Why aren't these people in jail?

This may be the only time in my life I will ever utter these words: "We could learn a lot from Indonesia."

Indonesian police have used tear gas and water canon to disperse about 2,000 anti-government protesters who tried to enter the parliament building in the capital, Jakarta.
The scuffles broke out on Tuesday as members of parliament began a debate over the possible impeachment of the country's vice-president and finance minister.
...
His vice president, Boediono, and finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, approved the bailout and opposition leaders have demanded their resignation saying they must be held accountable for losses to the state.

What an amazing concept!
Imagine holding politicians accountable for the loss of public funds from controversial bank bailouts in 2008. Imagine the citizens of the nation taking the time off from watching TV to protest the funneling of taxpayer money to wealthy, politically-connected investors.
I wonder if such wacky ideas could catch on in America?

“This is half-baked justice at best.”
- US District Judge Jed Rakoff

The fact that there are two kinds of justice in this country, one for the rich and one for the poor, is not a secret. However, it has rarely been so openly on display as it was last week in Judge Rakoff's court room.

The case arose out of Bank of America's purchase of Wall Street investment firm Merrill Lynch in the fall of 2008. The SEC alleged that in seeking shareholders' approval for the deal, Bank of America failed to tell investors about mounting financial losses at Merrill Lynch, as well as plans to pay billions of dollars in bonuses to the firm's employees.

Judge Rakoff has agreed to fine Bank of America $150 million, a settlement he calls "inadequate and misguided" because its penalties are "very modest." Considering the penalty is just 4.1% of the amount of money in question, it should be considered "incentive" instead.

Our story starts on December 8, 2008, shortly before Merrill Lynch was taken over by Bank of America. Bank of America shareholders had already approved the merger. Merrill gave out $3.62 Billion worth of bonuses, 36.3% of the money came from TARP funds and only employees making over $300,000 were eligible for the bonuses. Merrill's Compensation Committee determined executive bonuses before the disastrous Q4 earnings had been determined.
This was a departure from normal company practices. Bank of America was aware of Merrill's intentions to award huge executive bonuses, but failed to tell its own shareholders prior to the vote. In fact, on August 3 they had released a proxy statement that Merrill wouldn’t pay year-end bonuses before the takeover without consent.

The SEC only took up this case after shareholder outrage forced them to. After months of investigation the SEC decided that it had built its case and approached Bank of America with a settlement offer that basically amounted to a slap on the wrist.
But then something amazing and unprecedented happened: the sitting judge, Jed Rakoff, demanded accountability and disclosure.

The judge wondered immediately why, given the “serious questions” raised in its complaint, the SEC wasn’t going after more facts. If BofA and Merrill conspired to lie to shareholders about bonuses that had been agreed to when the merger was signed, then why isn’t the SEC trying to figure out who is responsible? “Was it some sort of ghost? Who made the decision not to disclose [the bonuses]?” said Rakoff.

Judge Rakoff called the settlement a "contrivance", which allowed the SEC to appear to be a regulator, but doing nothing substantially. The SEC was only asking for a $33 million fine and didn't seek to punish any executives, or even to release their names. At least one Merrill executive got a bonus larger than $33 million.
Judge Rakoff went on to question why the SEC wasn't charging bank executives with fraud. However, the judge is only the judge, not the prosecution. He can't force the SEC to actually do its job, and the SEC has flat out refused to protect the public. So last week Judge Rakoff agreed to a settlement that was "better than nothing."
Recall that this is the same SEC that failed to investigate Bernie Madoff despite receiving six "substantive complaints that raised significant red flags" about Madoff's operations.

The man who brokered the BofA/Merrill deal was none other than former Goldman Sachs CEO, and 2008 Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. This is how it went:

“Were you instructed not to tell your shareholders what the transaction was going to be?” the New York attorney general asked Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis in a hearing unrelated to the SEC’s investigation:

Lewis: I was instructed that ‘We do not want a public disclosure.’
NYAG: Who said that to you?
Lewis: Paulson…
NYAG: Had it been up to you, would you [have] made the disclosure?
Lewis: It wasn’t up to me.

Paulson denies he forced Lewis to lie, and Lewis has since changed his story, but Paulson did admit that he threatened to have Lewis fired if he backed out of the deal.
Paulson wasn't the only one pushing this merger, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was also applying pressure.

Let's not forget that whether Paulson and Bernanke were fully complicit in the cover-up or not, there is no doubt that they were fully aware of it while it was happening and failed to tell anyone.
By all appearances, not to mention documentation and witness testimony, this appears to be a case of massive corruption and fraud that reaches all the way from major Wall Street banks, to financial regulators, to major politicians.
It also appears to be getting swept under the rug.

Hank Paulson has since retired on his hundreds of millions of dollars. Lewis left BofA with $135 million in retirement benefits. John Thain, the head of Merrill, laid low for a year before becoming CEO of CIT Group, another bankrupt Wall Street financial firm.
Meanwhile, the taxpayer has bailed out Bank of America and Merrill Lynch to the tune of $45 Billion. The Treasury backstopped Bank of America for another $97 Billion. BofA also managed to get $7.5 Billion in TARP money. Some of this money has been paid back. Some might never be.

The BofA shareholders who got defrauded will share in the $150 million settlement - which works out to 1.7 cents a share. To put that into perspective, BofA stock was $26 a share on the day of the merger. It's $16 a share today, after falling to $3 a share a year ago.

The Merry Band of Crooks

"And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place,"
- Sen. Dick Durbin

If Watergate made the term "cover-up" famous, then the Wall Street bailout of 2008-2009 should forever associate the phrase with the Federal Reserve.

