As bad as you think it is, it’s probably much worse than you think…
…and if you think that a Republican majority in D.C. will change anything…
Why Do You Labor?
Let’s talk about today.
Labor Day, it is called.
History recalls that it was put into place by Grover Cleveland in 1894 after the Pullman Strike in which the US Military was used to put down workers. The legislation designating it a national holiday was rushed through Congress and signed in what must have been a record – six days – to attempt to defuse further conflict between labor – that is, the people – and her government who had just got done killing some of her own citizens over a private labor dispute.
Note that this dispute wasn’t exactly violence-free on the union side – they had derailed a locomotive, attacked strike-breakers and committed several acts of arson. Nonetheless, the rubric used by Grover Cleveland in ordering twelve thousand US Army Troops to put down the strikers was that the strike was “interfering with the US Mail.”
Such is the history of this holiday now most-celebrated with weenies roasting on the BBQ.
Today, however, I ask the plaintive question:
Why do you labor?
Let’s think about why most of us do, or at least should. We do it to better ourselves and our families. We get out of bed every day and go to work, in whatever vocation we practice, whether it be for ourselves as a self-employed person (e.g. as I am) or “working for ‘the man'”, because we want to put food on our table, a roof over our head, and clothes on our backs. We want a better life for ourselves and our progeny, and through the use of our minds, hands, backs and legs we hope to attain that goal.
We find common cause in our work. Whether we look upon a roof we just put on a house with pride in our workmanship, a heart we just repaired in some man’s chest or a computer that now passes electronic mail traffic where it didn’t before, we effort to provide more value to society than what we extract in the form of a wage.
Yet out of that wage is extracted all sorts of tax and other expense that we have no direct control over.
Certainly, we would all (well, most all) would agree that there are certain things that government should do for the people. We all want a fire department available if our home is burning, we would like the streets to be paved, and we would like the sewers to drain so that when we go to the bathroom it doesn’t come back to us via the tub. We want a reasonable belief that our nation has enough defensive capability that other nations will not invade us, as they would suffer immeasurable loss.
On these things we all agree.
Most of us also agree that some form of help to those who are unable to help themselves is in some form appropriate. Here we nearly all differ on where the line is to be drawn, however. We can argue endlessly over whether someone should be able to access medical care they cannot pay for with their own funds, with much of debate focused on which forms of treatment should be paid for by taxation and under what circumstances. Some would argue that being obese should bar you from any form of obesity-related treatment for medical conditions paid for by others via taxes, others not. Some would argue that if you smoke you have no right to smoking-related illness treatment paid by others. Still others would argue that anything STD-related should be barred, since you obviously contracted that via an act that you consented to (absent ****, of course.)
But these are, to a large degree, the finer points of policy debate. Yes, they’re important, but they all come down to allocation of funds. I will leave that debate for another time.
No, today I wish to focus on the literal trillions of dollars that we have had taken from us in the past, present and future not by the social spending that is considered a wedge issue in so many quarters (and which I would argue should not be) but rather by the support and protection of organizations that stand accused of raw criminal acts – acts that, in many cases, have directly and indirectly led to people being literally murdered.
I rather ask the plaintive question:
Why should you labor when much of those fruits are literally stolen by people who then evade any legal sanction for theft and other outrageous acts – acts that you, as an ordinary citizen, could not dream of performing yourself without landing in prison for quite literally the rest of your natural life while forfeiting every penny you have.
I speak specifically of the following sorts of acts:
The Jefferson County Alabama scandal relating to it’s sewer project. Originally intended to cost about $150 million, the total has now exceeded $3 billion. Sewer rates have gone from $1.15/cf in 1992 to $7.40 in 2008 (a more than six hundred percent increase) and a good part of that was due to rank bribery. This isn’t an allegation – there have been multiple criminal convictions related to this matter. As Rolling Stone reported:
There was so much money to be made bilking these dizzy Southerners that banks like JP Morgan spent millions paying middlemen who bribed — yes, that’s right, bribed, criminally bribed — the county commissioners and their buddies just to keep their business. Hell, the money was so good, JP Morgan at one point even paid Goldman Sachs $3 million just to back the **** off, so they could have the rubes of Jefferson County to fleece all for themselves.
