Did you like the ideas the President proposed for our economy during the address?

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Dearest Representative . . .

My answer to your survey question, “Did you like the ideas the President proposed for our economy during the address?” is No.  In truth, for me it is not that simple.   I know from our conversations and abundant experiences, the query is not meant to close doors; nor will you draw erroneous conclusions from the “data” collected.  I understand that you wish to hear from your constituency.  Therefore, I write.  I will present support for my opinion.  The Economic Policy Institute, CaRDI, a Multidisciplinary Social Sciences Institute of Cornell University, and Michael Winerip, Education Journalist for the New York Times will serve as my surrogates. I understand that the immediate opinion polls show broad support for the President’s speech.  However, I suspect a more nuanced look may reveal that more feel as I do.  Perhaps, my words will also speak for the people who merely marked “Yes,” “No,” or “I do not have an opinion” on your and other surveys.  I can only hope that you might take a moment to ponder.

The President proposed many ideas that I believe relate to our economic health.    He spoke of taxes, the energy policy that has taxed our nation.  As a father, he addressed what I know concerns you too, education.  Indeed, I thank you once again Congressman for your active support of public education.   Enrolling your children in our local community schools speak volumes.  I believe to be one with the people is to live amongst us.  Sadly, few in Congress chose the life of the common man.  

In regards to health care, which Mister Obama also touched on in the State of the Union speech, last evening, the Congress’s separation from society-at-large is evident in policies passed and again in the President’s speech.  Possibly, he too has forgotten how the real people live.  

The President did propose one plan I endorse I think The Buffet Rule enacted would be beautiful.  I believe this might help to more fully embody an actual Democratic Progressive tax structure.

Indeed, I actually think an increased tax rate for all is the ultimate in wisdom.  Even Conservatives such as Commentator-Columnist Ben Stein and former Reagan Economic Advisor, David Stockman are in favor of this more realistic plan. President Eisenhower too would applaud this way of doing taxes.  You likely recall under Ike, the tax rate for wealthiest Americans was ninety-one percent.  Republicans are not alone in their support of a Buffet Rule.  Progressive policy wonks, such as Robert Reich, advocate for higher taxes over all.  Right, Left, and Middle, we might have a consensus.  I sincerely endorse such mutual sagacity.  

Many Economists regardless of political affiliation see the correlation…Services require salaries, supplies, and a tax structure that supports all that are needed to sustain the health of a nation.

However, this aspect of the State of the Union speech was, for the most part, the only point I applauded.  The Buffet Rule aside, overall the ways in which the President proposes we build a nation, for me, only furthers the folly.

I have long been troubled by the belief that we can eat cake endlessly; yet never buy the ingredients to make it let alone bake it.  Some may ask, “Where is the beef?” I yearn to learn where are the eggs needed to bring the cake into being.  For that matter, do we have any butter, flour, or milk?  As the President does, I ponder what is spilled.   It seems all our society thinks it takes to make batter, is sugar.

We want gas to power our cars.  However, we want the price to be low.  I loathe the idea that we might invest in more fossil fuels!  The process is quick for it is familiar.  Nevertheless, it is extremely dirty.  Quick and dirty is not as I desire.  Mother Nature tells us daily that she believes as I do.  Climate change costs us dearly; still, the President’s energy related positions push for more oil and gas.  Please allow me to offer a portion of a comprehensive Cornell University study.

The Economic Consequences of Shale Gas Extraction

The Boom-Bust Cycle of Shale Gas Extraction Economies. The extraction of non-renewable natural resources such as natural gas is characterized by a “boom-bust” cycle, in which a rapid increase in economic activity is followed by a rapid decrease. The rapid increase occurs when drilling crews and other gas-related businesses move into a region to extract the resource. During this period, the local population grows and jobs in construction, retail and services increase, though because the natural gas extraction industry is capital rather than labor intensive, drilling activity itself will produce relatively few jobs for locals. Costs to communities also rise significantly, for everything from road maintenance and public safety to schools. When drilling ceases because the commercially recoverable resource is depleted, there is an economic “bust” — population and jobs depart the region, and fewer people are left to support the boomtown infrastructure.

Congressman, as I listened to and read the State of the Union text, I cringed.  George W. Bush was all I saw and heard.  Mister Obama spoke of our energy policy and how investments in “clean power” would improve our economy.  I believe our continued investment in fossil fuels, foreign and/or domestic hurts us.  Be it income distribution, equal access to goods and services, or more importantly to me, the harm done to the planet, our continued commitments to natural gas, petroleum, “Clean coal,” and nuclear energy are anathema, as is the President’s education agenda.  

As energy does, education relates to the economy.  You may recall this an issue near and dear to me.  For as long as he has been in office, in respect to schools and learning Barack Obama baffles me.  He speaks of the need for creativity and curiosity in the classroom, and then quashes the possibility!  Often, Mister Obama refers to how teaching to the test is counterproductive to learning.  Yet, all that he and the DOE put in place are Race to the Top and Waivers. Programs.  Each encourages more and more examinations and commercialization!  

While the public is led to belief that the President understands why programs established under President Bush failed, it seems, in deed, this Head of State has only furthered the stress felt in schools.

In truth, I never understood why President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, a man whose work the business community and the Grand Old Party admired.  Again I think of George W. Bush and Jeb!  Economically we move further away from a Democratic Progressive system and closer to the regressive realities of privatization.  Public Schools are closed in favor of “Choice” Learning Centers.  Charters, while labeled public, more often drain dollars from the more egalitarian school system.  These institutions rarely provide the performance statistics promised.  Many, in reality, are privately run management firms.   Education is not their mission; earnings are!

We need only look at who is invited to the White House Education Round Tables.  Pedagogues are not welcome.  Their voices are intentionally absent from the conversation.  Influential “investors” sit with the President and his Secretary of Education.  These same persons now occupy our public schools.  Thus, economically speaking, education is now a growth industry!  

The President said in his speech, “For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning, the first time that’s happened in a generation.”  I inquire Congressman, how do we evaluate the minimal cost to the federal government and the so-called rise?   Hmm?

In Obama’s Race to the Top, Work and Expense Lie With States:

By adding just one-third of one percent to state coffers, the feds get to implement their version of education reform.

That includes rating teachers and principals by their students’ scores on state tests; using those ratings to dismiss teachers with low scores and to pay bonuses to high scorers; and reducing local control of education.

