The Department Of Justice Is On Line Two

I don’t generally overreact to news (from the NYT this morning, on the AIG-Goldman connection that runs through Edward Liddy’s stock ownership), but this has gone far enough. 

Have we completely lost of sense of what is and is not a conflict of interest?  Have we really built a system in which greed fully overshadows responsibility?  Is it not time for a complete rethink of what constitutes acceptable executive behavior?

One of our country’s leading corporate attorneys made a telling point to me on Wednesday night, “the only way to control executive behavior is to criminalize it,” i.e., civil penalties do not change behavior – the prospect of jail time has to be on the table.  His broader point was that antitrust action can make a difference in today’s world, but only if this includes potential criminal charges.

The same NYT article reports the following official statement from AIG.

“A.I.G. is a large institution that engages in standard commercial activity with companies all over the world,” Ms. Pretto said. “These activities are handled in the normal, day-to-day course of business and rarely, if ever, rise to the level of the C.E.O.”

I have three specific comments on this.

1) Do not insult our intelligence.  Either Mr Liddy is running the company or he is not.  Of couse a CEO doesn’t handle every detail, but he/she sets the tone, the compensation, and – have we forgotten? – is responsible for what happens.

2) According to the NYT report, Mr Liddy has an apparent conflict of interest.  Please answer these questions as simply and directly as possible, because otherwise they will be repeated indefinitely.  When did Mr Liddy disclose this and to whom at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (or to which other responsible government officials)?  What did Hank Paulson, then Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, know and when did he know it?

3) If the Obama Administration thinks this is a storm in a tea cup, think again (I’m sure Valerie Jarrett gets this, but someone please check).  Straws may or may not break camel’s backs, but simple symbolic issues – that millions of people can understand and relate to – can bring major political damage in the midst of a broader, more complex economic fiasco.

Let me be very clear on my position vis-a-vis AIG-Goldman and the broader Washington-Wall Street Corridor.  I’m not saying that anyone has broken any laws, but rather that laws need to be changed.  I’m not even saying that there have been transgressions against the prevailing code of ethics for executives and politicians – although surely we agree that this code needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. 

I’m just saying that we have a problem – ultimately, with the belief system that underpins how big finance behaves – and we need to fix it.

151 responses to “The Department Of Justice Is On Line Two

  1. This used to called “organized crime”. Isn’t it time for RICO?

  2. It definitely is nothing but organized crime, and definitely should be dealt with through something like RICO, if we still had a system of actual “laws”.

    But here most of all it’s clear beyond any doubt that “the law”, just like everything else in a corporatist system, is rigged for the benefit of existing elites and has no purpose, is not meant to embody any ideal, other than the aggrandizement of this vested interest.

    There’s obviously no difference between the holding companies and any other mafia gang, right down to the strong-arm demands for permanent protection payments (“Too Big to Fail”).

    There is no outside legal principle by which you can legally differentiate between e.g. AIG and the lowest street gang. On the contrary, the law itself arbitrarily declares the one kind of gang legal and the other illegal, and is then tactically elaborated from there. It’s like a reverse ex post facto or a pre-emptive bill of attainder. Or a privateering license.

    Beyond this purely instrumental law, just pre-rigged rules to legalize criminality for a select few players, there’s the general cultural and ethical decadence which inevitably accompanies it. What Simon writes about here is just another in the endless, tedious run of examples.

    It’s not even that the culture (meaning the business world, the business press, academia, government “regulators”, both parties, the current administration) looks at a conflict of interest and winks at it.

    Rather, the concept itself is infinitely malleable. Just like with torture, wherever they want the crime to be committed, they simply define out of existence any real example they see. Eventually they define all real examples out of existence in theory as well.

    The only reason a concept like “conflict of interest”, which therefore no longer exists for them in reality, is kept around at all is for propaganda purposes, to try to pretend that there still exists any kind of civic ethic. (Perhaps some of them also have enough of a twinge of conscience left that they need to lie to themselves as well.)

    But in reality, as we’ve seen over and over, no one in the establishment – no politician, no executive, no supreme court justice, no rich or powerful operative of any sort – believes there is any such thing as a conflict of interest for “their kind of people”, since they have completely internalized the mantra that their personal greed and whim is identical with the good as such. There is simply no other “interest” with which their personal greed could conflict. For these pure congenital sociopaths, “conflict of interest” is a contradiction in terms.

    That’s why it is not possible to move forward with even modest reform with the existing cadre.

  3. How could anybody have believed the crap about someone making one dollar in the first place? Those symbolic gestures are absurd. How stupid must someone be to think people are that stupid?

    Goldman Sachs has behaved like a college student who used student loans to finance a gambling habit. But the student’s parents bailed them out. Grandpa Buffet came to the rescue with 5 billion and their gambling buddy AIG handed over the bailout money they received themselves. When a counselor asked them how they were doing they said they were doing great-failing to tell them how much they really lost in December. Now they want to give back the money so their parents will stop watching them so closely-so they can go back to gambling in peace.

    You said something on NPR about how it is Goldman Sachs vs. the government right now, but it’s not clear how to distinguish the two. Who knows, maybe the government feels better about giving THEM money, so they don’t gamble it away themselves. The difference between the two is getting blurry.

  4. If this kind of insider double dealing, mutual back-scratching, tax payer rip-off doesn’t get dealt with harshly and pretty soon, then the economic consequences and populist rage will give rise to the sort of political leadership that no one in their right mind wants to see. Of course, we’ve already set ourselves up for hyperinflation.

  5. Of course we are “shocked, shocked” to learn that Mr. Liddy is a major shareholder in Goldman Sachs.

    Simon, it was you who said that we are becoming a “Banana Republic.” I believe you.

    Isn’t this what we would expect?

    I happened to see some of Liddy’s testimony before Congress, but perhaps many of them own stock in Goldman Sachs as well.

  6. he’s not a government employee, and even if so, he could invest any way he chooses.

    perhaps you would rather have had the government put AIG under the wing of the US treasury (ie nationalize it) and have a treasury employee run it. the counterparties would have been paid just the same, as the US treasury would not have torn up the AIGFP contracts. only bankruptcy courts could have done that, and it’s not clear what they would have done.

    simon, would you mind doing a full financial disclosure on this site?

  7. Pingback: self-evident » No, really, you work for Goldman Sachs

  8. D. Christopher Leonard

    a comment I believe attributed to Gide about the magesterial authority of French law that forbids the rich and poor alike from sleeping under the Seine bridges?
    what states do and don’t criminalize – as well as when activities are legal or criminal reflect struggles over power and resources as Johnson made clear in his Atlantic monthly essay.

  9. You couldn’t have said it better.

  10. Have we completely lost of sense of what is and is not a conflict of interest?

    Absolutely.
    My favorite example: In the view from Silicon Valley, whenever some sort of acquisition gets done, the CEO+ Board of the acquiring company often has shares in the private company. And this is almost by design, because the VCs pursue such folks as limiteds.

    Ever wonder why the Skype purchase got done at such a stupid valuation? Or the recent CSCO purchase of a camera company?

