The Jaded Prole

A Progressive Worker's Perspective on the political and cultural events of our time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kucinch Weighs In

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nader Lays It Out

The ultimate consumer advocate lays out a rational agenda to address the Walls Street Debacle:

1. Congress should hold a series of hearings and invite broad public comment on any proposed bailout. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of our federal government. It needs to stop the stampede to give Bush a $700 billion check. Public hearings should be held to determine what alternatives might exist to the four-page proposal advanced by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson.

2. Whatever is ultimately done, the bailout plan should not be insulated from judicial review. Remember there is a third co-equal branch of government – the judiciary. The judiciary does not need to review each buy-and-sell decision by the Treasury Department, but there should be some boundaries established to the Treasury Department's discretion, and judicial review is needed to ensure that unbridled discretion is not abused.

3. Sunlight is a good disinfectant. The bailout that is ultimately approved must provide for full and timely disclosure of all bailout details. This will discourage conflicts of interest and limit the potential of sweetheart deals.

4. Firms that accept government bailout monies must agree to disclose their transactions and be more honest in their accounting. They should agree to end off-the-books accounting maneuvers, for example.
5. Taxpayers must be protected by having a stake in any recovery. The bailout plan should provide opportunities for taxpayers to recoup funds that are made available to problem financial institutions or to benefit from the financial institutions' rising stock price and increased profitability after being bailed out.

6. The current so-called “regulators” cannot be trusted. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), "the investigative arm of Congress" and "the congressional watchdog,” must regularly review the bailout. We cannot trust the financial “regulators,” who allowed the slide into financial disaster, to manage the bailout without outside monitoring.

7. It is time to put the federal cop back on the financial services beat. Strong financial regulations and independent regulators are necessary to rebuild trust in our financial institutions and to prevent further squandering of our tax dollars. The Justice Department and the SEC also need to scrutinize the expanding mess with an eye to uncovering corporate crime and misdeeds. Major news outlets are reporting that the FBI is investigating American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehman Brothers.

8. Cap executive compensation and stop giving the Wall Street gamblers golden parachutes. The CEOs who have created the financial disaster should not be allowed to leave with millions in hand when so many pensioners and small shareholders are seeing their investments evaporate. The taxpayers are bailing out Wall Street so that the financial system continues to function, not to further enrich the CEOs and executives who created this mess.

9. Congress should pass the Financial Consumers' Information and Representation Act, to permit citizens to form a federally-chartered nonprofit membership organization to strengthen consumer representation in government proceedings that concern the financial services industry. As the savings and loan disasters of the 1980s and the Wall Street debacles of the last few years have demonstrated, there is an overriding need for consumers and taxpayers to have the organized means to enhance their influence on financial issues.

10. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, separating traditional banks from investment banks, helped pave the way for the current disaster. It is time to re-regulate the financial sector. The current crisis is also leading to even further conglomeration and concentration in the financial sector. We must revive and apply antitrust principles, so that banking consumers can benefit from competition and taxpayers are less vulnerable to too-big-to-fail institutions, merging with each other to further concentration.

11. Congress should impose a securities and derivatives speculation tax. A tax on financial trading would slow down the churning of stocks and financial instruments, and could raise substantial monies to pay for the bailout.

12. Regulators should impose greater margin requirements, making speculators use more of their own money and diminishing reckless casino capitalism.

Ask your representative a few questions: "What should be done to limit banking institutions from investing in high-risk activities? What should be done to ensure banks are meeting proper capital standards given the financial quicksand that has spread as a result of the former Senator Phil Gramm’s deregulation efforts? And, “What is being done to protect small investors?”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bringing the Troops Home

You know the projections for our economy are bleak when the government decides to station the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division to our own country. As Army Times point out, "They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack."

I've said for many years that we could not as a nation act with violent impunity around the world and not do so at home. As our economy sinks into depression more of us will be unemployed. Many of us will lose our homes. Dissatisfaction and desperation will give way to anger -- organized anger at a dysfunctional criminal system of corruption. The criminals in charge are preparing for that. As Lenin pointed out many years ago, the state is a tool for the oppression of one class by another. That class has not felt the need to up the ante of oppression from economic to the brutality of force as long as wage slavery and economic terror could keep us in line. When it no longer can, they will not hesitate to use their army against us.
We must be prepared.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Public Subsidies for Whom?

