Archive for the ‘wealth’ Category

This video is a must-see for anyone who wishes to understand the truth behind our present economic disaster and why Republicans should never, EVER again be trusted to control the country’s wealth.  They ran us into the ground many times before, and they’ll do it again.

So you see, the disaster visited upon us by Bush & Co isn’t an aberration.  It’s a logical result of a failed ideology.


In my never-to-be humble opinion, anyone who uses the phrase “second home” without referring to the one they just sold and moved away from should be covered in molasses and staked out on an anthill.  There’s no such thing as a “second home” because no one, repeat, NO ONE, has more than one home.  You may own more than one property, or possess an extra residence or two (or seven, if you’re a McCain), but calling any of the additional buildings “homes” is an outrage.

I especially hate the legions of so-called “second home owners”, wealthy Long Islanders and Manhattanites who flock north on the weekends to visit communities about which they know nothing and care less, except when said communities try and install things like wind turbines and cell phone towers on their own land.

If you live in upstate New York, especially in the Catskill region, you’re probably already familiar with these people.  Every weekend or so they migrate north, hordes of mostly white, upper middle class, SUV-driving assholes with their obnoxious accents, arrogant attitudes and insufferable little brats in tow.  Some even have weekend businesses that they pretend to operate (to varying degrees of competence) while they’re here.

They’re the reason house prices in the Catskill region are currently running at 50 to 100% above affordability.  These people started noticing the “cheap” real estate up here about 30 years ago and started buying up land and houses left and right, whether they needed them or not.  Today an area with a median family income of $34,000 has median house prices still hovering near $180,000.  That’s six times the average salary, or about twice the recommended affordability index (2.5x annual income).

And the faux-liberal New York Times has now treated us to this – an article printed yesterday all about how to keep your bored brat from trashing the back seat of your Hummer on the trip to your so-called “second home”.  Read on:

IT’S the weekend routine. Almost every Friday everyone piles into the car for the trip to the weekend house. You and your spouse or partner alternate between private thoughts, casual conversation and listening to a favorite song that has popped up on the radio.

Every 15 minutes or so your attention may turn to the back seat, and for the umpteenth time you command a smaller version of yourself to stop kicking the back of your seat. Or you deal with, again, one of childkind’s eternal questions: “How much longer?”

The drive is never going to be the best part of second-home ownership, but it doesn’t have to be two lost hours going and two lost hours returning. And, for the back-seat crowd, it doesn’t have to be endlessly boring.

The poor dears.  Their lives are so hard, spending endless hours traveling to their parents’ “weekend retreat”.  I’m sure those of you who are having trouble paying the mortgage on your first home, or perhaps wondering where next month’s rent money is going to come from, can sympathize.  The horror of it all!

It gets better.  Apparently one enterprising extra-dwelling owner (I don’t call them “second homes”, there’s no such thing) was so concerned for her children’s mental health on these long trips that she decided to start a business catering to assuaging the consciences of wealthy Citiots while simultaneously massaging their inflated egos and squeezing their wallets.  Among the more ridiculous items available at are:

  • the “Cuppa Knitting to Go” kit, which includes a ball of yarn and some knitting needles in a convenient cup-holder sized container.  A perfectly reasonable $21.95 for items that might cost you about six clams at Wal-Mart or Target.
  • the “15 Puzzle”, an upscale version of the dime-store square puzzle things that have 15 sliding blocks in a plastic square.  At just $11.95, this will run you just about ten times what you’d normally pay for similar items.  But of course, if you’ve got the money for a house on the Island and another in the Catskills that you don’t fucking need, paying 12 bucks for a 50 cent toy shouldn’t faze you.  In fact, you probably deserve to be taken for a ride.
  • Travel Bingo, for $11.95.  This may actually be fairly priced, since updated travel bingo games can be hard to find.  Though I’m pretty sure my parents picked ours up at a yard sale for 25 cents each.  I never could spot that darn traffic cop…

And so on.  The article goes on to recommend other diversions such as listening to e-books or instructional CDs, or playing 20 questions with the kiddies.

