Category Archives: Economics

A Dose Of Their Own Medicine


mtnyellowleggedfrog

GIVING THE STATE A DOSE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE

EPIC response From Landowner When Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Requests Access to Land

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sent a letter to a home/landowner asking for permission to access a creek on their property to document the decline in a certain species of unheard of frogs. The homeowner’s response to the second letter is EPIC.

Letter From Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife: (THIS is how BLM & F&WLM get on your property to start taking it over.)

Dear Landowner:
ODFW Staff will be conducting surveys for foothill yellow-legged frogs & other amphibians over the next few months. As part of this research,we would like to survey the creek on your property. I am writing this letter to request your permission to access your property.
Recent research indicates that foothill yellow-legged frogs have declined significantly in recent years and are no longer found at half their historic sites. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated and will help contribute to the conservation of this important species.
attached postage-paid postcard and let us know if you are willing to let us cross your property or not. If you have any concerns about this project please give us a call. We would love to talk with you about our research.
Sincerely
Steve _____________
Conservation Strategy Implementation Biologist

********RESPONSE FROM LANDOWNERS: ********
Dear Mr.________:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding accessing our property to survey for the yellow-legged frog. We may be able to help you out with this matter.

We have divided our 2.26 acres into 75 equal survey units with a draw tag for each unit. Application fees are only $8.00 per unit after you purchase the “Frog Survey License” ($120.00 resident / $180.00 Non-Resident).

You will also need to obtain a “Frog Habitat” parking permit ($10.00 per vehicle). You will also need an “Invasive Species” stamp ($15.00 for the first vehicle and $5.00 for each add’l vehicle) You will also want to register at the Check Station to have your vehicle inspected for non-native plant life prior to entering our property. There is also a Day Use fee, $5.00 per vehicle.

If you are successful in the Draw, you will be notified two weeks in advance so you can make necessary plans and purchase your “Creek Habitat” stamp. ($18.00 Resident / $140.00 Non-Resident). Survey units open between 8am and 3pm, but you cannot commence survey until 9am, and must cease all survey activity by 1pm.
Survey Gear can only include a net with a 2″ diameter made of 100% organic cotton netting with no longer than an 18″ handle, non-weighted and no deeper than 6′ from net frame to the bottom of the net. Handles can only be made of BPA-free plastics or wooden handles. After 1pm you can use a net with a 3″ diameter if you purchase the “Frog Net Endorsement” ($75.00 Resident / $250 Non-Resident). Any frogs captured that are released will need to be released with an approved release device back into the environment unharmed.

As of June 1, we are offering draw tags for our “Premium Survey” units and application is again only $8.00 per application. However, all fees can be waived if you can verify “Native Indian Tribal rights and status.

You will also need to provide evidence of successful completion of “Frog Surveys and You” comprehensive course on frog identification, safe handling practices, and self-defense strategies for frog attacks. This course is offered online through an accredited program for a nominal fee of $750.00.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you. Otherwise, we decline your access to our property but appreciate your inquiry.

Sincerely,

Mr. & Mrs. _________

THE NIGHT WATCHMAN


725497166-night-shift-night-watchman-awaken-baseball-cap

A long time ago, the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert.

Congress said, “Someone may steal from it at night.”

So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.

Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?”

So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.
Then Congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?”
So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One was to do the studies and one was to write the reports.
Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?”
So they created two positions: a time keeper and a payroll officer then hired two people.
Then Congress said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?”
So they created an administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.
Then Congress said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $918,000 over budget, we must cut back.”

 

So they laid-off the night watchman.

 

NOW slowly, let it sink in.
Quietly, we go like sheep to slaughter. Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY during the Carter administration?

Anybody?

Anything?

No?

Didn’t think so!

Bottom line is, we’ve spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency, the reason for which very few people who read this can remember!

Ready?

It was very simple… and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.

The Department of Energy was instituted on 8/04/1977, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh?

Now it’s 2015 – 38 years later – and the budget for this “Necessary” department is at $24.2 Billion per year.  It has 16,000 federal employees and approximately 100,000 contract employees – and look at the job it has done!

THIS IS WHERE YOU SLAP YOUR FOREHEAD AND SAY, “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”

38 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports.

Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports.

That’s what you call good old Federal bureaucracy.
This message has been relayed to you by – The Night Watchman

Author Unknown

Hope for the Unemployed


 

Finally – some Hope is starting to raise its head!  We now have talks and meetings underway at the White House concerning the issue of the “long term unemployed”.  While I am overrun with glee at the mere mention of this subject in a serious atmosphere, I am also dismayed that the age group most hard hit by the subject (the over age 40 workers) was not specifically identified.  However, that may just be an oversight in definition or as obvious as the need to breath air.  The below referenced articles contain snippets from the articles, but for those truly interested in their entirety, you can click on the links at the end to read the full story.

 

I have been a concerned advocate for the Unemployed and most recently blogged about what to do concerning the veterans and all people over the age of 50.  Having spent the majority of my life in the sales arena, I learned a long time ago that you cannot receive until you ask.  The amazing thing to me is that 2 days later, I find 2 articles in the mainstream media with a topic of importance, which very well may lead to some form of relief.  All I need to say is check it out and continue to pray that the topics receive the needed legislation to deliver millions of Americans back to some form of normality in their lives.

 

Also, I’d like to give a sincere shout out to President Barack Obama for his efforts on behalf of so many people.  (I’ve never said that before and it feels good)

 

Obama asks CEOs for help hiring long-term unemployed

That includes doing away with candidate-screening methods that disqualify applicants based on their current employment status. It also means ensuring that jobs ads don’t discourage unemployed workers from applying.

 

Companies are less likely to hire people who haven’t used their skills in months or wonder why another employer hasn’t already snatched them up.

How are they going to know the answer if they screen them out and never interview these people?  Some people have very legitimate answers to these gaps but suffer the consequences of this type of screening and discrimination.

 

In the past, Obama has supported legislation in Congress that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on one’s employment status or history.

“In terms of legislation. Let’s face it: That’s not going to happen,” Sperling said. http://fxn.ws/1ih3RRN

 

Big Companies Join Obama in Initiative to Help Long-Term Unemployed

“Folks who’ve been unemployed the longest often have the toughest time getting back to work,” Mr. Obama said at the White House event. “It’s a cruel catch-22 – the longer you’re unemployed, the more unemployable you may seem. Now this is an illusion, but it’s one that, unfortunately, we know statistically is happening out there.”

Those out of work for longer stretches, he said, are just as educated and experienced as newly unemployed.

“Just because you’ve been out of work for a while does not mean that you are not a hard worker,” Mr. Obama said. “Just means you had bad luck or you were in the wrong industry or you lived in a region of the country that’s catching up a little slower than others in the recovery.”

He added, “They just need employers to realize it doesn’t reflect at all on their abilities or their values. It just means they’ve been dealing with the aftermath of this really tough job market and all they need is a fair shot.”

Studies have shown that, deliberately or not, companies tend to look askance at applicants who have been without a job for many months. Researchers at Northeastern University sent out 4,800 fictitious, computer-generated résumés and found that those from people out of work for six months or longer rarely got responses.

Similarly, scholars from the University of Toronto, Yale University and the University of Chicago sent 12,000 invented résumés to more than 3,000 job openings found online. Of those reporting that they had been out of work for a month, 7 percent were offered interviews; of those who were said to be out of work for eight months, just 4 percent were called for interviews.

Executives were invited to the White House in May (2013) to discuss the matter, and over the summer, the administration began drafting a set of “best practices” to change employers’ screening processes.

