Posts tagged Bailouts

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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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

 

3-16-2014 4-51-14 PM

 

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Published by Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux speaks with legendary investor Jim Rogers about the future of the world economy, the coming economic shift and how to prepare for the future.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

You can get “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” and other books by Jim Rogers at http://www.fdrurl.com/jimrogers

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts and other info at: http://www.freedomainradio.com

 

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts-U.S. Markets Rigged by its Own Authorities

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Source: http://usawatchdog.com

By Greg Hunter

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts-U.S. Markets Rigged by its Own Authorities

 

1-11-2014 5-13-42 PM

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Economist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts says, “We have a situation where all the markets are rigged.  All the markets are manipulated.”  As an example, Dr. Roberts points to the stock market.  Dr. Roberts contends, “We have a stock market at all-time highs, and where is the economy?  There’s not one.  There’s no recovery.”  Dr. Roberts goes on to say, “53% of Americans earn less than $30,000 per year.  Well, the poverty rate for a family of four is something like $24,000. . . . If there is no income to drive the economy and there is no credit expansion to drive the economy, then how does it go anywhere?  You can’t possibly have a recovery.”

FULL STORY

 

Today’s Wealth Destruction Is Hidden by Government Debt

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Source: https://www.mises.org

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Today’s Wealth Destruction Is Hidden by Government Debt

 

6593Still unnoticed by a large part of the population is that we have been living through a period of relative impoverishment. Money has been squandered in welfare spending, bailing out banks or even — as in Europe — of fellow governments. But many people still do not feel the pain.

However, malinvestments have destroyed an immense amount of real wealth. Government spending for welfare programs and military ventures has caused increasing public debts and deficits in the Western world. These debts will never be paid back in real terms.

The welfare-warfare state is the biggest malinvestment today. It does not satisfy the preferences of freely interacting individuals and would be liquidated immediately if it were not continuously propped up by taxpayer money collected under the threat of violence.

Another source of malinvestment has been the business cycle triggered by the credit expansion of the semi-public fractional reserve banking system. After the financial crisis of 2008, malinvestments were only partially liquidated. The investors that had financed the malinvestments such as overextended car producers and mortgage lenders were bailed out by governments; be it directly through capital infusions or indirectly through subsidies and public works. The bursting of the housing bubble caused losses for the banking system, but the banking system did not assume these losses in full because it was bailed out by governments worldwide. Consequently, bad debts were shifted from the private to the public sector, but they did not disappear. In time, new bad debts were created through an increase in public welfare spending such as unemployment benefits and a myriad of “stimulus” programs. Government debt exploded.

In other words, the losses resulting from the malinvestments of the past cycle have been shifted to an important degree onto the balance sheets of governments and their central banks. Neither the original investors, nor bank shareholders, nor bank creditors, nor holders of public debt have assumed these losses. Shifting bad debts around cannot recreate the lost wealth, however, and the debt remains.

To illustrate, let us consider Robinson Crusoe and the younger Friday on their island. Robinson works hard for decades and saves for retirement. He invests in bonds issued by Friday. Friday invests in a project. He starts constructing a fishing boat that will produce enough fish to feed both of them when Robinson retires and stops working.

At retirement Robinson wants to start consuming his capital. He wants to sell his bonds and buy goods (the fish) that Friday produces. But the plan will not work if the capital has been squandered in malinvestments. Friday may be unable to pay back the bonds in real terms, because he simply has consumed Robinson’s savings without working or because the investment project financed with Robinson’s savings has failed.

For instance, imagine that the boat is constructed badly and sinks; or that Friday never builds the boat because he prefers partying. The wealth that Robinson thought to own is simply not there. Of course, for some time Robinson may maintain the illusion that he is wealthy. In fact, he still owns the bonds.

Let us imagine that there is a government with its central bank on the island. To “fix” the situation, the island’s government buys and nationalizes Friday’s failed company (and the sunken boat). Or the government could bail Friday out by transferring money to him through the issuance of new government debt that is bought by the central bank. Friday may then pay back Robinson with newly printed money. Alternatively the central banks may also just print paper money to buy the bonds directly from Robinson. The bad assets (represented by the bonds) are shifted onto the balance sheet of the central bank or the government.

As a consequence, Robinson Crusoe may have the illusion that he is still rich because he owns government bonds, paper money, or the bonds issued by a nationalized or subsidized company. In a similar way, people feel rich today because they own savings accounts, government bonds, mutual funds, or a life insurance policy (with the banks, the funds, and the life insurance companies being heavily invested in government bonds). However, the wealth destruction (the sinking of the boat) cannot be undone. At the end of the day, Robinson cannot eat the bonds, paper, or other entitlements he owns. There is simply no real wealth backing them. No one is actually catching fish, so there will simply not be enough fishes to feed both Robinson and Friday.

