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Semantics are key in governmental nomenclature.  Bribery is known as “lobbying”.  Siphoning off government money is known as “privatization.”

Because, theoretically, regulatory agencies like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency do “not have the resources to ensure that banks follow the rules,” the agencies hire outside private contractors who are supposed to clean up major foreclosure problems such as mass wrongful evictions.

But just as with the credit ratings agencies like Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, who gave gold standard triple A ratings to mortgage-backed securities collateralized by liar loan pooled mortgages, the private contractors are paid by the banks they are supposed to be regulating.  There is little oversight.  In many cases, they are enabling the banks to cover up their crimes and collecting huge fees which are taken out of settlements that are supposed to go to aggrieved homeowners:

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If you knew your broker called a stock “toxic waste” and nicknamed it as “Subprime Meltdown”, “Hitman” “Nuclear Holocaust” and “Mike Tyson’s Punchout” (a reference to a bag of human waste), would you buy it?

According to an article by Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica, on March 16, 2007, team members of Morgan Stanley suggested these nicknames for a financial derivative known as a collateralized debt obligation (CDO), the very products that were at the center of the systemic collapse in 2008.  Then they renamed it and sold it as gold to their investors.  Human waste into gold.  That’s some alchemy.

Not one Too Big To Fail (TBTF) bank has been held accountable for torpedoing the economy back in 2008.  The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are seemingly unable to find any wrongdoing despite reams of evidence.  

The banks were bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer.  Unsuspecting investors bought mortgage-backed securities and other fancy financial mechanisms that the banks knew were worthless.  But it took a Taiwanese bank, one of those unsuspecting investors, to overcome the high hurdle of document discovery to give us a glimpse of TBTF criminality.

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Shocking, shocking: Many companies insist that their employees give them their social network logins.

An article in The New York Times, Even if it Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speak is Protected, describes how the National Labor Relations Board is finally taking some steps and enforcing them against employers who automatically fire or otherwise penalize people’s comments on social media.  Not merely public employers (like the government) but the rulings apply to almost all private sector employees.

It’s about time that protection and regulation for workers’ sakes have been tackled seriously by the NLRB and it’s bringing 21st century concepts to the way people communicate now.

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Or, conventional wisdom kills.

The economic truisms we live and breathe with every day aren’t challenged, yet they direct policy.  Are they true?  Do they work?  Did they work in the past?

In Jeff Madrick’s article in Harper’s Magazine, “Revised History” the author makes it clear that the victor writes the history books.  For the rest of us, we must seek out a factual, provable explanation begging to be offered.  

Unfortunately, “conventional wisdom” crowds out the marketplace of ideas.  As the great economic theorist and author of The Great Crash of 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith, said about the myths that whitewash counterfactual arguments, “The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.”

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Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:13 AM PST

Familes get work, only to freeze

by mariesamuels

Ordinary Americans, the 99%, are travelling thousands of miles to get a job only to find out they have nowhere to live.  

Fleeing unemployment, boarded-up storefronts and foreclosures nationwide, families are lured by the hope of high-paying gas and oil drilling jobs in North Dakota and Wyoming.  In western North Dakota where business is brisk, cashiers can earn $20 an hour.  The jobs don’t pay as well in Wyoming but unemployment is still under 5%.  But there’s no roof over the heads of the nomads:

“They’d pack up their pit bulls, their children and they’d move to Wyoming with nothing, just the clothes on their backs,” said Lily Patton, a housing counselor with Interfaith of Natrona County, a nonprofit group.  “They keep saying, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before.’”
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The killing of 20 children trapped in classrooms, not to mention 6 adults who died trying to protect them, has unleashed an unprecedented rush to buy the very same weapon and high capacity magazine that the killer, Adam Lanza, used.  In fact, 30 round magazines were selling for five times the price they were before the Newton, Connecticut massacre occurred on 12/14/12.