“Many C.E.O.’s had just not thought about the issue,” Mr. Sperling said.

In addition to hosting some of the participating executives on Friday, Mr. Obama signed an executive memorandum instructing the federal government to abide by the same practices. And he announced that the Labor Department would direct another $150 million to partnerships that help workers develop needed skills.

http://nyti.ms/1ihZB4n

 

 

 

Job Cuts and Healthcare for a Dying Nation


When it comes to job cuts… every schoolboy knows that private sector companies are converting their workforce to part time because of ObamaCare.

Lots of people that have insurance are seeing their premiums double because of ObamaCare.

People that don’t have insurance have to either buy expensive insurance or pay a big fine.

Citizens that have neither money nor jobs get free doctor and hospital service.. Good thing for that, eh?

All of these wonderful societal improvements brought to you by the people who gave all of the free worlds manufacturing, by way of Most Favored Nation Trade Status, to China, a slave state.  And now these very people who gave us this ruin, are going to tell us that they have the competence and credibility to fix the economy.

Is it any wonder that they don’t want us to have guns?

I Stand with Senator Cruz!

George Washington and Our Founders had balls on steroids!  They only had one third of the country standing with them in 1776. The guys with guts made things much better for us and made History!  Why?  Because ( THE GUYS WITH BALLS,  WHO WIN AGAINST ALL ODDS, ALWAYS MAKE HISTORY )

300 Greek Spartans held back 10″s of thousands of Persians! WE STILL HEAR ABOUT THE 300 GUYS AND THEIR LEADER, AND THE SIMULTANEAOUS NAVEL BATTLE THAT THE GREEKS WON!!  Thanks to the 300 guys who sacrificed their lives!!

Thank you Senator Cruz and those with him – DAMN THE TORPEDOS, FULL SPEED AHEAD!!

God help them to turn America ” Back ” to being THE country of Freedom / Liberty and the pursuit of happiness with ” MINIMAL ” (GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE!)

The Democrat Party wants to enslave all the non-welfare population under the guise of some sort of hermaphrodite “health care” system that is nothing more than a cover for the IRS to confiscate everything the non-welfare class owns.  “Come on down to the plantations now, and your future social security, homes and finances will belong to us.”  Ask any Union boss and they will tell you it’s ok – they’re doing it for you and the common good, as well as “the law of the land.”  Afterwards, you can have a nice conversation with a  scarecrow – this will be as logical and make as much sense.

Democrats wrote and passed the Unaffordable Healthcare Act, without one vote from the Republican party. The Republican party represents about half of the country… And had no say!  No Democrat read the bill.  No Democrat bothered to consider the true cost of the bill.  No Democrat wants to be required to submit themselves to this bill’s requirements, and gave themselves along with Unions and certain corporations an exemption from it.

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee fought to fulfill the campaign promises every Republican made, and their actions have been revelatory for all of us.  The Democrat Party and the RINO’s that pretend to not hear or listen to their constituents had best heed the “Ides of 2014.”  It’s closer than you think!

Welcome to our Meltdown


There was a time when a salesman had the sky as the limit for an income ceiling.  If he needed more money – he simply worked more hours and made more sales and all was good.  Then the laws on how many hours you could work came into play.  The company said “no more” right before they said “I’m sorry but there are cutbacks and we have to let you go.”

 

9/11/2001 – The Attack on America, and nothing was the same afterwards.  It wasn’t that the terrorists defeated America – Hell, America defeated America.  The political parties tore the country apart with their finger pointing accusations about every little thing they could conjure up.  The people started siding with political parties and our once proud nation was nothing more than a bunch of pissed off citizens that blamed each other.  Talk about wild burros that back into a circle and start kicking when the wolves are circling!

 

The Real Estate Market Bubble Burst – and the slings and arrows flew.

 

The Auto Industry went under or sold out to foreign countries and the Labor Unions became whores for change.  America was no longer the #1 Automaker in the World and retired autoworkers got screwed out of their rightful retirement incomes.  Detroit fell further into the ruins than ever.

 

More jobs were shipped overseas than at any other period in our history.

 

Unemployment ran up to as high as 25% but no one in the media would tell the truth except Fox news and they tempered it so as not to sound crazy.  But we knew what the real deal was.

 

American Tax Dollars were stolen by our government to BAIL OUT Wall Street and other to big to fail insurance agencies – not to mention FOREIGN BANKS around the globe that got shored up on Americans backs.  Can’t have the NEW WORLD ORDER Banks and Financial Institutions failing as long as Americans have income that can be taxed.

 

Our country can’t patch our own streets or build schools and hospitals but we can damn sure do it for countries that hate us in the Middle East.  Now add all of the above and then some, to the mix of divided American attitudes on racial equality, caused by the Barrack Obama election, (cause we certainly do need change) and you have one helluva explosive mixture for the boiling pot in America.

 

Obama and the Democrat Party instilled the new corporate killing Obama Healthcare laws on the small business people, the backbone of Americas’ workforce.  Many go out of business because of it.  The Administration increases the amount businesses must pay the workers by jacking up the minimum wage.  Wages and Healthcare cost are scaring the hell out of small businessmen while large corporations are busy moving overseas to escape tax laws and buy cheaper labor.

 

Ok that’s one tip of the iceberg – now lets look at its wake!  Huge amounts of totally ruined Americans in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s age bracket.  These people are setting records for unemployment checks and food stamps collection.  They’re too young for social security and only have so much savings to burn thru in a couple of years.  The 401K is gone, unemployment has run out, their house is underwater or foreclosed on and no one wants to hire them with that head full of white hair.  Age discrimination – that thing that is against the law, but no one can prove, is ALIVE AND WELL in America.  Ever so slowly these people start getting cut off from the only lifeline they have and families start splitting up.  Divorce and just being tired of being looked down upon over a situation that you did not create, becomes more than two people can take.

 

The house and spouse are gone, and single men and women continue to struggle and get by with the help of some friends and churches – but no one knows how long they can make it.  Meanwhile congress argues over allowing people to invest their money into accounts for old age!  These people don’t have money or jobs that pay into social security and the amounts they will be paid when they come of age is shrinking every month due to lack of contribution.

 

BUT THE STOCK MARKET IS BACK!!!!!

 

Yep, these corporations that laid off 50% of the their employees and cut the money for the ones lucky enough to keep a job are now back to selling stock for the same money they were at before it all went away back in 2009.    So, do we cuss them or build them a shrine while we lick our wounds and wonder where we went wrong in our childhood and career choices.

 

So many people have lost the house, job, car, the savings along with 401K retirement money and just about everything they ever worked for.  They dye their hair to look youthful (if they can pull it off) and try to get a job that pays half of what they used to make.  Some are lucky to find that kind of opportunity, while others still hold out hope that our nation will wake up and do something about the downhill slide we’re in.  Most are resigned to the fact that our once great country is gone but they will vote to try and make a difference.

 

WE have people walking around looking for work with Bachelors, Masters and PHD’S that can’t find an employer that will take them.  The corporations use the degree as a way to discriminate and cull the herds of hungry workers crowding their HR departments every day.  These corporations have the audacity to ask for a person to have a Masters Degree to sell products, like groceries, or Timeshare.  They don’t really want that degree so much as they would prefer to scare the 20’something high school or college dropout out of the room.  They will not hire the elderly white haired gentleman that could replace the person that hired him – He’s a threat.  Get rid of those guys as they represent the unemployment line for present day bosses or managers when they get hired and outshine their superiors.

