Friday, October 31, 2008

YOU'VE GOT ISSUES - A BREAKDOWN OF ISSUES BIG AND SMALL

Well, as much as I'd like to spend the remaining few days before the election analyzing every little detail of each campaign, I'm going to use up until election day to go over a few thoughts on some of the issues, both big and small, that are surrounding this election season. My apologies to those of you who wanted an analysis of Joe the Plumber, or Sarah Palin jokes (but here's one for the road: Knock knock. Who's there? Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin Who? That's a gotcha' question.) I heard that from a kid that couldn't have been more than 8. Either he heard it somewhere and repeated very well, or for an eight-year-old, he just has an advanced understanding of how politics and social humor have a naturally beautiful crossroads. Either way, whoever you were, kid outside the Ralph's Grocery Store, I liked your joke. But now, it's time to get down to some issues. I'm going to start locally, with the Gay Marriage issue that is a really big battle right now in California, and I believe also in Florida. In the 2006 elections, 7 different states made votes on similar propositions, all designed to ban gay marriage in the state. Here's my view:

GAY MARRIAGE
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men, except men who are attracted to other men, are created equal. If Californians, and the U.S. population in general want to continue to try and ban gay marriage, this is how I think we need to rewrite the Declaration of Independence, as that is essentially what we are saying.

California's network and cable television programming and air waves have been pummeled with ads for both sides of PROP 8, which is a proposition to repeal the previous decision to allow gay-marriage, and to make a ban on gay-marriage as part of the constitution. The major argument has been that if we don't ban gay-marriage that it's going to be taught to kids in schools, and it will destroy traditional marriage. There's a lot in this argument, so let me try to break it down.

To begin with, I'm a happily married man in a 'traditional' marriage, and since they started allowing gay marriage, I can safely say that my traditional marriage has not been torn apart by all the same sex newlyweds. These adds keep focusing on restoring traditional marriage, but as much as I've looked, I found nothing in the language of the legalization that says, "and thus with the establishment of the State of California to recognize same sex marriages, all traditional marriages shall be considered abolished and null". What needs to be restored? I wasn't even aware that anything had been taken away. The only potential problem I see is heavier competition for the services of the ordained to seal the deal. The couple with the traditional marriage may have to wait an extra day for their bouquet to be designed while the floral arranger is finishing up topiaries for George Takei.

As far as the issue of gay marriage being taught in schools - if this is the number one concern in our educational system, than the California public school system is in even greater despair than previously thought. I find it precious that some of these 'education groups' are spending millions of dollars fighting gay marriage while they complain that classrooms can't afford chalk, or new books. What difference does it make if you teach these kids about gay marriage if they can't read 'gay marriage'? But that is not the point. My main argument would be this: Is it more harmful for our children to learn about gay marriage, or for them to be told that it's ok to discriminate against certain people that aren't like them? Is it worse for them to approach a subject that they will certainly learn about later in life with knowledge and acceptance, or with ignorance and fear?

The entire idea that we would write in to our state constitution that certain people should be discriminated against, is fairly odious. If we're going to take that step, why not repeal the right for women to vote, because women aren't really people. Let's also repeal Brown Vs. Board of Education, and go back to 'separate but equal'. As long as we're in the habit of blocking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for GLBT couples, let's just go back to the good old days and block those rights for everyone that's not a bible toting, woman loving, white guy.

This whole proposal to ban gay marriage is built on fear. People are always afraid of what they don't know and don't understand. That's a common theme I see in many of the social and political issues that we face today - fear of the unknown. Somehow, a large population of straight people have worked it up in their minds that homosexuals are just a dangerous hoard of perverted zombies that want to infect the rest of the world with their gayness. If we accept gay marriage, than all their children will be infected with the gay virus and turn gay. Then they won't be able to bare them grandchildren, unless they adopt. But even if they did adopt, the baby would be brought up in a gay household and turn gay themselves. Then all they'd want to do is go to art school, watch Oxygen, and sing show tunes, which might turn you gay. Gay!!!! GAY!!!!!!! GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you scared yet?

