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A Different Sort of Red America

Weekend Opinionator: A Different Sort of Red America
By Tobin Harshaw | NYTimes | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

Perhaps the most telling line in the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “socialism” is this one: “The range of application of the term is broad.” That’s something to bear in mind as we consider a much-discussed poll, released by Rasmussen on Thursday, that found that “Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.” For the record, here is the primary O.E.D. definition:

A theory or system of social organization based on state or collective ownership and regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange for the common benefit of all members of society; advocacy or practice of such a system, esp. as a political movement. Now also: any of various systems of liberal social democracy which retain a commitment to social justice and social reform, or feature some degree of state intervention in the running of the economy.

As for Rasmussen’s definition, well, there isn’t one: “The question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism.”

‘Socialism’ rises in the polls — but do Americans even know what it means?

My Lesson In "ACTION" From The Murder Of Kitty Genovese

by Linda Milazzo

Mid-afternoon on Wednesday, driving along a street in the West San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, I saw this man lying on the parkway of the road. 

.Man on bike down closeup

Showdown Seen Between Banks and Regulators

Showdown Seen Between Banks and Regulators
By Stephen Labaton and Edmund L. Andrews | NYTimes

Some of the healthier banks want to pay back their bailout loans to avoid executive pay and other restrictions that come with the money. But the banks are balking at the hefty premium they agreed to pay when they took the money....there is increasing anxiety in the industry that the administration could use the stress tests of the 19 biggest banks, due to be completed in the next three weeks, to insist on management changes...Both large and small banks have pressed the Obama administration to make it less costly for them to exit the bailout program by waiving the right to exercise stock warrants the banks had to grant the government in exchange for the loans.

Assessing Treasury’s Strategy: Six Months of TARP

Assessing Treasury’s Strategy: Six Months of TARP

The April oversight report for COP is entitled Assessing Treasury’s Strategy: Six Months of TARP. In this report, COP offers a preliminary look at Treasury’s strategy and offers a comparative analysis of previous efforts to combat banking crises in the past. Over the last six months, Treasury has spent or committed $590.4 billion of the TARP funds. Treasury has also relied heavily on the use of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet which has expanded by more than $1.5 trillion (not including expected TALF loans) in conjunction with the financial stabilization activities it has undertaken beyond its monetary policy operations. This has allowed Treasury to leverage TARP funds well beyond the funds appropriated by Congress.

The total value of all direct spending, loans and guarantees provided to date in conjunction with the financial stability efforts (including those of the FDIC as well as the Treasury and the Federal Reserve) now exceeds $4 trillion. This report reviews in considerable detail specific criteria for evaluating the impact of these programs on financial markets. (Bolding mine).

Executive Summary

Read the report

KU Professors Found Companies Realized Big Tax Savings By Spending For Lobbyists

KU professors found companies realized big tax savings by spending for lobbyists
By Dave Helling | The Kansas City Star

Ninety-three of the country’s biggest multinational firms pulled in tax savings of more than $62 billion — after spending just $283 million to lobby for the bill....“Is policy being decided on the merits, or is it being unduly influenced by the money spent?” she asked. “And then do the non-moneyed interests … lose a valuable seat at the table?”....Companies and interest groups spent more than $3 billion lobbying Congress and the federal government in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was a 14 percent jump from 2007.

A 22,000 percent return on investment?

A Daring Punt

A daring punt: Robert Gates changes the Pentagon’s priorities | The Economist

MORE men at the expense of machines; more drones rather than top-end fighter jets and future bombers; more helicopters for combat troops rather than a replacement for the presidential chopper; more coastal vessels and fewer aircraft-carriers; better cyberdefences, but scaled-back missile defences and laser weapons. In short, the new American defence budget would spend more on today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and less to stave off future threats from China or Russia.

A New Form of Currency Could Help Us in Economic Crisis

A new form of currency could help us in economic crisis
How a complementary currency helped save Switzerland from economic ruin in the 1940s—and could do the same for us today.
By Bernard Lietaer | Ode Magazine

The travails of the banking crisis have been front-page news for months, and the biggest bailout in human history is underway. However, the real economy—the one in which businesses manufacture and sell goods and services—is turning out to be the next victim. Whatever governments do for the banks, credit will be a lot harder for businesses to obtain for many years to come.