  11. There are lots of things that you can do that are perfectly legal. That does not make them right. That is Ethics 101, something that it appears few people learn these days.

    As a taxpayer, I would prefer to have had both AIG and Goldman Sachs shut down, along with all insolvent financial institutions, however market insiders appear to control the bailouts.

    What possible reason could you have for asking for a “full financial disclosure” from Simon, if you think Liddy’s behaviour is appropriate?

  12. Q: Have we completely lost of sense of what is and is not a conflict of interest? Have we really built a system in which greed fully overshadows responsibility?

    A: Yes

  13. Mr. Liddy earned most of his holdings in Goldman, worth more than $3 million total, as compensation for serving on the bank’s board and its audit committee until he stepped down in September to take the job at A.I.G. He moved to A.I.G. at the request of Henry M. Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary and a former Goldman director.
    //===

    Do I really get this right?

    He went directly to AIG from Goldman’s Board. (Since Goldmans ex-CEO asked him to do so).

    And while he was at AIG, over 12 billion of taxpayer money was channeled to GS.

    They don’t really even pretend anymore, do they.

  14. Don’t get angry.

    Get aligned.

  15. An act doesn’t have to be illegal to be corrupt.

  16. I agree wholeheartedly. These sociopaths are too far gone to really understand the anger fomenting out there.

    Hopefully Obama’s come to Jesus talk with them a few weeks ago when we got the pitchfork quote was more than just PR from the Whitehouse. The window of opportunity to turn the tide against the wave of unrest that is building gets smaller by the day. The decision to release the OLC torture memos unredacted yesterday was big, but the claim that no one will be prosecuted is worrisome, one step forward, one step back as usual. Until the day that laws again apply equally to everyone, nothing will change, our republic will remain on life support.

  17. Elliot Spitzer was pursuing this as fraud when his inconveniently timed revelation of his hooker trysts came out. Now we get to see who really is in charge in this country. Research the Pecora Commission. There you find the same names pop up. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and other big bankers doing the same fiddling with the system. JP Morgan didn’t even pay his taxes in 31-33. What resulted from the Pecora Commission was Glass-Steagall Act, the SEC, regulation and separation of banks/Insurance/Finance.

    So why are we reliving history?

  18. Linda Bessette

    As a nation, we spend so much money making sure the goofy kid who robs the 7/11 is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we let these guys off time and time again, after they cause hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, to lose their money. Does fudiciary responsibility have no meaning anymore??
    I am getting to the point where I can barely stand to read this stuff.
    I can hardly imagine that so many of these CEOs are still CEOs? At the very least, don’t they deserve to be FIRED?
    And the board members? Are they serving any purpose these days other than to say “yes” when asked or “no” when told to?

  19. Pingback: News Day: Cops, guns, unanswered questions / Tough talk on the hill / Chickens in Minneapolis / Wiretapping, media misinformation, more « Mary Turck

  20. What’s more, the goofy kid is just that and is certainly not thinking through the risk/reward profile of his actions. The goofy kid, in other words, is just a goofy kid and not a particularly rational actor so the concept of deterrent doesn’t mean much. These CEOs are entirely rational actors who have callously calculated what is in their best interest (and calculated correctly, apparently) and chosen to rob the rest of us because they figured that they would never be punished. Draconian punishment of the worst CEOs would have an enormous deterrent affect on the rest.

  21. i’ve learned from watching both parties of the us govt and various religions that the same people who try to take a ride to fame or power on the righteous indignation of groups of people are often very, very compromised themselves.

    eliot spitzer is one example but there are thousands. (personally i would like him back as an attorney general type investigating the financial industry because he has the mettle to do it.)

    i’m specifically not saying that there is any conflict of interest in an IMF type saying that IMF types are the ones who are supposed to step in and crush conflicts of interest.

  22. This is to be expected. When the government interferes with the economy and specifically the micromanagement of businesses to help very specific constituencies (i.e. certain Wall Street firms) corruption is the name of the game. In fact, it is institutionalized.

    We’re being robbed blind …

  23. Pingback: Friday: Now, let me get this straight… « The Confluence

  24. bobgreenfest

    It’s amazing how the obvious needs to be reiterated over and over. Simon, you are absolutely correct, as long as only money is on the line, which penalties are often the ill gotten gains anyway, bad (greedy) behavior will not change. For additional insight please see http://www.bobgreenfest.wordpress.com.

  25. Eric Dewey, Portland, Oregon

    The crowd urging Gov. Perry of Texas to suggest that secession from the US might someday be appropriate is a good example of what more and more people in the streets are feeling, on the right, on the left, and to some degree in the center.

    The aristocracy of pre-revolutionary France also lost sight of the concept of conflicts of interest.

    Perhaps it’s time for the lower and middles class to unite and rise again and refresh the memories of the power elites about where the productive capacity that creates the wealth of nations really comes from.

  26. Simon, you were doing just great until the end. Then you wimped out!

    You SHOULD be saying this is a crime, a fraud, a scandal, an outrage, unethical, conflicted, …

    AMERICA – WAKE THE HELL UP!!!

  27. Simon, yours is hardly an overreaction here. One dangerous aspect of the “quiet coup” is the unrelenting erosion (over decades) of basic public trust that modern monetary economies depend on, in the most fundamental way. To see what this means, it might be useful for Americans to travel to Moscow or Buenos Aires and engage urbane and intelligent residents there in a conversation about what they have come to expect of their governments. Such erosions of public trust may be generations in the making before the storming of the Winter Palace, and it can take decades to rebuild trust.

    Appreicate this post very much. Constant vigilance…

  28. Let’s see if I have this straight.

    According to the NY Times article, “Goldman has said in the past that it has collateral and hedges to reduce its risk of exposure to A.I.G.”

    I.E. – they didn’t need A.I.G.’s money to survive. And let me guess – they had no money in Lehman so the demise of Lehman did not directly threaten Goldman – and in fact has been a boon to their business.

    In October, Goldman directly received $10 billion from the feds in TARP funds – back when one of their ex-employees was Treasury Secretary.

    That same ex-employee, Hank Paulson, then asked a man who has $3 million in Goldman stock (“a small percentage of his total net worth”) to run A.I.G.

    A.I.G. then used taxpayer money to funnel $13 billion to Goldman (money which it does not seem likely the feds/taxpayers will ever see again.)

    Call me a cynical Chicagoan, but this stinks of clout, patronage and corruption. When’s the investigation of Paulson going to begin?

    It also seems like Ms. Pretto, spokesperson for AIG is pointing fingers to Geithner too, when she says her boss, Liddy, wasn’t nearly as involved in these dealings as the Federal Reserve bank of NY. Interesting of AIG to pass the buck like that.

    If Geithner is as involved in this matter as AIG says he is, I doubt we’ll be seeing an active investigation launched anytime soon. Seems corruption has no party affiliation.

    Country first, people. Country first! Except on Wall Street, where they just vote for the guy who talks about patriotism and then act in ways that destroy the country.

