Thursday, February 26, 2015


We all know what happened in the last two presidential elections. President Obama won. During these presidential elections more people voted for congressional Democrats at the district level than they did for Republicans.

However, in spite of the Democratic Party winning well over 1 million more votes in all congressional districts in 2012 (and almost 5 million more votes in the presidential count), the Democrats only won 201 seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans maintained their dominant position in the House after 2012, and held 232 seats in the House immediately after the election (they currently hold 245 seats).

So how was it that Republicans could control the House of Representatives in Congress after 2012, in spite of getting over 1 million votes less than the Democrats? This is how ...

If you're a Democrat don't be too mad. The redistricting game is played by both sides. This just means that Republicans have been better at redrawing the district lines than Democrats.

So, how do we fix this? 

- Mark 


This was posted by my FB friend Tom ...

I'm posting the meme because it reminds me of a story told about or by former Chicago Bear running back Walter Payton in the 1980s.

Payton was camping with friends/teammates in the woods, and slept with his sneakers on. He was asked why he slept with his shoes on. Payton replied that he was afraid of bears. They told him, "You can't outrun a bear." Payton countered, "I don't need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you."

- Mark 


Here's the link for kicking out the FBI ...

And the links (here, here and here) explaining Iceland's arrest and hunting down of the banksters.

- Mark

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


The central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve.

"The mandate of any central bank isn't 
tied to specific government programs. 
Her goal isn't economic growth. The 
only goal of a central bank is price 
stability ... there's nothing more."

- Mexican Central Banker, 1993

The above quote was part of a series of interviews I did at the Banco de Mexico in 1993 for a journal article that I co-wrote 20 years ago. The article ("The Bank of Mexico and Monetary Policy: The Struggle for Independence and Monetary Stability") took a look at the financial culture of central banks in Germany and Mexico, and focused on what central banks across the world are supposed to do: Protect the integrity of a nation's currency.

If you know nothing else about central banks, know that protecting the integrity of the currency is supposed to be its #1 priority. 

File:Banco de México & INBA.jpg
Mexico's central bank, the Banco de Mexico, in Mexico city.
I was struck by the comment because Mexico had just emerged from the financial recklessness of the 1970s, which helped shove Mexico in the "lost decade" of the 1980s. It also marked a turning point in Mexico's financial history. Since 1993 the Banco de Mexico has been independent of Mexico's federal government, and now brags that it no longer funds reckless deficit spending in Mexico. And it doesn't.

If only our nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve, could say the same thing. But it can't. 

To date, with the approval and support of the Federal Reserve we have created and spent well over $4 trillion on Wall Street's recklessness, and have committed an estimated $14 trillion in Fed approved (but ultimately taxpayer backed) funds for the next market bailout. 

Yeah, that's right. About $14 trillion is already baked into the next market collapse.

Today, the Federal Reserve is showing the world that it's little more than a financial hammock for America's largest financial institutions. If the past 7 years is any indication - and it is - the Federal Reserve has made it clear that it is not independent, and that it doesn't really have an interest in guarding the integrity of the dollar. 

Their top priority is to keep our largest financial institutions afloat (so they can privatize the profits), which is why we now live in an era of Too Big To Fail (where we get to socialize the losses).

It's also one of the reasons that the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, expressed her concern recently that the U.S. Congress might act on Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's bill to "Audit the Fed." Courtesy of Zero Hedge, we get the first 10 of 100 reasons why Janet Yellen should be concerned if the U.S. Congress decides to audit the Fed. 

#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.

#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.

#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve areprivate banks.  The U.S. government owns zero shares.

#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions.  This should not be happening.

#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top.  In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.

#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve.  He was assassinated shortly thereafter.

#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.

If you can, read the remaining 90 reasons here from Zero Hedge. They point us towards the right issues and questions that need to be addressed.

Truth be told, if we had a Congress that knew what it was doing Yellen's concerns might be more of a panic. Seriously. 

I personally (1) don't see an audit happening because most members of Congress are pretty much working for the financial institutions already, and (2) I can't see this Congress getting the audit right (Have you ever watched Republicans on C-SPAN ask bankers any questions? They might as well be blowing kisses at them).  

Audit the Fed? I hope so ... but don't hold your breath on it.

- Mark 



- Mark 


According to a new AP-Gfk poll 68 percent of Americans believe the wealthy pay too little in federal taxes. With America's wealthiest 1% accumulating the vast majority of the economic gains made over the past 40 years, the AP-Gfk poll makes it clear most Americans "support President Obama's proposal to raise investment taxes" on those making the most money in America.

In effect, Americans are saying: After more than $4 trillion in bailouts - which were orchestrated by the federal government after the Wall Street induced market collapse of 2008 - it's time for America's wealthiest class to quit basking in their state supported riches.