Second, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and his education scientists do not have to do the dirty work. For teachers in subject areas and grades that do not have state tests (music, art, technology, kindergarten through third grade) or do not have enough state tests to measure growth (every high school subject), it is the state’s responsibility to create a system of alternative ratings.

In New York, that will have to cover 79 percent of all teachers, a total of 175,000 people. The only state tests for assessing teachers are for English and math, from fourth grade to eighth.

Yet, the President and Arne Duncan have persuaded the public and policymakers that the invisibles, learning and the effect a mentor has on our offspring, can be measured in a day, an hour, or on one single assessment.   I know not of you; however, in my life, even when I scored well on a test, the results did not reflect my learning.  Guesstimates, short-term memory, the fluke that is a coincidence, these are not calculated in our high-stakes assessments.  However if it were possible to accurately evaluate these, then perhaps the reliance on test scores might make some sense, although still very little.

I am reminded of a statement President Obama made in his speech last evening that I do agree with. “Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives.” I think every individual outside the Hall can also point to a Professor or Academic who transformed what would be. Yet, we punish our mentors when their students do not perform on command.

I cry for the young and the old.  In truth, tears flow for every American.  The reason, in a society such as ours, there is no reverence for humanity, nay-human health.  Congressman, please indulge me as I reflect on health care coverage.  President Obama stated, “That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

Oh, my.  Once more regression is our nation’s reality.  May I present a bit to ponder…This quote is taken from an Economic Policy Institute Report.

Medicare Privatization: A Cautionary Tale

The private plans are only competitive because they play on a tilted playing field. When that is not enough, they resort to hard-sell tactics that take advantage of vulnerable seniors-practices that prompted an ongoing congressional investigation. They also create road blocks and traps that prevent seniors from being fully reimbursed for care.

Medicare privatizers spend a lot of taxpayer money lobbying Congress, and their story keeps changing. The original rationale for private plans was that competition would lower costs, so payments were capped at 95% of the average Medicare cost for each county. The plans still prospered by cherry-picking healthy seniors, a problem that was only partly abated through risk adjusting. Since it is now established that these plans are actually less efficient than the public one, the current claim is that they help minorities and other underserved groups, an argument that also has little merit, according to research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.”

Oh Representative, I lived in California when Proposition 13 and the “No New Taxes” hymn were born.  Today, I realize through President Obama’s speech, this tune grows louder.  The nation, and our democracy die.  Free Enterprise thrives.

Having read to the end, I hope you will understand.  All the information I offer in my missive to you and so much more influenced my answer to your survey question Congressman.  “Did you like the ideas the President proposed for our economy during the address?” No, I did not.  I wonder; did you?

I look forward to future conversations.  May we discuss what for me is the greatest dilemma; The State of the Union divides us as do the plans the President proposed.

Sincerely . . .

Betsy L. Angert

January 25, 2012

Got A New Sheriff, Elizabeth Warren



Elizabeth Warren Rap Video- Got A New Sheriff

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There is so much flak for what seems would be a fine Presidential appointment.  The nation’s Chief Executive, Barack Obama, is often characterized as Spock, a Vulcan who is almost virtually void of emotion.  It is said that our current President is practical.  He acts on logic.  Yet, this supposed intellectual individual has, at times, seemed ready to do other than what most think reasonable.  Mister Obama has not appointed the truly best Sheriff for towns throughout the country, Elizabeth Warren..

Rather than rapidly select Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren as the first-ever director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a new agency born out of her years-long efforts to secure a Consumer Rights Department within the Federal Government, many speculated Barack Obama might nominate Secretary Tim Geithner disciple Michael Barr.

Since White House Advisor Larry Summers, an advocate for never-too-big banks did not favor Elizabeth Warren, there is even more reason for worry, or so the populace believes.   Americans have seen, heard, and read some backtracks. Yet, the post remains unfilled.   Granted, there are other candidates, any of which would avoid conflicts in the Executive Branch, but back on the boulevards . . .

The American people know what they want.  Fearful that Mister Obama will choose a financial insider or friend to one, have penned their names on numerous petitions.  The public took their preference to the streets.  Protests were held.  Rallies, rants, and campaigns organized to raise dollars have worked to deliver the people’s message. “We want Elizabeth Warren” to protect those of us who reside on Main Street.  Still, The Commander-In-Chief appears to be poised, or possibly persuaded by his pals on Wall Street and friends in the White House, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers. Thus, Today, the people again express concern, this time in the form of a short film. Elizabeth Warren Rap Video- Got A New Sheriff

Until the day when the decision is formally delivered, people will proclaim, Mister President, “We want Elizabeth Warren to serve as our Sheriff.”  Should Mister Obama do other than the public craves, we can only imagine how consumers will feel about out present Administration and their authentic commitment to change a seriously corrupt system.

References for Consumer Rights Reform and Realities . . .

Media and the Message. CNN; Retain Bush Tax Cuts

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010.  Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press.  When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree.  In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts,  but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”  

This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms.  Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best.  These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome.  Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth.  Tax cuts expired?  “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.

Prominent persons in the Press know a snappy slogan, a simple statement repeated over and over again, an authoritative analysis, will yield a colossal return.  If the powerful exert pressure, they can sway the public and those who will persuade Congress to act, or not take action.   Without resorting to force, the wealthy need not worry. Forceful levy loopholes and tax rate reducers were long ago secured and still loom large.

Companies, most of which pay no United States taxes are often led by the affluent who, for years, sought greater protection for their wealth..  Indeed, many corporations forfeit less in levies in 2010 than in previous years.  Deductions are a delightful indulgence.  Even the electorate has grown to appreciate this pleasurable pursuit.

Individuals influenced by industry infomercials have insisted on the luxury.  Tax bills in 2009 are at the lowest level since 1950.  Regardless, many moneyed Americans want these lowered, if not eliminated in total. Thus, the public sees what they have for days, or is it weeks, a flood of news stories that speak in contrast to Economist Greenspan’s pronouncement.  The powerful understand that the former Fed Chairs statement was quite a severe blow to those invested in a taxless ideology.

On the same date, on Cable News Network’s a distinguished Anchor, Newsweek and Washington Post Columnist, Fareed Zakaria concurred.   The time to cut the deficit and let the Bush tax cuts expire is now.  Editor of Newsweek International and a New York Times bestselling Author, Mister Zakaria asserts, “Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent, or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.”  This contention, with consideration for a credible source, was a second slam to commercial interests and to the political Party that promotes their causes.  

