Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Mandate of Clear Thinking: Real Issues (continued)

3) Crony capitalism:

Yeah, the permanent political class – they’re doing just fine. Ever notice how so many of them arrive in Washington, D.C. of modest means and then miraculously throughout the years they end up becoming very, very wealthy? Well, it’s because they derive power and their wealth from their access to our money – to taxpayer dollars. They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power. So, do you want to know why the permanent political class doesn’t really want to cut any spending? Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done? It’s because there’s nothing in it for them.
Gov. Sarah Palin, from speech at Indianola, Iowa Tea Party meeting
September 3, 2011

Gazooks! Sounds awfully close to an OWS rant! Back to Populism? Well, funny thing. Even groups radically opposed to each other’s ends often agree on why they want to get there. Look over what she said and compare it to, say, the pile of money handed over to Citibank, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Chrysler. The latter two especially, “this is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work…” No, it’s spending $2 million for every UAW job (and vote and campaign contributions to the DNC and Democrat candidates), an unsubtle vote-buying plan. And, of course, it’s often not the ballot box vote that counts, but the future (or past) contribution vote:

The Solyndra scandal has ignited fury among congressional leaders who are chastising the commander-in-chief for responding to an economic recession with a failed “green energy subsidy experiment.” …House committee released a special report blasting the president for wasting nearly $100 billion to create “green jobs.” Undue political influence has determined how much of the money has been disbursed, investigators found…As President Barack Obama’s disastrous and costly green energy agenda becomes the focus of a congressional investigation, the administration celebrates the multimillion-dollar “green makeover” of a public housing facility in Washington State…The festivities come on the heels of a major scandal involving a California solar panel company that folded after receiving more than half a billion dollars from the government. The White House helped the bankrupt manufacturer (Solyndra) get the money over the objections of federal budget analysts and news reports have identified one of the company’s major investors as an Obama fundraiser… Obama's green jobs agenda rife with corruption, says ranking lawmaker, Jim Kouri, Examiner, 9/29/2011

As has been widely reported, even in MSM, even White House officials tried to stop this loser, a five hundred million dollar gift to an Obama supporter to uphold a company that its auditors said would fold in less than a year. (It did). This is the kind of deal you’d expect from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela – hey, you scratch my back and I’ll give you some money I took from the people.

Last week General Motors introduced its $41,000 Volt electric vehicle…a massive new product program that likely wouldn't exist in a free market, focusing much of the ailing company's attention on a product that won't move in any volume without thousands of dollars per vehicle in government subsidies…Volt has raised new criticisms of the GM bailout for having wasted billions of taxpayer money. Back in April GM and the Obama administration attempted to deflect some of this negative feedback by announcing that GM had repaid $6.7 billion in government loans. What was missing from this announcement, however, was the fact that the money to repay this loan had come from a working capital fund provided by the federal government's TARP program. Switching money from one pocket to another seldom does much for financial health…But all these criticisms miss the most costly aspect of the government bailout: By intervening in the bankruptcy process, the Federal government kept GM's assets and employees in essentially the same management hands that have underutilized them for decades… The High Price Of The GM Bailout, Warren Meyer, Forbes, 8/10/10

Note the key points. The Volt has an $8000 subsidy for to keep the price down to one still far above a middle-income person’s likelihood of purchasing a vehicle that has hardly sold any copies. The so-called payback of government loans to GM was simply borrowed from the TARP money GM received (contrary to the 2008 law’s intent). Further, the profitability of GM is itself an illusion generated when the government’s reorganization plan allowed them to spin off prior debt and liabilities. That old GM is a sinkhole of losses, most picked up by you and me. But friends is friends, eh? Anything for a union brother, and anything not to upset the old management so much that they might not support the President in 2012. The writer hated it when Carter’s administration bailed out Chrysler in the 1970s, but, look closely, and you’ll find that Lee Iacocca’s version of the company paid back every dime of principal and interest without any restructuring of the loan.

President Obama’s administration claims that there is no cronyism involved in granting waivers from provisions in the Obamacare law, but when AARP becomes exempt…it really makes you wonder…The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…decided to exempt providers of “Medigap” policies. AARP just so happens to be the nation’s largest seller of such policies. And oh, by the way, the AARP donated millions to the Obamacare advertising campaign, and millions more on lobbyists…Not only did the AARP advocate for Obamacare, they also included in their support an attack on their biggest competitor. Of course, the White House and HHS are trying to claim that favoritism didn’t play a role when deciding this exemption, but come on, who honestly believes that?... The AARP break exempts the health care provider from publicly releasing and explaining health care payment rate increases on their supplemental insurance plans….Senate majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) wrote to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last October asking her not to make this exemption: “Some beneficiaries enrolled in the United of Omaha Life Insurance Company will see their Medigap premiums increase by approximately 40 percent between 2010 and 2011,” they wrote. “An increase of this magnitude raises serious concerns about premium-setting practices and rate review procedures in place for Medigap policies.”…This comes just days after learning that 20 percent of the latest round of waivers granted went to upscale hotels, restaurants and nightclubs in Nancy Pelosi’s home district…Those who were in the position to grant these waivers obviously knew that these businesses were in the former Speaker’s home district….If the bill is so great, why should any company want a waiver, even if it’s temporary? Also, if the process for determining who gets the waivers is meant to be transparent, why isn’t the HHS releasing the names of rejected waiver applicants? More Cronyism With Obamacare Waivers, Ashe Schow, Action for America, 5/20/2011

Hey, if everybody’s in on it, eh? Such cronyism makes hash of any kind of management decision-making in companies in the same business, or under the same threat from government programs. The government is, in effect, saying “We don’t care if you’re good; we don’t care if you create jobs; all we care about is if you can do us a favor. Get it?” (Enter Rahm Emmanuel with a club) Gangsters in Brooklyn have more style.

