Mitt, My Good Man





Romney: Rivals’ attacks a ‘good warm-up’

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

Dearest Mitt . . .

I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange.  I too travel in political circles.  However, I do not recall.  Perhaps we met in the past.  I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital.  Bravo on your successes.

Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter.  This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.  I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail.  Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House.  Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power.  The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.

I concur with the thought expressed in the title of a Wall Street Journal Mitt.  The Bain Capital Bonfire. Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. Might you have read the account my friend?  The treatise speaks of the gains and losses, signature events in our glorious Capitalist system.  You know the tale dear Mitt and I trust you will articulate it well. I look forward to the day when you share it with me personally; perhaps, over dinner.  Until then, may I offer my own anecdote.  It speaks of why I do not envy you.

Mitt, my man, I am an extremely wealthy individual.  Granted, financially, I have had my share of ups and downs.  At birth, I was born into money.  My father, Michael, had been a very poor young man.  One of thirteen children, the son of first generation Americans, Michael had to work his way to the top.  

Michael enrolled in University. He may have been the first in his family.  He completed his degree in Accounting.  Michael sought and realized Certification.  Then, “visionary” that he was Michael opened his own business. The man was an expert at making money.  He made millions for his client and much for himself.  Ultimately, his firm grew and grew.  

At the time of my birth, my parents lived in a large house on a hill.  The estate was built only a year before.  “Mother” designed the private residence herself.  She chose the neighbor and the acreage.  It was a beautiful plot of land, rolling hills, a deep forest to roam through.  I used to  wander the woods for hours on end.

As a seedling, conceived in a Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite, you might correctly imagine that, as  a child, my clothes were all New York designer collections.  My backyard playground was furnished with the finest swing sets.  We had two.  Sliding boards, climbing bars, and seesaws as well.  Among my favorite toys was not a plaything at all.  Made of wood, large and spacious, a cabin graced the grounds.  Outside of my little log home was a sandbox.  The container for tiny grains did not sit on a lawn. No. the box was built deep into the soil. When I sat within, a portion of my body might appear buried below the surface of the land.  Did I mention the whirly-bird? Oh, Mitt, my life was a child’s delight . . . or so it might have appeared.

I trust any child would have been envious of me, all that I had, and did daily. We vacationed often. A skating weekend here, days away at a resort . . . Sun and fun. Snow and frolic.  ate at the best restaurants regularly. My “father” owned one, that is, in name only.  The Penthouse was an investment made on a client’s behalf.   Taxes, title exchanges. . . shelters and such.   I am sure you understand old man.

My Mom too lived a lovely life. She had no need to work.  Philanthropic endeavors were her want.  Dressed to the nines, she volunteered hither and yon.  At times, the women would play. Bowling. Cards. Shopping.  Mommy was active in many an organization.  Religious affiliations were a wondrous source of shared pleasure.  Father’s career was furthered through the associations.  Mother made friends with the women during daylight hours.  In the evening, the men would join their wives at a club.  On countless occasions, a bigger bash was planned.  

Often, my parents hosted these.  The best china, the finest crystal, and oh the food.  Catered gourmet delicacies filled every room.  As a tot, I would sneak out of my room and “steal” a snack. Sure to be noticed, I was met with a smile and “Is she not so cute?”

Cute? Charming? Endearing? So it might seem. Reason for envy? Absolutely!  That is, if it were true.  Yes, the tale is accurate.  The account is my life.  However, as blissful as it might sound, as beautiful as it might be or have been, it was not.  There were hidden hurts.  

I was a spoiled child. Not spoiled, overindulged or a tike with too much.  I had nothing! There was no love. My parents had no time for me. The two hired a woman to raise me before I was born.  I was given everything, anything my little heart desired, except a connection.  Try as I might, I could not bond with my parents.  I had elder sisters. However, they too abandoned me prior to my first appearance in their home.  

