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Guess Who Makes More Than Bankers: Their Regulators

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Guess Who Makes More Than Bankers: Their Regulators

 

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Government work is pretty good for the most part. (There’s the whole selling your soul aspect, but that aside. — I kid. I kid.) The pay is far above average. Union protections mean you basically can never be fired. The pension comes early, is forever, and is backed by the US taxpayer. Civil servants have it pretty darn good. Government employees on average earn over $120,000 in total compensation. Banking regulators make on average far more than this.

 

The truth is the government civil service sector constitutes a crony class. It controls DC. Politicians come and politicians go, but the bureaucracy always stays. It always gets bigger. It always gets more complex. And it always takes more from the taxpayer.

When the average limo driver at the FDIC makes almost twice that of a private sector banker on average it’s pretty clear that something is amiss.

(From The Wall Street Journal)
 
You might think high-paying jobs at these agencies require special skills. Not so. At the OCC, secretaries make on average $79,182 per annum. Motor vehicle operators (the agency’s limo drivers) at the FDIC earn $82,130. Human resources management trainees at the CFPB make $110,759 a year.
 
Averages tell only part of the story. In 2012, 68% of FDIC and CFPB staff—and 66% at the OCC—earned above $100,000 a year. Nearly 19% of the CFPB and OCC staff earn more than $180,000 a year. At the OCC, 10.5% of workers earn above $200,000 a year, at the FDIC 9.3%.

Click here for the article.


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 

Hyper-Sensitive Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

Hyper-Sensitive Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account

 

Just yesterday, I wrote a post about how a South Carolina construction worker was fined $525 and lost his job for not paying $0.89 for a drink refill while working at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston. The point was to emphasize how the law comes down with a devastating vengeance when an average citizen commits a minor crime, yet allows the super rich to loot and pillage with zero repercussions. There is now a systemic two-tier justice system operating in these United States, and the result will unquestionably be tyranny if the trend continues unabated.

The latest example of a lowly citizen being subject to a disproportionate use of the law, is Jon Daniel of Peoria, Illinois. Jon was behind a parody Twitter account that mocked Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, and his biggest mistake was not making it clear that it was a parody. As a result, Twitter had already suspended the account weeks ago. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

The tough guy mayor was so offended that a plebe would dare criticize his royal highness that he ordered a police raid on the home of Jon Daniel and his roommates. Peoria native, Justin Glawe wrote an excellent article on the subject for Vice. He writes:

Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.

Yes, the cops raided Daniel’s home because they wanted to find out who was behind @peoriamayor, an account that had been shut down weeks ago by Twitter. When it was active, Daniel used it to portray Jim Ardis, the mayor of Peoria, as a weed-smoking, stripper-loving, Midwestern answer to Rob Ford. The account never had more than 50 followers, and Twitter had killed it because it wasn’t clearly marked as a parody. It was a joke, a lark—but it brought the police to Daniel’s door. The cops even took Daniel and one of his housemates in for in-depth questioning—they showed up at their jobs, cuffed them, and confiscated their phones—because of a bunch of Twitter jokes.

So the police raid on Daniel’s house wasn’t an isolated incident; it was just another case of the cops acting shady—and naturally, many in this town are raising serious questions and concerns over the use of taxpayer resources and manpower to find out who ran @peoriamayor.

Fortunately, this story does have a silver lining. Daniel’s original Twitter account was actually pretty unsuccessful, with only 50 followers by the time it was shut down. Mayor Jim Ardis should’ve just left well enough alone, but he couldn’t do that, and as a result of all the attention this story has received in the blogosphere, new parody accounts have emerged. The most successful one is @NotPeoriaMayor and the avatar is Jim Ardis with a Hitler mustache. See below:

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The best part is this account already has 7x the followers of the other one.

Lesson Learned: Don’t fuck with the Internet.

Full Vice article here.

The LA Times also covered the story, here.

Follow Mike on Twitter.

Image credit: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

 

Western Lawmakers Talk Federal Land Takeover

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By Bureau of Land Management [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bureau of Land Management [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

With all the coverage regarding the massive federal land holdings since the Bundy ranch vs. BLM story broke it was interesting to read this headline up at Drudge Report.  The high percentage of federal land in our western states is nothing new and the article below points out that some states, Utah being what appears in the lead, have been studying how best to take a stand to take back much of the federal land located in their individual states.

