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Notes From Bernie Sanders Town Hall Meeting in Rochester, MN This Morning

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’.

* beeeerrrrrnieWill add to this post when I can.


Time to Stop Pervasive Big Bank Criminal Activities


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.

…..   ….   …..

6,300 corporate fines and settlements for criminal activities, with links to articles describing each:


Additional info:

U.S. Student Loan Data From 2014

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.

The Plundering of Ireland

Thorough account of the recent economic rape of the Irish people, at the hands of bankers, politicians, and their rich cronies. …

Many links.














What is commonly called the bailout as in the article above was in fact an epic stitch up. Our total government debt was about €47 billion in 2007, the second lowest in the Eurozone standing at around 25% of GDP and we were running a budget surplus in the 5 previous years. We have moved from this position to owing the monstrous sum of €215 billion. The main reason for this is that the true cost of the bank bailout is over €110 billion and most of it has been added to the national debt.

The National Pension Reserve Fund and general exchequer fund were raided for €17.5 billion and transferred to the European Financial Stability Facility & Mechanism (EFSF&M) funds. The EU then generously allowed us to borrow €67.5 billion from the EFSF&M which we are paying back with interest. €64 billion of this has been used directly cover private and illegitimate banking debt. In this way the EU gets to have the Eurozone banking system stabilized at the expense of the Irish people and we get to pay for the privilege via the interest we pay on the debt. This does not include the €32 billion also borrowed that we have pumped into NAMA to indirectly prop up the banks by taking the bad commercial property loans off their books. Adding the 3 figures together (17.5 + 64 +32) gives a total cost of around €113 billion and counting for the bank bailout so far. Most of this money has been borrowed and the interest payments make up a major component of our current annual budget deficits.

It should be also be understood that most countries run a budget deficit most of the time and it makes perfect macro economic sense to do so. It’s really only the Eurozone countries that are required to borrow their own currency in the market at an interest rate determined by the market. Fiat currency issuing nations like the U.S and U.K do not need to obtain dollars and sterling from the bond markets to finance a budget deficit or indeed to cover private banking debt in the domestic currency. When they do choose to issue government bonds the primary objective is to implement monetary policy (e.g. drive their chosen base interest rate to target) not as a necessity to raise revenue. In addition, when those countries do ‘borrow’ in the market, they effectively decide what the yield/interest will be unlike the Eurozone nations subject to the tender mercy of the speculators.

In contrast, the Euro single currency was deliberately designed to allow speculative financial capitalism to profit massively from member state sovereign debt as monetary policy is now in the hands of the ECB who impose destructive neoliberal economics on the citizens with the assistance of member state puppet governments including our own FG/Labour quislings and FF before them.

The Austerity program imposed by the Troika and 2 successive governments achieved exactly what it was designed to do. That is to slash the social support structures like Health and Education and drive down the wages, working conditions and living standards of ordinary people to pay for the economic crisis caused by the capitalist elite. Privatization of our national infrastructure like the water network will follow soon as per the old IMF playbook. To justify austerity, they peddle the economic fairy tale that nations need to ‘balance the books’. This is nonsense in a macro economic context. Most countries run a budget deficit most of the time and always have done. Vicious austerity is applied to the people of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece while in contrast the ECB has created over a trillion euros by pressing keys on its shiny computer in Frankfurt and made it available at extremely low interest rates to the parasite banks whose greed and stupidity triggered the economic crisis in the first place. Austerity is for the little people.

In fact with the fiat floating currencies we’ve had since the 1970s there is no need whatsoever for a sovereign currency issuing government/central bank like the U.S. or Japan to ‘borrow’ at all in its own currency. They can simply create the currency at will electronically on computer keyboards. This is a major factor in why sovereign currency issuing governments actually control bond interest rates regardless of the state of their economies and with far higher debt to GDP ratios than the Eurozone nations. The government ‘debt’ market is in reality an extremely generous, risk-free, interest bearing deposit facility for the large financial institutions and ultra wealthy. Continuing this neo liberal agenda, the Eurozone was deliberately designed to allow private banks (markets) to profit to an even greater extent from member state debt and so allowed them to set the borrowing rate for Euro countries on an individual basis.

