The push to legislate "morality" goes on, and on. But should it? Republican legislators have hammered away at trying to take down Roe v. Wade at the state level. Why is the "morality brigade" so concerned with fetuses, but so quick to cut benefits to children from low income families? Can that behavior really be considered "morality?"
On that matter, is there any argument against same-sex marriage that isn't "morality" based?
Why are corporations given rights that trump those of ordinary people? What about the sweeping Wall Street greed that is decimating our country's economy? Could it be...that this about who has the money and who's working for them? Why isn't the morality brigade fighting that battle? Robert Reich explains the troubling situation.
Sheila Bair, the longtime Republican who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the fiscal meltdown five years ago, joins Bill to talk about American banks' continuing risky and manipulative practices, their seeming immunity from prosecution, and growing anger from Congress and the public. Bair is the author of Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself.
“I think the system’s a little bit safer, but nothing like the dramatic reforms that we really need to see to tame these large banks, and to give us a stable financial system that supports the real economy, not just trading profits of large financial institutions,” Bair tells Bill.
Join acclaimed director Velcrow Ripper on a journey deep inside the global revolution of the heart that is erupting around the planet. Humanity is waking up to the fact that the dominant system of power is failing to provide us with health, happiness or meaning. The resulting crisis has become the catalyst for a profound transformation: millions of people are deciding that enough is enough -- the time has come to create a new world, a world that works for all life.
A feature documentary by Velcrow Ripper. Produced by Ian MacKenzie, Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper.
Executive producers: Betsy Carson, Catherine Tait and Gregg Hill. Music in this trailer by Zoe Keating, Bluetech and Liquid Stranger. A Community Funded Film produced in association with Superchannel and the Canada Media Fund.
"What the film shows, triumphantly, is that love can unite as much as greed can divide." -- Vancouver International Film Festival
When the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the deepest recession since the 1930s, the largest financial institutions in the United States took every advantage of being American. They just loved their country - and the willingness of the American people to provide them with the largest bailout in world history. In 2008, Congress approved a $700 billion gift to Wall Street. Another $16 trillion in virtually zero interest loans and other financial assistance came from the Federal Reserve. America. What a great country.
But just two years later, as soon as these giant financial institutions started making record-breaking profits again, they suddenly lost their love for their native country. At a time when the nation was suffering from a huge deficit, largely created by the recession that Wall Street caused, the major financial institutions did everything they could to avoid paying American taxes by establishing shell corporations in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.
In 2010, Bank of America set up more than 200 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands (which has a corporate tax rate of 0.0 percent) to avoid paying U.S. taxes. It worked. Not only did Bank of America pay nothing in federal income taxes, but it received a rebate from the IRS worth $1.9 billion that year. They are not alone. In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens to avoid paying some $4.9 billion in U.S. taxes. That same year Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to avoid an estimated $3.3 billion in U.S. taxes. Citigroup has paid no federal income taxes for the last four years after receiving a total of $2.5 trillion in financial assistance from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
When an independent analysis of JPMorgan Chase exposed “serious flaws” in the company’s home loans, it did what Wall Street does best, hid the evidence. In documents released this week, officials found proof that the company “adjusted” the critical reviews it received by buying and selling a new set of home-loan portfolios, creating a “sanitized” pool of data in the process. The move allowed the financial powerhouse to gloss over serious faults in its loans and sell mortgages that appeared healthy to the consumer. The suit, which includes a “trove of internal emails and employee interviews,” may be an important stepping stone in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s landmark $200 billion case.
In a 2007 e-mail, titled “Banking overrides,” a JPMorgan due diligence manager asks a banker: “How do you want to handle these loans?” At times, they whitewashed the findings, the documents indicate. In 2006, for example, a review of mortgages found that at least 1,154 loans were more than 30 days delinquent. The offering documents sent to investors showed only 25 loans as delinquent.
A person familiar with the bank’s portfolios said JPMorgan had reviewed the loans separately and determined that the number of delinquent loans was far less than the outside analysis had found.
At Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, employees also had the power to sanitize bad assessments. Employees at Bear Stearns were told that they were responsible for “purging all of the older reports” that showed flaws, “leaving only the final reports,” according to the court documents.
Such actions were designed to bolster profit. In a deposition, a Washington Mutual employee said revealing loan defects would undermine the lucrative business, and that the bank would suffer “a couple-point hit in price.”
Ratings agencies also did not necessarily get a complete picture of the investments, according to the court filings. An assessment of the loans in one security revealed that 24 percent of the sample was “materially defective,” the filings show. After exercising override power, a JPMorgan employee sent a report in May 2006 to a ratings agency that showed only 5.3 percent of the mortgages were defective.
Such investments eventually collapsed, spreading losses across the financial system.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said that overall losses from flawed mortgage-backed securities from the years 2005 and 2007 were $22.5 billion.
In a statement shortly after he sued JPMorgan Chase, Schneiderman said the lawsuit was a template “for future actions against issuers of residential mortgage-backed securities that defrauded investors and cost millions of Americans their homes.”