 

All of this because Americans felt sorry for a disadvantaged black man that gave good speeches!  Never mind where he was born, or his Faith, that sides with Americas sworn present day enemies.  His lack of leadership ability or earned right to even be a President of our country be damned.  America felt it was time to go all apologetic for the sins of our Great-Great-Great Grandfathers, that they perpetrated upon hyphenated Americans in our country and figured making one of them our president should just about do the trick.

 

Well ain’t that special?

 

Now you don’t just have a problem with the UNEMPLOYED, but instead you also have a huge elephant in the room concerning what you’re going to do with all those non- retired seniors.  Perhaps the answer to that is only 3 years away when the politicians will need their votes to stay in office during the 2016 election, Our citizens are a hardy bunch and by that time America will celebrate 10 years of drowning in their own shit.

 

So ask someone, where did the House, Job and Future go?  Can you handle the truth?  Does it matter to you?  Do you have a living wage job for them?  How about a box of doughnuts and a cup of coffee? You’re going to see this same situation for the rest of your life.

 

CHANGE and lost HOPE – A poem for the 21st Century

 

So I lost my job

I lost my house

I took the penalty for early withdrawal on my 401K

I received unemployment until it ran out

The house I was renting was foreclosed on and I moved

The next house was foreclosed on and I moved again.

The part time job that barely put food on the table laid me off.

The car went without needed repairs and now is worthless

My credit rating is such that I can’t get another one.

They’re short selling the condo I rented – got to go

How’s the last few years of your life been?

God Bless you Brother!

 

I have a few thousand invested in suits and sports coats hanging in the closet along with nice dress shirts, slacks, ties and the best dress shoes available.  Guess it could be said that I look like a million dollars waiting on REAL CHANGE, because the hope was totally wasted.

 

See you at the top!

 

Brian

Picking Up The Tab


Rules for business and government in America:

#1 – Don’t get caught!

#2 – Make enough to retire on if you do.

#3 – Don’t worry, the taxpayer or stockholders will pay your fines.

#4 – Jail is for small time crooks – Go big or don’t come at all!

 

Are we dreaming a bad dream here in America.  Do criminals of a white collar nature really go free or just never get brought to court.  You bet’cha Skippy!  Cause thats how we roll in the Obama/Holder administration.  Biden doesn’t really know, as his part is to come out later and say something stupid in order to deflect attention while the criminals do a perp walk out the front door.  Now if you happen to be a banker/investor in one of the crooked scams thats about to fail or go bankrupt, you will naturally lose your money, but the government will see to it that something like a TARP BILL is passed so that your neighbors and citizens across the country can pick up the tab.

Federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

To understand the significance of this, one has to consider the use of fines as a punishment for criminals that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to a jail.   “You put a banking CEO in a pound-me-in-the-ass prison for a six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take.  Just once”.

But that hasn’t happened. Because the entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is a bunch of foxes guarding the henhouse.  What were once regulators whose job it was to protect the public from crooked deals, are now the very attorneys that work to save the criminals from court prosecutions.

The idea of making the victims pay for the criminals misdeeds of executives doesn’t stop on Wall Street or the board rooms of to big to fail corporations.  When the federal government elects to play grown up business games and loses, it is done at the peril of the American taxpayer.  Does GM, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Solyndra ring a bell.  How about the proposal by Obama to reduce the deficit by cutting the defense budget that takes care of America’s Veterans.  Hell, Obama even suggested that veterans pay their own medical care after they become civilians because they joined the military on a voluntary basis.  They had to know that they would be putting themselves in harms way at some point, he counters.  Therefore, whatever problems they have are their own damn fault.

What does the government have to lose when one of their agencies screws up, you ask?  “As much as you can afford or worse yet, all that you have financially or in way of future benefits that you earned”.  Corporate America and the US Government jumped into bed together and quickly covered up with a fresh sheet of 1.5 Trillion count greenbacks.  No worries though, they’ll give you and every one of your heirs time to pay it back.  By the way, the Obama administration is on its way to Bernanke, Geithner and Beyond for a new set of linens to line their coffers with by the end of March 2012.

Don’t forget to pay your taxes like Geithner did – Uncle Sam Needs YOU!

 

Brian Gray

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?


Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.

Another great article by Matt Taibbi, possibly one of the great financial journalist of the century.  I wanted to post this to preserve his story for as long as possible.  Truths such as this, that are exposed tend to wind up in the missing files.  Hopefully this record will last, and someday be of value to historians or prosecutors.

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

Invasion of the Home Snatchers

Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

To understand the significance of this, one has to think carefully about the efficacy of fines as a punishment for a defendant pool that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. “You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

But that hasn’t happened. Because the entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up.

Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.

Here’s how regulation of Wall Street is supposed to work. To begin with, there’s a semigigantic list of public and quasi-public agencies ostensibly keeping their eyes on the economy, a dense alphabet soup of banking, insurance, S&L, securities and commodities regulators like the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as well as supposedly “self-regulating organizations” like the New York Stock Exchange. All of these outfits, by law, can at least begin the process of catching and investigating financial criminals, though none of them has prosecutorial power.

The major federal agency on the Wall Street beat is the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC watches for violations like insider trading, and also deals with so-called “disclosure violations” — i.e., making sure that all the financial information that publicly traded companies are required to make public actually jibes with reality. But the SEC doesn’t have prosecutorial power either, so in practice, when it looks like someone needs to go to jail, they refer the case to the Justice Department. And since the vast majority of crimes in the financial services industry take place in Lower Manhattan, cases referred by the SEC often end up in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Thus, the two top cops on Wall Street are generally considered to be that U.S. attorney — a job that has been held by thunderous prosecutorial personae like Robert Morgenthau and Rudy Giuliani — and the SEC’s director of enforcement.

The relationship between the SEC and the DOJ is necessarily close, even symbiotic. Since financial crime-fighting requires a high degree of financial expertise — and since the typical drug-and-terrorism-obsessed FBI agent can’t balance his own checkbook, let alone tell a synthetic CDO from a credit default swap — the Justice Department ends up leaning heavily on the SEC’s army of 1,100 number-crunching investigators to make their cases. In theory, it’s a well-oiled, tag-team affair: Billionaire Wall Street Asshole commits fraud, the NYSE catches on and tips off the SEC, the SEC works the case and delivers it to Justice, and Justice perp-walks the Asshole out of Nobu, into a Crown Victoria and off to 36 months of push-ups, license-plate making and Salisbury steak.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But a veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals. This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with politics or ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party’s in power. To understand how the machinery functions, you have to start back at least a decade ago, as case after case of financial malfeasance was pursued too slowly or not at all, fumbled by a government bureaucracy that too often is on a first-name basis with its targets. Indeed, the shocking pattern of nonenforcement with regard to Wall Street is so deeply ingrained in Washington that it raises a profound and difficult question about the very nature of our society: whether we have created a class of people whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes, almost no matter what those misdeeds are. The SEC and the Justice Department have evolved into a bizarre species of social surgeon serving this nonjailable class, expert not at administering punishment and justice, but at finding and removing criminal responsibility from the bodies of the accused.

The systematic lack of regulation has left even the country’s top regulators frustrated. Lynn Turner, a former chief accountant for the SEC, laughs darkly at the idea that the criminal justice system is broken when it comes to Wall Street. “I think you’ve got a wrong assumption — that we even have a law-enforcement agency when it comes to Wall Street,” he says.

