This post is being updates for a few days, since there is so much new information being released.
I was merely going to update my previous post Change you can believe in – the “Fat Cats” will keep getting fatter, but I thought the “What amazes me most of all is that politicians can be bought so cheaply” quote was too good to leave within a post. I saw that quote and discussion at Zero Hedge: Exercises In Supreme Hypocrisy: Bill Gross Edition, Zero Hedge makes some excellent points about Gross being hypocritical and you can read that argument there, but what struck me was the ease in which one of the most connected and influential financial kingpins could push his political cronies under the bus without any perceived fear of offending them and being pushed aside from the inner circle. Below he’s dicussing how corrupt a system we as Americans allow:
–What amazes me most of all is that politicians can be bought so cheaply. Public records show that combined labor, insurance, big pharma and related corporate interests spent just under $500 million last year on healthcare lobbying (not much of which went to politicians) for what is likely to be a $50-100 billion annual return. The fact is that American citizens have never been as divorced from their representatives – and if that description fits the Democratic Congress now in control – then it applies to Republicans as well – past and present. So you watch Fox, or is it MSNBC? O’Reilly or Olbermann? It doesn’t matter. You’re just being conned into rooting for a team that basically runs the same plays called by lookalike coaches on different sidelines.
I have mentioned repeatedly that both parties are bought and paid for by the corporations and special interests. That’s why it seems crazy to me that people have an political affiliation. There are some honest politicians on both sides of the isle, but they are few and far between. People don’t normally lump Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich into the same mold, but one thing they both have going for them is their opposition to government as it works today. While they can be interpreted somewhat differently, they both stand for social rights, an end to the expansion of our war efforts and the taming of military industrial complex. Unfortunate;y, neither gets the media airplay they deserve because the corporate heads of media find their views threatening to their wellbeing.
I’ll have more on this later, but the paragraph was so loaded with information about how our system has been reduced to checkbook voting. This makes me angry and it should make each of us angry enough to get involved to a point where our vote matters again. One change that would make a huge difference is making it easier for third, fourth and fifth parties to get on the ballot boxes in all states. There needs to be one simple measure for all potential candidates to use the soapbox to express their views. Why should only Democrats and Republicans be allowed easy access to the ballot box? There also needs to be public funding for all elections, so the moneyed few can’t buy all the votes.
Let’s see just how much money the corrupt financial sector has contributed to the crooked politicians for both sides of the isle. Here’s a graph from Capital City | Mother Jones that shows the mutual corruption at work:
Here is more change that you can’t believe in:
Obama’s actual regulatory proposal didn’t reflect any of this sense of urgency. “We don’t want to tilt at windmills,” he explained last June—and there was little doubt which windmill he was talking about. Just a couple of months earlier the financial industry had won a stunning victory over a seemingly shoo-in administration proposal to modify bankruptcy laws for strapped homeowners—and they had not only won, they had managed to get billions in extra bailout money at the same time. That remarkable demonstration of raw power caught the Obama administration’s attention, so rather than risk another defeat it began compromising even before its proposal was introduced. Top bank executives and financial lobbyists were part of the planning from the start, and as a result mutual funds and hedge funds got away with only modest new limits, credit ratings agencies were left largely untouched, the most dangerous varieties of derivatives were left alone, almost nothing was done to reduce the size of the biggest banks, and additional powers were given to the Fed, which has shown repeatedly that it’s too close to Wall Street to ever regulate it effectively.
What’s worse, it’s not clear that even what’s left will ever see the light of day. One of the best parts of Obama’s proposal—and the scariest to bankers—was a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would regulate financial products the same way the Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates toasters. Even Alan Greenspan, perhaps humbled by the Fed’s failures under his watch, supported the idea. The Fed, he admitted, simply wasn’t likely to ever crack down on lending abuses.
BOA is handing out money like candy to it’s sugar addicted bonus babies even while sucking money off the taxpayer teat. Your politicians gave them the deregulation necessary to drive the economy into the ground and then gave them free money (0% Fed interest rates) to hand out gigantic bonuses for speculative investments. And you think this system is going to change? Not unless the crooked politicians and banksters are in jail playing cards with Madoff, where they belong.
Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. bank, expects to pay record bonuses to some investment bankers while keeping the overall cost of incentive compensation below previous years, according to a company spokesman.
“Some people will be getting very good bonuses because they had a very good year,” spokesman Robert Stickler said. The overall pool “will not be a record,” he said.
And don’t forget that it’s you, the taxpayer, that is paying the bloated salaries of two other failed institutions. Nothing to see here, just move along……
Instead, the taxpayer got scrooged.
Left out of the government’s news release were the numbers that really mattered — like the fact that Fannie and Freddie’s CEOs could make at least $6 million all in cash for 2009, and possibly more. That puts them on track to make 15 times what President Barack Obama earns, who is technically their boss.
A year after Fannie and Freddie got bailed out and amid continued promises from the Obama administration to rein in executive pay, the plump pay packages — which were disclosed in the companies’ securities filings — show not much has changed.
“This highlights the myth of pay reform out of Washington,” said J. Robert Brown, a professor of business law and corporate governance at the University of Denver and expert on compensation issues. “This is a sign that the government isn’t going to do much about the problems of pay.”
“The American political process is about as broken as the financial system.”
— Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, quoted by Business Week.