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Americans’ Net Worth

5:01 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

This entry was written by Heist Co-Producer and Co-Director Frances Causey.

A recent report that the economy contracted the last quarter is no surprise. Despite the recent numbers, we consistently get rosy reports from the mainstream media that the economy is generally improving. But the reality is that tens of millions of Americans have never been less secure financially because the current economy leaves them out in the cold. The numbers never lie.

From 2007 to 2010, the median net worth of each middle class American family dropped by nearly 40%, wiping out 18 years of accumulated wealth. The housing crash contributed to most of the losses. In that same period, middle-class families went from having on average $126,400 to $77,300. Median income for middle class families is now about where it was in the mid-1990’s. These are stunning losses (not JUST a number) and not without severe consequences, particularly when one considers the psychosocial impact to families. The 1% had big losses too during the crash but they were significantly less impacted because their assets were more diversified. Yet consider this. The earnings of the top 1.0 percent grew a staggering 134% between 1979 and 2007 while those in the bottom 90% grew just 15%.

So where are working Americans suppose to make up for their losses? Apparently not by working. Most of the jobs lost in the economic collapse were replaced by low paying jobs with no benefits. One of the most astonishing numbers consistently left out of the national debate is how 40 million good jobs with benefits were lost well before 2007. These also were replaced with low paying, low-skill service jobs. And yet somehow we continue to think this restructuring of the American economy that began in the late 1970’s when Democrats and Republicans alike began to worship at the altar of free market utopianism is good for us.

Since the late 1970’s average workers have faced historic obstacles in the search for decent employment. Current forecasts suggest there will be protracted unemployment for years to come. To put it bluntly, there is little doubt (and Washington knows this) that the living standards of a majority of working Americans will continue to decline over the next decade.

Even many relatively high tech manufacturing jobs today are paying just $10-12 an hour. In a recent 60 Minutes/CBS News story the reporter filed a piece on the subject of how American manufacturing cannot find enough skilled workers to run their factories. The piece profiled several workers who went back to school to get the necessary training. And guess how the worker is being rewarded for her initiative? She is being paid $12 per hour! Yet the reporter never questioned the employer about the low wages he pays for his “skilled” workers. And American employers wonder why there is a dearth of candidates applying for these positions? These are not living wages when a gallon of milk costs $5. Workers simply can’t afford to take these jobs and support their families.

Yet, without rebuke from the people who elected them, politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to cry about a worker “skills gap”. Just recently, a bi-partisan group of Senators, guided by an addiction to the belief that the market always knows best, just sided 100% with multinational corporations against American high-tech workers by proposing a bill that would overhaul the high-skilled worker visa program. The bill would immediately increase the cap on temporary H-1B from 65,000 to 115,000 a year, giving guest workers an advantage of American workers. How are American workers of any skill level ever able to compete again with the deck so stacked against them?

We hear everywhere that we are in a “recovery” citing the fact that our economy is “growing”. But since the economic collapse, our Gross Domestic Product is consistently averaging around 2.5%. But that number is not high enough to create enough jobs for those job seekers entering the market for the first time much less the millions who need jobs but cannot find them.

Which brings me to another narrative waffling out there. A favorite mantra of the corporate and Wall Street class, and Tea Party is that America is a “welfare state”. Out of work Americans are taking too many handouts and after all “enough is enough.” A closer look at the numbers bearing reality reveals a much different truth. If readers will recall, President Clinton “reformed” welfare in 1996. To receive cash assistance or Temporary Assistance to nearly enough to meet even the most basic of needs. TANF’s role in providing income support to families has declined dramatically since 1996 yet the need has never been greater. For instance in 2011, only 27 families received TANF for every 100 families in poverty.

If the working poor are on Medicaid its because employers like Wal-Mart don’t offer health care. If the working poor participate in SNAP or the food stamp program its because they are not paid enough by employers like Wal-Mart to feed their families. Since 2007, over 12 million families have lost their homes to foreclosure. As of January 2013, another 11 million are underwater on their mortgages and in serious jeopardy of default. Yet, there are currently 1.2 million people in public housing, hardly a huge number given the number of families displaced by the housing crisis. But yet we hear the constant refrain from those who have never wondered where their next meal was coming from complain that our working poor are consistently “on the take”. Corporate or white collar welfare in the form of subsidies, low tax rates for corporations and wealthy individuals, and the auctioning of public resources like oil, timber and the public airwaves for pennies on the dollar costs taxpayers ten times what blue-collar welfare does.

