Moral Hazard

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy)- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing,and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed,are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

THE $7 Trillion Dollar Secret

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.
‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis. Clearing House Association fought Bloomberg’s lawsuit up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the banks’ appeal in March 2011.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day.
‘Motivate Others’

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders in a March 26, 2010, letter that his bank used the Fed’s Term Auction Facility “at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system.” He didn’t say that the New York-based bank’s total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48 billion on Feb. 26, 2009, came more than a year after the program’s creation.

Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment about Dimon’s statement or the company’s Fed borrowings. Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, also declined to comment.

The Fed has been lending money to banks through its so- called discount window since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities. By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to banks, securities firms and corporations that couldn’t get short-term loans from their usual sources.
‘Core Function’

“Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks,” says William B. English, director of the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses.”

The Fed has said that all loans were backed by appropriate collateral. That the central bank didn’t lose money should “lead to praise of the Fed, that they took this extraordinary step and they got it right,” says Phillip Swagel, a former assistant Treasury secretary under Henry M. Paulson and now a professor of international economic policy at the University of Maryland.

The Fed initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Information on which banks borrowed, when, how much and at what interest rate was kept from public view.

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP. Top aides to Paulson weren’t privy to Fed lending details during the creation of the program that provided crisis funding to more than 700 banks, say two former senior Treasury officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Big Six

The Treasury Department relied on the recommendations of the Fed to decide which banks were healthy enough to get TARP money and how much, the former officials say. The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt calculated by Bloomberg using data obtained from the central bank. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The six — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley — accounted for 63 percent of the average daily debt to the Fed by all publicly traded U.S. banks, money managers and investment- services firms, the data show. By comparison, they had about half of the industry’s assets before the bailout, which lasted from August 2007 through April 2010. The daily debt figure excludes cash that banks passed along to money-market funds.
Bank Supervision

While the emergency response prevented financial collapse, the Fed shouldn’t have allowed conditions to get to that point, says Joshua Rosner, a banking analyst with Graham Fisher & Co. in New York who predicted problems from lax mortgage underwriting as far back as 2001. The Fed, the primary supervisor for large financial companies, should have been more vigilant as the housing bubble formed, and the scale of its lending shows the “supervision of the banks prior to the crisis was far worse than we had imagined,” Rosner says.

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”

On Jan. 14, 2009, six days before the company’s central bank loans peaked, the New York Fed gave CEO Vikram Pandit a report declaring Citigroup’s financial strength to be “superficial,” bolstered largely by its $45 billion of Treasury funds. The document was released in early 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a panel empowered by Congress to probe the causes of the crisis.
‘Need Transparency’

Andrea Priest, a spokeswoman for the New York Fed, declined to comment, as did Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup.

“I believe that the Fed should have independence in conducting highly technical monetary policy, but when they are putting taxpayer resources at risk, we need transparency and accountability,” says Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”
Disclose Lending

Frank co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, billed as a fix for financial-industry excesses. Congress debated that legislation in 2010 without a full understanding of how deeply the banks had depended on the Fed for survival.

It would have been “totally appropriate” to disclose the lending data by mid-2009, says David Jones, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has written four books about the central bank.

“The Fed is the second-most-important appointed body in the U.S., next to the Supreme Court, and we’re dealing with a democracy,” Jones says. “Our representatives in Congress deserve to have this kind of information so they can oversee the Fed.”

The Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to release details of some emergency-lending programs in December 2010. It also mandated disclosure of discount-window borrowers after a two- year lag.
Protecting TARP

TARP and the Fed lending programs went “hand in hand,” says Sherrill Shaffer, a banking professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a former chief economist at the New York Fed. While the TARP money helped insulate the central bank from losses, the Fed’s willingness to supply seemingly unlimited financing to the banks assured they wouldn’t collapse, protecting the Treasury’s TARP investments, he says.

“Even though the Treasury was in the headlines, the Fed was really behind the scenes engineering it,” Shaffer says.

Congress, at the urging of Bernanke and Paulson, created TARP in October 2008 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. made it difficult for financial institutions to get loans. Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP. At the time, both were tapping the Fed. Citigroup hit its peak borrowing of $99.5 billion in January 2009, while Bank of America topped out in February 2009 at $91.4 billion.
No Clue

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Mark Lake, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.
Moral Hazard

Kaufman says some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system. The cost of borrowing for so-called too-big-to-fail banks is lower than that of smaller firms because lenders believe the government won’t let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard — the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they’ll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.

Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.

If Congress had been aware of the extent of the Fed rescue, Kaufman says, he would have been able to line up more support for breaking up the biggest banks.

Byron L. Dorgan, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, says the knowledge might have helped pass legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which for most of the last century separated customer deposits from the riskier practices of investment banking.

“Had people known about the hundreds of billions in loans to the biggest financial institutions, they would have demanded Congress take much more courageous actions to stop the practices that caused this near financial collapse,” says Dorgan, who retired in January.
Getting Bigger

Instead, the Fed and its secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble.

Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

For so few banks to hold so many assets is “un-American,” says Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “All of these gargantuan institutions are too big to regulate. I’m in favor of breaking them up and slimming them down.”

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.
‘Wanted to Pretend’

“The pay levels came back so fast at some of these firms that it appeared they really wanted to pretend they hadn’t been bailed out,” says Anil Kashyap, a former Fed economist who’s now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people find some of the stuff that happened totally outrageous.”

Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. When the Merrill Lynch purchase was announced on Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America had $14.4 billion in emergency Fed loans and Merrill Lynch had $8.1 billion. By the end of the month, Bank of America’s loans had reached $25 billion and Merrill Lynch’s had exceeded $60 billion, helping both firms keep the deal on track.
Prevent Collapse

Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition. Because depositors were pulling their money from Wachovia, the Fed channeled $50 billion in secret loans to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank through two emergency-financing programs to prevent collapse before Wells Fargo could complete the purchase.

“These programs proved to be very successful at providing financial markets the additional liquidity and confidence they needed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo.

JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time. The Fed also supplied Bear Stearns with $30 billion of secret loans to keep the company from failing before the acquisition closed, central bank data show. The loans were made through a program set up to provide emergency funding to brokerage firms.
‘Regulatory Discretion’

“Some might claim that the Fed was picking winners and losers, but what the Fed was doing was exercising its professional regulatory discretion,” says John Dearie, a former speechwriter at the New York Fed who’s now executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based group consisting of the CEOs of 20 of the world’s biggest financial firms. “The Fed clearly felt it had what it needed within the requirements of the law to continue to lend to Bear and Wachovia.”

The bill introduced by Brown and Kaufman in April 2010 would have mandated shrinking the six largest firms.

“When a few banks have advantages, the little guys get squeezed,” Brown says. “That, to me, is not what capitalism should be.”

Kaufman says he’s passionate about curbing too-big-to-fail banks because he fears another crisis.

‘Can We Survive?’

“The amount of pain that people, through no fault of their own, had to endure — and the prospect of putting them through it again — is appalling,” Kaufman says. “The public has no more appetite for bailouts. What would happen tomorrow if one of these big banks got in trouble? Can we survive that?”

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued the virtues of bigger banks. They’re more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cost jobs and cause “long-term damage to the U.S. economy,” according to a Nov. 13, 2009, letter to members of Congress from the FSF.

The group’s website cites Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, for demonstrating the greater efficiency of large companies.
‘Serious Burden’

In an interview, Williamson says that the organization took his research out of context and that efficiency is only one factor in deciding whether to preserve too-big-to-fail banks.

“The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process,” Williamson says. “The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”

The Moral Hazard.

Dearie says his group didn’t mean to imply that Williamson endorsed big banks.

Top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration sided with the FSF in arguing against legislative curbs on the size of banks.
Geithner, Kaufman

On May 4, 2010, Geithner visited Kaufman in his Capitol Hill office. As president of the New York Fed in 2007 and 2008, Geithner helped design and run the central bank’s lending programs. The New York Fed supervised four of the six biggest U.S. banks and, during the credit crunch, put together a daily confidential report on Wall Street’s financial condition. Geithner was copied on these reports, based on a sampling of e- mails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

At the meeting with Kaufman, Geithner argued that the issue of limiting bank size was too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions, Kaufman says. According to Kaufman, Geithner said he preferred that bank supervisors from around the world, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, make rules increasing the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve. Passing laws in the U.S. would undercut his efforts in Basel, Geithner said, according to Kaufman.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Geithner, declined to comment.
‘Punishing Success’

Lobbyists for the big banks made the winning case that forcing them to break up was “punishing success,” Brown says. Now that they can see how much the banks were borrowing from the Fed, senators might think differently, he says.

