Google Doc Basics For INK Members

Before Submitting To The Queue
The people who edit and make comments and suggestions are doing this work for free. All of us are donating our time, and some of us are professional writers and editors. We owe it to ourselves to edit our work prior to submitting it to the queue. It’s been said the work of writing is rewriting and there is truth in that. 

If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your submission, please add a note at the top–either in plain text or italics above the title or in a comment. Information can also be added at the bottom, after the end of your text, if you have specific plans for your piece that ought to be considered in editing but that shouldn’t taint the reader’s initial reaction. For example, if you plan to market it to a specific style of publisher or to a contest where the judging expectations can impact how your piece is written. 

If your piece is part of a longer work, consider adding a blurb at the top summarizing previous story. You can also add a blurb at the bottom with where you intend to go with the story. This information might have an impact on feedback.

Formatting Submissions
Across the top of the screen you find most of the common controls expected of a word processor. Unless there is a truly compelling reason, you should be using Normal text, Arial (or Times New Roman), with a font size of either 11 or 12. (To find out if you have a compelling reason, ask a moderator at INK on discord.) There is no need to double space, since we aren’t printing them and scribbling in the spaces between the lines.

Paragraphs should be separated by a double line. If you are formatting for mainstream publication and don’t want to clutter with extra returns, please format your paragraph to add a line between paragraphs. The extra white space is easier on the eyes when editing online. Block style is preferred, but it’s okay if we indent our first line. Styles such as italics, bold, and headlines can be used.

Setting Permissions
You’ll need to create a link to use when you submit your work to the queue. Click the blue Share button at the top right of your screen to bring up the dialog box. Use the options to set the permission for anyone with the link to be able to comment. Then copy that link to post in the Review-Request room at INK.

Resolving Comments
Never Edit While In The Queue.

Comments may develop into a comment stream over time. As the original author, once we’re satisfied that we have enough comments to work with, we remove our submission from the queue. It is then that we start to address the comments and make edits/changes to our text.

Never edit our work while it is in the queue. Once it’s removed, we can get to work on it. Editing a submission that is in the queue can result in forcible removal from the queue. Repetitive issues with this can have you banned from the workshops.

Before resolving any comments, it’s often a good idea to make a copy of the document with all the comments included. Then do all your editing and comment resolution, preserving an edit trail you might want to use later. That way if something goes wrong, you can always go back to the original, unedited version, or restore certain sections.

Just under the title at the top left of the screen, click File and select “Make a copy…” to bring up the dialog box.

Tick the box that says “Copy comments and suggestions” and click OK.

There may be opposing views expressed in each comment stream. It’s up to you as the author to choose which, if any, you want to use. You can ignore all of them if you want. The work is yours. Remember, however, that if editors feel you ignore too much of their advice, they may choose not to review future submissions you make. Sometimes it is best to take some time to let any emotional reactions settle before deciding whether to ignore advice completely. Also remember that the comment probably indicates some sort of issue, even if you choose to resolve it in a far different fashion than the editor suggests. Once you’ve decided what to do about the comments, can click the Resolve button and the comment stream is gone.

A Little Fireworks For Your Day Of Independence

A Couple of Thousand Nukes

Between 1945 and 1998 more than 2000 individual nukes have been detonated on this planet. Check it out in the visual timeline below (requires Flash). Be sure to watch it through to the very end.

Happy 4th of July, everybody.

Facebook Replies, Sorta…

I finally received a reply from Facebook. It shows exactly how much they pay attention to their users:


Unfortunately, Facebook does not have the ability to restore accounts that have been permanently deleted from the site. We apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause you. If you’d like to continue using the site, please feel free to sign up for a new account with any of your personal email addresses. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

User Operations

Dontcha just HATE robot replies?

Obviously my email was never read by human eyes. I do not ever want any facebook account reactivated, and my email explicitly said as much.

I love how they published on the web a message accusing me of using scripts – which are simply software robots – and then they use a software script – a software robot – to reply to me.

Gianna: If you exist, you must be the dumbest person on the planet. Did you even bother to read my email? What in there makes you think I want to associate myself with your corporation? I think facebook sucks. I publish this as evidence as to HOW MUCH facebook sucks.