Obama’s connections to less than reputable…groups like Goldman Sachs, the Chicago Climate Exchange, “Fannie and Freddie,” former Chicago Governor Rod Blagojevich, Franklin Raines, Bill Ayers, Van Jones, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, etc…have placed Americans in the unfortunate position of having to question everything that the government says and does. This epiphany has forced the Central Illinois 9/12 project to investigate the suspiciously preferable treatment Obama and his cohorts have provided to the Chicago-based, community-based investment bank, Shorebank…Shorebank is “focused on domestic and foreign microfinancing, is heavily engaged in the financing of ‘green’ projects and ‘green’ jobs, and has a host of ties to the Obama and Clinton administrations.” … Shorebank contributed heavily to the campaigns of Barack Obama, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Sen. Dick Durbin…They’ve also donated to left-wing organizations like…Over the past decade, ‘green’ Shorebank has become a shill and a front for the cap-and-trade crowd and those with a radical environmentalist agenda.” Perhaps most intriguing is that the Joyce Foundation is a major shareholder of Shorebank, the same foundation that has been interconnected to the Chicago Climate Exchange and the entire cap-and-trade scheme. .. While 10 other Illinois banks were closed in 2010 alone, local and federal government agents have fought vehemently to keep Shorebank afloat. In 2009, Shorebank received $35 million in federal funds for grants and tax credits. Unfortunately, the bank still reported losses of $50 million in the same year, prompting a “cease and desist “ order by the FDIC, as well as by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation…Chicago Congresswoman Schakowsky and Senator Durbin favored providing state help to the bank, but when Shorebank discovered another route for financial support in February 2010, they seized it. The Chicago Daily Observer cites the 9/12 project: “Secretary Geithner proposed ‘enhancement’ to TARP funds specifically aimed at community development banks that would allow them to receive capital investment funds at a 2 percent rate (compared to the standard 5 percent rate) and to receive federal TARP funds that would be matched to funding received from private institutions.” In a furtive attempt to assure that Shorebank is eligible for the funding, Schakowsky argued that the funding would function as a “jobs program for the area…In order for this to work, Shorebank must be recognized as a “Community Development Financial Institituion.” If so, it is eligible to receive TARP money and prevent seizure by the FDIC… Shorebank: Another Example of Cronyism, Raven Clabough, The New American, 5/21/2010

This is sort of how Mafia controlled businesses work. It may look like a restaurant, may even serve good food, but its real function is to launder money from drug sales and other criminal activity. And, it’s a long part of the current Presidential team’s historical background:

As state senator, Obama’s interest extended to medical programs as well as to hospital real estate matters. Soon after his election he unsuccessfully requested a $1 million state “earmark” for the Chicago Medical Center hospital. His wife, Michelle, had been selected for an executive position there by board member and close friend Valerie Jarrett. In 2005 her part-time salary was raised from $120,000 to $317,000, about twice what Obama made as senator…Ms. Obama’s primary role was to create what has been described as a low-income “patient-dumping” program called the “South Side Health Collaborative”. It featured a gang of “counselors” that advised unprofitable low-income patients they would be better off at other hospitals and clinics. Jarrett gave her approval to the concept, and David Axelrod was hired to promote it. Soon Chicago’s inner city populations began hearing that the program would “dramatically improve health care for thousands of South Side residents”, and that the medical center was generously willing to provide “a ride on a shuttle bus to other centers”. In late 2007 Dr. Eric Whitaker became the hospital’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations and Associate Dean for Community-Based Research. He had worked with Ms. Obama and was recommended to Blago for the job by Senator Barack Obama through mutual pal Tony Rezko. Whitaker had also been hired to an earlier position as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health based on Obama’s recommendation, and remains a good friend and member of the President’s inner circle. He has vacationed with the Obama family in Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. Dr. Whitaker’s name has recently surfaced in connection with a federal investigation into an alleged cash-siphoning scheme involving funds awarded by the Illinois Department of Health and Public Services to Margaret A. Davis, a former director of the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. Special focus is being directed to a no-bid contract and seven AIDS and cancer-related grants from which she may have embezzled $500,000 for personal use. While there are no known subpoenas linking Whitaker to any illegalities, Davis’ June 9 grand jury indictment is part of a larger criminal investigation involving health department and other state agencies he oversaw during his time as department director. Obama Kick-Back Cronyism - Part 2: Illinois Health And Human Disservices, Larry Bell, Forbes, 11/02/2011

Read the whole story and part 1. The remarkable thing about such deals, as with any high level gangsterism, is the utter shamelessness of the parties, not that this is new. You can find the same gleeful pursuit of personal gain in the Gilded Age among politicians like James Blaine and Rosco Conkling. Thought we’d escaped all of that with the transparent administration? Hey, if you didn’t get that with the clean Clintons, or now from this administration, you won’t get the hilarious scene in The Devil’s Advocate when half the real politicians in New York, and a few from outside, get together in a party thrown by the Devil (Al Pacino in one of his more endearing roles). In the crony world, sleaze is king. Making dirty deals is their entitlement program. You’re unsophisticated and don’t belong there if you don’t get it. No, that’s not true. The way this writer sees it, people who get it and participate in cronyism don’t belong in office; they belong in jail.

Now you know why the President said of Gov. Palin, “if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.”


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