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Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

The Money Masters Live in Fear

February 9, 2012 10 comments



“Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce…and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.” – President James Garfield, 2 weeks before his assassination.

Most people in the United States have long suspected that a “shadow government” exists and that the real power in the country resides in that dark location, not in our elected government. The citizens instinctively know that our elected officials are really nothing more than the hired servants of the money masters and are beholden to them if they wish to retain their positions of power.

International Swaps & Derivatives Association ISDA

A quick look at the curtain which they hide behind reveals one shadowy organization that represents the interests of these money masters, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association also known as ISDA. The officers and directors of this organization include some of the largest hedge funds and most of the major banks in the world including the largest banks in the United States. One of the purposes of the ISDA is determine if a “credit event” is actually a default. If a “credit event” is declared to be a default, then Credit Default Swap (CDS) contracts come into play.

Most people have heard of Credit Default Swaps and derivatives, but are not quite sure of what they really are. Before I can continue with this article, I will present a short description of these two financial instruments. Please bear with me on this as things will get interesting shortly.

Credit Default Swaps (CDS) can be generally considered to be insurance policies issued by banks (sellers) and taken out by investors (buyers) to protect against failure among their investments. The problem with them is that while insurance companies are regulated to make sure that the companies have the ability to pay their claims, the CDS issued by the bankers are largely unregulated.

Derivatives are financial instrument whose value is based on the value of another financial instrument. If one looked at a football team: it owns the stadium, has contracts with players, has advertising rights, has television contracts etc. Each one of these is an economic entity capable of generating income. Derivatives could be considered the bets that people place on these teams. (Credit Default Swaps are a form of derivatives).

So what do derivatives and Credit Default Swaps have to do with all this, how do they affect people on the street, and why are the money masters so concerned about them?

Take a look at the ,following table in a report created by the Bank of International Settlements.

Derivatives keep growing

Source: Bank for International Settlements

If you look at the highlighted area, you will see that the total value of Credit Default Swaps for 2011 is a staggering $32,409 BILLION dollars! That is $32 TRILLION, with a “T”! To put this into perspective the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States in 2010 — the total value of all the goods and services generated in the entire country that year — was $14.6 trillion. The amount of credit default swaps held by the banks dwarfs the entire economic output of the United States. There is no way in hell that these banks could ever pay even a small fraction of these claims. The TOTAL amounts of derivatives is a staggering $707 TRILLION plus a measly few hundred billion more. This entire system is a house of cards just waiting for a single card to fall. There is not enough money on this planet to cover these contracts.

A report by the Comptroller of the Currency has the nation’s five largest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, and Goldman Sachs — holding nearly 95 percent of the industry’s total exposure to derivatives contracts. This means the 5 largest banks are on the hook for over $30,000 billion for just the CDS they issued.

This is where it starts to get interesting.

Remember earlier in this article I stated that one of the purposes of the ISDA is to determine if a “credit event” is actually a default? If a “credit event” is declared to be a default, then Credit Default Swap (CDS) contracts come into play. Think about this, the very same banks that would have to pay the claims by those who bought these contracts, are in the position of determining if a “credit event” is really a default. All the banks have to do is to NOT declare any default and they do not have to pay! If they did have to pay, and then the house of cards would collapse. The big banks would immediately be insolvent and the money masters live in fear of this.

This lack of a declared default by the ISDA is exactly what brought down MF Global which was speculating heavily on European bonds. What ultimately happened was that an agreement was reached in Europe that that investors would have to take a write-down of 50% on Greek Bond debt. Now MF Global was leveraged anywhere from 40 to 1, to 80 to 1 depending on whose figures you believe. Let’s assume that MF Global was leveraged 40 to 1, this means that they could not even absorb a small 3% loss, so when the “haircut” of 50% was agreed to, MF Global was finished. It tried to stem its losses by criminally dipping into segregated client accounts, and we all know how that ended with clients losing their money.


MF Global may well be just the tip of the iceberg on what still awaits us.

However, MF Global thought that they had risk-free speculation because they had bought these CDS from these big banks to protect themselves in case their bets on European Debt went bad. MF Global should have been protected by its CDS, but since the ISDA would not declare the Greek “credit event” to be a default, MF Global could not cover its losses, causing its collapse.

Think about this for a minute, if you or I paid 50% of our mortgage payment, this would certainly be declared a default. However, in the Greek bond write-down the ISDA did not declare it a default. What you essentially have here is a situation where the banks controlling the ISDA and are essentially determining their own fate.

Now with the talk in Europe being that investors may have to take a write down of 70% on some European debt, will that be declared a default? I doubt it, again because that would drive the 5 biggest banks in the United States into insolvency. The problem becomes, at what point does the ISDA declare a default? At 70%, at 80% , or at 100% if Greece or another country just walk away from their debt? Once a default is declared by the ISDA, the banks are done, and the money masters know this! The conflict of interest in this situation is clear. These banks got to write the insurance , get paid the premiums and yet they have total control over whether they will have to pay.

The money made by selling these derivatives is directly responsible for the huge profits and bonuses we now see on Wall Street. The money masters have reaped obscene profits from this scheme, but now they live in fear that it will all unravel and the gravy train will end. What these banks have done is to leverage the system to such an extreme, that the entire house of cards is threatened by a small country of only 11 million people. Greece could bring the entire world economy down. If a default was declared, the resulting payouts would start a chain reaction that would cause widespread worldwide bank failures making the Lehman collapse look small by comparison.


The ability of these large banks to not pay on the Credit Default Swaps that they wrote, sold and profited from is a travesty. What will happen once other countries like Italy, Spain, and France have bond write downs? This criminal abrogation of contracts exposes something much bigger, the unregulated shadow banking system of derivatives. The Dodd-Frank bill that people thought would regulate the finance industry does little to address the problems of derivatives, largely due to the money masters’ lobbyists that influenced the bought politicians to not put limits on the gravy train. We have a system where: laws are written by the servants of the money masters, the regulators are appointed by these same servants, CDS policies were written by the money masters, premiums were paid to the money masters, fees were taken by the money masters , but no payouts will be permitted by the money masters. Do not expect the paid politicians or regulators to do anything about this.

These titans of Wall Street do not answer to any government or to the public. They have set us all up for a second financial crisis far worse than in 2008. These money masters are humanity’s worst enemy. This is another example of a paper game they have created to enrich themselves, but puts the entire world at risk.


Well, these Masters of the World will be having a themselves a get-together to plan the future of their world.

*The ISDA 27th Annual General Meeting will be held on April 30-May 2, 2012 in Chicago.

*This will be followed by the G8 summit meeting in Chicago on May 19 and May 20.

*Then this will be followed by the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20 and May 21.

During 9-11, it was said that our security services failed to connect the dots. However, here we have a situation where if you analyze this carefully, it is easy to connect the dots.

There is a reason that the ISDA meetings are held first. The G8 and NATO events are the window dressing for public consumption. The real decisions will be made by the money masters so their meeting needed to be held first. At this meeting, the money masters will develop their marching orders for their puppets, the paid servants who are the political leaders who will be in attendance at the G8 conference.


These puppets at the G8 Conference will then create the marching orders for the militaries that they control. However, all the “big picture” planning will have been developed at the ISDA meetings. The money masters live in fear of an economic collapse that they have brought about and they may have need of a military adventure to distract the masses from their crimes. Of course the paid servants will go along with this plan because they do not want to do anything that would change their positions of power. Watch for signs of a bogeyman country orchestrated by the mass media to whip up frenzy in support of war, or possibly even a false flag attack. This media campaign will be another symptom of the fear of the money masters.

The militaries will do what they always do and will blindly follow their orders. The NATO meeting will be used to develop the planning for the execution of the orders developed by the money masters.

With the continued austerity being imposed on the world by these bankers and their agencies such as the IMF, World Bank, and their hired servants our political leaders, a meeting of so many tools in one location is a natural magnet for protestors who are tired of the corruption and greed in the system. The demonstrators will be targeting the puppeteers, not just the puppets.


It is not difficult to imagine that the money masters do not want any of these meetings to be disrupted and that plans have already been made for an overwhelming police presence. There have already been reports of joint military exercises between the Los Angeles police and the military. You can count on the fact that the 1st Amendment will sustain “collateral damage”.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, has speculated that since the NDAA was opposed by the agencies in the national security establishment including the FBI, NSA, that what might be driving these military exercises is the fear that the bankers do not trust the police to protect them if things turn south.

“And I think, without question, the corporate elites understand that things, certainly economically, are about to get much worse. I think they’re worried about the Occupy movement expanding. And I think that, in the end—and this is a supposition—they don’t trust the police to protect them, and they want to be able to call in the Army.” – Chris Hedges

It is no mistake that Chicago was chosen for the site of these meetings. The powers that be know that the police will meet the protests with violence, but in Illinois, it is illegal to record the police. So the documentation of violence perpetrated in the protection of the interests of the money masters will be significantly reduced. The choice of Chicago for the site of these meetings is another example of the fear of the money masters.


The number and behavior of law enforcement as well as the myriad of other security agencies that will be present during these Chicago meetings will certainly be an indicator of the level of fear that the money masters are feeling as the world they have created on a foundation of theft, fraud, leverage and debt crumbles around them.

The Occupy Movement has been shining a light into the dark recesses that these money masters inhabit. The movement represents a real threat to their privileged positions as the public becomes more and more aware of the fraud and greed perpetrated by them, as they continue to extract even more money from the public. The money masters had their paid servants, the politicians evict the Occupiers from their parks in most cities across the United States. Another example of the fear the money masters have.

But…..

These money masters know now that all they accomplished was to scatter the movement which ultimately only strengthened it even more. The message is now quietly spreading to college campuses and to communities where foreclosures are being fought (further threatening the bottom lines of these same bankers). Every time that the hired politicians send their enforcers, the police to violently repress the movement, the movement grows in strength.

The money masters live in fear that they will not escape the blame for creating the next economic crisis as conditions continue to worsen. The money masters know that nothing has changed since the 2008 collapse and that the number of derivatives has actually grown since then (see chart). You would think that the bankers would have learned their lesson, instead with their myopic focus on their own wealth and greed the derivatives grew to significantly higher levels. These money masters now live in fear of the repercussions of these actions.

Eventually even the police will realize that their pensions are being raided by these money masters. The money masters have been manipulating their politician puppets to enact “pension reforms” that hide their theft in the name of “necessary cutbacks”. The money masters live in fear that ultimately even the police will refuse to protect their interests.

The money masters live in fear that the Occupy Movement will awaken the country from its deep sleep, and that the wrath of the people will turn against these sociopaths who have so manipulated the system in order to enrich themselves with no regard for anyone else. They may have their psychological and physical bunkers to hide in, but the very fact that they need these bunkers, shows their fear.

For more articles by many authors on economic, social, justice, media, and community issues:
http://www.endtheillusion.org

The Corporate States of America

money in politicsAmericans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a “hidden hand” directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The “hidden hand” was actually the corporations, unions, and other special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with the limits that have been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns.

Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in a case of unbelievable overreach removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. These 5 justices have just opened the floodgates and the strangle hold the banks have over the nation’s wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling that has totally removed all limits on campaign financing by corporations. This black day will go ultimately go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The amounts of money spent on the 2010 midterm elections was a record, and the amounts that will be spent on the 2012 presidential elections are projected to total $BILLIONS!

money = freedom

In its impartial majesty the Supreme Court rules that the poor as well as the rich can spend unlimited money to influence elections


The flawed logic they used was that this was a freedom of speech issue. These 5 justices have just declared corporations now have 1st amendment rights, the same as individuals. It is ironic that it is the conservative wing of the court, the same wing that consistently calls for “judicial restraint” and rails against anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution, was the one that overturned decades of precedent. Where in the constitution did our founding fathers give corporations the right to freedom of speech? Where were corporations even mentioned in the constitution?

We all know too well what happened when our nation deregulated the financial industry and told us that “the market” will regulate itself. These 5 men have now totally deregulated money in politics and have left it to the “market” to regulate itself. We have already seen what deregulation of the financial industry did to our economy. These deregulators said the market could regulate itself.It does not take much forward thinking to envision the consequences of this disastrous decision. The special interest groups were handed a late Christmas present and are already gearing up to flood the political campaigns with money from their profits. The corporations will move quickly to complete their stranglehold on the media and then leverage this to their advantage. Fred Werthheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work for all Americans stated: "With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy"

If the nation does somehow survive this handing of the government to the corporations, this decision will go down in history as even worse than the Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson monumental errors of the past. The 5 justices that recklessly voted for removing all limits to corporate campaign spending: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy will rightly be held in the same regard as those who voted for these other two decisions.

In the 2008 election cycle, nearly $6 billion was spent on all federal campaigns, including more than $1 billion from corporate political action committees, trade associations, executives and lobbyists. This $6 billion figure does not include state and local races. Now consider how much money we will be talking about here, now that the labor unions and corporations can spend unlimited amounts in both Federal and State elections. We will now have wholesale buying of elections by corporations with their vast financial resources. The door has also been opened for foreign corporations to have a say in our elections now. You can now also expect these corporations to move quickly to attempt to finalize their control of the media and use the media along with their money to “inform” the citizenry of the issues. While the electorate was distracted by the staged left vs right, Democrat vs Republican, conservative vs liberal fights, we have actually just had a coup take place where the corporations have taken over the country. This ruling does not really favor any party because in the end it will not matter what party the candidate is from, they will have been bought. Have you noticed that the corporate media did not give this huge event much coverage?

Corruption of our electoral process
Monica Youn, who directs the campaign finance reform/money in politics project at New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice, said that with this decision the Supreme Court has essentially armed the corporations with a potent weapon, these corporations may not even have to spend that much money. What could easily happen is that the corporations will now have the THREAT of a massive media campaign against politicans that may not do their bidding. This mere potential of a massive campaign of negative ads will probably be enough to make the majority of politicans reconsider their positions. This is like having a negotiation between 2 parties in a room where one of the parties has a weapon and the other does not. The party with the weapon does not need to actually need to wield it to get the desired results, just knowing that it is there is enough. So much for politicians doing the right thing. The corporations will now have even more clout in the legislatures than before and this is without even spending any additional money.

With the broad language that the Supreme Court opinion was written, it may well be almost impossible to draft new legislation to overcome this ruling. Of course, do you really believe that our politicians will even be willing to do pass effective reform legislation now that this new ruling is in place and it favors incumbents even more strongly than before? Our politicians are like drug addicts that are totally dependent on these large sums of special interest money to maintain themselves in power. They will do almost anything to maintain their power.

As if this Supreme Court decision was not bad enough, the nation suffers from a lack of transparency when it comes to trying to follow the money. Deliberate attempts are made to hide and obfuscate the information so that the electorate remains uninformed.

  • Did you know that the Senate deliberately exempted itself from filing campaign finance reports electronically? This slows down the process of determining who is actually making contributions and expenditures by making research a very arduous process of having to read thousands of pages by hand, or having to retype them into a form that can be indexed and readily searched.
  • Did you know that the government’s new “open government” site http://www.data.gov, doesn’t even contain data on campaign contributions, lobbyist filings, statistics on warrantless searches or even committee assignments?
  • Did you know that here is no indexing of the thousands of hours of House and Senate recordings? You would have to listen for days before you could find what you are searching for.
  • Years after the problems with electronic ballots not having a voter verifiable paper audit trail were made public, we still allow these machines to count votes without verifiable paper trails despite the fact that it has been proven that they are easily manipulated. Regardless of your political beliefs, it is crucial for our democracy that the integrity of election results be considered fair and impartial.

It may well be that we have now lost our democracy, but there may still be some hope. Since we can no longer place limits on corporate campaign funding, we need to do the following:

  1. We need to demand TOTAL TRANSPARENCY. We need legislation passed immediately before the next election cycle goes into full swing, where all campaign funding is placed on the Internet and this data must be completely indexed. It is vital that these databases be directly searchable by each and every sort of variable contained in the original documentation. This will make it easy to cross reference the information and find out exactly who is receiving what and from whom. By creating this standard the American people will be able to make informed decisions about the candidates running for office and whose interests these politicans are really representing.
  2. We need passage of the “Fair Election Now Act” immediately. This legislation has been cosponsored by 120 members in the House, however its companion bill in the Senate has a pitiful 5 cosponsors. It has also been supported by many business leaders who sent a letter to the House Speaker and to the Senate Majority Leader. They understand the need for this reform and are getting tired of politicians constantly calling them for money. This bill would create a voluntary system of public funding of campaigns by supplementing small donations of $100 or less. During an election cycle the voters would be able to determine if a candidate was going to serve the people by using the public system or serve the special interests by not participating in it. Check here to see if your congressional representative is a cosponsor. Check here to see if your Senator is a cosponsor. If they are not, call them and ask them why not.
  3. It is time to pass legislating that any corporate money used for political spending be approved by a majority of the shareholders. This will give the shareholders the ability to control corporate political expenditures. (While we are at it, let’s include language in the legislation about shareholder approval of all compensation and bonus payments as well.)

While passage of the above legislation would not stop all of the corruption of money in politics, it would go a long way to limiting its influence and making it apparent to the voters who is trying to influence their candidates. To make the passage of these legislative bills more likely, it is now incumbent on us to actively support organizations that have been fighting for campaign finance reform and government transparency. The time to mobilize is now, while the issue is hot. If we wait too long, the entrenched interests will put additional barriers in place making harder and harder to enact meaningful reforms. There are many organizations working for political finance reform and government transparency, some of these organizations would include:
Common Cause
Public Citizen
Democracy 21
Follow the Money
Open Secrets
Fair Elections Now

These organizations now need your efforts and financial support more than ever. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher once said, “the price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." If we do not lift ourselves up from our collective apathy, Plato’s words will most certainly become a reality.

Are we solving the ROOT CAUSE of our economic problems?

Are we solving the ROOT CAUSE of our economic problems?

Picture yourself in the following scenario: you are visiting your doctor complaining of abdominal pains, the doctor gives you a prescription for a strong pain killer. Certainly the pain medicine will help you feel better, but does it really solve the problem that caused the pains in the first place? Could this be the result of appendicitis or some other serious condition? You would rightly question the doctor’s judgment. The doctor is treating the SYMPTOMS of the problem, not the ROOT CAUSE.

Yet collectively we are doing exactly the same thing on a national and even international level. Consider the following scenarios:

  • During the health care debate, we witnessed the spectacle of Mitch McConnell (Republican Senator from Kentucky), worrying about the effect that the emerging health care bill would have on health insurance companies. This was coming from a Senator who represents a state with the 5th highest level of poverty in the nation. Why is he so worried about the insurance companies? Would the majority of his constituents have called his office asking him to protect the insurance company profits?
  • AT&T warrantless surveillance

  • When it was discovered that telecommunications companies were illegally spying on citizens of the United States, Jay Rockefeller (Democratic Senator from West Virginia) voted to give these same companies “retroactive immunity” to protect them from the lawsuits that were working their way through the legal system. If no crime was committed, why did they need to receive retroactive immunity? If a crime was committed, why did they receive retroactive immunity? Would the majority of his constituents have called his office and asked him to authorize corporate spying on Americans with no judicial overview?

Of course, these are not the only elected representatives who did this and the examples just cited are only 2 of literally thousands of such efforts by members of both political parties on behalf of the well connected insiders. These efforts worked directly against the interests of the vast majority of their constituents. So, why would these seemingly intelligent people work so blatantly against the interests of the people who they are supposed to represent?

The answer is that all of these people received significant amounts of campaign money from the very corporations who would benefit from their efforts. It turns out that Senator Mitch McConnell received $932,207 from the insurance industry and $2,758,468 from medical professionals over his career. Senator Jay Rockefeller received $42,000 from the telecommunications industry in 2006 while the lawsuits and the bills for immunity were working their way through the legislative process. (Mitch McConnell also strongly supported retroactive immunity for the telecoms and received siginificant sums from them).

Does anyone really think that a regular citizen has the same access to their elected representatives as those corporations who contribute thousands and millions to these campaigns? If you showed up at your elected representative’s office at the same time as a lobbyist, who would get to meet with the elected official first? When it comes time to allocate access, priority will always be given to those with the money. In 2008, the telecommunication industry contributed over $9.4 million–from January 2007 to June 2009, and the insurance industry contributed $46,720,000 in 2008 to politicians in both political parties. In the aftermath of our financial meltdown, we certainly need significant financial regulatory reform, but realistically we cannot possibly hope to have effective financial reform when in 2008 the banking industry contributed $37,242,212, hedge funds contributed $16,993,557, and so on and so on. You have a situation where we have elected representatives sitting on the committees that have jurisdiction over specific industries or issues where these same representatives are receiving huge contributions from those very same companies they are supposed to be regulating.

corruptionLike drug addicts, our politicians have become totally dependent and addicted to these large campaign contributions for their political survival. It is an illusion that we have a government of the people and by the people. Instead, we have devolved into a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. We are moving further and further towards centralizing power and wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people with inside connections. Our elected representatives are not truly our decision makers, but have become mere figureheads on the stage providing a fig leaf of cover to perpetuate the illusion that this government represents the interests of the people. The situation has become so bad that Senator Dick Durbin, Senator from Illinois remarked: "And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."  How else could we have seen the most massive transfer of wealth in human history from the poor and working classes to the same people, banks, and corporations whose bad decisions brought the world economy to its knees?

Think back to the doctor who only prescribed a solution to the SYMPTOM of the problem. In this economic situation, the ROOT CAUSE of the problem is money in politics and any attempt to “fix” the problem without addressing the ROOT CAUSE, is doomed to failure because any “fix” will only address the SYMPTOMS of the problem. Until we have public financing of all political campaigns, without any private or corporate funding we will always have these problems. There are those who might say, that we do not need any more spending since this would add to the deficit and cost more money to the treasury. However, consider how much the “influenced decisions” have cost the nation so far. How many bills were recently passed that were obviously designed to favor a single special interest? Just ponder this very incomplete list:

  • The nation passed deregulation bills such as:
    • Phil GrammThe Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which tore down the firewall banning the banks from gambling with depositors funds. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to have these protections removed?
    • The Commodity Futures Modernization Act which explicitly banned regulation of derivatives, allowing banks like JP Morgan Chase to become the largest derivative holder in the WORLD at $87,362 BILLION! There is not enough money on this planet to bail this out if these gambling debts go bad. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to allow these “financial weapons of mass destruction” to remain totally unregulated and opaque to regulators?  
  • The gutting of America’s manufacturing sector because of one sided trade agreements and tax policies that allow companies to defer and often never pay taxes on foreign-earned profits. So foreign profits of U.S. companies end up taxed at a lower rate than their U.S. income, creating an incentive to invest in foreign factories. The jobs left the country along with the factories. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to have these perverse incentives implemented to move the foundation of economic base to foreign countries?
  • The nation committed over $12,200 BILLION dollars to bailout, backstop, and guarantee the banks and financials.  (I like to use $1000’s of billions, rather than $trillions since it is easier to grasp the unbelievable scale of these numbers.) Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to use their tax dollars to reward the same corporations and people who created the economic mess?
  • How can we have had over a year pass since the economic meltdown, and yet no meaningful regulation of the financial industry has been passed?  Do you really think that a majority of constituents are calling their representative’s office and asking them to refrain from regulating the banks and financials?
  • The “too big to fail” banks have been not only been bailed out, but encouraged to become even bigger. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to allow these big banks to buy up the smaller ones at pennies on the dollar and to provide taxpayer guarantees on any loses they might incur?
  • Almost 2/3 of Americans opposed the TARP bailouts, yet the bailouts passed anyways. We KNOW that a majority of constituents did NOT call their representative’s office and ask them to use their tax dollars to reward the same corporations and people who created the economic mess.
  • follow the money

  • A bankruptcy bill passed in 2005 that forced people to pay credit card and private student loan debt before unpaid child support. The politicians had the audacity to call this the Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to protect the big banks’ already obscene profits?
  • In several states there were efforts to ban labeling milk as free from artificial growth hormone rBST also known as rbGH (synthetic or recombinant bovine growth hormone). I find it hard to believe that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and told them that they did not want to know if there were any artificial growth hormones in the milk their children drank. The good news here is that many of these efforts were defeated as the result of grassroots efforts by organizations such Physicians for Social Responsibility.

  • Efforts to label genetically modified foods have been blocked from passage. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and said that they preferred to be uninformed as to whether the food their families eat have been genetically modified?
  • Larry SummersThe people on the economic team in the current administration such as Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, John Dugan, Gary Gensler, to name just a few, not only missed predicting this economic collapse, but were complicit in enabling the deregulation that made it possible. I doubt that the majority of people who called the White House asked that these Wall Street insiders be part of the decision making team.

  • The Federal Reserve has provided over $2,000 BILLION in free money to the “big” banks by allowing them to “borrow” money at 0%. These banks then “deposit” this money with the Federal Reserve as a “savings account” for which they collect interest, while paying no interest on the “loan”. I would think that a majority of people would like to have sweet deal such as this for themselves.
  • There is very limited transparency as to how the alphabet soup of bailout program funds that were distributed. This invites fraud and corruption. We have a situation where the financial corporations do not even fear the government because they know that their paid off politicians will not call them on this. Even Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional TARP Oversight Panel cannot get the information she needs and is frustrated by the lack of transparency. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to give these big financial institutions a break and allow them to ignore even congressional inquiries?

How did any of the above help most Americans? Would the majority of any elected politicians’ constituents have supported any of the above decisions? Of course not! It was money that influenced these decisions that benefited a small inside group without regard for the vast majority of the workers in this country who actually produce the wealth of the nation. By not having public financing of campaigns, the nation is paying a huge price with the legislation that is being influenced by the private money. To illustrate this point, the big financial companies contributed over $2,300,000 to both presidential candidates during the 2008 campaign. These companies hedged their “bets” by contributing to both candidates, so they would “win” no matter who won the election. When you consider the $thousands of billions committed to these financials, that $2 million was truly a great return on their “investment”.

government for saleThe cost of running publicly financed or at least significantly reformed fund raising in campaigns is miniscule compared to these numbers. The need to build walls between lawmakers and those private interests looking to buy votes is obvious and unfortunately too many of the currently elected politicians are against this because as long as this system is perpetuated, incumbents are at an advantage. This money in politics is the ROOT CAUSE of all of the bad decisions listed above and many, many, more.

There currently limits on the amounts of “hard money” that can be contributed directly to a campaign, however “soft money” can be contributed without limits to organizations that do not directly support specific candidates. An example of soft money is: an ad that says Tom Smith supported cutting Medicare benefits and accepted contributions from some special interest, call Tom Smith and tell him what you think of this. Political Action Committees (PACS) are where unions and corporations provide contributions, but they are limited to $5,000 for a single candidate.

A WARNING

There are dark storm clouds on the horizon. There was recently a case before the United States Supreme Court, The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where the current federal prohibition against corporate campaign contributions was struck down. We are now witnessing a situation where the level of corruption and influence will go from the current very bad, to even worse. This marks a pivotal turning point in this nation’s history where corporate spending on campaigns will notch up exponentially. It will inevitably result in even more bad legislation influenced by the huge increase in corporate campaign spending, and sideline most citizens even more from the political process. Using first amendment arguments, the Supreme Court could actually give corporations equal protection to that of individuals. Where in the constitution did our founding fathers give corporations the same 1st amendment rights as individuals?

So what can you do?

  1. Call your representatives and DEMAND public financing of all political campaigns with strict limits on private funding. Let them know you are a voting constituent and will be watching their actions closely.
  2. Support organizations such as Common Cause, Public Citizen, followthemoney.org, opensecrets.org, youstreet.org, to name just a few.  These organizations are fighting to bring transparency and responsiveness to our government and need your support.
  3. Protest the bailouts, lobbying, as well as the bonuses, by moving your money from the big banks to a small community bank. Can you imagine the effect this would have on congress and the big banks when literally $billions would be withdrawn from their system. Vote with your pocketbook!
  4. Send AIG a message about their lobbying and bonuses by cancelling any policies you have with them and insuring with another more responsible company. Be aware that they have changed their name to 21st Century auto insurance to mask the tarnished image that the AIG name has. It is the same company! Vote with your pocketbook!
  5. Minimize the use your of credit cards. Every time you charge something, the issuing bank makes money from BOTH you and the merchants. With the widespread use of credit cards, the average 2-3% charge to the merchants by the credit card companies amounts to a BANK TAX on all purchases since the merchants have to pass this cost on to the consumer. This BANK TAX is a huge source of income for the big banks. Remember the merchant that charges you less for cash is actually doing you a favor by passing the BANK TAX savings on to you. Patronize merchants who offer this discount. Ask those who do not offer the discount to provide it. Vote with your pocketbook!

Remember, that any “reforms” that do not address money in politics are only nibbling at the edges by treating the SYMPTOMS of the problem like the doctor giving you pain killers,  rather than getting at the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. If enough people follow through with the steps outlined above, we will have the beginnings of a true populist revolt against our current corrupt system that is fueled and sustained by private money. It is time the citizens took control of this fight similar to the way the passengers on the Detroit Christmas flight did. Our government will not do it for us.

Rudy Avizius
http://www.endtheillusion.org

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