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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 20, 2019
      This post is by Tony Wikrent I have been looking at the work of Cornell University law professor Robert Hockett, who is serving as an economics adviser to Representative Alexandria Occasio-Cortez. I have been delighted to find that Hockett has been working the same angle I have: applying the classical republicanism that informed the creation of […]
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Soak the Rich

Taxin’s too good for them now.

Check out The Daily Show for 12/1/2011 first segment on TARP.

$16 Trillion, $7 Trillion, $23 Trillion, who knows? I can’t keep track of all of the zeros. You know what will really scare politicians and the public?
When we start to use scientific notation.
$7.0 x 10^12. $1.6 x 10^13.

Picture it at the next Congressional Finance Committee meeting. “Listen up, people. We’ve brought in a professional chemist to instruct you in the proper use of scientific notation. This afternoon’s tutorial will also cover propagation of error and significant digits. Tomorrow, theoretical finance notation: how big *is* a mole of dollars in cubic centimeters? Hey, where’re you all going?”
*THE* quickest way to reduce the Finance committee members down to a reasonable number. I guarantee it.

By the way, if anyone has straightforward instructions on how to embed a Daily Show video on wordpress, let me know in the comments.  Because the youtube method doesn’t work and I can’t find instructions anywhere.  Maybe it’s not possible but I’m betting it is.

This weekend in Occupy, man-o-man-o-man, those Occupy folks are good.  So, the cops and the mayors and DHS (who reports to the president, BTW) think they have cleared out the problem by eliminating it from the parks.  Au contraire.

Lots of bands and other performance artists on the roster.  24 hours.  I’m definitely going tomorrow because not only will there be performances, there will also be an Occupy to Celebrate with Occupy Faith event at Zuccotti park.  If what I have found through my research is correct, we may be seeing a spontaneous resurrection, so to speak, of The Way.  And *this* time, even the atheists can participate.

Wahoo Dores Wahoo Dahoo, Christmas time is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp.

Oh, BTW, Bono is in the US somewhere…

Oh, yeah, I totally get it.

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

Oh, no he di’int. Oh yes he did.  Newt Gingrich says “really poor children” don’t understand the meaning of work unless it’s illegal.

Then, a tweet from Charles Blow of the New York Times piqued my interest.

RT @foxnewspolitics Gingrich: Poor kids don’t know work unless it’s crime: politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/12/01/new… < Oh HELL no! What?! Somebody get

Surely, the Fox News report was referring to something from Gingrich’s end-welfare past. Would that were so.

GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich defended his stance against certain child labor laws during a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday, saying that children born into poverty aren’t accustomed to working unless it involves crime.

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

Jeez, some pharisees just don’t know when to stop punching the publicans.  The fact that this guy is a front runner says more about the moral sickness plaguing Republican voters than it does about Gingrich.  I mean, we’ve *always* known that he’s an ugly, hypocritical, authoritarian, word manipulator, who has a social conscience so wanting that it makes Ebeneezer Scrooge look like a flaming commie.  But what’s in it for the working class dude who votes R?  I blame it on Fox News induced Acquired Stupidity Syndrome.

The “gaffe” would normally end a politician’s political career but in this election season, all bets are off.

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

Conflucian Arran points to a Dan Froomkin post at Huffingtonpost that suggests that Obama may try to harness Occupy Wall Street’s righteous indignation towards Wall Street for his own re-election benefit.  Of course!  This makes perfect sense.  He can bop on over to Zuccotti Park right after his fundraisers.  That oughtta go over well.

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

All I want for Christmas:

I can take it to the library!  And then to a real paying job someday!  Oh, wait, do I live in the right neighborhood?  Gotta check with Newt.

Anyway, I *love* the gadgetiness of this bento box.  There’s even a little sleeve for chopsticks.  Too cool.  And there’s a whole blogosphere out there devoted to how to package your lunch to make it look cute.  I think I have found my new obsession.

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Thursday News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!! As usual these days, there isn’t a whole lot of positive news out there.

After watching Anderson Cooper last night, I wondered if anything the President said was more than “just words.”

I learned that many in New Orleans still think Obama is completely out of touch with events on the ground. The clean-up effort is still completely disorganized and ineffective, and parish leaders are still calling for the President to cut the red tape. And this is day 58 of this crisis. Why doesn’t Obama see that it is, in fact, a national emergency?

