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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Law Firm Thinks Homelessness is Funny.

The firm thought that they would celebrate last Halloween by throwing a homeless-themed party - homelessness is so funny right? 

But the firm really got into the spirit with the staff dressing costumes that made them look destitute and signs describing the various faux problems their characters had. One sign seems to read “Will Worke For Food [sic]” and photos show part of an office named “Baum Estates.”
The pictures were sent to Nocera by a former employee of the firm. Nocera described their conversation as follows:
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
The column also notes that the firm has been under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office and recently paid $2 million to settle a US Department of Justice investigation.
 Steven J. Baum law firm and those employees will find themselves unemployed and underwater in their mortgage.

I'm not shocked easily anymore but this is beyond fucked up! The most uncivilized behavior I've seen by supposedly educated and "successful: people.

A disgusting group of heartless human beings.
Long Island Address: 900 Merchants Concourse Suite 412 Westbury, NY 11590.

There is absolutely no excuse for this behaviour.  This firm should fall apart and be disbanded.

Friday, October 28, 2011

OWS - The Storm or Tide Before The Storm?

[Poster of 99%ers]
The Occupy Wall Street movement is intriguing in that it is hard to say whether it has run its 15 minutes of fame or whether it will coalesce into a true political forum or party.   OWS, the hashtag for the movement occupy wallstreet is already widespread. What started out with a few hundred people in September 2011 at New York City’s Wall Street became a countrywide protest. What are the people protesting for? What do they want to achieve? Is it really a mass movement, organized from the bottom up? What are the common interests (with whom?)? What can really be achieved?

Regardless, it seems clear, with the advent of the Tea Party and now the OWS, that the American people are slowly waking up to express their displeasure with the direction that the great old USA is taking.

As Benjamin Disraeli famously said "Change is inevitable. Change is constant."

The USA has thrived on change. From its humble origins through these times, we have witnessed the birth of a country which has undergone constant change and has embraced and succeeded with such change. Based largely on the notion that every man has an equal chance and that an entrepreneurial spirit was rewarded, the USA grew into the most powerful Country in the world.

 Along the way, we have also witnessed as a few have succeeded and prospered to such a degree that they created staggering wealth; Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Astor, Gates, Carnegie, Ford, etc.. See for example this story by the New York Times The Wealthiest Americans Ever .
While their business practices and the staggering amount of wealth these individuals accumulated was not without controversy, most saw it not as informidable obstacle but as the "American Dream" - that any person had the opportunity to become a Rockefeller.

But today we face a time when people are questioning whether the American Dream is still alive. Can anyone still succeed or have we witnessed the birth of a ruling class who control the vast majority of all wealth in the United States and are now using that power to the detriment of the majority. It has been styled as the clash between the 1% and the remaining 99%. The 1% of Americans who make the most money and own the most assets.
I write often of what I perceive to be the detrimental effects of income inequality; while also stating that I believe in a capitalist system. I do not object to wealth, even great wealth. What I do object to is a system which creates haves and have nots and then limits the ability of the have nots to achieve the American Dream. Income inequality in the United States is at an all time high and is greater than many third world countries. Yes in some third world countries, the average person is better off as compared to the rich than here in the USA.

Rick Perry has said that he doesn't care about income inequality - just blame the less off for being poor. But countless studies have shown that where there is great income inequality, the have nots do not have the same opportunities as the rich. The 1% become a ruling class, an oligarchy, and the remaining 99% become debt serfs. That is not an expression of the American Dream.

The rallying cry of those in Occupy Wall Street is the "99ers" - those who are not members of the elite 1% who make more and control the most assests.

Although the OWS movement has not fully coalesed and there are no clear spokespersons or formalized agenda, OWS has launched a movement against the finacial system of the USA which it describes as corrupted and controlled by the 1%. And it is not just here in the USA but around the world where people are questioning the global finacial system and who really is "in charge."
Regardless, increasingly Americans, be them Tea Party members, Occupy Wall Street protestors, are saying that "change is needed."

Will we embrace this change as we have in the past or has the system changed so much that there is now a ruling class? Only time will tell but as Disraeli said "change is inevitable."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pray Away HIV? The "Miracle Cure!"

At least three people in London with HIV have died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.

The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them, their friends and a leading HIV doctor said.

Responding to the BBC London investigation, Lord Fowler, the former health minister responsible for the famous Aids awareness campaign of the 1980s, condemned the practice.

