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Path to Recovery

By: Ann in AZ Friday March 25, 2011 3:54 pm

This is What Democracy Looks Like! (Can’t Back Down!)

I just wanted to say how tickled I was to see large and growing crowds of people who have been actively pushing back against Republics’ attempts to deny workers the right to bargain collectively. What started in Wisconsin seems to be expanding to other nearby states that have also recently acquired Republic Governors. It’s been going so well that I think I smell a true movement developing. The thing is, now that folks are in the streets, the movement must be nurtured; we simply can’t let it stop. This is a matter of the survival of our whole way of life: if we can’t find ways to adapt to new conditions without leaving thousands upon thousands of our own citizens behind, if we can’t get ourselves out from under the thumbs of our newly discovered corporate overlords so that governing is once again by consent of the governed, if we can’t find a way to free our political representatives from their addiction to corporate concession cash for their political coffers, ours will be among the last generations to have lived in a free democratic society.

I was motivated today by the simplistic spinning of a troll on a recent thread. He portrayed private industry as the driving force behind everything good in America. In his view, the proud profit-makers not only

I’m sure he has valid reasons and most certainly he has the right to believe whatever he wants, but I must say, what I saw at the very end of the Bush administration and all the way up to today does not show a private industry success story. Our financial industry was crumbling all around us and came begging for our tax dollars (NYT) no strings attached. Then came the auto industry who was virtually bleeding red ink and needed just a few hundred billion or so, but they’d gladly take whatever they can get (a tip of my hat to Ford for actually being able to stand on its own, likely due to good business practices and better management.) Wait, I think I see a pattern developing! Could it be that some of our largest and sometimes most profitable industries are learning a new financial reality (also a way to cash in on some of those lobbying bucks they’ve doled out to legislators and executive branches of both state and Federal governments). Who’d thunk you could privatize the profits but socialize the losses!

Meanwhile, I am watching as an entire industry that perpetrated a several many frauds on the citizens of this country costing many citizens their homes and/or retirement savings, an industry that not only got bailed out, but got bonuses for all of their misdirected efforts because, as we are told, those contracts could not be broken. Really? Then how is it that the Republic Governors can cancel all the contracts with unions and also want to strip government workers of their right to collective bargaining? Btw, while the captains of industry and finance are living in the lap of luxury, and lapping up all the ego boosting idolatry of movie or rock stars, they are enjoying compensation packages of from seven to eight figures, and generally range from 42 times more than average worker pay in 1980, to 525 times more than the average worker in 2000, to 264 times more than the average worker in 2009. CEO compensation in the USA also vastly exceeds CEO compensation in other countries:

On the other hand, the government workers whose pay and benefits packages are currently under scrutiny in several states based on questionable statistics spouted by those that want to break their unions for political purposes are denigrated. They are called slobs and other nasty names by officials of the states they work for. They are generally belittled by Republics and Tea Party types alike. These people are the teachers that teach our children, the firemen and women and police who we rely on for our protection and security. They are librarians, toll booth attendants, road repair crews, even garbage collectors and sewer workers (because if they don’t do it, who will? Will you? Well, there you go! They deserve respect, too, not to mention a living wage, health care, and perhaps a 401K because Soc. Sec. is not enough to get through a month.) Can anyone answer why it’s alright to disparage the value of the work that these government workers do, while it is considered heresy to the capitalist ideal to dare question whether the CEO or officers of a company that would be bankrupt but for government intervention deserve a bonus for his/her work? In fact, why is it ever okay to dishonor the labor of the rank and file worker whose value is derived from the sweat of their brow and the risk that they take to their life and limb, but to lionize CEOs or officers whose main value is their corporate management skill, or investors whose sole contribution to success is his financial contribution? Put another way, what makes folks think that the sweat of your brow is a less compelling contribution than that of the corporate managers or investors?

