Thursday, August 06, 2009

Changing the Paradigm

Note: this is the first of what I expect to be a series of rather longish articles presenting my analysis of the current state of things, how we got here and what we can do about it.
A valid question is: Who the hell are you and why should we listen to you? My answer is: I’m a critical thinker who has spent most of his life in the technology field where there is a premium on the ability to sift through vast amounts of data, extract the salient information, create an actionable plan and see the plan through to a successful resolution. In these articles I am using a set of tools, developed and honed over a lifetime, and training them on issues I think are crucial to the continued development of the human race. That may sound grandiose but we humans are much too powerful now – what we do in the next few years really can affect how and even whether, we survive.
My position is that we have the intelligence and we have the tools (technology) to fix our problems. We need to identify and analyze those problems and then go out and fix them – we have to be smart and organized now, we can’t afford to be stupid and chaotic any longer.

This is going to be a long one folks: there's going to be some venting and there's going to be some name calling and some general pissoffedness. There's going to be some reddirt analysis and, at the end, there are going to be a few suggestions. To quote Bette Davis “fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!”

First, I've held off writing about President-for-life Obama in a genuine attempt to give him a chance to prove me wrong. I figured that he should have the opportunity to change his spots and become the inspirational figure he claimed to be during the campaign... perhaps I was wrong in my assessment, perhaps he really was that noble, original, transcendent political miracle he stated, over and over and over again, that he was – you may detect a hint of sarcasm here (there may be more sarcasm later on, be prepared) – apparently, he is not.

In fact, in just over six months on the job, he has already had three vacations, four pointless campaigning sprints, several overseas ‘foreign policy’ junkets and an untold number of photo ops, press ‘conferences’, PR disasters and ongoing political gaffes that rival Joe Biden for sententiousness and utter senselessness, as well as, I understand, parties every weekend at Camp David. He has sucker-punched the US taxpayers (TARP II) and dumped on us the astonishing Bush III budget, replete with pork rinds for everyone. He has thrown at least three major supporters/cabinet members under the bus (Kerry, Richardson and Dean – there may be more now) and produced an economic policy and a so-called middle class mortgage salvage proposal so utterly chaotic that no one, not even the thieves on Wall Street, can figure it out.

My, my – what will he do next month? Oh, apparently, he will do his damndest to steamroller through the Congress the most gawdawful piece of crap ‘healthcare’ legislation that has ever existed. No one knows just how bad it is because no one has actually read it.

This is an idiot-in-action who needs three teleprompters so he can swivel left-center-right whilst delivering his canned platitudes and a computer monitor sunk into his lectern so he can get his “off-the-cuff” answers to questions he should know cold but hasn't a clue how to answer. Nevertheless, he has managed to give away another $900 Billion dollars, plans to disburse yet another $250 Billion and passed a budget of $3.5 Trillion all while reducing the deficit by half... as Bullwinkle used to say ”Hey Rocky! Want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?”… I think BO(zo) is pulling something, all right, but it's not a rabbit and it isn't coming out of his hat.

In contrast, we have HRC running around the world as the US Foreign Policy President with clear statements, crisp decision making and nobullshit policy positions. What a difference! I can't imagine that the clown in the White House will let that continue much longer – he just looks weak and stupid by comparison. Oh wait, he is weak and stupid by comparison!
And it looks like BO(zo)'s long expected attack on HRC has begun. Just after her speech supporting women's rights in Afghanistan, President Karzai folded like a cheap suit in a confrontation with tribal and religious conservatives and signed a bill that, essentially, stripped women in Afghanistan of all their rights. Karzai's not much of a leader but the speed and alacrity with which he signed this law can only mean that he was denied any kind of support from the US for resisting it. This is a win-win-win for Obama: he gets to indulge his native hatred for women, kiss ass with religious conservatives both at home and in the Hindu Kush (lovely name, means “Killer of Hindus” – ya just gotta love those Muslims) and cut off HRC at the knees – all at the same time and with perfect “plausible deniability”. You have to hand it BO(zo): he's very, very good with a knife to someone's back.
I also notice that the North Koreans wanted to talk to the president of the US about the reporters they were holding hostage… so they asked for Bill Clinton.