American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, included the word “redacted” more than 1,000 times in regulatory filings tied to agreements for paying banks that bought credit-default swaps from the company.
The insurer, asked by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to limit disclosure, excluded a list of banks and collateral postings from a pair of 2008 filings, and then sought confidential treatment for the document in 2009 before making redacted versions available to the public.

Bernanke has repeatedly assured Congress and the public that the Fed's secrecy is only being done in the interests of the public and the economy. In fact, they are now appealing a lawsuit by Bloomberg to avoid revealing details of the trillions of dollars of bailouts that the Fed engineered in 2008-2009.
It isn't just the public and legislative branch of government that the Fed has decided it no longer answers to. It's also decided that it doesn't answer to the executive branch either.

The Federal Reserve Board has rejected a request by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a public review of the central bank’s structure and governance, three people familiar with the matter said.

You see, it isn't necessary for the rest of the government to even review the structure of the central bank, much less audit it.

“You have been in politics long enough to know that no man in public office owes the public anything.”
- Mark Hanna, Standard Oil

Let's not kid ourselves that the cover-up is limited to the Federal Reserve. The Treasury Department has plenty of dirt on its hands. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is a good example.
William K. Black, the man who ran the S&L cleanup, has a damning verdict of the regulators during the bailout.

Treasury Secretary Paulson and other senior Bush financial regulators flouted the law. The Bush administration wanted to cover up the depth of the financial crisis that its policies had caused.
Mr. Geithner, as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since October 2003, was one of those senior regulators who failed to take any effective regulatory action to prevent the crisis, but instead covered up its depth.

Black goes onto say that ”the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts”.
Why would the regulators try to cover up the extent of the economic disaster? For starters, the largest campaign contributors in Washington are the very same TBTF banks. Just look at the current condition of the House Financial Services Committee. There are an absurd 71 members on that committee today.
It's a picture of congressmen greedily lining up at the trough to collect those legal bribes from the same people they should be regulating, and even throwing in jail, who are giving back taxpayer money that congress awarded them in the form of bailouts. It has all the appearances of legal money laundering.

The only hope for reform in the face of this opposition is public disclosure of the true depth of the crisis and its roots in widespread “control fraud” and the need for fundamental reform. The administration would have to marshal public outrage, document the fraud and abuses, and provide a supporting theory to have any chance of success.
Instead, the Obama administration and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have refused to investigate the nature and causes of the crisis.

Not surprisingly, financial reform measures are stalled in Congress. Why? Numbers. There are five Wall Street lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress.

Misdirected Outrage

CYNIC n.
A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they ought to be.
— Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary

I have a hard time understanding Americans sometime. They seem to have unlimited ability for outrage against government workers collecting middle-class paychecks, but can't seem to work up a protest against a massive amount of fraud and theft from people who don't live next door to them. Why is that?
The protests in Indonesia prove that this misplaced anger isn't a human condition. For an answer to this, look no further than the news media.

When there was a clear direction implied, the study shows a striking bias in the use of the “class warfare” label: In all outlets combined, the phrase was almost 18 times more likely to describe bottom-up action—rhetoric or policy decisions perceived as benefiting the poor or lower classes—than it was to describe top-down action (90 percent vs. 5 percent of occurrences). One might expect any conflict termed a “war” to be covered as a two-way street, but the outlets only did so in 5 percent of the cases where the term was employed.

The most massive theft in American history has just happened, and the leading news outlet isn't the NY Times, but the Rolling Stone. This is, of course, following up on the news media's failure to accurately report the Iraq War and the War on Terror in general. It appears that the news media, like the Treasury Department, the SEC, and the Fed, are complicit in a generational theft of the middle class.
We, and by that I mean working people, have been betrayed at every level, and the average American just cannot accept it. The deception is so broad, and so complete, that Americans have turned to blaming scapegoats instead. Because they can't accept that fact, when all the evidence points toward it, they are easily used and manipulated. Their crime is trusting people who are obviously lying to them. They refuse to do their own research, to question official sources, or use basic logic. The punishment for this crime is that they will assist in their own destruction

Meta: 

Comments

there are so many things in the U.S.

such as the unemployment rate alone, would have people rioting in the streets. I recall in the U.K. recently there was rioting because they were being fired and displaced with foreign guest workers....I mean this is just the plain ole scab thing of the 21st century, yet in this country if you breath a word about this you are name called a racist xenophobe.

France, screwing with their labor, riots in the streets...
when suicides increased from France Telecom, it made headline news, going on about their employee abuses which here....are routine! When Americans kill themselves out of despair or worse, it's a 24 hr news cycle and they go on and on about wackos, domestic violence, crazed people, gun control....but you never heard a world about job security, financial security, a steady paycheck and the dignity of work.

Never an utterance.

The bank bail outs have caused some protests, but of course those are ignored...

You might update your unemployment benefit post to just say it was extended, since people use the Google, find our site and don't checks dates on information.

(Believe me they do, they even think we are a place which has answers for their mortgage problems, which I do my best to answer as I can anyway.)

I get a sense though the U.S. is about to blow. If they do not start doing what it takes (and that's trade policy, direct jobs infrastructure program, stopping offshore outsourcing) and soon, I fear, well not only will elections be interesting, but what I fear is we will get a host of "tea partiers", which is the wrong solution for the right problems and that will cause a revolution. In other words, they will get into office and then true poverty, despair will magnify and bam, there we go....

