Posted in Bailout, Occupy, Occupy Wall Street, Politics

I am the 99%

I have remained largely silent on the Occupy Movement until now.

I support the message the Occupy protestors are trying to send, and agree that we need serious reforms to better balance social and economic disparities.

I, too, believe that corporations have too much political power; I find it deplorable that a rich few in this country keep getting richer off the backs of the middle class, the disadvantaged and the poor, steadily decreasing our salaries, our benefits, and programs that can help many of the less fortunate survive, and in many cases, thrive.

I find it appalling that our politicians can cut crucial funding to help women, children, the homeless and the poor under the guise that “we can’t afford” these programs, while simultaneously handing billions- hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars- to corporations that lied and cheated themselves into dire straits.

That the government labeled the banking institutions “too big to fail”, propping them up, while allowing us to be pushed out of our homes and out of our jobs is detestable.

The people of this country- the small business owners, the middle class, the working class, the veterans- are the people that built this nation from the ground up. These are the people the government should have deigned “too big to fail”, or at the very least, “too important to fail”. Instead, it was a bunch of nameless, faceless billionaire corporations who knowingly- and criminally- suckered people into homes they could not afford; companies that openly took huge risks, gambling with the livelihoods of the masses that the government deemed worthy of “bailout”.

That these corporations financed all of it with money nobody actually had available to spend, finally sticking it to those who could least afford the backlash by way of shady mortgages is maddening.

Finally, as everyone knew it would, the bubble burst.

The banks responded to the crisis by blaming the middle class. They took no responsibility for the fact that they manipulated and wheeled-and-dealed their way into an economic crash of epic proportions. No, they simply responded that the homeowners should not have purchased homes they couldn’t afford to live in- even as it was those very banks that were manipulating and tricking those people into believing they could and should do it.

It was everyone else’s fault but the banks’. The reality that they, themselves, were willing participants in what amounted to a glorified Ponzi scheme was lost on them.

No one forced these people into those mortgages, after all!

The government, it seemed, agreed, and gave the banks $700 billion in tax payer money to keep them from closing shop. They said it was necessary to “shore up” the economy.

The banks, in turn, on a handshake, agreed to begin lending money again, to do their part to get the economy moving.

The politicians of C Street believed the lying CEOs of Wall Street, despite the undeniable proof that Wall Street, in its criminal behavior, had helped create mess we found ourselves in…

… and the rest is history.

It’s largely understood today that the banks did not fulfill their end of the bargain, and after receiving the bailout money, did not begin lending again, as promised. Instead they paid out their golden parachutes and multi-million dollar bonuses to the richest among them, making them even richer…

… doing so, yet again, off the backs of the middle class and working poor.

They are the 1%.

Outrage and unrest was the predictable outcome. The only surprise is in the fact that it took so long to come to fruition.

Here we stand, in the middle of the moment, giving birth to a movement that has long been gestating.

Is it perfect? No.

Do we need to make changes? Absolutely.

That being said, however, I am still- proudly- the 99%.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Bonuses, Bailouts and Buttheads

Like many of us, I was pretty upset to learn about AIG’s decision to pay out more than $165 million in executive bonuses.

Much of the funds are retention bonuses for employees that are no longer with the company. All of it is going to reward AIG’s top decision-makers for decisions that were…

Well…

… Shitty.

The recipients of this money are the same people who ran the company into the ground to begin with, resulting in four federal bailouts to-date.

AIG claims they had no choice, that they were obligated by contract to distribute the bonuses.

The federal government has considered forcing AIG to stop the pay-outs, voiding the employer/employee contracts but wisely decided against such a move. I’m as ill as the next person over AIG’s nonsense, but I don’t like the idea of my government involving itself- potentially nullifying- legal contracts.

I wouldn’t mind the fallout in the case of AIG, but I cringe at the precedent such a move would set.

The Senate is currently mulling legislation that would allow the government to recoup the bonuses, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to pass the legislation by unanimous consent was blocked by Representative Jon Kyl, from Arizona.

I think blocking the legislation is the right move.

AIG has made some terrible business decisions… and has definitely shown that they haven’t learned their lesson, as evidenced by the greedy, nonsensical method in which they have spent their billions in bailout funding.

However, horrible business decisions do not equate to illegal activity.

Currently, as far as I know, it is still legal in this country to be both stupid and greedy.

Simultaneously, no less.

Next we learn that the House, no doubt knowing Congress doesn’t have a leg to stand on with regards to pulling AIG’s bonuses, yesterday passed a bill that would instead tax the bejesus out of the funds.

