It’s a wonder Americans aren’t rioting in the streets:
As we passed the fifth anniversary of the peak of the financial crisis this fall, the giant insurance company AIG was prominently featured in the retrospectives. AIG had issued hundreds of billions of dollars of credit default swaps (CDS) on subprime mortgage backed securities. When these mortgage-backed securities failed en masse, AIG didn’t have the money to back them up.
This would have forced AIG into bankruptcy. However Lehman had declared bankruptcy the day before and the world was still engulfed in the aftershocks. The Bush administration and the Federal Reserve Board decided that they would stop the cascade of failing financial institutions and bail out AIG. As a result, the government agreed to honor all the CDS issued by AIG and effectively became the owner of the company.
Chicago has been in the news recently because its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, seems intent on cutting the pensions that its current and retired employees have earned. Mr. Emanuel insists that the city can’t afford these pensions and therefore workers and retirees will simply have to accept reduced benefits.
If the connection with AIG isn’t immediately apparent, then you have to look a bit deeper. Folks may recall that AIG paid out $170 million in bonuses to its employees in March of 2009 with its top executives receiving bonuses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These were people who not only shared responsibility for driving the company into bankruptcy; they also had been at the center of the financial web that propelled the housing bubble into ever more dangerous territory. In other words, the bonus beneficiaries were among the leading villains in the economic disaster that is still inflicting pain across the country.
The prospect of executives of a bailed out company drawing huge bonuses at a time when the economy was shedding 600,000 jobs a month provoked outrage across the country.[...]
This provides a striking contrast to what might happen to current and former city employees in Chicago and may have already happened to current and former employers of the state of Illinois and Detroit. In these cases, it seems that the contracts workers had with their employers may not be honored. Employees who worked decades for these governments, with part of their pay taking the form of pensions in retirement, are now being told that these governments will not follow through on their end of the contract.
Hey everyone. It’s Sheep Week. (If you don’t follow Modern Farmer, you should. Their info about gardening and backyard animals (eggs!) is invaluable.)
If only a president — any “modern-era” president — had the guts to put sheep or goats on the White House lawn to mow and fertilize the grass; to make a statement contrary to every dang thing being powered by oil and gas and/or chemicals, it would be so cool.
Washington politicians facing a year-end deadline to cut billions in agriculture spending are feuding over the future of food aid for the poor and crop subsidies for farmers.
There is, however, one area of agreement in the contentious negotiations: sugar.
Lawmakers decided to preserve the decades-old government safety net that boosts profits for a relatively small group of growers and has cost consumers billions through artificially high prices.
The special protection is a testament to the enduring Washington clout of one of the country’s wealthiest farming interests, including the politically connected Florida family that controls a substantial share of the world’s sugar market.
Sugar makers succeeded by gaining the support of a wildly divergent collection of lawmakers — rural and urban, tea party and liberal — who have little in common other than the presence of sugar operations in their states.
The industry’s power was evident in the unusual alliances that formed in the House and Senate to thwart sugar-related measures over the past two years, turning ideological adversaries such as Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) into teammates operating from the same playbook.
“Removing the protections we have for our domestic sugar producers will do nothing but kill an American industry and outsource jobs to our competitors,” Franken said during a Senate floor debate this spring. Rubio, in the same debate, warned colleagues of the “risks to American jobs if reforms to our sugar program were to pass.”
The program, which has existed in various forms since the Great Depression, uses an elaborate system of import quotas, price floors and taxpayer-backed loans designed to prop up domestic growers, which number about 4,500.
We’re talkin’ Our Tax Dollars here folks.
Oh, and don’t forget. This is the same crowd that wants to cut food aid to the poor.
Here’s a wake-up call to the drown-government-in-a-bathtub crowd:
Boulder Annexation Inquiries Surging After Flood– Damaged wells and septic systems make city services more attractive
September’s floods did a number on the wells and septic systems of many Boulder County residents, with testing still revealing contamination in some wells nearly three months later
That damage has led to a surge ofinquires about annexation into the city of Boulder from people who have typically been wary of city government but now see the appeal of getting city water and sewer services.
The photo above is how the main street leading out of my neighborhood in Boulder looked immediately after the Boulder flood. Republicans and libertarians would say hey, what’s the big deal? You and your neighbors should band together and take care of it. “Big government” can’t help you.
Really? As a matter of fact, “big government” cleared that road in a matter of hours because it had the equipment to do it. My neighbors and I would have had to clear it using our bare hands and shovels. It would have taken days.
So I wonder what Republicans would say to the poor folks who are still living with contaminated wells. Probably something like: Live free or die! Until, that is, those people can’t drink the water coming out of their wells and faucets because, ah, they really might die.
Gee. Good for the NFL. Now let’s see if it can and will withstand the pressure it will inevitably come under to cave:
This week, Guns & Ammo magazine broke the story that the NFL rejected a proposed Super Bowl advertisement for Daniel Defense, a gun manufacturer based in Georgia. The ad, which features a handsome young father explaining that he’s “chosen the most effective tool” for defending his family from harm, was dinged by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on advertisements. That policy prohibits any ads that feature “firearms, ammunition or other weapons.” Although Daniel Defense’s ad doesn’t show any actual firearms—though it does feature the company’s logo, which is an artistic rendering of a military-style rifle—the league barred Fox, the network that will air the Super Bowl, from running it.
To gun advocates, this was nothing less than a declaration of war. Alex Jones, who last made headlines with a notorious anti-gun control rant on Piers Morgan’s show, said the NFL’s decision proved the league was “anti-family,” “anti-liberty,” and “anti-American.” Worse yet, Jones said, the NFL was in cahoots with the imperialistic Obama Administration, which is using the Super Bowl as a venue for political propaganda, just like Hitler did with the 1936 Munich Olympics.
Imagine spending $8 trillion on solar power here in the U.S. which we wouldn’t have to spend billions “guarding” every year:
It has cost the United States $8 trillion to provide military security in the Gulf since 1976. According to Roger Stern, a Princeton economist, the US has spent as much on Gulf security as it spent on the entire Cold War with the Soviet Union! In recent years through 2010 it has been $400 billion a year, though the US withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 and the gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan this year and next presumably means that the figure is substantially reduced. Still, we have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and elsewhere, and a Naval HQ in Bahrain, none of which is cheap. If it were $200 billion a year, that is a fair chunk of the budget deficit the Republican Party keeps complaining about. And if we could get that $8 trillion back, it would pay down half of the national debt.
And shame on our so-called leaders for not talking about cutting some of this expense instead of food stamps for the poor.
Oh, and this is what just one trillion dollars looks like. Multiply this by eight and you have an idea how much we’re spending guarding our oil.
What a great way to start the day:
20 cancer patients participated in a unique makeover experience. They were invited to a studio. Their hair and makeup were completely redone. During the transformation, they were asked to keep their eyes shut. A photographer then immortalized the moment they opened their eyes. This discovery allowed them to forget their illness, IF ONLY FOR A SECOND.