$7,700,000,000,000

I have been busy lately, what with the Skyrim (hyperbole) and whatnot, but the world has kept a turnin’.  Recent things of note include this beautiful article from Bloomberg about the Federal Reserve propping up giant banks with trillions of dollars (seriously! as of March 2009 it was $7.7 trillion) which is both fascinating and gigantic.  Now, as a reasonable person, I do not have a problem with a central bank with extremely limited functionality; contrarywise this can be a vital tool in recovering from a depression.  What we have in this country, however, is the Federal Reserve Bank, which is basically the logical progression of hiring former (and future) banking executives to run your central bank, leaving us with a central bank that serves only to support and enrich the other big banks.

Until recently, and only as a result of a lawsuit recently won by Bloomberg, the specifics of where and how the Fed threw their giant piles of cash (and even the size of the cash involved) were a mystery, knowledge classified to even congressmen and members of the Treasury Department.  The banks involved jumped on this complete lack of transparency, and used their newfound piles of cash to their advantage, not disclosing that it was in actuality loaned to them from the Federal Reserve.  Of course, while the banks have now paid most of this back, the Fed was nice enough to loan it to them at such low rates that they were able to make a nice $13 billion in the long run.  So, in short, a secretive and shadowy government agency used several trillion dollars of tax money to help banks artificially inflate their profits and assets, all so that six banks that literally had already been so financially irresponsible that they were billions of dollars underwater could not only stay in business but run a grift based entirely on lying about where their newfound ‘wealth’ came from.

Who was fighting to keep these details so secret?  Why, obviously it was the Federal Reserve, and the big banks acting through a shadowy mega-lobby-cabal known as “The Clearing House LLC”  which claims boldly on their webpage:

Established in 1853, The Clearing House is the oldest banking association and payments company in the United States.  It is owned by the world’s largest commercial banks, which collectively employ over 2 million people and hold more than half of all U.S. deposits.

So there’s that.  So if you ever thought that all the banks had a shadowy secretive group that helped them all work together to fuck the common man and control the government, you were right, one group has been controlling American banking since 1853.  To make things even tastier for the conspiratorially inclined, some cursory web browsing tells me that four of the Clearing House’s Vice Presidents have also worked for the Federal Reserve Bank, which is probably extremely helpful in advocating for “the interests of its owner banks on a variety of systemically important banking issues.  ”

Anyways, read the article on Bloomberg (which is something I never thought I would have to say) because even though it is extremely long it is also extremely informative and important.  Furthermore, if you still bank with a major national bank, I strongly urge to transfer any accounts you can to either a local bank or a credit union.  Of course, if enough people withdraw their money from the banks, the Federal Reserve will probably just lend them another $8 trillion to help them ‘recover’.

Turkey In Wholesome American Guts: Thanksgiving Prayer 2011

Turkey In Wholesome American Guts: Thanksgiving Prayer 2011.

A little William S. Burroughs on the spirit of the holiday.

Thanksgiving

I enjoy the function of a holiday as a reason for a family to all get together and be mostly civil with each other, however I have trouble with the nature of some of those days and the celebrations therein.  For instance, Thanksgiving really just makes me think of how the Native Americans initially treated us, and the genocidal madness on our part that followed.  I understand the concept of being thankful for things, and that this is good, but I also feel like what we’re all celebrating is how thankful we are that this land’s indigenous people were way too nice and trusting for their own good.

Pleasing alternatives to Thanksgiving would include Buy Nothing Day, which I wholeheartedly encourage, which is celebrated by actively not spending anything on “Black Friday” as a statement against consumerism.  I feel that this is particularly relevant now, and anybody who is shopping tomorrow I strongly encourage you to buy from local and/or independent businesses, where your money will do the most good to better our actual economy.  Another alternative, coinciding on this same day this year, on November 25, we have Evacuation Day, a day celebrated until the early 20th century commemorating the end of the British occupation of New York.  We all know what the grievances the founding fathers had with the British were, but I think that now of all times it is important to think about what they mean, and what they would mean in a modern context.  It would seem to me that the most relevant of these to the modern United States is that of taxation without representation.  What I think every American citizen should be asking themselves is this: are my views being represented in my government?  Congress’s 9% approval rating would seem to indicate that most people feel this is not the case.  How did  our government for the people, of the people, and by the people so blatantly become a governing of the people, for the wealthiest, by the slightly less wealthy?  The unfortunate answer to this is that each and every citizen in the US has helped it happen, and the only way to fix it is for all us lowly governed peons to work together and fix the system.

