Bidening the Gap

I sometimes can’t help making these pun titles. I see the tabloid newspapers’ covers each day. So the debate was pretty good tonight. There was a lot more put on the table. Well, by Biden anyway. I wondered what 2012 would look like earlier today and a pundit said it out loud. Palin will run for President.

Now here’s another crackpot scenario. What if she throws this election just enough to lose it? This way she could have a clearer shot at the top of the Republican ticket in four years. People eat her up. This would give her time to distinguish herself and study up on all that foreign policy stuff. She was articulate and she’s able to handle the material she has memorized. She doesn’t have a lot of demonstrative critical thinking skills. Fortunately for her, the base doesn’t require that. In fact they fear that.

I’m not going to totally write this election off in favor of Obama but things are turning. This bailout is a mess. I watched the video called Money as Debt. I have to watch it again. My head is still spinning from it. Money means nothing. It has no value other than what people have assigned to it. We’ve been spinning away from money actually having value for hundreds of years. The banks create money through the loans we take out. So the economy is fueled by debt. We have to have debt in order to create new money. It is so backwards from what I thought I knew.

Veeping Us All Out/Reality Contest Presidency Game

I don’t know if the bailout has been passed yet in the Senate. I don’t like it. There should be responsibility taken. This is like a war crime or something. I posted a couple of letters that have been forwarded to me. All of it proves money is like heavy duty science, if you don’t know what you’re doing the experiment could go terribly wrong and mutant alligators might be coming up from the toilets at a very inappropriate time.

This painting is another in a series my brother, Ben, has made recently. I dig it. This one looks like it could be an album cover. It’s like she’s been attacked by a tanning bed fueled with Red Bull and nuclear waste. I think she’s going to have a glass jaw by the end of the night. All the pundits are saying Joe Biden has to be careful how he responds to her. She gets to do her thing. She’s good at insulting, undercutting, and making her opponents feel embarrassed based on what I’ve seen of her clips.

The special treatment is bullshit. Look, these are tough times. And we’re living in an era of technology and immediate gratification. Screw the piddly youtube debate. So called up-to-the-minute coverage is nothing. Reality shows are jumping the shark left and right. Movies are not doing it anymore. Let’s take the best of all this and make it really interactive. I demand a put up or shut up actual test of them all. Here’s how it will work: both teams of Presidential and Vice-Presidential in two virtual reality rooms where a graphics department can change the walls. Both teams are then given the exact same scenarios to test how they will handle them. They will have to deal with domestic and international meltdowns, egregious diplomatic foul ups by heads of state, financial problems, a Canadian invasion (just music because, come on, they’d never invade us. Or would they?), an assassination attempt on an important figure and any other serious areas. Things they could never expect. That 3am call stuff. Also, there would be a deck of wild cards. Maybe the President would die and the Veep would have to take over. Wouldn’t it be good to see how that would play out? We wouldn’t have to deal with talk or slogans or dirty campaigning. We’d just have to make sure the game wasn’t rigged.

Then they’d have to do a mega round of Jeopardy on American history, how government works, and applicable knowledge questions. Finally, they’d have to do a stress test on a treadmill. Because this would be televised live, we could stay at home and vote from our cell phones like American Idol. We’d also have to have a way for that not to be rigged.

In the meantime, I guess we have to keep dealing with what we have for 34 more days. I’m going down to Philly to help out on the Obama campaign. They’re getting close to having to have all the registrations done and are prepping for the Springsteen concert. Any NYC peeps want to go just take the NJ Transit train to Trenton and switch the SEPTA train to Philly and the Alleghany stop. The address for PA for Change is 1804 E Allegheny Ave.

I have to say I’m not happy both candidates are pushing for the “Rescue Bill” to go forward. What if they put that little 700 Billion dollar item on the ballot so we can all vote on whether we should approve this little piece of spending for THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY? They’re both doing it to show they can work with the over side. It’s a real damned if you do and damned if you don’t place to be. McCain doesn’t know what the hell he’s saying and Barack isn’t stepping up to the plate here. CEOS should not be making money if the company tanks. They should be paid on commission. The company does well, they get a piece of that. Not 400 times the pay of the lowest worker. People should be charged with crimes.

I just want all of this over with. Why do we have to think so hard about this kind of garbage? This should be already taken care of. I feel like my entire life is put on hold while this goes on. I really do. It’s too complicated. No one understands the math. “Bernanke’s a hero.” “Bernanke’s a fraud.” No one really knows it seems. What if the richest one percent got together and fixed this?

I’m writing about all this to distract from all the death in my life right now. I can’t handle it. My next post will be about beekeeping.

