Wall Street’s status quo; Bernie’s house; Unimaginable practices; Krugman and Teh Rall.

Wall Street is doing the same old thing in the same old ways. The Big Banks too big to fail are even bigger, the whole system still depends upon big growth to survive (Expand or Die), bonuses are still the way of the world on the Street, and credit default swaps are still okay to transact, when they should have been outlawed. 

It is to weep.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Bernie’s houses. There is no public photo of his current home, but here’s a picture of his next-to-last pad. (Well, I am trying to upload it.)

How low he must feel now. It’s only when these guys are in jail that they have to live the life of shame. I think they’re inured to public shame except when it’s physical. I don’t really think the stockade should be brought back or anything, just incarceration. That’s quite good. It combines a yucky lifestyle with ostracism. And nonviolent punishment notwithstanding, It is time to raise a glass to the man who punched Richard Fuld!

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I get a bad case of the grippe — maybe it’s swine grippe — whenever I attempt to make a list of shocking things that Wall Street, Big Banks, and the financial corporations have done. It’s too long a list, for one thing, to make, and I keep getting sidetracked by despair at each successive entry. 

But in every aspect of our lives horrible and perhaps unimaginable practices exist, and persist, and most of us don’t know about them. For instance, bear farms in Asia torture bears — keeping them for lifetime in tiny cages, milking them of bile which is used in marketed products. Some of the cages are so small the bear does not grow, but acquires  a stunted body shape. Sounds unearthly and unbelievable. Happens, however.

Dogs are crammed together in cages for market in the various countries which sell them for food; people here are crammed together in sports arenas to wait out floods without working plumbing, air conditioning, or enough food.  People wait on rooftops to be rescued days later in same flood. Presidents fly over the city from the safety of their big planes, simply watching. Other presidents declare ketchup a food which may be given to poor children in lieu of other vegetables. A presidential candidate assigns vice-pres. position to a brain-dead woman. No, it wasn’t Terry Schiavo, but may as well have been. Unimaginable practices, they abound in America.

Citigroup helped foreigners evade U.S. withholding taxes on stock market income and has to pay just $600,000 as a fine. I wonder how much tax revenue was lost by their strategy. They are undeterred by these minor penalties; this is demonstrated by the fact that in years up to and including 2006, Citi had to pay $26 million in fines for doing it. Clearly they’d rather pay the fines than follow the law. Same sh–t. Different day.

T-Mobile now charges you for sending you a telephone bill. 

Wells Fargo charges you an overdraft fee on a check if you happened to write on it a date in which you didn’t have enough to cover it — no matter when you actually submitted the check. They actually investigate each one, in case they can find this discrepency and charge you a fee.

And then there’s gold. There is something weird and smelly to this fever for gold of the past two years. I thought it would slow down soon. But now that the mall near me has a large store devoted to buying your gold scrap, with large gold letters painted on its glass declaring that it will be happy to take your old gold teeth, among other things, I guess it’s going to be that way for a while.

Arch conservatives in particular think we should be back on the gold standard. How ridiculous. As if the big banks would even want this. They’re too happy making fake profits out of thin air, screwing up the accountancy, to want to have their debits and credits measured out in anything tangible.

And gold is too important, in itself, to be completely backing national currency all over the world. It’s great with electricity. Gold is the element which enables our computers to work. It conducts magnificently and nothing else works quite like gold. There just isn’t enough of it to use industrially AND to lock away in dungeons as currency. We don’t lock away corn or wheat or steel just to keep and look at once in a while, do we? (Or do we?…)

I wish to God that the Obama administration would listen to Paul Krugman and his ilk. Even Ted Rall, that angry volcano, refers to Krugman when discussing the right ideas the government should have acted upon — for instance concerning the bailout and then the stimulus: Both say that Obama should have spent the bailout on homeowners to prevent them from going delinquent on loans, and the stimulus should have gone much farther and mirrored the Public Works Program of FDR. And by the way, I am not interested in the Rall’s past sex life and so will not be buying his latest book. Only the previous ones.

The Rall. He’s rather amazing but I wouldn’t want to meet him. Well, maybe in a large room a good distance away. I’d far rather meet Paul Krugman.

Or: Teh Rall. That name works better.

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