Does the Economy Serve Us or Them?

Let’s talk about the destruction of the American economy – mergers and acquisitions style. As The New York Times points out, back in 1994, Massachusetts allowed its two most prestigious hospitals – Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospital – to merge. The two hospitals came together to form Partners HealthCare, and according to investigations by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, that merger meant healthcare started to get really expensive for the people of Massachusetts. The merger gave the two hospitals incredible market power, allowing them to drive up healthcare costs in the Boston area.

Today, Partners HealthCare is the largest healthcare provider system in Massachusetts, with over 6,000 doctors and 2,800 beds across its various medical centers and hospitals. And it’s looking to get bigger and more powerful. An investigation by the Massachusetts state legislature found that Partners HealthCare’s plan to acquire South Shore Hospital outside of Boston would drive up total healthcare spending in the region even higher, by up to $26 million per year and maybe more.

Because when you own a market, when you're close to having a monopoly, you can charge whatever you want. People have very limited choices about anyplace else to go. The situation that the people of Massachusetts are facing with Partners HealthCare is the perfect example of how destructive market-dominating corporations can be to our economy and the marketplace.

Basically, in order for an economy and marketplace to work for everyone, there have to be rules in place that facilitate competition, because competition is essential in a free market economy. You can’t have virtual monopolies in commerce. It’s that simple. But ever since Reagan came to Washington and stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, it’s been the same old story: Big companies buying out little companies, merging with other big companies, and forming giant corporate powers.

Competition in the American marketplace has become a joke. Take the banking industry for example. Twenty-five years ago, Americans had a wide variety of banks to choose from, from local and regional banks, to national banks. And back then, even the national banks weren’t that huge.

Slowly but surely however, the competition in the banking industry has disappeared, thanks to a never-ending process of mergers and acquisitions. As Mother Jones brilliantly points out, 37 banks and financial institutions back in 1990 have slowly transformed into the big 4 banks we see today (Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo). Those are the same 4 big banks that essentially control most of Wall Street, and that have played major roles in America’s economic and financial decline. But the banking industry isn’t alone in its stunning lack of competition.

Right now, there are 10 giant corporations that control, either directly or indirectly, virtually every consumable consumer product we buy. These corporations are Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Unilever, and Johnson and Johnson. These 10 corporations in turn own, market, or distribute what people believe are the products of hundreds of other companies. But they're not owned by other companies; They're owned by one of these monopolistic giants, doing business under small-brand names.

For example, Proctor and Gamble is best known for its cleaning and personal hygiene products, like Tide detergent, Ivory hand soap and Joy dishwashing liquid. But the company also owns or markets other products, from IAMS dog food and Pepto-Bismol to Duracell batteries and Metamucil. And many American consumers know Nestlé for its Nescafé espresso, Nestlé ice cream or Nesquick chocolate milk. But this coffee and chocolate milk conglomerate also owns or helps market Purina dog and cat food, Gerber baby food, Ralph Lauren cologne, and Garnier hair care products.

These giant corporations essentially have a stranglehold on America’s consumer market. And it’s the same competition-destroying story with America’s media and telecom industries too.

Back in 1983, 90% of American media was owned by 50 companies. As of 2011, that same 90% was controlled by just 6 massive corporations: GE, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner, and CBS.

The bottom-line is that ever since Ronald Reagan came to Washington, competition has left the American marketplace, and we’ve all suffered as a result. The endless stream of mergers and acquisitions over the past 34 years has taken away most all of the competition, and concentrated far too much power in the hands of too few players.

The only way we can have an economy that works for everyone again is by undoing the damage that Reagan caused, by putting the Sherman Anti-Trust Act on steroids, breaking up America’s giant corporations, and ensuring that competition is again a major force in our marketplace.

Comments

tomcalwriter1's picture
tomcalwriter1 8 years 20 weeks ago
#1

This is so ridiculous, Tom. This is basic stuff we learned in high school social studies, at least I did. The trouble is most people are too caught up in every day life to see what has been happening, and you don't see the media covering this. And the greedy politicians, all they do is ask for money -- they're even going out to the average citizen now since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and more recently McCutcheon. But as you pointed out, this has been going on for more than 30 years and I was as blind as most of the others out there. Is there anything we can do besides write and talk about it, because I don't think that's enough. And don't tell me to support different candidates because if they do go any place up the ladder, they are going to be bought and sold, and I don't care who they are, because that's how the current system works.

Probably the only way to make change, the kind of change that will matter and turn over the oligarchy, unfortunately, is revolution. But I see no charismatic leaders out there to lead one, and if one arises, you know they aren't be around very long.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 20 weeks ago
#2

I remember working briefly for Fleischmann's margarine in the late 80's. That company manufactured everything from Imperial Margarine to Blue Bonnet. I counted about 6 brands in all. All from the same machines and made with the same ingredients. As I remember almost every brand in the store. Then the factory mysteriously closed. I can only imagine that they got bought out by some bigger investor.

If you shop brand conscious you waste your money. I suggest buying the cheapest 'brand'. All you are really paying for is the package; and, you're going to throw that away anyway.