Mister Zakaria’s editorial would not be aired endlessly on various outlets. Nor would Alan Greenspan’s words be heard on many a local channel.  Another expert on policy, one who also speaks for the “Right”,  David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan would also be kept out of sight.

Only a day earlier, an article penned by Mister Stockman appeared in The New York Times.  In the missive, Stockman, once identified as a man with “Lincolnesque credentials”  expressed the angst he feels when his cohorts’ claim the need to extend the tax cuts.  The Reagan Budget Director cynically summarizes “How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy.”  The treatise titled Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, was the final strike.  

These slams could not stand, high salaried Chief Executives and their shills, such as Cable News Network, calculated.  Turner Broadcasting Systems decided to turn the ultimate key.  Media is the message.  The Press is able to manufacture promotional presentations and produce alternative authenticities.  The company realized the need to take restrained; yet aggressive action.  Slick salespersons, public relations professionals in the Press are well aware of the sound adage; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.  People like sweetened solutions.

While true; each of the three esteemed experts spoke eloquently, and with abundant authority, the more persuasive and popular drone can and does drown out a meaningful message.  Cable News Network has vast resources and knowledge of how to deliver decisively, the populace demands, words of woe and whoa!  The Turner channels, with Corporate Chiefs interest at heart, transmits, as many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents wish to believe; life as we have come to know it cannot change.  

Regardless of Party affiliation, in America the public professes, “We are taxed enough.” En masse, citizens clamor;  “No new taxes!” “No tax increases!” We do not want to pay the price, is the consensus.  Most do not want to acknowledge, as Alan Greenspan and Fareed Zakaria have, Americans have paid for their own indulgence and chosen ignorance dearly.

In accordance with the adopted corporate mission, the wishes of Chief Executives, and possibly his own penchant, Correspondent Allan Chernoff compiled   a report that would please the common folk. This puff-piece touts as the public wishes to believe; the people need not contribute to the greater good of the community.  The innocent “documentation” that passes for fact, or is passed on as the truth, floods the airwaves.  It appears on local stations and hour after hour on network programs.  

This “news story” [sic] makes no mention of how the quoted sources benefit from a promoted belief, “In planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit. But if families have to cut back on spending to pay those taxes, that may hurt the economy. It could de-rail the recovery.”

The Press hides what threatens the wealthy; the words of Alan Greenspan, He said “The problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is that spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous and my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.”  

The “Right” and media moguls who used to anxiously await Alan Greenspan’s advise now reject the man once titled an oracle.   David Stockman, once characterized as a wunderkind is no longer welcome at the White House, on Wall Street, or in the Mainstream Media studios.

Interesting, or possibly, as expected, the words of the esteemed Mister Zakaria are also void in the less than honest, well honed, and more aired, Cable News Network account. “Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest point since 1950, and they had dropped to very low levels even before the recession. Half of Americans now pay no income taxes.”

Instead, the report that invites Americans to retain Bush Tax cuts is broadcast farther and wider than the more informed elucidations.  Contrary to the tax cutters claims that President Obama plans to punish the Middle Class, Bloomberg reports, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend [the tax cuts] for households earning up to $250,000 and let them end for wealthier taxpayers.”  Fareed Zakaria and perchance more surprisingly, in another forum, David Stockman, wish this were true.

Truthfulness is often tweaked when expert and powerful prose point to a vapid veracity, one that is less desirable to the self-defined blissful spenders who were featured in the ubiquitous Cable News Network account.  

The no tax and spend only on self throng condemn the acumen Mister Zakaria avows; “We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest in the industrialized world or we have to dramatically cut the government, which means cutting popular middle- class programs, since that’s where the money is.”

No, the pious people proclaim loudly, we will not pay taxes, then assert, we want no government in our lives.  Tax cuts advocates forget the foundation that our forefathers fashioned.  Essayist, Pamphleteer, Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical reality.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Instead of Paine’s and Zakaria’s profundity, the language Americans long for is the sentiment expressed by profiteers highlighted in the Chernoff commentary.  Scott Hodge, President of Tax Foundation, an institute that Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman acknowledged as an unreliable source, reinforced the accepted alarm.  Mister Hodge affirmed, “If Congress does nothing, it could lead to one of the largest tax increases in American history.”  Robert Traphagen, a partner with Traphagen Financial, and a man who makes money when affluent clients invest in purely personal wealth, affirmed, “If new tax legislation is not implemented, it would be a dramatic effect to the middle class.” Indeed, it would.

Were we to adopt as Fareed Zakaria, Doctor Greenspan, and David Stockman think wise, Americans would have more money for schools, streets, services. The middle class would thrive.  Media moguls would have less money to survive. Hence, the mantra, the message, If Bush tax cuts expire this will  hurt America

References for varied realities . . .

Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire



CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Thomas Paine; Reflections From the Past

Essayist, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor, and intellectual Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical truth.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Meet the Meatrix





copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

As you gobble that fine food, be it steak, a frankfurter, roasted chicken, or an omelet, please, sit back relax. Put your feet up and stay a while.  I will furnish the entertainment in the form of a film. Meatrix is fun, fascinating, and far from folly.  This presentation is playful; the message profound.  

You may recall the fairy tales you loved as a child.  The plots varied, although all had elements of mystery.  Adventures were abundant.  Tots were often so engrossed in the tales, they barely noticed that the themes taught a life lesson.  Meatrix is as the fables you once anxiously awaited and even asked others to read aloud to you.

The main characters move you through the story.  Moopheus leads Leo through the world of rolling hills, the family farm, and into . . . Well, I do not wish to tell you the ending.  Please travel with the pair as they stroll along.  Follow them into the meadows and fields.  Allow yourself to suspend disbelief, or embrace mistrust.  Just as Leo, you and I, and the person who shares a meal with you, have a choice.  We can take the blue pill or the red one.  Fantasy or reality; either may be hard to swallow.  Nonetheless, let us indulge. The travel could be delicious . .  . or dreadful.  Are you ready to explore?  If so, let us go.  Let us meet Meatrix.  He will show you the way.  The decision to travel is yours.

If you choose, to meet The Meatrix and Learn About the Issues, you may want to Take Action.  What can you do?  If you wish to, Spread the word.  At least, consider what you eat, where it came from, and what sacrifices were made for your breakfast, lunch, snack(s), or dinner.  Perchance, the “Happy Meal” is not such a bargain or worth the price we pay.

“Too Big To Fail”



April 25, 2010, the day before the scheduled Senate vote.  The subject, a debate financial reform

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On April 25, 2010, a day before a vote that would decide whether the Senate would debate financial reform, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke of the oft-stated belief, some enormous economic engines are to “Too Big To Fail.”

Senator Sanders presented the numbers beginning with the big four (4).  Bernie Sanders bellowed, there are 4 major banks in our country.  These are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and CitiGroup.  Many in the audience might have recalled that three of these Tapped the Fed for Financing in August 2007.  

At the time, the fourth of these financial institutions, Wells Fargo, declined to comment in regards to its status.  Rather than state whether this giant holder of greenbacks had borrowed from the Federal Reserve discount window, Wells Fargo declared it had “ample funds.”  By April 2010, the other depositories did as well.  In the Spring of this year, actually days ago, headlines blared.  Good news, Big Banks Are Back as JPMorgan, Citigroup Turn Corner.  Perchance, ironically, as average Americans struggled to survive, Bloomberg Business Week reported there was reason for “optimism.”

Bank of America Corp.,  JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., beneficiaries of $140 billion in taxpayer funds, reduced loan-loss provision expenses from last quarter and said the bottom of the credit cycle was past. Their investment-banking arms capitalized on fixed-income trading, leading to combined first-quarter profits of $13.4 billion, the most since the second quarter of 2007 before the crisis began. Citigroup reduced reserves for the first time since 2006.

As the bully banks built their revenues, Americans depleted theirs.  Even when economic times are tough, or perhaps especially when it is difficult to make ends meet, in our Credit Card Nation: (we may be) Addicted to Debt.  It is not that consumers wish to be obsessed with spending, scientists say, this might be habit.  Purchasing patterns were well learned and established long before the current recession.  After all, since the 1950s, Americans have been trained to say, charge it.  Indeed, “More credit cards are issued in this country than any other country,” said John Ulzheimer of Credit.com. That’s nearly 700 million, more than two cards for every American.

In truth, in the last year and one half, people have cut back.  Since the recent Recession began, people have tightened their purse strings.  Nonetheless, circumstances did not allow them to climb out of debt.  On March 5, 2010, CreditCards.com cited a glaring truth; “Americans increased their overall consumer debt in January (2010) for the first time in a year, even as they continued to trim their credit card balances.”  The conclusion, “Unemployment remains a challenge.”  

As Americans count pennies, Bankers build bigger vaults.  After all, fiscal tycoons invested well for many years. Financiers found a niche and a captive audience, one the money merchants now hold hostage.  Statistically stated, Senator Bernie Sanders shared . . .

  • The four financial institutions issue 2/3 of the credit cards
  • The four fiscal stalwarts hold 1/2 of all mortgages
  • These giants own and control 7 Trillion Dollars which happens to be 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the United States of America

Thus, the question must be asked.  Is there reason for optimism when the banks do well, or might the bank profits correlate to greater consumer debt.  Possibly, the answer to that query may not be as meaningful as the response to another.  What can Americans expect once the Senate debates the essential question, “Are these financial institutions too big to fail or just too big to exist?” Will citizens remain at the mercy of the miserly billionaire Bankers, or will the American people be set free to financially flourish?

References in regards to Financial Reform . .

The War’s Waste



Iraq: Thousands Dead, $747.3 Billion Spent And Not Any Safer

The damage done, affects us all economically.  Years of war have done nothing to further education, enrich, or protect the environment.  Indeed, endless battles have destroyed any sense of balance or betterment.  Ethically, hostilities in the Middle East have helped to erode societal standards.  Might we ask; what have we taught our children? How to waste money . . . that human lives are but waste . . . that their elders think funds and a focus on education are a waste, or that ethical standards are a waste of time and energy.  Surely, attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed nothing to the Seventh Generation.

Documentary Filmmaker Robert Greenwald grieves for the unborn little ones and those who passed, as do the families, friends and familiars of military men, women, and civilians who have been touched by the perpetual battles.  Even those who may not have seen combat have experienced the repercussions.  Throughout the world, the waste is sky high.  Those who do not correlate the debris with the destruction in the Persian Gulf; nonetheless feel the effects.  As Robert Greenwald observes . . .

More than 4,300 American Lives.  At least 95,600 Iraqi civilians dead, with some estimates more than six times that number.  More than $747 billion spent so far, which, combined with the effect on oil prices and with indirect costs, helped lead to the economic crisis. Reduced, not enhanced, American security.

The Iraq war, like the Afghanistan war is a massive case of waste, fraud and abuse.

While it’s a good thing that President Obama committed to ending the Iraq war, he’s ratcheting up a more expensive Afghanistan war while we’re still reeling from the economic impact of the former. With Al Qaida having been driven from the country and with our increased troop presence having been met with increasing violence nation-wide, it’s clear that Obama’s War, like Bush’s War, also fails to make us safer. We don’t have a spare trillion dollars for useless war.

Our new video marks this tragic anniversary. But, we need your help in letting the administration know that we understand the damage done to Iraq and to our country. We also know that there will be no economic recovery as long as we’re spending $100 billion a year on another war that doesn’t make us safer–the war in Afghanistan.

That’s why we’re asking everyone to report the Afghanistan war as an example of waste, fraud and abuse on the White House’s official economic recovery website, Recovery.gov Simply scroll down to the field marked “What” and paste this message into the text box:

“I’d like to report the waste of billions of dollars of our national wealth in Afghanistan on a war that doesn’t make us safer. It’s fraud to portray this as a war that increases our security, and it’s abusive of U.S. troops and local civilians to drag out this war any longer. End the war so we can have real economic recovery.”

You don’t have to fill out the whole form. Just let them know that you think spending more for useless wars is a clear example of waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayer that will undermine economic recovery.

Thanks to Bush, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a massive waste of human life and treasure. Let’s not let the Obama administration make the same mistake again in Afghanistan.

While erroneous assumptions have already been made, and acted upon, it is vital that the American people ensure that these costly wars end.  Please, let us remind the President, that dollars devoted to deliberate demolition far exceeds what we spend on our infrastructure, education, the environment, and authentic health care coverage.  Americans have experienced a drastic reduction in police forces, fire departments, and all civil servants.  What we spend abroad affects those at home and on foreign shores.  