  29. This AIG/Goldman Sachs (and others) arrangement is the biggest shakedown in history.

    And that’s all you have to say? Homo Sapiens is doomed.

  30. I think Mr. Johnson summed it up best in his interview with Terry Gross on Tuesday.

    If you choose to listen to the podcast on the Fresh Air With Terry Gross page over at NPR.org, you will find a no-nonsense summation of this whole fiasco starting at 16:15 minutes until 20:00 minutes.

    Good stuff Mr. J!!!

  31. Bill Bradbrooke

    “…the belief system that underpins …big finance…” must be fixed. I could not agree more.

    However, we need to have a regulatory framework in-place as we attack the self-dealing. Institutions not threatened by portfolios of toxic assets must be actively engaged in providing credit to Main Street as we crazed, “nationalize and privatize,” trust-busters run headlong at Wall Street with our pitchforks.

    Trust busting is a long, expensive, give-no-quarter business. If the process itself causes too much economic hardship, political support for it will drain away and the job will be left half done.

  32. Yeah I agree it’s all a horrible conflict of interest – but OTH, to people like Liddy, $3 Million is a DROP IN THE BUCKET.

  33. Marty, Brentwood NH

    “No matter how cynical I get, it’s hard to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin

  34. We can’t even get our “leaders” to stop giving these crooks free money, so maybe it will be awhile before prosecutions begin.

    When voter preference for incumbents changes, likely only after a growing majority of voters notice a problem because they feel it directly, we’ll get actual change. This is like watching an impending train wreck.

  35. “I’m not even saying that there have been transgressions against the prevailing code of ethics for executives and politicians”

    Why the need for this amazing disclaimer? What you are really saying is that amidst the prevailing mindset of psychopathic greed and fraud, what we are seeing is par for the course…

  36. Opposition is something I see when I take my eyes off of my goal.

  37. Plebeianswillrevolt

    … opposition is something I see when I take my eyes off of my goal.

  38. Plebeianswillrevolt

    well said,… so – what is yor goal?

  39. Methinks the Johnson doth protest too much.

  40. Have we figured out yet if Ed is related to G. Gordon?

  41. Talk of the organized criminality takes me back each time to the “Morgan Mafia” and their first product “Bistro.”

  42. Dave, have you stopped to consider what this blog’s reason for being might be? Are Simon Johnson and Company doing this for the good of man?

    Who is funding them? Guys? And if you tell us, can you let us know who funds NBER and CEPR as well? Ta.

  43. Sadly, I don’t think populist rage is going to come to the rescue. The people are watching Dancing with the Stars, they are not wondering if they should trust the government-bankster cabal. Real change would also need support from the political left and the right. But the left will not brook anything they interpret as anti-Obama – like, you know, complaining about the bailout or the stimulus. I could not be angrier. But I rub elbows all day with people that simply do not care.

  44. Just wait til they can’t afford cable/broadband/pot/teachers/tooth extraction/food/rent/mortgage/water

  45. IMO, the worst thing that can happen is that this bailout succeeds. Imagine if this market “rally” keeps going and the combination of string-pulling, deceit and theft actually works? Most of country will continue to slumber away in a state of bliss and trading anger will not offer much comfort to those that are awake.

  46. Well if this really is a big shakedown or “bustout” and *if* the bad guy parasites are smart, they will not kill their host. If they suck us completely dry they will die too (one would think). Better to reinflate with fresh blood and keep sucking away. Rinse, repeat.

  47. Gary Rondeau

    It’s all high stakes gambling.
    What we need is a well run casino where the house never looses. In this case the “house” is the government and by extension, the taxpayer. The best way to get a hold on trading and gambling speculation is to suck a little out of each transaction that goes to the treasury. A small transaction tax could really cool down the churners and traders while at the same time providing real funds to start to repay for all of the bailouts. If gambling wasn’t so lucrative, there would be fewer gamblers and we would all be better off.

  48. If the law said:” “…and the CEO goes to jail” I bet it would get the general counsel’s and CEO’s attention.

  49. revoke the Federal Reserve Act

    our central bank system should not be private….the public toobigtofail companies are just ticks on the back of the real monster–the federal reserve system…12 private member banks that act as agents for the treasury.

    We need to revoke the Federal Reserve Act.

  50. Has anyone found the total for the money that Goldman AND ALL AFFILIATES OF GOLDMAN got from AIG? I think the numbers that i have read are only Goldman, but i wonder if all affiliates were included if there would be more of an eye opener (as if our eyes aren’t open enough already!)

  51. It isn’t news about Liddy…and this is in our face for anyone who is the least bit sensitive to right and wrong!

    If you go back and do a review of the literature on AIG, you will see a few things.

    First, it the press is timed and placed in a way to ward off suspicion…

    1) Goldman comes out and claims they could care less about anything from AIG, because they were hedged…Mr. Blankfein even answered the congressional panel with the same apathy by telling them that because they hedge so well, the money that they got from AIG made no difference.

    2) The list (long awaited) for counterparties for AIG came out on the same day that the AIG exec. bonus hit the air waves, very clever–most people have no idea what the whole Lehman/ AIG/ Tarp scam is all about but they can understand bonuses being paid at a company that has been given 185 billion dollars.

    Finally, the most interesting thing of all is that it was reported that the Lehman credit default swaps were settled and after AIG took into account its hedges they only had to put out a little over 5 M, yes Million dollars–did anyone hear how many time the value of the company AIG had sold CDS for Lehman?

    Long and short–after reading Martin Armstrongs two essays “Its just time” and “Looking behind the curtain” it looks as if our system is so infected with evil doers that anyone that tries to get in their way just gets knocked off…honestly, i am really intimidated even to post this post. This is generational corruption…audits could show the truth, but how can you be assured of the truth of an audit when you read the kind of power and corruption these folks have wield for so long?

    Incidentally, i heard that some of the owners of Lehman credit default swaps purchased through AIG were buring thier contracts as not to be inplicated in anything in the future…

    Paulson and Bernake were the architects–they played good cop bad cop at the time to act so dumbfounded on the Lehman issue…they went with populous opinion when it suited them to let Lehman fall by denying them the bridge loan–there is no way that these two didn’t know that the whole street was shorting Lehman and buying CDS’s in force to knock down Lehman and to refuse the loan would make a big will for everyone on the street–and many by the way, were hedge funds either owned or affiliated with Goldman and Morgan.

  52. Retroactive audits conducted prior to Lehman going down would show how little Lehman’s death, free money from AIG, and TARP meant to Goldman, and Morgan.

  53. Obama lost all credibility when he and Geithner announced that they fully supported the Paulson Bernake plan–and to follow up he suggested that we don’t look back, we should move forward…if you ask me, he sold himself to the devil that day, unless he had done it earlier–

  54. Eliott SPitzer was my choice for the next president–it is a shame that he ever went after prostitution as a crime because if that wasn’t one of his targets he wouldn’t have looked like a hypocrite. It really cut his hamstrings, but what a shame, he really would have been the best.