Without the sweat equity workers put in along with the risks that they are subject to as a result of their employment, jobs would not get done, garbage would not get collected, sewage plants would go unattended, roads would not get built, airplanes would not fly. No amount of management skills and money could make up for the dedication of the work force. It’s time workers regain their dignity, march down the street with their heads high, and take their government back from the corporatists and the politicians that keep them pumping out campaign funds. There are other ways of funding campaigns that don’t include soliciting funds from special interests, but there is no way for a democracy to work if the elected officials are not adequately representing the voters. For that reason, the first thing on the agenda of the throngs of people still demonstrating, as well as those taking signatures for recall of those Governors and Senators who have remained so dismissive of the workers, should certainly be campaign finance reform. Good luck to all who have spent their time doing the lion’s share of the work to correct the disastrous effects of the last decade or so. Here’s hoping that if we all pull together we can get this ship of state back on track by the election of 2012, although something tells me it’s gonna take a lot more than luck.


The Root of Political Evil

By: Ann in AZ Friday November 12, 2010 1:12 pm

I have come to some conclusions that I’d like to posit. What would folks think of taking affirmative actions on a bipartisan basis, because there is something I think all sides are in favor of that we will never get from our current politicians unless we all band together and demand it.

That’s right, the one big thing beside jobs or anything else divisive that both Dems and Rethugs might favor (that is, the grass roots of the parties) is campaign finance reform. I think we ought to organize around that one big gorilla in the room.  And while we’re at it, not only should we demand reform of campaign financing, we should demand that Congress write very crystal clear legislation making certain that even the deliberately obtuse Supreme Court cannot mistake: that Congress has never previously deliberately made any law bestowing personhood on any corporation or any entity other than a singular human being, even if they did endow some entities with some of the rights of humans like the right to own property, etc. That means one man, one vote, one voice. No second bites of the apple by claiming corporate entities, or worse yet, their money, has any right to freedom of speech, and any claim by courts that they do should be considered legislating from the bench. Everybody should just think of this as the first step to taking our country back, because without this step, our legislators are owned by the corporations, and since they own our elected legislative representatives, they own us as well.

Who knows, if all goes well with this campaign, we may even decide to figure out how to resolve the problem of CEOs and corporate officers pay currently averaging 263 times the level of the average of worker’s pay in this country.  Executive officers pay in this country is not only disproportionate to average worker’s pay; it is also disproportionate to the pay of executive officers in other developed countries, a problem that needs to be addressed.  But that problem never will be addressed until we, the people, are back in control of our government, and our government provides the regulation, the oversight and once again stands as the arbiter between our would-be corporate overlords and the workers that actually provide manpower that make our corporations work.   Until then, middle class hopes and dreams continue to diminish along with their purchasing power, class warfare continues to morph into the new norm, and neo-feudalism is born.  The powers that be may continue to wonder why we are having such economic problems while their very own minions (I’m talking to you, Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke) facilitate the problems as they attempt to inflate a new bubble to feed to the insatiable Wall Street cabal.  But we, the people, know in our hearts that the solutions to all our problems begin with real campaign finance reform.

Christine “I’m Not Responsible” O’Donnell – First Question, How?

By: Ann in AZ Thursday September 16, 2010 12:06 am

Picture by Giant Ginkgo

Picture by Giant Ginkgo

Okay, just a couple of question regarding Christine O’Donnell. According to Wiki, Christine was born Aug. 27, 1969, which makes her 41 years old. I see no reference to her ever being married. In fact, in a Politico article written by Patrick Gavin, she is quoted as saying:

And I’ve actually had people say to me, ‘Wy (sic) do you choose a career over marriage?’ Honestly, I’ve had only a few significant relationships and they’ve broken up with me. And one of the things I’ve been told is, ‘If you weren’t so strong, you’d be married by now.’

If she has been able to live up to her own standards, she should still be a virgin. Therefore, my question is, who is she to spout off about a subject about which she obviously know nothing. She knows less than nothing, really, since her sense of morality constrains her from, shall we say, exploring her own sexuality. To my way of thinking, she simply missed her calling. She should’ve been a nun.

Next question, if you can’t even seem to manage your own college career, or pay your mortgage, or keep a job, what are your qualifications for being a Senator. Shouldn’t you have proved your meddle in some job, any job, first? Yet her college sued her in 1994 for $4,823 and suspended her degree until she paid up. Actually, she was short one course for graduation anyway, so she was not actually a college grad until 2010.

