Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top Dogs Of Class War

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” - Warren Buffet

Few would argue that Warren Buffet is a very smart fellow. And his statement is not as condescending as it sounds...he was commenting on the fact that his employees pay around a third of their net income in taxes while he, one of the wealthiest men in America; pays less than 13%. He said he uses no tax planning and makes no efforts to weasel out of paying such as hiding money in tax shelters etc. but this unfair tax situation is simply evidence of class warfare...the war of the outrageously wealthy against everyone else. And They are indeed winning, if they have not already won.

Welcome To The Dog And Pony Show
An American businessman who recently moved his manufacturing operations to Mexico was standing at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The Globalist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The globalist asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The globalist then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American globalist then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American capitalist scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

Get the picture?

Most of us see success in life as having enough to be comfortable, have some degree of security, and experience life's joys. Some, and I suggest this is a sociopathic quality, can't get enough. They can't experience happiness. They want it all, yours mine and ours. These sociopaths already own most assets and coins on earth, but it's not enough. It will never ever be enough.

Now allow me to interject at this point that I'm not suggesting that all wealthy people are sociopaths, Warren Buffet for instance has every right in my view to make profit from his smarts, at least he has some grounding that makes him understand he too should be taxed for services at minimum, the same rate as his housekeeper. He, and people like him are not really the issue, (though I also understand the logic of the argument that anyone who has more than a fair share, ultimately takes it from someone else.) But that is not the focus of this article. This is about Global Class War waged, not by the poor, downtrodden, or trampled underfoot; but by sociopaths and their sycophants who can not rest until every drop of blood is wrung from every stone.

"We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all."

Huh? Really?

Those were the words of Lord Brian Griffiths, a former adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And why the hell wouldn't Griffiths feel that way? After all, he's vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. He personally experienced much, much "greater prosperity"thanks to record bonuses the banking giant paid out at the end of this year. So the "recession" is over, it's over for the world's obscenely wealthy. And no one else matters.

Goldman--along with plenty of other financial institutions--is in the midst of a bonus orgy, with end-of-year payouts to financial executives worth billions of dollars--allegedly for a job well done in 2009. Of course Goldman is one of the firms bailed out, allegedly saved from it's own extinction from U.S. taxpayers. Goldman isn't alone. Overall, Wall Street firms have paid out $140 billion in bonuses this year, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of 23 banks, investment firms, hedge funds and other institutions. That's $10 billion more than in 2007, the year before the financial meltdown and the high point of Wall Street's balloon. How on earth is this justifiable? It just isn't, and it doesn't matter, you'll subsidize this and like it! That's right you peasants, take it like a chump. Don't put up a fight, don't even whimper.

How did Wall Street recover so quickly that the banks could be wiping their asses with money again? To hear the banks tell it, their boffo quarterly earnings reports and the coming tidal wave of bonuses are the result of their financial skill--proof that the Wall Street Wizards are a cut above the rest of us. Certainly it's only fair that they should be showered with cash while the rest of us get hosed with layoffs, wage cuts, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

But that picture is a vile and pernicious fraud. The Banking Pirate's profits are being subsidized heavily with your money. Remember, these firms were given this money to make loans so credit didn't freeze up. It was for creating new jobs, restructuring mortgages and "trickling down" to Main Street.

That didn't happen did it?

Trickle Down Economics

So what did Goldman and other firms do with this free money? No, they didn't lend it out. Instead, the last quarter shows that almost all of Goldman's revenue in those months--$10 billion out of $10.8 billion--was from trading. Goldman posted its $3 billion in profits based largely on gains from trades and fees from customers. Goldman, in other words, is a bookie, and a gambler and little else.

The bottom line: Goldman didn't create a single job or stop a single foreclosure.

Responding to public anger at the size of Goldman's bonuses, the firm's Chief Financial Officer, David Vinar scoffed, "I do think it's too big a focus. I would prefer people to be focused on the success of our business, how well we're doing, and how well our people are performing."

Con men like Vinar think you are too stupid to understand the swindle they're operating. But it's obvious. As Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Wall Street bailout, commented:

"So let me understand this. They can take taxpayer money and go out and make investments--gambles. These are not loans. This is not from lending activity, which is what I thought the banks were in the business of doing. Instead, they can go out and make short-term profits in investing and be rich, and that's the healing of the financial system? I'm sorry, I don't think so."

As for the bonuses, Warren said:

"I not only don't think it's appropriate...I am wordless over this. Speechless. I do not understand how it is that financial institutions can think that they can take taxpayer money, and then turn around and act like it's business as usual...I don't understand how they can't see the world has changed in a fundamental way. It is not business as usual when you take taxpayer dollars. But all I can say right now is that they seem to be winning this argument."

The unmitigated audacity of Wall Street was so over the top as to make even the Economist magazine blush. "Worst of all, bonuses are being paid in part from subsidies: this is not a free market, but a perversion of it." The magazine further wrote that banks "enjoy laxer accounting, loose collateral rules at central banks, explicit debt guarantees and asset-purchasing schemes. And critically, they can borrow cheaply because they are deemed too big to fail. All of them--from comparatively healthy Goldman to the nationalized weaklings--are being subsidized by the rest of us."

