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AdLib On December - 2 - 2009

TradingFloor3Today the Dow hit a post-crash high, 10510.65.

THE RECESSION IS OVER!

So get up out of that tent, out from under that overpass and toss that “Will Work For Food” cardboard sign down and howl up at the sky, “I’m glad as hell and I’m going to keep taking it evermore!”

An interesting statistic that goes along with that, there are now a greater number of Day Laborers hanging out at Home Depots who are white and American. Foreclosures continue at a fast clip, job growth is on life support and credit is STILL hard to get even though banks and financial businesses declare billions in profits each quarter.

When the economy collapsed, some saw that as a unique opportunity, to re-structure the corporate domination of politics and the financial underpinning of the nation. I’m of course talking about the Bushies, banks and Wall Street who saw it as a singular opportunity to further concentrate their power. There were those of us who thought it could be an opportunity to reign in these corporations and return financial equity to the majority in this nation. We were apparently just exhibiting a bit of irrational exuberance.

Let’s consider where we stand today. There are less banks today then before, the existing ones have actually become far bigger than before the crash, consolidating more money and power in fewer hands.  They received hundreds of billions in tax payer money to give themselves profitable quarters, bonuses, acquire other banks and businesses and most of all, contribute to politicians. Think about that for a moment, our tax dollars went to corporations who in turn gave our money to politicians so that the politicians would favor their interests over ours.

As dysfunctional as our economy was before the crash, I would argue it is exponentially more dysfunctional today.

The official government U-6 figures for unemployment, which include those who the government conveniently exclude in the U-3 numbers that they hold up publicly (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm)  shows a current unemployment rate nationally of 17.5%. The site Shadow Government Statistics, which uses calculations as they were made before 1994, before the last few presidents rigged them, shows over 22% unemployment nationally (http://www.shadowstats.com/).

The dynamic before the crash was that CEOs were making over 300 times the average worker’s salary. So, how does that pay ratio stack up today against things these days where the CEO’s pay stays about the same and the ex-worker’s salary is whatever fraction of their old pay unemployment insurance pays?

More money and power in the hands of the top 1%, pushing them up and above the majority of this nation even farther. Meanwhile, for the 99%, foreclosures, trouble paying bills, unemployment and poverty are growing.

And yet to look at the cable news channels, the recession is over because the Dow is above 10,000 and the financial corporations, their execs and stock shares are all doing great.

All the “experts” say it’s important for the public to be confident in order to spend the nation back to a recovery (however confident 22% of the nation is, they don’t have the money to spend on SnugWows right about now).

So, they need the public to be upbeat and confident. With this in mind, why would we ever expect the media outlets that are owned by corporations who want the economy to be growing so their profits will too, to focus on or even share news that sufficiently or accurately portrays the desperate situation a huge share of Americans are going through?

If we were in the equivalent of a Depression, would they really lead with that instead of Tiger Woods’ driving into the rough or the “Who Wants to be a Celebrity Douchebag?!” couple who crash a WH dinner?

Accurately reporting our nation’s true financial state (er…the long term impact of enormous deficits anyone?)  is not going to inspire much confidence. At a time like this, perhaps we should turn to our nation’s top financial genius, Phil Gramm and his insight and wisdom from last year, this is only “a mental recession” and the United States is “a nation of whiners.”

So, you folks losing your homes, quitcher bitchin’! You people out of work, stop your whining about, “My daughter needs medicine” and “We can’t afford enough to eat”! You’re all just nattering nabobs of negativity! The recession is over! Get used to it. And get used to being in debt for the rest of your lives, having trouble affording gas, food, electricity, water, college for your kids and a retirement for yourself.

All that negativity of yours and your uninsured family is really putting a drag on the Dow…so knock it off! You’re consumers and we’ve got a recovery to sell, all you have to do is act instinctually and buy-buy-buy it.

Hey, we’ll even throw in a SnugWow! Deal?