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 8 years 20 weeks ago
#3

We need prohibit and break-up monopolies and the structural concentration of individual ownership that makes possible the same wealthy ownership class to acquire virtually all FUTURE wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset ownership. Three are ONLY TWO CHOICES: either OWN or Be Owned!!

Americans need to WAKE UP and support and rally for a peaceful and more just Second American Revolution to unite all Americans, based on a moral recognition that freedom and political democracy must be based on a foundation of universal principles of economic justice and economic empowerment.

The JUST Third Way is a radical overhaul of the economic system (i.e., the Federal tax system, Federal Reserve policy, inheritance law, welfare and entitlement system, etc.) that will achieve genuine economic democracy, based on the Platform of the Unite America Party and its links and the proposed Capital Homestead Act. Our Platform is a call for a vision of political economy that can unite the left and the right, based on Louis Kelso's ownership-based paradigm. Now is the time to cure America's political cancer (Crony Capitalism) and restore America to again becoming a model for global citizens in all countries.

For a new vision see http://www.foreconomicjustice.org/?p=12331andwww.facebook.com%2Funiteame.... Support the Unite America Party Platform, published by The Huffington Post athttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-reber/platform-of-the-unite-ame_b_5474077.html as well as Nation Of Change athttp://www.nationofchange.org/platform-unite-america-party-1402409962and OpEd News at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Platform-of-the-Unite-Amer-by-Gary-Rebe....

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 20 weeks ago
#4

Where's that soft walking, bigass stick carrying Teddy Roosevelt when we need him?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#5

Excellent points, guys. I don't think there's much I can add that hasn't already been said. So I'll just say this sucks and it's dangerous, and leave it at that.

The only positive thing I can throw into the discussion is that my hubby and I have used just two of the many products Thom mentioned: Tide detergent and (much less frequently) Ivory soap. We all could eliminate processed food, sodas and cosmetics without suffering life-altering consequences. In fact, I'll even go so far as to say that eliminating that shit actually improves life. Just think of all the medical and dental bills you wouldn't have to pay! And all the money you'd save, not buying that crap.

This past January I completed an online course with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and became a certified health coach. And in Joshua Rosenthal's book is a marvelous quote by someone named Zemach Zohar who said: "Most people now begin realizing that they live in the matrix. What most people don't realize is that the matrix lives in them. Whenever we permit sodas, candy bars, junk food and cigarettes to enter our body, we're letting the energies and vibes of corporations, factories, offices, CEOs and executives into our very being. These are the active ingredients of the matrix." That pretty much says it all. - Aliceinwonderland

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 20 weeks ago
#6

Henry Ford welcomed and enjoyed competition in the auto industry per haps because he was so good at it. Today even the auto industry is narrowing the field of competition by manufacturers mergers and acquisitions. It' just a matter of time until the big three become the only three worldwide

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 20 weeks ago
#7

In the early 80's I was in a blues rock band with a guitarist who worked at a local organic food restaurant/co-op. It was the first time I'd ever heard of a worker cooperative, a business owned and managed by the workers. I was very impressed when he described the conditions etc. I often wonder why these worker co-ops haven't exploded across the country as push back to the Teapublican supported monopoly capitalism movement. It would no doubt make it harder for vulchers like Mitt to bogart all the hard earned wealth.

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 8 years 20 weeks ago
#8

Anytime there is a monopoly, there is greed and everything else... right on down to deliberate waste. Shoot, look at Congress. Talk about waste... We pay their salaries and they take time off. We pay their medical, and they don't want the rest of us to ever be able to afford healthcare. We put their children through college, and they tell us not everyone needs to have a higher education. Does any of that make sense to any of you?

Intermittent Instigator's picture
Intermittent In... 8 years 20 weeks ago
#9

Bust those trusts!

Health care provided by greedy for-profit corporations??? Maybe there's a better way.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#10

According to today's Max Keiser show on Russia Today..."the currencies around the world are getting away from the US dollars". America is bankrupt and the rest of the world knows it.

I even experienced it a number of years ago when I tried to exchange US$ for Slovak Koruna at some Slovak banks. They wouldn't take my US$. Lucky I still had some Koruna and some Euros left. I just didn't make the purchases I was going to make.

Max Keiser: "the world just doesn't take the US seriously anymore, they don't take Obama seriously anymore, they don't take the Pentagon seriously anymore...they're just a bunch of war-mongering punks."

Stacy Herbert: "Now, again, this is amazing that America seems to be bankrupt on their own Ponzi scheme, that their own Ponzi scheme that they are pushing, and based on fake money that they just, essentially, print."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVfZIM3mY6g

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 20 weeks ago
#11

How can anybody take the U.S. seriously when we have the absolute clowns that are in the House of Representatives effectively controlling the country with their destructive obstruction? If their purpose was to destroy America they have succeeded.

If someone wants to be a victim of their own stupidity that's their problem but if they want me and everybody else to be the victims, that's just beyond outrageous.

I guess big corporations are trans-national now and don't need to care about America anymore.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#12

Ms. Metcalfe, it makes plenty of sense when you can wrap your mind around the idea of our Congress having been taken over by psychopaths, whose distinguishing characteristic is the lack of a conscience along with an inability to feel guilt, empathy or remorse. - AIW

douglas m 8 years 20 weeks ago
#13

America is a dictatorship and the name of that dictator is

MONEY, NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

As long as we have a system where all politicians care about is

unlimited contrubution campaign funds, we will never have public servants in office.

Monopolies run america, sorry truth hurts.

Bring back the anti sherman trust act or remain slaves in economy that has no choice but to fall by greed

jproctor67's picture
jproctor67 8 years 20 weeks ago
#14

As Thom stated the Trickle Down from the Criminal Reagan years started America's downfall long before Pres. Obama's time, America lost it's luster under Dubya/Cheney when he started trying to be the world's savior and trying to dominate countries that didn't need America to get into their business. He caused so many people around the world to think of America as a bumbling idiot that and his invassion of soverign countries to install his form of government, all he did was create so many terrorist that wanted to seek revenge on America for all of the innocient people killed during our occupation of their countries. Under Obama America has regained some respect from the world's people but it's going to take many years to repair the damage Dubya/Cheney did not only to the middle east countries but to America as well. Finally the jobs lost during the Dubya/Cheney years have been recoveried and now slowly there are new job numbers over what was lost and it's taken just 5 years to overcome all of the obstruction the Tealiban Bagger Terrorist Controlled Republicans have thrown into the game. If there is any mention of Obama's name associated with any jobs bill or plan these Terrorist throw every roadblock they can to stop it even if it was a GOP plan to begin with.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#15

Excellent point DAnneMarc. I further yor point buy saying "Shop Local" whenever possible. Here in S.W. Florida my wife and I buy all our meats from the local butcher, which saves us about 35 dollars a month compared to what we would spend on meats at one of the 4 grocery chains through out Florida. We also buy all of our fruits and veggies (that which we don't grow ourselves) from one of 3 farmers markets in our town, saving us aprx $40 a month. The only thing we buy at a chain grocery store is dry/can goods and sometimes that "one item" we forgot at the farmers market.

Say, since I was MIA for 7 months I seem to have lost the rythem of this blog...I keep missing the prime blogging time. When can I catch up with y'all? I miss being in on all the banter!

Cheers

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#16

EXCELLENT point and question Tomcalwriter1. And I can honestly say you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings regarding our countries Robber Barron economic/political policies and what to do about it.
A revolution is one way absolute way to change things, however like you pointed out "who" is going to step up and take leadership...Who has the integrity to be the voice of the average working class citizen. I can think of only 2 people that I would feel confident in, however like you pointed out "the system" is set up in such a way that those who choose not to do the Corporate Waltz Street Dance can't get in the club.

The occupy movement may have proven it's point through occupation of mass numbers, but it wasn't able to maintain its traction do to a lack of leadership and organization. The message was there as was the spirit, but it takes ardous dedication and with out some form of organized leadership people loose their gumption.
All across the U.S. thousands of people, (students, retirees and working class men and women), stand against this Corporate Highjacked Government, and even though the numbers are high when it comes to protesters, we can't seem to break down this current "System".
Why? How can this be? We live in a country that fought a bloody war to gain our Independence from an opressive political system, only to slowly allow back in The greedy Robber Barrons. How can this be when "We the People" are suppose to be the Government...a Government Of the People, By the People, and For the People. Do we not teach this in our schools any more? Have we become a country of selfish wankers? Too caught up in bullshit bloggs and cheap shinny things. Have we become a culture of selfrighteous politically ignorant do gooders that don't know how to kick the bully where it counts in order to take back our lunch money!?!?

In the end you wanna know who I blame???? I blame YOU and Me and Them...99% + 1% = 100% accountable!!! All of us that choose to continue on the same path, bitching and moaning, instead of sacraficing our comfy and lustful way of life so that - as we ALL have said - "...Can leave a better world for our children/grandchildren to live in.

Organize, Protest, Boycott, Sabotage. If you wanna kick the Corporate bully where it counts...STOP BUYING ITS GOODS!!!
Also stop casting fear votes.
Stop voting for Wall Street groomed candidates. Don't get me wrong I do agree with your feelings regarding todays"politicians". However a vote for Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein creates a voice and sends a clear and sound message that We the People are not happy and all those Corporate politicians should be shuttering with fear for their lives.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#17

Wow...Yes, PALINDROMEDARY the United States of America is a pathetic joke in the eyes of the rest of the world. I too have found this in my travels abroad and even here.
I have familey and a few friends in Germany and Austrailia. ALL of them shake their heads whenever we begin to discuse American politics and our social issues and ideology.
My brother and sister who were born in the U.S. back in the late 60's grew up in Austraila. Through out their entire lives thay have traved the world. My brother has lived here in the U.S. Thailand, Greece, Italy, and Germany. He loves to visit the U.S. but vowed 30 years ago that he would never live in the U.S. again. As he put it, after living in the U.S. for 3 years; "As a working class person I have a better quality of life in Austrailia, and I am able to work and live knowing that I am able to at least provide for my familey the basic cost of living without working myself to death. What is life and a familey if you cannot enjoy them?"
My brother has worked in the resturant idustry for 31 years, (since he was 15) and has been a Master Chef for the last 12 years. He also speaks Thai, German, French, and Spanish.

I have found simmilar sentament like my brothers in all of my travels during the past 26 years.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#18

jproctor67: I agree with most of what you have said and I agree that Obama, at first, seemed to win more friends and influenced enemies because they all thought Obama was going to be different. He WAS different from that bumbling idiot, Bush (who deserves to be in prison, at least), but I gave up on Obama shortly after he started appointing all of those Clinton/Bush flunkies to be his advisers who caused the economic crises in 2008.

Yes, I voted for Obama the first time but certainly not the second time. And since Obama's regime did not readily cease our criminal actions in the Middle East or the torture chambers the US had in Iraq and Gitmo, since he immediate gave in to the HealthScare/Pharma/Insurance companies by taking Single Payer off the table without so much as a fuss...in fact, I think he gladly did it. I am certainly glad I didn't vote for him the second time. Since the heroes Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and the other whistleblowers like Thomas Drake, and others, were wrongly treated so badly an unjustly by the Obama administration...and since the US spy agencies has gotten to such a dystopian nightmare...and since there has really not been any useful reverse in laws and enforcement against the corruption of banksters and Wall Street...there is really no good reason to think of Obama as a good President. He was and is merely the wolf in sheep's clothing that played us all for suckers. He was and is just another puppet for the ruling elite who will continue to screw us all.

Next time, vote for the candidate who is least funded by the ruling elite...and that leaves out both the Democrats and the Republicans. If we vote in an outsider, it will send a strong and chilling message to the wealthy overlords that their money will do them no good any longer. It happened in California...Brown won against his filthy rich opponents Fiorina and Whitman. Even if you think you will risk getting the Republicans back into power (yeah, right, like they aren't already in power!), if you continue to play the ruling elite's game of choosing between two parties that they own, we will continue to suffer the exploitation and indignity by the ruling elite.

Besides, wouldn't you rather the revolution took place during a Republican regime rather than a Democrat one? If you merely vote Democrat again...they'll just keep you strung along with false hope and excuses...that's what they do. With a Republican in office... that just might trigger what I think is inevitable...and necessary. History has shown that only revolution really changes things for the better for those who have been unfairly exploited and abused. Without it, they'll never fear and respect us, they'll just continue to screw us. But, if we're lucky, if the majority of voters choose a third party candidate, against all monied-leveraged odds, it will be a real revolution very much desired...all without people having to take to the streets.

Winning friends and influencing enemies is not the ruling elite's game anyway. They are greedy for total world conquest in our image...total subjugation. They need lots of enemies to keep USians constantly afraid so that we will continue to rely on our Military/Industrial/Spying/Corrupt-Congressional complex to keep us safe from the "bad guys". They don't want us to realize that the real "bad guys" are the beguilers and tricksters who created these "enemies" in the first place. It wasn't 19 Muslim hijackers nor OBL! They didn't start the backstabbing and threats ...even way back when "terrorist" activities happened long before 9/11 around the world... it was mostly all instigated by xenophobic, profit mongering bullies from the west who have throughout their history created "false flags" to fool their obtuse citizens into supporting their criminal deeds.

9/11 was merely Operation Northwoods morphed into PNAC's "new Pearl Harbor" that scared and bullied everyone to fall into line and follow the real traitors in our midst who engineered it all.

Look where we are today, a failing economy. The world, while at first-light of the Obama era, won a few praises from the world... full of hope and expectations of real "change we can believe in", has now dwindled to practically the whole world hating us (hating our ruling elite, anyway...they probably just pity the rest of us). They are all moving away from the dollar, treating the US as a pariah nation. Why not, the US has scorned other nations, especially China, for spying on us when it was mostly the other way around. And I wouldn't put it past the US spy agencies to have originated the hacking incidences against the US that they claim came from China. They can easily make it look like China was spying on us when, in fact, it was the US spying agencies initializing the attacks (cyber-warfare false flags). In case you don't know it already..the war is largely against the American people as much as it is against everyone else in the world.

Read the book "Behold A Pale Farce--Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, & the Malware Industrial Complex" by Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung.

If you think you are safe with very well known Security Company's firewalls, virus, trojan, and rootkit software then you are being tricked. And every time you do an "security upgrade"...like monthly 2nd Tuesday Microsoft security upgrades...how do you know that they aren't just adding more spyware for the NSA? How do you know that they didn't do this a long time ago...even built into the Operating System? The NSA has put the heavy on these companies to make it easy for them to even crack your encrypted emails or files..install back-doors...install spyware...all so they can spy on us. And if they can do it...the hackers can use those exploits too...they too can use those weaknesses to spy on you...wipe out your bank accounts through identity theft. The profit is in keeping you forever afraid and willing to shell out your money for "fake protection"....it may keep out the script kiddies but not the real hackers. It is an illusion! And they profit very well from our gullibility.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#19

MMmmmNachos: Wow! Thai, German, French, and Spanish...and English too! I've spent years trying to learn Arabic, reading, speaking, and understanding the spoken language...and although I can read the script, and know a lot of words, it's still hard to entirely understand a conversation...there are a number of dialects. I can pick out words here and there but it is not so easy. I have used some of the well known language courses including Rosetta Stone, FSI, and a bunch of on-line courses, even Learn Arabic With Maha...she's cute. Anyway, I drift back into it and out again from time to time. It would be better if I was totally immersed back into Saudi Arabia or any of the other Arabic speaking countries again. But, I think I had just better hang on to my head a little while longer. I cheated death once! Not anxious to do it again!

