Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘greed’

How did we ever get into the mess we’re now in?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Democratic Presidential nominee candidates Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) continue to make the case that corporate America has harmed, and continues harming, the very field upon which they sow the seeds of their profit.

They further make the case that such governmentally-approved behavior is not merely injurious, but is unsustainable – if not fatal – to those same corporations, and ultimately, to the American economy upon which it feeds.

Citing examples of such greed and rapacious corporate profiteering by their über-wealthy owners and Wall Street overlords (to whom they are fiscally accountable and must share profits), and in conjunction with misguided Federal tax policy (led almost in whole part by Republicans), Senators Warren and Sanders show how overseas and foreign “outsourcing” – all in the name of increased corporate profits – have damaged average American families, including the cities, towns, and states wherein they reside, whom have all witnessed and suffered from wholesale corporate abandonment to foreign soil.

Slow learners are discovering that America’s narsicisstic wealthy “businessman” president – whom they elected, hoping he would be their knight in shining armor coming to their economic rescue – has also sold them out for his own self interests, exactly like his party’s predecessors. They were merely expendable pawns whom he deceived in his egocentric reality show/chess game. They’re merely the red-capped collateral damage in his monkey-business trade war.

Nowhere are the result of such policies more
plainly and painfully evident than in middle America,
where once-thriving factories have become hollowed-out shells

the veritable rotting skeletal corporate detritus which has
fostered and driven
the Opioid Epidemic in many states.

Once-renown industrial cities like Detroit, where the Big Three of the automobile industry – Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors – reigned since the early 1900’s, and supplied high-paying Labor Union wages with genuine, and significant healthcare and retirement benefits to generations of families. Children attended well-funded public schools, states and cities prospered, thrived and expanded exponentially. Teens who chose to attend college or university did so without incurring debt, and training for technically-skilled jobs and labor was supported by almost all secondary schools.

Then, as if seemingly unnoticed, small things began to change. It was if America’s hard-working men and women, and middle-class families had become the proverbial frogs in a pot of water, never noticing the water temperature was increasing, until they were boiled to death… while yet alive.

Life-saving medications like insulin for diabetics, antibiotics to treat and cure once-deadly infections, blood pressure medications which reduced strokes and many other hypertension-associated health problems, even the plastic bags which contained Normal Saline – typically given as adjunctive intravenous therapy in hospitals – began to be manufactured overseas, and along with it, came precipitous price hikes. So-called “pharma bros” took shockingly unjust and unimaginably avaricious pecuniary advantage of old-line medications – which had for years been off-patent – and jacked up their prices 5000%, or more, which placed them out of reach for many whose very lives depended upon them.

The giant, sloppy, wet kiss given to the Pharmaceutical Industry by Republicans under President George W. Bush in Medicare Part D didn’t help. Pharmaceutical companies were allowed to, and did, raise their prices, and Medicare – the single largest purchaser of medications in the world – was forbidden from negotiating for better, lower prices by that same law, which in turn, passed the price increases along to the insured, most of whom live on nominal, and fixed incomes.

Exorbitant pharmaceuticals hold patients hostage to disease,
as hapless physicians and feckless regulators are
paralyzed to become
Wall Street extortionists’ socioeconomic ransom.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southernbreeze/4611472833/

The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” which solidified corporate personhood, and essentially said that “money is free speech” has neither helped. For if money was free speech, then the poor man would have none (thus violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the First Amendment which guarantees Freedom of Speech), and our laws were, and are, written for all equally.

Neither has the subsequent 2014 Alabama case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission which “struck down Read the rest of this entry »

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“Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Self dealing.

You’d think it was a crime, eh?

But, did you know that it is NOT illegal to shift campaign money into your private account?

Actually, directly, it is.

On their website, the Federal Election Commission states in part that, “Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited.” (https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/making-disbursements/personal-use/)

They state further that, “Commission regulations provide a test, called the “irrespective test,” to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses. Under the “irrespective test,” personal use is any use of funds in a campaign account of a candidate (or former candidate) to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”

But indirectly?

That’s a horse of an entirely different color.

In the white-collar criminal underground, that’s called “money laundering,” which is the practice of shifting money through legitimate business enterprises in order to make it appear as if the money was obtained legitimately.

And that is but one reason why the FBI encourages accounting majors in university to consider joining their service – because scouring the financial books of businesses and other entities takes a well-trained eye to discern criminal wrong-doing.

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump stood in Trump Tower, New York City, and said, “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.” (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-donald-trump-announces-his-presidential-candidacy/)

With that remark in part, he announced his candidacy to be the GOP’s nominee for President.

Of note, that was also when he’d made his now-infamous remark that, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably — probably — from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

But earlier – 5 years earlier, in fact – he’d said to Fortune magazine in April 3, 2000, that, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” (https://fortune.com/2000/04/03/what-does-donald-trump-really-want/)

In December 2018, Forbes magazine reported that Read the rest of this entry »

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POTUS Obama: Sen. Warren is “absolutely wrong” on Trans-Pacific Partnership. But is she?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written 11 May 2015, though unpublished. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), is/was a “free-trade” pact among the nations of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and United States signed on 4 February 2016, though it was NOT ratified, and thus, did NOT take effect. All 12 members nations signed the TPP 4 February 2016.

However, because it was NOT ratified by all signatories before 4 February 2018, it will become effective ONLY after ratification when at least 6 nations with a combined GDP of more than 85% of the GDP of all signatories have signed.

Further, because the United States withdrew from the TPP, it also significantly and adversely affected it. The TPP agreement will become active only after all signatories have ratified it within two years of signing.

—//—

President Obama recently criticized Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) for her clarion call warning of the potential damage the Trans-Pacific Partnership could do to United States’ economy.

Sen. Warren has said that “This is hardly a hypothetical possibility: We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations.”

The President countered saying, “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

President Obama further dismissed her criticisms out of hand saying, she’s absolutely wrong,” about the concerns she and others have raised, and appeared to throw down the gauntlet for open, frank discussion of the still-secret trade pact which would include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

The President gives the USTR broad power to keep secret information about the trade policies it advances and negotiates.

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing.”

A Senate bill – S. 3225 – which would require the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to disclose all its TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) documents to every member of Congress was introduced May 23, 2012 by Sen. Wyden, who is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness. In that capacity, his office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. Wyden said the purpose of the bill was “to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few. Congress passed legislation in 2002 to form the Congressional Oversight Group, or COG, to foster more USTR consultation with Congress. I was a senator in 2002. I voted for that law and I can tell you the intention of that law was to ensure that USTR consulted with more Members of Congress, not less.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Merry F’n Christmas… there’s not enough love on the borderline, or anywhere else.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Musicians and artists are the voices of the prophets.

They ARE our prophets.

Their consciences are often our nation’s collective voice of conscience. For many radio stations, the only profit they care about is traded on Wall Street, and their consciences are not tethered to trouble, or pricked by care for others’ problems. Their profit is all that matters, for their god is green and cold, and easily fits into any wallet. It has crowded out natural love in the calculi of their now-inhuman hearts.

And, for one reason, or another, it seems that these days, there are very few voices “crying in the wilderness,” or elsewhere, about social injustice.

But three years ago – in 2015 – musician/artist Chip Taylor wrote a song entitled “Refugee Children.” It should be heard by everyone, though it certainly hasn’t.