The Fed supported curbing too-big-to-fail banks, including giving regulators the power to close large financial firms and implementing tougher supervision for big banks, says Fed General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. The Fed didn’t take a position on whether large banks should be dismantled before they get into trouble.

Dodd-Frank does provide a mechanism for regulators to break up the biggest banks. It established the Financial Stability Oversight Council that could order teetering banks to shut down in an orderly way. The council is headed by Geithner.

“Dodd-Frank does not solve the problem of too big to fail,” says Shelby, the Alabama Republican. “Moral hazard and taxpayer exposure still very much exist.”
Below Market

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says banks “were either in bad shape or taking advantage of the Fed giving them a good deal. The former contradicts their public statements. The latter — getting loans at below-market rates during a financial crisis — is quite a gift.”

The Fed says it typically makes emergency loans more expensive than those available in the marketplace to discourage banks from abusing the privilege. During the crisis, Fed loans were among the cheapest around, with funding available for as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008, according to data from the central bank and money-market rates tracked by Bloomberg.

The Fed funds also benefited firms by allowing them to avoid selling assets to pay investors and depositors who pulled their money. So the assets stayed on the banks’ books, earning interest.

Banks report the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing expenses. The figure, known as net interest margin, provides a clue to how much profit the firms turned on their Fed loans, the costs of which were included in those expenses. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during reporting periods in which they took emergency loans.
Added Income

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13 billion, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show.

The six biggest U.S. banks’ share of the estimated subsidy was $4.8 billion, or 23 percent of their combined net income during the time they were borrowing from the Fed. Citigroup would have taken in the most, with $1.8 billion.

“The net interest margin is an effective way of getting at the benefits that these large banks received from the Fed,” says Gerald A. Hanweck, a former Fed economist who’s now a finance professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While the method isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to state the banks’ exact profits or savings from their Fed loans because the numbers aren’t disclosed and there isn’t enough publicly available data to figure it out.

Opinsky, the JPMorgan spokesman, says he doesn’t think the calculation is fair because “in all likelihood, such funds were likely invested in very short-term investments,” which typically bring lower returns.
Standing Access

Even without tapping the Fed, the banks get a subsidy by having standing access to the central bank’s money, says Viral Acharya, a New York University economics professor who has worked as an academic adviser to the New York Fed.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).
Occupy Wall Street

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.

The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.

“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”

In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.

They take full effect in 2019.

Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”(Bloomberg)

Feel better now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Small Business Saturday

Remember the outrage from the administration over hefty bonuses paid to AIG executives in 2009? Back then, shortly after AIG was bailed out by American taxpayers, the company went through with already planned bonuses to top executives.

The bonuses, which totaled $165 million, sparked a hot national debate over how much freedom private companies should have to pay large bonuses after they had become dependent on taxpayers. The House and Senate passed measures calling for the taxing of executive bonuses for bailed-out companies to the tune of 70-90 percent.

The president reacted forcefully: “”[I]t’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

Last week, another set of bonuses for bailed-out companies got decidedly less bad press. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to whom taxpayers have already given hundreds of billions, doled out $12.79 million in bonuses to its executives for meeting modest goals.

One could argue that there’s no outrage from the administration over the Fannie and Freddie bonuses because the total amount of bonuses is so much smaller.

But in fact, the average executive bonus is far larger.

Fannie and Freddie spent $12.79 million on 10 bonuses for an average of $1.27 million per bonus.

AIG spent $165 million on 400 bonuses for an average of $412,000 per bonus.

That’s about three times the level of bonus for bailed-out Freddie and Fannie execs compared to AIG. Some have argued that the AIG bonuses were different because they went to people who caused the problem, which is true, but only partly. A lot of them were going to people outside the parts of AIG that caused the trouble, but the criticism of AIG remains valid.

At Fannie and Freddie, the bonuses are going to those who are attempting to mitigate taxpayer losses, and the argument is that Fannie and Freddie have to compete with private sector salaries in order to get the best to do the mitigating.