Something similar is true today. Many people believe they own real wealth that does not exist. Their capital has been squandered by government malinvestments directly and indirectly. Governments have spent resources in welfare programs and have issued promises for public pension schemes; they have bailed out companies by creating artificial markets, through subsidies or capital injections. Government debt has exploded.

Many people believe the paper wealth they own in the form of government bonds, investment funds, insurance policies, bank deposits, and entitlements will provide them with nice sunset years. However, at retirement they will only be able to consume what is produced by the real economy. But the economy’s real production capacity has been severely distorted and reduced by government intervention. The paper wealth is backed to a great extent by hot air. The ongoing transfer of bad debts onto the balance sheets of governments and central banks cannot undo the destruction of wealth. Savers and pensioners will at some point find out that the real value of their wealth is much less than they expected. In which way, exactly, the illusion will be destroyed remains to be seen.


PhilippBagusPhilipp Bagus is an associate professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. He is an associate scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and was awarded the 2011 O.P. Alford III Prize in Libertarian Scholarship. He is the author of The Tragedy of the Euro and coauthor of Deep Freeze: Iceland’s Economic CollapseThe Tragedy of the Euro has so far been translated and published in GermanFrenchSlovakPolishItalianRomanianFinnishSpanishPortugueseBritish EnglishDutchBrazilian PortugueseBulgarian, and Chinese. See his website.

Image credit: https://www.mises.org

 

Ideas Created The Federal Reserve…Ideas Can Get Rid of It

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Source: http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com

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Ideas Created The Federal Reserve…Ideas Can Get Rid of It

 

The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, which can be counted on to defend every government mischief imaginable, reports on an “all-star economic conference” that took place in DC. Whenever you hear of an “economic conference” in DC, it can only mean trouble. The real economic conferences take place in Auburn, Alabama.

In the DC conference, the King of the “all-stars” — Fed Chairman Bernanke — graced the stage, and would provide a history lesson for all of the attendees. Bernanke described the similarities between the Panic of 1907, and the Panic of 2008.

The 1907 panic was created by fractional-reserve banking. When the bank runs got underway, and panic set in amongst the public, JP Morgan orchestrated the bailouts and the “liquidity” to “save the system”. Remember this was pre-Fed.

The 2008 panic was also created by the fractional-reserve banking system — along with — the central banking counterfeiter that now exists. The bailouts this time around were provided by “The Hero”:

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Before we go any further, a few things have to be understood. First, both in 1907 and 2008 the banking systems were dishonest and fraudulent. The situation in 1907 is actually preferable to today because, back then, gold still provided a check on the bankers. In 2008 (and today) there are no checks. It’s basically unlimited power for the bankers to finance whatever they want (until economic law shuts them down eventually).

FULL STORY

Image credit: http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com

 

“The real dysfunction is a federal budget that doubled in 10 years”

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

“The real dysfunction is a federal budget that doubled in 10 years”

 

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It’s not that the GOP and the Dems can’t get together on anything that is the problem. It’s that they get together on too much.

 

(From Cato.org)
 
Annual federal spending rose by a trillion dollars when Republicans controlled the government from 2001 to 2007. It rose another trillion during the Bush-Obama response to the financial crisis. So spending every year is now twice what it was when Bill Clinton left office a dozen years ago, and the national debt is almost three times as high.
 
Republicans and Democrats alike should be able to find wasteful, extravagant, and unnecessary programs to cut back or eliminate. And yet many voters, especially Tea Partiers, know that both parties have been responsible for the increased spending. Most Republicans, including today’s House leaders, voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, the Iraq war, the prescription drug entitlement, and the TARP bailout during the Bush years. That’s why fiscal conservatives have become very skeptical of bills that promise to cut spending some day—not this year, not next year, but swear to God some time in the next ten years

Click here for the article.

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

Crony Capitalists at GM, Chrysler, fat and happy while Detroit starves

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
 
By Nick Sorrentino
 

Crony Capitalists at GM, Chrysler, fat and happy while Detroit starves

 

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My bet is that within 15 years the American car manufacturers will mess things up again, but for right now they are bailout plump. The city which grew up around the big 3 is in a nearly post-apocalyptic state however. Miles and miles and miles of rust spread out from the city center where GM and Chrysler executives look down from their offices.

That is when they aren’t touring the new manufacturing facilities in China.

(From The New York Times)

Perhaps nowhere in America does the view from the corner office differ so vividly from the city streets, where abandoned homes and deserted factories are a daily reminder of Detroit’s descent into the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history.

