Friday, July 24, 2009

Bill Maher;When did everything become about profit

Bill Maher has a great column up on asking the question when did everything become about making a profit.

He argues there was a time in America where things like hospitals were run by nuns, who were not in it for the profit, while today "In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They're not hospitals anymore; they're Jiffy Lubes with bedpans." These conglomorates now have publicly trades stock. So when they deny you care the stock goes up and someone makes a profit.

Prisons used to be run by the governemnt, not for a profit, not anymore."A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that's where all the real crime is happening anyway."

Every aspect of war used to be handled by the soldiers. Today there are more private contracters in our war zones than soldiers.

"Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite's day. I thought, "Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it." "

"If conservatives get to call universal health care "socialized medicine," I get to call private health care "soulless vampires making money off human pain.""

"And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what's wrong with firemen? Why don't they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

cheney Assissination Squads

This past week in the news had stories about the previous Vice President Dick Cheney running an assassination ring out of his office. Jeremy Scahill writes a nice piece discussing how the W. Bush Presidencey was not the first nor the last to target people around the world for assassination.

Friday, July 17, 2009

California nurses still on job after years of misconduct

Doing some research this week for an article about the health care reform comming up in congress when I came across this article at propublica, a great research website.

The article talks about the problems facing California States Nursing Board, where a few board members were fired this week by the Governator.

The problem was;

" board charged with overseeing California's 350,000 registered nurses often takes years to act on complaints of egregious misconduct, leaving nurses accused of wrongdoing free to practice without restrictions, an investigation by The Times and the nonprofit news organization ProPublica found.

It's a high-stakes gamble that no one will be hurt as nurses with histories of drug abuse, negligence, violence and incompetence continue to provide care across the state. While the inquiries drag on, many nurses maintain spotless records. New employers and patients have no way of knowing the risks."

"Among the findings:

* The board took more than three years, on average, to investigate and discipline errant nurses, according to its own statistics. In at least six other large states, the process typically takes a year or less.

* The board failed to act against nurses whose misconduct already had been thoroughly documented and sanctioned by others. Reporters identified more than 120 nurses who were suspended or fired by employers, disciplined by another California licensing board or restricted from practice by other states – yet have blemish-free records with the nursing board.

* The board failed to use its authority to immediately stop potentially dangerous nurses from practicing. It obtained emergency suspensions of nurses' licenses just 29 times from 2002 to 2007. In contrast, Florida's nursing regulators, who oversee 40% fewer nurses, take such action more than 70 times each year"

I suggest you check out the full story. Scary Scary stuff.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Inside look at Wall street

Matt Taibbi is getting a lot of press over his new article in rolling stone about how Goldman Sachs has created every bubble in the stock market since the great depression. In an interview with Sam Ceder he talks about the recent housing bubble and tech bubble of the 90's.

One major issue that Matt touches on is a change in the culture of Wall Street beginning in the early 90's. He argues that that is the time when most investment banks went public with stocks. So the investment banks began to gamble with other peoples money and not so much of their own, as had been the case in the past.

With the tech bubble of the 90's, Matt argues the standard for taking companies public and selling their stock to the World was dropped. So that in the past when companies were taken public they had to meet certain criteria, you had to be around for 5 years, you had to be profitable for 3 years, and you must have great potential to be profitable in the future. In the 90's companies were created the day their stock went public. The world bought these stocks trusting in the investment banks that took them public. Who was the largest undewriter(who took them public), for these tech companies, Goldman Sachs.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Goldman's unfair market play

A story came out this week that a worker at Goldman Sachs bank left for a new job but stole some code before leaving. The computer code that was stolen was for a computer program full of math algorithms that was used by Goldman to trade stocks. Two things are very interesting about this story.
The first is that Goldman called up the Justice Department to have the theif arrested because he would have an unfair advantage in the stock market by having this computer program. Yet Bloomberg news' Jonathan Weil asks, why is Goldman not getting any flack for having this unfair advantage to begin with? So only investment banks are legally allowed to have unfair market advantage.

Second is that this man was arrested within 48 hours of Goldman Sachs calling in the crime to the Justice Department. Talk about pull in the government. How long would it take for our calls to no even be acted on but just listened to?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hondorus Coup

Last week the Military in Hondorus walked into the presidents home, put him on a plane at gun point and flew him to Costa Rica with a warning, if you return to Hondorus you will be arrested. The military is making the claim that they are restoring Democracy, but that does not seem to be the case.

Their is war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, trouble brewing in Pakistan, a revolution in Iran. Over the past few years we saw Coup like shananigans in Georgia, Ukraine, and Venzuala, and Haiti. Do we still have to pay attention to all these coups? Is Hondorus any different. Im not sure yet.

But the one difference that I have seen in Venezuala lead by Hugo Chavez, and Hondorus lead by the former President Manuel Zelaya is the way they have actually delivered on their promise to give back to the poor everyday man and women in their nation. For example Zelaya of Hondorus increased minimum wage by 60%. And Venezuala's Chavez created such a good economic model that 60% of the population, the poorest members of society, saw their income grow by 130%.

This of course has the effect of taking away from someone. In Venezuala and Hondorus the losers were the rich, elite, businessmen. The elite of Hondorus owns 45% of the countries wealth. Does that seem fair?

I believe this is a problem for the American elite. They cannot sit by and watch the poor of Venezuala democratically elect leaders that will roll back centuries woth of Western elite philosophy, being that the rich should take a larger and larger share of the pie. Venezualians and Hondorans and Iranians are standing up and saying we are fed up with having small sections of our nation own almost everything, and who are able to have laws passed to legally make the rich a more important class. The elite in the US better wise up or they will be next to be chewed up by the working poor of America.

