• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    riverdaughter on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    riverdaughter on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    riverdaughter on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    bellecat on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    riverdaughter on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    churl on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    Monster from the Id on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    riverdaughter on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    katiebird on Lions, George Bush and Li…
    r u reddy on Happy Pioneer Day
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    July 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Jun    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Beginning of an End of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance
      Ian described the proposed EU sanctions on Russia as “not shabby”, but while they are somewhat more serious sanctions than heretofore it’s only somewhat. The most serious ones are the ones on Russia’s financial institutions. Yes it’ll raise costs but will hurt London and Frankfurt including reputationally. It will also have the effect of encouraging [...] […]
  • Top Posts

Why questions

Why does Adam Davidson even have a recurring Sunday column in the NYTimes?

Why are there so few women opinion makers and so many male opinion makers who go on to become pompous gasbags on Sunday morning talk shows?  Why do I get the feeling that when MoDo dies or retires, she’ll be replaced by someone like Kevin Drum?

Why do I get the feeling that the lack of female voices in major media outlets has to do with the fact that they are unlikely to identify with the villagers?  Why are the villagers so much like the Taliban in their repression of women in the public forum?

***********************

Why do otherwise smart bloggers make a big f&*(ing deal about re-electing an African-American president when it was clear that the re-elected dude’s whole campaign revolved around making giant leaps of hyperbolic meme planting about how evil his opponent was while simultaneously re-inforcing learned helplessness to make sure his own disgusted base didn’t defect to third parties?  Why doesn’t this blogger see that many people felt they didn’t have a choice and it had nothing to do with melanocyte density?  Why doesn’t the blogger understand that if the disgusted had a choice they would have ditched the dude even if he had been the first purple skinned president in history?   Why doesn’t he understand that this is not a triumphant moment but an indication of the feeling of impotence in the electorate?  And why doesn’t the blogger admit that the ability to “win” a nomination and have a series of unfortunate events lead to winning an election is no guarantee that the candidate will be anything more than an inexperienced, mediocre, banker sycophantic president who is a notoriously poor negotiator, even in his second term?  Why won’t the left shut up about Obama because going on about racism and politics is about as out-of-touch with everyday living conditions as it is possible to get and the rest of the electorate, even the ones on their side, is starting to resent it?

Why doesn’t the blogger understand that it is even less possible now for an intelligent, left of center female to win the presidency than it was 4 years ago and that it will probably never happen in my lifetime because Obama’s campaign showed how to take out the female competition?

Why doesn’t the blogger understand that there were/are dozens of women who were more qualified to be president and had years more legislative experience than Obama and they were never even considered by the Democratic party?  Why do we just assume that they wouldn’t have been better presidents than Obama?  Why do I get the feeling that the next conservative grand bargaineer that the Democrats try to rush through will be a woman and the meme machine will say “It’s her time!” and everyone will jump on the bandwagon and inadvertently elect another Reagan lover?

Why do most left blogosphere bloggers act like no damage was done to women by the hateful way women candidates were treated in 2008?  Why are they living in la-la land about how women’s standing has been set back?  Why are they so fucking clueless?

Why do I get the feeling that Democrats are as dumb as a box of rocks?

LI(E)BOR

We have used the word “evil” to apply to bankers so often in the last four years that it’s become trite.  Nevertheless, the level of austerity imposed on us by the financial establishment in order for them to continue to seize money and power without accountability is so destructive that there’s really no other word that applies.  Once again, we have to go back to Hannah Arendt’s comment about the “banality of evil” to understand what we’re talking about here. It is the normalization of the unthinkable.  It’s not that these financiers are people who beat their wives or sell their children into sexual slavery.  I’m sure that some of these people are perfectly fine to socialize with.  You can play a few rounds of golf, have dinner, go sailing with them.  They seem like such nice, intelligent, clean-cut people, if a bit more ambitious than the average Joe.  OK, insanely more ambitious, but you know what I mean.  They don’t look like gun toting SS droogs in jackboots who will conduct you to the edge of the pit where they will shoot you in the back of the head for inconveniently living on land they had their eyes on.