I learned that Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser thinks Thad Allen should be removed as point man in charge of supervising BP’s efforts to stop the leak as well as the clean up effort. From an AP story at NOLA.com:

“He’s not the right man for the job,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. “If the president of the United States does not make some drastic changes it’s going to give him a bad rap that he doesn’t deserve.”

Nungesser’s comments came Wednesday after workers under his direction resorted to sucking up oil from delicate marshes with ordinary shop vacuums.

He was furious after he said the Coast Guard shut down oil-vacuum barges while paperwork was being processed.

“Not only is the leadership not there, they’re standing in our way. They’re crippling us,” Nungesser said.

I also learned that $20 billion probably is only a down-payment on what the true cost of the BP gusher will be. I saw BP CEO Tony Hayward smirking as he walked out of the WH with President Obama. And I saw Hayward and the other BP execs practically high-five-ing each other as they walked away from the question and answer session. They apparently think they rolled Obama pretty good. And to back up that conclusion, BP’s shares surged after the agreement was announced.

This morning, I decided to go to the horse’s mouth so to speak, and see what they are saying at NOLA.com. Here are the latest updates from ground zero. I’m sure Dakinikat will have more to add later on. It seems that the $100 million that Obama has said he’ll set aside to help oil workers who have lost their jobs is woefully inadequate. On that amount, the lead editorial says:

The $100 million fund is a drop in the bucket. The losses for laid-off rig workers alone could range from $150 million to $300 million a month.

More significantly, the president’s statement fails to acknowledge the moratorium’s wider damage. To be sure, rig workers are the first in line to lose their livelihoods while exploratory rigs shut down in compliance with Mr. Obama’s moratorium. But the devastation to the economies of Gulf Coast states will be broader than the loss of rig worker jobs. The boat operators, contractors, caterers and myriad others who service the drilling platforms will also lose out, with an estimated loss of 20,000 jobs in Louisiana alone. This narrowly targeted fund doesn’t begin to address the true impact of the drilling shutdown, which could result in idled rigs quitting the Gulf long term.

President Obama surely realizes that this money doesn’t solve the problem. Instead of pushing forward with a broad moratorium he should listen to those pressing for a more nuanced approach that addresses safety concerns without threatening a vital industry that affects the lives of so many people.

Another op-ed, by Stephanie Grace: “Another president, another set of promises,” compares the responses of George W. Bush and Barack Obama to Katrina and the BP gusher, respectively:

Here was Bush in September 2005, 17 days after Katrina: “Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

And here was Obama Tuesday night, 57 days after the Deepwater Horizon exploded: “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

There’s one more similarity: In addition to offering hope to a besieged region, each president tried to use his speech to recast his own role in the tragedy — to hit the restart button, to get ahead of the story, to finally appear in control of the situation, not at its mercy.

Grace goes on to say that she is willing to give President Obama a chance to fulfill his promises, but cautions:

The problem is that the longer the oil gushes, the more gunk creeps into the marshes, the more loudly local officials vent their frustration over poorly deployed resources, the larger the gap between the Obama administration’s ambitions and reality grows.

When you raise expectations, it’s always harder to live up to them.

Both James Carville and Paul Begala are now praising Obama in the wake of the Best Oval Office Speech Evah!

Carville: Oil response critic concedes Obama’s getting it right

Obviously, I was not in the meeting that President Obama had with the BP officials. I suspect I’m even less welcome at the White House these days than Tony Hayward, given my heartfelt and vocal criticism of how Obama was handling the Gulf crisis.

But it looks as if President Obama applied a little old- school Chicago persuasion to the oil executives, because BP’s chairman not only agreed to the full $20 billion that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu asked for, he also pledged to suspend quarterly dividends immediately. Paying victims before shareholders — what a concept.

Look, we have a long way to go before this Cajun stops ragin’. But just as I hammered the White House when I thought they were too lackadaisical, honesty compels me to praise the president for his concrete, significant — and eloquent — action today.

Begala is more enthused than Carville: Nothing But Net

His high school teammates called the future president “Barry O’Bomber” for his proclivity for launching long-range jump shots, and tonight he took yet one more high-pressure shot from downtown. Nothing but net.

The timing of when you shoot a tre is important: the later they come in a game, the more they matter. Three-pointers are the dagger that can put the game away or bring a team back from the dead. Tonight’s speech was the latter.