Of course, now that I'm back in the states, I might get mugged and murdered by some punk who needs drug money. That's something I didn't have to worry about over in Saudi Arabia. Although, some people (expats and Saudis) did smuggle in some drugs and alcohol...but mostly, they just made wine from grape-juice. Maybe if we had public beheadings and behandings or stoning to death here in the states we would have a lot less street and home invasion violence. But, we'd also have arenas full of stoned women and beheaded men for adultery and huge piles of hands for theft. Somehow, I'm glad I didn't get on those yellow school buses to downtown Dammam to witness the festivities!

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 20 weeks ago
#20

Gary R -- How about repealing every law passed from 1979 to 2009 (not including 2009)?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 20 weeks ago
#21

Pal -- If there is anything I would take seriously, it would be a "war mongering punk."

Greg Palast had an interesting article about the gold standard sometime in the past year. He described a key motive for the revolutionary war was England trying to force the gold standard on us. As Thom as often said the gold standard prohibits growth.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 20 weeks ago
#22

MMmm -- I think your 100% is high. I think the stat that only 17% of the people know that the repugs run the House implies that the 100% should be 83%.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 20 weeks ago
#23

MMmm -- Interesting that we have been living under reaganomics for 32 years since you mention your brother working for 31 years.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#24

chuckle8: Pay no attention to those men behind the curtain creating fake money on their computers that they create debt with. When "growth" is all backed by a Ponzi Scheme it's all a matter of time till the bubbles pop. And when the only people who can create the illusion of wealth can no longer fool the masses into investing their money in those Ponzi Schemes, especially the rest of the world who are beginning to know better and who are dumping the dollar, then another world war is very likely. When the average investor, say with their 401Ks, goes up against high speed trading, they have very little chance of not losing their money.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#25

We often blame Reagan for the disastrous economy and it is true that he deserves a lot of the blame...maybe most of it. But it was another Republican President, Nixon, that preceded Reagan who caused our growth rate to go from 4% growth rate down to 2.9% growth rate. Before Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971, unemployment averaged less than 5% and never rose above 7% during the 21 years prior to 1971. *

Quote Forbes:
During the past 40 years, the dollar has fallen in value by more than 70% against the euro/German mark and the Japanese yen. The U.S. had a modest net export surplus in 1971 before Nixon started the dollar on its downward path. Today, we have a $405 billion trade deficit.

And that was in 2011..the Forbes article was written in 2011. The trade deficit with China alone, in 2011, was over $295 billion. And the trade deficit with China in 2013 was almost $319 billion. **

And you can't say it was all done by Nixon, Reagan and Bush....things briefly got better under Clinton during the dot-com era but his exit strategy was to give in to the Republican (and most likely, secretly, the wealthy Democrat) devils who wanted to deregulate the banks and Wall Street. And there may be a few more jobs now during Obama's regime and the stock market numbers are right up there ready for another crash but the stock numbers are not a true indicator of the health of the economy. When the market crashes once again, people will lose their jobs, once again. And since they are already deep in debt, it will be a lot harder on them than on the wealthy pricks who can afford to lose. And if the lowly workers had their savings stuck in the market, they will lose that, once again, as well. But they will not be able to bounce back as easily as the rich snobs and will suffer even more than they have ever suffered before.

* http://www.forbes.com/sites/charleskadlec/2011/08/15/nixons-colossal-mon...

** https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#26

Every president in my lifetime (except maybe Carter) has been an idiot. - AIW

richinfolsom 8 years 20 weeks ago
#27

I recall almost news reports from the 80s and 90s announcing leverage buyouts, mergers, and acquisitions. Each transaction followed with casualty figures of 5,000 or more displacements. It's just a number until you are one of the thousands dumped on the street. No matter the industry, there are less than a dozen dominate corporations in the United Ststes. Like mega churches of Wall Street, as others have noticed, the assimilation and obscuring of their dominance, market control, employment structure, outsourcing, and political and messaging power has risen to the heights of a nation state tht should be feared. Think of any venue: medicine (as Thom points to), energy, groceries, media, transportation, information and computer technology...

George Carlin said it well that consumers choices are non-existent: paper or plastic? Aisle or window?

Thom may be right - Will it all come crashing down?

Rich in Foldom

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#28

According to "stats"...

Listen CHUCK screw the "stats", at least when we are talking accountability. Yes I know that most voters are a bunch of sheep and are clueless about their own actions and therefore don't, er can't, accept accountability. However ignorance is not an excuse nor a means of defence. Anymore anyone who votes for a Wall Street groomed candidate out of fear, ignorance, or desire is accountable for their actions regardless of their cognative distortions. Further more I DO NOT have any empathy for those who live above their means and then expect to be bailed out. Same for students with outrageous debt. They were not complaining about their tuitions when they applied to those schools.

Now ALL of that being said I do subscribe to the idea that we MUST change our ways when it comes to Free Market...Lets get back to the gold standard and stricted regulations when it comes to loans and investing. NO ONE should be able to profit from scamming others. And yes I also support more affordable student loan programs.

