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The Kings Speak: Blankfein and Dimon Preach Austerity

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

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The banksters have launched a new offensive in their never ending quest to get the rest of society to pay for the crisis they created and capitulate to a life of debt slavery.

It began with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon participating in a one on one interview appropriately located at Neoliberal dream factory the Council On Foreign Relations in D.C.

Dimon claimed he did the Federal Reserve a favor by taking over Bear Stearns (at $2 a share) and that JP Morgan was expanding its business operations, including a recent move into Africa highlighting JP Morgan’s relationship with the energy industry (what could go wrong?). FYI, that means we now have a stronger “American Interest” there so defense cuts will have to wait.

The next day Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson – namesakes of the commission whose recommendation was to cut taxes for the rich yet again while forcing austerity on the 99% – to paint President Obama’s positions on the economy as the opposite “extreme” of the Republican position. Therefore of course Blankfein called for “compromise” between those “extremes.”

VIDEO

So the banksters are not content to bribe Congress and throw money at both “extremists” running for President, they also want to set the terms of the debate for whomever wins – austerity for the poor, socialism for Wall Street. And hey, if the Federal Reserve makes you take a company for $2 a share then gives you endless loans while you get TARP from Congress, well somehow you have to find a way to make it through the day.

Guys, you aren’t fooling anyone with your phony patriotism and crocodile tears.

When Occupy called for transparency this wasn’t exactly the goal…

Occupy Retrospection: What Have We Learned?

3:19 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

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“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass

It has been over a year since Americans took to the streets to voice opposition to the established order – in all that vague glory. Many were disgusted by Wall Street’s numerous crimes and a lack of accountability from a corrupt government, others with a poor job market, and some did not even know why they were protesting but for a deep intuitive sense that something was wrong.

So after a year what have we all learned? Five lessons from the Occupy Wall Street movement (feel free to add your own).

Lesson #1 America Is Extremely Unequal

America has always had rich and poor, fat cats and starving dogs, but by 2012 the gap between the rich and everyone else had yawned to levels unseen in generations.

From Forbes:

The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000. The real disparity between the classes isn’t in income, however, but in net value: The 1 percent are worth about $8.4 million, or 70 times the worth of the lower classes.

The 1 percent are executives, doctors, lawyers and politicians, among other things. Within this group of people is an even smaller and wealthier subset of people, 1 percent of the top, or .01 percent of the entire nation. Those people have incomes of over $27 million, or roughly 540 times the national average income. Altogether, the top 1 percent control 43 percent of the wealth in the nation; the next 4 percent control an additional 29 percent.

It’s historically common for a powerful minority to control a majority of finances, but Americans haven’t seen a disparity this wide since before the Great Depression — and it keeps growing.

So the Top 5% control roughly 72% of the nation’s wealth.

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To dice it down even further, the top 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom half – 155 million – Americans combined.

Dice it further? Fine. Six members of one family – the Waltons – have more wealth than the bottom 30% of Americans.

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(Occupy Wall Street Protester)

This is extreme inequality by any measure and only getting worse as – according to the Federal Reserve – the only class of Americans to increase their wealth post-crash has been the top 1%.

Lesson #2 Property Rights, For Some

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Occupy May Day Is Tomorrow

1:47 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

[Editor's Note: Be Here or Be Square. Check out FDL's May Day 2012 coverage page.  Brian Sonenstein has more on May Day 2012 at Firedoglake.]

PhotobucketMay Day, a holiday created in part to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, Illinois, has become a global celebration in almost every country except, ironically, the United States. That Ends Tomorrow.

A General Strike has been called and not just in America but throughout the world.

Bloomberg:

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth. In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower. “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

OccupyMay1st.org:

May Day is an international workers’ day celebrated in more than eighty countries to honor labor and left-wing movements. Originally organized to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre, the day has broadened to include workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and anti-war efforts. The occupy movement is calling on the ninety-nine percent to no longer stand idly by and remain complacent. May Day is an opportunity to flex our collective power to show the plutocracy that their time is over, that profits over people will no longer be the modus operandi… So will you call out of work for the sons and daughters fighting an illegitimate war, endangering themselves to enrich CEOs? Will you buy nothing in support of the ten million foreclosed homes expected in 2012? Will you march out of classes for the millions of uninsured children in this country? Will you general strike with me?

Facebook:

BEGINNING MAY 1, 2012 NO WORK – NO SCHOOL – NO SHOPPING – NO BANKING – NO TRADING THE PEOPLE OF THE PLANET WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS #OLA & #OLB are calling on all people of the world to start planning NOW for a Global Strike. The goal is to shut down commerce worldwide and show the 1% we will not be taken for granted, we will not be silenced, WE WILL NOT MOVE until our grievances are redressed.

Occupy Together:

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action… If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives. Here are some examples to get you thinking: Move Your Money – Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs – Start a Personal/Community Garden – Have a Free Store/Fair: Get together and share your unwanted items with others – Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary – Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language. We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

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A Look At Occupy The SEC

7:28 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

When a small band of citizens took to the streets on September 17th of last year few knew what to make of them. What followed was an explosion of creativity and activism – first leading to thousands coming to New York City to Occupy Zuccotti Park Liberty Plaza, then to sister occupations in cities and towns throughout the country and most recently to a series of offshoot movements like Occupy Our Homes.

The latest offshoot I have become aware of is Occupy The SEC which represents a different kind of activism because rather than physically trying to stop foreclosures or occupying a specific space, Occupy the SEC offers detailed policy responses to proposed financial regulations.

From the Occupy The SEC website:

Occupy the SEC is a group of concerned citizens, activists, and financial professionals with decades of collective experience working at many of the largest financial firms in the industry.

Why is this significant? Because despite public acknowledgements by Bankster CEOs and executives that Occupy Wall Street “is right, in general” the relentless attack from the Corporate Media has been that protesters are not sophisticated enough to understand the many splendored financial markets and the firms that operate in them and subsequently Wall Street and its activities are so complex that the average American can not understand them enough to critique them. This fallacy forms much of the basis for the elite and their media’s backlash against OWS. The trotting out of Wall Street apparatchiks (who happen to be in government at the moment) to deliver a consensus view of how the economy works and why Wall Street is indispensable has been a perpetual dog and pony show to confuse the citizenry on what is actually going on.

But is there really such a consensus among those with the suitable qualifications and knowledge bases? Au contraire mes amis réactionnaires.

If nothing else Occupy The SEC offers more proof that such a consensus is not overwhelming within the financial industry (if it ever existed at all). Below two members of the Occupy The SEC working group, Alexis Goldstein and Caitlin Kline, discuss a comment letter Occupy The SEC issued on the implementation of the Volcker Rule (Start at 5 mins).

If you are anything like me, and if you are lucky you aren’t, nothing beats schadenfreude. And oh how this Up with Chris Hayes segment, complete with an exchange between Congresswoman Maloney and Goldstein, serves up the schadenfreude. The Congresswoman is caught flat footed and tries to keep pivoting to the transportation bill then says one of her FinReg bills does something different than it actually does… but no. As someone that has worked for a few legislators I will only say in fairness that few to none of them actually write the bills they sponsor and vote for – most bills are written by staff in conjunction with various interests. Which is to say it is possible that Congresswoman Maloney is not being dishonest just genuinely doesn’t know what is in her own bills (if that makes it better?).

WATCH

Revenge of the technocrats! Now this does represent a real threat to the status quo’s modus operandi vis a vis Wall Street (there’s no such thing as too much Latin in one sentence etc.) because there is a standing media process to filter moralistic and partisan arguments regarding Wall Street’s greed and criminality – greed is necessary and “it’s just a few bad apples” – but there is currently no real filter for claims based on technical exactitude. So for now this seems to be a pretty effective tactic though I imagine Wall Street will resort to the tactical response conservatives use when opacity starts to fail, outright fantastic lying.

In any case, Occupy The SEC is definitely an offshoot of OWS to watch and I’m looking forward to see what they come out with next. Check out their Blog.

This Week In Occupy May Day

12:37 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

Last Week.

* Labor Activist Video calling for Wildcat Strike on May Day:

(Occupy May Day 2012)

 

If you are involved in your Local Union, contact your fellow laborers about organizing May Day events or participating in them.

If you are not in a union but involved in your local Occupy, see how your Occupy is joining in local annual May Day festivities.

If you are involved in neither but want to get involved in a Local, I recommend you contact the Industrial Workers of the World at http://www.iww.org/.

Pete Seeger singing L’Internationale.

To learn more about May Day and Labor History, visit http://cwcs.ysu.edu/resources/museums to find a Labor Museum or Exhibit in your area. Labor History is important American History.

* The Occupied Social Network, Occupii:

BEGINNING MAY 1, 2012

NO WORK – NO SCHOOL – NO SHOPPING – NO BANKING – NO TRADING

THE PEOPLE OF THE PLANET WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS

#OLA & #OLB are calling on all Occupations and all Labor Unions to start planning NOW for a Global Strike. The goal is to shut down commerce worldwide and show the 1% we will not be taken for granted, we will not be silenced, WE WILL NOT MOVE until our grievances are redressed.

Every continent, every country, every state, every city will stand up.

Labor and workers are under attack by the 1%. Occupy stands Immigrants and with Labor both organized and not. Unions and union rights are what made our working class strong. Every benefit we have as working people has come from the struggles of organized labor and immigrants fighting for their rights. Now they are trying to destroy our bargaining rights, they want their greedy hands on our pensions. They don’t have enough already? ENOUGH.

A DAY FOR MIGRANT RIGHTS, LABOR RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS.

STOP FORECLOSURES!!!

We demand good jobs and good pay for everyone on the planet. Citizen of the country they work in or not. Outsourcing will no longer be tolerated by the so called “job creators” for cheap labor. All human beings deserve a living wage.

Education, Housing and Healthcare are human rights NOT “entitlements.”