In the United States, we must ask ourselves, can we afford the waste that is war.  Was it worth the cost of lives lost?  Can we economically or ethically justify the lessened quality of life for soldiers and, or civilians.  Will we be able to live with the thought that tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have perished all for naught?   More will die, and not necessarily in battles.  Some will be in hospital beds.  Others in homes without the funds for health care coverage.  A few will expire on the streets, be they victims of increased crime, unemployment, caused by a lack of education, or other circumstances that a warfare budget creates. All this occurred because we, as a country, have dissipated billions of dollars in unwarranted conflicts.  

In an effort to maim and murder, many innocent Iraqi, Afghani, American, and allies suffer.  Most of these are as you and I, seemingly peaceful persons who do not have the power policy-makers do.  Thus, Filmmaker Greenwald asks for your assistance, as do other concerned citizens.  Please help our nation, the national budget, and people here and on foreign lands heal.

References . . .

Ben Bernanke. Bernie Sanders; Who Will Build A Better America?



Sanders outlines his objections to Ben Bernanke re-confirmation

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The adage is “Time moves on.”  The assumption is all will get better.  However, for the little people in the United States, those who work, pay taxes, and still cannot make ends meet, life has been a backward motion.  Throughout the history of America, it was believed the people, with the assistance of elected Representatives, and well-chosen regulators would ensure that the United States was solid, strong, and fiscally viable.  Currently the public is told. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has saved the country from certain crash.   However, for the first time in generations, the population feels as though it is in free fall.

Children cannot necessarily expect to earn more than their parents.  The plight of average American Moms and Dads is, in 2009, the burden of their brood.  Each asks, as they had not felt a need to do only years earlier.  Who will build a better America?

Policymakers, once thought to have that charge assigned to them , today are insensitive to the needs of the people who labor for a living.  Those in the Halls of Congress and government offices, elected and appointed, disregard the realities of those who reap little if any real rewards.  Public policy officials praise each other, pat the backs of those responsible for the nation’s decline.  Indeed,  Administrators are anointed and then reappointed, just as Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has been and is about to be!

Presidents and Representatives have long reveled in the presence of the Federal Reserve Chairman who helped make the once possible and predictable American Dream, now impossible. This week, as Ben Bernanke’s second appointment was being considered US Senators posed pointed questions in regards to the role Of Fed, But Largely Praise the Chair, Bernanke. A few within the Senate Banking Committee were critical.  Nonetheless, the conventional wisdom was Ben Bernanke would be easily approved again.  Then Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke.

The Senator pointed out that the Fed Chair has held the position for years.  On this occasion, he, Sanders, would do all he could to stop another Bernanke appointment.  It seemed, until this moment, just as inn the past, no one apart from Bernie Sanders had dared to even stall or block the process.  Certainly, Congress would present arguments, offer advice, grand stand, and then make the supreme gesture.  Ben Bernanke would be anointed in charge of the people’s cash.  With the Senate Floor under his feet and the face of a stunned Bernanke in his sight, Bernie Sanders spoke of what no one else had the courage to do, at least not while in the Congressional Chambers.

“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”  . . .

“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed.  They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing,” . . .

The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.

Since Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006, unemployment has more than doubled and, today, 17.5 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.

Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke’s tenure.  More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.

Under Bernanke’s watch, the value of risky derivatives held at our nation’s top commercial banks grew from $110 trillion to more than $290 trillion, 95 percent of which are concentrated in just five financial institutions.

Bernanke failed to prevent banks from issuing deceptive and unfair financial products to consumers.  Under his leadership, mortgage lenders were allowed to issue predatory loans they knew consumers could not afford to repay. This risky practice was allowed to continue long after the FBI warned in 2004 of an “epidemic” in mortgage fraud.

After the financial crisis hit, Bernanke’s response was to provide trillions of dollars in virtually zero-interest loans and other taxpayer assistance to some of the largest financial institutions in the world.  Adding insult to injury, Bernanke refused to tell the American people the names of the institutions that received this handout or the terms involved.

“Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve. It’s time for him to go.”

Senator Sanders stressed and asked, under Ben Bernanke, what happened to the middle class.  Average Americans could not sustain a comfortable life.  Mothers and Fathers feel as though they have failed.  Yet, without guilt for abundant greed, the banks flourished.  Parents poured out their hearts and expressed pain to progeny they yearn to support.  Young children learned to fear whether there would be adequate food or shelter.  Adolescents postponed their dreams.  Some near adulthood have come to realize they cannot consider college education an option.  

It is not that teens and twenty-something’s do not work hard enough to succeed in school. Indeed, the young must labor harder and harder.  There are bills to pay.  Moms and Dad’s are often unemployed,, or barely hanging on.   Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke receives accolades from the ruling class, big businesses, banks, and beneficiaries of policies that further profits for the few, and force the many into bankruptcy and foreclosure.

Health care costs have soared in the recent years.  The reality is employers no long guarantee benefits.  Indeed, 0ut of pockets expenses charged to laborers are on the rise.  Companies have cut back.  People are pleased just to have paychecks.  Consequently countless have made the sacrifice.  Less funds, increased hours, such is the life of paid staff in America during an economic recession, or so is the explanation.  

The past is and was prologue.  As the American people reflect on The Great Depression and draw comparisons, they sense the pressure is on.  Vermont Senator Sanders accepts that, and hopes to alleviate the load on the people.  Just as he had tried to do in the Spring of the year Senator Bernie Sanders, on behalf of the American people asked the critical question.  Might the American citizens insist that every Senator and the President pose the same.  Why would we the people, the country wish to hire Ben Bernanke again?  What has he done with the people’s money, to meet the needs of the American population, and why?



Bernanke will you tell American people to whom Fed Res lent $2.2 trillion of their dollars?

The voice from Vermont bellowed what had Chairman Bernanke done and an actual answer could not be heard.  

Americans could know, under the direction of Ben Bernanke financial institutions have been allowed to hide from regulators and regulations.   Banks have built an empire.  Numerous financial firms failed.  Faulty oversight, aggressive acquisitions, and an insatiable hunger for greater profits have driven the country to the brink.

However, most citizens are by necessity concerned with their own daily doings.  The few amongst the electorate who have time or energy to read the papers, listen to the news might acknowledge as Bernie Sanders has.  Ben Bernanke has been lauded with much praise from powerbrokers and The White House under Republican and Democratic rule.  The people could say as the Vermont Senator has; Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has not built a better America.