I mean, really: How stupid can you be?

Facebook Should Follow Its Own Terms Of Service

Disabled Does Not Equal Deleted

Following is a copy of the email I sent to Facebook, concerning my recent request for deletion of my account.

I requested DELETION of my account in January. (account

I followed your rules, even though they were extremely hard to find. But follow them I did, as I had been forewarned that facebook wouldn’t delete my account unless all the rules were followed exactly.

When I go today to check, to make sure my account is deleted, I find that you have my account DISABLED, ostensibly because I abused your features.

Folks, I hardly ever even touched your features – they don’t appeal to me in the least. Which is one of the main reasons I wanted my account DELETED, not disabled. I will not be opening that account back up again, ever. That is a promise.

You people are asses. This was a test to see if you followed your own rules – I now have proof that you do not. I have evidence now that, contrary to your published rules, you try to punish those who are dissatisfied with your services. In your records, I am now officially an abuser of your site, and it was You who shut me down.

Quoted from your site:
“Why was I disabled?
Facebook enforces limits on the site in order to prevent certain actions that can be considered abusive. Your account has been disabled for persistent and rapid use of a certain feature. Unfortunately, for security reasons, we will not be able to further explain these limits.

Unfortunately, Facebook cannot provide any specifics on the rate limits that we enforce. Please know, however, that the speed at which you are acting and the sheer number of actions you have made are both taken into account.”

Security reasons? I call bullicus shitticus on that one. Essentially what you’re saying is that you have rules which you are not going to tell anybody about but when they break them you’re going to disable their account.

And how about that “speed and sheer number of actions”? I’m still wondering about that one. All I can guess is that you’re talking about software bots. Humans can’t possibly possess a speed to generate the ‘sheer number of actions’ required for an automated security script to kick in and disable an account. I am not, and have never used, those kinds of bots. The disabling of my account had nothing to do with any of this.

The truth, of course, is that I saw through you and, not liking what I saw, opted out of that account on my own volition. Login records for that account will show plainly that I logged onto your service sporadically (never actually liking your site) and while there, used your site very minimally over the life of the account. The only “rapid use of a certain feature” was my hurry to log off your site. I never once used any applications or frills you splattered all over my account pages.

In short – you are lying.

I cannot fathom why it would be so important to lie about this. Is your company so fragile that it can’t handle a single person, out of more than 300 million people, not liking what you do?

As a conclusion to this communication, I am demanding that the account in question be deleted from your servers, in accordance with the provisions set out in your terms of service. I complied with those terms. It is time for Facebook to do the same.

Looking forward to the day you all go under,

Jon Knight

So the next time you see that facebook has Even More Users Than Ever – remember that some of those users have tried like hell to delete their accounts but facebook won’t let them, and in fact tries to hurt the reputations of those that don’t like their crappy little site.

The logic is simple: facebook wants to say they have more users than anybody else. Each user they have, even the disabled ones, counts as a plus to their ‘bottom line’. They’re going to keep you on their books forever, if they can. And if your reputation gets ruined in the meantime… well, that’s a small price they don’t really have to pay at all.

We do.

Note to my family and friends: Even though Evan is using only facebook to keep us all informed, after today I will not be using facebook in any fashion whatsoever. I will go through the impossible to complete process of deleting my remaining account there, and after that I will not be logging onto their site at all.

Local Federal Economic Recovery Spending

Rockingham County, North Carolina[NC]*CNT:37157

AdvanceNotice: Preventive maintenance for a fleet of 21 vehicles $46,575
Project Type: AdvanceNotice
Project Owner: Rockingham Public Access Transportation
Location: North Carolina, United States, Rockingham (NC)
Estimated Value: $46,575
Estimated Jobs: N/A – Congressional Budget Office
As compared with
1 – White House Council of Economic Advisors
Category: Vehicles – Fleet / Motor Pool Operations, Vehicles – Vehicle Maintenance / Fleet Operation
Market Sector: State/Municipal
Publication Date: 06/17/2009
Description: FEDERAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY SPENDING. Rural ARRA Projects. County: Rockingham. Transit System: Rockingham County Council on Aging Inc., operating as Rockingham Public Access Transportation. Project Description: Preventive maintenance for a fleet of 21 vehicles. Recovery Funds: $46,575.

