Batten Down The Economic Hatches

You know world financial markets are roiling when Dubai is having trouble:

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.

The playground of the rich and shameless isn’t so playful any longer, it seems. So, what’s a formerly flush financial bonus award missing exec to do without a place to play with his polo pony? Whine

There’s nothing inherently immoral about having a lot of money, if you can keep it in perspective. The median U.S. household income in 2007 was $50,233, and only 5% of U.S. households had incomes of more than $177,000. Statistically, if your income is anywhere near $500,000 a year, you’re rich. If you make as much as the CEOs of the nation’s 500 biggest companies (whose compensation averaged $12.8 million in 2007), you’re very, very rich. If you took in the $657 million averaged in 2006 by each of the top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers, you’re insanely rich.

But are you too rich?

Well, if you find yourself appalled at the thought of getting by on $500K a year, and you’re not the sole support of 10 special-needs children or perhaps a small Third World village or two, you’ve gotten too rich. If charity balls, chauffeured limos, a household staff and private jets feel like necessities rather than luxuries, you’re too rich. And if you’ve come to feel you have a God-given right to feed at the government bailout trough, but you denounce it as creeping socialism when you’re asked to show some personal financial self-discipline in exchange, then yes, you’re too rich.

Too stupid to plan ahead for a downturn — which always happens in the business cycle — and socked nothing away on your gazillion dollar salary? Then you are too stupid for words. You rely on frequent tax breaks to bail out yer ass instead of being fiscally responsible?  Then you are a moron.

Truly.

Fiscal discipline. It’s not just for the other half. And maybe, just maybe, if you learn to live on less, it might carry over to more prudent and less sketchy business practices, too.  

So the rest of us won’t have to bail out your reckless asses.  Again.

I suggest volunteering at the local food bank in your spare time to see what real need looks like.  Learn the meaning of "service to others" perhaps.  But I’m not holding my breath.

Some days, you just have to turn to Lewis Black (YouTube) for advice. (Caution: don’t play this loudly at work or in front of small children.  *g*)

H/T reader bill and Twisted Martini.

 
133 Responses to "Batten Down The Economic Hatches"
Elliott | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:01 am 1

Morning Christy, A Dubai sunset is so appropriate here.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:04 am 2
In response to Elliott @ 1

The pix was gorgeous — couldn’t help but use it. But it is a bit apt, isn’t it?


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:05 am 3

I forget where I read it but I believe in dubai it’s a penal offense to reneg on your loan

so, (I read), they abandon thier country, family and their assets so they don’t go to jail

I do not know the accuracy of what I just related


A Mom Anon | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:06 am 4

Honestly,if a person can’t”survive”on less than 500K a yr,then they have problems that no amount of money can solve.

Tax the fuck out of ‘em.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:06 am 5

btw, all — we are still having remnants of a nasty wind/thunder storm that blew through here last night and our power is fluctuating after having been off for several hours. At the moment, power is on — but if I disappear, wanted folks to know why…


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:07 am 6
In response to perris @ 3

I wonder how that ski mountain in the sands is working out for them


A Mom Anon | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:07 am 7
In response to A Mom Anon @ 4

Crap,that” less than 500K a year”shouldn’t have had the “less”in there.

Why yes,I’ll have some coffee,thank you.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:08 am 8

btw, all — we are still having remnants of a nasty wind/thunder storm that blew through here last night and our power is fluctuating after having been off for several hours. At the moment, power is on — but if I disappear, wanted folks to know why…

I use my phone as modem when that happens


AZ Matt | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:08 am 9

Costa Rican coffee in the morning is a necessity so I must be… …not rich but do have good taste!


katymine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:09 am 10

Good morning everyone…… just starting to get light here in AZ.


Splicer | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:09 am 11

I’m not sure whether it’s galling, comical or both when the rich, ultra-rich and insanely rich can’t comprehend why the people they piss on won’t feel sorry for them.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:10 am 12

Too stupid to plan ahead for a downturn — which always happens in the business cycle — and socked nothing away on your gazillion dollar salary? Then you are too stupid for words. You rely on frequent tax breaks to bail out yer ass instead of being fiscally responsible? Then you are a moron.

Truly.

Fiscal discipline. It’s not just for the other half. And maybe, just maybe, if you learn to live on less, it might carry over to more prudent and less sketchy business practices, too.

So the rest of us won’t have to bail out your reckless asses. Again.

just fyi – i’m pretty sure that there are a lot of people in the world who have far less than most of us and who think pretty much the same way about americans in general. and blame us most of all for the current economic collapse.


TobyWollin | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:13 am 13

My beef is not that the folks from the financial sector got rich and still have their heads in the trough — that IS their way. What I resent (sorry, but I do resent this a lot) is that they believe that somehow THEY deserve it and that the rest of us do not. That what THEY do is so much harder, or more challenging, or more beneficial than anything that anyone else does in this country and therefore, we should all pony up money to keep them in the condos and nannies and cars and vacations and sheer unadulterated luxury that they feel is deserved by them. While the decisions they made and the actions they took have deprived millions of people of their jobs, homes and their livelihoods.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:14 am 14
In response to selise @ 12

just fyi – i’m pretty sure that there are a lot of people in the world who have far less than most of us and who think pretty much the same way about americans in general. and blame us most of all for the current economic collapse.