Categories: The Economy, The Media

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

54 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/12/3/810527/-Bernanke:-New-Creepy-Remarks-on-Soc.-Security

    “After throwing trillions at problems created by the nation’s richest, Bernanke is looking for a new source of funds: Your Social Security and Medicare benefits.

    The raging appetite of Wall St. is so enormous, it can only be satisfied by devouring America — and all it stands for — whole.

    Huffington Post is characteristically over-the-top, but I don’t think they are very far from the mark here. As the Fed and Treasury run out of options for keeping the rich rich, eventually they will have to plunder your retirement and health care benefits to make sure that the caviar keeps flowing.

    Here goes:

    Ben Bernanke has overseen the greatest expansion of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet in its history, pouring trillions of dollars into Wall Street firms at roughly zero interest rates. His generosity, however, has a limit.

    In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee today, where he’s seeking re-appointment as the Fed’s chairman, Bernanke called for cutbacks in Medicare and Social Security even as unemployment rises and the middle class is endangered.

    Citing legendary bank robber Willie Sutton, Bernanke said of the retirement and health care funds that are the legacy of the New Deal: “That’s where the money is.”

    Yes …

    That is where the money is:

    In the hands of the American people.

    And now Bernanke has to take it away.

    Bernanke’s position on Social Security should have made him completely ineligible for re-nomination by President Obama. Does the White House share Bernanke’s sentiments?”

    Not sure what to think of this exactly, but I cannot believe that President Obama and Democrats would allow the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare.

    • bitohistory says:

      j’avaz, Go down to my post and read abut the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). There is plenty of money on Wall Street without dipping in to the safety net.
      won’t hurt any of my stock transactions. :-)

      • javaz says:

        Thanks, b’ito!

        Then what the heck is Bernanke talking about?

        • bitohistory says:

          J’avaz, ~shrug~ the only ting I can think is they don’t want to tax the big boys.
          I thought they should have passed this tax to pay for single payer. Now, there’s talk of passing it to pay for a jobs bill. Doesn;t hurt me. What’s a 1/2 penny a stock trade to the middle class?

  2. KevenSeven says:

    Recessions like this are great for the rich. What do they care? They by definition have a massive margin surplus to their needs.

    Meanwhile the middle class is getting diddled, but good. A million homes will be lost, and they will be snapped up by rich opportunists who can afford to sit on them until the next healthy upward swing in the price of homes.

    Just about the most fundamental possession that a family could have, and a million of us are going to lose ours.

    Fucking Republicans.

    • Questinia says:

      The possibility of a CFPA softens my cynicism, K7. Just thought I’d give you an update :)

      We better do something or they’ll have the majority of us living in coops and hutches.

  3. bitohistory says:

    This is an interesting link from the Economic Policy Institute:
    http://www.epi.org/index.php/american_jobs/american_jobs_plan
    This is a plan to add 4.6 million jobs in one year. It actually lays out a plan, it’s not just a bitch session on unemployment.
    it is called American Jobs Plan. Worth a look.

    • bitohistory says:

      According to the study cited above. In order to pay for a Jobs Bill, a transaction tax would be imposed on stock transactions at a rate of 0.5%. How much money would that bring in to pay for Jobs?
      “A financial transactions tax could raise considerably more than these estimates

  4. AlphaBitch says:

    AdLib: what’s the reconnect fee? I’ve got a jar full of pennies…..

    • AdLib says:

      The price of 300 million pitchforks and torches.

      Hmm…figure $30 each for quality steel on the pitchforks and lots of high grade kerosene for the torches…aw hell, the kids and grandparents can share…make it just 100 million sets of them…so at a cost of a fraction of the the bail out, only $3 billion, we could have our country, democracy and economy back.

      That’s a bargain! I mean that’s less than they’ve “accidentally” lost in Iraq!

      • Questinia says:

        You forgot the contractors and subcontractors to construct the pitchforks.

        But be prepared to have the delivery man come with forks made in China instead.

  5. nellie says:

    It’s hard to believe any of this happened by accident. If it did, the banks are certainly making a grand opportunity out of it. Isn’t it interesting that the only failure — Lehman Brothers — happened to Godlman’s arch rival?

    The media is doing it’s usual job of isolating the discontented. If the economy is fine, but I’m still out of work, it must be my fault, right? I must be the only one, right? It puts a lid on the boiling unrest. Since everybody watches television, everyone gets the same message.

    What’s interesting is that the MSM blames the president for the unemployment numbers while they praise the recovery at the same time.

    Fixing our economy is going to take some major legislative action, and I’m not sure this congress is up to it. I’m interested to find out what the next major agenda item is going to be after health care. I hope it’s an overhaul of our tax code.

    • LITU says:

      I’ve already stated, in a roundabout way, that I don’t believe this Congress is up to the task of legislating us out of the fix (they) got us into.

      Though I don’t believe there is a political remedy for our ails, I do hold a flicker of optimism that there remains a possibility for a legal remedy. The Supreme Court must rule that corporations are not entitled to individual rights as prescribed in the Constitution. And, of course, that won’t happen until the issue comes before them in the form of law. And there I am, back to square one.

      It’s the old chicken and the egg analogy. We can’t move forward until corporations are subordinated and the citizenry bolstered in the eyes of the law.

  6. PatsyT says:

    Just a thought -- What if, when this perfect storm was brewing, there had been more people like
    Brooksley Born speaking out? Where was our media then?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/?utm_campaign=viewpage&utm_medium=grid&utm_source=grid

    • PatsyT says:

      This Frontline also makes me think of the clip from the Michael Moore film
      Capitalism/Love Story where Ronald Reagan is giving a press conference
      and Donald Regan is standing next to the President- basically telling him what to say!
      That little clip says it all.

      • kesmarn says:

        That was a moment, wasn’t it? The muttered instructions out of the side-of-the-mouth: “You’re going to have to speed this up.” And the sheepish Reagan reply: “Oh…oh…okay…” He certainly was the ventriloquist’s dream, wasn’t he?

    • kesmarn says:

      Great link, Patsy. Thanks for posting.

    • bitohistory says:

      Patsy, I watched this twice. Guess I wasn’t pissed off enough the first time. Good link.

  7. LITU says:

    I don’t spend a lot of time memorizing who did what when, nor am I inclined to gather a stack of notes to support or refute a point, but I do read quite a lot every day, and am at least intelligent enough to get the drift of things.

    It saddens me greatly to conclude that there can be no political solution that might overcome the depth of corruption and collusion that permeates every cell of government and industry. The lobbyists will continue to buy favor, though possibly more covertly, the Supreme Court will continue to rule in favor of the corporate entity over the individual. And the electorate will dumbly follow the easiest road to our destruction.

    The threat of revolution has been bandied about of late. Armchair warriors are often the most vociferous combatants. I certainly don’t know what it might entail. But I do know with a feeling of certainty that eventually the threshold of tolerance will be breached, and at that point the country we have worked so hard to love and cherish will become unrecognizable.

    And it will not just be a struggle against the visible system, but also the shadow puppeteers; the real power behind the throne.

    I thought your article was spot on. And I apologize if I sound like a doomsayer. Now you all may proceed to beat me up.

  8. Questinia says:

    …or even share news that sufficiently or accurately portrays the desperate situation a huge share of Americans are going through?

    Bingo! It’s bad for business. People are suffering tremendously and nary a word of it.

    • AdLib says:

      It’s very simple, if people believe they’re out of work and are having trouble paying their bills, their lack of confidence in spending money they don’t have will hurt the recovery and the possibility of jobs to be created…one of which they could be hired for and then be able to almost afford paying their bills.

      So, the best way we as Americans can help the Recovery come to fruition is to believe that the Recovery has already happened and confidently spend money we don’t have.

      Come on people, get with the program!

      • Questinia says:

        We can do it…. again!!!

      • kesmarn says:

        I love your sense of humor, Ad’Lib!