In the hierarchy of the SEC, the chief accountant plays a major role in working to pursue misleading and phony financial disclosures. Turner held the post a decade ago, when one of the most significant cases was swallowed up by the SEC bureaucracy. In the late 1990s, the agency had an open-and-shut case against the Rite Aid drugstore chain, which was using diabolical accounting tricks to cook their books. But instead of moving swiftly to crack down on such scams, the SEC shoved the case into the “deal with it later” file. “The Philadelphia office literally did nothing with the case for a year,” Turner recalls. “Very much like the New York office with Madoff.” The Rite Aid case dragged on for years — and by the time it was finished, similar accounting fiascoes at Enron and WorldCom had exploded into a full-blown financial crisis. The same was true for another SEC case that presaged the Enron disaster. The agency knew that appliance-maker Sunbeam was using the same kind of accounting scams to systematically hide losses from its investors. But in the end, the SEC’s punishment for Sunbeam’s CEO, Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap — widely regarded as one of the biggest assholes in the history of American finance — was a fine of $500,000. Dunlap’s net worth at the time was an estimated $100 million. The SEC also barred Dunlap from ever running a public company again — forcing him to retire with a mere $99.5 million. Dunlap passed the time collecting royalties from his self-congratulatory memoir. Its title: Mean Business.

The pattern of inaction toward shady deals on Wall Street grew worse and worse after Turner left, with one slam-dunk case after another either languishing for years or disappearing altogether. Perhaps the most notorious example involved Gary Aguirre, an SEC investigator who was literally fired after he questioned the agency’s failure to pursue an insider-trading case against John Mack, now the chairman of Morgan Stanley and one of America’s most powerful bankers.

Aguirre joined the SEC in September 2004. Two days into his career as a financial investigator, he was asked to look into an insider-trading complaint against a hedge-fund megastar named Art Samberg. One day, with no advance research or discussion, Samberg had suddenly started buying up huge quantities of shares in a firm called Heller Financial. “It was as if Art Samberg woke up one morning and a voice from the heavens told him to start buying Heller,” Aguirre recalls. “And he wasn’t just buying shares — there were some days when he was trying to buy three times as many shares as were being traded that day.” A few weeks later, Heller was bought by General Electric — and Samberg pocketed $18 million.

After some digging, Aguirre found himself focusing on one suspect as the likely source who had tipped Samberg off: John Mack, a close friend of Samberg’s who had just stepped down as president of Morgan Stanley. At the time, Mack had been on Samberg’s case to cut him into a deal involving a spinoff of the tech company Lucent — an investment that stood to make Mack a lot of money. “Mack is busting my chops” to give him a piece of the action, Samberg told an employee in an e-mail.

A week later, Mack flew to Switzerland to interview for a top job at Credit Suisse First Boston. Among the investment bank’s clients, as it happened, was a firm called Heller Financial. We don’t know for sure what Mack learned on his Swiss trip; years later, Mack would claim that he had thrown away his notes about the meetings. But we do know that as soon as Mack returned from the trip, on a Friday, he called up his buddy Samberg. The very next morning, Mack was cut into the Lucent deal — a favor that netted him more than $10 million. And as soon as the market reopened after the weekend, Samberg started buying every Heller share in sight, right before it was snapped up by GE — a suspiciously timed move that earned him the equivalent of Derek Jeter’s annual salary for just a few minutes of work.

The deal looked like a classic case of insider trading. But in the summer of 2005, when Aguirre told his boss he planned to interview Mack, things started getting weird. His boss told him the case wasn’t likely to fly, explaining that Mack had “powerful political connections.” (The investment banker had been a fundraising “Ranger” for George Bush in 2004, and would go on to be a key backer of Hillary Clinton in 2008.)

Aguirre also started to feel pressure from Morgan Stanley, which was in the process of trying to rehire Mack as CEO. At first, Aguirre was contacted by the bank’s regulatory liaison, Eric Dinallo, a former top aide to Eliot Spitzer. But it didn’t take long for Morgan Stanley to work its way up the SEC chain of command. Within three days, another of the firm’s lawyers, Mary Jo White, was on the phone with the SEC’s director of enforcement. In a shocking move that was later singled out by Senate investigators, the director actually appeared to reassure White, dismissing the case against Mack as “smoke” rather than “fire.” White, incidentally, was herself the former U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York — one of the top cops on Wall Street.

Pause for a minute to take this in. Aguirre, an SEC foot soldier, is trying to interview a major Wall Street executive — not handcuff the guy or impound his yacht, mind you, just talk to him. In the course of doing so, he finds out that his target’s firm is being represented not only by Eliot Spitzer’s former top aide, but by the former U.S. attorney overseeing Wall Street, who is going four levels over his head to speak directly to the chief of the SEC’s enforcement division — not Aguirre’s boss, but his boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. Mack himself, meanwhile, was being represented by Gary Lynch, a former SEC director of enforcement.

Aguirre didn’t stand a chance. A month after he complained to his supervisors that he was being blocked from interviewing Mack, he was summarily fired, without notice. The case against Mack was immediately dropped: all depositions canceled, no further subpoenas issued. “It all happened so fast, I needed a seat belt,” recalls Aguirre, who had just received a stellar performance review from his bosses. The SEC eventually paid Aguirre a settlement of $755,000 for wrongful dismissal.

Rather than going after Mack, the SEC started looking for someone else to blame for tipping off Samberg. (It was, Aguirre quips, “O.J.’s search for the real killers.”) It wasn’t until a year later that the agency finally got around to interviewing Mack, who denied any wrongdoing. The four-hour deposition took place on August 1st, 2006 — just days after the five-year statute of limitations on insider trading had expired in the case.

“At best, the picture shows extraordinarily lax enforcement by the SEC,” Senate investigators would later conclude. “At worse, the picture is colored with overtones of a possible cover-up.”

Episodes like this help explain why so many Wall Street executives felt emboldened to push the regulatory envelope during the mid-2000s. Over and over, even the most obvious cases of fraud and insider dealing got gummed up in the works, and high-ranking executives were almost never prosecuted for their crimes. In 2003, Freddie Mac coughed up $125 million after it was caught misreporting its earnings by $5 billion; nobody went to jail. In 2006, Fannie Mae was fined $400 million, but executives who had overseen phony accounting techniques to jack up their bonuses faced no criminal charges. That same year, AIG paid $1.6 billion after it was caught in a major accounting scandal that would indirectly lead to its collapse two years later, but no executives at the insurance giant were prosecuted.

All of this behavior set the stage for the crash of 2008, when Wall Street exploded in a raging Dresden of fraud and criminality. Yet the SEC and the Justice Department have shown almost no inclination to prosecute those most responsible for the catastrophe — even though they had insiders from the two firms whose implosions triggered the crisis, Lehman Brothers and AIG, who were more than willing to supply evidence against top executives.

In the case of Lehman Brothers, the SEC had a chance six months before the crash to move against Dick Fuld, a man recently named the worst CEO of all time by Portfolio magazine. A decade before the crash, a Lehman lawyer named Oliver Budde was going through the bank’s proxy statements and noticed that it was using a loophole involving Restricted Stock Units to hide tens of millions of dollars of Fuld’s compensation. Budde told his bosses that Lehman’s use of RSUs was dicey at best, but they blew him off. “We’re sorry about your concerns,” they told him, “but we’re doing it.” Disturbed by such shady practices, the lawyer quit the firm in 2006.