It is a striking juxtaposition of corporate wealth and success in a city that cannot provide adequate police protection or keep the streetlights on.

Click here for the article.

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

Politicians Serving Wall Street, Not Main Street (The bipartisan fleecing)

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Politicians Serving Wall Street, Not Main Street (The bipartisan fleecing)

 

Bipartisanship – for Wall Street.

Bipartisanship – for Wall Street.

 

Washington made a decision 5 years ago to abandon most Americans and to cozy up with the crony capitalists on Wall Street. They rejected the voice of the American people in the Fall of 2008 when they began the bailout bonanza.

It is worth remembering that Goldman Sachs was within a hair of going out of business that Fall, but after being infused with taxpayer money, posted the most profitable quarter in its history in the Spring of 2009. Much of that money was distributed in bonuses and the Masters of the Universe were masters once again, thanks to you and me.

As reported by Scott Rasmussen Nancy Pelosi recently waxed about how brilliant the bailouts were. They were indeed brilliant for Wall Street and the political class. Their power was consolidated. The American people however learned once and for all that they weren’t full partners in the American experiment.

Click here for the article.

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

Too Big To Fail Is Now Bigger Than Ever Before

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Too Big To Fail Is Now Bigger Than Ever Before

 

Lower-Manhattan-At-Night-Photo-by-Hu-Totya-300x300The too big to fail banks are now much, much larger than they were the last time they caused so much trouble.  The six largest banks in the United States have gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.  Meanwhile, 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared from the banking industry during that time.  What this means is that the health of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is more critical to the U.S. economy than ever before.  If they were “too big to fail” back in 2008, then now they must be “too colossal to collapse”.  Without these banks, we do not have an economy.  The six largest banks control 67 percent of all U.S. banking assets, and Bank of America accounted for about a third of all business loans by itself last year.  Our entire economy is based on credit, and these giant banks are at the very core of our system of credit.  If these banks were to collapse, a brutal economic depression would be guaranteed.  Unfortunately, as you will see later in this article, these banks did not learn anything from 2008 and are being exceedingly reckless.  They are counting on the rest of us bailing them out if something goes wrong, but that might not happen next time around.

Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, our politicians have been running around proclaiming that they will not rest until they have fixed “the too big to fail problem”, but instead of fixing it those banks have rapidly gotten even larger.  Just check out the following figures which come from the Los Angeles Times

Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.

And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.

We are witnessing a consolidation of the banking industry that is absolutely stunning.  Hundreds of smaller banks have been swallowed up by these behemoths, and millions of Americans are finding that they have to deal with these banking giants whether they like it or not.

Even though all they do is move money around, these banks have become the core of our economic system, and they are growing at an astounding pace.  The following numbers come from a recent CNN article

-The assets of the six largest banks in the United States have grown by 37 percent over the past five years.

-The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and the other 6,934 banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.

-Approximately 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared over the past five years.

-JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy.

-The four largest banks have more than a million employees combined.

-The five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.

As I discussed above, without these giant banks there is no economy.  We should have never, ever allowed this to happen, but now that it has happened it is imperative that the American people understand this.  The power of these banks is absolutely overwhelming

One third of all business loans this year were made by Bank of America. Wells Fargo funds nearly a quarter of all mortgage loans. And held in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase is $1.3 trillion, which is 12% of our collective cash, including the payrolls of many thousands of companies, or enough to buy 47,636,496,885 of these NFL branded toaster ovens. Thanks for your business!

A lot of people tend to focus on many of the other threats to our economy, but the number one potential threat that our economy is facing is the potential failure of the too big to fail banks.  As we saw in 2008, when they start to fail things can get really bad really fast.

And as I have written about so many times, the number one threat to the too big to fail banks is the possibility of a derivatives crisis.

Former Goldman Sachs banker and best selling author Nomi Prins recently told Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com that the global economy “could implode and have serious ramifications on the financial systems starting with derivatives and working on outward.” You can watch the full video of that interview right here.

And Nomi Prins is exactly right.  Just like we witnessed in 2008, a derivatives panic can spiral out of control very quickly.  Our big banks should have learned a lesson from 2008 and should have greatly scaled back their reckless betting.

Unfortunately, that has not happened.  In fact, according to the OCC’s latest quarterly report on bank trading and derivatives activities, the big banks have become even more reckless since the last time I reported on this.  The following figures reflect the new information contained in the latest OCC report…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,948,150,000,000 (just over 1.9 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $70,287,894,000,000 (more than 70 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,306,258,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $58,471,038,000,000 (more than 58 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,458,091,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,543,003,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $113,743,000,000 (a bit more than 113 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $42,251,600,000,000 (more than 42 trillion dollars)

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 371 times greater than their total assets.

