Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

As Usual, Government Regulation as Political Payoff

I heard the president’s speech at Cooper Union College today and thought it was quite bizarre that he would criticize Wall Street for bad behavior when Washington is currently running our national debt through the roof and the policies that emanated from there in the last ten years caused our current financial crisis.  The old adage about those that live in glass houses and stone throwing immediately came to mind.  But, the president really believes that the financial crisis we still find ourselves in despite trillions of dollars in Keynesian spending is somebody else’s fault.  In fact, he indicated that, “…the system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly, taxpayer bailouts.”  And I thought it was Mr. Obama and his big government colleagues in the Congress who voted unconstitutionally to give away our money to the greedy, misbehaving banks.

Now, the president’s bizarre remarks are one thing, but the financial regulation bill before the Senate is even more bizarre.  Crafted by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, the bill will do nothing to fix the real causes of the financial crisis. In actuality, the bill amounts to nothing more than a political payoff for Dodd’s benefactors on Wall Street.  And this should come as no surprise since Dodd’s donor list reads like a who’s who of the financial services sector.        

First of all, Dodd’s bill does nothing to address the primary culprit of the financial crisis – the Federal Reserve.  Yes, consumers took out mortgages they could not afford and loan officers falsified applications knowing that they would collect their commissions long before the bad loans defaulted on a bigger institution up the line.  But the Fed supplied the poison for it all to happen – easy money.  After 911, Alan Greenspan’s Fed kept interest rates artificially low at 1 percent for three years.  This encouraged a mortgage craze as trillions of dollars were borrowed.  It was a government sponsored get rich quick scheme as many housing investors bought homes with low teaser rates and no money down.  You know the rest of the story – homeowners leveraged their homes to the max, rates adjusted up and the bubble burst when many folks could no longer afford their payments.  To add insult to injury, the Fed came to the rescue of financial institutions, even foreign ones, at the expense of taxpayers.  Make no mistake about it, the Federal Reserve exists for the profit making of banks alone.  It was established by bankers; it is run by bankers; it allows banks to inflate dollars through fractional reserve banking; and it is there for them when they need a few dollars to keep the charade going.  No other industry has a full government agency to support its shady dealings like the banking industry.  Dodd’s bill, by ignoring the Fed’s culpability in the crisis, has no chance of preventing financial calamities in the future.  Additionally, it only benefits the big banks since their benefactor, the Fed, will continue to operate unencumbered by any new regulations or oversight.

If ignoring the Fed’s role in the financial crisis is not bad enough, Dodd’s bill also institutionalizes “too big to fail” bailouts.  It should be pointed out that a major rationale of financial reform is to ensure that taxpayers never again get stuck with bailing out firms that are too crucial to our economy to fail.  Well, Section 113 of the bill provides for a “Financial Stability Oversight Council” which would identify distressed firms whose failure would “pose a threat to the financial security of the United States…”  Section 210(n)(1) establishes an “Orderly Resolution Fund” within the U.S. Treasury that would provide $50 billion in bailout money funded by taxes on financial firms.  Of course, ultimately those taxes would come from consumers in the form of higher bank fees.  These two sections of the bill essentially provide implicit guarantees from the government against failure for big banks.  They extend the life of the moral hazards that we have become too familiar with.  In the end, they will encourage big banks to continue to take undue risks which will once again put taxpayers in harm’s way.  These sections of Dodd’s bill will not prevent future financial crises.  On the contrary, they only benefit big banks by allowing them to risk everything with the knowledge that taxpayers will be there to pony up bailout funds for them.

Since 1989, Chris Dodd has received over $12             million in campaign contributions from the financial services industry.  They own him and this bill proves it.  On the other hand, the president is yet to embrace Dodd’s bill.  In his speech at Cooper Union he said to financial firms, “I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort.”  If he chooses Dodd’s bill to reform the financial industry he probably won’t get much of a fight from Wall Street.

       

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina.

Read Full Post »

Press release posted on the LP Radicals yahoo group. Starchild has had various offices in the San Francisco and California LP, and is one of the spokespeople for this initiative.

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. Of 500 signatures randomly sampled and checked by department personnel, 80 percent were found to be valid. “This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults,” said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. “We’ve cleared the first hurdle.” By the Elections Department’s tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

The campaign to decriminalize prostitution will hold a kickoff rally and press conference to formally announce the results on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, with
speakers to likely include Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who was a signer of the petition to put the measure on the ballot along with two of his board colleagues. “It is way past time that the
recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented,” said the measure’s proponent, Maxine Doogan. “Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long.”

The prostitution reform measure joins two other voter-submitted measures on the local Nov. 4 ballot, along with eight measures put on the ballot by the mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors, with many others expected to be added in the next several weeks.

Starchild – (415) 621-7932 / (415) 368-8657 / RealReform@…
Maxine Doogan – (415) 265-3302 / MistressMax@…

Read Full Post »

Something stinks in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma voters were the only voters with no choices for president on their ballot except Bush Skull and Kerry Bones in 2004, and Oklahoma is one of 5 states that doesn’t permit write-ins, so Oklahoma voters who wanted to vote for someone other than Bush or Kerry in 2004 completely lost their right to vote (Source: Ballot Access News). In order to be on the ballot, an independent candidate or alternative party has to get signatures equal to 5% of the last vote cast, which is the hardest standard in the country, and they have to get 10% of the vote to keep their place on the ballot, second behind only Alabama with 20%. Half of the state legislative races go completely unopposed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused a challenge to this edict, and the feds have no jurisdiction.