So what is the solution? Profits are not the problem. Blind, relentless pursuit of them at any cost by any business small or large is. American style Democracy has always been grounded in the fact that a majority of America’s citizens worked hard and shared in her prosperity. American worker productivity has never been higher yet American workers are not seeing any return. So we have to make “work” pay again in this country. But how do we do that? If we truly grasp and follow the current numbers, we need a revolutionary change in what’s left of our Democracy.

Through organizing and grassroots efforts, we must rally those left behind in this economy and acting in unison, reconstruct our economy by rebuilding from the bottom up and pressuring those at the top to change policy. This means strengthening the power of workers wherever we can, through workplace laws, policy and unions, which remain the only institutional hedge against the power of Wall Street. Moreover, we must realize that our problems are not just about electing the next politician. Perhaps we even need to redefine the American Dream into one that is more inclusive of all.

This entry is also available at Daily Kos.

You want true bipartisanship, you got it!

7:46 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

By Frances Causey

The fix is in. If you read the media tea leaves, it looks like Medicare and Social Security benefits will likely be cut to avoid going over the contrived fiscal cliff because signs are that BOTH U.S. political parties and the Obama Administration have already agreed to it. Reading between the lines of the media speaks volumes to this truth.

It is not so much what is being said by politicians but what ISN’T being said. Have you noticed the dog and pony show around President Obama “drawing a line in the sand” about tax increases for those making $200,000 and up, and House Majority leader John Boehner feigning a fight.

With his populist rhetoric, President Obama is sure to rally his “base” which will soften the blow when he cuts benefits to Medicare and Social Security. I particularly marveled when word leaked by the Obama Administration that he would not be averse to rescinding the tax increase after one year. Hint hint.

The reality? On matters of economics, the Democratic Party does not look a whole lot different from the Republican Party. The Democrats who are right of center as a party long ago abandoned the ideals of FDR who created policy that saved capitalism from itself in the 1930’s and defended working people against its excesses. We need today’s Democrats to put up a fight and they are taking a pass. Crimes of gargantuan proportions have been committed since the 1980’s and continue with instruments like derivatives. Now, the thievery continues with cuts to Social Security and Medicare. As Senator Bernie Sanders says in Heist.

If you really did the investigation, the Democrats would not be able to simply say; oh it was that George W. Bush, it was him. Well you know what, it was a lot of Bush. But I’m afraid the Republicans would be able to say, sorry, not just us, take a look at Robert Rubin, secretary of treasury under Bill Clinton, and all of the Rubin guys. They were working with Allan Greenspan; they were working with Phil Gramm, to deregulate all of this stuff. So you got true bipartisanship – everybody wants bipartisanship, you got it!

I’m still amused when I read or hear people talk about how both parties are separated by ideology with Democrats wanting big government while Republicans are for smaller government. This is just more subterfuge to deceive the public about what is really being negotiated between volleys on the Capital’s basement tennis courts. Both parties support big government to help their favorite industries (think Wall Street, military contractors or Big Pharma, for example,) and occasionally the 99%.

So Act Two of the ideological dog and pony show is trotted out on stage mainly to entertain the good ole boy network as Economic Policy Institute Co-founder Jeff Faux describes in Heist.

If Greenspan and Rubin had really believed the ideology that they preached, they would not have bailed out the S&L’s the way that Greenspan did.…Rubin would not have bailed out the Wall St. holders of Mexican bonds in nineteen ninety-five. Greenspan would not have bailed out the stock market in two thousand and two thousand one. The only explanation I can have for this is that it’s a class question. These people were protecting their class. And what class was that? That was the class – global class – the network of financial wheeler-dealers who had essentially dominated the world economy.

Did you see the actual details (or those NOT leaked to the media) of the financial wheeler-dealer and former Morgan Stanley Director Erskine Bowles’ plan to repair our budget? These were provided by one of the two members (Elizabeth Warren being the other) of the Senate – Bernie Sanders – who retains any credibility.
According to Senator Sanders, Simpson-Bowles would cut Social Security benefits for current retirees by reducing the cost of living adjustment; cut Social Security benefits for middle class beneficiaries by 35 percent; raise the eligibility age of Social Security to 69; and cut Veterans benefits. (Remember during the campaign how both parties invoked these benefits as sacred.) But our favorite Simpson-Bowles bullet point is the one that would reduce taxes for the super rich and corporations, which has already done such wonders for our economy.