Obama's New World Order

Obama's New World Order
by Stephen Lendman

This article addresses Washington's financial coup d'etat in the context of discussing Michael Hudson's important, very lengthy and detailed April 5 Global Research.ca one titled: "The Financial War Against Iceland - Being defeated by debt is as deadly as outright military warfare." It reviews its key information in advance of Hudson's April 14 scheduled appearance on The Global Research News Hour to discuss.

What's true for Iceland holds everywhere, including the developed world, the idea being to enrich finance capitalism through state-sponsored debt bondage and neo-feudal impoverishment. The global economic crisis was no accident. It was long ago hatched, and has been brewing for years, gestating, percolating, then bubbling into the 2000 tech crash, a mere prelude for today's greater one spreading everywhere like a cancer but hitting the developing world and most indebted nations hardest.

A New Way Forward: Saturday, April 11th, Over 50 Cities

Join us!

Chant sheet PDF.

6 percent want to give banks more
We're from the other 94*
*zogby poll

Lawrence Summers is a hack
Give us our children's money back

When I say banks, you say bust em
banks, bust em - banks, bust em

When I say cranks, you say don't trust em
cranks, don't trust em - cranks, don't trust em

When I say banksters, you say gangsters
banksters, gangsters - banksters, gangsters

When they want bail, you say jail
bail, jail - bail, jail

hey hey ho ho, zombie banks have got to go

Money for healthcare, jobs, and schools
Not for banks and cranks and fools

The people are too big to fail
Put the CEOs in jail

Banks get bailed out
People get sold out

Banksters are Gangsters
Give Em Jail With No Bail

Predatory Lenders
Criminal Offenders

Wall Street feels no pain
Nothing trickles down but rain

JP Morgan Chase
Wipe that big grin off your face
Too big to fail?
Throw 'em in jail!

Hey, hey, what’s the fuss?
Make the economy work for us

Hey, hey, what’s the fuss?
Make our government work for us

When you're in, you're in

By David Sirota

Feeling sorry for yourself? Struggling to get by? Wondering how you can get a bailout? Well, stop moping, because it's not too late!

I may not have Suze Orman's verve or Billy Mays' voice. But I've discovered a revolutionary risk-free investment plan straight from those who brought us the economic meltdown. So in this column-fomercial, I won't waste your time with Ginsu knives or cash-for-timeshare schemes — I'm going to help make you rich beyond your wildest dreams!

Look, we've all heard about Wall Street's losses. But you probably didn't hear about Corporate America's newest sure thing: a path to financial freedom far more reliable than any decent-paying job. It's something so old-fashioned that even amateur investors can understand it!

More Than Four Unemployed Workers For Every Job Opening

More than four unemployed workers for every job opening
by Heidi Shierholz | Economic Policy Institute

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data for February 2009 (note that while employment and unemployment numbers for March are already available, the JOLTS data are released with a one-month lag). Job openings increased by 86,000 in February, though downward revisions to earlier data erased nearly all of those gains. In February, there were 3.0 million job openings. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, job openings have declined by 1.4 million, a drop of 31.4%. The dramatic decline in job openings reflects a loss of business confidence and decisions by struggling firms both to not hire new workers and to not replace workers who leave.

N.H. Job Fair Crowds Get Out of Hand

N.H. Job Fair Crowds Get Out of Hand
Higher-than-expected turnout forces NH job fair to turn away throngs of job seekers
By David Tirrell-Wysocki | ABCNews

Three generations of job seekers — more than 10,000 — descended on a job fair at a New Hampshire college gymnasium Thursday, jamming traffic for miles and forcing organizers to cut off admission to the event after just two hours.

Officials shut down shuttle bus service from a nearby mall to the overwhelmed Southern New Hampshire University campus by noon, several hours before the heavily publicized event was to end.

Job applicants ranging from college students to unemployed executives in their 60s waited in seemingly endless lines for buses to the event, then to speak with recruiters, then for buses back to their cars. Police Lt. Maureen Tessier gave an unofficial crowd estimate of more than 10,000, and many hundreds more were turned away.

"People are very serious about employment and not just running around grabbing goodies for the sake of filling up goodie bags," said Don Legere, who was looking to hire people for his financial services firm Modern Woodmen of America.

Break Up the Banks!

Two weeks ago, we told you about an exciting, youth-led grassroots movement to break up the banks called A New Way Forward.

On Saturday,  A New Way Forward is sponsoring a nationwide day of action to demand that our leaders (1) nationalize (2) reorganize, and (3) decentralize the banks as a first step toward building a more just economy.

