Overall, the study shows that executive pay remains astronomically high compared to previous years. After adjusting for inflation, CEO pay in 2009 more than doubled the CEO pay average for the previous decade, more than quadrupled the CEO pay average for the 1980s, and ran approximately eight times the CEO average for all the decades of the mid-20th century. The study claims that CEOs of major U.S. companies make 263 times the average compensation of American workers. ...
Rank: 5 IBM. Samuel Palmisano. Paid: $21.1M. Laid off: 7,800.
If IBM wants to claim it cannot find enough technical people to do the job in the United States, it would not have to look very far to find engineers in their 30s who are still out of work from layoffs in 2009. It wasn't just older, more expensive technical people who lost their jobs. IBM and other technical companies have decided that the best way to cover for shrinking the US workforce is to use the power of the media, especially Business Week to spread this egregious lie that the US lacks qualified technical people to do the jobs of today. And now I hear the TV and other media, and friends and family repeating this absolute farce.
If you choose to believe that China and India have a larger number of more qualified technical people, that's your call. This NYC program is great but it's just another way for IBM to stage a publicity stunt to reinforce the lie that there are no technically trained people who will work on mainframes and we need to bring in 300 Chinese people.
Local universities like Marist College, Vassar College, SUNY, all around Poughkeepsie are churning out I/T architects and Comp Sci majors. I haven't seen a summer co-op from these schools since 2008. Get real, the interlocking directorates of American corporations decided en masse to pull out of the US. Luckily that fell on its face for IBM, but the layoffs and outsourcing will continue anyway. Don't spread the Sam's falsehoods!
People who went back to work or kept working past traditional retirement age these days are usually not doing so because they enjoy their jobs; rather decreasing pensions and 401ks have forced them to work just to eke out a living, even if it takes a toll on their health. And since the recession, even those who are willing and able to work through their 60s find there are just no jobs for them. The steep decrease in potential jobs for older workers is not likely to change much even as the economy picks up, experts say, meaning a later retirement age translates to more time facing unemployment without a safety net for people who are supposed to be enjoying their golden years. ...
Last week, a million French people took to the streets to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed overhauls of their pension system, which includes raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. But the American public has shown no such organized opposition to proposals to raise the retirement age, despite the fact that a majority already suffer significant penalties for collecting Social Security benefits early. EPI economist Monique Morrissey calls attacks on Social Security -- along with the transition from stable pensions to risky 401k retirement funds -- the “single biggest threat to our long-term economic security.” But though the threat affects everyone, she says,“it’s happening with a lot of misinformation and below the radar.”
Pathetically, the real root of this sad Hedge Fund Rebellion is a feeling by these powerful, super-privileged megalomaniacs that they are being picked on. One even whined that asking hedge-funders to pay taxes at the same rate as everyone else amounts to the "persecution of the minority." Good grief, man, get a grip! Next thing you know, these doofuses will hire Glenn Beck to host a weepy telethon to "Save the Billionaires Tax Loophole."
Cons: IBM's intent is to offshore many jobs in the US. This results in high performing employees, in addition to lower performers, being laid off to move much of the highly technical work oversees. IBM used to provide a lot of training for employees in order to maintain current skills and allow folks to upgrade into new technologies. Over that past several years education has been curtailed to increase earnings per share in a decreasing revenue environment. Few and far between pay raises/promotions for expected work load. When I first started with IBM management and executives were engaged with employees. Under the current CEO management has become isolated from employees. The result is a work force that has no general direction or input into product/development cycles. It also displays itself in lack of innovation in products as the folks in the trenches no longer have input in the design processes. To sum it up I have told my children to look at IBM as an employer of last resort.
Advice to Senior Management: Management and executives need to reengage with employees. This will allow those that know what is truly going on in the business and products to provide much needed data that can be used for product planning and schedules. The current CEO and board need to stop looking at short term earnings and stock price. They need to start looking long term and how to grow revenue organically. There was a time that IBM was the largest computer producer, the largest software vendor, the largest external storage producer, etc. Today it is the leader in none of these. With 31 years I can say it was not the development teams that caused this to happen. The responsibility lays squarely with the executive team.