In 2003, she bought a home in Wilmington, DE, and went to work for a conservative publisher named Intercollegiate Studies Institute. But she was fired by 2004 after filing a gender discrimination case against her employer. She subsequently sued, but dropped her suit complaining that she had run out of money to pursue the $6.9 million case. Gee, I always thought if the case was viable, the lawyers would take it on contingency and even finance it themselves if it was lucrative enough.

Of all the things a person doesn’t ever want to get, and luckily, most people never see one, the one closest to the bottom of the barrel for me is a Federal Tax Lien. That’s what 2005 wrought for Ms. O’Donnell. The New Castle Recorder documents a Federal Tax Lien of $11,744.59 dated March 3, 2010 for the tax period ending 12/31/2005. Miss "I’m Not Responsible" O’Donnell first denied the existence of any such lien, then claimed that the IRS had admitted that it was just a computer generated mistake. How or why the IRS would issue a tax lien mistakenly to a person who was running for the Senate at the time that the lien was recorded and had previously run for the Senate three times, once against the current VP of the US, was unverifiable. As to the disposition, veracity or validity of the lien to begin with, that also appears to be up for grabs.

Even weirder, though, is the sale of her house in 2008 to her campaign attorney & boyfriend just prior to the scheduled foreclosure. However, a judgment was filed by our old friend MERS for $90,421.31 on May 13, 2008. However, proceedings were stayed on August 12, 2008. There appears to be some discrepancy among sources regarding whether that debt has ever been paid in full or not.

This woman is arguably less prepared and less qualified to hold the office of Senator than Sarah was to be Governor. Even so, she appears to have surpassed many a corrupt politician already. I’d go so far as to say that Charlie Rangel has nothing on her! So if we’re all real lucky, she won’t be elected, and if she’s elected, she’d quit within a year. With a bit of a checkered past, how does this woman go out in public and discuss personal responsibility, financial integrity, or sex with a straight face? And how does she become the Republican candidate for Delaware Senator in 2010? And are Republicans really that superficial?

It’s Kitties!

By: Ann in AZ Thursday April 15, 2010 10:04 pm


Let’s face it, folks, this site is full of a bunch of people that are big softies for animals. I dare say, most of us have pets of one sort or another, and many of us have cats. Up until last year I had both dogs and cats.

I lived in a rural riparian area from 1991 till early 2000. We had nearly an acre on which we had 4 horses, 3 dogs and 3 cats. When I moved back to the city due to divorce, I still had 2 of the dogs and all three of my cats. Then I lost one of my cats within a week after moving into the house I bought in 2003. When my sister died at the end of 2003, I inherited her two cats. I never was any good at getting rid of animals that had been in the family for many years.

But the last year has been hard on my little family as the pets got older. Both of the dogs have died of cancer within the year, and the two oldest cats died. Since all of the animals were adopted off the streets, I’m not certain the exact ages of the two cats that died, but they have been members of the family since at least 1990 for my cat and between 1991-1993 for both my sister’s cats (they were mother and son.) That meant my family now consisted of only me and two senior cats. So when a female cat in heat ended up coming in my yard, getting pregnant, and doing everything she could to convince me to let her in, I finally relented. So now, here’s kitties! (Yes, I will be having her spayed ASAP when the kittens are weened, and yes, I will be giving the kittens away, not keeping them. However, I do expect to enjoy the hell out of them for the two months that they will be here. And yes, I will get rid of them responsibly, either to good homes or to a legit pet store or no kill shelter.)


Making Home Affordable Makes My Home Affordable

By: Ann in AZ Saturday March 27, 2010 10:14 am

I had some good news yesterday that I just had to share! I successfully made it through the government maze known as the “Making Home Affordable” program and lowered my mortgage payments by a little over $100 monthly. For those of you that are trying, for those that may be discouraged by the lengthy waiting periods with no word at all, or for those who have been told you are not eligible even though you think you should be when you read the information posted on the government site, I would advise you to go back and try, try again. I can tell you that all of these things happened to me along the way. You almost have to consider this a game of “Beat the System” but don’t let it beat you. The key is persistence.