And yet, isn’t that what they’re doing, in a so far non-violent way?  They’re leading hundreds of millions of people to the edge of the pit of financial instability and a lifetime of precarious existence and pushing them over with a swift kick to the back.  When you lose your job, your house, your marriage, everything but the clothes on your back and the student loans you will be paying off forever, and it’s all because some wealthy bankers need to preserve their bonuses, isn’t that evil?

Check out this unbelievable interview about LIBOR from the BBC with Harvard professor Niall Ferguson.  The second part is particularly outrageous.  Essentially, we are being pressured to turn generation against generation and Ferguson implies that Obama will sell us out at the end of this year:

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Roberto Unger’s call for the left to defeat Obama makes a lot more sense now.  Ahh, I see that Ferguson is one of the original Confidence Fairies that Krugman is always referring to.  What’s more, he’s married to Aayan Hirsi Ali, the Somali born former Dutch MP who works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  She has taken Christopher Hitchens’ place in the Four Horseman dialogues.  Man-o-man, no one is safe from the creepy thoughts of extreme right wing philosophy.  I can’t take the Four Horseman dialogues seriously now.  Not until she’s replaced.  She jumped from ultra religious conservatism to ultra right wing conservatism and is not a good ambassador for the New Atheist movement.  Sorry, Richard.  She’s going to damage your credibility.  You’ve got to be very careful about these people because in this country, the political right wing is inextricably tied to the religious right wing.)

The LIBOR scandal took me back to the fall of 2008 when Planet Money popped up on NPR.  At first, Planet Money was a good resource for non-financiers to get a grip on Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations.  A few months later, that began to change subtly as the hosts of Planet Money got pulled into the realm of the serious people.  But in October 2008, they were on top of LIBOR.  I remember them talking about the TED spread and LIBOR and getting the sense that the LIBOR number, the interbank interest rate showing how willing banks were to lend to one another was an indicator of the global scale of the catastrophe.  No joke.  The higher the LIBOR number creeped, the more likely we were to spin off to a Depression that was bigger than the world had ever seen.  The thing is, according to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the banks were manipulating LIBOR starting in 2005, affecting rates on adjustable rate mortgages.  And the downstream effect of LIBOR was felt in just about every interest rate on every act of borrowing by every individual in the world.  We are talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars.  In this Planet Money snippet, Adam Davidson discusses the effect of LIBOR and the TED spread and what it means for global markets around the world.  Throughout October, Planet Money followed TED and LIBOR and the effect of the bailout money.  For some reason, LIBOR numbers should have gone down a bit after the infusion of money but they didn’t, probably because the LIBOR rate, as high as it was, wasn’t real and wasn’t high enough to reflect reality.

But reality might have set off a global panic, triggering much more severe regulation of the finance industry so it had to stay hidden.  In the meantime, we’ve been carrying the weight of these behemoth zombies for four years and if we don’t do something now, we will be carrying them for years to come- at our expense.  And they’ve gotten off with minor slaps on the wrist.  The CFTC fined British banks a paltry $450 million for their manipulations.  That’s an insult to American taxpayers and totally inadequate.  Democratic lawmakers should be outraged and demanding accountability.  Where are they??

In another Planet Money episode from October 2008, we find out what LIBOR meant to the little people:

Justin asks us today:

“I saw you mentioned student loan availability, but what about existing loans? Since many student loans have their interest rates tied to LIBOR or Prime, what does LIBOR hitting all-time highs this week mean for students? And, perhaps more ominously, graduates who are in repayment? How long can this go on before they start to see some effect on their loans?”

Even if Congress passes the bailout, many students across the nation will begin to see higher costs for loans in the coming months or could be turned away by banks altogether as the credit crisis intensifies.

The goes the same for graduates. The big issue is what kind of loans you have.

Most direct government-backed loans such as Federal Stafford and PLUS loans have fixed interest rates. This means the interest rate will remain constant for the life of the loan.

If you took out private loans, which have become increasingly common as students look for new sources to finance the soaring costs of college, they typically have variable rates and are projected to jump this year. Sorry.

