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Does the U.S. Government Truly Represent the American People?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with former International Monetary Fund chief economist and MIT professor Simon Johnson about the Federal government’s response to the world’s economic maladies. Johnson suggested that the U.S. government's policies -- including recent efforts at economic stimulus -- are designed by and for a small class of wealthy elites:

“The situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places. But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea... I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in much poorer countries, countries that were headed into a really difficult economic situation, when there’s a small group of people who got you into a disaster, who were still powerful, and disaster made them more powerful... Don’t get me wrong – these are fine upstanding citizens who have a certain perspective and a certain kind of interest, and they see the world a certain way... That web of interest is not my interest or your interest or the interest of the taxpayer. It’s the interest, first and foremost, of the financial industry in this country.”

For more of Simon Johnson’s thoughts, visit his blog at baselinescenario.com.

What do you think?

  • Does the U.S. Congress truly represent the American people? Does the Obama administration? Explain.

  • What is the proper political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy?


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    Concerning the question, "What is the proper political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy?", the following says:

    - The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people – faith that the people will not simply elect men and women who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect those who will exercise their conscientious judgment – faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor and ultimately recognize right. (John F. Kennedy)

    http://cikehara.blogspot.com/2009/03/arent-our-elected-officials-supposed-to_24.html


    The Meta-question is: Is any currently extant form of government in harmony with human need? If you find one let's grab it quick before the others exterminate it.

    With the A.I.G. bonus scandal emerging, no, we cannot trust our govenment.

    Billy Bob: In my day the winner of the pot bought dinner and drinks. Now they take our food too.

    My friend from Philly who has sold $275K in Microsoft stock asked me about a good business to start or invest it in this morning and I couldn't think of a thing. Maybe alternative energy later, but not yet, not until oil stabilizes and good incentives are in place. Gold will probably taper off by May.Is there anything to invest in where you live? I hear Mickey Mouse had his pay cut. The Philly guy thinks the mob is busting out Wall Street and our whole economy. I guess we sold some shares the last couple days, dead cat bounce to 7,000 Dow index... maybe Bernanke and Geithner are pumping it in.

    Grady LH feb 25 1042am Interesting read.

    Tom & Beejal on First Business suggested Mainstreem is not as angry as emails are down..they should research beyond their site.

    Until Congress is overhauled to get rid of old, senior chairmen there will be re-dos of our mess until there are no resources to stimulate with.

    No. But there are alternatives, e.g.

    "We must become the change we want to see in the world." -Mohandas Gandhi.

    Again last night President Obama was vague as he surfed the applause. He was equivocal on being unequivocal about torture. (We don't torture: We contract it out.) He was less downbeat on our cascade failure economy. A balanced budget goal in a time of stimulus is kooky. The Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire and everyone else gets about $7.50 a week extra (one trip for 2 to Mickey Ds?).
    We don't privatize zombie banks (Dr. Michael Hudson's phrase), but we buy them with play money to protect the stock holders. We're still bailing. We're gonna make and sell more carbon emitting cars than ever with taxpayer subsidies while giving lip service to climate change. Clean coal (ain't gonna happen) is a big part of green energy and China is our new energy role model. (And according to Hillary, maybe our human rights model) We're gonna need mucho powerlines everywhere to get the coal juice to town. (Remote transmission of energy is approaching feasibility and green energy is best when dispersed.It doesn't necessarily need a grid except to feed the energy companies.) Barack was strangely silent on his nuclear agenda. He will tax corporations that offshore jobs,he insists, but is already powerless to audit banks and enforce tax laws on offshore schemes. How has he done the most in a decade toward universal health care? He can't even appoint a Heath and Human Services Secretary. (Howard Dean is standing right in front of him waving his hands but remains invisible.) He's gonna fix Social Security with investment accounts in a country where the populace is panicked and tapped out on credit? (His privilege shows.) Maybe a temporary tax break has sent millions to college, but can they afford to finish? Will all our next generation teachers be disabled veterans? Afghanistan/Pakistan, what a hoot! Has he ever seen the landscape close up or plotted the distances on a map? We can't even haul in enough fuel for our trucks, let alone aircraft. And now the Manas base is gone and Russia is "interested." (They may want a piece of the pipeline. And oligarchs can always market heroin.) Let's flush the bin Laden obsession and move on. If we cared about suffering we wouldn't sell dime bombs, phosphorous shells and cute plastic mines (sometimes as cluster bombs) to Israel, or to anyone else. Conclusion: Our new game show host is adept at deferring hard choices and signing autographs, and he loves Michelle.

    Rebuttal: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal remains true to the fatalistic bent of his two religions, Roman Catholicism and Hinduism. When he says Americans "can do anything" he may mean hungry and frightened people may be willing "to do anything" to survive.
    He tells the story of bureaucratic obstinance concerning a post hurricane boat rescue. There are no particulars mentioned. Did the volunteers mentioned ever rescue anyone? They could have been vigilante racists going hunting considering the racist shootings we've read about.
    Jindal is obsessed that employers not be burdened with any taxes or costs, but he fails to understand how the subsistence shortfalls are transferred to government. What is the point of underpaid employment, Bobby? And you can call the whole yellow pages now and not find a job, though your immigrant dad did it in better times. Many employers are not even in those yellow listings anymore (closed or gone overseas, some on the Internet). Your state is poor with high unemployment and you have refused federal unemployment insurance subsidies. You like the road money. Maybe it will fuel those famous Louisiana kickbacks. Seems like a young feller like you who served in Congress would understand the federal government better. You admit your party failed but you can't explain how. Then you want to start the same policies back up. I think your father would know better. You'd make a good box-boy at Piggly Wiggly: Start dialing.

    Conundrum: Both parties deal in half-truths, but when you put their halves together you still lack a whole. (Maybe less than half the true picture.) What we citizens must provide is the obvious solutions they are purposely avoiding to mention. One good hint is how some little bird comes out and hollers:"Oh no, we'd never nationalize the financial institutions, we'd never nationalize the auto companies." All I can say to Bashful Barry (President Obama) and Box-boy Bobby (Governor Jindal) is, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch, Boss, anything but that!" (Thanks Br'er Rabbit.)

    This is a question that I have asked myself on several occasions and especially when Congress seems to be stalled or exhibits behaviors that tend to be irresolvable. Many recent examples show their insensitivity to address real American problems. Political posturing does not suffice in analyzing financial ruin and solutions yet, Congress chooses to pretend like petulant children that they are left out of the process. They were certainly not the grown ups that we thought should tackle real problems of this nation. I shudder to think about what will come next since they have shown obstructionist behavior even dealing with the recent housing plan. The next big adolescent fit will come when they are asked to deal with health care. They, members of Congress and family, have health care in the form of socialized medicine and we don't. Some members say that Americans don't need any form of socialized medicine because it has limitations but they happily utilize the system. This is just one of many examples of an elitist citizenship status, Congressional membership, in America that reeks of privilege. Does government represent us and our interest? Perhaps the Executive Branch is becoming more in tune with citizens at this difficult financial stage. The Legislative Branch seems to be an intolerant group of power hungry ideologues who are looking towards the next election and not towards the good of the nation. Congress needs to work on creating balance within its soul to better serve us at such a critical time in this nation. I don't believe they can ever be public servants when it is in direct conflict with their politics to be in positions of wealth and reelection. The Legislative Branch needs to be reformed badly for the good of the people.

    A pox upon William Randolph Hearst and all those like him in the present age. The Sacred Day must be upheld for all within fellowship. We live on a tiny rock in the middle of a great vastness, and somehow these selfish backbiters are allowed to reign in their lavishness during the destruction of the balance and preservation of all we have. They are deplorably dirty within their clean monkey suits.

    We need to reform out monetary system to return the power of creating new currency to the government, and limits the size of these financial bubbles - such as (http://www.monetary.org/greenpartymonetaryplank.html)
    :
    1)Nationalize the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks
    2)The Monetary Control Board will redefine bank lending rules and procedures to end the privilege banks now have to create money when they extend their credit
    3)The new money that must be regularly added to the system as population and commerce grow will be created and spent into circulation by the U.S. Government on infrastructure, including the “human infrastructure” of Education and Health Care.

    We need to remember that the monetary system is a tool we define for creating the society we'd like to see - not a fixed law of nature to which we all must be enslaved.

    Currency in a society is like blood in an organism - it must circulate & nourish all the parts of the body, or you wind up with gangrenous tissue (which is much like we have allowed our inner cities to become). As an organism grows the volume of the blood supply must be increased - but this is not a catastrophic event. If you wake up one morning to find your child in a coma because half of his blood supply is unavailable to sustain his organs - then it's not enough to simply double the blood volume & go on like nothing happened. You must also understand what went wrong.

    When suddenly half the volume of our monetary system has gone missing & all we talk about is whether to reinfuse the system through the arm or the leg then we set ourselves up for long term failure. It IS important how we reinfuse the system - but we must also address the underlying problem.

    Interests of Wealth accumulation control our government - it's like to old joke about at what price does a woman become a prostitute. This bubble has shown us there are always some greedy enough to bring us all down.

    The fact that we've allowed the 'virtual money supply' (the money created by banks & other institutions as debt) to expand to such ridiculous proportions relative to real world assets is absurd - and is the primary culprit in the speculative gambling that occurs when this 'virtual money' tries to grow even further by chasing vapor. We need a system that puts an end to this creation of unreasonable bubbles.

    A former central banker has written (http://www.rgemonitor.com/financemarkets-monitor/252626/looting_the_vaults_at_the_central_banks):

    "It used to be the realm of conspiracy theorists to assert that policy makers in Washington were aligned with the military-intelligence complex in promoting international conflicts for profit or that the Federal Reserve was the tool of Wall Street banks in promoting irresponsible bubbles. Now it is accepted policy, defended openly in the media as right and inevitable, as providing an efficient means for America to meet the “threats” to security and financial stability in a changing world."

    The American Dream is dead, and our depression proves it. Serious patriots have argued for decades that the FED should be abolished, and replaced by a central US bank transparently run by Congress in the public interest. Simon Johnson, of IMF, one of the world's great covers for the same criminals that destroyed the American Dream, lacks either the brains or the courage to say so bluntly. Mr. Moyers, I think you are a moral, smart and experienced man. How can you pawn this joker off on us as a serious critic of a banking system that he worked for, which if it had its way, would run all world economies like banana republics, and indeed will probably attempt to do so, according to many financial elites worldwide?
    Shame on you both. Tell the whole truth that anyone with a PC can learn:
    the US, and world, depression was an inside job, just like 9-11, and it will take God to bail us all out this time. Men will be unable to do it, as the Bible says quite rightly. The best that can be said is that perhaps it is not all their fault, being subject to great evil beyond the the comprehension and awareness of most people.

    John Adams said the Constitution assumed a good and moral people; read God fearing. The bankers and their lackeys in Congress do not fear God. Indeed they mock Him every day. Well, guess who gets the last word? I tell my government this fact every chance I get. If they listen, maybe America pulls though this mess. Ultimately it is up to The People to make them listen. So far neither group is doing their part. God is watching, I assure you. Like Congress, the silence of the churches on this has been deafening as well. Time to wake up or that's it.

    Attorney Harold H. Burbank, II
    Chair, The Bush Indictment Project

    Where is the tax increase on those making more than $250,000.00 a year?

    HELL NO – OBAMA IS A SELLOUT
    The last thing all the unemployed distressed Americans need is a tax break on a new house or car. This countries government only serves the middle class civil servants and politicians. That is running this country into the ground.

    It's very interesting that you have one of the puppets from the puppeteers that is saying exactly what the 1889 Great Red Dragon book stated in its Introduction.

    "In our age, Capital is King. This Money Power of the Money Quarter of London is the only grand pre-eminent Imperialism existing on the earth. Monarchs severally rule their own dominions, and no one of them has pre-eminent power. The Imperialism of Capital, in our time, stretches the arms of its power over the whole earth: it alone sways the nations with pre-eminent rule. It buys all of the products of the earth: it fixes all prices of all commodities without regard to the law of supply and demand, by its own arbitrary will. It is Imperial over industry and trade, and none can resist it. It is rapidly progressing toward its ultimate aim, of possessing itself of all the world's wealth and all the world's property. If things remain as they are, these Money Kings will, at no distant day, have achieved their aim, and will own the earth in fee simple."

    Thanks for having the courage to bring the subject up.
    Respectfully,
    Edward Ulysses Cate

    CORPORATE PERSONHOOD is the root cause of corruption in all aspects of our government.

    Address this one issue and begin the restoration of real Democracy.

    see post: 02/14/09 10:22 AM

    Please, please could Simon Johnson at least talk to Obama.

    Great guns and little fishes...
    Our present disaster is the result of lack of regulation. If we are going to solve our present delemma; we are going to have to regulate all aspects of supply and demand.
    We cannot compete with other nations with lower costs of living. If we do not want to be a third world poverty stricken nation; it will be necessary to protect our interests.
    We need to be a solution to world poverty not a part of the problem. What caused the 30's depression was loss of faith in the system just as has occured now.
    Economists were wrong back in the 30's and they are wrong now. It is an underfunded demand side of economics that causes a depression.
    Conservative Obstructionists are preventing the solutions to our present disaster.
    It is necessary to provide the necessary funds to support all of our domestic and national needs. Why undermine our own best interests?
    Dave

    What do you think? Does the U.S. Congress truly represent the American people? Explain
    “Americans have long ago abandoned respect for the constitutional
    limitations placed on the federal government.”
    “Our elected representatives represent that disrespect.”
    “Search the Constitution as long as you like, and you
    will find no specific authority conveyed for the government
    to spend money on global warming research, urban mass
    transit, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, or
    countless other items in the stimulus package and, even without it,
    in the regular federal budget.”
    This is the latest:
    “The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has assets of $63 billions and Liabilities of $74 billions.”
    “The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. already has an $11 billion
    deficit that seems sure to grow larger as Corporate America suffers
    through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
    The senior citizens that have been already affected, and will be affected even more!

    I have always done business with credit unions. They provide all the same consumer services a bank can offer, and more.

    Why, you ask? Two reasons. Credit unions are member owned. And, credit unions are not-for-profit entities.

    Charley Rose has the a promo tonite, review the Sept 10th melt down Leaman Brothers , Stern, No one knew what to do. An PBS special will be on The Melt Down. Feb 17 Watch it and we will all learn more! In order to understand we need to gather information. Clear concise, accurate, we deserve to understand before we SCREAM and Fire them all!

    As I said before the real balance in the financial policymaking for the people is EASY, give the monies to the people each 1 million to pay their bills and go shopping. All will be good. and the banks will be paid and the taxes will be paid and the arguments will be done. God save the people!

    We should create District Watches to keep close tabs on how our representatives and senators are voting?

    Just ten volunteers for each voting district should be enough. Those volunteers can combine their efforts to keep tabs on their state senators.

    All the crap that's going on is hidden in plain sight, and these pretenders need to be taken down,plain and simple.

    FEBRUARY 17, 2009

    Congressional Junkets Defended as Work-Based

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123483886399996643.html

    Write to Elizabeth Williamson at elizabeth.williamson@wsj.com

    I found it peculiar that your guest, Mr. Johnson, had stated that no government has ever run a bank or run it well. Until recently, under Koizumi, one of the major Japanese banks had been the Post Office Financial Division. The bank was not only run well, it was actually run better before privatization than after. It moved from a public service to a profit venture.
    To state that nationalization of banks in a manner where the American Government would be running them would be ultimately a flawed policy seems uninformed at best, propaganda at worse.
    Mr. Johnson, as many financiers and economists of the day seems to follow the flawed ideology of Milton Friedman. Friedman used pseudoscientific methodology to make models that proved his ideas without regard as to whether the models were other predictive or reflective of reality. As such you have a lost generation of ideologues in economists clothing.
    Going back to the Japan example, what is never mentioned is that while there was a so-called lost generation of minimal growth, that has buffered Japan from the current crisis. The Japanese yen has moved into place as the most stable currency in the world, there have been minimal direct repercussions from the financial crisis which began in the US. And companies in Japan are prepared to handle the crisis in a way that companies around the world ought to envy.
    Overall, it was an informative interview, but without understanding the fallacies on which Mr. Johnson stands, we will never have a true recovery.

    ...of the money, by the money, for the money... - that's what we have today. Happy Birthday, Honest Abe!

    Mr. Johnson’s diagnosis sounds accurate, and the proposed treatment appears very effective. How about an implementation suggestion. During Obama’s campaign, I was concerned about how he would handle the power-
    money guys, not just here, but globally too. The real question to me pivots around the nature of the resistance from the players to their rapid and wholesale displacement, which must occur to implement Mr. Johnson’s solution. This is the analysis that deserves Mr. Johnson’s full focus, in all its massive complexity and extremely formidable consequences. I would appreciate hearing his views on the nature of the resistances, the strategies to combat them, the effect on the world power-money distribution, the effect on the regimes in China, Russia, etc., what the new power-money consortium would look like, and how its new leverages and threats differ from the previous constructions.
    And lastly, please address the issue of the political feasibility of accomplishing the change, since implementing these changes will most certainly be seen as revolutionary by the
    people who actually run the whole show. Obama, and other responsible people have the
    seemingly impossible most fundamental task of not so much fixing the economy, as deconstructing a power assembly world wide, and replacing it immediately. This speaks directly to the absolute lack the world wide governance needed to sustain a global economy,
    and the new world order. Domestically we need to acknowledge that we are now a “CORPOCRACY” (my term for the merging of government and business) before we can address our fundamental
    problems. If Obama seems a little equivocal, we should ask ourselves how
    should he proceed to tear the house down while people are still living in it. That SHOULD be the debate!
    Thank You for your fine work!

    Actually I am very pleased with the service I get from the DMV in Santa Clara, CA. Even at peak hours the lines are processed quite efficiently. Do I want my bank to operate as efficiently as the DMV, yes! It is no less efficient than banking institutions I have had to deal with. So I do not understand what the fuss is all about. At least there are no evil geniuses cooking up toxic stews.

    Does the Government Represent The People?

    NO. It was originally set up by people of wealth and power to represent themselves and it does so to this day quite well.

    it might be worth noting that running a bank is NOT like running the DMV even it the government runs both.

    The DMV is short staffed because people won't pay enough taxes to provide enough staff for good service. And the lines go slow because the people in the lines haven't read the instructions, don't have their documents, don't understand the rules... etc.

    A bank would presumably be run for a profit, even if run by the government. The only constraint should be that the government does not use tax money to unfairly compete with private banks. And when the private banks get back in the mood to lend money, under reasonable supervision, they ought to be able to buy out the government run banks, just like any other business transaction.

    But I am afraid that unless we do something like this, the banks will be able to keep the "stimulus" from working, just by not lending normal business loans to those people who who see business opportunities arising as the stimulus puts money into people's hands.

    There is a great deal of danger that Obama's advisors are committed to the model that got us here. Nor does it look as though they realize that just pretending this is 1933 is going to fix the problems of 2009. Roosevelt had to be creative. The Obama team doesn't look that smart.

    Here is an example of political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy. Elitists would have all the decisions made by a single person representing her/himself. To do this merely requires making a company big enough so that it has a huge market share of whatever market we talk about. Banking, PEANUT PRODUCTS or a myriad of others.
    I beleive we hvve too much consolidation of business in this country. Our antitrust laws are outdated. A good example of the negatives of having “all our eggs in one basket” is Peanut Corporation of America. One company was the supplier for so many companies using peanut products that the contaminated peanut product was “everywhere” and in too many food products. If more companies were the suppliers of peanut product, the contamination would not have been so widespread.
    The same is true of the banking industry. Most smaller banks are solvent, but the big banks, who have been so busy buying each other out to squeeze out competition have gotten so big the right hand doesn’t have a clue about what the left hand is doing! They have become reckless and “out of touch.” These big banks need to be audited and broken up. Current management should be fired and, quite possibly, incarcerated!

    Congress does not represent the American people. Congress represents special interests, mostly in DC, who have the money and power to induce favorable votes. Often a congressperson will promise one thing while campaigning and vote for the oposite action in Washington.

    The Obama administration will only represent the American people to the extent that they force the administration to pursue the people's agenda. Otherwise, don't count on it.

    The proper balance is the degree to which humility and common interest exists. When the people vote in a fair and totally democratic election/referendum, it is most fair but not always most prudent. When the elite manage policy decisions, it is always capricious and seldom a fair representation of the common interest; and seldom prudent.

    I believe this Economic Crisis was Engineered just like 9/11 by the same Global Elite who have benefited. There is No Way that 'We the People' should Allow the management of the Failed institutions to keep their jobs or money gained at Our expense. They should All be fired and have a Thorough Audit for Back Taxes and Prosecuted for Fraud.

    While these comments are not mine alone, I believe they are pertinent to asksing of congress represents the American people!
    Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits; WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes; WHY do we have inflation and high taxes? You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does. You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
    One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. Members of the Federal Reserve Board are excluded because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
    Special interests and lobbyists are excluded for a sound reason; they have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.
    Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
    The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
    It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
    If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red . If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.
    There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
    Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

    We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

    @jnh, February 14, 2009 2:28 PM;

    You are correct, but under a tight two-party system, our votes have to be cast for one of the major parties, but those parties policies are essentially the same. Did you vote for Obama because you wanted U.S. troops to stop blowing up people in Pakistan? Too bad. Did you vote for Obama because you wanted him to undo the $700 bn bailout? Too bad. Did you vote for Obama because you want the War on Terror to end? Too bad. The major parties are virtually identical on the important issues.

    The only way to get truly substantial change would be to vote for a third-party candidate or an independent, but most people won't even know of the independent candidates if they are not in the debates, and it is the policy of the mainline parties to exclude third-party candidates from debates.

    Without debates that allow genuine outsiders to challenge long-standing national policies, our republic cannot regenerate itself peacefully. What did Simon Schama say? "The American republic cries out, asking to be reborn." Births typically involve a considerable amount of pain and at least a little blood.

    there is a very simple solution to this problem and the answer does not lie in calling your congressman or arguing on blogs.

    these banks have power ONLY because of the capital they are given through people depositing their money and doing business with them.

    if you have watched this episode and have that same sinking feeling in your stomach AND you continue to do business with any these banks whose CEOs were at the congressional hearing, then you must understand that you are also partially responsible.

    if you currently have an account (checking, savings, brokerage, etc) with any of these institutions, then i would strongly urge you to close that account and open one at a bank in which you have determined is not taking advantage of this situation.

    there are good banks out there, however you must be willing to take some time & effort to do your research to determine where they exist in your community.

    if you do not have any accounts in said institutions, i would urge you to never use the ATMs at said institutions, no matter how convenient it may be, as a significant portion of their revenue right now is non-bank ATM fees.

    if you current have loans outstanding with said institutions (mortagage, auto, CC), i would urge you to refinance with another bank.

    for those who have done so, i urge to speak with your family, friends & neighbors and encourage them to do the same, providing them with the quality alternatives that you found in your research.

    these actions may cause each of us some inconvenience. however, this luxury that the TBTF institutions have offered has an ENORMOUS hidden cost and we have only begun to dig the pit. and consider that this was all a part of the plan, to enslave us to our laziness.

    what is being advocated here is not a destruction of the American banking system (in fact it is the exact opposite)...it is simply a call to exercise your free and legal right as a consumer in a free-market economy.

    remember, there are 2 parties to every economic transaction. and if you feel like Mr. Moyers that we are being used as chumps, it's only because we all have freely & voluntarily given the power to these organizations to treat us like chumps.

    it's painfully obvious to many that this is the only power that the American public have left -- not as citizens or voters or taxpayers, but as as consumers.

    if so, then perhaps it's time to take the power away from those who care not one lick about you other than the amount they can pull from your wallet and, instead freely give it to those institutions who are willing to respect you as a customer and us as a society at large.

    at this point, this seems like the only way that meaningful reform can be accomplished and the iron-vise grip can be loosened before it strangles us all (and it will).

    remember as our president has said on many occasion, change does NOT come from the top-down, it comes from the bottom up.

    I agree with Mr. Johnson. The system works brilliantly for those with money and power. Much less so for all the rest.

    The capitalist system might still work if we can figure out a way to clear away the fog of financial transactions. For example: test all those "instruments" that are so complex that even the SEC can't make heads or tails of them. Just like drug companies must prove their drugs will not harm patients, so should investment firms prove their "instruments" will not be harmful.

    Another good tool to put in place is that investments must be for the long term. This will force people to care more about the long-term quality of a company rather the short term ability to flip a stock for quick profit only.

    Carina, "eternal pissiness" is very descriptive.

    I have spent a lot of time here, and now some of my posts aren't going up. Will probably take a break from this site, but before that I'll attempt to relate thoughts on attitude. At times it's encouraging to see how others express creative outrage. I see Hedges' book out there on fascists and I realize we're lucky to hear any outrage. A little too often, though, that outrage seems to turn into internecene stuff. Here on the boards or on The Hill...you sense it in the air. In mimetic rivalry theory there is "a way to be" and there are hip desires to have. If you suceed too much in being like the pols or having their progressive desires [up to the minute political application of this theory]...according to the theory they sort of say, "back off, don't be like us." Thus, we cannot share the "desires for progress" which is part of a persona they own. Our recommendations will be relegated to whackodom (the approach the powers use with Kucinich, eg) or extremism. Our system espoused it at first but despite many efforts has not evolved to hear everyone. Some of these guys up there wanted the mantle of virtuous servant (public servant) all their lives. But then...oops...they found out they had to fight to be servant. Absurd, but that's the way things are. [The unique problem with conservatives in this merit badge system of ours is that they've associated wrong economic assumptions with their goal of assuming the mantle...or their proper pilgrimage, trek, ascent. The guys on our side were just lucky.]

    It's not Nanos or picture taking cell phones we crave, it's the mantle of hip progressive. Christopher Lasch pretty much said this in "The Revolt of the Elites." It's the paradigm criticized by Michael Young known as "meritocracy" too (attain merit and exhibit merit). Talk to anyone or post anything. Behind it today is the tension..well, I have to go (I have to scrounge a few minutes and dedicate them to my dream of having a pulpit or cultivating my example to the world). So, what can you do, go out and do random kindness?

    Rather than talk past people with outrage we could zero in on our understanding of the predicament and mutually hone each others grasp of the problems (but this can get tedious). Too much of the first I guess is too much right brain. Too much of the latter is too much left. I hope we can draw on some tradition to distract us from both that'll impart humility and enable us to do some real service.

    I don't want any pulpit. While I'm here I'll try to ask the questions that are in the back of my mind making me unsteady when I'm trying to allude to the pluses of the stimulus (to those who I suspect are conservative). Right now there are vague zones in my head when I try to get a grip on toxic assets (that Mumia mentions in #4 below).

    But you see, , I'm just as lame as you say you are and we all are. I can't even phrase the questions I have!

    Wait, wait...I have this idea that one needs a chart to describe any individual CDO or SIV. Is that true?

    Momentary lapse into the pulpit I do not deserve or desire...that MoJo article I mentioned back'aways had a decent graph, but in general liberal blogs seem abjectly bereft of quantitative graphics that say anything. Opportunity knocks?

    Although I too feel the spasms of pure seething rage over the injustice in the financial markets, I worry that the intensity of this anger is misdirected. Of course, we were bamboozled by a small class of self-serving buffoons but they were not 'idiots' as the Senator so passionately screamed. These men and women were supported and even created out of our very culture. They are our very own monsters and our irritation with the uber wealthy distracts us from looking squarely in the mirror at our own assumptions and greed. Did not we as a country admire wealth and status to the point that all other considerations became secondary? Did not we as comsumers covet and admire the very things we now scream and moan about?

    Ofcourse the people are not represented by the government (although the Obama administration is a clear and essential improvement) but did we, through our apathy, allow it to happen? It is all well and good to throw a hissy fit now when the fesces has finally hit the fan but where was this outrage when the economy was running smoothly? As Americans, we must wake up and take more responsibility for our government and the financial markets that cripple it. We have to look at our own greed and spending and begin to actively change our fundamental ideas about money. I'm sorry if that sounds preachy because I include myself entirely in this problem.
    I have been indignant about the abuses of the last eight years and even angrier about the recent collapse of our true national power, but I'm genuinely worried about the fever pitch we have all reached recently. Why are the senators screaming about peanuts, waving around papers, and pretending they have back bones and cajones now? BECAUSE its easy to scream and much more difficult to stop and consider how broad the guilt is.The tone of the country reminds me the days following 9-11 when people reverted to jingoistic rage and comments like 'bomb the hell of them' were common. Now, I hear 'tar and feather' them and although that would be very satisfying, it wouldn't actually get anything done.
    We have to be heard and seen but we also need to re-examine ourselves and not fall into eternal pissines. Vengeance and wrath have never been very productive ways to stimulate an economy.

    However, if it gets bad enough, I suggest the old pitch forks and torches routine. I just can't figure out where we should gather. Outside of Wallstreet...outside of Congress...or outside our own homes (if you got one...)

    @Stephen B. Cohen, Ph.D., February 13, 2009 9:20 PM;

    Your proposal sounds very very good. It also seems well thought-out, so we can be sure that our government will do nothing of the kind. I predict the following:

    1. Institutions with toxic assets will be given public funds to not split into two separate banks, and in fact the vulnerable institutions will use the money to purchase good banks and will thus bring their debt and business methods to the formerly good banks--furthering the peril of our financial system.

    2. Stockholders will keep their shares in the banks, and they will reward the managers of the irresponsible banks for saving their stock values.

    3. The "toxic" assets will further decline in value and further damage the financial industry--including the good banks that were merged into the irresponsible ones.

    4. The "good assets" invested into the new megabanks will become worth less, and so will the banks, but the banks will again demand more public money because they will have become "much too big to fail."

    5. Spectacular amounts of treasury and FED money will involved in these dealings.

    6. The Federal Reserve will spend most of its time saving the irresponsible banks, and attempts by the FDIC to push banks to let homeowners renegotiate their mortgages will be thwarted.

    Wait a minute, most of those things are not predictions--they're history. We have the most incompetent government in U.S. history.

    Off topic

    I've sat here and watched 2 posts go up while I got "your message will be posted in a few minutes" after two attempts.

    Webmaster, is it my browser perhaps, or do dial-up folks get bumped late at night for some reason (do piggybackers run free at night?) or what?

    Hallelujah, Bill Moyers has seen the light and is preaching the Gospel. The Union may yet be saved. I don't understand why a former IMF affiliate would be pushing the solutions when the IMF is such a big part of the problem.

    These big bank monsters are so crafty and liquid. They may already have implemented a counter moves based on having been exposed.

    I just read how Nathan Rothschild swindled all the English Bonds by deceiving everyone into dumping them because they thought he knew that Napoleon had won at Waterloo. Then he bought them all at 5% their value. A maneuver that mirrors the "Economic Pearl Harbor" that these criminals must have used for centuries to accumulate the wealth of the people. Just as the "East India Company" started their Imperialist Wars for profit many decades ago, these slime balls were behind the 9/11 Pseudo Terror Attacks and Economic collapse for all their usual wicked reasons. They should be sent to the gallows after due process.

    The answers are here and in last weeks show and comments. If Obama is on the People's side he will instruct the FCC to begin trust busting of Mass Media and implement public funding of all elections as an "Emergency Rescue" of Democracy, scrap the FED, begin investigations of the New World Order Conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. Government.

    It was so hard for me to believe that Prescott Bush was elected Senator from Conn. after he had been Hitler's Banker and tried to help overthrow the Government but was stopped by Gen. Smedley Butler. Were the people insane or was the New World Order already in control of all the press and media, like they are now?

    Charles Michael Couch

    I believe that the Russian Form of Communism most visibly "failed" in the 1990's and the American form of Capitalism most visibly "failed" under the recent "bushwacker's tenure. The elitist decision-makers in each refused to recognize the realities of their "failures". The Internet can be a powerful tool. I also believe that like-minded States should form autonomous regions and consider succeeding from the Federal government.

    Economics is an idea that has to compose the life of people in a physical reality that is functional and in their best interests. People have to invent ways to produce the goods an services that make their lives a viable experience. Otherwise; we are between the rock and the hard place.

    "Through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones. Compose. (No ideas but in things.) Invent!"
    William Carlos Williams

    My dad played the upright bass in the Salvation Army Band. He had set his bass on the seat next to Him on the train while traveling to a concert in Canada. A young man walking down the aisle stopped and asked him which end of the instrument he blew into. My dad calmly explained to the young man that if he had a mouth as big as the young man he would blow in the bell end and that he himself always blows into the mouth piece.
    The sad but true is that our so called economic experts want to blow in the bell end of economics where everything comes out rather than the demand side of the economics horn that makes economics work.
    It is intended that the demand side of economics support the supply side of economics so that what is produced is consistent with what people need and what people want. Stuffing money down the supply end of economics only plugs up the horn preventing the horn from functioning as intended.

    (This note is long, and perhaps may prompt PBS to expand these issues into a new discussion thread.)

    Does the U.S. Congress truly represent the American people? Does the Obama administration? Explain.

    No; neither do, see below.

    What is the proper political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy?

    The second question (incorrectly) assumes that the tradeoff is within the existing political framework; and that we must choose bewteen elite management decisions or democratic decisions.

    The proper question should be framed on whether there should be other mechanisms, with different oversight; and a different allocation of power.

    There is another way to look at this situation: It appears as though both democratic and elite-decision making failed. The question is to what extent the full-list-of questions must be answered; or, to what extent, there should be a time-phasing of critical issues.

    If we had a weighing system whereby key decisions, which only the Federal government had the competence to answer, then those decisions should remain with the Federal government. Today, the problem is the US Federal government has proven (again) that it is not capable of timely making proactive decisions; nor effectively monitoring emerging problems. There is the risk that there will be, within this financial crisis, a secondary and tertiary crisis. The same system which missed this crisis is equally positioned to get blind sided by the a subsequent crisis.

    One aspect is the speed with which core issues must be decided, as opposed to deferred and addressed at a different level. The Federal government may have the power and authority to make decisions; the problem is, in light of the disastrous responses after 9-11, Katrina, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether the Federal government can be necessarily trusted to make these decisions; or whether they have the resources, as conditions unwind, to effectively adjust along backup options.

    The Backup Plan Must Include Decision Points To Abandon

    It appears, the current game plan has no backup plan. Even if the situation deteriorated more, and the country was aware of that further deterioration, it does not appear there is, now, a sufficient back-up plan, ready to be implemented, when specific criteria are met.

    Rather than focus on the recovery (which may not happen under this plan), a sensible approach would be to conduct a salvage operations, and then work forward. This means to prioritize our national requirements; and then decide, now, which lower priority financial requirements we are going to fall into disrepair.

    We Must Operates As If The US Government Is In Bankruptcy

    Going back to the question – whether elites or democracy is better – we argue neither. The elites and democratic processes have rewarded those who want to hold onto power; and there’s no discussion whether the elites or Congress will relinquish power to new centers of power required to oversee Congress, audit the elites, and effectively oversee what – is, in practice – a bankruptcy restructuring process of the United States Federal Government.

    Once we clear the air on the bankruptcy issue, this will allow the President and Congress the time to accept the new reality: The existing power-relationships between the three branches must give way to new centers of power which are willing, and rewarded for timely acting, and responsiblty salvaging what remains. Right now, the current trajectory is one of both the elites and pro-democracy power centers fighting more to retain power than to credibly plan under the foreseeable economic conditions.

    We encourage the PBS community to openly discuss another aspect of the issue: How should power be re-delegated between the states and Federal Government; and what new federal-level power centers are required to adequately ensure Congress, the courts, and Executive branch timely act to ensure we have proactive economic policies in place, an adequate monitoring system, and reasonable backup plans should the current plans fail.

    Until we review the economic situation and this plan as symptom of a failure of the US government, none of the players in DC will agree that the problem is too much power, inadequate oversight, and a refusal to timely adjust. Americans were told by the regulators that we had to adjust; that there was not enough money for regulation; yet, despite the financial squandering in Iraq, some would have us believe we need to be concerned with the fiscal requirements. American citizens didn’t create this mess, but were promised that the regulators and leadership could be trusted absent the needed regulation. DC has failed to live up to the promise of the Founders.