  55. If he still practices law, maybe he could get a good body guard, and send his family off into protective custody, and go back on his own now to finish where he left off…

  56. I thought you found somewhere else to infect Uncle billy?

  57. Paulson and Bernake are fiduciaries to our country–and a fiduciary is not to self-deal…the refusal of a 6 billion loan to Lehman and the subsequent of NOT taking AIG into conservatorship is clearly SELF DEALING! WHY CANT SOMEONE TAKE THIS as a case TO A NON CORRUPT COURT !!!

  58. IT IS CALLED MONITARY POLICY AND IMPLEMENTED ON THE PROPRIETARY TRADING DESKS OF GOLDMAN AND OTHER PRIMARY DEALERS–IF THIS ISN’T INSIDER TRADING THAT WE HAVE ALL COME TO ACCEPT AS OK, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!!!

  59. paulson and bernake were in effect saying “let them eat cake” when they DIDN”T take AIG into conservatorship after they refused Lehman the 6Billion dollar bridge loan and didnt give Lehman bank holding status.

  60. after the DHS coming out with their warning about bloggers, i guess it was a way of making all of us hold back a little with what we say! But, you said it, so that’s good.

    The DHS will have all American citizens outside of the banking system and he US Government on a watch list soon! We are living in the USSA, and the US version of the KGB is watching!

  61. The numbers are bigger than any Chicago machine ever dreamed of here…

    Obama sold out by not turning back to investigate TARP, AIG, and Lehamn…he is involved now.

  62. All nations fall apart from within as the contradictions are so evident, latest example the USSR in late 1980’s.
    The USA corruption amongst “the best and brightest” (sic) certainly places it in the “about to fail category”. All the high-minded rhetoric belies the rot beneath.

  63. There is the idea, proposed by Simon, that these CEO’s bonuses be paid with their own institutions ‘Legacy’ (toxic) assets.

    I’d wager that they would work even harder to make them more profitable.

  64. no, suddenly the “toxic assets’ would be so worthless it would only account for a minimum wage for everyone involved!

  65. “inconveniently timed”? It seems to me to have been very conveniently timed – perfect outing to slow down investigations that had to be making some powerful folk start to sweat. But perhaps you were being ironic.

    A thirty year long unholy alliance between government, corporate and Wall St. kleptocrats has caused unbelievable harm to savers. It has made a joke of contracts. It has undercut integrity and fair dealing at every level of society. It has made saps and suckers out of the most responsible, prudent citizens. It has turned many of us who love and believe in our country into furious cynics.

    I can understand people who buy a cheaper house down the block and walk out on the loan they have on their current home. I get it when people tell credit card companies to pound sand. It makes a sad kind of sense to me when people pour tar on their carpets and paint their walls with feces before leaving their foreclosed homes.

    If I owed money I’d probably be doing the same thing but I’m just one of the poor stupid schmucks who worked hard, paid off the mortgage in 18 years, avoided credit cards, sacrificed, drove used cars, saved, paid bills and has now seen retirement savings go up in smoke for the umpteenth time.

    What’s been done to my country really ought to be a crime.

  66. “perhaps you would rather have had the government put AIG under the wing of the US treasury (ie nationalize it) and have a treasury employee run it.”

    Yes, actually, I would have rather seen that. I’m not at all clear on why the US Treasury felt obliged to honor AIG’s credit default swaps – and I absolutely don’t understand why we taxpayers are honoring them at full rate.

    AIG sold insurance against default without building even a fraction of the reserves necessary to cover the risk of loss. If this isn’t insurance fraud, what is?

    Has there ever been any other situation in history where taxpayers were asked to pay a full dollar on the dollar for insurance fraud? Oh, and why isn’t anybody in jail for this?

  67. Assuming you’re the anonymous from above (good chance considering the preoccupation with “infection”), you’re insulting but still display a good understanding of part of the scam.

  68. ok, thank’s, and from a few of your later posts, i see you’re not all bad uncle billy! So, the shame is on me for spouting off on you…

  69. Mr Johnson:
    I’ve been reading your posts almost every day since I first saw you on Bill Moyers. I’d like to throw something out that I’ve been thinking a lot about for the last 8 or 9 months, to wit, it seems to me that any solution of this problem must first begin with a thorough overhaul of our campaign finance system. Yes, I am aware of the most recent SCOTUS decision. But what about a redress of grievances for the little people of this country? Wouldn’t our politicians rather be spending their time on the important issues facing this country instead of constantly worrying about whether or not their campaign coffers are full enought so that they can finally get down to the job they were sent to Washington to do? Term limitations are a no-go for me. We can no longer afford to sidestep this issue. Thanks for an informative website.

  70. some guy in a cube

    Our current generation of corporate and government elites is not capable of doing the right thing.

    It is not in their bones.

    Even if they wanted to do the right thing, they would have no idea how.

    Until they age and die off and are replaced by the next cohort, I’m afraid it is going to be a long, hard slough for all.

  71. Does the FDIC even exist any more? I’ll concede that some, perhaps even most of the top execs at Goldman Sachs, AIG, Citibank, Bank of America, ad naseua, are brighter than I am, so they probably understand things mere mortals don’t get. Yet, it seems to me that at least a few banks must have messed up so badly that they should go into receivership. We’ve already got laws against some (I almost wrote many, but that may be going too far) of the wrongs that have been committed by the banking gods (I mean execs–there must be something wrong with this keyboard), but I’ve yet to see the FDIC enforce the existing laws. What gives?

  72. Even Sarbanes-Oxley would put a few away, but i think our country is becoming the county of lawlessness for banks that are too big to fail!

  73. Pingback: The Swamp Report » Liddy owns stock in Goldman and is at their beck and call…so what’s new?

  74. The true test for Team Obama is coming –

    The administration has a very rational reason for letting the financial institutions get slack for the past 3 months – propping up confidence. IF indeed confidence stabilizes, and finance holds steady for a few more months, big banks may find they no longer hold as many cards as they did. This is why the banks are in a race to get out from under the TARP thumb. When events are stable, and markets do not react to any hint of punishment with 300 point DJI declines, the public will begin to view proposed regulation as a good thing, rather than a bad thing.

    In other words, Team Obama can still claim that their hand was forced for the last 3 months. If event stabilize, this excuse will become stale. If Team Obama then proactively engages new regulation and restructures the finance industry, then we must congratulate them and beg forgiveness.

    If Team Obama fails to move aggressively on real change after the markets and confidence stabilize, however, then it’s time to start a new mainstream political party – not full of nutjobs on the right and wackos on the left, but simply full of people who are quite tired of the corruption.

  75. Martin Armstrong is right. Here you go…Eye opener:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/14227076/Behind-the-Curtain4909

  76. All this rage on paper and in cyber space won’t change a thing. The greedy will continue to take whatever they can, whenever they can. They do not care what we think of them. Our politicians will not criminalize this behavior because the ruling elite are the ones dumping the slop in their trough. Wake the **** up! Until we all get truly angry about what is going on and do what is necessary, like put the fear of an uprising in their face, they will not react. Time to take to the streets and not just to the blogs. It is time to take America back from the 1% who think the “own” us!

  77. Dude. Your babbling reason and that isn’t going to get you any votes. No new political party is going to be allowed to get a foothold in this country. Not in your lifetime, anyway. The D’s and R’s like the games being played. If you think this is about D and R politics, you are way behind the curve.

  78. No, not really. What makes you think they think that our laws apply to them? I’ve seen nothing in any of their behavior that leads me to think they’d be “scared straight”.

  79. Guy in a cube – The next generation that takes their jobs will look a lot like them. Mainly because it will be them, or should I say, it will be their DNA in the form of their offspring. Do you think the kid who inherits 100 billion is going to take a job in a cube, like you? Not likely. The rich will continue to consolidate their wealth and continue to take it global. At our expense, I might add.

  80. hey nonny nonny

    Thank you Robin Hood–i am having nightmares for and about Mr. Armstrong now…but i am a complete coward myself and too afraid to do anything to help…i feel officilly terrorized with fear of the “club”…i thought about Mr. Armstrong when someone posted Elliott Spitzers name earlier, and wished that he knew and would try to help this man.

    Ben Franklin Said: “Those who give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safery.”

    I did go to a tea party, but only at the last minute after reading that quote.

  81. i don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind that both political parties are in bed together. after all,,,most are lawyers and they think the lawyer club is the most elite. i could have been a part of the club but chose not to. the question is….what are we going to do about white collar corruption? looks like gov’t is not the answer. do they have us by the nads?we can’t riot and take to the streets with forks. any ideas to hit them in a lawful and intellectual way?

  82. Fired – with torches!

  83. hey nonny nonny

    How about a class action suit against our government for breach of fiduciary duty? Could there be such a case?

  84. I also respect Mr Armstrong for his courage! Till few months ago I did not even hear about a man! His voice is becoming louder and louder though and our voice will sound strong one day too.

  85. Obama is as complicit as they come. It’s still all about appearances, and manipulating perceptions. Notice Obama didn’t say he was holding a pitchfork, he told the banksters they needed to be concerned about others with pitchforks.

  86. Well said.

  87. revoke the federal reserve act

    Nope, not thirty years, it started 80 years prior to the federal reserve act, and this act, just sealed the deal and made the thievery and manipulations legal.

  88. All you good people are as good a read as Simon. And it is so comforting to know one’s not alone with a defined view of integrity, ethics and honesty.

  89. revoke the federal reserve act

    Socrates advised being law abiding at all costs, but we should change the laws of our land, when we dont think they are right!

  90. Absolutely!

    Unfortunately, most people are sheeple. Sheeple can be identified by their lack of critical and independent thinking, and their addiction to shopping, drinking, and/or entertainment of all sorts. They are citizen-cogs. It will likely take most of them considerable time to wrap their heads around the concept that the legal system doesn’t define all of morality.

  91. Agree!

  92. Wow. I hadn’t thought about Lily Tomlin in a while. She’s great. Thanks for the reminder.

  93. only way to hit is make sure thier policies fail or give the perception thier policies will fail. then they might do the right thing for once. looks like we are stuck with these two ragamuffin political parties. class action suit might work thinking about it. i don’t think the supreme court has the courage. i think we can find a few or millions to go along with that just to get thier attention and make them look like fools (more) to the rest of the world. good start,,,let’s keep talking about it.

  94. revoke the federal reserve act

    Sorry Gary, your “by extension” is incorrect–there is plenty sucked out never to be seen again and leaving the taxpayer to pay the price for maybe forever….

  95. Carol, you must know, lehman was denied a 6billion dollar bridge loan and their request for bankholding status was held up and in effect refused, meanwhile the street was shorting lehman and buying credit default swaps to bet on the death of lehman–tell me paulson and bernake didn’t know that! So, by not asking for special help for Lehman, Goldman and Morgan were left with the biggest win on this monopoly game–but to make the deal complete–AIG was not taken into receivership so that the first 85billion could go straight through to guess who–Goldman–it is said they got 13 billion, but no one has taken into account the affiliate hedge funds that had credit default swap bets on lehmans death—then the sudden approaval of goldman and morgan to bank holding status and you have yourself a big pass out the money party the weekend after TARP is passed and voila, you got it and soon you will pay back TARP and no one will be able to say you ever needed any of the money–especially if you make press releases saying a bunch of lies.

  96. revoke the federal reserve act

    But there is the rub–by the demonization of nationalization, the fed and the treasury were able to say that all of this “bailout’ was to save capitalism–when in fact, having temporary nationization and orderly disassembly of any failing entities would have been capitalism–THIS METHOD is robbery.

  97. revoke the federal reserve act

    AWESOME

  98. “Capitalism is this wonderful thing that motivates people, it causes wonderful inventions to be done. But in this area of diseases of the world at large, it’s really let us down.” a quote from my computer guardian and very smart fella bill gates. read into the quote what you will. but it took me 2-3 times to understand it. if anyone can tell me how to take down the gov’t,,,,i will get the mule walking.

  99. even if it is an impossibility, that shouldn’t stop us from expressing some sort of hope. or at least a strategy to resist.

  100. A linguistics professor was lecturing his class one day.

    ‘In English’, he said, ‘A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.’

    A loud voice from the back of the room piped up, ‘Yeah, right.’

    night, night folks. simon, good work. thanks for the medium.

  101. The government and elites are manipulating the feelings of fear of Sheeple. When people are on a sinking ship, they are willing to sacrifice anything to keep the ship afloat, even just an illusion.

  102. We aplaud your valiant efforts Mr. Johnson. Tragically you imagine that America is land of laws, and freedom, and rights, equality applicable to every citizen, and that the people have some practical influence or representation in the conduct of the government. Perhaps from your lofty circles, and I say this will all due respect, this illusion of fairness and reason guiding the operations of industry or governments is (sadly and again with all due respect) wildly mistaken.

    Predators own and rule this earth. Predators feeding off the blood of the poor and middle class, own and rule this earth with wanton obdurate disregard for the best interests of the poor and middle class, and such quaint concepts as equality or the rule of law. Predators are above and beyond the law, untouchable, immune, tobigtofail, and Olympian.

    It’s heartening to read your cutting post and appreciate your civility decency.

    But, if the “prevailing code of ethics” have not been transgressed, and laws have not been broken in the process of the worst economic calamity since the great depression, – then are what good are the laws, and the socalled code of ethics?

    If PONZI schemes, fraud, collusion, bribery, tax evasion, predatory lending practices, insider trading, countless instances of financial malfeasance and perfidy and graft just to mention a few abuses are not illegal, – or if wanton greed, heartless disregard for the economic injury and suffering of the poor and middle class, a pathological sense of entitlement, sociopathic desire to predate, dominate, and devour is not unethical – then why pretend are these things called ethics and the law. In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone, predators. We know how this will end.

  103. The 3 million is not as significant, as the fact that he was sitting on the Board of GS and then went on to lead a company that was a major GS counterparty that paid GS in full with taxpayer money.

