"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks." —Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
In Money-Changers We Trust —by Robert Scheer
It's all wonderfully bipartisan. Recently it was announced that Carlos Gutierrez, commerce secretary under George W. Bush, had been named to a high position at Citigroup. For President Obama, there's no cause for worry about the loss of indispensable talent from his administration. Orszag's replacement as head of the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob J. Lew, was both a member of Rubin's Hamilton Project and a former Citigroup executive — thus insuring that government of the banks, by the banks, for the banks shall not perish from the earth.
U.S. Accuses Bank of America of a ‘Brazen’ Mortgage Fraud
By Ben Protess
The New York Times
October 24, 2012
Five years after the housing market crumbled, government officials are still trying to assign blame for the problems that fueled the mortgage boom and bust.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in New York took aim at Bank of America. They accused it of carrying out a scheme, started by its Countrywide Financial unit, that defrauded government-backed mortgage agencies by churning out loans at a rapid pace without proper controls. In a civil suit, prosecutors seek to collect at least $1 billion in penalties from the bank as compensation for the behavior that they say forced taxpayers to guarantee billions in bad loans.
Financial firms have been battling chaotic — and at times redundant — litigation related to the mortgage mess. The cases have come from a patchwork of federal agencies, state officials and shareholder suits, some of which have been resolved in multibillion-dollar settlements.
“They never know who’s going to be coming after them next,” said Dan Hurson, a former federal prosecutor who now defends securities cases. “There’s no central traffic cop.”
Still, the public has been frustrated with the limited number of criminal actions that have been filed since the financial crisis. Few cases have taken aim at top executives. Even in the latest case against Bank of America, no company officials were sued as part of the complaint. Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, never faced criminal charges but did agree in 2010 to pay $67.5 million to settle a civil fraud case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Hurson said that the government had yet to overcome the notion that federal authorities were reluctant to pursue the top rungs of Wall Street. The criminal actions to come from the crisis, he noted, have focused on “small-time operators.”
The government, however, has contended that it has aggressively pursued mortgage fraud. As the legal deadline approaches for filing crisis-related cases, President Obama formed a mortgage task force to investigate wrongdoing. The unit recently announced its first case, taking action against JPMorgan Chase over mortgage deals created by Bear Stearns, the firm that JPMorgan bought during the crisis...
The Best Among Us
by Chris Hedges
September 29, 2011
There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.
To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing, where we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded, is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say "I am innocent" is to bear the mark of Cain; it is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet. To be innocent in times like these is to be a criminal. Ask Tim DeChristopher.
Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs...
The Book of Jobs
by Joseph E. Stiglitz
The banks got their bailout. Some of the money went to bonuses. Little of it went to lending. And the economy didn't really recover—output is barely greater than it was before the crisis, and the job situation is bleak. The diagnosis of our condition and the prescription that followed from it were incorrect. First, it was wrong to think that the bankers would mend their ways—that they would start to lend, if only they were treated nicely enough. We were told, in effect: "Don't put conditions on the banks to require them to restructure the mortgages or to behave more honestly in their foreclosures. Don't force them to use the money to lend. Such conditions will upset our delicate markets." In the end, bank managers looked out for themselves and did what they are accustomed to doing.
Even when we fully repair the banking system, we'll still be in deep trouble—because we were already in deep trouble. That seeming golden age of 2007 was far from a paradise. Yes, America had many things about which it could be proud. Companies in the information-technology field were at the leading edge of a revolution. But incomes for most working Americans still hadn't returned to their levels prior to the previous recession. The American standard of living was sustained only by rising debt—debt so large that the U.S. savings rate had dropped to near zero. And "zero" doesn't really tell the story. Because the rich have always been able to save a significant percentage of their income, putting them in the positive column, an average rate of close to zero means that everyone else must be in negative numbers. (Here's the reality: in the years leading up to the recession, according to research done by my Columbia University colleague Bruce Greenwald, the bottom 80 percent of the American population had been spending around 110 percent of its income.) What made this level of indebtedness possible was the housing bubble, which Alan Greenspan and then Ben Bernanke, chairmen of the Federal Reserve Board, helped to engineer through low interest rates and nonregulation—not even using the regulatory tools they had. As we now know, this enabled banks to lend and households to borrow on the basis of assets whose value was determined in part by mass delusion.
