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I like to hike. Now thanks to "Austerity," I may not be hiking as much (or as easily) as I'd like. Since someone just sequestered the heck out of the trail maintenance budget ...


larger -- View of Wind Mt from the top of Dog Mt in the Columbia Gorge WA.


I guess that's just the price of a slothful nation will have to pay.  We deserve it, some say.


Austerity -- Wikipedia

In economics, austerity describes policies used by governments to reduce budget deficits during adverse economic conditions. These policies can include spending cuts, tax increases, or a mixture of the two.[1][2][3] Austerity policies demonstrate governments' liquidity to their creditors and credit rating agencies by bringing fiscal income closer to expenditure.
[...]

Austerity measures are typically taken if there is a threat that a government cannot honor its debt liabilities. Such a situation may arise if a government has borrowed in foreign currencies that they have no right to issue or if they have been legally forbidden from issuing their own currency. In such a situation, banks and investors may lose trust in a government's ability and/or willingness to pay and either refuse to roll over existing debts or demand extremely high interest rates. In such situations, inter-governmental institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may demand austerity measures in exchange for functioning as a lender of last resort.


Thank goodness we don't have to "rely on" the IMF. We have our own "lenders of last resort," which we will learn about shortly.

So "Austerity" is about trust-worthiness and "keeping the Banks happy" -- convinced that the Government "can honor its debt liabilities" -- Haaah, that's rich, especially considering the source.  Considering the recent "banking track-record" on trustfulness.


Privatizing profits and socializing losses -- Wikipedia

In political discourse, the phrase "privatizing profits and socializing losses" refers to any instance of speculators benefiting (privately) from profits, but not taking losses, by pushing the losses onto society at large, particularly via the government.
[...]

It has been argued that in the current economic system, especially in the U.S., large corporations and wealthy parts of society can socialize costs and privatize profits, with the effect of a further concentration of wealth. Large firms and banks have been accused of this, as a form of crony capitalism and corporate welfare, and some bailouts are cited as examples of this: a bailout socializes a company's losses.[1]


I read this little tidbit yesterday, which motivated this post.  You see, I kind of like my "public hiking" recreational opportunities ... opportunities (and related jobs) that just seem to be "going away."   {"Poof."}

America can no longer afford "such niceties," some say.


What Sequestration Means for Hikers

by Jonathan Guzzo, wta.org, Washington Trails Association -- Mar 06, 2013

Last week, when our elected officials in Washington, D.C. decided not to act on a "sequestration" deadline, they set in motion a set of fiscal cutbacks that could dramatically impact hiking and other recreation on federal lands. Seasonal hiring for the backcountry, trail work, reduced hours and even closures are at stake in this latest showdown.
[...]

Congress passes a continuing resolution that includes sequestration cuts. These are automatic across-the-board spending cuts of up to five percent. They would likely mean that land management agencies would not be able to hire essential summer-season staff (wilderness rangers, backcountry trail crews, visitor center employees, etc.) and may have to reduce hours or in some cases close visitor services, campgrounds or other facilities.


"Sequester Cuts" are just another name for Austerity.  



larger -- View of Cape Perpetua Scenic Area from Lookout Peak, central Oregon Coast.


No more 'recreating' for you, John Q Public!  It seems YOU (as in the National YOU) are not credit-worthy enough, to be trusted to pay off your Congress' debts.

Something's got to give.  Tag we're it.


Let's take a hike around those other "socializing losses" that Wiki has listed, shall we.  Certainly we are not as bad-off as so many progressive rabble-rousers say we are ...

Capitalism works ... sometimes;  sort of ... for the lucky, the smart, or well-connected, at least.

Beside the alternative, aka Socialism -- Who in their right mind, could tolerate that kind of system?  (you'd be surprised. First we need expand Socialism's intended recipients ...)


Crony capitalism -- Wikipedia

Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme.[1]
boring footnote: {Dirigisme:  Most modern economies can be characterized as dirigiste to some degree -- for instance, state economic action may be exercised through subsidizing research and developing new technologies, or through government procurement, especially military.}
Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.
[...]

In its worst form, crony capitalism can devolve into simple corruption, where any pretense of a free market is dispensed with. Bribes to government officials are considered de rigueur and tax evasion is common; this is seen in many parts of Africa, for instance. This is sometimes called plutocracy (rule by wealth) or kleptocracy (rule by theft).


Hmmm?  Any examples of "Crony Capitalism" that you can think of in our grand old economic system?

Well, there's this:

A day after Attorney General Eric Holder asserted that prosecutions of Wall Street’s largest financial institutions [HSBC] have lagged because they are, in fact, “too large” to prosecute, a pair of Democratic senators again challenged regulators over the lack of legal oversight into the banks’ activities before and after the financial crisis.
And this:
We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Well, at least the world "fears us" ... as well they should. As we continue to pay billions on a daily basis, to become 'masters of their domains."


Onwards ...


Corporate welfare -- Wikipedia

Corporate welfare is a term that analogizes corporate subsidies to welfare payments for the poor. The term is often used to describe a government's bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations, and implies that corporations are much less needy of such treatment than the poor.
[...]

