The Rude Guy Podcast #71 September 10, 2010
[Dump the Dems; Dump the Bad Mortgages]
Rich Zubaty here.
Look, I’m happy the war in Iraq is wrapping up. Even though we’re leaving behind 50,000 soldiers and 100,000 mercenary soldiers deceitfully called: military “contractors”. Our, kind-of departure shows the world that we came not to conquer. And even if we DID come to conquer, if you, the peons, complain long enough and loud enough, our next president will reverse course and withdraw our soldiers. That said, I’m furious that the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up. It’s a shell game. Moving men and money from one place to another. And it’s a shell game being perpetrated by a president who took the national stage as an anti-war candidate. Listen to what Ariana Huffington had to say about it:
Quote: Being against the war in Iraq from the beginning was in many ways the reason Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination. It singled him out on an issue Dems really cared about. However, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to say that had Obama been in the Senate in October of 2002, he would have voted with Hillary Clinton on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Resolution, and thus there never would have been a President Obama — at least not in 2008. unquote. Very well-said Ariana.
We covered this in one of my recent podcasts. Obama is a great one for proclaiming LOUDLY AND OPENLY that he is deeply disturbed by something, and then voting in favor of it. He told us he did not become president to help fat cat bankers, but when the time came to push legislation to break them up, he went on vacation. Presidential candidate Obama told us repeatedly everyone should have a public health insurance option, but then he threw that away as a bargaining chip with the insurance companies before the health care debate even began.
And if you think the last U.S. soldier has died in Iraq, or the last innocent Iraqi civilian has been murdered by our troops, think again.
Here’s what’s strange to me.
The American left is being led by people who used to be conservatives. Conservatives who got so disgusted with the Republicans they switched over. Supposedly. Ariana Huffington – long time conservative who married an oil tycoon. Bill Maher – Mr. Politically Incorrect himself, the self-proclaimed compassionate conservative. Ed Schultz, who in the early 1990s was hosting a conservative radio talk show, and as recently as 2000, Schultz was still cheerleading on the air for far right candidates and causes. He says he had a change of heart, abandoning his conservative outlook, after his girlfriend (now his second wife), who volunteered in a Salvation Army soup kitchen, challenged him to stop by and actually meet some of quote “the bums” he had routinely castigated on his radio show. Dylan Ratigan worked for Bloomberg financial news and CNBC. Keith Olbermann supported the invasion of Iraq. Cenk Uygur, new kid on the block, is a former Rockefeller Republican who wants to be a liberal. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have all of them on our side. But this really reveals how absolutely devoid of visionaries and risk-takers the Democratic Party has become. It’s as if the party had a deadly plague epidemic, that killed off all the leftist activists. It’s stark evidence for how stupid and shattered, and in my opinion “feminized”, the Left has become, by supporting social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and ignoring economic issues like Wall Street abuses and living wages for workers. It now takes conservatives to oppose conservatives because Obama and his Democratic party lemmings are too busy learning how to be conservatives.
Now hear this: The only way to get the Dems to pay attention to the Left, is for us to boot them out of office. Then they’ll sit up and take notice and advocate for us again. The longer they stay in office, the more deals they’ll make with the corporations and banks. Obama has shown the way. Obama’s politically to the right of Bill Clinton, who ran an embarrassingly conservative administration that kissed the asses of Wall Street bankers. How else do you think Hillary, from Chicago and Arkansas, got to be a New York Senator? There is NO CHANCE the Dems are gonna enact leftist programs while they are in the White House. Our only chance is to affix leftist riders, hitch-hiking on Republican legislation. Insane but true. Leftists are better off with Republicans in power because then we have a clear enemy.
So…outrageous as it sounds…especially coming from someone who has never voted Republican in his life, I am going to encourage you to vote against the Dems this November. Or like me, just don’t vote. Yes, things will get worse, but they’re already worse. And later, as the Dems come up to bat against the Republicans, there will be chances to change things. For instance, on a bill for cutting taxes for the rich, the Dems could attach a rider to introduce a pubic health insurance option for the poor. Or something like that. Obama isn’t gonna do that. He’s a useless president. Richard Nixon, who gave us food stamps, fully anticipated signing a public health insurance plan in the 1970s, but the Dems dropped the ball by not pushing it, so we ended up with the newly licensed, for profit, HMOs. Outrageous. We right were on the goal line for public health care forty years ago and the Democrats fumbled the ball!