A Letter from Dennis Kucinich

The Bailout and What’s Next

Dear Friend,

Yesterday marked a day that will go down in history, when Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike took on full responsibility to protect the interests of taxpaying Americans, and defeated the deceptive bail out bill, defying the dictates of the Administration, the House Majority Leadership, the House Minority Leadership and the special interests on Wall Street.

Obviously Congress must consider quickly another course. There are immediate issues which demand attention and responsible action by the Congress so that the taxpayers, their assets, and their futures are protected.

We MUST do something to protect millions of Americans whose homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions are at risk in a financial system that has become seriously corrupted. We are told that we must stabilize markets in order for the people to be protected. I think we need to protect peoples’ homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions, to order to stabilize the market.

We cannot delay taking action. But the action must benefit all Americans, not just a privileged few. Otherwise, more plans will fail, and the financial security of everyone will be at risk.

The $700 billion bailout would have added to our existing unbearable load of national debt, trade deficits, and the cost of paying for the war. It would have been a disaster for the American public and the government for decades and maybe even centuries to come.

To be sure, there are many different reasons why people voted against the bailout. The legislation did not regard in any meaningful way the plight of millions of Americans who are about to lose their homes. It did nothing to strengthen existing regulatory structures or impose new ones at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve in order to protect investors. There were no direct protections for bank depositors. There was nothing to stop further speculation, which is what brought us into this mess in the first place.

This was a bailout for some firms (and investors) on Wall Street, with the idea that in doing so there would be certain, unspecified, general benefits to the economy.

This is a perfect time to open a broader discussion about our financial system, especially our monetary system. Such a discussion is like searching for a needle in a haystack, and then, upon finding it, discussing its qualities at great length. Let me briefly describe the haystack instead.

Here is a very quick explanation of the $700 billion bailout within the context of the mechanics of our monetary and banking system:

The taxpayers loan money to the banks. But the taxpayers do not have the money. So we have to borrow it from the banks to give it back to the banks. But the banks do not have the money to loan to the government. So they create it into existence (through a mechanism called fractional reserve) and then loan it to us, at interest, so we can then give it back to them.

Confused?

This is the system. This is the standard mechanism used to expand the money supply on a daily basis not a special one designed only for the “$700 billion” transaction. People will explain this to you in many different ways, but this is what it comes down to.

The banks needed Congress’ approval. Of course in this topsy turvy world, it is the banks which set the terms of the money they are borrowing from the taxpayers. And what do we get for this transaction? Long term debt enslavement of our country. We get to pay back to the banks trillions of dollars ($700 billion with compounded interest) and the banks give us their bad debt which they cull from everywhere in the world.

Who could turn down a deal like this? I did.

The globalization of the debt puts the United States in the position that in order to repay the money that we borrow from the banks (for the banks) we could be forced to accept International Monetary Fund dictates which involve cutting health, social security benefits and all other social spending in addition to reducing wages and exploiting our natural resources. This inevitably leads to a loss of economic, social and political freedom.

Under the failed $700 billion bailout plan, Wall Street’s profits are Wall Street’s profits and Wall Street’s losses are the taxpayers’ losses. Profits are capitalized. Losses are socialized.

We are at a teachable moment on matters of money and finance. In the coming days and weeks, I will share with you thoughts about what can be done to take us not just in a new direction, but in a new direction which is just.

Thank you,

Dennis
http://www.Kucinich.us
216-252-9000 877-933-6647

PS Watch the 47 minute ‘Money as Debt‘ animated documentary. This is a useful, though by no means definitive, introduction to the topic of debt and the monetary system. Let me know what you think.

A Letter from Michael Moore

Friends,

The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!

Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money?

I would like to propose my own bailout plan. My suggestions, listed below, are predicated on the singular and simple belief that the rich must pull themselves up by their own platinum bootstraps. Sorry, fellows, but you drilled it into our heads one too many times: There… is… no… free… lunch. And thank you for encouraging us to hate people on welfare! So, there will be no handouts from us to you. The Senate, tonight, is going to try to rush their version of a “bailout” bill to a vote. They must be stopped. We did it on Monday with the House, and we can do it again today with the Senate.

It is clear, though, that we cannot simply keep protesting without proposing exactly what it is we think Congress should do. So, after consulting with a number of people smarter than Phil Gramm, here is my proposal, now known as “Mike’s Rescue Plan.” It has 10 simple, straightforward points. They are:

1. APPOINT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO CRIMINALLY INDICT ANYONE ON WALL STREET WHO KNOWINGLY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS COLLAPSE. Before any new money is expended, Congress must commit, by resolution, to criminally prosecute anyone who had anything to do with the attempted sacking of our economy. This means that anyone who committed insider trading, securities fraud or any action that helped bring about this collapse must go to jail. This Congress must call for a Special Prosecutor who will vigorously go after everyone who created the mess, and anyone else who attempts to scam the public in the future.