    The existing power-assumptions between the three branches has failed; and we need to discuss a salvage operation of the remaining economic centers. Until DC embraces this new reality, we’ll continue to debate whether or not the US should choose between the elites who have not awoken; and a democratic system which has failed. It is not either-or, but one that rebalances power, ensures there are equal centers of power which confront Congress, the courts, and the Executive branch.

    Mr. Johnson for Secretary of the Treasury!
    I agree with him 100% and no, the banks should NOT be rewarded for bad behavior.
    The arrogance of the top tier is unacceptable! It is up to us to campaign for something to be done. Write your congressmen! Write Letters to the Editor.
    Enough rumbling will be heard.

    From the news reports recently, there was some concern with martial law being required if the financial situation worsened.

    Under that situation, wouldn't insurance coverage get waivers, and, as with Katrina, certain financial obligations become discretioanry?

    I'd like to hear more about how the US government, in light of this bailout plan, would address the tax and financial implications of martial law.

    The fact that the same people who caused the mess are still in place, and allowed to make money at will, then go before committees telling the panels that "Yes, we now get it" is an insult to the American people and children dying of hunger. Who are these fuckers trying to kid when they say,"Yes, we now get it." They always got it. They're mocking the committees and the people. I blame Obama. He should replace them. But he won't. In that sense, no, the American government doesn't represent the people, it represents the oligarchs.

    Are we chumps? Yes!

    God Bless Bernie Sanders! If the board of Goldman Sachs gets to make all the decisions, let them pony up the freakin’ bailout money!

    mpower: You are so right.

    When everyday people like me are living on the edge of bankruptcy (but blocked from it) it's only referred to as a problem; but, when the financial junta/oligarchy doesn't get what it wants suddenly it's a "crisis"-- that's crap. Nobody cared for everyday people when the Bankruptcy Code and social safety nets were mercilessly gutted. Now that we have no money and are loosing what little bit we managed to scrape together, these ill-mannered and over-coddled brat businesses expect people like us to continue to live without healthcare, without retirement savings, without college education but live with unaffordable taxes and a FICO system that was never FAIR from the beginning.
    I say LET THEM FALL ON THEIR FACE! Let them experience life without help just like everyone else. Furthermore, I hope that every taxpayer in the country only FILE their paperwork and not pay any money- perhaps then this mythical concerned government will get a message that everyday people need a brake and some help out here in mainstreet.

    God Help us all thanks to these imbeciles and the previous ones in the beltway!
    Thank You for your efforts Bill!

    You know it doesn't so what is your point?

    "It is our money... not theirs... "

    Factually, it is NOT our money. We the citizens and taxpayers of the USA actually LEASE our currency from the private-for-profit Federal Reserve. The Fed is not a true 'central bank'. The Fed is private, and it's owners make a profit from the currency-lease arrangement it has with the US Treasury & Congress... at the taxpayers expense, of course.

    The private Federal Reserve, and the barely-regulated fractional reserve banking system are at the center of this disaster.

    Contact your Senators and Representatives and DEMAND that the ownership structure and profit motive of the Federal Reserve be revealed.

    Why are we leasing our currency from a private bank?

    Why is Congress (via Treasury) not in control of currency issuance and policy, as explicitly mandated in the US Constitution?

    Yes, that's right, the Federal Reserve System is unconstitutional.

    Q: How have we come to be in this situation?

    A: Multiple generations of poorly educated (thank you teachers' unions), easily distracted (thank you mainstream media) and indebted Americans that just don't care about their country if it requires any more effort than slapping a flag/ribbon sticker on their SUV's bumper.

    Thank you Bill for that bucket of cold water. Please continue.

    @gregory

    dude you are scary- don't you understand- it isn't left or right- the institutions we have are too big and monolithic and have too much power. There are factions within the Democrat and Republican party that see this- they are called populists. Let's get back to government along the lines of the first Roosevelt- Teddy.

    Does a cancer growth represent the body?

    There is a vacuum of wisdom, virtue, temperance, respectability, and judgment in Congress. They are usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority.

    It seems like the Anti-Federalists were right: the Constitution’s elaborate scheme of separation of powers and checks and balances have not secured the government against the danger of minority faction – tyranny by business enterprise, ambition, and wealth. Many members of congress are traitors to their constituents and their country. Congress is at a distance and out of sight and can hardly be expected to serve the public’s interest.

    It is right to direct our furry at Congress, for the legislature is designed as the most important and powerful department in our government – it is the people’s branch. But if it is no longer the people’s branch except in name, the people have a revolutionary right under natural law to amend its power.

    The pubic has an obligation to control and regulate the government. Publius shows us what it means, and what it takes, to live as responsible republicans under a written Constitution. There ought to be at once an end of all delegated authority.

    The Federalist solution is for “the people to resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and divide themselves into as many States as there are counties in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person.” The public’s confidence in and obedience to a government should be proportionate to the goodness or badness of its administration. In such a failed State such as ours, there can be no sanction for the laws but force and the problems we face “cn only be redressed, if at all, by war and violence.” Emergencies of this sort will sometimes exist in all societies and there can be no remedy but force.

    As our Founding Fathers said, “…there might sometimes be a necessity to make use of a force constituted differently from the militia to preserve the peace of the community and to maintain the just authority of the laws against those violent invasions of them which amount to insurrections and rebellions.”

    Our representatives have betrayed us and there is no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.

    It amazes me that during this whole mess nobody seems to want to talk about shutting down off-shore tax havens.

    Another voice of authority condemning the oligarchy's self-serving malfeasance is that of economist and professor of public affairs and government at the University of Texas, James K. Galbraith.

    Mr. Galbraith recently offered a timely, intelligent and insightful critique of the Obama administration's restructuring of TARP during an appearance on Democracy Now!, laying out a compelling argument why the FDIC, rather than the Treasury/Federal Reserve, should be taking the lead in resolving the issues plaguing the banking system and credit markets.

    James is the son of the late John Kenneth Galbraith, the celebrated and influential U.S. diplomat and economic theorist. During World War II, Galbraith, charged with keeping inflation from crippling the war effort, served as deputy head of the Office of Price Administration. Galbraith is among the few honorees who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice; one in 1946 from President Truman and another in 2000 from President Clinton. Galbraith also served as United States Ambassador to India during the Kennedy administration.

    James K. Galbraith's most recent book is The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.

    What happened to our democracy of self rule? Where did our freedom go? Why do we have rule makers?
    Why doesn't the government simply deliver the mail as was originally intended? Why have we become a war machine? I remember when simply the idea of a standing army was in question or doubt. Shouldn't it still be? Tyranny has come again to our shores, but not from an invading government, it came from the greed from within. How do we purge ourself from ourselves? How will the next revolution begin?
    Freedom?
    One day, for certain is truth.

    =
    MJA

    "If like me you still get those chatty e-mails from the Obama campaign, it is time to remind them that we voted for the caring community organizer from the streets of Chicago and not some hack carrying water for the predators of Wall Street." Robert Scheer 2/10
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090210_no_tough_love_for_wall_street/

    Yep.

    karl:
    Come on, Dopey! It's Limbaugh standing on his own dingus. Media runs public opinion. Big business runs government through that linkage.

    If you think Limbaugh has any other relation to the government, you're nuts! My friend, celebrity host Mike Collins in Charlotte, has a taped conversation with Limbaugh stating,"I'm only an entertainer. I say these things to excite the audience and to earn a living. I don't necessarily believe anything I say." He's a deaf attention addict working for oxycontin. Try some, he recommends it!

    Vern Urlacher: So you got out the door with your Goosegg in the fall. I see you read the Petersen Institute Newsletter 3 times. Do they have a blog?

    I'm pissed off with Obama myself, but then he's about what I expected. Maybe he has to demonstrate to people like you how hopeless things are and that they cannot be bailed out. It may be that your whole Goosegg will be able to buy one jar of salmomella peanut butter after hyperinflation sets in. Imagine that, no jobs and worthless money. And you trusted the Big Man, the work ethic, the system! Where'd it get ya? Read them old newsletters again and weep. Capitalists are always promoted above their expertise and ability, says Pete.

    Robert Fernald:

    1. It is not just that Obama has chosen Wall Street types but the particular ones he has chosen: Robert Rubin clones, people with fingers in the bail-out pie. Most of these leaders could be best described as "salesmen" and not financial experts.
    2.This mess resulted from collusion between servants to our financial elites and lawmakers. The Congress betrayed us for perks and contributions with deregulation and the Executive (Carter thru Bush II) betrayed the people with lax enforcement for the same inducements.
    3.It's too late for Big Change and re-regulation when the system is insolvent and completely extracted. All wealth comes from labor and none from a FIRE economy. I can't see how any prosecutions or paybacks are possible among buddies.
    4. Transparency? trust? What I call glasnostic behaviors. It's already "not forthcoming". Banks will not submit to audits by out dishrag government, and with Enron accounting the norm, how can they? Almost every party exceeded their reserve limits and the winners walked away with EVERYONE"S capital.

    Robert Fernald, what an idiotic Pollyanna you are! To tolerate this solution is to accept debt peonage for 90% of our population. A better attitude is that capitalism has been ended by collapse of its global corporate form. The monopoly game has imploded!
    But then guys like you may enjoy paying tribute to their "betters."

    Don't dispair- This is a great chance for the people to build a new economic system and government from the bottom up. Just push the wreckage into the recycling yard.

    I've been reading the op ed letters written by the Peterson Institute for years. This is one of the must read pieces of real information available to us today. It saved me tens of thousands of dollars as their insights lead me to leave the market when the Dow was at 13800

    I followed the election with great interest. Obama was the only candidate I ever donated to in my life. I had hoped that this was truley a new era where government would actually represent the people, and not the rich and powerful. That hope is fading. He himself may believe he can stand up against the system but as the recent bailout indicates, it's politics as usual. Today my heart is heavy as I look to what the future holds for my children and for my students.

    Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

    Interesting discussion! It got me considering the implications and I feel compelled to offer some comments.

    1.) You identify Obama's administrive picks as coming from the financial sector and liken that to giving the fox the key to the chicken coop...

    For a moment, consider just how sophisticated the global banking & financial system is. Operations and systems are complex and concentrated in the hands of a few.

    Doesn't it make sense to hire people who have an intimate understanding of those systems, their inner workings and the primary financial institutions operational business practices?

    These primary financial institutions are deeply integrated into the core workings of the global financial system. It's critical we have expertise and understanding at the helm. The alternative is hiring academics.

    I understand the perception of conflict of interest, but hands on experience wins out.

    2.) Since this crisis developed, Wall Street and banker's have been feeling the heat. While they deserve blame, let's be real! This probelm is a result of many variables... Deregulation of banking; Changes in lending practices and a shift away from institutional ownership of mortgages (no skin in the game); Origination fees becoming the focus and resulting in "flipping" mortgages for revenue (whether a borrower was qualified or not); The Federal Reserves artificial lowering of interest rates to stimulate the economy and extend a business cycle; Lowered lending standards over time; Borrower's peception that home ownership is a right; Borrower's dillusion about what they can afford to purchase; Excessive credit; The consumers need for immediate gratification

    These factors just scratch the surface, but suffice it to say, the heads of the big banks aren't the only feet to lay blame at. We should all accept some blame, then move forward.

    3.) In the coming year(s), our government will need to address the functional aspect of our financial system.

    Although it isn't being discussed today, big change is looming... Regulatory standards will be overhauled; Size of financial institutions will likely be limited as will the scope of there operations

    Our Government will need to consider implementing change with the good of the whole in mind, and the whole now constitutes the world.

    Our financial system is at the heart of global economics. We have an obligation to develop rules and regulatory practices that create stability and can be viewed as the "gold standard".

    Much of the resulting financial crisis stems from loss of confidence. The government needs to ensure companies that form the core of such activities have a narrow focus on their business goals and objectives. This is in the national interest! Their seems to be an inherent conflict of interest between "national interest and shareholder profit". How do we reconcile this?

