Saturday, October 10, 2015
Those at the highest levels in politics, along with the Corporate Media, are avoiding talking about the Economic Crisis in this great Land. For most people here, the American Dream has turned into the Nightmare of the Working Poor.
Fifty percent of working households in the USA now are economically insecure. They are just getting by... barely. Many of them have two part-time jobs because they can't find a decent-paying, full-time gig. Many companies nowadays prefer part-time workers...fewer employee benefits to cut into corporate profits. Ask the Great Wall of Mart...the largest private employer in the world. Because these workers are only scraping by, they can't save for emergencies...or anything else.
Many college graduates now are working as bartenders, or waiting tables in restaurants, or working as CSRs in "call centers", or as security guards (the minimum wage type), or as part-time cashiers in retail stores. Not only have wages across the board stagnated for the last thirty years, but adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in this country is the same as it was in the 1960's. Meanwhile, those few in the Upper Crust here have seen their incomes go up by 700% in the same time period.
Ever since NAFTA and other "Free Trade" Agreements were approved, millions of jobs have evaporated from our economic landscape. Since the year 2000, about 60,000 factories have closed or been moved out of the country. The TPP will exacerbate the problem. The jobs replacing those generally good-paying manufacturing positions are mostly, to be blunt, shite...crap...bullshit. For the most part, they are low-paying, often part-time, and sometimes temporary. They rarely match the jobs lost in terms of pay & benefits.
The 2008 Crisis resulted in the loss of eight million jobs. It's clear by now that the cause of that Crisis was not only "greed". Massive fraud was involved...by Mega Banks, by stock-rating agencies, by real estate brokers, by due diligence companies, etc. On top of all that, the highest levels of the Fed Gov't were not paying attention to the developing Crisis. Worse yet, at the beginning of the meltdown and in between the times when TARP was voted down by the Congress and when it finally was passed, the Fed Reserve made between $12 trillion and $13 trillion (estimates vary) available to several Mega Banks in loans at point two-five percent (.25%) interest. That amount of money is equal to all Fed Gov't expenditures from the Revolutionary War to the beginning of 2008. Think about that. It turns out that the overwhelming bulk of those loans was not converted into loans for businesses or consumers. The Mega Banks either hung onto it or used it for more stock market casino gambling. Neither action created any jobs. The Fed saved the Mega Banks instead of the economy of our Land.
What should have happened is QE for the People instead of the Mega Banks. All those trillions of dollars did not "trickle down" to the economy of We the People; those dollars stayed in the Big Banks. QE for the People would have saved the economy. About 70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending. It isn't driven by Mega Banks or the Stock Market...and especially, not by the Casino Gambling done by Wall Street ever since the invention of bizarre financial derivatives. Those derivatives now infect almost all commodities and stock transactions to the tune of $1.25 quadrillion (best estimate by experts).
Estimates of the real unemployment rate are at about 20%. Some people have given up looking. I remember looking in 1997 for what turned out to be my last wage-slave job...the last before I retired in 2004. I sent out 88 inquiries & resumes, had 16 different interviews, and finally secured a job after about five months of effort. I was getting fairly discouraged just prior to being hired. Some people today have been looking for two years; imagine how they feel.
Despite what the highest levels of the Gov't and the Corporate Media tell us, there is no Recovery going on in the U.S. Any honest evaluation of our economic condition shows that. In addition, the world economy and financial situation appear to be imploding. The whole scenario, according to many reputable analysts, is so fragile that we are a hair's breadth away from another Great Depression. Unfortunately, too many people in Power seem to have their heads in the sand. Either that, or they don't want to risk putting us into a panic. Or, worst case, they are keeping us in the dark until they and their Big Business Cronies can suck as much wealth as possible out of the economy before the Crash. [The last choice probably is unlikely...but I would never say that it's impossible.]
Not only my opinion. Be Well
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Ike was right when he warned us about the danger of acquisition of power by the Military-Industrial Complex. Steve Keen, an Australian Economics Professor, is right when he warns us about the Political-Financial Complex...a term coined by him.
A perfect example of the Political-Financial Complex is as follows. Not too long ago, a lobbyist for CitiBank essentially authored a Rider to a Legislative Bill in the U.S. Congress. This was not just any old Bill the Rider was attached to---it was the Omnibus Spending Bill for the U.S. Gov't...if I recall correctly, it was a $1.1 trillion Bill. The CitiBank Rider basically rolled back some protections that were in the Dodd-Frank law. Dodd-Frank was nothing to write home about, but it did give some protection from out-of-control elements in the Financial Sector.
Mega Banks are major contributors to both Dems & Repubs in the U.S...at the same time; in other words, the Banks contribute to both Party candidates in the same election. The reason for that could be innocent, but somehow I doubt it. Then, too, we have estimates from a few different sources stating that in the 2016 national election cycle here, about $10 billion dollars will be spent by all major candidates. That's not only a reflection of how debased the dollar has become; it's also an abomination. It would be interesting to know how much of that total is/will be coming from Mega Banks. At the end of 2014, five of the largest banks here had total assets of about seven trillion dollars. Those banks are: J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup (CitiBank), & U.S. Bancorp (U.S. Bank). They could easily fund a very significant percentage of 2016 election expenditures. [There are probably a dozen ways around rules limiting political contributions...if any of those rules still exist.] I think it's very naive to believe that politicians are not influenced by major campaign contributions. As someone (can't recall who) once stated, "The Big Banks don't influence elections... they own them.". Perhaps that's an exaggeration, but not by much.
According to CNBC, the banks listed above account for 45% of the banking industry. Think: Sherman AntiTrust Act, Clayton AntiTrust Act, and Federal Trade Commission Acts. Think: monopoly. Think: common sense. Since 2008, the "Too-Big-to-Fail" Mega Banks have grown by 37%. So much for the politicians "protecting" us. Those banks need to be broken up...ASAP. Either that, or make banks public utilities. North Dakota has just such a public bank; it outperforms Wall Street while being heavily regulated.
All of this is not only a U.S. problem...it's a worldwide problem. Those at the seats of public and private Power collude to convert publicly owned infrastructure into privately owned assets controlled by Mega Corporations. "Austerity" is imposed on countries in order to save not their economies, but instead, to save the out-of-control Financial Sectors in those countries. Banks weren't meant to be financial parasites engaged in speculating on bizarre, highly risky derivatives and other no-job-creating ventures. They once served a legitimate, almost modest function: servicing home, auto, and business loans. The Mega Banks have become giant casinos... to the detriment of the Lower and Middle Classes around the world. Unfortunately, politicians everywhere aid and abet them.
Boycott Mega Banks. They create almost zero new jobs.
Lobby to have them broken up.
Following the successful example in N. Dakota, lobby to have banks converted to public utilities.
Not only my opinion. Be Well