I was in Canada when I watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do what many, myself included, thought was the impossible: win the nomination as the Democratic Congressional candidate for New York’s District 14, beating incumbent party boss Joe Crowley, one of the most powerful machine Democrats in New York City, who hadn’t been challenged since he was essentially handed his congressional seat nearly two decades ago.
I watched it on Twitter, sensing the shock of my colleagues in the New York press corps. Those of us who were natives had grown up in, and continue to live in, a New York City that is ruled by money at every turn. Politics is no exception; if anything, it is the rule. Candidates in New York are typically taken seriously based on the weight of their “war chest,” how much money their campaign has accrued. In one campaign funding quarter, incumbent party boss Joe…
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I have been personally processing large amounts of information over the past several days regarding the NSA / PRISM data liberation, and the responses of the U.S. Government to same. There seem to be 2 points of the affair which are most contentious: Is the massive, all-encompassing spying being done by the government of grave concern, or no big deal? And whether the people involved in the release of the classified data are heroes or criminals. There has been plenty of heated debate on both of these points, but I have some thoughts on several things which have not received much attention – in fact, you may not have heard or thought of them at all.
Edward Snowden, the former spy who gave the documents in question to the press, stated he was making $200,000 per year. Booz Allen, his most recent employer, recently stated Edward’s salary was…
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People, can we face some hard truths about how Americans save for retirement?
It Isn’t Happening
Here’s a fact: most people aren’t seriously saving for retirement. Ever since we chucked widespread employer based pension systems for 401K’s and personal responsibility, people just haven’t done very well saving. They take money out for college for their kids, or an unforeseen medical expense, or they just never put money in in the first place. Very few people are saving adequately.
In Fact, It Shouldn’t Happen
Next: it’s actually, mathematically speaking, extremely dumb to have 401K’s instead of a larger pool of retirement money like pensions or Social Security.
Why do I say that? Simple. Imagine everyone was doing a great job saving for retirement. This would mean that everyone “had enough” for the best-case scenario, which is to say living to 105 and dying an expensive, long-winded death. That’s a…
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From October 2008 through September 2014, Bank of America paid over $98 billion in 67 separate fines or settlements due to criminal activities. Over these 6 years, this results in an average of $16…
The only vote I would ever cast for Hillary is ‘guilty as charged’.
Trump is a moron and an asshole, among many other things. (Racist, tasteless, tactless, self-centered, hypocritical, hateful, stupid….) The only vote I would ever cast for him would be to vote him off the island.
I voted for Jill Stein in 2012. The world did not end.
Strong showings by candidates who are not republicans or democrats can help instigate change, even if the candidate loses that particular election. It can be easier to get on ballots in the future, public funds can be freed up, private interests may feel better about donating money, good candidates could be encouraged to run in future elections, etc.
The President is only one person. 30 Senators and 100 Representatives working together could arguably effect more change, for example. (Ideally non Republicrat ones)
I have been on the Bernie train since the day he started running, and have been a fan of his for years, but probably more a fan of most of his policy positions, and his honesty and conviction. Out of the 320 million people in this country I would bet there are at least a few thousand who would be very similar to Bernie in their beliefs, principles, ability, and actions. Lets get them into state, local, and national offices and see what happens.
I decided in 2012 to never again vote for a republican or a democrat running for national office (President and Congress) and voted for several ‘third’ party candidates for state and local offices in 2012 and 2014. If 20 or 30 million more people did this, it would certainly shake things up a bit. Imagine Trump / Hillary winning with only 36% of the popular vote. This is not a playoff football game, one loss does not mean everyone has to go home sad.
I noticed some things during Bernie’s speaking engagement today that you probably won’t see in many media stories about him, and thought I should share one person’s first hand account.
Bernie spoke for a few hundred people at 9 AM today, after drawing 10,000 in Madison, WI last night. I was in the front row about 20 feet from the podium.
One thing that stood out was the respect Bernie showed for his political rivals in Washington. He repeatedly used the phrase “my Republican colleagues”. No name-calling, belittlement, or disrespect shown, even though he fights, disagrees, and / or argues with them on many issues on a regular basis.
Another thing I noticed many times today was Bernie’s use of “we” and not “I” when speaking of past events or future plans. There were several times when he said we, and I thought ‘don’t you mean I?’ For example: ‘We accomplished this’, or ‘We need to fight for these changes in the future’. Many times he used ‘we’ when most normal people would have said I, not to mention what most politicians would say. Whether this is the way Bernie really feels, or just a planned strategy, I still found it notable, as compared to how other politicians speak.
Bernie stood at the podium for well over an hour, no glass of water, no pauses, lots of hand gestures, very energetic passionate, and sharp. During the audience questions, he was very respectful, gave direct answers to the questions asked, and did not cut anyone off, even if they rambled on a bit. No wishy-washy answers, or ‘I’ll look into it’.
From October 2008 through September 2014, Bank of America paid over $98 billion in 67 separate fines or settlements due to criminal activities.
Over these 6 years, this results in an average of $16.4 billion per year.
Bank of America’s net income for 2014 was only $4.8 billion.
From May 2010 through May 2015, JP Morgan Chase Bank has paid over $46.8 billion in 63 separate fines or settlements due to criminal activities.
Over these 5 years, this results in an average of $9.4 billion per year.
From February 2009 through December 2013, Wells Fargo Bank paid over $22.9 billion in 30 separate fines or settlements due to criminal activities.
From March 2008 through May 2015, Citigroup Bank has paid over $27.5 billion in 45 separate fines or settlements due to criminal activities.
These are just the criminal activities they have been ‘punished’ for. There are likely many more crimes which they have committed without being caught, and / or punished.
These banks happen to be the four largest U.S. banks, with over $8 trillion in assets. The 205 total fines or settlements against them exceeded $195 billion over the past 7 1/2 years.
Any profits a corporation makes could be used to pay employees more, be given to stockholders as profit payments, or used to decrease costs to its customers. Bank of America currently has about 224,000 employees. Over the six years in question, if it had not had to pay for the criminal activity it was engaged in, it could have paid each of its employees an extra $73,000 per year in wages.
The current total value of all Bank of America stock is around $176 billion. The $98 billion total spent on 6 years for criminal activity would amount to approximately 57% of the market value of each share of stock. So a person with $10,000 in Bank of America stock could receive an additional profit check of $5,700, had this money not been used to pay fines and settlements. This is a moot point, as the profits taken from criminal activities were likely 3 – 10+ times the penalty / settlement amounts. Had the $16.4 billion per year been used to reduce customer costs, such as interest charges, the overall business done by the bank would likely have increased greatly, thus enabling the hiring of more employees, increased pay for existing employees, more profit to shareholders, and increased bribes to politicians.
If an organization does a large amount of legal, legitimate business, and some criminal business, is it not still a criminal organization? Say a Mafia ‘family’ runs some laundromats and car washes legally and legitimately for 70% of its profits, but also runs protection rackets, does some robberies, money laundering, murder for hire, drug dealing, and dabbles in human trafficking for the other 30% of its profits. Is it proper to allow them continue operations? If not, why are we doing this with banks?
As the President, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. congress are too corrupt to destroy these criminal organizations, the states should take the responsibility of doing so. All states have laws in place to shut down criminal enterprises, we should start using them.
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6,300 corporate fines and settlements for criminal activities, with links to articles describing each:
The overall amount of student debt outstanding has doubled since 2007 to around $1.3 trillion. The federal government’s direct lending represents more than 85% of origination volume.
Approximately 76% of federal student loans are originated with zero credit underwriting
The overall default rate (270 days without repayment) on outstanding federal student loan balances is 9.1%. Loans in deferment and forbearance represent an additional 22.7% of total outstanding loan balances.
Loan default rates by type of school:
- Private non-profit: 5.2%
- Public 9.6%
- Private for profit: 13.6%
As of June 2014, $543 billion in loans are in repayment, while $545 billion in loans are not being repayed for various reasons. (In school, grace period, deferment, default, etc.)
Much of this borrowing benefits for-profit schools. Students at for-profit universities are twice as likely to utilize federal student loans. Approximately 68% of the students at these schools either drop out or do not finish their degree programs within 6 years.
A larger percentage of students are taking out federal student loans (48% in 2012 versus 33% in 2002)
An average of 40% of students at four-year institutions (and 68% of students in for-profit institutions) do not graduate within six years, which means they most likely do not benefit from the income upside from a higher degree yet have the burden of student debt.
Student loan info starts on Pg. 52.