On Saturday, come to a rally near you for speeches, street theatre, petition gathering, and phonebanking to Congress. Add your voice to this growing movement to demand our tax dollars be used to fix our problems, rather than preserve the fortunes of those who created them.
http://www.anewwayforward.org/rally-list.php 

For too long we have been told to sit passively and watch as our country's financial elite run the economy into the ground - taking our jobs, our homes, and our pensions down with them. And when we get outraged about using our tax dollars to pay their huge bonuses, they tell us to shut the **** up.

The time has come for us to demand change. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner must stop wasting trillions of our tax dollars on a broken rescue plan that only benefits those who created this crisis. Last week's enthusiastic rally on Wall Street was a great start.

But if you can't come, make sure our Senators and Representatives hear us by signing our petition to Break Up the Banks:
http://www.democrats.com/break-up-the-banks

Please help us build a powerful nationwide movement on Saturday. And share your thoughts in our blog:
http://www.democrats.com/saturday-rally-to-break-up-the-banks

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

THE NEW CLASS AND THE WORKERS

By Gaither Stewart

(Rome) Protests, broken heads and hundreds of arrests at the G20 in London, bloody demonstrations in Kehl and Baden Baden and Strasbourg at celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of NATO, workers uprisings across the face of France, and on Saturday in Rome’s Circus Maximus a mammoth manifestation organized by the CGIL trade union underline the abyss separating the New Class of capital from labour. The current and spreading revolt of labour against capital seems to mark the second phase of the crisis of capitalism, as a consequence of the financial crisis caused by the New Class of an elite that has illogically chosen to separate itself from labour in the Occidental world.

Young Activists Take Bankers to Account


Young Activists Take Bankers to Account
Online organizing superstars spark a populist movement to fix America’s economy.
By Kristina Rizga | Wiretap

Tiffiniy Cheng, 29, never imagined she'd help spark a populist movement influenced by a former IMF banker. Three weeks ago Cheng and her co-founding partners launched A New Way Forward, a volunteer-run website that advocates for a new approach to bank bailouts and is organizing a nationwide protest on April 11. Cheng and her friends are not new to online organizing. In 2006, some of them launched OpenCongress.org, a nonpartisan website that lets people track legislation in Congress, and Downhill Battle, a music activism website, but they never had a burning desire to study and reform the financial system. Then, as 350 billion dollars of taxpayer money went to the same CEOs who helped bring the global economic system down, Cheng and her friends, like many in America, became angry. Why reward the same people who broke the system, they asked.

On February 19, the co-founders of A New Way Forward heard the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) interviewed on PBS's Bill Moyers' Journal argue for an alternative bailout plan. Simon Johnson spent 20 years at the IMF working on international bank bailouts, among other things. Dissatisfied with the current bailout process, he decided to show his ex-colleagues at the IMF the balance sheets of some of America's leading banks receiving bailouts (concealing their names). Every one of his former colleagues gave a similar prescription: Recovery will fail unless America breaks up the financial oligarchy. In the short term, that means the failing banks would have to be temporarily taken over by the government, cleaned up, broken up and sold off in the private markets. The board members and CEOs of those banks would have to be fired and replaced. This is not the administration's current plan.

Marxist Geographer David Harvey on the G20, the Financial Crisis and Neoliberalism

Marxist Geographer David Harvey on the G20, the Financial Crisis and Neoliberalism
By Amy Goodman | Democracy Now! | Watch Video | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

For some analysis on the G20 summit and the financial crisis, we speak to a leading thinker on the global economy. David Harvey is a Marxist geographer and distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of several books, including The Limits to Capital and A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

Will New Military Budget Prolong Recession?

Will New Military Budget Prolong Recession?
Many Cities and Towns Rely on Government Spending to Keep Their Economies Strong
By Scott Mayerowitz | ABCNews

Many cities and towns across this country rise and fall with military spending. And with Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announcement earlier this week of new defense spending priorities, many communities are bracing for drastic cuts or a windfall.

From Seattle to St. Louis to Fort Worth, communities are closely watching how the $534 billion spending plan for the 2010 fiscal year plays out in Congress.