If Marshall McLuhan was right, then for this presidential address the setting was the message. For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama sat behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office and addressed his fellow Americans. From that room presidents have sent millions of Americans to war. They have sought to heal broken hearts, to remake our government and revive our economy. Barack Obama has, at turns, done all those things — but never from the Oval Office. Even before he opened his mouth he communicated the most important message: dealing with the Gulf oil disaster is, as Joe Biden would say, a BFD.

‘Scuse me, I think I’m going to be sick.

OK, Begala really laid it on thick there. Maybe he’s trying to encourage Obama with excessive flattery? I don’t quite know what was going on in Begala’s head when he wrote that column.

At CNN, a “language guru” claims that Obama’s speech bombed because it was “too professorial.”

President Obama’s speech on the gulf oil disaster may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday.

Tuesday night’s speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. The Austin, Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.

Though the president used slightly less than four sentences per paragraph, his 19.8 words per sentence “added some difficulty for his target audience,” Payack said.

You know how slow-witted we “small people” are. We just can’t understand that when the President speaks in vague generalities, he really means something very specific–if only we were smart enough to read between the lines….or something.

I suppose everyone has already seen this “worst case scenario” that was posted at The Oil Drum, but it’s worth repeating. If this is true, we could be facing a much worse disaster than anyone thinks, and let’s hope the Villagers are aware of how bad it could really get. The gist is that there is probably damage down below the ocean floor which could cause the well structure to collapse and leave us with a great big hole gushing vast amounts of oil at a rapid rate…and it would be unstoppable.

Here is a summary with commentary at Mother Jones and another one at Science Blogs.


In other news,

Bill To Help Unemployed Fails In Senate

A beleaguered bill to extend benefits for the long term unemployed stalled on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when the Senate voted 45-52 to block the $140 billion catchall bill that also would delay a Medicare fee cut, extend a hodgepodge of expiring tax cuts, and other provisions that Democrats say will help stimulate job growth.

Although the bill also included tax increases on investment managers and oil companies to help offset the cost, it has run into opposition from Republicans as well as many Democrats who are worried about adding to the burgeoning budget deficit.

All this worry about the deficit is going to lead us into Great Depression 2.0.

Administering Fund, a Master Mediator

Kenneth R. Feinberg bristled when reporters dubbed him the compensation czar for his Treasury Department job monitoring executive pay at companies that received government bailouts. The term, he lamented to ABC News last year, “makes it sound like I’m going to issue some imperial decree.”

[….]

Mr. Feinberg, named Wednesday by President Obama as the independent administrator of a $20 billion fund set up by BP to compensate victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, may not have the powers of a king. But he does seem to specialize in Solomon-like decisions.

Over the course of his long career as a mediator, he has helped settle a variety of thorny disputes, including a class-action suit by Vietnam veterans protesting the use of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, and a determination of the fair market value of the Zapruder film of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He also oversaw the compensation fund for survivors of 9/11 victims. Those victims who accepted payments had to sign away their rights to sue for damages later. I imagine that will also be the case for BP’s victims.

Prop. 8 trial: Closing arguments end as judge presses both sides

Closing arguments concluded Wednesday afternoon in the Proposition 8 trial with more pointed questions from U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is presiding over the landmark proceedings to determine the constitutionality of California’s ban on gay marriage.

More Than 90 Banks Miss TARP Payments

More than 90 U.S. banks and thrifts missed making a May 17 payment to the U.S. government under its main bank bailout program, signaling a rising number of lenders are struggling to meet their obligations….

The number of banks missing their TARP payments rose for the third straight quarter. In February, 74 banks deferred their payments; 55 deferred last November.

That’s all I’ve got. Please post your links in comments–good news would be greatly appreciated if you can find it. Have a terrific Thursday, everyone!!!

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

romesenate1

Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

41CvXI3gHEL__SL160_

Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Did Hank Paulson Use TARP as a “Ruse” to Rescue Citigroup?

TheScream

Be sure you’re sitting down before you read this, Okay? Barry Rithholtz speculates in his forthcoming book, Bailout Nation that the entire multi-trillion dollar boondoggle was

a giant ruse, a Hank Paulson engineered scam to cover up the simple fact that CitiGroup (C) was teetering on the brink of implosion. A loan just to Citi alone would have been problematic, went this line of brilliant reasoning, so instead, we gave money to all the big banks.