Then, only a few months after Budde left Lehman, the SEC changed its rules to force companies to disclose exactly how much compensation in RSUs executives had coming to them. “The SEC was basically like, ‘We’re sick and tired of you people fucking around — we want a picture of what you’re holding,'” Budde says. But instead of coming clean about eight separate RSUs that Fuld had hidden from investors, Lehman filed a proxy statement that was a masterpiece of cynical lawyering. On one page, a chart indicated that Fuld had been awarded $146 million in RSUs. But two pages later, a note in the fine print essentially stated that the chart did not contain the real number — which, it failed to mention, was actually $263 million more than the chart indicated. “They fucked around even more than they did before,” Budde says. (The law firm that helped craft the fine print, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, would later receive a lucrative federal contract to serve as legal adviser to the TARP bailout.)

Budde decided to come forward. In April 2008, he wrote a detailed memo to the SEC about Lehman’s history of hidden stocks. Shortly thereafter, he got a letter back that began, “Dear Sir or Madam.” It was an automated e-response.

“They blew me off,” Budde says.

Over the course of that summer, Budde tried to contact the SEC several more times, and was ignored each time. Finally, in the fateful week of September 15th, 2008, when Lehman Brothers cracked under the weight of its reckless bets on the subprime market and went into its final death spiral, Budde became seriously concerned. If the government tried to arrange for Lehman to be pawned off on another Wall Street firm, as it had done with Bear Stearns, the U.S. taxpayer might wind up footing the bill for a company with hundreds of millions of dollars in concealed compensation. So Budde again called the SEC, right in the middle of the crisis. “Look,” he told regulators. “I gave you huge stuff. You really want to take a look at this.”

But the feds once again blew him off. A young staff attorney contacted Budde, who once more provided the SEC with copies of all his memos. He never heard from the agency again.

“This was like a mini-Madoff,” Budde says. “They had six solid months of warnings. They could have done something.”

Three weeks later, Budde was shocked to see Fuld testifying before the House Government Oversight Committee and whining about how poor he was. “I got no severance, no golden parachute,” Fuld moaned. When Rep. Henry Waxman, the committee’s chairman, mentioned that he thought Fuld had earned more than $480 million, Fuld corrected him and said he believed it was only $310 million.

The true number, Budde calculated, was $529 million. He contacted a Senate investigator to talk about how Fuld had misled Congress, but he never got any response. Meanwhile, in a demonstration of the government’s priorities, the Justice Department is proceeding full force with a prosecution of retired baseball player Roger Clemens for lying to Congress about getting a shot of steroids in his ass. “At least Roger didn’t screw over the world,” Budde says, shaking his head.

Fuld has denied any wrongdoing, but his hidden compensation was only a ripple in Lehman’s raging tsunami of misdeeds. The investment bank used an absurd accounting trick called “Repo 105″ transactions to conceal $50 billion in loans on the firm’s balance sheet. (That’s $50 billion, not million.) But more than a year after the use of the Repo 105s came to light, there have still been no indictments in the affair. While it’s possible that charges may yet be filed, there are now rumors that the SEC and the Justice Department may take no action against Lehman. If that’s true, and there’s no prosecution in a case where there’s such overwhelming evidence — and where the company is already dead, meaning it can’t dump further losses on investors or taxpayers — then it might be time to assume the game is up. Failing to prosecute Fuld and Lehman would be tantamount to the state marching into Wall Street and waving the green flag on a new stealing season.

The most amazing noncase in the entire crash — the one that truly defies the most basic notion of justice when it comes to Wall Street supervillains — is the one involving AIG and Joe Cassano, the nebbishy Patient Zero of the financial crisis. As chief of AIGFP, the firm’s financial products subsidiary, Cassano repeatedly made public statements in 2007 claiming that his portfolio of mortgage derivatives would suffer “no dollar of loss” — an almost comically obvious misrepresentation. “God couldn’t manage a $60 billion real estate portfolio without a single dollar of loss,” says Turner, the agency’s former chief accountant. “If the SEC can’t make a disclosure case against AIG, then they might as well close up shop.”

As in the Lehman case, federal prosecutors not only had plenty of evidence against AIG — they also had an eyewitness to Cassano’s actions who was prepared to tell all. As an accountant at AIGFP, Joseph St. Denis had a number of run-ins with Cassano during the summer of 2007. At the time, Cassano had already made nearly $500 billion worth of derivative bets that would ultimately blow up, destroy the world’s largest insurance company, and trigger the largest government bailout of a single company in U.S. history. He made many fatal mistakes, but chief among them was engaging in contracts that required AIG to post billions of dollars in collateral if there was any downgrade to its credit rating.

St. Denis didn’t know about those clauses in Cassano’s contracts, since they had been written before he joined the firm. What he did know was that Cassano freaked out when St. Denis spoke with an accountant at the parent company, which was only just finding out about the time bomb Cassano had set. After St. Denis finished a conference call with the executive, Cassano suddenly burst into the room and began screaming at him for talking to the New York office. He then announced that St. Denis had been “deliberately excluded” from any valuations of the most toxic elements of the derivatives portfolio — thus preventing the accountant from doing his job. What St. Denis represented was transparency — and the last thing Cassano needed was transparency.

Another clue that something was amiss with AIGFP’s portfolio came when Goldman Sachs demanded that the firm pay billions in collateral, per the terms of Cassano’s deadly contracts. Such “collateral calls” happen all the time on Wall Street, but seldom against a seemingly solvent and friendly business partner like AIG. And when they do happen, they are rarely paid without a fight. So St. Denis was shocked when AIGFP agreed to fork over gobs of money to Goldman Sachs, even while it was still contesting the payments — an indication that something was seriously wrong at AIG. “When I found out about the collateral call, I literally had to sit down,” St. Denis recalls. “I had to go home for the day.”

After Cassano barred him from valuating the derivative deals, St. Denis had no choice but to resign. He got another job, and thought he was done with AIG. But a few months later, he learned that Cassano had held a conference call with investors in December 2007. During the call, AIGFP failed to disclose that it had posted $2 billion to Goldman Sachs following the collateral calls.

“Investors therefore did not know,” the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission would later conclude, “that AIG’s earnings were overstated by $3.6 billion.”

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, they’re just not telling people,'” St. Denis says. “I knew. I had been there. I knew they’d posted collateral.”

A year later, after the crash, St. Denis wrote a letter about his experiences to the House Government Oversight Committee, which was looking into the AIG collapse. He also met with investigators for the government, which was preparing a criminal case against Cassano. But the case never went to court. Last May, the Justice Department confirmed that it would not file charges against executives at AIGFP. Cassano, who has denied any wrongdoing, was reportedly told he was no longer a target.

Shortly after that, Cassano strolled into Washington to testify before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. It was his first public appearance since the crash. He has not had to pay back a single cent out of the hundreds of millions of dollars he earned selling his insane pseudo-insurance policies on subprime mortgage deals. Now, out from under prosecution, he appeared before the FCIC and had the enormous balls to compliment his own business acumen, saying his atom-bomb swaps portfolio was, in retrospect, not that badly constructed. “I think the portfolios are withstanding the test of time,” he said.

“They offered him an excellent opportunity to redeem himself,” St. Denis jokes.

In the end, of course, it wasn’t just the executives of Lehman and AIGFP who got passes. Virtually every one of the major players on Wall Street was similarly embroiled in scandal, yet their executives skated off into the sunset, uncharged and unfined. Goldman Sachs paid $550 million last year when it was caught defrauding investors with crappy mortgages, but no executive has been fined or jailed — not even Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, Goldman’s outrageous Euro-douche who gleefully e-mailed a pal about the “surreal” transactions in the middle of a meeting with the firm’s victims. In a similar case, a sales executive at the German powerhouse Deutsche Bank got off on charges of insider trading; its general counsel at the time of the questionable deals, Robert Khuzami, now serves as director of enforcement for the SEC.

