October 6, 2008

Halloween is going to suck this year – Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, capitalism, Comedy, decision making, fail, faith, foreclosure, gambling, halloween, Humor, lie of the day, life, losing, Policy, Politicians, Politics, responsibility, tent cities, the poor, treasury, Wall Street tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:44 pm by jimwilbur

Here at Lie of the Day – what can we say? We are just doing our job and hoping for the best.

October 2, 2008

Is this any way to run a society of human beings? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, bailout, belief, capitalism, Economic Pearl Harbor, faith, gambling, lie of the day, managing money, Policy, Politics, Sustainability, tent cities, The Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:26 pm by jimwilbur

This is an excerpt from an excellent article by William Blum:

Why do we have this thing called a “financial crisis”? Why have we had such a crisis periodically ever since the United States was created? What changes occur or what happens each time to bring on the crisis? Do we forget how to make things that people need? Do the factories burn down? Are our tools lost? Do the blueprints disappear? Do we run out of people to work in the factories and offices? Are all the services that people need for a happy life so well taken care of that there’s hardly any more need for the services? In other words: What changes take place in the real world to cause the crisis? Nothing, necessarily. The crisis is usually caused by changes inthe make-believe world of financial capitalism.

All these grown men playing their boys’ games. They create an assortment of financial entities, documents, and packages that go by names like hedge funds, derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and dozens of other exotic monetary vehicles. They create all manner of commercial pieces of paper, of no known real or inherent value, backed up by few if any standards. Then they sell these various pieces of paper to the public and to each other. They slice and dice mortgages into arcane and risky instruments, then bundle them together, and sell the packages to those higher up in the pyramid scheme. And some of those engaged in this Wild West buying and selling become millionaires. Some become billionaires. They get Christmas bonuses greater than what most Americans earn the entire year. Is all this not remarkable?

And much of the buying is not done with the buyer’s own money, but with borrowed funds; “leveraged”, they call it. The pieces of paper sometimes represent commodities, but the actual commodities are not seen, may not even exist; if the seller demanded the buyer’s own funds, or the buyer wanted to see the goods, the whole transaction would freeze. They sell “long”, expecting the price to rise; they sell “short”, expecting the price to fall; they sell “naked short”, which means they neither possess nor own what they’re selling; a name for each gimmick. They take ever-greater risks buying and selling increasingly-esoteric pieces of paper. It’s a glorified Las Vegas, casino capitalism.

These pieces of paper can be so complex that many of those buying and selling them do not fully understand them; no problem, they just resell the pieces of paper to someone else at a higher price, even when one or both parties know that the paper, while pretending to be payable debt, is virtually worthless. The government, even when it tries to moderately regulate this Monopoly board, can at times also be confused by the complexities of the pieces of paper, compounded by the less-than-transparent practices that envelop the transactions; a potpourri including speculation, manipulation, fraud. Billionaire financier Warren Buffett has called the pieces of paper “weapons of mass financial destruction.”

The boys of finance have been playing their games for years, and so at each stage of the process there are insurance policies allowing the players to hedge their bets; they insure, and they re-insure; hopefully covering themselves against the many risks of the game, often knowing that they’re trading in questionable debts; the giant corporation AIG, a major player in the insurance game, has just been taken over by the federal government. And with each transaction, at each level, someone earns a commission or a fee. There are also other firms whose purpose in life is to go around rating various players and their pieces of paper and their credit worthiness and giving seals of approval which are relied upon by investors. Some of these rating firms, we’re now learning, have been surprisingly incompetent, when not simply dishonest

President Roosevelt, confronted in the 1930s with similar players, called them “banksters”.

It’s all built on faith, as fragile as the religious kind, the belief that something is worth something because it comes with a piece of paper with reassuring words and numbers written on it, because it’s traded, rated, and insured, because someone will sell it and someone will buy it. The same market psychology, the same herd mentality, that went into constructing this house of cards built on pillars of greed can cause the house to collapse in a heap. But the Monopoly players keep their bonuses, and bow out with multimillion-dollar golden parachutes; while tent cities are springing up all over America.

Is this any way to run a society of human beings?

And the government is in the process of trying to bail out these reckless traders, these parasites, rescuing them and their system from their own nonsense. With our money; without a major restructuring of the Alice-in-Wonderland rules of the financial games, without instituting the toughest of regulations, oversight, and transparency, and with no guarantee that the spoiled-little-brat Masters of the Universe will act in any way other than their own narrow self interest, the rest of us be damned.

Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good. 

If you would like to see the whole article here is a link to: The Anti-Empire Report

What is your opinion? Is this anyway to run a society of human beings?

