Wall Street & The Wealthy

Things You Need To Know


Issues That Can Never Be Allowed To Die
The Real Cause Diverted

Today is
All Links Will Open In New Window


It all started about 30 years ago. With a friend of Wall Street and corporate America in the White House, a plan was hatched to transfer the wealth and power of the nation. To implement the plan, all that was needed was for Congress to cooperate, which, at the time, was controlled by Democrats. To get them on board, a little seduction would be required. And so began the transition of the Democratic Party to nothing more than a shadow group for Wall Street and the wealthy.

The stage was set.

Thirty years ago, the average CEO's pay was 42 times what workers received. Although it was down to 263 times in 2009 (first year after crash), it reached a high of 525 times in 2000.

Thirty years ago the overall income of the top 1% was equal to what the bottom 99% received. By 2007 the top 1% was getting 259% more than the overall average of the 99%.

Over the past thirty years "the [average] income gap between members of Congress and their constituents has doubled", but not from their salaries. Today the average wealth of congress is $10 million. Overall, members of Congress made around 4.5 times the national per capita personal income in 2009.

Since 1980 tax rates for the wealthy has dropped from 70% down to 35% for 2011. The effective rate dropped from 35.5% (PDF) to 17.9% in 2011 (notice that the effective rate was / is one-half of the tax rate).

15 times over the past 30 years taxpayers have had to bail out capitalism. But if you go back to the early 1900's, it's even more. What happened in 2008 --- the results of past accepted and "justified" baby steps --- was simply the mother load of all bailouts. This is why we can never forget what happened, but more importantly, why it happened. It is imperative that we never allow this issue to go silent or permit others to divert our eyes and mind from the real cause. Our future, as well as our descendents', depends on everyone staying focused!


Just For The Record:

By the Way:

Elizabeth Warren on Class Warfare

Sen. Warren urges Republicans to oppose bailout provision in government funding bill
December 11, 2014

Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision
December 12, 2014


How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality

Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Winner Take All Politics

Full Transcript


From June 2007 - More Than a Year Before the Crash

Corporate Greed, Corruption, and the Coming Collapse of America As We Know It

The U.S. government, once crafted as a system that would serve the interests of the people, has devolved into a system of plutocracy where corporations control both the government and the people.

When the corporations run a nation, that nation has no real future, because corporations only think in terms of the next quarter, not the next generation. Corporations will naturally do whatever they can to maximize their profits right now, including poisoning the children with vaccines, poisoning the population with toxic food products, sacrificing the financial future of the nation for short-term gain, destroying the environment, ignoring the health care needs of the People, inciting war so they can sell more profitable weapons to war-torn countries around the world, and so on. Essentially, corporations will sell out the future for higher profits today, and that's exactly what they've done in America.


Inside Job: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008

‘Inside Job’ provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

Inside Job: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008
Narrated by Matt Damon (Full Length HD)

(Introduction is about 6 minutes long. Movie begins after intro.)


Meltdown - The Men Who Crashed the World


House of Cards

CNBC correspondent David Faber investigates the origins of the global economic crisis and the events leading to the most devastating financial collapse since the Great Depression.

( January 2014: CNBC has removed the video by David Faber. Obviously the report doesn't fit CNBC's agenda, so this action is of no surprise. )
However hulu has made the full video is available


Greenspan's Cheap Money
The Great Housing Boom
Subprime Explosion
Inflating The Bubble
Warning Signs
Housing Market Decline
Banks Go Into Panic Mode
Financial Collapse
Global Recession
Massive Government Action


September 29, 2008

Laurence The "Fink"

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, disgusted that Congress wasn't passing the Wall Street bailout bill fast enough:
"I personally find it adhorant that Congress is trying to say this is a bailout of Wall Street. This package is a bailout of mainstreet." As one would expect, Wall Street's own Maria Bartiromo allowed the lie to pass.

Sure, "Mr. Fink"! It was always about the 99%, wasn't it?!? But not all of us were worth $340 million: "Laurence D. Fink has earned his net worth as the Head of First Boston's bond department [where he] helped to develop the mortgage backed security market in the U.S." And what was the main instrument that caused the financial crisis?!? The mortgage backed security market, that's what!