Whether one is a believer in the story of the virgin birth, or any god, the basic fundamental element of that ageless story is that a small family with a young pregnant bride were refugees, homeless, with only the clothes on their backs.

Any well-read person, regardless of any religious belief, or not, should be familiar with the story told in Read the rest of this entry »

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America To Take 5th Place To Australia On Drone Safety

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 24, 2018

But not in ‘Murka. We’se too smart f’dat!

Why can’t America have nice things?

Because the Republicans are stealing the money to pay for any of it, and giving it to their rich friends.

Authorities in Australia have expressed worries about the number of drones being flown in restricted areas in recent months.

Almost 140,000 air travellers were delayed last week after reports of drone sightings caused huge delays at Gatwick Airport in England. UK police are still searching for the culprits, although they have also raised the possibility that witness reports of the aircraft were mistaken.

The incident “highlights” the need for a drone-spotting capability, Casa spokesman Peter Gibson told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

The surveillance system would be able to spot the types of drone being flown, read their serial numbers and work out where the pilot was located, he said.

Efforts to identify pilots would be aided by the introduction of the registration scheme for commercial and casual drone owners, he added.

Anyone breaking rules could face fines of up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,058; £5,600) as well as checks on the safety of their craft.

“2019 will be a drone safety crackdown,” said Mr Gibson.

As well as airports and other sensitive locations, the drone-spotting systems will be installed in other places known to be popular with drone owners such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46672940

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Why Alabama Can’t Have Nice Things, Including Internet Service

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why Can’t Alabama Have Nice Things?
-or-
Why FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal Could Be Good For Alabama’s Economy

Already, following quickly on the heels of GOP FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s (a former corporate lawyer for Verizon) Net Neutrality repeal, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as Comcast, Cox Communications, and Frontier Communications have announced increased costs starting January. see: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/12/19/comcast-cox-frontier-net-neutrality/

<sarcasm>I suppose the “savings” regular families get from the GOP’s Tax Scam bill will offset any additional costs.</sarcasm>

Now, here’s the (easy to understand) “deal”:

Those firms want to increase sales, and by extension, increase profits. Not merely margins. In order to do that, one must TRULY compete on a “level playing field.”

But, let’s consider another thought, that being of service. There are, even now, many areas in our nation WITHOUT ISP, or options. It’s VERY “close to home.”

For example, I can drive 30-45 minutes and be in a VERY remote area… which, until this point, had NO ISP, save for satellite service. At my urging, relatives, whose example I am referencing, began to collaborate with their neighbors to get ISP to “lay line” to their, and others’ residences.

They (area residents) were already paying for a service (satellite ISP) which quality was poor, unreliable, and costly. The “wire line” ISP (falsely) claimed that to extend service to that area (even though it was already nearby – at the road), would not be “profitable.” I demurred, urged and encouraged them ALL THE MORE to Read the rest of this entry »

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Follow The Money: Paul Manafort, Donald Trump & Michael Flynn

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By now, you’ve likely heard, or read about Paul Manafort’s bail being revoked.

Manfort, of course, was briefly then-candidate Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign Manager, and has been arrested by the FBI as part of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s (b.1944) ongoing investigation into illegal activity by foreign nations in the United States, some of which may have been related to the General Election of 2016.

Manfort (b.1949) is a Georgetown University School of Law-educated attorney, and among other activities, has made his money lobbying for, and advising the national political campaigns of such presidential candidates as Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Robert “Bob” Dole.

Manafort has also advised political campaigns in totalitarian dictatorial regimes, and has lobbied for, advised, and represented some highly unsavory international criminal characters including Read the rest of this entry »

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Charter Schools Hoodwinking Hypocrisy 

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mark Weber, who blogs as “Jersey Jazzman,” is earning his Doctorate in Research and Statistics while teaching in a New Jersey public school. He is a sharp critic of shoddy research, especially of charter schools’ fantastical claims.

In his latest post, he asks why CREDO, the charter-evaluating institute at Stanford University run by Macke Raymond, continues to use an invalid metric – one which has never been scientifically sound – to evaluate charter schools’ performance.

Journalists, who have little expertise in evaluating research claims, eagerly, though ignorantly, promote such unsound claims by writing things like School X produces an additional “number of days of learning.”

That happened most recently in Texas, where charter schools finally matched the test scores of public schools – aka so-called “failing schools” for which charter schools are supposed to be the rescuers.

Continue learning…
http://wp.me/p2odLa-hSK

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Russia Is Not Now, Nor Has It Ever Been, The United States’ “Friend”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 1, 2017

Recently, in response to posts of the images herein, some made remarks pursuant to Americans’ involvement in Russian matters. More specifically, they concerned visits by retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s December 2015 visit to Russia in December, and Rex Tillerson’s 2013 award by Vladimir Putin.

A: “But not from made up stories…..”

In 2013, Vadimir Putin (LEFT) personally awarded Rex Tillerson (RIGHT) with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal, which is the highest honor Russia bestows on foreign citizens, and is given to foreigners whom the Russian government believes have helped Russia and its people.

Me: “The image of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Putin is from Putin’s award to him with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal in 2013.

“Here’s another goodie!

“Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin at a 2015 dinner for the RT news channel in Moscow. RT is Russia’s propaganda “news” agency, along with “Sputnik.” Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/ Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA”

A: “You can also find where Obama and his cronies met with Russians too”

Me: When President Obama met with Putin at the G8 and G20 summits, it was in his official capacity as President and world leader.

“When Mike Flynn met with Putin December 10, 2015, he did so as a private citizen/civilian, because he retired from the Army in April 2014 after he had been fired from his position as Director of Defense Intelligence Agency because, which as Colin Powell had been told by Defense Intelligence Agency director Vincent R. Stewart, was because Flynn was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.”

Michael Flynn (seated LEFT, holding device to ear) and Vladimir Putin (seated RIGHT) at a December 10, 2015 dinner for the RT news channel in Moscow. RT is Russia’s propaganda “news” agency, along with “Sputnik.” Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/ Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA

“After he retired from the Army, Flynn went to work for RT, which is the Russian government-supported propaganda agency. Flynn is also a Registered Foreign Agent with the Justice Department.

“In their January 2017 report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” America’s intelligence agencies reported that RT was “The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet” and that RT America is set up as an autonomous nonprofit organization “to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

“Same thing for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who has never held public office or trust – he was a private citizen when Putin awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship medal.

“And let me tell you something and make it EXPLICITLY CLEAR:
Anyone friendly to Russia is Read the rest of this entry »

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Free Enterprise And #Beer

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 6, 2017

I am a FIRM PROPONENT of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, FREE ENTERPRISE, and FAIR COMPETITION.

budweiser-beer-original-logoabinbev-china-logoFor that reason, and others, I have NOT purchased an AB-InBev product in quite some time, not only because of the inferior quality of their products, but because it is a greedy, global, monolithic oligopolic (virtually monopoly) enterprise.

It is NOT an American company, and ceased being an American company when it SOLD OUT to the Belgian brewing company InBev for around $52 billion in 2008. From then, the company was named AB-InBev.