OK, I got that off my chest... what I really want to talk about here is the domestic politico/economic mess we're in. This is a multi-layered mess, like quicksand – just when you think you've hit the bottom, it sucks you down into a whole new layer of crud. There are three descending crud layers I want to explore: the surface layer, where we see what we're meant to see and react the way we're instructed to react; the middle layer of financial fallacy and folly which is intimately connected to the peculiar political kabuki show we are now seeing; and the lower layer of economic unraveling and global responsibility upon which the American Empire uneasily rests. At another time (hopefully soon) I will have some specific proposals to make, proposals which would, if adopted, truly change the world. We have a unique confluence of technological capability, financial upheaval and political opportunity which would make it possible to achieve really radical change if we had a leader with the vision and will to do it – unfortunately all we have is Obama. Nevertheless, I think the ideas should be put out there in case he gets tired of the job and resigns (hope springs eternal…).

There are several reference items you should take a look at to get the full flavor of what we're experiencing here in Year One of the Reign of the Lightbringer.

First, go to Bill Moyers and watch the interview he had with Simon Johnson about what happened in Sept 15, 2008.

Next, you should watch the Frontline program “Inside the Meltdown” about the slow moving train wreck of our economy in 2008 (air date: Feb 17, 2009)

...and don't miss Rep. Kanjorski's tale of what happened on Sept 18, 2008 (about 2 minutes in)

Last, you should watch the Charlie Rose show from Feb 16th, 2009 – the first part is an extremely informative piece on what's really going on in Afghanistan, but the second part is an interview with Michael Kirk, the writer/director of the Frontline piece mentioned above.

The articles/interviews mentioned above are all background for the fascinating story of what looks very much like The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (apologies to Gibbon) with helping hands from Bush/Cheney all in the interest of prolonging the financial debacle into and through the next administration. I should also mention that I think this was done with the collusion of and in the interest of the Obama campaign (I think we should dispense with the fairytale notion that this was a Democratic Party campaign at this point, don't you?)

Let's take a closer look at these interlocking perspectives and try to establish some sort of rough timeline, shall we?

Crud Layer 1

The Fairytale Analysis.

First let's use the Frontline piece to examine the pattern. We start with the accelerating overgrowth of the housing market in the past eight years – yes, you may try to lay some of the blame at Clinton's doorstep – and I'll come right back and trace the whole thing back to Ronald Reagan so let's agree to leave the history alone at this point. It is inarguable that Bush/Cheney had eight years to figure the housing bubble out and didn't lift a finger to stop it, in fact it appears that they willfully eviscerated any meaningful regulation and/or oversight and signaled full-speed ahead to the Wall Street Guild of Thieves.
This had the altogether predictable result that the housing market bubble collapsed. There were early signs of the collapse starting in 2005, and even some brave souls who yelled themselves hoarse (Peter Schiff, for example) saying that there was a bear in the woods. They were, quite literally, laughed off the floor.

So, what is it that 'they' want you to believe?

They want you to believe that, basically, things are OK. We had a bad scare but the swift action of the bright, shiny Team Obama has started to turn things around. They want you to go back to the things you know because that’s what they’re going to do: try to go back to the financial world they just blew up. They want you to forget that you just mortgaged your grandchildren’s future to pay for their theft (did you know that you are still paying for Ronald Reagan’s deficit spending? The bonds they issued are still commanding interest payments 20 years later).
They want you to forget that you are living in a country with a real unemployment rate (“official” unemployment + part-time + those who have stopped looking) of over 16.8% as of June 2, 2009. (see for confirmation). They want you to believe that the housing crisis is over – it’s not, housing prices will decline another 10-20% before the curve flattens. They want you to forget that there’s a credit crisis right behind the housing crisis, only ten times larger.
But most of all they want you to forget that the current bunch of money-crazed madmen who ran this country into the ground in order steal more money than dreams of avarice could provide – are still not in jail and still in charge. No, they don’t want you to remember that at all. You might wake up. You might get angry. You might do something about it…