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Oh it is coming and it won't be pretty

With over 300 million once the gasoline and match meet, the riots will follow. I don't know what will set it off but the USA is a powder keg of discontent.

Yesterday I read a post (not on this site) from someone saying that not passing health care is the same as Marie didn't listen to the people in pre-french revolution days.

I had to point out that it wasn't that the people were asking the government for something, the people wanted the government to lay off of them. Stop burdening them.

"While average tax rates were higher in Britain, the burden
on the common people was greater in France. Taxation relied on a system of internal tariffs separating the regions of France, which prevented a unified market from developing in the country. Taxes such as the extremely unpopular gabelle were contracted out to private collectors (''tax farmers'') who were permitted to raise far more than the government requested. These systems led to an arbitrary and unequal collection of many of France's consumption taxes. ''

So let me see, government increasingly looking for more revenue and often by raising "fees" not taxes. The elite officials are let off easy when not paying taxes, can we say Geithner or Rangel; the elected officials eat Kobe Beef while their flock eat hamburg; the officials take junkets, fly in private jets while their constituents can't take a vacation to the beach; legal bribing of officials with taxpayer money so they will vote yes on a Bill. And now they want to pass a massive thing called health care and tell us that it is going to be cheaper. They stand there in their fancy suits and lie to us. For some reason they know we know it is a lie but they don't care anymore. Arrogance has trumped common sense.

I would say that people are getting very, very upset at what they see in Washington. It could even be a worldwide powder keg.

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A Precursor Stage?

"...but what I fear is we will get a host of "tea partiers", which is the wrong solution for the right problems and that will cause a revolution. In other words, they will get into office and then true poverty, despair will magnify and bam, there we go..."

It is almost as though there might be a natural history to these coming events. Although a year ago the rage of the emerging Tea Party protests was connected directed with events surrounding the bailouts, increasingly it has transmogrified into themes associated more exclusively with the libertarian catechism: A return to the gold standard, deficit paranoia, and a reliance on something like social darwinist principles to guide the economy. Their protestations notwithstanding, as likely as not, Tea Party activists today are to be found in willing association with Republican Party or para-Republican Party operatives, their enthusiasms co-opted and their message compromised. Their patron saint, Ron Paul, a self-seeker who was clearly more interested in 2008 in holding on to a Republican House seat than he was as an independent presidential candidate in setting an example for his hundreds of adolescent true believers, can't even bring himself to disown Sarah Palin's endorsement of his son, Rand's, Kentucky Senate candidacy! Given the obvious name exploitation and their cosiness with the very worst of system and bailout supporting trash, what's left to distinguish the Pauls from those they reportedly oppose?

So we enter the next election cycle with a reactionary right utterly in sync economically with their neo-con antagonists and opposing a disaster of a president with his emasculated, corporatist, congressional majoritarians. And they'll all be talking about "the deficit"! Some "revolution" this. But it may be setting the stage for an economic nosedive that will make the present malaise look like a walk in the park. The rapidly increasing impoverishment of the wage and salary earning classes brought about as a consequence of a newly energized fiscal parsimony just may change some minds about the suitability of Tea Party populism and an authentic alternative might arise. But I'm struck, nevertheless, with the seeming necessity of there being a reactionary precursor stage before any genuine "peoples' moment" might emerge. That's frightening.

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Andrei

How about registering and creating an account? You have no CAPTCHA and can see who replied to your comments and so on. Way better!

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Mr Andrei Vyshinsky what is a

peoples movement? Is it only a peoples movement when it is from a certain side. Can the left have a peoples movement, can the right have a peoples movement? Or is a people's movement the ownership of a certain side?

In 1965, living in San Francisco, hair down to my waist and living with communist room mates. The peoples movement meant communism and people that looked and thought the same. They had their protests and mostly they all looked and thought the same. Except for one thing.....I couldn't buy into their communist manifesto. They were a group that continually connived different ways to get government money. They were very adroit at getting SSI and abhorred manual labor. I was a working class stiff and soon drifted from them.

I believe it is the reason I am so opposed to anything close to Socialism. To my Communist friends back then, Socialism was the foot in the door for Communism.

So who is the "Peoples movement?"

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An Important Distinction

Well, URDRWHO, allow me importantly to point out that the term used here was "peoples' moment", not "peoples' movement", all of which very well may leave us without a question to answer, eh? That notwithstanding, I suppose that the authentic "peoples' moment" to which I referred above likely would be characterized more by a kind of self-assertion aimed ultimately at the recovery of an abused wellbeing than the realization of anything purely abstract or ideological. After all, human beings don't come equiped with ideologies, do they? But they do come with a certain core dignity. And its the recognition of that that would be most fundamental to any "peoples' moment".

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peoples' moment

Now I see that I was reading incorrectly. I've been trying to get over my February month long Pneumonia and sometimes I am medicated.

So if it is peoples' moment, that would include all people of differing ideologies. That would include the downtrodden an like me, those self employed, overwhelmed people, from Local, State and Federal government regulations. To the point that I am sure, each day there is an obscure broken law that gets broken. Ever read the Patriot Act? I have and was amazed at all the things we are to do so that we may be in compliance. Maybe it is just the little 80,000 page IRS code that I could miss dotting an "i".

So I am all for a peoples moment.

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Another Distinction

"That would include the downtrodden an like me, those self employed, overwhelmed people, from Local, State and Federal government regulations. To the point that I am sure, each day there is an obscure broken law that gets broken."

