Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who, me? Dictator?

I never thought I'd see Paul Krugman write this! He talks about Iceland in his column, here The Path Not Taken - To tell the truth, I'm not sure anymore whether I'm changing my mind, or whether things are just becoming a lot more clear as time passes. The bank bailout, I thought and still think, was to save everyone's ass, er... I mean retirement funds and bank savings accounts; everyone being the normal, average Joe on Main Street. I never envisioned that it would save "the bankers." And, it did save those retirement and savings accounts, as I recall. My accounts, for example, or at least the portion of those accounts that was held in Money Market funds, got back 97 cents on the dollar and TD Ameritrade made up the 3 cents that I would have lost. Without the bailout, I, and millions of others, would have gotten back about 40 cents (maybe less - I don't recall the exact amount) on the dollar, a loss of 60% or more. So, I thought the bailout was a good thing. Plus, the government made money on the deal. For example, the government got about $38 billion back from the $30 billion bailout it gave to Citibank. We, the taxpayers, made $8 billion, or 27%, return on that investment. At least that's what I read. That's not too shabby. Ben Bernanke testified to Congress that the government got back over $120 billion from the approximate $400 billion used as bailout, 30% ROI. Great!

And about those savings accounts. Most people think that the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Company), a government sponsored enterprise (GSE), would have saved their savings accounts up to $200,000, and that was after Bush increased it to that amount. Ha! Laugh out loud, lol. The failure of a single bank (A SINGLE BANK!), Washington Mutual, threatened to bust the FDIC, which would have caused us taxpayers to pay the price to make good on Bush's promise, costing the U.S. another few trillion. To save the FDIC, the government forced JP Morgan-Chase to buy Washington Mutual, with a big government loan guarantee, costing us much less than FDIC's bankruptcy would have. That deal, too, was a good thing. In fact, it was the only thing to do.

What I didn't expect is that the banks walked off with record profits and the bankers paid themselves billions more as if nothing happened at all and then they hoarded their cash like a miser while the world crumbled around them. Iceland didn't take that path. Instead of saving the bankers, Iceland said, "Up yours! Get yourself out of your own mess." Iceland voters voted down bailing out the banks, took over the banks and made them smaller, used the banks cash and profits, and government stimulus plans to settle the housing mess and the employment mess, and went on living, albeit on less, but on the way back to a good standard of living. It was a rare exception. All other nations took up the austerity chant and are now in a worse mess.

Frankly, I've had enough! I'm ready to OCCUPY SOMETHING! Alas... There is so much to write about and so little time to do it. And, I likely don't have time to be The Dictator, but I'll accept the job, thank you very much, but most of you won't like it. The first thing I would do would be to suspend the Constitution, especially the part that provide the Congressional and Judiciary powers. There would be no due process, which goes against my own constant yelling for justice. But, I would be selective. For example, there would be a line of bankers, hedge fund managers, derivative traders and credit ranking company executives forming at court house entrances for their trials, including those that have already left their positions into retirement or other jobs. The evidence? If they held an executive position in the companies that took this country down; they are guilty! Off to jail for a good long time. What'd you say? Constitution? There is none! What? You want to settle? There is no settling! You want to appeal? There is no Judiciary to appeal to.

Of course the immediate result would be that the "Occupy Wall Street" people would go home, and be replaced by the those who support the bankers and those others I've put in jail. Tough titty.

And, for you that want a tax-code revision, there would be one. All people earning one million and up would see tax increases starting at about 50%, with 10% in increments up to 80% for those with higher incomes, with no second and third home deductions and certainly no yacht or personal jet deductions. You might have to sell those. What's that? Don't like the high taxes? Hell, there's a deduction I put in there. It says, "create a job in this country - get a tax cut." You have to prove it, though. It's as simple as that!

I would immediately freeze every healthcare providers' salaries and wages in the country. Sorry brother and sister, I know you'd get your dander up about that. But, the next thing I'd do is decrease a few salaries, starting with hospital administrators, then doctors, and working down until I got to around $100k, depending on the living standard of the area, then leave those and below alone. Whoops! May have to sell a second and third homes, guys and gals, if you didn't have to from the tax-code rewrite above. You may not be able to afford those anymore. And, maybe you'll have to sell a yacht or two and a personal jet. By the way, to all those who have to sell those extra luxury homes and stuff, good luck finding a market for them. Isn't that your philosophy, laissez-faire, let it ride, or in other words, let the market decide? Well, it's all your's now! You try it for a while.