Crud Layer 2

The intention of it all.
What a catastrophe, they cried. What a horrific financial debacle, the sky is truly falling and we must have all your money right this instant lest even more dire events come to pass… how could this have happened? Who could have foreseen this… Whoa!, wait just a minute, it kinda looks like some folks did see it coming:

Simon Johnson was the former chief economist for the IMF, presumably he knows what he's talking about and knows whom he is talking about as well. He makes a statement part way through his interview with Bill Moyers that is absolutely staggering, in reference to a statement by one of Morgan Stanley's top officials, Johnson says:

“What he's basically saying is business as usual. Go about your daily lives. Get the bonuses. Re-brand them as awards. But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing.”

Mr. Johnson goes on to describe the coup de main that occurred last fall as eerily familiar to him. It’s the exact scenario the IMF and the World Bank have used for decades to destroy the economies of Third World countries, except this time it was used on the US – deliberately.

Another part of the puzzle is revealed almost by accident by Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA). In a C-SPAN interview on his opinions about the financial crisis, Rep. Kanjorski makes the following statement:

“On Thursday (Sept 18, 2008), at 11am the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the U.S., to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in the matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help and pumped a $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there.

If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2pm that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the U.S., would have collapsed the entire economy of the U.S., and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”

Another piece drops into place courtesy of Matt Taibbi who writes an article in Rolling Stone, titled:
“Inside The Great American Bubble Machine”
Where he shows that Goldman Sachs has been involved in the engineering and manipulation of every market financial crisis of the 20th – and now the 21st – centuries. It is interesting to note that no other company has GS’s history of placing (one might almost say: infiltrating) so many, many partners in positions of authority in the US government (and other influential positions) :
• Henry H. Fowler - 58th United States Secretary of the Treasury (1965-1969)
• Robert Rubin - Former United States Treasury Secretary, ex-Chairman of Citigroup.
• Henry Paulson - Former United States Treasury Secretary.
• Joshua Bolten - former White House Chief of Staff
• Jon Corzine - Governor of the State of New Jersey.
• Michael Cohrs - Head of Global Banking at Deutsche Bank
• Jim Cramer - founder of, best selling author, and host of Mad Money on CNBC
• Ashwin Navin - President and co-founder of BitTorrent, Inc.
• George Herbert Walker IV - member of the Bush family and current managing director at Neuberger Berman
• Robert Zoellick - United States Trade Representative (2001-2005), Deputy Secretary of State (2005-2006), World Bank President.
• Mark Carney - Current Governor of the Bank of Canada [89][90]
• Neel Kashkari - former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability
• Malcolm Turnbull - Australian politician, currently the federal leader of the Liberal Party of Australia.
• John Thain - former Chairman and CEO, Merrill Lynch, and former chairman of the NYSE.
• Robert Steel - Chairman and President, Wachovia.
• Reuben Jeffery III, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs (2007-)
• Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy twice (1996-1998 and 2006-2008) and President of the European Commission (1999-2004)[91]
• Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy (2006- )[91]
• Massimo Tononi, Italian deputy treasury chief (2006-2008)[91]

Way too cozy for effective regulation of the financial industry, note discussion below of how GS alumni Henry Paulson torpedoed a GS rival to trigger the Obama Election Financial Crisis.

Last, let’s go to Professor James Galbraith (yes, son of…) on the causes of the financial crisis (From the Texas Observer):

Causes of the Crisis
James K. Galbraith
May 01, 2009

...This is a panel on the crisis. Mr. Moderator, you ask what is the root cause? My reply is in three parts.