Looting - The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit

During the 1980s, a number of unusual financial crises occurred. In Chile, for example, the financial sector collapsed, leaving the government with responsibility for extensive foreign debts. In the United States, large numbers of government-insured savings and loans became insolvent - and the government picked up the tab. In Dallas, Texas, real estate prices and construction continued to boom even after vacancies had skyrocketed, and the suffered a dramatic collapse. Also in the United States, the junk bond market, which fueled the takeover wave, had a similar boom and bust.

In this paper, we use simple theory and direct evidence to highlight a common thread that runs through these four episodes. The theory suggests that this common thread may be relevant to other cases in which countries took on excessive foreign debt, governments had to bail out insolvent financial institutions, real estate prices increased dramatically and then fell, or new financial markets experienced a boom and bust. We describe the evidence, however, only for the cases of financial crisis in Chile, the thrift crisis in the United States, Dallas real estate and thrifts, and junk bonds.

Our theoretical analysis shows that an economic underground can come to life if firms have an incentive to go broke for profit at society's expense (to loot) instead of to go for broke (to gamble on success). Bankruptcy for profit will occur if poor accounting, lax regulation, or low penalties for abuse give owners an incentive to pay themselves more than their firms are worth and then default on their debt obligations.

Full Report in PDF

The Looting of America's Coffers - A 2009 New York Times Article


Some Visuals About Wealth Division


Subsidies of the Rich and Famous (PDF).

When a conservative Republican like Senator Tom Coburn publishes a report on how the wealthy is subsidized by taxpayers, you know it has to be bad.

From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multimillionaires are even receiving government checks for not working. This welfare for the well-off - costing billions of dollars a year - is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and IOUs to be paid off by future generations.

This is not an accidental loophole in the law. To the contrary, this reverse Robin Hood style of wealth redistribution is an intentional effort to get all Americans bought into a system where everyone appears to benefit.

Even in these difficult times, the United States remains a land of opportunity and not everyone is in need of government hand outs. The income of the wealthiest one percent of Americans has risen dramatically over the last decade. Yet, the federal government lavishes these millionaires with billions of dollars in giveaways and tax breaks.


Dylan Ratigan is mad as hell. Infuriated by government corruption and corporate communism, incensed by banksters shaking down taxpayers, and despairing of an ailing health care system, an age-old dependency on foreign oil, and a failing educational system, Ratigan sees an America that has allowed itself to be swindled and robbed. In this book, his first, he rips the lid off our deeply crooked system-and offers a way out.

Visit Site for Interactive Graphic Review

Corporate Communism: Banks Sucking In $24 Trillion Taxpayer Dollars

Federal Reserve Ponzi Scheme


9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes

For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity-so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman's ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980.

For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which President Obama has agreed to continue for two years.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades. You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict.


Income Inequality - PDF

(From the chart, take notice of the beginning year.)


What Do Wealthy People Invest Their Money In?!?

NOT Jobs!!!


The Stories

Global Financial Crisis

The global financial crisis, brewing for a while, really started to show its effects in the middle of 2007 and into 2008. Around the world stock markets have fallen, large financial institutions have collapsed or been bought out, and governments in even the wealthiest nations have had to come up with rescue packages to bail out their financial systems.

On the one hand many people are concerned that those responsible for the financial problems are the ones being bailed out, while on the other hand, a global financial meltdown will affect the livelihoods of almost everyone in an increasingly inter-connected world. The problem could have been avoided, if ideologues supporting the current economics models weren't so vocal, influential and inconsiderate of others' viewpoints and concerns.

This article provides an overview of the crisis.


