March 31 2008 show notes

  • It's the fourth anniversary of Air America Radio. Next month it is the 6th anniversary of Thom's show.
  • Welcome to new affiliates 940 WINZ in Miami, Fla., 1460 WZNZ in Jacksonville, Fla., 1120 WNWF in Destin, Fla. and 930 KBAI-AM in Bellingham, Washington.
  • Guest: Yaron Brook, Ayn Rand Institute. Is John McCain's modern version of Reaganomics destroying not only the middle class but America itself?
  • New pictures from Darfur are up on Thom's web site.
  • Guest: Professor Bradley R. Schiller, American University. "The Inequality Myth".
  • Guest: Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU-Florida. Are we losing our privacy with spy drones, wiretapping, fingerprinting, etc...or are we becoming more secure?
  • At what point do we say George Orwell was right?

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Monday 31 March '08 National show

  • It's the fourth anniversary of Air America Radio. Next month it is the 6th anniversary of Thom's show.
  • Welcome to new affiliates 940 WINZ in Miami, Fla., 1460 WZNZ in Jacksonville, Fla., 1120 WNWF in Destin, Fla. and 930 KBAI-AM in Bellingham, Washington (video).
  • Privatization of the Fed.
  • Article: Paulson Plan Begins Battle Over How to Police Market.
  • Article: McCain guru linked to subprime crisis.
  • Article: The Dilbert Strategy.
  • Article: Paulson's Regulation Plan Won't Fix Current Economic Crisis.
  • Guest: Yaron Brook, Ayn Rand Institute. Is John McCain's modern version of Reaganomics destroying not only the middle class but America itself? Yaron said McCain is far too moderate, appeasing of special interests. The Fed is a quasi-governmental entity; the government appoints its board of governors. He would like to see it privatized; eliminated. Paulson's latest suggestion is a disaster. The federal reserve caused the problems we are facing today, so it should not be given more power. Cheap money. Negative interest rates like now encourage leverage. In the absence of regulation, what's to stop the predators? Repeal of regulations made it possible. Thom said his solution only deals with the problem after the fact. He said most of the deceptive practices were at the mortgage broker level, not Wall Street.
  • Bumper Music: 5 O’clock World, The Vogues.
  • Article: Disquiet on the western front of the credit world.
    "The credit world is aligning itself into political factions, divided over the right approach to untangling the present mess. On one side are the trader-fundamentalists, with one hand on the Bloomberg keyboard, the other hand on a dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged . They believe in the literal interpretation of scripture, which in this case means that an asset is only worth what the bid side says it is. As far as they are concerned, the only way to deal with the excesses of the credit markets is to take the write-offs and start over, having accepted the revealed truth of what bankruptcy sale buyers are willing to pay.

    Opposed to them are the would-be managers of systemic risk. They believe that the aggressive application of the mark-to-market rule would result in another Great Depression, only bigger. Their Qum is Washington DC, where the differences between the Republicans and the Democrats are small relative to their agreement that a deep recession, let alone a depression, must be avoided at all costs. One of those costs could be years of stagnation and low growth. You could call them Keynesians, except that Keynes was strongly opposed to currency debasement. As far as this group is concerned, currency debasement to the point of depravity is a good starting point. (Strangely, they still publicly proclaim adherence to a "strong dollar policy", even at $1.50 to the Euro. What would a "weak dollar policy" be?)

    "
  • McCain. His economic advisor Phil Gramm whose Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the Glass Steagall Act. Reduction in the number of regulators. They went round defeating Hillary's health care plan.
  • Article: Paulson lays out ‘blueprint’ for regulatory reform.
  • Article: Not yet time for a bail-out of banks.
  • Bumper Music: Running down a Dream, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
  • Bumper Music: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley.
  • New pictures from Darfur are up on Thom's web site.
  • Article: IRAQ: Divided Arabs Deliver Little
    "The Arab summit kicked off Saturday with a fiery speech from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi attacking fellow Arab leaders for doing nothing while the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

    "How can we accept that a foreign power comes to topple an Arab leader while we stand watching," said Gaddafi. Saddam Hussein, he said, had once been an ally of Washington. "But they sold him out." He then pointed to Arab officials at the conference to say, "Your turn is next."

    The Libyan leader added: "Where is the Arabs' dignity, their future, their very existence? Everything has disappeared."