The bill stipulates that any employee who works for a company that has received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds and makes more than $250,000 a year will be heavily taxed on their bonuses- and by heavily, I mean 90%.

Huh.

Now that’s what I call a bonus tax!

If this crap didn’t so drastically effect my loved ones- their day to day lives, and their hopes for financial security during their later years- it would be downright humorous.

Unfortunately, because the stakes are so high, and so many little people are paying the price for these shenanigans, the situation falls less in the “ha ha funny” category and more in the maddening “OMG how can people fuck up this damn badly?!?!” category instead.

Many of us were against the idea of a federal bailout to begin with.

Some of us were against it because of our belief in a free-market economy… a notion that is decidedly in jeopardy once the government gets to intervene any time it chooses.

Most of us simply don’t trust Uncle Sam- not to the extent of handling our investments, anyway. We knew, instinctively that if the government started runnin’ this particular show, mass chaos and huge amounts of dumb-assery were sure to follow.

True to form, the government has managed to make a huge clusterfuck out of an already distasteful situation.

Does anyone else remember, for example, back when the bailout was orignally being mulled by congress, that Senator Dodd (Chair of the Treasury Committee) was busy messing with the law to make sure that once the bill passed, the bonuses would be legal?

Seems to me, had he not done that, perhaps we could have already had a bill in place- one that is part of the original bailout legislation- that would have stopped AIG (and others) from even considering such wasteful spending as bonuses for irresponsible executives who have made deplorable financial decisions… and special spa retreats… and million dollar office renovations.

So, am I pissed off that it has come to this?

You bet.

Do I think AIG is comprised of a bunch of greedy bastards?

Yep.

More importantly though, I am even more pissed off at our own government and its hasty, poorly thought-out involvement in this mess.

Hindsight is 20/20, but had our congressional representatives heeded the wishes of their constituents- the little people like you and me- and not jumped headfirst into this stinky hole to begin with, perhaps we wouldn’t be dealing with this bullshit today.

The vast majority of us were against the bailout to begin with. We knew Congress was going to figure out a way to make a jacked up situation even worse.

Will they ever listen?

Not if the currently pending legislation is any indication of lessons learned (or not learned, in this case).

Oh well.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m just going to sit back, grab some popcorn and watch the show.

I hear there’s gonna be fireworks towards the end.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Stock Options, Politics and Bully Pulpits

Alright, we need to talk about this bailout stuff.

Again.

In speaking to someone whose political views I greatly respect (ok, ok- it was my daddy), I learned that perhaps President Obama knew exactly what he was doing  when he recently announced that the regulations he plans to put in place on what’s left of the $700 billion bailout funds would not apply to executive salaries.

When I originally heard that Obama had no plans to restrict the irresponsible spending of the executive recipients of the bailout money, I blew a gasket, as evidenced here.

Now I’m beginning to wonder… things are not always as they seem, right?

Perhaps Obama knew exactly what he was doing… maybe it’s all part of  a plan, something entirely different than what I originally assumed.

The more I think about this situation (and keep in mind that I am no financial analyst), the more I wonder if it would even be possible to truly restrict- through legislation- the reckless spending on Wall Street.

On its surface, it seems that yes, this would be more than possible… simple, even… to accomplish…

… But then I look back on all those finance and accounting classes from college and begin to wonder if doing so would actually be downright impossible.

Yes, one can legislate things like salary increases and salary caps- say, for example, that no employee of any recipient of government bailouts can make more than (fill in the blank) dollars per year.

Unfortunately, however, that would only restrict a tiny portion of what actually goes into these folks’ pockets. How do you legislate such things as stock options, warrants (similar to stock options, warrants give a person the option- but does not obligate them- to buy an underlying security at a certain price and quantity at a future time), and countless other perks?

A good accountant- any CPA worth their salt- could easily find loopholes around the legislation… therefore allowing these bigwigs to continue taking home millions upon millions of dollars- while never once breaking the law.

I am reminded of the Big 3 auto makers, and their offer to congress last year to accept a salary of $1 per year in exchange for bailout funds for their companies. What they didn’t tell us was that they would still make 90% of the money they always made because stock options and bonuses are not part of one’s flat salary… but they do often comprise the bulk of an executive’s take-home pay.

Next, I began thinking about Missouri Representative Claire McCaskill, and her recent- very public- comments, directed at the irresponsible jackasses on Wall Street.

For those who don’t recall, McCaskill went on record calling them all a bunch of idiots.

Were those comments merely the spur-of-the-moment rantings of a politician losing her temper?

Or were they very orchestrated comments, planned meticulously by the Obama administration, as a means to fully utilize the bully pulpit?