First, an idea. The idea that capitalism, for all its considerable virtues, is inherently self-stabilizing, that government and private business are adversaries rather than partners...; the idea that regulation, in financial matters especially, can be dispensed with. We tried it, and we see the result.

Second, a person. It would not be right to blame any single person for these events, but if I had to choose one to name it would be... former Senator Phil Gramm. I’d cite specifically the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act—the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—in 1999, after which it took less than a decade to reproduce all the pathologies that Glass-Steagall had been enacted to deal with in 1933.

I’d also cite the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, slipped into an 11,000-page appropriations bill in December 2000 as Congress was adjourning following Bush v. Gore. This measure deregulated energy futures trading, enabling Enron and legitimating credit-default swaps, and creating a massive vector for the transmission of financial risk throughout the global system. ...

Third, a policy. This was the abandonment of state responsibility for financial regulation... This abandonment was not subtle: The first head of the Office of Thrift Supervision in the George W. Bush administration came to a press conference on one occasion with a stack of copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. A chainsaw. The message was clear. And it led to the explosion of liars’ loans, neutron loans (which destroy people but leave buildings intact), and toxic waste. That these were terms of art in finance tells you what you need to know. ...

The consequence ... is a collapse of trust, a collapse of asset values, and a collapse of the financial system. That is what has happened, and what we have to deal with now.

Can “stimulus” get us out?

As a matter of economics, public spending substitutes for private spending. ... But it is not self-sustaining in the absence of a viable private credit system. The idea that we will be on the road to full recovery and returning to high employment in a year or so therefore seems to me to be an illusion.

And for this reason, the emphasis on short-term, “shovel-ready” projects in the expansion package, while understandable, was a mistake. As in the New Deal, we need both the Works Progress Administration ... to provide employment, and the Public Works Administration ... to rebuild the country. ...

The risk we run, in public policy, is not inflation. It is lack of persistence, a premature reversal of direction, and of course the fear of large numbers. If deficits in the trillions and public debt in the tens of trillions scare you, this is not a line of work you should be in.

The ultimate goals of policy are not measured by deficits or debt. They are measured by the performance of the economy itself. Here Leader Armey and I agree. He spoke with approval, in his remarks, of the goals of 3 percent unemployment and 4 percent inflation embodied in the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978. Which, as a 24-year-old member of the staff of the House Banking Committee in 1976, I drafted.

Professor Galbraith leaves out some key components in my opinion, such as Alan Greenspan, the Ayn Randite Chairman of the Fed who blithely ignored his duties to regulate the Federal Reserve, choosing instead to allow classic laissez faire capitalism to pillage the economy unchecked until, at last, there was just nothing left to steal. And the original cardboard cutout president: Ronald Reagan – this dumb cluck bought into every idiot notion of trans-national capitalism extant and held the door open for every lowlife scumbag thief in the entire political/financial spectrum. Yes, I’m talking about Gingrich and Gramm and Norquist and all the rest of the neo-con bastards who have tried to take this country apart brick by brick for almost 30 years.

And last, but certainly not least, there is our Glorious Leader…

Crud Layer 3

The Zen of the Con
…How did BO(zo) get elected anyway? All the hype aside let’s look at what happened in the last six weeks of the general election campaign (and let’s leave the primaries alone, I’m still burning about them but that’s a story for another day).

In the middle of September it was looking bad for BO(zo). His numbers weren’t going anywhere and McCain was trending up. It was looking increasingly like McCain had the momentum and could win by 1 or 2 points in November.
Then several very important things happened in quick succession:

1. Financial crises were triggered on several fronts simultaneously (see above). I say ‘triggered’ because these crises did not happen sui generis they were very deliberately set off to gain a desired effect.

2. Major financial backers moved en mass to back the Obama campaign.

3. Ad buys by the Obama campaign increased to a ratio of 3-4 to 1 and in some cases 10 to 1 over the McCain campaign.

4. The Obama campaign collected almost $200 million in September.

Do you really think that Obama got $200 million in September 2008 because Grandma emptied the cookie jar and little Suzie gave up her lunch money? …really?

