Friday, July 31, 2009

U.S. Banks and their DISCONNECT with US

Do you have any kind of business with Bank of America, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan-Chase, Wells Fargo or any other national banking institution? Do you have, checking/savings accounts, investments, loans or credit cards with these banks? Well, the great majority of US do.

In the Fall of 2008, in the midst of the global economic crash, U.S. Government (virtually no-strings attached) 'TARP' funds bailed these banks out of their so-called financial doldrums. Here is what these banks did with some of that money:

On July 30, 2009, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released his well studied report on the nations banking institutions. The highlights:

Combined, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup lost 54 billion dollars last year, yet they were among nine major banks that together doled out more than 32 billion dollars in bonuses to their highest paid employees, even as they received 175 billion dollars of taxpayer 'TARP' money. Nearly 5,000 people received bonuses of $1 million or more. The Attorney General's report states: "When the banks did well, their employees were well paid. And when the banks did poorly, their employees were paid well. And when the banks did very poorly, they were bailed out by the taxpayers and their employees were still paid well."

Cuomo's report goes on to say that Citigroup and Merrill Lynch each paid out nearly $9 billion in employee bonuses despite huge losses. Citigroup, now one-third owned by OUR government as a result of it's $45 billion bailout, gave 738 of it's employees bonuses of at least $1 million each for 2008. Bank of America also received $45 billion in federal aid and paid $3.3 billion in bonuses, with 172 employees each receiving at least $1 million.

The Goldman Sachs Group has the highest average annual pay at $160,000. per employee and the top 200 earners took home almost $1 billion collectively. The top 14 people received more than $143 million, and 212 employees received $3 million each or more.

Had enough? Not yet?

JP Morgan Chase gave 1626 employees at least $1 million and paid more than 200 employees in excess of $3 million, each. And there's a lot more to come.

The temerity of these banking moguls is only exceeded by their greed. And the U.S. tax payers paid for it. The DISCONNECT between our banking system and the people is complete.

What can we do about it? One answer is to regulate the banking system. REGULATE the banking system! Certain moves in Washington are being made to do that as I write.......Firm, clear and ENFORCED LAW is needed right now. Contact your federal legislators to this end. And then contact them again and again until there are some assurances that this outrage does not happen again. Regulate Wall Street executive salaries and bonuses when any public money is involved. And, still don't trust the U.S. banking system ever again, else it's greed will do it again.

There is a long history behind how the banking system got to the present state. Little will be said here about that history. But suffice to say certain, effective regulations that were in place from the 1930's worked until those regulations were dismantled through banking lobbyists and by bought and paid for politicians. From 1994 through 1999, these regulations were chopped away to the place where the so-called 'free market' became the 'rip-off' market we now experience.

Beware of those politicians who say 'government has no place in the free market, the market will take care of itself'. Well, the market certainly did take care of itself when it came to salaries and bonuses (Senator DeMint). And the 'free market' money just became 'free' money. OURS! Also beware of those economic, money managers and pundits writing and telling us similar things, only they denigrate government ability to 'manage' a free market system through regulation (Bob Brinker and the ideologue star ship money talk). Even after the cold hard facts are in, some people continue to argue for a status quo banking system.

Some statistical parts of this article were extracted from Press Democrat News Services.

John

Thursday, July 30, 2009

California Needs an Oil and Gas Severance Tax!

If California was a nation, it would be the 8Th largest economy in the World. California is a 'rich' State.....The richest State in Union. Rich in natural resources and rich in so many other ways.

Yet, right now, California has been financially stricken by the economic downturn with it's high unemployment rate, a severe reduction of tax revenue, and the FAILURE of The Governor and Legislature to act responsibly in the face of billions of dollars of deficit.

Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the most oppressive, ignorant and politically motivated budget in the history of California. Included in this budget are some minimal new taxes that effect all California residents AND negatively impact our most vulnerable citizens. It is a budget of 'smoke and mirrors' that will need to be revisited within the next six months, for sure. Those most effected by the severe, deep revenue cuts are children faced with abuse, the elderly and disabled who have no other place to turn, students, police and fire protectors. Some people will die as a direct result of what the California politicians have done. There were alternatives to this devastation. One alternative is to impose an OIL and GAS SEVERANCE TAX.

In her June 29, 2009, proposal "California Needs an Oil Severance Tax", California State Senator Lori Hankock succinctly and clearly lays out the facts of why such a tax should be imposed and how it can be done. Ms. Hankock reports there are 22 major oil producing States in the U.S. Of these States, only one State, California, does not have such a tax. California is the third largest oil producer in the country and still it is not enough to serve California's consumption. California imports oil and gas from Alaska among other sources. Such conservative States as Alaska, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi each have significant oil and gas severance taxes. Alaska (25%), Texas (7 1/2% on a sliding scale), Louisiana (22%) and Mississippi (6% also on a sliding scale). Essentially, with the severance taxes California pays to the Alaska oil companies, is subsidizing the citizens of Alaska in some way. A severance tax in California would bring billions of new tax revenue to the State.