I agree with that statement selise and we can find fault from our non protectionist policies

really, we absolutely have to tariff products that are produced from countries like those you’re talking about and that will raise their standard of life.

I spent about 25 dollars on my levi slacks about 25 years ago, last week I spent about 17, this is because we allow products from countries that encourage slave and child labor


AZ Matt | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:14 am 15
In response to selise @ 12

Very, very true. When I returned from Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer back in 1981, it was so striking to me about how much waste we have within in our lives.


TheraP | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:15 am 16

I hope you’ll forgive me for posting a link to a blog I wrote on this very subject on Sunday. I can’t say it better here than I already did. So if anyone’s interested in that (or simply for the record to show that many of us are appalled by so few taking so much of the nation’s wealth):

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme…..o-much.php


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:15 am 17

to clarify – there are what, about 2 billion people in the world living on something like $2 a day? i doubt they consider americans part of the other half, and have they ever seen a local food bank?


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:15 am 18
In response to selise @ 12

Maybe I’m just weird this way, but I’m always trying to plan for the “worst case scenario” down the road. Maybe it comes from having been partially raised by a granny who lived through the Great Depression, but our pantry, our savings…everything comes down to having enough to survive a rainy day or worse in my mind.


TobyWollin | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:17 am 19

Yep – our baby chicks are arriving the first week in April.


RonD | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:19 am 20

a lot of people in the world …blame us most of all for the current economic collapse.

Conditioning works. Not entirely our fault for being who we are conditioned to be, though it’s sad that as a people we have not been able to rise above the programming. Your point is taken, though.

Good morning, Selise!


Badwater | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:21 am 21

Good thing that Halliburton is a Dubai corporation. I’m sure that Cheney will be there soon to help out.


TheraP | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:22 am 22

Yes, and some call our concerns apocalyptic for doing that, but it’s exactly the kind of thing we all need to be doing right now. Who knows where we’re headed as a nation. And god knows many of us understand where we’ve been as a nation!

My apologies for not saying what a great post this is (in my comment above).


JayBur | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:22 am 23

Whatever happened to Steve Forbes’ flat tax plan? I thought it was brilliant, a flat tax coupled with a balanced budget requirement would put an end to any more “fun” republican wars. Support for war would evaporate as the flat rate would rise to fund it.


foothillsmike | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:23 am 24

Morning all,
The charity balls that these folks attend is to the benefit of the philarmonic, museums and etc. The tax breaks are the same. Food kitchens and shelters not so much


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:26 am 25
In response to selise @ 12

Mornin, selise and all.

I just commented on the Dubai situation over at BT’s swim that America is blamed over much of the world for the economic melt-down (even B. Clinton on one of the Davos interviews).

Some of those Middle Eastern folks are strong on revenge….


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:26 am 26
In response to foothillsmike @ 24

I call that conspicuous charity. In NYC it the Met Museum, NYP Library, a few others. Must be seen at the charity balls to be on the A-List.


katymine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:26 am 27

Especially when life has knocked me around a few times…… instead of coming unglued about the medical stuff, I’m calculating if I can do this with reduced income….. or can I survive 5 days without power….. lets see I have a 25,000 gallon pool…. I can flush a lot of times…..


WarOnWarOff | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:26 am 28
In response to Badwater @ 21

Deadeye can blast all those cockroaches coming through the tap!


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:26 am 29

I hear you. Problem is, we’re looking at rainy years, not. And the anti-choice party doesn’t give a rip about Other Than Self. My parents were like that to some extent (being staunch Republicans). How did they live through the Depresssion (the other one) and stay Republican? Rhetorical.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:27 am 30
In response to TheraP @ 22

I’ve been re-reading a book that helped save our asses when we had barely enough to scrape by on in law school, to remind myself how frugal I used to be in the early days of our marriage. If folks haven’t take a peek at any of the Tightwad Gazette books, they are quite a read. It’s way more frugal than I’ve ever gotten, but reading it gets you in the habit of thinking “how can I reuse this, maybe I don’t need to throw it away, how can I be more conscious of what I’m using and spending” etc. Plus, there are great universal quiche and muffin recipes in there. *g*


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:28 am 31
In response to barbara @ 29

oops. rainy years, not days.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:28 am 32

thanks perris and AZ Matt. it’s just a different pov – if i had to live on 2$ a day in a country that has been destroyed economically by imf structural adjustment and usa trade policies and now was watching the current global financial crisis coming from primarily the usa, i expect i’d think of americans in general pretty much as i now do the zombie bankers and their allies and ultra rich idiots in dubai. like i said, just a different pov.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:29 am 33
In response to JayBur @ 23

flat tax is a gift to the wealthy, there absolutely has to be a progressive tax, the wealthy use dispraportionatly more resources and that use must be paid one way or another


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:31 am 34

Jeffrey Sachs pointed out on Rachel last night that the Wall St. bonues are equivalent to the total U.S. aid to all developing countries in a year.