September 2008

Bailout backlash

Feeding the politics of envy is the parallel rise of a class of superrich: The top 1% of earners now collect the largest share of income since 1929, and there are more than 1,000 billionaires in the U.S. alone. Obama economic advisor Jason Furman has calculated that the rise in the income of the top 1% of earners, set against the drop in income by the bottom 80%, is the equivalent of a shift of $885 billion a year. Average CEO compensation has also caught the attention of the public and politicians. According to the Economic Research Institute, CEO compensation in 2007 increased 20.5%, to an average $18.8 million in February, while corporate revenues increased less than 3%.

UPDATE (November 2014): CNN has obviously joined CNBC in scrubbing their arhives of reports and articles that aren't flattering to the wealthy. As such, the link above leads to nowhere, and an indepth search on the net as well as on CNN fails to turn up the article.


October and December 2008

What Went Wrong: The Origins of the Economic Crisis

A decade ago, long before the financial calamity now sweeping the world, the federal government's economic brain trust heard a clarion warning and declared in unison: You're wrong

The meeting of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets on an April day in 1998 brought together Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. -- all Wall Street legends, all opponents to varying degrees of tighter regulation of the financial system that had earned them wealth and power.

Brooksley E. Born, the 57-year-old head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, had earned a reputation as a steely, formidable litigator at a high-powered Washington law firm. She had grown used to being the only woman in a room full of men. She didn't like to be pushed around.

Greenspan, Rubin and Levitt had reacted with alarm at Born's persistent interest in a fast-growing corner of the financial markets known as derivatives, so called because they derive their value from something else, such as bonds or currency rates. Greenspan, Rubin and Levitt were determined to derail her effort.

Other Articles In the Series

Banking Regulator Played Advocate Over Enforcer

The Frenzy

Concluded With:

THE CRASH: Part One - The Beautiful Machine
THE CRASH: Part Two - A Crack in The System
THE CRASH: Part Three - Downgrades And Downfall

The original evil minds who beat others to the idea:

Howard Sosin and Randy Rackson conceived their financial revolution as they walked along the Manhattan waterfront during lunchtime outings. They refined their ideas at late-night dinners and during breaks in their busy days as traders at the junk-bond firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Sosin, a 35-year-old reserved finance scholar who had honed his theories at the famed Bell Labs, projected an aura of brilliance and fierce determination. Rackson, a 30-year-old soft-spoken computer wizard and art lover, arrived on Wall Street with a Wharton School pedigree and a desire to create something memorable.

They combined forces with Barry Goldman, a Drexel colleague with a PhD in economics and a genius for constructing complex financial transactions. "Imagine what we could do," Sosin would tell Rackson and Goldman as they brainstormed in the spring of 1986.


November 2008

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $140 Billion gift to his banker friends at taxpayer expense.

When Henry Paulson went before Congress and asked for $700 billion to bailout Wall Street he also asked for and got unlimited power to implement any changes he saw fit. This little nod of the head from Congress gave Paulson more power than the President; and Paulson used that power. Before one dollar was distributed, he revoked a 22 year-old tax law, thereby giving banks a monstrous tax shelter for merging with or buying out other financial institutions, and allowing them to create shell companies in order to write off billions of dollars for tax purposes. The result is a windfall of $140 billion for banks.

Paulson hid the little 5-sentence notice deep in his proposal so as to obscure it from lawmakers reviewing the proposal. It was days later before anyone noticed it, and lawmakers would not revoke Paulson's change for fear it would throw the financial market into a deeper tailspin and the entire system would collapse. Dozens of tax lawyers and other experts on law said Paulson had absolutely no authority to revoke the tax law.


May 2009

The Quiet Coup by Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the Internationa Monetary Fund (IMF)

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government-a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we're running out of time.


June 2009

The Greatest Swindle Ever Sold

The legislation's guidelines for crafting the rescue plan were clear: the TARP should protect home values and consumer savings, help citizens keep their homes and create jobs. Above all, with the government poised to invest hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in various financial institutions, the legislation urged the bailout's architects to maximize returns to the American people. That $700 billion bailout has since grown into a more than $12 trillion commitment by the US government and the Federal Reserve. About $1.1 trillion of that is taxpayer money--the TARP money and an additional $400 billion rescue of mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The TARP now includes twelve separate programs, and recipients range from megabanks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase to automakers Chrysler and General Motors.

What cannot be disputed, however, is the financial bailout's biggest loser: the American taxpayer. The US government, led by the Treasury Department, has done little, if anything, to maximize returns on its trillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded investment. So far, the bailout has favored rescued financial institutions by subsidizing their losses to the tune of $356 billion, shying away from much-needed management changes and--with the exception of the automakers--letting companies take taxpayer money without a coherent plan for how they might return to viability.

1. By overpaying for its TARP investments, the Treasury Department provided bailout recipients with generous subsidies at the taxpayer's expense.

2. As the government has no real oversight over bailout funds, taxpayers remain in the dark about how their money has been used and if it has made any difference.

3. The bailout's newer programs heavily favor the private sector, giving investors an opportunity to earn lucrative profits and leaving taxpayers with most of the risk.

4. The government has no coherent plan for returning failing financial institutions to profitability and maximizing returns on taxpayers' investments.

5. The bailout's focus on Wall Street mega-banks ignores smaller banks serving millions of American taxpayers that face an equally uncertain future.

6. The bailout encourages the very behaviors that created the economic crisis in the first place instead of overhauling our broken financial system and helping the individuals most affected by the crisis.


December 2011

The Big Lie

So this is how the Big Lie works.

You begin with a hypothesis that has a certain surface plausibility. You find an ally whose background suggests that he's an "expert"; out of thin air, he devises "data." You write articles in sympathetic publications, repeating the data endlessly; in time, some of these publications make your cause their own. Like-minded congressmen pick up your mantra and invite you to testify at hearings.

You're chosen for an investigative panel related to your topic. When other panel members, after inspecting your evidence, reject your thesis, you claim that they did so for ideological reasons. This, too, is repeated by your allies. Soon, the echo chamber you created drowns out dissenting views; even presidential candidates begin repeating the Big Lie.

Thus has Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis.


September 2011

Financial Terrorists Strike Again: Federal Reserve (US Taxpayers) Bail Out Big European Banks Yet Again

It's deja vu all over again, again. How many times are we going to throw trillions of dollars at the "too big to fail" banks before someone, anyone in a position of power realizes that they have to be broken up? The Fed and the Obama Adminstration, all the King's horses and all the King's men, keep trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.


August 2011

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Secret Loans

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages.


August 2011

Are The Federal Reserve's Crimes Still Too Big To Comprehend?

Another day, another trillion plus in secret Federal Reserve "bailouts" revealed. Keep in mind, this $1.2 trillion is in addition to the $16 trillion the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit revealed and the over $2 trillion in Quantitative Easing the Fed dished out, not to mention the now continued promise of the Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP). This is also separate from the $700 billion TARP program that Congress approved. This is yet another unknown secret program, throwing another mere $1.2 trillion in public money at the Wall Street elite (global banking cartel), just being revealed now.


August 2010

Wall Street's Big Win

Finance reform won't stop the high-risk gambling that wrecked the economy - and Republicans aren't the only ones to blame.

Cue the credits: the era of financial thuggery is officially over. Three hellish years of panic, all done and gone - the mass bankruptcies, midnight bailouts, shotgun mergers of dying megabanks, high-stakes SEC investigations, all capped by a legislative orgy in which industry lobbyists hurled more than $600 million at Congress. It all supposedly came to an end one Wednesday morning a few weeks back, when President Obama, flanked by hundreds of party flacks and congressional bigwigs, stepped up to the lectern at an extravagant ceremony to sign into law his sweeping new bill to clean up Wall Street.

But is the nightmare really over, or is this just another Inception-style trick ending? It's hard to figure, given all the absurd rhetoric emanating from the leadership of both parties. Obama and the Democrats boasted that the bill is the "toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression" - a claim that would maybe be more impressive if Congress had passed any financial reforms since the Great Depression, or at least any that didn't specifically involve radically undoing the Depression-era laws.

The Republicans, meanwhile, were predictably hysterical.