This reality is invisible from government limousines, or from the vantage point of officials who walk on the most venerated streets within the District of Columbia.  Thankfully Bernie Sanders has stayed in touch.  He talks of what is real for the American people, those not in the beltway.  Perhaps, the question not asked in the Senate Banking Committee hearing is, who will build a better America, Ben Bernanke, or Bernie Sanders, with the help of the electorate.

References, Regulators, Representatives, and the Republic . . .

Consumer Confidence Rises; Democracy Declines



March 21, 2007: Benjamin Barber explains why consumer culture is bad for humanity

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Great News!  The good life will soon return to America.  Auspiciously, months before the holiday shopping season began, Americans were told that after more than a year of fiscal recession, or what some have characterized as akin to an economic depression, consumers were optimistic.  The confidence  index and other indicators were much improved.  Manufacturing executives assured the public, the engine that drives the free enterprise system was in a “sustainable recovery mode.” In the very near future, products, and people’s sense of need, would be fabricated again. Everything will be right with the world, economically.  Few feared the threat that, long ago, Americans had come to accept.   The foundation of a democratic system had eroded in favor of consumption.

Egalitarianism had been so swiftly and subtly replaced by free enterprise, only a small number observed what had occurred.  Mostly, Americans were out in the marketplace, the malls, or in the halls of their homes contemplating what else they might buy.  The Declaration of Independence, the document that calls for equality could not be seen amongst the clutter.  People in this Capitalist country do not necessarily ponder the contradiction.  Satisfied and secure in the belief “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The purpose of government is to protect these rights.  Perhaps not, In the United States the population acts as though there are more important concerns to consider.  

Citizens are certain the core issue is, “How might I retain my right to buy goods and services?”

The oft-heard answer: manufacturing.  American industry and individuals must invent and invest in expansion.  The United States must produce products to sell.  People to serve the needs of purchasers are also indispensable. The need to fabricate an adequate supply, and the staff vital to support it, will increase employment.  Jobs will provide workers with greater purchasing power.  Expenditure will generate profits.  Proceeds provide a gain that can then be invested in manufacturing.  The only missing component in this cycle is perchance the most crucial, promotion.  In America, we, the people, have allowed our selves to be manufactured.  Citizens are no longer the government; they are customers.

Toddlers, teens, twenty, thirty and forty something’s are taught just as earlier generations were,  for an industrialized country to thrive consumers must “feel” confident.  An apprehensive public needs to be convinced it is safe and sane to buy.  Thus, patrons are told they can pay later.  No money need be placed down.  Credit can be arranged.  Long-term loans are available, and why not take advantage.  Americans have been given ample confirmation; debt will not destroy them or our “democracy.”

Besides, banks built empires on binge spending and received billions in bailouts.   The country and Capitalism did not collapse.  The economic crisis was but an ephemeral blip.

Fiscal institutions and  financial advisers assuage Americans; there is bad debt and good debt.  Borrowing has its benefits, a new sofa, a sweet set of wheels, and a sensational home.  Damn democracy, social equality, the homeless persons alongside the road, and those without health care coverage.  Full speed, or better said, a shopping spree ahead.

As a barrage of information built on the argument, the economy is stable, buyers began to believe.  Indeed, faith in the American free enterprise system was born long ago.

Birth of a Notion

Adam Smith introduced an idea. “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.” Later Economists expanded on and extrapolated from the original theory.  Then, early in the twentieth century, Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations maximized the maxim, much to the delight of American manufacturers., such as the architect of the assembly line, Henry Ford, and the originator of the premise, “planned obsolescence,” Alfred P. Sloan.

Together, this team of 20th century tycoons converted what had been the crawl, from a reluctant consumer, to an abundantly content and avid trot.  In America, babies were not born, shoppers were.  These gents understood that if companies were to create a commitment to covet, it would take time, talk, and constant titillation.  Consumers are as children.  Advertisers must hold the hand of potential customers. Marketers will teach them the lesson; what you think is only a want is truly a necessity.  

Radio and television broadcasters must also encourage expenditures.  Periodicals must print the message. Peers will surely support Capitalist principles, as will those Representatives who are well financed by free marketers.  “As consumption goes, so goes the American economy.”

Economic Expansion Energized

By Thanksgiving eve, with Black Friday just round the bend, bargain hunters had become sufficiently encouraged.  There were signs that consumers and the Commerce Department were sanguine.  Buoyed by the numbers the Labor Department released, retailers trusted there was reason for holiday cheer. “Unemployment benefits slid to 466,000 last week”, the lowest in more than a year, from 501,000 the prior week. It was the fourth straight weekly decline. The first time since January that claims dipped below 500,000.”

The evidence was in.  U.S. durable goods orders were up in August.  Granted, the government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program spurred consumers to spend more on major purchases. Similarly, the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers helped revitalize housing sales.  Nevertheless, what truly drove the American people was manufactured and purchased long ago.  Citizens are nothing but customers. The American people have come to resign themselves to a manufactured reality.  Government is not of, by, or for the people; it is the rival.  Today, the population professes, Administrations do not protect our rights.  The public protests.  Imposed rules and regulations deny the common folk their birthright to acquire.

History; Democracy on the Decline

It all began back in the day, in 1776, to be specific.   Not only did the acclaimed Adam Smith present his political economic essays in The Wealth of Nations, at the same time the American Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered.  Author Adam Smith, the oft-acclaimed engineer of a free market system, or more fully his followers, gave birth to a notion that self-interest is a superior mission.   Hence, whilst our forefathers worked to give birth to a democratic nation, one in which egalitarian principles are prominent, those who espouse entrepreneurial ethics endeavored to ensure that free enterprise ruled.

Indeed, tis true; Adam Smith advocated for independent thought and actions.  He, however, was also a believer in the greater good.  He understood and advanced a need for government.  Yet, free-trade Economists such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, as well as tempter Edward Bernays, and tycoons Henry Ford, and Alfred P. Sloan promoted a further cultural shift.  Businesses must manufacturer consumers, and so they did.

Purveyors pursued the public.  People were persuaded to purchase.  The American populace became nothing but pawns.  The common folk are not forced to buy; they are only constantly coaxed to believe wants are needs.  Equal representation and freedom to choose has been converted to Capitalism.  Adults have been infantilized.  Mature Moms, Dads, men, and women say, “Give me.  Give me.  Give me.”