2. THE RICH MUST PAY FOR THEIR OWN BAILOUT. They may have to live in 5 houses instead of 7. They may have to drive 9 cars instead of 13. The chef for their mini-terriers may have to be reassigned. But there is no way in hell, after forcing family incomes to go down more than $2,000 dollars during the Bush years, that working people and the middle class are going to fork over one dime to underwrite the next yacht purchase.

If they truly need the $700 billion they say they need, well, here is an easy way they can raise it:

a) Every couple who makes over a million dollars a year and every single taxpayer who makes over $500,000 a year will pay a 10% surcharge tax for five years. (It’s the Senator Sanders plan. He’s like Colonel Sanders, only he’s out to fry the right chickens.) That means the rich will still be paying less income tax than when Carter was president. This will raise a total of $300 billion.

b) Like nearly every other democracy, charge a 0.25% tax on every stock transaction. This will raise more than $200 billion in a year.

c) Because every stockholder is a patriotic American, stockholders will forgo receiving a dividend check for one quarter and instead this money will go the treasury to help pay for the bailout.

d) 25% of major U.S. corporations currently pay NO federal income tax. Federal corporate tax revenues currently amount to 1.7% of the GDP compared to 5% in the 1950s. If we raise the corporate income tax back to the level of the 1950s, that gives us an extra $500 billion.

All of this combined should be enough to end the calamity. The rich will get to keep their mansions and their servants, and our United States government (“COUNTRY FIRST!”) will have a little leftover to repair some roads, bridges and schools.

3. BAIL OUT THE PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BUILD AN EIGHTH HOME. There are 1.3 million homes in foreclosure right now. That is what is at the heart of this problem. So instead of giving the money to the banks as a gift, pay down each of these mortgages by $100,000. Force the banks to renegotiate the mortgage so the homeowner can pay on its current value. To insure that this help does no go to speculators and those who have tried to make money by flipping houses, this bailout is only for people’s primary residence. And in return for the $100K paydown on the existing mortgage, the government gets to share in the holding of the mortgage so that it can get some of its money back. Thus, the total initial cost of fixing the mortgage crisis at its roots (instead of with the greedy lenders) is $150 billion, not $700 billion.

And let’s set the record straight. People who have defaulted on their mortgages are not “bad risks.” They are our fellow Americans, and all they wanted was what we all want and most of us still get: a home to call their own. But during the Bush years, millions of them lost the decent paying jobs they had. Six million fell into poverty. Seven million lost their health insurance. And every one of them saw their real wages go down by $2,000. Those who dare to look down on these Americans who got hit with one bad break after another should be ashamed. We are a better, stronger, safer and happier society when all of our citizens can afford to live in a home that they own.

4. IF YOUR BANK OR COMPANY GETS ANY OF OUR MONEY IN A “BAILOUT,” THEN WE OWN YOU. Sorry, that’s how it’s done. If the bank gives me money so I can buy a house, the bank “owns” that house until I pay it all back — with interest. Same deal for Wall Street. Whatever money you need to stay afloat, if our government considers you a safe risk — and necessary for the good of the country — then you can get a loan, but we will own you. If you default, we will sell you. This is how the Swedish government did it and it worked.

5. ALL REGULATIONS MUST BE RESTORED. THE REAGAN REVOLUTION IS DEAD. This catastrophe happened because we let the fox have the keys to the henhouse. In 1999, Phil Gramm authored a bill to remove all the regulations that governed Wall Street and our banking system. The bill passed and Clinton signed it. Here’s what Sen. Phil Gramm, McCain’s chief economic advisor, said at the bill signing:

“In the 1930s … it was believed that government was the answer. It was believed that stability and growth came from government overriding the functioning of free markets.

“We are here today to repeal [that] because we have learned that government is not the answer. We have learned that freedom and competition are the answers. We have learned that we promote economic growth and we promote stability by having competition and freedom.

“I am proud to be here because this is an important bill; it is a deregulatory bill. I believe that that is the wave of the future, and I am awfully proud to have been a part of making it a reality.”

This bill must be repealed. Bill Clinton can help by leading the effort for the repeal of the Gramm bill and the reinstating of even tougher regulations regarding our financial institutions. And when they’re done with that, they can restore the regulations for the airlines, the inspection of our food, the oil industry, OSHA, and every other entity that affects our daily lives. All oversight provisions for any “bailout” must have enforcement monies attached to them and criminal penalties for all offenders.