Currently, there is an
effort
underway to change this crazy scheme by initiative, but Oklahoma makes it hard to get issues on the ballot by initiative. Statute initiatives must get the signatures of 8% of the voters, which is among the highest percentages among states which allow citizen initiative, and constitutional amendments need 15%, tied with Arizona for the highest percentage required by any state that allows constitutional amendments by citizen petition according to a chart by
National Voter Outreach. The signatures have to all be gathered within 90 days, and then the State Supreme Court can hold up approval for the vote to take place by over a year.

After you gather the signatures, you have to print the names of everyone who signed on the back of the page. Imagine having to do that several hundred times after you get back from a hard day of asking people to sign and getting run out (or attempted) of every location imaginable, public and private, or having to flip the page over and ask busy people to print their name a second time for every single signature – especially when working on more than one issue. Yep, it sucks, and is one of the most asinine rules I have encountered in petitioning in 27 states plus DC over the past ten years. And there are some very asinine rules out there, such as New England states requiring signatures from every city to be on a separate page, and Massachusetts ruling that any tiny tear, food stain, stray pen mark or writing outside the box disqualifies a whole page of signatures.

To make matters worse, in a decision in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Leonard upheld a challenged Oklahoma state law (in effect since 1969) banning out of state residents from being ballot petition circulators and signature-collectors there. Who, exactly, is a state resident? People move all the time. Some more frequently than others. Some people don’t predictably live in one place long enough to get a mortgage or apartment lease, so we prefer to live in motels or stay with friends (I resemble this remark). Some people don’t even have a place to live at all. Does that mean we should lose our right to petition the government for redress of grievances?

Shortly after this ruling, as Brian Doherty reports at Reason Magazine,

longtime libertarian political activist Paul Jacob was indicted on felony charges in Oklahoma for conspiracy to defraud the state, along with Susan Johnson of National Voter Outreach and Rick Carpenter of Oklahomans in Action.

It isn’t Jacob’s first time with the guns of the state aimed at him. He served five months in jail in 1984, after a year on the run, for refusal to register for the draft.

In his interview about the arrest with Brian Doherty, Paul Jacob explains:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Border wall boondoggle: even dumber than I thought!

http://freestudents.blogspot.com/

So a gaggle of right-wing racists and faux libertarians want to build a wall on the border. They are going to “secure” the borders. Nice.

So what does securing the borders mean? Well, one taste of it is that the historic right of Americans to cross into Canada or Mexico without a passport is gone. To travel you have to a government document giving you permission to do so. You can see why I think the “libertarians” who support this measure are not really libertarians at all.

And they want to build a big wall on the Mexican border. Also nice. Real nice. (You do know I’m being sarcastic.)

Since the United States was founded (and before) the borders with Canada and Mexico were never “secure”. Never. So the communities developed often without regard of that imaginary line in the dirt.

Now the authoritarians want “secure borders” and that means problems. It doesn’t mean problems for would-be terrorists. After all the 9/11 criminals didn’t cross the border illegally. They came in with government permission. They had passports and the US government said to them: “Welcome to America. Want some flying lessons?”

No one came in through Canada or Mexico. They didn’t cross the borders but flew in and handed over their permission slips to the hall monitors at the airports. They were roaming around killing people because they passed government security and had state permission to be in the US. You would think the government would look at how they approve would-be terrorists to enter the US. Instead Americans are being forced to get passports to spend a few hours shopping in Mexico. (more…)

Read Full Post »

A while back I wrote about the Energy Vortex and others have commented on the same issue.

The most cited instance of this is the War in Iraq (and possibly Afghanistan; it may have had a lot to do with the proposed oil pipeline through Afghanistan).

This view of

Operation
Iraqi
Liberation

has worked its way into popular culture:

Many have denied the connection, but the new Iraqi Oil Law
makes it harder to give any credibility to such denials.

Nor is the regime’s energy fascism solely confined to grand projects abroad; sometimes, it can also be quite petty and domestic.
Francois Tremblay
reports:

Despite his good intentions, the state fined Teixeira $1,000 for not paying motor fuel taxes. North Carolina officials also told him that to legally use veggie oil here he’d have to first post a $2,500 bond.

Such penalties have also been levied against other North Carolina drivers whose vehicles were powered by alternative fuels.

It’s enough to make you do a Katrina Clap…

Read Full Post »

In this week’s radio address, Steve Kubby discusses the US Senate’s immigration “compromise.”

The political community’s been abuzz this week with news of a bi-partisan “deal” on immigration law. We go through this every few years as our politicians try to satisfy everyone, end up satisfying no one, and usually make things worse than they were.

The proponents of the new law claim that it will secure America’s borders, provide for a “guest worker” program and a “path to citizenship.” They’re wrong. It won’t secure the borders, and its “guest worker” and “path to citizenship” provisions are already blueprinted to quickly degenerate into yet another set of expensive, intrusive bureaucracies.

The opponents of the law claim that the “guest worker” and “path to citizenship” measures amount to an amnesty. They’re right as far as that goes, but they’re wrong when they suggest that that’s a bad thing, or that it’s incompatible with the national security. Not only is amnesty a GREAT idea — it’s the best thing to do when you’ve had a really, really stupid law in place for so many years — it is a prerequisite to ANY effective national defense.

Tune in for more:

Subscribe Free for future posts  Add this player to my Page

Read Full Post »

H/T BureauCrash

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: