Eliminating the ‘99%’ Can Lead to a Better Message for Social Justice

 

 

by WALTER BRASCH

 

It’s time to retire the 99 percent.

Not the people, but the slogan that identifies the Occupy Movement.

“We’re the 99 percent” slogan focused upon two completely different groups of people. The 99 percent are the masses, the impoverished, the disenfranchised, the middle class; the 1 percent refers to the concentration of wealth in the top one percent of the population and in the dominance of large corporate and global financial systems.  

The Movement, following the Arab Spring, began in the late summer of 2011 with the Occupy Wall Street protest. Central to the Movement, which quickly expanded into more than 500 American cities and 82 countries, was a call for social and economic justice.

During the 2007 Great Recession, the accumulated wealth of the 1 percent decreased significantly less than the wealth of the 99 percent, large numbers of whom first became unemployed and then homeless because of the tactics of greed led by the financial empires.

Within the 1 percent are CEOs and executives of the banking industry that willingly took government bailout funds, and then used some of that money to give six and seven figure bonuses.

The 1 percent includes Ina R. Drew, chief investment officer for JPMorgan Chase, which lost $2 billion in funds through misguided investment policies. Drew, one of Wall Street’s power players—and widely recognized as one of the more brilliant financial managers—earned about $14 million in salary. Jamie Dimon, in a stockholder meeting this past week, humbled by the huge loss, told stockholders, “This should never have happened. I can’t justify it. Unfortunately, these mistakes were self-inflicted.” But, Dimon, both the chief executive officer and the chairman of the board, kept his job and its $23 million salary.

The 1 percent also includes Mitt Romney, who earned about $21 million in 2010, and has a net worth of about $230 million, according to Forbes, but hasn’t filed his 2011 taxes. Somehow, he wants the people to believe he will bring the nation out of the depths of the Great Recession, but needs an extension to file his own taxes.

The 1 percent also includes right-wing celebrity mouth Rush Limbaugh, who is in the middle of an eight year $400 million contract that allows him to spew lies, hate, and venom at anyone who doesn’t agree with his ultra-conservative philosophy, which includes Occupiers and just about anyone with a social, environmental, and economic conscience.

The 1 percent includes Sarah Palin, once an obscure politician who now has a net worth of about $14 million, most of it the result of her participation in the mainstream media, which she claims she despises. 

The 1 percent includes the Kardashian Sisters whose souls are wrapped in self-adulation, and who are worshipped by millions who have enhanced their importance by watching reality shows and reading vapid celebrity “tell-all” newspapers and magazines.

But the 1 percent also includes billionaire Warren Buffet, who is leading a movement to reduce tax loopholes and increase taxes on the rich, while improving the tax structure for the 99 percent.

The 1 percent includes Bill and Melissa Gates who are spending most of their fortune to improve the education and health of people throughout the world.

The 1 percent includes George Clooney, who has been at the forefront of the fight for justice in Darfur, whose citizens have been the victims of genocide by the Sudanese government.

The 1 percent includes Angelina Jolie who is Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and who has put her money and time into helping the world’s children.

The 1 percent includes Ed Asner, Bono, Mike Farrell, Bette Midler, Sean Penn, Rob Reiner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand, and thousands of other millionaire celebrities who have willingly put their reputations and money on the line to fight for the important social, economic, and political causes that should be the ones that define America as a land of freedom and opportunity, and which would be supported by most of the nation’s Founding Fathers. 

In contrast, the 99 percent isn’t composed solely of the victims of the 1 percent. Millions are as uncaring, as greedy, as self-centered as some of those in the 1 percent. Millions are racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Millions follow Tea Party philosophies that selfishly place the health and welfare of the people secondary to a belief that cutting spending, except for the military, will solve all problems. It is a philosophy that, if left unchallenged, would force even greater misery to the American Middle Class and underclass, and lead to destroying the balance of nature and the environment.

“We are the 99 percent” slogan, coupled with non-violent protest in the face of several violent police incidents, had served the Movement well, but its time is over. The Movement can no longer be an “us versus them” philosophy that has become divisive. It must now migrate to one that includes all people who are willing to fight for social, political, and economic justice in the Army of Conscience.

[Walter Brasch—as writer and activist—has been a part of the movement for social, political, and economic justice for more than four decades. His current book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, the story of an activist and her relationship with a journalist over a 25 year period from 1964 to 1991, the eve of the Persian Gulf War.]

 

 

 

 

Extacy of Gold

Gold doesn’t have the capacity to do anything that the Federal Reserve Bank can do to regulate inflation or deflation. Gold doesn't allow money supply to keep up with money creation, which is what happens in a sound economy. Gold is a limited supply commodity that is finite. It won't reach to cover the United States economy and there ain’t a prayer that it can cover the world's economy. Deflation has economic problems that can be just as bad as inflation. If we tried to use it as our currency, we would have massive deflation. Massive deflation leads to money hording rather than investing and banks can’t lend because the value of things are going down. Deflation is mostly associated with depressions.