Here’s a thought.  Maybe instead of imposing their odious presence on the actual residents of the Upstate counties, they could stay home for the weekend instead.  Or instead of buying real estate they don’t need and shouldn’t have, upscale downstaters could be resonsible citizens and stay in a hotel on the weekends.  If they did that instead, maybe housing prices in the Catskill region will drop to affordable levels and we all can own an adequate house, instead of home ownership being a privilege reserved for the wealthy few.  It would also stimulate the economies of the communities the hotels serve, by providing jobs and supporting local businesses.

It might also make us feel better about being invaded every weekend by Citiots.

Keith Olbermann had an outstanding Special Comment last night.  I haven’t found full transcript yet, but for now here’s the video in case you missed it.

I couldn’t agree more.  These parasites, crooks and liars have gotten away with their economic rape and extortion for far too long.  They need to be brought back down to earth.

Remember all that talk about Sarah Palin being “just another hockey mom” and “working class gal”, etc. etc. etc.?  That’s all ancient history, as the Washington Times reports:

Their combined income of nearly a quarter-million dollars last year was five times the median household income for Wasilla’s 7,000 residents. They own a single-engine plane, two boats, two personal watercraft and a half-million-dollar, custom-built home on a lake that is worth three times the average of other homes in town. For the future, they also have a 401(k) retirement account compliments of Todd Palin’s years as an engineer with oil giant BP.

So, between McCain and Palin, the two families of the Republican ticket own 12 (or more) properties, 2 planes and at least 14 cars.

That’s working class for you.  Now, who’s out of touch?

WaMu fails

Posted: September 26, 2008 in america, finance, greed, waste, wealth

The latest American bank to fail, Washington Mutual, has been purchased by J.P. Morgan for a cool $1.9 Billion.  Before that sinks in, consider that its assets were previously valued at nearly $500 Billion.  Read on:

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington Mutual Inc was closed by the U.S. government in by far the largest failure of a U.S. bank, and its banking assets were sold to JPMorgan Chase & Co for $1.9 billion.Thursday’s seizure and sale is the latest historic step in U.S. government attempts to clean up a banking industry littered with toxic mortgage debt. Negotiations over a $700 billion bailout of the entire financial system stalled in Washington on Thursday.

Washington Mutual, the largest U.S. savings and loan, has been one of the lenders hardest hit by the nation’s housing bust and credit crisis, and had already suffered from soaring mortgage losses.

Washington Mutual was shut by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp was named receiver. This followed $16.7 billion of deposit outflows at the Seattle-based thrift since Sept 15, the OTS said.

“With insufficient liquidity to meet its obligations, WaMu was in an unsafe and unsound condition to transact business,” the OTS said.

Customers should expect business as usual on Friday, and all depositors are fully protected, the FDIC said.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said the bailout happened on Thursday night because of media leaks, and to calm customers. Usually, the FDIC takes control of failed institutions on Friday nights, giving it the weekend to go through the books and enable them to reopen smoothly the following Monday.

Washington Mutual has about $307 billion of assets and $188 billion of deposits, regulators said. The largest previous U.S. banking failure was Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust, which had $40 billion of assets when it collapsed in 1984.

The hangover always lasts longer than the party, and we have partied very hard for a long time.  Think about it.

The worst is yet to come.

Wealthy, aristocratic, elitist beer heiress Cindy McCain has something new to be offended by.  Apparently she’s upset at Barack Obama for saying her husband, wealthy and powerful Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain is ignorant of the lives and needs of average Americans.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, she had this to say:

“I’m offended by Barack Obama saying that about my husband,” said McCain’s wife Cindy.
When asked if Obama went too far in his criticism of McCain, Cindy responded, “I do. I do. I really do.”

McCain also said beer the distributorship her father built, which is the source of much her family’s wealth, typifies the American Dream.

“My father had nothing. He and my mother sold everything they had to raise $10,000,” she said. “I’m proud of what my dad and my mother did and what they built and left me.  And I intend to carry their legacy as long as I can.”

