Tag Archives: the rich

poliPicks

1 May

polipicksThe weekend is typically a time of minimal internet dwelling and more outdoor living (Vitamin D is good for you). Here a bunch of articles, tidbits, and videos that should hold your interest until, oh, let’s see happy hour.

  • Souter’s Replacement: Will it be a woman, a minority, or both?
  • Do You Feel Safer?” ad: House Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-OH), made an ad against President Obama using close-ups of online articles relating to the release of the torture memos (intense close-ups), photographs from over 3 years ago of insurgents menacing the streets of Fallujah, a collage of pictures where Obama is thinking (possibly plotting!) and al-Qaeda training camp footage. All with ominous questions like: “Do you feel safer?” Well, now that I know you are in Congress…
  • Torture architects identified: These two guys are a hoot. First off, they “boast” to anyone willing to listen how they were paid $1,000 a day by the CIA. Second, they had no interrogation experience before they created the 10-point torture/interrogation manual. And finally, the CIA only realized once they were both under contract that they were, in fact, not experienced enough for such a task and that their techniques were “far more intense” then they expected. Oh CIA, when will you learn *kneeslap*
  • CEO pay falls, but perks rise: From 2007 to 2008, overall pay for CEOs fell 7%. Yipee. The value of their perks and perks-allowances (basically cash funds they can dip into anytime they want) rose 7%. Yip–what?! Perks also made up a larger percentage of their compensation package. The median value of perks for CEOs in 2008 was over $170,0000. I wonder if that includes free Diet Coke.
  • First Lady’s kicks too chic et cher?: Note to self: avoid Lanvin when volunteering at food banks.
  • Obama’s “Enchanted” response: In case you missed it, the president showed off his comic timing when answering a 20-part question posed by the NY Times that was at first ridiculed and then praised as pure genius.
  • Racism and the Swine Flu: There some things that just make logical sense. Using butter to make your omelette is one of them. Leaving work early on Fridays is another. And of course, using a global pandemic to promote racist accusations and xenophobic remarks is another. Just a taste, Michelle Malkin on the lessons learned from recent history:  “9/11 didn’t convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality. Maybe the threat of their sons or daughters contracting a deadly virus spread from south of the border to their Manhattan prep schools will.
  • Elizabeth Edwards tells-some about you-know-what: Read her (probably mild) account about John Edwards’s cheating ways in her new book. A taste: “Elsewhere in the book, Edwards explains how her candidate husband originally lied to her about the depth of the affair (he originally said it was just one time), and how the “pathetic” Hunter hit on him with cheesy lines like: “You are so hot.” Saucer of milk, table for two, meow!
  • Sigh…I told you, do NOT let Joe go on morning shows. What part of that don’t you…ah, forget it“:

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Will the Rich Go on Trial?

27 Apr

The public’s outrage at what a group of greedy few have made of our economy is prompting some to think the rich will go on trial. Specifically, the rich bankers, hedge fund managers, CEOs, and investment firms who that are at the epicenter of the Great Recession.

Similar to the Pecora Commission after the crash of 1929, some believe an independent commission with subpoena power is currently not out of reach. Recent amendments calling for a deeper probe of what led to the economy’s sputtering as well as anti-fraud measures may lead to the wealthy going on trial.

Ferdinand Pecora, a cunning immigrant from Sicily, and former Manhattan assistant District Attorney, led the investigation against the likes of JP Morgan Jr., and Charles “Sunshine Charley” Mitchell, the head of then First National City Bank (now CitiGroup). His cross-examination skills, memory for facts, figures, people, and dates, and the backing of Americans’ anger, helped Pecora make these giants confess to a litany of sins.

The Pecora hearings resulted in 12,000 pages of transcripts that are still a primary source for historians of the Great Crash, and important New Deal legislation that for the first time regulated the high-handed, free-wheeling banking industry and protected the public from its excesses — including the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (which established the Securities and Exchange Commission — Pecora was one of its first commissioners) and the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933, which erected a firewall between commercial and investment banking — a wall torn down during the Clinton administration, leading to much of our trouble today.

Does the country need to put the financial elite on trial? Signals show that Obama may be more than willing to forgive and forget.

From Salon.

Rich People Cry, Too

22 Apr

 

photocredit: itzafineday

photocredit: itzafineday

Only they shed liquid gold rather than tears. The plight of the rich has been overlooked for too long! Or at least we should hear their thoughts on how tough it is to be wealthy and under a Democratic president.

The time has come, and the purveyor of this insight is none other than The New York Magazine:

Their anger takes many forms: There is rage at Obama for pushing to raise taxes (“The government wants me to be a slave!” says one hedge-fund analyst); rage at the masses who don’t understand that Wall Street’s high salaries fund New York’s budget (“We’re fucked,” says a former Lehman equities analyst, referring to the city); rage at the people who don’t “get” that Wall Street enables much of the rest of the economy to function (“JPMorgan and all these guys should go on strike—see what happens to the country without Wall Street,” says another hedge-funder).

Unfortunately, the top 1% come off as out of touch, arrogant, diva-esque, and downright ignorant. They claim that since we are in such a “hypercapitalistic” society they are needed more than we think. Sure, it might be the case that bankers and hedge fund managers are pivotal to the economy, but when the economy is rotten and in favor of the elite few, doesn’t that say something about those playing a pivotal role? A junkie needs his dealer to keep his reality going, but that doesn’t excuse the dealer for supplying a “needed” service.

This recession might be the purge we’ve needed for some time. Inefficiencies are bubbling up to the surface, attitudes are being adjusted, and egos are being checked. This might be a return to normalcy:

For these people, it is difficult to imagine a world in which they are not at the top of the socioeconomic heap. But a number of economists and academics are arguing that it was not always this way, and that what we’re seeing now is “a return to normalcy,” as Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at NYU, puts it. Until the late seventies, banking was a career choice more akin to being a corporate lawyer or a doctor than a high-flying hedge-fund manager. Until the eighties, Wall Street counted for about 20 percent of all corporate profits in America, but by the peak of the bubble, it had grown to an astounding 41 percent. “Wall Street became a high-margin business because of the deregulated environment,” Moss says. “You basically had a casino culture operating in the financial-services industry.” And that huge profitability led to great influence. “The system as a whole became unstable because Wall Street developed this disproportionate influence. It’s an entire system of belief they had to create,” says Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF. In a recent Atlantic article, Johnson describes Wall Street’s influence as a ruling oligarchy, not dissimilar to those of the crony capitalists that have controlled the levers of power in places like Russia, Argentina, and Indonesia. The solution, according to people like Paul Krugman, is to make banking regulated, less profitable, and “boring” again.

The Rage of the Privileged

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