The fact is the economy in the years before the current crisis was fundamentally weak, with the bubble, and the unsustainable consumption to which it gave rise, acting as life support. Without these, unemployment would have been high. It was absurd to think that fixing the banking system could by itself restore the economy to health. Bringing the economy back to "where it was" does nothing to address the underlying problems...Monetary policy is not going to help us out of this mess. Ben Bernanke has, belatedly, admitted as much. The Fed played an important role in creating the current conditions—by encouraging the bubble that led to unsustainable consumption—but there is now little it can do to mitigate the consequences. I can understand that its members may feel some degree of guilt. But anyone who believes that monetary policy is going to resuscitate the economy will be sorely disappointed. That idea is a distraction, and a dangerous one.
What we need to do instead is embark on a massive investment program—as we did, virtually by accident, 80 years ago—that will increase our productivity for years to come, and will also increase employment now. This public investment, and the resultant restoration in G.D.P., increases the returns to private investment. Public investments could be directed at improving the quality of life and real productivity—unlike the private-sector investments in financial innovations, which turned out to be more akin to financial weapons of mass destruction...
The second conclusion is this: If we expect to maintain any semblance of "normality," we must fix the financial system. As noted, the implosion of the financial sector may not have been the underlying cause of our current crisis—but it has made it worse, and it's an obstacle to long-term recovery. Small and medium-size companies, especially new ones, are disproportionately the source of job creation in any economy, and they have been especially hard-hit. What's needed is to get banks out of the dangerous business of speculating and back into the boring business of lending. But we have not fixed the financial system. Rather, we have poured money into the banks, without restrictions, without conditions, and without a vision of the kind of banking system we want and need. We have, in a phrase, confused ends with means. A banking system is supposed to serve society, not the other way around.
That we should tolerate such a confusion of ends and means says something deeply disturbing about where our economy and our society have been heading. Americans in general are coming to understand what has happened. Protesters around the country, galvanized by the Occupy Wall Street movement, already know.
Bailout Total: $29.616 Trillion Dollarsby Barry Ritholtz
The Big Picture Blog
December 9, 2011
There is a fascinating new study coming out of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. It's titled "$29,000,000,000,000: A Detailed Look at the Fed's Bail-out by Funding Facility and Recipient" by James Felkerson. The study looks at the lending, guarantees, facilities and spending of the Federal Reserve.
The researchers took all of the individual transactions across all facilities created to deal with the crisis, to figure out how much the Fed committed as a response to the crisis. This includes direct lending, asset purchases and all other assistance. (It does not include indirect costs such as rising price of goods due to inflation, weak dollar, etc.)
The net total? As of November 10, 2011, it was $29,616.4 billion dollars — (or 29 and a half trillion, if you prefer that nomenclature). Three facilities — CBLS, PDCF, and TAF — are responsible for the lion's share — 71.1% of all Federal Reserve assistance ($22,826.8 billion).
One comment about some of the folks pushing back against this massive total: Yes, there is a big difference between a $100 lent for 3 days, and a $100 lent overnight rolled over 2 more times. And there is an enormous difference when temporary overnight lending lasts for three years.
Overnight lending, by its definition, is temporary, short term, lower risk, modest impact. It exists to allow slightly over-extended banks to meet their reserve requirements. But rolling overnight lending repeatedly for 3 years is none of those things. And it makes a mockery of these same reserve requirements, and the protective purposes they are supposed to serve.
The amount of overnight lending reflects how broken our financial system really is. A well capitalized, moderately leverage system does not require this massive liquidity from a central bank — interbank lending should be sufficient. What the data reveals is that the financial sector remains dangerously under-capitalized and overleveraged.
To pretend these were merely minor overnight loans, rolled over once or twice, is foolish, dangerous nonsense.Where is Wall Street accountability?by Elizabeth Warren
December 7, 2011
The law applies to everyone. Wall Street protesters should be held accountable if they engage in illegal activity — and so should Wall Street banks. There is no excuse for protesters to violate public safety laws — and no excuse for powerful financial institutions to defraud their customers or investors.
Yet for all the talk about accountability, there has been little action when it comes to holding large financial institutions accountable for breaking the law.
Look at the latest foreclosure fraud scandals. For more than a year, one story after another has come to light exposing how some of America's largest financial institutions broke the law. In some cases, their blatantly illegal behavior in the foreclosure process pushed families out of their homes. In some others, families gave up and moved away under the threat of foreclosure.
The revelations about robosigning — in which mortgage servicers falsified legal documents to foreclose on homes faster and more cheaply — were followed by stories about illegal home foreclosures against military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, cases of mistaken-identity foreclosures, cases of foreclosures caused by bad record keeping and on and on.
Credit unions and most small banks followed the law. But the biggest mortgage lenders and servicers swamped the system with bad practices...You Can Arrest an Ideaby Robert Scheer
December 1, 2011
The bankers slept well. Their homes in Beverly Hills were not spotlighted by a noisy swarm of police helicopters, searchlights burning through the sanctity of the night, harassing the forlorn City Hall encampment of those who dared protest the banks' seizure of our government. I live within sight of the iconic Los Angeles City Hall, and at first I thought it was being used once again as a movie location, given the massive police presence, as if an alien invasion was being thwarted.
Not eager to test the resilience of my new heart valve, I hesitated until the first crack of dawn to visit the place where former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and I had spoken weeks before at a teach-in on the origins of the economic crisis. I described the scene back then as a Jeffersonian moment, exactly the kind of peaceful assembly to redress grievances that the Founders of our nation enshrined in the Bill of Rights. But at 5 a.m. Wednesday there was only a graveyard of democratic hope. The protesters were gone, 200 arrested for exercising their constitutional rights, and only the television crews stayed to pick over the carcass of tents, books and posters, including one I pulled from the debris that read "99% you can't arrest an idea." Actually, you can, and the bankers have, as a result, been able to reoccupy Los Angeles' City Hall and every other contested outpost of power throughout the nation.
The liberal Democratic mayor, a past president of the Southern California ACLU, was pleased with the efficiency of the "community policing" approach of his police department. "I said that here in L.A. we'd chart a different path, and we did," Antonio Villaraigosa boasted. However, the result was the same as elsewhere; the bankers were protected from the scorn they so richly deserve and there will no longer be a visible monument to the pain that they have caused. To ensure a pristine, amoral town square, huge concrete-anchored fences were quickly installed to prevent further access to the public space surrounding City Hall...Mortgage Servicers: Getting Away with the Perfect Crime?by Matt Stoller
New Deal 2.0
The Roosevelt Institute
November 28, 2011
Without prosecutions, there's nothing keeping fraud from becoming a standard business practice.
Crime invaded the center of our banking system. Wall Street CEOs were signing on to SEC documents knowing they contained material misstatements. The New York Fed, riddled with conflicts of interest, shoveled money to large banks and tried to hide it under the veil of central bank independence. Even Tim Geithner noted that Lehman had "air in the marks" in its valuations of asset-backed securities, as the bankruptcy examiner's report showed that accounting manipulation to disguise the condition of the balance sheet was a routine management tool at the bank...
And what happens when this kind of fraud goes unprosecuted? It continues, even today. The same banks that ran the corrupt home mortgage securitization chain are now committing rampant fraud in the foreclosure crisis...
The bad behavior is so rampant that banks think nothing of a contractor programming fraud into the software. This is shocking behavior and has led to untold numbers of foreclosures, as well as the theft of huge sums of money from mortgage-backed securities investors.
Here's how the fraud works: Mortgage loan notes are very clear on the schedule of how payments are to be applied. First, the money goes to interest, then principal, then all other fees. That means that investors get paid first and servicers, who collect late fees for themselves, get paid either when they collect the late fee from the debtor or from the liquidation of the foreclosure. And fees are supposed to be capitalized into the overall mortgage amount. If you are late one month, it isn't supposed to push you into being late on all subsequent months.
The software, however, prioritizes servicer fees above the contractually required interest and principal to investors. This isn't a one-off; it's programmed. It's the very definition of a conspiracy! Who knows how many people paid late and then were pushed into a spiral of fees that led into a foreclosure? It's the perfect crime, and many of the victims had paid every single mortgage payment.
A lack of criminal prosecutions means that unethical business practices like this one drive out ethical business practices. After all, why should a bank hire an ethical default servicer that charges a high price for its product when it can pay nothing to one that simply extracts from investors and homeowners?
The joke that is the U.S. Attorney network has become very old and very stale. And unfortunately, because of Attorney General Eric Holder, that joke is on us.That Bank Bailout Was Way Bigger Than Anyone Thought
Remember the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program with which the federal government came to the rescue of faltering banks in 2008? Well, according to a Bloomberg report, that was just a fraction of the financial help the Federal Reserve Bank wound up doling out to troubled lenders. The real total was reportedly closer to $8 trillion, after you add up benefits outside TARP, including emergency loans given at below-market rates:
The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he "wasn't aware of the magnitude." It dwarfed the Treasury Department's better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.
Bloomberg came up with that number after reviewing "29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions." Bloomberg adds, "The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day." That's nearly twice the amount made public in TARP.
Restore the Basic Bargain
by Robert Reich
November 28, 2011
For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.
That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.
Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day — three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action "an economic crime."
But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford's auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T's. In two years Ford's profits more than doubled.
That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.
The basic bargain is over — not only at Ford but all over the American economy.
New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929.
Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929...Too Big to Jailby Robert Scheer
November 2, 2011
Can we all agree that a $1 billion swindle represents a lot of money, and the fact that Citigroup agreed last week to pay a $285 million fine to settle SEC charges for "misleading investors" demonstrates a damning admission of culpability?
So why has Robert Rubin, the onetime treasury secretary who went on to become Citigroup chairman during the time of the corporation's financial shenanigans, never been held accountable for this and other deep damage done to the U.S. economy on his watch?
Rubin's tenure atop the world of high finance began when he was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, before he became Bill Clinton's treasury secretary and pushed through the reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act, an action that legalized the formation of Citigroup and other "too big to fail" banking conglomerates.
Rubin's destructive impact on the economy in enabling these giant corporate banks to run amok was far greater than that of swindler Bernard Madoff, who sits in prison under a 150-year sentence while Rubin sits on the Harvard Board of Overseers, as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and as a leader of the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project...Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation's Income, Study Findsby Robert Pear
The New York Times
October 26, 2011
WASHINGTON - The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation's income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, in a new report likely to figure prominently in the escalating political fight over how to revive the economy, create jobs and lower the federal debt.
In addition, the report said, government policy has become less redistributive since the late 1970s, doing less to reduce the concentration of income.
"The equalizing effect of federal taxes was smaller" in 2007 than in 1979, as "the composition of federal revenues shifted away from progressive income taxes to less-progressive payroll taxes," the budget office said.Revealed - the capitalist network that runs the worldby Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie
October 19, 2011
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).
"Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it's conspiracy theories or free-market," says James Glattfelder. "Our analysis is reality-based."Panic of the Plutocratsby Paul Krugman
The New York Times
October 9, 2011
The Decline and Fall of the American Middle ClassBy Paul Harris
It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America's direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent...
14 September 11
No one can accuse the candidates on stage at Monday's Republican debate of not discussing a broad range of topics. They talked about big issues like social security, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy independence, repealing healthcare reform and the need for job creation. And they talked about small issues for political point-scoring: like HPV vaccines for girls.
But missing from the debate — and, in fact, much current discussion of America's politics — is the single biggest issue facing the country: the destruction of the American middle class. For stories on how America is bifurcating into haves and have-nots, with precious little in between, you have to dive behind the headlines of the latest Washington political bun-fight and find the devil in the details...
Subprime Mortgage Bonds Getting AAA Rating S&P Denies to U.S. Treasuries
By Zeke Faux and Jody Shenn
Aug 31, 2011
Standard & Poor's is giving a higher rating to securities backed by subprime home loans, the same type of investments that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, than it assigns the U.S. government.
S&P is poised to provide AAA grades to 59 percent of Springleaf Mortgage Loan Trust 2011-1, a set of bonds tied to $497 million lent to homeowners with below-average credit scores and almost no equity in their properties. New York-based S&P stripped the U.S. of its top rank on Aug. 5, saying Washington politics were making the country less creditworthy.
Treasuries gained about 1.95 percent and U.S. borrowing costs have fallen to record lows as investors repudiated the downgrade, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. S&P has awarded AAAs to more than $36 billion of securities in the U.S. this year that were created by bankers who continue to gather thousands of loans, bundle them into bonds of varying risk and pay ratings firms a fee to assign credit rankings.
"Everybody has been led to believe over the years that AAA means AAA means AAA across the board," Gregory W. Smith, the general counsel for the $41 billion Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, said in a telephone interview on Aug. 24. "Anybody that didn't learn in the 2008 crisis that doesn't apply should find another line of work."
Why capitalism is choosing Plan B
by Richard Wolff.
August 22, 2011
Governors Cuomo in New York and Malloy in Connecticut had very similar Plan Bs. They threatened the public employee unions and the people of their states in nearly identical ways. Either the unions accept new contracts with wage freezes and raised contributions to their health insurance plans (and other declines in their basic remuneration) - or the governors would fire tens of thousands of unionised state workers. In Connecticut, the state workers first voted to reject and then re-voted to accept that contract. In New York, the state workers accepted on the first vote.
Let's be really clear on what the two governors were doing. They were forcing a very painful "either/or" onto the mass of people who elected them. Each governor said: I will either fire many thousands of state workers and thereby impose drastic cuts in public services on the entire citizenry, or I will subject tens of thousands of state employees to significant cuts in their wages and benefits.
Each governor spoke and acted as if those were the only two choices - even though that is blatantly untrue. Each governor refused to even consider an obvious alternative Plan C: increasing taxes on corporations and the rich enough to avoid either public service cuts or wage cuts. Instead, each governor snubbed his nose at the public by forcing unions to choose between two awful options.
American Decline: Causes and Consequences
by Noam Chomsky
August 24, 2011
Not even discussed is the fact that the deficit would be eliminated if the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the US were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies, which have half the per person costs and at least comparable health outcomes. The financial institutions and pharmaceutical industry are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.
Meanwhile, new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact. And Congress wields other weapons in its battle against future generations. In the face of Republican opposition to environmental protection, "A major American utility is shelving the nation's most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming," the New York Times reports.Stock Tip: Be Worried. Workers Are Consumers.by Robert Reichoriginally on his blog, but his website be down... paranoid schizophrenics are out to get him...
posted about 20 hours ago...
Repeat after me: Workers are consumers. Consumers are workers...
Every CEO of every company that continues to squeeze payrolls (Verizon, are you listening? Ford?) needs to understand they're shooting themselves in the feet. Where do they expect demand for their products and services to come from?The press nods as absurdity, lies prevail in the budget debateCOMMENTARY | August 18, 2011
By Henry Banta
Several times recently Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning professor at Princeton, has placed a large part of the blame for the appalling level of the budget debate on the media. (Here is one example.) The problem, he asserts, comes because there is no political cost to being outrageously wrong, irresponsible, stupid or even dishonest. In the eyes of the major media all opinion is equal. The content of political rhetoric does not matter. The truth or falsity of claims does not matter. All that matters is who is on what side. As a result we have had a crucial public debate in which perfectly absurd notions were reported as if they had serious merit. Rationality, civility, not to mention sanity have been major casualties.
This is a very serious accusation, one that responsible journalists should deal with. If it has merit, the profession needs some major self-examination. Granted that, in Professor Krugman's view, the most outrageous rhetoric came from the Tea Party and its allies, but his accusation cannot be dismissed as mere partisanship. There is nothing new in the charge that the major media are indifferent to factual issues, but the budget debate has conspicuously raised to a new level the media's inability or unwillingness to discuss factual issues.
Bulldoze: The New Way To Foreclose
By Stephen GandelTIME
17 hours ago
Banks have a new remedy to America's ailing housing market: Bulldozers.
ALEC— Democracy's Arch-Nemesis
By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News
In an 1864 letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Abraham Lincoln warned, "... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
In the buildup to the bloodiest war of the 20th century, Benito Mussolini said, "Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." He is one of history's most reviled characters for good reason.
Now, corporations like Koch Industries are funneling money into the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy partnership between Republican legislators and corporate lobbyists. Essentially, ALEC's purpose is to pass laws that enrich corporate profits and investor returns by starving the government of revenue, rigging elections and union-busting.
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?