"The industry would love to have a Republican Congress," said Wendell Potter, a former executive at Cigna Corp., one of the country's biggest insurers. "They were very, very successful during the years of Republican domination in Washington." ...
Insurers in the past have been able to count on the GOP, which often helped shape the market to the industry's specifications. Republicans expanded Medicare's use of commercial insurance companies to administer benefits, which has been very profitable for insurers. With the help of GOP legislation, insurers also have increasingly shifted costs to consumers through high-deductible plans. And Republicans have pushed to allow insurance companies to sell their plans across state lines, avoiding state regulations. Party leaders have made that a centerpiece of their 2011 healthcare agenda. "We generally support candidates whose views align with our business and healthcare interests," said Aetna Inc. spokeswoman Anjie Coplin.
So does this insurance plan sound like part of the solution for the country’s health care system — or part of the problem? A $2,000 plan happens to be one of the main plans that McDonald’s offers its employees. It became big news last week, when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was worried the plan would run afoul of a provision in the new health care law. In response to the provision, McDonald’s threatened to drop the coverage altogether, until the Obama administration signaled it would grant some exemptions. ...
On the surface, these claims can sound credible. But when you dig a little deeper, you often discover the same lesson that the McDonald’s case provides: the real problem was the status quo. American families spend almost twice as much on health care — through premiums, paycheck deductions and out-of-pocket expenses — as families in any other country. In exchange, we receive top-notch specialty care in many areas. Yet on the whole, we do not get much better care than countries that spend far less.
We don’t live as long as people in Canada, Japan, most of Western Europe or even relatively poor Jordan. Misdiagnosis is common. Medical errors occur more often than in some other countries. Unique to the developed world, millions of people have no health insurance, and millions more, like many fast-food workers, are underinsured. In choosing their health reform plan, President Obama and the Democrats eschewed radical changes, for better or worse, and instead tried to minimize the disruptions to the current system. Sometimes, Mr. Obama went so far as to suggest there would be no disruptions, saying that people could keep their current plan if they liked it. But that’s not quite right. It is not possible to change a system as huge, and as hugely flawed, as ours without some disruptions.
Several leading insurers, including WellPoint, Aetna and Cigna, have also objected to new rules requiring them to cover even those children who are seriously ill, warning that they will stop selling new policies in some states because the rules do not protect them from having to cover too many sick children. “The hardest part of health reform is always going to be the transition,” said Peter T. Harbage, a former state health official who is a policy consultant in Sacramento. He predicts more insurers and employers will lean on the government to delay or weaken the new regulations. “I think this pressure just increases until we get to 2014,” he said, referring to the year that the law will fully go into effect.
It is also worth reviewing the important changes that are already taking place. The biggest improvements in the health insurance marketplace will not begin until 2014, but already, there are new measures that will protect consumers from dangerous holes in their coverage.
If you're an adult with a pre-existing condition, and you have been unable to obtain health insurance for six months or longer, you can now apply to temporary high-risk pools in all of the states that can help you get coverage. The pools -- some run by the states, others by the federal government -- will act as a safety net until 2014, when health insurers won't be able to turn you down if you have a health problem.
And as of Sept. 23, the six month anniversary of the law's enactment, a whole new set of protections is phasing in: coverage for children with preexisting conditions, coverage for young adults through their parents' health plans, a ban on lifetime limits on people's benefits, more generous annual limits on their benefits, better appeal rights, and the end of the practice of "rescission" -- cancelling people's coverage retroactively when they get sick. These are not all of the changes the law will make to give people more reliable health coverage. But they are an important start that will keep many of the most vulnerable patients from falling through the cracks -- as long as the administration and health insurers work together to find the right balance on the regulations.
Insurance is a great mechanism that people can use to offset their risk of losing some material thing of great value like their house, boat, car or jewelry. It can also be used to protect a valuable personal occupational asset like a voice for an opera singer, a hand for a surgeon or a knee for a football player. And it can be useful in providing protection from a singular catastrophic event like a malpractice suit or the premature loss of life.
