Tuesday, December 27, 2011

occupy your home

Living By Default
Read this by James Suroweiki in the Dec. 19 New Yorker about the recent bankruptcy of American Airlines.  His argument is that why is that action considered a smart business choice for a company and a shameful failure by a homeowner.

Attributions and more information:

we petition the obama administration to:
Place a moratorium on ALL foreclosures of mortgages made to individual homeowners belonging to the bottom 99%.
Don’t bail out banks and financial institutions, help individuals, real people like us who need real help and a second chance. These icons of Wall Street are as evil as Mr. Potter in "It’s a Wonderful Life" when he doesn’t return the Baileys' misplaced money. They buy mortgages issued to homeowners by other banks, seemingly with intent to foreclose whether or not they are ruining people’s lives.
Stop ALL banks and financial institutions from foreclosing on people. Place a moratorium on ALL foreclosures of mortgages made to individual home-owners for their primary residences, effective immediately! SHOW THAT YOU CARE about ALL people, not just those with money and influence.
Then let us know how we can help you rebuild this country from the ground up, while keeping our homes.
Created: Dec 03, 2011
Issues: Consumer Protections, Economy, Housing


Will being homeless make it easier for them to find jobs?

*Though a large-scale review of faulty foreclosures sounds like good news, many consumer advocates fear that the process will prove ineffective, in part because the banks were allowed to nominate their own auditors.
More than four million Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure potentially qualify for a free, independent review of their cases

But if mistakes are found, it's not clear what remedies are available.

Bob Scheer:

And the really big problem is that 65 million American mortgages are represented by a computer program in Reston, Va., called the MERS program, which is owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the top banks. And so when you go into court, you’re really up against a robo-banker, you’re up against a computer system. And that’s why the courts all over the country are throwing cases out, and that’s why 50 attorneys general, Republicans and Democrats, in the states are objecting to the process. We have an amazing crisis now in American homeownership because we turned it over to a computer.


The disastrous disarray in the housing industry is a direct result of decisions taken during the deregulation frenzy of the Clinton presidency when the securitization of mortgage and other debts was removed from any regulatory supervision. Instead of mortgages being between customers and banks and then being properly recorded by local government agencies, they became poker chips in the Wall Street casino. Tens of millions of home mortgages were recklessly issued with scant reference to their true values and bundled into securities to be sold on the unregulated derivatives market. But in order for there to be sufficient fluidity in the rapid-fire swapping of stock bundles of individual homes, those mortgages had to be unhinged from the valid legal restraints that had governed their issuance throughout most of human history.

October 13, 2010

MERS was the result of a partnership formed back during the Clinton years between Fannie Mae, an ostensibly government-sponsored agency that morphed into a very much for-profit mega-Wall Street hustler, and Countrywide, the largest and most rapacious of the private mortgage marketers. The scam of computerized credit approval and mortgage certification they came up with was subsequently embraced by Freddie Mac, the other huge housing agency, and the leading Wall Street banks joined in the feeding frenzy. MERS owners now include Wells Fargo, AIG, GMAC, Citigroup, HSBC, the two housing agencies and Bank of America. But the courts are increasingly challenging MERS claims to the right of foreclosure since this whole racket, which bypasses the power of counties to register property ownership, was never authorized in the law.

The disastrous disarray in the housing industry is a direct result of decisions taken during the deregulation frenzy of the Clinton presidency when the securitization of mortgage and other debts was removed from any regulatory supervision. Instead of mortgages being between customers and banks and then being properly recorded by local government agencies, they became poker chips in the Wall Street casino. Tens of millions of home mortgages were recklessly issued with scant reference to their true values and bundled into securities to be sold on the unregulated derivatives market. But in order for there to be sufficient fluidity in the rapid-fire swapping of stock bundles of individual homes, those mortgages had to be unhinged from the valid legal restraints that had governed their issuance throughout most of human history.