Try getting a real fear, like heights, or Palin as President. And speaking of the president, let me say how disappointed I am in both candidates accepting civil unions, but not gay marriage. I understand that's just par for the course for the conservatives, so i guess my real disappointment here is with the Obama campaign. When can we get a candidate who fights for what is the right thing to do, rather than fighting for what will get them elected. This shouldn't be an issue of tolerance, but an issue of equality. I simply cannot understand how offering people happiness, as well as civil rights can be a bad thing. Nor can I understand how Ellen DeGeneres marrying Portia de Rossi instead of Joe the Plumber negatively affects my life. If I don't like it, fine, I won't send them a congratulatory fruit basket, but I at least feel they should have the same rights that I do. Who am I to go against the founding principles of this country, as set fourth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights? That's a W. thing. No on Prop 8.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elephant Vs Jackass went on Vacation and I am well aware that I suck for not posting in two weeks, but I promise to win back your affections.

Ok, I am sorry I stopped posting for a couple weeks in the midst of one of the most important political decisions in our countries history. I was on vacation in places with little or no internet, and was unable to post, and frankly I think I was suffering from "electile dysfunction". Probably, like many of you, I had OD'd, on CNN, and MSNBC discussing the DNC and GOP on my TV. I was beginning to formulate advanced theories about Anderson Cooper being a cyborg, and Paul Begala and Dennis Kucinich forming an underground leprechaun army, and all sorts of other completely off the wall theories. But, after a little down time with the family in the woods, I am ready to steamroll through the rest of this election and beyond. Hopefully you'll forgive me, even if it's to late to 'pologize (hey). I'll make it up to you. I'll take you to a fancy dinner where I'll order us the cheapest bottle of wine possible, we'll both get drunk, and have hours and hours of hot and dirty make-up blogging...I'll pick you up at 8...where something nice.

So, with my apology out of the way, let me fill you in on my trip a little, and then we can move on to voter fraud, Joe the Plummer, Dress-me-up Caribou Barbie, and all sorts of other fun stuff. It was really interesting going back to the Midwest after pissing away here in Los Angeles for most of this election cycle. I had only seen pictures on TV of what a McCain/Palin bumper sticker or yard sign looked like. Frankly, I thought that maybe McCain and Palin were just mythological creatures, like Mormons. But, when I was traveling through Western Pennsylvania and into Northern Ohio, I saw a lot of McCain and Palin signs. Thankfully there are more than enough people in those parts that know that what this country really needs is an erratic, old-balls, self-proclaimed maverick for president, and a comedy writers dream come true waiting in the wings. Of course there were quite a few misguided souls who decided to litter their slowly browning lawns with Obama paraphernalia as well. Don't they know that this is Republican country? You know, the pro-American part of the country. Not the Anti-America part like where I live. Well, I had a very nice visit with my in-laws, and for the most part, adhered to my wife's rule that I could not talk about politics.

The second part of my trip took me to see my family in Michigan, which was astonishingly beautiful at the time with all the leaves changing. From the moment I got in the car with my Dad at the airport and started driving off, I could tell things were quite a bit different in Michigan than they had been in Ohio. Even in very rural area like where my parents now live, I could have hopped across the state from one Obama sign to another (if they weren't made of low-grade vinyl and Popsicle sticks). Even stranger than that was seeing my grandparents. My grandpa is 87 years old and has never in his life voted for a democrat. This year, he will.

Perhaps, that's what gets lost in the rhetoric of 'change'. In places like Michigan, where people have really been hit hard, people aren't just asking their government to change, their asking themselves to. It's easy to lose sight of what's really going on out there when you're living in a place like Los Angeles. In California, we change just for the sake of changing sometimes...wait, I changed my mind on that thought...nope...changed it again...we're ok now. But in the vast majority of the country, change takes a little bit more time to work it's way through the system - take for example all the people I saw wearing Ed Hardy shirts - Ed Hardy is so 2007. Seriously, people are in no hurry to keep up with the 'changing' ways of us California folks. Did you hear the new Bing Crosby album? It's killer.

The point is that, as divided as this country seems, we all seem to acknowledge that we need to change, as a country and as a people. It just takes a little longer for some of us to let go of our VCR's and 8-tracks. Ultimately, you don't do out and get a cell phone because everyone else is doing it, you get it because you think it can make your life easier and better. Change has certainly been accelerated during this election cycle, but as with everything, it does take time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How Much is $700 Billion Anyway?

With all the crazy bailout talk of the past week or so, that number 700 billion continues to get thrown around like a hot potatoe (I know it's spelled wrong...it's my tribute to the last VP nominee that showed such a vast understanding of nothing).