Of course I left a comment there:

$2200 For Each Vehicle? Preventive Maintenance? This is absurd. A blatant waste of the funds. A good example of how we got into this mess in the first place – Unrestrained Greed.

Preventive maintenance is stuff like oil changes, tire rotation and flushing radiators. How much preventive maintenance can you do with more than $2 thousand?

This is our taxpayer dollars, folks.

Representation In The Senate – What If?

Entrance to the Senate
Image via Wikipedia

Noah Brier points me to an interesting concept. Follow along for something you might like:

Imagine a chamber in which senators were elected by different income brackets — with two senators representing the poorest 2 percent of the electorate, two senators representing the richest 2 percent and so on.

Based on Census Bureau data, five senators would represent Americans earning between $100,000 and $1 million individually per year, with a single senator working on behalf of the millionaires (technically, it would be two-tenths of a senator). Eight senators would represent Americans with no income. Sixteen would represent Americans who make less than $10,000 a year, an amount well below the federal poverty line for families. The bulk of the senators would work on behalf of the middle class, with 34 representing Americans making $30,000 to $80,000 per year.

Imagine trying to convince someone — Michael Bloomberg, perhaps? — to be the lonely senator representing the richest percentile. And what if the senators were apportioned according to jobs figures? This year, the unemployed would have gained two seats. Think of the deals that would be made to attract that bloc!

Read the entire thing at TheWashingtonPost.

Obama’s Unemployment Analysis – A Bubble-Pipe Dream?

Frame By Frame

Frame by frame, death by drowning
in your own in your own
Step by step, die by numbers
in your own in your own
King Crimson

Below is a chart from CalculatedRisk, one of my favorite spaces. It depicts the expectations Obama’s team is using when they created this year’s budget. You can read the team’s “Economic and Budget Analysis” by clicking that link (64 pages pdf). The blue line is the historical unemployment and the red line is the Obama projection. (Click the chart to see the original – it’s much clearer.)

Obama 2010 Budget Unemployment Forecast
Obama 2010 Budget Unemployment Forecast

The beauty of this is the way it’s presented. The forecast is for an average over the year. So for 2010, the unemployment rate can keep increasing for the next 5 months before anyone can say the estimates are off. And even then, the point could be argued all the way into December.

Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Looking back over the peaks in that chart I see and remember the things that ‘turned it around’ – In 2003 the housing boom was just getting really fueled up after the tech crash, in 1992 the Tech boom was just powering up after the S&L crisis was cleaned up. In 1982 the Reagan team had just remodeled the financial markets, aka, “Reaganomics”. In 1975 we had just come off the gold standard for our currency, allowing the Federal Reserve to print as much cash as they wanted.

You can argue the particulars of each instance, but I think I’ve got it down to its simplest form. Each time there was a crisis, our government turned to some form of credit inflation to produce employment. In each of the times I described it worked. The numbers are right there on that chart.

So why am I so certain it won’t work this time? Because each of those times, jobs were created by easy money in the form of cheap loans. For the last 4 decades, that’s what they’ve been doing – blowing bubbles made of different kinds of credit. They were using debt to create a false appearance of prosperity, a bubble. Each time the bubble burst, a new one was formed somewhere else.

This last bubble was a real doozy, too. To actually get it to work, they had to create loans (they like to call them ‘Financial Instruments’) which were literally impossible to pay off, then present them to the public as cheap cheap cheap (my brother steals it and I sell it), somehow forgetting to mention the suicidal nature of actually signing one of these things. I’m not condemning them (at the moment) for that, it’s just a fact and I’m stating it because it leads to the next thought…

They had to create those liar loans to get the less wealthy in a debt because the more wealthy middle class and rich were already tapped out on their credit.

With that in the front of my mind I have to ask: What kind of credit bubble do they think is possible to inflate that will create jobs this time?

Astrotour – Planets

What can you do with this?

I really don’t know. But it’s fascinating to watch the planets sail around the sun, for some reason I can’t describe.

Click here to watch it in action.


Thanks to TheBigPicture for the pointer.