This whole idea of a "peoples' moment" is, I believe, something most properly seen in pointed contrast to the condition of the "present moment", which I hope you'd agree is something decidedly a-people or anti-people. And it has to do more with a response to present patterns of governance than it does with the fact that we're governed per se. Therefore, the locus of the problem is not to be seen in structures but rather in corrupt, self-serving human beings, that is to say not in the state, but in those who have come to control the state in all of its aspects.

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socialism is not communism

Look, here are some examples of socialism: Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment insurance, 8 hour work day, employee ownership of businesses, employee stock options, public libraries, education, fire department, police department, sewers, roads, water, electricity.

All of that is "socialism". That is simply not communism by any stretch.

Also, it is a fallacy, and frankly you need to turn off Glenn Beck, he has zero education in economics as well as politics and it shows....

Countries that are heavily socialist: Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada.

If one notices, these countries were not exactly on the side of the USSR from 1919-1990, minus the strong need to defeat Nazi Germany as an friendship of convenience (lead by the United States and the U.K. one might note).

Note they have a better standard of living and quality of life AND they are kicking the U.S. ass on the economic competitiveness scale. (see World Bank stats).

That is a long way from an totalitarian state like the USSR, which totalitarian dictatorship was the situation there, it was not true communism in the first place. (Anybody recall Stalin, mass murder, wiped out his competition after the revolution, anyone?) China, they are more a dictatorial corporate totalitarian state, esp. these days.

This is what happens without high school civics or Junior high world history. Not to say I didn't blow off my high school civics..

but look, wikipedia is your friend, as is any encyclopedia....

people, please be accurate and understand what you are talking about....

if you want reforms frankly one must start with accurate information as a starting point.

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Wiki is your friend

if I remember some Wiki's are editable. So I pulled out my old World book Dictionary. Socialism: "A theory or system of social organization by which the major means of production and distribution are owned, managed, or controlled by the Government (State Socialism), by associations of workers (guild socialism) or by the community as a whole, SYN collectivism. Political advocating or associated with this system, the practice of such a system."

To me there isn't a bell that rings once you reach full Socialism but it is a matter of degrees. So if the government ran the distribution of the health care system it would be ownership or just managed by the State? Even though there may not be direct management in a system, it can be managed through bylaws. So the use of law to manage distribution of banking, insurance, etc. is an indirect management by the State. I think a good argument could be made that either through ownership or management the USA has moved closer to Socialism than moving further from it.

I am a blond blue eyed guy and have genealogy to Sweden and Germany. I wouldn't mid visiting them.

This is an interesting article about the Ireland model vs Scandanavian model. The graphs show Ireland was kicking some butt.  Just another point of view from across the pond.

The Myth of the Scandinavian Model

"While a poorly performing economy such as Belgium’s was able to create 8% new jobs between 1981 and 2003, Sweden and Finland were unable to create any jobs at all in over two decades. Denmark did a little better because it “activated” its labour market by making it more “flexible.” It became easier for employers to fire people. For workers in the construction industry  the term of notice was reduced to five days. Unemployment benefits were restricted in time, while those who had been unemployed for a long time, and young people could lose benefits if they refuse to accept jobs, including low-productivity jobs below their level of training or education. The result is that productivity growth in Denmark is lower than in Sweden and Finland.

These draconian measures reduced the unemployment rate, but did not eliminate the cause of unemployment, namely the total lack of motivation on the part of employees and employers resulting from the extremely high taxation level. Despite the painful measures, the growth of Danish productivity and prosperity has been substandard. Disappointment in Danish politicians is one of the reasons for the rise of the far right.

Why are the Scandinavian countries doing such a bad job, despite their Protestant work ethic and devotion to duty? The main cause is the essence of the nanny state: its very high tax level. Between 1990 and 2005 the average overall tax burden was 55% in Finland, 58% in Denmark and 61% in Sweden. This is almost one and a half times the OECD average."

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knowing how to use wiki is a good idea too

Do you know how many jobs were created in the U.S. in the last decade? A net zero.

What do you think Medicare, Medicaid and the VA are? You also didn't bother to look up a modern reference to see that those are Democratic Socialist States. They are Democracies.

Yes, they have high taxes but Americans pay way more in health insurance premiums and that's what is missing, you are missing the costs Americans pay for the same service. Just because someone is labeled a tax instead of private, doesn't mean it is not a required cost, out of that person's pocket. Overall, they pay way less than Americans do and I'm not talking those with cancer or serious illness, I'm referring to basic health costs.

Yes you should visit those countries and see if for your own eyes. In my opinion they have a much higher quality of life, standard of living.

I also don't know where you are getting those stats, but I do not think they are accurate. The CIA Factbook has a lot of these at a glance.

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I also looked at the World Bank

I also looked at the World Bank and Ireland did better than Sweden. So in your opinion they have a better lifestyle. Ya think their mostly homogeneous population have something to do with it. Not many gangs crossing their borders to sell drugs, no chicago land gang killings, they tend to all be of the same mind.

Now if you want you can call the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and tell them their facts don't match your facts, go at it.

http://www.slu.se/?id=784

"For many years, Sweden was ethnically very homogeneous. One special exception is an ethnic and linguistic minority in the north, 15,000 of the Sami people (Lapps), some of whom still make their living by herding reindeer. During the 1960s and 1970s more than half a million immigrants moved to Sweden to work, mostly people from Finland but also people from the Balkan countries, Greece and other countries. In addition, Sweden has received refugees from many troubled corners of the world and still re¬ceives refugees in acute need of protection.

Or I guess you can fight that the World Book Dictionary definition of Socialism is wrong.