There’s no mystery to US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner’s intervention in the Irish bailout. Wikileaks has already revealed the reason.
June 13, 2011 by namawinelake’s-no-mystery-to-us-treasury-secretary-timothy-geithner’s-intervention-in-the-irish-bailout-wikileaks-has-already-revealed-the-reason/

#WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Plans for Privitisation (#IrishWater) + Call to Competition Authority

So, lets see – #IrishWater: a synopsis so far.

Ireland goes bankrupt and the Troika calls for more taxes.
Water meters are decided upon and a plan to build Irish Water are hatched.
Siemens, a company with massive resources and know-how in this area – and also with a massive installed base in the UK – offer to install the meters for free.

Phil Hogan declines Siemens’ offer – no answer as to why he decided this was ever forthcoming – “just, no – we have an Irish solution to this”
Both Siemens and industry analysts are baffled as to why a state would go for a far more expensive solution.

Denis O Brien, the man accused by a High Court Judge to have “beyond all doubt” bribed a FG government to gain control of a a state asset (Esat)- and to have subsequently made hundreds of millions by selling same – “purchases” a company called Siteserv which specialises in the installation of water meters.

This is about a year before the water meter tender.

Now, numerous European companies also wanted to buy Siteserv and offered way more money for the company (which then owed €100 million to Anglo Irish Bank and was completely insolvent).

The Irish Government (weirdly again FG) – (or actually you, Mr(s). Irish Taxpayer) gave the company to Denis O Brien with the €100 million owed to Anglo (now state owned – i.e. by you) written off. It’s not written off for you, the taxpayer – you still pay it – it’s just that Denis doesn’t, got it?

Some gamble for Denis to buy a company with €100 million written off and with no guarantee of a lucrative water meter contract.

A business in an area where he has no previous experience or competence.
Siteserv subsequently bids in the EU tendering process and, lo and behold, wins. The contract is for hundreds of millions of Euros.

Now, enter Irish Water.

The CEO of which used to be the financial officer of an organisation which spent €100 million of Irish taxpayer’s money on the, according to the EU, illegal process to build an incinerator in Dublin.

No incinerator was ever built or will ever be built but €100 million, again of your money, is gone – and John is now the CEO of Irish Water.

No minutes of meetings – which spent €100 million of your money were ever recorded – the money is just gone.

John then installs his homeboys and homegirls from the Poolbeg project to Irish Water – citing the abysmal salaries at Irish Water as the reason why nobody else would apply for these jobs.

People who were direct beneficiaries of the illegal Poolbegl scam are now newly fledged semi-state employees.

Paid for by you, the taxpayer – again.

The biggest langer in this solar system is the Irish taxpayer.

This is just the latest episode of the calamity that is Ireland Inc.

Odious debt
In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.

Irish meltdown was world’s worst since 1930s – IMF report

30 Days in September: An Oral History of the Bank Guarantee

leaked AngloTapes today full list of leaked AngloTapes & leaked list of Anglo bondholders from 2010

Anglo Tapes – The Reality AngloTapes

Drumm knew of Anglo €6bn ploy to save bank

Anglo Irish Bank : secret recordings

Gardaí have had the Anglo tapes for over four years, says Kenny

Anglo executive given immunity deal by the DPP

Fed Whistleblower Exposes Bernanke & Geithner

how the ECB actually owes Ireland €64 billion!

Revealed: how troika got €220m fees from the Irish taxpayer

Who are the Anglo Irish Bank Bondholders
List of the Anglo Irish Bank Bondholders

Bill Gates was bondholder in bailed-out Irish zombie banks

Mr Tepper
US fund manager who gambled on Bank of Ireland bonds in 2012 earned USD $2.2bn (personally, that is, himself)

Mr Tepper

Billionaire Chelsea owner threatens to sue Irish government
But now Abramovich’s company Millhouse, which holds subordinated (“risky”) bonds in INBS, says it will pursue “all possible legal means” to defend its position if the government decides not to honour the full amount of the bonds when they mature.

