How to Bail GM Out

Extended Medicare/VA/Federal Employee healthcare (pick one) to GM employees and pensioners.

This is something that can be done without any sanctions under the WTO or NAFTA since other countries already provide these subsidies. Everything else might result in tariffs! Plus, this is a huge foot in the door for universal health care.

No Bonuses This Year…

With the Great Economic Collapse and a host of other uncontrollable factors forcing the organization I am associated with to raise the price of our service by at least ~10% we have already been told that the relatively modest bonuses (~2k per year before taxes) we normally receive for achieving organizational objectives will not be forthcoming in 2009. Indeed, sensing this possibility management already did not give itself any bonuses for 2008.

To the Bailout Corporate Welfare Queens: this is what is known as leadership, you venal Demon Piglets!

Dumb Reporters

As much as I understand the pressure to report good economic news, I don’t understand why the reports of new home purchases going up are taken as a sign of recovery. There are a bunch of reasons why that’s not the case.

First, there is no symmetry to this particular reaction. Simply returning housing prices to their peak levels will not fix anything at this point.

Second, with such a precipitous decline in prices, you don’t have to be an expert to realize that demand would increase. So many people were shut out of the market during the bubble (this is why more and more creative loans had to be created—income wasn’t going up) can now get a house and they are going for it, if they can get a loan. A friend of mine who has no kids and together with her husband probably make over $300k claims she can’t get a loan to buy a house where she lives. If she could, with that income, she could have a palace on a 5 year mortgage.

Third, there are still a lot of people out there. Anyone who expected the housing market to more or less cease to exist wasn’t looking at the fundamentals. Those who thought the old prices were sustainable were erroneously ONLY looking at that fundamental and not cross-comparing it to the fact that real wages have been more or less flat for everyone not in the top 1% for almost 40 years. Even with 10% unemployment, we still have 90% of people at work, many of whom can now afford a house for the first time in their working life.

But point #1 is really the critical one. Even if the prices went back up to their peak levels (which I believe would not only just not reverse this crisis, but create a whole new one) it wouldn’t reopen closed banks, it wouldn’t do anything. It might help to clean up some of these “toxic assets” a little bit, but it wouldn’t unbanktupt Iceland, etc. etc.

The only way out of this is to clean up the banks and repair demand. More construction jobs would be nice.

Catholic Church One-Upping Evangelicals

I don’t think I can believe this. Apparently, officials in the Catholic Church have decided to stomp their feet about Obama giving the inaugural address at Notre Dame because he’s pro-choice. (Is it me or does that bishop look like the drunk irishman from central casting?)

I guess they can get past speakers who violate all kinds of other alleged life priorities of the Church, like the death penalty. (Obama nominally supports that too, so, why aren’t they protesting on that ground?) Why not refuse any official from the U.S. Government, which has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands or Iraqis for a war sold on a pack of lies?

Because they don’t care. They only care about oppressing gays and women. (Abortion is just a step toward eliminating birth control, it’s not just that “one thing.”)

They are in a race with the Evangelicals to capture the support of the delirious and angry right wing of religious practitioners.

Something tells me Obama wouldn’t be turned away at Brandeis, or even Yeshiva U. Maybe he should take sides with a religion that has chosen to grown its affiliated ranks my moving to the left.

Post Office FAIL

The Post Office didn’t used to be one of these Fannie/Freddie like pseudo-non-governmental “corporations” that were going to demonstrate the virtues of privatization. It used to just be part of the government.

Anyway, “privatizing” is just conservative code for “killing” because they know most essential government services are not viable in the market because they are part of a commons. (This even puts aside the question of whether it’s right or not.) See, if these “businesses” were profitable, then the government could just use the surplus without taxing. But not everything is profitable. They know it, so they spin it off to kill it. Think school vouchers.

Some things are about creating channels for the market to function, like roads, highways…and the post office.

The reverse of this is nationalizing generally profitable businesses when they fail or cause systemic failure. Interesting isn’t it? There again commerce’s general function would be improved first by nationalization then privatization but they’re against it because… gravy train over.

I’m starting to see myself as someone who is pro-business but anti “free” market. To some this sounds ridiculous, but honestly, I think laissez-faire is bad for business.

Waaaaahhhhhh! I Want My Bonus! Waaaahhhhh! Bonus!

Some cheese with you whine, Mr. DeSantis?

Is it fair that a good employee, the proverbial .350 batting average and 44 home run superstar on the last place team, should be harried and harassed and heckled into handing back his AIG bonus? No. But guess what? Life isn’t fair! Even for bright and able bloviators like Mr. DeSantis. “‘Shit happens!’ It’s not Just for the Bottom 99% Anymore!” Now, shit happens to plutocrats too!