Molson Canadian Lager beer, original bottle, brewed in Montreal, CanadaTo add insult to injury, the U.S. Department of Justice OK’d a deal in 2016 in which AB-InBev BOUGHT SABMiller’s U.S. business which in turn, would allow Molson Coors to Read the rest of this entry »

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Citizens United Ruling Violates Equal Protection Clause

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 6, 2017

Nick Hanauer, a multi-billionaire about whom few have likely heard, authored a highly publicized article not too long ago warning about wealth inequity. Increasingly, the wealthy are realizing that a strategy of cutting taxes upon the wealthy and their corporations is not a recipe for American success, precisely for the reason that it adversely affects economic infrastructure, and jobs, among other damages.

However, one needn’t be wealthy to realize and understand that money, and the unreasonable desire for it known as avarice (an extreme form of greed), and the unwieldy power that accompanies it, are corrupting influences in any nation, and particularly in our United States because of SCOTUS ruling in the 2010 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision which Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts On Fidel Castro’s Death & American Foreign Policy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cuban President Raoul Castro – Fidel Castro’s younger brother – announced on Cuban television late last night (Friday, 25 November 2016) that Fidel had recently died, aged 90.

There are powerful lessons in Cuba for America.
Among them:

• When Corporations rule government, corruption inevitably ensues.

• American Foreign Policy has almost always favored Corporate Business Interests, especially in modern history.

• For well over 60 years, American Foreign Policy has largely been a disastrous failure.

The United States had dominated Cuba ever since the island nation became independent from Spain following the Spanish-American War in 1898, and Castro deeply distrusted America for that reason. Shortly after he assumed power in Cuba, at the invitation the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Fidel Castro made his only trip to the United States, and later met with then-Vice President Richard Nixon April 15, 1959 shortly before returning to Cuba. Eisenhower purposely avoided Castro, and specifically played golf that day to avoid any possible opportunity of meeting with him. Within four months of Castro’s trip to Washington D.C., the Eisenhower administration had drawn up a plan to overthrow him.

“In a manner certain to antagonize the Cuban people, we used the influence of our Government to advance the interests of and increase the profits of the private American companies, which dominated the island’s economy. At the beginning of 1959 U.S. companies owned about 40% of the Cuban sugar lands – almost all the cattle ranches – 90% of the mines and mineral concessions – 80% of the utilities – and practically all the oil industry – and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports.”

Remarks of then-Senator John F. Kennedy at a Democratic Dinner, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 1960, from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Acknowledging that it was a “glaring failure of American foreign policy… that our own shortsighted policies helped make,” then-Senator John F. Kennedy, remarked at a Democratic Dinner, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 1960 that Cuban regime change under Castro ended in the overthrow of the brutal, bloody, and despotic dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.”

Ironically, under Batista, the twice-president tyrannical military dictator of Cuba, the idyllic island nation was Read the rest of this entry »

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Criticizing Stephen Hawking

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Renown astrophysicist Stephen Hawking appeared on the Larry King Now show June 2016, and was interviewed by the esteemed long-time journalist.

In the interview, among the comments Hawking made was that “We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid. The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting, with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100.”

News of the interview was covered by USA Today, and subsequently by The Intellectualist website, both which focused upon Professor Hawking‘s remark as referenced above.

This is worth noting:
The article quoted Hawking as saying, Read the rest of this entry »

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On Executive Compensation

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Mosaic Scriptural principle (which is also referenced in the New Testament) that “you should not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain” is certainly a principle with and by which we should compensate people for their labor. However, there is little disagreement that the committees that set the rewards far too often overcompensate those whom are charged with organizational oversight.

There is something to be said for fair and just compensation according to the terms of a contract, and the wishes and desires of those whom issue them. 

Why then, is it that when Read the rest of this entry »

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Strain A Gnat, Swallow A Camel: How the Church has ignored Christian Principles to their peril

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 20, 2015

In 9 Sins the Church Is Okay With, Frank Powell asks “Are we changing the Bible to fit our culture or are we changing our culture to fit the Bible?”

“What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?

“Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most.”

His questions are, of course, spot on.

In fact, one could hardly argue with the evidence which consists of vast, tax-free empires built upon the backs of the faithful by the likes of:
Joel Osteen (USA) Net Worth $40 Million;
Robert Tilton (USA) Net Worth $830 Million;
Benny Hinn (USA) Net Worth $42 Million;
Joyce Meyer (USA) Net Worth $8 Million;
Kenneth Copeland (USA) Net Worth UNKNOWN (has claimed he’s a billionaire, no such public records exist documenting his claim);
Creflo Dollar (USA) Net Worth $27 Million;
Eddie Long (USA) Net Worth $5 Million;
Randy & Paula White (USA) Net Worth $2 Million;
Joseph Prince (Singapore) Net Worth $5 Million;
Chris Okotie (Nigeria) Net Worth $10 Million;
Matthew Ashimolowo of Nigeria Net Worth $10 Million;
T.B. Joshua (Nigeria) Net Worth $15 Million;
T. D. Jakes (USA) Net Worth $18 Million;
Paul (late) & Jan Crouch (USA) Net Worth (estimated TBN $1 Billion+);
Chris Oyakhilome (Nigeria) Net Worth $50 Million;
David Oyedepo (Nigeria) Net worth: $150 Million.

Obviously, their “prosperity gospel” message is working quite well for them.

For others, no so much.

And that’d probably cover Avarice, Hubris, and Boasting – or, if you prefer, Greed, Extravagance, and Pride.

But there again, our nation’s laws actually encourage greed through religion by not taxing churches. In fact, John Oliver recently pointed out that “U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with Read the rest of this entry »

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Sodomy: A prime example of what’s wrong with #ALpolitics

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 12, 2015

A dear friend who is a long-time retiree, aged 78 years, entire subsistence is from a meager pension (earned from a lifetime of work in a unionized organization), supplemented with a paltry Social Security check.

She’s lived through breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) & reconstruction, other major surgeries (knee replacements) and procedures, and lives in a trailer which she owns, situated upon a lot which she rents. She has resided there many, many years.

To save money, she recently Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Could Alabama Save By Not Paying Legislators?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 30, 2015

UPDATE: Sunday, 14 June 2015 – Found following main body

Today (Thursday, 30 April 2015) the Alabama State Senate knocked off at 11:30, and reconvened 1PM. It’s also the final day of the Legislative Session for the week – they only work three days each week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

An hour and a half – that’s a nice, long lunch break for a wealthy man, a powerful man – not a working man. It’s pretty cushy for someone who works three days a week, only 30 days a year. Reckon how your boss would respond if you asked for a three-day work week and a 30-day work year?

How long do you get for lunch?

Most folks get 30 minutes.

The Alabama Senate gets THREE times longer than most working folks.

But then, excesses in Alabama state politics is nothing new.

Recall that – by law – the Alabama Legislature is limited to work <30 days/year (in a 105 day period) & for that privilege, citizens & taxpayers fork over $50K+/yr in pay & compensation to them – 35 in the Senate, and 105 in the House.
TOTAL=140 men (mostly) & women.

In stark contrast, New Mexico’s State Legislators are a Volunteer Legislature (they’re elected, yes, but unpaid), and during Session, by State Law receive a Daily Federal Per Diem, and Two-Way Mileage once during a session EXCLUSIVELY.