The financial ‘crisis’ that had everyone running around in the middle of the night doing their Chicken Little imitations was, first – very real but, second – artificially initiated. The fact is that this crisis could have occurred at any time over the last 2-3 years, the entire thing was being held together by spit, baling wire …and mutual terror, the Wall Street Guild of Thieves knew that the jig was nearly up, they just didn’t want it to go Postal while their hands were in the till.
The most likely tipping point was in the spring of 2008 when Bear Stearns collapsed but that was papered over by a shotgun marriage to JPMorgan/Chase (do some research on those names and your head will explode), why? Because a financial collapse at that time served no useful purpose, the Bush administration had one foot out the door, there wasn’t going to be an impeachment or even an investigation and it was way too far from the election to make any difference – people who can’t find Iraq on a map simply can’t be expected to remember a financial crisis that happened six whole months ago, jeez!
Ah, but there was a convenient fall guy close at hand for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (ex-CEO of, wait for it… Goldman Sachs) in the form of Lehman Bros a fierce competitor of GS and run by Richard Fuld, a personal enemy of Hank Paulson who thought he was truly pond scum (it’s all relative in the financial services world). So, in early September, as things were beginning to sour for BO(zo), some calls were made, some rumors launched, some flags went up in the air and, lo and behold, Lehman Bros is denied the help that was given to Bear Stearns just six months earlier although both firms were in strikingly similar situations – and Wall Street went down in flames.

Think I’m a garden variety conspiracy nut? Read on…

Bush/Cheney knew in 2006 that there weren’t going to be any repercussions for any of their crimes (remember Nancy “Impeachment is off the table.” Pelosi?) so they forged on with their plans to control the agenda of the four years 2008-2012.
Foreign policy was already charted so far as they were able, the Iraq war was winding down and the Bush/Cheney policy of having a standing US army in Iraq borders for decades to come was as safe as possible. Think I’m wrong? Take a look at Bush’s pronouncements on the size and length of stay for US forces and then compare them to what BO(zo) is actually doing there, identical aren’t they?
But foreign policy is Republican meat & potatoes, the real problem was how to:

1. Continue to suck the blood out of the US economy, while

2. Laying the groundwork for a Republican victory in 2012

The economy is usually a solid Democratic issue, when it’s bad the people vote in the Dems to fix is (so they can then vote in the Repubs to steal it all again, there now, isn’t that all clear?). But no one gets out alive if they’ve got a financial disaster on their hands, yes, I know FDR was the exception but he was exceptional – do you think BO(zo) has those kinds of chops?
So, how to create a continuing financial train wreck that will devastate the country long enough to guarantee a Republican White House in 2012?

First, you have to have a ‘useful fool’ to front for you – this is why BO(zo) won the nomination, his Astroturf campaign was actually supported again and again by generous donations from the corporate elite, not the netroots support you heard so much about (I can show you exactly how this was done: it’s fun, foolproof and completely untraceable).

Next, you need to manufacture a compelling financial narrative that does three things:

1. Shuts down real consideration of issues in the election in favor of knee jerk responses to perceived impending disaster.

2. Mandates predetermined actions for at least a year, probably two - guts the opposition in the 2010 elections and guarantees no meaningful action until 2012.

3. Remains so radioactive it drowns the ‘useful fool’ as it becomes impossible to blame the previous administration for the continuing debacle.

Hmmm… sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?

Last, there is the Law of Maximum Inertia of Stupidity. Ever hear of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus? No? Well, he was the unfortunate guy the Roman Senate put in charge of defeating Hannibal in the Second Punic War. Hannibal was a military genius who had brought his army from Carthage in North Africa (about where Tunis is today) and was merrily romping about northern Italy pillaging and burning anything in his path with gay abandon. The Senate had sent several other generals to get rid of this pest but they kept being massacred (along with several tens of thousands of troops) as Hannibal thought up new and clever ways of running circles around them.
Fabius (for short) knew he was no match for Hannibal in the field but he also knew that Hannibal was vulnerable because his supply lines were very, very long. Fabius harried Hannibal’s foraging parties, never engaged in a pitched battle, kept his own lines internal so Hannibal had no chance to march directly on Rome. In short, Fabius waged a war of attrition, wearing down Hannibal’s resources until he had to abandon the campaign. He did it so well that it’s now called the Fabian Strategy.