Anyway, how much is 700 billion dollars? We'll a gentleman named Scott sent me a message about a youtube video he created and asked if I would post it. After checking it out to make sure I wouldn't be adding any "2 girls, 1 cup" material to my squeaky clean blog, I was happy to find that Scott had actually made a really good video that puts this massive bailout into a perspective that makes it very easy to wrap your head around. I encourage you to take a look at Scott's video, and see another way to look at this scary-expensive rescue plan. So, thank you to Scott for the video, and for all you others out there, feel free to take Scott's lead and sent me your videos, comments, etc. If you're really nice to me and promise to make me cookies...I might even let you write a guest blog. (cookies are not actually expected in return for guest blogging opportunities)

AN AMERICAN STORY

Please take the time to give Scott a good rating or comment on his video at youtube.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Bailout or Not to Bailout, That is the Recession.

My fellow Americans...What the hell is going on? We have a bailout, we don't have a bailout, democrats approve, republicans disapprove, cats living together with dogs...well, as the kids like to text...WTF? I wanted to write about this after this whole thing went kaboom on Monday, and Wall Street went down like a John Denver Cessna flight, but I just couldn't wrap my head around the whole situation. So, I took some time, did some research and am now prepared to give the Elephant-vs-Jackass assessment of the situation. Let me preface this however by admitting that I have not read all 100 plus pages of the bailout proposal - outside of Harry Potter books and steamy romance novels, I simply refuse to read anything over 20 pages if I'm not getting paid.

Let me start by saying that President Bush needs to quit it with all this fire and brimstone, gloom and doom, stuff. The sky is not falling, pigs have yet learned to fly, and I'm pretty sure hell doesn't need a Zamboni. Panic and exaggeration only compact the problem at hand, and unfortunately, many of us, including our congressmen and women, have fallen for this "the world's going to explode" ideology. Yes, we have a hefty sized problem on a wet paper plate, but lets keep things in perspective. We absolutely need to pass some kind of rescue plan, but it needs to be done intelligently. Rushing to a solution just to have one, doesn't mean it's a good one. This decision will impact our nation for many years to come, so it makes sense that if we need a couple days do get it right, rather than just get it done, so be it. It can't be delayed for months and months, as the credit markets are getting pretty chilly, but I think most Americans are willing to hold off for a week on getting that loan for a KIA, if it means they won't be raped and pillaged by the government for the next 5 years.

Enjoy this, because it doesn't happen often - I actually applaud the Republicans on this for not passing the bailout deal as it stood. Even if there were slimy political motives behind it, it was the right conclusion...that bill was crap on a stick. Of course credit goes to those Democrats as well who went against their party to fight for something better for Joe Farmer and Suzy Salesclerk. I especially want to give credit to Dennis Kucinich, who opposed the bill. If there is a single person in Washington that does more to fight for the average American, and bring some accountability and integrity to the Hill, I certainly haven't identified them. Mr. Kucinich gave one of the most rational, non-political assessments of the deal that I have heard, so Dennis, even if you believe in UFO's and can hide entire cities in your coat pockets, you're ok in my book.

On the reverse side of this, there are many people that should be stoned for this debacle. First of all, will somebody please tell Nancy Pelosi when it is and when it is not a good time to infuse politics in to the crucial decision making that needs to be done on behalf of the entire country. If you missed Pelosi's speech, let me paraphrase: "Before we vote, I want to point out that we are in this mess because of all of you right wing jerkoffs and your shit for brains ideology. Now vote with me to pass this bill." Thankfully Ms. Pelosi's idiocy was matched by a large portion of Republican representatives who had their feelings hurt by the Speaker's tender and thoughtful speech. And once again, the best interests of you and me and Bobby McGee, were thrown out that big metaphorical window so our representatives could play Red guy Vs. Blue guy.

Looking for more idiots to get pissed off at? I offer up the ancient soul of one Senator John McCain. Thank God he called off his campaign to save the world by pushing through this important bailout - and then called his campaign back on because he was confident he had saved the day and got his fellow Republicans on board with the bill - and then blamed Barack Obama for doing nothing as the bill failed to pass - trying to hide the point that his help...well, it didn't help. If this is the kind of cool, rational thinking and leadership we can expect from a McCain presidency, we might as well just have Sarah Palin running the country, so at least we can have something to laugh at.