Legislative pay in Alabama has been a hot-button issue, particularly in recent years – and, it’s unnecessarily complicated. By State Constitutional Law, their “official” pay is Read the rest of this entry »

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To What Extent is the American Economy Propped Up by Arms Sales?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What should one expect when the whole damn defense industry has been whored out to arm the krazees of the world?

In a very prophetic manner, in his Farewell Address to the nation, January 17, 1961, then-President Dwight David Eisenhower warned about the “military industrial complex,” saying:

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

US sells $11 BILLION worth of arms to Qatar

Published time: July 15, 2014 09:46
Edited time: July 16, 2014 12:55

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar's Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

Washington and Doha have signed the largest arms deal of the year, preparing to enhance Qatar’s military capabilities with $11 billion-worth of Apache assault helicopters, PAC-2 missile defense complexes and Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles.

The deal has been signed on Monday in Pentagon by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatari Defense Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah. Altogether Qatar is buying 10 batteries of Patriot missile defense systems and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles manufactured by US defense industry giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and 24 Apache helicopters made by Boeing, an anonymous US official told the AFP.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Pays Unskilled Labor US $80,000/year?!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 22, 2014

“For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
-1Tim5:18

Lately, much has been made of raising the Minimum Wage, which does nothing more than establish a minimum standard.

But who cares about minimums?

We should strive to exceed!

Some well-known, publicly-traded, highly profitable firms, however, revel in greed, and wallow in the slop, when they can do far better for the employees who operate their businesses.

The question is often asked “why pay unskilled workers $10 or even more per hour?”

It’s a valid question, and deserves a genuinely thoughtful response.

So, let’s pose that question to BIG OIL COMPANIES in Williston, North Dakota, where…

“oilfield companies pay unskilled 19 year-olds $80,000 a year.”

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/mall-middle-what-used-be-nowhere

by Dan Weissmann
Monday, June 16, 2014 – 15:21

Williston, North Dakota, has the nation’s highest rents. Thanks to the fracking boom, a basic apartment in Williston costs more than something similar in New York or San Francisco. And it comes with a lot fewer amenities.

For instance, shopping. If Walmart doesn’t have it, the nearest outlet is at least two hours away. Now, a Swiss investment firm has announced plans to Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG OIL’s Corrupting Influence in American Politics: Propping up Corrupt Regimes to Prop Up Profits

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 7, 2014

Report

Slick Moves

The SEC could help tackle corruption in resource-rich countries around the world — but the oil industry is getting in the way.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And American oil lobbyists are only making the situation worse: They are exploiting Angola by seeking to delay and weaken the implementation of a crucial U.S. transparency law.

That law, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also known as the Cardin-Lugar amendment, promises a breakthrough in preventing dirty deals and illicit payments being made for natural resources around the world, similar to the shady transaction recently uncovered by Foreign Policy. If implemented fully, the law would make U.S. oil and mining companies disclose the payments they make to governments across the world, including in Angola. However, oil lobbyists have been making misguided arguments that laws in Angola and three other countries prevent the required disclosures.

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig – MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan officials secretly profiting from the country’s oil riches is not a surprise. It is only the latest episode in a sad history that goes back for decades. Global Witness, where we work, began exposing the complicity of the international oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war in our 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This was followed by our 2002 report All the Presidents’ Men, which called on the oil companies operating in Angola to “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP). Under this rallying call, Global Witness co-launched the PWYP campaign, which is now an international coalition of more than 790 civil society organizations in over 60 countries, including Angola, advocating for transparency laws such as Section 1504.

These efforts are intended to prevent scandals similar to the Trafigura deal covered in Foreign Policy, which provide a glimpse of the endemic corruption in Angola‘s oil industry. Only a few days before Foreign Policy published its story, media reports about leaked documents relating to other corruption claims caused the share price of SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil services company operating in Angola, to plummet 17.9 percent when markets opened. SBM released a statement challenging the validity of the leaked documents, saying that they are partial, taken out of context, contain outdated information, and are not representative of the facts. SBM had also already disclosed to its investors that it was conducting an internal investigation into questionable payments in Angola. However, the dramatic stock drop suggests that SBM investors had not anticipated the scale of the corruption risk exposure.

Another oil services company active in Angola, Weatherford International, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Switzerland, has recently pleaded guilty to violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribery of the executives of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company. It has agreed to pay fines of $253 million to settle the case, one of the largest FCPA settlements ever.

These cases illustrate the urgent need for transparency in Angola’s oil sector. The successful implementation of Read the rest of this entry »

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Cullman Alabama Used Car Dealer Pleads Guilty: Cheated Active Duty National Guardsman, Violated Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reverend Carl Ralph Nuss, Cullman, Alabama, has plead GUILTY to violating Federal Law - Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Reverend Carl Ralph Nuss, Cullman, Alabama, has plead GUILTY to violating Federal Law – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

This is how he treats our troops?

I have nothing good to say about this, save that he plead guilty.

I hope the judge gives this criminal the maximum sentence.

And you know what else is REALLY sad?

Reverend Carl R. Nuss

Reverend Carl R. Nuss

Carl R. Nuss is a minister of the Gospel.

Apparently – and sadly so – he doesn’t know the Gospel too well.

Hopefully, this criminal and his criminal enterprise will soon be put out of business.

Cullman Car Dealer Pleads Guilty to Violating Legal Protections for Active-Duty Service Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 27, 2013

BIRMINGHAM – A Cullman used car dealer pleaded guilty today for violating federal protections for active-duty military service members by refusing to reduce the loan interest rate and repossessing the vehicle he sold to a man who was later deployed overseas with the Alabama National Guard, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.

CARL RALPH NUSS, 75, entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Harwell G. Davis III to the two counts of the March indictment charging him with violating Read the rest of this entry »

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How much is enough? A guide to dissatisfaction & satiety.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 9, 2013

Late Southern humorist & columnist Lewis Grizzard once wrote a book entitled “Elvis is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself.” The title seems apropos, especially since economics is colloquially known as “the dismal science.” 

And then, there’s former Soviet Union premier Nikita Khrushchev who once famously said during the early stages of the Cold War in 1956, “We will bury you!

Either way, it means somebody’s gonna’ die.

Considering the implications, however, I ask these questions:

How many beds can a man sleep in at once? How many meals does he need before he is full? In how many cars can he ride at once? In how many showers can he bathe at once? How many shoes can he wear at once? In how many houses can he live at once?

How much is enough?

A pessimist’s guide to the Great Recession

Review by Ferdinando Giugliano
June 9, 2013 4:36 pm
A provocative critique of policy makers’ response to the economic crisis

When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence,
by Stephen King, Yale University Press, RRP£20/RRP$30

Academic debates over the right policy response are one of the few abundant commodities during an economic crisis. Just as in the 1930s and 1970s, the financial crisis that began in the late 2000s has divided economists into two camps. The neo-Keynesian troops have Read the rest of this entry »

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Smithfield Foods Chinese Pork Project is a Wall Street Happy Meal Deal: American Prices Will Increase

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If you like bacon, ham, pork sausage, barbecue, ribs, or any other pork product – including cold cuts & pizza – get ready to pay at least 2 – 4 times more, and for shortages.

Why?

