Friday, February 13, 2009

SAR #9044

For some reason, the debate over climate change is essentially over in Australia. Eric deCarbonnel

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Yes, retail sales increased in January from December. But they dropped 10.4% from the prior January.

Tumors: Roubini says we should excise the big, insolvent banks and let the others sink or swim as they will. These monster banks and their deformed offspring exist solely for the benefit of the investor, trader, manipulator class and deliver no discernible benefit to the population at large. Cut here, cut deep, cut now.

Good Question: At the end of the tunnel, what will be the engine of our economy?

For the Birds: The Audubon Society reports that more than half of the 305 species of birds in North American have shifted their wintering grounds northward over the last 40 years. During that time the average January temperature in the US has climbed 5ºF.

It's Been A Bad Year: Nearly 700 Merrill Lynch executives took home 'retention' bonuses of $1 million or more. The company lost $27 billion. Wouldn't want these guys looking for better jobs.

Self-Hoisting Petard: California's Republicans refuse all tax-based solutions to the state's budget crisis. Nicely enough, the Republican parts of the state would be hurt most deeply by the resulting budget cuts.

Read 'em and Weep: Two headlines from the Washington Post, 2/12/09 edition: Lawmakers' Goal to Cap Executive Pay Meets Resistance and Employers Fighting Unemployment Benefits

Let's Make a Deal: Word is that the Administration has acquiesced to a "grand bargain" in which Wall Street gets saved to the tune of trillions and Obama guts Social Security and Medicare in the name of fiscal responsibility. Ridiculous. If Social Security taxes were levied on all income rather than just the first $100K, there would be no problem with Social Security. If we had a single payer universal health system there'd be no problem with Medicare. Keep those pitchforks handy.

Fit The Crime: Perhaps they should make Stewart Parnell, owner of Peanut Corp. of America, eat his own peanut products, regularly, for the same length of time he foisted the stuff on children.

Step on the Scales: Hundreds of federal banking regulators have descended on Citi, BofA, JPMorgan Chase and 15 other of the biggest banks on Wednesday, checking the books and kicking the tires. Finally. But are they really checking things, or did they just drop in for coffee?

In Plain Sight: The available evidence has long since demonstrated that the American 'War on Drugs' is a failure. Now a commission headed by 3 former Latin American heads of state (Cardoso of Brazil, Zedillo of Mexico, and Gavira of Columbia) says it is time to treat drug use as a health problem and to decriminalize the use of marijuana. Too much money flows to DEA , the cops, the military, and those taking the bribes for this to be considered.

On Location: Visualizing the real estate problems in San Francisco.

Dumb Fox: Just as many suspect that Bernanke and Paulson (and Bush) knew exactly what they were doing in giving trillions to the plutocrats, suspicion is arising that Tim Geithner knows what he's doing. It's just that his stated goals and is actual goals are not close cousins.

Cognitive Dissonance: Reckless lending and unbridled speculation led to the housing bubble. Thirty years of stagnant wages tripped up the bubble and brought on the crash. The solution to that is not to encourage another round of reckless lending and speculation. Hey! The system is broken, don't treat the symptom, change the system.

Porn O'Graph: Something to chew on, or not; pictures and 1000 words.


The Anecdotal Economist said...

RE; Let's Make a Deal:

Businesses and corporations are prohibited from "borrowing" (looting) working capital from the retirement funds established for employees, be they traditional defined benefit plans or defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s.

These retirement funds are sequestered from corporate funds and placed under the control of independent trustees with fiduciary responsibility to the plan beneficiaries and participants (future beneficiaries)

Business owners or corporate executives, should they somehow corrupt a retirement plan trustee, and in collusion with that trustee misappropriate funds held for the benefit of employees/retirees and use those funds for any other purpose, would be indicted, tried, convicted and jailed, along with the trustee which abrogated its fiduciary duties.

Yet in America we, the "plan participants and beneficiaries," have allowed exactly such a scenario to occur, which ultimately will end badly for huge numbers of future beneficiaries.

Our entire country has become the ultimate Ponzi scheme, rotten and corrupt from edge to core, and Social Security is merely one manifestation of the lies we tell ourselves.

The Baby Boomers will not be treated gently by their children and grandchildren for allowing this to happen.

Gannet said...

Tumors. Here is a new definition. Rather than Zombie Banks surely Embalmed Banks. That is banks put on public show after expensive treatment, but which have had all the vital bits removed.

CKMichaelson said...

Both Gannet & AE - Just so, wish I'd said all of the above.

Anonymous said...

is the dumb Fox link working? I don't get it.

CKMichaelson said...

Anony - It was a link to a story I found via the Google Reader, but messed up the link. Now I can't find it - stuff happens.

Anonymous said...

check out this press release from the Social Security Administration.

Statement of Commissioner Michael J. Astrue Concerning the American Federation of Government Employees' (AFGE) Advertisement Regarding the Employees' Activities Association (EAA)

“For nearly two decades, the Social Security Administration has entered into no-bid, no-audit contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to one well-connected organization, the Employees' Activities Association (EAA). That era is over.

The EAA has stubbornly stonewalled our efforts to conduct an audit of its activities and the activities of its secretive for-profit subsidiaries. AFGE's officers have responded to our efforts to ensure that federal laws and policies are followed by repeatedly threatening political retaliation against me and members of Social Security’s career civil service.

The American public is demanding honesty, transparency, and compliance with the law. I will continue to uphold these principles regardless of the inaccurate attacks that stance generates.

I have asked Congress to direct the Government Accountability Office to do the full audit that the EAA has thus far resisted.

I also want to thank the Social Security employees who first blew the whistle on the EAA, and I want to assure them that we will continue to stand by them.”

Anonymous said...

@Anon: Employees' Activities Association (EAA)

That's where Jimmy Hoffa have been all thins time!