A bully pulpit, for those unaware, was originally perfected by Theodore Roosevelt, and simply means that high-ranking officials can use the platform of the White House as a means to advance one’s agenda. Simply put, politicians make use of a bully pulpit to put a bug in the public’s ear… it’s a great way to put an idea in the general public’s mind without having to go through a bunch of b.s. redtape in the process.

The way I see it, Obama knows he cannot successfully reign in the spending of Wall Street bigwigs by simply using a political platform. He can’t sign an executive order, or pass a bill in Congress to accomplish this goal because there are too many loopholes that people would be able use to continue their fatcat ways.

So he is instead turning the entire issue over to the court of public opinion- the little people like you and me- knowing full well that as the reality of the financial sector’s shenanigans begin to really sink in, we are going to get PISSED.

I know I got mad as hell… as did millions of others…

It was all part of the plan.

We, as consumers, as regular ol’ citizens of this country, possess way more power in this situation than Congress ever had.

Not only can we take such action as boycotting Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, CitiGroup and all the others… but we can make it known to these CEOs that we are watching them, and we are not happy about what we’re seeing.

With that in mind, these bigwig jerks, knowing we are paying extremely close attention to their every move, will have no choice but to watch their step and curb their behavior… if they want to stay in business, that is.

Obama, I have learned, does nothing by accident.

I believe he knows damn good and well what he’s doing here, and quite frankly, the more I think about it, the more I realize…

This man is a genius.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Barack Obama, Executive Pay and a Whole Lot of B.S.

President Obama said in his recent weekly radio address that he will be presenting a new bailout spending plan soon.

Sounds good to me, though I was never really one to support these ridiculous bailouts to begin with.

What I am shocked- and quite frankly, a little pissed- to hear is that this new spending plan contains no added restrictions on executive pay.

Apparently officials are concerned that new restrictions on executive salaries could discourage other companies from asking for government aid in the future.

What the hell?

I didn’t realize the point of the bailout package was to encourage anybody to put their hands out and beg for money. And even if that was part of the point of this bullshit package to begin with, so what? How the heck is it a bad thing to require executives looking for our assistance to first commit to cutting spending- including their own astronomically sized salary packages?

Otherwise, by my estimation, they shouldn’t be getting a damn dime from us or anybody else for that matter.

Can we please back up and review for a moment?

In recent months we have AIG taking employees on luxury spa trips after receiving funds from the government bailout… we have CitiGroup attempting to purchase a new $50 million luxury corporate jet… we have some schmuck CEO over at Bank of America spending over a million bucks to redecorate his damn office… we learn that more than $18 billion of the original bailout went to executive bonuses…

… And no one seems to think we need to add a few provisions to this new proposal?

Seriously.

Obviously we’ve learned absolutely nothing from our past mistakes.

These asshole bigwigs are living high on the hog on taxpayer dollars- OUR money- while the rest of us are scraping by.

Actually, if we’re lucky we’re scraping by… and luck these days, unfortunately, is hard as hell to come by.

People are losing their jobs, their cars and their homes, dammit, in record numbers.

The few little pennies we do make seem to be going to help the rich get richer… and from way down here where I’m sitting, isn’t going to help me or my fellow middle-class Americans at all.

The stock market is still in the shitter, wall street is still acting like a bunch of complete and total retards where fiscal responsibility is concerned… Congress is either steadfastly refusing to pass the one stinkin’ package that could actually help our broke asses to survive- or are insisting on beefing the damn thing up with so much pork that it’s becoming a useless peice of legislation altogether.

These punk ass politicians need to get this shit together and get to the responsibility of actually standing up for the people they were sworn into office to represent…

… Or they need to get the hell off the stage.

Cuz I’m sick of it.

Posted in C-Haze, Economy, News, Policy, Politics

Auto Bailout Doesn’t Go Down Any Better The 2nd Time Around

I think I finally understand what the deal is with this auto bailout.

I still think it stinks, but I can at least make some sense out of it now- at least more than I could before.

Recently, when Congress started talking about a $25 billion bailout for the Big 3 automakers, I felt like I had de ja vu.

I remember hearing almost the exact same thing- verbatim, in fact- back in September.

Congress passed a $25 billion auto bailout almost 2 months ago

So what the hell is going on?

Surely they haven’t spent all that money… right?

Well, the good news is, they haven’t.

In fact, they haven’t even received a penny of it.

The original bill earmarked the money to be distributed- in the form of loans- in 2009.

OK.

The problem now is that the auto industry doesn’t think they can wait that long, claiming they will be out of cash by December.

So the bill we’re hearing about- the bill Congress met in an attempt to pass last week- is a different bill, one that if successful, will make funds available to Ford, Chrysler and GM immediately.