        I think they were trying to put out the same message when this little tune was penned:

        Happy days are here again!
        The skies above are clear again!
        So let’s sing a song of cheer again!
        Happy days are here again…

        All together shout it now!
        There’s no one who can doubt it now!
        So, let’s tell the world about it now!
        Happy days are here again!

        It kinda didn’t work back then either.
        Bring back the CCC, the WPA and the NRA!

    • kesmarn says:

      Questinia, I had posted this regarding your earlier mention of the untold suffering here in the US, and realized later that it was kind of embarrassingly veering OT, since it was in the Afghanistan thread. But I think it does relate to this article (thanks, AdLib!), so at the risk of a little repetition:
      Questinia, I think we do need to take the time to really hear what you

      • Questinia says:

        I’d expect President Obama also to hold them to account. I feel he’s enabling them by being too inclusive. He should disagree disagreeably.

        Obama is disconnected from his own anger. He needs to work on that. Michelle can’t have all the fun with anger…

        and punishment.

        • kesmarn says:

          I think he recognizes his own anger; he’s just smart enough to know that if he displays it, there will be a boatload of reaction from the right declaring him “out of control, enraged, hysterical, vindictive and a disciple of the furious Rev. Wright.” He has to be cool and civil--more so--sadly--than if he were a white guy in the same position.

          It’s the happy dream of the right that we will turn our fury over the current misery in the country on Obama. That leaves them free to do their dirty business as usual. And the one thing we know about them is that they march in tight lockstep and never break ranks. We need to adopt the same approach. A family member of mine was remembering the inner city riots of the 60s. She said: “It’s too bad that so many blocks of poverty-burdened housing and businesses were destroyed. Why didn’t they march out of town on Main St., to the wealthy suburbs, and burn those houses down? That’s where the oppressors live.” I’m not advocating that as a tactic! But, when we turn on each other, we give “them” hope that they’ll return to rule another day.

          • Questinia says:

            Anger as in “boundary setting, that’s enough” kind of anger.

            There’s a complacency that I worry about when I see genuine strife and a disconnected reaction to it.

            • kesmarn says:

              At the moment I’m willing to give the Prez the benefit of the doubt and assume that what looks “disconnected,” may really be calm deliberation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some interesting programs come out of this “jobs summit,” and in the fairly near future, too.

            • Questinia says:

              I like that outlook kesmarn, it’s the one I generally adopt. I suppose it was his recent speech on Afghanistan that made me reconsider.

              I would not be all that patient however. People have already been patient and with hope for quite a while now. President Obama needs to be sensitive to that. There’s a certain expediency that’s needed. One can’t deliberate that much in what is becoming, for so many Americans, a critical situation.

          • nellie says:

            Actually, I believe Mr. Obama is as level headed as he appears. He’s been through a lot in his life, and he’s thought it all through. He’s fought a lot of personal battles. People who go through the things he has and come out the other side usually end up being very level headed and not easily rattled. I think that’s who we have as a president. He’s a zen guy. He thinks very big thoughts, and the petty stuff just doesn’t get to him. That’s what all the people around him are saying as well — which wasn’t the case under Bush or Clinton.

            That’s one of the things I really like about this man. He has the perspective of a Ghandi.

            • kesmarn says:

              Right n’ellie. When they say “No Drama Obama” they’re not kidding. When I refer to his anger, I guess I should more properly say “indignation.” When any of us look at the unimaginable damage, Bush and Co. wrought, it’s almost impossible to remain impassive. I know it produces a visceral reaction in me! But Obama seems to know how to channel indignation into constructive action. The frustrating part is how slowly change comes; but that’s not his fault.

            • nellie says:

              You are right about frustration and impatience. We could all use a little of the Ghandi temperatment.

              Thanks k’esmarn! We are all Tiberian now :-)

      • PatsyT says:

        I really like that 95% rate for GS/Wall Street bonuses! Also Can we go back and hit up Bush and Cheney pals Haliburton and Oil Companies?