Who runs the Irish government Anglo Irish Bank Bondholders

European Affairs Minister Creighton Questioned on Cypriot and Irish Bank Bondholder Bailouts
Ireland makes up 0.9 percent of the EU population
The Irish economy makes up 1.2 percent of EU GDP Irish people have paid 42% of the total cost of the EU banking crisis

how much irish banks were in debt at the bust!
Vincent Browne takes on Klaus Masuch over the issue of the Irish people having to foot the bill for unguaranteed bondholders.

41% sacrifice food to pay for light and heat: Credit unions survey

ONE of the busiest urban garda stations in the country is set to close “in a matter of weeks”

95 Garda stations to close by end of month

Ms Curley was just 15 minutes away from Roscommon hospital when the accident occurred in November of last year. However the closure of the A&E facility there earlier in 2011 meant the ambulance had to bypass the hospital.

DUE TO HSE cutbacks, ambulance stations are to close for certain time periods from September.

Own Our Oil–k

MY OIL & GAS – Ireland and Norway

Some truths about the irish oil.–lw

Unlocking Nama

It’ll take us 43 years to fill all empty houses

Ireland’s Grass-Roots Protests Light a Fire #IrishWater Can’t Put Out

Long Distance Corn


I was involved in a conversation a while back which I would like to share. Myself and 2 or 3 other guys were in the shop trading stories, when the subject of Walmart came up. The consensus was we all hated Walmart and its business practices, and avoided shopping there if at all possible. One guy then told about the last time his wife was able to drag him to Walmart to get groceries. Being a union guy, he likes to check products to see where they are made (buy American, buy union, etc.). He picked up a can of corn and looked at the back of the can, which said “Product of China”. Corn, brought halfway around the world and sold in Rochester, Minnesota, which is located in what I am pretty sure is the largest corn production region in the world, the upper Midwest. But wait, there’s more. The particular Walmart store we were discussing is located less than 400 feet from a huge Seneca Foods warehouse complex, which contains large quantities of locally grown canned and frozen corn, along with other vegetables. About ten blocks from this warehouse complex is the plant where these vegetables are processed, which actually has a water tower shaped and painted like an ear of corn. (This was a Libby’s plant before Seneca took it over.)  I get the financial aspect of this whole situation. Walmart would most likely not be selling corn produced in China if they were not making a profit doing it. That being said, it is still illogical, and a waste of resources to ship corn halfway around the world, when over a billion bushels of corn grown in the U.S. is exported each year. (See chart below.) If money is the only good reason for doing something, and there are several good reasons not to do it (wasted fuel and labor for transport, pollution of said transport, etc.), is it in the best interests of the planet and its inhabitants to continue doing it?


Welfare Queens ?


Welfare is often derided as payment to people for doing nothing, or people getting paid not to work. The recipients are called freeloaders, lazy, etc. I would like to apply this definition to selected government programs which are not generally considered ‘welfare’, compare the spending of these activities to the spending of programs traditionally defined as welfare, and see which parties are actually the biggest freeloaders on taxpayer money.

Unless noted, all figures being used are from the White House Office of Management and Budget, and cover the period from 2009 through 2013, with annual figures being the average of these five years.

The total cost of the following federal programs averaged $203,554,000,000 ($204 billion) over the past five years:

  • All food and nutrition assistance (food stamps, etc.)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (not Social Security)

While not accounting for the total spent for all programs where it could be argued that individuals receive money for doing nothing, the total spent for these items makes them the three most expensive programs which make direct payments to individuals, and covers the lion’s share of what is traditionally defined as welfare. I am leaving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid out of this section, as these programs are paid for by workers and employers, and not generally considered ‘welfare’.

$204 billion per year is a lot of money. But is it really, when compared with other federal government programs which literally pay individuals and organizations for doing nothing?

The net interest paid by the U.S. Government over the past five years has averaged $211 billion per year. The people who collect this interest are getting paid for doing nothing. Just sitting on the couch, eating Cheetos and watching Oprah, while collecting interest payments. Some of them are probably using these proceeds to buy drugs or liquor, the lazy freeloaders. The annual cost of this one program is more than the fore-mentioned traditional welfare programs. Foreign and international organizations hold close to half of outstanding U.S. Treasuries, accounting for approximately $100 B of the 211 B annual average interest paid. At least most funds spent on traditional welfare immediately re-enter the economy in America, when they are spent on food, rent, or anything else, which in turn benefits other Americans. Conversely, interest money going to foreign countries may never make it back into the U.S. economy.