There have been articles suggesting auctioning the land off and giving the monies raised to the U.S. citizens.  The problems I see with this approach is that big money wins, the “occupied” states lose and how exactly are the people of the United States suppose to receive this money?  No doubt, the check is in the mail, right.  Also, why should a person in NY, FL, or myself receive proceeds of a sale of federal land in NV?  If the idea is to disperse the money to the citizens of that particular state that would be easier to understand.  Not to worry, I am sure that check is in the mail as well.

Another suggestion is to give the land back to the original owners.  Not to be pessimistic but I can see 20 years of costly legal battles (most likely at taxpayer expense) to sort this all out.  The Native Americans should be first in line in this case but I do not think the government wants to go back in time to address the wrongs it has done to the inhabitants of Turtle Island.

Then we have the option of the individual states taking back control of the federal land within their respective borders, hopefully for good intentions, which brings us to this article by Kristen Moulton from The Salt Lake Tribune covering a meeting Utah’s Capitol on Friday which mentions:

More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal: wresting control of oil-, timber -and mineral-rich lands away from the feds.

The article goes on to point out, as stated by Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart:

The summit was in the works before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing…

Speaker Lockhart also points out that the Nevada issue is part of a bigger problem.

Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder was quoted as saying:

We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms

The state of Utah seems to have advanced this action farther to date than the other western states, passing HB 142.

Click here for the Full Story.

So what are your thoughts on how this should proceed?  Is change even needed or should the federal land remain controlled as it is currently?  Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…

 

‘The US is an oligarchy, study concludes’

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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‘The US is an oligarchy, study concludes’

 

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It’s sad but true. This is something pretty much all critics of crony capitalism can agree on whether on what is traditionally called the “Right” in this country, or the “Left” in this country. Very powerful, very rich interests influence government policy on a fundamental level. From the military industrial complex, to Big Pharma, to the unions, to George Soros, to Carlos Slim, to the auto manufacturers, to the media, to the insurance industry, to the king crony capitalists of them all, the banks.

Straddled atop these interests is the Federal Reserve, the most crony institution ever established.

Of course, since the study comes out of Princeton I am sure the prescribed remedy will be more government regulations (which are always manipulated by the powerful for their ends). I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But invariably with these studies it seems the demon is “powerful business.” A nasty demon at times no doubt, but its counter is not “powerful government.” Academics (at least older academics in my experience) never seem to get that the 2 are entwined. Thus the reason we have not gotten anywhere on this issue for a century.

The average person has long been (perhaps has always been with very few exceptions) on the outs. It just feels particularly bad because we are now better informed. In some ways we actually are better off than we once were. At least now there are outlets such as this one which pay attention to what’s going on. This may represent an important turning point for the better.

On the topic of how the US has long been an oligarchy I encourage everyone, progressives, conservatives, libertarians, to pick up the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. I read it years ago and it is an amazing read. It’s the real life story of an “economic hit man” and the stuff he pulled all over the developing world in the 1970s. Pretty crazy stuff.

(From The Telegraph)
 
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Think TARP.

Click here for the article.


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 
 

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 

Another Phony Budget Debate

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Source: http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org

By Ron Paul

 

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Another Phony Budget Debate

 

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.

The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.

As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.

I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.

These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.

If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?

Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches, and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least,  young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.

Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.

Harry Reid Tied to Medicare Fraudster Saloman Melgen

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Harry Reid Tied to Medicare Fraudster Saloman Melgen

 

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Saloman Melgen is the South Florida doctor who it was determined overbilled Medicare by $9 million in 2007-2008, and who also recently lent his private plane to Senator Menendez of New Jersey for some “vacation time” in the Dominican Republic.

The Washington Free Beacon today reveals that $700,000 found its way from Melgen to a PAC Senator Reid is associated with. I mean it would just look stupid if old Harry Reid took a stroll down to the Medicare building and just picked up a check. There always has to be a middleman, even if that middleman is a known fraudster. Can’t look too obvious.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

HUMPHRIES: Give members of Congress a million dollars a year

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

HUMPHRIES: Give members of Congress a million dollars a year

 

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Columnist Rusty Humphries responds to Congressman Moran’s complaint that $174,000/year, plus amazing healthcare, plus a fantastic pension isn’t enough for members of Congress to live on.

(From The Washington Times)
 
Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, is retiring after spending over 20 years in Congress. He thinks he and his overworked colleagues are underpaid. They get a measly $174,000 a year salary, so it’s unreasonable for us to expect them to pay for things like a house in Washington, D.C.; dinners at all those expensive restaurants; or Obamacare.
 
