Wall Street’s Best Investment II: 12 Deregulatory Steps to Financial Meltdown

What can $5 billion buy in Washington?

Quite a lot.

Over the 1998-2008 period, the financial sector spent more than $5 billion on U.S. federal campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

This extraordinary investment paid off fabulously. Congress and executive agencies rolled back long-standing regulatory restraints, refused to impose new regulations on rapidly evolving and mushrooming areas of finance, and shunned calls to enforce rules still in place.

“Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” a report released by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation (and which I co-authored), details a dozen crucial deregulatory moves over the last decade — each a direct response to heavy lobbying from Wall Street and the broader financial sector, as the report details. (The report is available here.) Combined, these deregulatory moves helped pave the way for the current financial meltdown.

Here are 12 deregulatory steps to financial meltdown: (more…)

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Published in: on March 9, 2009 at 9:06 am  Comments (4)  
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The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein

Watch the short film

Fast Facts, Shocks and their Aftermath from the Shock Doctrine Short Film
Chile, 1973

* 50,000 tortured
* 80,000 imprisoned
* Public spending cut by 50%
* Incomes for the rich up 83%
* 45% of population in poverty

Wars – Falklands War, 1982

* 910 people die
* Thatcher’s popularity doubles
* She privatizes gas, steel, airlines, telephones
* She declares war on unions
* Thousands are injured
* Unemployment triples
* Number of poor increases by 100%

Massacres

* China 1989 – hundreds killed
* Thousands jailed and tortured
* China becomes sweatshop to the world
* China embraces “free market” capitalism
* Factory wages: $1/day

Russia, 1993

* Yeltsin attacks parliament
* Hundreds killed
* Parliament burned
* Opposition arrested
* 72 million impoverished
* 17 new billionaires created

Terrorist Attacks – New York, 2001

* Attacks launch “War on Terror.” It is privatized.
* US spy agencies outsource 70% of their budgets
* Pentagon increases budget for contractors by $137 billion/year
* Department of Homeland Security spends $130 billion on private contractors

Invasions – Iraq, 2003

* The most privatized war in modern history
* US decrees 200 state companies will be privatized
* Hundreds of thousands killed
* 4 million displaced

Natural Disasters – Sri Lanka, 2004

* 35,000 dead
* Coastline handed over to hotels and industry
* Nearly 1 million displaced
* Fishing people forbidden to rebuild homes by the sea

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Election Madness

By Howard Zinn

There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells me the kinds of jobs he has held—security guard, repairman, etc. He has worked all kinds of shifts, night and day, to barely keep his family going. His letters to me have always been angry, railing against our capitalist system for its failure to assure “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” for working people.

Just today, a letter came. To my relief it was not handwritten because he is now using e-mail: “Well, I’m writing to you today because there is a wretched situation in this country that I cannot abide and must say something about. I am so enraged about this mortgage crisis. That the majority of Americans must live their lives in perpetual debt, and so many are sinking beneath the load, has me so steamed. Damn, that makes me so mad, I can’t tell you. . . . I did a security guard job today that involved watching over a house that had been foreclosed on and was up for auction. They held an open house, and I was there to watch over the place during this event. There were three of the guards doing the same thing in three other homes in this same community. I was sitting there during the quiet moments and wondering about who those people were who had been evicted and where they were now.”

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 12:33 am  Comments (1)  

Buffett backs estate tax, decries wealth gap

Billionaire Warren Buffett on Wednesday endorsed the estate tax as a check on wealth accumulation, while two senior U.S. senators said they want the tax repealed.

Revisiting a long-standing debate over the controversial tax, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing where Chairman Max Baucus said he supports ending the estate tax, although he said he did not expect this to happen any time soon.

Published in: on November 14, 2007 at 7:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sorry Thomas Friedman, The World Is Round

In an excerpt from the new book, Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, Stephen Marshall takes on liberals like Friedman, who would have you believe that our capitalist system is inherently just and self-regulating when, in reality, it is anything but.

By Stephen Marshall

Published in: on July 5, 2007 at 8:33 pm  Comments (1)  

When Dollars Trump Compassion

BOB HERBERT
June 19, 2007

You won’t see these stories on television, but Marian Wright Edelman and Dr. Irwin Redlener could talk to you all day and all night about children whose lives have been lost or ruined because they didn’t have health insurance.

Use the First Amendment – But Not In Public

Don Imus and the Triumph of Economic McCarthyism

By Ted Rall
April 17, 2007
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Published in: on May 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where Little Grows, Capitalism Takes Root

May 13, 2007
This Land
By DAN BARRY

LUCIN, Utah

Great Location! Rare Parcel! Premium Lot!

Somehow these hoary come-ons still cast their spell, drawing us in, relieving us of that obstacle to suspect acquisition, our disbelief. With words that all but wink in confidence, they slyly suggest that our mothers raised no fools, that we should get while the getting’s good — and that desert land in Utah is the next big thing. (more…)

Published in: on May 13, 2007 at 12:32 am  Leave a Comment  

‘Patient’ Capital for an Africa That Can’t Wait

April 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Last week, I was touring northern Tanzania when our car passed the small town of Karatu and we suddenly came upon an open field splashed with colors so bright and varied it looked from afar as if someone had painted a 30-color rainbow on the landscape.

As we got closer, I discovered that it was Karatu’s huge clothing market. Merchants had laid out blankets piled with multicolored shirts, pants and dresses, much of it used clothing from Europe, and were hawking their goods. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Global capitalism now has no serious rivals. But it could destroy itself

Our planet cannot long sustain the worldwide embrace of the manufacture of desires.

Published in: on February 24, 2007 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

David Simon: “We’re Headed Towards Separate Americas!”

The award-winning author of the acclaimed HBO program, “The Wire,” painted a grim picture of this country. David Simon said: “We’re headed [towards] separate Americas.” Speaking at Loyola College, in Baltimore, MD, on Feb. 6, 2007, he said that “unencumbered Capitalism has become our God.” In our greedy society, Simon underscored: “Human are worth less, not more: less.” He said America is going to be a “more brutish, cynical and divided place.”

Published in: on February 10, 2007 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Next Stage of Capitalism

In his new book Capitalism 3.0, Peter Barnes writes that the costs of our current capitalist system are clear: inequality, stressful lives and a dwindling financial safety net. But how do we revise such a complex system?

Published in: on January 5, 2007 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment