I’ve thought about it for two days now, since seeing a tweet from the DAV asking, What does freedom mean to you after so many have died protecting it? or something close to that.
Maybe my thinking is skewed by so much of the GOP garbage being spewed out right now, or the Brexit nightmare next door across the pond, but I retweeted that freedom to me means not being beat half to death every other day in my own home as has happened most of my adult life in America.
But isn’t that really the way it is? During my adult life, I’ve never lived in a prosperous America where equal opportunity awaited. I’ve not enjoyed the freedoms to purpose my life in some way that is given respect and opportunity with some accompanying success. It has not been like that.
And, maybe because all the best of the best men were sent to fight in wars throughout my teen to adult years, leaving behind a store unattended to be vilely ravaged by any pantywaist son of a bitch left behind, is why many women including me, have been at the negative end of human behaviors and men’s choices.
As Fourth of July approaches, and I’m thinking about those freedoms which I hold so dear that so many have fought and died to protect for me and for my family, I am grateful to them for doing that and grateful to their families for doing without them while they did that for us.
But, at the same time, I recognize that for the vast majority of my adult life, I’ve lived in a third world America and much of its riches and opportunities, prosperity and access to wealth, business “equality” and opportunities were as inaccessible as to the point they may have well not existed at all.
And, even though I did make every effort to act on those opportunities, had I been a man rather than a woman – resources would have been available to me that otherwise were not and still are not today.
So, on top of being vilified as the reason America’s downfall has occurred by every right wing extremist radio show host making $78 million a year or more to spew misogynistic, racist and bigoted views into the public’s mind, I’ve consistently heard that there is no reason to support any efforts I might make either. It is obscene.
I’ve watched as churches, politicians, extremists, violent right wing proponents, conservatives, radio show hosts, right wing tv news stations, right win pundits, Tea Party and GOP ultra conservatives have blamed me and women like me for everything wrong with this country short of the weather.
At the same time they were (and are) blaming us, it is while refusing to make good to me (or us) on any of the freedoms, diversity inclusions, equality, equal rights, equal opportunities, business opportunities, business funding, business resources, freedom of speech and thought, freedom of movement, freedom of religion or anything else they maintain for themselves and the corporations at my expense.
Unbelievably, I’ve never been in a position to deny contracts worth millions to an American industry as many GOP and right wing business people have. And to deny those contracts to American businesses literally cost their demise, denied them access to necessary sales to thrive and to survive.
And yet, supposedly their freedom to do that comes with no accountability at all because now the businessman running for President claims to be for supporting American businesses and people claim it must be true.
So, the perverse men running things at high levels of the right wing camp, as politicians, as political candidates, as political and economic policy makers and as CEOs of corporations, banks and oil companies, they get to lie, to vilify, to incite violence, to worship those like Gaddafi who were truly evil tyrants and give them the best of everything our country has to offer – but me, I’m considered the bad guy in their scheme of things.
Apparently, I am (and other women like me), the enemy they claim – not themselves, not their own habits and perverse diversions, not their sexual escapades, not their lack of compassion and empathy, not their choices, not their ideas and not their incapacity to know what is right. Yeah, freedom.Theirs, not mine.
And, I look at businesses that are hugely profitable making no efforts to restore or invest in the infrastructure in America that they used up, tore up, overused, misused, required for their business, didn’t make, didn’t secure, didn’t keep safe, didn’t make better, didn’t fix, didn’t maintain, didn’t design, didn’t invest in the first place and didn’t support the tax funding for any of us to do anything to keep it going or make it better either.
They were given that freedom, not me or others like me. We weren’t given the grants, tax breaks, tax schemes, resources, supports and teams of people that they had to make their profits and to make them profitable from the first step and at every place throughout the process – even after establishing good profitability.
Nope, I didn’t get any of that, nor will my daughters or sons or friends, or anyone I know, in fact. Why is that? It seems obvious that had I been given $4 million to work with, my business would look a lot different and be doing much better today than it is with nothing but my efforts and the couple hundred dollars a month I can put into it.
Obviously, I wasn’t given the freedoms that these other businesses had, from start to finish to cover every operating cost, salary, overhead, piece of equipment, materials, advertising, promotion and marketing, raw material, shipping costs and every other damn thing possible they could think of. Plus their attorney fees, land acquisitions, buildings, building funds for their new buildings, software and computers, machinery, automation, consultants, accountants and entire workforce costs.
And, then when profitable, these same corporations paid less taxes than any single or married individual in America pays while using up more of every single thing we have. Unbelievable. Is that supposed to be the freedom I have that veterans fought for? The freedom o watch as my nation has been raped, pillaged, plundered by marauding business leaders, junk bond raiders, bankers, Wall Street brokers, politicians and right wing extremists, fascists and neo-nazis? And some of that time, I personally suffered at their hands even in my own home?
Is that the freedoms that were the result of those fights – to be saddled with student loans forever that are resold and resold and resold until I owe $30,000 for a $2300 loan, and never get to be employed nor employable, to never get to buy a house or own any successful business, to never be accepted or a part of the America I love? Is that it? Because that is not just my experience, but that of many, many women across this country – those freedoms that our nation’s soldiers have fought for have been hijacked to belong to only a few and those few are so perverse in so many ways, that it leaves my mind reeling to even try and understand any of it.
For nearly all of the thirty some odd years before President Obama took office, this nation has been run literally into the ground by Republicans from the Federal level to nearly every state government and by extreme right wing conservatives, by extremist conservatives and right wing religious viewpoints and their religions, by elitist economic policies, by inequality perpetrated by the wealthier few and their insistence that everyone in America must be the same, do the same, act the same, think the same, speak the same, look the same and live the same as them or be disenfranchised, excluded, isolated, demeaned, vilified, discredited, defunded, economically impoverished and restrained from economic opportunity, subjugated, devalued, demonized, criminalized, subjected to “mental health behavior modification” programs, disparaged, discouraged, suppressed, ruined, destroyed, decimated, and beaten nearly to death or literally beaten to death.
And, the GOP, the right wing proponents, the Republican Party politicians and pundits, the right wing propaganda machine with all its tentacles, the churches they’ve hijacked, the Tea Party grass roots movement they hijacked and every other social institution they’ve been running, have literally been given the freedoms to do whatever they damn well please to anybody for any reason at any time.
And they have so many reasons to hate, vilify and demean, that their freedoms allow them to perpetrate their decimating tactics across a broad swath of the American population – the reasons for them being hateful and destructive to individuals and various groups of people being the only real difference. I’ve dealt with it for over forty years now and frankly, I’m sick of it. Those right wing bastards are not “real” Americans, no matter what they say that makes a claim to that.
Nor are they right. Beating homeless people to death is not the freedoms that men and women have died to protect. Beating women in their own homes and excluding them from economic opportunities, raping, pillaging whatever she owns or giving her nothing for it rather than fair market value and destroying her household are not the freedoms our soldiers have died to protect. That isn’t it at all.
And those freedoms that the extreme right wing and its GOP political machine are claiming in order to act on hate and to incite violence based on their hate mongering ideologies, are not happening in an isolation that is without consequence, no matter what it seems to the people doing it and to those inciting others to do it..
The freedoms won by our US Constitution and Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, as well as all the wars that have been fought defending them have managed to secure the freedoms that the extremists and extreme right wing proponents enjoy that allow them to do whatever they like to whomever they like, but for the rest of us? No, I would not call the shit, horrors and poverty I’ve experienced in America at the hands of “their freedoms” to have honored the freedom that was supposed to be mine.
But, I still love America. And, at least today – I can say something about it, so that is something that was worthy of the lives lost protecting my rights and freedom.
How To Paint Ocean Waves 3 –
By Cricket Diane C. Phillips
Do you remember standing still at the ocean trying to capture every sound and every nuance of light and color dancing on the waves?
Can you feel the spray that lightly touched your face when you walked in the shallow surf where the waves were bouncing with foam nearby?
Have you thought about the feelings of what you were seeing when the ocean waves pulled into the sand near you and tugged their way back out again?
Are you reminded of the vastness of the ocean as you had looked at the horizon with its light haze and depth of surface color in the sea?
When you remember what it was like at the ocean – can you recall its colors, its feeling, the color of the sky and the ways it changed moment by moment?
These are the things you need to know in order to paint ocean waves and capture the feeling of the scenes you remember. The ideas of time and change are all in you – they are in your memories and you can recall them. Every moment at the sea, there is change – there is motion – there is a feeling, an essence and an idea that is captured in your memories. It isn’t only what you felt at the time, or your thoughts, or what was happening in your life at that time. There is something of the sea and the ocean’s spirit and power that is there too.
Sometimes, when I create – there is nothing but a request to my mind for a memory, a feeling or an essence of a time at the ocean. There is a sunset that comes to my mind with a looming storm beyond the horizon whose clouds are catching the last rays of the sun in brilliant colors against a lavender sky. There is a time when I was afraid to stand on the shore because the power of the waves crashing into the sand were so much greater than me and the winds drove the salty spray of the waves into my skin stinging as it came. But the colors – ooh the colors of that moment drove me to distraction to understand their shades and hues and subtleties. The sand felt different, the sea felt distant, though I stood right beside her, and the sky was filled with unusual textures and colors that I would love to describe in paint.
There are intricacies to painting which are like nothing else because from the mind of the artist directly to the mind of the viewer there is no boundary – no wall – no caption or remark to make. It is a direct route of communication without limitation in an immediate, encompassing sense. The best way to describe this is for you to choose a moment to capture in paint, let go of all your pre-conceived notions of how to go about it, let go and paint it. Make it so. Let the paint describe all of what you saw, all of what you experienced and all of what you felt in that moment. Push all the judgements about how it should be done or how it should look – out of your mind and let the paint be an extension of what you know. Then let someone see it and see what they see. There is nothing you can say that will add to their experience with it. The moment they have seen it, something has passed between your mind and theirs directly. Infinitely, genuinely and honestly – they have been given some part of that experience as you remembered it. If you want words for what they have seen – ask them, but often words fail to accurately describe experiences like this and many people fall back on whether they like it or not and try to get you to talk more about it.
Do you remember the sky, the day you stood at the ocean on a summer day? Can you feel the warmth of the sand under your feet and the clean smell of the gentle breeze that brought the sounds of people drifting on it?
Did you ever walk on the beach at night or wade in the water as the sun was sinking below the horizon? Do you remember the sparkly little foam that you kicked halfway across to the moon as you walked in the cool water with the wet sand tugging under your feet at each step? Can you recall what the sky looked like as the moon and stars lit the sea like thousands of tiny diamonds bobbing up and down with each little crest of a wave?
There are thousands of moments in each day and as we stand in the realm of the ocean’s power – her force is evident in seemingly infinite changes within each of those moments to everything surrounding her. The sky isn’t the same from one moment to the next – the colors fade toward the horizon one moment and some other time – the hue is deeper there. The foam on the sand ebbs and flows with the surf, but the reflections in it are never the same. Wet sand, dry sand are definitely different colors – yet, warm sand is many shades and cold sand seems grey whether it is or not.
Set up a horizon on the surface to paint.
Remember a moment to capture.
Define the sky with colors, swirls, textures, clouds and reflected light.
Play in the paint to achieve effects that describe details to include.
Stop touching it – the moment any part of it looks right.
Don’t fix it. Just do another one and each one will get better.
Enhance waves, shadows, contours and specific elements carefully – because it will change what you already have right.
And, last of all – remember – it is perfect because you did it this way today, this time and in capturing this one moment this way. Let it go and do another one.
May 2011 –
CricketDiane’s New Zazzle Store with products that have original cricketdiane artwork on them – ocean, flowers, paintings, photography, surrealism, weird and unusual, ugly mens’ ties, iPad covers and skateboard decks
Cricket D. Says – “Grow a Green Thing – Save The Sea”
If everyone plants as many leafy plants as they can inside and out – we could save our oceans.
Plants are the original nano-material for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and safe, usable nutrients.
We may not be able to put back trees as fast as they are being torn down in our communities – but we can make a difference by planting as many green things as we can – hostas, ferns, flowers, evergreens, vines like philodendrons, morning glories and ivys, vegies and treelings.
Plant five Green Things a week in your yard. If we all do that throughout the summer and fall across America, we can start lowering the carbon dioxide levels that are affecting our oceans. It will improve our air quality, too.
Add plants indoors, on porches, in windows, and in offices and businesses, too. It could buy the time our scientists, inventors and engineers need to implement the green solutions they’ve created.
Clip your plants and start new ones from them. Plant seeds and nursery seedlings. Add mulch for fertilizer. Plant roses and shrubs. Divide plants and make two or three from each. Its easy and fun. Children might help but its time for the grown-ups to lead the way.
Grow a Green Thing (or two) and Save The Seas.
Written by Cricket Diane C Phillips
Cricket House Studios – 2008
Feel free to forward this and please let’s help each other to get some stuff planted. Thanks!
As I’ve thought about this and about our nation giving $3.5 million dollars a day to Egypt, along with no telling how much else for a brutal dictatorship to be kept in power all this time, and after hearing the Republican comment on the news several days ago about how the protesters in Egypt had “bought into Obama’s rhetoric from his speech when he was there” and were acting on it – and having seen enough to know that the amount of money per day being paid out to Egypt and other countries with the same kinds of regimes is far in excess of that –
I just keep thinking about the words in the Pledge of Allegiance – and the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Oath our legislators, presidents, secretaries of agencies, staff of agencies, administration officials and foreign policy committees take – and the words keep rolling around in my mind.
Did they think those things were just “rhetoric”?
The current version of the Pledge of Allegiance reads:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
To be honest, the part I always had trouble with was that “indivisible” thing. I had trouble learning to spell it and trouble when I was younger, learning what it meant. How could I have had so much trouble understanding, “a thing which cannot be divided, is never to be divided, is to forever be one great thing together.” That is how it was explained where it finally made sense to me. I was about 5 years old, maybe younger when I must have asked thirty or forty adults, every time I had the chance, “what does indivisible mean?”