December 2002

The Rise of Corporations

Today we know that corporations, for good or bad, are major influences on our lives. For example, of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations while only 49 are countries. In this era of globalization, marginalized people are becoming especially angry at the motives of multinational corporations, and corporate-led globalization is being met with increasing protest and resistance. How did corporations ever get such power in the first place?


April 2011

The Truth About Taxes: Little-Known Facts and the Big Lie of Supply-Side Economics

For three decades the United States has conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity - so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates.

The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman's ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980.

For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades. You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict.

As millions of Americans filed their annual taxes last week, they did so in an environment of media-perpetuated tax myths. Here are a few points about taxes and the economy that you might not know.


August 2011

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

A whistle blower says the agency has illegally destroyed thousands of documents, letting financial crooks off the hook.

Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file - "Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?" No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.

That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back.


July 2011

The $2.5 Trillion Social Security Surplus: How Republicans, Democrats and the Mega-Wealthy Stole Your Social Security Money

The government's $2.5 trillion debt to Social Security is the real reason that so many politicians want to cut benefits. They are trying to find a way to avoid having to repay the looted money.... Given the fact that much of the surplus revenue from the 1983 payroll tax hike ended up in the pockets of the super rich in the form of income tax cuts, I propose a special tax on this group of taxpayers to recoup the missing Social Security money. The government used revenue from the Social Security payroll tax hike to fund tax cuts for the rich because that was where the money was. I think the government should recover the 'embezzled' money by taxing the rich.


February 2012

The End of Wall Street As They Knew It

After surprisingly successful financial reform, public vilification, and politics that have turned against them, the Masters of the Universe are masters no longer.

Editors Note: I doubt it very much, but we'll just have to wait and see.


January 2009

The End of the Financial World as We Know It - PDF

AMERICANS enter the New Year in a strange new role: financial lunatics. We've been viewed by the wider world with mistrust and suspicion on other matters, but on the subject of money even our harshest critics have been inclined to believe that we knew what we were doing. They watched our investment bankers and emulated them: for a long time now half the planet's college graduates seemed to want nothing more out of life than a job on Wall Street.

This is one reason the collapse of our financial system has inspired not merely a national but a global crisis of confidence. Good God, the world seems to be saying, if they don't know what they are doing with money, who does?

Incredibly, intelligent people the world over remain willing to lend us money and even listen to our advice; they appear not to have realized the full extent of our madness. We have at least a brief chance to cure ourselves. But first we need to ask: of what?


Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

In the mid-'80s, Wall Street turned to the quants-brainy financial engineers - to invent new ways to boost profits. Their methods for minting money worked brilliantly... until one of them devastated the global economy.

Banks "Shopped Around" for the most lenient Federal Regulator, Then "Hired" Them As Their Federal Overseer

Many firms switched at will among various overseers, in search of the loosest rules and laxest regulators.


Fault Lines: The Top 1%

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation's income-an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

It's no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation's income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous-12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades-and more-has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran.


An Investment Manager's View on the Top 1%

I sit in an interesting chair in the financial services industry. Our clients largely fall into the top 1%, have a net worth of $5,000,000 or above, and if working make over $300,000 per year. My observations on the sources of their wealth and concerns come from my professional and social activities within this group.


Wealth, Income, and Power

This document presents details on the wealth and income distributions in the United States, and explains how we use these two distributions as power indicators.

Some of the information may come as a surprise to many people. In fact, I know it will be a surprise and then some, because of a recent study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) showing that most Americans (high income or low income, female or male, young or old, Republican or Democrat) have no idea just how concentrated the wealth distribution actually is.


America is a Plutonomy Nation

The Rise of the New Global Elite

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today's super-rich are also different from yesterday's: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity-and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.

If you happened to be watching NBC on the first Sunday morning in August last summer, you would have seen something curious. There, on the set of Meet the Press, the host, David Gregory, was interviewing a guest who made a forceful case that the U.S. economy had become "very distorted." In the wake of the recession, this guest explained, high-income individuals, large banks, and major corporations had experienced a "significant recovery"; the rest of the economy, by contrast-including small businesses and "a very significant amount of the labor force"-was stuck and still struggling. What we were seeing, he argued, was not a single economy at all, but rather "fundamentally two separate types of economy," increasingly distinct and divergent.