Of note there has not been one – one – indictment leveled against the banks involved, even though one of the parties involved in the bribery is claimed to be a JP Morgan employee. Remember, for bribery to take place you must have someone offer a bribe, and you must have someone accept a bribe.
Mexico’s drug gangs. We’ve all heard of the horrific violence south of the border. Most of it is fueled by illegal narcotics – a very profitable business, if you can figure out how to move the money around without having it confiscated by rather-belligerent governments. And that’s where Wells Fargo’s Wachovia came in:
Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
How much money was involved here? Oh not a lot – just $374.8 billion dollars. Yes, with a “B”. What happened to Wells? They were fined – a grant total of $160 million dollars, or about 2% of its 2009 $12.3 billion in profit, and about one tenth of one percent of it’s $135 billion market capitalization.
Just recently The Wall Street Journal reported that nine banks have been caught laundering money for various barred organizations and nations. What’s a “barred” organization or nation? Primarily one involved in terrorism in some form or fashion, and thus subject to international (or US) sanction. These are nations like Iran and North Korea, and organizations like Hamas. Nations and organizations that use the money moved around to buy bombs, missiles and guns, with which they then shoot American soldiers, among others. Who’s on the list?
Last month, Barclays PLC in London agreed to pay $298 million and admitted to allowing payments on behalf of clients in Cuba, Sudan and other countries. Lloyds Banking Group in London and Credit Suisse Group in Zurich—banks that operated extensive transfer systems for Iranian clients—have agreed to settlements totaling $350 million and $536 million, respectively.
Hmmmm. I’ve seen some of those names before. Where?
Oh yeah, right here:
List of the Primary Government Securities Dealers Reporting to the Government Securities Dealers Statistics Unit of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
BNP Paribas Securities Corp.
Banc of America Securities LLC
Barclays Capital Inc.
Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
Jefferies & Company, Inc.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated
Nomura Securities International, Inc.
RBC Capital Markets Corporation
RBS Securities Inc.
UBS Securities LLC.
Anyone care to guess on the identity of the others? Yes, I know, Credit Suisse USA is a subsidiary of the Zurich-based bank. So what? They share a parent company, do they not?
Who are the “primary dealers”? They are the institutions that the United States Treasury entrusts to maintain orderly auctions for US Government bonds that finance the operation of the United States Government!
You got that? Some of the very firms we trust to finance our government debt for us are alleged to have set up dedicated units to systematically aid the unlawful transfer of funds through the US banking system for these prohibited parties.
What was the sanction? A fine. Again. For the three that have “settled”, anyway.
Incidentally, the fact that this money is going to fund people shooting our troops isn’t speculative:
At least five Iranian companies stationed in Afghanistan are covertly funding Taliban militants, paying them salaries of $233 a month with a $1,000 bonus for killing an American soldier, according to the Sunday Times of London.
Blowing up a US military vehicle is worth $6,000, making insurgents better paid than any Afghan police officer or soldier.
“Iran will never stop funding us, because Americans are dangerous for them as well,” said a Taliban treasurer, who travels from the mountainous Wardak province to an Iranian construction company that operates out of Kabul to pick up the cash.
Is this clear enough? How many of our families will have or have had their son or daughter come home in a box as a consequence of this funding, and how many of those families will sit still for this?
You don’t really think it ended there, do you? Of course not. Bloomberg reported on May 18th that a host of major banks are involved in a huge investigation related to the rigging of municipal bond offerings. This is a $1 trillion market and funds everything from your local sewer and water systems to the construction of schools, repaving of roads, additions to your local police and fire departments and building of the local library. All of these matters are funded by bond issues, and you pay for each and every one of them in the form of taxes. When these issues are rigged the costs go up and you get to pay for the corruption through property and sales taxes – an invisible cost-shift that lands directly on you. What is alleged?
“The whole investment process was rigged across the board,” said Charlie Anderson, who retired in 2007 as head of field operations for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt bond division. “It was so commonplace that people talked about it on the phones of their employers and ignored the fact that they were being recorded.”
Anderson said he referred scores of cases to the Justice Department when he was with the IRS. He estimates that bid rigging cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Anderson said prosecutors are lining up conspirators to plead guilty and name names.