But, the part I didn’t have any trouble with understanding was that last part that says, “with Liberty and Justice for all,” and the fact that I was giving my “”oath,” (my full and complete commitment throughout the full course of my life,) to something greater than myself. The pledge of allegiance isn’t just something we stand and say in a classroom somewhere or before an event of some kind. Those moments standing with our hands over our hearts, heads up, singing our national anthem before football games or baseball games and other events, isn’t a meaningless display of “rhetoric” – that we believe in freedom sometimes for some people in some places under some conditions. That isn’t right.
“With Liberty and Justice For All” doesn’t mean nothing. In the hands and decisions of our legislators and past presidents, it may have meant nothing, but they were wrong. They were just plain wrong when they thought that and acted on it that way.
I understand that we live in a world of contrasts, of conflicting ideologies and disparate perspectives. I get that. But, when choices are made about how our nation uses our resources that we have individually given into a pool to serve our common good, we didn’t send those resources to Washington for other nations to use as a bank account.
“The Statue of Liberty isn’t called that by virtue of political rhetoric”
It is said that when you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. I think that needs to be expanded a bit to include this, “when the principles that you stand for aren’t applied properly, the results will indicate it. They won’t match up.”
When money is given to Israel and Egypt, (among others) and then used to brutalize people, it does not match up with the principles of democracy, liberty, freedom, human rights, civil rights, inalienable rights, universal human rights, dignity, value for human life, responsibility, equality, and America’s tenets of every single document underwriting our laws and beliefs.
Further, when that money is being used to sponsor brutality and the elite hoarding of resources in these nations, it is also not doing the things elsewhere that do underwrite our values. It is not making a level playing field in free market economies, it is not supporting our own economic foundations either, it is not ensuring our own domestic strengths, it is not being used to benefit our own people and nor is it supporting our own national interests.
It doesn’t match up.
Online, I can go and see the vast sums of money that is being appropriated, has been appropriated, has been sent, spent or just plain went wherever it went. I can go in person and find the vast reams of paper that have printed text, charts, graphs, logs of what the money did and what it was supposed to do, reports, final reports, declassified “secret” documents, and various other physical documentation of how our money was used. I can, (as anyone can), follow a trail to see whose hand appropriated it, argued for it and eventually, find out why that was done in that way by that person or the group who were backing them.
We have people and resources that can do that and are doing that all the time, even before having the internet widely available. There have been some legislators and even Presidential administration members that have found themselves in just as much trouble as many business leaders for the “insider trading” of our dollars and resources among the world’s nations and industries.
But, at its heart is the very thing I started talking about in this post and the post I made yesterday, (about Egypt and the money that has and is going to their ruling dictator and his cronies to brutalize their citizens and profit at their and our expense along with their Washington lobbyists paid to help them do it). The heart of why America’s leaders have in complicity made the wrong choices about what to do with our money and our resources is exactly the things that we’ve all heard them say. They have believed that those words in our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Pledge of Allegiance and other oaths to our nation, in our laws, in our founding principles, are just rhetoric – something to be used in a speech to get the job or to get the seat in Congress or to have the opportunities to be elected or in the case of businesses, to have expanded business profits and “sweet deals.” And to them, these tenets of America are just something to sound good when speaking before the cameras in a televised snippet on the news or in a speech somewhere around the world, or somewhere in the US, because it sounds good and people want to believe that these things matter.
The truth is, these things are being used as “rhetoric” by speechmakers because they know people have, or will, hire elected officials to stand up for these things, not because they are rhetoric but because applying these principles upon which our nation is founded means something to us.
That old saying about following the money and you can see what is important and who is behind it (and why), holds true. What will we find this time as we all see across the entire populations and leaders of the world, what America has done with our money for the last thirty years? What does it prove was important to our leadership who made those decisions and the parties who backed them?
What does it say about our business and corporate leaders? What does it say about our nation and our political leaders and those decision-makers who made these choices? And, what does it say has been done in our name, as the American people who are the bedrock and foundation of our nation?
Did the Washington, London and Geneva groups of decision-makers really believe they were buying “stability” with our resources? As they wined and dined themselves at our expense, and people were being beaten to death all across the world as a direct result of the power those financial and military resources gave, did those decision-makers really believe sponsoring police brutality, denial of human rights, destruction of families and communities, keeping vast multitudes of people in poverty, abuse of people throughout the world (and throughout the US, for that matter) was the “right thing to do”?
Is that right? That’s what they believed . . .?
That’s what they did.
That is what they did with our money and resources.
That is what they did with their decisions and their office of power.
