The following are three excellent articles from Jim Hightower’s blog that were reprinted in the November 1, 2013 issue of The Progressive Populist on page 3 which are titled “Tilling Our Public Treasury” Fining Banks Won’t Stop Banksters” and Slapping the Poor Just for the Hell Of It” and I quote:
“Tilling our public treasury”
Thursday, October 3, 2013 | Posted by Jim Hightower
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Some aspects of American agriculture are quite odd. For example, to meet a farmer these days, there’s no need for you to venture out to the hinterland – because thousands of them actually are city slickers.
And they’re really slick, for many of them neither plant nor harvest wheat, cotton, peanuts, or any crops at all. Rather, relaxing in their often-luxurious urban nests, they farm the federal farm bill, harvesting millions of dollars each year from taxpayers. A new report from the Environmental Working Group reveals that more than 18,000 people living in America’s 54 largest cities pocketed about $24 million last year from the ag department’s direct payment program.
New York City, for example, has 152 of these “farmers,” San Francisco has 116, Chicago 393, Denver 821, Tampa 100, Tucson 328, and Houston 1,405. That’s because the program makes payments not only to real farmers, but also to people who merely hold an ownership interest in farmland, whether or not any crops are raised on it and even if the city-dwelling recipient has never visited the place.
Ironically, this cockamamie payment scheme was put into the 1996 farm bill as a transition measure to wean farmers off subsidies. But it’s been renewed twice, and it looks like our gridlocked Congress is about to do it again, even though it pays zero to the majority of America’s farm families. Indeed, the bulk of the $5 billion paid out annually goes to the biggest spreads, including multimillion-dollar corporate operations.
Even if congress critters finally muster the political gumption to stop this absurdity, they intend to replace it with a more-bizarre crop-insurance scam that’s a guaranteed income program for multimillionaires, allowing them to keep tilling our public treasury. For more information go to http://www.ewg.org.
“Farm Subsidies for Nonfarmers May Continue as Lawmakers Deadlock Again,” The New York Times, September 10, 2013.
“City Slickers Harvest Cash Crop,” http://www.ewg.org, September 10, 2013.
“Fining banks won’t stop banksters”
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | Posted by Jim Hightower
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Someone should make a movie about JPMorgan Chase and title it: “Bankers Gone Wild!”
Not long ago, America’s biggest Wall Street Empire was hailed as a paragon of financial integrity. But now it’s been assessed record fines of nearly a billion bucks for management illegalities and is being investigated for other crimes by seven federal agencies, several states, and two foreign nations.
The billion-dollar punishment was levied because top-level mismanagement caused shareholders to lose a whopping $6 billion in a trade scandal last year, and because the CEO and other ranking executives tried to cover up the loss. Media reports say the bank agreed to pay the fine to settle those charges, but therein lies yet another crime committed by the bankers-gone-wild – a crime sanctioned by regulators who made the charges. When it’s reported that “the bank” will pony up a billion dollars, who exactly is that?
Not the bankers who committed the illegalities, but Chase’s shareholders. Wow. The money the bankers lost belonged to shareholders, yet they’re being socked for another billion to cover the bankers’ fine. Imagine if you were burglarized, then were fined for being burglarized! As one law professor said, “It’s not just adding insult to injury, it’s adding injury to injury.”
Federal regulators say it’s easier to get bankers to settle a case if they can hand the fine to shareholders, who don’t even get a say in the decision. But going after the bankers, they claim, would require a jury trial – and jurors might not convict.
Huh? What kind of bassackwards justice is that? Besides, it’s ridiculous to think that jurors wouldn’t jump at the chance to convict Wall Street banksters. That’s a jury I’d like to serve on, wouldn’t you? Nail a couple of those bankers, and that’d chill all of their finagling.
“As JPMorgan Settles Up, Shareholders Are Hit Anew,” The New York Times, September 24, 2013.
“JP Morgan Slammed with $920 Million Fine Over Trading Loss – But Where Are the Charges Against Senior Bankers?” http://www.alternet.org, September 19, 2013.
“Slapping the poor just for the hell of it”
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 | Posted by Jim Hightower
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The bluebirds of happiness are chirping away in our nation’s treetops, for America is now in the fifth year of economic recovery, with stock prices at record highs, corporate profits soaring, and employment is even ticking upwards.
But wait, what’s this? Down below the treetops, down at the grassroots, poverty persists and is spreading. Also, income disparity is worsening as middle-class workers are pushed into lower-wage jobs and poor people are pushed out entirely. Far from happiness, joblessness among our lowest-income families is now the worst on record, topping 21 percent.
The plight of the poor is so dramatic that even Republican leaders in the US House have noticed them and are reaching out with open hands – unfortunately, not to help lift up the needy, but to slap them in the face. In a gratuitous act of callousness, the GOP slashed $4 billion-a-year out of the food stamp program, complaining that even though our economy is recovering, more and more people are getting food assistance.
Apparently these congress critters never even visit reality. Hello, boneheads – the program has expanded only because all of the “recovery” benefits went to those at the top, leaving those at ground level reaching desperately for food stamps as a life preserver. In fact, the program lifted about 4 million Americans above the poverty level last year and kept millions more from sinking deeper into destitution. It’s a safety net that’s been working – exactly in the way it’s supposed to.
Yet, just for the hell of it, these laissez-fairyland Dickensians added insult to the injury their cuts would cause for millions of America’s hard-hit people. They tacked on a provision to let the meanest of states force the needy families to submit to humiliating drug tests as the price of obtaining food for their families. And House members wonder why their approval rating is in the ditch!
“Employment gap is widest on record,” Austin American Statesman, September 17, 2013.
“Metro area poverty at odds with job growth,” Austin American Statesman, September 19, 2013.
“Poverty Rate Up in City, and Income Gap Is Wide, Census Data Show,” The New York Times, September 19, 2013.
“House Republicans Pass Deep Cuts in Food Stamps,” The New York Times, September 20, 2013.
“Another Insult to the Poor,” The New York Times, September 20, 2013.”
(JIM HIGHTOWER DETAILS THE GROWING GAP BETWEEN THE RICHEST INDIVIDUALS IN OUR COUNTRY AND THE POOREST, STARTING WITH PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE AND THE RICH PEOPLE INVESTING IN IT JUST TO EXPLOIT HANDOUTS FROM THE GOVERNMENT WHILE TOTALLY IGNORING THE FAMILY FARM. THIS SITUATION DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER WHEN IT INVOLVES BIG INVESTMENT BANKERS GETTING FINED, WHICH REALLY DOESN’T AMOUNT TO MUCH WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THE BANKS MADE IN THE VIOLATION, SUCH AS JAMIE DIMON OF JPMORGAN, THE LIBOR SCANDAL IN ENGLAND, THE LONDON WHALE, MISPLACING $6 BILLION, AS WELL AS MF GLOBAL COMING UP WITH $2 BILLION MISSING AFFECTING AGRICULTURE. WHAT HAS THE GOVERNMENT DONE TO CHANGE EITHER SITUATION? UP TO NOW, VERY LITTLE, IF THEY WANT TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT BECAUSE JPMORGAN, WHICH HANDLES LARGE SUMS OF TOXIC DERIVATIVES, WHICH HAVE NO REGULATIONS ON THEM, AS WELL AS MF GLOBAL, WHICH ALSO DEALS IN LARGE SUMS OF DERIVATIVES. THE GOVERNMENT MUST PUT SOME REAL REGULATIONS ON THE GROWING, OUT-OF-CONTROL DERIVATIVE MARKET, WHICH IS NOW ESTIMATED AT $1 QUADRILLION.
LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer & Public Citizen & AARP Members