Personally, I say tough shit.

I’m glad Congress, with no help from Nancy Pelosi’s screechin’ ass, didn’t get enough support to vote on the bill.

The Big 3 automakers simply aren’t viable.

They make these huge gas-guzzling vehicles during a time of economic calamity… shit the public doesn’t even want… and then go crying to the federal government, begging for money to keep making…

Wait for it…

… Shit the public doesn’t even want.

Yeah.

Cuz that makes all kinds of sense.

Or not.

Perhaps they should make a vehicle that gets better gas mileage.

Maybe it’s time for them to realize that the average American doesn’t want or need a pickup truck that can pull a 20,000 ton airplane behind it.

Seriously- who the hell wants to drive around in an SUV that gets 14 gallons to the mile?

No one does!

Well, no one but rednecks… and they’re definitely in the minority here.

… At least I hope they are.

Regardless, I am fed up with Congress, I’m fed up with whiny-ass bitches and CEOs- rich people who will remain rich no matter what the hell happens here- with their hands outstretched, begging for cash from those of us who can least afford to spare it.

You reap what you sow…

… They made their beds…

Let ’em lie down in the shit they’ve created.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, War on Terror

A Spoonful of Sweetener Makes the B.S. Go Down

The Senate has passed the bailout.

Crap.

I had really hoped they wouldn’t.

They didn’t just pass it… they did it with “sweeteners”.

Doesn’t make that shit any easier to swallow now does it?

Nope.

Sure doesn’t.

Let’s hope the House has the balls to kill it- again.

Regardless, here it is in its entirety…

… for those of you who need a little bathroom reading.

Enjoy.

Senate Bailout Plan

 

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, Single Mom, War on Terror

Rescue Plan- Tastes Even Worse Going Down the 2nd Time

The Economic Bailout– Take 2- is going before the Senate today.

I’m a little disappointed… I know they’ve added some stuff, and yanked other things… but…

The bill still stinks.

I was hoping that the unexpected no-vote in the House on Monday would have given lawmakers some incentive to scrap this butt-ugly thing and start over again…

Maybe get to work on passing something that’s worthwhile.

Unfortunately they either think it’s legislation worth saving, or feel that they don’t have the time to write a new bill.

I say, work some over-time if you have to…

… But stop trying to shove this worthless joke of a “Rescue Plan” down our throats.

 Either come correct, or don’t come at all.

I expect it to pass the Senate today, but like most regurgitated stuff, it tastes worse going down the second time.

Yuck.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, Single Mom, War on Terror

Economic Ramblings of a Broke A$$ Woman

It’s taken some days, but I’ve finally figured out how I feel about this economic bailout thing that’s been monopolizing my radio, my tv, my internet, and the proverbial water cooler at work.

I hate it.

Should Congress be successful in resurrecting the bill and bringing it to another vote, I hope it fails miserably.

There.

I said it.

I’ve been waiting- for days- to hear how this thing is going to help Main Street… and now finally understand that Main Street won’t benefit at all.

With that in mind, I say…

Fuck ’em.

Why should my broke ass incur the debt of financial institutions that A) did this shit to themselves and B) aren’t even willing to throw me a bone by way of thanks for bailing them out?

The answer is, I shouldn’t.

From my vantage point… waaaay down here where I’m sitting… it looks like I’m going to be just as screwed if this thing passes as I will be if this thing fails…

Except that one of those options will result in my incurring a mind-blowingly huge debt on top of everything else I’m trying to shoulder right now.

Either way it goes, my fellow taxpayers and I are no more or less likely to remain in our homes, nor are we any more or less likely to be able to afford fuel for our cars, food for our families, or medical expenses for our loved ones.

The Treasury Secretary, the President, Wall Street and Congress are all running around like some chickens with their heads cut off, screeching about how if we don’t pass this thing, the world is going to come to an end.

Honestly, it’s been real tough to get too stressed about it considering the behavior of Congress- especially yesterday. Our representatives have been cluck-cluck-cluckin’ about how important this bailout legislation is… but when it failed in the House, we learned the reason it died was baby-ass, pansy pettiness.

Our esteemed representatives thought it was more important to let their personal vendettas dictate how they voted on this oh-so-important bill than it was to vote on the issues contained in the thing itself.

Let’s see…  they didn’t like Nancy Pelosi’s speech from the floor of the House yesterday morning, so rather than pass the damn thing like they swore they would, they voted Nay.

Seriously?

This is how they make decisions? This is how our elected officials decide whether or not to pass legislation that according to them may be our last option to save the economy?