Thomas Riggins writes:

Most of the experts agree that that nationalization of AIG as well as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae was carried out to prevent not only the collapse of financial capital in the US but to stave off a world wide economic crisis.

These nationalizations will cost over a trillion dollars to the US tax payers-- that is the US working class which pays the bulk of the taxes in this country. But this money is going to the capitalist class.

What the workers should demand is that the trillion dollars not be handed over to the capitalists to make up for the money they lost on the sub prime mortgage market. That still leaves the workers with mortgages and the potential loss of their houses.

The demand should be that the tax money be used to buy up and pay off the mortgages directly. People who were lied to and tricked into taking out loans that had they been fully informed of the consequences they would not have taken out are the people to look out for, not greedy capitalists who brought their own problems on themselves.

We are seeing, right now, an intensification of class warfare directed by the capitalist state against the working class in this country. The take over by the government of AIG, etc., is being done not to help the workers and their mortgage plight, but to give the capitalists the money they could not squeeze out of the workers and still leave the workers holding the bag. Again, I think the demand must be to make this money available to the workers themselves to pay off the mortgages-- at least that is a minimum demand. The capitalists however have no right to be paid off since they made these loans knowing that people couldn't sustain the debt.

Since Bush wants to play at socialism (for the rich) we should also propose as a more just measure than the minimum demand that the government cancel the debt entirely and nationalize the banking system and run it for the benefit of the people not the moguls of Wall Street.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Military Madness has Killed Our Country

A perverted, inverted form of Socialism known as Military Keynesianism - a reliance on government investment in militarism and the arms industry to keep our economy afloat, has now reached it's inescapable conclusion. trying to maintain annual military budget of over a trillion dollars has required borrowing on a massive scale. We have become an unstable debtor nation whose national gross product is weaponry -- much of which is unusable. What has been neglected is the basic domestic infrastructure on which a functional nation depends.

In an excellent article Chalmers Johnson explains why we are in the economic mess we are in.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Capiatlism Stupid

Ideologues of the so-called "free-market" are known to rave against any regulation as an intrusion on the free flow of business and the magic of those invisible hands, the ones most of us feel tightening on our necks. The vilest curses fly whenever government programs are involved with the constant accusation of "socialism" being the norm, How their tune changes when reality sets in! Apparently it is OK for the debts of the wealthiest, earned through theft and blunder, to be socialized at our expense. We weren't invited to the party (in fact it was at our expense) but we will be subsidizing the clean-up.

We can do better. It's time to replace the system of theft known as capitalism. If we are going to subsidize anything, let us subsidize each other. Instead of paying to keep a wealthy class temporarily afloat so they can exploit us further, lets put our money and efforts into building a sustainable, accountable, non-market based system based on a rational approach to serving the public.

We can start by using that money to create national projects to build a new national power-grid using alternative energy, restoring infrastructure, and rebuilding a nationalized rail system. This will also create good jobs. We can save a great deal of money by bringing our troops home and closing our bases overseas. We can enhance our security by nationalizing banks, healthcare, education, and big industries like pharmaceuticals, steel, agriculture and mining.

The options are clear -- an era of depression and decline or a time of rebuilding and ascension.

Monday, September 15, 2008

R.I.P. Richard Wright

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lipstick on a (Fascist) Pig

The Repug choice of Sarah Palin is more than telling as to the kind of administration we would see from McCain. As revealed in the New York Times, Palin is a secretive, vindictive, power-hungry and corrupt character. The more I see and hear of her, the more she seems like a cross between a right-wing Huey Long and another George W.

It should go without saying that the last thing we need is another Evangelically deluded ignoramus in the White House but her zeal and lust for power may be even too much for the dodering McCain.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Republic Police State

The Republicans, true to their fascist nature, have organized police state repression in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The have raided houses of activists and anyone they suspect of anti-Republican sentiments kicking in doors, seizing computers and jailing many. Their focus has been on the RNC Welcoming Committee, an organizing center for protests around the convention but arrests have included journalists including Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and progressives in general.

The National Lawyers Guild is actively engaged in fighting this unprecedented police abuse directed by the federal "Homeland Security" apparatus and is defending arrestees and trying to get seized property returned.

The unfolding pig-state nightmare seems to perfectly represent what the repugs are all about.