Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Job-Creator Tax Breaks Have Always Been A Lie Promulgated By Tax Avoiders - Is Jon Corzine the Poster Child for What's Wrong With Rich In Both Parties And The Rest of US?

[BREAKING NEWS: Facebook IPO Crashes Nearly 10% After $42.05 Opening Price]

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Know what "they" don't want to talk about seriously now (after the Occupy strategy has proved effective) in their very-serious-about-the-economy meetings?

I N E Q U A L I T Y!

Wonder why? (Although for some reason, I just keep remembering that famous Reagan chuckle at the end of all his sonorous remarks on how the "trickle-down" theory would enrich everyone.)

TED Talks Refuses to Publish Income Inequality Speech

By Stephen C. Webster

May 17, 2012

A man gives a TED Talk. Photo: Flickr user tedxsomerville, Creative Commons licensed.

Update (below): TED posts income inequality talk following media outcry

TED Talks, a group that promotes some of the world’s greatest thinkers in a traveling presentation series, recently refused to publish a “controversial” examination of income inequality in societies, even though the group featured a relatively similar speech several months before the “Occupy Wall Street” protests flared up in 2011.

TED Talks curator Chris Anderson said a talk given in March by multimillionaire Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer was “one of the most politically controversial talks we’ve ever run,” according to emails obtained by National Journal reporter Jim Tankersley.

In the speech — which included a series of slides Hanauer explained where the true wealth of market societies lies, saying that he’s confident rich people do not create jobs, and neither do businesses. 
“Rather they are a consequence of an eco-systemic feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech published by National Journal. “That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.”
Hanauer went on to explain that this feedback loop between capitalists like him and middle class consumers is what’s truly creating jobs, and that growth happens only when tax policies are designed to aid the consumer by taking more from the ultra-rich — and that it all, ultimately, benefits both classes. 
“That’s why our current policies are so upside down,” he said. “When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer,” he said.
“Since 1980 the share of income for the richest Americans has more than tripled while effective tax rates have declined by close to 50 percent.
“If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs. And yet unemployment and under-employment is at record highs.”

While it’s certainly not the first time TED Talks has declined to publish a speech on its website — it only publishes one per day — Hanauer told National Journal that he was surprised by the decision against his talk because another TED staffer had responded enthusiastically.
“‘I want to put this talk out into the world!’ one of them wrote him in an e-mail in late April,” Tankersley notes in the report. Despite that apparent excitement, Anderson decided against publishing it in early May. 
“We do not comment publicly on reasons to release or not release [a] talk,” he told National Journal in an email. “It’s unfair on the speakers concerned. But we have a general policy to avoid talks that are overtly partisan, and to avoid talks that have received mediocre audience ratings.” 
The group has, however, featured talks by former Vice President Al Gore and NASA climate scientist James Hansen, speaking about climate change, and Melinda Gates giving a talk on the importance of birth controlso it’s clearly not the firs time a TED talk waded into partisan political waters. 
But perhaps most interesting: TED Talks published a speech last October — originally given in July, well before the “Occupy Wall Street” protests spread nationwide — on “How economic inequality harms societies.” The talk was given by author and epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, who’s published a book that examines the most corrosive effects of how growing wealth gaps corrode societies. 
His presentation includes a chart showing how rates of mental illness increase in tandem with a society’s wealth gap. So too do high school dropout rates, he observed. “If Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark,” Wilkinson said, to laughs and applause from the audience.

Apparently even that wasn’t too “controversial” for TED — but that, again, was before “Occupy Wall Street” happened. Oddly, they followed up his July speech with a Q&A interview months later, in which he directly addressed the “Occupy Wall Street” protests and noted that the same sentiment is shared by lower-income people in Britain. 

“You gave this talk in July — at a time when people were already talking about this meme of the 1% versus the 99% — but now it’s front-page news in a really interesting way because of these protests,” the TED interviewer said. 
“Yes, inequality has come back on the agenda and its prominence is rapidly increasing,” Wilkinson replied. “There were signs a couple of years ago of growing interest, and I think the interest in our work is largely a reflection of that. You’re probably not aware of how our book has taken off in this country; It’s probably sold about four times the numbers of copies in Britain (despite the much smaller population) as in the United States, and it’s been on the best-seller list several times.”

