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Liberal Outrage

Here's another "In Cautious Times, Banks Flooded With Cash" article


"We just don't need it anymore," said Don Sturm, the owner of American National Bank and Premier Bank, community lenders with 43 branches in Colorado and three other states. "If you had more money than you knew what to do with, would you want more?"

By fnord12 | October 26, 2011, 10:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Huntsman being one of the more reasonable GOP primary contenders, ofc

Matthew Yglesias looks at Jon Huntsman's op-ed, and says:

There are four ideas here. The first is to repeal Dodd-Frank's proposed mechanism for resolution of large banks. The second is to do what Dodd-Frank's proposed mechanism for resolution of large banks does. The third was proposed by the Obama administration and killed by the Senate and would only moderately discourage bank consolidation, not eliminate the need to do something when large financial institutions fail. The fourth is a good idea, but would penalize lenders of all sizes and has nothing to do with the ostensible topic at hand.

This is, I think, part of the problem with conservative discourse being so dominated by jeremiads against mythical Obama administration initiatives. What Huntsman wants to do, in essence, is repeal a made up provision of Dodd-Frank in order to replace it with what Dodd-Frank already does, add on something the administration already proposed adding on, and then do an unrelated tax reform. But he insists that he thinks Dodd-Frank is a "tragically" inappropriate response to the financial crisis.

By fnord12 | October 19, 2011, 3:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Hershey's a Dick

You prolly already heard this story. Hershey got a bunch of foreign students over here for the summer as part of a cultural exchange program. Well, the cultural exchange turned out to be working in their packing plant 7 days a week for very little money while being housed in small, shared rooms that Hershey is making the students pay for out of pocket.

These are medical, engineering, and economics grad students. They thought they were going to be working in the Hershey offices learning about business management and things of that sort. Plus, earning money to pay for the sightseeing they'd doing during their days off. Suckers.

Here's an article with more details.

Students like Mr. Ureche, who had paid as much as $6,000 to take part in the program, expected a chance to see the best of this country, to make American friends and sightsee, with a summer job to help finance it all.
The students, who were earning about $8 an hour, said they were isolated within the plant, rarely finding moments to practice English or socialize with Americans. With little explanation or accounting, the sponsor took steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance that left many of them too little money to afford the tourist wanderings they had eagerly anticipated.

Program documents and interviews with 15 students show that Cetusa failed to heed many distress signals from students over many months, and responded to some with threats of expulsion from the program.

You know what this description reminds me of? The sweatshops in China. No need for human rights advocates to go all the way to China to find unhealthy work conditions. Just head out to Palmyra, PA.

The article is pretty long. The part that really ticks me off is the response from Cetusa, the group that was in charge of bringing these students over.

Rick Anaya, Cetusa's chief executive actually had the nerve to blame the unions.

"It's clear and obvious to me that this whole thing was started and fueled by the unions," he said.
Mr. Anaya said he was convinced the demonstrators had been "misled and sold a bill of goods that is unfair to them" by the labor groups. "I do believe in the kids," he said. "I believe eventually they will feel sorry for what they did."

I can't figure out if he's delusional or just a jackass. I think mostly B and a little of A.

Mr. Anaya [Cetusa's chief executive] said he was aware that the work in Palmyra was strenuous. "It is hard to lift," he said. "But they get used to it and they are fine with it after a week or so."

I'd like to see him work in the plant for 2 weeks and see how he feels then.

And knowing they needed to appease everyone, Cetusa and Hershey concocted this token gesture:

Cetusa responded to the protest by arranging for students to have a paid week off from the plant and by paying for two trips to historic sites in Pennsylvania. The Hershey Company hosted a daylong visit to its headquarters so students could learn about its business strategies.

Thanks. That was totally worth the $6,000 they shelled out to participate in the program. They got to see 2 historic sites, got a one day visit to the Hershey headquarters, and 3 months of packing Hershey's chocolates into boxes. Are there any shmoes i can trick into paying me thousands of dollars for the privilege of working for me?

Hershey's a dick and people should boycott their products especially during Halloween and Christmas.

By min | October 18, 2011, 2:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Why not go all Chomsky?

Paul Krugman:

I feel Dean Baker's pain. Dean is exercised over an NPR report which says that Argentina is suffering from its 2001 default -- a claim that is totally at odds with the evidence. Argentina actually did very well by thumbing its nose at creditors.

