives, in the head early) because it's something that is destined to fail in 30+ years if absolutely nothing is done before then (and we may still "grow" our way out of it) !!! (And try to remember the history of the Greenspan Commission of the early 80's that decided to solve the "shortfall" due in 20 years then by taxing the people on the bottom of the pyramid even more.) I mean, really, aren't those thug fundamentalists (currently in charge of the moral fiber of the U.S.) predicting that we don't have another 30 years anyway? Aren't they as busy as bees trying to elect more Armageddon-believers to our Congress? Why do they need any more of the taxpayers' hard-earned money now? They can't spend it in Heaven (although their bankster backers would probably end up just a tad more gleeful than they are at present, I'm guessing).

Why the GOP Plots to Steal Your Social Security Saturday, May 22, 2010 by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

If Social Security were not working, if Social Security were not solvent, Wall St. 'fat cats' would not be scheming to steal it! Social Security is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.

GOP supporters of the big banksters propose that Social Security be 'privatized', a code word for: "Let's let the big banksters play monopoly with that money. Let's export that money, squirrel it away in offshore bank accounts where working folk will never see it or benefit from it!"

Like monies blown up and otherwise 'wasted' in war, monies tagged 'Social Security' will be secured for speculative or destructive use by the very, very rich, the only people to have benefited from ruinous wars of aggression against Iraq, et al.

Should this come to pass, not a cent of that money will go toward the creation of a single job in the U.S. The fat cats are not really worried about whether Social Security works or not!

That's just eye wash, a plausible sounding 'talking point', a pre-text by which the money may be seized, or, 'privatized'! The fat cats do not care about you or your retirement. If you think they do, you are incredibly and hopelessly naive.

Bush, were he not in hiding, may call this 'class warfare'. And so it is! It IS class warfare and the GOP has been waging it against anyone not financing GOP campaigns with $millions$ since its inception.What would/will/have the ruling elites do/done with your money? So far - death and destruction tops the list of America's last remaining industries. Death and destruction are, in fact, out chief exports.

That's why the U.S. is at the bottom of the CIA's World Factbook - Current Account Balance with the world's largest, negative 'Current Account Balance', often called the balance of trade deficit. China is on top with the world's largest positive current account balance.

That outcome is easily traced to possibly treasonous deals struck by George Bush Sr. in advance of Nixon's largely ceremonial visit to the Forbidden City. It was later, as I recall, that Bush Sr puked in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister, perhaps remembering the sickening deal with China.

While China exports product; the U.S. exports death and destruction and neither have enriched anyone but members of the U.S. ruling elite of just one percent of the total population. It is only this elite one percent who benefit from U.S. wars of aggression in the Middle East. It is only this elite one percent who benefited from Reagan/Bush tax cuts and largesse. It is only this elite one percent who benefited from whopping tax cuts beginning with the Reagan tax cut of 1982.

In the meantime, GOP types demagogue another issue: Immigration.

Disingenuously, they claim that immigrants will steal American jobs. Clue: there are no American jobs to steal! Check the CIA's World Fact Book again.

. . . The GOP exported your job, primarily to China, the biggest beneficiary. And what about IT? Those jobs got exported to India! Again - check the CIA's World Fact Book . . .

The US trails the rest of the world in almost every industrial category. Steel and electronics were exported during the Reagan years. Automobile manufacturing left Detroit shortly afterward. Chrysler was in trouble in the 70s. It was never coincidental that US industry seemed to have vanished at about the same time Ronald Reagan waged war against labor and won! Uncle Hitler could not have done a better job.

According to the CIA's The World Factbook - Current Account Balance our jobs have been exported to China which is listed as having the world's largest positive current account balance. Simply, that represents the transfer of US wealth to China, primarily by way of Wal-Mart, the economic Kudzu that ate the US economy.