ALL COUNTRIES PARTICIPATING: If you send me translation of this invite in your native language, I will create an event on this page to coincide with the English version. Please send to Tkukreja315@gmail.com

* UK “Occupy Cafe ” member Anna Harris is ready for May Day:

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!
It is obvious we are headed for disaster unless we change course drastically, and we don’t have a lot of time. A project is being discussed internationally in the Occupy movement – Global Strike May 2012. What we are proposing is a continuous strike, a permanent withdrawal from the current system, a signal for all those who feel their work to be meaningless and unsatisfying, to switch to alternative means which are beneficial to the whole community, to support themselves and their families. In order to make this feasible this alternative system needs to be up and running by May 2012. Outrageous! Impossible! I agree with you. Nevertheless it has to happen if we are serious about moving from this morally bankrupt and physically damaging path we are on, to a sustainable system that puts people before profit. Join us on Take the Squares Network https://n-1.cc/pg/groups/1010883/15m-global-strike/. and please pass around to friends and colleagues. Anna@shsh.co.uk

* Speaking of the Take The Square Network – will Occupy May Day go Global?

 

What are you doing on May 1st, 2012?

 

Donald Rumsfeld Uhhh Tim Geithner May Not Serve In Obama 2nd Term

12:24 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

 

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(Timothy Geithner by J Wohland)

 

Sometimes Presidents make horrible cabinet choices.

Bad cabinet choices can wound a good administration or damage one already spiraling down. It is easy to see how it could happen – someone comes highly recommended, with an impressive resume and lots of other credentials. They do well in the interview process and have a good rapport with the President-elect and his trusted aides or maybe he or she is a trusted aid. Given that dynamic, it’s not hard to see why George W. Bush chose Donald Rumsfeld and its not that hard to see why Barack Obama chose Tim Geithner. But in both instances Presidents made tragic errors.

Though I’m sure Bush was warned by people about Rumsfeld, it is well known Obama had a warning almost immediately from Senator Byron Dorgan that Summers, Geithner and crew were the wrong choices for his economic team, from New York Magazine:

There’s a poignant moment of sorts in December 2008 when the North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan implores the president-elect not to go with his economic team. “I don’t understand how you could do this,” he tells him. “You’ve picked the wrong people!” As indeed Obama did, under the tutelage of Robert Rubin, who also tried to finagle a White House guru role for himself, not unlike the perch from which he helped wreak havoc at Citigroup during its subprime orgy

Indeed, possibly the worst mistake of the Obama presidency. Larry Summers and his former Deputy Tim Geithner were the embodiment of the economic establishment that lead to the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, Summers and Geithner lead the campaign to oust Brooksley Born from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission – why? Because Mrs. Born wanted to regulate derivatives thinking they were dangerous and would lead to a financial meltdown. Summers, Geithner, Greenspan and Rubin destroyed Born then supported legislation that further deregulated derivatives. Woops.

Presidents also don’t like to admit they made a horrible mistake (who does really?) and so the most tacit admission is found when they dump people in the second term. This is what happened with Rumsfeld and why Tim Geithner is now, surely with White House consent, hinting he won’t be back:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said he doesn’t expect President Barack Obama to ask him to stay in office if he’s re-elected, and dismissed Wall Street’s concerns about financial regulations.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

I’m confident if Obama isn’t re-elected Geithner will be one of the reasons why.

There are many good reasons to dump Tim Geithner like him being a blatant Wall Street puppet, not paying his taxes and being in charge of the IRS, having his fingerprints all over the Bankster give away that has people in the streets…but an even more compelling reason for Geithner to go is this -

 

What if Elizabeth Warren Becomes a Senator?

 

No one did more in the Obama Administration to undermine Elizabeth Warren than Tim Geithner.

From HuffPo:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed opposition to the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner’s views.

The financial reform bill passed by the Senate on Thursday mandates the creation of a new federal entity charged with protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

But if Geithner has his way, the most prominent advocate for creating the agency may not be picked to lead it.

Simon Johnson:

And having Ms. Warren on the scene — providing an alternative, pro-consumer perspective — may not be to his liking.

President Obama missed his best opportunity to reform the financial system when advisers — including Mr. Geithner – recommended in March 2009 that he defer to top bankers

But forget the backroom, the contention became clear as day during the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission when Warren grilled Geithner on his role in the bailouts and why AIG received 100 cents on the dollar and why banks are now MORE concentrated not less.

 

Needless to say relations would be much better between the White House and Massachusetts’ newest Senator if Tim Geithner was not the Treasury Secretary.

The tragedy of time or at least humans existence within it is the inability to go back and fix mistakes. Summers, Geithner and crew were bad choices that not only secured the power of Wall Street to keep putting the country at risk but deeply damaged the public’s trust in the Obama Administration and government generally.

Kicking Geithner to the curb after re-election will not undo what has been unfortunately done, but it will be a good start. What needs to happen for America to heal is not just a repudiation of certain individuals like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers but a repudiation of the philosophy they brought to government – that a Wall Street Elite should ruthlessly operate America for their own interests only stopping to confer with society through its representatives in DC with a check and a message “We own you.”