Also…Housing prices have to be allowed to crash, instead of propping them up to make the banks happy by supporting “bond prices”? So says Dylan Ratigan. These bonds are the infamous mortgage backed securities, and they are still causing problems. Let ‘em crash. Let the market find the price of housing. If your house is under water let the banks eat it. Walk away from it. The only reason your house cost as much as it did is because banks rigged the securities markets, and drove the prices up. Your house was NEVER worth that much. What Obama is doing by propping up mortgages, trying to rescue mortgages, is artificially keeping the price of housing high. Which is why no one is buying houses. It’s a disastrous asinine Democratic policy designed to help banks. Fuck banks.
Here…Listen to the mortgage packagers online pitch: quote; “Mortgage-backed securities can offer you monthly income, a fixed interest rate and even government backing. Yes folks: Profit From Mortgage Debt With Mortgage Backed Securities. Call us. Assholes Anonymous. 1 800 asshole. I made up the last part, but not the first part. These guys are in the business of helping you PROFIT from someone else’s debt. Except they ran the debt up too high, and now the whole thing has to come down.
Dylan Ratigan also says the stimulus was just an attempt to make up for lost tax revenue because of the crashed economy. The stimulus money went to keep local and state employees working. What bullshit. Everyone else gets laid off but not government employees? When there are less houses being built we need fewer building inspectors. Fewer new cars being bought, we need fewer DMV employees. And don’t even get me started on teachers. They live in some kind of self-righteous fantasy bubble. They really believe society cannot survive without them filling kids heads with touchy feely bullshit about whales and the four food groups and patriotic wars.
OK, I’m wandering off the path. Let’s bear down on the housing mess. Housing prices are too high. They have to crash. The reason they are too high is because the government insured the risky loans made by strip mall lenders and big banks, who churned sales and drove prices up and up and up. Total disaster.
Here’s what Rick Wolff says about it on Truthout.org.
The unspoken ideological taboo in most public discussion of the economic crisis prohibits seeing or treating the problem as systemic, as a problem of capitalism as a system. Instead, our political, journalistic, and academic leaders mostly see only symptoms and “develop policies” only for those symptoms. Alarms about one symptom soon shift to another symptom, and “policy responses” for it. Often such policies for one symptom actually worsen another symptom. For example, when stock markets collapsed early in 2000 (a symptom), the Federal Reserve drastically cut interest rates (a policy response); that move facilitated the excess lending that collapsed the entire economy in 2007.
Today’s alarms focus on housing and huge government subsidies. To see the systemic problems of the US housing industry, consider its basic economics. The “American dream”, of owning one’s home, was never affordable to the vast majority of US families because the wages or salaries paid by their employers were never enough. (sez me: Because the price of housing is determined by rich speculators driving the price up) To realize the dream therefore required borrowing. However, because working families had insufficient wages and salaries and no accumulated wealth – as a result of US capitalism — private banks rarely lent to them. The vast majority of them, not merely the poorest among them, were too risky as borrowers.
A “solution” was found within US capitalism. The government would subsidize and guarantee private banks’ loans to millions of homebuyers. This solution boosted profits in private banks’ mortgage loan business. It indirectly subsidized all the industries producing for private homes. Yet it did not raise wages and salaries (something capitalists opposed). Many US workers became homeowners with large, long-term mortgages, making them more dependent on keeping jobs, not offending employers, and being compliant workers. That experience also prepared workers to accept credit card, student loan, and other consumer debts. Expanding debt became the way most Americans bridged the gap between their incomes and the “good life” relentlessly advertised by capitalists needing buyers.
Government subsidies for housing took off during the last great collapse of US capitalism. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created in 1934 and the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) in 1938 (the latter was split to form “Ginnie Mae” in 1968). The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) came in 1970. The goal in the 1930s was recovery of the depressed housing industry. Housing — and the larger US economy dependent on it — have both been increasingly dependent on government guarantees and subsidies ever since.
The US housing industry’s basic problem is the system in which it is embedded. The larger capitalist economy shapes the gap between the costs of privately produced homes, and American workers’ earnings. Over the last 75 years, US capitalism has bridged that gap by means of private credit guaranteed and/or subsidized by the government. This system provides incentives as well as opportunities for excessive home prices, diminished wages and salaries, and excessive quantities, risks, and costs of housing credit. The last 30 years have seen all three phenomena converge into a systemic crisis.
OK, in simple English, having the U.S. government prop up the cost of loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, meant that housing prices were able to be run up higher, and wages were able to be kept down lower. You could earn less money and still afford a bigger house because the government subsidized the lenders, until the whole mess came unsprung. If we’re gonna have socialism let’s have real socialism and not this classic Democratic Party notion of, public subsidies for private institutions. These horses with seven legs are precisely what doesn’t work.