Personal note – Donna: I cannot find your email address. Please send me an email and we’ll try to fix the problems you’re having with your pc. Thanks.

SIGTARP – Quarterly Report to Congress January 30, 2010


Winding Road in the Woods
Image by Garrett Crawford via Flickr

SIGTARP is the not-so-short acronym for ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’, the position held by Neil Barofsky. He’s been on the job since December 2008.

Below are a few paragraphs reprinted from the current report’s Executive Summary. You can read the whole thing (224 pages pdf) HERE.

“The substantial costs of TARP — in money, moral hazard effects on the market, and Government credibility — will have been for naught if we do nothing to correct the fundamental problems in our financial system and end up in a similar or even greater crisis in two, or five, or ten years’ time. It is hard to see how any of the fundamental problems in the system have been addressed to date.

• To the extent that huge, interconnected, “too big to fail” institutions contributed to the crisis, those institutions are now even larger, in part because of the substantial subsidies provided by TARP and other bailout programs.

• To the extent that institutions were previously incentivized to take reckless risks through a “heads, I win; tails, the Government will bail me out” mentality, the market is more convinced than ever that the Government will step in as necessary to save systemically significant institutions. This perception was reinforced when TARP was extended until October 3, 2010, thus permitting Treasury to maintain a war chest of potential rescue funding at the same time that banks that have shown questionable ability to return to profitability (and in some cases are posting multi-billion-dollar losses) are exiting TARP programs.

• To the extent that large institutions’ risky behavior resulted from the desire to justify ever-greater bonuses — and indeed, the race appears to be on for TARP recipients to exit the program in order to avoid its pay restrictions — the current bonus season demonstrates that although there have been some improvements in the form that bonus compensation takes for some executives, there has been little fundamental change in the excessive compensation culture on Wall Street.

• To the extent that the crisis was fueled by a “bubble” in the housing market, the Federal Government’s concerted efforts to support home prices — as discussed more fully in Section 3 of this report — risk reinflating that bubble in light of the Government’s effective takeover of the housing market through purchases and guarantees, either direct or implicit, of nearly all of the residential mortgage market.

Stated another way, even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car.

Things To Remember

In other words, everything we’ve done and everything we’re doing is not just not making it better. Everything our government and the Federal Reserve has done since this started has ultimately made this mess worse. This government report says so.

Thank Richard Burr (who voted for cloture) and the US Senate for confirming Bernanke’s appointment. Bernanke, you remember, was the guy who forced the TARP down our throats with threats of ‘tanks in the streets’ and ‘martial law’ if he didn’t get his hands on that money. Money which, if you remember, he decided to use for something other than what he said he needed it for. (So where are the tanks Benny boy?)

If you’re in NC this November, remember who Richard Burr really works for. Hint: It ain’t you. A vote for Burr is a vote for the Same Old Shit. Remember that.

I’ll be sure to remind you, just in case.

Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Murray Hill Incorporated Running For Congress
From their Official Campaign Website:

Until now, corporations only influenced politics with high-paid lobbyists and backroom deals. But today, thanks to an enlightened supreme court, corporations now have all the rights the founding fathers meant for us.

That’s why Murray Hill Incorporated is taking democracy’s next step– running for Congress. It is a vision for the future we can all be proud of.

Vote Murray Hill Incorporated for Congress!
For the best democracy money can buy.

Quoting from the Press Release:

“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”


“The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?”

Murray Hill Inc. plans on spending “top dollar” to protect its investment. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”


The campaign’s designated human, Eric Hensal, will help the corporation conform to antiquated “human only” procedures and sign the necessary voter registration and candidacy paperwork. Hensal is excited by this new opportunity. “We want to get in on the ground floor of the democracy market before the whole store is bought by China.”

Murray Hill Inc. plans on filing to run in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third.

Cheese us, please.

Change You Can Believe For 1000 Years

These are excerpts from a NOAA press release (emphasis mine). See the original at

Dust storm in the Texas Dust Bowl, 1935.
Image via Wikipedia

January 26, 2009

A new scientific study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reaches a powerful conclusion about the climate change caused by future increases of carbon dioxide: to a large extent, there’s no going back.