So, why has a Gas and Oil Severance Tax not happened in California? Simple. Enough of California's legislators have accepted money from the oil companies (and lobbyists) for their elections and re-elections to stop this tax. For these politicians, staying in office is their number one priority. All else comes after that point. Accordingly, California has no severance tax when one of it's natural resources, a part of this State's wealth, is taken away.

In order to legislatively pass any new tax in California, a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and Assembly is necessary. So, a handful of these 'bought and paid for' politicians can effectively stop a severance tax. And who are these politicians? Look at the State's oil producing counties. Kern, Orange, and Los Angeles among others. Look at their campaign contributions. Look at these oil politicians calendars and see who they meet with on a regular bases. Look at their voting record. And then vote them out of office.

There is the argument from the DISCONNECTED oil politicians that any new taxes will be passed on to the consumer at the pump. This is a bogus argument, not true. This severance tax will not drive prices up. Oil prices are set on a global market, and that market is competitive. There have been no 'at the pump price increases' in the 21 States that do have this tax.

And so, Governor Schwarzenegger and California Legislature, why are you not imposing an oil and gas severance tax?

John

Sunday, July 26, 2009

bye-bye Sarah......................

.............and don't let the 'office' door hit you in the butt as you're leaving.

Yesterday you left the elected office you held....for how long? Lets see...you took office in early 2006. In August 2008, you were tapped to be the Republican Vice Presidential nominee and went on the campaign trail. Somewhere in all this you had a baby. Then you seemed to be all over the media and on and on and on. Outside of that year and a half or so, when did you have time to administer to the State of Alaska? You know that place where you got all that executive experience that qualified you for the job of U.S. Vice President, even the presidency! And then you quit 2 and half years into your term as Governor because you didn't want to be a 'lame duck' governor. A 'lame duck'? Sarah, poor girl, you're just lame.

Sarah, you're exit speech was great! All about free speech and all those constitutional things and soccer practice....... did you wave 'good-bye' to all those mean Russians you can see from your front porch? And have you remembered that 'the dept. of law' (your words)...actually The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating you for a myriad of reasons......ethics violations? Maybe the next time you're in D.C. you can visit the dept. of money. You and Todd may want to take out a loan and open a snow mobile business near the dept. of making law. And while there, you may want to hook up South Carolina U.S. Senator 'Cream' DeMint and compare notes if he's not conferring with Senator Craig in the chambers restroom. But your bashing of the free press was quite eloquent, Sarah. And your message to Hollywood struck nerves. "We eat, therefore we hunt" is a quote that will live in infamy. Well done! But you may also consider that those Hollywood people hunt, and therefore they eat, Sarah. Did you enjoy the picnic after your exit screech?

Well now you have time to do some things you really want to do.....maybe shoot a few caribou, club some seals and dolphins, bake a salmon pie? You know, just among us common folk, for the 'sport' of it. Maybe be Limberger's running 'mate' in 2012? Oops....sorry, I know that you must be against drug addicts, but for the common cause we can let bygones be bygones....yes?

And in the meantime you may want to consider a voice coach. Sarah! Are you aware that your voice and it's intonations can knock a blind bat right out of the air? And that your voice registers on both sonar and radar like fingernails on a blackboard? Please consider it, Sarah.

Seriously, Sarah.......we have a troubled world, a troubled economy, and the world of politic has needed some really good comic relief. And you have certainly provided it, Sarah. We're truly going to miss you. Thank you!

BUT! Some little voices tells us all that you'll be baaaack. And you will be welcomed. So.........bye-bye Sarah.....until the next time..............

........and, one more thing, Sarah. Thank You for personifying and helping to define what The Great American Disconnect is all about.




Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sarah Palin/Paris Hilton--Dingy Disconnect


Is Sarah Palin the political equivalent to Paris Hilton in the 'entertainment' industry?

This past week the caribou barbie Governor of Alaska resigned her governorship (less than 3 years after her election) to ..... ahh......to....ummmm.....to......make some money? ..... So, whats wrong with any of this? ......well a lot is wrong with it because the woman who gave her qualifications on U.S. foreign policy as a Vice Presidential contender just a few months ago was the fact she 'could see Russia from her front porch' and then to just quit in the middle of her first term as governor of a State is just plain dingy. DINGY! And, she gives Paris Hilton (who really does know how to make money) credibility in her work ethics.

For the record, this 'governor' of a great, but tiny State 'governed' a population smaller than Kern County California and prior to that was a part time mayor of a town smaller than Buck Horn, Montana. For some unexplained reason John McCain selected her as his 2008 VP running mate. And the rest is history......did anyone really take her seriously? After all she has referred to the U.S. Department of Justice as 'the department of law'.......and I rest my case. But, the Fox news people (o'really, hannibal, etal.) and the drug addict limburger continue to 'spin' this coo-coo as some legitimate 'conservative' and viable candidate for some office or other in the future......so, OK, we can dismiss FOX as legitimate news as any thinking person does......but what about the so-called legitimate media? Why do you even cover such ignorance and give it any kind of credibility? This is just tabloid stuff....and bad tabloid stuff at that. OH! Maybe it is because you are owned by .....well.....you know who.......