Warren Buffet has said he paid 13% of his income in taxes, this is without efforts to shelter or weasel out of paying through lobbying, cooking books, or offshore tax dodges like we have seen so many do . His housekeeper has to give 33% of her income. And yet the call from conservatives is to cut the tax rate for the wealthy even further.

Mention to conservatives or Republicans that we should consider some mode of equity in the tax system, that maybe these "Wizards" should contribute to their own subsidization, that the wealthiest men, as Warren Buffet says, should at least pay their fair share... and free marketeers and conservatives will purvey several arguments. The first argument is that this mere suggestion constitutes class warfare. I think Mr. Buffett already answered that one. Resistance is futile. The mere concept of resistance is taboo.

The other argument is that raising taxes actually lowers tax revenues. "Huh"? That's right, total revenues will increase if they aren't paid, so only cutting taxes stimulates federal revenue. They claim this is proved by the history of tax receipts during the George W. Bush presidency. But, in fact, the federal government collected roughly $1.004 trillion in income taxes from individuals in fiscal 2000, the last full year of President Bill Clinton’s merry presidency and actually after the tech boom bubble burst (we won't use figures during the tech boom because that might be unfair and assailable by believers in the miracle of trickle down economics). It fell to a low of $794 billion in 2003 after Mr. Bush’s tax cuts (but not, you understand, because of them, his supporters like to say). Of course I like to say the economy completely derailed under Bush economics, which were of course good old fashioned Voodoo, Trojan horse, Trickle Down, Bullshit. It wasn't until 2006 that revenues broke the trillion dollar mark again. By this time, Republicans had added a $2.7 trillion to the national debt.

So much for tax cuts adding to revenue.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year?

Cape May N.J. Jan.1,2010
By Benjamin New

Ok, the glasses have been raised. The cups of kindness have all been consumed. The old year given a swift boot. The new one viewed through blinkered bloodshot eyes. New Year as a holiday is an interesting one because it is celebrated globally. Most holidays are recognized only in some cultures or within the confines of a political map.
(Britain has no fireworks on July 4th.) Now such novel global cooperation must have roots in some great cosmic or astronomical truth, right? I mean we can't agree on which side of the road is best for driving on so it's remarkable to have universal agreement on a holiday. How did this happen?

The new year has been celebrated since man's prehistoric days, ( we know this because cave dwellers painted pictures of hunting, fire, and the recently discovered "Happy New Year" pointed hats, a likeness of Dick Clark, and a boulder being dropped on Pre-Times Square....incidentally archeologists have determined that this boulder seems to have been inscribed with the words"Elect McCain"). But back then it was celebrated on the vernal equinox rather than what we now consider the first of the year.

The Romans were the first to recognize New Years Day on January first.
Rather than mark the day of some significant astronomical or agricultural event, in 153 BC the Romans selected it because it was the day after elections in which the newly elected assumed their positions. (And ever since, those who elected them "assume the position" as well!).

Years later, Julius Caesar ( No relation to Sid) wanted to change the date to a more logical time, but that particular year on January 1, 45 BC it happened to be the date of a new moon. To change it would have been considered bad luck. He did, however, change the calendar system from the astronomically founded Egyptian solar calendar to the "Julian" calendar, named of course for himself. July, the month of Caesar's birth, was also named after him to memorialize him for his remarkable calendar reform! Yet right on up until 1582, Christian Europe continued to celebrate New Years Day on March 25. ( Holidays were not something to be "rendered unto Caesar"apparently).
Pope Gregory XIII instituted the additional calendar reforms bringing us the calendaring system of the day. The Gregorian calendar was adopted by Catholic countries immediately while the reformists, and most of the world were suspect of any papal policy, only adapted it after some time. Today most countries around the world have adopted this calendaring system. After all no one wants to be brought before the inquisition.
From primitive man to today's contemporary fashion conscious groups of individuals, regardless of the arbitrary date, the New Year's Day has been recognized as a day in which rites were performed to abolished the past so there could be a rejuvenation for the new year. Rituals included purgations, purifications, exorcisms, extinguishing and rekindling fires, masked processions (masks representing the dead), and general imbibing of intoxicants. Often exorcisms and purgations were performed with much noise as if to scare away the evil spirits. In China, Ying, the forces of light fought Yang, the forces of darkness with cymbals, noisemakers, and firecrackers.

I tried this on Dick Cheney but it only succeeded in annoying him.

Of course the ubiquitous New Year's Resolution is a tradition very much associated with purging the past and hoping for an improved future free of Tom Cruise. Personally I made one New Year's resolution many dropped balls ago and have kept it. It was to never make any more resolutions. Though here are some I would have made if I were inclined to do so. (If your looking for some, feel free to use these.)
  1. Let go of your feelings of guilt. Get more in touch with your inner sociopath
  2. Assume full responsibility for your actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.
  3. Be yourself! Probably there is some culture that considers what you do normal.
  4. Use intuition! It sometimes makes up for lack of judgment or the absence of reason.
  5. You are one with your duality! Right or wrong!
  6. Honor and express all facets of your being regardless of state or local laws!
  7. Share your advice and experience! What's better than saying "I told you so"?
  8. Concern yourself not with solutions when a scapegoat will suffice.
  9. Don't waste time thinking of the past. Waste it worrying about the future!
  10. Procrastinate more! ...starting tomorrow.