Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

If President Obama was a serious Democratic Party president, and he wanted to wipe out Republican Party majorities in the US house and senate, it would be a simple thing to do.

Republican Party leaders, such as Wall Street Senator’s Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch, are desperate to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passed through congress. The TPP is a massive scam to redistribute income and political power from the 99 to the 1 percent. It involves 11 nations around the Pacific Rim. The TPP will export hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions upon millions (which is more likely), of US jobs to China and Vietnam (Click https://johnhively.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/the-trans-pacific-partnership-the-op-ed-the-liberal-and-conservative-corporate-media-doesnt-want-you-to-see/. The difference between the old US higher wages and the new lower wages over there will go straight into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate earnings, share prices and dividends. The stock markets will then shoot up, like what occurred under the same income redistribution scam called NAFTA.

Obama should have Democratic Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden introduce the TPP out of committee and into the senate for debate. Wyden is a long time supporter of redistributing income, wealth and political power from the 99 to the 1 percent. That’s why I call him Wall Street Ronnie. Republicans will try to block the TPP in committee for a simple reason.

This is an election year and there are more Republican seats up for grabs in the senate than there are Democrats. Voting yes for the TPP before the elections in November will be a deathblow to any candidate who votes yes, except for Wyden, who has a carefully and fraudulently cultivated reputation for caring about the aged, the poor, and the middle class, while carefully voting to redistribute their income to the 1 percent time and time again.

Obama, however, wants the TPP badly, and so most likely will wait with his Republican Wall Street allies until after the November elections to bring the TPP out of committee.

On the other hand, the economic winds already began shifting toward recession late last summer. Those winds will become more readily apparent by November to the great mass of US citizens. The president, Wyden and the Republican leadership will try to ram the TPP through congress then, but this international income and political power redistribution scam will come under intense opposition the like of which has not been seen for decades.

The result should be the death of the TPP, but only if pressure is continued until the bitter end, because most Republicans and Democrats in the US house and senate work for the 1 percent, and against the interests of the 99 percent. Anything to keep those corporate share prices rising, and those campaign contributions, lobbying jobs, vacations and other perks coming.

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Wall Street investment bank CEOs, and their presidential apprentice, Hillary Rodham Clinton, want us not to focus on issues that are important to the vast majority of US citizens. This happens to be the many issues Bernie Sanders is focusing on, such as income inequality, government corruption, increasing social security, bad trade deals, free college education, profitable wars we were lied into, the crimes of Wall Street executives, and a lot more. These things all have one thing in common; they’re a sleazy way that Wall Street investment banks have managed to redistribute trillions of dollars from the 99 to the 1 percent. Hillary seems to be on Wall Street’s side of these issues, which makes Hillary a one issue candidate.

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Here are the 10 major components to Sanders’ Wall Street reforms.

1. End Too-Big-to-Fail

The underlying logic of this federal policy is that the biggest banks cannot fail and shut down, even if they make terrible investments or wreak great harm to the economy, because the U.S. economy and millions of ordinary people would become financially destitute. Sanders said this “scheme … is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street.” Compared to before the crash of 2008, the biggest banks in the country are larger than ever, he said, adding, “if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

The truth is that the big banks are not too big to fail. When Lehman Brothers died, not one member of the 99.9 percent was impacted in the slightest. However, the super rich have a massive financial stake in the banks, and they would lose their shirts if the banks were allowed to fail. Using the “too big to fail” slogan means that the banks don’t need to be responsible for their bad decisions, and bad bets, and bad investments, and why should they? Especially when the banksters know the government or the Federal Reserve will bail them out instantly.

“In 2008, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because we were told they were ‘too big to fail,’” Sanders said. “Yet, today, three out of the four largest financial institutions [JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo] are nearly 80 percent bigger than before we bailed them out. Incredibly, the six largest banks in this country issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards and more than 35 percent of all mortgages. They control more than 95 percent of all financial derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all bank deposits. Their assets are equivalent to nearly 60 percent of our GDP. Enough is enough!”

Sanders concluded, “A handful of huge financial institutions simply have too much economic and political power over this country. If Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican trust-buster, were alive today, he would say, break ‘em up. And he would be right.”

2. The above is why we need to Break Up the Biggest Banks

If elected, Sanders said he would direct the Treasury Department to compile a list of the institutions “whose failure would pose a catastrophic risk to the U.S. economy without a taxpayer bailout.” Using the power of executive authority, he would break up these institutions. “Within one year, my administration will break these institutions up so that they no longer pose a grave threat to the economy as authorized under Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank Act.”

3. Pass a 21st-Century Glass-Steagall Act

This Depression-era law, which was repealed by Congress under President Bill Clinton, prevented commercial banks from investing in risky and arcane financial instruments, such as bundled home loans during the housing market bubble that predated the 2008 financial market collapse. Now investment and commercial banks are merged, and the government couldn’t bail out homeowners, such as FDR did. Had they done so, homeowners would have renegotiated lower home prices that reflected reality. But the Obama regime couldn’t do that because an 8 percent decline in home prices effectively rendered the tens of trillions of dollars in home mortgaged backed bonds valueless. Instead, the government bailed out the banks, and the Federal Reserve bailed out the banks. But they really weren’t bailing out the banks; they were bailing out rich investors.

See The 26 Trillion Dollar Bailout–JohnHively.wordpress.com

Also see the video below.

“Secretary Clinton says that Glass-Steagall would not have prevented the financial crisis because shadow banks like AIG and Lehman Brothers, not big commercial banks, were the real culprits,” Sanders said. “Secretary Clinton is wrong. Shadow banks did gamble recklessly, but where did that money come from? It came from the federally insured bank deposits of big commercial banks—something that would have been banned under the Glass-Steagall Act.”

Moreover, Sanders said his work as a senator revealed that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department “provided more than $16 trillion in short-term, low-interest loans to every major financial institution in the country” to stop the global economy from imploding after the 2008 crash. “Secretary Clinton says we just need to impose a few more fees and regulations on the financial industry. I disagree.”

4. End Too-Big-to-Jail

Sanders said that the government needs to run Wall Street, not the other way around, which he said is the reality today. He said that “equal justice under the law” means that banking and finance executives whose reckless gambles damaged people’s lives must face real criminal penalties including prison.

“The average American sees kids being arrested and sometimes even jailed for possessing marijuana or other minor crimes,” Sanders said. “But when it comes to Wall Street executives, some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country, whose illegal behavior caused pain and suffering for millions—somehow, nothing happens to them. No police record. No jail time. No justice.”

He noted that “not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy” and that “will change under my administration.”

What Sanders doesn’t mention is that large banks also have been caught engaging in drug money laundering for the Mexican banks. The US government has fined the banks, but never indicted any bank officers, not even when the banks have been caught committing this crime time and again.

5. Criminalize Wall Street’s Business Model

One of Sanders’ most incisive comments concerned Wall Street’s ways of doing business, which he said are based on intentionally ripping off average Americans and engaging in all kinds of unethical and illegal behaviors. He said the government must do more to penalize companies that routinely rip off the public and richly reward the executives overseeing that process.

“The reality is that fraud is the business model on Wall Street,” Sanders said. “It is not the exception to the rule. It is the rule. And in a weak regulatory climate the likelihood is that Wall Street gets away with a lot more illegal behavior than we know of. How many times have we heard the myth that what Wall Street did may have been wrong but it wasn’t illegal? Let me help shatter that myth today.”

Sanders read from a dozen business page headlines to underscore that the banks most Americans use have been fined $204 billion since 2009 for malfeasance. “And that takes place in a weak regulatory climate,” he said. “And, when I say that the business model of Wall Street is fraud, that is not just Bernie Sanders talking. That is what financial executives told the University of Notre Dame in a study on the ethics of the financial services industry last year.”