Or I guess you can fight with the World Bank
Global Purchasing Power Parities and Real Expenditures
Per capita GDP in USD
ICP Global Result
OECD-EUROSTAT,
Sweden 39,621
Ireland 48,405
United States 41,674

New jobs created in the USA? We are screwed because they moved them to another country.

Maybe you didn't mean me because I didn't call Sweden a Socilist State. My first paragraph was a definition of Socalism. I went back and I could not find where I called Sweden Socialist.

If anyone came close to calling them Socialist it was you. In your post you said, "Countries that are heavily socialist: Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada."

Economies of the world all ebb and flow. One year someone can be top dog and the next year another can be top dog.

You bring up Medicare? Guess who denies more claims than any insurance company. A clue...they are in the first sentence.

Medicaid, that wonder system that pays providers almost nothing for services.

With high health insurance premiums, there is nobody standing with a gun to collect from me. With taxes, at the very end is a man with a gun, with the full force of the USA to collect from you.

I know how much you love the government but how ya lovi'n them now with all their bail outs? And there "ain't" one darn thing you can do to stop them. That is what the force of government is about.....power.

Seems to be a few cracks in that there Sweden health care model. Since you like Wiki the article writer was mentioned:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Public_Policy_Research

"David Hogberg, Ph.D., who oversees health care/Social Security programs; and Ryan Balis, who oversees United Nations studies."

Of course you will poo poo his entire footnoted analysis because he is conservative. And we all know a conservative analysis is ALWAYS wrong.

http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA555_Sweden_Health_Care.html

"Görann Persson had to wait eight months during 2003 and 2004 for a hip replacement operation. Persson was not considered to be a very pleasant person to begin with, and he became even grumpier due to the pain he endured while waiting for his operation. As a result, Persson walked with a limp, reportedly used strong pain medication and had to reduce his workload.20

What made Persson unique was not his wait for hip surgery. Despite the government promise that no one should have to wait more than three months for surgery, 60 percent of hip replacement patients waited longer than three months in 2003 (see Figure 2).21 Rather, Persson stood out because he was Prime Minister of Sweden at the time.

Swedes who do not have private insurance must wait, often for months, for treatment. For all Swedes who needed an operation in 2003, slightly more than half waited more than three months (see Figure 2).22 The situation continues. Moreover, patients often wait in great pain and distress.

Conclusion

While Sweden is a first world country, its health care system - at least in regards to access - is closer to the third world. Because the health care system is heavily-funded and operated by the government, the system is plagued with waiting lists for surgery. Those waiting lists increase patients' anxiety, pain and risk of death.

Sweden's health care system offers two lessons for the policymakers of the United States. The first is that a single-payer system is not the answer to the problems faced as Americans. Sweden's system does not hold down costs and results in rationing of care."

Darn if the writer didn't footnote
1 "The World Factbook," Central Intelligence Agency.

As one gentleman that works for the UK's NICE said, "health care dollars are finite and people should learn to accept shortages." Shortages of money, doctors, etc. is a common thread in those Nationalized plans. Finite dollars is something that American's have yet to face.

Now I'm off to have a nice glass of Cabernet.

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sigh

I really cannot chase down all of your distortions and this is like having some sort of propaganda conversation with Glenn Beck, so I'll let someone else chase down this insanity.

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Figures from the World Bank are distortions - what?

I am not sure what you mean by distortions. Glen Beck? What the heck does that mean. Does he not like Sweden? Not sure what you mean?

I still don't get the glen Beck thing???

You and I agree on many things and I was only pointing out that other economies can preform just as well.

Oh and BTW
From the Stockholmnews. I guess even how did you say it, "Countries that are heavily socialist: Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada" , even they are prone to economic downs.

http://www.stockholmnews.com/search.aspx

"2010-03-01
Weakest GDP growth since 1945

Sweden's GDP sank with 1,5 percent during the last quarter 2009. For the whole 2009 the GDP sank with 4,5 percent compared with 2008. This is the weakest GDP growth in Sweden since 1945. This according to Statistics Sweden. The new figures weakened the krona against the euro and the US Dollar."

On the other hand, just keep chanting that the highly socialist countries have no problems....everyone has equal
access ....to waiting in line.

http://www.stockholmnews.com/more.aspx?NID=3865

"Longer waiting time for health care
News in short | 2009-08-29 | 1 comment
In Stockholm County, 40 per cent of those waiting for treatment in June had to wait longer than what is stipulated by the so called ‘health care guarantee’. During July that number had grown to 59 per cent. But despite longer waiting time during the summer was this better than the same period last year. County commissioner for health care, Filippa Reinfeldt, says to daily Dagens Nyheter that the waiting time has halved in a year and that the centre-right majority will continue to reduce it. Dag Larsson of the political opposition says that the figures are very serious and indicates bad organisation skills."

You can throw stones at me but when their own newspapers report it......I'm just say'in. Or is that a distortion that is not understandable?

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I never said they have no problems

The entire globe had negative GDP (except for India and China who still enacting huge Stimulus), but I am saying that the infamous "that's socialism" cry, yes coming from Glenn Beck and other conservative people who don't know what they are talking about, is absurd. It's not socialism that cause the global recession, it's the Banksters and global finance, contagion, that did.

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Now I understand

You feel that people are calling it Socialism but in reality textbook Socialism is not here. Ok, now I understand you.

In your opinion Socialism doesn't exist until the major means of production and distribution are owned, managed, or controlled by the Government (State Socialism), by associations of workers (guild socialism) or by the community as a whole.

You named Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada as heavily Socialist but they don't fit the textbook Socialism. So it must be their government welfare/benefit systems that make them heavily Socialist.