There is some good news. A truly progressive social movement is in its infancy in this country but who would know about it? Certainly not the mainstream news media. First we had Wisconsin, then Occupy Wall Street, the re-election of President Obama, the election of truly Progressive candidates Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren who demanded and won a seat on the senate banking services committee. And now we have fast food workers demanding a living wage and the right to join a union! Imagine that.

And the good people of California voted to raise taxes on the rich, defeated an anti-union initiative, and Washington state voted in legalization of gay marriage and marijuana. The 99% is awakening to the menace of corporate rule. Our work now is to not be fooled by the rhetoric of the Democrats who quietly and spinelessly agree to the severe, slow cuts outlined in Simpson-Bowles. Read behind the headlines to know where your bottom line is.

JeffreeB will be available for comment directly following publication.

This entry is also available on The Huffington Post and Daily Kos.

Deficit obsession is a creation of the ultra right message machine

3:57 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

By Frances Causey

Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein in a suit

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is one of the fiscal cliff's biggest fans.

Journalists have long loathed to write about and report on economics, dismissing the entire field as too hard to understand or impossible to reduce to a quote or a sound bite. Because of this, working Americans are paying the price as the parameters of the current debate around the deficit, budget and the so-called fiscal cliff are being defined by the likes of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Peter G. Peterson, two men who are heavily invested in the outcome around the subject. With important programs like Social Security and Medicare on the line, there can be little doubt that working people are not represented in Washington.

Reading mainstream media headlines and watching cable news is really bad for your bottom line because those stories are for the most part based on content churned out by the huge public relations machines funded by Peterson and Blankfeins’ Goldman Sachs. This ideologically driven (we only want government when it enriches us) information is neither comprehended nor analyzed by the journalists or news outlets that send them out like retreads on a worn tire. In other words, if a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth.

This writer encourages readers to look not to the mainstream media, but to the work of academics like economist Dean Baker from the Center for Economic Policy and Research. In today’s maelstrom of corporate owned news, we must turn directly to the source of good, non-partisan information. Dean Baker’s “think tank” is actually “reporting” and researching the facts behind our economic crisis unlike Peterson’s money fueled organization, which spews its founder’s personal beliefs and then manipulates the data to support them, all of which lead to the “creation” of the fiscal cliff to begin with. Please stop and question everything you see and read about the deficit because chances are it’s loaded with billionaires self-interested political and financial goals.

As Dean Baker, who predicted our crisis many years ago, points out, our deficit was both relatively modest until the economy collapsed in 2008. And as neither Republicans nor Democrats would like to admit our deficit is not “attributed to “extravagant social spending”. Baker writes with authority that this is “straightforward and not debatable.”

Baker’s research also shows that our current deficit, which is 10 percent of GDP, was created when the housing bubble induced the economic collapse, which then lead to a sort of perfect storm or a “plunge” in tax collections, coupled with an increase on spending for food stamps and unemployment insurance. So now you have the simple, unvarnished truth about the roots of our economic collapse. Is it really that hard to understand? But seriously, we encourage all citizens concerned about their own “economy” to discover the facts for themselves. We did at Heist and came up with our own solutions to “fix the debt”.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Silent War Against Workers by Big Business Is Growing Louder!

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

Siblings Alice Walton and Jim Walton

This entry was written by Frances Causey.

Thankfully, stories of striking workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess are making the front pages of newspapers and leading the “A” blocks of cable news shows. These two companies epitomize the war against workers that began over 40 years ago. Wal-Mart is the poster-child for corporate malfeasance and draconian worker policies. Wal-Mart workers on average are paid so little that the American taxpayer is literally subsidizing these workers as tens of thousands of them have no health benefits which forces them to use state Medicaid for healthcare. Wal-Mart made $15 billion dollars last year. Four out of the America’s top ten Billionaires are Wal-Mart heirs.

