Category Archives: The Economy

LIBOR: The Market is a Fairytale

CivilTongue is on hiatus for one week. Check back next week for more civilized discussions of current issues impacting us today.

Should you care about LIBOR? Not unless you’ve used credit – for home loans, business loans, credit cards, student loans, anything with an interest rate.

Here’s the short of what the LIBOR scandal means for us that have used credit: we’ve been used as a spring of wealth. We the People of the United States and the entire globe, with our earned money have been covering for huckster book cookers. The implications are that most or all major, multinational banks are conspiring and colluding to fix the market at its very basic building block level. The government in London is implicated, possibly most major governments are also guilty.

It looks to be an extremely extensive web of deceit. The market fixing done cannot be done alone – Barclay’s has already admitted to fixing – in order for the level of corruption that has unfolded to be true, the likelihood is that all major banks are involved in this type of fixing and scandal.

So not only do banks need bailing out but they need bailing out even though the game was rigged in the first place. This is despite the fact that they have unlimited legal, financial, marketing, lobbying, security, and public relations resources. Still, they produce no actual product and rely on those of us who actually provide goods and services to the globe to keep the spigot of money flowing their way. The greed and corruption also seems unlimited.

This scandal exposes, not just a corrupt bank, but the very mechanisms by which we are told “the Market” works. Those mechanisms have been found to be figments of the imagination, not even rusty or broken, but a fairytale that bankers have been telling each other – and the rest of us have been betting the farm on them.

Matt Taibbi and Dennis Kelleher explain in more detail:

Once again, it is up to the People to demand that these stories get reported in the media (go ahead and make a request), and that we keep the pressure on by asking candidates about it, asking our representatives about it, and making it an issue while Barclay’s is spilling the beans. These organizations have been left to police themselves, instead they have reinvented pillaging our villages – and been unbelievably successful.

This is not just another scandal, it is about real dollars that used to be yours and now they are not. And those are the same dollars that are buying government influence, and the same dollars that pay to keep labor conditions racing to the bottom while sky’s-the-limit for elite profits and living conditions.

It is easy to write this off as another boring example of how we get screwed over by “the system”. It’s common to hear, “they’re all crooks!” as a general reference to anyone in business or government, but that is the white flag of apathy. It is music to “their” ears to hear a meme that encourages shrugging it off as business as usual.

Yes, it has been, “business as usual”, but the fat financial dragon has exposed its underbelly. Are we going to yawn our way through the opportunity to demand more accountability, transparency, and responsibility? Once again it’s up to us. Learn more here and here and here.

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Don’t Spank Your Mother

You don’t spank your mother do you?“, the friendly man asked. I looked up and saw him grinning. He was commenting on my technique – I was learning to build a cob house. What I was doing is putting “loaves” of cob – which is just clay, sand and straw mixed up – in a course to make a wall. After you do a few, you need to step back and “massage” the wall into proper plumb and form. I had been smacking my wall trying to get it to move a little inward. The friendly voice suggested that I stop slapping at it and put more slow moving muscle into it. It’s a bit of natural building humor, but the message sticks, “Don’t spank your mother.” It reminds me a little of the Mother Nature margarine commercials of the 70s – “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Mom Nature sees through the rug we’ve been sweeping our garbage under. Continue reading

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Democracy and Plutocracy Don’t Mix

Today Bill Moyers speaks for me.

There is the case of disagreement – I think the government should function like A, you think the government should function like B. Then there is the setting: am I a subject in a King’s court or an equal at the table of collaborators? Two ideas might be “equal” in merit, but if one side has most of the resources and power, their idea will be the one carried out.

Biased media” is a meme in point. It doesn’t matter how liberal a reporter, anchor, or host is – their minders are not going to allow information to disseminate information that could hurt their bottom line. It’s not about Democratic or Republican, Left or Right, it is about adding money to the vast wealth of the corporate media giants, to the plutocracy.

I wanted to include a George Carlin clip here as well, the two clips are nice compliments to each other. Of course Carlin’s language is less than civilized – I think it is totally warranted in light of the uncivilized conditions being wrought upon American workers, but its got a few foul parts. So be warned NSFW. Here’s  George Carlin’s take on the American Dream in three minutes.

To illustrate Carlin’s point on education, here is an excerpt from a recent article by TPM:

The Republican Party of Texas’ recently adopted 2012 platform contains a plank that opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in schools. The party says it was a mistake, but is now stuck with the plank until the next state convention in 2014.

The plank in question, on “Knowledge-Based Education,” reads as follows:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.Elsewhere in the document, the platform stipulates that “[e]very Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”

Contacted by TPM on Thursday, Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam said the “critical thinking skills” language made it into the platform by mistake.

“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,’” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”

Knowledge really is power.

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NC Fracking – Legal by Mistake

If fracking is harmless to water, perhaps we should make coffee with the chemical concoction that is injected into the earth and serve it at the RNC, they shouldn’t object – according to them the chemicals are harmless.

Another case of “gotcha” politics has played out in the North Carolina legislature. In a late night vote that “took her by surprise”, a veteran Democratic lawmaker, Becky Carney of Charlotte, accidentally gave Republicans the vote they needed to override the Governor’s veto of fracking legislation. Even though seconds after Congresswoman Carney pushed the incorrect button, she attempted frantically to change her vote to the one of her true intention, House Speaker Thom Tillis would not recognize the legislator’s requests for recognition and a switch of the vote – something typically granted by leadership when a request is made. Tillis says he is “comfortable” with the process, according to the N&O article on the late night vote.

Continue reading

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Privatization Kills Freedom

For all of the freedom loving going on with those that celebrate private industry taking over where government is supposedly falling short, an interesting conversation is happening. A challenge to libertarian thinkers to consider in reality how much freedom private enterprise allows. The simple fact is that an adult in the workplace is at the mercy of whatever governing style is in place. The invention of labor laws, stories of clandestine and overt abuse, and modern day anecdotes from our “favorite” brand name sweatshops let us know that, yes, workers are taken advantage of when no one is minding the minder. Here is the leading argument from Let it Bleed:Libertarianism in the Workplace: Continue reading

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