The pair was forever busy.  Each had friends who were surely more fun than a baby sibling.   Fine fabrics hung in their closets and were worn on their backs.  Their bedrooms were as full as their lives without me.  While it may seem that only I was unhappy in this home, in this family, at the age of eight and one half, I discovered the truth.

Ten days after my parents wedding anniversary, my Mom walked out!  I was eight.  My sisters were much older.  It was a Sunday. The five of us were it the same eatery we dined at each Sunday, just as we had for years.  We just ordered dinner when my eldest sibling asked for her allowance.  Mother said she could not have it until she cleaned her room.  Father, on the other hand, assured her she would never need to clean.  He would forever furnish her with a Maid and of course, her pocket money  

I will not bore you with the details or the drama, my friend.  Suffice to say, my mother looked across the table at her selfish children, her moneyed husband whose sincerest interest was to have more, and decided she wanted none of it.  Mommy rose from the table.  Walked towards the door and then, through it.  She left!  Stunned, the rest of us sat there for a minute.  I wonder; was my father thinking of the food that had yet to arrive, or . . .

I will never know. He never spoke to me much.  The next day he did tell us to clean our rooms. We did, but it was too late.  Mother was determined to make a life for herself and any of us who wished to join her.  For a time, there were two of us children.  My eldest sister and I elected to be with our Mom and her new husband, the man I finally felt I could call Dad.

While Mommy was awarded child support and alimony, she refused each.  Barbara wanted none of Michael’s “Dirty Money!” She had had enough of what she characterized as “ill gotten gains.”  That was the reason she chose to give it all up.  We moved to another State and to other than a wealthy suburb.  Our family of four lived a far different life than the one we had always known.  We were poor, dirt poor.

Living on $1500 a year . . . Yes, you read that right. Fifteen-hundred a year for a family of four.  Welfare knocked on our door and said, “You need to apply for financial assistance.  You are eligible.” However, my parents refused.  Mommy wanted no handouts.  Daddy yearned to make it on his, our own.  Mommy gardened.  Daddy did all our household repairs.  Logan returned to school and also worked for meager wages.  Mother too secured a position.  You might recall the once vibrant five and dime, W.T. Grant and Company. Mommy’s employee  discount helped.  The woman who for a score purchased her lingerie at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bonwit Teller’s and other  exclusive establishments bought my first brassiere at Grant’s.

As a child in this newer reality, I was allowed one new outfit in the Fall of the year, for the first day of school and one in the Spring.  Chic, expensive, exceptional and elegant designs? Not anymore.  There were no dollars for such fabulous duds.  Next to nothing at little cost would have to do.  This was true in every aspect of life.

Mommy grew vegetables. Daddy helped.  All our produce was fresh grown.  Breads, pies, cakes and cookies all came out of the family oven.  Store bought goodies were a luxury we could not afford.  Later, Daddy took up fishing.  Even before that, all our entrees were prepared from scratch. Meals were a time for conversation and connections. At last, I was connected!!!!!  That is rich; a richness I envied whenever and wherever I saw it.  Ultimately, I had it! With not a dime to my name, I had love!  I was loved!!!!!!  Mitt, I trust you likely think you have love as well, and money, and that is the reason others feel envious.  Again, I relate to your reality my friend Mitt.

Over the years, wealth once again became part of my life, or perhaps more accurately, in my Mom’s life, by extension, I too had enough. The family moved to another magnificent house.  A panoramic window looked out onto the ocean. The neighbors were highly educated, esteemed, experts in their respective fields.  You know Mitt; they were our kind of people.

While our life was similar to what it was in earlier, years it was not as it had ever been. The difference; this time was our greenbacks were clean!  We laughed often at our lot in life as we do now upon reflection.  So my friend, I do not envy you.  I have and want not.  Oh certainly Mitt, I, as most humans might, enjoy nice “things.”  I acknowledge that is far easier when earnings are great.  However; while I never expected to quote Governor Rick Perry, in this moment I will.  “There is a real difference between Venture Capitalism and Vulture Capitalism.”  My personal experience Mitt is: A vulture capitalist eats children and families.  A venture capitalist feeds people so that they might prosper.  A free market Entrepreneur wishes to ensure that every person, one and all, have the earnings necessary to live well.