Uh huh. Wall Street’s biggest banks. Named in the story is Bank of America, GE, UBS AG (then under Dexia), Citigroup, JP Morgan, UBS and Wells/Wachovia (again.) Allegedly, sixteen companies are under investigation. Notably, Bank of America has reportedly been given amnesty from criminal prosecution.
Notice any names in the Primary Dealer list up there again? Yep.
So now we have banks standing accused of ripping off state and local governments – that is, the taxpayer, who ultimately pays for all of this grift and scam – and yet they are still handling US Government debt auctions.
Isn’t that special?
It gets better. This wasn’t the first time it happened. In 2000 the SEC “settled”, once again, charges of “yield burning” – that is, overcharging municipal governments. How much was the fine? $120 million – a pittance – and only $18 million was refunded to the municipalities that were ripped off.
What did Arthur Levitt say at the time?
Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said, “As a result of today’s actions, a dark cloud has been lifted from the municipal securities market. This global settlement is a milestone in the federal government’s effort to resolve the problem of yield burning in a way that protects innocent municipalities and bondholders.”
The hell it was.
Has any of the screwing you took as citizens in the Internet Bubble, the Housing Bubble, and the multiple Municipal bond scams (as documented above) been returned to you? Have you been made whole from any of those scams and schemes? Has your property tax bill, inflated by the municipal bond scams, been refunded by these banks? Has the false “appreciation” that led you to overpay for a house between 2003 and 2006, or for Tech Stocks in the 1990s, been taken back from those who stole the money and returned to you? Has your home’s value been allowed to contract back to where it should have been – valuations from the 1980s and early 1990s – and your property tax bill contracted back to those same levels, with a refund being issued to you in the amount of a decade of overpayment?
Of course not.
Not only have the scammers involved in all of this not been personally fined one red cent, they have not been indicted, prosecuted, or spent one night in a prison. The corporations involved have been “fined” a tiny fraction of one percent of their market value – and have effectively kept all of the ill-gotten “profits.” All of this has been extracted from your labor – both past and future, in an amount that literally adds to trillions of dollars.
So again folks:
WHY DO YOU LABOR?
Why do you willingly get up and make effort to feed your family and better yourself when literal trillions of your money are lavished on these enterprises by a band of 545 crooks in Washington DC who have all, each and every one of them, personally enabled, permitted and endorsed these scams?
I speak specifically of:
435 Representatives in Congress
9 Supreme Court Justices
All of whom took an oath to uphold and defend The Constitution, and all of whom each and every day not only permit this sort of raw lawlessness to go on, but continue to explicitly fund it through both explicit support and the Primary Dealers to the US Treasury!
Oh, some will blame Bernanke or Greenspan for his bubbles and threats, and they deserve that blame. Some will blame Paulson. Some will blame Geithner.
But The Fed exists only because of the acts of those 545, and both Paulson and Geithner were confirmed to hold their offices by 100 of them.
We have deficits that all 545 claim are bad. Yet they exist specifically because of the acts of these 545 people. Without their specific actions, there would be no deficit.
We have all 545 claim that ripping people off and plundering the public purse (which is, by the way, filled with your labor – and nothing else) is bad. Yet that plunder happens specifically because of the actions those 545 people both take and refuse to take.
We have an SEC which claimed in 2000 that the book was closed on municipal bond market ripoffs, but then the same thing happened again, and probably began while these other guys were negotiating their “deal.” Those 545 are directly responsible for this – among other things the entire SEC serves at their pleasure, and could be replaced tomorrow or written right out of the statute books.
You thought you were getting “relief” with the alleged “CARD” act (to control credit-card abuses.) Those same 545 wrote into the law an exception for so-called “professional cards”, which allowed the banks to evade each and every one of those protections. That’s not the bank’s fault, it’s the fault of those 545. Each and every one of them.
You got robbed blind through serial bubbles in the Internet space and then in housing – bubbles that occurred due to the specific acts of omission and commission, intentional acts – of those very same 545 people.
Those very same 545 people have pointedly refused to cause the people responsible for these serial bubbles and your exploitation to answer for these actions, to be prosecuted where fraud or other criminality can be shown, and to pay back what they plundered to the full extent of their personal and corporate fortunes.