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:32 am 35
In response to perris @ 33

the wealthy use dispraportionatly more resources and that use must be paid one way or another

As we are discovering in spades this very minute. Let the class warfare begin. Weapons of choice: stock certificates vs. food stamps.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:32 am 36
In response to acquarius74 @ 25

America is blamed over much of the world for the economic melt-down

i don’t think that’s completely wrong. more than any country, it is our policies and the policies we pushed on other countries (frequently with the support of some of the local elite) that seem to me at the center of our current crisis.


hackworth | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:32 am 37

Cheney’s friends are still holding the billions they stole from US taxpayer/citizen-consumers. Cheney’s friends have already made all their large purchases. Homes, Condos, Cars, Airplanes, Yachts, etc. They’ve already purchased everything they want or need. They can no longer provide any effect on economic stimulation/activity beyond normal maintenance expenses. They can only buy so many native virgin teenagers. Their appetites are somewhat finite.


JayBur | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:33 am 38
In response to perris @ 33

I agree with you but I’m talking half a loaf here. Make the rich bastards pay something!


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:34 am 39

but you know, as a country we didn’t.


TheraP | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:35 am 40

We’re just relieved that while we now own a house, we never really gave up our frugal ways of grad school years (we took turns so those years were many). But I feel for so many folks who may not even get jobs now. These are very scary times!


katymine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:36 am 41
In response to selise @ 36

When in Europe in 2007 many commercials for investing which state “NO funds are from the USA” or “NO USA based funds” …. they knew these investments were toxic…… Americans were treated like mushrooms


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:36 am 42

Romer, CEA head, is up on cnbc.


prostratedragon | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:36 am 43

Wonder whether there’s any backwash onto Dubai’s port operations?

Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.

“At the moment there is a readiness to believe the worst,” said Simon Williams, HSBC bank’s chief economist in Dubai. “And the limits on data make it difficult to counter the rumors.”

And Abu Dhabi circling as if they’d like to change the structure of the emirates’ governance as the solution.


foothillsmike | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:37 am 44
In response to barbara @ 35

Wallpapered a bathroom once with a paper that had depression era newspaper articles and stock certificates from defunct corporations.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:38 am 45
In response to selise @ 39

Um…yeah, I do know that. Honestly, don’t we all know that reading here? If we don’t, then we need to all pull our collective heads out of our asses.

We probably need to do that anyway, having watched bits of the CEOs hearing yesterday and the food safety hearing. I feel like the whole country has become a hamster on a treadmill wheel going nowhere.

Which is why I’m listening to some Van Morrison this morning and trying to escape the whole thing at the moment.


Twisted Martini | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:38 am 46

Thanks for the shout out Christy! We had the wind of which you speak last night too, took out my power in the middle of Top Chef. Thank Jeebus for reruns and Tivo.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:38 am 47
In response to TobyWollin @ 13

A perfect example of those you describe was in a recent interview with some of the Madoff victims. One was a shrivelled old crone, fingers and arms laden with diamond studded heavy metal, broochs, necklace, earrings all sparkling – crying about being wiped out by Madoff. (at her age she should have learned about sweet-talkin’ con men).

She clearly expected sympathy and ’somebody should do something’.

by another shrivelled old crone, sans jewelry, sans missimg millions


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:39 am 48

Hamster on a tradmill that’s fallen over a cliff.


JayBur | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:40 am 49
In response to katymine @ 41

“NO USA funds”, this is a fascinating insight, katymine, too bad the “experts” on CNBC didn’t see any of those ads!


hackworth | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:40 am 50
In response to katymine @ 41

That’s interesting. Europe knew that America was running a gigantic Ponzi Scheme and actually advertised their investments as non-toxic, USA-free. First I’ve heard of that. Now I really feel like a mushroom.


NorskeFlamethrower | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:42 am 51

AND THE KILLIN’ GOEZ ON AND ON AND…

Citizen Hardin Smith and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

Why was repeal of the Bush tax cuts not part of the stimulus…if it’s because that would place it as a revenue bill and create other process hurdles , well I understand. But then, why was an effort to recapture some of the hundreds of billions stolen through government aucpices not at least raised in the discussion? This entire economic collapse is an example of the use of “rule of law” and our “legal system ” to not only enrich the already wealthy but to destroy any possiblity of breaking down the firewalls around that wealth to save the fuckin’ country. The kabuki melodrama danced for the last couple a months to get some kinda “rescue” bill is a perfect example of the complete corruption of our Founding Fathers’ idea…so let’s stop with the pathetic comedy and take the wealthiest 5,000 folks in the country, give ‘em a trial, confiscate their “assets” and throw the fuckers in Leavenworth and then start all over again.

KEEP THE FAITH AND PASS THE FUCKIN AMMUNITION…NO MORE GOD DAMNED MR. NICE GUY!!!!


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:43 am 52
In response to acquarius74 @ 47

Well, where’s your compassion? Now you have something in common. You’re both sans millions. Me, too. Let’s all do lunch at Mickey D’s.


cbl2 | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:43 am 53

Good Morning Christy and Firedogs,

de lurking with a little o/t . . .

Domenici issued subpoena in USAA Probe

wonder if he’ll post it on his facebook page :D


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:43 am 54
In response to katymine @ 41

As if the non-USA funds did any better. Remember the 1916 “Spanish” flu? No matter where it started, it infected the entire world.