Wall Street minions – who manage Smithfield, an American company no more – have no patriotic qualms about taking food off your table and out of your mouth to feed the mouths of the people who steal our nation’s military secrets, defraud our motion picture & music copyrights, and have an historical track record of Shanghai-ing anyone & everyone who gets in their way.

You think I’m kidding, or that I don’t know what I’m writing about?

Just recollect back a few months – oh, say about 7 – to Thanksgiving in November 2012 when pecans were 2x – 3x the price they were usually.

And why was that?

After all, pecan farmers had a record bumper crop… and that typically translates into lower prices for consumers.

It’s because the Chinese suddenly discovered they liked pecans, and were willing to pay premium prices (translate: much MORE then you’re willing to pay), and so the growers shipped pecans over to China.

As I continue to contend, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

Okay… so it may cost more. So what?

How about this?

Were you aware that the Chinese company that bought Smithfield sold pigs that had been fed a substance banned in the USA & England & other nations?

Yup.

Shuanghui Group, China’s largest meat processor, sold pigs fed Clenbuterol in 2011. Here are three links about the ordeal.

And, would it surprise you to find out that Goldman Sachs is one of the top investors?

1.) “According to Chinese government data, 18 outbreaks of food-related clenbuterol poisoning occurred between 1998 and 2007. The most recent report indicates one person died and more than 1,700 others fell ill.”

2.) “Meanwhile, at Jiyuan Shuanghui’s processing facilities, of the 689 pigs awaiting slaughter, 19 tested positive for clenbuterol. Shuanghui, which counts Goldman Sachs among its investors, has shut down the Jiyuan branch affected by the contamination so it can conduct its own inspection.”

3.) “And in recent months the additive has earned notoriety in China after a string of people got sick from eating pork products full of it. Hundreds took ill in one incident in March, and this week, 286 people in Hunan province after eating pork contaminated with ractopamine, a chemical very similar to clenbuterol. Chinese livestock farmers began using clenbuterol in pig feed in the late 1980s to boost growth and get animals to market faster, but it was banned in 2002 as the health risks of eating the meat became better understood. Clenbuterol-tainted meat dizziness, headaches, hand tremors, and other unpleasantness. It’s especially risky for people with heart troubles.”

Shuanghui Agrees to Acquire Smithfield Foods for $4.72B

By Shruti Date Singh and Jeffrey McCracken – May 29, 2013

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest pork producer, agreed to acquire Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) for about $4.72 billion to boost supplies for the nation that’s the biggest consumer of the meat.

Closely held Shuanghui, parent of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. (000895), will pay $34 a share for the Smithfield, Virginia-based producer, both companies said today in a statement. The offer is 31 percent more than yesterday’s closing share price.

China’s consumption of pork is rising with the expansion of its middle class while there are questions being asked about the safety of the country’s food supply. Smithfield’s livestock unit is the world’s largest hog producer, bringing about 15.8 million of the animals to market a year, according to the company’s website. It owns 460 farms and has contracts with 2,100 others across 12 U.S. states.

The takeover is valued at $7.1 billion including debt, which would make it the largest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company, according to Read the rest of this entry »

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Senator Jeff Sessions REFUSES to give up part of his salary for sequestration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 27, 2013

Be sure to ask Sen. Sessions if he is going to voluntarily give up a portion of his Senatorial salary since the Senate last month passed a measure urging their members to forgo 20% of their salaries as part of sequestration.

Kudos, however, to Sen. Bob Corker R-TN, who has NEVER pocketed any of his Senate salary.

Why?

He donates it ALL to charity.

Why?

He’s worth over $19 Million.

Few senators sacrifice pay amid cuts

By Russell Berman – 04/03/13 05:00 AM ET

Only a few senators are planning to forfeit a portion of their salaries to charity or the U.S. Treasury while sequestration is in effect, according to a survey conducted by The Hill.

The Senate last month passed a measure urging members of the upper chamber to forgo 20 percent of their salary during sequestration. Most senators, however, are keeping quiet on whether they will follow through.

During a marathon session of budget votes, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling on lawmakers to donate 20 percent of their pay to charity or return it to the U.S. Treasury.In his floor speech, Graham noted that about 500,000 to 600,000 federal employees will be furloughed because of sequestration and that senators should “feel what other people are feeling.”

Yet in a survey of Senate offices by The Hill, only Graham and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have indicated they would give up some of their take-home pay.

In a recent press release, Begich — who is up for reelection in 2014 — said Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama residents overcharged for electricity by Alabama Power

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 20, 2013

Despite cheaper production costs, Alabama Power bills higher than Georgia Power

By Ben Raines | braines@al.com
January 20, 2013 at 6:11 AM, updated January 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Though it costs less to produce power in Alabama, the state’s residents and businesses pay more for electricity than customers in neighboring Georgia.

The price difference is substantial, according to an AL.com analysis of the annual reports of Alabama Power and Georgia Power, sister companies owned by Southern Co.

Between 2006 and 2011, Alabama Power produced the electricity sold to residential and commercial customers for $1.1 billion less than Georgia Power would have spent to make the same amount of electricity.

But despite that savings, Alabama Power charged its residential and commercial customers $1.5 billion more for electricity than Georgia Power would have charged during the six-year period.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Grand total
Difference in Alabama’s higher rates versus Georgia Power rates for commercial and residential $181 million $279 million $330 million $316 million $377 million $33 million $1,517,725,500

Alabama Power executives said that it was Read the rest of this entry »

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Another Example of how Corporate Greed Killed American Jobs

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, January 12, 2013

This time, it’s Hawaiian Pineapple Production.

And, it’s an old story.

Del Monte to End Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Last Crop Will Be Harvested in 2008

By , About.com Guide

Del Monte to End Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Pineapple Growing in Central Oahu;
Photo by John Fischer

Sugar and Pineapple – those two words used to be synonymous with Hawaii. In a year where Hawaiians of Filipino decent are celebrating their 100th anniversary in the islands, one of the two cash crops which brought them to Hawaii along with immigrants from China and Japan is facing another long-time grower abandoning the islands for cheaper production elsewhere.Where once sugar cane and pineapple fields were strewn across most of the Hawaiian islands, now you’ll find housing developments, resort hotels and condominiums and more often, just barren fields.

Del Monte to Cease Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. announced last week that after 90 years in Hawaii, they will plant their last crop of pineapple on Oahu this month and will cease all operations by 2008 when that crop is harvested.Citing the expense of Read the rest of this entry »

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Investigation: Twinkies maker Hostess Brands stole employee pension funds.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 29, 2012

It’s been amazing to me to hear that many who have followed this issue – or even had some passing familiarity with the story – have been so blatantly ignorant of the abuses and frauds perpetrated by the corporate executives of the Hostess Corporation. Frankly, those who demonized the unfortunate demise of this iconic American enterprise blamed unions, and completely overlooked corporate malfeasance. However, this enterprise, which, in the course of their operations, once treated their employees well, was miserably raped by greedy and incompetent executives. Why they have not been charged with theft or fraud is beyond my comprehension.

Hostess Maneuver Deprived Pension

By JULIE JARGON, RACHEL FEINTZEIG And MIKE SPECTOR

  • Updated December 9, 2012, 8:03 p.m. ET

Hostess Brands Inc. said it used wages that were supposed to help fund employee pensions for the company’s operations as it sank toward bankruptcy.

Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kan.