And Len has lots, lots more eye-opening data here. Cap and Trade - one topic I have not covered so far here because it has seemed such an incredible fraud (reminiscent of Enron's fateful promises of energy independence if we would only agree not to look at how they "achieved" it) from the beginning - or a slick money-making, easily-seen-through scheme against the naively hopeful - as usual - is covered very well below. And whenever you see the name, Citigroup, remember that Bob Rubin, mentor to Geithner and Summers, is the Big Dog there. (Please click on the link for the whole essay.)

Cap and Trade: A Gigantic Scam As I pointed out in December:

James Hansen - the world's leading climate scientist fighting against global warming - told Amy Goodman this morning that cap and trade not only won't reduce emissions, it may actually increase them:

The problem is that the emissions just go someplace else. That’s what happened after Kyoto, and that’s what would happen again, if — as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will be burned someplace. You know, the Europeans thought they actually reduced their emissions after Kyoto, but what happened was the products that had been made in their countries began to be made in other countries, which were burning the cheapest form of fossil fuel, so the total emissions actually increased . . . . See also this and this.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are also against cap and trade (and see this and this), as is the head of California's cap and trade program for the EPA.

Hansen also told Goodman that (notwithstanding Paul Krugman's assertions) most economists say that cap and trade won't work . . . .

I’ve talked with many economists, and the majority of them agree that the cap and trade with offsets is not the way to address the problem.

As I have previously pointed out: The economists who invented cap-and-trade say that it won't work for global warming. European criminal investigators have determined that there is a tremendous amount of fraud occurring in the carbon trading market. Indeed, organized crime has largely taken over the European cap and trade market.

Former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Robert Shapiro says that the proposed cap and trade law "has no provisions to prevent insider trading by utilities and energy companies or a financial meltdown from speculators trading frantically in the permits and their derivatives."

Our bailout buddies over at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and the other Wall Street behemoths are buying heavily into carbon trading (see this, this, this, this, this and this).

As University of Maryland professor economics professor and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission Peter Morici writes: Obama must ensure that the banks use the trillions of dollars in federal bailout assistance to renegotiate mortgages and make new loans to worthy homebuyers and businesses. Obama must make certain that banks do not continue to squander federal largess by padding executive bonuses, acquiring other banks and pursuing new high-return, high-risk lines of businesses in merger activity, carbon trading and complex derivatives.

Industry leaders like Citigroup have announced plans to move in those directions. Many of these bankers enjoyed influence in and contributed generously to the Obama campaign. Now it remains to be seen if a President Obama can stand up to these same bankers and persuade or compel them to act responsibly.

In other words, the same companies that made billions off of derivatives and other scams and are now getting bailed out on your dime are going to make billions from carbon trading.

One the largest boosters for cap and trade invented credit default swaps - which were supposed to increase financial stability, but instead were a large part of the reason that the world economy crashed last year.

As Larry Lohmann, the founding member of the Durban Group for Climate Justice, says, “Dishonesty is rife throughout the carbon offset market.” In January, investigators from Belgium said that in some E.U. countries, 90 percent of the market volume in carbon trading was based on criminal activities.

From DailyCensored (a great site for as inside an information fount as we are ever likely to find) we learn that what seems like science fiction may be the most realistic take on our economic/financial lives (as no one else can tell us where the rest of the money went) - and at this point of no return - who will doubt that something like this has been afloat for a long time hidden by all that fraudulent easy-credit business? (Try to ignore the characterization of this system as being somehow "communist," if you can. Sounds like true "financial capitalism" to me.)

CAFR: US Agencies Have Billions, Trillions in Investments While Crying About Budget Deficits

Gerald Klatt and Walter Burien are unrecognized heroes. These individuals are national leaders who have communicated how government agencies conceal American taxpayers’ money in surplus accounts that collectively total trillions of our dollars. The data is found in government agencies’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs).