References and Resources . . .

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How Much Money is Too Much?

Recent reports reveal a reality that invites further questions.  If money can’t buy me love, can it buy me happiness?   “When has having more money made you less happy?” asks The Take Away, America’s Conversation News Program.  I share my answers.

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

From birth to the ripe old age of near nine, I was very well-off, and yet, not very happy.  Later, after having been extremely poor and ecstatic, I became well off again.  The two experiences of being with and without wealth were as dissimilar as can be.  Bliss, I learned, is not a by-product of affluence.  I share the story.

I was born into a wealthy family.  My natural father and Mom made much of their lives.  Together they started a business.  The firm, with my natural father at the head, grew.   The person who was never emotionally, ‘Dear Old Dad’ to me, was skilled at what he knew.  He knew how to calculate the numbers and create great wealth; however, not necessarily ethically.  As much as this troubled my Mom, who had stopped working with him almost from the first, for twenty years and ten days, she stood by his side.  For her, the last eight and a half were a struggle.  The reason; I was born.

You see I was an unexpected and unplanned birth.  My parents did not want another baby.  My sisters were older and could be left with sitters.  My natural father had come to love the social scene.  Mommy, years earlier, realized that her husband was not the man she had hoped he would be.  The thought of having his child . . . Well, let me just say, this possibility did not appeal to her.

Nevertheless, the two brought me into this Earthly sphere.  However, neither spent time with me.  A woman was hired to raise me.  Kind as she was, Mary was not Mom or a semblance of a Dad.  All the material goods I could ever want, and more were bestowed upon me.  After all, the man I might have wanted to call “Daddy” had big bucks.   Perhaps, this papa figure thought he could buy love.  I know not with certainly.  We barely ever spoke.

Thankfully, Mommy divorced the person who never was my Dad.  She refused all child support and alimony.  Mommy said the “money was dirty.”  She wanted none of it and took nothing.  We moved far away and were extremely poor.  Ultimately, my Mom married again.  At the time my true Dad, the person who cared for me and chose to live and act as a caregiver to me, was a student.  Neither he, nor my Mom made enough money for a single person to survive; let alone a family.

We grew our own fruits and vegetables.  Mommy cooked and baked every meal from scratch.  We purchased food fare when whatever we needed was on sale.  Bulk prices were the best bargains for us.  Mommy, Daddy, and I ate all our dinners together.  Conversation flowed freely.  We traveled to State and local parks for entertainment.  The company was good.  The quality of life was better.  

Years passed.  Each parent finished graduate degrees and went on to earn large sums.  Life remained glorious.  I realized the difference between the” good life” and greater is not found in dollars and cents; it is in dignity and sense.  Daddy had the ethics that my natural father did not.  Mommy never lost her moral principles and honorable practices.  Their values and habits were ones I consciously adopted. Thankfully, these have served me well.  I hope, as my parents taught me to appreciate and act on, I have served others.

Related Research and Reports . . .

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 Bailouts Begin



Bush’s Billion-Dollar Bail Out

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Tis true.  For days, if not weeks, months, or years the country has been in a state of financial crisis.  Americans experience what it means when the President of the United States says he will act boldly.  Economically, he has been brazen.  Our current Chief Executive unabashedly embraces businesses, just as he had in his private pursuits before he entered the Oval Office.  Bush policies allow corporations to run free.  If need be, he says, as he did early on in his Administration, Let the bailouts begin.  

Today the need to extend financial relief to American corporations is far more dire than it had been in the past.  Estimates place the figure at 1.8 Trillion dollars; that is trillion.  with a “T.”  

Conservative calculations state the amount needed as $700 billion.  However, several say that appraisal only refers to an aspect of the aid, the shaky assets now on the books of financial firms.  As he reflected on the exact amount to be paid out and the delicate balancing act of bailouts, Thomas A. Renyi, former chairman of Bank of New York Mellon, said, “Psychologically, it’s very, very important.”  What is said and done must be amenable to the people, big and small.