I started the process back in August, 2009, after I first checked the government site to find out if I would be eligible. It appeared I should be eligible since my mortgage payment exceeded 31% of my income by five percentage points. I figured that if I went through the program I would save over $100/month, and at my income level, that’s more than enough to make it worthwhile. So I called my mortgage company as instructed at the government site. The result of my initial call was that I was told I would not be eligible. I argued that the government site tells me otherwise, but the person on the other end of the phone was little more than a bank trained parrot who kept repeating the company line, not eligible, not eligible, not eligible. Well, I believed the government more than the bank (which had a vested interest in saying no), so the next day I called back and this time I had my thoughts a little more collected and had left my frustration behind before I picked up the phone. Instead of telling the switchboard I needed to talk to the Making Home Affordable program, I asked for the mortgage modification dept. I have since come to the conclusion that my first call was misdirected (partly due to my own inexperience with the program) to the part of the program that deals with refinance.

That call affirmed my eligibility for the program and gave me a list of things that I would need to collect, copy and turn in to verify the information needed to process my claim. One of those things was check stubs to show my earnings. I earn a small amount for an approx. 12 hr work week for which I get a monthly check. However, I hadn’t realized that the check came without a check stub. I just got a 1099 at the end of the year, but I had no other way to verify my monthly or weekly income. So I decided I would have to photocopy my checks and wait a few months to apply so that I could give them the two or three months worth of check stubs required. At some point I had a few questions and called back again and was again told that I was not eligible. I’m not sure if this time was because the twit at the bank was just poorly trained or whether I once again was misdirected by the switchboard. But I would not be dissuaded; I called right back and this time reached the right department who reaffirmed my eligibility. They were also able to answer all my questions and I was soon to be on my way. After just one more reiteration of my “not eligible” status was once again refuted, the next call I made was after the holiday season and I was able to tell them I was now ready to apply.

By this time, it seems their competence at handling my calls and dealing with my requests showed what I considered a growth spurt. I was told that now they were able to take my initial application over the phone. I gave them the information asked for and was instructed that I should expect a package to arrive by fed ex. The package would include all the information that I would need to complete the process, including a check list of things that I would need to supply to them to verify my income, the source of the hardship that caused me to apply to begin with (in my case, illness), tax form information, whether you have a Freddie Mac mortgage, and any other information about your life that could have even the most tangential relevance to your application to reduce your monthly mortgage amount. The package included an instruction sheet and a time limit to return the package. The lady told me on the phone that this program is set up not to cost the home owner a dime, and she wasn’t kidding. They even provided a fed-ex envelope that included a pre-addressed peel off shipping label to be attached to make it easier to overnight the package to be return to them on a timely basis.

The package I received was dated January 14, and the package was to be returned by February 13. I received a call from them about a week or so prior to my return date, which I am assuming was meant to remind me about the return deadline. I’m very glad they called, because I might have forgotten about the deadline if they hadn’t called. I got the package in with one day to spare, and expected to hear back soon (somewhere I read they would get in touch within 10 days.) I did hear back, but they asked for some supplemental information regarding whether I might have assets (perhaps a hidden fortune in stocks, bonds, etc.) the value of my 1995 Toyota Corolla with nearly 120K miles on it, etc. Since they are the government, I joke about it, but I would expect no less as a taxpayer concerned that they’re not giving our money away to some scam artist.

I was given a number to fax the information to, which I did, but when I called about a week later, they said their computer does not show that they had received the pages I faxed. So they gave me another number to fax to, and I resent the info as soon as I could get my fax to work out some glitch it had developed. Then yesterday I called back again to find out if they had gotten my info, and after I once again went through the maze of phone numbers and questions, I finally reached someone who, after I answered just a few more questions, could tell me that I had made it through the system and my mortgage amount would be less by over $100 with a whole new interest rate almost 2 points lower (from 6.5% to 4.6%). Yay! I will be operating under a trial period for 3 months and then supposedly my mortgage rate will be permanently lower.