Back to Rick Wolff:
A systemic solution would include rethinking housing fundamentally. Consider, for example, a national program of building low-cost public housing (in various styles and configurations) owned and operated by local communities. Besides the job-creating virtues of such a program, it could yield high-quality, low-cost alternatives to, and long overdue competition for, private housing and its prices. Working people could then choose between them. A systemic solution could also raise wages and salaries relative to profits, and thereby rebuild the finances of those who buy homes. These two steps would, together, reduce or remove the dependence on credit, that has repeatedly and dangerously spun out of control among lenders and borrowers.
OK this was from: Housing Crisis, System Failure
Saturday August 21, 2010
by: Rick Wolff, truthout.orG
Home Ownership has been a rip off for decades. The only way to come out ahead is to build your own. I don’t know much about Freddie and Fannie, but I do know that when rich people don’t pay enough taxes, they take their extra money and speculate in housing, running the prices of real estate up, while wages stay flat. And the idiot solution to that, the sure way to inflate prices and create a bubble, is to have outfits like Freddie and Fannie buying up those mortgages, freeing up yet MORE money to inflate the prices, and the bubble, even more. I can, and have, built a perfectly satisfactory house for $50,000 for wood and windows and sinks and toilets. But the land to put it on bumps it up to $350,000? That’s insane. We need a public housing market that holds some land and houses OFF the speculative market, and keeps at least SOME housing at affordable prices. I’ve seen it in Europe. It’s called “worker’s housing”. It makes affordable housing available to the people who need it, which is why we never see pictures of homeless Europeans sleeping under bridges. Except for Roma Gypsies. I’ve also seen it in Hawaii, where they have Hawaiian Homes lands, and on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, where they have land communally owned by the tribe, and tribal members can build houses on that land and live on it. But they can NOT dump it on the spec market and profit off it. It’s for living in. Not making profit. Huge difference in thinking. Houses are for living in, not for selling for profit. That has about a 50,000 year old ring to it.
Sez James K. Galbraith, author of: The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.
Quote …yesterday’s borrow-like-there’s-no-tomorrow America is done for; there will not be another bank-sponsored private credit boom. Has this sunk in yet? There will NOT be any money to live like we’ve been living because that was a house built of paper. The housing crisis (and therefore middle-class insolvency) won’t go away soon. There is no cure for falling housing prices — which were run up too high by greedy speculation — no cure for falling housing prices except time and patience. It follows that the private banks, and dealers, and borrowing by households, are not going to be at the center of the next expansion. (Remember my podcasts about the end of growth? About how we need an economy not based upon growth, but sustainability? Well, ladies and gentlemen…we’re there. We’ve arrived.)
Sez Galbraith: We are in the post-financial-crash. We need to do what the U.S. did during the New Deal, and what France, Japan, Korea, and almost every other successful case of post-crash (or postwar) reconstruction did, when necessary. That is, we need to create new, policy-focused financial institutions, like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation launched in 1932, to take over the role that the banks and capital markets have abandoned. ABANDONED. Thus, as part of the reconstruction of the system, we need a national infrastructure bank, an energy-and-environment bank, a new Home Owners Loan Corporation bank, and a Gulf Coast Reconstruction Authority bank, modeled on the Tennessee Valley Authority. To begin with. (This economist is talking about government owned and operated banks. NOT about the government buying bad loan packages from private banks.)
A reconstructed financial system should finance the reconstruction of the country. Public infrastructure. Public housing. Energy security. Prevention and mitigation of climate change…The cleanup and economic renovation of the Gulf Coast. All of this by loans made at low interest rates, and for long terms…and supervised appropriately by real bankers, prepared to stay on the job for decades. Not so-called investment bankers who just wanna make a killing and buy a house next to Michael Douglas in Bermuda. .
The entire host of neglected priorities of the past 30 years, should be on the agenda now. That is the effective path toward prosperity. unquote
What he’s saying is, the big banks are not going to help because they’re too busy speculating on oil and stock market and currency fluctuations, and they do not intend to do a damn thing for the economy. They are parasites. We need a Bank of the United States that prints its own money without the FED, to recharge our economy. And the hell with Wall Street. Wall Street just robs our wealth, and adds nothing to the economy. It should be smashed into itsy bitsy pieces. Let ‘em move to Russia and leave our country alone.
Here’s a news bulletin: Martin Wolf, said in the Financial Times, that of every $1.00 dollar of real income growth that was generated in the past thirty years, 58 cents went to the top 1 percent of households. The TOP ONE PER CENT! What about the workers whose labor created the wealth! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a revolution. The rich have been stealing our wealth for thirty years, since Ronald Reagan took office. It’s time to steal it back. Tax the rich!