But for something that is predictable, ongoing, needed by everyone, or necessary for the welfare of our community, an insurance model makes absolutely no sense. That's why we don't use an insurance model to provide police or fire services or to provide an education to our children. For these we use the tax model. Basic essential health care should also be in this category.
We know that almost everyone will eventually need some health care and much of it will be ongoing. For a defined population, the health care needs are predictable, and we know that the health of individuals affects the overall welfare of our community. In addition, most believe that people should get treated for illnesses, diseases and injuries that might befall them and expect that everyone should have access to preventive services like prenatal care and immunizations that make our communities a healthier and better place.
Our insurance-based model doesn't match our societal needs and expectations in many respects. It denies coverage to those who need care the most. Since health and income are related, it charges more for the people who can least afford it. It encourages a link with employment that has numerous negative side effects. By its reimbursement mechanism, our insurance-based health care system has also fostered maldistribution of resources between primary and specialty care.
The proof of the folly of using an insurance-based model for health care is that, while we have the most expensive health care system in the world, approximately one-third of Americans are uninsured or inadequately insured. The consequences of this are that health status indicators for the United States are far from the best.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
The Fed’s low rates have in fact hurt many Americans, especially retirees whose incomes from savings have fallen substantially. Big companies like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo and I.B.M. seem to have been among the major beneficiaries. “They are benefiting themselves by borrowing and keeping this cash, but it is not benefiting the economy yet,” said Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York.
I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy. ...
Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network — with its Orwellian slogan, “fair and balanced” — has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances. ...
Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.
Thus in Britain, a reporter at one of Mr. Murdoch’s papers, News of the World, was caught hacking into the voice mail of prominent citizens, including members of the royal family. But Scotland Yard showed little interest in getting to the bottom of the story. Now the editor who ran the paper when the hacking was taking place is chief of communications for the Conservative government — and that government is talking about slashing the budget of the BBC, which competes with the News Corporation. So think of those paychecks to Sarah Palin and others as smart investments. After all, if you’re a media mogul, it’s always good to have friends in high places. And the most reliable friends are the ones who know they owe it all to you.
Below is an example of what a receipt might look like for a typical taxpayer with a 2009 U.S. median income of $34,140, who paid $5,400 in federal income tax and FICA. It is very easy to generate and extremely informative to taxpayers.
The Times’s Eric Lipton, in an article last month, noted that Mr. Boehner “maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS. “They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.” The hack who once handed out checks on the House floor is now a coddled, gilded flunky of the nation’s big-time corporate elite. ...
The U.S. is in terrible shape right now because far too much influence has been ceded to the financial and corporate elites who have used that influence to game the system and reap rewards that are almost unimaginable. Ordinary working Americans have been left far behind, gasping and on their knees. John Boehner has been one of the leaders of the army of enablers responsible for this abominable state of affairs.
You will not be surprised to hear that all of this money is being used to try to oust Democrats and replace them with Republicans. And where is the money coming from? Silly of you to ask. There is no limit to the amount that an individual, corporation or trade association can give to American Crossroads -- but the group is not required to tell you who those deep-pockets donors might be.
Democrats are doing the same sort of thing, or trying to. But Republicans are outspending Democrats by 7-1 in this kind of "independent" campaign spending. So while Democratic candidates enjoy a big advantage in official campaign funding -- the kind that has limits and disclosure requirements -- this edge is blunted by the wave of "independent" GOP cash. ...
The Supreme Court made all this possible with its ruling earlier this year, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which legalized unlimited campaign spending by corporations, unions, trade associations and other such entities. And the independent-expenditure groups with the patriotic names are often structured as nonprofits, which means they are not required to disclose their donors publicly. The result is a system in which oil companies opposed to an energy bill that would begin to steer the country away from fossil fuels, or Wall Street firms who want to undo financial regulatory reform and return to the days of the Big Casino, or gazillionaires who want to keep George W. Bush's tax breaks can all spend as much as they like to try to buy Congress for the Republican Party. And they can do it secretly, in the dark, without anyone knowing. It's bad enough that public offices can be purchased. It's unconscionable that we can't even know who the buyers are.