National defense and veterans affairs cost $793 billion per year, on average, over the period we are analyzing. Obviously, the taxpayers are receiving some value for the money spent here, but a great deal of this amount can certainly be considered welfare. Any profits realized by contractors providing goods and services to the Defense Department is also the amount the government was overcharged for said goods and services. These overcharges are then given to the shareholders of contracting corporations as profits. Overcharging is not work, so this is welfare. One could also argue that money spent by the government for which no benefit is realized by American citizens can be considered welfare, whether any actual work was done or not. Most of what the U.S. military has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries could and should have been done by native police, military, or other organizations and paid for by the people of these countries. These goods and services are welfare benefits received by the people of these countries, at least for the ones on the ‘right’ side. Any jobs ‘created’ by this activity in Africa, Asia, and the middle east are not likely to be filled by unemployed Americans, taking them off the welfare rolls. Any business opportunities or advantages realized as a result of the U.S. Military murdering various people are welfare benefits realized by the corporations which gained said opportunities. The U.S. Government has also spent obscene amounts of our tax money for building schools, sewer systems, and other infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Because we don’t need any of those things in Detroit or Newark or Atlanta.) The people using these items are getting free stuff. Bribes paid to politicians and weapons fall into the ‘welfare’ category as well. If the U.S. Government had not pursued illegal, imperial wars of choice based on lies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and several other countries over the past five years, the $793 billion annual “defense” cost could have easily been $400 billion less. With all of this taken into account, a $400 billion per year war welfare amount for war seems reasonable, if not too small.

For our five year time period, total corporate profits in the U.S. were $9,589 billion, while corporate federal income tax receipts were $1,027 billion, for an overall tax rate of 10.7%. From 1967 – 1971, the actual corporate income tax rate was 34%. Applying the 23.3% difference in rates between the 1967 – 1971 period and the past five years gives an annual average of approximately $447 billion in lost tax revenue. Forty-five years ago is ancient history, you say? The period from 1996 through 2000 saw an actual corporate income tax rate of 24.8%, or 14.1% greater than the that of the past five years. These two periods are only separated by 8 years. This 14.1% difference, when applied to the past five years profits, averages $270 billion per year. This lost revenue, by itself, is much more than the total cost of traditional welfare. One could argue that a tax decrease cannot be considered welfare, as the recipient does not receive money, but pays less in. Many corporations not only pay no tax, but get a refund to boot. These instances can certainly be considered welfare, and are part of the reason the overall tax rate is so low. All corporations paying one-third to half of the total tax rate they have paid in the past, and a much lower rate than that which many individuals pay, can arguably be considered a form of welfare.

From just the three areas of government activity and amounts presented here, up to $1,058 billion per year has been spent on welfare for these programs, with most of these benefits going to corporations, wealthy individuals, and foreigners. Are these welfare activities a better use of funds than helping people in the U.S. who need assistance? Are they worth over five times as much? Would you prefer some of your tax dollars go toward feeding your neighbor’s kids, or give five times that amount to the government of China, corporations, billionaires, warlords, and regular people on the other side of the planet?


(Previous article revised for my newspaper column.  –  –

Public Banking – Good For the People


Why should any sufficiently large government entity use a gigantic, multinational, for-profit bank for any purpose? The best interests of the people represented by a government body would seem to be served by keeping any profits and interest from government financial transactions in the area where these people live.

Public banking is a way to do just that. It can be done at a national, state, county, or local level. It has been working well for decades in Germany, India, China, Brazil, and North Dakota, among other places. Study up a bit and see if you think it is a good idea.

Good overview with FAQs:

An effort to nationalize the Federal Reserve Bank:
FB page:

Interview video with transcript:

Focus on Germany:

Focus on North Dakota:


Good article:

Brief history of banking in America:

Good MSM overview:

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