Sanders said he would appoint regulators who are not afraid to tackle this caldron of corruption. “I will nominate and appoint people with a track record of standing up to power, rather than those who have made millions defending Wall Street CEOs. Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks will not be represented in my administration,” like they will be in a Clinton, Trump, or any other Republican administration.

6. Tax the Casino Culture

Sanders said one of the keys of reforming Wall Street was ending its culture of financial speculation. He said he would do that by imposing a transaction tax aimed at high-speed, high-volume traders who are not investing “in the job-creating economy.” Those funds would then be used for cutting the cost of higher education. This was something first proposed in The Rigged Game: Corporate America and a People Betrayed.

“We will use the revenue from this tax to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. During the financial crisis, the middle class of this country bailed out Wall Street. Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help the middle class.”

7. Reform the Financial Rating Agencies

Sander’s notes that the ratings agencies committed fraud when it came to rating mortgage backed bonds. If the investment banks didn’t like the ratings of the liar loans they were purchasing from, say, Country Wide, then they simply went to a different ratings agency. For the ratings agencies, it’s either fraud or bust. This must end.

8. Cap Credit Card Interest and ATM Fees

Sanders doesn’t mention that just as there are tens of trillions of dollars of mortgage backed bonds issued by Wall Street Investment firms, such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, the credit card debt backed bond market is a billion dollar industry. Capping interest rates charged by banks and credit card companies, and curtailing some of their fees, will bring the full might of an enraged banking/investing industry down around Sanders neck because what he proposes will undercut the value of credit card backed bonds, which is a trillion dollar plus industry. Sanders proposals might even send the value of the bonds to zero, which would be a good thing for the 99 percent, but a bad thing for the idle rich and their unearned income stolen from the 99 percent.

Sanders says banks and credit card companies must stop “from ripping off the American people by charging sky-high interest rates and outrageous fees. It is unacceptable that Americans are paying a $4 or $5 fee each time they go to the ATM. It is unacceptable that millions of Americans are paying credit card interest rates of 20 or 30 percent.”

Sanders wants interest rates “capped at no more than 15 percent for borrowed money. He also said ATM fees should be capped at $2. “People should not have to pay a 10 percent fee for withdrawing $40 of their own money out of an ATM. Big banks need to stop acting like loan sharks and start acting like responsible lenders.”

9. Let the USPS Offer Banking

The post office’s money order service could be greatly expanded “to give Americans affordable banking options,” Sanders said. “The reality is that, unbelievably, millions of low-income Americans live in communities where there are no normal banking services.”

“Today, if you live in a low-income community and you need to cash a check or get a loan to pay for a car repair or a medical emergency, where do you go?” he asked. “You go to a payday lender who could charge an interest rate of more than 300 percent and trap you into a vicious cycle of debt. That is unacceptable.”

10. Reform the Federal Reserve

Sanders said this arcame institution that regulates the flow of the U.S. currency and interest rates charges to banks must be reformed so that its primary purpose is serving the public, not private bankers. “When Wall Street was on the verge of collapse, the Federal Reserve acted with a fierce sense of urgency to save the financial system,” he said. “We need the Fed to act with the same boldness to combat unemployment and low wages.” What Sanders doesn’t mention is that the Federal Reserve is a private bank, and not a government agency. It’s primary goal is to ensure that the big banks are solvent and their profits and stock prices are rising, even at the expense of the American people.

“It is unacceptable that the Federal Reserve has been hijacked by the very bankers it is in charge of regulating,” Sanders said. “I think the American people would be shocked to learn that Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, served on the board of the New York Fed at the same time that his bank received a $391 billion bailout from the Federal Reserve. That is a clear conflict of interest that I would ban as president. When I am elected, the foxes will no longer be guarding the henhouse at the Fed.”

