The Watering Hole: Thursday, February 28, 2013 The Suppression of Economic Recovery

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Why is Nobel economist Paul Krugman continually ignored?

The Perils of Hoarding Cash

So, I’ve had a mild-mannered dispute with the economist Joe Stiglitz over whether individual income inequality is retarding recovery right now; let me say, however, that I think there’s a very good case that the redistribution of income away from labor to corporate profits is very likely a big factor.

Take a look at the chart on corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product. Corporations are taking a much bigger slice of total income — and are showing little inclination either to redistribute that slice back to investors or to invest it in new equipment, software, etc. Instead, they’re accumulating piles of cash.

If you put money in a bank, the bank might just accumulate excess reserves. If you buy securities from someone else, the seller might put the cash under his mattress, or put it in a bank that just adds it to its reserves, etc. The point is that buying goods and services is one thing, adding directly to aggregate demand; buying assets isn’t at all the same thing, especially when we’re at the zero lower bound.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon: ‘We Actually Benefit From Downturns’

“This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns,” Dimon bragged to his bank’s investors at a conference on Tuesday.

And it is true! The bank definitely benefited from the last downturn. It got to buy Bear Stearns in a government-backed fire sale, getting itself a brokerage business on the cheap in exchange for shouldering only a few tiresome legal burdens. It also got billions of dollars in government handouts, from $25 billion in TARP funds to billions in savings from low-interest-rate borrowing programs to a permanent subsidy arising from the idea that the government will bail out the bank if it ever gets in trouble.

And now we’re looking at the impending sequestration which in all likelihood will further stall economic recovery.  Do politicians just not care about citizens or are they intentionally trying to keep us down?  What do they gain by keeping us afraid of impending poverty?  Just as they frightened us with the dangers of Obamacare which will actually benefit most they now say spending to stimulate the economy will destroy us with debt.  Do out of work people really believe that the national debt is more harmful to them than not having a job and losing unemployment benefits?

Why Everything Republicans Are Saying About The Sequester Is Wrong

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD.  SAY ANYTHING.

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 10: END PAPERS)

The George W. Bush presidency ended on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the 44th American President, Barack H. Obama. Hope sprang eternal that times had finally changed, that the American electorate had finally awakened from the fog of its deep sleep, that a new era had indeed finally dawned. Unfortunately, such was not to prove the case. The Republican Party immediately went on the defensive and vowed, essentially, to use every last shred of their power, their influence, to cause Obama to fail . . . the more miserable the failure, the better. It was an act of national disloyalty, perhaps bordering even on treason, the likes of which no living American had ever seen, much less pondered. And while Obama did manage to implement a few meaningful projects and programs in his first couple of years, the Republicans were, by and large, successful in their opposition.

Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United case and declared, in effect, that corporations were ‘people’ with all attendant rights and privileges. Days later, the final purchase of the government by private funds began in earnest. In November of 2010, the small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was overturned, and the filibuster-resistant Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced sufficiently to virtually guarantee that no significant legislation could be passed for at least the balance of Obama’s first (and, in the hopeful eyes of the GOP, his ONLY) four year term.

Today, the processes implicit in the Death of a Nation continue to accelerate without pause as we again stand on the edge of an electoral abyss not at all dissimilar to those of 2000 and 2004. The current Romney-Ryan Republican ticket supports without hesitation or critique virtually each and all of the nonsensical policies of George W. Bush, including unlimited aggressive war, the destruction/elimination of every vestige of the social safety net, the eternal task of improving the financial status of the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else, and state level imposition of whichever manner of voter suppression or voter fraud might be required to guarantee for all time an enduring Fascist-theocracy (aka ‘conservative’ Republican) style of American “governance”, the Constitution be damned.

The bottom line is simple: tomorrow — Tuesday, November 6 2012 — we shall learn, finally and for certain, the precise percentage of mental incompetence which has come to define the American  electorate.

Meanwhile, below are a few closing comments alongside a wealth of quotations on the matter of national death and its consequences. From Gandhi to John Denver with plenty of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler (among numerous others) in between, a summation lurks.

**********

End Papers
(April, 2005)

The United States of America clearly stands on the precipice, on the very edge of a deep and dark chasm in which lie the ruins of those who have come before us, now forever gone.  On previous pages here, we have (barely) skimmed the essences of America’s current dilemma and made some note of current players, agendas, and the realities their combination have so far imposed. Others, too, have watched these same forces at work and have added their comments.  Perhaps a review of a few – in no particular order – can assist in clarifying the moment by looking at opinions, past and present, which have bearing on what has been and what is now, in order to help predict what might yet come our way.  To some, the list may seem long, but they should rest assured it is exhaustingly abbreviated and is by no means complete – yet its words paint a picture, a frightening picture.  Read on, that which others have said; I shall add a brief comment at the end. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

Tornadoes – 2011 and 2012

Has anyone noticed that the tornado season has started a bit early and more violently this year? Fundies, of course, will attribute this to an upswing in Solar activity. Somehow, there seems to be a message, here!. Someone is missing the point.

As a Floridian, I can’t wait for June and the start of the hurricane season, or will it be May?