If you asked Americans how much of the nation's pretax income goes to the top 10 percent of households, it is unlikely they would come anywhere close to 50 percent, which is where it was just before the bubble burst in 2007. That's according to groundbreaking research by economists Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, and Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California at Berkeley, who last week won one of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants.
It wasn't always that way. From World War II until 1976, considered by many as the "golden years" for the U.S. economy, the top 10 percent of the population took home less than a third of the income generated by the private economy. But since then, according to Saez and Piketty, virtually all of the benefits of economic growth have gone to households that, in today's terms, earn more than $110,000 a year.
Even within that top "decile," the distribution is remarkably skewed. By 2007, the top 1 percent of households took home 23 percent of the national income after a 15-year run in which they captured more than half - yes, you read that right, more than half - of the country's economic growth. As Tim Noah noted recently in a wonderful series of articles in Slate, that's the kind of income distribution you'd associate with a banana republic or a sub-Saharan kleptocracy, not the world's oldest democracy and wealthiest market economy. ...
Concentrating so much income in a relatively small number of households has also led to trillions of dollars being spent and invested in ways that were spectacularly unproductive. In recent decades, the rich have used their winnings to bid up the prices of artwork and fancy cars, the tuition at prestigious private schools and universities, the services of celebrity hairdressers and interior decorators, and real estate in fashionable enclaves from Park City to Park Avenue. And what wasn't misspent was largely misinvested in hedge funds and private equity vehicles that played a pivotal role in inflating a series of speculative financial bubbles, from the junk bond bubble of the '80s to the tech and telecom bubble of the '90s to the credit bubble of the past decade.
Yes, some of the richest, most pampered people on the planet -- people who literally wallow in luxury every day, with never a concern about losing a job, a home or health care, or getting their kids into college -- these people are wailing in self-pity. They are Wall Street hedge-fund operators, which essentially means they are high-flying financial flimflammers. What has stoked them into an elitist fury is a Barack Obama proposal to close off a ridiculous tax loophole that has let them pay only 15 percent of their lavish income in taxes, rather than the 35 percent rate that us commoners pay.
One of the richest of the ragers, Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, sees Obama's proposal as an outrageous intrusion into the suites of the elite, comparing it to "when Hitler invaded Poland." This over-the-top-tantrum comes from a multibillionaire -- a guy who spent $3 million in 2007 just to throw himself a birthday party! Come on, Steve, you're filthy rich. Stop hyperventilating, and pay your taxes!
The Republican party recently issued a "Pledge to America" to explain its beliefs and campaign promises. The document is filled with nonsense, such as the fatuous claim high taxes and over-regulation explain America's high unemployment. It is also filled with propaganda. A quote from President John F Kennedy states that high tax rates can strangle the economy, but Kennedy was speaking half a century ago, when the top marginal tax rates were twice what they are today. Most of all, the Republican platform is devoid of compassion.
America today presents the paradox of a rich country falling apart because of the collapse of its core values. American productivity is among the highest in the world. Average national income per person is about $46,000 – enough not only to live on, but to prosper. Yet the country is in the throes of an ugly moral crisis.
Income inequality is at historic highs, but the rich claim they have no responsibility to the rest of society. They refuse to come to the aid of the destitute, and defend tax cuts at every opportunity. Almost everybody complains, almost everybody aggressively defends their own narrow, short-term interests, and almost everybody abandons any pretense of looking ahead or addressing the needs of others. ...
The result of all this is likely to be a long-term decline of US power and prosperity, because Americans no longer invest collectively in their common future. America will remain a rich society for a long time to come, but one that is increasingly divided and unstable. Fear and propaganda may lead to more US-led international wars, as in the past decade. ...
The lesson from America is that economic growth is no guarantee of well being or political stability. American society has become increasingly harsh, where the richest Americans buy their way to political power and the poor are abandoned to their fate. In their private lives, Americans have become addicted to consumerism, which drains their time, savings, attention and inclination to engage in acts of collective compassion. The world should beware. Unless we break the ugly trends of big money in politics and rampant consumerism, we risk winning economic productivity at the price of our humanity.