6. IF IT’S TOO BIG TO FAIL, THEN THAT MEANS IT’S TOO BIG TO EXIST. Allowing the creation of these mega-mergers and not enforcing the monopoly and anti-trust laws has allowed a number of financial institutions and corporations to become so large, the very thought of their collapse means an even bigger collapse across the entire economy. No one or two companies should have this kind of power. The so-called “economic Pearl Harbor” can’t happen when you have hundreds — thousands — of institutions where people have their money. When you have a dozen auto companies, if one goes belly-up, we don’t face a national disaster. If you have three separately-owned daily newspapers in your town, then one media company can’t call all the shots (I know… What am I thinking?! Who reads a paper anymore? Sure glad all those mergers and buyouts left us with a strong and free press!). Laws must be enacted to prevent companies from being so large and dominant that with one slingshot to the eye, the giant falls and dies. And no institution should be allowed to set up money schemes that no one can understand. If you can’t explain it in two sentences, you shouldn’t be taking anyone’s money.

7. NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD BE PAID MORE THAN 40 TIMES THEIR AVERAGE EMPLOYEE, AND NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD RECEIVE ANY KIND OF “PARACHUTE” OTHER THAN THE VERY GENEROUS SALARY HE OR SHE MADE WHILE WORKING FOR THE COMPANY. In 1980, the average American CEO made 45 times what their employees made. By 2003, they were making 254 times what their workers made. After 8 years of Bush, they now make over 400 times what their average employee makes. How this can happen at publicly held companies is beyond reason. In Britain, the average CEO makes 28 times what their average employee makes. In Japan, it’s only 17 times! The last I heard, the CEO of Toyota was living the high life in Tokyo. How does he do it on so little money? Seriously, this is an outrage. We have created the mess we’re in by letting the people at the top become bloated beyond belief with millions of dollars. This has to stop. Not only should no executive who receives help out of this mess profit from it, but any executive who was in charge of running his company into the ground should be fired before the company receives any help.

8. STRENGTHEN THE FDIC AND MAKE IT A MODEL FOR PROTECTING NOT ONLY PEOPLE’S SAVINGS, BUT ALSO THEIR PENSIONS AND THEIR HOMES. Obama was correct yesterday to propose expanding FDIC protection of people’s savings in their banks to $250,000. But this same sort of government insurance must be given to our nation’s pension funds. People should never have to worry about whether or not the money they’ve put away for their old age will be there. This will mean strict government oversight of companies who manage their employees’ funds — or perhaps it means that the companies will have to turn over those funds and their management to the government. People’s private retirement funds must also be protected, but perhaps it’s time to consider not having one’s retirement invested in the casino known as the stock market. Our government should have a solemn duty to guarantee that no one who grows old in this country has to worry about ending up destitute.

9. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH, CALM DOWN, AND NOT LET FEAR RULE THE DAY. Turn off the TV! We are not in the Second Great Depression. The sky is not falling. Pundits and politicians are lying to us so fast and furious it’s hard not to be affected by all the fear mongering. Even I, yesterday, wrote to you and repeated what I heard on the news, that the Dow had the biggest one day drop in its history. Well, that’s true in terms of points, but its 7% drop came nowhere close to Black Monday in 1987 when the stock market in one day lost 23% of its value. In the ’80s, 3,000 banks closed, but America didn’t go out of business. These institutions have always had their ups and downs and eventually it works out. It has to, because the rich do not like their wealth being disrupted! They have a vested interest in calming things down and getting back into the Jacuzzi.

As crazy as things are right now, tens of thousands of people got a car loan this week. Thousands went to the bank and got a mortgage to buy a home. Students just back to college found banks more than happy to put them into hock for the next 15 years with a student loan. Life has gone on. Not a single person has lost any of their money if it’s in a bank or a treasury note or a CD. And the most amazing thing is that the American public hasn’t bought the scare campaign. The citizens didn’t blink, and instead told Congress to take that bailout and shove it. THAT was impressive. Why didn’t the population succumb to the fright-filled warnings from their president and his cronies? Well, you can only say ‘Saddam has da bomb’ so many times before the people realize you’re a lying sack of shite. After eight long years, the nation is worn out and simply can’t take it any longer.

10. CREATE A NATIONAL BANK, A “PEOPLE’S BANK.” If we really are itching to print up a trillion dollars, instead of giving it to a few rich people, why don’t we give it to ourselves? Now that we own Freddie and Fannie, why not set up a people’s bank? One that can provide low-interest loans for all sorts of people who want to own a home, start a small business, go to school, come up with the cure for cancer or create the next great invention. And now that we own AIG, the country’s largest insurance company, let’s take the next step and provide health insurance for everyone. Medicare for all. It will save us so much money in the long run. And we won’t be 12th on the life expectancy list. We’ll be able to have a longer life, enjoying our government-protected pension, and living to see the day when the corporate criminals who caused so much misery are let out of prison so that we can help reacclimate them to civilian life — a life with one nice home and a gas-free car that was invented with help from the People’s Bank.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. Call your Senators now. Here’s a backup link in case we crash that site again. They are going to attempt their own version of the Looting of America tonight. And let your reps know if you agree with my 10-point plan.