What George W. Bush and his Administration have done was in accord with the desires of the few; the millionaires and billionaires were pleased.  Enterprise has always been the way of entrepreneurs.  The others, the masses did not realize how the decisions might matter to them.  As long as the plebs worked as economic slaves had for eons, no questions would be asked.  Workers believed in the American dream.  Doubt rose only when the size of bailouts grew.  Now, in September 2008, what began as a bailout or two has emerged.  Americans are faced with an enormous nightmare.  However, this need not be a surprise.  Citizens of this country might instead inquire, are they willing to compromise the future.  Americans could also consider the question; can the United States economy continue to survive on credit.

As of last week, people pondered as they had not before.  Countless considered American history and how each Administration altered financial stability.

It seemed the poor, the wage earners, and the salaried associates poured their hearts and souls into work.  None realized substantive reward.  Nonetheless, for the most part the populace was content.  Everyday people paid taxes.  Yet, the public received few services.  Under the direction of President Bush, the blood sweat and tears of American labor went mostly to the levies that were and perhaps will be lent to those who earned billions in profits.

In recent years, rich business owners manufactured only liabilities.  Still, their securities were preserved by a business friendly President Bush.  

For decades, as deregulation flourished, more so since Bush, the American people lived on credit, as did the conglomerates.  The difference being, with George Walker Bush in the Oval Office, businesses had a friend on Pennsylvania Avenue who would help them out.  Those who reside on Main Street did not.  There was no one to turn to if you were among the working people.  Yet, a conversation has begun.  Recent talk of greater bailouts for bankrupt businesses reminds Americans of what they hoped would pass without fanfare; recession, depression, financial despair.

Since George W. Bush and his corporate cronies came into power, average Americans have experienced one economic catastrophe after another.  Budgetary surpluses realized in the 1990s were depleted.  Monetary gains for the Middle Class are but a myth.  Perchance, in the past an individual could realize an increased income.  However, that was then, pre-President George W. Bush.  Today, economically, the United States has failed.  Earlier in the year, a Los Angeles Times poll concluded 75% blame Bush’s policies for an economy gone badly.  The American Research Group, Incorporated states, at present, George W. Bush’s Overall Job Approval is at an all time low.  Eighty-two percent (82%) say the national economy is getting worse.  Countless cannot imagine that is possible.

As President Bush and his appointees protect the nation from monetary doom, banks file for bankruptcy.  Bear Sterns, one of the largest global investment banks and brokerage firms, finally buckled under pressure, after two brushes with near death.  Billions of dollars in toxic mortgage-backed debt could no longer be erased from the books.  Liabilities could not be hidden from view.  Arrears ultimately appear, if not in ledgers, in the effect it has on an affluent culture gone wild with irrational exuberance.  The corporate love of cash has created what America now experiences as a crash.

Businesses benefited from the Bush budget.  Decrees of deregulation allowed for imbalance.  Income inequity became common.  The public struggled to save greenbacks.  Most, in what was once the Middle Class had adequate access to the dollars they needed.  

Currently, Americans can barely count on a regular paycheck.  Permanent employment is thought to be a luxury of the past.  Companies are strapped for cash as are employees.  Some, in the richest nation on the planet, are barely able to survive.  The common folk are fearful of what might happen if the economy sinks further into a doldrums.  People run to banks only to withdraw their holdings.  They sense the fiscal boom has gone bust.  

In July 2008, there was little time to indulge.  The lazy days of summer did not calm those with substantive concerns.  Only George W. Bush, his family, and friends found solace in the statement, “The fundamentals are strong.”  Presidential candidate, John McCain’s use of the words only hours ago did nothing to quell the concern citizens in this country have felt for too long.  A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, envisions a generation will be lost in the struggle to recover.  He writes in the The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy.