As striking as Sanders’ reforms sound, he said they were unlikely to be sufficient to ensure that American capitalist excesses do not harm the country again.

“No president, not Bernie Sanders or anyone else, can effectively address the economic crises facing the working families of this country alone,” he said. “The truth is that Wall Street, corporate America, the corporate media and wealthy campaign donors are just too powerful.”

But Sanders said that new rules of the financial game could be written and that government could force Wall Street to follow them.

“Yes, we can make our economy work for all Americans,” he said. “And so my message to you today is straightforward: If elected president, I will rein in Wall Street so they can’t crash our economy again. Will they like me? No. Will they begin to play by the rules if I’m president? You better believe it.”

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The 1 percent now steal over 37 percent of total US income, up from 8 percent in 1980. They’ve been stealing their income by corrupting both major political parties, which control the federal and state, as well as most local governments. Wall Street Senators, such as Mitch McConnell and Ron Wyden, are notorious for pushing legislation that redistributes income from the 99 to the 1 percent.

This government created inequality has created an economy spiraling toward third world status, with only 50 percent of US adults considered middle class, down from 61 percent in 1970. Another by-product of this is that people are dying younger, but not if you are rich. A new study by Angus Deaton and Anne Case show the mortality rate for white males, ages 45 to 55, is increasing.


The author’s lay the blame straight at income inequality pursued by senator’s like McConnell and Wyden. So why only white males of this age? Why not white or Hispanic women? Why not younger white males? The answer is expectations.

White males of this age group could always count on getting decent jobs, such as in manufacturing, from the 1970s through the 1990s. They had jobs, and then millions of those jobs were exported, leaving millions of people in debt, and unable to find a suitable job replacement. This has led to financial and emotional distress, increasing suicides, alcohol use, drug use, eating excessively, and other methods of self-perceived alleviation.


Note below, that mortality rates for white males in this age group declined from 1979-1998. These three decades witnessed extraordinary job growth, which meant opportunity. The guys in the 45-54 age range were in their physical prime. While the rich were getting richer, their share of income rising from 8 to roughly 15 percent of the total national income, real wages, or the illusion thereof, rose for a few years of the late 1980s, and the late 1990s. Now those jobs and opportunities have declined in numbers.

The authors write:

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45−54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979‒1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

Click here for the full study.

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A new report released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies looks at the fortunes of the Forbes 400, and compares their wealth to the much more meager assets of the rest of America.


Among their most significant findings:

* America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group including Warren Buffett, Charles and David Koch, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Sheldon Adelson — now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.

* The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population — plus more than a third of the Latino population — combined.

* With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.

* The median American family has a net worth of $81,000. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these typical American families.

* Furthermore, the report authors note that they “believe that these statistics actually underestimate our current national levels of wealth concentration.” They say the “growing use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts has made the concealing of assets much more widespread than ever before.”

The folks at the Institute for Policy Studies appeared to be clueless as to how this historically massive unequal distribution of income came about. Those who control the state and federal government engineered this inequality, through such income redistribution programs as;

1. International income redistribution scams falsely marketed as free trade treaties. The latest scam is the Trans Pacific Partnership, a so-called trade treaty involving 12 nations of the Pacific Rim. Such wealthy class warriors as George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and Ron Wyden support this, the largest, income redistribution scam in US history. It will also diminish the voting rights of the 99 percent on local and state levels. These agreements pave the legal route for US corporations to ship US jobs overseas. It also paves the way for US corporations to create jobs over there, rather than over here. The difference between the old higher US pay and the new lower overseas pay goes straight into the pockets of the super rich via higher corporate profits, rising dividends and surging share prices. The job losers may get some unemployment insurance, if they are lucky. These agreements are the biggest income redistribution scams, but there are other significant scams of this nature. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, Wyden voted to export 28 million US jobs overseas from 1990 to 2010, and millions more since.