51yqsB8PvXL__SL500_AA240_

From the book:

As of October 2008, the other banks, while somewhat worse for wear, neither wanted nor needed the capital injection. None of them were in the same trouble as Citi. Even Bank of America’s problems via Merrill Lynch wouldn’t become acute until December 2008. Washington Mutual, the most troubled on the list, had already been put into FDIC receivership the month before.26 JPMorgan bought WaMu from the FDIC for under $2 billion, and Wachovia was swept up by Wells Fargo for about $15 billion. Thanks to a change in the tax law, Wells Fargo got to shelter $74 billion in profits from taxation. Instead of the FDIC absorbing a few billion in losses from Wachovia’s bad assets, the taxpayers lost 35 times that amount.

According to Rithholtz, today’s news that ten banks are going to pay back the TARP funds provides support for his thesis:

The hurry to repay this cheap cash confirms that the fix was in. If these banks were really in the bad shape Paulson suggested, they would hold onto this cheap source of credit. Instead, they want to throw the yoke of government monies off as soon as possible. The desire to return to their old compensation packages for executives cannot be the only factor . . .

In other words (or as President Obama would say, “Let us be clear”) our government spent $2.25 trillion and put our social safety net and maybe even the future of our country in jeopardy in order to rescue one huge bank that should have just been allowed to go bankrupt. I think I’m going to scream now.

Rithholtz went into more detail in an interview with Bloomberg Radio yesterday. You can listen to it here. In the interview, he makes the argument that huge corporate bailouts always seem to happen in election years. {{Sob!}} There’s a little good news in the broadcast, I guess; since Rithholtz says that while things are still getting worse, it isn’t happening as quickly as before. He thinks maybe we are going to pull out of this without falling all the way into another Great Depression.

Oh goody. But I’d feel a whole lot better about that prediction if I could see any sign that the government cares even a tiny bit about jobs and health care and such mundane needs of ordinary people as opposed to protecting banksters from their own stupidity and greed.

(See also Dakinikat’s post from earlier today.)

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a new article in which they argue that Citigroup should be broken up.

Resolving Citi — by either forcing it into a strategic partnership, if anyone will have it, or selling off its assets and breaking it up — wouldn’t be cheap, but it would have a number of benefits. It would remove the leading candidate for zombie-bankdom from the financial system. It would also, finally, put an end to the slow bleeding of taxpayer money into the bank.

Please DIGG!!! and SHARE!!!

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Friday: Now, let me get this straight…

Outland by Berkeley Breathed

Outland by Berkeley Breathed

Goldman-Sachs (G-S) and AIG go to the government last fall for money.  Hank Paulsen, our former Treasury secretary is a former CEO of G-S.  AIG hires a new CEO because the old one was under fire.  The new one, Edward Liddy, takes up the thankless task for token compensation- and $3M dollars for sitting on the board of…

wait for it

…Goldman-Sachs.

Yes, this is the same G-S that produced the faniciful earnings statement that ingeniously did away with the month of December 2008.  Yep, didn’t exist.  You know that painfully awkward holiday dinner you spent with the fam?  Never happened.

This is the same G-S who miraculously “raised” $10B dollars so that it can now give back the TARP money that it got from the government.  And the reason they want to give it back is because they don’t want no stinkin’ government telling them how much money they can give their stellar executives in bonuses.  It’s not the American Way.  It’s unnatural.

But this very same G-S, whose bank board member, Edward Liddy now sits as head of AIG, was funneled mucho dinero from the last bailout from AIG to cover its losses while other investors were forced to take losses.  No conflict of interest there:

He has said that he considers his work at A.I.G. to be a public service, performed on behalf of the taxpayers, who ended up with nearly 80 percent of the insurance company. His goal is to dismantle the company and sell its operating units, using the proceeds to pay back the rescue loans. On Thursday, A.I.G. said it had sold its car insurance unit, 21st Century Insurance, to the Zurich Financial Services Group for $1.9 billion.

Along the way, Mr. Liddy has clearly disclosed that A.I.G. was serving as a conduit, with much of the rescue money passing through and ending up in the hands of A.I.G.’s trading partners.

Goldman has said in the past that it had collateral and hedges to reduce the risk of its exposure to A.I.G.

Still, his stake could represent a potential conflict and is likely to reignite questions about Goldman’s involvement in A.I.G., and about why taxpayer money was used to shield A.I.G.’s trading partners from losses, when asset values plunged everywhere and most investors suffered greatly.

Had A.I.G. simply declared bankruptcy, the financial institutions doing business with it would have ended up in court, as they did in the case of Lehman Brothers, fighting to get pennies on the dollar for their claims.

Instead, Goldman Sachs received $13 billion of the Federal Reserve’s rescue money to close out various contracts it had outstanding with A.I.G. It was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government rescue.

