Category Archives: economy

Baited, hooked and twitching madly

We’re all probably too pissed off to write about the bailout bait and switch right now, but its our job folks, we have to expose these things. Allow me to oversimplify Friday’s hearings like this: the Bush Administration does whatever the hell it wants. Plain and simple. In hindsight I’m surprised they even went through the trouble of getting congress to pass the bailout bill, except for the politics of it. But now that the Democrats went through the painful process of attaching strings, its nice to know that the Administration can just simply ignore them. Nobody’s surprised by these tactics, at least no one that’s been awake for the last 8 years. But this has to get filed away with the many other things that makes every American citizen who cares about, and has even a limited understanding of, our constitutional democracy want to puke their guts out. These people are scum. In the attached link, you’ll read a polite and eloquent rebuttal about buying mortgages. If you were paying attention you would have said, 55 million? That sounds like every mortgage in the entire country. Well, you’d be right, it is. So what kind of evil jackass would twist things around like that? Yes the question was rhetorical…and no there aren’t 55 million foreclosed homes in America. He was actually saying, ‘what do you want us to do, buy every mortgage in America?’. After that statement I’m thinking his balls on a platter would be an appropriate response…well worth the ~$2,500 a person the bailout is costing.

So this Thanksgiving, when my grandmother or uncle start talking about how the bailout is socialism and we’re turning into commies, I’m going off the rails, despite my great love for my unfortunately misguided relatives. I’m sure you have a few yourself. Future posts will add to this list, but for those of us concerned with totalitarianism, please add this to the category ‘ignore the laws passed by congress’. Was there a signing statement I missed?

Reeferendum 2008

Lots of good news at the ballot box last week, as it seems that in addition to all those other wars, we’re now losing the Drug War too.  The reefer reform lobby saw victory on 10 of 11 statewide ballot initiatives, proving once again that the people know better than Uncle Sam when it comes to Aunt Mary.

Congratulations to Massachusetts, which is set to become the 13th state to decriminalize the reef.  Interestingly enough, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize so-called medical marijuana.  I say interestingly, because lucky number 13 has long been the numerical symbol for marijuana…  and Massachusetts and Michigan both begin with “M”, which is the 13th letter of the alphabet…  Don’t get me started on the legend of the G-13… (perhaps Sunshine could chime in on the comments?)

Aw, dude, that cloud has a vein in it… and it’s bleeding on me, man!  The cloud is bleeding on me!  Wait, go back…

Let’s review that list of states that have decriminalized the maryjane (that is to say, possession of small amounts of marijuana is now a fine rather than a jailable offense): Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, and Mississippi… what’s missing from that list of “M” states?  God damn right, Maryland.  If Missouri and Montana turn before Maryland, so help me… (The remaining states that round out the 13 are Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.)

But honestly, why are we just nibbling at these trifling, archaic reefer laws?  Last I checked, we’re staring down the worst economic slump since the Great Depression.  Estimates about the value of the United States’ domestic reefer crop vary anywhere from $4 to $25 billion (source: Reefer Madness, by Eric Schlosser, 2003).  In fact, here’s a nice little passage from that book:

In 1997 the Austrian economist Friedrich Schneider calculated the rise of America’s “shadow economy” by tracing changes in the demand for currency.  According to Schneider, in 1970 the size of the underground  was between 2.6 and 4.6 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP).  By 1994 it had reached 9.4 percent of the GDP – about $650 billion.

Granted, reefer only accounts for a small portion of our black market.  But still, let’s get it out in the open!  I find it interesting that in 1933, Congress got the ball rolling to repeal Prohibition just as FDR was coming into office.   That year was dedicated to jump-starting the economy by any means necessary…  Sound familiar?  Don’t forget, booze had been outlawed by the 18th Amendment, so rolling that back with another constitutional amendment required ratification by each state, no small feat.  By comparison, decriminalizing ganja, which is not explicitly outlawed by the Constitution, should be a breeze.

It’s been 36 years since Nixon’s National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse recommended that the funky buddha be decriminalized.  And we’re only now up to 13 states?  Pathetic…

“Lou the Angry Troll” Invokes “Joe the Plumber”

This man is in the hypocrisy hall of fame. Lou supposedly advocates for the middle class and working America, then he manages to twist the facts about all the worthless people who are so poor that they supposedly don’t pay taxes in America. Nevermind the intrinsically illogical doublespeak when you talk about giving a tax break to someone who doesn’t pay taxes. Dobbs is a freaky hypocrite with a soft spot in his heart for the mythical “Joe the Plumber”. By the way, in future discussions I want to make “Joe the Plumber” the new code word for the guy who makes 40K a year and will actually receive a tax break in Obama’s plan, but he is such a dreamer and a moron and an ideaologue that he is more worried about a fantastical plumbing business that he is thinking about buying, that profits 250-280k a year, that would cost a couple million to buy. Meanwhile he has what, a negative $1200 in back taxes in his name. “Joe the Plumber” is an ignorant jerk, just like “Lou the Angry Troll”.