    A question worth pondering... Should such important functions of national & global interest be left in the hands of private enterprise?

    4.) Transparency is crucial to the functioning of the financial markets. The global credit markets siezed as a result of perceived counter-party risk. Major financial centers stopped lending to each other because they lost faith in the financial stability of their partners.

    At the foundation of global lending and trade lies trust; Trust and stability are key to economic health.

    Trust is a difficult thing to gain and transparency is core to establishing trust. When we lose trust, it takes a great deal to rebuild. We can't afford to jeopardize our economic vibrancy as a result of weak public policy with respect to accounting and disclosure.

    The government will need to strengthen accounting regulations to ensure greater transparency. Furthermore, the private rating agencies, Moodys, S&P and Fitch will need to work harder at maintaining their objectivity.

    It is a concern when a government wants to control the media. The 1st Amendment(actually all 10) is the great protector of freedom in this country. The Obama attack on Mr. Limbaugh and those that attack the present administration is chilling. This espically true when you see what comes out of the Obams channel(MSNBC). Am I the only one who is concerned that this administration would seek to retrict freedom in the name of security?

    To Mr. Moyers, a poem in three parts:
    Too young to know much
    now Bill what's this
    I might be young
    but I don't live under any blinded sanguine bliss
    I know of Jim Crowe, segregation,
    i know thirty years ago race was at the heart of the nation
    and while we might be in a corporatized 'Kind of Blue'
    I'd say you'd best watch your tongue when referring to youth

    Too young to remember
    now that might be
    but Rosa Parks sitting
    ain't no folklore to me
    the bus system still works still are lynching trees
    it just seems that now they've all moved to wall street

    Now
    we may've transitioned from apartheid to classicism
    but it all still falls under bonafide racism
    and so to say that being young means your probably uneducated
    thats the saddest thing I've heard about the state of this nation
    Now why do we hear Rosa and not of Fred Hampton
    why Martin Luther King
    and not the Black Panthers
    why Malcolm X
    and not Soledad Brother
    why choose some heroes and
    then bury others
    why not just start with the whole damn thing
    educate us youth and then let Giovanni sing and
    then ruminate on James Baldwin just for symmetry.

    CORPORATE PERSONHOOD is the root cause of the corruption in all aspects of our government.

    Address this one issue and restore real Democracy.

    see post: 04/14/09 10:22 AM

    I totally agree with some of the earlier comments that the filthy rich, the so called elite, are indeed calling the shots at the highest levels of government, to ascertain the gap between the "classes" remains where it is. And these rulers will stop at nothing to keep the status quo, for if one is to look closely at, for example, what happened exactly on Sept 11 2001- the four commercial jets allowed to be crashed freely; the three WTC buildings suspiciously collapsing as if by implosion; the massive insurance policy obtained just prior to the tragedy; Bush's behavior during, and even just before the "attacks",- all of it has the unmistakable stench of the "leaders" at work in order to justify attacking Afganistan and Iraq(oil related)here, and the sickening part is that it seems as if the truth will probably never come out...Disgusting and disturbing; who are the terrorists anyway??

    What most people don't realize is big Corporations have bought up T.V. and Radio stations + Newspapers in order to DUMBDOWN the american people with slanted information and possibly with subliminal overtones.

    The government and most politicians are owned and controlled by oligarchs and predator class, the superrich.

    The people have no effective representation. Various corporate interests employ highpriced lobbyists to sway the government and politicians to promote and advance thier specific interests, often to the great disservice and disadvantage of the American people.

    Obama promised to give voice to the voiceless, and if he intends to honor that promise then predator class heads will roll.

    The predator class, the superrich are accountable just like every other American. If laws were broken, or ignored, - then there is no escaping accountability and culpability for crimes, financial malfeasance and perfidy. The socalled masters of the universe have failed miserably. The entire world was sold toxic products, and PONZI scheme's. The predator class alone profited wantonly from these abuses, and the intentinally lax oversight by the bushgov.

    Some of the TARP and Stimulus money should go to establish a peoples lobby with the same kind of access and funding that would allow the people interests to be heard and appreciated by our socalled representatives.

    Without reading all the comments (a garguantian task - but congratualtions on all the feedback), I just want to share my own conclusion: Instead of resurrecting financial institutions that have failed through their own fault, why not distribute the bail-out money (our money) among the smaller regional banks that have kept their noses clean and are not paying out millions in bonuses (or whatever names are now being used for those 'compensations')? The last thing we ever need is an oligarchy of huge institutions to dominate the market once again.

    Clear and simple explanation:

    How to predict a financial crisis and the five signs of a bear, with Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor and Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan author.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1027496846&play=1

    No.

    The federal government serves the banks. And then the corporations. If it serves the people at all, its purely accidental. Obama is as corporate as they come.

    What is your definition of elite? Somone with great ability, knowledge, or intelligence? Or someone with great wealth?

    The elites of wealth totally control our society. They control the media, the government, the military, the education system, the churches, everything.

    Are these serious questions? What is the point of this discussion. The anser is already well known. The government is a criminal enterprise. And you know it, Bill. The criminality is so extensive, that if it was well known, the system would collapse.

    the government work for the people who own it wall street the fire segment the parasites the leaches so lets do something, lets do it now . lets get wall street and investment banks out of the way and let the FDIC at rip them apart . these scum ,thieves ,robbers have lowered our standards of living shipped work off shore. rigged the laws for their own benefit and still lost,parasites then have the gall to expect us to pay while they maintain life styles of french kings. bull*%*# the only reason they have half a chance is because they bought a large segment of OUR government so next time you look at a credit card statement or consider how bankrupts is except for the very wealthy or-that no ones bailing you out or giving you help with your mortgage . and when you look at your unemployment check at half your previous take home and while you pay federal taxes on it remember and know that the rich and powerful not dachel (small potatoes) compared to corporate tax cheats you will know who to thank
    PS.!!!
    wise up you idiots in bum crap wherever heartland usa and stop electing republicans their scum right down to he bone and the earths is more than six thousand years old and shut off o'reily and linbauld and think for a change in stead of sitting in the dinner nodding your empty heads!!!!
    gregory sacchetti

    There is no hope. Who's their very favourite politician ?

    Top Contributors Obama
    Goldman Sachs $739,521
    University of California $697,506
    Harvard University $501,489
    Citigroup Inc $492,548
    Google Inc $487,355
    JPMorgan Chase & Co $475,112
    National Amusements Inc $432,169
    Microsoft Corp $429,656
    UBS AG $419,550
    Lehman Brothers $391,774

    McCain

    Merrill Lynch $349,170
    Citigroup Inc $287,801
    Morgan Stanley $249,377
    Goldman Sachs $220,045
    JPMorgan Chase & Co $206,392
    AT&T Inc $183,663
    Credit Suisse Group $175,503
    PricewaterhouseCoopers $163,670

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00009638

    Bill, thanks for the interview with Simon Johnson. It is interesting to see somewhat of an insiders take on the bailout. For the last eight months I've researching all that I can about central banking in order to make sense of what appears to be the most significant economic event in my lifetime(I'm a baby boomer). I'm but one of a rapidly expanding group of citizens awakening to our country's need for monetary reform. At a time and place in history where conservatives and liberals passionately disagree on social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage, its quite revealing that both Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich both support abolishing the federal reserve.

    A topic for investigation

    I imagine you know the right people to give this is request for investigation to test the following obvious hypothesis (which verges on conspiracy theory, but many of us seem to be assuming but not yet fully articulating it):

    "Near universal Republican opposition to the stimulus bill was based on an underlying electoral strategy for mid-term Congressional elections (to weaken Dem majority or actually regain majority) and to ultimately defeat Obama in 2012."

    If investigation confirms this Rovian, Rushian strategy, it puts it firmly in line with the objective of destroying (the public benefit side of) government by causing the failure of Obama, no matter what the costs to the nation.

    Some questions to follow:

    How did House Rep leadership, particularly the whip, prevent a single member from listening to his/her district and voting aye? Are there aides willing to whistle blow and release e-mails or other messages?

    How about aides to the Sen Snowe, Specter, and Collins? Any of them concerned for the "moral hazard' the party is running?

    Any papers on Heritage, American Enterprise, Cato, etc. laying the strategy out?

    So far I've found pieces here and there, like these future of Repub Party sites -- but nothing putting the pieces together.

    http://www.nextgengop.com/2009/01/12/open-forum-a-republican-strategy-against-the-obama-bailout/
    and

    Make the Stimulus our Battlecry
    http://www.thenextright.com/scooter-schaefer/make-the-stimulus-our-battlecry

    Is this perhaps the "elephant" in the middle of our political economic life that we're not seeing because it is so evil?

    Or am I just wrong?

    Ernie Lowe

    That's right, the government has been hijacked. I recently received confirmation of the amero from an insider...

    http://truthalert.net/Get%20Out%20of%20the%20Dollar.htm

    Great interview last night. Speaking of The Oligarchs, they've been around centuries:

    As President Woodrow Wilson regretfully said, years after he was coerced by his influential backers into pushing thru the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 mere months after assuming office:

    "Some of the biggest men in the United States in commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere, so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."

    Any wonder why the up-for-election-every-2-years congressmen took it easy on the banking heads that came before their committee the other day?

    The father of modern banking, Mayer Anselm Rothschild, said it best: "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws."

    The very best context for this whole crisis, the banking and credit meltdown of the world, is best laid out in Paul Grignon's 5 star Youtube 47-minute animated presentation of "Money as Debt" which tells in very simple, historical, and effective graphic terms how our modern banking system "faithfully" operates, the origins of the 2:1, 9:1... fractional reserve Central Bank, what money is and how it is being created out of virtually thin air. In 2004, leverage ratios were allowed to get to 30:1, 40:1, and in some cases it's been said 100+:1. (AIG might be off the scales)

    Copy, paste, laugh... then cry. It will blow your mind.

    "MONEY AS DEBT":
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279
    "MONEY AS DEBT": Google it.

    Does the Congress represent us? Does this administration? No the Congress does not represent the people and has not for some time. The infusion of non public money has corrupted the Congress beyond redemption. Until the rules change and we have all publically funded campaigns the Congress will never represent the people. The Obama administratin is trying to represent us but the Congress will fight them all the way. The People need to become more active and vocal. We can't sit back and watch our elected president be a lone ranger.

    MIGHT IS RIGHT Unfortunately

    Have our democratic forefathers implemented a means to which guard against impeding financial bias?
    What could current legislative and or executive branches do to create / enhance an inhibitory system so financial might will not surpass rational / logical solutions?

    Sometimes, on the Daily show, they will split the screen to catch a politician in doublespeak, or a flipflop. It saddens me to think that if you would poject George W. pushing his first bank bailout, and then show Obama pushing his, THEY ARE BOTH THE SAME!!! QUICK THROW MONEY AT THIS! with no real analysis, public debate or transparency! I expected better of you Barack!

    Mr. Moyers, thanks for another great and educating interview.
    It's also both sad and funny reading comments from Mr. Obama lovers and Republican supporters trying to tell us who ruined our country and who will save us. Ideology and warm feelings fog our minds.
    Are we powerless against the corrupted Congress, Govt. and powerfull lobbies? Yes, we are but only by OUR OWN CHOICE. We love games and spectacles, including baseball, elections and Congessional hearings. We get wound up, have great time, many beers and go to bed happy and exhausted. Nothing wrong with it. Then, we go to work, watch a game or a stupid tv show, drink beer and sleep with Mary. Again, it's nothing wrong. But, there is no time left for trying to study and understand the issues and to watch the politicians! No time for letting the politicians know what we think and that they are being watched. Yes, the politicians, with a few possible exceptions, are a rotten lot. They need money to fool us during elections and to enjoy their lives. They are only human beings. But to get elected they need OUR votes! Our votes, cast wisely would direct them to work for us. The same votes cast recklessly make us into victims. Lobbies are not a real competition: they don't have votes, just money. Had we let the politicians know what we want and that they are being watched, they would become as honest as saints! Because they would know that otherwise they were out! But, we have no time: we need to watch a game, have a beer and go to work. So we get fleeced royally, complain bitterly, have a beer and go to bed. And dream of a next NOBLE PRESIDENT, A KNIGHT OF CHANGE, coming to our rescue. But, who am I to teach the nation? Besides, I've been wrong so often. Good luck and God bless you.
    jnh

    YES...This Government actually does represent the people.