Sorry, student.  Sucks to be you.  In the light of the LIBOR manipulation details, that seems particularly callous, along with Davidson’s subsequent attack on Elizabeth Warren for caring about homeowners and consumers and not being “serious”.  It was the influence of the serious people on Davidson (by the way, who was he referring to as his serious sources anyway?  Her colleague Niall Ferguson at Harvard, perhaps? And do “penis years” have something to do with why his word may have carried more weight than hers?) and on our elected officials that lead to the gouging of the taxpayers to pay the bankers’ unconscionable debts on bad bets.  We are talking about trillions of dollars of OUR money, OUR retirements, so that the weekend sailors and golf buddies would not feel inconvenienced.

I used to think my outrage meter was pegged but I have never seen such corruption go unchecked in my lifetime.  What we have here is a bunch of extremely irresponsible and unethical people playing with people’s livelihoods like it wasn’t real money to them.  And it isn’t real money to them.  The tens of thousands of dollars we’ll be collecting each year in measly pensions and social security, that’s nothing.  They can burn through that in a matter of minutes.  If it were several million dollars in Social Security payouts affecting their retirement packages, that might get their attention and they’d be furiously lobbying Congress to save Social Security at all costs.  Social Security and pensions would become holy sacraments. But because we are talking about such piddling amounts that amount to pocket change to the wealthy, it has no real meaning to them.  We might as well be flood victims in Bangladesh, clinging to a few square meters of dry land while the water rises all about us.  Those poor people.  Well, that’ll learn them to farm in a flood zone.

The careers we have lost? Not their problem.  Our children’s college funds, the roofs they have over their heads, the food we put in their mouths, barely registers.  On an individual basis, none of us make enough money to get their attention.  The significance of the figures of our incomes does not arouse their concern.  They are so caught up and preoccupied with making their numbers that they don’t have the time to care about your little problems.  They have jumped to a new level in the game where the sheer volume of money being swapped is intoxicating.  They’re not playing in the real world anymore.

It’s got to stop.  The manipulation of LIBOR was uncovered by the US CFTC.  That means, we’ve been aware of it for some time.  We probably knew about it when Occupy Wall Street was protesting last fall and we probably knew about it when their camps were broken up and they were hauled off to jail and when the DHS sent in their riot troops.  Yep, the Obama administration has known.  And so far, not one banker has been hauled off to jail.  No one has been penalized.

Think about that.  The scope of the LIBOR scandal affects every person who has ever dealt with a bank in the past 7 years.  It’s so outrageously immoral and has caused so much destruction and continues to wreck havoc in Spain, Ireland, Britain, the US, everywhere that if it isn’t prosecuted as a the criminal enterprise that it is, then I can only conclude that our elected officials are complicit.  They had to have known that the banks that are now too big to fail were in fact failing and were disguising the scale of the catastrophe from the public.  Those banks are still in business, thanks to our largess, and no one in the Obama administration, particularly Tim Geithner, has dared to declare them insolvent and break them up as Sheila Bair suggested in 2009. They are now bigger and more dangerous than ever and they are calling the shots about our jobs, retirements and money supply around the world.

Our money went into their bottomless gullets and continues to go in, and yet, they and their political arms have the outrageous gall to insist that we, the hardworking taxpayers who paid in advance for our social security benefits, WE have to take a haircut.  That is what the so-called Grand Bargain is all about, ladies and gentlemen. That’s why we must lose our jobs.  We cost too much.  They think they can dump the blame on us for having to eat and getting old and needy.

We are living in a world that is run by criminals.  You may think that’s they way it’s always been but this is now institutionalized criminality.  No one can be trusted.  And when no one can be trusted, all hell breaks loose.

More on LIBOR:

Boston Globe- How a LIBOR scheme works and what it means to consumers

Joe Nocera- LIBOR’s Dirty Laundry

Yves Smith- Yes, Virginia, the real action in the LIBOR scanda was in the derivatives

Here’s an interesting take on LIBOR from 2007 when banks were manipulating the rate up: Why LIBOR won’t hurt that much.

Also, this Fresh Air interview with Paul Krugman in Oct 2008 is very revealing.  He was right about almost everything except the unemployment rate. (his prediction was too low).  But even more striking is the last 5 minutes of the interview when he talks about the two presidential candidates and why Ben Bernanke was struggling to get a handle on this.  Could it be that the measures were inadequate because the LIBOR rates had been artificially lowered?

Matt Taibbi’s most recent posts in the Rolling Stone:

A Huge Break in the LIBOR Banking Investigation (6/28/2012)

Another Domino Falls in the LIBOR Banking Scam: Royal Bank of Scotland (6/29)

Why is Nobody Freaking out about the LIBOR Banking Scandal? (7/3)

LIBOR Banking Scandal Deepens: Barclays releases damning email, Implicates    British Government (7/4)

Matt Taibbi discusses the LIBOR scandal with Eliot Spitzer:

Precariat- Learn this word

No, precariat is not a misspelling of a group of single celled organisms.  It’s a very disturbing word, an ominous word, a word that has already arrived here in the United States and is slowly moving up the food chain:

Precariat- a social group consisting of people whose lives are difficult because they have little or no job security and few employment rights

It’s a portmanteau of “precarious” and “proletariat”.  A precariat is a person who doesn’t have a reliable job.  Precariats initially were service workers who may have been working a 40 hour work week, but maybe not.  A precariat could be called in to work a 6 hour shift, every other day and one long 12 hour day at some other point in the week or come to work expecting a full 8 hours but sent home after 2.  The amount of work can vary from day to day, week to week.  This worker typically has no benefits.

I think most of us can see right away the limitations of the precariat world.  If you can’t say for sure how many hours you’ll be working each month, can you afford to rent a nice apartment or buy a house?  Can you buy a new car?  If you have children, how do you schedule and pay for their child care?  Can you depend on your paycheck to feed them?  Work and living become precarious.  Here is a video about the precariat from The Precariat: the New Working Class:

Precariats usually spring up in countries where workers are not protected by unions or strict labor laws.  Right now, the UK is starting to come to terms with the precariat but in a way, the Welsh precariat has it good compared to the American version.  Here in the US, there is no national health care system or reasonably priced, government subsidized schools of higher education.  So, the land of opportunity in America is starting to look like the last place you want to live if you are forced into precariatism.

Another feature of precariatism is the appearance of the middle man hiring agency.  That agency stands between the employer and you.  The employer hands off responsibility of hiring and paying the worker.  The worker becomes a true human resource to be hired when needed and laid off when not.  Benefits and risks are born by the employee.  The hiring agency takes a cut of the worker’s pay, I hesitate to call it a salary because that would imply some kind of security and regularity.

A couple of years ago, we who were salaried employees would have looked down on the precariat with pity.  Now, we are one.  From my vantage point, this is the way the pharmaceutical industry has decided to handle its well educated, experienced workforce.  We are now service workers.  More and more of us can only find contract work.  The work is parceled out in 3, 6 or 12 month contracts.  There are no benefits.  In some cases, the worker pays both sides of the social security tax.  It is hard to plan where to live because you don’t know if you’ll be able to pay the rent.  You can’t make any major purchases on credit because there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to afford the car payment.

One of the reasons I suspected that the McKinsey reports of employers dropping health insurance coverage for their employees after the passage of the Affordable Care Act was true was because it fits so well with the precariat worker norm.  Since a universal mandate meant that workers would be legally compelled to spend whatever the insurance companies could charge for health insurance, the employer could cut this benefit out of their compensation packages guilt free. To escape the employer mandate, all the employer would have to do is make many of its permanent employees into contractors.  The number of layoffs would be expected to increase. Responsibility and risk would now be transferred to the employee.   You don’t have to be a highly paid consulting company or economist to see how this would work.  All you have to do is think a couple of steps ahead. Mandatory universal coverage without a public option or a single payer system that requires employers to pay in puts much of the American workforce at risk of falling from the middle class into the precariat.