What the heck does this have to do with the here and now?
Well, over the past eight years the Bushies have been assiduous in placing and replacing mid and senior-level posts in government with dyed-in-the-wool neocon soldiers. In the last two years of the Bush/Cheney administration there was a concerted effort to get these parasites ensconced in the civil service where they can never be dislodged. Remember the fanatics they got into the Justice Department? Well, it looks like they were doing the same thing in every other government department.

The feckless Democrats have either completely ignored this maneuver or are just too damn dumb to think of it, I‘m not sure which. So they are now confronted with a solid wall of bureaucracy that is fundamentally opposed to everything they are supposed to stand for. Good luck to Team Obama in getting any results through this Fabian crew.

Not that they need help in screwing up their follow through. Huge numbers of political positions remain unfilled six months into the Obama administration’s first year – the kinds of positions that do the grunt work on getting legislation passed and programs funded and implemented. No one seems to care about the actual workings of government. Important positions at crucial agencies, Treasury for instance, remain unfilled – now because no one wants the jobs. Anyone with a brain can see the train wreck coming and no one wants to be on board when it happens. To top it all off, the cabinet departments themselves are in disarray, since Obama has appointed a Czar for almost every cabinet post no one knows where the actual governing power lies: Who gives the orders? Who has the imprimatur to carry them out? And most important: to whom does Obama listen?
We don’t have a government, we have a Persian court.

What’s it all mean

The truth will set your fee…

Well, you’re not paranoid if they really are after you. In 2008 David Rothkopf published a book called “Superclass” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) wherein he discusses the 6,000 or so people who run the world, how they got to be there and what they intend to do. Highly recommended, very scary.
These folks pretty much have all the useful power and money they need to make things work just the way they want it – then again, so did the Tsars.

The preferred method of control used by the Superclass is the Transnational corporation. These entities have managed, over the last couple of hundred years, to get themselves legal status as ‘persons’, thereby gaining rights of privacy, property and legal recognition that were more properly reserved for individuals. This means they can represent themselves in court on an equal(?) basis as individuals. This seems innocuous until you understand that they now have the ability sue and be sued by other person/entities and that means they have the ability to shield every individual in that corporation from culpability for any actions the corporation might undertake. Most of the tort actions taken by the infamous ‘trial lawyers’ (btw, which lawyers aren’t ‘trial lawyers’?) over the last 123 years are attempts to pierce that veil of protection (see for more information) In addition, these quasi-legal maneuvers have allowed the transnationals to abstract themselves from the suzerainty of any particular nation-state. They are extra-legal insofar as any effective means of control is concerned and pretty much untaxable as well.

Sort of a conspiracy nut’s wet dream, eh? A bunch of freaky rich people with control of vastly powerful mercenary corporations. No rights, no recourse and not conscience in sight…

If you’re looking for information that would confirm this, you need look no further than NAFTA and CAFTA and GATT (oh my!). NAFTA was the trade agreement that would supposedly open up North America as a ‘free trade’ zone with benefits for all. I was originally in favor of this (hey, we all make mistakes) and didn’t believe H. Ross Perot when he described the “loud sucking sound” as the jobs disappeared in a southerly direction – well ‘doom on me’ as they say, south they all went with CAFTA not far behind. The mother of all these agreements is GATT, the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (see for more information). This document is so evil it should drip blood, signatory countries essentially give up their sovereignty where transnational corporations are concerned, no rights, no recourse, etc.

The information is out there (apologies to Fox Mulder) we just have to believe… that we can find it and act on it.