It is my opinion, based on history and current events, that too far Right and too far Left will never bring resolve to this countries social and economic issues. Further more until We the People take back our Government from the Corporations we will continue to feel socially burdoned, and hopeless. The good news is - as George Carlin would say - "Endotripy", The theory that all systems are in a state of decline and without proper attendence and ajustments eventually will crash and burn.
So sit back have another drink...a few more pretzles, some MSG, hit the bong, and enjoy the show. This IS reality T.V.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#29

Ho ho...You said it sister!

...but your being kind, ALICE. Not to split hairs, but "idiot" is not the right word..."Wall Street Puppet" is the shoe that fits. Nixion, Regain, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and ???2016??? are nothing more than groomed Corporate Capitalist who work for Dr Evil.

STOP CASTING FEAR VOTES
STOP VOTING FOR WALL STREET GROOMED CANDIDATES!!!

The ONLY reason Obama was re-elected was because of fear votes. The only reason Romney got any votes was because of fear votes. What cracks me up is that they are such close cousins when it comes to Political issues. Sure the deck maybe shuffled differently (Right or Left party interests) but they are both proped up by Wall Street.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#30

Well said, MMmmNACHOS! But you did mean "Entropy" didn't you?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#31

Nachos, need I remind you this is the ONLY COUNTRY where one gets stuck in the ole debt hole just by going to school…. or getting sick? You love pointing out how your relatives in Australia and elsewhere are so happy not to be living here. (Yeah, rub it in! Make my day!) Do they get caught in the debt trap by medical emergencies, or going to college?

Need I remind you that at least half the bankruptcies in the USA are due to medical bills, and that 75% of those medical-related bankruptcies involve people who are "insured"? How about getting off your self-righteous high horse and putting the blame where it BELONGS?

This isn't "reality". It's the biggest scam in human history. - Alice IW

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#32

Yes I did Palindromedary...Thank you for correcting my mistake.

Cheers!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#33

MMmmNACHOS: :-)

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#34

C'mon ALICEINWONDERLAND...This is not the "biggest" scam in history; Religion - at least the ones that take "good ideas" and turn them into absolute belief systems based on fear and invisible omnipotence in order to control the masses - take the cake on that one.

I don't think you read what I wrote in its entirety, or at least you did comprehend it as to what I was actually saying.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#35

Nachos, that is your opinion, far as religion goes. We'll just have to disagree. I'm no fan of religion, so please don't misread what I'm saying. In fact, I have a lot of animosity towards religion; as a woman, I probably have more reason to feel that way than you do. But crony capitalism, "free" trade and all the bullshit that goes with it is the biggest obstacle to world stability and peace, in my opinion. It is the greatest threat to our survival as a species, not to mention the survival of all life forms that currently exist.

That aside, I did not appreciate your sanctimonious dissing of all Americans sucked into the crony capitalist debt trap. Your friends and family living in these other countries don't have to worry about affording things like health care and education because the systems they live in are more just, compassionate and fair. They can go to the hospital when they have a medical crisis without fear or trepidation. They can get an education to better their lives and enjoy a nice bright future without having to worry about debt or bankruptcy. Why is that, Nachos; because they are more deserving? Hell no. It's because they are fortunate enough to live in societies with social mobility and a safety net.

Frankly, I think you've got one helluva nerve rhapsodizing about how your relatives have it made in the shade in these other countries, only to write another post spouting off shit like "I DO NOT have any empathy for those who live above their means and then expect to be bailed out. Same for students with outrageous debt. They were not complaining about their tuitions when they applied to those schools." C'mon Nachos, you know better than that. A college education is the only ticket to a decent paying job anymore. Are you suggesting an entire generation of working class young Americans be condemned to a life of low-wage grunt work, just because their daddies aren't rich? Do you honestly believe that a college education should only be available to members of the Lucky Sperm Club? Because if that's where you are coming from, pal, we've got nothing more to discuss. - Alice IW

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 20 weeks ago
#36

Odd. We've been in a pretty intense class war for years. Did anyone not notice? Today, the rich are simply doing to the middle class what the middle class already did to the poor -- often enough, using the same "justifications." With the the proverbial "masses," the middle class and poor, so deeply pitted against each other, there isn't much we can do to push back.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 20 weeks ago
#37

For that matter, one of the leading causes of poverty is illness. Currently, another leading cause is that the US has been shipping out our working class jobs since the 1980s. Regardless, this generation decided that "there is no excuse" for being jobless and poor.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#38

So you've said many times, Fabian. And I agree.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#39

Just for the record, folks, I'd like to back off a little on one of the points made in my post #32. Where I said that 75% of medical-related bankruptcies involved folks who were "insured", I was repeating what I'd understood the stats to be, before the Affordable Care Act kicked in. This statistic may be less accurate now than prior to "Obamacare". However last I heard, since "Obamacare" got started, one thing hasn't changed: 51% of total bankruptcies in the USA are from these outrageous medical bills. God bless America. - Aliceinwonderland

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 20 weeks ago
#40

MMmmNACHOS ~ I have to side with Aliceinwonderland about school debt. It is not the fault of the student. The fact of the matter is that an educated electorate is vital to any functional democracy. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to expect and demand education to be free for everyone who wants it and part of the commons in any functional democracy. Quite frankly, we lag the world in education; and, as a result, are getting our butts kicked in the international market. The only reason we have any advantage at all is because when us older folks were growing up education was still free to anyone who wanted it. The benefits of that availability are still being felt because that generation hasn't completely retired yet. However, when it does it will be obvious what a disservice Reagan dealt the country as a Governor here in California when he stopped funding of institutions of higher education in favor of for profit privatization.