That is what they did at our expense with our name and the money from our pockets.
That is what they chose.
That is what they wanted.
That is what they thought was right.
And, now I’m asking –
Why could that even have appeared to be right?
There is no “stability” from it. Those are not even the kinds of decisions that create stability, stable economies, stable nations, or stable societies. Those kinds of things didn’t work historically to create stability when decisions were made to brutalize populations and keep them impoverished, denying opportunities to many for the hoarding of resources by a few. It never worked. It doesn’t work this time, either. And, for the same reasons it didn’t offer stability in historic examples of it, these were known factors for the very results that would be likely by those making the decisions about it.
So, again – I’m asking, “why?”
Was it like the Wall Street bunch who thought they could simply get out before it all went to hell?
Did they think that if they put enough resources into place, that they could quash any rebellions of people rising up demanding their rightful participation in society such that the historic evidence of results could be waylaid?
Were none of the applications of education made to the decisions at hand when they were making them?
Did the decision-makers think it was all just a matter of rhetoric and perception management?
$3.5 million dollars a day for people to be beaten to a bloody pulp, tortured, abused, denied access to make a living, denied employment, denied their fundamental human rights, denied a place in the society to which they were born and to which they belong, and to make money for the rich and the richer and the richest, while keeping vast populations too poor to even have food, shelter, water, education and opportunity.
How dare you use America to do that.
And, don’t even say that I don’t understand.
I’ve already noticed that our business community and political leadership don’t believe in communist societies until it is time to get free labor or nearly free labor or cheap labor or not have to deal with unionized labor –
And, I’ve already noticed that our leaders and decision-makers have been pretty loosey-goosey about what they see as nothing but “rhetoric” when they are feeding caviar to their friends around the world on our dime –
And, it is pretty obvious where they got the money they are using to feed to their rich friends around the world, including in Egypt and Israel and Jordan and every damn where else –
State after State across the US have budget deficits. The Federal government says they cannot do this and cannot do that because cuts have to be made. Party candidates and representatives scream for the nation to be fifty sovereign separate entities and to remove all Federal domestic spending to “balance the budget.” Homeless people across the US in numbers that are staggering have few, if any opportunities. Vast unemployment across the US and inequity of resources has left millions without opportunities or access to make better lives for themselves.
Massive foreclosures on homes, many of which are being demolished now – are razed to the ground by communities given money to buy them but not money to save them for the families that had owned them, have devastated our nation at every level. Vast numbers of businesses, retailers, corporations, and long established companies have gone into bankruptcy, closed their doors or re-organized by closing multiple locations in their organizations.
Resources once in place for factories and businesses to produce things, including the production and factory line equipment have been sold for nearly nothing to countries around the world and now do not exist in our own country to use. It is no longer a matter of re-tooling a factory for production, the equipment, dies, production line, manufacturing robotics, specialty manufacturing processes and equipment would all have to be built or contracted from another country to be built “from scratch,” even to make a startup producing anything.
Patents and intellectual property once in the control and management of the US and for our citizens’ employment opportunities, and for our business profits to be made – have now been stripped from companies that were either sold to other nations or offered in “fire sales” to raise needed money without resulting in saving the companies who did it that way.
Well, I would say –
At the rate of hundreds of billions of dollars going out every single day to the rest of the world from our States coffers and our Federal tax dollars, and with hundreds of billions of dollars a day going also to these same places from everywhere any other resources exist, from the UN, the UK, the EU, from every agency of the US and state governments, from the IMF, and from vast business / industry groups as well –
These are lists of retailers which have gone under in the US only in 2008-2009.
A note from a website about arms sales from the US – (and appropriations for it) –
When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003—a full 80%—were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.
(also from that page – about US foreign military aid and other funds flowing out of the US coffers to foreign nations)
It has become more difficult to get more recent data, since the FAS stopped presenting their analysis in 2006. Ever since, it is necessary to go to the source data from the US State Department. The State Department is not consistent year-by-year in its data presentation. Entities change, departments change, and file names change. Each year presents a new puzzle, as to how to find the data. (etc.)
One third of ALL US AID
goes to Israel and Egypt.
These 2 countries receive
one-third of the total
aid, the majority of which
pays for armaments.
Yet, neither is a “developing” country.
A note from an earlier blog post about – “innovating in America”
In fact, imagine what happens when I want to create a business. As an example – There is a need that I see for a person to be able to go into any store and buy something which would show up at another store in another state or another location across town. I know their computers are tied together and they are part of the same corporate entity. But, I also know that they are sometimes franchise stores, that their inventory systems are not necessarily the same in every state and that their financial systems do not integrate from store to store. I think this could be fixed with a bit of software which could be designed and then sold to the store’s corporate headquarters to do this job for them. It would serve their customers. It would serve my needs and my family’s needs when we want to buy groceries or formula for for a daughter or son or grandbaby or friend or someone somewhere in some other state. It would allow us to purchase a fan or heater or air conditioner here where we live that they could go to their local store and simply pick up to have it right now on the same day. We could buy tires for their car when the tires are so bald that they aren’t safe anymore and pay for them to be picked up near the college where they are living or in the state where they decided to runoff to in order to have some freedom from us.