Its no better over at Hostess, a company that has been bought and sold three times since the 1980’s, putting the Twinkie maker in debt but making Wall Street investment bankers and top management a bunch of dough (sorry). And guess who bankrolled those deals? Fees and stock deals were funded by employee layoffs! But the biggest ding-dong of all would be the current Hostess CEO who while decrying striking workers for wanting livable wages and benefits gave himself a 300 percent raise.

The American worker-those who live off a paycheck – has experienced “death by a thousand cuts” over the last forty years which we amply portray in HEIST. Despite slick corporate press releases regurgitated by corporate owned media, workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess have been forced to rise up because they can no longer support their families with what they EARN. Forty million good paying jobs with benefits have been shipped overseas or dismantled by corporations since the late 1970’s and were replaced by low wage service jobs with no benefits.

Simply put, working for a living no longer pays for most workers in this country. Incomes in America are much lower than is widely understood. Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston crunched the numbers in Heist. One-third of jobs in America pay less than $15,000 a year, which includes part time workers and people with two small jobs. But half of Americans make less than $25,000. Three quarters make less than$54,000. Ninety-nine percent of workers make less than $250,000 per year. HEIST describes the corporate makeover of big government that saw the Democratic Party become almost indistinguishable from Republicans on economic matters. Policies were developed that clearly favored the “capital” class not the “working” class.

American style Democracy has been unique for one simple reason: a majority has- for the most part- benefitted from the fruits of the nation’s labors. But this is no longer true as the workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess know all too well. With nowhere to go, these brave workers are fighting back and making great strides in raising the nation’s consciousness about economic inequality. We must support them! So if you live in a city where Wal-Mart workers are striking, go there this Friday, black Friday, and instead of shopping, take striking workers a sandwich, a bottle of water or give them a pat on the shoulder or a word of encouragement. These workers are “walking the walk”!

For more information on the Wal-Mart workers’ strike, check out forrespect.org Read the rest of this entry →

The so-called “Fiscal Cliff” is “austerity” in disguise

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

Note: This post was written by HEIST co-producer and co-director Frances Causey.

The war against people who work for a living in this country continues with the “Grand Bargain” that will slash social spending by trillions on programs that benefit the most vulnerable among us and also “reform” Social Security and Medicare.

We at Heist: Who stole the American Dream? see the cruel irony in this brazen attempt to further erode living standards for the 98%. Today, some 70 percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes! Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlement” programs. Hard working Americans along with their employers pay into this system their entire working lives. But rather than tax corporations and the super rich by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, apparently President Obama, Congress and the corporate-financial class on Wall Street would prefer instead to “balance” the budget on the backs of working Americans. Senator Bernie Sanders points out in HEIST the callous indifference inherent in Washington’s march towards austerity.

“Let’s go after little kids, let’s go after the elderly, let’s go after the sick, let’s go after the most vulnerable, but apparently in the Senate we can’t ask Chevron to pay taxes.

How much more can working people give up before they rise up? The tally so far? Across the board, wages have stagnated since the mid-70’s, over 40 million good paying jobs with benefits have been shipped overseas, trade agreements that benefit the corporate and shareholder classes prevail, employers are asking workers to pay more for healthcare, risky 401k’s have replaced guaranteed defined benefit pensions, and now the 1% is going after the one element of FDR’s New Deal that remains, Social Security!

Austerity as described by Webster: difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce a budget deficit, especially by reducing public expenditures. So what is in effect here is the Golden Rule: He who has the gold (and the pockets of Congress) makes the rules. As we point out in HEIST, in 1971 there were 175 lobbyists in D.C. but by 2008 there were more than 33,000. Because of this, Congress spends more time hobnobbing with lobbyists who represent the super rich and corporations than they do with most of their constituents, ordinary working people. The big disconnect here is that politicians believe the problems of the one percent are the problems of the country. It’s safe to say that working people have no voice in Washington.

As a result, our priorities are way out of whack as pointed out by Sen. Bernie Sanders in HEIST. -Instead of a society in which we’re struggling together to deal with this environmental crisis, to deal with education, to make sure all of our people have healthcare, we are a society now in which the goal is to be one of those people on top that have tremendous wealth and tremendous power.