  104. adios amigos

    Sy,

    I made a very similar post several weeks ago on this blog, and it was censored….it appeared for about 20-minutes, then was removed. I guess you and I have kind of struck a “reality” nerve….huh? That’s a good thing actually. I believe it’s a disgrace to manipulate peoples ideas via media, even the internet. It just goes to show you, that even in the most difficult of times, there will always be self-promoters who want to capitalize on other peoples misery to promote their own, sick agenda. I guess we should all feel pretty silly though…..we’re all reading a blog that belongs to a college kid who hasn’t any experience in the real world, and an IMF “economist. Great…..WE are the fools.
    AA
    AA

  105. adios amigos

    Is there such a thing as “a non-corrupt court” in america? I hear there is no such thing over there.
    AA

  106. adios amigos

    Reality seems to be setting in. Thats good though….the question the rest of the global population have though, is do the American people actually have the courage to act. I’m betting they don’t….no backbone. You will all continue to blog, and whine and write letters to your Congressman, who promptly discards it, and sends you back a form letter. THEY ARE LAUGHING AT YOU FOOLS. And the band played on….

  107. adios amigos

    Frankly, I believe the reality of exactly how deeply corrupt and morally bankrupt the US is, seems to now be dawning on it’s own citizens….FINALLY. Welcome to the party america! The other 95% of the global population was wondering when you were arriving. Are ya going to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice for that whole war crimes thing? Or are they “too big too fail” also? Pathetic.
    AA

  108. adios amigos

    you need to march, armed, into washington….it will not stop until you do so as a nation. how much of your childrens future earnings have to be stolen before you realize, that the ONLY thing these type of people fear….is death? they have no fear of the judicial system, because the bought the judicial system. they fear death….thats about it.

  109. adios amigos

    Brian, your grasp of the so blatently obvious is impressive. (just kidding). But you are very correct. They are headed off a cliff. Reality? Their economy seems to have been a house of cards for a VERY long time….look at the ENTIRE debt picture. Government, corporate and household debt…..massive as a percentage of REAL (not smoke and mirrors) GDP. Financial corruption? Massive. Government corruption? Massive. Printing money? Massive amounts. Defaulting everywhere? Massive. The lies coming out of Government Officials who actually DO know whats going on, the reality of the situation? Massive.
    You can’t be angry at the citizens over there though….they have never been thru a complete collapse, and all of their lives they received a bit of a brain-washing regarding their country. The folks in the US all watched country’s imploding, and thought: “that can never happen here”. Well, the reality is this: NOTHING is actually to big to fail….nothing. Including America.
    AA

  110. “I don’t got to show you no stinking JUSTICE! Gringo”
    attributed to Alphonso “El Indio” Bedoja or El Presidente Obama, take your pick!

  111. Completely agree. These banks are still insolvent. The Treasury is stalling while the Fed cranks the printers into high gear. When inflation “lifts” the value of those assets then the banks will no longer be insolvent…

    In the mean time they can continue to feed off the government teat.

  112. Fear is what pushed Rome from a republic to imperialism. It is doing the same here. Do not fear the rich, or the “terrorist”, or the government. Their ambitions to have it all can be checked by raising fear in them that the uneducated, mindless masses might just stop playing by the rules they use to control the game. Do not let them define what is ethical, right, reasonable or how you should argue or protest for what you believe in. A class action suit against the government in hopes that the Supreme Court will reverse what is happening to this country is ludicrous. Simon Johnson can tell you what works to slow the ambitions of the greedy dictatorial few in a country. It isn’t lawsuits or pleas by the needy for the rich to behave. It is fear. The fear that people who are sick and tired of being taken advantage of and/or abused will no longer sit idly by. It is the fear they feel when they realize all the money they have won’t matter if the game is stopped altogether.

  113. Simon has a snippet from Ms. Pretto that these things “don’t rise to the level of the CEO. But a few paragraphs later comes this:
    “Discussions regarding these matters were handled exclusively by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” Ms. Pretto said.

    And of course Timothy Geithner was the President of the Fed NY at that time…

    Following up Geithner at the helm of the Fed NY is William C. Dudley, whose bio page at the Fed includes this: “Prior to joining the Bank in 2007, Mr. Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Company…”

    All of which just proves the point of the revolving door and the potential for Wall Street types to be responsible for inventing the compensating controls on Wall Street going forward.

  114. Riiiiight buddy. Tell yourself whatever you need to so that you don’t have to face the reality that socialist europe’s business climate is one of the most corrupt, anti-growth, social caste making in the world. I really don’t think you can throw stones.

    Neither can the IMF, at least not until they get their own house in order and stop financing the very corrupt regimes that this blog compares the U.S. to.

  115. That is a good question AA, but i think the answer has to be that there are non-corrupt courts somewhere here in America.

  116. You are a very funny person. This is a country that hands down produces the most millionaires than any other place on the planet. We are THE MOST charitable nation in the world. When something breaks in this country, no matter how big it may be, we stop it and fix it. A HUGE difference to the way you folks across the pond deal with your problems. Make all the comments you want, sneer, take joy in what you see if it is giving you your jollies…. but the reason situations like this make us stronger is because we learn from them and make needed corrections for the lasting prosperity that follows.

    At the very least, maybe now America can use this as an excuse to stop policing the world and let you europeans start picking up the slack. That right there should save us hundreds of billions of dollars that we can use to help pay down our debts with the Chinese. We can let you guys worry about North Korea and protecting Japan, we can let you worry about Iranian nuclear weapons, (heck, they are closer to you anyway!) and when you have time stop the occasional genocide that sprouts up in Africa from time to time. Good luck!

  117. You are a very funny person. This is a country that hands down produces the most millionaires than any other place on the planet. We are THE MOST charitable nation in the world. When something breaks in this country, no matter how big it may be, we stop it and fix it. A HUGE difference to the way you folks across the pond deal with your problems. Make all the comments you want, sneer, take joy in what you see if it is giving you your jollies…. but the reason situations like this make us stronger is because we learn from them and make needed corrections for the lasting prosperity that follows.

    At the very least, maybe now America can use this as an excuse to stop policing the world and let you europeans start picking up the slack. That right there should save us hundreds of billions of dollars that we can use to help pay down our debts with the Chinese. We can let you guys worry about North Korea and protecting Japan, we can let you worry about Iranian nuclear weapons, (heck, they are closer to you anyway!) and when you have time stop the occasional genocide that sprouts up in Africa from time to time.

  118. It’s not about D&R politicals, clearly, but if even a candidate like Obama can’t avoid being co-opted by financial elites (and can’t manage to appoint better overseers than Geithner and Summers), then a great many people who held out some hope that the system could be changed (and tried to work within the existing system) will give up faith in the party system completely (whatever is left of it).

    It is not impossible… The political system is at a crossroads. The R’s have been coopted by crackpots, the D’s had moved toward the center (as expected), but are not living up to the mission to implement meaningful change.

