Thursday, November 17, 2011

America Is Crumbling Around Us and Washington Profits From It

While the rest of us were losing our homes and our jobs over the past two years, the net worth of congress increased by 25 percent:

Net Worth of Lawmakers Up 25 Percent in Two Years, Analysis Demonstrates (Roll Call)

That may have something to do with Washington's money machine:

On today's show, we go inside the rooms in Washington where the daily grind of campaign finance — Congressmen, lobbyists, money — takes place. At least, we try to go inside the rooms. Several times.

And we talk to Jimmy Williams, a former lobbyist now working on campaign finance reform. He describes what it's like to meet with a Congressman when you're a lobbyist and your PAC hasn't been donating to the Congressman.

[The Congressman] said, "I have put in two calls to your PAC director and I haven't received any returned phone calls. Now why am I taking this meeting?" And he held up a piece of paper with my PAC director's name highlighted in yellow on it with the dates and the times that he had called her to ask her for a campaign donation, and she hadn't returned his call ... He has warned me that if I don't ... [contribute] to his campaign, then he's not going to help my guys.
Planet Money Podcast: Inside Washington's Money Machine (NPR)

This may also have to do with the fact that our representatives gain directly from the laws and regulations that they themselves pass:

In mid September 2008 with the Dow Jones Industrial average still above ten thousand, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were holding closed door briefings with congressional leaders, and privately warning them that a global financial meltdown could occur within a few days. One of those attending was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, then the ranking Republican member on the House Financial Services Committee and now its chairman.

Schweizer: These meetings were so sensitive– that they would actually confiscate cell phones and Blackberries going into those meetings. What we know is that those meetings were held one day and literally the next day Congressman Bachus would engage in buying stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had the day before from the Fed chairman and treasury secretary. I mean, talk about a stock tip.

While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts.

Capitol Gains (The Atlantic)
Rep. Spencer Bachus Should Resign In Disgrace
Our Government Is Completely Corrupt (Decline of the Empire)

Meanwhile in my home state, our newly elected Tea-party congressman makes himself at home:

In a recent story about the swanky crib Wisconsin's freshman senator just bought in Washington, D.C., the Journal Sentinel cited its own report that Sen. Ron Johnson's company paid him over $10 million shortly after he was elected, thanks in no small part by dropping about $9 million to defeat Russ Feingold (Oct. 24).

Johnson said there was no connection between the two transactions. According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson said, "It's a private business. I've complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don't have to explain it any further to someone like you."

Well, he said it. That's the problem with government by business, or, as Mussolini called it, corporatism. People like that don't owe an explanation to people like us. They may do as they and their cronies please.

Funny, in addition to his own fortune, his national contributors and the money he made from the people he employed, Johnson was backed by the tea party patriots wearing three-cornered hats.

They must have forgotten what Thomas Jefferson said: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which care already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our community."

Mark Hembree, Oconomowoc
(via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Our government is so corrupt, even the corporate-owned media can no longer ignore it. Meanwhile, outside of Versailles on the Potomac:

More than one in five Mississippians is on food stamps

Nearly one in three jobless Americans has been out of work over a year

Poorest poor in U.S. hits new record: 1 in 15 people

Third-world America: Michigan city cuts power, removes street lights due to inability to pay electric bill

More than 1 in 5 U.S. children poor, census says

Senate GOP blocks Obama infrastructure plan and  Even Conservatives Think Republicans Are Sabotaging the Economy to Hurt Obama

Your grocery bill is getting higher and higher

Detroit in financial crisis, Mayor Bing says

Bankrupt Harrisburg holds Wild West auction From the article:

"Harrisburg's just a small microcosm of what's going on in the United States," says Angela Jenkins, beating a drum at a small Occupy Harrisburg protest camp, down by the slow-moving waters of the Susquehanna river.

"Everything here's starting to collapse, just as it is nationally."

What more is there to say?

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