"It's just wrong, bad advice that should be confronted," said the Tory peer, who chaired last month's House of Lords committee into HIV.

Jane Iwu, 48, from Newham, east London, described one case, saying: "I know of a friend who had been to a pastor. She told her to stop taking her medication - that God is a healer and has healed her."

"This lady believed it. She stopped taking her medication. She passed away," said Ms Iwu, who has HIV herself.

It is like saying drink the kool-aid.  When will people stop and see that science is a truism and the most organized religious groups are nothing more than cults?  Do you believe Scientologists are as deeply religious and devout to "God" as you?  How about Mitt Romney and that "Mormon" church?  Or those pesky Muslims in Iran? 

Personally I like the idea of worshipping the goddess Venus much more alluring.

You Are A Debt Serf - Where Is Robin Hood?

Are you a debt serf?  You know, those people in the middle ages that were raped and pillaged at will by Lords, Dukes, Counts, Kings!

Well, most Americans, whether they know it or not are debt serfs and are one step away from debtors prisons (yes we supposedly got rid of those but .....).

The typical American household is insolvent: its debts exceed its assets.  Yes you are probably bankrupt!  You work hard your whole life and you are still a slave to the man with the money (you know, those top 1% of earners in America that are so opposed to higher taxes, at least on them).

Calculating insolvency is simple: if debts exceed assets, the enterprise is insolvent/bankrupt. By this measure, most American households are dead beat, bankrupt, insolvents (if you were to actually mark down their real estate assets (your house) to what it is actually worth). The typical American household is thus in service to its debt, not to its assets, and to the holders of that debt (those rich 1% of Americans - shockingly usually Republican - who are complaining about higher taxes while you wonder whether you can afford to feed your family).

This is debt-serfdom: serfdom in service to the owners of debt, debt that may well always exceed the value of the household's assets. This is debt-serfdom for life.  In those old movies we would be referred to as "peasants", but that sounds so unpleasant, so let's just call it the "working class."

If we look at the American household as an enterprise, then we have to differentiate between unproductive, trapped capital, assets held in a house or retirement account {which constitutes most Americans}, and productive, free capital which can be moved in and out of productive assets to earn a return which increases free cash flow income in the present {again its those "job creators" to which the Republicans like to refer - the top 1%}.

Unfortunately for the ever growing number of American peasants, wealth and income do not flow from servicing debt incurred by trapped assets, it flows from productive free capital. Thus the typical household toils not to increase productive capital that can be deployed to increase household income but to service their crushing debts.

Does this sound like some one you know?  A family friend, a brother, sister, parent?  The average 50 year old has about $2,000 saved for retirement (sure to be enough to afford a box to live on the street corner).

How else can you describe this situation other than debt-serfdom?

Is their a Robin Hood out there who will stand up and tell the rich that they are no longer the landed gentry and that robbing from the rich to give to the poor is an age old story?  Only question is whether they will agree with Warren Buffet or go down like Marie Antoinette?

There are many in the top 1% that say they want to pay their share of taxes. Buffet isn't the only one speaking the obvious moral choice. We have Matt Damon, Barbara Streisand, Chelsea Handler, Bill Gates the lists goes on and on. Not to mention of course the democratic party, they just can't get it done because they are being cock blocked by the right.

The problem with all these celebs saying " I want to pay my fair share" is that they are just words. Sure it is the right thing to say. Many of them I'm sure mean what they say. However, just saying it means shit.

Take for example Chelsea Handler, who had tweeted that "as a person who makes a lot of money she supported the Buffet taxes.  Yet when someone suggested she just should just go ahead and pay her share now she cruelly called him a moron.  See below:
Chelsea Handler Tweeted: "As someone who makes a lot of money, I would like to go on the record and say I support the Buffet Rule. I'm happy to pay more taxes. Any other celebrities feel the same
"Richee Tweeted: "Then take your money and pay the taxes. No reason to wait."

Chelsea Handler Tweeted: " In order to pay more taxes, the laws have to change. You don't donate money to the government moron.
I already pay 50%. I'm WILLING TO PAY MORE."
Why can't a Buffet type self-organize a movement to set up a non-profit/private organization where they would contribute this difference now and the non profit organization funds would go directly to help pay the deficit. So instead of waiting for some tax change that will never happen, do something now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Warren Buffett - "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the
best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just
pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election".

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds)
took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple!

The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year
or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

_*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_

1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
pay when they're out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will
only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive
the message. Don't you think it's time?