Another major firm, Bank of America, was caught hiding $5.8 billion in bonuses from shareholders as part of its takeover of Merrill Lynch. The SEC tried to let the bank off with a settlement of only $33 million, but Judge Jed Rakoff rejected the action as a “facade of enforcement.” So the SEC quintupled the settlement — but it didn’t require either Merrill or Bank of America to admit to wrongdoing. Unlike criminal trials, in which the facts of the crime are put on record for all to see, these Wall Street settlements almost never require the banks to make any factual disclosures, effectively burying the stories forever. “All this is done at the expense not only of the shareholders, but also of the truth,” says Rakoff. Goldman, Deutsche, Merrill, Lehman, Bank of America … who did we leave out? Oh, there’s Citigroup, nailed for hiding some $40 billion in liabilities from investors. Last July, the SEC settled with Citi for $75 million. In a rare move, it also fined two Citi executives, former CFO Gary Crittenden and investor-relations chief Arthur Tildesley Jr. Their penalties, combined, came to a whopping $180,000.

Throughout the entire crisis, in fact, the government has taken exactly one serious swing of the bat against executives from a major bank, charging two guys from Bear Stearns with criminal fraud over a pair of toxic subprime hedge funds that blew up in 2007, destroying the company and robbing investors of $1.6 billion. Jurors had an e-mail between the defendants admitting that “there is simply no way for us to make money — ever” just three days before assuring investors that “there’s no basis for thinking this is one big disaster.” Yet the case still somehow ended in acquittal — and the Justice Department hasn’t taken any of the big banks to court since.

All of which raises an obvious question: Why the hell not?

Gary Aguirre, the SEC investigator who lost his job when he drew the ire of Morgan Stanley, thinks he knows the answer.

Last year, Aguirre noticed that a conference on financial law enforcement was scheduled to be held at the Hilton in New York on November 12th. The list of attendees included 1,500 or so of the country’s leading lawyers who represent Wall Street, as well as some of the government’s top cops from both the SEC and the Justice Department.

Criminal justice, as it pertains to the Goldmans and Morgan Stanleys of the world, is not adversarial combat, with cops and crooks duking it out in interrogation rooms and courthouses. Instead, it’s a cocktail party between friends and colleagues who from month to month and year to year are constantly switching sides and trading hats. At the Hilton conference, regulators and banker-lawyers rubbed elbows during a series of speeches and panel discussions, away from the rabble. “They were chummier in that environment,” says Aguirre, who plunked down $2,200 to attend the conference.

Aguirre saw a lot of familiar faces at the conference, for a simple reason: Many of the SEC regulators he had worked with during his failed attempt to investigate John Mack had made a million-dollar pass through the Revolving Door, going to work for the very same firms they used to police. Aguirre didn’t see Paul Berger, an associate director of enforcement who had rebuffed his attempts to interview Mack — maybe because Berger was tied up at his lucrative new job at Debevoise & Plimpton, the same law firm that Morgan Stanley employed to intervene in the Mack case. But he did see Mary Jo White, the former U.S. attorney, who was still at Debevoise & Plimpton. He also saw Linda Thomsen, the former SEC director of enforcement who had been so helpful to White. Thomsen had gone on to represent Wall Street as a partner at the prestigious firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Two of the government’s top cops were there as well: Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s current director of enforcement. Bharara had been recommended for his post by Chuck Schumer, Wall Street’s favorite senator. And both he and Khuzami had served with Mary Jo White at the U.S. attorney’s office, before Mary Jo went on to become a partner at Debevoise. What’s more, when Khuzami had served as general counsel for Deutsche Bank, he had been hired by none other than Dick Walker, who had been enforcement director at the SEC when it slow-rolled the pivotal fraud case against Rite Aid.

“It wasn’t just one rotation of the revolving door,” says Aguirre. “It just kept spinning. Every single person had rotated in and out of government and private service.”

The Revolving Door isn’t just a footnote in financial law enforcement; over the past decade, more than a dozen high-ranking SEC officials have gone on to lucrative jobs at Wall Street banks or white-shoe law firms, where partnerships are worth millions. That makes SEC officials like Paul Berger and Linda Thomsen the equivalent of college basketball stars waiting for their first NBA contract. Are you really going to give up a shot at the Knicks or the Lakers just to find out whether a Wall Street big shot like John Mack was guilty of insider trading? “You take one of these jobs,” says Turner, the former chief accountant for the SEC, “and you’re fit for life.”

Fit — and happy. The banter between the speakers at the New York conference says everything you need to know about the level of chumminess and mutual admiration that exists between these supposed adversaries of the justice system. At one point in the conference, Mary Jo White introduced Bharara, her old pal from the U.S. attorney’s office.

“I want to first say how pleased I am to be here,” Bharara responded. Then, addressing White, he added, “You’ve spawned all of us. It’s almost 11 years ago to the day that Mary Jo White called me and asked me if I would become an assistant U.S. attorney. So thank you, Dr. Frankenstein.”

Next, addressing the crowd of high-priced lawyers from Wall Street, Bharara made an interesting joke. “I also want to take a moment to applaud the entire staff of the SEC for the really amazing things they have done over the past year,” he said. “They’ve done a real service to the country, to the financial community, and not to mention a lot of your law practices.”

Haw! The line drew snickers from the conference of millionaire lawyers. But the real fireworks came when Khuzami, the SEC’s director of enforcement, talked about a new “cooperation initiative” the agency had recently unveiled, in which executives are being offered incentives to report fraud they have witnessed or committed. From now on, Khuzami said, when corporate lawyers like the ones he was addressing want to know if their Wall Street clients are going to be charged by the Justice Department before deciding whether to come forward, all they have to do is ask the SEC.

“We are going to try to get those individuals answers,” Khuzami announced, as to “whether or not there is criminal interest in the case — so that defense counsel can have as much information as possible in deciding whether or not to choose to sign up their client.”

Aguirre, listening in the crowd, couldn’t believe Khuzami’s brazenness. The SEC’s enforcement director was saying, in essence, that firms like Goldman Sachs and AIG and Lehman Brothers will henceforth be able to get the SEC to act as a middleman between them and the Justice Department, negotiating fines as a way out of jail time. Khuzami was basically outlining a four-step system for banks and their executives to buy their way out of prison. “First, the SEC and Wall Street player make an agreement on a fine that the player will pay to the SEC,” Aguirre says. “Then the Justice Department commits itself to pass, so that the player knows he’s ‘safe.’ Third, the player pays the SEC — and fourth, the player gets a pass from the Justice Department.”

When I ask a former federal prosecutor about the propriety of a sitting SEC director of enforcement talking out loud about helping corporate defendants “get answers” regarding the status of their criminal cases, he initially doesn’t believe it. Then I send him a transcript of the comment. “I am very, very surprised by Khuzami’s statement, which does seem to me to be contrary to past practice — and not a good thing,” the former prosecutor says.

Earlier this month, when Sen. Chuck Grassley found out about Khuzami’s comments, he sent the SEC a letter noting that the agency’s own enforcement manual not only prohibits such “answer getting,” it even bars the SEC from giving defendants the Justice Department’s phone number. “Should counsel or the individual ask which criminal authorities they should contact,” the manual reads, “staff should decline to answer, unless authorized by the relevant criminal authorities.” Both the SEC and the Justice Department deny there is anything improper in their new policy of cooperation. “We collaborate with the SEC, but they do not consult with us when they resolve their cases,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer assured Congress in January. “They do that independently.”