Yes, Edward Liddy is performing a public service no less valuable than the social worker who handles hundreds of foster care cases or the firefighter or the friendly and helpful IRS phone support that helps you finish your tax return on time.  Surely, SURELY, Mr. Liddy deserves some respect for the sacrifices he is making on our behalf.

Simon Johnson is very concerned about the possible conflict of interest and the criminality of this setup.  He has some very Watergate-esque questions for these dedicated public servants:

According to the NYT report, Mr Liddy has an apparent conflict of interest.  Please answer these question as simply and directly as possible, because otherwise they will be repeated indefinitely.  When did Mr Liddy disclose this and to whom at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (or to which other responsible government officials)?  What did Hank Paulson, then Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, know and when did he know it?

Tut=tut, Mr. Johnson.  You are behaving like these men are criminals.  Is that any way to speak to people who are doing us a favor in these troubled times?  Antitrust indeed!  These are our betters.  You’re British.  You understand noblesse oblige and upstairs/downstairs stuff better than we do.  Why can’t you just accept the natural order and show us Americans how it’s done?

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman is being a fricking crepe-hanger again and stamping all over everyone’s greenshoots.  It’s spring, Paul, fergawdssakes.  Go outside and smell the periwinkle.

Thursday: Elizabeth Warren Reports

Knowledge is power.  Pass it around.

Other videos in this series can be found at oversightpanel

I picked up on a few things that Warren is too polite to say.  First, Geithner’s plan doesn’t get her full support.  Now, Warren is not a politician, so she doesn’t know how to speak out of both sides of her mouth with ease.  To me, it looks like conflict all over her face and body.  She’s trying really hard not to say what she really thinks.  Second, there are elements on her panel who do not even want to discuss alternatives to the Geithner plan.  Now, *that’s* weird.  The plan doesn’t get Warren’s full support and there are plenty of unanswered questions but you’re not allowed to discuss alternatives?  OK, this suggests that the terms of the plan as written are so favorable to some parties that anything else would be very detrimental to their outcome.

John Sununu wrote an objection to the current Warren Report in which he complains that the panel is overstepping its boundaries and criticizes it for trying to make predictions as to the success or failure of the plan.

In reviewing the drafting of the April Oversight Report, however, it became clear that
much of the content pursued topics which strayed far from the Panel’s core mission.  Moreover,
the April Report engages in a premature discussion of dramatic changes in Treasury’s chosen
approach to supporting stabilization in the US financial markets.  These and other concerns are
more fully discussed in the joint additional views which I have submitted with Richard
Neiman.373
Given the magnitude of these differences, I am unable to support the full April
Oversight Report.

Oh, I don’t know, John.  With graphs like this:

World Stock Market Performance

World Stock Market Performance, now vs The Great Depression

And this:

World Industrial Output, now vs The Great Depression

World Industrial Output, now vs The Great Depression

it looks like it might be good to get out ahead of the curve, so to speak, wouldn’t you say?  However, it appears that Sununu would like to reduce the panel’s scope to that of a mere observer that reports what it sees and not as an oversight committee that monitors the plan, asks timely questions or issues warnings to the Congress that has the power to intervene where intervention is necessary.

Why is it that when smelly girls try to gain power or use power or even just report to power there is always a guy like Sununu sitting in the wings ready and willing to smite her?  We know that Tim Geithner and Larry Summers have no fondness for Sheila Bair at the FDIC.  And Obama treats Hillary like his personal servant.  Can I just say for the record that I am thoroughly sick of this?  It is undermining the credibility of all of these guys.  I distrust *everything* they say and my feelings are rapidly turning towards active hate of all of the male power elite who continue to stand in the way of women and good judgment.

Come to think of it, why *are* there so many women on the other side of the financial meltdown?  Elizabeth Warren, Sheila Bair, Hillary Clinton, Gretchen Morgenson (NYTimes reporter, Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism.  Many of the those who have objected to, reported on or have been pushed out of the way are women.

Go figure.

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

OT: It looks like WordPress has been nominated for a CNet WebWare Award.  Congrats to WordPress.  I have to give them a lot of credit for making it easy and safe to post a blog here.  Granted, we don’t have a lot of bells and whistles on our site but we do almost have 6 million hits and we couldn’t have done it without them.  They even have an app for the iPhone that I’ve been able to post from on occasion, when I’m desperate enough to type a whole post on the iPhone keyboard.  So, if you want to send a little appreciation their way, go vote for WordPress by clicking the pic below.