  119. Are you really serious???? The founders of this country ENCOURAGED the “masses” to become rich!!! Stop bashing people for making lots of money. Do some research on the Founders, most ran several different businesses and had wealth. Making wealth dishonestly is another matter entirely.

  120. adios amigos

    Yes, but once found, honest courts are typically disbanded and broken up in America. Isn’t that EXACTLY what your last President did? Tell me, are you all still calling it “the land of the free….and the home of the brave”? Cute song, but it seems to no longer have any basis in fact.
    AA

  121. adios amigos

    Your opinion may have been ingrained in your thought process by way of years and years of the brainwashing that qualifies as “education” in America. Have YOU ever lived here? Or is your opinion based on what you were told by someone? I live in northern Europe. If this terrible, horrible socialist state means my kids get incredible educations, we have solid infrastructure and top-flight medical services, well, I guess I fail to see your point about how repressive this all is. Has it occured to you that perhaps it is the extremely wealthy that have convinced you that socialism is this big, horrible monster, so they wouldn’t have to pay higher taxes? Just a thought.
    AA

  122. adios amigos

    Excellent speech. I’m honored to have met such a Patriot. So, Mr. Patriot, can I assume that you, personally will refund me the $600,000 USD that was drained from my personal pension investments that I made in your fraudulent mortgages? It only too me 30-years to save that for my family’s future. STOLEN by citizens of your neck of the globe. Why don’t you e-mail me, and I’ll give you, personally my bank’s wiring instructions, and you personally can refund me the money that “someone” STOLE. Again Sir, I’m very honored to have met such an amazing Patriot such as yourself. Can I expect that wire transfer next week?

    PS: About that whole policing the world stuff? Can you do us ALL a favor, and stop doing that TODAY? Like…right this moment? How’s that search for WMD’s going? Find any yet? It seems like the Downing Street memo revealed that Mr. Bush knew all along there were NEVER any WMD’s over there….remember that Mr. Policeman-Of-The-Planet? Exactly how many children were murdered in Iraq looking for these elusive weapons that were in fact never there? I betcha those dead kids parents are pretty angry right now, huh?

    Your Bankrupt….face reality.

    AA

  123. CLEARLY, THERE ARE SEVERAL “ANONYMOUS’ BLOGGERS HERE!

  124. adios amigos

    Truer words were never spoken. “They” no longer fear you. They act with impunity, and are stealing your kids future income. They probably can’t believe you are still allowing the theft to continue. They rely on your taking no direct action.
    You Founding Fathers experienced the corruption of the King in England….thus the Declaration Of Independence. Thus the right to bear arms. Your Founding Fathers gave you all the tools to fight. I guess the question is: why aren’t you?
    AA

  125. adios amigos

    I don’t believe he was implying that people should not strive for financial success. I believe he was implying that people should not fear corrupt leaders, and that people should act….not yak.
    AA

  126. adios amigos

    Remember when they decided to stop the short sellers for a while? remember when they had the foreclosure moratorium? Well, maybe you need to have a “OK, who in Government worked in management at Goldman Sachs? OK, you have to go home for 2 months, and not come in to work” moratorium.

  127. Wampeter of My Karass

    Anti-trust legislation can never, and will never, be effective in the current legal environment. Why? Because this environment is so grotesquely slanted in corporations’ favor (and by logical extension, in the favor of corporate executives) that no anti-trust law would ever get enforced. What’s the point in writing a tough law when the system will never actually prosecute it in a meaningful way?

    The way corporations are treated under the law needs to be rolled back to the early 19th century, when natural persons were still considered superior to corporate persons, corporations were chartered for very specific purposes, and all corporate charters had explicit time limits (i.e. no perpetual corporate life was legally allowed).

    Learn what a tiny fraction of the population knows: the “dead hand” of the corporation has crushed the life out of our society. Read “Gangs of America” by Ted Nace, you can either purchase it on Amazon or read it for free here: http://tinyurl.com/d32qej

  128. Oh dear Double A…

    Yes, the United States is currently headed to complete smoldering wreckdom.

    No, we are not completely to blame for this. The wizards who created this come from places like Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Bocconi, and HEC. I think the original conception was fairly simple: Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves. Well, they gave it to us and to many others as well. They used our greed to inflate and our fear to deflate. We are, indeed, well hung, together.

  129. While I understand why you refer to people as “sheeple,” wouldn’t it be more productive to get to know your neighbours and gently influence them, rather than calling people names on the internet?

    Just a suggestion.

  130. I’ve lived in both the UK and the US (an American citizen). While we can debate which government is more corrupt, who cares? All I know is ordinary people here in Britain have health care that is free at the point of service and a usable public transport system. Both are as good or better than what is available to the average American.

    BTW, I hate to admit to being shocked at the extent of financial sector & government corruption in the US. You would expect the old world aristocracies to take care of their own. But the US — I foolishly bought into the meritocracy myth of our country. No more.

  131. But millionaires are not something to be proud of (at least not in my youth). Producing hard-working, compassionate people who look out for their neighbors, now that’s something to be proud of.

    How do you measure charity? When I lived in Washington, DC, I saw homeless vets living on steam grates. I’ve seen more homeless people in one city in the US than I’ve seen in total in Britain. Charity begins at home.

    As for learning from our mistakes, well, the current financial mess is only a bigger version of the corruption we’ve seen in the financial sector repeatedly over the past 100 years. Same greed, same mess.

    Lasting prosperity? I remember watching people flee Detroit, living in their cars, when I lived in Dayton in the early 80s. I’ve met factory workers who’ve moved from town to town, following the remaining jobs. Lasting prosperity? I wish.

    Please stop policing the world. Save taxpayers money, and bring the soldiers home to their families.

  132. Confidence will not “stabilize” until the corrupt financial sector folks are removed from their jobs and prosecuted, if possible, and all bad assets are revealed.

    I’ve removed all funds from my IRAs, and taken them out of the US. The more I read about the extent of the corruption, the happier I am with my decision. I do not do business with unethical people.

  133. The Founders also “owed” people,. (SLAVES!) They didn’t get everything right. Encouraging wealth is one thing. Concentrating it in the hands of a few while tilting the rules in favor of those that have the most is something altogether different. The Founders did want this country to remain a republic. I give them kudos for that. And that is why they set up the balance of power between the three branches. The oligarchs running this country have pushed it out of balance. It is time we brought it back. Furthermore, nobody is bashing people for making money. Everyone needs money. But allowing 2% to suck up 90% of the wealth is obscene and will lead to chaos. If this trend continues there will be no republic left to argue about. Do you really think we all have an opportunity to “make lots of money”? Almost every other developed nation has greater opportunity for upward mobility than America. Three hundred million people who are sliding backwards economically are not going to sit still for much longer while a handful of folks take it all. I for one have no intention of living under a new form of feudalism. Allowing capitalism to become a worshiped ideology destroys ethical thinking. It is an economic system that must be moderated by reason and justice.

  134. No wonder guns sales are through the roof and the Obama administration is taking action to limit the supply of ammo!