September 25, 2008

Video: Can Mama Make it all better? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, bad decision making, Business, Cheating, Crime and Punishment, decision making, democrats, gambling, lack of integrity, lie of the day, managing money, McCain, No humor in this, Policy, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, responsibility, satire, self help, Taxation, The Economy, the poor, Trends, trust, voting tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:03 pm by jimwilbur

Students at WASU have been talking about this video and others. Many students have expressed dismay and wonder if this can really be happening.

Join the students of WASU and let us know what you think.

Can Mama make it all better?

Here at We’re All Screwed University students seek the truth!

September 22, 2008

Should taxpayers demand five conditions on trillion dollar blank check? truth or lie?

Posted in America, Blame, Business, Cheating, decision making, democrats, gambling, lack of integrity, lie of the day, life, losing, managing money, Policy, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, responsibility, Robert Reich, Society, Sustainability, The Economy, trust tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:07 pm by jimwilbur

Robert Reich suggests that five conditions be added to the “blank check” the Bush Administration is requesting to bail out Wall Street:

The public doesn’t like a blank check. They think this whole bailout idea is nuts. They see fat cats on Wall Street who have raked in zillions for years, now extorting in effect $2,000 to $5,000 from every American family to make up for their own nonfeasance, malfeasance, greed, and just plain stupidity. Wall Street’s request for a blank check comes at the same time most of the public is worried about their jobs and declining wages, and having enough money to pay for gas and food and health insurance, meet their car payments and mortgage payments, and save for their retirement and childrens’ college education. And so the public is asking: Why should Wall Street get bailed out by me when I’m getting screwed?

So if you are a member of Congress, you just might be in a position to demand from Wall Street certain conditions in return for the blank check…

1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year’s other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability. Why should taxpayers feather their already amply-feathered nests?

3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street’s outsized political power – especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?

4. Wall Street firms agree to comply with new regulations over disclosure, capital requirements, conflicts of interest, and market manipulation. The regulations will emerge in ninety days from a bi-partisan working group, to be convened immediately. After all, inadequate regulation and lack of oversight got us into this mess.

5. Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?

September 13, 2008

Should McCain put Palin on the Supreme Court? Truth or Lie

Posted in America, Comedy, decision making, Humor, Injustice, Justice, lack of integrity, Policy, Politicians, Politics, Religion, Republicans, satire, Society, Trends, winning, women tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:44 pm by jimwilbur

From a recent Newsweek article, Dahlia Lithwick argues that McCain should  put Palin on the Supreme Court rather than have run her as his Vice President.

Palin for Supreme Court

After reading the article, I think Lithwick’s logic is sound and that this would be a great course of action for John McCain to follow.

Here is a quote to demonstrate just how sound her logic is:

Finally, Palin has revealed, both as the mayor of Wasilla and then as the chief executive of Alaska, a style of governance that features the not-infrequent firing of dissenters. Among the growing list of those dismissed or threatened with removal on Palin’s watch were Mary Ellen Emmons, the Wasilla town librarian and vociferous opponent of Palin’s proposal to dabble in book banning, and John Bitney, Palin’s legislative director, who was dating the not-quite-ex-wife of one of her husband’s friends. Palin is also the subject of an ethics investigation for firing Walt Monegan, the Alaska Public Safety commissioner, who declined to fire the state trooper divorcing her sister. I can’t help but wonder if following two years of scandals surrounding the Bush administration’s decision to terminate nine U.S. attorneys for their imagined disloyalty, John McCain might be nervous about a vice president with a proclivity toward doing the same thing. If McCain puts Palin on the Supreme Court, however, she has only a trio of law clerks and a secretary to hire, and each can be vetted for ideological purity.

No fair arguing that Palin isn’t experienced enough to sit on the highest court of the land. What matters—far more than experience—is one’s unyielding moral certainty, relatability and gender. And Palin has these qualities in spades. Washington’s old-boy problem hardly ends at the Oval Office. If ever there were a D.C. institution in dire need of a place to plug in a breast pump, it’s the Supreme Court. And Palin has already proven that neither the courts, nor precedent, nor even the Constitution itself will be a match for the force of her will. America has finally found someone suited to put the “law” back into scofflaw, and it’s Sarah Palin. McCain shouldn’t waste her talents on state funerals.

August 26, 2008

Energy Policy (truth or lie?)

Posted in Energy, Humor, Oil, Policy, Politics, Sustainability, War tagged , , , , , at 12:01 pm by jimwilbur

Do you think ‘War for Oil’ is a sustainable energy policy?

To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.

–Bronson Alcott