Topsail Island. December, 2012. Photo by joanneleon.
Ray Noble Orchestra - "Slumming On Park Avenue"
News and Opinion
Today is day five and the last day of our of the Social Security Defenders blogathon. The rest of the schedule is below. Support is much appreciated. They are gunning for Social Security. We need every voice to fight back. Hard.
Kickoff diary today by Dean Baker: The Demographic Horror Story and Other Children’s Tales
Krugman talks about the sudden switch in arguments about the debt/deficit. We know exactly where this propaganda switch is coming from. All you have to do is look and see what Alan Simpson and the Fix the Debt crowd have been pushing for a long time now, and they are the drivers of this whole campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare. We should expect the president to start with this method of persuasion too. Despite untold millions being thrown at the attempt to convince the American people to surrender to these "entitlement cuts" the public opinion has not changed. 80% of the people say no cuts to Social Security and Medicare and this sentiment runs across the entire political spectrum. But these global financial elites will not quit. So warn your kids and spread the word, this whole thing about how Social Security and Medicare need to be cut to save the children is bullshit. And don't forget, in the Greenspan commission days in the 80's they did the same thing. The kids in those days were people like me. They convinced everyone that we needed to pour more money into the funds so that it would be solvent when the baby boomers started to retire. And here we are, having stockpiled several trillions of dollars in preparation for the big retirement and that moment has arrived and what do they want now? Cuts and more raising of retirement ages. They have an agenda and they lie. Fight back against this. Go and look at bernardpliers diary yesterday too about the population spike and how it only covers a relatively short period of time. People 40 and under will have no problem with Social Security because by the time they retire most of the boomers will be long gone. I do wish that Krugman would call out the people who are pushing these lies and propaganda. He has to know who it is. He could do a lot to fight back against them and he does but he needs to name names.
Cheating Our ChildrenSo while I wish Krugman had named names instead of blaming this shift on numbers that "refuse to cooperate", I hope that this article spawns a whole lot of other news and writing on the subject. But geez, Paul, call them out. Who waved the magic wand and suddenly changed the discussion? You seem amazed at the fact that this sudden change occurred. So how did it occur? Call them out! And in the meantime, it's important to shine a big light on this Fix the Debt coalition and on the think tanks who drive policy and propaganda. And yes, it is pretty astounding to see how much sway a small number of people have on a huge media machine, isn't it? It is times like these that it needs to be pointed out to those who still think we have any semblance of a free press. Look at what Krugman says, a person expert in the subject matter and a person who keeps a close eye on that subject in the media, and has for years now. He calls it "a remarkable change of position" and says "It’s as if someone sent out a memo", "Suddenly, the argument has changed" and talks about the "sudden switch in arguments."
Over the past few weeks, there has been a remarkable change of position among the deficit scolds who have dominated economic policy debate for more than three years. It’s as if someone sent out a memo saying that the Chicken Little act, with its repeated warnings of a U.S. debt crisis that keeps not happening, has outlived its usefulness. Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.
There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it.
There has, of course, been no explicit announcement of a change in position. But the signs are everywhere. Pundits who spent years trying to foster a sense of panic over the deficit have begun writing pieces lamenting the likelihood that there won’t be a crisis, after all. Maybe it wasn’t that significant when President Obama declared that we don’t face any “immediate” debt crisis, but it did represent a change in tone from his previous deficit-hawk rhetoric. And it was startling, indeed, when John Boehner, the speaker of the House, said exactly the same thing a few days later.
What happened? Basically, the numbers refuse to cooperate: Interest rates remain stubbornly low, deficits are declining and even 10-year budget projections basically show a stable fiscal outlook rather than exploding debt.
So talk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven’t given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it’s “generational warfare,” imposing a crippling burden on the next generation.
Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we’re doing to the next generation’s economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much — and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children’s interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story.
An important point that Krugman makes is that he says that the deficit scolds are now using the emotional and moral argument and are abandoning their economic arguments which have been shown not to hold water. They are making into a moral argument. Cue the big speeches and the tear jerking stories. All the while they are gunning for the "entitlements" for the same old reasons that global financial elite have been motivated by for decades or forever -- greed. This is about greed.
The generational scam has been tried before, and the Fix the Debt crowd has been pushing it for a couple of years. Most recently, this ancient greedy creep, Alan Simpson, went as far as to do a ridiculous Gangnam style stunt. But don't watch the dumb dances, listen to what he says and note who his target is.
Barack Obama’s Economic Legacy: The Billionaire-Boosting Big Four on His Wish ListGood to see stories like this turn up in city papers. But the news is strangely quiet about the exact term "Social Security" today and for the past few days.
I’ve been writing about Obama’s Legacy Tour (sorry, his second term) from time to time without focusing on the legacy itself. So this post will lay down a marker — in brief, what’s on Obama’s economic legacy list, and what will he get if he succeeds? Consider this the Legacy View from 10,000 feet.