For my money, I would add that the poll is telling us Americans intuitively understand that those who benefited most from the 2008 market bailout need to stop pretending they actually earned their taxpayer-backed bailout profits and bonuses.

Specifically, 56 percent of Americans agree with President Obama's proposal to increase the capital gains tax on households making more than $500,000 per year, with only 16 percent opposed. In simple terms, the AP-Gfk poll says Americas wealthiest class needs to start pitching in so we can rebuild the nation-state.

You can read poll questions and results here.

- Mark 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Once again, Robert Reich nails it ...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Don’t believe the propaganda put out by big corporations, Wall Street, and the rich about jobs and wages – especially the following four big lies. 
1. The rich and big corporations create jobs. Wrong. The middle class and the poor create jobs when they have enough money to buy. Their purchases get businesses to expand and hire.
2. The rich and big corporations need lower taxes in order to create jobs. Baloney. We tried trickle-down economics under Reagan and George W. and nothing trickled down. Why? See #1 above.
 3. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will cause massive job losses. Rubbish. It will put more money into the pockets of low-wage workers, who will spend it – and thereby create more jobs. See #1 above.
 4. Trade deals like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership create jobs and raise wages. Wrong. They boost profits but put downward pressure on wages. See NAFTA.
Spread the truth.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

- Mark


According to research from the Hamilton Project, if you graduate from high school or secure a GED, and do nothing else to increased your education or skill levels, you will probably earn around $600,000 through your lifetime. If you finish college in ANY degree, chances are that you will earn about double that amount, or $1.2 million over your lifetime.

Below is a chart that shows how much you can expect to earn over your lifetime if you graduate from college, by major.

- Mark 

Monday, February 23, 2015


- Mark


It's official now. A study from the Economic Policy Institute found we had yet another year of poor wage growth in 2014. Wages essentially stalled or took a step backwards for the vast majority of Americans last year. In an interesting twist, because the biggest decline hit those with advanced degrees hardest - a 2.2 percent drop - falling wages can't simply be blamed on a lack of education or low skill levels.

In what might be considered some good news, workers in the bottom 40th percentile saw their wages increase by 0.3 percent. According to researchers who put the study together, much of this growth can be attributed to regions and states that increased their minimum wage.

Why is any of this important? Here's a meme that helps explain how low wages create a nation of working poor, which contributes to our national dependence on public assistance.

So, we need to ask ourselves, If the richest Americans have seen their share of the income pie grow why haven't ordinary Americans?

This is a fair question because beginning in the early 1980s we were told that reducing taxes on the richest Americans would lead to a booming economy that would make everyone better off.

In spite of a growing economy, this has not been the case ...

Think about the following.

According to David Cooper at the Economic Policy Institute, if minimum wage in America had been tied to an economic index after 1968 - rather than allowed to stagnate and wallow according to government policy and to the whims of the market - America's low wage earners would be far better off today.

Specifically, if we had indexed federal minimum wage in 1968 (then $1.15 / $1.60 an hour) to ...
* Inflation, minimum wage would be $9.25 today.
* Average hourly wages, minimum wage would be $10.59 today.
* Increases in productivity, minimum wage would be $20.16 today.
* Earnings of the top 1 percent, minimum wage would be $28.75 today.
Starting point of  minimum wage reflects purchasing power in 1968 (in 2012 dollars).
Actual minimum in 1968 wage was $1.15 / $1.60 an hour.

So, what's the answer? There are many suggestions, which include taking a look at our broader commercial and financial policies (which I discuss here and here). But there are also many naysayers, and economic illiterates weighing in on the discussion.

One of the challenges we have come from the intellectual midgets who use slippery slopes as their economic model. They like to argue that if we raise minimum wage to $15 an hour that we'll just end up at $25 or $35 per hour within  a week, at which point cute puppies die and economic Armageddon happens. What they ignore is what happened in America throughout the 1960s, and the economic realities of Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose when they recently raised their minimum wage.

In my view, one thing is clear: More needs to be done to increase middle class wages in general.

How you do this is the tricky part. This is especially the case if minimum wage is going to become the middle class salary battleground. For example, should mom-and-pop stores and summer jobs for high school kids be excluded from minimum wage increases? Generally speaking, I think so.

Still, we need to acknowledge there will be little upward pressure on average wages if minimum wage is not increased. The last 40 years of trickle down economic policies make this clear.

Other issues those who oppose raising minimum wage need to consider include the declining amount of goods that can be bought with an hour of minimum wage work, rising tuition costs, purchasing power parity, the fact that so many minimum wage earners are heads of households, and the amount of public assistance that's required to help sustain someone working 40 hours a week, among other issues.

In the end, history tells us that the increasing wage and wealth gaps we are seeing in America today is not a sustainable path. Something needs to be done.

This is just not just me speaking. This the voice of every civilization through history.

- Mark