So, now for the bailout and what I think is wrong with it. This Bailout has several faults. To begin with, it doesn't really address the mortgage crisis. You can pump money back into these huge banks and investment firms forever, but until we find ways to keep people in their homes, we're not going to get rid of this problem. There are tons of ideas from economists on how to do this, and I'll try to get to those in the next few days. Also, from what I can tell, the bill will limit annual salaries for CEO's of these companies to $500,000 - but I haven't yet seen anything that limits their multi-million bonuses...hopefully I just missed that part in my skim through. I think both Senators Obama and McCain are correct in requesting the FDIC to raise their insured level from $100,000 to $250,000. Frankly this rate should have been adjusted long ago because of this crazy little thing called inflation. Now might be a good time to insure the American people that a larger portion of their funds are safe, don't you think? But basically their is one fundamental problem that kind of umbrellas the whole issue...

Bailout 2.0 simply continues the same same trickle down economics that helped push as in to this losing affair. Let's buy up all these toxic investments and give the money to these companies that screwed over the country on their greed, and expect that they will do better, consumers will gain confidence, money will flow freely from the well, and trickle down onto the peons of the country(yes, that pun was intentional). Really? That's like a parent saying, "Billy, you really have to stop punching your little brother in the face, he doesn't like it, but you know what, why don't you go ahead and punch him in the face again, and maybe he'll bleed less this time...he needs to toughen up." We have to have Mom and Dad sticking up for the little brother in this situation. We can't just give the same few powerful, wealthy people more money after they mess up, and expect them to make better decisions with it the second time around. This plan gives no significant reason for this to not happen again in the future, and that is the main problem.

The Lemonade Stand Version of the Bailout
I like to think of this plan in terms of a lemonade stand. Picture this. A couple of kids have these lemonade stands set up in their neighborhood and are doing really well for themselves. Their raking in a couple bucks a day with their high quality lemonade from fresh squeezed lemons. They then find an opportunity to buy a crappy lemonade mixture from their buddy down the street for less, and still sell it off for more. The kids start pulling in even more money. Then they find out another kid in the neighborhood is simply pissing in cups and calling it lemonade. They decide to buy up his piss in a cup, and sell that off too. Now, the kids are taking in more money then they know what to do with. These kids just start filling cup after cup with piss lemonade, because hey, nobody's watching them. Then - a problem hits. The first customers start to realize that they aren't getting fresh squeezed lemonade, and realize they just purchased shitty lemonade mixture. Then it gets even worse when other people realize that they just bought and drank piss, for the price of fresh squeezed lemonade. And these kids now have all the money they earned tied up in all this shitty lemonade mixture and piss - but now nobody wants any of their toxic lemonade, and they are forced to shut down. But then, the parents decide they need to step in, and they say, "This is no good. This neighborhood needs its lemonade stands. You know what kids, we've got a plan. We're going to buy up all of your shitty lemonade and piss with this money we collected from every person in the neighborhood. You can take that money and start your lemonade stand back up, and we'll trust that you'll go back to selling fresh-squeezed lemonade, rather than urine in a cup. People will start buying lemonade again, and everything will be great. And the best part is, we'll hold on to your old shitty lemonade and piss for a while, and then we'll try to sell it off for a profit, and pay everyone in the neighborhood back. Then we can all live happily ever after."

I guess to sum things up in a tidy little package, there is more that is wrong with this bailout than is right. While I despise the fact that politics is preventing progress in Washington, I'm glad they're at least going to try and make some improvements. Unfortunately, I can't help but feel that we are setting ourselves up to purchase a 700 billion dollar band-aid. And once again, Wall Street will walk off jovially into the sunset with pockets full of money, and you'll be stuck helping the government buy their piss.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Fashionably Late or Functionably Lazy Roundup of the First Debate

After watching the 1st presidential debate on Friday evening, and then watching the pundits on both sides eat the truth, work it through their systems and regurgitate it as an all new dish, I thought I'd wait for the weekend and wine to wear off before I jumped into the topic. In my opinion, there was no knockout punch, but I would have to say Obama came out a little less bloodied. Here's what I took away from the whole thing:

1. What was with John McCain's insistence on making reference after reference that reminds us how old he is. Come on John, get your head in the game. Your not helping your cause by pointing out that you've been soft-shoeing in the senate since Jesus was a boy, or that your best friends are mostly dinosaurs and cavemen, or that you have the fire needed to change Washington because you were around when fire was discovered. We get it pops, you've been around the block in your Flintstones car a few times...stop feeding the liberals with ammunition.