New heights in audacity

Here’s a joke for you: one of America’s largest insurance companies so ineptly invests its assets that in order to keep it from becoming totally worthless, and taking hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans down the tubes with it the Federal Government ponies up $85 billion of our money for a company who’s stock value has dropped to less than a fifteenth of that.  Now here’s the punchline: three years later, the company run by the former CEO of said insurance company says sues that same Federal Government for another $25 billion because it claims the government unfairly compensated it for is toxic assets.  Five to one he’s able to reach a ‘settlement’ with a nice federal lawyer who will proceed to retire from public work and take up a nice consultant or executive position affiliated with said CEO’s company.

via Former AIG CEO Sues Claiming Taxpayers Need To Pony Up $25 Billion More.

200-Plus Economists Support Occupy Wall Street

200-Plus Economists Support Occupy Wall Street.

Courtesy of Father Theo’s blog.  It makes sense, really, when you think about it.  It seems to me it would be difficult to be a serious academic economist and not support the Occupation, which is not particularly about Capitalism itself, but rather the particularly short-sighted predatory form of Capitalism that has developed in the United States.  Granted, I’m no economist, but it seems to me that we are in the midst of many of these crises because currently have a system that is not self-sustaining, and by continuing in any direction with that system we are only hastening our own downfall.  A system cannot survive by devouring itself, which is exactly what the relationship between the minority running the country and those whose lives they control has become.  Just on a purely common sense basis, the difference between, say, one person making 10 million dollars per year and 250 people making $40,000 per year is that while the people making $40gs will spend it in an economically diverse way, statistically speaking once money has found its way into the hands of the 1%, it seems to find ways to simply circle about between them, rather than making it into the segment of the economy that actually benefits the working man.

Fun stuff from yet another GOP debate

In the 10^23 Republican presidential primary torture garden nightmare party on foreign terrorism and communism or whatever, things happened that were predictable.  Michelle Bachman made ridiculous claims, and couldn’t support them.  In this debate, they were about Obama taking away the CIA’s ability to investigate, which I guess he has done with his unwaivering support and continuance of the Patriot Act and his failure to close Guantanamo Bay.  Which is still open, by the way, despite even the United Nations calling for its closure.  Newt Gingrich said something dickish, perhaps about the Patriot Act.  Ron Paul provided, as usual, the one viewpoint that actually seems in line with what the Republican Party used to pretend to be; in this debate it was in providing the lone voice of dissent to the Patriot Act, the ultimate face of big brother-government intervention and control.  Jon Huntsman said some unAmerican things, like that we should withdraw troops from Afghanistan and also that for some reason Vietnam was bad for America.  I don’t know why, perhaps because more hippies could have died on both fronts?  Finally, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum fulfilled roles.  According to the AP: “Also on the debate stage were businessman Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.”  Here’s a site link to the Denver Post, but you shouldn’t click it because they’re a bunch of fuckers.

Thank you Huffington Post for the best gift ever

Verbatim:

Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson, explained in a statement, “Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News. Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.”

It’s not that everyone didn’t know that all ready, or that studies hadn’t been done before:

“Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points.)”

So, now there is conclusive proof that not only is there something about Fox News that makes its viewers more likely to believe blatant lies; along with that something makes them somehow, almost miraculously, less informed than people who don’t watch the news.  Now, granted, I don’t watch the fucking news, I get it on the internet, where I don’t have to watch ads or stories about sick kids or puppies or all that human interest crap.  I am, however, fairly well informed; so this does bring up the difference between people who don’t watch the news and people who don’t pay any attention to the news.  Perusing their study itself, it seems like the one category they leave out is people who get almost/all of their news on the internet; although it does include one very interesting category that I am saving for last.

Huffpo misses out on some of the even more interesting bits from the study.  First and foremost (it is literally on page 2) is that viewers of MSNBC (pretty much the only ‘left-leaning’ network) are the most likely to misidentity the Occupy Wall Street protesters as predominately Republicans.  The most awesome thing about the Occupation (which is something I know a thing or two about) is that it is predominately people who are sick of both parties.  Interestingly, Fox News viewers were the number two most likely to identify them as predominately (R)s because, well, of course they were.  Pretty much across the board, and coming as no surprise to anybody, the most likely people to be accurately informed got their news from NPR and *drum roll please* The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.  That is all.  I would link to the study, but it exists only as a .pdf that you can download from the HuffPo link at the beginning of this post.