Minnesotachuck | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:43 am 55

The NYT piece opens with a tale about a young French woman wondering if she’s vulnerable to being tossed into debtors’ prison if she can’t pay her mortgage. Do they really have that over there?


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:44 am 56
In response to barbara @ 52

McD’s sales are rising.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:44 am 57
In response to barbara @ 35

I think a lot of folks who have a lot get it — Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and such — folks who do not just big foundation work but who plow back into their own communities because they see the long-term value of doing so for themselves and their families and friends.

For me, class warfare has never been the issue. But stupid, selfish assholes who bitch about welfare queens and then expect a handout for their own businesses so they can continue to get their yachts serviced — the Larry Kudlow paradigm, so to speak? Those people piss me off because it’s “me” versus “we” with them, and that’s just a huge tear in the social contract.

It’s like the geezers who live in Sun City outside Phoenix who always vote down school bonds because they are retired and don’t have any kids and so why the hell should they care about schools. Never mind that the drop-out rate increases and juvenile crime goes up and when their houses get robbed or their cars get jacked, they would vote for a police bond in a heartbeat. Morons.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:44 am 58

Honestly, don’t we all know that reading here?

i’ve been extremely freaked about the acceptance and even promotion of right wing populist rhetoric (”buy american” and the anti imigrant comments about h1b visa holders). so no, i don’t think we get it. or more accurately, i think we do get it but crises tend to make us humans move towards the “gated community” mode of thinking and i want to fight that – including in myself.

(((christy)))


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:44 am 59
In response to cbl2 @ 53

Murtha in the crosshairs too.


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:45 am 60

NO MORE GOD DAMNED MR. NICE GUY!!!!

(((Norkse))) I loves your gentle ways.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:46 am 61
In response to katymine @ 41

wow. i did not know that. amazing. thank you for that.


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:46 am 62

I’d like to see a solid analysis of whether today’s barons are more or less “generous” than the Gilded Age robber barons.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:46 am 63
In response to cbl2 @ 53

Saw that earlier this morning — have something coming up on it later.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:46 am 64
In response to JayBur @ 38

the way to do that is to roll back the reagan redistribution of middle class assets, roll back the bush redistribution of middle class assets

that should do the trick very nicely


Prairie Sunshine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:48 am 65

Speaking of the rich and shameless, Christy, Friedman was on Imus this morning in major bummed-out mode, not knowing whether to put his paycheck at Citibank or under the mattress.

But he’s determined to give Obama one or two Friedman units to do something about it.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:48 am 66

I wouldn’t mind a redisgn of the progressive tax to be more representative of an actual useage fee rather then simply a tax

I don’t know how to formulate that but if were possible that would make it very hard to get those useage fees repealed by the next robber barons


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:49 am 67
In response to katymine @ 41

wow


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:51 am 68

Yeah, I know. (sigh) I have some very wealthy friends. (Go figure.) They aren’t part of the “I worked for mine, let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps; no handouts!” mentality. But guess what? They’re Dems! Did we see Cindy McCain stepping forward to offer one of her houses to Mrs. Hughes? Rich and Republican is a toxic mix, by and large.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:52 am 69
In response to eCAHNomics @ 62

I was thinking about that the other day. Growing up we had a gorgeous Carnegie library in my county — just a beautifully crafted building that’s now been converted into a beautiful used book store. What an enormous legacy to leave.

Carnegie was supposed to be a huge jerk of a person, but what a wonderful way to buy yourself back some good public grace — to build libraries in poorer areas so that everyone could have access to learning and reading and books.

What kind of legacy do you leave behind you with a trail of crazy parties, used yachts and selfishness?


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:54 am 70

is carnegie hall named after this same man?


cbl2 | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:54 am 71
In response to barbara @ 29

How did they live through the Depresssion (the other one) and stay Republican?

Scapegoatting, the gits that keep on giving . . .


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:54 am 72
In response to perris @ 70

Yes, I believe so.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:55 am 73
In response to barbara @ 68

sounds like the same type of fellow as gates;’
http://www.realclearpolitics.c…..s_edu.html


DWBartoo | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:55 am 74

Good morning all.

Excellent post, Christy.

And thank you, TheraP, as well.

A discussion long past due.

Our entire economic “game” needs to be changed to match the reality of our world.

Some are offended that I call it a “game” and assure me that they are “deadly serious” in what they do.

Just like the “game” of “war” …

But, because these are “games” or if one prefers “paradigms” devised by human beings and not some celestial deity, we human beings CAN change them.

And, obviously, at least as far as some of us now, clearly, understand, we MUST change them.


NorskeFlamethrower | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:56 am 75
In response to Minnesotachuck @ 55

Citizen Minnesotachuck:

I think that might ta be an example that ignorance is not restricted to United States citizens…but what is most distrubin’ is that instead of bein’ mad as hell the French youngster is scared that she might be jailed, I think that says it all…ignorance is voluntary and lethal!!