How in the world can anyone say that Goldman Sachs is not being incredibly reckless?

And remember, the overwhelming majority of these derivatives contracts are interest rate derivatives.

Wild swings in interest rates could set off this time bomb and send our entire financial system plunging into chaos.

After climbing rapidly for a couple of months, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds has stabilized for the moment.

But if that changes and interest rates start going up dramatically again, that is going to be a huge problem for these too big to fail banks.

And I know that a lot of you don’t have much sympathy for the big banks, but remember, if they go down we go down too.

These banks have been unbelievably reckless, but when they fail, we will all pay the price. 

Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Why Obama Allowed Bailouts Without Indictments by Janet Tavakoli

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

Why Obama Allowed Bailouts Without Indictments by Janet Tavakoli

 

The government’s bailout plan destroyed capitalism. In a capitalist system, those who stood to gain–and already made off with large gains—would have to bear the risk. The bailouts represented a corruption of capitalism. Crony capitalism violates the spirit of democracy established by the Founding Fathers of the republic known as the United States. I expressed these sentiments in a letter to the Financial Times on September 29, 2008.

- Janet Tavakoli

 

The following article by Janet Tavakoli is an excellent reminder of the extraordinarily destructive coup pulled off by financial oligarchs in fall of 2008, when the rule of law was suspended and total theft institutionalized. I have written many times about my experience on Wall Street when the bailouts happened. How I ranted and raved on the trading desk about how TARP marked the end of any semblance of free markets and that there was no turning back. How I was told to “take a walk around the block” to cool off.

All of the suffering and hardships the majority of Americans are experiencing today are directly related to the coup pulled off by the crony financial oligarchs in the fall of 2008, and all of the media and political minions that helped them do it. People realize we have become a Banana Republic and they have now lost all hope. That said, there should always be hope and we can certainly restore society to better days, but not until we remove our domestic cancers from their positions in the highest offices of government, finance and corporate America. That is what we must peacefully achieve.  Now here’s Janet Tavakoli:

In November 2008, President Obama was elected, and he was sworn in January 2009. The country was promised change and reform. Recently two democrats close to the top of President Obama’s administration made excuses to me for the lack of financial reform in the United States. Their separately related versions were remarkably similar, so similar they seemed scripted:

The administration made a bargain, and I’m not sure it was the right decision. The world was teetering on the edge of collapse. There was a crisis of confidence. There would have been unimaginable consequences. So bad even your imagination can’t handle the truth?

It was the lesser of two evils to let a lot of people get away scot free than to risk a collapse in confidence.  There were only two choices according to this narrative.

It was better to let a lot of people get away scot free than to have the first African American president take on the establishment while the country was deeply divided and he needed agreement on big things like ending wars, health care, Supreme Court nominees (and LGBT rights). There were lots of battles without taking on the financial establishment.  It seems to me that reforming our financial system is a big thing. As for at least two of the narrative’s big issues: health care costs are zooming up, and it looks as if we’re rattling our swords for another military conflict.

The president was elected in part on his promise to effect change on the really tough issues, and there was no better time than when the crisis was fresh, and he had a groundswell of popular support.

The most amusing thing about all of this is that people wanted President elect Obama to stick it to the financial oligarchs. Instead, he gave them trillions and offered immunity. More from Janet:

Instead of TARP, handing out money to cover banks’ losses, we could have forced creditors to accept a restructuring plan. This is what was done during the Great Depression. Creditors, i.e., debt holders including credit default swap counterparties, would have been compelled to accept a restructuring plan. That required partial forgiveness of debt in many cases and/or a debt for equity swap.

 

The government’s bailout plan destroyed capitalism. In a capitalist system, those who stood to gain–and already made off with large gains—would have to bear the risk. The bailouts represented a corruption of capitalism. Crony capitalism violates the spirit of democracy established by the Founding Fathers of the republic known as the United States. I expressed these sentiments in a letter to the Financial Times on September 29, 2008.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Was a Section 8

All of this spells dark times for the future of the republic. On September 20, 2008, at the height of the crisis, Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and then the 74th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, did not merely request immunity for actions he was about to take. In his original draft proposal of the Bailout Plan, he requested imperial powers:

“Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

Paulson was not an elected official, yet he requested powers that surpassed those granted to any representative of the citizens of the United States.

Section 8 was formerly a type of discharge issued by the U.S. military that meant one was mentally unsuited for service. The spirit of Hank Paulson’s Section 8 continues to dominate the U.S. financial system.

Her full article is here.

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