Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bankers and Other Protected Species

It's official. Gray wolves in Idaho and Montana are now fair game for Sarah Palin and other hunters. Today's congressional budget vote contained the first ever Congressional rider removing an animal from the endangered species list.  Only problem is, the politicians forgot to remove another breed of predator from the protected list: the Wall Street banker.


Several recent reports, in The New York Times and elsewhere, have reminded us that not one of the bankers who caused the meltdown two years ago, destroying the savings and the lives of countless Americans and doing their part to make illegal foreclosures and 20 percent unemployment the new normal, has been indicted or gone to jail. Not a single one.


 In her Times story today, Gretchen Morgenson recounted a meeting in 2008 between Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner  and then-N.Y. Attorney General (now governor) Andrew Cuomo.  They conveniently decided not to prosecute either banks or bankers for fear of ruining the markets and causing financial Armageddon. Now, where have we heard that scary term before?  Oh yeah, from the boss of JP Morgan Chase, whose profits just soared by 67 percent.  CEO Jamie Dimon personally went to the U.S. government last week to warn of yet another Armageddon, in the event Congress does not raise the debt ceiling next month.  That's the same Jamie Dimon who charged his company a whopping half a mil in moving expenses recently because his million dollar salary and $5 million bonus just didn't cut it.  I guess he wants to fly a private space shuttle to Mars to avoid Armageddon when the debt ceiling collapse explodes the whole planet. Either that, or he's going to move the contents of Fort Knox to an underground mansion paid for by Homeland Security.  (You can probably tell I am really into conspiracy theories today as well as feeling crankier than usual).


Morgenson also blamed the lack of FBI expertise and manpower for the failure to investigate Wall Street bankers. She contrasted the current lack of accountability to the hundreds of prosecutions in the Savings & Loan scandals in the 90s, when the modern day Mr. Potters actually went to the slammer.  Not only do few investigators have the knowledge of the arcane credit default swaps and other financial casino tricks invented by Wall Street, the culprits themselves have trouble explaining exactly what they did to screw us all so royally. They committed crimes so novel there were no specific laws against them. The Securities and Exchange Commission in charge of overseeing the financial world was lackadaisical at best and criminally complicit at worst. Whisteblowers who approached Congress were ignored.  The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, enacted during the Great Depression to prevent the rise of banks too big to fail,  just opened the floodgates of unfettered greed even wider.  Gene  Sperling, a top Obama economic advisor, was one of the architects of that repeal during the Clinton Administration. The so-called financial reform legislation last year co-sponsored by Chris Dodd (himself a beneficiary of a crooked Countrywide mortgage deal) and smooth talking Barney Frank, has teeth made of yellow jello.


But the real wolves have been reined in, proving that Congress, despite the conventional wisdom, can really do things when it takes a mind too.  The wolf population has grown and no longer in danger of extinction.  They apparently have been killing livestock and terrorizing Max Baucus's constituents.  And the National Rifle Association has to have more furry warm bodies as targets for their bullets of freedom.


RootsAction, a group of activist economists, is calling for A Robin Hood tax on Wall Street  Let's see if the president puts his money where his mouth is and fights for it.  Cuomo , himself a puppet of Wall Street, just got rid of the state millionaires tax and slashed the budget on the backs of the poor.  The banks threatened to leave Wall Street unless he did. The corporations and banks are so grateful they are running nonstop TV ads thanking him.  They're calling themselves the Committee to Save New York, and their ad actually features a crowd of pedestrians in Brooks Brothers suits. I am not kidding! No wonder the banksters are raking in the record profits. Even their needy trophy wives get sweetheart zero interest deals from The Fed, according to a recent article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. (And for a detailed story on Cuomo's influence peddlers, see "Eyes on the Ties" on my Blog List on the right- hand side of the page).
 
But it's never enough.  Jamie Dimon is now whining that Senator Dick Durbin wants to put the kibosh on his usurious price-fixing debit card fees.  This guy is insatiable.  His greed goes way beyond normal unmitigated avarice. Since he and his ilk are already de facto owners of the government, any attempt to rein him in amounts to a mutiny, in his view.  It is sheer effrontery for Uncle Sam to say no to Mr. Dimon.
  