As to advice to anyone who is trying to go through the same program and is experiencing a high degree of frustration, just know that frustration is part and parcel of what it takes to go through some of these government programs. As taxpayers, you should not expect it to be easy. I would, however, advise you to take names, record dates of all phone contacts or correspondence, record what you were told, verify everything and try, try again if you think you’ve been misinformed. Don’t give up! Adhere to the letter of the law, but don’t let misguided or misinformed or just plain crooked bank personnel buffalo you into believing you’re not eligible when the government says you are. If necessary, find a way to report abuse by banks that don’t want to give you benefits your government has carved out for you. Adhere to deadlines. Cross your Ts and dot those Is. Then send copies and only copies (never originals!) of everything. While you’re making those copies, make one complete copy for yourself. In the event that things get lost, you don’t want to have to go back through numerous files to re-gather the information.

My understanding is there may be some additional programs developed more recently. These programs now include Second Mortgage Modification and Foreclosure Alternatives as well as the original Refinancing and Modification programs, so if you need to, check out the government website again. I wish all who have found themselves foundering due to the mortgage mess good luck. Hope you have at least as good a result as I did due to perseverance.

Why Democrats Election Chances May Turn on the Health Care Issue

By: Ann in AZ Thursday February 25, 2010 11:36 am

Picture Courtesy of Leoncillo Sabino

Remember when Newt Gingrich thought it was a good idea to allow the federal government to shut down rather than give in to the Democratic President regarding budget disputes? Newt thought that the people would blame the President for the shutdown, thus making the President and Democrats look weak, incompetent and impotent against the apparent strength and virility or the newly elected Republican majority Congress. The first term President, Clinton, rightly inferred that if he didn’t stand up to them now, Republicans would usurp all the power of the Federal government for the remainder of his single term as President. The showdown came and a game of chicken ensued. Ultimately, the President allowed the government to shut down rather than give in to Republicans. And that is how President Clinton became the first two-term Democratic President since FDR and ultimately presided over the “longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a federal surplus” Quote is courtesy of wiki.

Why does it seem so hard for so many Democrats to understand that the same thing is happening right now? However, instead of Republicans vs a Democratic President, now there is a showdown brewing between conservatives (including conservadems who call themselves moderates) and everybody else. The main issue that highlights this fomenting confrontation is health care reform, or more specifically, the public option. Public opinion polls show that it is still a very popular idea with those most likely to vote, and that includes the idea of opening up Medicare to people of all ages as long as those under age 65 pay premiums. However, the media still report that many legislators are reluctant to pass any reform bill.

Democratic legislators seem paralyzed by the disparity in their own ranks, and appear oblivious to the fact that Republicans are sitting back laughing at them for it. Republicans believe in party discipline and have long known the value of walking in lockstep with the leaders of their party; Democrats have yet to learn that lesson. So when we call them the “Party of No,” they simply respond that Democrats have a large enough majority to pass anything they want without them, and if the Dems can’t, it’s not their fault. Yet the only way the “Party of No” strategy actually works for Republicans is when it makes Democrats look weak and impotent. Once you put through a health care bill by whatever means necessary, the Republicans ability to portray the Dems as weak and ineffectual will likely reverse. I believe at that point minority leadership will bring their flock around to start to work in a newfound spirit of cooperation, newly chastened and humbler. If then there is still persistent resistance on the part of Democrats, the only remaining reason most citizens will blame for their Representative’s or Senator’s reluctance to do their jobs and legislate even the hard stuff is the fact that legislators’ financial backers, lobbyists for special interest groups of the day, object to it.

Trust me; constituents will not appreciate their representative’s rejection of popular programs that translate into the will of the people no matter how much money the special interest groups pour into their campaigns. This should be a no brainer. Yet some resist, and they resist using reconciliation to enact any possible health care reform as well.