Perhaps they don’t really care as much about Main Street as they claim they do… or maybe this shit isn’t quite as big a deal as they’re trying to make it out to be after all.

… And don’t misunderstand- I’m not giving Nancy Pelosi a free pass either… so settle down, Republicans.

Why did she decide to give an Anti-Bush-Administration-and-anything-GOP campaign speech at that particular moment?

Talk about inappropriate.

Seems to me, had the bill been that stinkin’ important, perhaps the representatives would have been concentrating on coming together… not tearing each other apart… and while Nancy-girl was not the only person guilty of doing it, she did it the biggest, in the worst possible place, at the worst possible time.

Yet these same people, who cannot, for the lives of them, bring themselves to put their petty differences aside- for less than an hour- so this thing can pass, want me to believe that the bailout is the end-all-be-all to all things financial?

Doubtful.

Perhaps I would have shared in their urgency had they behaved like adults.

As far as I’m concerned, if the legislation wasn’t important enough for them to stop bickering long enough to pass it, than it likely isn’t important enough for me to get all excited about either.

While our oh-so-mature Congress was been acting like a bunch of spoiled rotten three year olds, I have been patiently waiting to hear what, specifically, will happen, should this bill fail again.

Are we headed for another Great Depression? Will the very fiber of our economy grind to a halt? Will the meager pennies I have in the bank no longer be insured, causing me to lose the little cash flow I currently enjoy?

No one has an answer.

Not a single person knows what the heck is going to happen, should this bailout fail.

Is it possible the market will right itself, causing no additional strain on We The Tax Payers?

Yep.

Is it possible that life will get really miserable for investment bankers?

Yep- that’s almost a guarantee.

Other than the fact that regular ol’ middle class Americans will get no relief whatsoever from bailing the financial sector out, not much else can be stated for sure.

Sorry guys.

Not good enough.

Perhaps it’s time the fat cats in the banking world learn to sink or swim- just like like the rest of us have had to do- while they were gorging themselves- excessively and unnecessarily… and quite frankly, criminally.

I say, welcome to my world…

And there is no life guard on duty.

Crunch.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, War on Terror

Depression, Burning Tables and The House of Representatives

The Bailout has failed.

It didn’t even make it past the House today… and well… let’s face it…

This nonsense has officially become a full-blown mess.

The Republicans are blaming the Democrats, claiming the measure would have passed, had Nancy Pelosi not given such a partisan speech on the House floor this morning.

The Democrats are counter-blaming the Republicans, claiming the GOP was being vengeful in not voting for this thing… and that by hatin’ on Nancy Pelosi, they knowingly let the entire country down.

I say both sides are fuckin’ up.

The Dow plummeted further than it ever has in the entire history of the U.S today.

This whole entire situation is… um…

I don’t even know what to say.

It’s jacked up.

We taxpayers never should have been put in this position- being asked to bail out a bunch of fat cats who gambled with their own damn cash and lost- to begin with.

Now that we’re in it, the absolute b.s. is starting to pile high- it’s smelly as hell- and the pile just keeps getting bigger.

We’ve got bickering for the sake of bickering, we’ve got inappropriate earmarking, we’ve got every damn thing except for…

A plan.

What’s most maddening about all this is that we Americans, whose tax dollars are on the line when Congress does eventually come up with a way out of this cluster-fuck, are the most powerless.

There’s nothing we can do about any of this right now.

We just have to trust that the same people who refused to pass this legislation today, due to their own trivial nonsensical disagreements will eventually do the right thing.

In the meantime, while we wait, let’s all just pray that by the time winter comes, we won’t be so desperate that we find ourselves burning our own kitchen tables simply to heat up our homes.

Depressing, isn’t it?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, War on Terror

Jack Cafferty on Sarah Palin- Cafferty Gets It- Do You?

Jack Cafferty said it best when discussing Sarah Palin’s potential Vice-Presidency following her horrific, cringe-inducing interview with Katie Couric.

If John McCain wins this woman will be one 72-year-old’s heartbeat away from being President of the United States. And if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should.

Here, here Jack.

I’d just like to add, should McCain win, not only will Sarah Palin be one 72-year-old’s heartbeat away from the presidency… that’s bad enough… but she will be one 72-year-old-four-time-cancer-survivor’s heartbeat away from the presidency.

That’s even worse.

Cafferty, like a lot of us, understands how disasterous and irresponsible McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as VP is, if the GOP actually wins this election.

Choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate was one the most blatant acts of disregard for this nation- by a politician- that I, personally, have ever seen.

After watching this clip, can you figure out what the hell this women is talking about?

Cuz I sure couldn’t.