By the way, please enlighten me over here on the Wisconsin side a the St. Croix River…when is the Minnesota legislature gunna impeach yer Governor’s scrawny little ass?


katymine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:58 am 76
In response to eCAHNomics @ 54

The European news and ads were different in 2008 vs 2007. In 2008 their panel discussions and news really had their pantyhose in a wad over the US mortgage industry…. so different than 2007 were it was giving options to move to non-USA investments. They seemed almost frantic…… they watched the US markets constantly…..


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:58 am 77
In response to barbara @ 68

btw, my Republican father was a dentist who made and then squandered his fortune (a smallish one, and all of it after he divorced my mother). His staunch Republicanism never wavered. Even ruined (at which point he and my mother reconciled and remarried), he adhered to the Republican party line. They would be shitfaced with shame to learn that my brother’s disability entitles him to medical assistance.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:58 am 78

To selise at # 36 (the reply buttons have all disappeared).

I think most of us here pretty well know who in America is to blame for the melt-down; that it’s not the people as a whole. Unfortunately, revenge-seekers don’t bother to differentiate, as our own home-grown nuts have proven many times.

And B. Clinton in that Davos interview didn’t say ’some Americans’; he just said “blame America”. I’ll look for the link to that and post it later.

I agree, the IMF and World Bank are little more than vultures disguised as benevolent humanitarian institutions.


Prairie Sunshine | Thursday February 12, 2009 06:59 am 79
In response to JayBur @ 49

What makes you so sure they and all the others didn’t see those ads?

Friedman!!!!!!


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:00 am 80
In response to acquarius74 @ 78

Refresh your screen — we have some sort of reply button glitch, and refreshing the entire screen usually clears it up. We’re trying to pinpoint it still…


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:02 am 81
In response to NorskeFlamethrower @ 75

MN barbara here. See, everyone thought Timmy would be McCain’s running mate. They’d been courting for several years. THought it wouldn’t matter that Mike Hatch (his opponent in the last election) committed political suicide days before the election, being vulgar and having his shady ways exposed publicly. Teflon Tim seems able to smile his way out of public disgust. He may be a slimeball, but he’s our slimeball, darn it!


WarOnWarOff | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:03 am 82

Saw a documentary on Carnegie once and it seemed he was as obsessed about giving his millions away as he was with making it. Taint of sin.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:03 am 83

To Barbara at 52 (?), we don’t got not Mickey D’s here, we gots Taco Bell. We could share a bean burrito. heh,heh


dick c | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:05 am 84

Questions that pop into my mind nowadays when I hear these extreme income figures is: How many average or low income families is that equal to? If incomes had risen more evenly over the last twenty years, would the average family be in a better position the support themselves and make that mortgage payment? If the wealthy weren’t so bloated with money to invest, would these mortgage securities that seem to be at the root of this crisis ever have come into existence? The number one question in my mind nowadays: WTF? :)


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:10 am 85
In response to dick c @ 84

Frankly, I find myself asking WTF?!? more and more frequently about a lot of things. *g*


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:11 am 86
In response to WarOnWarOff @ 82

You could argue that, I suppose, but in the biography of Carnegie that I read, Krass puts it in the context of Carnegie’s Scottishness that he thought he should leave no more to his wife and daughter than they needed to live comfortably. IIRC, that included a castle in Scotland.


barbara | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:12 am 87
In response to acquarius74 @ 83

There was a time I’d have suggesting sharing a PB&J sandwich, but we can’t even do that now!


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:12 am 88
In response to acquarius74 @ 78

it’s never the people as a whole (at least i know of no examples where that was true).

but there are varying degrees of responsibility and we dems own a lot of it. for example, i don’t know how many people were killed by bill clinton’s foreign policy, but i’m pretty sure it was in the millions. and i did nothing about that while it was happening. didn’t even know.

so here’s the thing – when it comes to responsibility, as a semi-educated american (not saying anything about the quality of the education, only that i had access to it). you may argue that my responsibility is small, but compared to people living on $2 a day who don’t even have a vote in our elections…. well there is no comparison.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:14 am 89

WOW! thanks, Christy. All reply buttons back on; refresh worked.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:16 am 90
In response to acquarius74 @ 89

Yeah — it’s a weird glitch. Havne’t been able ot pinpoint it’s source but it happens when comments go up along with a new one of yours — those addt’l comments sometimes don’t have reply buttons. Refreshing fixes it. We’re trying to find the error and fix it, but it may take a bit…


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:18 am 91
In response to eCAHNomics @ 86

that is the funniest thing i’ve read in a while. what a hoot. thanks!


WarOnWarOff | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:18 am 92
In response to eCAHNomics @ 86

That makes more sense I guess since he was notorious for not wanting to have his workers paid a living wage for fear they would get drunk with it. ;)


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:19 am 93

your entire page is not coded as well as the firedoglake page

for intance “tab+enter” should enter the post instead it launches some add

also, highlighting text and then hitting something like the quote button does not encase teh highlighted text as it does on the main page

whoever coded this did a beutiful job as for graphics but the tools don’t quite work


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:20 am 94
In response to selise @ 91

Carnegie did give away the vast majority of his wealth (90%?), but the remainder allowed his wife and daughter to live in great luxury.