You need look no further than the Powell Memo to see just how important it is to the citizenry, the country, and our national security to put every resource we have into our system of education. The fact that we have allowed this system to slip into the obscurity of private for profit interests a a travesty, and national disaster that certainly doesn't need to be mocked. Our country is no better than how well informed our electorate is. If you truly feel that every US President since Carter was a "Wall Street Puppet" then you should look no further for the cause than the education of the electorate that voted for them. Instead of putting blame on the few brave kids who took on all that debt instead of staying safe and ignorant, you should look at the multitude of kids who chose the debt free route who are electing these morons. Education needs to be free for all as a matter of national security and for the common good of the country. Without an educated electorate we are all getting what we are all paying for.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 8 years 20 weeks ago
#41

My Friends DanneMarc and ALICEinWONDERLAND.

I very much am in favore of a much better social system one that does not promote or encurage competiviness to the level that we Lie Cheat Steal and Kill in order to get ahead in "life".
I do agree that being able to receive a good education is important, and that having access to good and affordable health care is necessary and should be a RIGHT, at least make it available to anyone that wants it.

ALICE I NEVER in any way implyed that my friends and familey who live in countries that provide a thriving social system through good education, affordable health care and better wages are "more deserving". More my reason for sharing their good fortune was to show that it can be done and that the quality of life is better. People have a healthier outlook. My good friend who was born in and grew up in Finland and became an American citizen in his early 20's said he came here in the 80's for 7 years to "cash-in", and once he made his money went back to Finland because the over all out look on life and fellowship is so much better.

As far as my comment regarding people who CHOOSE to live above their means...I stand by what I said. My daddy raised me to work for what I want out of life and to not expect anything to be given to if I am not willing to TRY and provide for myself.
Now that does not mean that I am obtuse and not able to comprehend that even when people do work and live honest lives are void of get screwed. Especially when we are trying to live within a Corporate Capitalistic highjacked Government; one promotes an evil competiveness (as I mentioned above), and that shits on blue collar workers, and condems the poor as if they are a disease, and punishes you for getting/being ill. We truly would not need a wellfare system, at least not to a level of "bailing" people out, IF 3 things were to happen; Affordable Quality Health Care, one that even provides for preventative practice, Affordable Education, and increased minimum wages to a Living Wage, (somewhere around $18/hour is a realistic start, as aposed to Obama's proposal of 10 bucks an hour).
But let me ask you both, and any one else that has a brain, this; Sould it be a Right (Education & Health Care) protected by Law? If so, how would you suggest we handle those that are abusive of such a Right?

Lastly; I subscribe to the motto; "Reward Excellence and Punish Blood Sucking." Unfortunatly our current system (of the past 50+ years) seem to have a warped perspective on what excellence is.

And Yess DAnneMarc, I do consider those that continue to vote for Wall Street groomed Candidates to be bafoons and a HUGE part of a social problem...But you don't need to have a college degree to understand whats going on in this country and the world...You just have to wake the fuck up stop being selfish and use that gray matter between your ears. I don't have a college degree, in fact I dropped out and took up 2 trades starting at age 17 and yet I still have a better scense then most of my peers who spent $100k on a piece of paper...I also have never been without work. (I am a licensed Barber, and Landscaper)

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 20 weeks ago
#42

Most of what influences people, especially children, are the movies and television shows they are exposed to. Corporations have effectively used those media to drain the viewers of reality, of their money, and kept them at the bottom of the socio-economic structure.

I haven't seen too many movies or TV shows, that would appeal to most people, which would help them out of that chasm. They are stuck there. And it is by design.

These media use psychological ploys to give the semi-false impressions that they don't have to sacrifice and work hard to educate themselves. I say "semi-false" because some people are born into wealth and/or some people are just lucky and manage to get wealthy through other means...like criminal activities and manage to keep from being caught or prosecuted. And when it is institutionalized, as it is now, there can only be one solution and it ain't gonna be pretty!

Even our cherished and celebrated system of Capitalism is mostly all about: "do unto others before they can do unto you". And it is rarely seen apart from our current system of corrupt Democracy. And for both of which, the US is willing to murder millions of people...even willing to murder thousands of US citizens in false flag operations in order to scare the rest into giving up their freedoms. Spreading Capitalism and Democracy (our versions) around the globe is the worse kind of virulent proselytizing by the Capitalist jackals. Greed personified! Evil personified!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 20 weeks ago
#43

Nachos, I appreciate you acknowledging a legitimate need for universally accessible, basic services known as the commons. You've elaborated on this theme as long as you've participated here, which goes back a long ways. This is why I was so baffled by that statement in your previous post, the one I'd emboldened in quotes, which was so contradictory to that premise. You always seemed to know full well what a predatory system this is. So why criticize young adults for enrolling in college? Any system that sucks people into a lifelong debt trap over things like education and healthcare is a predatory, carnivorous system, and when you say shit like that, (i.e. "they knew what tuition cost before they signed up" ad nauseam) you're blaming those who've been victimized by that system instead of the parasites who perpetrated and are benefitting from it. I don't even like saying "the victims" because of how it labels people. But we the 90+%, we the citizens of ordinary means, have been ruthlessly victimized by this predatory regime.