Meanwhile, I  hope all the gray wolves somehow get word that the bullets are going to be flying  and  do the smart thing by emigrating to Canada.  The laws up there actually protect species, both human and animal.  And they even  have strict banking laws that protect ordinary citizens.  I say let's ship Jamie Dimon up there to the wastes of the Yukon Territory or an abandoned Siberian gulag and let him howl all he wants at the moon, alone and far away, where he and other seriously dangerous creatures can cause no further damage. The taxpayers will gladly foot the bill for his moving expenses.

Let's Give Them a Reason to Howl

23 comments:

4Runner said...

Karen, you are so on-target. I'd say, let's nationalize these bloodsucker bankers and apply their ill-gotten billions to pay down that pesky national debt.

dreamsamelia said...

In the 1930s, as Hoovervilles sprang up in central park in NYC, worried city officials moved the sheep that had been in Sheep's Meadow since the 1860s to upstate NY, to save the sheep from the people's desperate hunger.
I guess the bankers didn't have rabies yet...but now rabid bankers tacitly seem to be saying, "Unemployed? Let them eat wolves!" (See the 8-Part DVD American Experience history of NYC...the world really, really was different before social security existed...)

Kate Madison said...

Thank you, thank you, Karen, for speaking up for the gray wolves! This is an outrage, and I want Ken Salazaar's head--better yet, his pelt. How could this crazy, inhumane piece of shit be attached as a RIDER--to anything?

We have gray wolves here in Oregon, and even many right-wing ranchers in the eastern part of the state have come to terms with co-esistence. They put up fences for vulnerable livestock, and the state will reimburse them for cows and sheep lost to wolves--very, very few, by the way!

After Obama's speech the other night about a kinder, gentler America--this makes it sound like he has gone all Sarah Palin on us! I intend to write him at the Big House and say so.

Anne Lavoie said...

Hi Kate,

Obama is no friend of wildlife except for the jackals on Wall St. In his SOTU speech in January, Obama proudly touted his signing of legislation allowing loaded weapons in National Parks, as if that was a good thing. Most everyone in my neighborhood of Glacier National Park, including all the Park staff, thought it was a terrible idea and tried unsuccessfully to stop it.

Glacier, along with other Parks, is a refuge for endangered wildlife such as grizzlies, wolves, and mountain lions, and we certainly don't need some dumbass-scaredycat human killing or wounding an animal when pepper spray is the most effective deterrent and has worked well for years. No need to be a good aim either, and it puts no one else at risk.

But it wasn't about the animals at all. It was about the NRA and Americans preserving their right to 'protect' (aka kill) each other, no matter where they are - except for Congressional offices and most other federal buildings that is.

It was actually passed as a rider to the credit card legislation. Not only did Obama sign it, but now he brags about it! He and the NRA are now buddies, along with the Chamber of Commerce.

Environmentalists have long taken notice of Obama's betrayals. He rubs them in our face all the time. It is unfortunate that he gets a pass from many simply because he holds the Supreme Court trump card. Just proves he's smarter than the average bear.

annenigma

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

What disturbs me most about this banking situation is not that those involved – or at least the worst offenders - haven’t been prosecuted – although I agree that they should be, it is that the too big to fail banks are bigger than ever and they resumed their old tricks almost immediately. It is the lack of legislation stopping them from doing it again that really gets to me. I assume by the way they are acting these same bankers are expecting to be bailed out again should they cause a similar economic meltdown. They are like spoiled children who have had no consequences for their bad behaviour: they just get worse and worse. Our politicians seem to either be going along with the evil financiers or helpless to rein them in. Either way it is bad.
Yes, Obama inherited a mess, but he also inherited a majority in the House and Senate. If he had pushed for banking regulation right off the bat, he would have gotten a lot of cooperation from both the public and the Congress. But he sat on his hands. So in my opinion, either Obama is corrupt and in collusion with the bankers (along with a big chunk of Congress) or he is incompetent, choosing bad advisors and is in over his head. Either way, he doesn’t inspire confidence.
My comments on the banking situation in the U.S. should in no way to minimize the situation of the wolves. It is horrible that taking away their protected status is even on the table. But, sadly, it goes hand in hand with the disastrous environmental policies of the last decade and a half. Unfortunately, when there are choices between the environment and economics, the environment more often than not comes out on the losing end. However, I have a little hope for the wolves. My husband lived in Africa for six years and tells me that the elephants that are native to Botswana and Angola have learned to stay on the Botswana side of the Okavango River where poaching is illegal and punished harshly. They even go across the river to get food but quickly go back to safety on the Botswana side. Wolves are intelligent animals; hopefully they will learn to do the same.

