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dreamnightwind's Journal
dreamnightwind's Journal
January 23, 2012

Great article about global capitalism

Apple is used as an example (and they are a perfect example), not as the whole problem, so being hung up on Apple, good or bad, is missing the point.

This long article does a great job of laying out the whole situation. Some of the comments on the Times' site are good too. If anything, I thought the article was too easy on the whole system. Its strength was in painting the picture, its weakness was in interpreting the picture, and there was no attempt to do the analysis of how do we create a better picture in the future. But that's the New York Times for you.

It paints an amazingly dismal reality for the American worker. We're all living it, so no surprise, but it shows that we need radical change, not better management of our current system.

Productivity has never been higher. And, given a company's ability to offshore much of product development and manufacturing, taking advantage of controlled and desperate labor forces overseas, productivity has never been cheaper. Profit margins have probably never been higher. So, the privileged few get richer, the Asians get to live in forced work encampments, and we, if we can get any job that gives us enough money, can buy the products they make. No way is this a workable scenario for the future of this country.

I believe the corporate charter mandates maximizing shareholders' value. There's a real problem with this. What if a company wants to provide good wages, benefits, and good LIVES for their employees, at the expense of huge profits, and makes that their company's priority? They can be sued by their shareholders, that's what. That HAS to be changed.

Apple used the Chinese factory's ability to wake several thousand people in their dorms during the night to immediately begin work on the iPhone glass screens when Steve Jobs decided to wiggle his finger and demand the change in weeks. That's totally sick in so many ways.

Soon they'll just keep large pools of trained workers in suspended animation in tiny hibernation pods, only to be awakened when their services are needed for a job, then back to sleep they go, into a chemically induced comatose state. Worker drones. Count on it, that's where this road leads, and it's evil at its core.

I like the idea of tariffs. I've always liked the idea of a labor exchange rate, too, similar to a currency exchange rate. Or how about using monetary policy to enable us to make $17/day and live well on that amount of money in this country?

Ultimately I think we need to reject this whole business model, and make it either illegal or super expensive to buy products from companies that use it. It's why the trade agreements (supported by most all of our Dems as well as the Republicans) suck, they do nothing to address concerns of the workers, only concerns of the capitalists.

We want lives, not jobs. The two are not mutually exclusive. The story told in the Times' article is the story that results when the capitalists are running the show.

January 2, 2012

Did you even read the article?

It looks like you just found a few quotes that you could use to support the viewpoint you already held. This is an amazing article, and it says nothing similar to what you are saying. You're so far off I hardly know where to start, or if it's worth my time.

You said "To prosecute this, you have to start here, with the loan / mortgage broker."

There is no support for that in the article, in fact quite the opposite. Black goes to great length to explain just how futile that approach is. And the brokers were not the problem, they were the little guys implementing the fraud desired by their employers.

Black: "Remember I told you there were over a million cases of mortgage fraud a year and that overwhelmingly it’s lenders who foot the fraud, the lie in the liars loan. But the FBI couldn’t and didn’t investigate any of the major lenders. So it is looking at these relatively small folks, and that is what it reports back. The FBI decides you know, as I said, this cannot work. This is like going to a beach in San Diego and throwing handfuls of sand in the Pacific Ocean and wondering when you are going to be able to walk to Hawaii. Every year, with a million plus cases of fraud a year, if you prosecute a thousand of them or two thousand of them or three thousand of them, you are a million cases further behind every year, right. It is just insane. So the FBI says we got to start going after the big guys at which point Bush’s Attorney General Mukasey says no, he refuses to even create a National Task Force against mortgage fraud"

Jim Puplava: "What about the Obama Administration?

William Black: They never did it. They didn’t even back off. They never, you can tell from the numbers that they have, in how many FBI personnel it takes to do a really sophisticated, large institutional investigation. They have never done what would have been considered a real investigation in the Savings and Loan era of any, any of the major fraudulent lenders and investment banks that created the worthless financial derivates—not worthless, but not worth very much—financial derivatives.

Jim Puplava: What about the Obama Administration? Had they came in, they continued with the same policy basically, they ignored it. Where they could have had let us say, an opportunity. Is it because Professor, that the process is you know, some have said that Congress is bought and paid for by the financial industry. I mean, is that part of the reason?

William Black: Well, it’s not just Congress of course. The President has said that he wants to raise a billion dollars in the reelection effort and despite all the press you may have heard about how the White House is despised by finance—in fact, last I read, a bigger percentage and a bigger absolute dollar amount of contributions in this effort, than in the original effort had come from finance. And so both parties are tremendously beholden to finance. That is part of it but again, the Obama Administration was better than the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration was willing to create a task force and it’s the numbers of FBI Agents have been increased, but they are still looking at relatively small cases. And they are nowhere near the numbers required and so unless something dramatic or radical changes, this is going to be the greatest case of elite fraud with impunity in the history of the world. And it is only going to change if we express our outrage as the people and demand that it is changed. Let me tell you how bad it is. The Federal Housing Finance Administration, has just last week, or about ten days ago now, filed fifteen hundred plus pages of complaints against seventeen financial entities. And about ten of them are among the biggest financial entities in the world saying, every investigation has found repeated enormous fraud at these entities. So, and there is a track record, a paper trail of that fraud. But these entities got reports saying these assets were trash and that they lied and then sold the assets to Fannie and Freddie by making acts of deceit, which is of course, the key element of fraud.

So, now that this has happened, there are really only two possibilities. Either the Federal Housing Finance Administration has gotten all those documents wrong, and there is no such record, or there is such a record in which case, where is the Justice Department, why is it not bringing criminal prosecution against most of the largest banks in the world.

Jim Puplava: not one single prosecution was brought in this entire situation, what is probably the largest fraud committed in history. And yet it still goes on Professor, we still have the financial industry contributing large amounts of money to politicians in both parties, both at the national level, the local level, and so basically, what you have is influence buying here. ... I thought my goodness, there was enough evidence to go after but not one thing was done. And even when a lot of these firms went under, as the shareholders lost everything, the taxpayers losing everything, the guys at the top walked away with some of the biggest bonus packages I’ve seen in my investment career.

William Black: ... The firm failed because you followed the fraud recipe that I gave you, which causes catastrophic losses but their CEO’s and other Senior Officers can walk away incredibly rich. ... So again, if people, I do not understand who have never done this, how absolutely critical the criminal referrals are.


The Administration is not necessarily fighting strong for any, the Dodd Frank Bill was not created and designed to deal with the actual causes of the crisis. And so it most likely will not stop the next crisis. But the focus on legislation is a bit misleading. Under the existing laws and regulation, this was an easy crisis to prevent.


Bernanke was reappointed by President Obama. You know, I tried as little, what one little person could, to stop that. We need to have a complete new crew. Geithner needs to go, Attorney General Holder needs to go, and Bernanke needs to go and we need to put people in who will make a high priority ending the ability to loot institutions with impunity.

December 21, 2011

Here's what I know about Panetta (he was my rep)

Panetta is a former Republican who is a "centrist".

His wiki page gives him credit for authoring legislation to create the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and preventing oil drilling off our coast. I remember it differently...

He was my rep in the 80's when I lived in Santa Cruz (which is part of Monterey Bay). There was a huge push to create that sanctuary, as I remember it the driving force was NOAA. There was a series of regional public comment meetings on the proposals for the sanctuary. I went to the one in Santa Cruz, held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

The presenters gave an overview of the sanctuary, and outlined 3 different choices for sanctuary boundaries. They were mostly about how far from shore the sanctuary would extend, with the two main issues being protecting sensitive habitat and the routes taken by offshore oil tankers. 2 of the 3 routes would have put the sanctuary borders so that they would contain the routes taken by the tankers (spills happen from tankers, they were trying to prevent this from happening). So the tankers would have been pushed further from shore. The 3rd route was placed just inside the tanker routes, so the sanctuary could prevent drilling inside its boundaries but we would receive no further protection from tankers cruising our shores.

There were probably a thousand people in attendance, it was huge, the largest such thing I ever went to. The crowd overwhelmingly supported one of the first two sanctuary boundaries.

Then Panetta's aide (Panetta didn't show up himself) spoke in support of the 3rd choice, where the sanctuary boundaries were drawn just inside the tanker routes to avoid pushing them offshore. He gave no believable explanation for this choice. It was clear they were selling us out, and the aide was literally booed off the stage by an angry crowd, an incredible occurrence that is burned into my brain to this day.

Panetta is also responsible, I think, for the stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan. Those attacks create many more terrorists than they destroy, as many innocent people are wiped from the face of the earth by an unseen attacker from the sky. I can't imagine living in such a circumstance, though I think we'll all experience it someday when armed drones patrol our own skies.

Panetta is no friend of mine, and I have never considered him a Democrat either.

December 19, 2011

Wonderful post

Thank you for taking the time and effort to lay it all out there.

O'Romney Care, an actual REDUCTION of financial prosecutions in the wake of the biggest rip-off in history, a refusal to prosecute the former regime's war crimes and the continuing and dangerous erosion of civil liberties, tax cuts for the rich in a demand-driven depression, increasing medical marijuana prosecutions to aid big pharma's financial interests, a brutal Dept. of Homeland Security coordinated crackdown on Occupy Wall Street and its many affiliates, a new provision that will allow the government to declare these very protesters terrorists and indefinitely detain them without any proof of guilt, continuing a captured regulatory regime, aggressive prosecution of whistle-blowers rather than the crimes they blew the whistle on, letting corporate lobbyists continue to write legislation, arguing against a financial transaction tax in Brussels to the EU, new and expanded "free trade agreements", doing absolutely nothing of substance for the millions of homeowners who are losing their homes, making sure the banksters get theirs while the rest of us get poor, no reinstatement of Glass-Steagal, not putting the exotic financial products on an exchange where they can be regulated, working against the left wing of your own party in favor of corporatist DINOs, delaying or subverting mandates of greenhouse gas reduction in the face of a coming and imminent environmental catastrophe that is very near to reaching a point of no return. This administration's views on education reform are nothing like how I view education. they're trying to produce the most efficient and productive human resources for the unregulated global corporatist labor market (the slogan I think is to "win the future" in a race to the top) rather than producing educated, well-rounded human beings that seek harmony with their world and are capable of critical analyses of the systems they are part of.

For much of the above list, one can argue that a Republican administration would be be a little worse, or that these policies were a result of Republican obstructionism, which is true, in my opinion by design. So the administration is given the cover of "relative merit", paying lip service to the 99% (while sometimes pistol-whipping them) but fully in the pocket of the 1%, the global corporate robber barons who have used the last 30 years of deregulation to accumulate vast wealth. And this administration seems to worship the military as much as the Republicans they replaced, when our nation is broke but not too broke to continue to spend more than the rest of the world combined on its military.

You don't get anywhere good by following this path. You get Geithner, Summers, Petraeus, the Clintons and their global corporate agendas running the State Department, you get Holder who is an utterly worthless A.G. for anyone on the left, you get the D.L.C. with the logo scrubbed from the masthead but the policies are all there.

There's a fundamental that really exists (in my mind anyway, seems quite real and fundamental to me), no matter how relatively people wish to frame the election, the fundamental that overrides the relative comparisons is that this fundamentally isn't good enough. We have incredible problems, and the administration we fought so hard to elect isn't fixing them. It's not even fighting for the right fixes, it's continuing in the same wrong direction.

Why? They may be true believers in the emerging oligarchy, they may be too wary of offending their corporate donors, or they may have seen the Zapruder film. Either way, they're not on my side. They will try to sound like they're on my side, especially when elections come around, but behind the scenes they're smoking cigars with the fat cats, comfortably enjoying their membership in the club of the global elites and all of its perks, rather than putting on comfortable shoes and marching with the people in their hour of great need (and I mean truly fighting for us to the degree that the situation demands, not campaign rallies or photo ops).

I am a Democrat, and the policies I believe in are much closer to what I think of historically as the Democratic Party than the policies this administration (and before that the similar, though probably better, Clinton administration) apparently believes in.

So, for me, it's not whether they're a little better than the alternative. The slower, more gentile approach to oligarchy (and that's what it is) might more successfully get us to that oligarchy than the more transparent and clumsy Republicans, whose inability to disguise their policies would lead to massive uprisings and fierce resistance. The likeable Obamas and their very reasonable and intelligent discourse could be a better vehicle for the oligarchs than the thugs on the other side. And of course the thugs are always there to validate the "these guys are better" meme that is so effective in winning support for the administration (this applies to the down-ticket races too, not just the administration).

So I really think we have to fight, with all of our resources, for something better, no matter the odds. People will always tell us it can't be done, or it's impractical, or we're enabling the other side. I don't agree with that line of thinking. I think it's all a game of good cop - bad cop, the Democrats are the ones who are allowed to keep some degree of credibility with the general public while they institutionalize the extreme measures championed by the dangerous Republicans. We won't get anywhere we want to go with either one, it's a false choice and a fatal one if we keep making it.

What to do?

Primary from the left at every opportunity. I can't stress that enough.

Work for constitutional amendments to get corporate money out of elections and to overturn corporate personhood. Occupy the streets.

Don't accept the "good cop" Obama without fighting like all hell for someone who truly represents our interests.

Finally, we have to Occupy the Democratic Party, take it back from the corporatists.

They planned this long ago, look into the roots of the DLC and the corporate Democrats if you don't believe me, our party has been co-opted and our country has been destroyed. It's up to us to take it back. We'll probably fail, but the road we've been on for 30 years is a guaranteed fail. We need to realize the scope of the mess we're in and fight with everything we've got. Our children's future depends on it. As does our planet, and as insane as that sounds, it's no exaggeration.

December 19, 2011

After the difference between how he campaigned in 2008...

and how he's governed, I think we as a party have no self-respect if we don't do everything in our power to primary him from the left.

I can see that it ain't gonna happen (barring a miracle), but that doesn't diminish the need for it to happen.

I watched Democracy Now (as usual) during the week they were broadcasting from the recent climate change summit in South Africa. The whole week, it was one person after another with their jaw wide open (or their jaw clamped fearfully shut) wondering why the hell the U.S. wouldn't get out of the way of meaningful greenhouse gas reduction. Finally one of them spoke up and said behind the scenes they are calling him George W. Obama, because his policies re climate change are pretty much identical.

This is true on issue after issue. Those that don't agree are entitled to their opinion, as I am to mine. But this president is an order of magnitude worse than anything I can support in good conscience. His policies aren't even in the correct direction, they're just getting us to the same horrible places, perhaps a little slower and boiling us frogs a little more gradually than the inartful Republicans would do.

When the general election comes around, I have no idea if I'll vote for Obama or not. Probably not, I don't think I can. For me the primaries are where it's at. We need to take this party back from the corporations, who could not care less about any of us unless there's a buck to be made. There's no way around it, they rule by coercion, by deceit, by eliminating all meaningful alternatives, and by the brute force of their wealth.

We must Occupy the Democratic Party, because the party has shown itself incapable or unwilling to serve the interests of the 99%, which is its raison d'etre.

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