Around the same time that Breuer was testifying, however, a story broke that prior to the pathetically small settlement of $75 million that the SEC had arranged with Citigroup, Khuzami had ordered his staff to pursue lighter charges against the megabank’s executives. According to a letter that was sent to Sen. Grassley’s office, Khuzami had a “secret conversation, without telling the staff, with a prominent defense lawyer who is a good friend” of his and “who was counsel for the company.” The unsigned letter, which appears to have come from an SEC investigator on the case, prompted the inspector general to launch an investigation into the charge.

All of this paints a disturbing picture of a closed and corrupt system, a timeless circle of friends that virtually guarantees a collegial approach to the policing of high finance. Even before the corruption starts, the state is crippled by economic reality: Since law enforcement on Wall Street requires serious intellectual firepower, the banks seize a huge advantage from the start by hiring away the top talent. Budde, the former Lehman lawyer, says it’s well known that all the best legal minds go to the big corporate law firms, while the “bottom 20 percent go to the SEC.” Which makes it tough for the agency to track devious legal machinations, like the scheme to hide $263 million of Dick Fuld’s compensation.

“It’s such a mismatch, it’s not even funny,” Budde says.

But even beyond that, the system is skewed by the irrepressible pull of riches and power. If talent rises in the SEC or the Justice Department, it sooner or later jumps ship for those fat NBA contracts. Or, conversely, graduates of the big corporate firms take sabbaticals from their rich lifestyles to slum it in government service for a year or two. Many of those appointments are inevitably hand-picked by lifelong stooges for Wall Street like Chuck Schumer, who has accepted $14.6 million in campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other major players in the finance industry, along with their corporate lawyers.

As for President Obama, what is there to be said? Goldman Sachs was his number-one private campaign contributor. He put a Citigroup executive in charge of his economic transition team, and he just named an executive of JP Morgan Chase, the proud owner of $7.7 million in Chase stock, his new chief of staff. “The betrayal that this represents by Obama to everybody is just — we’re not ready to believe it,” says Budde, a classmate of the president from their Columbia days. “He’s really fucking us over like that? Really? That’s really a JP Morgan guy, really?”

Which is not to say that the Obama era has meant an end to law enforcement. On the contrary: In the past few years, the administration has allocated massive amounts of federal resources to catching wrongdoers — of a certain type. Last year, the government deported 393,000 people, at a cost of $5 billion. Since 2007, felony immigration prosecutions along the Mexican border have surged 77 percent; nonfelony prosecutions by 259 percent. In Ohio last month, a single mother was caught lying about where she lived to put her kids into a better school district; the judge in the case tried to sentence her to 10 days in jail for fraud, declaring that letting her go free would “demean the seriousness” of the offenses.

So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero. The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons and fill them with people for selling dime bags and stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion dollars? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It’s not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they’re sorry, and move on. Oh, wait — let’s not even make them say they’re sorry. That’s too mean; let’s just give them a piece of paper with a government stamp on it, officially clearing them of the need to apologize, and make them pay a fine instead. But don’t make them pay it out of their own pockets, and don’t ask them to give back the money they stole. In fact, let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay and benefits last year. What’s next? Taxpayer-funded massages for every Wall Street executive guilty of fraud?

The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don’t feel real; you don’t see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They’re crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let’s steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy. They’re attacking the very definition of property — which, after all, depends in part on a legal system that defends everyone’s claims of ownership equally. When that definition becomes tenuous or conditional — when the state simply gives up on the notion of justice — this whole American Dream thing recedes even further from reality.

By MATT TAIBBI
FEBRUARY 16, 2011 9:00 AM ET

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Dear Politicians: Please Cut Here


The following unconstitutional FEDERAL programs, agencies, departments, bureaus, commissions, administrations, offices, foundations, councils, services, institutions, boards, centers, divisions, grants, initiatives, registries, affairs, authorities etc, SHOULD ALL BE ABOLISHED.

With these organizations gone, we could eliminate the federal income tax (for real economic stimulus). Then all these federal government fat cats would have to get real jobs like the rest of us – probably without the 10 holidays a year.

THESE ORGANIZATIONS PRODUCE NOTHING-THEY JUST LEECH AND TRANSFER WEALTH FROM ONE CLASS TO ANOTHER BY FORCE OF TAXATION.

ANY WONDER WHY WE’RE BROKE???… THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY MILITARY or DEFENSE PROGRAMS OR THEIR SUBSIDIARIES.  IT ALSO DOES NOT INCLUDE LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT BRANCHES SUCH AS EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATIVE, JUDICIAL, AND MANY OTHERS.

HERE IT IS…

 

Personal Income Tax Division of the IRS

National Endowment for the Arts (Can’t sell your art privately?)

National Wild Horse and Burro Program (Huh?)

Dept. of Education

Dept of Energy

FEMA (a corrupt organization if there ever was one–leave it to charities)

FDIC (a sham program with only a fraction of funds needed to save banks)

Freddy Mac & Fannie Mae (helped cause present economic conditions)

Administration on Aging (AoA)

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD)

Administration for Native Americans (ANA)

Children’s Bureau (CB)

Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB)

Head Start Bureau (HSB)

Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI)

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)

Office of Community Services Block Grant (OCS)

Office of Family Assistance (OFA)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)

President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Indian Health Service (IHS)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Office of Minority Health (OMH)

Program Support Center (PSC)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin.(SAMHSA)

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT)

Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI)

Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB)

Employment Standards Administration (ESA)

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)

Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Women’s Bureau (WB)

Job Corps

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Internet Access and Training Program

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Bureau of Human Resources

Bureau of Information Resource Management

Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Bureau of International Organization Affairs

Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation

Bureau of Legislative Affairs

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Bureau of Public Affairs

Bureau of Resource Management

Bureau of South Asian Affairs

Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Counterterrorism Office (which produces the Patterns of Global Terrorism report)

National Foreign Affairs Training Center (former Foreign Service Institute)

Office of International Information Programs

Office of the Legal Adviser

Office of Management Policy

Office of Protocol

Office of the Science and Technology Adviser

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Office of War Crimes Issues (They blew the Bush war crimes)

Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers)

Cash for Appliances Program

Bureau of the Public Debt

Community Development Financial Institution Fund (CDFI)

FHA

HUD

 

INDEPENDENT AGENCIES Of the U.S. GOVERNMENT;

National health and insurance system

African Development Foundation

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)

Agency for International Development (USAID)

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (EVIL WAR-MONGERS)

US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR)

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA)

Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Export-Import Bank of the United States (ExIm)

Farm Credit Administration (FCA)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Federal Election Commission (FEC)

Federal Maritime Commission

Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission (FMSHRC)

Federal Reserve System (a pseudo government, semi-private organization)

Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States (FCSC)

General Services Administration (GSA)

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Inter-American Foundation (IAF)

International Trade Commission (ITC)

Learn and Serve America (LSA)

National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

National Ice Center (NIC)

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) (NRPC)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

National Transportation Research Center (NTRC)

Office of Government Ethics (OGE)(LOT OF GOOD THEY DO)

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

Selective Service System (SSS)

Senior Corps

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC)

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

United States Trade and Development Agency (TDA)

 

BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS;

Financial crisis inquiry commission

Administrative Committee of the Federal Register

American Battle Monuments Commission

Appalachian Regional Commission

Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)

Arctic Research Commission

Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

Broadcasting Board of Governors

Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

Chief Acquisition Officers Council

Chief Financial Officers Council

Chief Human Capital Officers Council

Chief Information Officers Council

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee

Commission of Fine Arts

Commission on International Religious Freedom

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission)

Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States

Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction

Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled

Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements

Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States

Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Delaware River Basin Commission

Denali Commission

Endangered Species Committee

Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board

Federal Advisory Committees

Federal Executive Boards

Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council

Federal Financing Bank

Federal Geographic Data Committee

Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (GOTTA LOVE THAT ONE!)