Social Security Hypocrisy

Joe the plumber is not alone. Of course many hypocrites like to talk about how the social security program will never work. Any business that pissed away every profit it ever made wouldn’t last long. Well, it would be self sustaining as FDR proposed if we kept the surplus of workforce bubbles. But we haven’t. Mostly because the people running the government during the baby boomer prime earning years did everything they could to bankrupt every program in sight. The nine most feared words indeed. My new most feared words in the English language: “I’m a Republican and I want to run the government I believe is itself the problem”. If I worked for a company that elected as its president someone who firmly believed my company’s mere existence was an abomination, I’d be looking for another job. Newsflash Joe, Social Security has been one of the most successful and beloved programs in our history, until Reaganomics ushered in the new wave of anti-humanist republican party.. and by the way every advanced country in the first world has a program like it that works just fine.

Joe the Plumber

This is the version where you actually get to hear Obama’s answer to Joe the Plumber. Its a pretty damn good answer too. By the way doesn’t this dude look a bit like that male prostitute that they used to keep in the White House?

On the other hand, if you looked at the Fox news version, they clip out the answer.

* * * Uila Update * * *

I’m having a vision… it’s the future of the GOP… PALIN/PLUMBER 2012

More on blaming poor people

Matt Taibbi is the finest political writer of our time.  He cranks up the outrage and doesn’t hesitate to skewer both sides if they deserve it.  If you haven’t been reading this guy, you should.  I’m throwing a link to his recent articles in the blogroll.  His description of Palin’s unveiling at the convention is a thing of beauty.

However, the post I wanted to highlight today is his head-to-head with some clown at National Review over who’s responsible for the financial meltdown.  He picks up Pinky’s comment about credit default swaps and beats the other guy like a tom tom…

M.T.: You don’t think the unregulated CDS market was a major factor in the current crisis? Were you watching when AIG almost went under? Were you watching the Lehman collapse?

B.Y.: I think that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also major factors. And I believe that many of the problems in the mortgage area can be attributed to the confluence of Democratic and Republican priorities: the Democrats’ desire to give mortgages to people, particularly minorities, who could not afford them, and the Republicans’ desire to achieve an “ownership society,” in part by giving mortgages to people who could not afford them. Again, I believe that if you are suggesting that the financial crisis is a Republican creation, or even more specifically a McCain creation, I think you’re on pretty shaky ground.

M.T.: Oh, come on. Tell me you’re not ashamed to put this gigantic international financial Krakatoa at the feet of a bunch of poor black people who missed their mortgage payments. The CDS market, this market for credit default swaps that was created in 2000 by Phil Gramm’s Commodities Future Modernization Act, this is now a $62 trillion market, up from $900 billion in 2000. That’s like five times the size of the holdings in the NYSE. And it’s all speculation by Wall Street traders. It’s a classic bubble/Ponzi scheme. The effort of people like you to pin this whole thing on minorities, when in fact this whole thing has been caused by greedy traders dealing in unregulated markets, is despicable. Continue reading

Blame the poor

The immediate aftermath of the recent economic collapse downturn saw the polls shift decisively toward Barack Obama, reflecting the fact that (1) everyone knows Republican policies are responsible for this mess and (2) no one trusts them (McShame) to clean it up.

In response, the right-wing noise machine has been steadily building a counter-narrative that alternately blames the Clinton administration, the Carter administration, low-income families, and (gasp) illegal aliens. In doing so they have managed to conflate the following:

  • big government “forced” banks (including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to lend to low-income people via the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977
  • low-income home owners tend to be subprime borrowers, who have been on the leading edge of the (still accelerating) foreclosure crisis
  • some areas with high foreclosure rates also have high rates of illegal immigrants, some of whom were given loans
  • immigrants are minorities, Barack Obama is a minority, and minorities are the cause of everything bad in this country

There’s no question the arguments are dog-whistle racist. One’s ability to swallow the logic that hordes of conniving immigrants and poor people were able to bring Wall Street to its knees by systematically swindling the kindly and trusting bankers whose hands were tied by Uncle Sam… well… I don’t even know how to properly ridicule that other than to say it dovetails with a propensity to blame the victims of society.
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