Fix CNBC

House to Probe [Lack of] Adherence to Bailout Pay Rules

Lawmakers Slam Administration Efforts to Sidestep Limits on Executive Compensation
By Amit R. Paley, Washington Post

A congressional oversight committee opened an investigation yesterday into whether the Obama administration is circumventing a law that limits lavish pay for executives at firms benefiting from the $700 billion federal bailout.

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner asking for records on any special entities that the government believes it can use to funnel bailout money without requiring firms to abide by congressional restrictions.

Politicized Accounting: No End to the Scams

By Dave Lindorff

The accounting profession might seem like the last place that you’d find serious political hanky-panky going on, and it’s probably not on very many people’s A-list of fun subjects to read about, but the Financial Accounting Standards Board, a quasi-governmental body that has statutory authority to regulate and establish the rules by which public companies, including banks, do their books, has just caved in to pressure from those banks and from the large number of members of Congress who pocket huge piles of campaign swag and perks from those banks and other public companies, and gravely undermined the integrity of corporate balance sheets.

Communities Print Their Own Currency to Keep Cash Flowing

Communities print their own currency to keep cash flowing
By Marisol Bello | USA Today

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.

Geithner's Stress Test "A Complete Sham," Former Federal Bank Regulator Says

Geithner's Stress Test "A Complete Sham," Former Federal Bank Regulator Says
By Aaron Task | Yahoo! Tech Ticker

The bank stress tests currently underway are “a complete sham,” says William Black, a former senior bank regulator and S&L prosecutor, and currently an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. “It’s a Potemkin model. Built to fool people.” Like many others, Black believes the “worst case scenario” used in the stress test don’t go far enough.

Resist or Become Serfs

Resist or Become Serfs
By Chris Hedges | Truthdig

America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.

Why Obama Should Hire Eliot Spitzer

Why Obama Should Hire Eliot Spitzer
by Justin Frank | The Daily Beast

What to make of Spitzer's public re-emergence? As he appears on the Today show this morning, Justin Frank, psychiatrist and author of Bush on the Couch, asks who could know better about the failure of self-regulation than someone with a sexual addiction?

“All the cops are criminals and all the sinners saints.” -Mick Jagger

Five years after Time magazine declared him “The Crusader of the Year,” Eliot Spitzer was known simply and infamously as “Client #9.” The man dedicated to public service was equally dedicated to private servicing – and the link between these two parts provided him with a leg up, as it were, on being able to spot others’ delinquent behavior far more successfully than public servants less delinquent than himself.

Spitzer was felled by his own arrogance and sexual hunger, yet it may have been precisely the qualities that drove his private life that enabled him to recognize more than anyone the damage that arrogant, greedy financial institutions were doing to our nation.

Obama's War on Labor

Obama's War on Labor
by Stephen Lendman

Voters expecting change keep getting rude reminders of what kind, none they can believe in reiterated again on March 30 in Obama's remarks to the auto giants. While stating "We cannot....must not (and) will not let (this) industry vanish," he laid down a clear marker. Labor, not business, is targeted. More on that below.

"We (won't) excuse poor decisions," he said. "We cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of taxpayer dollars." In rejecting their aid request, he added: "These companies - and this industry - must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state....What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by the companies. (Their plan doesn't go) far enough to warrant the substantial new investments these companies are requesting."

'A Failure to Communicate'? Administration Tries to Explain Financial Crisis

'A Failure to Communicate'? Administration Tries to Explain Financial Crisis
New Treasury Web site 'Decodes' Complicated Economic Terms
By Matthew Jaffe | ABCNews

With the nation's recession nearing a year-and-a-half in duration, critics from Capitol Hill to Main Street say the Obama administration has not succeeded in helping the general public understand how the financial crisis occurred and what the government is doing to solve it.

"To even help people understand what is going on, they haven't done a good job," said professor George Lakoff a linguistics professor at the University of California-Berkeley. "They haven't been able to explain what the problems are."

"They need to find a way for people to understand it," he said. "That is extremely urgent."

Analysts warn that if the administration, specifically the Treasury Department, cannot better communicate its programs to the general public, then it runs the risk of a lack of understanding fueling public outrage as hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars get dished out.

"This is a very real concern and I have seen it firsthand," said Scott Talbott, vice president at the Financial Services Roundtable. "What happens is the average person focuses on one concept like 'Treasury bailing out bad banks' and then they stop listening. This incomplete conclusion leads to anger and frustration. These reactions are understandable, but if Treasury increases the public's understanding of its actions, the level of anger and frustration will decrease."

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