Thursday, May 20, 2010

So, We (US) A Christian Country Worship Money? Debtor Nation & Our "Big Game of Freebies" (& Its Expensive End) Giving It Away With Both Hands

(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.) If you don't want to continue to be fooled into how "little" money there is (for you) in the US's real economy, GDP, net worth, etc., then, please, don't read any further. Go on, don't think about anything much and have a big life on your borrowed money - for a while. As for me, I've long thought that the only reason for all the lawyers and shysters of every type (look it up if you're confused, particularly its German origin) populating the Congress and the offices of lobbyists and funding sources that protect and grow it strong is that there is sooooo much largesse in the good ole U.S. to be given out to the "deserving" poor - like the oil and gas (energy) lobbies, banksters, politicians, fill in the rest yourself . . . and kept from the people on the bottom who filled that cup to the brim to begin with. The following essay will expose the reason why no one (repeat NO ONE) wants to listen to anything Russ Baker says about the economy, the Bush factor, the CIA/NSA involvement in practically everything that makes the wowzer news, etc., etc., etc., and what the final dénouement will eventually entail. And I think you've got to be just asking for it again if you don't start paying attention now. NOW. (Please click on the link for the sources for this supremely informative exposé (emphasis marks added - Ed.).)

Taxidermy, or the Big Game of Freebies

By Russ Baker on May 17, 2010

I’m constantly struck by ways in which the privileged and the powerful manage to define the terms of discussion. Things like “welfare reform” and “compassionate conservatism.” Hard to be against those things, unless one knows something about what (the) nasty business they really involve. Thus, I was intrigued by a recent essay from Martin Lobel, tax attorney extraordinaire and friend of WhoWhatWhy. In this short but compelling piece, Lobel turns the traditional terminology related to taxes and spending on its head by describing giveaways to wealthy corporate interests, rather brilliantly, as unnecessarytax cut expenditures.” If we are serious about cutting the deficit, we need to cut tax expenditures too.

Tax expenditures are government spending programs that deliver subsidies through tax exemptions, deductions, credits, exclusions, deferrals, preferential rates, and so on for selected beneficiaries, for example, the oil industry. Tax expenditures cost the government more than $1 trillion in fiscal 2011,2 which is almost as much as our projected deficit. If Congress eliminated all tax expenditures, it would cut corporate and individual income tax rates by greater than 20 percent and still generate 20 percent more revenue.
Lobel goes on to note journalism’s role (or, more precisely, lack of) in this:
Despite the importance of tax expenditures, they are hidden, so there is little or no discussion of them in the mainstream media. Lobbyists and Congress use tax expenditures as an easy way to subsidize a favored few at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer. Once tax expenditures are enacted, they are not subject to annual appropriations analysis of whether they are justified, and there is no limit on the amount of the expenditure. Best of all from a public relations standpoint, when commentators question those tax expenditures, proponents of the expenditures scream that eliminating them amounts to a “bad” tax increase . . . . It will not be easy to cut tax expenditures because those who benefit from them will fight to keep them by calling the cuts tax increases, evoking a Pavlovian response from the public, who often don’t understand what the real implications are . . . .

Well, that’s what we’re here for. WhoWhatWhy looks forward to taking on tax expenditures. Tell the public - then let it decide what it wants to do.

That’s, that’s . . . that’s . . . Democracy!

A very perceptive writer/engineer, Gordon Arnaut, has documented how we have become "Debt Slaves." As if we didn't know it viscerally already. (And have it hammered home e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.)

Finance 202: How We Became Debt Slaves (And Learned to Love It)

Who is in charge of these United States? If you guess that it’s the people with the money, then you are correct. Not the elected representatives of the people. Not the men and women in uniform, not the factory workers, or farmers, or teachers, or bus drivers and pilots. Just the guys and gals with the moneybags.

Right now, the US Congress is holding hearings about bank wrongdoing. It is very entertaining kabuki theatre, but nothing will change. The Goldman chief (thief?) and his cohorts may take a bit of a grilling, but behind the scenes his bagmen are funnelling millions of dollars into the campaign trunks of every representative, senator (or likely hopeful) in the land. Real, meaningful financial reform is a certain impossibility.