Average Americans understood this.  They knew they could not rest.  The poor and those far from prosperous realized they had reason to act.  In droves, people ran to retrieve their assets.  IndyMac, a large mortgage bank, was seized by Federal regulators.  The second-largest bank failure in United States history occurred after anxious customers attempted to claim their deposits.  A massive run on the bank left the financial institution short of reserves.  George W. Bush sat tight, safe in the sanctuary of the Oval Office.

One business after another collapsed.  Conglomerates crumbled.  Corporations tumbled.  The people in the middle were taxed.  Most of the news coverage focused on the fiscal devastation companies felt.  Men and women without jobs, people who were fearful of an eminent foreclosure read of the monster mortgage firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Federal Reserve pledged to provide as much as $100 billion for each of these ill-fated establishments.  Stunned, John and Jane Does said nothing.  They only wondered why no one made funds available to them.  Few thought the President would come to their aid.  Visions of the victims of (name a recent calamity) raced through the heads of those hurt by an economic crisis.

Then, security firms stepped into the mix of mergers and mega-moneyed bailouts.  Lehman Brothers, another global investment bank declared itself in a state of crisis.  This firm also concluded they would file for bankruptcy.  On this occasion, historians affirmed, this liquidation was the largest in United States history.  The company founded in 1850 had flourished.  Now, it was said to have perished.  However, as death waited at the door, some associates did not feel they could rest in peace.

The staff in Britain was furious when they learned Lehman Brothers’ colleagues in the New York office were expected to share in a $2.5 billion bonus bonanza. Associates in the United Kingdom were told they  would be paid just until the end of the month.  Perhaps, wealth is not meant for everyday workers.  A spokesman for the Trade Union Congress, the national trade union centre in the Great Britain, which represents the vast majority of organized workers surmised: “It looks like those that will suffer the most from the Lehman Brothers collapse are those at the bottom of the corporate chain while many of those at the top will be looked after.”  

The Union representative went on to reflect; junior staffers would suffer.  “Few may have sympathy for the red braced bonus receivers but there will be many more lowly staff facing real hardship.”  A British employee of Lehman Brothers mused only those in the United States are saved from financial ruin; however, in truth, even in America, those without remain without.  

For ages, personnel did not prosper whether they lived here in the States or abroad.  Ordinary people feel the pain corporations complain of.  If the cost of doing business climbs, the consumer is required to pay the price.

Health care premiums have increased by over 80 percent. . . .  Premiums are rising twice as fast as wages and inflation.  . . .  The number of uninsured Americans has increased every year since President Bush took office, from 39.8 million in 2000 to a record high of 46.6 million in 2005.  (1) . . .

Gas prices have climbed over $3 a gallon.  Prices at the gas pump have jumped 107 percent from $1.47 per gallon the week President Bush took office in January 2001 (3) to $ 3.05 in the latest week of energy price data.  (4)  . . .

Housing affordability has reached a 15-year low.  In 2006, housing affordability reached its lowest level since 1991.  (9)  According to the Washington Post, “the scarcity of affordable housing is a deepening national crisis, and not just for inner-city families on welfare.  The problem has climbed the income ladder and moved to the suburbs, where service workers cram their families into overcrowded apartments, college graduates have to crash with their parents, and firefighters, police officers and teachers can’t afford to live in the communities they serve.” (10)

The tragedies did not end.  On September 15, 2008, Merrill Lynch, expressed a fear.  Might this company suffer the same fate as Lehman.  Merrill Lynch tycoons moved quickly.  The company sold itself to Bank of America for $50 billion.  Many mused; the transaction was quite a steal.  However, few were relieved.  Americans, now savvy soothsayers said, what would be next.

Less than twenty-four hours passed before there was news.  September 16, 2008, was a typical day for Americans.  However, that changed when The Federal Reserve agreed to rescue the American International Group.  The United States government was slated to control an 80 percent stake in the insurer.  Yes, even Insurers seek assurance from the Administration when they cannot pay their bills.  Only citizens cannot come to the White House with claims.  