Nonetheless, lawmakers are moving toward limiting bonuses for these executives. Even if true, it is a galling argument that we must shell out more money to Fannie and Freddie simply because they’ve already lost so much of our money that we need to give them lots of our money to prevent the loss of more of our money.

Doesn’t the president wonder, “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” (Mary Katherine Ham)

Nope. From what I hear, he’s been off golfing again. Gotta have your priorities. 🙂

After all, wouldn’t you want to make millions of running your company into the ground!!

WACO, Ga. — A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company’s trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:

“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

“Can’t afford it,” explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”

Looman’s company is U.S. Cranes, LLC.  He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, “about 20-to-one positive.”

But for some reason, one of the photos went viral on the Internet on Monday.

And the reaction has been so intense, pro and con, he’s had to have his phones disconnected because of the non-stop calls, and he’s had to temporarily shut down his company’s website because of all the traffic crashing the system.

Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive’s Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it’s that he doesn’t believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.

“The way the economy’s running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn’t be able to do any hiring,” he said. 

Looman did receive some unexpected attention not long after he put up his signs and Facebook photos. He said someone, and he thinks he knows who it was, reported him to the FBI as a threat to national security. He said the accusation filtered its way through the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and finally the Secret Service. Agents interviewed him.

“The Secret Service left here, they were in a good mood and laughing,” Looman said. “I got the feeling they thought it was kind of ridiculous, and a waste of their time.”

So Bill Looman is keeping the signs up, and the photos up — stirring up a lot of debate.

“I just spent 10 years in the Marine Corps protecting the rights of people… the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment and the [rest of the] Bill of Rights,” he said. “Lord knows they’re calling me at 2 in the morning, all night long, and voicing their opinion. And I respect their right to do that. I’m getting a reaction, a lot of it’s negative, now. But a lot of people are waking up.” (11alive.com)

Comment on website: Herbert Hubbel · Howell High School

Last year I was unemployed the early part of the year. I had one very good position that I was first in line for. But as soon as Obamacare passed and he learned more about it from his insurance carrier, he cancelled hiring me or anybody else. I am still in touch with the company owner and he still has not hired anybody due to his benefit cost and other expenses climbing rapidly due to Federal Government rules and regulations implemented by the Obama administration.
#2: We are not hiring because there are not enough sales to support more employees. The view over the horizon, because of Obama, is cloudy and risky, at best. We are already in precarious positions and just trying to hold on. Many, many businesses have folded. Many, like me, have put all our retirement funds into the business just to keep the minimum number of employees just to hold on, waiting for the next election, hoping for anyone but the destroyer of this economy. The economy goes up and down. Obama is using the bad economy as a tool to accoumplish his goals. Read his books. Listen to his words. He gets more of what he wants when we are suffering and vulnerable. OWS is a great example.

The US economy is resilient and will recover on its own, excluding the unthinkable decisions Obama has made. If those decisions are not obvious to any of you, then you are not paying attention, or you wouldn’t believe them if they were explained to you. But just a very few are the housing failier and domestic oil. Obama gets an F-. How about Cash for Clunkers and $8500 for home purchases, all at the expense of gov. spending at taxpayers expense. Union payoffs for political campaign funds. The list is endless.

 It’s not that businesses want to punish Obama by not hiring. Businesses exist to make a profit, hire and expand, and make more profit. We have no choice now in not hiring because Obama’s decisions are destroying this economy and our futures. We have no choice until sanity returns to DC. Don’t forget to vote against EVERY Democrat US Senator. It will take real power to undo what has been done.

Fascinating…

Because what celebration of small business would be complete by the Obama administration without reaffirming the mounds of red-tape that Obama and his confederates have saddled small business with?

“Overall, the Obama Administration imposed 75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion,” reports Heritage. 

In contrast, there were only six deregulatory actions by the Obama administration saving $1.5 billion says the Heritage report. 

And those costs were just the cost by the government to implement the regulations, not the overall cost to industry- that is; not the costs to you and I.  

In terms of the overall impact on the economic health of the country, the figure is much higher. 

“More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion,” writes the federal government’s own Small Business Administration.

Heritage reports that that’s nearly twice the amount that the government collects annually in individual income taxes. Ouch!