2. John McCain does not like losing. As in the past, he was very persistent in pointing out that victory is within site in Iraq, and we are winning this and that, and that Obama doesn't want to give troops the resources they need to win, etc. I'm sorry if this seems off base, especially since the closest I've come to war is a couple all-nighter games of Risk - but who really wins in this kind of war? We're spending 10 billion a month in Iraq, so we're losing money, not winning it. Last I checked, we don't seem to have made any new friends in the world by waging this war, so we're not winning friends or respect. Those 4,000 dead US soldiers certainly didn't win. Nor did the countless dead Iraqis, which apparently aren't even worth reporting about. So who won? It doesn't sound to me like anyone has or will win anything out of this whole Goddamn ordeal. Maybe a few oil companies won, but the rest of us are leaving the fair with empty wallets, sadness, and no giant plush Osama Bin Laden. John McCain can take his winning attitude and shove it up his winning ass, and then tell us all how great victory feels.

3. Is it just me or was everyone wearing an absurd amount of make-up? It was like a clown party up on that stage. I was half expecting Jim Lehrer to give each candidate a few tosses at the Bozo Buckets. Will someone please inform the make-up artists of the world that we now have this thing called HD-TV?

4. I think John McCain has Derek Zoolander syndrome and can turn left, because he didn't look at Obama once. Not that Obama was much better, but he at least managed to rotate his torso a few degrees from time to time and look at his opponent.

5. Both of the senators appeared to be knowledgeable on the issues, with no significant advantage for either on any single topic. They both said what their bases wanted to hear and did so in an intelligent manner. I think each had opportunities to get a solid hit in on their opponent, but both settled for simple sparring. Obama could have put a solid upper-cut to the jaw of McCain's "I'm all for veterans" argument with bringing up his 20% approval rating by the Disabled Veterans of America. But no, he didn't take the shot, because his answers were a little too prepared.

I was overall rather bored by the whole affair. Maybe it's because I follow this stuff every day, or maybe it's because I'm already too excited about the VP battle royale coming this Thursday. Maybe I was just disappointed that McCain showed up and I couldn't use the same 'McChicken' joke that every blogger and journalist in the world was dying to use. Oh well, I guess I can always turn my attention to more exciting activities, like like watching the stock market bungee jump with a piece of yarn around its ankle. Yikes!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Colbert and Stewart drop their characters for an EW interview

Hey everyone. I just wanted to post this link to a preety interesting little interview that Entertainment Weekly did with Comedy Central heroes Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Both step out of their showman characters for a few minutes and just talk as regular guys. It's interesting to see these two comedians take on politics when they aren't laying the satire on in abundance. Here's the link, or you can also find it on your local magazine rack and get the privledge of paying for it.

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20228603,00.html

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bailout! Bailout! The USS Wall Street is sinking!

I was pretty much trying to avoid this topic, as I admittedly am not a financial genius - reference my empty wallet for evidence. However, this is the big story out there, and I've discovered that most people are just as, if not more confused by this whole thing than I am. Most of us can go to Wikipedia and look up what a hedge fund is, and after reading the definition, still ask, "ok, but what is a hedge fund?". Thankfully, for both of us, I'll try to steer clear of the quagmire of financial terms.

So, what we're potentially looking at is a $700 billion dollar bailout for these 'investment banks' and insurance agencies, and other corporate fat cats that pretty much are getting exactly what they were asking for. Following years of deregulation from our federal government, we set these financial gurus free to monitor themselves. This experiment is similar to leaving your teenager home alone for a couple weeks with a house full of booze, and seeing what happens. In both cases, it was fairly predictable that it wasn't going to end well...and now after years of being left alone, we've found that wall street has puked all over the carpet and burned down the garage. And who gets left to clean up the mess? If you answered, "me" stand up, because you're the big winner!