It isn’t clear how many of the Irving, Texas, company’s workers were affected by the move or how much money never wound up in their pension plans as promised.

After the company said in August 2011 that it would stop making pension contributions, the foregone wages weren’t put toward the pension. Nor were they restored.

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kansas. Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kansas. Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

The maker of Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Wonder Bread filed for bankruptcy protection in January and shut down last month following a strike by one of the unions representing Hostess workers. A judge is overseeing the sale of company assets.

Gregory Rayburn, Hostess’s chief executive officer, said in an interview it is “terrible” that employee wages earmarked for the pension were steered elsewhere by the company.

“I think it’s like a lot of things in this case,” he added. “It’s not a good situation to have.”

Mr. Rayburn became chief executive in March and learned about the issue shortly before the company shut down, he said. “Whatever the circumstances were, whatever those decisions were, I wasn’t there,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Hostess’s previous top executive, Brian Driscoll, declined to comment.

Hostess hasn’t previously acknowledged that the foregone wages went toward its operations.

The maneuver probably doesn’t violate federal law because the money Hostess failed to put into the pension didn’t come directly from employees, experts said.

“It’s what lawyers call betrayal without remedy,” said James P. Baker, a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP who specializes in employee benefits and isn’t involved in the Hostess case. “It’s sad, but that stuff does happen, unfortunately.”

The decision to cease pension contributions angered many employees. After the bankruptcy filing, Hostess tangled with Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Business Profit Model Harms Long Term Profitability

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Perhaps the most telling rationale, or motivation for the course upon which corporations have set is explained in this statement by ANDREW SMITHERS: Yes, the current way in which managements are rewarded is perverse from an economic viewpoint. Adam Smith pointed out that some characteristics of human beings such as greed, which are often unpleasant at a personal level, can nonetheless bring social benefits. But this is not necessarily the case under current remuneration systems; greed is increasingly the cause of harm rather than help to the economy.

The long and short of it, is greed. And in that paragraph is the solitary mention of the word or practice.

Philosophically, this time, this period in our nation’s history – and in the history of the world, and in the greater, long term picture of humanity – is yet another prime example, and case in point illustrating why and how the selfishness of greed is unsustainable and genuinely evil.

Capital Wins, Labor Loses, But Andrew Smithers Says It Can’t Go On

MAKING SENSE — December 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM EDT

BY: PAUL SOLMAN

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Paul Solman: Jon Shayne is not just the world’s No. 1 econo-crooner, belting out economics tunes of his own invention under the stage name Merle Hazard at his own website and for the PBS NewsHour audience on inflation, on the Greek debt crisis, on the euro crisis in general, on too-big-to-fail banks, and most recently, on the fiscal cliff.

No, Shayne/Hazard is no one-trick pony. He is also a noted money manager, recently highlighted by Forbes magazine for his perspicacity in stock-picking. Wrote Forbes: “If you follow the stock market, Jon Shayne is worth a good, long listen. Especially now.”

Having listened to Jon plenty over the past few years, I agree, especially with his emphasis on the increasing share of national income commanded by the owners of capital, in contrast to labor. This angle is the focus of Forbes’ story as well.

So I asked Jon to elaborate for the Making Sen$e audience. He has done so by interviewing the person who inspired his thoughts on the subject, British economist Andrew Smithers, who formerly ran the asset management business of S.G. Warburg, and now Read the rest of this entry »

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Research: WalMart’s Low Wages Burden Taxpayers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 23, 2012

The high cost of low living…

“Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states.
Why does this occur?
Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs.

This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.”

You’re the life of the party, everybody’s host
Still you need somewhere you can hide
All your good time friends
And your farewell to has-beens
Lord knows, just along for the ride

You think you’re a survivor
But boy, you better think twice
No one rides for nothin’
So, step up and pay the price

Dedicated to the GOP & other radical TEApublicans who worship the “almighty” dollar, tax cuts for the über wealthy, and their multinational corporate prophets.


Hidden Taxpayer Costs

Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs

Updated January 18, 2012

Since the mid-20th Century, most Americans have obtained health insurance through workplace-based coverage. In recent years there has been a decline in such coverage caused by a rise in the number of jobs that do not provide coverage at all and growth in the number of workers who decline coverage because it is too expensive.

Faced with the unavailability or unaffordability of health coverage on the job, growing numbers of lower-income workers are turning to taxpayer-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

This trend is putting an added burden on programs that are already under stress because of fiscal constraints caused by medical inflation and federal cutbacks. Many states are curtailing benefits and tightening eligibility requirements.

It also raises the issue of whether states are being put in a position of subsidizing the cost-cutting measures of private sector employers.

Across the country, policymakers and others concerned about the healthcare system are pressing for disclosure of information on those employers whose workers (and their dependents) end up in taxpayer-funded programs.

The following is a summary of the employer disclosure that has come to light so far. It includes two cases (Massachusetts and Missouri) in which the information was produced as a result of legislation. The other cases involved requests by legislators or reporters. The latter situations have sometimes resulted in data that are incomplete or imprecise, which suggests that only legislatively mandated, systematic disclosure will tell the whole story.

This compilation was originally produced by Good Jobs First as part of its preparation of testimony given before the Maryland legislature on an employer disclosure bill. A version of that testimony can be found here [1].

Alabama
In April 2005 the Mobile Register published an article citing data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency on companies in the state with employees whose children are participating in Medicaid. The newspaper obtained a list from the agency of 63 companies whose employees had 100 or more children in the program as of mid-March 2005. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, whose employees had 4,700 children in the program. Following it were McDonald’s (1,931), Hardee’s (884) and Burger King (861). The data were similar to information obtained from the same agency by the Montgomery Advertiser two months earlier.

Sources: Sean Reilly, “Medicaid Providing Health Care for Kids of Working Families,” Mobile Register, April 17, 2005 and John Davis and Jannell McGrew, “Health Plans Not Family Friendly,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 22, 2005, p.B6.

Arizona
In July 2005 the state Department of Economic Security issued data on the largest private employers with workers receiving taxpayer-financed medical insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, with about 2,700 workers–or 9.6 percent of its Arizona workforce–participating in the program. It was followed by Read the rest of this entry »

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Hostess with the mostess? Try CEO with the mostess. Hostess executives attempted to deceive investors, creditors & legal system before filing bankruptcy.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 19, 2012

As the saying goes, It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

At this point, apparently, she’s not yet begun, although she is “in the house.”

And, from our “WTF?!?” files, comes this item:

In early February, Hostess had asked the bankruptcy judge to approve a sweet new employment deal for Driscoll. Its terms guaranteed him a base annual salary of $1.5 million, plus cash incentives and “long-term incentive” compensation of up to $2 million. If Hostess liquidated or Driscoll were fired without cause, he’d still get severance pay of $1.95 million as long as he honored a noncompete agreement.

The committee representing Hostess’s unsecured creditors alleges that information it has gathered suggests “the possibility” that the company converted a chunk of its top executives’ pay from performance-based bonuses to salary, “at least in part to sidestep” rules designed to ensure that companies in bankruptcy aren’t enticing their employees to stay on board with the promise of cash, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y.

This solitary example is a wonderful one for illustrating what is WRONG with corporate governance and corporate operations in the United States. It’s an even more sad commentary that laws must be enacted to require people to do the right thing. At this juncture, the judge overseeing the Hostess Brands Inc. bankruptcy is doing precisely that.