These same 545 have additionally provided upwards of twelve trillion dollars in promises of your future labor that they claim the right to compel performance of in support to these institutions.
545 men and women did that – they are directly and personally responsible for voting for and permitting these individuals and institutions access to those funds that you must provide through your work after they knowingly and willingly exploited you as a direct result of the previous acts of these 545.
These same 545 are personally and directly responsible for funding and allowing the continued operation of institutions that stand accused of financing drug cartels in Mexico, terrorists in various nations and the rogue regime in Iran, ripping off hundreds of municipalities across the United States and more. They are responsible for continuing to voluntarily let these institutions not only have the privilege of a banking license in the United States, effectively operating with the sovereign credit of our nation behind them. To add insult to injury, these 545 also allow these firms to make a profit offering and dealing in US Treasury debt.
Why do you labor?
WITHOUT YOUR VOLUNTARILY-PERFORMED LABOR THESE 545 CROOKS HAVE NOTHING!
You, America – you – the common man and woman – hold the keys.
No, I’m not talking about voting, even though that’s important. Both of the “major parties” have explicitly supported every single act noted and documented above and dozens more. Not one major political party candidate has gone to the Well of the House or Senate, or appeared on TV, and said in a plain, loud and clear voice:
If you elect me (or return me to office) I will do everything in my power, to the exclusion of all other issues if need be, to see to it that every one of the scams and frauds that have infested our financial system is eradicated and everyone who was involved goes straight to prison.
Not one Democrat, not one Republican, and not one of the “second-tier” parties either – including both the Libertarian and Tea Parties. None of those candidates have stated the above – yet that, my friends, is nothing more or less than a statement that the rule of law is what that candidate is running on. Simply put, none of them, either before they get to Washington or after, are interested in the rule of law.
Until you hear that from candidates and they actually perform after being elected, voting will not fix these problems.
But that doesn’t mean you, the ordinary people in America, can’t fix it, as many claim.
You are in fact not powerless – you, the people of this nation, absolutely have all the power required, if you choose to use it.
You hold the ability to stop this – all of the above and more – dead in its tracks in one day – in your hands.
You provide the Federal Government with ninety percent of it’s operating revenue through income and social insurance (FICA/Medicare) taxes, both of which are only collected as a consequence of your voluntary labor.
You, through the non-violent, peaceful and perfectly legal expression of your will, simply by your refusal to labor until all of this activity is stopped, the people responsible are prosecuted, the funds stolen are returned to you and the firms involved are permanently closed – can end this BS tomorrow.
Because without tax revenues from your labor – labor you voluntarily perform and upon which 90% of the government’s revenue via taxation is based – those 545 have nothing to back up their debt issuance.
Not one damn thing.
All the hot air from Boehner, Pelosi, Reed, McCain, Obama and the rest – it’s all just words. It is exactly identical to you walking into the bank and telling them you want to buy a $500,000 house but you have no assets, no job and no education.
Without your daily consent in the form of your willing performance of labor the words, bluster, threats and claims of those 545 carry no force whatsoever.
That’s the dirty little secret that nobody in Washington talks about out loud, but they all know it’s true.
Not one damn penny would flow to the government to fund it’s operations if there was nobody willing to buy those bonds, and without your willing labor to provide those bond buyers a reason to believe they will be paid, there will be no buyers.
So today as you grill your wieners and drink your beer, consider that Tuesday, when you get up and get in your car, get on the bus, board the train – you will, by doing so, provide your actual and physical consent to each and every act that I have outlined above – and dozens more just like it.
The difference between (financial) **** and (financial) sex is consent.
These acts stop when you refuse to fund them, and you have the power by choosing to drink beer, sleep with your wife or girlfriend, go the beach or simply turn off the alarm clock and phone, to withdraw your consent to the continual screwing you are currently receiving and have received daily for the last 20 years.
You, America, have literally ALL the power, and can stop this crap any time you choose.
So as you roast your weenies this Labor Day, and drink your beer, do America a favor and contemplate a wise choice for tomorrow.
Warren “Bones” Bonesteel
Author and Researcher
SGT USMC 1976-1983