Karen Garcia said...

Wolves and bankers are both predators, but the big difference between them is that wolves contribute to a healthy ecosystem by culling out weak specimens from herds to allow the species as a whole to thrive. They kill only what they need. Bankers, on the other hand, don't stop at preying on the weak or the sick. They go on to destroy the whole herd,leaving only themselves, and all they have to show for it is the rotting corpse of a whole society. These capitalist pigs are a crime against nature. (still feeling cranky).

Anne Lavoie said...

'These capitalist pigs are a crime against nature'. (still feeling cranky). You said it Karen!

But, being animals ourselves, it is exactly Nature that is at work here. Predators go after prey, and yes, capitalistic pigs will destroy the whole herd. Humans routinely wipe out entire species, or try anyway. Even many Native American tribes were deliberately exterminated, long considered animals not human. The wealthy elite obviously feel the same way about the poor and working class.

But that's exactly why we band together and form protective unions, create governments, and elect representatives. It is the solemn obligation of our GOVERNMENT to secure our future. It's not up to predatory capitalists to willingly change their ways.

If our leaders or our system itself is no longer willing or able to protect our collective future security because of being beholden to the capitalist predators, the Declaration of Independence is clear about what OUR obligation is.

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

annenigma

Kate Madison said...

Hi Karen, Anne and Valerie-

Excellent comments, all of you. I am still reeling from Max Baucus and Jon Tester putting the "Kill the Wolves" rider on the Budget Bill. While we are perseverating about whether to urge a Democratic challenger to Barama, dig up a 3rd party candidate or vote for a Republican (well, I would never consider that option, for sure!), we are having to live with the disgusting corruption and carelessness of our lawmakers--unfortunately, on both sides of the aisle.

Meanwhile, we have discovered a female mountain lion who seems to be living in our little community on the coast of Oregon, which is heavily wooded. She must have babies around somewhere, though we have not seen them, and have seen her only a few times. In any event, nobody here wants the Fish and Wildlife people to come in and "remove" her. We are willing to watch our pets and tolerate the small risk of having her here--though we have agreed not to feed her. When her babies are more independent, we are talking about hiring a humane private trapper to relocate Mama and babies to the Siskiyou National Forest--which is huge and off the beaten path. We will have a community member monitor to see that all goes well. So......there is a small gift in our almost entirely corrupted country, and for that I am thankful.

Anonymous said...

Ah, dear Kate--how long will we have a huge Siskiyou National Forest if retirees from the east keep moving to all our cute little communities?

Sigh--I know, it's a free country and all that. The thing is that the mama could take care of herself and her family just fine if there weren't so damn many people around.

This is all said with a smile, and yes, I know that none of us are really "natives", so thanks for adding your self and your experience to Oregon and for being willing to co-exist with the wildlife--I loved your piece on Obama's childhood influences that Karen posted here.

jujudahl said...

Well girls, it is time to take action. I don't post much but I am convinced that we need to have a Multi Million March on Wall Street and I guess 30 Rock NBC, K Street, and DC. We need the helps of all liberal/progressive Radio/TV/Cable/Blogs to organize this together. If Wisconsin can protest for 22 days with 100,000, we can get to NYC and DC from all over the nation. We all need to email and call these people and post this comment wherever we comment to get other people. Kate Madison, I live in Portland. I am not very literate on social networking on facebook and twitter and even I posted as anonymous here because I did take the time to sign up on google. Thanks for all you share, I agree and learn from each and every one of all your posts and comments. Kate and Marie I've been reading for years. Thanks

Anonymous said...

As the Wall Street crowd amasses greater wealth and power, they will be virtually impossible to stop. They are smart, cunning and not encumbered by ethics or principles. They will further insulate themselves from the rest of us. It will be easier to "fleece the sheep" with a clear conscience.
We are heading towards a plutocracy if we aren't there already. Bernie Sanders may be the last principled guy in the building. Thank those quirky Vermonters for that. The rest of the 435 are just doing what ever they have to to hang onto their jobs. That takes money and the bankers have all that. I don't see an answer Karen. Do you?

Karen Garcia said...

There is no one solution. We must find our inner Wisconsins and Vermonts, participate in demonstrations, support the alternative media in an attempt to drown out the corporate news conglomerates, do our utmost to defeat crooked politicians, march on Wall Street (already being done with little public fanfare), boycott the big banks, support Elizabeth Warren, call for a primary challenge and a multi-party system, and make as much noise possible. We may not succeed, but doing nothing is just not an option either.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the Left and the Right both see the Government and the traditional media outlets supporting the Government as the problem. The left and the Right don't agree on what the Government should be doing but they do agree that it is the source of the problem.