It is true, that between what I know and what other people who can do programming know, that we could create the software to do this. That is a fact. It is a good innovation. That is also a fact. I can even write a business plan to show how it would make money and project revenues for it with something less than a lie and fairly close to the reality of what costs it would have and sales it could make. However, then what happens?
And, the text from that blog entry goes on to explain some of what happens and the insurmountable obstacles which have been placed in the way of anyone in America creating their own business –
But what happens if it is the King of Saudi Arabia, or Mr. Netanyahu, or Mr. Mubarak and his goon squads – Hmmm……. Let’s see. Despite the fact that they can both personally, and economically from their own nation’s resources start up such a business, or provide the capital for it to be accomplished – they call America and get the money that I couldn’t even access one millionths of one tenth thousandths of a micro-fraction of one percent of – in order to do it, when in fact, for the price of the caviar they throw away from their tables alone, just about all of Georgia’s state budget could be provided for our entire population to prosper for several years.
Well, what do I want to do about this?
Let me think.
Yes, I’ve thought of some things –
One, of course – is to do nothing and let America fall to its indentured servitude in slavery to its Mid-Eastern and Asian masters. The leaders we’ve had and their viewpoints and decisions sold us to them and now here we are . . .
Two, would be to bring a class-action suit against the appropriations members who have decided to consistently give our money away to ruthless and already well-funded dictators against every known law and principle our nation has. That is certainly a possibility that would hold them individually and collectively responsible for what they’ve done. It would have to reach back at least thirty years and include the advisors and their political backers who told them to do it that way in antithesis of everything our nation stands for. And maybe add “collusion” with those dictators and corporate interests involved, in the charges.
Yes, that would be good.
At the very least, the world would see that the American people do not agree with things being done that way and let the people around the world know that we do stand up for what is right. I doubt that it would fix anything, though.
Third, I could start a business somewhere else rather than in the US, especially since this is so typical of life in the US during the last thirty years of my adult lifetime, and I have no way to change it –
Rubenstein said Louima is a victim of perhaps one of the worst examples of police brutality in the history of this country.
Louima’s case led to a major shakeup of the New York Police Department. Charges against him were later dropped. ( . . . )
After Louima’s arrest in 1997 for a scuffle outside a nightclub, Volpe assaulted him in the patrol car and later sodomized him with a broomstick handle inside the 70th Precinct station house. Louima suffered severe internal injuries.
Houston’s mayor and police department were on the defensive Friday, two days after graphic video came out showing several police repeatedly kicking and beating a 15-year-old burglary suspect as he lay on the ground.
Fourth, we could all get together as Americans and demonstrate as they are doing in Egypt –
It is certainly possible, but it looks like to me that multitudes have been protesting these kinds of things for years upon years at every occasion and it has yet to yield even one modicum of difference in it.
Fifth, ahhh – even better –
There could be a class action styled suit brought to the international courts for breach and defiance of international laws by decisions and financial appropriations made by our previous leadership including the Senators and Congressmen who made those choices. Many of those laws were insisted upon and written by the United States leadership for the rest of the world to follow, so they obviously knew them when they made those decisions.
Again, at the very least, the rest of the world would know that America’s citizens did not agree with doing things that way, nor did we agree with brutal dictatorships that they were sponsoring with our financial resources.
And, of course, sixth would be –
could be, anyway – to hunker down like the right wing militia types are screaming for us all to do and get enough gold, physical protection and friends who think the same way about it to try and survive it all as it is . . .
but, gold doesn’t buy anything in America for regular Americans trying to get food, or shoes, or pay the utility bills, or get water when it is needed to drink, or just about anything else required – and as much as I believe in guns and the right to have them and to carry them, I’ve never noticed them to be an appropriate nor handy option at the point of needing to defend myself against sure physical assault or danger. Those are really just expensive and stupid toys to most of the people who have them in this day and time. And, friends who think as those right wing people do are part of the reason we are where we are right now in as big a mess as we are in – I don’t think having them any one bit closer to me is what would make my life better or safer.
So, Seventh could be –
Building something that I could sell to those jackasses in the Middle East and elsewhere to get our money back. That is one possibility but it could be that it was part of what they were trying to do when they sold all those military arms to those places in the first place. It looks as though, our national resources were appropriated to go to those countries by the millions of dollars a day, and then some companies, in particular military hardware companies, went over there, sold them those even more dangerous “toys” and as a consequence, funded their companies’ profitability. I suppose, that is what they told themselves they were doing anyway.