By the way, did you notice as we did in HEIST that our “deficit” problems began in 2008 when the world economy tanked thanks to Wall Street’s criminal activity? But to cover their crimes, the cartel’s message machine switched into high gear, effectively convincing working Americans that they were to blame because they bought too many televisions. NO, our deficit “problems” began when Wall Street crashed our economy, people lost jobs and the government lost tax revenue, and brought back the ultimate tool of “magical thinking”?, the Reagan-Bush tax cuts. It’s maddening to hear over and over again from cable pundits, anchors and reporters make assumptions about the “deficit” without understanding its source or doing their own reporting. This is the corporate-political-financial class message machine doing its finest work. The result has been disastrous for working Americans as Jakada Imani of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights says in HEIST.

Folks who are in charge of this economy ran red light after red light after red light, and caused car wreck after car wreck after car wreck, and no one’s held them accountable. There hasn’t even been a conversation about accountability.

So the political coup begun in the mid 1970’s by nihilistic corporations and the super rich as described in HEIST, that swept up both American political parties continues to this day. In all honesty, on matters regarding the economy it’s almost impossible to separate the Democrats from the Republicans. We sincerely hope President Obama proves us wrong. To make matters worse, the corporate owned media has helped create within the working class a sort of “learned helplessness”, that we are powerless to counter the powers that be. This country has a history of social movements, the feminist and civil rights movements, among others. We must support social movements like Occupy Wall Street, which is raising the level of consciousness about the grave inequality present in this country. Which is exactly why the corporate-political class swooped in to shut it down so quickly.

For more information about Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? please go to www.heist-themovie.com.

JeffreeB will be available for comment immediately following publication.
This entry is also available on Daily Kos.

American Jobs and Clean Energy Soon to Be Victims of Republican Bickering

12:59 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

This entry was co-written by policymaven1 and jeffreeb

Wind turbines over a field

Photo: Scott Wilcoxson / Flickr

With a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute that states, “Between 2001 and 2011, the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs,” much attention has lately been aimed at outsourcing.

But we’re losing jobs in less publicized ways, too. David Pitt points out in his article “Congress not acting on credits despite job fears” that 27,000 jobs are in jeopardy as Congress decides on the fate of the tax credit that created those jobs. And while 27,000 jobs may not sound like much when compared to the damage outsourcing has done, these jobs represent a potential turning point in our ability to sustain our economy and environment.

The 27,000 Americans that face unemployment work on the manufacture and implementation of wind turbines. And with the recent, dramatic rise of domestic turbine production, jobs in this sector were on the rise.

But the credit’s renewal faces slim odds. It has become yet another battlefield for Congress’s war over spending. Interestingly, the sides on this battlefield are not split along the aisle. “Extension of the tax credit,” Pitt says, “is caught up in deep differences over spending in Congress, where fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party are fighting renewal even as other GOP members push to have the program continued.”

In fact, the man behind the tax credit, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, is a Republican, while the one and only Mitt Romney opposes the credit’s renewal; you might remember Romney’s attack on current green energy expenses in the first debate. His answer to green energy spending was, “I like coal.” Grassley said Romney’s stance on the wind tax credit “was just like a knife in my back.” It seems Washington’s perpetual spending war will claim almost 30,000 jobs not because of partisan politics, but because of GOP in-fighting.

Opponents of the credit focus on debt and wind energy’s current unprofitability. But the credit’s importance cannot be overstated. In addition to providing thousands of jobs and potentially thousands more, the tax credit also represents a preliminary step toward rebuilding our economy and our environment. Wind energy was once extremely expensive because we had to import turbines. However, Pitt states, “More than 470 manufacturing facilities are operating, up from 30 in 2004.” This increase meant job creation. And it could mean more job creation in the future if given the chance.

The merits of wind energy are obvious, and the wind energy tax credit could be a win-win. We could have a potentially limitless clean energy source while putting more Americans back to work.

But we seem to have taken one step forward and two steps back. Pitt notes, “The policy uncertainty has already caused job cuts as wind energy producers delay new projects until it’s clear whether the credits will be renewed.” As the odds of a vote to renew the credit before it expires wane, more Americans lose their jobs.

We are on the verge of letting this tax credit fall by the wayside even though it has yielded some very promising results, and, given the chance, it can make America’s future cleaner and brighter. More of us can get back to work, we can produce more of our own energy, and our environment will thank us. So let your elected officials know it matters!