Yet U.S. attorney general Eric Holder still has not filed a single criminal charge against any Big Banker, or sent any of them to jail. It's far past time he got started, and Jamie Dimon is just as good a starting point as any.
This is your moment of clarity #202: Wanna know just how corrupt YOUR state government is? Well, now you can. It's as easy as 1-2-greed! (For the article about VA's redistricting mentioned in the video, go here - http://read.bi/SCpodu)
Due out on newstands January 17th, Matt Taibbi's latest expose on the Big Banks, Big Government, and Wall Street is available online now. As always, it's another "Must Read" if you haven't yet done so. Here's a snippet...
It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you'd think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we've been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?
It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform
But the most appalling part is the lying. The public has been lied to so shamelessly and so often in the course of the past four years that the failure to tell the truth to the general populace has become a kind of baked-in, official feature of the financial rescue. Money wasn't the only thing the government gave Wall Street – it also conferred the right to hide the truth from the rest of us. And it was all done in the name of helping regular people and creating jobs. "It is," says former bailout Inspector General Neil Barofsky, "the ultimate bait-and-switch."
The bailout deceptions came early, late and in between. There were lies told in the first moments of their inception, and others still being told four years later. The lies, in fact, were the most important mechanisms of the bailout. The only reason investors haven't run screaming from an obviously corrupt financial marketplace is because the government has gone to such extraordinary lengths to sell the narrative that the problems of 2008 have been fixed. Investors may not actually believe the lie, but they are impressed by how totally committed the government has been, from the very beginning, to selling it.
This video is from a Nov. 9th, 2012 march by hundreds of supporters on several banks in Los Angeles (including Deutsche Bank, as well as Wells Fargo, BNY Mellon, and Bank of America) to protest illegal foreclosures, the banks' greed, and a corrupt system built to enrich the wealth of a few at the expense of the 99%. The video features interviews and speeches from Occupy activists from southern California, and members of other groups including Occupy The Hood, the American Indian Movement, and LA residents facing foreclosure and homelessness.
Via Occupy Wall St., via Occupy Our Homes. Be sure to check out their website for more information on how you can support on-going occupations to save homes from foreclosure, including active campaigns like this one to save the home of cancer patient Jacqueline Barber in Atlanta, the Hernandez family currently being harassed by LAPD in Los Angeles, and many more!
Four years after an economic meltdown precipitated by Wall Street greed, fraud, and recklessness in the housing market, Americans continue to face an epidemic of unjust foreclosures. While homeowners and renters seek help to keep their homes, banks have rushed to foreclose and evict, and in too many communities, homes remain vacant while neighbors sleep on the street.
But homeowners, housing justice activists, homeless advocates, and occupiers have come together to fight back under the banner of the Occupy Our Homes movement. Community organizations and occupy groups came together last December to challenge the housing crisis and confront the crooks at the banks who are stealing our homes. On December 6, 2011, scores of groups around the country participated in a day of action for housing justice, launching the Occupy Our Homes movement.
Homeowners, renters, and the homeless joined forces to fight the banks and reclaim our communities. All over the country, activists declared housing a human right. We came together, occupying our homes to prevent eviction, disrupting foreclosure auctions, restoring vacant homes to community use, and protesting the banks that caused this mess in the first place.
But the fight is far from over. Despite dozens of victories for homeowners around the country, banks are still choosing to foreclose instead of taking payments. Banks are still refusing to negotiate with families who seek only a fair solution that keeps them in their home. Banks are still using fraudulent tactics like robo-signing to speed through illegal foreclosures—months after a weak settlement meant to stop this practice. Bank-owned houses continue to sit empty and untended, destroying property values and pushing more and more families underwater.
A year since the start of the Occupy Our Homes movement, we are recommitting to reclaiming our homes and our futures. On Thursday December 6th 2012, we call on communities to turn the spotlight on the crisis that continues to hold our neighborhoods and our economy hostage.
We will take action together:
- Eviction defenses/home occupations
- Reclaiming vacant homes for the homeless
- Establishing foreclosure and eviction-free zones
- Foreclosure auction sit-ins
- Marches on the banks
Occupy Our Homes started with a simple idea: bring the bold, creative energy of the Occupy movement into hard-hit communities and build power through victories for the 99%. We've won homes, churches, community landmarks, and stopped evictions while relieving debt and reclaiming land along the way.
On Thursday December 6th, 2012, we’ll re-invest in this movement to defend our homes, hold Wall Street accountable, and affirm the human right to housing. Join us in solidarity with homeowners, tenants and the homeless to build a just housing system—for the 99%.
If you as an individual or any Occupy group or community-based organization are interested in participating in the D6 actions, please complete this form and someone from Occupy Our Homes will be in touch.
Some great footage of Occupy Wall Street's 1st anniversary in NYC from Real News. September 17th, 2012 marked one year since protesters and activists first pitched tents in Zuccotti Park and took to the streets to denounce Wall Street corruption. The movement of the 99% gathered on Friday in NYC's financial district for three days of protests, anniversary celebration and education.