The new middle man hiring agency becomes the new growth sector.  Expect to hear more horror stories of foreign students brought to the US by a hiring vendor promising that they will learn English only to spend their summer in a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania doing manual labor for subsistence wages.  Expect Hershey the company to deny all responsibility.  Or Amazon.  Or {{your company name here}}

It’s hard to say whether Barack Obama was onboard with this or whether he was so overwhelmed by his job that it never was evaluated properly.  But I think we can say pretty unequivocally that the acceleration of the expansion of precariatism within the American culture is related to the measures that were  or weren’t taken in the wake of the financial collapse.  So much attention was focused on shoring up the banks at taxpayer expense that homeowners were allowed to foreclose, jobs were allowed to disappear and healthcare reform was rushed through to score political points without much thought of how  those reforms would affect the workforce.  In fact, hardly any thought at all has been spent on the workforce.  Well, Elizabeth Warren was thinking about it for years but as Adam Davidson pointing out in that blistering Planet Money interview from 2009, Warren’s opinions didn’t really count because she wasn’t a “serious” person.  Did Davidson see the rise of the precariat?  Does he know that free lancing is going to appear at an NPR station near him someday?

If the US economy is in a slump right now, it may very well be because there are so many more precariats where once there were college educated salaried people.  In my own sphere, precariatism is the norm these days, not the exception.  It wasn’t like this before 2008.  But now, if you’re a precariat, you can not plan for the future.  There IS no future.  Everyday is a struggle and stress about where the next mortgage payment will come from, what will happen if the car breaks down, how to pay for the plumbing that keeps getting backed up or the last of the orthodontic appointments.  It’s the reason why so many grocery stores are shuttering their stores and why Lowes is laying off workers in the northeast and why people are hoarding their money instead of spending it.  And it will get worse until more working people realize what is happening to them.  The people who are kissing the whip today are going to be tomorrow’s precariats.

We have been subjected to years of politicians relaxing the rules for the 1% and tightening the rules for everyone else.  The rise of the number of precariats can be attributed to the politicians who let this happen.  We need to replace as many of them as possible.  Because it wasn’t too long ago that Americans were pretty cool with capitalism.  When we were all making money and productivity gains went to the middle class, we had a vibrant, robust economy.  But when the rules went out the window and labor came under attack from the superwealthy and the whip kissers who brainlessly listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News, an opportunity arose to force many of us to live on the edge of a knife.  Now, those of us who didn’t necessarily want to be rich but wanted to work for its own sake are considered losers.  And the infection of the precariat is bound to spread.  There is no profession that is safe.  Once the public unions are broken, precarianism will be the norm, not the exception.  Your degrees cannot protect you.  Even senior citizens are not sheltered from the effects of precariatism because as the salaries disappear to be replaced with lower, precarious wages, the tax base will continue to shrink.  It won’t be that we don’t want to pay for social security. It will be that we just can’t anymore.

The 99% don’t want to live a precarious life.  We know who was responsible for the ruination of the American middle class.  We focus on the robber barons of Wall Street now but come November 2012, with a handful of notable exceptions in Congress, they ALL have to go, Obama included.

What the OccupyWallStreet protestors object to is the increasing economic injustice forced on the precariat and what they demand is that it stop.

OccupyWallStreet: Why it has to be

I’ve noticed a certain deranged Klown has a provocative and baseless post up on his blog (see myiq?  We are sending you traffic) that suggests that OccupyWallStreet and other Occupy events are part of some broader astroturf campaign.  I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion.  I mean, they aren’t infiltrating blogs, promoting candidates like Sarah Palin or her Tea Party organization.  I’ve got nothing against Sarah as a person and I don’t think she’s as dumb as the left would have you believe but I do judge her by the people she hangs out with, like Glenn Beck.  So, there’s that.

But OccupyWallStreet is not about politics.  Oh, indirectly, it is, but what it’s really about is something we at The Confluence have been challenging since 2008.  We are talking about “consensus reality”.  In this particular case, we are talking about the consensus reality that says that the bailing the financial institutions out was the most important thing that needed to be done after the crash in 2008 to the exclusion of everything else.  And the media message that exemplifies this attitude the best is this interview from 2009 between Adam Davidson of Planet Money and Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senator in MA and Harvard professor of law specializing in bankruptcy and consumer finance protection.  Here’s a partial transcript with the money quotes:

ADAM DAVIDSON: What it feels to me is what you are missing is that — I think we put aside your pet issues. We put them aside. We put them aside until this crisis is over.

ELIZABETH WARREN: The cr– What you’re saying makes no sense. Now come on. [interpolate Davidson sputtering and attempting to interrupt throughout.] It makes no sense. On an emergency basis, on one day, one week, one month, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got to step in, we’ve got to make sure we have a functioning banking system. I think I’ve said that like nine times now. Of course we’ve got to have a functioning banking system.