  135. Articulate a strategy all you want. I believe in free speech. Unfortunately, “hope” these day is just a marketing strategy.

  136. I don’t owe you anything. Did you do any due diligence on your investments before you bought them or did you just buy them because they were the hot product sweeping europe? Did you just look at the yield and say, “Well, good enough for me!” Next, did you really UNDERSTAND what it was you were buying? Most people didn’t and I don’t feel bad for people who buy things they don’t understand just to try and enhance returns. You are responsible for your own losses.

    Again, I know you are licking your chops hoping that this country falls into ruin but it isn’t going to happen. I guess Iraq was better off in the hands of a man that would kill family members in the middle of the night and throw the body onto a pile of others and bury them. We had a hearing and investigation over the matter, something that the rest of the family would have been killed for by Sadaam if they tried to complain to him. Think about it. Your logic is flawed.

  137. Carol, while I admire your underlying feeling of compassion here I have to say that you don’t get anything in this country without the pain that comes with change. Some people choose to deal with it quickly, they change jobs experience the pain that comes with learning a new skill and making less for a time and then they thrive. Others hold on to the bitter end and have to deal with the repercussions that come with that decision.

    Heck, I decided to go into business for myself 4 years ago. It was the most painful thing I ever did. I went from a nice comfortable wage to earning NOTHING! I depleted all of my retirement savings in the process that was painful. Now, I am at long last starting to make some real money and I am my own boss. I went through a very painful process and am now starting to see the rewards that come from risk taking.

    Successful businesses make people rich. Charity comes from people who get rich. It is all connected together. Don’t let others blind you into thinking that prosperity comes from demonizing rich people.

  138. Wampeter of My Karass

    Start paying attention. The D’s have surely been coopted by crackpots as well. Take an honest look at Obama’s political background– he’s about as far to the left as anyone could have imagined. His “move to the center” was about as calculated a political move as there ever has been. And when you consider the gigantic amount of campaign funding he got from wall street executives– which was publicly available knowledge BEFORE the election– anybody who voted for him and is surprised at how he has caved to their interests is not just ignorant, but irresponsible.

  139. Defining all this as D’s and R’s and left and right is EXACTLY why we never make any progress. It has now boiled down to RIGHT and WRONG. HAVES and HAVE NOTS. RELATIVISTS and PRINCIPLED. Either you care about people, including your own place within a community or you care about yourself and only those immediately around you.

  140. Funny that I have to reply to my own comment, and can’t directly reply to Anonymous below.

    Charity doesn’t have to “come from people who get rich.” Lots of “poor” people are generous. I don’t think rich people are the source of all charity (or wealth). In fact, the older I get, the more I think true generosity is giving time as much as money. Just look at all the lonely elderly people who could use a few minutes attention from a friendly neighbor.

    I don’t demonize rich people, and I’m too old to be blinded by what other people say. By some peoples’ standards, I’m rich myself! But I don’t admire wealthy people simply for their money, but for what they do with their time and money.

  141. Carol – I’m with you – feeling naive to confess to the extent of my shock over the failure of American “meritocracy” (unless you’re on Wall Street or in D.C.)

    But I’m shocked to the core at the failure of American business leadership to focus on sustainable profit for their organizations.

  142. AA, you bet there are plenty of honest courts as well as dishonest. What you suggest about the American system can be said about judicial systems around the world, so what is your point?

  143. Hey Wampeter, glad you have ventured out!

    the biggest joke is that part of Mr. Obama’s platform was about lobbyists…i guess he wanted to hamstring every lobbyist except bankers to give the cartel the over the top power they needed to get by with this extra special long awaited scam.

  144. adios amogos

    Due diligence? Well, we actually paid fee’s to your ratings agencies to do that. Big mistake trusting S&P, Fitch and Moodys to actually report accurate ratings on these assets. We won’t EVER make that mistake again. I know I won’t, nor will ANYONE I know. God forbid we scould ever do that again.

    Have you heard of the Downing Street memo, regarding Iraq? You may want to get, and read a copy of it.

    Tell me, when will you all finally face the reality of the status of America? You are living in a very corrupt and dangerous place. No harm in admitting that. However, there is a huge harm in NOT admitting that. If you are a “Patriot”, admit it has gotten out of hand, and do something. It’s YOUR country….be a Patriot…act. Continuing to allow the crimes to go unchecked, will lead to a collapse.

    I understand that you want to believe that everything your country does is “for the best”. I understand that average Americans are somewhat brainwashed into thinking that everything Washington does is in the best interest of the people, but reality seems to indicate otherwise. Try and see reality…if you can.

    AA

  145. adios amogos

    Exactly, nor will I do business with corrupt people in the future. The interesting thing, is that america depends on investment from overseas….that’s done. Not happening any more. So, now what America? Can you survive by stealing from each other?

    AA

  146. adios amigos

    JC,
    The point being, that people KNOW that the other courts are corrupt. Would you agree that a more dangerous system is one where people BELIEVE the court system to be fair and just, but it is in fact deeply corrupt? At least under the scenario of known corruption, people are aware of what they are facing.

    I read recently of two american Judges, who were sentencing children to a prison that the two Judges owned. They were sentencing kids to long prison terms for VERY minor “crimes”, and doing this to keep their prison population high.

    Additionally, there is something very wrong when your prison populations are clearly the highest on the planet, and in many cases much higher per capita than other industrialized nations. I believe the reality is that your court system has been deeply corrupted by politics….like everything else in america. There is no harm or embarrassment in admitting that, but there can be massive damage done by not admitting it. In fact, it is more embarrassing to continue to deny how corrupt things are, than it is to take action. Look at what is happening with this financial issue….has ANYONE even been indicted? No….and how can that be? CORRUPTION. The criminals have purchased your politicians. In fact, the politicians (lawmakers) have actually appointed the criminals to figure out how to solve the issue, and “the issue” is the fact that the criminals stole money. In light of this fact, is it any wonder that we, the people living elsewhere, are really beginning to wonder what the hell your thinking about over there?
    AA

  147. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior

  148. AA, hard to know where to begin given your response. I am and have been skeptical of our government and corporate leaders for many years. Just as I am skeptical about the motivations of people, in general. We all act in what we believe is our own self-interest everywhere on the planet.

    Your response barrages us with generalizations without proofs. It is clear based on that response and your others that you don’t like the U.S. and I can understand that given your financial losses.

    If you would like I can provide you with reports of current and historic corruption from all over the world, but again, what would be the point.

    I accept your premise that man is greedy and manipulative. That power and wealth can and more often than not does corrupt. What I don’t accept is that the U.S. has the market cornered on those behaviors or that the people who live here are unaware.

    I suspect that those that really care about what is happening feel that they can’t have any impact short of armed revolt and it isn’t realistic to believe that is going to happen. It didn’t happen in the 1930’s and it isn’t going to happen now.

    If we vote the bastards out we will end up with a new set of bastards.

  149. cristina lindblad

    Best headline I read today!

  150. Pingback: The Department Of Justice Is On Line Two | EthicalMarkets.com