The American people are the Insurer under George W. Bush.  The people are expected to bailout every business, and they do.  Yet, now, the load, the loans have become too great a burden to bear.  Americans are angry.  Most feel powerless.  For too long they have stayed silent.  No one seems to know what to say anymore.  Perhaps it is too late to protest or proclaim.  Yet, fortunately some one has.

Senator Bernie Sanders reflected upon the Hard Truths About the Bailouts, or the ultimate bailout.  This week, the Bush Administration pledged to pay seven hundred billion to one trillion in taxpayer dollars to businesses that engaged in dubious credit practices, and the Vermont Senator voiced his trepidation.

Sanders Op-Ed: Billions for Bailouts!  Who Pays?

By Senator Bernie Sanders

September 19, 2008

The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration.  These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.  

The middle class has really been under assault.  Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.

While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s.  The top 0.1 percent now earns more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.  The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president.  In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers, or nurses.

Now, having mismanaged the economy for eight years as well as having lied about our situation by continually insisting, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the Bush administration, six weeks before an election, wants the middle class of this country to spend many hundreds of billions on a bailout.  The wealthiest people, who have benefited from Bush’s policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all.  This is absurd.  This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:

(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout.  It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities.  Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.

Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:

a)  Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers.  That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages.  Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing.  We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.

(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation.  That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999.  That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices.  That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.

(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy.  If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up.  Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house.  We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions.  Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

The words ring so true.  Several, too many, or most have not spoken of what caused them great distress in recent years.  The public accepts and allows this Administration to run rampant.  The electorate acknowledges what is reality for them only when in seclusion.  American people have become apathetic.  However, the statistics scream out and a Senator shrieks.  Perhaps it is time to ask, can citizens of this country permit this latest proposed policy to stand.  Might it be time to face the financial crisis, or will more days, weeks, months, or years go by.  Will the people remain passive and agree to another bailout, bigger than any other has been?

Might Americans again adopt the refrain, “Let the Bailout begin,” or will the people ponder their own fate first and declare it is time for a complete change.  Could it be time to embrace other than a free market mentality and the plans of a President who put us into this precarious situation.  Will the commoner and the conglomerate submit to the counsel of Senator Bernie Sanders and say, we must no longer rely on credit to survive.  The United States is at a turning point.  Might the average American chose to state, “Let the Bailouts end!”  “Lets us balance our books!”

Sources For Financial Security and Strife . . .

Increase Wealth, Increase The Deficit ©

In the year 2000, President Select, George W. Bush, [anointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist,] inherits a budget surplus.  Feeling empowered by his office and wanting to please his constituency, he convinces Congress to cut taxes.  This action increases wealth for the already wealthy and provides a pittance for the others.  The surplus slide is set in motion and the drain begins.

On September 14, 2001 President Bush travels to Ground Zero.  He wishes to calm the country.  As he starts to speak, a voice in the crowd calls to him.  The caller shouts, that he can barely hear the President’s words.  In response, Bush proudly proclaims, “I can hear you!  I can hear you!  The rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”  King George Bush II declares war on terrorism.  To this end, he elects to attack Afghanistan and Iraq unilaterally.  This decision increases assets for the affluent.  Businesses build; defensive spending is on the rise.  However, financing these conflicts is costly.  Budget shortfalls be damned; we are at war!

Now, four years later, our current President is actively pushing a program that he and his fellow financiers have wanted for decades.  He is asking the public to privatize Social Security.  He states that if taxes are no longer taken from pay checks and the funds are instead invested in the market, think of how great the capital gains might be; at least for those that have much to invest.  With individual accounts, those that already invest wisely will be able compound their gains.  George and his gang are among those that do invest well; they are practiced and possibly, probably, with privatization, they will increase their gains.  Therefore, he and his benefactors are proposing an ownership society.

Bush and his band admit that privatization will not bring solvency to the Social Security system, however, they will be happy.  He and his heretics concede that this plan will not create a more secure system.  Nonetheless, Bush, billionaires, his buds, and his base want this plan!  Initially, this program will cost two trillion dollars to implement, and it will increase the deficit further.