DAVIDSON: Wait a minute. I want to make you go farther. I want to make you madder before I –

ELIZABETH WARREN: No no no. [Davidson snickers] We’re now at what — we’re now seven, eight months into this. And it’s the second part of what you said. We can’t do anything about the American family until this crisis is over? This crisis will not be over until the American family begins to recover. [More Davidson sputtering.] This crisis does not exist independently –

DAVIDSON: That’s your crisis.

ELIZABETH WARREN: No it is not my crisis! That is America’s crisis! If people cannnot pay their credit card bills [Davidson tries to interrupt] if they cannot pay their mortgages –

DAVIDSON: But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not –

ELIZABETH WARREN: What, if they can’t pay their credit card bills the banks are gonna do fine? Who are you looking at?

DAVIDSON: The [sputters]–

ELIZABETH WARREN: Who says a bank a bank is going to survive — Who is not worried about the fact that the Bank of America’s default rate has now bumped over 10%? That’s at least the latest data I saw. So the idea that we’re going to somehow fix the banks and then next year or next decade we’re going to start worrying about the American family just doesn’t [Davidson talking over] make any sense.

DAVIDSON: The American families are not — These issues of crucial, the essential need for credit intermediation are as close to accepted principles among every serious thinker on this topic. The view that the American family, that you hold very powerfully, is fully under assault and that there is — and we can get into that — that is not accepted broad wisdom. I talk to a lot a lot a lot of left, right, center, neutral economists [and] you are the only person I’ve talked to in a year of covering this crisis who has a view that we have two equally acute crises: a financial crisis and a household debt crisis that is equally acute in the same kind of way. I literally don’t know who else I can talk to support that view. I literally don’t know anyone other than you who has that view, and you are the person [snicker] who went to Congress to oversee it and you are presenting averyvery narrow view to the American people.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I’m sorry. That is not a narrow view. What you are saying is that it is the broad view to think only about trying to save the banks [Davidson sputters] and say Hey! the American economy will recover at some point and we’ll worry about the families [Davidson talking over]. I think that is the narrow view and I think I have the broad view. The broad view is that these two things are connected to each other. And the notion that you can save the banking system while the American economy goes down the tubes is just foolish.

Well, now we know that Elizabeth Warren was right and Adam Davidson and his serious people, what Paul Krugman calls the “VSPs”, were dead wrong.  And who’s point of view has Barack Obama subscribed to since 2008?  That’s right, the VSPs.  According to Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, Christina Romer, his economic advisor, was unable to get Obama to commit to a paltry $100Bn for the creation of potentially 1,000,000 jobs in 2009.  It’s not like he thought he couldn’t get it, although that was one of the excuses he was making.  It’s that in the overall scheme of things, it just wasn’t all that important to him.  No, seriously.  If you’ve been out of work since 2009, you can partially thank Obama for not thinking your situation required all that much attention.  It was much more important to him to bail out the bankers.  He admitted as much today.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you travel the country, you also take credit for tightening regulations on Wall Street through the Dodd-Frank law, and about your efforts to combat income inequality. There’s this movement — Occupy Wall Street — which has spread from Wall Street to other cities. They clearly don’t think that you or Republicans have done enough, that you’re in fact part of the problem.

Are you following this movement, and what would you say to its — people that are attracted to it?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.

So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow. And I used up a lot of political capital, and I’ve got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown, and that banks stayed afloat. And that was the right thing to do, because had we seen a financial collapse then the damage to the American economy would have been even worse.

And then he goes on to give some lip service to financial reform and Dodd-Frank, which was so watered down as to be less than a tap on the wrist with an anorexic feather, blah, blah, blah.  There was a reason why he concentrated all of his efforts on saving the financial institutions.  He relied on Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke who were spooked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  They were scared to death to rein in the banks for fear of triggering another catastrophe.  But instead of feeding the roots, the homeowners and working people who could have pumped up the banks from the bottom up, Obama lavished all of his attentions on the bankers, giving them all they wanted without considering whether it was good for them or us.