  9. bitohistory says:

    j’avaz, I was Edwards all the way. When he dropped out I voted for Hillary. I have never voted for the eventual winner in a primary. Bill Clinton was too conservative for me and there was was “fight” within the precinct committee people With labor vs. DLC. Fun at the time when I was more active.

    • javaz says:

      I know this won’t go over well, b’ito, but I turned off Hillary when she gave some talk about feeling like we, as Democrats, were on the plantation or whatever, and then the running from sniper fire in Bosnia lie.

      It wasn’t so much the lie, but the fact that I had always had such great respect for her, and regarded her as such an intelligent woman.
      She let me down.
      I felt she should have been smarter than that, because she is a very intelligent woman, but had a lapse or two or three in judgment.

      We voted for Obama, obviously, during the election.

      My dog, talk about intelligence and S’arah.
      Why, those two words don’t even belong in the same sentence!

      • nellie says:

        Hillary ran a terrible campaign. Not nearly as smart as she is. But all in all, I think we’ll get a more progressive agenda from Mr. Obama — and certainly a kickass SOS in Mrs. Clinton.

  10. KQuark says:

    I’m trying to understand the point of your article but it’s all over the place. The recovery will be a long slog but it’s happening.

    People have fundamentally changed their spending and more importantly their debt habits. Credit is still slow because lenders are not taking as many risks and building their equity ratios. Both phenomenon will create a more sustainable economy.

    We are still going to live with the consequences 30 years of greed is good mentality doth wrought. However the investments in things like green energy made now and with healthcare reform we have a chance to have a sustainable economic future.

    • javaz says:

      I think the point of the article is the difference between us working stiffs, or us retired middle-class folks on fixed incomes, and the top tier wealthy elite, which are the majority of our politicians and Bernanke and Geithner, and Summers, etc.

      The recession is over for the rich and the rest of us should suck it up and stop our bitchin’.

      When 1 out of 8 Americans are using food stamps, it’s hard to believe the recession is over, but it is over for the rich.

      I think the point of the article is the disparity between the rich and the rest of us.
      The gap has grown wider under BushCo while those living in poverty or below poverty has increased substantially.

      I do agree that a lot of us have learned to live more conservatively, which is a good thing, but many more of us are suffering.

      Been to your local food bank lately?
      Last time we were there to donate a turkey for Thanksgiving, the lines were long and mainly well-dressed elderly people, as older folks tend to dress nice when they go out.
      Then again, we live in an area where there are lots of retirees, but it was shocking and very sad.
      Plus, the shelves in the food bank were scarce on food.

    • AdLib says:

      What I’m saying is that this “recovery” is a facade. And that this crisis created a dynamic that has firmly plunged Americans into a lower and indebted standard of living.

      The wealthy are getting wealthier, the public is being misled as to the economy’s true status.

      The “recovery” is smoke and mirrors. Hundreds of billions in taxpayer money is counted as profit. And trillions of bad debt are not even counted on balance books.

      I don’t agree that we’re in a recovery.

      • KQuark says:

        There are real signs pointing toward recovery and false signs. This will be the slowest and most painful recovery since the Great Depression but there are real signs towards recovery. I think it’s allot more human nature right now to be negative about the economy so any real positive news is being discounted.

        • javaz says:

          I must disagree about the recovery comparison to the Great Depression, even though I do understand the comparison.

          My parents were children during the Great Depression, yet that era in history never left them.
          They always feared going hungry and having to stand in long lines for bread.

          My mother lived on a farm, and my dad used to always say that she had it easier because they always had food and never went hungry.

          My dad started working at 10 years old, and he was actually an illegal immigrant from Canada!
          But back in them days it didn’t mean what it means today, and he did become a citizen, as did both sets of grandparents, and my uncles from both sides served in WW2.

          There are more resources now than there was back then, such as food stamps, food banks, and shelters, even though there are people living in cars and in tents, it’s nowhere near as bad as what that generation went through.

      • nellie says:

        I agree w you, AdLib. We seem to be in a very tepid recovery based on the decrease in job losses. But we have a lot of work to do to stop this constant trickle up of dollars from the working class to the investment class and the hemorrhaging of jobs overseas.