    People get the Government they deserve.

    Simon Johnson is part of a group of people who feed off of anyone for his own gain. To hear him speak the words of elitism and olagarcism is mearly indicative of what he said in your interview with him. He said something to the effect that the elite are getting more brazen and
    outspoken.
    They do this because the people are not stirred to action. Whether this is because of dumbing down, lack of MSM coverage or what I don't know. It is probably a mix of these things plus a couple of generations of apathy.

    So maybe this government is not representing the people in the way we would want BUT is sure is a reflection of our mindset and passion of self worth.

    What do you think?
    Does the U.S. Congress truly represent the American people? Does the Obama administration? Explain. NO, IT DOES NOT TRULY REPRESENT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! The Congress and the administration are only puppets that support corporate welfare!
    IT IS CORRUPT and DISFUNCTIONAL! IT HAS DEPRIVED THE AMMERICAN PEOPLE TO PARTCIPATE IN THE PROCESS of DEMOCRACY! It is a rubber stamp institution for the privilege and the powerful!
    What is the proper political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy?
    “The proper political balance between totally democratic decision- making...” will be when the PEOPLE are EMPOWER by the Constitutional RIGHTS and PRIVILAGES to express their “WILL on ALL ISSUES” simply by REFERENDUM!
    The people should DICTATE the LAWS and the DIRECTION they want to go and not by a rubber stamp institutions!
    It was very well stated, “The breeze from Washington is not the WIND of CHANGE...!”

    We don't control the money, how can we possibly expect to control the actions of the government? Learn the truth of our "Fiat / Debt money" system (the FED) and you'll know exactly who calls the shots.

    Your interview with Simon Johnson last night was excellent! Could we just take MR. JOHNSON over to the WH and have them listen to him! I could only wish. The treasury secretary doesn't seem to want anyone's input. It almost seems hopeless since the WH probably already knows what needs to be done. Please have your guest on again and perhaps have viewers email questions for him ahead of time.
    sincerely
    elizabeth shipley

    Mr. Moyers, Many of the States are in the process of or have already declared sovreignty. This movement, many predict, will snowball and the multi-horned head of the beast, better known as the Federal Reserve/Illuminati, will be severed. Your tv persona may seem "well-intentioned" but you are ever cautious not to tackle the truths that scream out to be told. Why no debate about 9-11, for instance? On a recent show you actually asserted, and this in the face of so much evidence that he is dead, that US troops were still seeking Osama in Afghanistan! So you iterview a shill for the IMF and ask him for advice? Pathetic, just pathetic. S

    I just watched your interview with Simon Johnson and it was the most informative, straight to the point, direct assessment of the current economic crisis that I have seen to date. I admire all those who work so hard to deliver the pbs message to the public who really need this information. I'm really impressed. I have been watching CNN, Fox, CNBC and reading Business Week and have never heard this important information. I just wonder why I didn't hear it from other news sources. Business Week basically says that the banks need more money. Wow. This interview is a golden source of information. They say that the truth will set you free. Finding the truth is the hard part. Thank you again!!

    The world is in a major transition and though people demand change, the old institutions no longer meet their needs. Historically, at such times the world's greatest teachers have come to show the way forward.

    This is such a time. Government, as it functions today, no longer meets the needs of the people, yet who knows how to move forward? Our experts, who, as you say, have gotten us into this mess, do not know the consequences of what they do. They are the blind leading the blind..trite, but how else can we describe our situation?

    There is a qualified teacher, ready to share his broad knowledge and his ideas for building an enlightened civilization which will nurture the best in men and women and will lead to great advances in every field of human endeavor.

    Watch the sky for a new and brilliant star, seen night and day. It heralds his first interview on a major US television program. See: share-international.org

    One goal of the $879 billion recovery and stimulus package is to give Americans a lift, a sense that Government has a solution to today’s woes. The crisis of confidence from mid-September has now had profound effects on the demand for credit and savings, everywhere in the world. But will the plan provide a break from the steady onslaught of gloom – from a dizzy stock market to continuing problems of the big banks? Will it give people confidence to buy something new? It’s really tough to get confidence in the future when you are dropping 150,000 jobs a week
    Middle- to upper-middle-class Americans are less confident the legislation will help them personally.
    By standing as a block against the recovery and stimulus package, Republicans have instilled doubt and distrust in the American people, sowing the seed of pessimism and fear thereby extending the economic downturn through 2010, keeping Americans out of work and getting Republicans elected in 2010.
    If the Republicans would back the recovery and stimulus package and proclaim that it would work, that would turn around American confidence and the economy would improve. Instead, as Rush Limbaugh said, their goal is for President Obama to fail. They will preach gloom & doom because the Republicans are thinking about getting a majority in Congress in 2010 and a Republican President in 2012.
    The recovery and stimulus package is not about putting 12 million workers back on the payroll, it’s about getting a party elected. Each party wants to be in power and keep their jobs and they will do whatever it takes to do that!

    This guy worked for the IMF. His job was to corrupt and exploit "emerging" economies. Doesn't that discredit him from speaking on the subject?

    If your financial manager lost 40%of your principle, would you give him a bonus? Would you give him more money to do with as he sees fit?

    Prof. Johnson had many good points whose time for public expression have come. However, I am uneasy at any other country or inity having a say about USA policy, procedures, politics, etc. Especially any foreign govt. having a say over our troops!

    Wednesday, Barney Frnaks begged the big bank guys to throw him a bone & admit they underestimated Mainstreets anger. Who was surprised when Citi big guy said, "I get it...", but did Barney know what he meant was 'You are going to get it for putting me on the spot'?

    Congress is so worried about the next election they are running around like chickens with their heads lost.

    Basic banking principles work. Smoke & Mirrors, & voodo, banking needs to be prosicuted. THOSE that got US to this point must not be allowed near our money--FIRE ALL of THEM! NOW!

    Billy Bob, Florida where ya'll were absent when the DNP & Obama denied my vote.

    CORPORATE PERSONHOOD was never mentioned in constitutional law or any subsequent legislation. It is an assumption of the court. It was established as precedent in a railroad tax case clouded by conflicts of interest, in the late 19th century. We must hold a national referendum on the issue.

    "...the biggest problem is that the avenues to challenge corporate power, to restrain it, to break it up in its present concentrated form, to take it away from the political arena, because corporations are artificial entities. They’re not real human beings. They don’t vote. They don’t die in Iraq. They don’t have children. They are entities that are dominating our politics, our electoral systems, our universities, increasingly, dominate almost everything, even moving into areas that were once prohibited by custom in our country, like commercializing childhood." ... Ralph Nader

    CORPORATE PERSONHOOD is the greatest impediment to real democracy and social justice. It's power is derived from it's ability to enjoy protection under the cloak of the Bill of Rights; specifically, freedom of speech, in the form of advertising dollars and contributions to political candidates. Corporate money talks so loud that no single person can ever hope to compete or be heard. The power of that money can only lead to corruption and chicanery. Our legislators are human and most everyone has a price. Corporations are not human and do not have a price, only greed.

    I would like us to refute the opinion of the court allowing corporations to enjoy "personhood" by national referendum. If we can do that, only that, we will be on the road to getting back true representation in the legislature. If they can't be considered "persons" then they won't have protected freedom of speech and we can control or prohibit them from interfering in the political process.

    But note: Your representative will probably NOT support such a referendum. It will have to be accomplished by petition.

    I do not have the energy to do this myself. I am too old, lack the focus necessary, the legal expertise, and other resources. I just can't work up the motivation to do more than pass this on in hopes that someone will take up this banner and run with it.

    Thank God for your last two shows! They make it clear that we need to tell Congress, "not one more cent to the banks!" If they are not intervened and broken up now, we may be forever subject to their rule. Mr. Obama needs to overcome his fear of the elite and take the great leap of faith to trust and support the people!

    NO. I am a board member of the Constitution Restoration Cooperative Association. The first 3 word of the constitution are We, the People. Somehow the people got left out in the decision making process. It is acknowledged that the ideas of the constitution came from the Great Law of Peace developed by the Iroquois Confederacy. Unfortunately, those white forefathers neglected to implement the egalitarian concepts that apply to all regardless of gender, race or otherwise. Congress is only one tiny aspect of the democratic process and they need to checked because they have not always represented the people. The people need to intervene and put the whole process in check!!!

    "Does the U.S. Congress truly represent the American people? Does the Obama administration? Explain."

    No. For explanation, for starters, look at the unsafe food and products which we are now victimized by on a daily basis. Medicines from overseas sources and (yet again) an inadequate inspection team to supervise safety. Politicians, both current and past in the White House and Congress, who feel they owe the lobbyists more than they owe the voters.

    "What is the proper political balance between totally democratic decision-making and elite management of policy?"

    I don't know but whatever the correct balance is we haven't seen it for at least 24 years.

    The us govt. represents the owners of the federal reserve corp.. The member banks are owned by individuals; foremost among these is Jacob Rothschild, London.He, his family and business partners own the fed and in effect the us government. Rothschild and company also own the central banks of europe and control the London financial area/institution known as "the City". No, the average taxpayer doesn't have a chance.

    2/13/09 The current disturbing malaise evinces the assertion of an ever latent mighty providence at work within the cosmic fabric, functioning once again at "the appointed time" of another "fullness of times" after human affairs have run another predetermined course; after which time having been "weighed in the balances[scales of justice)" of 'the Judges of the earth' and this time once again found to be dangerously "wanting" [lacking good judgment and good motivation and stabilizing practices and behaviors].

    Once such figurative 'handwriting' has appeared in the 'wall' the certain collapse has already begun 'that very night' as tbe ancient narrative discloses.

    There can now be no rescue from nor escaping the rulings of a mightily authored fairness/justice; however much some have deemed to prosper doing otherwise and disregarding the inevitability of its eventual exactions.

    As long as people build and admiringly gaze and rely upon sculptures of snow, when the heat of day has arrived what but a "meltdown" accompanied by 'weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth" can result!

    This is issue is but a symptom of a more profound, deeper problem. If you want to peel the onion or peak behind the curtain, I suggest you first begin with the BBC documentary "The Century of the Self". You can find on YouTube. This will begin to shed the real root cause of this problem.

    What a sack of BS!

    The IMF is the financial nightmare of the world. If you haven't already, you must read The Shock Doctrine. It shows how the IMF is a tool of the overly wealthy to use shocking times, such as we are in, to pass anti-democratic policies to ensure that more money goes to the wealthy from the public's hands. That is what is happening now. The government is giving our money to the banks. Take from the poor to give to the rich? That's messed up.

    The bigger picture is that The Federal Reserve and all banks need to be nationalized. The Federal Reserve is a private bank; we don't even know who the owners of it are!!! And yet, it and other banks create money and charge the government and the public for it: it's institutionalized usury on the entire nation--totally criminal. The US Treasury needs to create money, not hand over that power to private banks; that's retarded!

    Watch one or both of these videos to understand this:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-515319560256183936

    I do agree that if a company is too big to fail, it should not exist. All those big corporations looking for hand-outs need to go back to their free-market ideology and die there (along with that ideology, which is so detrimental to the vast majority of the people).

    If you want a stimulus package, don't put money in the hands of the wealthy because they just hoard it; trickle down economics is a myth. Rather, put money in the people's hands and for real work that the United States can use. For example, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure that requires at least $1.5 trillion just to make safe!

    We also need to nationalize all companies that take our nonrenewable resources: oil, minerals, etc. That would be a huge revenue generator for the public--it's the public's wealth afterall.

    Privatization is the absolutely wrong direction; anybody who suggests that is after our collective wallet. Usually, it means making monopolies, duopolies, etc. that are unregulated and can charge the public way too much money for their services.

    People, get educated! Times are much worse than they appear... Seriously... and the enemy is the federal government and the people who control it--the overly wealthy: the true oligarchs of our Corporate Orwellian Plutocracy.