This does not bode well for the re-election of Democrats. Nor do the chances look good for the re-election of a President who squandered his chance for change because he got too busy playing the role of conciliator and consensus builder rather than that of leader. If the President wants to be a conciliator or consensus builder, he should have stayed in the Senate. But for some reason, the President seems to feel that he can convince nearly anyone at anytime of anything, including his fellow party members and even members of the loyal opposition by the force and virtue of his logic and his charisma alone. Fellow Democrats refusal to follow, especially after he backed away from the last thing he convinced folks about, the public option, has made the President’s weakness and impotence as noticeable as an ankle length slip with a knee length dress. Those of his party that are up for re-election might want to remember that as the President flounders, so goes his party. You might want to help the President to support the people’s will, the public option.

The failure of majorities in both houses of Congress and the President of the same party to work together on health care, an accommodation that will be needed as health care cost skyrocket and bankrupt more and more American families, has rendered Democrats extremely ineffective in their jobs. The perception of voters in November will likely be inertia on the Democratic side and fiscal recklessness on the Republican side, with a wide sprinkling of incompetence and corruption on both sides. Both parties’ candidates will continue to be laughing stocks, jokes, fodder for late night comedians. However, this is the Republican’s dreams come true. Their job is easier; they just need to convince voters that it’s not their fault that Democrats are their own worst enemy. And you know what? They’re right, because Dems are the party currently in power so it’s up to them to prove that they can govern.

If Dems want to get re-elected, then they should get busy and work together to develop the health care bill so that it will be acceptable to the majority of the people of this country. The President’s bill needs to be improved, not watered down. A public option to boost competition and help to control costs should be included. There should be no mandates to buy insurance unless a strong public option is included. The bill should protect consumers by preventing companies from using some of their most despicable ploys to get rid of customers the second they need the insurance they’ve been paying for (rescission), or from rejecting people who want to buy insurance or charging double or triple due to pre-existing conditions. A good bill should not tax those whose insurance rates are already high to pay for all of this. Taxes should be assessed to those who can most afford to pay for them. That is not the middle class. Oh, and it would be helpful if something in the bill actually commences during the term of the Congress that passed it. Promises to end the donut hole for the elderly don’t help if the benefits are a decade from implementation. This is likely to be the last chance for Democrats to prove that they can craft a bill that is a win-win and that they have the expertise in lawmaking necessary to be productive partners to a productive Democratic President. Citizens would certainly be pleased if their Congressional representation would prove what they can do to make things better for the American people. Those that are not prepared to do whatever it takes might as well pull a Bayh because neither the Senate nor the House needs them.

This Is Getting Personal!

By: Ann in AZ Monday December 28, 2009 10:45 pm

Today a friend brought to my attention an article in the Washington Post entitled The not-so-sweet side of closing ‘doughnut hole.’ The part of the article that is most pertinent to me is this:

The closing of an unusual gap in Medicare drug coverage — a gap that Republicans had, when they controlled Capitol Hill and the White House, insisted was needed for the government to be able to afford the program — would "forever end this indefensible injustice for American’s seniors," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in announcing that the Senate would join the House in supporting the change.

But details of the change underscore that, for patients and the federal budget alike, the implications of the sprawling health-care bills pushed through by congressional Democrats are more nuanced than lawmakers’ talking points.

The Democrats and President Obama have been clear that the "doughnut hole," as the gap is known, would disappear gradually over the next 10 years. They have not mentioned that Medicare patients would, according to House figures, face a slightly larger hole in coverage during two of the next three years than they do today.

Just so y’all know I’m in that doughnut hole as we speak. I got there in Sept. and won’t be out until after the first of January, if then, since I’m switching insurance companies (or trying to.) This stuff is not just policy to me; it’s reality.

While they’re fixing things, I can only hope someone thought to fix the two year waiting period for folks who have been accepted for Social Security Disability benefits to become eligible for Medicare. I’ll never know what twisted rationale there is behind that nonsensical regulation. Logic dictates that if a person needs disability benefits because they can no longer support themselves, they obviously need medical care but have no means to pay for it.

All in all, the bill they’re threatening to pass is full of many "nuances" that seem more like flaws to me. I couldn’t be more disgusted.