2. Privatization scams, which enrich the wealthy.

3. Tax breaks for the rich, which allow them to purchase politicians, who then do their bidding in the halls of congress, in the white house, and in state houses across the nation. That bidding usually consists of legislation that redistributes income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden’s Trans Pacific Partnership.

In spite of their ignorance of how we got here, the folks of the Institute for Policy Studies did come up with some good suggestions to curtail wealth accumulation by a few people, which has come about at the expense of the many.

“First, we must close wealth escape routes. 
Wealthy individuals are moving quickly to shift wealth into offshore tax havens and bury it in private trusts, avoiding accountability and taxation every step of the way. This hidden wealth now totals in the trillions. Our first step must be to close these escape routes and tax dodges.

Second, we need to implement policies to reduce concentrated wealth. 
Without action to directly reduce private concentrations of wealth, inequality will continue to grow. By seriously taxing our wealthiest households, we could raise significant revenues and invest these funds to expand wealth-building opportunities across the economy.”

The next installment on this story, Why Wealth and Income Inequality Matters: Especially Since the Rich Are Stealing From the Rest of Us, will be within two days.

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Iceland’s Supreme Court upheld charges against several bankers implicated in the world meltdown via fraud and other illegal opportunities last February. Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson sits in prison in Iceland. So do three of his associates. They were all forced to pay millions of dollars in fines.

icelandFrom left to right: Former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg Magnus Gudmundsson, Olafur Olafsson, the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, Kaupthing’s former chief executive, and former chairman Sigurdur Einarsson—all sentenced to between four and five and a half years. (Image: DV)

Why doesn’t that happen in the USA. The answer is simple. The USA government is one of the most corrupt in the world. Money rules, and that’s what US democracy looks like. The corporate press is also remarkably corrupt, and so, the so-called free press has become a willing partner in criminal activities by sponsoring such slogans as “Too big to fail,” and “Too big to Jail.” The US public, for the most part, swallows this propaganda like fresh candy, and without question.

The US bankster’s should be in jail, just like their brethren in Iceland, but the US in-justice department finds it better to focus on corporate crimes, and then lay fines against these corporations, rather than at the employees perpetrating the crimes. Those employees are among the most politically corrupting influences in the US government today.


Icelandic Bankers Sentenced to Prison–Icelandic Review

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There’s a reason the United States is one of the most politically corrupt nations in the world. Stephan Colbert hits the head on the nail with his succinct analysis that wealth inequality will continue to grow in the United States so long as money in politics are at record levels.

The corruption, especially of the federal government, which is massive compared to the years from 1933 to 1980, began when President Ronald Reagan signed into law tax cuts for the rich. Supposedly, this trickle down economics, which had already been a complete failure during the first thirty years of the 1900s, was going to create jobs. Instead, the rich used their new found financial muscle to destroy jobs by pushing legislators for international income redistribution agreements, commonly marketed by those who benefited from these income redistribution scams as “free trade agreements.”

The result has been a progressively weaker US economy as tens of millions of jobs have been shipped overseas, thanks to these agreements. When a job is shipped overseas, the difference between the old, higher, US wages and the new, super low third world wages goes straight into the already fat wallets of the super rich via higher corporate earnings, rising dividends, and soaring share prices. The job losers get a few unemployment checks, if they’re lucky, and maybe a lower paying job, if they’re even luckier.

The proceeds of these treaties find their way into the campaign contributions and pockets of US politicians. And the cycle plays over and over again. More and more income redistributed via legislation from the 99 to the 1 percent, so that nowadays the rich and their legislative henchmen steal 37 percent of all income in the USA, compared to 8 percent before the Reagan tax cuts.

There are several other ways legislators help the super rich to steal from everybody else, such as passing legislation to privatize government services, force school districts to add more and more testing, and numerous other things.

Colbert is completely correct, except for one thing. Nothing will change unless a massive grassroots political movements overwhelms the money in politics, and then the money is taken out of politics. Go Bernie Sanders!


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