Yes, some of the richest, most pampered people on the planet – people who literally wallow in luxury every day, with never a concern about losing a job, a home, health care, or getting their kids into college – these people are wailing in self-pity. They are Wall Street hedge-fund operators, which essentially means they are high-flying financial flimflammers. What has stoked them into an elitist fury is an Obama proposal to close off a ridiculous tax loophole that has let them pay only 15 percent of their lavish income in taxes, rather than the 35-percent rate that us commoners pay.
One of the richest of the ragers, Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, sees Obama's proposal as an outrageous intrusion into the suites of the elite, comparing it to "when Hitler invaded Poland." This over-the-top-tantrum from a multibillionaire – a guy who spent $3 million in 2007 to throw himself a birthday party! Come on, Steve, pay your taxes!
Pathetically, the real root of this sad Hedge Fund Rebellion, is a feeling by these powerful, super-privileged megalomaniacs that they are being picked on. One even whined that asking hedge funders to pay taxes at the same rate as everyone else amounts to the "persecution of the minority." Good grief man, get a grip! Next thing you know, these doofuses will hire Glenn Beck to host a weepy telethon to "Save the Billionaires Tax Loophole."
Janet Tavakoli, founder and president of Tavakoli Structured Finance, a Chicago-based consulting firm, said that for much of the past decade, when banks were creating mortgage-backed securities as fast as possible, there was little time to check all the documents and make sure the paperwork was in order. But now, when judges, lawyers and elected officials are demanding proper paperwork before foreclosures can proceed, the banks' paperwork problems have been laid bare, she said. The result: "Banks are vulnerable to lawsuits from investors in the [securitization] trusts," Tavakoli said.
Buffett has been railing for years about the absurdity of the current tax structure – he remarked Tuesday with some disbelief that he pays the lowest rate in his Omaha office -- and has accordingly called for higher taxes on those earning large wages, including himself. But he hasn't previously pushed for lower taxes on those making less. Asked why not, he said that no one ever asked. A tax cut for low-income people could boost consumer spending at a time of high unemployment and fading government stimulus funds. But such a shift might not play well with the Tea Party types who have made an issue of the fact that 47% of U.S. households paid no federal income tax last year. Regardless, Buffett says the tax numbers don't add up and will have to rise. So why not raise taxes on those who can afford to pay? "We're going to need to get more money," said Buffett. "Why not get it from me instead of the guys who will serve us lunch?"
Previously, it has been reported that foreign firms like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens are active members of the Chamber. But on a larger scale, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appears to rely heavily on fundraising from firms all over the world, including China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, and many other places. Of course, because the Chamber successfully lobbied to kill campaign finance reforms aimed at establishing transparency, the Chamber does not have to reveal any of the funding for its ad campaigns. Dues-paying members of the Chamber could potentially be sending additional funds this year to help air more attack ads against Democrats.
Here’s how it works. Regular dues from American firms to the Chamber can range from $500 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and industry, and can be used for any purpose deemed necessary by the Chamber leadership. For example, the health insurance giant Aetna has reported that it paid $100,000 in annual dues to the Chamber in the past. But for specific advocacy or advertising campaigns, corporations can hide behind the label of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and give additional money. Last year, alongside their regular dues, health insurance companies like Aetna secretly funneled up to $20 million to the Chamber for attack ads aimed at killing health reform (publicly, health insurance executives claimed they supported reform). Last week, Politico reported that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, gave an extra $1 million to the Chamber for its election season attack campaign.
There are many reasons foreign corporations are seeking to defeat Democratic candidates this November. The Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals. To galvanize foreign businesses, the Chamber has commissioned former Ambassador Frank Lavin — who served as the McCain-Palin Asia campaign director and has appeared on television multiple times recently saying a Democratic Congress is bad for business — to speak before various foreign Chamber affiliates to talk about the stakes for the 2010 midterm elections.
Entities that join the Chamber, which pay dues depending on the size of their organization, can pay dues ranging from $500 to hundred of thousands of dollars a year. The ThinkProgress piece does not specify what portion of the Chambers budget is used to influence political legislation, elections or discourse, but the Center for Responsive Politics reported that in 2009, for the first time, the "U.S." Chamber of Commerce outspent BOTH the Republican and Democratic parties in terms of lobbying activities, organizing and political advertising. It seems those who have long sought a viable third party need wait no longer. That party is now here, even if its hand is hidden. Shades of the "Trade Federation," that morphed into the Evil Empire in Star Wars. Was George Lucas a prophet of sorts?