Ignorance Is Bliss

By: Ann in AZ Saturday December 26, 2009 2:56 pm

Well, that’s about as ignorant a screed as I’ve ever read. Funny how the millions upon millions of corporate welfare we’ve been handing out of our tax dollars to the financial sector, who came running to the former Secretary of Treasury Paulson (who also happened to be the former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs) doesn’t seem to bother you. Funny how the only big bank allowed to fail was Lehman Bros., Goldman Sachs chief competitor. I wouldn’t mind bailing out the industry so much myself if it was really meant to save our economy, but not with no strings attached. Warren Buffet didn’t lend out his money without strings. He demanded that the borrower meet certain expectations or they would be in default. What I expect of our government is fiscal responsibility and that they perform their fiduciary duties to us including due diligence, which would include oversight and accountability. Why shouldn’t we get the same fair shake that bankers are expected to offer their clients, or was the money needed mostly to pay for bonuses to the very people who crashed our economy to begin with? Think about it: seven and eight digit bonuses (that’s million and tens of millions, in case you weren’t educated enough to know this, mwl) to cover their, well, basically, gambling debts. Isn’t that what it should be called when you leverage up to 90% on weak assets and later go bust?

But the economic industry isn’t the only commercial enterprise we’re financing with public funds, now is it? Since the middle class is having some difficulty affording the widgets they once purchased in bulk, now that their standard of living has been eroded and remained stagnant for almost a decade, perhaps a generation or more, industry after industry has come to the government with their hands out insisting that our economy will crash without them. First the car industry, now the health care industry.

The health care industry is about to get a big boon of thirty to forty million additional customers, forced into servitude by a Federal government mandate, who says we must each pay thousands monthly into the private insurance companies so that they don’t have to call it a raise in taxes. They say this is fair and reasonable since we will all, sooner or later, have to avail ourselves and/or our families of medical services. While this is true, I fail to see how the method our current administration has espoused is really any different from George W. Bush’s suggestion of medical saving accounts, which suggestion was soundly rejected by the majority during his administration. What we are currently being served up is little more than a country wide pool of medical savings accounts wherein the administrators of the funds may use them to pay for lobbyists or finance politicians to do their bidding against the account holders (that would be us, in case you didn’t notice, mwl) best interests. Oh, and btw, they may also dip into the funds for multi-million dollar fees for themselves as officers of the private corporations, the Boards of Directors, and the Golden Parachutes they will need to insure that their retirement nests are fully feathered. That’s not to mention the return on investments their stockholders expect.

Recently in the news were reports that quasi government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were promised unlimited additional funds to prop up their precarious position as the owner or guarantor of nearly half of the mortgages in this country, or the securities that the mortgages are supposed to back up. The pair are said to be already into the government coffers for a combined $111 billion dollars. But the Obama Administration has decided to take the $400B each cap off of the amount of taxpayer money they will provide to insure that the entities do not crash and burn, which would have happened already if the government hadn’t stepped up support. Still, apparently the government is not balking at the multi-million dollar pay to the CEOs of each of the corporations, since these paychecks are a pittance in comparison to the tens of millions paid to each CEO prior to 2008 when the government seized the two corporations. According to Andrew Ross Sorkin in the book Too Big To Fail (p.224, 2009):

Treasury officials talked about offering Fannie and Freddie two doors; Door 1, you cooperate; Door 2, we’re doing it anyway.

True to their traditions, Treasury made the announcement regarding the removal of caps on the amount of our money they would spend on Fannie and Freddie on Christmas Eve, after Congress was out of session until sometime next year. Heaven forbid there should be any sunshine between the public or any duly elected representative thereof and whatever the Treasury wants to do. But rest assured, they surely know what’s best for us.

Perhaps if these corporations were to operate as true capitalists, able to sink or swim according to their own abilities and ingenuity, perhaps if they were truly entrepreneurs who didn’t require the purchase of a captive clientele, it might not be so unsavory to those of us who are just trying to make ends meet or at least, to insure a reasonable gap. We’d kinda like to have a little left over to put our children through college or to save for retirement, because Social Security alone, or any other social safety net program this country offers to its citizens is a subsistence standard of living, not the lap of luxury, fool.