So in your opinion in the past 100 years have we moved away or toward the benefits of the heavily socialist: Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada?

So which....away or toward?

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I'm agnostic

I'm much more on which specific policy under which specific conditions.....works. When I say "works" I do mean not only the national economy is strong, but also the quality of life, standard of living is also strong for the citizens of that nation. If something works and let's just pick the socialist program of public libraries, it clearly works...so ya know, keep it. Something that does not work, say complete ownership of the means of production by the State....it becomes political, corrupt, inefficient...
well, then not such a great idea.

I could care less about labels, I care much more about economic theory, statistics, results. If one looks at history the strongest economies are also the ones with strong middle classes, this is true all the way to Rome, believe it or not.

That's why EP is an economics site and not a political site per say....what do these labels mean? Should one not implement or try something that looks good to work because it's under some political or philosophical label?

Take Finland. They have mega public funds to support their citizens who want an education, all the way to PhD, the funds are almost a full time paying job...result...largest number of PhDs per capita AND look at that nation, it's 3 million on an ice cube and they are highly economically competitive. Obviously, that, which is very much a socialist program (they are extremely socialist, Finland), plain works. It also proves it's about the society not some innate "born with it" gene pool mentality on what creates brainy folk. I sincerely doubt the Finnish genetic pool just magically has the "high IQ gene pool" and this is why, it's all about their social support, backed up with the money to pull it off....that works.

Stuff like useless job retraining in the U.S., clearly that does not work and no surprise since our main problem is labor arbitrage and also corporations should be on the ones providing on the job training, after all, it's they which know exactly what skills they need. So, why dump more federal funds into useless training that does not work?

Why not instead tell all corporations if they hire U.S. citizens, train them and keep them on the job 3 years....
then get some sort of big huge tax break or say even some funds straight up. That was proven to work in the Professional services area. Corporations used to offer co-ops, internships, full scholarships, hire people and then send them off to graduate school....you name it..
now they have dumped off all education and training onto the individual and we have very ineffective, useless gov. programs.

See, now there is something that probably is officially "socialist" and I'm saying it sucks because it does not work.

If I have any religion (philosophy) it would be data, statistics, theory, "in the details" and "on a case by case basis", if one has a pigeon hole obsession.

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Agree with some of what you said

but since the 1970's I've been paying my own health insurance premiums and I have not come anywhere near paying out a greater portion of 60% for those premiums. (Using WiKi here) The middle income worker suffers from a nearly 60% tax wedge and effective marginal tax rates are very high. Value-added tax is 22% for most items. Capital gains tax and corporate tax are 26%, about the EU median. Property taxes are low, but there is a transfer tax (1.6% for apartments or 4% for individual houses) for home buyers. Then on top of that for what is remaining they pay a 22% VAT. I didn't mean genetics made them smarter only that it is easier to govern when people have a common thread.

Now this is something that Finland has in common with the USA.....the debt part that is. "The growth in the 1980s was based on debt, and when the defaults began rolling in, GDP declined by 13% and unemployment increased from a virtual full employment to one fifth of the workforce. The crisis was amplified by trade unions' initial opposition to any reforms. Politicians struggled to cut spending and the public debt doubled to around 60% of GDP. Much of the economic growth in the 1980s was based on debt financing, and the debt defaults led to a savings and loan crisis. Total of over 10 billion euro were used to bail out failing banks, which led to banking sector consolidation. After devaluations the depression bottomed out in 1993."

Jobs for life? "Much of the taxes are spent on public sector employees, many of which are jobs-for-life and amount to 124,000 state employees and 430,000 municipal employees. That is 113 per 1000 residents (over a quarter of workforce) compared to 74 in the US, 70 in Germany, and 42 in Japan (8% of workforce)."

If 20% earn their living associated to trees, "one in five Finns earn their livelihood from trees - directly or indirectly" I wonder if they need a PhD to do their jobs? They speak of Metso Minerals. Metso built a very big engineering office one mile form me. I forgot they were from Finland.

One more thing that the USA and Finland have in common and I'm beginning to wonder if it is a worldwide thing? "In 2008, the OECD reported that "the gap between rich and poor has widened more in Finland than in any other wealthy industrialized country over the past decade" and that "Finland is also one of the few countries where inequality of incomes has grown between the rich and the middle-class, and not only between rich and poor."

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Picking Cherries

Yes, Finland had a severe recession around 1990, majorly bad and frankly I think some of the taxes in Finland are insane and repress economic growth, even incentive for innovation....but that said, I think you need to look at the big picture and esp. the U.S., which last I checked had a GINI index which put us on the level of Zimbabwe or some hell hole in terms of income inequality. The U.S. used to have high social mobility numbers and now that also is on the level of a 3rd world status, but I think all nations went heavily into more debt due to the financial crisis, our pal, corporate welfare, the Banksters...

so ya know, take the good, leave the bad is my own philosophy but I think pulling out data from 20 years ago isn't quite fair.

We debunked your "I never got seriously ill" health savings account with catastrophic insurance some time ago.

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The point being that all economic theories

ebb and flow. Now Robert, it is a supercilious argument to expect us to believe we are on par with Zimbabwe. I travel a lot in this country and i can tell you we are no Zimbabwe. Yes we do have urban hell holes? 

I give Finland 10 years before its unfunded benefits and pension liability eat their lunch. It is something that is about to eat the USA. Yep that HSA catastrophic plan is still chugging along and I have a hell of a lot of money in that account. SO you address the USA middle class mobility problem, which I agree with but totally gloss over what WiKi said "In 2008, the OECD reported that "the gap between rich and poor has widened more in Finland than in any other wealthy industrialized country over the past decade"

Or should I not use WiKi?