To engage in the recklessness of turning people’s homes—their castles and nest eggs—into playthings of Wall Street market hustlers, or securitization of the assets, as it was termed, homeownership record-keeping had to be mangled beyond recognition. Throughout the preceding centuries of this nation’s history, the origination of housing loans was between the homebuyer and a lender, both of whom expected to be connected through decades of payments. Until the nuttiness that began in the 1990s when homes became ciphers in a marketable security, the verification of homeownership was a straightforward transaction dutifully recorded by local county governments. If the house was sold, the physical records were changed and available for all to see.

But that didn’t suit the newfangled collateralized debt obligations based on collections of mortgages to be cut in tranches as to their expected risk and sold as securities in an unregulated futures market. To facilitate the scam, the records of homeownership came to be largely maintained without the traditional local paper trail in a new computerized national database. The ensuing difficulty in tracing such ownership is now at the heart of the courts’ objections and the compelling argument for a government-enforced national moratorium on home foreclosures to provide sufficient time to sort this mess out.

Read the full article at:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/invasion_of_the_rob... /



see below for more videos:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

make money on the internet

How many have you seen?  Here's another:
"are you getting left behind"
I find these particularly offensive given that one of the huge problems we have is that people expect to make big bucks sitting on their butts at their computers.

Are people too stupid to realize that this is a complete ponzi scheme.  The guy is selling software that does nothing of real value.  It's just moving bits around, and taking money from suckers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the other side

There always is one, but this I have not seen until today.  So much for the social contract:

Growth of a civilization depends on the individual taking ownership of his/her own life and not depending on the collective state.
The individuals of this movement will create a world of liberty; a world in which we are sovereign over our own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. Respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world. Force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity actually be realized. It is every person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and the diversity that freedom brings should be welcome by all. The world the movement seeks to encourage is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own way, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
With your help we can and will develop this movement and try to awaken the people around the globe about the Philosophy of Liberty & Self-Ownership. True Peace, Freedom & Prosperity is available to those that choose to accept it. Join us ~ JC

Part of the message seems to be that the Occupy movement is  awatee of time and effort.

Team (19)

James CoxMike ShanklinDavid ShirkValerie RumerClayton GeePeter EmborskyBill WurstBlake ImesonAnok KropotkinJames Oliver DeckardJaime ShermanChris FreemanNiki StaehleKiska ZillaJackson MacIntosh StrongRaina LorringVictor ProssPaul Zimmerman

occupy one minute

occupy one minute v001 is now up on Youtube.
Below is the title page shown at the end, it did not compress well.

 Below are context, attribution,and notes for all quotes, bolded:

 vanity fair


Joseph E. Stiglitz:

Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.
None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.

But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.
When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth. During the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s—a scandal whose dimensions, by today’s standards, seem almost quaint—the banker Charles Keating was asked by a congressional committee whether the $1.5 million he had spread among a few key elected officials could actually buy influence. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. The Supreme Court, in its recent Citizens United case, has enshrined the right of corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on campaign spending. The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect—people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real. Inequality massively distorts our foreign policy. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military—the reality is that the “all-volunteer” army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that. Foreign policy, by definition, is about the balancing of national interests and national resources. With the top 1 percent in charge, and paying no price, the notion of balance and restraint goes out the window. There is no limit to the adventures we can undertake; corporations and contractors stand only to gain. The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care.
r, more accurately, they think they don’t. Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system without opportunity that has given rise to the conflagrations in the Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling. With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from “food insecurity”)—given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted “trickling down” from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation—voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.

In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic, and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses—will they be next? They are right to worry. These are societies where a minuscule fraction of the population—less than 1 percent—controls the lion’s share of the wealth; where wealth is a main determinant of power; where entrenched corruption of one sort or another is a way of life; and where the wealthiest often stand actively in the way of policies that would improve life for people in general.
As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America? In important ways, our own country has become like one of these distant, troubled places.
Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.