The Great Game: Robbing the US Population to Enrich the Richest 1%

Here's the Great Game: mask the nation's rising wealth inequality with Central State spending that keeps the debt-serfs passive-all funded by debt, of course.

While we may not make that much stuff in America any more, we can say that the nation's gigantic wealth inequality is totally Made in the USA. Before we examine the data in some charts, I want to stipulate that great wealth in and of itself does not make a person an "enemy of the people" or threat to democracy.

Not all wealth is created equally. Compare Steve Jobs, who is a billionaire for developing and selling "insanely great" mass-market technologies that people willingly buy because it enhances their lives, with a person who made his $1 billion by insider trading or misrepresenting the risk of his company's stock (basically the same thing). (If you need a hint here, think "Countrywide" or "Enron.")

Clearly, there is a distinction between those two fortunes: one created value, employment for thousands of people, and tremendous technological leverage for millions of ordinary people. The other enriched one crooked insider via trickery and deception.

Wealth destroys democracy and free markets when it buys the machinery of governance. Larry Ellison has made billions by developing and selling databases and business services. To the best of my knowledge, he spends his wealth on personal hobbies such as large homes and racing yachts. His lobbying efforts appear to be confined to yachting and the possible purchase of sports franchises. In other words, the political influence of his billions is localized and benign in terms of Federal policy decisions.

Compare that to the millions spent by the "too big to fail" banking industry to buy Congressional approval of their cartel's grip on the nation's throat: Buying Off Washington To Kill Financial "Reform".

Much of the debate about wealth inequality focuses on whether the super-wealthy are "paying their fair share" of the nation's taxes. If we refer to point 2 above, we see that if the super-wealthy are allowed to buy the machinery of governance, then they will never allow themselves to be taxed like regular tax donkeys.

In that sense, the debate over tax rates is pointless, because as long as the super-wealthy own the levers of Federal governance and regulation, then they will buy exclusions, loopholes, rebates, subsidies etc. which relieve them of whatever official tax rates have been passed for public consumption/propaganda purposes.

Citigroup Tops List of Banks Who Received Federal Aid

Now it can be told: The bank that exposed the federal government to the greatest potential loss during the government bailout was Citigroup, which received a grand total of $476.2 billion in cash and guarantees, according to a new report of the Congressional Oversight Panel which oversees the TARP program.

The second biggest recipient of federal assistance, the new report says, was Bank of America, which racked up $336.1 billion in federal help. Third on the list was Morgan Stanley, with a total of $135 billion in help.


The Bailout Cost

NOTE: No one knows exactly how much of the $12 trillion-plus bailout debt (toxic assets) is still being held by the Federal Reserve and other federal agencies, but the consensus is that it's in the trillions.

Behind The Real Size of the Bailout - A guide to the abbreviations, acronyms, and obscure programs that make up the $14 trillion federal bailout of Wall Street.

Other Reports on Cost of Bailout

Adding Up the Government's Total Bailout Tab

See How $14 Trillion Was Spent and / or Committed for the Bailout

Calculating the Total Bailout Costs

Financial Bailout Balloons to the Trillions

Financial Crisis Tab Already In The Trillions and Counting

Financial Rescue Nears GDP as Pledges Top $12.8 Trillion

The Cost of the Financial Crisis: The Impact of the September 2008 Economic Collapse (PDF)

And bankers, such as former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard S. Fuld Jr., made sure they protected themselves first:
For $10, Fuld Sold $10 million Florida Mansion to His Wife


How conservative greed and corruption destroyed American politics - Abramoff, DeLay, Norquist, oh my! The spectacular misrule of the GOP was not an accident.


Frontline: Inside The Meltdown - 6-Video Series: How the Economy Went So Bad, So Fast and What Bernanke and Paulson Didn't See, Couldn't Stop and Weren't Able to Fix