The ThinkProgress piece notes the twin developments of the Chamber's aggressive overseas fundraising campaign, mostly through "business councils," and "AmChams" and the fact that the Chamber has pledged "an unprecedented $75 million" to defeat mostly, if not entirely, Democratic candidates in a number of states, including California, Pennsylvania, among others. Also since the Chamber has been largely successful in seeking to stop oversight of political monies, (in fact, the activities of the Chamber's branch in Russia are conducted in secret) there is no means to independently verify whether or not the Chamber is transferring dues and other payments from its foreign members into its political war chest in the U.S. If any internal firewall exists, the Chamber is not revealing it or its workings even amidst the firestorm these revelations have created.
As you can see, most people, regardless of political ideology or party affiliation or income level, are under the impression that there is a vast middle class (60% of the people) that owns roughly 40% or so of the wealth in America, with the wealthiest 20% owning slightly less than 60%. The truth?
The richest 20 percent, represented by that blue line, has about 85 percent of the wealth. The next richest 20 percent, represented by that red line, has about 10 percent of the wealth. And the remaining three-fifths of America shares a tiny sliver of the country’s wealth.
Yet even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Because the highest 1% of income earners in America (income, not total assets) received 75% of the income gains from 2002 to 2006. Everybody else, 99% of Americans, received the remaining 25%. Now look at these pie charts on net wealth from“Wealth, Income, and Power” by G. William Domhoff, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz: ...
Which is one reason we as a nation have arrived at the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in, both politically and economically. We have been misled by fools and propagandists posing as honest objective journalists and reporters for too long. And the misinformation and outright lies in many cases to which they have been an active party, have allowed the Wealthy and Big Corporations to corrupt our politics and impose a regimes that is driven us to the brink of collapse, all while they lined their pockets from the public purse and from the inaction of government to oversee their activities and prevent their financial shenanigans (and in many cases outright fraud). That the Democratic Party was for too long complicit in this exercise, trolling for the same lobbyist cash that has always fueled the Republicans, is a failure of epic proportions, for it took decades to set the table from which the rich now feast while the rest of us beg for scraps from their table.
The Chamber has pledged to spend a whopping $75 million this year to defeat candidates who supported health care reform, new financial regulations and a laundry list of other measures of which the Chamber’s leadership doesn’t approve. On Tuesday, the grassroots advocacy group MoveOn.org asked the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the practice.
Consider the latest revelations. The big banks are so backed up with foreclosures that some of them resorted to hustling through repossessions without the proper paperwork. Some of them—including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Ally Financial's GMAC Home Mortgage—have announced a temporary freeze in some states on further foreclosures while they sort through the mess. In one case, a bank employee said she was approving 8,000 foreclosures a month. By my math, that's roughly one for every minute and a half. No, she wasn't reading all the documents thoroughly. (As one wit observed, the banks paid about as much attention to foreclosing on the loans as they did to making them five years ago.) In many cases, thanks to the fallout from securitization, it's not even clear who owns the mortgage. The payments may be due to different financial institutions around the world, some of which have gone the way of all flesh. ...
Businesses make secured loans against property or collateral all the time. If the loan goes bad, the lender takes the collateral. Nobody expects executives to dip into their own pockets (a fortunate thing, as they never do). Bank executives pocketed tens of millions in the run-up to the financial crisis, directly as a result of the phony profits from reckless lending. Stockholders pocketed billions in dividends for the same reason. If the taxpayers hadn't stepped in, those banks would have collapsed and creditors would have lost a fortune. But they would have had no recourse—absent proof of fraud—against executives or those who owned equity. Look through the financial statements of the big companies involved in the housing market, including major homebuilders and property developers, and you'll find frequent references to all the "nonrecourse financing" they've obtained. It's a boast. "Look," they're telling stockholders, "even if things go bad, the lenders can't touch us."
Apparently the only people who haven't gotten the memo are the middle class. For how much longer?
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