I think the whole of Barack Obama’s two-term economic agenda is topped by these four items:
Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
A “grand bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
Plentiful oil & gas and passage of the Keystone Sludgepipe (KXL pipeline)
Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement
And that’s the list. Privatized “Medicare expansion” (the ACA). Benefits cuts for SS and Medicare. Keystone. TPP. If Obama gets these four, he’s a happy man, and in his mind he goes out in glory.
Notice, by the way, that these are his economic wants. His social agenda — gay rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and the rest — well, I’ll leave it to you to decide how hard he’s fought for these things, and why he’s fought for them (or not). This piece is only concerned with his economic wants. Why? The reason is here.
Why do I think he wants these things strongly? Occam’s switchblade: Because he acts like it. If you disagree, let’s wait till the Obama show is over, then show me the economic policy he’s fought for harder. (And no, I’m not counting the tepid stimulus tied to the bankers’ Never Go To Jail card. That was on his list (and he won), but it doesn’t top the items above. I think you could argue that this was his forced response to the end of the Bush II crisis, something he had to do before moving onto his own must-have agenda.)
Beware the Killer ‘Chained CPI’ … It Will Eat Your Social Security in One Big Deceptive Bite
Despite the fact that Social Security isn’t contributing a penny to the federal budget deficit, fiscal hawks have convinced President Barack Obama that we must slash its benefits to save the country. He’s joined the sky-is-falling crew in a crazed search for targeted cuts that will shrink Social Security outlays.
One idea he’s considering is a magic trick known as “chained CPI.”
Huffington Post Live: CIA Gives Obstructor of Torture Evidence a Promotion & Petraeus’ ApologyyI came across a link to this blog recently. This is part two of multi-part post. As we know our Wall Street banksters have strong ties with the British banking industry and some of the worst debacles have originated in the London offices of Wall Street banks. The deregulation there is alarming, and our banks use that as an excuse for needing less regulation here, saying that if regulation is too tough here, the finance industry will simply move out of the country. And now that we know that the Democrats have begun to quietly undo the already too weak and mostly still not implemented Dodd-Frank bill and have recently put some deregulation bills into the system.
I joined Huffington Post Live for a “Political Junkies” segment hosted by Alyona Minkovski. We discussed how the first woman to be in charge of the CIA’s clandestine service signed off on destruction of the CIA’s torture tapes. We also talked a bit about David Petraeus’ apology for having sexual relations with his biographer, which is really for the media because most of Washington, DC, has moved on.
Why the British Banking Industry has become identical with an Organised Criminal Enterprise.How can this whole thing not just come crashing down again? It's hard to watch while this industry, the war industry and Big Oil just burn the place to the ground.
This is the second tranche of the evidence I sent in to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking which they sought to suppress.
Identifying the reluctant regulator.
17. It has started to become clear that those persons who are employed in the compliance function in the industry itself do not wish to be perceived to be effective in 'policing' terms or are not encouraged by their employers to become so.
18. The problems which have always caused financial regulators the greatest degree of difficulty are those which stemmed from behaviour which was manifestly 'criminal', whether obvious or submerged. The first kind of criminal activity can be determined by those acts involving insider dealing, money laundering, the theft of client's funds or the obtaining of money from investors by deception. The second group includes behavior which becomes criminal as a result of its commission (the trader who executes false trades or makes up positions in order to cover up his own ineptitude, or to give the impression he has achieved certain targets.) In so doing he commits offences of Fraud, and stands to be prosecuted in exactly the same way as a person who makes a false claim for State Benefit.
19.Unhappily, those given the greatest degree of responsibility for ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations , and who have the role of investigating and identifying any criminogenic behaviour, have, in the vast majority of cases, no previous experience of investigating criminal offences and appear to possess no obvious skills or ability to perform an effective policing function, and more importantly, no desire so to do, nor are they apparently willing to adopt 'policing' techniques or methods.
20.This unwillingness to be observed to be performing a policing function has begun to impact very heavily on the effectiveness of the regulatory role, to the extent that it has begun to become counter-productive. A detailed re-evaluation of attitudes and responses has defined an alternative interpretation which could be placed upon the reasons which apparently lie behind the bland, constantly-rehearsed assertions that other, non-policing techniques could be adopted more usefully to regulate the financial sector. A hidden agenda begins to be glimpsed, one which positively discriminates against the adoption of any methods or skills which, while they might have proved to be effective against the activities of working-class criminals in the past, are positively discouraged when it came to dealing with the crimes of the powerful.