But, the medical field can look to other changes that you may like. A medical and dental education will be free to anyone wanting it and can maintain the grades and who can endure it. All education loans will be paid. The cost of Medical equipment will adjusted to a reasonable cost and strategically placed in some communities for access to all. Pharmaceuticals will have to live on less; drug costs will be cut drastically and free to some. Research and development investment for new drugs will be paid mostly by taxpayers, so Pharmacy companies can no longer claim this high cost and, by the way, lie about it. General practitioners will likely not see a salary cut, especially small town or community practitioners. They may see an increase in both salary and tax write-offs. Claim forms will be standardized; one single claim format for all medical and dental procedures. Doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians may have to live on less, but it will still be a good living standard, above most of other citizens, likely in the top 20%. Your new challenge is, then, to learn within your new means. Oh, you can still hold your drug parties, if the cops don't catch you at it!

I would immediately implement the "Public Option," Medicare for all. Whoops! Did that make you insurance company executives shit your pants? Likely. What? You want to lay off all of those people and close your companies and take your millions in compensation? No, sorry, but you can't or you go to jail. You now have to figure out a whole new structure of plans to sell good, full coverage plans, competitive with the Public Option, by the way, for those who want your coverage. Remember, your plans must cover everything. Leave out one iota, and you go to jail. What? Constitution? What Constitution? By the way, your compensation is eliminated. You earn the same salary I get, $400 thousand. Better start saving for your retirement. That's all you, and every corporate executive in any industry, get from now on. Want a higher pay? Then march in the street for my pay raise.

Oh yeah, to all of you who want to toss out Welfare. Nooo, we're not going to do that. We're going to feed the hungry. Oh, I agree it's broken. But, it's broken because of all of the fixes you've thought up that have failed miserably. You, Republicans and all of you who complained about it, who thought up the Welfare-to-Work program, but failed to pay for the jobs skill training that would put Welfare recipients to work are invited to form a commission to find what works. What I mean by that is that you must figure out 1) what motivates or gets people back to work, and I don't particularly care what it is that does that, 2) how to implement it, 3) how much it costs, and 4) write out a check payable to each state, proportionally, to get it going. Oh, one last thing - you're going to hold the states responsible for implementation. Any state that doesn't; I'll put the governor of that state in jail, or you if you don't report the governor. What? Constitution? Bwhahahahaha! But, I'm not opposed to nearly anything. For example, if you want to sterilize all who seem to have too many Welfare babies or crack babies, well, we can do that. Hell, I'm easy. But, you make not like the results. It may be your daughter that I order sterilized.

And then there is that "Balanced Budget" you're bitching about. Okay, let's do that. Generals, Admirals and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, get ready for some cuts. Let's start with a $300 billion per year cut in defense equipment and weapons. Maybe you can find a jet fighter/bomber you don't really need, or maybe a few aircraft carriers that are a tad old. How about a thousand or so nuclear tipped missiles, with accompanying launch platforms that can be cut. I'm sure you'll come up with a suitable list. What? Afghanistan? I guess you didn't get the word. I handed Hamid Karzai the keys to Afghanistan this morning and I instructed the Central Command to start pulling our troops out of there immediately, every last single troop to be return to the United States in sixty days. Oh, I also gave Hamid an M-16, an armored vest and flak jacket and told him that he'd better get hot getting his army together to fight off the Taliban. What? Pakistan? Well, I told him he's got a problem, or a few of them that we were not going to pay for anymore. The main thing I told him is that if I got the slightest hint, proven hint, that he intends to launch or give away one of his nuclear weapons, I'm going to blow the shit out of him. I also told him that I'm going to have a few drones watching over him, sort of my eye in the sky thing. He shit his pants. Don't worry General, I've got it covered. By the way, figure out other bases we can close. We don't need most of them. We're still the most powerful in the world and we still have powerful friends. We have nothing to fear.

Well, then there is Wal-Mart, Home Depot and a bundle of other big-box stores (my "boys" will make up a list) who invaded small communities and small counties across the county. You have to close those stores. There's a catch, though. You've got six months to revitalize and restored the economies of those small towns and counties that you ravished and destroyed. In other words, you have to rebuild all of those small businesses that you ran out of business. I'll leave it up to you on exactly how to do that, but if I hear of one single community that isn't set right... well, you know what I'll do by now, don't you? Oh, and until those small business are in good, sound buildings and find their own supply channels, you'll have to provide them using your own trucking fleet, your own merchandise and at reasonable wholesale prices. I'll allow only a 2% markup over your wholesale cost for transportation costs. Live with it. By the way, you can stay put in those large population centers that can handle you, but that's it. Don't overstep your bounds. You may not be a monopoly in those areas or nation-wide, but you are monopolies in those smaller populations.