What CAFRs reveal is a communist-style policy whereby the US taxpayers surrender enormous assets to the state, who then “invest” these collective trillions that swell in these accounts. Concurrently, taxpayers are informed of budget deficits to either squeeze more taxes from them and/or cut public services. To add insult to injury, the state lies in omission by never reminding Americans of their hard-earned and withheld trillions as they eliminate jobs, reduce education, and attack the quality of our lives.

The American Constitution is a contract of limited government whereby the public informs and is informed by our representatives. CAFRs are damning public documents that expose “leadership” from Left and Right as exactly what leading economic voices have said: an absolutely corrupt and self-serving oligarchy.

Let’s look at the economic data revealed in CAFRs.

For example, California has a budget deficit of ~$20 billion. The combined investments of CAFRs for the state of CA, Los Angeles County, and the City of Los Angeles is over $450 billion; over 22 times the amount of the budget shortfall (documentation page numbers below).

California claims they need this money mainly for public employee retirement benefits. Let’s check that story. The CAFR data shows current member contribution pays for all retiree benefits except for $1.8 billion (net cost). If just these three state agencies surrendered their withheld money back to the public instead of lording over it as communists, each Californian would receive ~$15,000. To pay for the shortfall in the retirement account, each individual could be taxed $50.

Why has political “leadership” and corporate media not informed American taxpayers of this option and publicly submitted this data for professional and independent economist cost-benefit analysis to provide other options?

The answer to that question is also the answer to they question of how political “leadership” gets away with Orwellian unlawful wars.

So far, we’re only considering three CAFRs in the state of California. The comprehensive reality is far more dramatic. If you combine all of California’s ~10,000 government agencies’ CAFRs, the combined total according to Walter Burien’s sampling analysis is $8 trillion. Let’s say Walter’s way-off. For argument’s sake, let’s say the total is less than half; only $3.5 trillion. If that was returned to the public, each Californian would receive $100,000.

Walter says he’s confident in his documentation that every state has overtaxed and seized Americans’ hard-earned money in outrageous sums.

Obviously, we need independent auditing of all state CAFRs and independent economic cost-benefit analyses to make our choices clear of how the public benefit is best served. Californians oppressed under a $20 billion dollar budget deficit that cuts essential public services while not considering taxpayers’ trillions “invested” in our names is among the worst choices imaginable.

It’s criminal.

It’s Orwellian.

Please read it for yourself. So, where did my 30 years of investing in five different states go? Do you know where yours has gone? Suzan P.S. I'm sure someone will be chiming in to tell me that "Yes. It's all vanished - gone with the wind of time." And war expenses, undoubtedly. _______________

4 comments:

Ranch Chimp said...

Buenos Dias Senora Suzan!

I just had to drop by and see wassup .... my, my .... do you cover this cesspool! :)

Actually alot of these same thing's I address as far as all the horseshit and scam's that are pulled on us ... frankly and sadly many American's dont even address thing's until it stick's them in the ass.

But I just wanted to drop in and browse what you been covering and your opinion, wich I can see you do your homework grrrll.

Funny how the "Dire Straights" (since you posted the band) piece of "Money for Nothing" remind's me of our political heroes and our corporate loved one's, heh?

Take Care .... see ya soon! :)

Batocchio said...

As Bill Moyers said, plutocracy is incompatible with democracy.

Suzan said...

Gracias, RC,

You are certainly a most descriptive writer. I like your style. Wish I had thought of that memorable phrase (or maybe I have but haven't had the brass to say it that way).

And I really like your taste in music, amigo.

Thanks for commenting. Come back often!

S

"Money for Nothing" remind's me of our political heroes and our corporate loved one's, heh?
_________

Suzan said...

And we both admire Bill Moyers and miss his show dreadfully already, don't we, Bat?

I couldn't figure out what to do Friday night at 10:00 (when it comes on (I mean used to come on) here in NC on UNC Chapel Hill's public TV).

Damn!

Thanks for commenting and reminding me how miserable I am now without his wise commentary.

Love ya,

S
___________