The pioneering study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, shows how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped.


“Our study convinced us that current choices regarding carbon dioxide emissions will have legacies that will irreversibly change the planet,” said Solomon, who is based at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.


If CO2 is allowed to peak at 450-600 parts per million, the results would include persistent decreases in dry-season rainfall that are comparable to the 1930s North American Dust Bowl in zones including southern Europe, northern Africa, southwestern North America, southern Africa and western Australia.


The authors relied on measurements as well as many different models to support the understanding of their results. They focused on drying of particular regions and on thermal expansion of the ocean because observations suggest that humans are contributing to changes that have already been measured.

For complete, up-to-date, no-nonsense reporting on Climate Change, check out Joe’s work at ClimateProgress.

Senators Burr and Hagan Ought To Get A Room (Bernanke Vote)

Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera
Image via Wikipedia

Ben? Is That You?

There’s No Difference Between Them

When it comes to casting votes for the guy who, by most accounts, shares a motherload of the responsibility for the current financial crisis, they’re like two peas in a pod. An evil pod such as the one seen in those old horror movies.

They both voted in favor of Bernanke’s next term.

I know most of you don’t bother to look up your senator’s vote, or your Representative’s vote, but I wish you would. It’s really the only way to know if the guys you’ve elected are doing the job you want them to do.

It’s sad, but true. The folks we’ve elected to represent us as a government don’t always do that. Look at the vote that created TARP, for instance. Even though public response was estimated to be between 100:1 and 300:1 AGAINST it, the folks in Washington passed it anyway.

Of course, they were told by Ben Bernanke that if it failed to pass, there would be martial law in America due to riots in the streets. They were told by old Ben that the problem was “Liquidity“, that the 700 billion dollars would provide that liquidity and prevent a total collapse of our very way of life.

Meanwhile, that same week, he was personally responsible for REMOVING 125 billion dollars from the system. In other words, Ben Bernanke worked hard to CREATE THE PROBLEM HE WAS WARNING AGAINST.

Then, without telling anyone, he didn’t do with the money what he said he was going to do. In sworn statements he said that the situation “changed” and so he had to change how the money was used. Others have testified that the plans were changed months earlier, before the money was even approved.

Just Deserts

I could go on, but what’s the use? I’ve said for years that a nation always gets exactly the government it deserves. We deserve for these thieves (and not just the elected ones) to be in power. We deserve it because we don’t rise up and fight it.

When I was growing up, this was a meat and potatoes kind of country. Whatever we did, we seemed to always try to take care of the nation. We might not have gotten it all perfect, but we wouldn’t allow blatant bullshit to ever pass by unchecked. We impeached Nixon for less than this crap.

Look at us now. It’s no wonder these people are doing whatever they want. I mean, after all, who is going to stop them? In a country where there is no accountability, who finally throws that steak on the grill? Who peels those potatoes?

Seems like now, all we’re into is just deserts.

Open Letter To The US Senate Against Bernanke

This is a picture of an American voting booth....
Image via Wikipedia


I write this to state my position AGAINST Ben Bernanke. When you cast your vote in the upcoming confirmation, I hope you will vote against confirmation.

I’m sure you’ve received many contacts about this. Armed with many facts, charts and figures, I’ve decided rather to simply state the obvious: Your constituents are paying very close attention to these things lately. We, the American people, don’t usually do that, as you no doubt know already. As long as you guys take care of things, we generally let you do what you want. We’re lazy like that, and you count on it. It’s why you have a job.

But you haven’t taken care of things. You’ve lied to us, given us over to our enemies, those who would take our chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sure, maybe you personally did none of this(you may think), but you are a member of the government that has allowed it to happen, and even encouraged it. From our perspective You are Them.

We know you as a group, but we act on you individually. When the curtain is pulled it’s just you and us in there, and in enlightened self-interest We Will Vote For Us.

Why don’t you do the same? Be One of Us. Vote Against Ben Bernanke.

Trust me, we’re paying attention.