Covering up the truth - Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? How the Banking Commission is denied access to important evidence on banking crime!The author in the Rowan blog above (who I think I agree with on banking issues but just to be clear, I don't agree with him on some other issues that he mentions) takes a big shot at Boris Johnson for this post below, published in the Telegraph in early March. He says that Johnson, a Tory he used to admire, has become a dishonest man and is now trying to deflect justified blame and shame on London bankers toward the EU. In my opinion, they are both guilty, I mean, is there any doubt that the London bankers are an organized crime outfit? But it's an interesting move Johnson is using here. It adds a bit of detail and nuance to this situation, keeping in mind that all of this ties in with our own problems in the bankster arena and might become more and more relevant as time goes on.
In the wake of the LiBOR scandal, the Commission was set up to be led by Andrew Tyrie, who also chaired the Treasury Select Committee (TSC). He said: "Recent scandals have shown how much we need higher standards in banking … perpetrators of wrongdoing should be held fully accountable..."
Since that day, the Commission has sat virtually every week, and has received a vast amount of evidence from a wide variety of informed sources. I have watched many of the hearings on the Internet, and the Chairman has repeatedly asked witnesses the same questions.
"...'Why has no-one been prosecuted for financial crimes committed by the banks and financial entities which have been so prominently in the news, and what proposals are being made to rectify this situation so we can get to the truth in the future..."?
So I wrote to Andrew Tyrie, the Chairman of the Committee! His office told me that I could email him but in his capacity of Chair of the Commission. I sent the following email on 22nd January 2013;"... Dear Mr Tyrie,[Emphasis added]
I am writing to you in the hope that I can alert you to evidence which I had hoped would be allowed to be given to the Commission on Banking Standards.
I recently watched the hearings on 17th January 2013 when questions were asked by yourself about the reasons why no-one has been prosecuted or convicted for criminal offence arising out of the recent banking scandals.
I submitted evidence to the putative Commission back in August 2012 in a paper which dealt with issues of banking culture, workplace standards, conduct of business and treatment of clients, and I sought to draw comparisons between their similarities to organised criminality.
I raised issues of ways in which truly effective sanctions can be imposed on bankers who break the criminal law (as indeed so many of them have done), and I sought to set out an explanation for their criminogenic culture.
This arises out of academic work I have completed in recent years, as well as on the basis of my many years in the enforcement of financial legal issues, as a lawyer, a former Metropolitan Police Detective, a financial regulator, and a financial legal consultant.
I spoke to the Commission office today because I had received no response to my submissions, and I was told that they did not believe my submissions had been selected for consideration. They are subsequently checking this fact.
I am aware that my submissions were very hard-hitting and indeed, possibly unpalatable to many, but my many years of experience in dealing with financial crime had made me realise that what bankers and their apologist bodies will say in public, and what they will really do in private and away from public gaze, are two entirely different things.
I have very strong views on banking criminals and the way in which they should be treated, as well as the ways in which this country has been so badly served by the actions and responses of its financial regulators in recent years. I can give direct evidence of an investigation I was commissioned to undertake for H.M.Treasury into money laundering in the City of London, and the attitudes of the FSA towards dealing with its effects, as far back as 2001, and I can assure you that very little has changed in the interim.
I am very concerned that your Commission might not have the chance to at least be appraised of the content of my findings prior to your final deliberations. I should like to give evidence to you because I believe it would be very valuable, but in the absence of any information as to whether or not your Committee will even see the evidence I submitted, I am at a loss to know how to proceed, apart from taking the responsibility to write to you directly..."
I received no acknowledgement of this email, but I did not expect any, as it would be difficult for Andrew Tyrie, as Commission Chairman to make any comment on the record.
I left the matter for a week and then I rang the Commission office again and spoke again to the same young man.
'...Oh Mr Bosworth-Davies, I was just about to call you. Your evidence has just been discovered, it was here all the time. My Principal is deciding how to deal with it, but she's in a meeting right now, but I will call you back, when I know what she intends to do with your evidence, but don't hold your breath...'
Quite what he meant by that I cannot say, but yet again, he did not call back. So I rang again the following day.
'...Yes, your evidence is still being appraised upstairs by one of our senior people, and promise I will call you back...'
This cap on bankers’ bonuses is like a dead cat – pure distraction
EU autocrats think that by blaming the City of London, they have an entire continent fooled
To understand what has happened in Europe in the last week, we must borrow from the rich and fruity vocabulary of Australian political analysis. Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as “throwing a dead cat on the table, mate”.
That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout “Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!”; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.
That is exactly what Brussels has done with this recent gambit to cap bankers’ bonuses. Look around Europe and you can see the continuing catastrophe of the single currency, an ideological project that most Europarliamentarians and most of the EU establishment continues to support with vengeful fervour.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Misreported Facts about Social Security Disability
They have been trying to "rescue" Social Security through the years. Looking back.
Real Social Security Reform: Yummy, Yummy Donuts
FL-21: My Interview With Congressman Ted Deutch (D) On Social Security (SSD Blogathon)
Tommy Dorsey - Our Penthouse On Third Avenue