And live as ostentatiously as possible in the process.  Seriously, does she really expect us to believe that a couple who married each other for wealth (John) and power (Cindy) really know more than jack shit about the lives of those of us who buy shoes at Wal-Mart (or Payless if we’re feeling like splurging) and have to worry about feeding our families and keeping the house warm this winter?  Her parents may have come up from poverty, but that’s not even a distant memory for Cindy and John McCain.

She should be stripped of her wealth and priveleges for a few months and forced to make ends meet at a $10/hour job.  Then maybe she’d understand what it’s like at the bottom.  Until then she should take the criticism for what it is – people speaking truth to power – and stop acting like such a whiny bitch.

Thirty-seven years ago a group of veterans met in Detroit, Michigan to discuss and expose the abuses, immorality and misconduct of the Vietnam War. They called themselves the “Winter Soldiers” and though their actions were widely criticized by many Conservative pundits and politicians, it is clear their courage in speaking out against the war contributed greatly to its eventual end. During the three day symposium such atrocities as the My Lai massacre were exposed and shown to be not isolated incidents, but a direct result of misguided foreign policy and incompetent military management.

Some of the testimony offered may well have been, shall we say, not grounded in truth. Certainly there were people at the conference who had an axe to grind, and who were willing to say anything to end the war. However, the fact remains that the Vietnam war and our prosecution of it was nothing short of a disaster. The end of that bloody and atrocious conflict was an undeniably good end.

Last week a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans met, this time in Washington, DC, to discuss and expose abuses and atrocities committed in the name of freedom in the so-called Global War on Terror.

What they hope to gain from this is not entirely clear. After all, the worst atrocities of the war – Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the use of secret prisons in, shall we say, less democratic countries for detention of “suspects”, and the use of mercenaries – have already been reported. America yawned. We’re not very good at outrage any more, unless it involves us personally.

The difference, of course, is that in 1971 we still had a draft.  Because of this, young men everywhere had good reason to take a very close and personal interest in the war.  Some went and served, most honorably.  Many came back scarred and bitter.  Many didn’t come back at all.  Some dodged the draft, others got deferments, a privileged few used their family’s wealth and power to avoid actual combat.  The point is, everyone had a dog in that fight.

Today it’s different.  We have an all-volunteer force, and for many that means easily-avoided service.  Sacrifice is something other people do.  Less than 1% of the American public actually is serving on either active duty or in the Guard or Reserves, and if you total up the number of people directly related to a serviceman (or -woman) you barely get to 4%.  Military service is an honor reserved for the less privileged.  Sacrifice is something other people do.  Too many Americans are willing to sacrifice other people’s children for abstract ideals like “freedom” or “democracy” without understanding what that sacrifice entails.  Worse, many don’t even really understand the ideals they claim they support.  As long as

And when someone stands up to criticize the prosecution and conduct of a war that never should have been started in the first place, they’re shouted down by a chorus of lunacy from the right.  Actual Conservatism has been replaced by a psychotic brand of “ends-justify-the-means” amorality.  So what if we tortured terror suspects?  Who cares if we bomb a few mosques?  So what if prison guards desecrated the Koran?  If it gets us what we wanted, then it’s all good!  After all, we’re the U.S. of A!  We can do what we want!  Hoo-Rah!

Sorry folks.   Got off the rails a bit there.  My point is this, though.  If the “Winter Soldiers” truly want to effect change in this country, and bring about the end of this latest quagmire, they’ve got to make it personal for the voting public.  The war has to be made real for everyone, not just the self-selected few.

Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be an impossible task.  Unless we as a society finally pluck up the courage to re-institute the draft and really fight this thing for all we’ve been told it’s worth, the war will remain, for the majority of Americans, no more real than the latest version of “Unreal”, “Gears of War” or “Halo”.

It’s an honor to serve your country.  Everyone deserves that honor, and the sooner the better.  Starting with these ladies right here (the two on the outsides):

Jenna and Barbara Bush (left and right above)

But, the war was started based on “information” that later turned out to be nothing but smoke and hot air.  That’s ultimately why the wealthy and privileged don’t want their spawn serving in this debacle.  They know they’d be propping up a colossal falsehood.

Lies got us into this mess, lies have kept us there.  Only the truth will get us out.