Obama’s Remarks on Financial Reform

the 44th President of the United States...Bara...
Image by jmtimages via Flickr

On January 21st around 11:30am in the Diplomatic Reception room at the White House, President Obama made these remarks concerning additional reforms to the US Financial industry.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning, everybody. I just had a very productive meeting with two members of my Economic Recovery Advisory Board: Paul Volcker, who is the former chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and Bill Donaldson, previously the head of the SEC. And I deeply appreciate the counsel of these two leaders and the board, that they’ve offered as we have dealt with a broad array of very difficult economic challenges.

Now over the past two years more than 7 million Americans have lost their jobs in the deepest recession our country has known in generations. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t hear from folks who are hurting. And every day we are working to put our economy back on track and put America back to work.

But even as we dig our way out of this deep hole, it’s important that we not lose sight of what led us into this mess in the first place. This economic crisis began as a financial crisis when banks and financial institutions took huge, reckless risks in pursuit of quick profits and massive bonuses. When the dust settled and this binge of irresponsibility was over, several of the world’s oldest and largest financial institutions had collapsed or were on the verge of doing so. Markets plummeted, credit dried up, and jobs were vanishing by hundreds of thousands each month. We were on the precipice — precipice of a second Great Depression.

And to avoid this calamity, the American people, who were already struggling in their own right, were forced to rescue financial firms facing crisis largely of their own creation. And that rescue, undertaken by the previous administration, was deeply offensive, but it was a necessary thing to do, and it succeeded in stabilizing financial systems and helping to avert that depression.

Since that time, over the past year, my administration has recovered most of what the federal government provided the banks. And last week I proposed a fee to be paid by the largest financial firms in order to recover every last dime.

But that’s not all we have to do. We have to enact common-sense reforms that will protect American taxpayers and the American economy from future crises as well.

For while the financial system is far stronger today than it was one year ago, it’s still operating under the same rules that led to its near collapse.

These are rules that allowed firms to act contrary to the interests of customers, to conceal their exposure to debt through complex financial dealings, to benefit from taxpayer-insured deposits while making speculative investments, and to take on risks so vast that they posed threats to the entire system. That’s why we are seeking reforms to protect consumers.

We intend to close loopholes that allowed big financial firms to trade risky financial products, like credit-default swaps and other derivatives, without oversight; to identify system-wide risks that could cause a meltdown; to strengthen capital and liquidity requirements, to make the system more stable, and to ensure that the failure of any large firm does not take the entire economy down with it.

Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail.

Now, limits on the risks major financial firms can take are central to the reforms that I have proposed. They are central to the legislation that has passed the House, under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank, and that we’re working to pass in the Senate, under the leadership of Chairman Chris Dodd.

As part of these efforts, today, I’m proposing two additional reforms that I believe will strengthen the financial system while preventing future crises.

First, we should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers. In recent years, too many financial firms have put taxpayer money at risk by operating hedge funds and private equity funds and making riskier investments, to reap a quick reward.

And these firms have taken these risks while benefitting from special financial privileges that are reserved only for banks. Our government provides deposit insurance and other safeguards and guarantees to firms that operate banks.

We do so because a stable and reliable banking system promotes sustained growth and because we learned how dangerous the failure of that system can be during the Great Depression. But these privileges were not created to bestow banks operating hedge funds or private equity funds with an unfair advantage.

When banks benefit from the safety net that taxpayers provide, which includes lower-cost capital, it is not appropriate for them to turn around and use that cheap money to trade for profit. And that is especially true when this kind of trading often puts banks in direct conflict with their customers’ interests.

The fact is, these kinds of trading operations can create enormous and costly risks, endangering the entire bank if things go wrong.

We simply cannot accept a system in which hedge funds or private- equity firms inside banks can place huge, risky bets that are subsidized by taxpayers and that could pose a conflict of interest. And we cannot accept a system in which shareholders make money on these operations if a bank wins, but taxpayers foot the bill if a bank loses.

It’s for these reasons that I’m proposing a simple and common- sense reform, which we’re calling the Volcker rule, after this tall guy behind me. Banks will no longer be allowed to own, invest or sponsor hedge funds, private-equity funds or proprietary trading operations for their own profit, unrelated to serving their customers. If financial firms want to trade for profit, that’s something they’re free to do. Indeed, doing so responsibly is a good thing for the markets and the economy. But these firms should not be allowed to run these hedge funds and private equities — funds while running a bank backed by the American people.

In addition, as part of our efforts to protect against future crises, I’m also proposing that we prevent the further consolidation of our financial system. There has long been a deposit cap in place to guard against too much risk being concentrated in a single bank. The same principle should apply to wider forms of funding employed by large financial institutions in today’s economy. The American people will not be served by a financial system that comprises just a few massive firms. That’s not good for consumers; it’s not good for the economy. And through this policy, that is an outcome we will avoid.

And my message to members of Congress of both parties is that we have to get this done. And my message to leaders of the financial industry is to work with us, and not against us, on needed reforms. I welcome constructive input from folks in the financial sector. But what we’ve seen so far in recent weeks is an army of industry lobbyists from Wall Street descending on Capitol Hill to try and block basic and common-sense rules of the road that would protect our economy and the American people.

So if these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have. And my resolve is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices in some of the very firms fighting reform; when I see soaring profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms claiming that they can’t lend more to small businesses, they can’t keep credit- card rates low, they can’t pay a fee to refund taxpayers for the bailout without passing on the cost to shareholders or customers. That’s the claims they’re making.

It’s exactly this kind of irresponsibility that makes clear reform is necessary.

Now, we’ve come through a terrible crisis. The American people have paid a very high price. We simply cannot return to business as usual. That’s why we’re going to ensure that Wall Street pays back the American people for the bailout. That’s why we’re going to rein in the excess and abuse that nearly brought down our financial system. That’s why we’re going to pass these reforms into law.


Reproduced. Find the original at The Market Ticker.

WE THE PEOPLE (Have Had Enough)

THE seminal question for this year – coming into the mid-term elections – is exactly that.

Have you had it?

Are you tired of being bent over the table with 29.9% credit card interest rates while these big banks borrow at zero from The Fed and use that money to speculate in the markets?

Are you tired of “too big to fail” – better stated as heads we (the banksters) win, tails you (the taxpayer) lose?

Are you enraged beyond words with the fact that this economic mess was not an accident – it was an intentional act of willful blindness and perhaps even fraud?

Do you feel helpless to do anything about the fact that Government has willfully and intentionally refused to both clean up the mess and prevent it from happening again due to the presence of huge lobbying interests in Washington DC – paid for by the very same banksters who nearly destroyed this nation?

Do you realize that we have fixed nothing – the bad loans are still there, they are still bad, that millions of Americans have lost their jobs, that the economy is not actually recovering (despite what they say) and that without resolving the actual problems odds are that within a few years, and perhaps within a few months, we will face another crash – this one likely bad enough to destroy our economy and perhaps our government?

Let’s look at the facts.

* The testimony being put before the FCIC – the investigatory panel charged with looking into how the housing and foreclosure mess came about, and how our economy was stripped clean by the vultures that infest the banking business in this nation is a matter of record. I, and others, have been documenting this for more than two years. READ THE MISSION STATEMENT AND TESTIMONY OF PEOPLE LIKE MIKE MAYO(ed-link added by Jon, pdf).

* THE FBI has been warning of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud since 2004. The banks knew this. Indeed, in 2004 their lobbyists convinced The Bush Administration to SUE to prevent state regulators from protecting YOU, THE CONSUMER, from predatory and unfair loans.

* Since 2006 there have been published stories that stated income loans were laced through-and-through with fraud:

One lender recently compared 100 stated-income loans with the borrowers’ tax returns and found that only 10 of the borrowers were telling the truth about their wages, according to Mortgage Asset Research Institute, a division of data firm ChoicePoint Inc. (September 2006)

The Wall Street and large commercial banks did not include these disclosures in their offering circulars for securitized debt.

Wall Street entities knew they were at risk but bought “protection” (CDS, or “credit default swaps”) from firms who they knew or should have known could not pay, including but not limited to AIG. This “allowed” them to consider assets they knew or should have known were rife with fraud as “money good”.

Wall Street and “big lender” loan programs in the housing market during the years 2000-2007 all “assumed” that house prices would rise forever at a rate higher than inflation. The key point is that even if they had, which is mathematically impossible, it doesn’t change the fact that the borrower, that is you the citizen, still was going to lose their house when they reached the limit of their borrowing capacity. The bank’s only concern was designing a program that they would be protected by – not whether it was suitable for you nor whether you would have (or continue to have) a home.