FDR gave back to the poor not because he was a kind hearted man but because he had to throw some scraps to the poor or else the whole scam being run by the American elite could have came tumpling down.

In the United States for example the richest 1% own more than the poorest 90%. This is not fair, this is not right, and this is not what the United States is all about. A cool teacher i had at Nassua Community said you cannot have vastly wealthy nations like the United States without having poor nations in her wake. Well the same goes for inside the United States. You cannot have the extremely rich owning it all without the extremely poor owning nothing.

This becomes a philisophical debate. Do you take away the wealth and redistribute it? How do you do that without sending a message that says, if you work too hard and become too much of a success the government will take away your shit. How do you also deal with the opposite message being sent, you can sit on your ass and do nothing and the government will provide.

Maybe Communism is best. Everyone gets the same. Im not so worried about the argument that says where is the incentive to work hard and innovate. For one, we can give bonuses, or set up some kind of system that turns innocators and hard workers into superstars, using the same system we have that makes movies stars and professional athletes the bees knees.

But what is the deal with working only for money. What happened to good old pride and work ethics. A coworker of mine is constantly saying, "well i wouldnt worry about it we dont get paid that much to go overboard". I just cant wrap my head around that line of reasoning. I work hard no matter what job or how little the pay. I do it for personal pride and ethics. I believe if you slack off in one area of life it will spread to others areas of your life.

And what about reputation. Would you like to be known as the worker people can call on to get things done or the worker that does just enough to get by who is rarely in his office, cannot be gotten on the phone and does not return emails.

What happened to the guy who goes to work to kick ass to make American and his neihborhood better. Am I the last one? I hope not.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Virginity Surgery in Iran

I read an interesting article that i wanted to pass on about a surgery becoming very popular in Iran. The surgery is called Hymen repair. The purpose is for women who have had sex before marriage to have an operation that will repair a torn hymen. Googling hymen repair i found a site that says the hymen in that womens vagina is torn during their first sexual experience. The surgery repairs this tear, and will even insert red dye packets to simulate the women bleeding during her first time.

The author of the article quotes some young men in Tehran who dont mind sleeping around before marriage but would only marry a virgin. They also admit the surgery is so popular and sex so prevelant that their are no more virgins left in Tehran.

Friday, July 3, 2009

how the US government works III

The US Govnernment sets policy. Groups lobby the Government to get their policy ideas adoptoed by the Government. The more money and power you have the more pull you have when it comes to lobbying. Most groups, like say a health insurance company who wants to lobby will follow a few protocals. They will donate money to political campains. They will establish front groups to act like independent research outfits spewing out facts that support the health insurance companies stance. And the most imporant piece is for the insurance company to hire Grade A lobbyists, who are very powerful, retired politicians, who a) understand how policy is made, and b) have friends still making policy. Oh yea i forgot the other way is for the insurance company to promise to hire the politicians who help them put the policy into law, with very large salaries, after said law is made. Some call this a bribe.

Some companies, ahem ahem, Goldman Sachs, Ahem, have so much power that they skip to the head of the line. Matt Taibbi, a reporter with the Rolling Stones Magazine has a great peice coming out about the power of Goldman Sachs, over the past hundred years. But more importantly, Goldman has slowly been placing its loyal worker bees throughout the halls of power, so that when Goldman wants policy made they just ask the Treasury and its done, no congress, no vote, no democracy.

Matt tells the story that in 2004 Goldman asked the Treasury Department (which was run by ex Goldman CEO Paulson), to allow them a loophole so they dont have to follow the regulations requiring 1 dollar to physically be in your bak for every 12 dollars the bank lends out. Paulson simply walked over the SCC, the bank regulaters, asked for an exemption for four banks and was granted it. The end result being that now these four banks were able to lend out money without having any money physically in their bank.

Some gig huh. Well at least for two of the banks. Because the other two are no longer operating, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Sterns. As Bruno would say, "Coincidence, I think not."

Must be sweet to have that much pull. What would you ask for with that much pull? I would ask for all these banking shmoes, all the oil company execs, all the health insurance deniers (of claims, not those who deny the existance of health insurance, that would be an interested Dave Chappelle skit), to be investigated and arrested along with all the government officials who act in a manner unbecoming of a US representative.

That would be a good idea for a movie. A few regular guys that have more pull with the government than anyone else. And anything they ask for they get.

What would you ask for?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Inside peak into how the US Government works

The Republican party has a major philosophy that the government cannot run things, that private industry would do much better. So right now when President Obama is trying to sell his idea of universal healthcare to the American public that would be run by the government the Republican opposition has an easy sell to their supporters,"its a bad idea because the government cant run anything, they would just mess it up."

But an article by Thomas Frank highlights and idea that Democrats have been trying to discuss for years, that maybe when Republicans have control of the Legislative and Executive branches of the government they make sure the government fails to prove their point. Thomas Frank points out that all the time periods the Republicans point to and say look we told you so, the government failed, is a time period when Republicans controlled the branches of government.

As a response to the budget crisis going on now in California, the state had public meetings where any citizen could walk up to the microphone and talk to their local representatives, to tell them how the budget cuts are effecting them and their town. One lady stood up and yelled at the representatives, "if you dont believe in government step aside and let some one who does believe in government to step up and try to fix the problem.

When President Bush spent the nation into the largest deficit in the history of our country, many on the left argued it was part of a grande Republican strategy to spend all the money so when Democrats take back the reign of power they will have no money to impliment any of their ideas.

And when the Democrats are trying to spend their way out of this economic crisis as FDR did to save this country, what is the Republican response? How dare you spend so much money, the country can't handle it. It's hysterical, yet i know people who walk around repeating this mantra, "Barrack Obama is spending too much money, he is ruining this country."

check out Thomas Frank is a rare bread among political writers.