Wednesday, May 15
Wednesday, March 13
Tuesday, February 19
Sunday, February 3
Remedy has been attempted by alternately shifting from one to the other of the old political parties. It has been done so many times without substantial benefit that it has become a farce. Voters must realize that the old party leaders shout the ideals the people had in the original formation of the parties. Party leaders do that for propaganda purposes only. They proclaim good, and do evil. They invent all sorts of words and phrases and adopt platforms, all of which are not so bad in themselves, so far as they go, but are simply used as propaganda to fool the voters. In practice, not only are the ideals deserted but they are flagrantly violated.Some background on the Esch-Cummins Act (from Wikipedia):
The frequent panics forced upon the people are created by manipulation for the benefit of profiteers. Between panics we have what in comparison are called "good times." But times are never as good as they would be if business were done in the easiest and most proper way.
When a panic seems to be ended the people start in the build up again, thinking to profit by what they learned in the squeeze. But most of us learn nothing by panics except that we are hit severely. Just how and by whom we are hit, comparatively few of us know.
Before reviewing certain acts, it is well to observe the plan of the capitalists as stated in an article of thirty years ago. It was not intended for the public, but was propaganda to hold the big bankers together. The article was as follows:
We (meaning the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of the people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.
The Farmers’ Alliance and Knights of Labor organization in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.
At the coming Omaha convention to be held July 4 (1892), our men must attend and direct its movement, or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome. This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination and legislation.
The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.
When through the process of law the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.
History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.
The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection of reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.
By thus dividing the voters, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers of the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.
The facts stated in the foregoing article are only too true. We have a tremendous responsibility to overcome the imposition of imperial wealth. For more than sixty years the odds have been tremendously against us. While we have been fighting questions of no importance to the wealthy, electing men to Congress because they claimed to belong to a political party which we happened to favor, irrespective of party these Congressmen have passed numerous bills for the benefit of profiteers, giving them the opportunity to exploit us through such measures as the Federal Reserve Bank Act and the Esch-Cummins Railway Act.
Even before the acts named became law, the profiteers were protected by legislation and combination of trusts. But wealth demanded even more than the strong arm the government had previously given. Through Congressmen whom the voters elected and through other public officials, the wealth group got possession of natural resources like water-powers, minerals, forests, etc. But the greatest of all public gifts were the new bank act and the new railway act."
The United States had entered World War I in April 1917, and the government found that the nation's railroads were not prepared to serve the war effort. On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had ordered that U.S. railroads be nationalized in the public interest. The Esch–Cummins Act of 1920, or Railroad Transportation Act, returned railroads to private operation after World War I. It authorized the government to make settlements with railroad carriers for matters caused by nationalization, such as compensation and other expenses. It also officially encouraged private consolidation of railroads and mandated that the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) ensure their profitability.
Wednesday, January 23
FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.
Glenn Greenwald ("The Real Story Of How 'Untouchable' Wall Street Execs Avoided Prosecution") writes for The Guardian UK:
PBS' Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis — a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering.
What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.
What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: Namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.
Sunday, December 23
These people have zero record of being right about anything, you're talking about members of Congress. Well, the economists supposedly behind this: zero. If these people [members of Congress] were held accountable for their work, they would all be unemployed right now.
Chained CPI is a big cut. It's 3/10 of a percent a year that's cumulative. You've been getting benefits for 10 years, you've lost 3 percent of your benefits. After 20 years, 6 percent. After 30 years, 9 percent. The hit to the typical Social Security beneficiary is considerably larger than the tax hit to the typical person [who makes more than] $250,000, who would be subject to Clinton-era tax rates, and we're supposed to be told this is not a big deal.
Most seniors are not living particularly well. Roughly 40 percent rely on their Social Security check, which averages just over $1200 per month, for 90 percent or more of their income. Almost 70 percent rely on it for more than half of their income.
Friday, December 14
Chapter II “Decline – Political and financial chaos, and the Poincaré recovery 1924-1930”
Year after year during the 1920s, whether the cabinet was conservative or radical, the borrowing and the advances continued until there came a time – several times – when the short-term loans could not be repaid when they fell due and the advances from the Bank of France were halted and the Treasury was literally empty.
It seemed obvious that taxes would have to be raised and some financial sacrifices made by those best able to afford them. But this did not seem obvious to Parliament. For five years after the war it declined to vote any substantial increase in taxes. When the Finance Minister of the conservative Bloc National government in 1923 asked for six billion francs in new taxes, he was turned down. At the beginning of 1924, the Treasury could not meet its short-term obligations and Parliament finally approved Poincaré’s demand for a rise of 20 percent in all taxes, direct and indirect. This fell hardest on the poor, since indirect taxes on consumption account for nearly half the state revenues, and the income tax – full of glaring loopholes and scandalously evaded by all who could get by with it, the rich above all – for less than a quarter. The selfishness of the moneyed class in avoiding any financial sacrifice to help put the country back on its feet later struck many French historians as shocking. The possessors and the manipulators of most of the country’s wealth simply contrived to escape shouldering a fair share of the burden for the war and the reconstruction.