Let me explain. Remember when real estate was the only sure bet investment? It had real… estate value. You could pass it down to your children. You could live on it, or in it. It had physical size and was tangible. However, its value went up and up and up, far beyond its real affordability. Why? How?

See below...

There's more...

It’s Time for Sharia Law for Bankers

So how’s that deregulated, free-market banking industry working out for ya’? If you’re one of the saps who can’t pay your mortgage – in many cases because of the financial crisis wrought by crappy loans from crappy banks on stupid bets – not so good.

Apparently, the nation’s largest banks can’t figure out how to properly foreclose on homes. Although, you’d think they had enough practice to do it in their sleep.

Oops, I forgot. These are the financial wizards who claim the collapse was a huge surprise to them. The ones who’ve claimed foreclosure is the “moral” thing to do. The ones who break into homes to change locks before the home is even in foreclosure.  I guess the light from their sky-high bonuses blinded them to reality and civil behavior.

Robbie the Robo-Signer
In a demonstration of the alleged efficiency of the private sector, Bank of America and others used “robo-signers” – people who sometimes sign as many as 6,000 foreclosures a week -  to OK them without even looking at the paper work. The problem has reached such epic proportions B of A has decided to stop all foreclosures until they can get their house in order. Several other banks are set to join them soon.

Harry Reid’s (D-Dipshitvada) response was to “thank Bank of America for doing the right thing” – which is like thanking a drunk driver for only maiming you because he hit the brakes and would’ve otherwise killed you.

Closer to the proper analysis is Tom Domonoske, a lawyer and consumer advocate in Virginia. Domonoske says the foreclosure experience is much like the predatory lending schemes that tanked the economy. “It’s the same process, falsifying documents to make them look acceptable to someone. They’re falsifying foreclosure documents so judges will look at them and say, ‘Here’s an affidavit. It’s signed.”

All the worse is that a bipartisan bill (finally bipartisanship!) making foreclosures much more difficult on homeowners comes across the President’s desk soon. He promises to veto it.

It’s not that there isn’t plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Many homeowners stupidly took on more debt than they could pay or believed slithery predatory lenders when they said being in debt ass over teakettle was all the rage. “Hey, it’s trendy! Everybody’s doing it!”

Wing-Tipped Wolverines
But despite the banks and government trying to foist the whole sad adventure onto the homeless and soon to be homeless, they look more like the super jackwads. Republicans never saw a regulation they liked. Bushbama never saw a regulation they’d enforce. And, Congress never saw a reason to nip these crapweasels in the bud during their “irrationally exuberant” phase. Everything had to collapse – something any mouse with a human brain saw coming long before it got here – for them to do anything.

And when they did something, it was to the banks’ benefit.

Here’s the thing. Government wouldn’t have to regulate banks (or any other industries) if the industries stopped doing stupid, disingenuous, and dishonest things. Most of the regulations we already have were put there to corner the wing-tipped bastards like wolverines in rut.

Now the answer everyone looks for is more regulation – regulation that gives the wolverines a nice feather bed to lay upon. We don’t need no more stinkin’ regulations, we need to enforce the ones we have…with extreme prejudice.

Since Sharron Angle thinks Sharia law is taking over the country, lets do Mohamed proud. Any banker caught breaking the rules should have his hand cut off for stealing and we should keep hacking body parts until they look like Monty Python’s blood-spurting knight.

That way, it’ll be a lot easier to run from them when they try to steal the shirt off your back.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

It’s Time for Sharia Law for Bankers

So how’s that deregulated, free-market banking industry working out for ya’? If you’re one of the saps who can’t pay your mortgage – in many cases because of the financial crisis wrought by crappy loans from crappy banks on stupid bets – not so good.

Apparently, the nation’s largest banks can’t figure out how to properly foreclose on homes. Although, you’d think they had enough practice to do it in their sleep.

Oops, I forgot. These are the financial wizards who claim the collapse was a huge surprise to them. The ones who’ve claimed foreclosure is the “moral” thing to do. The ones who break into homes to change locks before the home is even in foreclosure.  I guess the light from their sky-high bonuses blinded them to reality and civil behavior.

Robbie the Robo-Signer
In a demonstration of the alleged efficiency of the private sector, Bank of America and others used “robo-signers” – people who sometimes sign as many as 6,000 foreclosures a week -  to OK them without even looking at the paper work. The problem has reached such epic proportions B of A has decided to stop all foreclosures until they can get their house in order. Several other banks are set to join them soon.

Harry Reid’s (D-Dipshitvada) response was to “thank Bank of America for doing the right thing” – which is like thanking a drunk driver for only maiming you because he hit the brakes and would’ve otherwise killed you.