This isn't the only case where news organizations consistently report as truth something that didn't happen, while failing to report what did. Another one that comes to mind is the California electricity crisis of 2001-2002. As some readers may recall, that crisis was caused by market manipulation -- and that's not a hypothesis, Enron traders were caught on tape telling plants to shut down to create artificial shortages. Yet "news analyses" published after the whole thing was revealed would often tell readers that excessive environmental regulation and Nimbyism caused the crisis, with nary a mention of the deliberate creation of shortages.

And as you'll notice, in both cases the imaginary history just happened to be one more comfortable to status quo interests.

I don't want to go all Chomsky here, but this sort of thing really can radicalize you.

As someone in the comments says:

Chomsky wasn't born that way. Like most people, he was radicalized by watching the system at work.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2011, 7:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Forget About Making Our Own Postage Stamps

Let's make our own money.

It started as a school project by Christian Gelleri, an economics teacher in southern Germany who wanted to teach a group of 16-year-olds about finance in a novel way - by creating their own money, to be used in local shops and businesses. They called it the "chiemgauer" and eight years on, the project has turned into the world's most successful alternative currency.
The chiemgauer has managed to bring on board local co-operative banks and credit organisations, and it's even possible to pay in chiemgauer using a debit card, run by Regios, an association of co-operative banks.

What makes the chiemgauer different to conventional currency is that it automatically loses value if you don't spend it. Unlike traditional money that can be saved, the chiemgauer is only valid for three months - the idea being that it must be spent, thereby boosting the local economy. If the notes aren't spent, they can be renewed by buying a stamp that costs 2% of the note's face value - so over a year, the currency depreciates 8%. Notes can be renewed up to seven times.


The depreciation helps to accelerate circulation of the currency and boost local spending. Its advocates estimate that the chiemgauer circulates nearly 2.5 times faster than the euro. Participating shops and businesses have to pay a one-off registration fee of €100 and a monthly charge of €5 to €10 depending on their turnover. If they exchange chiemgauer into euro, they have to pay a 5% transaction fee. The charges are used to cover the scheme's running costs, with the remaining 60% going to participating charities. The chiemgauer network also provides participating businesses with an entry in their directory and website, as well as access to various promotions which can be a significant bonus. The organisation, together with Regios, GLS Bank, the department of employment and the European Social Fund, also provides interest-free chiemgauer denominated microcredits for small businesses.

That's extremely impressive for 16 yr olds. I've met 20 year olds who couldn't understand fractions. These kids created a system of currency and were able to actually get locals to get on board with it. I've got some Monopoly money. Do you think my local stores will take them in exchange for goods?

By min | October 14, 2011, 9:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Oh No He Didn't!

I naively clicked on a link from my Yahoo mail homepage under the "World News" section that had the words "fact check" and "Herman Cain" in the headline.

Well, apparently ABC News pays "journalists" like John Berman to go "fact check" important issues like whether or not this black walnut ice cream Cain keeps mentioning is actually still being made by Haagen Dazs.

And do you know why this is such an important thing to find out? Cause when asked if he was the "new political flavor of the month", Cain has answered in the negative. Well, Cain, our intrepid reporter John Berman has caught you in a lie, a mis-spook, if you will. Turns out, black walnut was a limited time only flavor. So it really is a flavor of the month! Zing!

Thank god for the news.

By min | October 14, 2011, 8:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Raise taxes on the middle-class to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy

Seems to be an increasingly popular goal:

Bartlett's not opposed to the idea of a broader tax code. But the problem is there's no obvious way to get there without violating other Republican sacred cows on taxes or running into political territory that few politicians dare to tread.

The first issue is that any Republican proposal can't raise revenue overall -- a principle that's only become more ironclad in the Tea Party era. The obvious solution then is to raise taxes on the middle class but give the money back to the rich and that's exactly what two of the Republican presidential candidates have proposed. Jon Huntsman would eliminate all tax breaks without exception and use the money to lower marginal rates -- the net effect of which would be a middle class tax hike.

Huntsman's idea has largely gone unnoticed amid his campaign struggles, but one of his rivals' proposals is gaining widespread attention this week: Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan. Cain solves the non-payer problem by replacing the tax code with a 9% income tax, business tax, and new national consumption tax, the combination of which would significantly raise taxes on lower income Americans. And that's assuming it even raises enough revenue to avoid more cuts to entitlements, which is a major question mark.