In the meantime, the Very Serious People decided that we should all share the sacrifice, even those of us who did everything right and still got hammered.  The Villagers have been on a tear about deficit reduction and austerity and entitlement reform for the past 3 years.  It’s disaster capitalism with a capital D.  And this relentless message to rip the working class to smithereens to make sure the financial sector comes to no harm has been the consensus reality that has dominated media coverage for the last three years.

The problem is that consensus reality isn’t meshing with real reality for the rest of us these days.  We’ve been told to have compassion for the bankers but somehow must blame ourselves for the mountains of student loan and housing debt we’ve been forced to shoulder because the productivity gains of the past 30 years got siphoned off as profits to the shareholders.  We’ve been told that bankers’ contracts for bonuses are sacred legal documents but union contracts for wages and pensions are not.  We are told that bankers are entitled to taxpayer largess to keep them functioning even if it adds trillions of dollars to the deficit but that we the taxpayers are not entitled to the social security insurance program that we paid for in advance and which adds nothing to the deficit.  We are told that it is unfair to tax rich people because they earned their yachts and second homes and private schools but it is perfectly ok to decimate public schools and foreclose on families when they are out of jobs and can’t pay their property taxes and mortgages.

What the f%^& kind of fools do they take us for??

OccupyWallStreet was destined to happen, even without astroturf.  A nation can’t exist in two realities forever.  One of them is going to start feeling a lot more real-er than the other.  That is what is happening.  Suddenly, all across the country, millions of people are starting to ask themselves, what kind of bullshit have they been feeding us for 3 years or 30 years?  It’s insane that the Very Serious People would expect that we perform a form of ritual suicide to spare them any sense of obligation to the unity of the United States as a national entity “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.

In that heated discussion above, Adam Davidson, his voice dripping with mocking contempt, told Elizabeth Warren that she wasn’t worth listening to and no one would take her seriously.

OccupyWallStreet is about to change all that.

Update:  I don’t know if the picture below is from The Occupation but it sounds right from someone who was there:

After the 2008 election, those of us who were heartsick with the way things turned out wanted very much to start a new movement but didn’t know how to begin.  I doubt it would have caught fire in the aftermath of the 2008 election, in spite of all that we saw that went wrong in 2008.  But how to do it?  Would it be organized?  Decentralized?  What kind of credo?  No one could agree, no leaders could be spared, some of us didn’t know the first thing about starting movements. At one point, I thought that the best example would be like the spread of Christianity in the first and second centuries.  Small groups of self lead believers, figuring it out as they went along, writing their own books, strewn like pearls along the Roman road.

The Occupation has that kind of feel to it.

This American Life walks into a bar…

What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too. See how that works? Wahhh!

…on Wall Street. What they hear and record there will make you so angry you’ll want to march to lower Manhattan and have it out with the most arrogant assholes in the country, possibly the world.

The podcast version, titled Crybabies, is a must listen. The good stuff is in the introduction and the first act. To summarize the WATB’s lament on Wall Street: they are soooo put upon, they get blamed for everything they do. But the truth is, as THEY see it,  they are simply smarter than you. They’re smarter than 95% of Americans who were too stupid to not suck off the taxpayer teat when they had a chance.

Yup, that’s really what they think. If you are a hard working American, no matter what your education level is, and you were laid off as a result of the high rolling ways of these selfish jerks, well it’s because you had the DNA to encode for a conscience and they didn’t and the environmental stress called for cold blooded killers and they won. They WON, you suckers. So don’t pick on them for being greedy. Their feelings will get hurt.

You have to listen to it to really experience the contempt these bastards have for the rest of us. Get your whetstone ready and sharpen your pitchforks.

By the way, the Wall Street bar scene was narrated by Adam Davidson.  Yes, THAT Adam Davidson who couldn’t understand why Elizabeth Warren was obsessed with struggling middle class Americans when the *serious* people were trying to save the only thing that really counted- the banks.  Do you get it now, Adam?  You’re not in their league.  They think you’re a stupid sucker.  You work for Public Radio, fergawdsakes.

Host Ira Glass analyzes the Delaware Senate campaign of Christine O’Donnell and explains why the Democrats self-pitying whining about the mean Republicans isn’t working.  We seem to be on he same wavelength.  Democrats are pathetic.