    "
  • Bumper Music: Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Show up at meetings, infiltrate, take over the Democratic Party, don't just support it. The Supreme Court is hanging in the balance.
  • Article: Chase mortgage memo pushes 'Cheats & Tricks'.
  • Eliminate the Federal Reserve and put the money in the Treasury? Thom is ambivalent. It's crazy to privatize money supply, but if the Treasury has control of inflation, they fudge and cook the books. Going off the gold standard.
  • Article: States Are Hit Hard by Economic Downturn.
  • Statistics from Bernie Sanders. Since Bush has been president:
    • over 5 million people have slipped into poverty;
    • nearly 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance;
    • median household income has gone down by nearly $1,300;
    • three million manufacturing jobs have been lost;
    • three million American workers have lost their pensions;
    • home foreclosures are now the highest on record;
    • the personal savings rate is below zero - which hasn't happened since the great depression;
    • the real earnings of college graduates have gone down by about 5% in the last few years;
    • entry level wages for male and female high school graduates have fallen by over 3%;
    • wages and salaries are now at the lowest share of GDP since 1929.
  • Guest: Professor Bradley R. Schiller, School of Public Affairs, American University. His recent Opinion piece in the WSJ "The Inequality Myth" Is America's middle class being wiped out? He says there have been revolutionary changes in the family, more people are living alone, so the average income has gone down. He uses quintiles. Thom looked at the top 1%, 1/10%, etc. Inequality gap. Progressive income tax. Tax cuts. Close loopholes.
  • Article: The Inequality Myth, Bradley R. Schiller.
  • Bumper Music: Housing bubble, Dave Girtsman.
  • Links from the chat room, where Thom hangs out during shows.
  • Article: January foreclosures up 57%.
  • Clip: The anonymous voice of America's unemployed, E.J. Montini.
  • Thom is calling for a second New Deal.
  • Bumper Music: I like it like that, Dave Clark Five (video).
  • Article: Bethpage man, 80, arrested in war protest.
  • Real GDP growth has gone from 4.09% to 2.65% between January 20 2001 and today. National debt went from $5.7 trillion to $9.2 trillion. The national budget surplus of $431 billion is now $734 trillion. Creation of 1.76 million jobs per year has turned to an average of 369,000 per year. We went from 38 million uninsured to 47 million.
  • For the first five years of Thom's show conservatives were coming on regularly to talk about privatizing social security; now none will.
  • Reaganomics import/export rant.
  • Bumper Music: It's Only Life, Kate Voegele.
  • Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News. They are working on more pictures from Darfur and a documentary. The Secretary of housing development resigned to spend more time with his family; there;s a suit and post Katrina woes and other problems. Paulson's overhaul plans this morning. Gloria Swanson and Joe Kennedy. Paulson wants to do away with the SEC. It won't pass the Democrats. It would happen if McCain took over, Graham was one of the first to propose it. Politico story, Hillary in debt, she's not paid the health insurance for staff. Voter registrations double where Hillary and Obama fight, Thom is changing his mind about it being so bad. Bush is going to Ukraine. Putin. China. NATO, Afghanistan. Gaddafi speech Saturday, and he did not show up for a Washington video conference today.
  • Article: Spy-in-the-sky drone sets sights on Miami.
    "Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime.

    A small pilotless drone manufactured by Honeywell International (HON.N), capable of hovering and "staring" using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to make its debut soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades.

    "
  • Clip: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
    President Bush: Information Sharing, Patriot Act Vital to Homeland Security, April 20, 2004.
  • Guest: Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU-Florida. Are we losing our privacy with spy drones, wiretapping, fingerprinting, etc...or are we becoming more secure? Thom and Louise were in London recently; it has more spy cams than any other place on earth. Bush on wire taps. We need controls. What if the president lies again, ignores controls? In the UK lots of people watching CCTV were focusing on pretty women. Militarization of the police. A perfect storm: incredible technology, homeland security money, vendors seducing municipalities to adopt their technology, lawmakers asleep at the switch. Light fires under city commissions.
  • Bumper Music: Hello, NSA, Roy Zimmerman.
  • Book: Democracy in America, Alexis DeTocqueville, 1831.
    "It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them...

    I am trying myself to choose an expression which will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it, but in vain; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new; and since I cannot name it, I must attempt to define it...

    The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavouring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest — his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them, but he sees them not; he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred shall remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

    Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing...

    Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

    After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community...

    The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd...

    I think that men living in aristocracies may, strictly speaking, do without the liberty of the press; but such is not the case with those who live in democratic countries.

    Servitude cannot be complete if the press is free; the press is the chief democratic instrument of freedom.

    "
    "What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear" chapter. It was one of the three best-selling books of the 19th century (along with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Trilby" (Svengali). Thom quotes from the 1879 edition in "Unequal Protection".
  • At what point do we say George Orwell was right? Big brother society. Alexis DeTocqueville's "vast tutelary power". Subsidized newspapers. George Orwell said government was big brother, but local credit agencies and employers know more about you. Fingerprints to get a job. But the corporations retain rights that employees have to give up.
  • Article: Oregon employers fingerprint thousands of employees.
    "More than 53,000 Oregonians submitted their fingerprints to the FBI last year, but not because they were crime suspects.

    They did it to land a job.

    "
  • Thom: "The laws have been so changed in this country, in large part because of an 1886 Supreme Court decision, that a corporation can now say that you, when you work for them, no longer have the first right amendment to free speech. You no longer have the fourth amendment right to privacy. They can read your emails, they can monitor your keystrokes, they can even ask for your bodily fluids. You no longer have rights under the constitution; they're suspended. But the corporation itself retains its first amendment rights, in fact, including the right to lie. The corporation retains its fourth amendment privacy rights. They can conceal information. They retain their fifth amendment right not to testify against themselves. And so, for example, for years the tobacco industry and the asbestos industry not only concealed but also lied about what they knew about the dangers, the deadly dangers of tobacco and asbestos. And now they're aggressively aggregating information about us. At what point do we as Americans say, "enough already"? We don't want the government in our bedroom, frankly, although we do appreciate it if they patrol the streets. God bless the police department for being there. But we don't want the government in our bedrooms and we don't want corporations in our bedrooms either, thank you very much."
  • "The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction." Five Western military leaders.
  • Clip: "I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'." Ronald W. Reagan.
  • Clip: "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." First Inaugural Address March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Thom: "It is time for us to get out there and speak up and say, number one, we're not going to be afraid. And number two, we are going to step up to the plate and we are going to take this country back one precinct at a time, country by county, city by city, state by state, right across the nation. We're going to return democracy to this nation."

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