Hostess and Bakers Union Asked Accept Strike Mediation

The judge overseeing Hostess Brands Inc. declined to approve the company’s liquidation today and asked management and the bakers’ union to enter mediation tomorrow to resolve the strike that the maker of Twinkies and Wonder bread said forced it to shut.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said at a hearing in White Plains, New York, that there are “serious questions as to the logic behind the decision to strike.” Hostess and the bakers’ union agreed to Drain’s request to enter confidential mediation under his supervision.

“To me, not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark over this case which I think will only be answered in litigation,” Drain said. “My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs, as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter, notwithstanding the losses the debtors have incurred over the last week or so.”

Hostess CEO & executive pay outrageous

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Hostess hasn’t spoken with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union since August, said Heather Lennox, a lawyer for the company. Hostess is seeking permission from Drain to pay bonuses to key managers while closing operations that will leave most of its 18,500 workers unemployed. Any agreement arising from the mediation would probably come too late to save the company, Lennox said.

“Things have gone too far to repair themselves under the current form,” Lennox, a partner at Jones Day, told Drain. “It would be very hard for us to recover from this damage even if there were to be an agreement in the near term.”

‘Best Shot’

“Our best shot is to see what we can sell as going concerns and have the company continue that way,” she said. The hearing to consider Hostess’s request to wind down was postponed until Nov. 21.

Hostess said Nov. 16 that it would shut, claiming that a weeklong strike by the bakers’ union forced liquidation. The union blamed management’s concession demands, while some employees blamed both sides. Strikers were still outside the company’s facilities today, Hostess’s lawyers said.

Corrina Christensen, a spokeswoman for the bakers’ union, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the mediation.

Teamsters

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, whose members distribute Hostess products, had ratified a new contract with 8 percent in wage concessions and 17 percent in benefit reductions.

“The Teamsters will closely monitor the mediation between the BCTGM and Hostess management and assist in any way we can to help the two sides reach an agreement that keeps the company’s doors open,” Ken Hall, the Teamsters general secretary- treasurer, said today in a statement.

The judge may be creating risk for both sides that encourages them to reach a deal, Ken Russak, a bankruptcy attorney at Frandzel Robins Bloom & Csato in Los Angeles, said today in an interview. “The bankruptcy judge would much prefer to have the parties work something out than having to Read the rest of this entry »

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The Oracle at Delphi: Mitt Romney’s direct tie to increased unemployment in North Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, October 20, 2012

The average reader may not be aware that there was once a huge Delphi plant in Limestone county, Alabama, which facility was located directly across from Calhoun Community College.

American Industry... closed. - M1510 h712

Mitt Romney owned a significant interest in a firm that profited by laying off workers, dumping their pensions, moving to China, and then profiting rapaciously from the TARP bailout. That large plant – one among many, with the largest one being in Alabama – was the Delphi Steering Gear facility in Tanner, near Decatur, in Limestone County.

It was one of North Alabama‘s LARGEST employers – with emphasis on “was.”

The men & women who made careers there, whose labors enabled their children to attend college, provided their families’ clothing, groceries, housing & healthcare, and provided for their own retirement, and which was a union shop, was shuttered several years ago.

Most of what news I recall about it centered around how corporate traders, not unions, were wanting even more & more profit when they were already profitable. Time and time again, the workers took cuts in benefits & pay to keep their jobs for as long as they could… all to no avail.

Like a gazelle savaged on the plains of the Kalahari Desert in Africa, that once prosperous plant has been laid to waste, and there are only industrial skeletal remains. Even the human buzzards, scavenging metal for recycling from the industrial carcass, have left. For many years now, the hollow exterior hulk, instead of employees, materials & labor, has been drawing cobwebs, dust & rust. And soon, like all things left unattended, it too will crumble.

There are no taxes paid to Limestone county, or to nearby Decatur, Athens or Huntsville, or to Alabama for roads, schools, police & fire protection. But there is an even greater issue, one which is exceedingly more weighty and sorrowful. As a result of it all, there is no hope, there are no jobs, and there is no future.

Here’s the even more disturbing part: Mitt Romney had his hand in that pie.

And yet the saddest and most perplexing part is, that most Alabamians will vote for the GOP nominee/candidate.

Following the economic investigative report are historical local news reports that show the progression about the issue (which validate the economic investigative report by Greg Palast), from the:
Decatur Daily,
Huntsville Times,
• Associated Press,
• Athens-Limestone News Courier,
• Saginaw News (via MLive.com), and
• Wall Street Journal,
dating 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010.

For the benefit of the reader, Greg Palast is an economist and financial investigator turned journalist whose series on vulture funds appeared on BBC Television’s Newsnight. He is the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin) and, most recently, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). For additional information about him, his website is: http://www.gregpalast.com.

Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza

Greg Palast, October 17, 2012   |    This article appeared in the November 5, 2012 edition of The Nation.

This investigation was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation. Elements of it appear in Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). Research assistance by Zach D. Roberts, Ari Paul, Nader Atassi and Eric Wuestewald.

Mitt Romney

2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.

One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout—
$1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by 
Paul Singer. According to TheWall Street Journal, Singer has given more to support GOP candidates—$2.3 million—than anyone else on Wall Street this election season. His personal giving is matched by that of his colleagues at Elliott; collectively, they have donated $3.4 million to help elect Republicans this season, while giving only $1,650 to Democrats. And Singer is influential with the GOP presidential candidate; he’s not only an informal adviser but, according to theJournal, his support was critical in helping push Representative Paul Ryan onto the ticket.

Singer, whom Fortune magazine calls a “passionate defender of the 1%,” has carved out a specialty investing in distressed firms and distressed nations, which he does by buying up their debt for pennies on the dollar and then demanding payment in full. This so-called “vulture investor” received $58 million on Peruvian debt that he snapped up for $11.4 million, and $90 million on Congolese debt that he bought for a mere $20 million. In the process, he’s built one of the largest private equity firms in the nation, and over decades he’s racked up an unusually high average return on investments of 14 percent.

Other GOP presidential hopefuls chased Singer’s endorsement, but Mitt chased Singer with his own checkbook, investing at least $1 million with Elliott through Ann Romney’s blind trust (it could be far more, but the Romneys have declined to disclose exactly how much). Along the way, Singer gained a reputation, according to Fortune, “for strong-arming his way to profit.” That is certainly what happened at Delphi.

* * *

Delphi, once the Delco unit of General Motors, was spun off into a separate company in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

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Secret Swiss Bank accounts, Cayman Island Bank accounts, Bermuda Tax Haven Bank accounts… what does Mitt Romney have to hide?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 15, 2012

What does Mitt Romney have to hide?

Why won’t he live up to his late father’s example, and voluntarily and openly reveal all his tax records?

Where the Money Lives

August 2012, 2012-08-08 T11:00:24.000-04:00

By Nicholas Shaxson

For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney’s fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate.

Mitt Romney Cayman Islands banking

BURIED TREASURE Grand Cayman, where Bain Capital maintains at least 138 funds. Inset, Mitt Romney tries to spot his La Jolla home from the campaign plane. ©Ruth Tomlinson/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis (beach); by Justin Sullivan/Getty images (inset).