Technology, greed and politics are getting at the point where the Earth is beginning to complain:


  • Weather Patterns have changed – More and earlier disasters have occurred with each passing year.
  • Winter and Summer temps are on the rise.
  • Tornadoes are hitting earlier than usual and 2012 seems to be headed for a banner year
  • Hurricane patterns are moving north.
  • Drought regions are becoming more prevalent in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • Levels of CO2 are increasing.
  • The amount of methane (CH4) from ‘fracking’ is equal to or greater than that recovered as fuel. CH4 is upscale from CO2 both of which are greenhouse gasses – That,s a double whammy!
  • Plant and animal extinctions, based on regional temperature increases are on the uptick.

The last item (Driven by its predecessors) is a primary marker when species divergences have a check point at either 6000 or a million years ago – the extinctions over the near industrial era have occurred in the past 600 years (woolly mammoth excluded) and there is an increase on extinctions as we get further into the industrial age. When will grain crops cease to exist? Could Canada and Canada become the bread basket of the World?

It’s almost at the point where the Koch clan need not be concerned about passing on their wealth. There will be no heirs. I’d rather that my granddaughter not have to suffer for the pleasures of the rich.

Think about it.

The Watering Hole: December 20th – Commodities

Picture found at panoramio.com Sculture by Peter Lenk "Slavenmarkt" (Slaves Market)

Sculpture by Peter Lenk

This is what I always wanted to be. Livestock, a commodity. When I started to work for Digital Equipment Corporation in 1986 I was hired for the Personnel Department. This changed it’s name into “Human Resources” after a while and that didn’t improve how we treated our employees. Obviously things have gone farther. This is from today’s “The Guardian” Business Blog:

The UK’s human capital – the economic value of the knowledge and skills of the working age population – fell by £130bn in 2010, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The knowledge and skills of workers in the UK were worth an estimated £17.12 trillion in 2010. This was more than two-and-a-half times the estimated value of the UK’s tangible assets – such as buildings, vehicles, plant and machinery – at the beginning of that year.

The value of the UK’s human capital stock increased steadily between 2001 and 2007, averaging annual increases of £425bn. The slowing of earnings growth and increases in unemployment during the economic downturn meant that growth in the stock of human capital slowed to an average of £120bn a year between 2007 and 2009, before falling in 2010.

Human Capital Stock…Livestock…Maybe I am a bit too sensitive. What do you think?

This is our daily Open Thread. Join us and discuss..

Watering Hole, Friday, October 21st: O-C-C-U-P-Y W-A-L-L S-T-R-E-E-T

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, the one redeeming feature in “The New York Post” is the puzzle page, particularly the word game in which you’re given a particular word and have to make as many five-letter words as possible out of that word.  The rules are simple:  no proper nouns, no plurals ending in ‘s’, no foreign words.  For my own amusement, I often play this game with a word or phrase of my own choosing.

The other day I sat down and started playing around with the phrase “OCCUPY WALL STREET.”  As I started jotting down five-letter words, I noticed that many of the words were pertinent to the actual OCCUPY WALL STREET movement.  Obviously, many were not, but there seemed to be a striking number which were applicable to the protests.  I’ve listed all of the words that I came up with, in vaguely alphabetical order, below the fold.  If anyone comes up with a word that I missed, please let me know and I’ll add it. Continue reading

UPS dumps Billo

HT TP:

Today UPS announced it will stop advertising on O’Reilly’s show. Here is the statement UPS emailed out just moments ago:

Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.

After ThinkProgress’ Amanda Turkel was stalked and ambushed by Bill O’s hitmen, TP fought back with an email campaign to Bill O’s sponsors.

Bill O responded by calling those who post on Think Progress “insects.” Well, those bugs can bite!

UPS’s announcement that it will discontinue advertising on Bill O’s show is a perfect example of the free market at work. We, the consumer, have a right to spend our money with companies we support. This right has been exercised in the recent past, most notably by boycotting companies that exploit child labor overseas.

Boycotts are effective in bringing about social change.

A big THANK YOU goes out to UPS. Next time I have a package to deliver, I’m going to look to the Brown as my first choice.

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Olbermann: Enough!

Raw Story:

In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann expresses outrage at Wall Street over their continuing misuse of federal bailout money. Olbermann calls for the firing of bank executives and more stringent bank regulation.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Help Homeowners Level the Playing Field

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From YouTube:

This video features Joan Adams, who is living out of a Motel 6 in the suburbs of Orange County, California. She lost her home to foreclosure. “There’s no one out there to help”, Joan says. “Billions of dollars to the banks, yet we’re the ones that are homeless.”

From BraveNewFilms:

“We were trained to mislead borrowers,” says a mortgage broker in Orange County, California. “There were people who were club promoters or even drug dealers that found out it was more profitable to run a mortgage shop than to do whatever they were doing.”

On Tuesday, Congress will vote on whether or not to level the playing field between the banks that caused the collapse of the housing market and struggling homeowners. Representative John Conyers has introduced legislation in the House that authorizes judges to require banks to reevaluate overpriced mortgages of bankrupt homeowners.