By fnord12 | October 13, 2011, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Poor fellow

Truly down on his luck:

Options Group's Karp said he met last month over tea at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York with a trader who made $500,000 last year at one of the six largest U.S. banks.

The trader, a 27-year-old Ivy League graduate, complained that he has worked harder this year and will be paid less. The headhunter told him to stay put and collect his bonus.

"This is very demoralizing to people," Karp said. "Especially young guys who have gone to college and wanted to come onto the Street, having dreams of becoming millionaires."

By fnord12 | October 13, 2011, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Eight years later, the world economy collapsed

We need a new system:

In the Spring of 2000, my friend and former colleague Zack Exley arrived in Washington, DC, to observe the protests that had engulfed the city during the World Bank's annual meeting. Driving into Washington from the airport, out the window of his taxi he saw "a teenage white girl with long dreadlocks who wore a homemade t-shirt proclaiming: WE NEED A NEW SYSTEM."

Later that evening he attended a party at the home of then-Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers along with "ambassadors, politicians, esteemed professors and what seemed like the entire combined senior economist staff of the IMF, World Bank and Treasury."

It turned out Larry Summers had seen the girl too and was eagerly telling his guests about an interaction he had with her:

And so I asked the girl: 'What is this new system that you want? Tell me about it!' And the girl had nothing. Nothing! She had no fucking clue what this magical new system was supposed to be. No one is saying that there aren't problems with the world economy the way it is today. But these kids out there -- they don't know what they want!

"Mr. Secretary," said Zack. "You've got 50 economics PhDs in this room who pretty much run the world economy. And you're asking that girl for a better system? Aren't the solutions your job? You admit billions are living in hell, but it's up to that girl to fix it?"

Summers chuckled and the conversation moved on.

Maybe she wanted Larry Summers' head on a pike but was too polite to say so.

By fnord12 | October 11, 2011, 2:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Looks like the Dems can avoid a filibuster when they want to

They waited until they lost the House before trying it out, though. And it's still all very arcane.

Update: Here's a simpler breakdown of what happened:

What Senate Democrats did is that they voted to overrule the Senate parliamentarian.

By rule and by custom, both parties abide by the decisions of the parliamentarian. But the rule that establishes that basic guideline was originally approved by a simply majority vote, so it can be changed by a simply majority vote. That's what Senate Democrats last night.

Senate tradition is that you don't tweak the rules on a piecemeal basis like that. Now that Democrats have done so -- even though it involved just this one bill -- it sets a precedent for a future majority (i.e., a Republican majority) to do so again on matters of greater consequence.

The mechanism Democrats used -- voting to change the Senate rule -- is the same mechanism that could be used to undermine the power of the filibuster and other privileges enjoyed by the minority in the Senate.

Did Democrats play dirty pool here? In one sense, yes. This was a break with custom and tradition. It was a raw power play.

But if you think Senate rules are anti-democratic -- or that custom and tradition are merely a nice way of saying byzantine and corrupt -- then you might see this as the first step toward bringing the Senate into the 21st century.

I tend to be sympathetic to the latter point of view, but my sense here is that Senate Democrats, with a few exceptions, aren't really prepared to tackle fundamental Senate reform. So rather than being the first step toward reform, Reid's move last night merely weakens Senate traditions, creates greater uncertainty and unpredictability in the legislative process, and doesn't offer much promise of a comprehensive and better way of running the Senate.

That Reid's power play comes right as Senate Democrats are on the brink of finding themselves in the minority again makes the move more baffling.

To me, the short term advantage or disadvantage for the Dems is irrelevant. The Senate filibuster rules are anti-democratic and, no matter how lamely the Dems stumbled into this or whether it's the Democrats or Republicans who will take advantage of it first is irrelevant. The Senate should be a majority-ruled institution except for veto overrides and other special cases as specified in the Constitution (constitutional amendments, treaty ratifications), and this action moves us back in that direction.

That said, the question of "why now?" is certainly fair. Why not for the stimulus, the public option, etc., etc.?

Oh by the way, we're back from Vegas, and yes, i'm already back to obsessing over politics.

By fnord12 | October 7, 2011, 9:30 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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