“If I had 1,000 AR-15s I could sell them in a week,” said Jack Smith, an independent gun dealer in Des Moines, referring to the popular style of semiautomatic rifle that drew national attention after Adam Lanza used one to kill 20 children and 6 adults at a Newtown school.  “When I close, they beat on the glass to be let in,” Mr. Smith said of his customers.  “They’ll wave money at me.”
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My diary has a different take from The Troubadour's yesterday.

According to Brian Stelter’s piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Al Sharpton has replaced Cenk Uygur as MSNBC’s 6pm anchorman.  I liked Cenk.  He was energetic and appealed to a younger demographic, the one that actually organized and came out to vote for Obama in 2008.  That’s when Obama had a million-dollar email list courtesy of David Pfouffe.  Cenk, as he did as a Young Turk, asked hard-hitting questions and wasn’t afraid to stand up for the common man.  The one that’s out of work, underwater and debates every month whether to pay the rent, buy food or clothes for the kids.

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The Troubadour wrote about Cenk yesterday, especially focusing on Greenwald's analysis.  

Mine has a different take.

According to Brian Stelter’s piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Al Sharpton has replaced Cenk Uygur as the 6pm anchor on MSNBC.  I liked Cenk.  He was energetic and appealed to a younger demographic, the one that actually organized and came out to vote for Obama in 2008.  That’s when Obama had a million-dollar email list courtesy of David Pfouffe.  Cenk, as he did as a Young Turk, asked hard-hitting questions and wasn’t afraid to stand up for the common man/woman.  The one that’s out of work, underwater and debates every month whether to pay the rent, buy food or clothes for the kids.

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In a 6/16/11 article in the Wall Street Journal, AARP puts its considerable clout and its 30 million members behind Social Security benefit cuts.  It’s not enough that seniors are suffering through the disintegration of Medicare; now those making an average of $12,000 yearly on Social Security have the pleasure of wondering which things they can afford: food, shelter or medical care.  Pretty soon no one will have to wonder how entitlements can be “affordable”.  People trying to survive on them won’t be able to.

It’s funny how the government doesn’t think twice about creating money out of whole cloth to bail out insolvent or close to it banks (aka Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley).  But never mind that.  Let’s look at several points, listed as “objective” in the article, that are questionable:

1) Nothing can get done if an organization aligns itself with the left:

In an early sign of its new approach, AARP declined to join a coalition of about 300 unions, women’s groups and liberal advocacy organization created to fight Social Security benefit cuts.  “The coalition’s role was to kind of anchor the left, and our role is going to be to actually get something done,” said Mr. [John] Rother, [AARP’s long-time policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heart.]

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Will right-wing (Tea Party) propaganda seek to deny the death of Bin Laden to further vilify President Obama?

Despite DNA evidence proving Bin Laden was killed in a firefight in Pakistan as attested to by disinterested third parties, I fear that President Obama’s victory in killing the man who murdered so many on September 11, 2001 will be nullified by those who take any opportunity to grasp for power.

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SORRY: Revised Version of Previous Diary

People wonder (me) how the deficit hawks took control of the narrative despite historical evidence (1937 dip), reasoned shouting from esteemed Nobel-prize winning economists and millions out of work for months or years, with no end in sight.  Now there's a new talking point which may give the government cover to discontinue unemployment benefits.  Never mind the human cost (who cares about that in Washington)?  Unemployment insurance is proven to grease the economy because the money flows immediately into the economy.

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Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:18 PM PDT

Who Are the Enemies of the State?

by mariesamuels

[cross-posted from Where Is Cassandra?]

What about them Russian spies living under "Deep Cover" in the U.S.?  Here with their anti-capitalist propaganda?

One of the spies was quoted in the first paragraph of the Wall Street Journal article on her treacherous ideology:

"The essence of capitalism is exploitation and permanent expansion to ensure profit growth and the power of mega-corporations...," Ms. Pelaez, a native of Peru, wrote in a 2007 column for El Diario La Prensa, a Spanish-language daily.

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