Perhaps both are just seeing "part of the Elephant". The problem is not what Government is doing, or how it is doing it, but the very fact that it is doing it at all.

Richard

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Hi! Richard,

I’m glad you are weighing in. But I think you are reading our criticism of Obama and the Democrats wrongly. We Progressives are not against government, we are against BAD government.

Corporations exist for one thing and one thing only, to make money for their shareholders. They are not people with a conscience nor do they have any allegiance to their employees or community or country. Their allegiance is to their shareholders and they exist to produce a product as cheaply as they can to maximize their profits. The problem is that in maximizing their profits they will pollute as much as they can get away with, take chances with the health of their employees and the environment as much as they are allowed to get away with, and will use their money and influence to tilt the playing field in their favour.

The only thing powerful enough to take on these huge corporations and level the playing field – keep the bully in line, so to speak – is GOOD government.

Now right now, our country is in trouble. We have” captured agencies;” agencies whose job it is to oversee and regulate said industries on behalf of the citizens of our country and future generations. We have convoluted lobbying practices which allow rich corporations to contribute to campaigns at such an unchecked rate that they are essentially bribing our politicians. In response to these “bribes”, our elected officials have been legislating in ways that leave the citizens unprotected and vulnerable to the exploitations of the corporations. Our gripe with Obama (the Bush Administration) and the Congress is that they are more interested in pleasing big money than they are in protecting the average person with little money (and thus little power) and watching out for that person’s best interests.

However, I DO think you and I have common ground. And that common ground centres on the issue of fairness . Something to keep in mind is no matter what system we have in place, someone will figure out a way to scam that system for self-interest. The conservatives are focussing on the individual who scams the system on a small basis. Their belief is that there are so many small scammers that it adds up to a lot of money. Progressives are focussed on the big scammers; the multinational corporations that receive multi-million dollar subsidies (and bailouts) and use their lawyers and accountants to avoid paying fair taxes. While these corporations enjoy all the advantages of operating in our country, they are unwilling to bear reasonable costs to our citizens.

It used to be that what was good for General Electric was good for the country. Corporations like GE provided good jobs for the people in many communities and a good product that didn’t fall apart after two years. The reason these companies were deserving of tax breaks and even subsidies was because their employees paid taxes and spent their earnings in their communities thus providing jobs for other small businesses whose employees paid taxes, and so on. It was a net gain for Main Street AND our government. Now GE ships all those jobs overseas, exploiting the desperation of people who are willing to work for pennies in order to squeeze out a meagre living. Now I admit, in the spirit of fairness, that there was a time when unions had a lot of power too. It was appropriate when balancing out the power of huge corporations but was probably too much when dealing with small companies. But let’s be honest, those days have been over for a long time.

If our country is to have any hope, it is that reasonable people will come together from both sides and advocate for what is fair. The enemy isn’t each other, it is the huge consciousless corporations and industries like banking that will continue to suck our country and economy dry unless good government establishes good legislation to rein them in.

Valerie

Anonymous said...

Valirie,

I know Liberals are not against big government, they should be. You all thought you were voting for good government when you elected the current president. How is that working out so far? Big Government, Labor Unions, or Corperations are not intrinsically moral or immoral. They are all made up of people often the same people. These big institutions are seldom better than the people that make them up and often worse because people will do things as part of a group that they would never do by themselves.
I agree that in general the purpose of "for profit" corporations is to make money and in that quest they can do immoral things, yet I can more than match you with stupid immoral things done by government often Liberal Government and those things were done without the "for profit" excuse.
My point is that for the last 75 years Liberals have cried if only you will give us enough control and money we will solve humanity's problems. You have had the control and spent the money. Even you admit that you have failed, the president you elected is surrounded by the very people you see as the problem.
As things stand today limiting government is also limiting the influence on our lives by those that buy government influence. But you say who will regulate the big multinational corporations and banks if not government? Who is regulating them now? They bought the current government and we are loaning them our money or worse giving it to them.
I don't know what the solution is but I do know it's not more of the same.