A person who worked for Mitt Romney at the consulting firm Bain and Co. in 1977 remembers him with mixed feelings. “Mitt was … a really wonderful boss,” the former employee says. “He was nice, he was fair, he was logical, he said what he wanted … he was really encouraging.” But Bain and Co., the person recalls, pushed employees to find out secret revenue and sales data on its clients’ competitors. Romney, the person says, suggested “falsifying” who they were to get such information, by pretending to be a graduate student working on a proj­ect at Harvard. (The person, in fact, was a Harvard student, at Bain for the summer, but not working on any such proj­ects.) “Mitt said to me something like ‘We won’t ask you to lie. I am not going to tell you to do this, but [it is] a really good way to get the information.’ … I would not have had anything in my analysis if I had not pretended.

“It was a strange atmosphere. It did leave a bad taste in your mouth,” the former employee recalls.

This unsettling account suggests the young Romney—at that point only two years out of Harvard Business School—was willing to push into gray areas when it came to business. More than three dec­ades later, as he tried to Read the rest of this entry »

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Wall Street Executives Drink Champagne during Occupy Wall Street Protest

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is this not the height of arrogance?

Wall Street executives, tell show us how you ~REALLY~ feel!

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Riches, Wealth, Avarice, Power, Abuse and Vice: An Occupy Wall Street redux

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, October 1, 2011

John Adams: "the man who at certain point...

John Adams, 1823–24, Second President of the US. Painting by Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828).

Perhaps you’ve read the previous entry in this blog. If not, I encourage you do so.

Why?

For several reasons, not the least of which are that what you’ll read in the conclusion of this entry speak overwhelmingly to the issue addressed by the protestors.

Following is an entry I made in another forum, the content of which – as I considered it – was worthy of a separate post.

Your thoughtful commentary is encouraged.

I particularly like your earlier remark, and found it quite erudite. To wit, and to clarify, it is this one: “I believe in capitalism, Read the rest of this entry »

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Rand Paul, Conscription, Slavery, & Health Insurance Reform

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recently, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a “TEA Party” Republican from Kentucky, and ophthalmologist specializing in cataract and glaucoma surgeries, LASIK procedures, and corneal transplants, was quoted as saying that “a right to healthcare… means you believe in slavery.”

Dr. Paul is the ranking member of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging subcommittee, and made his comments at a Wednesday, May 11, 2011 hearing about emergency room use in American hospitals.

He said that, “With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to Read the rest of this entry »

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Friendship, Love, Passion, Politics, Sarcasm and Shoes

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Friendship, Love, Passion, Politics, Sarcasm and Shoes

Recently, I enjoyed a virtual chat with a dear, long-time friend of mine. We began our friendship, interestingly enough, over a pair of shoes. I needed one, and he had one – pair of shoes, that is – so I bought them from him. He is a skilled tradesman and business owner/entrepreneur, and educated me on what makes a good pair of shoes and boots.

His demeanor impressed me, and we found that we had several common interests – perhaps chief among them music – and a love of Read the rest of this entry »

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A Greece Fire; Thoughtful Commentary on Unthoughtful Commentary

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Greece Fire; Thoughtful Commentary on Unthoughtful Commentary

Having read Mr. Alex Tokarev’s commentary “My big fat Greek bonus” published online May 11, 12:49 PM at http://online.worldmag.com/2010/05/11/my-big-fat-greek-bonus/, I must admit that some of his concerns are, in part, well taken… however poorly expressed. Though he does not adequately support the case for fiscal prudence, the complaints he makes in general terms about fiscal prudence are well-deserved.

Though his straw man argument is inadequately defended, placing exclusive responsibility and blame upon Greek national officials for that nation’s crisis is insufficient, and certainly short sighted. However, his rambling, miasmatic complaints have not fallen upon deaf ears – although they may have fallen upon spirited ones. Excitement, however, must be directed toward a long-term objective, and it is the more broad scope which I think he ignores. While having the ability to direct the nation toward a long-term goal is laudable, he neither cites any governmental mandate. On the whole, after having read his opinion, one might wonder if he were doing little more than expressing infantile frustration, for he certainly offers no potential solution.

The Grecian debt crisis is not due exclusively to what he calls “the bursting of the statist bubble,” “welfare pyramids” or other descriptive pejoratives to describe Grecian governmental services and activities.

Though he decries “irresponsible lenders and borrowers” whom perpetuate “bankrupt political practices,” he attempts to correlate and demean both, describing what he calls a “strong culture of entitlement” as “a beast,” though he never specifically mentions any program, plan, office, group or person.

As colorful and passionate as he may feel about Greece’s problems, he failed to …Continue…

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A note on Illegal Immigration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 7, 2010

An old Social Security card with the "NOT...

Image via Wikipedia

The following is one of the typical e-mail “you must do something now!” kind of messages that so many of us receive in our e-mail in boxes.

In such typical fashion, they are either contain a type of ‘the world is going to end’ (and soon, if you don’t act now!), or either “the sky is falling!,” type of message.

While the motivation for the message, or the idea behind them may – at times – be worthwhile, often the delivery is suspect.

Following is the message, and – NOT TO BE MISSED – is …Continue…

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We promised to pay your retirement pension, but now, we won’t. Sosumi… you bastards!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 11, 2010

For those “in the know,” “Sosumi” is the name of a computer sound which Apple Computer of Cupertino, CA created and has used for quite some time.

I love Apple Computer, well, not genuinely “love,” but have always believed them to be the best – bar none – computer operating system, superior in every way to Microsoft’s Windows OS. Folks used to say, “Oh, the Mac is good for graphics,” and other such nonsense, even when the Mac OS was in v7.x.

Today, I ask folks, “What’s the Internet all about?” Graphics, graphics, graphics, and media, media, media.

And still, some folks continue to use the infection-prone Windows. Oh well. Some folks never learn.

On to Sosumi.

If you’ve ever heard of the “Beatles,” (and who hasn’t?) you should be aware that …Continue…

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The cost of everything is going up.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, February 5, 2010

In today’s “Blondie” comic strip, the strip’s protagonist’s husband – Dagwood Bumstead – is seated at …Continue…

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Two Numbers – ONE BIG, one small

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 17, 2009

$9,100,000,000,000

Nine TRILLION, one hundred BILLION…

Remember another number.

Two.

During the reign of King George W. Bush, just TWO of his failed policies have cost Americans $9,100,000,000,000.

What two failed policies are those?

The Bu$h tax cuts, and the creation of a Rx (prescription drug “benefit” written wholly by Big Pharmaceutical industry cronies.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s most current estimation of the population of the United States places 308,171,505 people in the United States as of December 17, 2009.

Put another way, that’s a cost of $29, 529 per person.

As a result of deregulation of the financial industries – banks, insurance and stock brokerages – thus creating one giant incestuous financial orgy, Americans have directly suffered under the thumbs of bankers and insurance companies, while their Wall Street cohorts, in conjunction with imaginative thieves, have twiddled and fiddled to create “investment derivatives” – essentially a Ponzi schemed fiscal fraud – out of thin air. That house of cards having collapsed, has revealed what was suspected all along. Outside the transparent dressing room of his glass house, the king had no clothes.

Driven by greed and an insatiable lust for more, …Continue…

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