1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. (Source: Exxon Mobil's 2009 shareholder report filed with the SEC here.)

2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. (Source: Forbes.com here, ProPublica here and Treasury here.)

3) General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States over the past five years and, thanks to clever use of loopholes, paid no taxes.(Source: Citizens for Tax Justice here and The New York Times here. Note: despite rumors to the contrary, the Times has stood by its story.)

Howard Loveless

Although the American dream
is alive and well for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, unfortunately, if
you are in the other 99%, the deck has never been more stacked against
you. America has always been a country where you can go from being middle class to upper class, but right now class mobility has all but collapsed. It is this discrepancy that feeds the fever of the 99%. So who are the 99%? It might be easier to tell you who the 99% are not:
The Richest 1% Owns 40% of the Nation's Wealth. Just 25 years ago the
top 1% owned 33% of national wealth. The bottom 80% now owns only 7%.
The Richest 1% of Americans Take Home 24% of National Income. In 1976
they took home just 9% -- yes, their share of the national income pool
has nearly tripled in three decades. Has yours? The Top 1% Own
Half of the Country's Stocks, Bonds and Mutual Funds: The bottom 50% of
Americans own only 0.5% of these investments. The Top 1% of Americans Have Only 5% of the Nation's Personal Debt. The bottom 90% have 73% of total debt. The Top 1% Are Taking In More of the Nation's Income Than at Any Other Time Since the 1920s. Does all this mean that the 99% of us have merely been "slackers" these past 3 decades? I don't believe that is the case at all. The 1% has worked diligently these past 30 years, using their power and influence to change the rules of the game. They've managed to pay the politicians to get their taxes lowered.

*They've changed trade laws so that they can move their manufacturing
facilities off shore, to use child labor, without environmental or
safety rules, to import their goods back here. They've paid DC
to change finance rules, allowing them to use stock market gambling
tools that were outlawed after the great depression, and the repeal of
those rules led directly to THIS depression.

*They've convinced
Washington to give them billions to cover the losses, and then used
those billions to give themselves bonuses, rewards for having
successfully duped the public once again. Their antics so
crippled the economy that even more jobs were lost, housing values
crumbled and retirement funds tanked; all of which contributed to
widening the gap between the haves and have nots even more.
Now, we know that life isn't always fair, but when we sat down at this
card table, we assumed we'd have an even chance at winning the game.
When we discovered that the folks that invited us to participate in
this game had kept all the face cards to themselves, well, you can
imagine our anger! If you still don't know who the 99% are, I don't think you've been paying attention.

For instance, in years when the top marginal rate was more than 90 percent, the average annual growth in total payroll employment was 2 percent. In years when the top marginal rate was 35 percent or less — which it is now — employment grew by an average of just 0.4 percent.
*In fact, if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher. The top 10 years would share marginal tax rates at 50 percent or higher. The two worst years, on the other hand, were 2008 and 2009, when the top marginal tax rate was 35 percent. In the 13 years that the top marginal tax rate has been at its current level or lower, only one year even cracks the top 20 in overall job creation.



The Bush Years Were a Lost Decade

Just saw this, courtesy Chris Harvey:
17-year old says it all

Leonard Cohen weighs in

Saturday, December 3, 2011

luxury goods

So the market for luxury goods continues apace.  Don't think that will solve our economic issues, though.  Remember that ting that makes them luxuries is scarceness.  That would mean a limited Number of people involved in their production.  Thus the premium for artisinal products, for example.  

Friday, December 2, 2011


this is really interesting.  I thought Apple was the good guys.
So what;s with the can't find the abortion clinic thing?

gated communities

I was listening to an interview on NPR yesterday with a guy whose dad is one of the richest guys in Rissia.  He lives in a gated community, which is quite common.  Do we want that?  Should police and fire be privatized?  Should the wealthy just hang out in their wealthy gated neighborhoods, and people (the 99%), just come and go to do work, like Palestinians going through checkpoints in Israel?  Is that what we want?