Sounds like it’s time for torches and pitchforks to me.

OK, smartass, so what do we do about it?

I will be writing more about this and related subjects as time goes on but this piece is overlong already, so…

Let’s start with something simple: how do we clean up financial mess we’re in?

Craig’s Twelve Step Recovery Program to Clean up the Mess

1. Bring back Glass-Steagall. Let banks be banks, not financial supermarkets.

2. Clean up the derivatives market, derivatives should be tightly defined and closely controlled.

3. Enforce all extant anti-trust laws, enact new anti-trust laws to deal with the legal end runs developed since Teddy Roosevelt's day - break up the media and banking conglomerates.

4. Mandate position limits in all commodities markets and force immediate disclosure of all positions over 5% in any market.

5. Put into immediate effect strict restrictions on naked short selling and price manipulation.

6. Institute reinstatement of the 'uptick rule'. This rule requires that every short sale transaction be entered at a price that is higher than the price of the previous trade.

7. Prohibit regulated banks from engaging in any speculative markets either for themselves or as agents.

8. Reinstate usury laws and set up oversight and strict regulation of all interstate financial transactions at the national level.

9. Make the bad paper good: go back two years and guarantee all home loans.

10. Eliminate ARMs. All banks must hold all loans they make (ten years or longer) for at least ten years.

11. Reinstate 1932 tax rates, eliminate loopholes.

12. Corporations with headquarters outside the US cannot get US government contracts.

The first eight are pretty much the steps you take if you actually want to get the markets under control again.

Nine and ten are simple ways to redress the balance in the home loan arena and at a far less cost than TARPs I & II. And please don’t talk to me about those evil people who ‘forced’ the poor lenders into giving them loans when they had no ability to pay – I’ll listen to those expressions of outrage when the Guild of Thieves has given back all the obscene profits they made off those loans.

Eleven deals with the ‘redistribution of the wealth’ issue. The tax rate on incomes of $1 million or more in 1932 was: 63%. Y’know how the right wingnuts always get hysterical about this? They keep saying “Soak the rich and they’ll stop producing jobs!”. What a crock! Let me tell you something about rich people: they’re like gerbils in a running wheel - you take away their money, they’ll just go out and make more, it’s what they love, it’s what they do. You couldn’t stop them with a herd of bulldozers. Go look up what percentage of US wealth is held by the richest 5% of US citizens, then go look up those statistics for 1980 when Ronald Reagan started taking care of his friends. If you still want to talk about this, I’ll be here.

Twelve addresses (in a very minor way) the responsibility I feel that corporations owe to the country that made them possible. Halliburton – want to move your HQ to Dubai to avoid paying US corporate taxes? No problem: no more US government contracts for you – have a nice life!

To wrap this up: there are a lot of bad people out there doing a lot of bad things. We just saw them install a sock puppet as president and go merrily on their way looting and pillaging our country.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy nut to see the writing on this wall, at this point they’re so confident that they’re barely bothering to conceal their tracks.

The question for us becomes: what do we get out of all of this? How do we find our way through this bog of liars, thieves and con men?

What we get is the opportunity to be clear eyed and perceptive, to refuse to be steamrollered by a truly shitty healthcare plan because Max Baucus’ face turns purple when he shrieks “Single payer is off the table, single payer is off the table!”

We get to insist that, while not all questions have simple answers, some do. We can have instant, universal, single payer healthcare – tomorrow. Just take the age limit off Medicare, sure there are and will be problems – these can be fixed. What we will have is a framework that works, we know this because it’s already there and it already works. So, what’s the problem?

We get to insist that acting is important, that actually reading a bill you are voting on is a necessary precursor to that vote. We get to insist that every representative and Senator be held personally responsible by his/her constituents for their votes – we get to let them know that we will absolutely vote them out of office if they fail us on crucial issues.

We get to subvert this corrupt and evil paradigm with our intelligence and with our commitment and with our action. We have the tools, we know what needs to be done, all that is left is to act.

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