Corporate fascists use financial terrorism as a means to break us, keeping us demoralized, scared and subordinate. Like Thom Hartmann, Noam Chomsky and others have said, after dealing with the civil rights movement and antiwar protests of the 1960s & '70s, the power elite decided to reconfigure this system in ways that disempowered us, putting us peasants back in our "place". Since Reagan's reign in the oval office, they've stripped us of legal and regulatory protections, leaving us exposed to usury, extortion and fraud over simple necessities like healthcare, education and housing. I can't help it, Nachos; it sets me off when I hear invalids and young students slammed for "living beyond their means". If you're not rich, it seems just living is beyond your means nowadays.

Another point you've made that bothers me, and that I've heard a lot from conservatives, is this assumption that many people in society will be deadbeat "blood suckers" and "abuse" the system if allowed to get away with it. I get tired of hearing that, Nachos, and I think it's wrong. I happen to believe the overwhelming majority of us want to live productive lives and contribute to society. To be able to keep one's ship afloat, to have a sense of purpose, is a basic human need, at least for most of us.

Please explain to me how these so-called moochers would "abuse" a healthcare system, as if being poked, prodded and stuck with needles was anyone's idea of fun. "I think I'll go down to the doctor's office today and hang out" or "Gee that enema was such a blast... guess I'll go have another one just for kicks!"

Yeah right, Nachos. And how does one "abuse" an education system? Please enlighten me.

I happen to believe in the merits of a guaranteed basic, minimum income for every man, woman and child, in any country rich enough to afford it. Then we wouldn't need a welfare system. Crime would go down, there would be no homeless people on the streets, and with money in everyone's hands the economy would thrive. With enough of a basic income to survive on, everyone would have housing, utilities and adequate nutrition. With healthcare also guaranteed as a universal right of citizenship, we'd have a healthier population and lower healthcare costs. Besides, when you're working to boost your standard of living a notch or two and achieve higher status, rather than simply to survive, it's much easier to say "Take this job and shove it" when you're not treated right. Thus employers no longer hold so much power over employees. This would help level the playing field between employers and employees, empowering workers while making labor less dispensable for business owners.

This may not be the only solution to our socioeconomic problems, but it would be a huge step in that direction.

I can't remember which countries have adopted such a policy; Thom has mentioned at least one, along with another country that was seriously considering it. Can't remember which ones though. (Does anyone else recall hearing about this?) I googled and saw Switzerland cited as one country considering such a policy. The European Union has also considered it. Could have been a country like Norway, Denmark or maybe Iceland Thom identified as having already established a basic, guaranteed minimum income for all citizens. (Geez Thom... wish you were here to set me straight and cover my ass!) But this isn't a new idea, nor is it just some lah-lah fantasy of ours. With labor having become so dispensible here, verging on obsolete thanks to outsourcing and automation, hordes of hungry Americans are crowding food pantries, now stretched to the limit on supplies. Something's gotta give, Nachos. And in this environment, accusing unemployed workers of "laziness" is not only absurd, it is downright abusive. - Aliceinwonderland

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 19 weeks ago
#44

PAL -- Once again I agree with what you say, but maybe not what you maybe are implying. I think NIxon starting the most favored nation (MNF) status had everything to do with the trade deficit. I do not think his monetary actions (going off silver?) had much to do with it.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 19 weeks ago
#45

MMmm -- You use stats; then, I reply with stats and you say screw the stats.

Entropy, I think the 2nd law of thermodynamics is involved. Entropy is always increasing. When I was studying such things, I always liked to think of it as free energy which is always decreasing.

However, instead of sitting back, I would like to capture the free energy of the sun and use it for my own personal interest in keeping the human species existing. I will admit my plan is going to come to a screeching halt in 4 billion years.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 19 weeks ago
#46

AIW -- I like everything you say, and you say it so well. I think Switzerland is the country that had a guaranteed minimum income on the ballot. It did not pass.

Once again, I want to point out the policies of the New Deal and the Great Society were working very well. Previously, I forgot to point out these policies provided the fertile ground from which the Civil Rights and the Feminist movement grew. These policies did not include a min or max (no more billionaires) income. However, they were accomplishing those goals indirectly. They were able to enlist the marketplace to attain those goals.

We just need to get rid of all the policies of reaganomics. Palin has pointed out that Nixon policies need to be eliminated, as well as Reagans.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 19 weeks ago
#47

Chuck, thanks for the compliment. Very nice.

I agree about the need to rid ourselves of Reagan's & Nixon's policies. I think we can add Bushes #1 & #2 and Clinton to that list. All these presidents' policies have been enormously destructive to our country as well as our individual lives. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 19 weeks ago
#48

AIW -- Thanks for the clarification. I meant every policy since 1981 plus Nixon's. That is, every policy except those passed by the Obama adminstration during the 13 weeks the dems were in power.

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