        Our tax code needs a major overhaul. We need to pass the EFCA. We need health care reform. We need to get off the oil addiction. And we need to bring our jobs back home. We can’t hope to revive our economy if we’re not making anything. Goods and services. We’re losing both.

        • AdLib says:

          Indeed.

          During The Great Depression, unemployment reached 25%.

          Using the similar metrics, unemployment today is 22%.

          How can we be in a recovery? Certainly, anyone could make the case that a recovery has started at any time but we can’t be IN a recovery if only the wealthy are recovering.

          Add to that the retail sales figures from Black Friday were nearly identical to last year at the peak of the crisis.

          My concern is that we may be in for a long term of the majority being desperate and grateful for crumbs to fall off the table of the top 1% and have it called “a recovery”.

  11. javaz says:

    Not sure if this is off-topic or not, and used it in another thread on PPOV because I like the woman’s analogy when it comes to the economy and war and all things political.

    http://www.pbs.org/nbr/site/onair/transcripts/nbr_transcripts_091201/

    • nellie says:

      I’m beginning to wonder whether we’ll ever get a real economic recovery if we don’t introduce third parties into our public discourse. We need to stop the team-vs-team mentality.

      I always thought IRV was a critical election reform issue, but I’m beginning to think it’s the most important.

      • javaz says:

        I so agree with bringing the jobs home.

        Now, didn’t Obama promise during his campaign and in his inaugural speech that he would tax corporations that outsource and give tax breaks to corporations that bring jobs home?

        I realize that the man has enough on his platter and I thank heaven that we voted in a young man that has the energy to accomplish so much.

        Remember when he first took office, or shortly after, and the Republicans and media were shouting that he was doing too much and moving too fast?
        And now people are shouting that he’s not moving fast enough.
        Sheesh.

        You know, I’ve had little temper tantrums whereby I’ve said I’ll stay home and not vote if whatever happens or doesn’t happen, but in reality, I will always vote because it’s the only voice I have to make a difference, if the elections are not rigged!
        LOL

        Plus, my ancestors worked damn hard for the right for women to vote and I cannot forget that.

        As much as I’d like to see a viable 3rd party in this country, I just don’t think it’s possible with the electoral college setup.

        And I truly believe in Obama and truly believe that he gets it, but I do not think that even he was prepared for the Republicans and media to turn on him so quickly.

        It saddens me and I agree with Jimmy Carter that a lot of it is based on race, but then, Democrats never seem to have an easy time in office.

        • nellie says:

          I don’t know that I believe in Obama as much as I see the sense in his policies. He is an inspirational figure — no doubt — but what gives me a feeling of security is that he keeps his eye on the ball.

          He did promise to do something about our income disparity, but I think health care reform is THE issue. We won’t see much movement on anything else until he signs that bill. I bet if he could have put off Afghanistan, he would have.

          Damn those senators for stalling. Stalling the entire country.

          • javaz says:

            I love Obama.

            And believe it or not, my husband and I during the primary voted for Edwards!
            Oh my.
            We do mail-in ballots, which is wonderful, because once you sign up for that in Arizona, you get every vote thing, such as last November the only thing on our ballot was for school overrides.

            So, when we voted for Edwards, it must have been the next day or day after that that Edwards dropped out, so our vote didn’t count because he dropped out before the actual primary came to AZ.

            I love Obama because he’s an intelligent man, and his wife is a very intelligent woman and yes, that does matter, imho.

            Obama is also a skilled politician, and that matters, but as I said before, I do not think that even saw the Republicans and worse, the corporate media turning on him so quickly.
            He is a war president after all, just as Bush was and it is Bush’s wars he inherited but the media does not offer Obama the same degree of respect.

            And Obama did stop what could have been another Great Depression, and we are still teetering on the brink, but we’re hanging in there.

            I prefer Hillary as SOS and think she is doing a stupendous job.

            • nellie says:

              I would have voted for Edwards, but he dropped out before I could get the chance. I


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