Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Governement Spending

“Men…think in herds; …go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses…one by one.” — Charles MackayRepublican Assemblyman Roger Niello‘s recent editorial “Performance Based Budgeting Deserves a Look,” is his bid to appear as a man who has recovered his senses. In it, he reminds us that California’s state budget process is imperfect. The [...]

Pardon Me, Scooter?

elivira-arellano

On July 2, 2007 George W. Bush commuted the sentence of convicted felon and former top White House staffer Scooter Libby for his convictions on five felony counts of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice. He didn’t pardon Libby but, instead, issued a Grant of Executive Clemency before Scooter Libby even served a single [...]

The Stimulus: How to Create Jobs Without Them All Going to Skilled Professionals and White Male Construction Workers

construction_workers

The stimulus plan will create jobs repairing and upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, levees, water and sewage system, public-transit systems, electricity grid, and schools. And it will kick-start alternative, non-fossil based sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and so on); new health-care information systems; and universal broadband Internet access. It’s a two-fer: lots of [...]

Momma, Let Your Kids Grow Up to Be…Accountants!

accountants

Times are not tough everywhere. Indeed, The Big Four accounting firms: Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported annual combined 2008 global earnings in excess of $102 (US) billion and a blended growth rate of almost 16%. $102,775,000,000. Shall we let that sink in whilst you catch your breath? The 581,423 people [...]

Stimulus Plan: The Need and the Size

sinkingeconomy

The core problem we face is not access to capital. The Treasury has already flooded Wall Street and the banking system with money, committing nearly $350 billion; the Federal Reserve Board has exchanged Treasury bills for some $2.2 trillion of troubled assets; other agencies, such as the FDIC, have guaranteed trillions more. But there has [...]

Thoughts on the End of a Hell of a Year

2009

The biggest thing to happen to me this year was the birth of my first grandchild, a little girl named Ella. I know this kind of thing happens all the time and frankly I get bored with people who go all gushy about the birth of kids or grandkids.

The Debate to Come over Wall Street, Autos, and Everything Else: Cyclical or Structural?

problem

by Robert Reich – First prediction for 2009: A widening gap between the public’s view of the bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit, and the views of the direct beneficiaries. The public believes the bailouts will permanently change these industries, but industry insiders don’t really want to change.

The Housing Bubble Continues to Burst

waiting_for_santa

by Robert Reich – The National Association of Realtors said today that home prices have now dropped to the point where they’ve wiped out all the gains in housing prices since 2004. 2004, not incidentally, was when interest rates last hit bottom, and the Feds looked the other way while mortgage bankers began shoving money [...]

The Logic of Keynes in Today’s World

jobs

by Robert Reich – Not long ago I was talking to someone who once had been a deficit hawk but the current recession had turned into a full-blooded Keynesian. He wanted a stimulus package in the range of $500 to $700 billion. “Consumers are dead in the water,” he said, fervently, “so government has to [...]

The Grapes Of Writhing

falling-vault

Should we pity the rich? For the first time in the lives of many of them, they are in as much financial trouble as the middle class, poor, and working poor. It just shows up differently. Friends from the days when I lived in Manhattan are writing increasingly gloomy e-mails saying that there are so [...]

Masters of the Universe No More

opulence

By Denis Campbell – New York City suburb, Greenwich, Connecticut, has 55 houses for sale asking $9 million dollars or more. Staff at East Hampton Airport on Long Island, a scene of private Gulfstream jet gridlock, says traffic is down 35%. Bettridge Jewelers on Wall Street sees traffic mostly selling off jewels to make mortgage [...]

White House and TARP to the Rescue — of Automakers, but not of States and Locales

detroit-flying

by Robert Reich – What now for the automakers? The Troubled Assets Relief Program — TARP — was enacted to save Wall Street but it’s already been so twisted out of its original shape by Hank Paulson that a bit more twisting to save the Big Three from bankruptcy over the next few weeks won’t [...]

Are We Courting a Populist Backlash?

auto-wave

by Robert Reich – The government is doing a lousy job helping distressed homeowners. And according to John Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency, the little that’s been done has had surprisingly little effect. Nearly 36 percent of homeowners holding mortgages whose terms were adjusted to give them more leeway defaulted on payments within three [...]

Shall We Call It a Depression Now?

economy

by Robert Reich – Friday’s employment report, showing that employers cut 533,000 jobs in November, 320,000 in October, and 403,000 in September — for a total of over 1.2 million over the last three months — begs the question of whether the meltdown we’re experiencing should be called a Depression.

Slavery, American Style, Must Go!

world-balloon

ho says there are no slaves in America? The greatest domestic issue facing President-elect Obama is not the bailout of the bankers and insurers but the task of lifting tens of millions of hard-working American wage-slaves out of dire poverty. These are the folks who hold one – and sometimes two or even three – [...]

Bail Out the Big Three and Revitalize the Economy

1947_cadillac_series_62_convertible

by John Paul Rossi – The other week, the appeal of the Big Three’’s executives for a $25 billion taxpayer bailout for their desperately ailing firms failed. Neither the fractious lame duck Congress, nor the Bush administration were willing to help.

Another Great Depression?

great-depression

The United States is in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The question is: How close are we to another Great Depression? The answer is: Very close. Here’s why. The Great Depression was the result of the combination of the 1929 financial crisis and serious structural problems in the American [...]

How Obama Is Already Taking Charge

by Robert Reich – Obama’s immediate challenge is to fill the leadership vacuum created by a lame-duck president with historically-low approval ratings who seems to have lost interest in his job (at this writing, he’s out of the country) and who’s disappeared from the media, and a Treasury chief who has all but punted on [...]

The Costs of War: Missing in Action

vietnam veteran

Social workers invariably cite values such as social justice, inclusiveness, and respect for self-determination when advocating for domestic needs such as health care and other issues. What is missing from the agenda is an effort to address the costs of war that rob domestic programs of their full potential.

A Bottom-Up Bailout Rather Than Trickle-Down

Hank Paulson has just about burned through $300 billion, and it’s not clear what the public has got out of it. Perhaps things would be worse without the bailout but they’re certainly no better. Wall Street banks have not significantly stepped up their loans to small businesses, college students, car buyers, or distressed homeowners. Much [...]

The Mini Depression and the Maximum-Strength Remedy

by Robert Reich – This is not the Great Depression of the 1930s, but nor is it turning out to be merely a bad recession of the kind we’ve experienced periodically over the last half century. Call it a Mini Depression.

Now Greenspan Tells Us!

Whoops! My bad. Sorry. In effect, this is what former Fed chair Alan Greenspan is telling members of the House Committee of Government Oversight and Reform today by admitting he was wrong about unfettered free markets regulating themselves.

Proposition 7 – California, We Must Get Moving!

by Laurette Healey – Today I spent more time than I should have writing a response to Craig Noble of the NRDC who’s Guest Article on California ’s Progress Report was posted on October 18, 2008. I think that both Mr. Noble’s article and my commentary will give many of you a better understanding of [...]

How Spreading the Wealth Rescued a Mother Thanks to CODEPINK and ANP

As corporate media reports obsessively on Joe The Plumber, who misrepresented himself to Barack Obama saying he’d be victimized by Obama’s tax plan, Americans more in need than Joe are being victimized for REAL everyday – not in hypothetical ways like Joe’s imagined fears of paying rich people’s taxes even though he isn’t rich. But [...]

American Dream Kills Six, Nearly Seven, In One Day

The Karthik Rajaram family was living the American dream in Sorrento Pointe, a gated community in the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains 23 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

7-7-7 Jackpot! Whoops, Slot Machine’s Empty

$9,897,708,003,650.45 is the current national debt jackpot and we all lose! Our country’s real owners the Congress said to its pretend owners, the voters, then the one’s propping up the economy, the Chinese, Saudis and Japanese investors buying up our debt and the those controlling the purse strings, the bankers lending to our businesses to [...]

Economic Bailout for Dummies

The rhetoric of fear made its way into the election as still President Bush (for 111 more days) put on his serious face, stared into the camera, and lied to bail out his Wall Street pals just like he did for his oil buds six years earlier. They need us to buy into this Ponzi [...]

The Bailout: The Really Small Print Is Really, Really Scary

Assuming that the Bush-Paulson Wall Street bailout gets changed drastically by the time it’s passed, we can all tip our hat to Mother Jones. With everyone on the Hill screaming about the power grab Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is trying to engineer, the magazine’s Nomi Prins deserves a deep thanks for noticing the really, really, [...]

Fiction Is Better Than This Reality

“What will be the next thing that challenges us? That makes us work harder and go farther? You know, when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of this century. Surely, we can do it again. As we did in the time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with [...]

Paulson, Bernanke, Try Hustling Congress

Wimpie

Here we go again. As the Bush administration did with the Patriot Act and Iraq War resolution, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke spent today trying to hustle Congress into new territory using the familiar administration tactic of hysteria. Fortunately, this time it looks as if more than a few members have read the fine print [...]

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