Shoppers Succumb. Economic Strength Expands Again

Buyers trust; they can have all they want.  Prosperity was the dream, the undertaking, and indeed, in America, affluence is the way of life.  We ponder it, produce it, and protect policies that will promote it.

Educated elders, Economists, and elected officials expound; if businesses are bestowed with the freedom to bring in new revenue, bliss will be ours today, tomorrow, and for time in eternity.

Wealth will be shared equally amongst all our citizens, or at least the opportunity to acquire; to aspire, to ascend, towards the American Dream will be possible.  We only need to begin to buy again.  Economic experts, just as everyday commoners trust in the Capitalist system of consumption, and why not.  In this country the constant refrain is “Capitalism is the worst economic system  . . . except for all the others that have been tried.”

With this thought in mind, it is easy to ignore history.  We need not reflect upon the seventeen recessions and world crises since The Great Depression.  In this North American continent, forever, we have faith; we are constantly “turning a corner” Perhaps we are.  Americans have moved back to the future.

Back to a Boom and Bust future

‘Without regard for the existing recession, nor the threat of a deeper Depression, citizens brush aside the words of woe and warning.  Mindful of the messages massaged by the powerful few, who control the media, the former Vice President Albert Gore observed television covers trivial excess.  In his latest book, The Assault on Reason, Mister Gore acknowledged American democracy “is in danger of being hollowed out,” as are the brains of buyers who know what they want.  Good news?

The summer doldrums gave way to greater news.   Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke affirmed there is raison d’être for bliss; “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point.”  

Finally, Americans can muse once, twice, or thrice more; assembly lines with accolades to Henry Ford, will hum again.  The nation’s most powerful tool, mass manufacturing, will ensure near full employment. “Planned obsolescence,” a tribute to Alfred P. Sloan, will still serve as the old reliable economic engine.  The “need” for newer, better, or the best will bring mighty manufacturers new business. The time to consume is once again upon us.  

Indeed, Edward Bernays ensured that the free enterprise system would be easily assimilated.  Adam Smith while the originator of the theory did not implant the seed of shopping as well as later Economists did.   David Ricardo with assistance from John Start Mills enhanced, and would create an American culture of coveters.

In 2009, we witness the outcome.  As US Novelist William Faulkner observed  “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”  What was is ever-present in our lives.  

The economic downturn has required reflection.  Americans think to adopt a paradigm, which is difficult for those, accustomed to endless shopping sprees to accept, self-control, and a sense of being part of a broader society.  While from appearances, in the near term, it would seem the people have been easily able to reduce spending in truth, consumers lie in wait, hopeful that this recession too shall pass.

Economic Past is Ever Present

For a short while, Americans were given an opportunity to ponder the predicament, people began to save., The electorate believed that economic debt and emotional deficits could no longer be endured.  Fiscal frugality had become the favored fashion in America.  “Reluctance to spend became the legacy of the recession.”  Citizens said, countless decades of spending in excess of earnings must cease. Protests could be heard; government cannot continue to print more paper to cover corporate creditors arrears.  Our countrymen must no longer rely on credit.

During the height of the fiscal crisis, Americans looked to the country’s core value. Social equality, as delineated in the Declaration of Independence, was finally thought to be the more attractive commodity.  However, its appeal was short-lived.  Democracy could not compete with more tangible temptations. Ultimately, citizens, consumers, surrendered to their concrete desires.  

News reports served to reassure restless shoppers.  Advertisers did as well.  Earlier in the year, whilst mechanized factories stood silent and still, merchants remained hard at work, Businesses continued to manufacturer customers.  Commercials sustained America’s shared awareness. “Buy. Buy. Buy!”  The people confidently did.

Capitalism; The Credible Crucible

Indeed, for the first time since the recession began more businesses planned to hire workers rather than fire employees.  There seemed to be ample reason to hope.  

Some Economists stated there will be strong growth in 2010.  Existing Home Sales in the United States Jumped.  Prices fell. Home Depot announced profits were better than analyst estimates. Luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue, whose clientele was once thought immune to severe recessionary slumps, beat the street.  All around, earnings were surprisingly strong.  Principles planted firmly in Americans’ collective consciousness assure us we will be fine.  

It is as Adam Smith proclaimed. The notion of the free enterprise system, works. Every individual is led by an invisible hand to achieve, and ,to do the best with his or her abilities. However, poverty is not necessarily reduced.  Prosperity does not consistently or evenly grow,  Innovation is and is not encouraged’ and social and moral progress is evident only for the elite and entrepreneurs.  

What is true, Statistics say one thing, citizens say another.

The numbers make obvious the need to save.  Nonetheless, consumers covet and cling to the idea that what they want is truly what they need .  Accolades to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mills, and most assuredly to Henry Ford, Alfred P. Sloan, and the maestro Edward Bernays, the mastermind behind a Century of Self.

With thanks to these theorists and tycoons, consumers are happy to ignore Unemployment rates of 10.2 percent of Americans in October.  Certain that the economy will rebound, consumers will  just shop until they drop.

Black Friday, the holiday shopping season will be blissful.  Customers will remain confident and content.  All will be right with the world. Capitalism will be stable, secure, and the economic system of free enterprise will endure. Only the underlying principles of Democracy will be lost. What a small price to pay.

References for Recession and Reason . . .’

Geithner; Gold on the Hill

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, Timothy Geithner garners much attention.  Initially, when introduced on the national scene, people pondered; “Who is he?” The former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has an impeccable résumé.  Some said his record speaks for itself.  Average Americans might have admired his ascendancy. Taxpayers could have appreciated that a man of his age would wish to manage the complexity of the United States coffers.   Countless may have considered the enormous challenge he accepted; yet, not comprehend, for Secretary Geithner, this may have been the plan.

Early on, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had his sights set high.  As a child, born to an affluent, and influential family, he learned that all he desired could be his.  He saw the potential for power in political prospects.  The practicality of a profitable purpose also was apparent to Tim.  When a lad, there was no reason for Timothy to reflect on the concrete pavements beneath his feet.  Geithner would not have supposed he would work as a laborer.  Nor had he likely seen himself as one among the swarms of ordinary citizens.   His personal history may have helped him to know, he would not have to pound the streets to seek pennies for his pocket.  Unconventional as his life had been, Timothy Geithner might have imagined as others did; he was destined for greatness.

Maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Through his elder, young Tim became attuned to the Capitol.  He also grew to understand the capital that could be accrued away from the Hill.  Grandpop Moore also served as a Vice President of Ford Motor Company.  “Public Relations” was his claim to fame.  

“Dad,” Peter F. Geithner, did well independently of his father-in-law.  He acquired and distributed much wealth in his work with the Ford Foundation.  Granted, the company connection may have served to benefit Peter.  Nonetheless, had the legal association been absent, an emotional bond born from friendship would have helped clinch a deal.  Networks we fashion, as Timmy might have realized at an early age, can be a force to be reckoned with.

As a tot, Timothy Geithner absorbed lessons as we all do.  Perchance, he had higher aspirations than most.  He hoped to meld the muscle of money with the clout of civil service.  Mister Geithner, throughout his life saw effective ways in which to maneuver.  Likely he heard tales that taught him the nuance of negotiation, and tasted the nectar of success.  

In college, and later in his professional career, Mister Geithner achieved much.  Still, the former New York Federal Reserve Chair, understood, he could accomplish more.  At June 2008 conference he spoke of what might reap greater rewards for those in the banking industry.   Former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Junior convened an economic summit.  Financially, the country was in a fiscal crisis.  Indeed, the United States was well on its way to a monetary collapse; however, only the few economic “experts” know of the impending doom.  The dollar was of little value.  It was predicted soon, American currency would be virtually worthless.

Thus, Secretary Paulson sought advice from his fellow fiscal stewards.  As the man who oversaw the most powerful and prominent banks in the nation, Mister Geithner was among these.  In response to a query from the then Head of Treasury, what emergency controls could the government employ, in an attempt to confront the tumultuous economic crisis?  The fine fellow, confident in his well-established connections, spoke with the lack of temerity exuded by one who savored many triumphs.   Geithner stated; “There is gold in them there hills.”  The gelt Tim Geithner knew would be available if only he asked for it was in the pockets and purses of the taxpayers.

As the supreme authority for the most formidable Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner felt he could assert what other Administrators might not imagine feasible.  Mister Geithner suggested Secretary Paulson insist that “Congress give the President broad power to guarantee all banking debt.”  Michele A. Smith, then an Assistant Treasury Secretary, overhead the statement.  She affirmed the truth of the allegation; the then New York Fed Chair had said.  Let us seek the impossible.  Government securities or gratuities to cover all arrears, was what Timothy Geithner wished for.

Apparently, at the time the proposal was not considered for more than a moment.  Other economic experts protested the possibility.  Financial fellows proclaimed the idea was “politically untenable.”  It could leave taxpayers in the lurch, responsible for trillions of dollars in liabilities.  Nonetheless, Timothy Geithner was not deterred.  He knew where the dollars were hidden and how to obtain vast treasures.  Capable of great strides and able to rise to the top of hills others have yet to climb, Tim Geithner secured his associations.  The Hill he planned to climb was the one in Washington, District of Columbia.

An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions.

His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records.

In a pair of recent interviews and an exchange of e-mail messages, Mr. Geithner defended his record, saying that from very early on, he was “a consistently dark voice about the potential risks ahead, and a principal source of initiatives designed to make the system stronger” before the markets melted down.

The New York Fed is, by custom and design, clubby and opaque.  It is charged with curbing banks’ risky impulses, yet its president is selected by and reports to a board of directors dominated by the chief executives of some of those same banks.  Traditionally, the New York Fed president’s intelligence-gathering role has involved routine consultation with financiers, though Mr. Geithner’s recent predecessors generally did not meet with them unless senior aides were also present, according to the bank’s former general counsel.

Perchance, the New York Federal Reserve Chairs who came to the office before Mister Geithner were not of similar stock, or had they been, their own interest in money was not wedded to a desire to mount a more glorious golden Capitol Dome.  Tim Geithner was different.  As was evident at the 2008 conference, other guardians of greenbacks did not think to give government greater authority over the affairs of banks.  Tim Geithner’s history, however, led him to believe the best could be achieved, at least for him personally, if he mixed business and pleasure.

Mr. Geithner’s reliance on bankers, hedge fund managers and others to assess the market’s health – and provide guidance once it faltered – stood out.

His calendars from 2007 and 2008 show that those interactions were a mix of the professional and private rendezvous.

He ate lunch with senior executives from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, at the Four Seasons restaurant or in their corporate dining rooms.  He attended casual dinners at the homes of executives like Jamie Dimon, a member of the New York Fed board and the chief of JP Morgan Chase.

Mr. Geithner was particularly close to executives of Citigroup, the largest bank under his supervision.  Robert E. Rubin, a senior Citi executive and a former Treasury secretary, was Mr. Geithner’s mentor from his years in the Clinton administration, and the two kept in close touch in New York.

For Timothy Geithner, the trailblazer, all roads led to the White House and the wealth that could be seen best from the ultimate Hill.  Early on, in school, in social settings, and on the political scene, Mister Geithner secured relationships that would realize a firm future in government, just as his grandfather had.   He did as his Dad did to grow gold in his business ventures.  Ultimately, Timothy F. Geithner was appointed Secretary of the Treasury.  

In this most powerful fiscal and physical position Tim Geithner was able to garner greater control over all banking policies.  What he had proposed in the summer of 2008 was never a prescription.  It was a prophecy for what he would do.  The impossible became the probable in recent months.  Banks were indeed, bailed out.  Plans for more power to be assigned to the government, to Mister Geithner are in the works.  More money is meant to be funneled to the financial institutions.

Joseph E. Stiglitz a Nobel Prize recipient and Economist at Columbia, is critical of much Mister Geithner has done.  The actions of the current Secretary suggest that he came to share Wall Street’s regulatory philosophy and world view.

“I don’t think that Tim Geithner was motivated by anything other than concern to get the financial system working again,” Mr. Stiglitz said.  “But I think that mindsets can be shaped by people you associate with, and you come to think that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.”

No one can be sure.  However, it could be.  Apples do not fall from trees.  Birds of a feather may flock together.  A child born to affluence is better able to aspire.  

Main Street and Wall Street may never meet, or at least not until those whose sights are set high step down and see how the common folk live.  The gold on the Hill does not glitter on pavements union workers walk.  Nor do small business owners, everyday, ordinary, average American taxpayers reside on boulevard of bullion.  No, these avenues are reserved for persons such as Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of Treasury.

Reference for the Geithner Reality . . .