Note: JeffreeB will be available to comment immediately following the publication of this entry.
This post is also available on
The Huffington Post and Daily Kos.

Libor, Sandy Weill, and Endless Corruption

9:33 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

Gangsters + Bankers = Banksters. Britain's Libor price fixing scandal and its global impact
Note: This post was written by donnyg1941 and JeffreeB
By now you’ve probably heard of Libor, the London Interbank Offered Rate, and the scandal surrounding it. And unless you have an advanced degree in finance, the complexity of the scandal (and Libor itself) probably makes your head spin. In simple terms, as Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi explained it in a recent interview with Democracy Now!, “Libor is basically the rate at which banks borrow from each other. It’s a benchmark that… a lot of international investment products are pegged to. When Libor is low, that means that the banks feel confident in each other; and when Libor is high, that means there is generally instability.”So what does some esoteric, inter-bank lending rate in London have to do with you? Quite a bit, actually. As Taibbi points out, Libor, “sets the borrowing costs of everything from mortgages to student loans to credit card accounts… Basically, every city and town in America, to say nothing of the rest of the world, has investments that are pegged to Libor. Most of them are holding investment accounts that actually will decrease in value as Libor goes down.” And as municipalities lose money because big banks stack the deck, the same big banks make billions.Somehow Wall Street has convinced municipalities countrywide that they will save money by engaging in interest rate swaps based on Libor. But in practice, these swaps have been devastating to communities. Pam Martens writes in her article, “How Wall Street Gutted Our Schools and Cities,” “In many cases, continuing to this day, the municipality ended up receiving a fraction of one percent, while contractually bound to pay Wall Street firms as much as 3 to 6 percent in a fixed rate for twenty years or longer. If the local or state governments or school boards wanted out of the deal, a multi-million dollar penalty fee could be charged based on the rate structure and notional (face amount) of the swap.” While you may need a degree in finance to understand how Libor works, you don’t need that degree to know that when you’re receiving a fraction of a percent and have to pay 3 to 6 percent, you’re losing money. And of course, where does that money you’re losing go? Right into the pockets of the deck stackers themselves.

Martens points out that between 2006 and 2008, banks, “collected as much as $28 billion in termination fees from state and local governments who were desperate to exit the abusive interest rate swaps. That amount does not include the ongoing outsized interest payments that were and are being paid. Experts believe that billions of abusive swaps may be as yet unacknowledged by embarrassed municipalities.”

Not only have the big banks rigged Libor to appear stronger than they really were, a key factor in the economic situation in which we found ourselves in 2008, but they also did it simply to steal billions from your city, your state, and your schools. When the house gets to stack the deck, the house always wins.

Enter Sandy Weill, former CEO of Citibank, who now professes religion. In a move seeming to come right out of left field, Weill stated on CNBC(the paragons of economic objectivity) that he believes too big to fail banks should be broken up. Oddly enough, Weill was largely responsible for creating the current structure of big banking.

Who is Sandy Weill you might ask? Well, he’s been around the block a few times in the Financial industry, starting in 1955. “Weill began serving as president of American Express Co. in 1983 and as chairman and CEO of American Express’s insurance subsidiary, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, in 1984. Weill was succeeded by his protégé, Peter A. Cohen, who became the youngest head of a Wall Street firm. While at American Express, Weill began grooming his newest protégé, Jamie Dimon, the future CEO of JPMorgan Chase.”(credit Wikipedia). Are you seeing a pattern here yet? For more background on Mr. Weill, see the Wikipedia page.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanford_I._Weill

As CEO of Travelers Insurance Group, Weill oversaw the 1998 Travelers Group and Citibank merger, a merger that, as Bonnie Kavoussi at the Huffington Post points out, was, “at the time, the largest merger in history.” Weill remained CEO of Citi until 2003 and remained chairman until 2006. He did this in defiance of banking law extant at the time, and guess who gave him a free pass? Right, Alan Greenspan, that apostle of Ayn Rand, and originally appointed to the Fed by that great president, Ronald Reagan.

Not only did Weill create yet another big bank monster out of Citi, he was also the  lobbyist-in-chief for repealing the Glass-Steagall Act. Weill was so instrumental in the 1999 dismantling of Glass-Steagall that, as Kavoussi reports, “Weill’s office once had a wooden plaque with his portrait that read ‘The Shatterer Of Glass-Steagall.’” And with the end of Glass-Steagall, any commercial bank could do what Sandy had illegally done the year before, and could now engage in the very same behaviors as the Wall Street investment banks, just as they did in the 1920s.