The costs are a hidden tax, not just on the rich, says Heritage, but on everyone equally.

But because regulations prevent the creation of new jobs, it hits the poor and middle class particularly hard, “while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent difference between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts),” says the SBA.

In other words, small employers take it on the chin at the rate of $3,810.60 per employee more than the big guys do.

It’s not hard to figure why the Obama administration is creating jobs at a post-war low. Jobs aren’t the goal. Fundraising is. That’s why dog and pony shows like Small Business Saturday loom so large for Obama and his corporate pals.

They serve as a reminder that Obama “cares” about little guys [cough, hack], while giving him an opportunity to put the squeeze on the Big Guys. 

If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Obama is the Great Fabricator.

For Obama, every day is just another episode of the Beltway Unreality show, where acting is much more important than actually doing something; where pop-culture trumps substance. (John Ransom)

And as we all know, it’s all about him.

 

Share The Wealth

Obama: Corporate Profits ‘Have To Be Shared By American Workers’”

If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can’t just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living as well as your bottom line. (RCP)

The Fourth MARX Brother Strikes again!

Still think he’s a “centrist” or not a socialist??

You must be a liberal.

The EPA recently began regulating greenhouse gases from power plants and other “big polluters,” and they made it a whole month before issuing their first waiver.

So let the apparatchiks line up. Let the “free” enterprise begin. The “fairness”.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.  Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.– 1984 by George Orwell

This week, the EPA issued its first exemption, Environment & Energy News reports:

The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to “grandfather” projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

There’s something interesting about the Avenal Power Center:

The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

GE? Hmm…where have I heard that before?….

Oh, right JOBS CZAR, Jeffrey Immelt!

Naw, it could be that naked a political quid pro quo like when Obama had dinner with Chinese President Hu and suddenly there was a deal for GE engines on planes sold to China.

True, GE isn’t the head of this project, that would be  Macquarie Capital, a “green” company that is an international company. But the turbines for the project are GE.

And it’s a “green company” rather than an evil global warming polluter!!

On the upside, at least Job Creation Czar Immelt is creating jobs!

They benefit him. But isn’t that Liberals do it for, to benefit their friends, just like the Obamacare Waivers (all 732 currently) and making more government and union jobs.

Then, there’s the other liberal need, to control people. To MAKE you do what THEY WANT, regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not (Michelle Obama and her Restaurant portion control is a good one).

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative was trying to get permits for a massive new coal-fired power plant in Virginia. But last fall, it delayed the project.

David Smith, the utility’s director of environment, says there were two main factors: the recession, which was cutting demand for electricity, and uncertainty about EPA’s greenhouse gas rules.

Smith says he still hasn’t figured out how the new rules will change his project. But one thing is certain: They give a potent new weapon to the plant’s opponents.

“The environmental organizations, I mean, their goal is to challenge any coal plant,” Smith says. “Another regulation just gives them another avenue to make another challenge.”

Attorney Cale Jaffe from the Southern Environmental Law Center has been fighting the plant.

“Finally we’ve got the rules that are beginning to require power companies to account for their global warming pollution,” Jaffe says. “That’s a historic turn of events.”

Jaffe says he hopes the utility will reconsider and opt for a cleaner energy source —  like offshore wind power.

So we’ll make it economically unprofitable to do anything other than what the liberals want you to do.

For EPA’s supporters, examples like this are proof that the rules will work to constrain global warming pollution. But in the eyes of critics, they show how the rules will deflate the economic recovery.

Jeffrey Holmstead, who headed EPA’s air pollution office under President Bush, predicts that the new requirements will increase energy costs and halt industrial construction. That’s because there’s no clear rule book. Officials will evaluate each project to see what technologies could cut its pollution.

“It slows everybody down because nobody knows what the rules are going to be,” he says.(NPR)

The rules are DO WHAT EVER THE LIBERAL SAYS AT THAT SECOND AND NOTHING ELSE!

And if they change it in the next second- Do not notice, do not look away or you’ll be turned to stone! 🙂

And never ever question why that apparatchik got a break you don’t get. You’ll be beheaded.

Just remember: “Yes Master”

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a
human face – forever.”–George Orwell

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

FEAR IS HOPE

SPENDING IS INVESTMENT

America, what a Country! 🙂

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

How to Be Evil Rich in a Recession

Become a Federal bureaucratic cog.