Levi 'what's his name' (the putative father of Sarah's grandchild) has now gone on record as saying he thinks caribou barbie resigned because she wants to make some real money ..... the 'barbie' camp has responded by saying 'Levi' is honing is acting skills by making such public comments. But today Caribou said she would be on the political circuit next week........ So? Whats the difference? It's all show biz, folks.......and maybe Paris Hilton's next 'film' will feature Levi 'what's his name'.

Sarah will soon be on the political road again and this time collecting big pay from a paying conservative public. Why? When this same 'paying public' could be far more productive to their cause by giving this money to Paris Hilton's Chihuahua Relief Fund.

Poor Sarah's Great Disconnect with what she has been about with the American 'politic' is that she was never connected to it in the first place.

And, just for the record......in today's world, you will get your best, most honest, intelligent and legitimate news from the John Stewart Show and Colbert..... of course, the readers here already knew that.......
John

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint---Disconnected

Job Performance Review: Junior South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint.

Reviewer: Goldwater Republican: Fiscal Conservative-Social Liberal-Smaller Government.

What is wrong with OUR Federal Government? U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, you are what's wrong with and about our Federal Government and other ideologues like you on all sides of the political spectrum.

While promoting your new book I heard you speak and this review of your job performance as an elected employee of the people became an irresistible task. By the way, I hope your book is written in one syllable words so those who might buy it can read it......hummmm, lets see......'see Jim run'... 'hear Jim talk'.......I would also suggest you tape a box of color crayons to each book you sell so it's readers will be entertained.

Now, about your performance.......you were elected a member of the United States House of Representatives in 1999 and elected a United States Senator in 2005. For 10 years you have chirped about and for right wing 'christian' morality: School Sponsored Prayer and Banning ALL Abortion, identifies two of your passionate interests. You also champion 'individual liberty' (but certainly not for all citizens, right? Senator). At the same time you served on Republican majority led Banking and Finance Committees (1999 through 2006) and voted along party lines when it came to deregulating Wall Street interests AND the out of control spending that became the hallmark of the Bush Administration and Republican controlled congress during this time. To your credit, when it came to the Medicare Prescription Drug program, you voted against it. (Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day). You never saw a war spending vote or a republican sponsored 'earmark' vote you didn't like and you were part of the continuous voting block for the trillion dollar deficit Iraq War. And, in 2007, The National Journal named you the most conservative U.S. Senator, and again in 2008. Will you have a repeat performance and be named such for 2009? Aren't these awards tantamount to receiving the Joe Mc Carthy Senatorial Award of Excellence, Senator?

Now you've written a book which is mandatory for all presidential hopefuls to do. You now espouse fiscal conservatism. DISCONNECT! Where have you been these past 10 years? Senator. You could have blown the 'fiscal' whistle any time while you were part of the out of control spending practices of the previous administration. Why didn't you do it then? You also now blame the Obama Administration for a trillion dollar deficit. DISCONNECT! Are you trying to rewrite history here Senator? Or are you just plain lying. Which one is it, Senator? And you congratulate The Bush Administration for it's 'moral leadership '. WHAT? DISCONNECT! Congratulating a disgraced administration that destroyed it's specific moral authority through it's deceit and misinformation, killed tens of thousands of innocent people including many of OUR young men and women under the guise of The Project for a New American Century (The PNAC Doctrine) while spending a trillion dollars doing it and destroyed the moral high ground the United States of America once enjoyed around the world? What part of deceit, amorality and moral decay and corruption do you not understand, Senator? Or, perhaps you do understand it and subscribe to it. Which one is it, Senator? At best, Senator, you have a broken moral compass.

Senator, the previous administration you represent (you voted for it's purposes 96% of the time) and the outrageous moral corruption of those you now congratulate got worse and worse before the American voters could lower their standards enough to vote for it's rubbish again. Your subscription to the Rove-Cheney-McCarthy School of politics has run out, Senator. That magazine is out of business along with the PNAC Doctrine to which you also subscribed.

Last year the voters raised their standards, voted for HOPE and a higher morality and hoped the disgrace of our country's Bush Administration's recent forays into the 'moral twilight zone' will somehow dissipate. Senator, I suspect you just don't 'get' any of this because your supreme arrogant ignorance disallows you to do so. This is why so many of your cohorts have 'disconnected' with their previous constituencies and been turned out of office, Senator.

There is a clear and clean line between leadership and demagoguery. You are NOT a leader, Senator DeMint!

Senator, your rhetoric has grown rancid with age ..... and your hypocrisy and contempt for the America people shows your DISCONNECT with the truth and reality so wanted and hoped for by these voters. Just how stupid do you think the American Voters are, Senator? Surely, not as stupid as the voters who put you in office. But, guess what, Senator......even your constituency is turning off Fox News and educating themselves.......thinking for themselves.......and your next turn at election doesn't look all that promising, does it.

Thank you, Senator, for helping to define what The Great American Disconnect is about.

For the record, so that no one gets the wrong idea and thinks this blog and it's articles are bashes at the Republican Political Party, soon ideologue Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer gets her turn in the "Disconnect' box as does Ralph Nader and many others.

(Anyone agreeing or disagreeing with this performance review, lets hear from you.)

John