Let’s look at some hard numbers. The financial sector in the US and other Western nations is about a third of the total GDP right now. That is more than any other industry and is about equal to total government expenditures — on military, social services (such as they are), education and health care (such as it is), infrastructure, R&D, etc.

If you look at corporate profits, the financial sector takes an even bigger slice of the pie, about 40 percent overall. The financial “industry” is in control of this country. It makes the most money, it contributes the most grease to the machinery of politics, and it has a stranglehold on that vital commodity we call money — deciding who can have it and who can’t.

Now the average Joe or Jane might ask what is wrong with having a prosperous financial industry? Well, the problem is that finance is not an industry, by any definition of the word. Finance does not create wealth; it actually takes out wealth from the real economy, by means of interest. So if the financial sector is one third of the GDP, it means the rest of us are one-third poorer than we need to be.

“You can think of the financial sector as being wrapped around the real economy . . . like a parasite, says Michael Hudson, an economics professor at the University of Missouri. “Now the key thing about parasites is that it's not simply that they extract nourishment from the host. The parasite takes over the host's brain, to make it think it's part of the economy, to make it think it's part of the host's own body, and, in fact, that it’s almost like a child of the host, to be protected. And that's what the financial sector has done today.”

That would explain why so many ordinary people continue to act in the banks’ interests, and opposite to their own financial well-being. Many teabag commentators say they are opposed to taxes. But they do not seem to mind the 33 percent tax they are paying to the financial industry, far and away the biggest tax bite of all.

Consider for example the house in which you live, which, if you are like myself and most people I know, was bought with money borrowed from the bank. If you borrowed $150,000 from the bank to buy your home, you will have paid back to the bank about $400,000 by the time you pay off your mortgage, many many years from now. If you go and buy a new car for $20,000 about half of the price of that car is the built-in cost of interest payments that the car manufacturer and his suppliers have had to pay to the bank in order to build that car and bring it to market in the first place.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the direction in which the money is flowing. And the means by which this money transfer is accomplished. The bottom line is that the 33 percent of GDP that is the financial sector’s slice of the pie (about $5 trillion dollars), comes directly out of the pocket of you and me and every other “consumer” that buys any product in this economy, or makes use of any credit provided by the banks and other players.

One has to ask the question: At what point does the financial parasite drain so much from the host, that the host becomes sick and dies?

The answer to that question is playing out right now. The so-called Financial Crisis is the first convulsion of an unsustainable system that is buckling under the stress of a finance sector grown way too big for the real economy to carry. The real economy has been flattened.

Jobs, especially good jobs, are scarce and getting scarcer all the time. Industry has been outsourced. Even the professional-managerial-small business class (which is only about 20 percent of the population), is in decline.

It is useful to look at history to put the present situation in context. One hundred years ago, the entire financial sector was in the low single digits of GDP. Even by 1990 it was just over 20 percent. In just the last 20 years, the finance sector has grown by half! At the same time, many economists tell us, real earning and spending power has declined. Is there any doubt why? As the parasite monster grows, our household finances collapse.

How did we get to this situation? When did finance stop becoming a helper of the real economy, and start becoming a drain on our lifeblood? Even Hitler provided virtually interest-free home loans to new families, and a maximum loan term of 10 years, with payments not more than 1/8’th of the average worker’s wage. But we in this “free” society, have a lifelong debt burden and 50-year mortgages!

In the middle ages, we called that serfdom. Or indentured labor.

The problem is easy to see. We have built a society whose ideological foundations are made of quicksand. We need to reappraise everything we have been told about our system, before the system collapses for good. Not all economic activity is equal, as we are led to believe. It is useful to go all the way back to Aristotle, who had some interesting things to say about the relative merits of various kinds of economic activity:

Please read the rest here.

And quite a lesson in the big "Shut the Fuck Up" from the Wall Street banksters directed our way by my glorious writer/reporter buddy over at Eye On Washington. He's the bee's knees! (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Wall Street's Algorithm Scam

Hey Mr. Smartypants lawmakers and you, too, Mr. President, howda like what we did here? Yeah, you big shots thought you were all tough by trying to pull the plug on Too Big To Fail and by putting some teeth in your Bernie Saunders-Alan Grayson audit da Fed bill.


You all forgot dat we bankstas are the big boys in town. We’re a financial mobster syndicate with a finger on the High Frequency algorithm trigger. We own da street and I don’t mean Main Street. I’ll tell ya now!!!!!