And with 111 new agencies for Health Care alone there will be plenty of opportunities to join the machine.

No wonder the money druggie Congress can’t stop spending.

It’s a pandemic virus out of control. Only the doctors are the patients.

The New Swine Flu. Only, the politicians are the  pork-fed Swine.

USAToday:  The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

The private sector= Evil rich corporations raping America. Fat-cat CEO’s who get massive bonuses. 🙂

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.

“There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous,” says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a first-term lawmaker who is on the House’s federal workforce subcommittee.

Oh, but they’ll try.

And the have FEHBP, the diamond platinum best-in-the history-of-mankind Health Care plan that they don’t want to share with you. No, you get ObamaCare filled with massive taxes, rationing, and cuts to seniors care.

Isn’t that special!

USA TODAY analyzed the Office of Personnel Management’s database that tracks salaries of more than 2 million federal workers. Excluded from OPM’s data: the White House, Congress, the Postal Service, intelligence agencies and uniformed military personnel.

The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker’s pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

•Pay hikes. Then-president Bush recommended — and Congress approved — across-the-board raises of 3% in January 2008 and 3.9% in January 2009. President Obama has recommended 2% pay raises in January 2010, the smallest since 1975. Most federal workers also get longevity pay hikes — called steps — that average 1.5% per year.

New pay system. Congress created a new National Security Personnel System for the Defense Department to reward merit, in addition to the across-the-board increases. The merit raises, which started in January 2008, were larger than expected and rewarded high-ranking employees. In October, Congress voted to end the new pay scale by 2012.

•Pay caps eased. Many top civil servants are prohibited from making more than an agency’s leader. But if Congress lifts the boss’ salary, others get raises, too. When the Federal Aviation Administration chief’s salary rose, nearly 1,700 employees’ had their salaries lifted above $170,000, too.

But they want a “pay Czar” to reign in runaway CEO’s. But runaway federal agency members and administrators?

The Sky’s the limit.

NRO: Most remarkably, there are fully 383,000 federal workers earning six-figure salaries and 22,000 earning salaries of over $170,000. And these numbers don’t even include the $41,000 in non-salary benefits the average federal employee receives each year.

The number of civil servants making $100,000 or more has jumped over 46 percent since the start of the recession.

Under Bush & Obama I might add, before the liberals get all Bush Deranged.

The Washington metropolitan area received nearly 10 times as much stimulus money per capita as the national average, keeping the unemployment rate in the area at 6.2 percent, far below rates of other large cities—9.3 percent in New York; over 10 percent in Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles—and the national average of 10.2 percent. 14.3 in Michigan.

Did you know that more than 50% of the richest counties in America surround Washington D.C?? and only 4 out the top 15 are in the evil capital Wall-street area of New York City??

And the 4 out of the 5 top richest Congressman are Democrats.

Recovery Act funding alone has fed the creation of 407,000 government contract jobs—or two thirds of all jobs “created” under the Act—according to one independent analysis. And during a time when most businesses are downsizing, the federal government itself actually grew by 13,000 employees in the last year—the first increase since the 1970s.

So do you think Obama’s “Jobs” summit and  “jobs” campaign tour is about getting more Federal jobs?

After all, the private sector is full of evil capitalists. 🙂

IDB: Among the countless absurdities built into the federal salary system is the mandate that when the head of an agency gets a raise, lots of his underlings automatically do too. That’s what happens when it’s play money you’re handling, which is what Washington thinks the revenues provided by the people who give politicians their jobs is.

No wonder Liberal love government so much, they can pork themselves and they can pretend to care about their “dependents” (you and me) while screwing the “dependents” for their own benefit.

It’s all free. No consequences. And Endless.

Utopia Awaits!

What a deal.

Courtesy of National Review Online

Democratic Underground (one the most far left sites out there) poster:  I don’t find the comparison with what a non-corrupt people’s government would produce and what corrupt corporations produce to be meaningful.
A people’s government should produce health for the nation — unfortunately, right now it’s producing disease.
Oh, corporations are part of the sickness of America — and a large part of producing the harm causing our sickness.

I think this person, and Congress, have forgotten what a representative Constitutional Republic is.