Sez Senator Bernie Sanders,
The 400 richest families in America, who saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion dollars during the Bush years, have now accumulated 1.27 trillion dollars in wealth. Four hundred families! That averages out to $3 billion dollars per family. During the last 15 years, while these enormously rich people became much richer, their effective tax rates were slashed almost in half. While the highest paid 400 Americans had an average income of $345 million dollars in 2007, as a result of Bush tax policy, they now pay an effective tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest on record. Even Alan Greenspan has just publicly said that lowering taxes does NOT stimulate the economy – as the chorus of Repubican ideologs is always singing – and that the Bush tax cuts MUST be terminated. Period. Alan Greenspan. The guy who made the low interest rate mess.
Last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers made a combined $25 billion dollars, but because of tax policy their lobbyists helped write, they pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers, nurses, and police officers. As a result of tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere, the wealthy and large corporations are evading some $100 billion dollars a year in U.S. taxes. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people on earth, has often commented that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary.
But it’s not just wealthy individuals who grotesquely manipulate the system for their benefit. It’s the multi-national corporations they own and control. In 2009, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history, made $19 billion dollars in profits, and not only paid no federal income tax — they actually received a $156 million dollar refund from the government. A $156 million dollar refund? For what? In 2005, one out of every four large corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes, while earning $1.1 trillion dollars in revenue.
And it gets worse. Our tax law gives BP a tax credit that can be applied to their oil gusher clean up bill. Of the estimated $30 billion dollars they owe for gulf cleanup, you and me, the tax payers, the clueless idiots, will pick up $10 billion dollars of it. One third of it. Fucking outrageous.
My own personal Tea Party.
I learned from Abbie Hoffman in the 1960s that wearing funny clothes, and saying funny things, out in the streets, causes people to think and gets responses, and stimulates political change. That’s why, when George W Bush invaded Iraq, I made an American flag hat that said Impeach Bush, and flew off to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt Germany commencing five years on the road holding Impeach-Ins and anti-war rallies and writing letters to the editor and writing congressmen and speaking on radio and TV to end the war. I thought I would spark a wave of anti-war street theater activists. But surprisingly, the left scorned me and shunned me, and acted like I was insane…Self-conscious, babbling, identity politics, e-activist shut-ins that they are, they ridiculed me instead of jumping in the ring. I couldn’t understand it. I know what works. And they didn’t. But they’re so politically ignorant, they felt I embarrassed them and so they marginalized me. Only Code Pink took up that style of grabbing media attention and making political points. And it’s worked quite well.
And then came the Obama phenomena, and all the sniveling self-conscious geeks were proved right, and their guy got in – and then he trampled over his anti-war campaign promises and did nothing as the economy went to hell…and thereby gave birth to the Tea Party. And what did the Tea Party do? The same shit in the same way I had done it under George W Bush trying to stop the war. They wore American flags and held up stupid signs and said stupid things and got on TV and began influencing elections. Now why the fuck didn’t the leftists do that when it was OUR time to do that? Because leftists are pathetic feminized wimps.
I love the Tea Party. No not for what they believe. Their beliefs are wacko. The only thing I agree with them about is that Obama is incompetent. No, I love the Tea Party for getting out there and making street theater work. For showing us that that’s HOW the people, the regular people, make themselves heard, when the media is controlled by assholes and the government is controlled by assholes.
The Tea Party IS the soul of populist protest. I appreciate their passion, and despise their mindless cut-taxes messaging. They’re being given scripts to follow by right wing billionaire freaks like the Koch brothers…K-O-C-H brothers, who own oil refineries and secretly fund right wing causes. But where are the leftists when it’s time to hit the streets? Typing away on their blogs? Leaving snide anonymous comments on Huffington Post… Cowards and fools.
I’ve had it. What I hate about feminism is that it destroyed leftist politics in America. With few exceptions, American leftists are women and feminized men. No more the virile worker revolutionaries of a hundred years ago. Now we have bloggers. And facebook pundits. Who’s gonna fix their toilets? Who’s gonna pave their roads and build their houses and plumb the hot water in their pipes. These people are useless. Their hero is Barack Obama, a man who couldn’t fix a toilet to save us from nuclear annihilation. His method is talk…he’s gonna talk, and they’re gonna talk. While the world melts around them. Trow da bums out. Give us real leftists or give us rightists we can bash up against. No more leftist wusses and feminized wimps.
OK, time for more fan mail from my very interesting and informative listeners.
