Well kids, old pappy and I had company from the east most of last week and the result is that we are late (again)! Howsomever, we do have some interesting news for you as well as a little report on a new book by good old Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor while good old Billy Clinton was Prez. We still can’t pronounce the man’s name since we don’t watch the TV “news” shows.
Anywho, just so you know who he is, we’ll repeat this quote he used on the cover of his book which is titled, Beyond Outrage; “As long as Robert Reich is alive and writing well, there’s hope for the liberal cause.” —The Wall Street Journal. Coming from the “Journal,” this quote sounds to be a real tongue-in-cheek compliment. The theme of this book is that the rich and powerful have stacked the deck so drastically that the rest of us are rightfully outraged, but must go beyond our indignation and take action to right things. It is certainly hard to deny that factors of the US economy (and tax code) have been tilted way in favor of the wealthy to the detriment of the working class.
Mr. Reich’s Beyond Outrage goes way beyond Tom Piketty’s 700 pages explaining the “natural” inequality of capitalism and Michael Lewis’s tale of the rigged stock markets to assert that the whole bloody game is rigged! He presents tons of emperical evidence indicating that big money from plutocrats and big corporations has taken over our politics and our economy to the detriment of the public good. He also records in excruciating detail the efforts of what he calls the “regressive right” to effect a rebirth of “Social Darwinism.” He is certainly correct in pointing out that many of our economic and tax policies over the last three decades have deteriorated wages and opportunities for working people in our good old US of A.
To return the playing fields a bit closer to level, Mr. Reich recommends seriously increasing taxes mainly on the super wealthy, and using the added revenue to improve the sad state of our schools and infrastructure. He also recommends bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act, the law enacted after the big crash of 1929 to corral the Wall Streeters at the time, which has been withered over the years and finally scrapped a few years ago. No one could seriously deny that Wall Street needs some supervision!
Pappy and I definitely recommend this book for anyone unlucky enough to work for a living and/or has kids who are hopeful of entering the work force. Unfortunately though, Mr. R’s recommended “actions” that we can take to improve all our shortcomings is not all that clear. He probably bashes the so-called “conservatives” a bit too much (after all, the so-called liberals aren’t perfect either), and just telling us to band together to elect Democrats probably won’t do. Admittedly, pappy and I don’t know enough either, but we’re trying to get y’all up to speed on what’s goin’ on.
Not Really News
Bank of America is reported to have finally agreed with the DOJ on a settlement of around $17 billion to atone for their part in the last crash. One naturally cannot ascertain anywhere near what this news means from reported information. A large part of the settlement requires various measures to assist homeowners who were harmed — good luck to those folk! Worse still, due to some spiffy language (calling the requirements not fines, but remedial on compensatory penalties) permits the banks, as was the case in previous bank settlements, to lay off to us dear old taxpayers as tax writeoffs most of the settlement costs. The banks legal fees in defending itself may even exceed its eventual actual payout!
Hey, you faithful readers of my little hound doggie blog are getting real sharp — bet you’ve guessed that none of the bank’s execs or directors will be doing any time. Back when my old pappy went to school, fraud was so uncommon that auditors did not specifically search for it in their review of a company’s books. Now, of course, fraud is commonplace, but its criteria to be considered criminal is based on “intent,” which proves to be difficult to prove. With the bank spending billions of dollars on well-connected defense lawyers, the poor old understaffed DOJ must settle for a little cash. Not only does this process, which has become standard operating procedure, penalize the investors in the business, but it also fails to punish the perpetrators. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!
Interestingly, in another fraud case involving an Idyhoe real estate investment company several of the principals got jail time. As you know, old pappy and I live out here in the boonies, and while we don’t know anything about this case, we wonder if white collar misdeeds may be taken a bit more seriously here than in the Big Apple.
Finally today — there was more bad luck for our dear Closet lady with the 3,000 square feet of personal space — her stolen jewelry turned out to be fake? What’s a girl to do?
Well, y’all take care and, please, turn off those tellys.