Alternet (another liberal site):  When we speak of the ungodly amounts of money that Wall Street scions make, it’s generally accepted that most don’t need to be making nearly as much as they are for two main reasons. One, it’s plainly wasteful; and two, the financial collapse is a pretty good indication of how inversely proportional those enormous bankers’ salaries are to the societal benefit they create.

The first part of that argument can and ought be extended to the public sector, where salaries are paid for by the same financially burdened taxpayers who have made clear they don’t want bailed-out banks to give executives big raises and bonuses. The federal government could use a pay czar, too.

Perhaps the money saved by instituting more recession-sensitive salary levels for federal employees could be redistributed to the states, where many public employees are being laid off, key social programs and offices whittled away, and offerings cut by public school systems in order to make ends meet.

Bonuses and raises are fine incentives for excellent work, but these days, simply having work — especially the kind of good, stable, living wage-level work that federal employment guarantees — ought be incentive enough.

But since government produces nothing and is not accountable to profit and loss why should they care. 🙂

Since June, (so no Bush Derangement here) the federal government has increased employment by almost 10 percent, while the private sector has cut employment by over 6 percent. And which sector do you figure was more padded to begin with?

Sen. Max Baucus’ office defends his girlfriend’s big pay raise (the job he got her at the Justice Dept-a pay raise of close to $14,000 to staffer Melodee Hanes last year, as he was becoming sexually involved with her. Baucus was separated from his now ex-wife at the time) by pointing to the raises others living off the taxpayer spigot got. What sympathy for the 10% of Americans suffering unemployment.

As the Politico reports, a few months later Baucus took Hanes “on a taxpayer-funded trip to Vietnam and the Middle East, though foreign policy was not her specialty.” In Washington, they call that on-the-job training — except that Baucus then nominated her for U.S. attorney in Montana (where he’s the Senator from), where Asian and Arab expertise is rarely useful in court.

Don’t they call that a Pimp and his ho?

Not in D.C.

A Baucus spokesman’s excuse: “Ms. Hanes’ salary increased by the exact same amount as our legislative director and less than our chief of staff.” Does the senator really think that makes the 7 million ordinary Joes without work feel better?

IBD: If you didn’t think the Democrats in power in Washington are doing enough to spark a people’s rebellion, just look at their latest shenanigans.

Congress is raising the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion in hopes that next October, when Republicans will be pounding them on this, voters won’t remember what they were up to way back in December of 2009.

But that astronomical amount is twice what was baked into their budget resolution earlier this year. When asked about so much red ink, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., just shrugged and told the Politico: “The credit card has already been used. When you get the bill in the mail you need to pay it.”

For most normal people that’s when you STOP USING IT!!!

You get counseling.

Do something other than ignore it.

But the federal credit card is has no limit.

And we have porkaholics with their hands on it.

But just remember, they care about the little people in the private sector.

You’re the source of their drug.

The current debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion is now not enough for Congress to live under — though only a fraction of the $787 billion stimulus passed earlier this year has been spent. And a $447 billion bill for Cabinet and other agencies is set for enactment, increasing spending by as much as 10%.

But, remember, these are the people who screamed and yelled and ranted until they turned blue in the face about how immoral and unethical it was for the Republican to be running up so much debt and that Bush was evil 🙂

Well, now that they have they’ve bathed in that pie I guess it’s not so bad after all. 🙂

They kind of like it here.

Mayo Clinic Defintion of Drug Addiction: When you’re addicted, you may not be able to control your drug use and you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Drug addiction can cause an intense craving for the drug. You may want to quit, but most people find they can’t do it on their own.

As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it becomes increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Stopping may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).

Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include:

  • Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — this can be daily or even several times a day
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
  • Spending money on the drug even though you can’t afford it
  • Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
  • Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems
  • Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug

And Washington’s drug is the Money that begets power.

Power is the ultimate goal, but you need the money to get there.

And you, the taxpayer are the source.

They are the junkie.

And they thousands of minions in the cog of the bureaucracy that they have so satisfy also.

After, it’s a no-limit credit card.

$12,100,000,000,000 is just a number.

adding 1.8-1.9 trillion to it : $14,000,000,000,000

It doesn’t mean anything.

It’s all monopoly money to them.

And it sure doesn’t mean putting the Federal gravy train on a diet!