According to the history of similar structures in places such as Chile, individual retirement accounts lack security; the poor become poorer.  The disabled, children, survivors, and the elderly will not have the security that this fund currently provides and what of our budget?  Presently, numbers are adjusted; we borrow from the Social Security surplus so that our budget will appear more in balance.  In actuality, our shortfalls are even larger than reported!  If the true figures were released, we would know that our deficit is much greater than the Administration claims!

However, Bush tells us not to worry.  He reminds us of the glory of the Bill, Bill Clinton that is.  President Bush 43 conveniently proves that a deficit can be turned into a surplus; after all Clinton did it.  Therefore, there is no need to worry.  We can continue cutting taxes, increase the wealth of the wealthy, and add to the deficit.  All will be fine or will it?

Our debt and deficits affects us all.  More Americans are declaring bankruptcy than ever before.  Medical bills, low wages, those that do not keep up with inflation, downsizing, and divorce cause fiscal devastation.  The average person is buying on credit, they are not spending frivolously; they are fighting to survive. Bills mount and people pay, as they are able.  However, billionaires and big businesses want more; the bankruptcy of others brings them less.  Consequently, they lobby.  Weeks ago Congress proposed and passed the Bankruptcy Bill.  The benefit of this bill is that the rich will get richer and the poor, well, they suffer, sadly, and too often in silence.  They do this in the ghettos and enclaves that the affluent never visit.  They are out of sight, and out of mind.  Their debt is societies deficit and it increases!

This past week is as all weeks during the Bush presidency; the beat goes on.  George W., with the help of the “Billionaires Boys and Girls Club,” otherwise known as the United States Congress, chooses to permanently repeal the Estate and Gift Tax.  They have been working to do this for years.  At the start, they realized that that if they called it the “Death” tax people would wish to avoid it.  In actuality, those that die do not pay; those that inherit do.  Even at that, only the smallest percent of the population inherit enough to be affected.  Nonetheless, this small number is among the Bush base; they are the affluent.  Therefore, with silver spoon in his mouth, the President pushed for this passing. George W. Bush and his fellow prosperous pals gain again, and the deficit will grow.  What is it that they say?  The rich get richer, and the poor?  Well, they just fade away or do they too grow in numbers?  If we grow the deficit, they likely will.

Some economists believe that it is necessary to have underprivileged.  There are experts that think the wealthy need the less fortunate in order to prosper.  Many feel that the deprived further facilitate the rich getting richer and after all, we all wish to be rich.  Therefore, we need to cultivate a lower class.  Others trust in the trickle-down theory.  However, I think that there are other possibilities.  I observe nature and urge us to consider the nature of nature.

In nature, there is infinite abundance!  All is growing; all is replenishing eternally.  If we take a pail full of water from the ocean, the ocean is not less a container full of water; it renews itself.  If we remove sand or soil, nature will create more.  If we spray insects in our attempt to lessen the population, we will discover that the insect population does not die.  Globally it continually increases, as it has done for centuries.  Nature is abundance.

If we emulate nature, we can increase the wealth without increasing the deficit, and it is true, Clinton did it.  The rich did get richer; the deficit was diminished and ultimately eliminated.  A surplus was created and the poor prospered commensurately.

I propose prosperity for all.  Seek abundance, not for a few or for friends and family.  Seek abundance for all, everywhere.  Please President Bush, increase wealth without increasing the deficit!  It is possible, probable; it is the nature of nature!

The introduction to MaxSpeak seems most suitable here.  Max Sawicky offers the words of a political economist and philosopher, Adam Smith [1723 – 1790.]

The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

Please take a moment to listen to Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich speak on the Social Security Surplus!

Please consider The Brookings Institute, Economic Papers. Gale and Slemrod write on “We Tax Dead People

You may wish to read MaxSpeak, “Eat the Rich”.  Max, discusses the Esate and Gift Tax.