One of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a long while.  Don’t miss it.

Tuesday: Rosen, Davidson and adolescent males

Let me say up front that I am not one of those “I am the victim of the patriarchy” type of women.  My approach has always been one of confrontation and anger when someone threatens my personhood.  I don’t whine.  (Oh, brother, I can just hear the comments now.)  Maybe that’s because I think of myself as person first, female second.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t pervasive cultural trends and conditioning that need to be eliminated and/or reversed.  For example, this notion that somehow the thoughts that come out of the mouths of women are worth less than those that come out of the mouths of men really frosts my crockies.  You will probably not be surprised to find that there is some recent research on the subject and attitudes about the appropriateness of women taking on certain subjects is already in place by high school.  That is, in the male adolescent brain.

Consider this recent study noted in Science Daily back in February of this year noting Gender Bias Found in Student Ratings of High School Science Teachers:

A study of 18,000 biology, chemistry and physics students has uncovered notable gender bias in student ratings of high school science teachers.

Researchers at Clemson University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University have found that, on average, female high school science teachers received lower evaluations than their male counterparts even though male and female teachers are equally effective at preparing their students for college.

The findings appear in Science Education online in the research paper, “Unraveling Bias from Student Evaluations of their High School Science Teachers.”

Most notably, say the researchers, the physics students in the survey showed the largest bias toward female physics teachers. In biology and chemistry, male students tended to underrate their female teachers, but female students did not. In physics, both male and female students tended to underrate their female teachers.

“The importance of these findings is that they make it clear that students have developed a specific sense of gender-appropriate roles in the sciences by the end of high school,” said Geoffrey Potvin, assistant professor of engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences at Clemson.

“Such a sense of what are and what are not appropriate roles for males and females in science likely impacts the choices students make when they consider their college studies,” said Clemson researcher Zahra Hazari, also an assistant professor in engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences. “Such a bias could negatively impact female students and contribute to the loss of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Put aside the fact that there aren’t any jobs in these areas in America anymore, I think we can begin to understand why Larry Summers thinks that women can’t cut it in science and math.  What is striking about the study is that both male and female teachers were equally able to prepare their students for college level courses.  The outcome was identical but the female teacher didn’t get the same credit for her work.

Now, some commenters have complained in the past that we bash men unfairly.  This isn’t true.  There are some feminist bloggers who will go out of their way to accuse all men of being latent rapists and Taliban wannabees.  We tend to stay away from that kind of blanket condemnation because it simply isn’t true.  However, if some of our male readers out there feel put upon that their behavior is being called to task for being insufficiently respectful of opinions that emanate from the mouths and keyboards of women, then I can only say one thing: stop doing it.  Women don’t share the belief that they are not as smart as men, that their opinions aren’t as valuable or that their passions and research are “pet issues”.  We all grow up in the same families and schools so whatever the genesis of these differences that exist in the minds of men are subtle and profoundly irritating to those of us who have to put up with them. We have to read the ridiculous bitchy sniping of Sonia Sotomayor from the keyboard of Jeffrey Rosen and listen to the textbook case of gender bias from Adam Davidson and we get angry.

Yesterday’s Planet Money reviewed the angry responses from listeners to Adam’s attack on Elizabeth Warren’s credibility.  I have to applaud her for not decking him.  She sounded feisty and offended, as well she should.  But somehow, Adam’s mea culpas do not yet sound sincere.  He apologizes in a pro forma way without real understanding of how his attitude towards her greater authority is less than it should be.  He undermines his own credibility in the process.   And without true understanding, it is going to be very difficult to have women in power.  The next time one runs for high office, we will be subjected to the same crap that Hillary and Sarah put up with in 2008.  The country is 51% female.  To diss more than half of the population as insufficiently capable of expressing a well-thought opinion is a recipe for disaster.  It can result in the election of a complete neophyte to office who will be easily manipulated by the oligarchs.  How else could it be that a man with no experience or political philosophy can be promoted over a more qualified female in a period of our nation’s history when experience and knowledge base is crucial to that nation’s economic survival?

Overcome it, guys.


Please DIGG & SHARE!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 433 other followers