corruption

Everybody Hates Jack Abramoff

Who doesn't hate Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who ripped off clients and bought Congress?

Well, we don't. Jack Abramoff is just the one who got caught. One catch in a sea of sharks. Meanwhile the same ole buy your Congress representative techniques are alive and well in Washington D.C. That's why this CBS 60 minutes segment is a must see. Jack spills the beans on how to buy a Congressional representative.

 

No Wonder the Koch Brothers Want No Interference from the Government

bloombergkochBloomberg has one whooper story. It seems the Koch Brothers made sales to Iran:

A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.

In case you've been dead, the Koch Brothers are the uber-rich guys out to destroy your social security, health care and, oh yeah, government as we know it.

No wonder they hate regulations and government. Doesn't help when you're doing something probably illegal, like making sales to a government under sanctions for being a terrorist state.

Beyond getting into the international bribes business, a crime the Koch Brothers are assuredly not alone in (see this Frontline documentary on how common international business bribes are), we have them losing one of the biggest civil wrongful death suits:

In 1999, a Texas jury imposed a $296 million verdict on a Koch pipeline unit -- the largest compensatory damages judgment in a wrongful death case against a corporation in U.S. history. The jury found that the company’s negligence had led to a butane pipeline rupture that fueled an explosion that killed two teenagers.

IMF Head Lagarde Under Investigation by French Court

 I reviewed the candidates for IMF head on May 23, "Old Europe" backs French finance minister Lagarde for IMF head. The traditional choice of a European to head IMF was challenged by candidates from Mexico and Asia. The United States ultimately tilted toward the French finance minister who is now in office.

The article noted that there was a controversial case pending in French court regarding Lagarde's actions as finance minister. She made a favorable ruling in a matter regarding a close friend and ally of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. It appeared that her actions resulted in an award viewed as excessive for the Sarkozy ally. The loser in that matter appealed to a French court. At the time, it was known that:

"A three judge panel of the Court of Justice for the Republic will recommend for or against further investigation by mid June. A yes on investigating Lagarde would end her chances for the IMF position.."Economic Populist, May 23

The decision was delayed and the US-European alliance pushed the nomination through. Today, the Guardian had this headline:

Too Corrupt To Fail [Updated]

After nine years of work, $330 Billion in treasure, and nearly 1,300 American fatalities, bankers might ultimately do in Afghanistan what the Taliban could never accomplish.

Even as it battles a resurgent and spreading Taliban, the beleaguered government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is facing a more immediate threat: a run on the country’s largest banks.
This week, droves of depositors rushed offices of Afghanistan’s Kabul Bank, pulling out their money amid concerns that bank has lost millions of dollars. BBC News broadcast images of Hummers and SUV’s racing to the bank, a troubling sign of growing mistrust for Mr. Karzai’s already heavily criticized government.

Something in the neighborhood of $200 to $300 million in deposits have been withdrawn in just a couple days, about half of all the bank's assets. If the stampede continues for just a few more days the bank will fail.

So why is this important? Because the Kabul Bank is what the government uses to pay its teachers, police, and soldiers.

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The Revenge of Main Street

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
- Abraham Lincoln

Wall Street has a problem.

You see Wall Street functions much like Las Vegas. Their immense wealth depends on the continuing myth that their games aren't rigged, and the willful denial of reality by the suckers.
Just like Vegas, no one wants to talk about the money they lost playing the stock market. Instead, all you here about is how everyone is getting rich at the blackjack table. If you aren't getting obscenely wealthy betting on interest rate spreads then there must be something wrong with you.

In reality, the reason why you lost money is because the game is rigged. The House always wins in the end. The suckers are the ones who think there are rules. Like Wall Street, Vegas exists to separate you from your money.

Wall Street may seem all powerful, but like Vegas it has an Achilles Heel - if the people don't feed the beast it will starve.
If the greed of The House gets to extreme, and the rigging of the games becomes too obvious to ignore, people will stop gambling at the casinos and in the stock market. The House goes broke.

That tipping point, where the willful denial of Main Street starts to break down because the game rigging is so blatant, may have finally been reached.

How far does corruption with banking regulators reach?

There are regulatory agencies with good reputations, and then there are agencies with bad reputations. There are bad ideas, and then there are criminally bad ideas. That's why it is so disturbing to see a regulatory agency with a good reputation like the FDIC propose a criminally bad idea.

(AP) — Regulators may borrow billions from big banks to shore up the dwindling fund that insures regular deposit accounts.

It all Depends on what you call "Small Business"

Surfing the Internets I found a most interesting post by Chris Gunn, SBA continues to fabricate contracting data. Oh really? It seems the Small Business administration likes to re-categorize large multinational corporations as Mom & Pop operations in order to award them large amounts of government dough!

This year the SBA awarded $93.3 billion to Small Business in 2008. It appears the SBA also missed it's target in small business contract awards by a good 1.5% (ignoring the awarding of contracts to those not qualified).

The numbers are significantly inflated with some of the largest corporations in the world. In some cases the numbers even appear to be the result of fabrication by high-level government officials at the SBA and other government agencies.

Corruption in Higher Education

For those of us here, I imagine that this will come as no great surprise:

At a time when it's more competitive than ever to get into the University of Illinois, some students with subpar academic records are being admitted after interference from state lawmakers and university trustees, a Tribune investigation has revealed.

Hundreds of applicants received special consideration in the last five years, according to documents obtained by the Tribune under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The records chronicle a shadow admissions system in which some students won spots at the state's most prestigious public university over the protests of admissions officers, while others had their rejections reversed during an unadvertised appeal process.

Offshoring and Outsourcing Commentary for the New Year

It is clear to me that the root cause of many of the economic ills of 2008 was the "government subsidy" of immigration levels about ten times greater than our nation's immigration tradition. See Roy Beck's short YouTube video here: Our Immigration Tradition

When labor markets are glutted by an alphabet soup of work visa programs and the costs of the necessaries of life are bid upwards by the tidal wave of immigration, the "banker class" are the most significant beneficiaries. The U.S. middle class and lower class are the losers in this zero-sum game

Here is a collection of some of my published writings on these topics. I'm anticipating that there will be a big push for increased immigration in 2009, since both McCain and Obama's campaigns called for increased H-1B visas, for example. I wonder out loud if the voice of the middle class will be heard over the "soft rustle of lobbying dollars."

Friday Movie Night - Iraq For Sale

hot buttered popcorn It's Friday Night! Party Time!   Time to relax, put your feet up on the couch, lay back, and watch some detailed videos on economic policy!

 

This weeks film is Iraq For Sale The War Profiteers.

While privatization of the military, corruption and no-bid contracts has gone from the headlines, this post, Obama and Defense Spending got me wondering if any of it had been cleaned up?   According to the CBO and the New York Times the price tag has hit $100 billion dollars and just recently the DoD said it's budget is not sustainable.

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