None of this was a “mistake” or an “accident”. It was not an “unforseen event.”

Government agencies were aware of and sounded the alarm as early as 2004. Brooksley Born, chair of a federal regulatory agency (the CFTC) raised hell on complex derivatives (“CDS” and similar instruments) in 1999. She was attacked by everyone in the banking industry including Alan Greenspan and literally run out of town. She was right.

The banking and Wall Street institutions, through a combination of the above, “made” billions of profits that never really existed. They then paid that money – money that didn’t actually exist AND NEVER WOULD – out in bonuses, dividends and stock price appreciation.

Starting in 2007, it all came apart, first with two hedge funds at Bear Stearns, then Bear Stearns itself, then Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG.

In the fall of 2008 Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, Chairman of The Fed and Treasury Secretary (who had refused to heed the warnings of the FBI and others for the previous four years) corralled a bunch of Representatives and Senators in The Capitol. We were told that the government “had to bail out the banks” to prevent the financial system from collapsing. By anywhere from 100:1 to 300:1, the American People said “let ’em burn.” The government refused once again to listen, and together with The Federal Reserve propped up the banks instead of forcing them to eat their own cooking. Rather than use the money appropriated to force these institutions through bankruptcy and shut them down, paying off the depositors that were insured, these failed institutions were instead mish-mashed together into even bigger financial companies and then given government backstops.

Nothing has been fixed.

The bad debt is still there.

Unemployment has skyrocketed, the banks have cranked up credit card interest rates to 29.9% and are feasting on zero interest Federal Reserve money which they use to speculate in the financial markets, paying out well over $100 billion in aggregate in bonuses for the last year.

We are told this is and was “necessary.”

I might accept that – if it came with the closing of all of these institutions. Each and every one of them. If it came with the permanent barring of every executive involved from ever serving as so much as a janitor in any financial institution – worldwide – ever again. If it came with a full forensic audit of each and every one of these institutions and officials by the FBI, with every instance of fraud that was uncovered presented to a grand jury.

But it has not.

Instead, firms like Countrywide Financial and Washington Mutual were absorbed into Bank of America and JP Morgan/Chase. Those who were “too big to fail” not only were not dismantled, they were made bigger and more powerful.

Wall Street may effectively own Washington DC and the politicians but they do not own us.



WE THE PEOPLE have the freedom to associate – or not.

WE THE PEOPLE have the right to demand legal tender in payment of debts owed us.

WE THE PEOPLE have the right to demand that these institutions eat their own cooking on each and every one of the loans they securitized and peddled during these years without fair and full disclosure to the buyers that these loans were rife with fraud.

WE THE PEOPLE have the right – and the ability – to take personal, lawful action with specific, lawful political and business-oriented goals, including permanent structural changes that will end “too big to fail” and “rip off the consumer on demand” policies, including the full reinstatement of Glass-Steagall which will END financial speculation and dealing in all of its forms by firms that have access to Federal Reserve credit and/or any sort of public backstop.

In the coming days and weeks I will outline specific, lawful actions that I hope each and every financial blogger, writer and columnist will take up and push as the key item for the remainder of this year and, if necessary, beyond – all with the intent of accomplishing these goals.

I invite all financial bloggers, mainstream media writing or broadcasting on the financial markets and products and interested politicians to contact me at “karl starve-the-beast org” with the explicit purpose of joining an effort to formulate cogent and real, tangible yet lawful actions that can effect positive and necessary change. Further posts to The Market Ticker will be made under the Category “Starve The Beast” – so you can find them all in one place.

Make this message – this post – viral. Send it to your associates. Send it to the media. Send it to politicians. Get involved and do it now.

The opportunity is now and our responsibility is clear. We either accept that responsibility and act or we are consenting to serial asset bubbles and ever-larger detonations, with the very real risk that the next one destroys our political and economic system both in the United States and beyond.

I haven’t been feeling all that great lately, which is why there seems to be little activity. I hope to be back in the groove soon.