Well, after listening to his lively speech, he’s inspired me and changed my mind.
 
I say, Let’s give each member of Congress ONE MILLION DOLLARS a year!
 
But there’s a catch:

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
 

The US Just Can’t Stop Blowing Billions in Afghanistan

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

The US Just Can’t Stop Blowing Billions in Afghanistan

 

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We stay and will stay in a more “limited” way in Afghanistan because it is vitally important in the “grand game.” Afghanistan is the cornerstone of Asia and it is at the crossroads of the Silk Road. To the north is Putin’s Russia, to the west Iran. To the east China. To the south India. It may be inhospitable. It may be dangerous. It may be the place where historically empires have gone to die. But it is full of unexploited minerals and lots and lots of opium.

To control Asia (which is probably impossible though the British gave it a good go) one must control the craggy peaks and dusty valleys of Afghanistan. And that is why we continue to dump money down a hole in the country and will probably forever. That and if we stop things will probably get get even worse. This is why we should leave empire building to other countries. We were once a colony. We didn’t like it.

(From Vice News)
 
Afghanistan may now be a catch-22, but US donors have missed several chances to learn a lesson. Sopko pointed to a 1988 USAID report on development in Afghanistan, drawing many of the same conclusions that US officials are realizing now. And many of the mistakes made in Iraq — particularly with sub-contractors — were repeated in Afghanistan and are once again becoming the norm.
 
“I’ve seen it in Somalia, in Yemen. The system of corruption and collusion between the US government and these contractors was born in Afghanistan and is being replicated elsewhere,” Jackson said, adding that development in Afghanistan took a turn for the worse after a surge both in military presence and in misguided development projects. “In 2010 you had this massive influx of money and all these quick-impact projects, and focus on burn rates rather than results.”
 
“That’s very important for understanding why Afghanistan is such a mess now,” she added. “If you look back, it could have gone differently.”

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
 

 

Lawrence Lessig: The unstoppable walk to political reform

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Lawrence Lessig: The unstoppable walk to political reform

 

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Published by TED

Seven years ago, Internet activist Aaron Swartz convinced Lawrence Lessig to take up the fight for political reform. A year after Swartz’s tragic death, Lessig continues his campaign to free US politics from the stranglehold of corruption. In this fiery, deeply personal talk, he calls for all citizens to engage, and a offers a heartfelt reminder to never give up hope.

Image credit: TED video capture

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

 

One of the primary topics on this website since it was launched has been the extremely destructive and explosive rise of crony capitalism throughout the USA. It is crony capitalism, as opposed to free markets, that has led to the gross inequality in American society we have today. Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability.

As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. One thing that bothers me to no end is when fake Republicans focus their criticism on struggling people who need welfare or food stamps to survive. They have this absurd notion that the whole welfare system doesn’t start with the multinational corporations and Central Banks at the top. In reality, it is at the top where the cancer starts, and that’s where we should focus in order to achieve real change.

That’s where a new report from Open the Books on corporate welfare comes in. In a preview of the publication, the organization notes:

If Republicans are going to get truly serious about cutting government spending, they are going to have to snip the umbilical cord from the Treasury to corporate America.  You can’t reform welfare programs for the poor until you’ve gotten Daddy Warbucks off the dole. Voters will insist on that — as well they should.

So why hasn’t it happened? Why hasn’t the GOP pledged to end corporate welfare as we know it?

Part of the explanation is that too many have gotten confused about the difference between free-market capitalism and crony capitalism.

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And part of the problem is corporate welfare that is so well hidden from public view in the budget that no one has really measured how big this mountain of giveaway cash to the Fortune 500 really is. Finding out is like trying to break into the CIA.

Until now. Open the Books, an Illinois-based watchdog group, has been scrupulously monitoring all federal grants, loans, direct payments and insurance subsidies flowing to individuals and companies.

It’s an attempt to force federal agencies to release information on where the $4 trillion budget is really spent — and Open the Books will release a new report on corporate welfare payments to the Fortune 100 companies from 2000 to 2012.

Over that period, the 100 received $1.2 trillion in payments from the federal government.

That number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank and auto company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments and where they went are kept mostly invisible in the federal agency books.

As suspected, the biggest welfare queens in the U.S. are the super wealthy themselves, but they’d rather you focus on some single mother on welfare simply trying to survive.

I have been trying to track down the full report with no luck as of yet. If I am able to, I will update this post.

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