What About the Renters?

Oh no they dit-nt. This morning FOX News reported that another bank took the TARP handout and partied on us. Did we have fun yet? Reportedly, the bank had the appreciation event planned long ago, so in other words, how could they call the wedding off, despite that the in-laws didn’t have the money? They’d just borrow it from us. But it’s okay they say, because the party money came from the operating fund. Turns out the report came from TMZ, God save me.

A bank that received $1.6 billion in bailout money just spent a fortune last week in L.A. hosting a series of lavish parties and concerts with famous singers … and TMZ cameras caught it all.

Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, sponsored the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in L.A. We’re told Northern Trust paid millions to sponsor the PGA event which ended Sunday, but what happened off the golf course is even more shocking.

I was raised in WLA and Santa Monica, CA, and I can tell ya The top places were booked for this junket: The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Loew’s Santa Monica, The Ritz Carleton. Events included performances by Chicago for $100,000, rental of the Santa Monica Airport hanger for a dinner followed by a performance by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Plus chauffeuring everyone everywhere. Sigh. Oh, and I almost forgot, Sheryl Crowe did a concert at the House of Blues, which was rented for $50,000. Yay, we’re supporting the arts.

It seems to me that the fiddling at others’—OUR—expense while our country burns is a moral failure. What is going on?

Me. I’m personally in dire straits. It was about this time during the seventies that I went underground, moved to the country, and lived like a third world peasant. I actually know how to do that.

Subsequent to that and prior to this, I rented then owned a home and sold it while the market was still good, but turning the corner. I lived there for thirteen years as a single mom then empty nester—I owned it for eight years. It was a lot of work and responsibility to have the American dream.

When I started, I knew nothing about real estate, property, property taxes, loans, mortgages, refinancing, house maintenance and systems, nor the city and county systems that supported mine—but it was all on me, and I learned. I was well aware of what I was getting into, because I had to read it to sign and asked questions. I became aware of the fudging that was going on by the loan officer after he quoted what the previous one had written. And yes, I went along. Was it right? No. But I was stuck. I had borrowed against my home to do maintenance and emergency system repairs and replacement, and also train in a new career. When I saw a few For Sale signs begin to creep up in my area, where for years there had been none, I decided to sell, despite multiple advisers saying that housing was not a bubble fixing to burst.

Although my place was beautiful, gave me, my family, and friends many happy memories, and I planted and grew absolutely beautiful perennial gardens, which were beloved and painful to leave, I’m happy to rent. Right now I prefer it—to be able to focus on my work and writing.

But what about all the people who rent? Renters are people, too. Who’s talking about them/us and what happens after they lose their jobs or can’t find work. Or the self-employed? They don’t get unemployment benefits. How many Americans are in that boat? Or in the boat whose benefits ran out long ago?

Now that I rent again, how come I can’t get help to pay my landlord? I don’t think I should, but why can some segments of society get help and not others? If I can’t pay my rent next month, I can’t get a waiver for a year or an adjustment on the amount. I can’t not pay from one month to the next, yet people who can’t pay their mortgage can, and they are rewarded. Because they hold the property, I know. And the whole domino thing, I know. In the end, we all need shelter, food, and clothing at the least.

After this admission, it’s with moral certitude that I do my coaching, writing, and healing work, with the knowledge that it’s helping to save and enhance the lives of others. It’s the light work I must do in a time of moral decline and an abundance of fear.

It is The Fear that is helping to propel things in a downward spiral, which is what Bill Clinton meant last week, when he suggested that Obama needs to convey that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what Bill did as Prez: he, not Obama, was the original man from Hope. But Bill’s schtick worked, because his actions and the mood he conveyed matched it. He buoyed people’s hopes, as opposed to Obama’s chastising Americans after he staged multiple gigantic events for a year while picking our pockets, and now picking them again and again, and those of our kids and grandkids. This is different than Bush?

It is imperative for entrepreneurs, creatives, and real light workers (haters, bite me) who offer a compassionate, helpful, truthful, empowering solution to anything to re-up. It’s time to use the technology that I learned for the cause to disseminate my professional message, which is about living healthfully and powerfully. Although my passion for real Democracy trumped my professional efforts during the past year, once again I’m reminded that my professional is political. As usual following a spiritual or an ethical path is not the easy road, but it is the only one in the end, underneath it all. Doing so, hoping once again, against all “hope”—that I don’t become Queen of the Road in the process.