March 23, 2009

CNBC Host Mark Haines: Attention To Executive Pay Is "Getting Scary" (VIDEO)

Burn up the phone lines at CNBC World (201) 735-4243, record your message to them.

Every single day, twice a day, more if you can. Do not allow them to go unanswered. No swearing, just voice your disgust. Tell them they are the ones destroying capitalism, they are the ones who get paid millions for destroying the system they need to survive. They should get rewarded by shares based on verifiable, not rumor-fed profits - no profits for the company, none for them. We all have to live by a merit system, no exceptions, least of all for brokers and CEOs who crippled the world economy. It's time we end the invest-to-get-rich scam that's left retirement accounts nearly empty, and go back to saving and earning dividends for intelligent value-added production instead of short-selling on manipulated stocks that profit insiders-only.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost Read more!

March 6, 2009

In the Beginning, or How We Got Robbed

I couldn't sleep well last night thinking of how we got cornered this way by the very banks bilking us more flagrantly than ever before.

I'm old enough to remember when regular working people were not invested in the stock market, 401k's and online trading accounts, for our retirement. We relied on social security and savings. The equity built up in a home if we could sacrifice enough to get one was our largest savings. Hopefully the house was paid off by retirement to either live in or sell when we could no longer earn income, but most hopefully to leave a house to our kids.

I remember in the Reagan-1980s, being a paralegal in a firm that set up private investment retirement accounts for small business owners. Thus it began.

Reagan and his crew decided the way to get people off the social security "dole" was to push everyone into getting their own 401k. Doctors' small practices were the first target - physicians are infamous for being clueless about investing, but they felt they needed investments to shelter their considerable pay from taxes. Reagan was trumpeting the claim that their tax dollars paid for Cadillacs for Welfare Queens, after all!

With the internet, and cable tv, the rush to get the least knowledgable and marginally-surviving people to invest in Wall St was on. Emails and glossy ads in our mailboxes, telling the average Joe and Mary - investing is so easy, you can get so rich, we have great "insider tips" for you - were as common as spam.

Where are those billions, probably trillions, invested in the 401k's that were supposed to insure our old age now? Well, they paid for those exorbitant salaries, those obscene bonuses, the "trust us" tv/radio/web ads, those conferences and corporate-named stadiums and every other "advertising" scheme ever devised by man.

Not a day goes by without ads pushing us to not save in a regular local savings account, but instead dump every dollar to invest. Workers whose wages were daily falling farther and farther behind the managers and big-wigs were scammed, pure and simple, out of the savings that could help them buy and keep a house, or to help a son or daughter make a down payment on their house.

I remember - before Reagan - not being able to get a credit card without having worked at least 3 years at one job, and unless I paid no more than 33% in housing costs from my wages or salary.

Then after Reagan scammed his way in, I remember the credit cards coming into the mailbox almost as fast as spam comes into the inbox.

As unions were busted, everyone was shucked and jived into making up the lost wages with credit cards, all while setting aside - often with employer matches especially in their own companies - their 10% of ever-diminishing-in-real-value wages into 401k investments, investments we didn't understand - often we didn't even know what we were invested in.

As long as we could feed these corporate-tapeworms their obscene wages and bonuses, perks and elite lifestyles, their "creative" means of squandering that money of ours and squirreling it away in overseas tax shelters grew, and grew.

When the wages inevitably became pitifully insufficient to pay living costs, never mind 401k's and credit cards, the housing bubble was the answer for the addicted corporate tapeworms. There weren't just the usual rope-a-dope infomercials, there were entire hour-long programs on network tv and cable about the glories of house-flipping, the utter casualness of "moving up" with a bigger, fancier house, in a more and more expensive area.

I watched the charade, and being only-human yearned to buy and flip. "Luckily" I was decimated w/disability thanks to lousy HMO care before I ever had the means. Even still, I was cajoled by my friend's brother, one of the seemingly millions of mortgage-brokers, who kept telling me I - get this - could become a mortgage broker with a mere $100 for a "license" and could quickly own and maintain a house in California on social security - no more than $15k/year - plus get my $1,000 commission for everyone I could hustle into getting a new mortgage through me.

I only resisted because I had a friend do the application through me after my friend's brother paid the $100 for me to be "licensed" to fill out mortgage apps, a pyramid-scheme that paid them bonuses for their bringing in more brokers, usually poverty-level, clueless "brokers" like me!

My friend had perfect credit, equity in one very very humble home she'd worked decades to pay off. What did the broker come back with? A high interest mortgage with a balloon. She wanted to take it to get me the $1,000 commission, because I was pretty much living in poverty, as I am now. Instead, I sent her to her realtor for the very-slightly-better home she was trying to purchase, who promptly came back with a lower-interest fixed mortgage. To me, the scam was crystal-clear then, and I never again tried to hustle a single client.

In sum, we got hustled to "invest" and rely on something other than or on top of social security decades ago. Without privatizing, the other-people's-money-addicted-tapeworm corporate scum hustled us out of decades of savings. With credit card offers like spam, and advertising paid for with our suckered 401k dollars, with the ads to push us to get another credit card, to get a "reliable broker" and invest every dime we didn't really have thanks to those credit cards, they stole the retirement money of millions of people.

Privatizing social security was the last gasp, to make it mandatory to put whatever we hoped to have when we couldn't work anymore into their gaping tapeworm mouths.

We keep asking for help from the very people who got rich screwing us. Congress, the Senate, bankers and brokers. I listened heartbroken to Washington Journal this morning while an elderly, disabled but not-quite retirement age woman talked of not being able to take what little was left of her 401k out without penalties and interest, while her humble house was getting foreclosed on. People too disabled and depressed and isolated to even find out they could qualify for a waiver to get their 401k's are literally suffering hunger, worrying their way into fatal heart attacks, while our "retirement" dollars feed tapeworms.

I watched all this, with no background whatsoever in finance, and begged and warned people to not think they were able to beat "The House" with a 401k, that it was nothing more than a gamble, that they could not possibly know where that market would be when they needed their retirement funds the most. I felt like Don Quixote against the windmill.

It wasn't until the tapeworms went after our last refuge and tried to privatize social security outright that people began to wake up and realize, "No matter how much I save (when they were really only investing/gambling, not "saving"), I have no safety net. No, don't privatize the only albeit insufficient safety net I have left - social security!"

What if, instead of waiting for rescue from all those invested in this worldwide Ponzi scheme, we all pulled our 401k's out, every dollar in the bank, ripped up every credit card and refused to pay another dime after banks were already paid back the principle - sometimes twice over? This is exactly what the tapeworms are trying to stop us from doing, with their threats to the ones who get voted in or out to back them up or else the elected ones will pay, not the tapeworms.

Yet think what would happen if we carry out our threat to make a run on the banks. How would paychecks get honored? The first thing they'd do is refuse to cash them. How would our bills get paid? How could we buy food? Every dollar we earn usually goes straight into direct deposit. We haven't had cash in our hands from our work in decades.

The thought of those banks leaving us that bereft is probably what's making BO's hair so white, so fast. He became our president in the worst of times. He has to save those thieving banks to save us. Damn.

Type rest of the post here
Read more!