They stubbornly and successfully opposed all efforts of Parliament and government to increase income taxes adequately and fairly or even to clean up the rotten tax structure which weighed so much more heavily on the poor than on the rich. And in their fanatical regard for their capital and profits, which was matched only by their disregard for the salvation of the country, they spirited their capital abroad to such a massive extent as to make inevitable a fall of the currency, the bankruptcy of the Treasury, and a lack of capital at home to finance badly needed reconstruction and in particular to enable the farmers, the little businessmen, and the shopkeepers to get a new start in the difficult postwar world. When in the spring of 1925 the Herriot government asked Parliament for a law to control the headlong flight of French capital abroad the measure was bitterly attacked in the capital’s leading afternoon newspaper, Le Temps, organ of the steel trust, Le Comité des Forges, as “rank socialism” which would destroy the capitalist system. Parliament refused to approve the law, the massive movement of capital abroad continued without hindrance, and though the Treasury was again emptied and the franc fell further France was saved from this sort of “rank socialism”.
But the government was not saved from the necessity of finding money to carry on the affairs of state. When the debate in the Chamber of Deputies on where to find it began in November 1924, a Socialist leader, Pierre Renaudel, made a suggestion that raised a howl of protest from conservatives in Parliament and the Press. “You have to take the money from where it is,” he argued. Indeed, one might ask, from where else?” But the very idea of asking those who had the money to shoulder the main burden of increased taxation frightened them to death and there was a new exodus of capital to safer foreign havens. “Above all else,” cried the influential Journal des Finances, “there must be a stop to this worrying of the possessors.” Perhaps so, though the possessors seemed easily prone to worry. The worries of the dispossessed were not mentioned, nor was the worrying of the government by hostile acts of the financial community, led by the Bank of France, which in the spring of 1925 launched an offensive against the “leftish” Herriot cabinet with the object of bringing it down and terminating the threat against its moneybags.
The flight of capital itself, in which the great financial houses took the lead, was, aside from the damage it did to the country, a form of blackmail against the government not to raise taxes and especially not to consider a tax on capital. The banks resorted to other forms of blackmail. They offered to lend the Treasury money for twenty-four hours in order to cover up the advances of the Bank of France above the legal limit in return for the government overlooking evasions of income tax and refraining from clamping on a control of the export of capital. Suddenly, at the beginning of April 1925, as the final assault on the Herriot government began, the banks refused further loans, even for a day, so that the surpassing of the legal limit of advances from the Bank of France had to be published. As a result the franc fell and further panic ensued.
Actually, during the conservative Poincaré regime prior to 1924 the Bank of France had often advanced to the Treasury more than the law allowed. Moreover it had put at Poincaré’s disposal certain “secret funds” of the Bank, which were considerable. Now, in April 1925, it denied to the Cartel government what it had been pleased to accord the more moderate Poincaré cabinet. On April 1 and again on April 6 the Bank of France warned the government that the legal limit of its advances to the state – 41 billion francs – was about to be reached, that it would be illegal to advance more, and that the government would find itself without means to meet its obligations, even the payroll of its employees. Secretly the Bank leaked the news to the press, most of which, including the large-circulation daily newspapers, had vociferously supported the financial powers in the offensive to bring down the Cartel government. The influence of the French press, dominated by large business and financial interests, in undermining not only a popularly elected government but – more important – the Third Republic itself in these declining years was growing.
Monday, December 3
There is absolutely no reason why the Democrats should give up ground to Republicans on this issue, or any others relating to taxes and the economy.
In 2 minutes 30 seconds, acclaimed author, Berkeley professor, and Clinton-era Secretary of Labor Robert Reich provides eight guiding principles for Democrats in Congress to fight the GOP and avoid making unnecessary concessions.
Monday, October 15
Sunday, September 2
ZAKARIA: Are you telling me that you believe you can get all, you can close that gap entirely by cutting spending, that is by taking something on the range of 7% or 8% of GDP out of government spending? That is cutting $800 billion out of government spending every year?
NORQUIST: You do two things. You reduce spending, and you have stronger economic growth. This is one of the weakest recoveries we’ve had –
ZAKARIA: You can as a practical matter, this is a wish, not a plan. I would like stronger economic growth, too….This is all rhetoric, Grover. You’ve got a plan as a practical matter. As I said, Clinton raised taxes, he got growth. Bush had the biggest tax cuts in a generation, and he got the weakest growth in 30 years. All I’m saying is as a matter of practical planning for the fiscal future of the United States your answer can’t be, well we’ll have stronger growth. Yeah, if we grow at 6%, we don’t need to do anything. Everything is solvent, right? But I can’t wish for that. We’ve got to plan realistically.