Closer to the proper analysis is Tom Domonoske, a lawyer and consumer advocate in Virginia. Domonoske says the foreclosure experience is much like the predatory lending schemes that tanked the economy. “It’s the same process, falsifying documents to make them look acceptable to someone. They’re falsifying foreclosure documents so judges will look at them and say, ‘Here’s an affidavit. It’s signed.”

All the worse is that a bipartisan bill (finally bipartisanship!) making foreclosures much more difficult on homeowners comes across the President’s desk soon. He promises to veto it.

It’s not that there isn’t plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Many homeowners stupidly took on more debt than they could pay or believed slithery predatory lenders when they said being in debt ass over teakettle was all the rage. “Hey, it’s trendy! Everybody’s doing it!”

Wing-Tipped Wolverines
But despite the banks and government trying to foist the whole sad adventure onto the homeless and soon to be homeless, they look more like the super jackwads. Republicans never saw a regulation they liked. Bushbama never saw a regulation they’d enforce. And, Congress never saw a reason to nip these crapweasels in the bud during their “irrationally exuberant” phase. Everything had to collapse – something any mouse with a human brain saw coming long before it got here – for them to do anything.

And when they did something, it was to the banks’ benefit.

Here’s the thing. Government wouldn’t have to regulate banks (or any other industries) if the industries stopped doing stupid, disingenuous, and dishonest things. Most of the regulations we already have were put there to corner the wing-tipped bastards like wolverines in rut.

Now the answer everyone looks for is more regulation – regulation that gives the wolverines a nice feather bed to lay upon. We don’t need no more stinkin’ regulations, we need to enforce the ones we have…with extreme prejudice.

Since Sharron Angle thinks Sharia law is taking over the country, lets do Mohamed proud. Any banker caught breaking the rules should have his hand cut off for stealing and we should keep hacking body parts until they look like Monty Python’s blood-spurting knight.

That way, it’ll be a lot easier to run from them when they try to steal the shirt off your back.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Financial reform update

These thirteen senators have been named to the conference committee that will reconcile differences between the financial reform bills approved by the House last December and the Senate last week. They include eight Democrats and five Republicans, eight members of the Banking Committee and five from the Agriculture Committee. The House will also have 13 representatives on the conference committee; House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank has recommended these eight Democrats, but I haven't seen a list of the five Republican members yet.

On the key differences between the House and Senate versions of financial regulations, see Pat Garofalo's Wonk Room chart and this post by David Dayen. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who is one of the conferees, promised yesterday to

“do everything in my power to preserve the bill’s integrity, strengthen its consumer protections, and stop the reckless financial wheeling and dealing that destabilized our economy and threw millions of Americans out of work. And, given the dangers they pose if not properly regulated, I plan to focus on preserving the key reforms in the Senate-passed derivatives portion of the bill. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to improving it in conference.”

Harkin has his work cut out for him if he wants to preserve the Senate language on derivatives. Dayen wrote last week,

Everyone expects the 716 provision, which forces the mega-banks to spin off their swaps trading desks, to be excised in conference. But Michael Greenberger believes something like it will be retained. The House’s derivatives piece is a mess and nearly useless, but [conference committee chairman] Barney Frank has admitted a mistake on that front, and wants to preserve strong rules against derivatives, like in the Senate bill.

The smart money is on the conference committee dropping the strong derivatives language after the Arkansas Democratic primary runoff election on June 8. Until then, corporate hack Senator Blanche Lincoln needs to be able to brag about standing up to Wall Street lobbyists.

Another important battle in the conference committee relates to auto loans. On Monday the Senate passed a non-binding instruction to the conference committee supporting "a special exemption to shield automobile dealers from the oversight of a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection." The House bill already contains that exemption. All Republicans present and about half the Senate Democrats were among the 60 votes for limiting the oversight of the new consumer protection unit, while only 30 senators voted against that instruction (roll call here). Of the 13 senators named to the conference committee, six voted against the instruction on automobile dealers, four voted for it, and three did not vote on Monday.

According to the White House blog,

The President has been clear on this issue, repeatedly urging members of the Senate to fight efforts of the special interests and their lobbyists to weaken consumer protections. The fact is, auto dealer-lending is an $850 billion industry, which is larger than the entire credit card industry and they make nearly 80 percent of the automobile loans in our country.

Is there any question that these lenders should be subject to the same standards as any local or community bank that provides loans?

Auto dealer-lenders sell auto loans to working families every single day, and while most dealers are no doubt above board, some cannot resist the bigger profits that come from inflating rates, hiding fees, and tacking on over-priced add-ons.

In this kind of situation, President George W. Bush would make his demands clear and tell members of Congress to send him "a bill I can sign." We'll see how far President Obama is willing to go to keep consumer protection provisions in the Wall Street reform bill.

Diaries

Advertise Blogads