Sign our petition to let Congress know that you support Conyers’ bill, H.R. 1106. Then, call your Congressional Representative and ask him or her to vote for it.

Conyers’ proposal is a simple, modest fix that will help keep hundreds of thousands of families in their homes. This bill is a win for every homeowner in America. By helping stem foreclosures, it will help arrest the decline in home values for everybody, not just those who are struggling to make payments. President Obama supports the bill and has called on Congress to pass it. The banks and the lobbyists that represent them oppose the bill with a passion.

These are the same banks that started this recession in the first place by hawking worthless subprime mortgage loans to naïve or unsuspecting borrowers. Joan Adams of Irvine, California lost her home to foreclosure, and is now living out of a motel by the airport. “There’s no one out there to help,” Joan says. “Billions of dollars to all the banks for bailouts for something they caused, and yet we’re the ones that are homeless.”

The banks have had their handouts. Now it’s time for struggling homeowners to be put first. Tell your Representative to support H.R. 1106.

I’m done with McDonald’s..

From Raw Story:

Fast food giant McDonald’s has denied workers compensation benefits to a minimum wage employee who was shot when he ejected a customer who had been beating a woman inside the restaurant.

A representative of the administrator for McDonald’s workers compensation plan explained that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett’s injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”

Nigel Haskett, then aged 21, was working at a McDonald’s in Little Rock, Arkansas last summer when he saw a patron, later identified as Perry Kennon, smacking a woman in the face. A surveillance video of the incident, which had been posted to YouTube, was taken down after McDonald’s charged copyright infringement, but according to written descriptions of the video, Haskett tackled Kennon, threw him out, and then stood by the door to prevent him from reentering.

Kennon went to his car, returned with a gun, and shot Haskett multiple times. Haskett staggered back into the restaurant and collapsed.

Kennon, who has a long criminal record, was arrested a few days later and charged with first-degree battery. The judge at his arraignment praised Haskett as a hero.

Haskett has since undergone three abdominal surgeries and has incurred over $300,000 in medical bills. McDonald’s has declined to comment on their reasons for refusing his claim, because the case is still pending before the Workers Compensation Commission, but according to Haskett’s lawyer, Philip M. Wilson:

“McDonald’s position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald’s.”

This guy is a hero! AND a good employee!! This stinks. Aside from helping to take care of his medical bills, they should be rewarding this guy with some kind of recognition and commendation. This is unbelievable..

I’ve lost my appetite for any future Big Macs…

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Will Somebody Please Tell Me Why We Bailed Out Financial Institutions?

NEW YORK – Bernard Madoff, a longtime fixture on Wall Street, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, U.S. authorities said.

Bush’s “haves and have mores” have looted Wall Street, and in the waning days of his administration are rewarded with billions, perhaps trillions of taxpayer dollars. But the Republicans torpedo the auto industry “bailout” because they can’t get last-minute consessions from the working class.

Will Wal-Mart Profit from their Employees’ Death?

Today, Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by consumers desperate for a good deal. Will Wal-Mart profit from his death?

Right now, your company could have a life insurance policy on you that you know nothing about. When you die — perhaps years after you leave your employer — the tax-free proceeds from this policy wouldnt go to your family. The money would go to the company.

Whats more, the company might use this policy to pay for retirement benefits and other perks not for you or your fellow workers, but for your companys top executives.

Hundreds of companies — including Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney and Winn-Dixie — have purchased this insurance on more than 6 million rank-and-file workers.

These policies, nicknamed dead janitors or dead peasants insurance, soared in popularity after many states cleared the way for them in the 1980s.

Jane St. John had two children and was pregnant with a third when her husband, a butcher at a Winn-Dixie store, was killed in an auto accident. When the Killeen, Texas, woman called the company to ask about insurance, she said she was told about a $17,500 policy to which she was entitled. St. John said Winn-Dixie told her nothing about the $102,000 the company collected from a corporate-owned policy on his life. She found out about it this summer, eight years after his death, from a lawyer who researched court records. The idea that the company would secretly insure lives, and then not share the benefits with the families, “is sick,” she said. “That is creepy.”

Mike Rice was a 48-year-old assistant manager when he died of a massive heart attack at the Wal-Mart store in Tilton, N.H. His widow, Vicki, became the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the company after she discovered Wal-Mart collected $300,000 from a life insurance policy it owned on him. Vicki Rice believes job-related stress contributed to the heart attack and says it is totally immoral for Wal-Mart to profit from his death.

Anger about these practices likely will keep the heat on Congress to make some reforms. Its possible that lawmakers will restrict severely companies ability to write the policies on rank-and-file workers. At the very least, companies probably will have to get workers consent before buying any new policies and clearly disclose that the coverage may extend past the time they leave the company, the ACLIs Dolan said.

But he rejected the idea that corporate-owned life insurance was immoral or a company bet against its workers.

Its an important business planning tool, Dolan said. Companies are using it for extremely valid reasons.

I would like to see just what these valid reasons are. Can anyone enlighten me?

Sounds like calls to Congress are in order. Find your Congress Critter here. Just click on your state.