Picking cherries? You pick cherries too by picking out what you feel is working but don't address what is NOT working in those countries. So if it is ok for you to do...it is ok for me to do. :)

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GINI coefficients

Ah, it's Uruguay, wrong country....you have to scroll down to the bottom of the list here to see the income inequality GINI coefficients, which I sorted by CIA statistics. That is The United States way at the bottom, rolling around with the other nations with the greatest income inequality.

List of Countries by Income Equality.

Your cherry picking of Finland is getting a little old, for that country has a major problem being way to GDP output dependent on Nokia.

Also ignoring the 100%, 150% debt ratios of other countries with supposed "freedom" to make sure their sick, disabled and poor suffer and die with no government available help is cherry picking.

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Robert if I had a magic wand I would

bring back Main Street (mom and pop stores) and Walmart would go back to what it once was. I would stop having everything hinge on how well Wall Street is doing. I would have family farms and not mega corp farms.

Uruguay? I play music with a guy from Argentina. I'll need to ask why his parents moved to the USA and not over to Uruguay.

CIA World Book Infant mortality rate:

Uruguay 11.32 deaths/1,000 live births

USA  6.22 deaths/1,000 live births

Uruguay hm? Almost double infant deaths compared to the USA. What is that all about?

 CIA World Book USA Net migration rate:

USA  4.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

Uruguay Net migration rate:  -0.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

It seems Uruguay has a negative migration rate, I guess they need a good marketing plan because the people are missing out on the good GINI stats.

Odd that such a good GINI produces this in Uruguay Population below poverty line:  27.4% of households (2006)

USA Population below poverty line: 12% (2004 est.) Hm? Uruguay seems to have a 200% higher stat of people below poverty line.

Maybe there is a bit more under the covers of the GINI and its equality? Gotta check Costa Rica. I have friends and relatives that have retired down there.

Although South American politics does have a history of nasty political activities. Even in Uruguay......................... "A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement named the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to cede control of the government to the military in 1973. By year end, the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985"

But you and I can both cherry pick all day long.  Economies be they societies that have a bent toward Socialism and those that don't will all have ups and downs.

Even Cuba is getting into the business of using health insurance to control nationalized plan expenditures.  To me it is a move that helps save their National Plan from getting cannibalized by non-residents.

Cuba to require medical insurance for visitors
07 Mar 2010 05:03:48 GMT

Source: Reuters

HAVANA, March 6 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Cuba will require visitors to buy health insurance if they want to enter the country, according to a new government measure disclosed on Saturday.

Under the measure, which takes effect in May, the insurance will be sold by foreign companies approved by the Cuban government or by Cuban firms at ports of entry to the communist-led island, the government said in the online edition of Cuba's Official Gazette."

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Just absolutely absurd

Look, useless cherry picking argument is just not my cup of tea. and trying to deny the huge income inequality in the U.S. with spurious factoids is just that.

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Words mean things

"People's Movement" != "Socialism" != "Communism"

People throw around words these days without any obvious understanding of them. This is especially true of people on the right.
The other day I had a discussion with someone about socialism and he pointed me towards a web site about totalitarianism, as if they were one and the same.

Sweden is socialist. Does it look like a communist state to you? Does it look totalitarian?
The roots of socialism are democratic.

As for "people's movement" that could mean all sorts of things, including Mussolini fascism - the opposite of democratic socialism.

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Not limited to "people on the right"

Midtowng, I know you did not say limited to, but "especially true of" people on the right. I just want to give an example from the left. I asked a poster on AARP (yes, I know, hardly the best source for knowledgeable posts, but interesting as a window on what older folks are thinking) who had used the word "capitalist" in an emotionally loaded way, what she meant by it. Her reponse (lack of singular/plural agreement sic.): "my definition of a capitalist is greedy,
naysayer, rich, Republicans that have tax loop holes out the wahzoo and don't pay their fair share of taxes and yet want to keep the people that pay their fair share of taxes from having affordable healthcare."
I agree with you that "words mean things" but they are also loaded and dangerous so it's often important to define them as we go.

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Ray Joiner

If the outcome of the up and

If the outcome of the up and coming elections increases Republican power and influence in Washington we will see them aggressively attack Obama as they did Clinton. The birthers will have more leverage to demand an investigation as to his qualification to be President etc... The attacks will not be based in fact. Remember Whitewater,filegate and travelgate were all ultimately found to be nothing. The damage was done. Obama will have a much different view on bi-partisanship if the Republicans increase their power. This is why he needs to prosecute the actual criminals that have destroyed our society and have killed our children. The real criminals will make Obama into a faux criminal. Bush/Cheney/Rove should all be prosecuted for deceiving us into Iraq and killing and maiming our children and not theirs. The Ratings Agencies need to be held accountable for "opining" the crap securities they rated their highest ratings were not crap. Being able to hide behind the legalism that they were only expressing their opinion and cannot be held accountable is ...(insert your worst cursing here) And all of those who tanked our economy need to be held accountable.

I am concerned that when all of the discontent finally pops, Obama is going to be so weakened by the right I am concerned about a rise of the fascist right. Americans have proven to be idiots. It won't take much in my estimation to get the God and Guns right wing motivated.

The breadth of the discontent is startling. People a fed up but do not know how or where to vent it. Voting for Obama gave a degree of hope and belief that things will change. The masses vented by voting for this hope and change. Yes we can ...