Richard

jujudahl said...

march on Wall Street (already being done with little public fanfare), so why not then try and make a bigger splash. I participated in a March on Saturday with approx 600 people with no mention in Sunday paper nor did I see on "news?".
I still say big time march on Wall Street, NBC, CBS, ABC, K Street and DC. Let all liberal/progressive radio/tv/cable/bloggers organize and promote. My last comment for some reason was not accepted by your blog? hope this works.

Karen Garcia said...

Jujudahl,

Sometimes this comment feature gets very glitchy and you just have to keep trying. I have trouble posting myself, sometimes. I don't delete comments unless they are personal attacks, gross, or obvious ad spam. The comments boxes don't accept links, but feel free to include web addresses.

You're right about the msm not covering protest marches and rallies. If you have pics of such mass gatherings, please send them and I'll post and publicize them.

turnipseed said...

Karen,

Yes, we marched (repeatedly) by the tens of thousands in Madison, but the bill still passed! (it's tied up in court now, thank goodness, but we'll have to wait and see).

I have a friend in another state who didn't hear or see a single thing about the marches in Wisconsin (she finds the news "depressing").

The recall effort is moving along, but even if it "succeeds", it will only change a couple of seats. We can't start on Walker until he's in office for a year. While this issue has aroused some people from their torpor, the sad fact remains that a huge group support Walker and his policies. I think they'll be in the minority at the next election, but certainly can't say that is a given.

I don't think demonstrations will be effective until we reach a tipping point--one that is almost too awful to contemplate. I don't think the media will adequately cover them unless they are NOT peaceful. How long can you keep a camera on nice, polite teachers and other public employees who are walking around quietly and civilly? Yes, we chanted, and yes, we had some provocative signs, but overall, it was more of a festival than a demonstration.

@Valerie

I liked your response to Richard--well done! I would only add that we all need to make more of the shareholder part of your explanation. As long as individuals demand higher and higher returns, the corporations will continue to do their duty and respond. I don't own stocks for this reason; I do not want to be a hypocrite by condemning the actions of corporations and then taking my dividends back to the bank to reinvest in some more corporate greed. I used to have some stock back in the days when a reasonable return was the expectation, but no more.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Richard,

To answer your first question: we were duped. We thought we were voting for a man with a backbone who was going to stand up for the interests of the middle class over multi-national corporations. We thought we were voting for someone who would rein in corporate welfare and put back good banking legislation like Glass-Steagal. We thought we were voting for a charismatic man who would make use of his bully pulpit to communicate with Americans and lead us into a national health care system (like every other first world country). But that isn't to say McCain - Palin would have been a better option. I just wish we had put a more principled and effective Democrat into office. If we had known who Obama really was, many of us would have voted differently in the primary. But give us some credit for having the honesty to criticise our own party and to hold it to a high standard.

I said GOOD GOVERNMENT. What we have had with Obama is bad government. But lets be fair, Bush and Cheney gave far more to big corporations than the Obama administration. They are the ones that pushed through the bank bailout with absolutely no strings attached and gave lots of money to the same bankers Obama is in bed with, gave no bid contracts to Halliburton and only God knows how many other "contractors", started two costly wars and had secret meetings with the energy giants where they planned to chop up Iraq according to oil interests. That is CORRUPT government.

I am wondering what you think of a giant corporation like BP taking short-cuts on their wells and thus being responsible for a huge environmental disaster? Shouldn't there have been any oversight? Should there be any penalties? If so, what entity do you think should enforce that?

I don't know where you live but suppose they found natural gas under your neighborhood. Your neighbor allows them to frack on his land and they "accidentally" frack under your property a little. Suddenly, through neglect and shoddy safety practices, poisonous gasses start floating up which make your family sick and kill your dog. Wouldn't you say there should have been a regulatory body monitoring that industry? Wouldn’t you want a government agency to appeal to? Wouldn’t you want laws outlawing that kind of cavalier action and agencies that saw the law was obeyed?

I have a hard time understanding where you are coming from. If an individual stands up to a corporation, that person will get nowhere. He or she needs something strong that has the power to keep that corporation from committing abuse.

And I don’t buy that government has been a wash for the last 75 years. If we look back, the real abuses started after Reagan and deregulation. Before that, things ticked along a lot better from where I sit. We had a thriving middle class and our country was continually moving in the direction of social justice and sound environmental policies. Things are worse now and we have to honestly examine what has changed.

Valerie

Anonymous said...

I don't know if John would have been a better choice, I do know he does have principals and will stick with them. You probably would not agree with him on what he believes, but he did serve his country for most of his life.