And, while I can certainly see how that worked out – still, there are some who are working to do it that way, from Wal-Mart to PepsiCo among others. And, President Obama did say for us to out-innovate them, out-maneuver them and out-do them in typical American fashion as we have been prone to do on multiple occasions in our history. That might work . . .
I could take my little, “order a patent” form and sell it around the world through brokering deals on our patents. They are selling them around the world anyway. Hmmm………
Then, these countries could make the things wherever they sit – oh wait, they are already doing that, from tanks to helicopters, handguns to 50mm rifles, chemical and biological weapons to sodapop and air cleaners . . . No use in brokering licenses at this point, then. And, what can’t be done that way is getting reverse engineered anyway. So, hmmm…… again.
Well, a number Eight choice of what I could do about all this might be –
To at least make sure my children know what matters in America – having cosmetically enhanced big tits and shopping to get designer handbags whether they are homeless or not. And, knowing who to bet on in the Super Bowl, including the commercials. That is the important thing.
I’m guessing they already know how to get drunk and just not worry about it, like most of the rest of America does. And, at least that is considered psychologically healthy in our society. Most of our leaders are running around the world partying to their heart’s content and on any given day, most of America is “wired” or drunk too. At least, they will know how to fit in, and never notice the crap going on around them.
I still think they should at least change the Barney song on kiddie tv to reflect that the only good use of any American child, adult or citizen, generally is to “not be special.” At least it would be honest.
At most, I think there should be a national campaign to let people know that they are not important in America, that there are no freedoms or rights from brutality, and that our Constitutional guarantees of such things simply are no more than rhetoric to those we have charged with positions of leadership in our country over the last thirty years. And, that is why police brutalize us on our own streets and halfway around the world, as well as in countries we have funded with our hard-earned dollars.
Nope, that wouldn’t be right – it would possibly remove hope and that may be the last remaining shred of what people have.
There would have to be a Ninth choice of what I could do –
I could let my imagination run wild a bit and see what it comes up with – like something designed that would literally melt the gun that is in the hands of someone about to use it . . . .
That would be an interesting possibility but it wouldn’t get our money back from those who have it nor would it get the constant flow of our funds to dictators who are brutalizing their people to stop.
It also wouldn’t re-route any of those funds to our national domestic needs and uses. But, it would be nifty to see armed combatants have nothing but ooze in their hands where a gun used to be – before they can even shoot with it at somebody.
It would make me feel better, anyway.
I don’t think that “sensitivity training” would stop any of the police brutality we have on our own streets, or to keep the use of our funding, training and police equipment, (and military equipment) to brutalize and torture people elsewhere from happening. At one time, I had thought that anger management courses being required of all police personnel for their own anger issues would be of help, but then having been reminded of the fact that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” (roughly paraphrased,) it occurred to me that it just wouldn’t be enough to do any good. And, besides – we’ve been taking fairly normal people and training them to be psychotic in the ways they deal with others in order to do police things, and military things and espionage things, and detective things and other things of that nature. (and most of them may not have been real “normal” and respectful of others in the first place, but they certainly wouldn’t have been after the kind of training we’ve been paying for them to have.)
all the heads of state, US and international leaders and every single person involved in giving our money to Egypt to brutalize people were required to spend three months in an Egyptian jail at the hands of those brutal beatings every day by their secret police that our leaders have been funding for thirty years – would it change their minds about whether it matters or not and whether those “human rights things’ are just a matter of rhetoric?
Is it that, in the plush surroundings of mahogany clad rooms with elegant gold gilded furnishings where every mete and measure of their whims, needs and desires are satiated with immediacy from the finest selection of everything available on the planet, the idea of “human rights’ is simply an intellectual discussion for debate to entertain and while away the hours?
Or, is it that they are just chasing the party? I had thought about this earlier, that Bautista in Cuba was propped up to keep the party available in America’s playground (although Americans weren’t the only ones partying there), and by party – I mean, the casinos, the drunken orgies, the opportunity to have prostitutes who will engage in whatever twisted perversions businessmen and government leaders desire – in fact, prostitutes of even young ages of both sexes available to them for nearly nothing, the most extreme forms of gambling from full contact lethal sports between people and all types of animals, to other twisted games of chance upon which to bet, opportunities to have “sweet deals” and inside contracts on business dealings, and the kickbacks and bonuses from those things along with the nearly free flow of drugs that they desire from cocaine to smoking hashish (to relax.) Could it be that wherever we, as Americans and as international citizens, have seen leaders and power brokers maintain oppression of the local people, there has gone hand-in-hand, a use of that population to serve the needs, whims and desires of a few in ways that are irresponsible, unconscionable, twisted and perverse, considered by them to be entertaining or satiating in some way, and against what would be considered sane social norms were it done in any other place?