I just found out from my publisher that a doctor, from Michigan, bought 15 copies of my book, What Men Know That Women Dont’, to hand out to quote: all the men in my family. So something seems to be going on with the doctors. GOOD! They have more credibility than us working slobs.
And then there’s this:
What Men Know That Women Don’t is not only a book for men, but for women who have husbands, sons or brothers. I have been surrounded by men all my life (great, Zorba the Greek dad, who started teaching two years ago at the age of 84, uncles no aunts, brothers no sisters, sons no daughters, husband), and I thought I knew men. Although I disagree with a few of your statements (e.g. women are the cause of war), your book has given me a more profound understanding of men, that I hope will transfer to my husband and sons. It is interesting that the brother who loaned me your book is married to a wise and wonderful woman from southern Thailand. (It is also interesting that my other brother’s partner is a woman from Cambodia).
Anyway, thank you for a thoughtful summer.
[next email from her.]
I live in Wisconsin. Greek cultural upbringing/America in the 70′s/marriage/kids/amicable divorce/remarriage. After college I worked for a large financial corporation in Chicago for four years and am really looking forward to reading your books on corporate America. I was an architect for over 25 years, but I’ve recently (and happily) gone back to teaching as a substitute teacher, in a large public school. (Good for you.) You could say that professionally, I’ve been around the block.
Reading your book, What Men Know That Women Don’t… is an amazing experience, because for over 500 pages, one is immersed in the world of men, in the world of Jung/Campbell/Bly, and in the emotional world of the author. While my husband is well-versed in Campbell and Bly, my motivation for reading the book in the first place, was to better understand the initiation of boys, and how men experience the world. (We have three sons, and the youngest is 14). Women need to put aside ego, realize they will not agree with many statements in the book, but to read the book for the many statements that are true. [thank you ma’am] The following really resonated with me. Each quote is followed by my comment:
Quote “We have too much of everything except inner peace.”… (I loved the spiritual focus of your book).
Feminism supports corporate culture. … (Yes. I would like to read more about this.)
Our biggest crisis is the dissolution of the family…. (Psychotherapy focuses too much on the individual and does not adequately support the unity of the family. Also, I dislike New Age for the same reasons.)
Quote: The cultivation of needs increases our existential fear…. (Fear can bring out the worst in people and I see this as our secondary crisis).
(Your discussion of the wound, shame and the ego is profound and I would love to read particular examples of this in boys).
The feminization of religion… (I agree, even though Greek Orthodox priests can marry, and I have identified them as the heads of their families as well. Also, according to some anthropologists, Christ was probably dark, short and stocky).
“IT TAKES A MAN TO MAKE A MAN.”… (Yes!)
Our society doesn’t work and our crisis is spiritual… (Yes).
I loved that you say your book was written in anger, and if the reader doesn’t agree with something, KEEP ON READING IT. I completely agree with this. Your divorce experience is a far too common reality. On the other hand, I have an aversion to toxic people, and the women I know respect their husbands, certainly spend more than 1/2 hour in the kitchen, and know that MEN AND WOMEN ARE VERY DIFFERENT. Also, three of my friends spent from 10 to 25 years caring for very sick husbands and were devastated by the loss. (Also, according to a BBC report, 95% of world violence is perpetrated by males from 16-24 years of age). Having said that, I worked in a corporation where many upper management women must have been descendants from Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad the Impaler! Ha ha ha ha Feminist Impalers!
The Greek culture, at least in the not-too-distant past, is an interesting comparison. First of all, people there didn’t talk about work. In fact, having lived in Greece, I didn’t know what most of my relatives did for a living. In the scheme of things, work was just a part of a much larger life of family, friends, meals and discussions.
People didn’t have mortgages (they owned their properties for generations), didn’t have car loans (had Mercedes with 200,000 miles on them), didn’t have credit cards and didn’t have large medical bills. Unfortunately, in the last several years, this has all changed and the divorce rate is increasing.
Anyway Rich, that’s my 2 cents worth.
Best wishes always,
p.s. the word “Psyche” in Greek is (and was) the word for “soul” not “mind,” as you stated in your book. I loved the inclusion of the myth of the woman Psyche in your book.
p.s.s. What attracted you to your ex-wife? (love) I hope you have a fabulous relationship with your kids.
No, I haven’t seen my daughter in 20 years and my son only twice in that time…They were poisoned against me. True heartburn. But thank you for this wonderful email and God Bless you. Folks like you keep me keepin’ on.
If you like this show, email me. So I hear about it. So I muster the will to keep on going. email@example.com and maybe I’ll even read some clips on the air…and visit my website too: happyfool.ORG