As I said big government is and has been corrupt government it can be of the Left or of the Right both can be equally bad. Don't expect the government to protect the individual from the corporations or from itself ether.

BP is a well known corner cutter in the energy business, however they payoff the government to look the other way in spite of the laws. They were fined after the fact but again no one went to jail and none of the government inspectors went to jail ether.

I have lived my life on top of oil and gas fields. The fact is the various levels of jgovernment are partners in the profits with the energy companies as well as regulators. That is known as a conflict of interest.

I didn't say the last 75 years have been a wash. I said we for the most part are worse off than we were when we started and because the government promised much more than it can deliver things are likely to get worse before they get better. Social justice is not worth much if everyone is equally poor and equally unemployed, nor is it worth much without opportunity. That could go a long way towards explaining the high male suicide rates in northern Europe and France.

The current problem is government costs too much because it try's to do to much and for the most part does it too poorly. The problem is not limited to the U.S. The European countries have realized that they can't afford what they promised
and they don't have large defense budgets to blame that on ether.

Richard

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Richard,

I had a reply to your post, but I accidentally deleted it. I spent quite a while on it and I would like to do justice to the issues you have raised. Stay tuned. I will get back to you in a couple/few of days right here. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel! (I should have been studying my Statistics - and now I am behind - but politics is so much more interesting!)

I am really glad you are weighing in. I think these conversations are important and I appreciate your thoughts.

Karen, Thank you so much for giving us a forum like this.

Valerie

Anonymous said...

I will look forward to reading it. Concider changing your major to Political Science with a minor in Statistics. You will have more fun and get paid better.

Richard

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Hi! Richard,

I have mixed feelings about John McCain. I must confess to sending him money on two occasions: once when he spoke up against the Bush tax cuts (the first time) and another time when he spoke out against torture. I felt our country would be better off if our choices were between two principled people so I sent him money hoping he would be the Republican candidate. Unfortunately, John did an about face and voted with Bush on both occasions. In fact, if we look at his voting record, McCain did this a lot – starting out standing up for what he felt was right and going against the flow, but ultimately voting with Bush and the Republicans 90-95% of the time. While I give him credit for his first instinct to go his own way, it seems to me that he did what was politically expedient to remain the Republican nominee. When I said that McCain/Palin were never an option for Progressives it is because we could be assured that a vote for them would definitely be more of the same as we had gotten with Bush/Cheney. Having said that, as you may have gathered, I am sorry to say that don’t find Obama particularly principled either. So I am not casting stones - just addressing your first paragraph.

However, that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that John McCain served his country bravely as a soldier and suffered terribly as a POW. Despite the fact that many of us see the Vietnam War as being wrong, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find John McCain’s sacrifice sobering. I just regret that he was forced to make that kind of sacrifice in the first place.

As I said in another comment, we have common ground. We both believe that our government is currently the captive of special interests and that it is not fulfilling its responsibility to the citizens of our country. However, I get the impression that you believe that there really isn’t much hope that things will change so why allow our taxes to go to support a corrupt government and giveaways to corrupting corporations and industries. I can relate to that. I am angry that my tax dollars have gone to supporting wars for oil and to the contractors who are overcharging the government. I too, am angry that my tax dollars support captured agencies.

But these same corporations continue to fight to deregulate and minimize the power of government agencies to rein them in. That indicates to me that these agencies have the potential to function and regulate the way they were intended. This is why they are a threat - and in this way, the corporations have tipped their hand and shown us their Achilles Heel. If we take away our financial support of government and regulatory agencies, then we don’t stand a chance because nothing else will have the power to keep the bully in line. Our only choice is to reform our government.

I am really hopeful about this effort to possibly recall Max Baucus. We the people should have a means of holding our representatives accountable. I am sure those in power will fight any recall effort, but it shows that we are not a bunch of sheep to mildly go to the slaughter.

In the end, all we can do is continue to fight the good fight.

In closing, I lived in Germany, New Zealand and now Australia. All of these countries have strong federal governments, higher taxes and bigger (and better) safety nets. I find that I don’t mind paying more in taxes (which isn't really that much more for a middle class family) because I get something for my tax dollars which translates into making my life more secure. I also have noticed, especially in Germany and New Zealand that people have more of the attitude, “We are all in this together and I am willing to have a little less so that someone less fortunate can have a little more.” It is a terrible shame that we have lost that sense of brotherhood in America.

Happy Easter,
Valerie