He added that in Britain, some people are setting up “Fairness Commissions” in their own communities to help reduce inequality on a local level, and that while many people disagree with the idea of forming encampments and “occupying” a space, there is “a lot of good will towards the purpose of it.” 
“I think people are realizing the way top incomes have taken off over the past 20 years or so is unacceptable,” Wilkinson told TED. 
It’s unclear why Wilkinson’s talk and interview were published while Hanauer’s talk was rejected for being “controversial.” TED’s media relations group did not respond to a request for comment.
Update: TED Posts Income Inequality Talk Following Media Outcry
Under pressure from websites like National Journal and The Raw Story, TED Talks published Hanauer’s allegedly “controversial” speech on Thursday, and TED curator Nick Anderson explained in a blog post that his initial refusal to release it was not an act of censorship. 
“For the record, pretty much everyone at TED, including me, worries a great deal about the issue of rising inequality,” he wrote. “We’ve carried talks on it in the past, like this one from Richard Wilkinson. We’d carry more in the future if someone can find a way of framing the issue that is convincing and avoids being needlessly partisan in tone.” 
Read Hanauer’s full speech here, or watch the video embedded below. Wilkinson’s speech is embedded further down.

Well, clearly further articles on this subject will be posted . . . as long as they aren't too upsetting to those in control, I guess.
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Jon Corzine, citizen extraordinaire? Perhaps, but not in the way you were probably thinking. This story is about three weeks old now - funny how it seems much more as it occurred continuously during the last decade and is thus: old news. Perhaps that's a subconscious mind game for the crowd: every new story is really just the old story with new names? Boring to most reality TV'ers, I'll bet.

It's a simple story though of purposive theft. And the critical thinking skills of the dumbed-down, increasingly impoverished Americans who let them get away with it again and again.

As the country's millions of sheep-like Republicans prepare to vote for "I was the bane of their companies' future" Willard Mitt Rmoney as their chosen leader, the Dims look to Corzine's crimes and say, "I had nothing to do with this . . . nothing!"

It's a racket, folks. And they are all in it, profiting at the expense of those on the bottom of the money pyramid, who aren't connected to the corruption and get left with the bailout bills. Every time.
jon corzine

Jon Corzine is sworn in before testifying to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee about the demise and bankruptcy of the company of MF Global.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

So the Senate Banking Committee is beginning hearings today on the MF Global scandal, hearings entitled, "The Collapse of MF Global: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications."

Apparently the government has already moved to the reflective, introspective, South Park-ian, "You know, I learned something today!" stage in its examination of the scandal, despite the fact that the government’s official "response" hasn’t even started yet, i.e. authorities have yet to arrest a single person in this brazen billion-dollar theft story.

To make an obvious comparison: Much like the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, the outrage here goes beyond the fact of the horrific crime. An equally profound insult in both cases lay in the fact that that serious crime obviously had been committed, and yet authorities refused to act for months. This situation with former Goldman chief and U.S. Senator Jon Corzine and the officials of MF Global involves a less physically savage offense, but the authorities' refusal to act is every bit as incredible.

Nobody disputes the fact that MF Global officials dipped into customer accounts and took over $1.6 billion of customer money. We not only know that company officials reached into customer accounts, we know they brazenly lied to bondholders, ratings agencies and investors about the firm's financial condition ("MF Global's capital and liquidity has never been stronger," wrote the CFO of MF Global’s holding company, on the same day Moody’s downgraded it to junk status).

We even know that eighteen days before the firm went bust, company officers discussed how quickly to return money to customers, and even contemplated, in writing, the possibility of not returning the money right away. This is from a risk-assessment document prepared by company officers entitled "Break the Glass":

…Who do we want to be after the storm? How quickly do we want to send cash back to clients, what is the message if we do not send immediately, what is the strategy if we want to keep the customer and wait until the storm passes?
In the wake of the 2008 crash it’s often been said that one of the major problems in getting the public to grasp the crimes committed by banks and financial companies is the extreme complexity of the transactions used.

The mortgage-backed-securities scam by itself was really just a common fraud scheme, but it was cloaked in the extremely complex verbiage and advanced math of derivatives transactions, which made it possible for bankers to bluff their way through an argument that no crimes had been committed.

But MF Global is different. This is not complicated at all. This is just stealing. You owe money, you don’t have the cash to cover it, and so you take money belonging to someone else to cover your debts. There’s no room at all here for an argument that this money was just lost due to a bad investment, an erroneous calculation based on someone's poor understanding of a complex transaction, etc. It’s straight-up embezzlement.

Nonetheless, there’s been an intense effort at trying to convince the public that no crime has been committed.

Whoever is handling MF Global’s P.R. (according to Pam Martens in this excellent piece, it’s APCO worldwide, a former Big Tobacco spin factory) appears to have convinced the company’s officers to emphasize the word “chaos” in describing the last days of the firm – as though $1.2 billion wasn’t intentionally stolen, per se, but simply lost in a kind of uncontrolled whirlwind of transactions that magically carried the money out of accounts off to worlds unknown.

I call this the “Wizard of Oz” defense: a Big Twister hit the firm’s customer accounts, chaos ensued, and when the dust settled, no one knew where the heck little Dorothy and her money had gone.

You started to hear this more and more as the winter progressed. Reuters shamefully ran a piece earlier this year quoting an unnamed source who insisted, hands over his anonymous heart, that there just wasn’t any crime in the MF Global story:
A source familiar with the work of Louis Freeh, trustee for the MF Global holding company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, says investigators have yet to find evidence of fraud in the multi-faceted and complex investigation.
The source, who declined to be identified because Freeh's office is still conducting its inquiry, says there was plenty of "chaos" at MF Global in its waning days, but "no evidence of fraud."
Corzine himself reached for the Wizard of Oz defense in his infamous "How the hell should I know?" testimony before the Senate Ag committee last year, throwing up his hands and pleading helplessness before the "extraordinary number of transactions" in the last days of MF Global – although he was perfectly willing to consider the possibility that the losses were someone else’s fault:

I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date. I do not know which accounts are unreconciled or whether the unreconciled accounts were or were not subject to the segregation rules.

Moreover, there were an extraordinary number of transactions during MF Global’s last few days, and I do not know, for example, whether there were operational errors at MF Global or elsewhere, or whether banks and counterparties have held onto funds that should rightfully have been returned to MF Global.
Almost every story written about MF Global by any financial news outlet will contain the word "chaos," and describe the bookkeeping challenges of the firm’s last days as just too overwhelming for mere human beings to handle. The sources are almost always unnamed, but they all say the same thing – it was just too much math, too much! The Times’s Dealbook page offered one of the most humorous examples:

A flurry of transactions engulfed the firm in the week before it filed for bankruptcy, as $105 billion of cash shuttled in and out. Amid the chaos, the employees became overwhelmed.
''It's like being at the bottom of Niagara Falls,'' recalled one employee in a meeting with federal authorities, according to one of the people involved in the case.
It’s incredible that people are offering as a defense the idea that a financial company could be so overwhelmed by transactions that it could just lose track of $1.6 billion. If you’re so terrible at managing money that you can honestly lose a billion dollars – especially after swearing up and down to the whole world that you were the right choice to manage the cherished millions and billions of scads of farmers, ranchers, and other investors – you should go to jail just for that, just on general principle.

But most pundits aren’t saying that. Instead, it seems like like every financial reporter both in this city and in Washington is talking to the same five or six defense lawyers, buying their weak arguments, and offering the same lame excuses for the missing money, which should tell you a lot about how the Wall Street press corps managed to miss the warning signs for 2008 and other disasters.
Somebody from MF Global has to be arrested soon. The message otherwise to middle America is so galling that it boggles the mind.

It would be one thing if this was a country with a general, across-the-board tendency toward leniency for property crime. But we send tens of thousands of people to do real jail time in this country for non-violent offenses like theft.

We routinely separate mothers from their children for relatively petty crimes like welfare fraud. For almost anyone who isn’t Jon Corzine, it’s no joke to get caught stealing in America.

But these people stole over a billion dollars, right out in the open, and nobody is doing anything about it. Instead, we get a lot of chin-scratching legislative hearings, and an almost academic-style public discussion about whether or not a crime even took place.

If there aren’t arrests in this case soon, ordinary people will correctly deduce that it simply isn’t a crime to steal in America, if the thefts are executed with a computer by white people in suits.

Just as it was incredible when Florida authorities dragged their feet in the Zimmerman case, it’s incredible that people in Washington don’t see the implications of this continual non-decision on MF Global. Apparently they hope no one notices. The sad thing is, they might be right.
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Paul Krugman speaks out plainly about Romney's intelligence:

Krugman: I misjudged Romney; not "smart and amoral" but "ignorant as well as uncaring"

What really well-connected Chris Wallace says as an astutely in touch political reporter:

Chris Wallace: ‘McCain was crazy’ not to attack Obama with Rev. Wright

Geithner opines mildly? 

Geithner to Dimon: Resign From The Board Of the New York Fed

Other news:

The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Obama on JPMorgan

Worse than Keystone - Glenn Greenwald

Tom Ferguson: Senate Banking Chair Calls Jamie Dimon to Testify – But JP Morgan Chase is His Biggest Contributor!

Federal judge rules part of new anti-terrorism statute unconstitutional (Chris Hedges' case)

Pentagon Contract - Well, Well, Well


Donna, and an Era Lost

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