It is apparent that Obama has punked us so far in his first year. The vote for hope has changed to complete disgust. Our society was so fed up with the Bush/Cheney fiasco and Obama created a trance of ideals that we all hoped would come true. The level of anti-incumbency is vast. If the right gains any power in November, Obama is doomed to be destroyed.

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Valium Prevents Protest

In a sense not directly.

Valium is the social safety net which keeps people docile.

Valium is drugs being allowed into the country while 'the war' feeds the police/prison industrial complex. This keeps healthy younger people jailed rather than working or addicted.

Valium is the fact that no one can afford to miss a mortgage payment these days even a credit union can't suspend a payment anymore. This can be replaced with any number of other things point being unions cannot afford to strike.

Valium is also a fear of whats becoming a police state. People are afraid here to take any actions similar to this here. Dire consequences here. Homeland security is a double edged sword.

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This is why ....

Sorry to say, the SEC, like Treasury, is completly captured by Wall Street, just as governments the world over are captured by the multi-national banks who own their central bank "Oracles".
As you surely know from what you've written, the Fox is in charge of henhouse security. These people are not in jail because those who would put them there are either in on it, or too frightened or weak to take a stand.
The honest folks who are outraged, like you and I, are so outnumbered (between the crooks and the brain-dead) that if we planned to 1776 these Imperials, it would be a suicide mission....for now....

Keep up the good work though. As more and more people smell the coffee and wake up, "for now" becomes "back then".
-WM
http://letthemfail.us

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Follow-up to the Indonesia story

It's a disgrace that a country that Indonesia has put us to shame when it comes to justice and political accountability.

Indonesian's parliament called for a criminal investigation into a $715 million government bank bailout in a vote that a newspaper described Thursday as a major blow to President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono.
...
Government ministers with closest involvement in the bailout are key Yudhoyono allies: Vice President Boediono, a former central bank governor who goes by a single name, and Finance Minister Sri Mulayani Indrawati. All three have denied any wrongdoing.
National police spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Aritonang said police would follow the recommendations and launch an investigation.

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Because the SEC is too busy busting Psychics!

Seriously! Why go after the big fish, with mountains of evidence when you can go chase after psychics!

Just a scream, if only they would go after the 101 pundits out there and as Zerohedge notes, CNBC in terms of stock advice would be a prime target....

Anyone graph out CNBC picks against psychics predictions?

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Another take on the financial crisis

Once someone figures out a good way at approaching this issue, they are going to head a very powerful political movement. The question will be what they intend to do with it.

The debate about fixing the financial crisis seems to be missing a key factor -- a broad ethical discussion of what is the right and wrong thing to do in a modern economy.
This omission stands out at a time when a survey by the World Economic Forum, host of the glittering annual Davos summits of the rich and powerful, says two-thirds of those queried think the crunch is also a crisis of ethics and values.
Voters in western countries may have a gut feeling that huge bonuses and bank bailouts are somehow unfair, but politicians seem unable to come up with a solid response that reflects it, according to a group trying to kickstart an ethics debate.
"People have strong emotions about right and wrong - that sense of justice is hard-wired into the way we view the world," Madeleine Bunting, one of three founders of the Citizen Ethics Network launched in London last week, told Reuters.
"Our politics have lost the capacity to connect with that kind of emotion," said Bunting, associate editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper.
"Politics has become very technocratic and managerial, all about who's going to deliver more economic growth."

The trick is how to approach this issue without moralizing. You would think that the religious right would be best positioned, but they've sold out to the people who are doing the stealing.
What we need is a religious left. What ever happened to them?

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The Great Political Mystery to me

is how they melded those Draconian anti-women agenda items with religion and then managed to meld that to multinational corporate agendas.

What's the Matter with Kansas describes this all pretty well.

It also kind of kidnapped spirituality, religion for the rest of America too....

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Sad, Isn't It?

"The debate about fixing the financial crisis seems to be missing a key factor -- a broad ethical discussion of what is the right and wrong thing to do in a modern economy."

And this an indictment of a lack of an even broader moral discussion of Western culture at large. Not so surprizing when religion is driven by its environment into a purely private sphere, eh?

"You would think that the religious right would be best positioned, but they've sold out to the people who are doing the stealing."

But here you have - at least in its public presentation - an utter self-abandonment by those most prominent in these precincts, the Dobsons, Colsons, Lands, and Neuhauses. So controlled by the behaviors they eschew have they become that they have either forgotten all about where they are grounded or they've managed successfully to rationalize it. Perhaps the very best illustration of this rather sad state of affairs was to be found in the dance James Dobson did when he announced his support of the Bush stem-cell decision in the Summer of 2001. Having day after day denounced government funding of stem-cell research on his radio program, Dobson turned on a dime with the Bush decision, one that contemplated such funding for certain stem cell lines. So important to him was his Republican identity that it crushed his alleged "Christian" underpinings. One was almost reminded of the razor sharp turn taken by Communist parties worldwide when Stalin announced his 1939 deal with Hitler. And the betrayal didn't end there, it continued on into his support for pre-emptive war and his curious silence on the morality of friend Ralph Reed's connections with convicted lobbyist, Jack Abramov. Dobson and the people that are identified with him at the leadership of today's Evangelical Christianity are an embarrassment to Jesus Christ. The parallels here to the ReichsChurch of 1930s Germany ought to be as clear as crystal.

"What we need is a religious left. What ever happened to them?"

No, what we need are honest-to-goodness Christians, those that transcend mere ideology, and there are many more of them than you might suspect.

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