Repealing Glass-Steagall was a grand slam for commercial banks; the law, instated after the crash of 1929, separated investment banking from commercial banking. With Glass-Steagall out of the way, Weill could now take our bank accounts right to the bookie. And in 2008, the bookie came to collect.

So now it seems Weill has gone rogue, or found some new way to make money. He said in the Wednesday morning interview with CNBC, “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, and have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not going to be too big to fail.” Odd words to come from the terminator of the very things he now professes to embrace.

But is Weill really batting for the 99 percent now? We’ll see.

When Weill went on to discuss his reasons for believing that banks should be taken in the exact opposite direction from that which he took Citigroup, he said, “I think that the earlier model was right for that time… I don’t think it’s right anymore… I think that this system is really immobilizing the banking system.”

Right for the time? Repealing Glass-Steagall was a major factor in getting us into the mess in which we now find ourselves. It’s like Weill is saying that it was a great idea until it wasn’t a great idea, and now it’s not a great idea. But this seems to be about as close to an apology or an admission of failure as we can expect to get from Banksters. Or as Marketwatch’s David Weidner writes today,”Former executives such as Weill, or his former lieutenant, Sally Krawcheck, or Dick Fuld of Lehman Brothers, or Maurice “Hank” Greenberg never get it. They try to reconcile their resumes with history for the sake of sounding honest and remorseful. But they also remind their audience that there were forces outside of their control too.”

Though we cannot say with certainty that he has become a proponent of re-regulation, his failure to acknowledge his role in all of this mess leaves one with a very skeptical view of Sandy the wily. But before we end, let us remind ourselves that not one of these guys has gone to jail or been forced by our government to give up their personal ill-gotten gains. So the corruption is pandemic, infecting our financial systems world-wide and the governments that are supposed to regulate and punish them when they behave badly. As David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist says in Heist, “The purpose of rules is not to regulate saints, it is to regulate sinners.”

Sandy it is time to repent for thou art indeed a major league sinner. As for the rest of the Banksters, it is way past time to lock them up, and nationalize these bankrupt banks, for the good of the nation.

Obama, Jobs and the Demise of America

7:54 pm in Uncategorized by Donald Goldmacher

With the signing of NAFTA in 1993, Democratic President Bill Clinton signed a death sentence for the middle class in America, thus implementing the next phase of Republican Pres. Reagan’s dismantling of our economy. Yes, NAFTA was the Reagan administration’s idea.

I am writing this brief diary today in order to alert  Kossaks that the news today is very ominous for us all, and is an indicator of how much disinformation we have been fed these past 3 years by both the government and Wall treet. Today’s job report seems to have been a shocker for both Wall Street and the Obama administration, but not for ordinary Americans, or, for that matter, workers around the world. As the MSM has become a monopoly for a handful of companies, the truth about the worldwide economy and ours has been hidden.

Sadly, the truth is we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic downward spiral, as a result of 30 years of deregulation of the economy (and, yes, that means Wall Street and the other banks), accompanied by tax breaks for the 1% and corporations, and the continued growth of the Military Industrial complex. The upcoming national election will solve none of these issues as both parties are committed to continuing these failed policies.

If one looks carefully at job growth during the Bush years, half of the jobs were a result of the housing bubble, not manufacturing growth. You don’t see any housing construction, do you? So where will the jobs come from? Our grim reality is that large corporations have abandoned this country, and they are not coming back, unless you are willing to cut your salary in half. And that’s exactly what GM and Chrysler did to the UAW with our tax dollars.

So what is the 99% to do? Keep protesting? Well, sure, but maybe we need to get serious about creating a new cooperative economy, that is local, green, sustainable and works for the rest of us. I will be writing more about this in the coming days, but let me end with the prediction of Prof. Alan Blinder(he of the Clinton era Federal Reserve) that the US is going to lose another 30-40 million(yes, million) white collar jobs over the next 10-20 years. It’s called outsourcing.

Here’s a little clip from the film Heist:Who Stole the American Dream? that says it well. Full disclosure-I co-directed this film with Frances Causey. Where are the Jobs?