Subsidies considered excessive, unwarranted, wasteful, unfair, inefficient, or bought by lobbying are often called corporate welfare. The label of corporate welfare is often used to decry projects advertised as benefiting the general welfare that spend a disproportionate amount of funds on large corporations, and often in uncompetitive, or anti-competitive ways.
[...]

Some economists consider the recent bank bailouts in the United States to be corporate welfare.[7][8] U.S. politicians have also contended that zero-interest loans from the Federal Reserve System to financial institutions during the global financial crisis were a hidden, backdoor form of corporate welfare.[9]


Hmmm?  Any examples of "Corporate Welfare" that you can think of in our grand old save-the-banks system?

Well there's TARP -- another name for that cost-shifting system of "Bankers of Last Resort" -- us.  Jane Q Public, you don't want the world economic system to utterly collapse, do you?  Well, pay up then.  Those mysterious Derivative CDOs MUST be honored ... No more questions, PLEASE!


Troubled Asset Relief Program -- Wikipedia

[...]
As of 2009, the U.S. Treasury has not yet released an official list of TARP recipients (though it periodically announces recipients in batches). News organizations ProPublica and the New York Times have kept lists of the recipients based on Treasury and individual institution announcements. Beneficiaries of TARP include the following:[44]
Company     Preferred Stock purchased     Repaid TARP money (billions USD)
                          (billions USD)                  (billions USD)
Citigroup                        $45                   Partial ($20);[45]    
Bank of America               $45                   Y[47][48]
AIG (American International Group)   $40      $36[49]    
JPMorgan Chase               $25                   Y
Wells Fargo                    $25                    Y[45]
GMAC Financial Services (Ally)        $17.3     –
General Motors               $13.4                  Y
Goldman Sachs               $10                     Y
Morgan Stanley               $10                    Y
PNC Financial Services Group    $7.579         Y[52]
U.S. Bancorp                  $6.6                   Y    
Chrysler                         $4                     Y
Capital One Financial        $3.555               Y    
Regions Financial Corporation        $3.5       Y
American Express             $3.389               Y    
Bank of New York Mellon Corp    $2 to $3     Y    
State Street Corporation          $2 to $3      Y    
Discover Financial                   $1.23[57]    Y[58]

Kind of a 'Who's Who' of Corporate Moochers there.  (Hmmm ... Where's Bain Capital?)

You think they "gained anything" -- with all those low-interest, govt-guaranteed loans, that just happened to crater our economy, in the lending?  

Does a Banker still place bets with their Hedge Fund?   Does the Pope, still keeping their world spinning on its axis of history?


 -- Ariel view of Meteor Crater Park, near Winslow Arizona.


And about that "backdoor form of corporate welfare.[9]" cited a ways back ... This is the real Austerity eye-opener ... Cited reference [9], it points to here:


Sanders uses 'jaw-dropping' Fed disclosures to call for further inquiry

by Peter Schroeder, TheHill.com -- 12/01/10

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the Federal Reserve's recent disclosure about transactions it undertook during the financial crisis lifted the "veil of secrecy" at the Fed, one that he wants to further expand with congressional investigations.

"After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America," he said in a statement. "Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations. As a result of this disclosure, other members of Congress and I will be taking a very extensive look at all aspects of how the Federal Reserve functions."

Sanders specifically said he wants to explore whether institutions used near zero-interest-loans from the Fed to buy higher-yielding Treasury bonds.
[...]

Sanders noted that his provision also requires the Government Accountability Office to undertake a "top to bottom" audit of all the Fed's emergency lending. That report is due by July 21, 2011.

The Fed had a "secret multi-trillion-dollar bailout" fund -- where does he get all that Easy Cash?

You'd think he has a few million-dollar-bill "printing presses" out back -- and you'd be right.


So what ever happened with Sanders' "top to bottom" audit of all the Fed's emergency lending?

We are about to find out (or be reminded) whatever the case may be ...


CNN: Federal Reserve Audit -- Findings are an Outrage

by 4estry, ireport.cnn.com -- November 23, 2011  

The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. "As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world," said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else."
[...]

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs.
[...]

To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. "No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed's board of directors or be employed by the Fed," he said.
[...]

The Fed outsourced virtually all of the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. The same firms also received trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.
[...]

WOW.  Talk about the Foxes guarding the Hen-house -- SOOO Who is guarding the Foxes?

The DOJ, The SEC, The Treasury Secretary?  Hardly!


Must be why WE need all this Austerity Belt-tightening now, eh?

Seniors you cost too much.

Workers you work too much.

Food Stampers you eat too much.

Head Starters you think too much.


Hikers you goof-off too much.


How much is $16 Trillion in international-no-bid Corporate Welfare, anyways?

Perhaps enough to pay off a sizable portion of our other "socialized debts:"


larger image


If only there were SOMEONE looking after the Capitalist Foxes ...

Hmmm?  you'd think Congress would be all over this "credit-worthiness problem" -- and you'd be wrong.

Just another day in Corporate Paradise ... the rest of you, GET BACK TO WORK ... before we give your job to someone who really wants it.

Before the Fed prints out another Trillion, that you'll be on the hook for ...


Tag we're still it ... as long as those nuevo Austerity Hawks continue get their blame-the-rubes way.

When it comes to socializing the pains, it seems we -- the people -- will always be austerely "it."

In other words ... WE are the ultimate Lenders of Last Resort.



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