    MostCrucial.Info

    Alright people, Bill seems to have exposed a rather emotionally charged subject. But let's just chill for one second, take a deep breath. Relax. Now let's look at this in a sensible way. First, you, me and the public have been asleep for years and years. Had we not been, the issue would have been raised and prevented a long time ago. The only thinking the public has done has been mostly about how to buy that new car or new gadget. Now that we're coming out a deep coma, we realize that we've been fooled all along. This is especially true for the last 8 years. Big business and banks had a field day with Bush; it was a complete turkey shoot. That's why they got him elected in the first place. Now, before you go slamming Obama, give the guy a little credit. He's had to fill 8,000 jobs to run this country. He made only 12 exceptions regarding people who were previous lobbyists. Some of them lobbied for National Education Association or Tobacco-Free Kids (a non profit that pushes to limit tobacco use). So not all of them are shady dealings. With regards to the banking issue, we live in a microwave generation where we want things done NOW. Well, this problme is going to take a bit of time to get out of. We must grant it to Obama for being truthfull. He never said it was going to be easy and he definitely said that mistakes were going to be made. So let's just take this one week at time and see how this unfolds. Besides, it's not like we have any other choice. Of course, we can elect another republican in the next 4 years and watch big business and banks sink their claws into us again. Let's give Obama a chance and see what he can do. Thanks,

    To learn the true nature of the crisis please go to the following interviews, click the name link: NR NT. Bill, please invite them. They have told the truth!

    Predicting Crisis: Dr. Doom & the Black Swan, Professor Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor and Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

    btw, Dodd, Frank, Shumer, Pelosi, Reed and their democrat buddies, let alone the reactionary republican ones are soaked in banking industry money.

    Bill, thank you for helping the new administration carry out on their promise for transparency.

    Many years ago I used the term "Oligarchs" when attempting to educate my older brother who believed that a "trickle down" economy was the best way to preserve the American way of life. Unless we move back towards a Congress that is NOT beholden to the money interests in this world, we are headed towards the eventual collapse that Rome experienced. How do we move forward? We can begin with a foundational policy promulgated in 1934, the "4-way test." If all of us at every level use the "4-way test" to measure our thoughts, statements and actions, we still have a chance. This "test" is the mantra of Rotary International. For those unfamiliar with it there is a web site. The 4 Tests are: 1.Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it built goodwill and better friendships? $. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
    I have heard various commentators state that the world of finance and international economics is just too complicated for commoners like us in general society. Yet, it is the simple and basic concepts that President Lincoln espoused and lived by that allowed our country to survive the catastrophe of the rich who made their money on the backs of slaves. Today we have a new set of slaves; the taspayers who are asked to lift the rich out of the holes they have dug for all of us. Lets return to basic standards and expect our representatives in all areas of government to live and act according to the 4-way test and we can move out of the negative and back to a positive society.

    This is the CHANGE Obama has brought to Washington? I and many others who supported his candidacy with our hard earned money have been had. Stupid me for trying to believe in government. Never again!!!!

    How far Obama has strayed from the community organizer that sought to help young black men in the South side of Chicago. The betrayal is visceral. How does he sleep at night?

    I'm not Joe the plumber, I'm Winston the boat captain, bald eagle field researcher, and photojournalist and I live here along the rock bound coast of Maine in not so sunny anymore Bar Harbor. A long time fan of your generally excellent interview show I listened with rapt attention as you interviewed Simon Johnson this evening RE the economic Melt Down.

    Let me see if I've got this right. A bunch of supposedly Best & Brightest financial Whiz Kids created the biggest mess on Wall Street and in the banking industry in the history of this country (if not in the history of this World) all in the name of lining their own pockets and the pockets of their investors with Big Bucks with not a thought given to the ultimate effect their actions would have upon their fellow citizens. They did this not for a few weeks, or a few months, but for years.

    Recently the house of cards collapsed and down came Humpty Dumpty from the infamous Wall Street Wall!

    As All The King's Horses and All The King's Men begin the difficult (if not totally impossible) job of putting ole Humpty Dumpty back together again talk turns to what should be done with the guys who pushed him off the wall in the first place.

    According to a guest on the Charlie Rose Show a few nights ago (Andrew Ross Sorkin) there is little point in punishing those responsible for ole Humpty's fall because we have to rely upon them to fix things. And given that we have to motivate them to pick up the mess they created in their greed we shouldn't in any way attempt to punish them for their misdeeds or, worse yet according to Sorkin, make any attempt to limit the profits that they can reap for doing the job.

    As today's kids might say:

    "Not!"

    Bill, I have a sense of humor and all but this is just a bit too much don't you think? I mean given the fact that the lust for profits created the problem in the first place does it seem reasonable to you to expect the same clowns (and clowns is exactly what they are) to see the error of their ways and fix things right up as long as they are allowed to reap obscene profits in the process?

    All of this reeks more than a little from the stench of entitlement that has allowed the supposedly Best & Brightest folks to get their hands around the throat of this once great nation. When all is said and done the mess we are in right now is the direct result of a mindset in which short term personal goals take precedence over everything else. Expecting that same mindset to get Humpty back together again is a bit like expecting bankers driven only by a desire for profits to use Bail Out money to improve the lot of the average American. One wonders if ole George W thought they were going to take the $750,000,000,000 and use it to open Soup Kitchens and Retraining Facilities?

    And my solution to all this?

    Funny you should ask, but here's what I'd do if I were Obama.

    1) Convene a panel, group, Grand Jury, committee, whatever, and get to the bottom of what has taken place. Or at least deep enough down in the horseshit pile to find the truly rotten apples.

    2) Charge them with whatever violations of the law that can most easily be proven and put them on trial.

    3) At the sentencing hearing give them two options:

    A) Do nothing and you go to jail. Plus your entire estate will be confiscated by the court, liquidated, and the money used ... drum roll please ... to fund Soup Kitchens.

    B) Work actively to completely repair (or at least attempt to) the damage you've done for a modest salary $50,000 a year has a nice ring to it don't you think?) and 2 years taken off their jail sentence.

    My guess is that it's not going to take much head scratching on their part to decide which is the wiser of the two courses to take.

    Dear Bill, thanks for the timely piece. This country is hanging in the balance!

    Meanwhile, how pathetic are we as American people to just let the special interest rob us our money, our jobs, our houses, our financial system, our own government, our democracy, our freedom, our future?

    This is a Mexican stand off, all those thugs who ruined America have only contempt for the decent people of this country and the world by continuing their crime on Wall Street and corruption in Washington.

    President Obama, we just elected you to represent us, people. Please show some real backbone now.

    American people, please show your backbones also.

    Or else, we are really doomed, unimaginable...

    Something close the the truth finally.

    Capitalism balances the creation and destruction of capital. In a growing economy it is the most efficient form of growth. In a collapsing economy the destruction of Capital cannot be restored by creating more money. Massive spending can cushion the fall but the engine is still broken. Our engine has been shipped to China and sold to the Saudis. The gorilla in the room is that there is no economic base on which to base a recovery. Our economy will settle into its reduced role in the world and America will fade from prominence until we have sunk low enough to regain some competitive advantage - it will be a long time coming.

    I suspect the Capitalistic Oligarchs knew this was coming years ago in the Bush Administration and they resolved to cut as much out of the carcass of lady liberty as they could get before they were made to pay.

    The problem is deeper than this. We have reached and surpassed the limits to human societal growth. Economic thinking of the 19th and 20th century ignores (externalizes) all losses to natural systems of which we humans are a sub-system. Economics and economists ignore the second law of thermodynamics. we are in the stew now. Returning to 'growth' mode is not what is needed what is needed is to re-imagine sustainability systems. None of the economists get it yet and by the time they do we will have totally fouled the garden ...

    It's really concerning that the people responsible for the problem are being hired in the administration. The kind of change we need, which this guest spoke of is not going to come from the people who participate in creating the problem! I had really hoped for better from Pres. Obama.

    There are some actual public servants in government who do take their jobs as a public trust. They are not necessarily elected. We need election reform, need campaigns to cost less, need the money to come from the electorate, period. If I never see another political ad in my life I'd be happy.

    For me, it's a Financial Industrial Complex, and oligarchy is as good a term as any. It'd be good if people just changed their behavior and their banks. We have to take back the government, and the man we hired to do that job has to be told when he's hiring the wrong people.

    Money talks, and when it walks out the door, it's gone. Our hard earned tax money is gone to feed the overstuffed oligarchs. Time for us to walk out of the banks involved in that with our money. There are lots of small banks, local banks that would love our business who are responsive to the communities they are a part of -- find them, use them, support them. We need to fire the banks that have done this since the government isn't.

    The Financial Industrial Complex is connected to the Military Industrial Complex and is just as dangerous and subversive to our best interests.

    Once again, no one has bailed me out, and if I'd done such a horrible job, I'd be fired for sure. For the life of me, I cannot understand anyone who's worth at a job is $125 MILLION a year! We get nickled and dimed to death with a fee for every little transaction so these people can insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions. Why does this make sense to anyone?

    Pay for what you buy, no credit and exhorbitant interest rates. Pay off credit cards monthly. That's another way to keep money out of their pockets and in ours.

    Live simply, buy less and locally, and freedom and independence is not far behind. These people are not invested in solving the problems we face. Their investments lie in another direction. We cannot leave it up to others, not even the well-intentioned political leaders.

    Everything is up to we the people.

    We are offered the opportunity in the present crisis to take over the banks and restaff and reorient them them.

    We can also solve the Auto company crises by lifting the burden of health care from employers and instituting a single payer government health system.

    We can divorce most money from elections by repossessing the airways during elections.

    Can't do these things?, no unless Obama MOBILIzes the populace. They are ready and want a leader. Obama does lead like an organizer, putting the voices of the people out front. But he's gaining trust first.
    I hope

    I was watching the McLaughlin group and noted all the news media hysteria, very hostile hysteria toward the Obama administration even though the man has only been in office for slightly more than 3 weeks. And the claim has been made that the news media is in the tank for Obama? Not according to "Monica," Pat Buchanan, the dude who is editor of U.S. News @ World Report. Now onto the banking system. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Geithner would put on the payroll former lobbyists for the banking industry. That got me interested enough to check out this web site. I appreciated what your first guest had to say about the taxpayers having a say about who is running the banks and how they should begin to work their balance sheets. I think that Geithner and etc. should go even further. I figured that Capital One must have been engaging in bad business practices some two years ago when they started demanding the sort of money from me through delays in properly crediting my payments to the accounts they set up, or failing to properly pay to the designated accounts monies those accounts were supposed to receive. Whereby, they could demand exorbitant fees, keeping the balance above the credit limit no matter how much money had been paid to those accounts. They were expecting those who owed money on credit cards to proceed to pay off their bad business practices and etc. Capital One and other banks should be thoroughly investigated and criminal charges brought against them. As a taxpayer invested in the initial bailout, I should be able to demand that.

    I am sorry, Stephen Cohen PhD, to be making this remark about someone contributing here, but IMHO whoever conferred that PhD ought to reconsider it.

    Well, I think he's probably right that they take us for chumps, either that, or they are merely condescending. A Britisher would understand that well enough, I suppose, however, the problem is created and sustained by allowing the banking system, from smallest state bank to Federal Reserve to lend much more money than they actually have. Indeed, the less they have the MORE the more debt they are allowed to create. Get rid of this, and it will take 99% of the problems with it. To do that you require a 100% fractional reserve requirement.

    I like what Prof. Johnson said about poachers making the best gamewardens. Hopefully President Obama can set the tone of the administration among the cacophony of those who have helped put us in the hole that we are in.
    Perhaps the professor or other experts would have been a much better choice, but unfortunately the culture of corruption that has Washington in it's grip is so used to working for the Oligarchy that they wouldn't allow an outsider without doing what was done to Kennedy; they don't recognize the value of the true economic power in this nation. The people that made them wealthy.

    It's too early to tell what effects the new president will have on changing this culture, but I'm willing to trust yet verify. I can see the forces lining up against him already. Rush Limbaugh, a major spokesman of the political elites and the wealthy in this nation has already expressed his treasonous desire to make us fail. The talking heads already disrespect the president by omitting his title when referring to him. I fear they are willing to send our nation into revolt in order to impose their will upon the population in order to hold on to power.