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:21 am 95
In response to perris @ 93

ditto scripted boxes for links.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:21 am 96
In response to eCAHNomics @ 94

seems like gates is trying to copy carnegie’s template


DWBartoo | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:22 am 97

OT, but perhaps not too much so, reports, here in Penn’s Woods , have it that two state judges in Luzerne County each made several million by sending thousands of young people to private youth prisons, often after ‘hearings’ that lasted only minutes and never provided counsel to the defendants …

Where has America’s ’soul’ gone?

One does wonder.


Bluetoe2 | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:23 am 98

Just announced that retail sales jump 1%. Banksters spending their bonuses, oops, awards.


Millineryman | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:24 am 99

Business Lawmakers’ Goal to Cap Executive Pay Meets Resistance

Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.

Provisions to impose a penalty on banks that paid hefty bonuses and to cap pay at $400,000 for all employees at firms applying for additional government funds did not survive the compromise, sources said.

Somehow a pitch fork is not good enough, a bull dozer is in order.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:26 am 100
In response to DWBartoo @ 97

OT, but perhaps not too much so, reports, here in Penn’s Woods , have it that two state judges in Luzerne County each made several million by sending thousands of young people to private youth prisons, often after ‘hearings’ that lasted only minutes and never provided counsel to the defendants …

ah the benefits of privitization


eCAHNomics | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:32 am 101
In response to perris @ 96

Well, as I said above, I’d like someone to do a careful study to see whether today’s robber barons are more or less generous than those of the Gilded Age. I remain agnostic until I see that.

Paraphrasing from Carnegie’s wiki, since links don’t work for me here, he gave away $350 million ($4.3 billion in 2005 dollars) before death, and of the remaining $30 million at his death, $20 million went to his wife & daughter. Doing the arithmetic too simply (i.e., not allowing for the time value of money), he left only 5% for his heirs. I’ll be dead before Bill Gates dies, but others will be able to do the calculation.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:42 am 102
In response to selise @ 88

Yes, selise, I and my whole sleeping generation bear much of the burden of the world’s ills from Ike’s presidency on. Ike knew and warned us of the military industrial complex, but he didn’t DO anything about it. He knew of the CIA’s dark side but he didn’t DO anything about it. JFK paid the price for trying to clean things up. Yes, I remember the Cold War, and it was Real, and Ike thought (I guess) that the MIC and CIA’s dark side were necessary.
(I loved Ike and will continue to, even though he was just a man and not Superman.)

I don’t buy things with labels showing made in slave labor countries. I buy ‘made in USA’, little used clothing in a local consignment shop . It can be argued that by doing this I deprive those poor of even their $2 per day….

Think I’ll go out in today’s sunshine and start this day all over.


behindthefall | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:51 am 103

So the rest of us won’t have to bail out your reckless asses. Again.

Call me dense, but why do we have to do it even once?


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:53 am 104
In response to Millineryman @ 99

Just a couple of days ago I read that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs wanted to pay back their bail-out money and get out of the TARP. A commenter stated that the bonus caps were probably the motivation for that. Wonder if their flap had anything to do with removal of the bonus caps from the bill….


sad4america | Thursday February 12, 2009 07:57 am 105
In response to perris @ 96

It is now mainstream and rightly so to give great deals to society once you achieve great wealth. Ted Turner started this when he pledged like $1 billion to the UN I believe over 10 years. He stressed how important it was and it seems to have taken hold even more. Many books on wealth building and the lives of the rich all have some form of giving back. It isn’t just considered a nice thing but rather a life uncompleted if you don’t give back. Warren Buffet pledged his $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda gates foundation. He said he donated to them because he was good at making money, not giving it away. That to me was a noble admission but also brings some great insight.

I do feel not enough of the well compensated in America get this though. Joe Biden is a prime example making a couple million and giving not even $3,000 to charity. That is horrible on many levels. I believe these private groups are better fit to give money to appropriate groups and will help more people thant the government.

Along with Buffet’s statement I think government should focus on policy and law a charitiable organization should not be government’s role. After all Obama recently picked Jeff Immelt to be on one of his advisory boards. Jeff is the CEO of GE which under his watch (taking over for Jack Welch in 2001) the stock has fallen nearly 75%. GE already influences so much of American sentiment and policy. Just look GE owns and runs NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. GE is the largest producer of wind turbines and pushes a lot of green shit. The also are one of the few companies who still do business with IRAN. GE also has a huge footprint in the Healthcare industry. Talk about business being in bed with government, it doesn’t get anyworse than this. I can’t believe more people don’t put this together.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:02 am 106
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

If I go after you then I will tell you what he did when I see you wherever we wind up

if you go after me then I expect you to catch me up


sad4america | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:06 am 107
In response to acquarius74 @ 104

The strings attached to the TARP money is great because it should curb businesses from asking for money. The government should do that with businesses just the same with people. Show businesses and people that yeah the government can help you but with your own hard work and better use of your money you can be better off and retain your freedom.


Jkat | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:26 am 108
In response to sad4america @ 107

you’re replaying yesterday’s neal boortz radio script …


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:28 am 109
In response to acquarius74 @ 102

(((acquarius74)))

no point beating our selves up over it now – but neither am i in favor of ignoring it. just trying to face it square.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:29 am 110
In response to sad4america @ 107

I appreciate your comment. The whole TARP fiasco makes me so mad, and there is nothing I can do about it – so won’t burden anyone here with how I feel and think.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:33 am 111
In response to selise @ 109

(((selise)))
I know,….you remind me so much of my dearest daughter – she’s one who also faces life square. She’s the delight of my life.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:46 am 112

DIGG is open

Please forgive, Christy, we’re so eager to comment that we forget our manners.