It’s Wall Street!!!

You guys are nothin’ but bugs for us to squash. We own Mr. Barack Obama. He does what we tell him.

You remember back on September 29, 2008, when you Mini Mouses, you Cowards of Congress, rejected the first vote for a banksta bailout? We Wall Street Bosses responded by taking the market down 778 points in just a few hours in order to let ya all know whose YOUR DADDY around here!!

Now, remember when Mr. Toughie-Fella Obama came out on January 21 and 22, 2010, with his chest all puffy and in a nice fancy suit actin’ all presidential and highfalutin sayin’ he liked the idea of the Volcher Rule? Well, we then kicked the market down 450 points just to DOPE SLAP his face and wake him up from his sleepy stooper, again.

HA HA HA!!!!

We are the boys who have rigged the corporate capitalist game in our favor, and don’t you forget it, . . . babies!!!

On May 6th, we decided to suck some cash outa Procter and Gamble. They don’t call it gamblin’ for nothin’! In just 8 minutes, we drained $700 billion out of the DOW before we brought it back up again to where it closed down 3.2% for the day. It was sweeter than an chocolate milkshake. HA, HA!!

We took it down 36% in just a New York Minute. The worst they ever fell in one day was 28% back in the 1987. That wasn’t a “market correction”, as the “Brooks Bros” like to call fraudulent profit taking. We took the short pants right off your ass. We jacked you up against the Tilt-a-Whirl wall, fool face. Did ya like how their Ivory Soap tasted? Or, maybe your ass got wrapped up nicely in one of their new baby Dry Max diapers, butthead?

Let me tell you now that in a market where 70% of all the trades are made by high frequency algorithmic trades, you know by computers that love to manipulate and game the system in our favor, . . . We run it!!! We control it!!!! It’s like our penny arcade board walk down there in Jersey. And, on May 6, 2010, we reminded you of it…AGAIN!!!!

REMEMBER, we took it down close to 1000 points in just 15 minutes just so you’d shit your pants, boys!!!!

And, to the Congressional Whores who own big shares in us: You know, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells, and da other mobster banks, WE OWN YA!!! HA HA HA!!!!

If you want to push us around, while you own lots of our stock shares, then you are just a bunch of jokers. COME HERE. SIT DOWN SO I CAN TELL YA SOMETHIN’ IN PRIVATE. LEAN OVER HERE. NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY…….

JUST SHUT THE “F’ N” UP YOU WHORES. JUST SHUT UP! Now, after we pulled the plug on almost a 1000 points of light, ha ha, we gave you some back so you wouldn’t cry out loud to your mommies for Mother’s Day, you Mush Brains!!! Listen up!!! We are the --

Financially Unscrupulous Capitalistic Kleptocratic Upperclassmen. Ya, you got that! HA HA HA.

Now, take the first letters of those words and it sums it all up!!

Financially Unscrupulous Capitalistic Kleptocratic Upperclassmen.

Did ya like our shock and awe? Now let me say this just one time, if any of you workin’ stiffs have money in the market, you’re just plain suckers, and over your head. We’ll scam you to death! It is all a casino and WE run it!!!

Call us what you wish, but we prefer to be called a Financial Terrorism Syndicate, because mobster is just toooooo yesterday. Remember, it’s a fool’s game, if you wanna play hostage. Goodnight.

And "Goodbye."

Suzan ____________


Lisa G. said...

The financial sector is nothing but a drag and parasite of the country's economy. The bigger they get, the worse off we are. Regulation and break up of TBTF is the only way out of this mess.

Suzan said...

And, don't look now, Lisa, but they are bigger and scarier than they were before the crash.


Love ya, girl! Thanks for commenting. How's Otis getting along?


The bigger they get, the worse off we are.

libhom said...

I would extend Lisa's comments to say that our entire class of super rich elites is parasitical.

Our government and society subsidize the rich in so many ways that it isn't even funny.

Suzan said...

I agree, friend. So much.

And I'm not laughing.

Not in 20 years or so.

Thanks for commenting.


Beach Bum said...

Now the key thing about parasites is that it's not simply that they extract nourishment from the host. The parasite takes over the host's brain, to make it think it's part of the economy...

I've said several times, and I will say it again I would love to see the assholes hanging from lampposts.