    Obama's only been on the job a few weeks. Did we all think he could quickly "deal with" the intrenched, financially- terroristic, world-wide cells. These opportunistic thieves ALWAYS planned to make the US a third-world country under the guise of globalization. Obama is our only hope. We need to support him. Pray that he Obama sticks to his commitment to stay out of the bubble! I'd contribute some of what little I have to pay Simon Johnson to become a staff member reporting directly to the Pres. One of the best words I've heard dropped from Simon Johnson's mouth - that word is (appropriately) ANTI-TRUST. HOPE OBAMA WATCHES OR GETS REPORTS ON BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. That would be a very good thing!!! ALSO HOPE SIMON JOHNSON NEVER SHUTS UP - BUT SHOUTS IT OUT!!!


    No the U.S. Government does not represent us. Of course not. They have been bought, and I am afraid, the Obama administration, has too (even though the rhetoric has been populist and seemingly on the side of the middle class). The economic mess we are entangled in is the result of too much power in the hands of a few, egregiously greedy and powerful wealthy elites, including the media dynasties, extractive resources oligopoly, military and the industry that supports it, corrupt banking and financial officials, industrial heads opposed to union labor to the point of selling out their country, environmnent and even their industries in order to find cheap overseas labor, and the politicians whom they all bought for pennies on the dollar. All of these folks forgot something essential about the U.S. and its citizens-- this has been a profoundly lower and middle class country, with its success largely based on the hard work and dreams of its upwardly mobile people (remember the popular story of the iconic Abraham Lincoln). Kill the dream and you kill the country. I don't think this is going to happen, because eventually a very sour population is going to realize just what has happened and why. When the bulk of the U.S. population figures out what has been done at their expense, there will be some drastic changes in the governments at all levels. We haven't gotten to that point yet, but the Obama candidacy was the just the beginning of a sea change in American's perception of their government and the above ruling elites.
    Thank you for a timely and thought-provoking show tonite.

    Almost all of the treasury hires(Geitner et al), or the economic advisors, such as Summers, have been directly implicated in the current banking crisis either through pressing deregulation when it was fashionable, or else doing nothing to control their cronies in the industry when they had the opportunity. The foxes are truly in the henhouse. I won't have any faith that the financial elite will not continue to run things for their own enrichment unless and until outsiders, for example, Krugman or Stiglitz, are given the opportunity to help shape what happens in the banking industry. It seems that Obama and the rest of the democratic party is just too beholden to the big money of wall street to make this move politically. Sadly then, despite being more concerned about just plain folks then Bush and Co.(hard not to be), the answer is that many in the Obama administration, as well as a majority in congress do not represent the interests of the American people. As always, money talks, and it has a louder voice then the rest of us put together.

    Based on the conversation, I was particularly struck by the comment connecting those politicans involved in the Banking and Finance committees and contributions from the financial industry. I do hope that ALL members of the related committees will promptly and publically release the source of ALL their political contributions. I would suggest, in the name of tranparency, that Pres. Obama immediately make that request of them.

    By choosing Mr. Geithner, Pres. Obama might hope that he is the one, who as an insider, understands and can therefore, successfully address the excesses and convoluted structure that Prof. Johnson described. But the question is whether Mr. Geithner can truly divest himself of the the past and present practices of the industry. Perhaps people such as Prof. Johnson, and the gentleman who repeatedly attempted to report the Maddox ponzi scheme to the SEC., should become important advisors to his staff.

    The only other option is, that if the large financial industrial groups cannot become, on their own volition, a true partner in our economic recovery -- then perhaps the "Trust-Busting" policies of the past should be instituted again.. Teddy Roosevelt would be right there cheering us on.....

    Of course the government does not represent the average American. Staying in power means lots of campaign financing. The "public" does not finance campaigns. Corporations finance campaigns. So corporations stay in power.
    Talk about oligarchy is talking about the obvious. Anyone who has read the two foundations of the oligarchy resurgence following the Great Society programs knows what is going on. Those two papers were "Starving the Beast" for domestic policy, and "Project for the New American Century" for foreign policy. Their principles have been most employed in the last 8 years. Nothing that has happened to the U.S. (from government failure post-Katrina to the current financial event) was an accident. The financiers/oligarchy (the power structure), represented in the Eisenhower era by the military-industrial complex, is more in control than ever. Americans are fed ideology to distract them from important issues like their livelihood. As Neil Postman said, Americans are amusing themselves to death.
    The wealthy oligarchy has been angry since the government programs of Franklin Roosevelt. Lyndon Johnson simply made the pain worse for them. So they decided to put a stop to the government taking of their money.
    They used evangelicals to help distract the public with their emotional ideological issues and the evangelical leaders received popularity and wealth of their own.
    They operated primarily through the GOP but the Democrats were not left out to the extent they could also be bought.
    They oligarchy began investing in Think Tanks of their own (Heritage Foundation, for example) and in policy papers to influence government legislation and regulation, or the withdrawal thereof. These policy papers were in turn used by their lobbyists to influence and give unthinking acceptance to the oligarchy’s ideas. The lack of critical thinking skills and greasing of political palms allowed apparent acceptance and political defense of the policies within.
    The actions of federal administrations since Nixon implemented the policies and the most horrific culmination of them happened over the last eight years. Nothing has happened to date to abate the progress of the new corruption and control of government by the financiers.
    As Thomas Jefferson said, 'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.'
    Thomas Jefferson 1802
    As someone jokingly said, “Now he tells us.”

    Look at the link between congress and donations to campaign funds. Look at the banking insiders who now are insiders in the new Obama administration.

    1.) No, it doesn't.
    2.) I don't know, but we don't have much balance, dod we?
    3.) Thank you, again.

    I said it before, I'll say it again... there is no problem, there couldn't be.

    If a bank make 10% A TIME on a "direct deposit advance" that makes 120 to 260 % a year legally.

    If at the moment margin between the Fed 0.0-0.25 % and loan average American have to pay to a bank is 6% and up (if with good credit)

    THERE IS NO BANKING PROBLEM.

    Banks don't need much, they don't even print the money they use...

    We have to start using our money (cash) ourselves and teach the banks a lesson... if the government can't do it, we the public can. It is our money... not theirs...

    and NO, I am not a chimp.

    PS for some reason in my mind is 1946 "It's a wonderful life"

    Mr. Simon obviously knows more than most with regards to the financial mess and the refusal of the new corporate leaders (or new "robber barons") to take honest and forthright responsibility for the economic mess they have created.

    What struck me in the interview, and I wish more were said about it, was this uncomfortable fact that it is questionable at best whether Congress really does represent the voters. Again, I am reminded of the Gilded Age and how tightly woven together the interests of the "elected" representatives were with those of the industrial oligarchs. Today, it appears, the oligarchs are the banks and investors (gamblers?) on Wall Street. This is evidenced by the fact that even in the face of multi-million dollar losses that have resulted in tens of thousands of lay-offs, they STILL feel entitled to obscene earnings. However, Congress could fix this problem by creating a more progressive tax structure that taxes these windfall and ill-begotten earnings at an equally fitting rate. But, that would take gumption and I'm not convinced these folks are truly up to the task.

    I agree with several of the things that Dr. Johnson said, however:

    1) refering to the FDIC's "rescue" of IndyMac as a success ? You have got to be freaking kidding me!! Assets of $32B when taken over, sold a few months later for $14B - a 56% discount on assets - at that price who would not buy troubled assets!

    Which leads to my second point:

    2) Reprivatize quickly ? Not if you want to get a good deal for taxpayers! It takes time for troubled assets to stop being troubled and longer still for these assets to appear better enough for investors so as to be sold for a fair price.

    So in summary our whole problem is to have the mentality of "I just want this to be over with". Chill, O America. The banking system isn't ending , just its fat cats who bet on these toxic assets are. Many smaller banks are ok and can take over the business of the bad ones.

    I was surprised to see that you had a guest from the Peterson Institute, which is run by Pete Peterson, co-founder of the Black Rock hedge fund. Mr. Peterson's overriding interest is privatizing Social Security. Indeed, he has bragged that he doesn't need Social Security. Of course he doesn't. The common practice among hedge fund managers is to dodge the highest federal income tax bracket by designating their paychecks as a return on investment, or something like that. So they pay, max, 15%.

    Your guest, Mr. Johnson made much sense until he advised the private takeover of these bandit banks. I hope you will rewatch that part as he slowly proposed that idea because of the slowness of his delivery, carefully gauging whether he was putting it over on you.

    Corporations, particularly enormous publicly traded corporations theoretically must have some transparency. It is silly to assume that the interlocking directorships will do anything public-spirited like clawing back obscene executive pay. We see where that has gotten us. They do, however, have to quarterly report their results in order to keep their share price increasing. In a perfect world, there are no accountancy shenanigans involved so, unlike the Bernie Madoff situation, anyone with the technical expertise can go through the financials to see what's really going on. If we were to follow Mr. Johnson's advice and place these banks in the hands of private equity, that tiny bit of transparency is gone.

    I vote no. Nationalize, fire all the executives and boards, hire perfectly capable bankers who will do the job for far less than either the old bankers or Mr. Johnson's cohorts will charge. It's our money - as depositors, shareholders, bondholders and taxpayers. Enough of all these three card monte games.

    I agree fully with your gest...at least so far into the interview.

    Below is a non-bailout, "bad bank"-style financial recovery plan.


    Eight "bank" executives just testified before a House Committee that their banks were lending and that they did not expect to need more TARP money. Thus, one must question the "Toxic Asset Plan" as currently described.

    Wouldn't it be better for taxpayers and the banks' stockholders to let the toxic securities cool until the economy recovers? This would allow time for the banks to unravel the Gordian knots of these assets and establish economically sound valuations of them. Neither stockholders nor taxpayers would be harmed by either undervaluing or overvaluing these assets now.

    Here's the non-bailout, "bad bank"-style financial recovery plan:

    1. Institutions with toxic assets separate into two "banks," with one taking all the toxic assets and the other only the good ones.

    2. Stockholders get shares in each bank, proportional to the originally claimed values. [The "good" bank is responsible for paying back first the Treasury and then the Fed for what it owes. If it cannot pay all of this back, the "toxic" bank pays the remainder.]

    3. The "toxic" bank holds its assets until it wants to and can sell them. In the meantime, its employees are paid with money obtained from selling some of the toxic assets, no matter how low the prices. No dividends are issued by the "toxic" bank until and unless the economy stabilizes and its assets can be sold at stable market prices.

    4. The "good assets" bank seeks investments from the private sector, which now does not have to be concerned about the toxic assets, because they are not in the "good" bank. (Rather than the private sector buying Federally insured toxic assets, it spends its money investing in now viable "good" banks.)
    No doubt, the new "good" banks will be significantly smaller than the parent banks, but according to Paul Volcker and the Group of 30, and to farseeing people like Nassim Nicholas Taleb ["The Black Swan"] this will be a good thing, because they will not be "too big to fail."

    5. No Treasury money or loan guarantees are involved in these dealings.

    6. The Federal Reserve provides long-term loans to sound, FDIC-insured banks for the sole purpose of making sound consumer and business loans, including mortgages, and the refinancing or modifications of mortgages that are held by people who can afford them. This does not require taxpayer money.

    7. If this is not enough, the Treasury provides, with strict controls, "seed loans" to help private investors start new, Federally regulated banks that will make consumer and business loans, including mortgages. Executives and managers of banks that needed Treasury or extraordinary Fed help cannot be employed by these banks, ever.

    8. As the economy stabilizes, the Fed slowly brings it's interest rates on new loans back to moderate levels to minimize inflation without causing increased unemployment.

    The public sector and private sector are two different animals, I might even say opposite. For instance, in the private sector decision are usually made secretly--you don't want to lose a competitive edge. On the flip side, governmental decisions are made (with certain exceptions) in the open. Government in a free society rapidly becomes dysfunctional if it becomes too secretive.

    Delegating the policymaking to people with the time and expertise is a start. For a check, leave something like a referendum, so if a critical mass of people honestly think their interests aren't being addressed they can have method. However, the threshold to pass a referendum, should be fairly high. Otherwise you end up with conflicting laws that basically make it impossible for anything to get done--everyone complains that government can do anything.

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