Federal Interagency Committee on Education

Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy

Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer

Federal Library and Information Center Committee

Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor Commission

Indian Arts and Crafts Board

Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group

Interagency Council on Homelessness

Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin

J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

Japan-United States Friendship Commission

Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries

Joint Fire Science Program

Marine Mammal Commission

Migratory Bird Conservation Commission

Millennium Challenge Corporation

Mississippi River Commission

Morris K. Udall Foundation: Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy

National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare

National Indian Gaming Commission

National Park Foundation

Northwest Power Planning Council

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board

Presidio Trust

Regulatory Information Service Center

Social Security Advisory Board

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Veterans Day National Committee

Vietnam Educational Foundation

White House Commission on Presidential Scholars – “Presidential Scholars Program”

White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance

SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM (Pay back-with interest to all who want to opt out, but continue to fund those in or near retirement). THIS COULD BE DONE WITH MONEY PRESENTLY USED TO INVADE AND OCCUPY FOREIGN LANDS.

On the outside chance that someone will disagree with anything on this list, let me be the first to say “I don’t care if you agree with it or not.”

AGAIN…ANY WONDER WHY WE’RE BROKE???

US – Can’t Buy Love!


It’s All Your Money: Foreign Aid to Muslim/Arab nations

by William LaJeunesse | May 24, 2011

While America’s standing in the Middle East couldn’t get much lower, you wouldn’t know it looking at the U.S. foreign aid budget. Of proposed U.S. assistance for 2012, almost two-thirds is earmarked for Muslim nations and one-third goes to Arab countries.

Yet, despite those billions in aid, opinion polls show most Arab citizens still have an unfavorable view of America and most Muslim nations routinely vote against U.S. interests in the United Nations.

“If we are giving money to countries consistently voting against our interest, we ought to cut them off,” says Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But Congress is going to need to get some backbone here because it consistently gives Presidents the ability to waive the cutoff of that money.”

Years ago, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton proposed cutting off all aid to the 30 nations who consistently voted against the U.S. in the UN. Before him, President Reagan’s U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick proposed cutting off $1 million in aid for each vote an aid recipient cast against the U.S. in the U.N. In both cases, Bolton says the State Department overruled them.

“Foreign aid to a lot of countries could be readily cut and I think it’s been a mistake by the U.S. government for decades not to take U.N. voting into account,” Bolton said Monday.

This document, released by the State Department, examines 13 critical votes in the UN in 2010.

Compare that to this list of US aid recipients for 2012 and this poll released last week by the Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project.

Graphic_1.JPG.jpg

The result: some of the largest recipients of U.S. taxpayer money over the last 6 budget years consistently vote against the U.S. and harbor negative or unfavorable views of America.

Some other Muslim countries show almost no friendship or allegiance to the U.S. but continue to see the State Department shower them with money.

Algeria has received $60 million and votes with the U.S. just 16% of the time. Oman $74 million, 18% voting coincidence. Whereas the Palestinian Territories received $3 billion dollars yet just 18% have a favorable view of the U.S.

“The U.S. has to quit being kicked around. We need to quit sending our tax dollars to countries that do not have our best interests in mind, especially in these economic times,” says Chabot.

Instead, if you look at U.S. aid over time, it’s largely on auto-pilot. Once a nation is on the U.S. gravy train, few are ever cut off, regardless of their loyalty, gratitude or actions.

This link allows you to see who gets aid and where it goes.

In our analysis of the numbers, of the President’s 2012 foreign assistance request of $34.5 billion, 60% or $20.1 billion goes to Muslim nations, or those where a majority practice Islam. About 33% or the total budget, or $11.6 billion is awarded to Arab countries.

And while many Americans think most U.S. foreign aid goes to “humanitarian assistance” or food and medicine for the poor, an analysis shows 80% of our aid to Arab countries pays for police and the military. And despite the President’s speech last week calling for closer ties with Middle Eastern nations and fostering free market, democratic principles, just 5% of our aid to the region is dedicated to ‘economic development’.

While some suggest our support for repressive, autocratic regimes explains America’s poor poll numbers, and should be discontinued, Bolton has a different view.

While conceding a reform of U.S. foreign aid is “way overdue” he says, “I don’t think the opinions you see in foreign countries should govern where the aid goes. It should be based on what is in our interest not what is in their interest.”

Read more: http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/05/24/its-all-your-money-foreign-aid-muslimarab-nations#ixzz1NIAYZV9B

The Ghost of Electric Cars


I can not understand why our nation will not capture the “electric car” and quit being so dependent on foreign oil.  I want our country to stop being so damn subservient to middle eastern nations because of a fuel that we have a plentiful supply of here at home.  However, we do not have to continue to lower our standards of living until we can move forward with domestic production and refineries.

GM pulled the EV1 automobile from the showrooms and the streets back in 03 because they realized it was too good of a product.  IT WORKED! It ran great and the people that had them loved them.  The problem that GM claimed was that there was not enough demand for them which was a crock of BS at its highest level.  These automobiles were backordered for years and could not be made fast enough.  GM would not sell the cars and were only available by lease!  Once GM realized that these cars would cost the entire automobile industry BILLIONS in future replacement parts for internal combustion (gas) engines that would no longer be needed, they killed the production.  Not only did they quit making the EV1, they recalled all of the ones that were on the road and had them crushed to take them out of service.  The people that leased them were highly upset but had no say in the matter. This just happened 8 years ago!  You can read very enlightening information about this at:  http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/

Take a look at what the nation of Israel is doing:

Israel’s Electric Car

We already have mass transit busses that run on CNP (compressed natural gas) and it is also proven in Brazil that older model automobiles can be retrofitted to run on natural gas.  In this nation we can put men on the moon but will not do what is necessary for our own citizens to live comfortably without  the fear of what will happen in the middle east.  The thought of where we would be if Saudi Arabia were bombed by Iran or some other rogue nation is frightening!

We don’t have to have their oil – We choose to have their oil!  Who makes those “bad for the USA” choices? – our very beloved leaders in Washington DC.  They’re not all Democrats either!  We will need oil for at least another decade or two, but until we can produce our own, we have the capability of lowering our energy bills through “electric cars” and those that run on natural gas!

The Tea Party members and everyone we can convince to vote with us should DEMAND that our present and future House and Senate politicians move to take us to energy independence immediately.  What they do on the budget, immigration and energy should be the 3 platforms that determine whether they stay or go home in 2012.  For as long as we settle for the crumbs of legislation they will give us, we will suffer as a whole for extended periods of time that are totally needless.  Our politicians need to know once and for all that we are serious.  Our votes should scare them instead of them disappointing or scaring us!

Example:  In 2009 and all the way up until November 2010, the Democrat controlled House and Congress could have passed the immigration amnesty bill called Dream Act.  They didn’t because the democrats feared for their jobs in the Nov. election!  Now we have the power to make them fear for their jobs in 2012.

We can only blame ourselves if they don’t hear us before then and act accordingly!

Demand our independence from foreign nations by drilling and refining our own oil – Drilled in the USA!

Bring back the EV1

Brian Gray

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