After months of saying that there wasn't a problem, Bush and friends finally had to step out into the cold, unloving light of day and admit, "ok, I guess we've got ourselves a little problem". And his solution to saving our economy was brilliant. Let's give Secretary of the Treasury, and former Goldman Sachs executive, Henry Paulson a $700 billion dollar bailout slush-fund of tax-payer money, not monitor what he's doing, and hope everything turns out all roses, and butterflies and happy horse shit like that. Brilliant! So the solution to the problem caused by lack of regulation and monitoring can be solved by further lack of regulation and monitoring , and 4% of our GDP...that makes so much sense...why didn't I think of that?

This is such a great proposal, I don't even know where to start. I like paying for other people's greed. I sleep better at night knowing that the CEO of Morgan Stanly got his 30 million dollar bonus this year. And I really take comfort in knowing that under the Bush/Paulson proposal, those same CEO's who made tens of millions of dollars a year for running their companies into the ground will still be getting paid millions, while you and I shop at the 99 Cent Store and watch Henry Paulson play, "Who wants this worthless stock?".

While both John McCain and Barak Obama have offered outlines for the changes they think need to be made to make Bush's proposal more fair for 'main street', neither was brought up the bailout concept of, "Bail yourself out!" And the crazy thing about all of this is that there is already a good, and fair plan out there to do this. All it takes is putting back in place a tiny little tax, that we actually used for decades until it was cut in 1966. Don't know what this is? Well, put on your detective hat Scooby-Doo, we're going to investigate.

The tax I'm referring to is a Stock Transfer Tax, which basically puts a very small tax on every purchase or sale of a share of stock. This same type of tax previously existed as part of the Revenue Act of 1932, and stayed in place up until 1966 when it was dismantled in a government effort to streamline the tax system. In its previous life, this tax proved to have two great strengths: 1) It's ability to generate funds. And 2) The manner in which it curbed dangerous speculation in the market place.

Ok, great, but what does this have to due with the $700 billion dollar bailout? We're getting there, so stop being impatient or I'll send you to time-out. Alright, back to business.

This concept was actually brought up by respected economist (who looks strangely like my father-in-law) Dean Baker, way back on March 15, 2008. In an article entitled, A Stock Transfer Tax: The Right Medicine for Wall Street, Dean talks about reinstating the stock transfer tax as a way to generate funds for a universal Health Care system, better education, or a movement towards a more Green economy.

In the article, Baker notes the .25% stock transfer tax that is currently in place in the United Kingdom and the London Stock Exchange. Here's where this gets interesting.

If this same tax was placed on all the sales and purchases of shares of stock on Wall Street, the tax would generate an estimated $150 - 200 billion dollars annually. That means that, rather than dig into the pockets of Joe Taxpayer, the government can bailout Wall Street with their own money, and do so within 4 or 5 years. It also would likely pull in the reigns on the absurd speculative money shuffling that's been plaguing Wall Street for years. You have to be a little more careful going all in on the longshot if it will cost you millions in tax, win or lose. Wall Street would probably be more inclined to pick Pretty Little Pony to place and settle for a lesser but more reliable profit.

The tax would mean little to your average investor, and would draw most of it's rewards from the very companies and agencies that got us into this mess. Go ahead and do the Math. Let's say you, as an individual have $20,000 in stocks...now lets say that you that you buy or sell a full $20,000 in shares each month, because you know, you're a mover and a shaker...now lets pull out our calculator. So, even if you had this nice portfolio and handled it as recklessly as I just did...your cost for buying and selling of $240,000 in stocks over the course of the year would only cost you $600 in tax. Since most of us investors aren't going this crazy with our 401K's and other financial goodies, it's more likely that the average middle class investor would be paying only a couple bucks annually to ride the Wall Street crazy train. Compare that to the approximately $6000 per taxpayer price tag Bush and Paulson's plan would saddle us with.

Of course Henry Paulson, when presented with this idea, was not a big fan. My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that Paulson owns 4.58 million shares of stock in now 'former' investment bank, Goldman Sachs. This means his stocks in Goldman Sachs alone are worth about $700 million. I think you can do the math for yourself on this one. $700,000,000 multiplied by .25% - carry the two - and yes sir, we have a conflict of interest on our hands.

Obviously this is just the basics of the situation, but don't you think some of our warriors up on the hill might want to take a little closer look at Dean Baker's proposal? Let's bring back that little thing known as a system of checks and balances along with a plan to make those most responsible for this mess to be the most accountable. Privatized profits, and socialized losses hardly seems like a fair deal, does it? But then again, I'm just a guy with an empty wallet. What do I know?
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