And to the regional and national banks, those that have bought up small community banks and that have become to big to fail; you have to break up. You have six months to restore the small community banks you bought and money from deposits to those small banks cannot be passed to a central bank outside of the community. Oh, and you must renegotiate all of the mortgages that are under water by reducing the loans to the value of the homes; the current market value, which, of course, means that you're going to lose a ton of money. Send me an appointment request for a personal appointment with me if you don't want to do this. Better get it in fast. My appointment calendar is booked through November 2015 as of ten minutes ago. I'm receiving over 5,000 appointment requests an hour, so you're already late. I've turned down 99.9% pleas so far. So, take your chances.

There's a few new laws on the books as of this morning:

1. Truth in Media and Broadcasting: This law is simple. If you make a claim, announcement, a news broadcast or write an article; you must be prepared to prove your claim in front of fifty of the world's most prominent scholars in the studies on ethics in media and broadcasting. Your proof must be an original written or taped interview or you must be prepared to present the source of your information to the judges. You must convince all fifty judges for a unanimous decision; any single judge who calls your media/broadcasting representation rubbish will send you to jail.

2. Truth in Religious Claim, Prophecy or Prediction: This law is simple, too. Anyone making a religious claim, prophecy or predicting a religious event must prove it. Bibles, written in translated versions in any language other than the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, whichever the original scroll or document of antiquities is written in, is not suitable proof. You must support your claim with original proof from antiquities. Your panel of judges must be the most respected biblical scholars in the world; historians, archaeologists or anthropologists are suitable. You must find them, prove their credentials and pay for their term as your judge. All fifty must agree to your claim, or you go to jail. What? Freedom of religion? Hahahaha! There is no freedom for making outrageous religious claims, prophecy or predictions. Oh, and just because you can quote the Bible verbatim doesn't mean that you know the essence of the Bible. All that being able to quote from the Bible means is that 1) you can read it, and 2) you can memorize it.

3. Money In Politics Act: All Political Action Committees (PACs), and Super-PACs are hereby outlawed. All monies from corporate sponsors, lobbyists, or any cumulative donation from a single individual over $2,000 in a single election campaign is outlawed. This applies to all political campaigns for any office nation-wide, from the smallest local office to President. Any entity or individual who disobeys will be jailed without trial. Any political candidate for any local, state or national office accepting monies outside these boundaries will be jailed without trial. By the way, political statements and claims will be judged under the Truth in Media and Broadcasting Act. You must prove your claim or assertion. Get your shit together.

4. Security Exchange Commission (SEC) Regulation Act: The SEC is charged with regulating and enforcing laws regarding the financial markets. All instruments; stocks, bonds, commodities, indexes and any other financial instrument sold to any investor must be sold or bought in a transparent manner in a market exchange. Exchanges are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. Credit rating companies are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. The SEC is charged with overseeing, regulating and enforcing laws regarding these entities. Any financial instrument derived from an underlying security is illegal. Short selling is illegal. Flash trading is illegal. Any employee not complying will go to jail without trial or due process, including SEC employees.

4. Social Security Solvency Act: The Cap is hereby raised to $10 million. All citizens making up to $100k will pay a 6.5% payroll tax to Social Security, $100k to $1 million pays 7.5%, and over $1 million pays 8.5%. This will make Social Security solvent through at least 2200. The country can now relax until about 2180 to settle any insolvent condition that might appear. Further, a government run Social Security Investment Management Department, consisting of employees with the best credentials and investment management education, will be established to invest a percentage of the Social Security Trust Fund into financial market securities rated triple A, including corporate bonds, treasuries, dividend paying indexes, such as ETFs, REITs and stocks.

All college Chancellors, Presidents, Deans, Professors, and Administrators' salaries are hereby cut by three-quarters. If you lecture or make speeches for pay and receive over one million dollars a year, you teach or perform your college duties for no pay. Lectures and speeches must be confined to your area of expertise and provable under the Truth In Media and Broadcasting Act. Please submit an appointment to me for a personal appointment if you decline this offer. My calendar is full through November, whoops, December 2015. Get your request in fast. Otherwise, since you signed up for a college or university position to teach our future leaders in industry and public service, you are now hereby appointed public servants. You can resign when you find a suitable and qualified replacement.

Okay, boys, that's enough for the first week. I'm taking time off next week, so get another list ready for the following week. Don't let me down. If you don't understand where I'm going by now, resign. I'll easily find a replacement. It won't be hard. I have over a million applications for your jobs. Maybe you can start the list with the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Maybe we can make it comply with the Constitution even though its suspended for the moment. We don't need to be thought-spies or privacy invaders without warrants. Figure it out.


1 comment:

BZ said...

Interesting read. I too question the bailout, wondering if we were sold a bill of goods in a panic situation. We'll never know the alternative, but we know that we are not in a depression, and that's a good thing.