It’s really not that complicated. The American Street is not  trying to claw back the lip smacking kills of successful business Cenetaurs along with the weasel gains of the Credit Default Swappers willy-nilly. Rather, America does not want to see AIG, the Mothership holding both these heroes and villains, pay extra compensation to any of its employees when the scope of its overall failures are threatening to deep six the economy.The 742K Mr. DeSantis is sniffing about is money we gave AIG to fix its problems, not award its “Team.” The super star on the last place roster does not get to participate in the playoffs.

How can anyone not understand that they themselves should not be getting a bonus from their employer the year that their employer lost the most money in corporate history? The ham-handed outrageousness is almost too consuming to comprehend.

I’m sorry that life sucks and you are not be rewarding for your hard work the way you thought you’d be, Mr. DeSantis. But you were a well-equipped player in a free market, and that’s the risk you took when you signed on with AIG, whether you knew it or not. Lets be clear as a glacial lake here: The American people did not fail you. Nor did it’s polity. Nor even did its goofus politicos. AIG failed you. AIG’s Credit Default Swappers failed you by being venal; AIG’s management failed you by fanning and facilitating their venality.

So please, return to your domicile and appreciate your rich fortune in being able to ride out the Great Economic Collapse in relative comfort. I’m sure there is a  well-equipped bright and able person anxious to do your job for 150K a year and no bonus.

Time for Geithner to go

You know, I’m such a hypocrite sometimes. I was—and I basically still am—firmly in the “give Obama some room to operate” crowd that was trying to calm people down during the transition when Obama, who was not yet president, was “fucking up.”

We’re not done with the proverbial 100 days, and, well, the man deserves an extension because the goddamn Republicans have given him no grace period. Remember when Bush “won” by 537 votes and we were all supposed to just give him free reign for a while? Obama kicked the snot out of McCain and the GOP’s been putting his balls in a vice since Election day.

So, how can I believe all of that and still think it’s time for Geithner to be gone? Well, I’m not convinced that a year ago Obama sat in bed dreaming of a cabinet including Geither. My guess would be that he had someone else in mind. When the giant shitpile fell started stinking, Geithner, Bernanke, and O’Neill Paulson were really the point men. And they fucked up like they were Viceroy of Iraq or something.

But, hey, it was a big problem and they needed time, right? Well, from the beginning, I always scoffed at this kind of populist urge to see the whole thing burn, because I think people say that and they aren’t serious, or if they are, they wouldn’t be if they knew what that meant. There were tough decisions to be made. But, as with Iraq, little old me of no particular expertise and a decent education in tangentially related subjects was able to predict better what should have been done. Iraq: no threat to us, no nukes. How’d I know? Shit, I can’t even remember anymore.

So, here, it’s been clear to me that the solution has been to take these banks into receivership and spin them back off. No big deal. Just like United Airlines. And I guess I bought it that, at least during Bush, this was going to be very tough to achieve politically. That kind of intervention was just anathema to these guys.

Well, it’s anathema all right, but not because they believe in the free market. It’s because this bubble (shit pile, as opposed to the dot com) has never been about anything except making financiers rich personally. The 90s were about making investors rich and creating a lot of innovative corporations.

So, here we are in 2009. Infrastructure is crumbling, unemployment is skyrocketing, we’re the only major industrial power without a decent health care system and I’m forced to take the side of *corporations* and *old(er) money* against these thieving banker class pricks who think they are smarter than God and aren’t really in the business of anything except skimming off the top.

They actually impede corporations. Get this: the corporations need the wealth to fucking trickle down to them! It’s true. If the salaries (not even the profits of the financial companies) of these folks were called what it was—a tax—and there was a “tax cut” corporations would have more capital to operate and… trickle down to us. I guess we take a trickle number.

And so Geithner is all about using the federal government to prop up this system and make sure all of these folks get recapitalized… it’s not about making the companies work, or recapitalizing them. That’s so simple it could be done in a day. Here, I’ll show you:

“The treasury of the United States hereby guarantees with its full faith and credit to pay obligations of AIG.



(Ideally there’s another sentence on another piece of paper that says everyone who works there is fired and shareholders are out.)

Take AIG. Big deal. Hire some people, have them run the company and guarantee their losses and try to clean it up ASAP. Or the banks. What’s the fucking mystery here? The claim is that these douchebags that fucked up the whole economy are entitled to a second chance to pad their wallets one more time before fnord regulation fnord comes in and cleans it up.

The financial system has totally abstracted away from what it’s supposed to be. See, a stock is supposed to mean you get a piece of the profits. But secondary to that is guesses on what the profits will be, what people think other people think the profits will be, what games people will play with that company in public (like on CNBC!) etc. All of this secondary manipulation doesn’t produce anything except salaries for these pricks.

I am here, a social democrat of a Canadian or European flavor pining for a return to the sensible world of J.P. Morgan serving as the banker for industrialists who ACTUALLY FUCKING MADE THINGS so that commerce would happen and someone could make $5 a day somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, Geithner must have a small dick that too many of these ass holes have seen in the sauna at the Harvard club or something and he’s too worried about what they think. Fuck that shit. If I’m Obama, you’re fired and we tried it the bankers way.