Anybody that’s still here, please scoot upstairs and DIGG it.


Hugh | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:48 am 113

Got here late. Just a quick word on the “It’s all Americans’ fault” meme. Yes, American bankers came up with most of this shit. But as I have often said, bankers and financial markets around the world could do the math as well as the DFHs around here and they bought the crap anyway. I’ve read that many European banks were even more highly leveraged than their American counterparts. And a lot of the downturn in the UK is due to their own housing bubble, not ours.

I am in no way trying to mitigate the culpability of American banks. But this is a systemic problem of world financial markets. They all were doing it.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:48 am 114
In response to acquarius74 @ 112

DIGG is open (prior glitches)


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:51 am 115
In response to acquarius74 @ 114

Christy, I refreshed screen both times and DIGG transfer still not working. Maybe someone else’s computer can accomplish it.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 08:56 am 116
In response to Hugh @ 113

hugh – what i’m reading is that it is not primarily american bankers who are being blamed (although all the bankers are pretty much despised). it is our gov policies, both our own and those we pushed on others. but i’m limited to english lang reports and american activists. if you know of other views i’m missing, would love to hear of them.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:09 am 117
In response to Hugh @ 113

I agree, Hugh. IMHO, the blame-placers should say, “Hank Paulson & Co” instead of “the Americans”.

I remember reading online the transcript of an SEC board meeting 03/05/2005 with Paulson as CEO of Goldman Sachs, the CEOs of Morgan Stanley, Lehman Bros., and 2 others. The CEOs asked that the SEC restrictions be lifted and they be allowed to self-regulate. The board approved, with one member remarking something like….I sure hope it works because if it doesn’t, there’s gonna be one Hxxx of a mess to try to clean up. (paraphrased)…..well, it didn’t work out so well.

Paulson got an obscene number of millions in bonus for 2005 and $18 plus million for the first 5 months of 2006 before taking over as Secty Treasury in mid June 2006.


Knut | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:18 am 118

I know this is down in EPU-land, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. As most of you know, I’m an economist. I’m a slow learner, too. It took me decades to become a reasonably good economist, which just goes to show that probably anybody can eventually master the stuff. Anyway, I am now just beginning to get an analytical handle on the massive Ponzi scheme that created these outlandish CEO hedge-fund salaries. We use the term rather loosely as a pejorative, but it was in fact the real thing, fuelled by Greenspan’s monetary policy. The difference was that unlike Madoff’s scam, which seems to be his own, with the help of his family and a few friends, the one that is bringing down the American economy was wholly decentralized — it was systemic. More like the South Sea Bubble than anything else. Banks lent money to firms that bought assets; the leverage drove the price of the assets up, which supported even more loans, doubling down on the leverage, so to speak. Why is it a Ponzi? A Ponzi scheme is selling a false future, when you come down to it. It’s pure redistribution from the chumps who believe in the promised future to those who are selling it. That’s the nature of any con.

What’s amazing about the American one is how long it lasted. And that’s why the damage is so deep. We are going to be a long time getting out of this. And yes, a highly progressive income tax would do a lot of good in helping us get out.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:20 am 119

acquarius74 – why only paulson and not summers, rubin, sachs, and the whole “washington concensus” gang of neoliberals? it wasn’t called the “washington concensus” because it originated in bolivia. the imposition of capital flow deregulation, structural adjustment, etc is what i’m referring to – not just the bankers who lobbied for it and took advantage of it.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:26 am 120
In response to Knut @ 118

the one that is bringing down the American economy was wholly decentralized — it was systemic

my bold.

this i think is key to the point i’m trying (not very well apparently) to make. the system didn’t arrive by magic or some divine intervention. it was created by people. and there were DFH warning us about the system that was being constructed – for example, the seattle protests were almost a decade ago and we north americans were late to the protest party.

contra margaret thatcher, there were other options.


DWBartoo | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:30 am 121
In response to selise @ 116

It is quite conceivable (and perhaps, even fair and reasonable) that the rest of the world does hold America and Americans at least partly responsible for the current state of affairs ( as well for the very considerable pain experienced in many parts of the world BEFORE ‘we’ even had a ‘clue’, as a society, that ‘anything’ was amiss).

Unless we are prepared to find some method of regaining the world’s respect (short of Cheney’s view of ‘respect’ which actually means ‘feared’ … not to mention loathed and detested), sufficiently that we might honestly acknowledge that there IS reason for others to view us with suspicion and distrust, we will find ourselves increasingly isolated … with only the Israelis for company.

As a society we have been spendthrift in our notions and heavy-handed, and arrogant, for over a hundred years, in our treatment of others, while glibly maintaining the laughable myths of our own superiority as God’s ‘chosen’ , the bringers of light to the world and the most-perfect, most-wonderful society ever to grace this planet.

As things stand at the moment, our principle export is death and destruction and our ‘wealth’ is our hubris.

And, what are ‘we’ doing about it all?

Making certain that the Caviar Set remain comfortable and, definitely, ‘in charge’.


SanderO | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:49 am 122

There will be a great unraveling. Many will suffer. Most who suffer will be innocent as usual Most who don’t suffer will be guilty as usual.

We, as a nation need to take back our government from one which is of, for and by the privileged, but which lies about liberty and justice for all. The world can see through this scam and it is only our own people who have been so dumbed down that they are clueless and will take in the jaw.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 09:55 am 123
In response to selise @ 119

selise, they’re the & Co. part. IMHO he was the lead bamboozler. His wiki states that he made 70 trips to China after he became Secty Trsry. I can’t understand why the DC clucks all but worshiped him….maybe because he had made millions so must be a genius, huh?


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 10:02 am 124
In response to acquarius74 @ 117

I was unable to find the online transcript of the 03/2005 SEC board meeting, but I’ll try to paste an excerpt from Henry Paulson’s wiki below which essentially makes the same statement:

“In 2004, at the request of the major Wall Street investment houses, including Goldman Sachs, then headed by Paulson, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agreed unanimously to release the major investment houses from the net capital rule, the requirement that their brokerages hold reserve capital that limited their leverage and risk exposure. The complaint that was put forth by the investment banks was of increasingly onerous regulatory requirements — in this case, not U.S. regulator oversight, but European Union regulation of the foreign operations of US investment groups. In the immediate lead-up to the decision, EU regulators also acceded to US pressure, and agreed not to scrutinize foreign firms’ reserve holdings if the SEC agreed to do so instead. The 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, however, put the parent holding company of each of the big American brokerages beyond SEC oversight. In order for the agreement to go ahead, the investment banks lobbied for a decision that would allow “voluntary” inspection of their parent and subsidiary holdings by the SEC.

During this repeal of the net capital rule, SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson agreed to the establishment of a risk management office that would monitor signs of future problems. This office was eventually dismantled by Chairman Christopher Cox, after discussions with Paulson. According to the New York Times, “While other financial regulatory agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C. — Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan, leaving it to three former Democratic and Republican commission chairmen to complain that the blueprint would neuter the agency.”[11] In late September 2008, Chairman Cox and the other Commissioners agreed to end the 2004 program of voluntary regulation.”

link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Paulson


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 10:05 am 125
In response to DWBartoo @ 121

i don’t know.

i guess i’m thinking that we americans may have very little say in what our government does – but from the perspective of a peruvian coffee grower, we do have some. and far more than he does even though he also is affected by the choices made here.


selise | Thursday February 12, 2009 10:08 am 126
In response to acquarius74 @ 124

i mention the net capital rule a couple of times in my timeline.


Lindy | Thursday February 12, 2009 11:04 am 127

My parents told me stories about the depression, and were insistent about storing supplies. I have also had my european friends tell me that it’s not uncommon to keep a 2 year supply of basics on hand against times of upheaval, which do occur.


perris | Thursday February 12, 2009 11:35 am 128
In response to acquarius74 @ 124

“In 2004, at the request of the major Wall Street investment houses, including Goldman Sachs, then headed by Paulson, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agreed unanimously to release the major investment houses from the net capital rule, the requirement that their brokerages hold reserve capital that limited their leverage and risk exposure. The complaint that was put forth by the investment banks was of increasingly onerous regulatory requirements — in this case, not U.S. regulator oversight,

easily one of the architects of this depression


DWBartoo | Thursday February 12, 2009 11:49 am 129
In response to selise @ 125

Yes.

Would that this understanding of how others see us (and judge us, whether ‘fairly’, or not) were common ‘currency’ in America, it would help with our ‘revival’ (in the Rocky Raccoon sense, you know our …broken ‘dreams’ because ’someone’ has ’stolen’ the myths of our fancy …)


Hugh | Thursday February 12, 2009 11:55 am 130
In response to selise @ 116

Well there are policies and then there are policies. Our Palestine and Iraq policies have been in general pretty repellent. But in terms of this discussion, I would say what we did to the developing world through the IMF and the Shock Doctrine rank high. More generally I would point to our militarism and bad economic, especially credit, policies.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 01:03 pm 131
In response to perris @ 128

I’ve noticed that Paulson is usually fully named in articles, where his cohorts are lumped into a group as ‘CEOs of X,Y,Z, etc.’ , indicating that he had more influence.

hmmm, HE had full authority to disburse the first $350 billion to the banks, solely at his discretion as to whom and how much and whether justified. And nobody knows what went with the money. …


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 01:07 pm 132
In response to selise @ 126

selise, I’ll go hunting for your timeline now. Didn’t know about it. hmmmm you do believe in takling the tough jobs, don’t you? Not work for the wobbly.


acquarius74 | Thursday February 12, 2009 02:05 pm 133
In response to selise @ 126

Selise, just found your Timeline. WOW, The roadmap was laid out way back to the toxic destination we have now arrived at.

That is SOME piece of work. Thank you.

That’s a whole new room here at the lake about which I knew nothing. Now I have to clear the clutter from a nook in ye olde cranium to move all this new info into.

(((Thank you, selise)))


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