There is a solution to that.
We could return these countries to their local populations to run, stop funding military weapons to them and use that money for ourselves instead as our nation is in dire straits, and create one place appropriate to party where the whole world agrees for them to go and do that. It could be created in such a way that no one under the age of thirteen would be allowed into it ever. And, only those below twenty-five whose parents agreed to sell them for that use could be offered in that environment (since that is what they are doing already). And, all the twisted extreme forms of gambling, lethal sport fighting, and sex could just go on day and night and night and day and then nobody would have to be repressed, obsessed, oppressed, beaten half to death or killed to get it, keep it or have it available.
Or we could make sure all our businessmen are eunuchs before sending them anywhere to make deals or lobby Washington. I don’t know, its just a thought.
Maybe my imagination is not the best places to find choices of solutions. It finds some extremes as options that seem at least nearly as appropriate as what is being done already. But, all the above concept would do, would be to confine to one place, that which is unacceptable to be happening anywhere already, yet is happening in many places around the world to serve the whims and perversions of the rich, of the wealthy business leaders and government officials that are running to those places as it is. It wouldn’t really fix anything or make it better for the nations where it is happening, in the US where it is happening, nor the people who have been forced to endure it.
Maybe there needs to be a tenth option –
Well, we could all just get in there and be criminals, too. This is how some people are doing it and there are many examples of how this is working, sometimes well and sometimes not. I would say that Bernie Madoff showed us how to do it well, he lived well, he enjoyed his life and so did the family he made. The brutal dictators of many foreign countries have done it well, as have the Bush clan and their friends – a little close to the line at times but overall – they’ve gotten away with it.
And, the bankers and Wall Street groups have found ways to make it legal to steal from everybody. We could all just do that, too – in the ways they’ve already shown us. They’ve gotten away with it as well. And, people like them just fine. That, of course is the typical “join ’em” philosophy, which it looks like any number of people in the world have managed to do without consequence, maybe it is the “American way”.
There have, in fact – only been a few instances where that didn’t work out so well. Even during Prohibition, vast sums of money and power were accumulated and until they started shooting each other in the streets every other day, very few people in America even cared.
I don’t much like the tenth option. It is possible and as much as I or anyone else could do it that way, it seems like a lot of trouble to go through without changing much of anything for the better, but maybe I’m wrong. At the very least, those people are in positions of power and people listen to them and do things the way they want them done, including interpreting our Constitution to suit themselves and their own perspectives about what is important.
But, I don’t like it.
I will try one more time to think of something I could do about all this – hopefully, more effective than the things I’ve considered already – there would have to be some other choices –
* I could write about it – did that.
* I could give up and not doing anything about it – tried that.
* I could tell others about it and see if they will do anything about it – yeah, well, it didn’t matter to them either, but maybe I didn’t work with the right people who give a damn about it or know what to do.
* I could build something that would help, which was a choice in the above group of options – have done that.
* I could do any or all of the things on the list above whether I liked them, or thought much of them or not – well, maybe.
* And, I could bring into the world something that would help – I’m working on that.
* Or, I could create a solution or a set of solutions that doesn’t exist already – that would work.
Well, that certainly was fun.
I’m still disgusted by what our previous thirty years of officials, agency members and elected leaders have done with my money and my family’s money and my neighbor’s money and my state’s money and my nation’s money and my children’s money and our opportunities and the opportunities I would have had in my lifetime and that they would’ve had in their lifetimes – [*that sheer and absolute contempt for what they did and how they did it, might just never change.]
Federal Lanham Act Remedies for False Advertising –
1. Historical Background –
Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act prohibits any false description or representation of goods. Although this section was originally construed narrowly, to reach only “passing off” and other behavior resembling trademark infringement, modern cases regard the statute as providing a federal remedy against false advertising.
2. Standing: Who May Invoke Section 43 –
A plaintiff seeking injunctive relief under § 43(a) must show a likelihood of economic injury due to the defendant’s conduct in order to be entitled to relief. If the plaintiff seeks damages, it must demonstrate an actual loss of sales (and / or loss of revenue, my note – actual money, but can include lost opportunity costs.)
3. What Constitutes a False Description or Representation –
Any falsehood with a tendency to mislead or deceive is actionable under section 43(a), provided it is material. The plaintiff need not prove that the defendant acted intentionally.
(from – “Capsule Summary”)
pp. 20 – 21, also pp. 148 – 150
Unfair Trade Practices & Intellectual Property,
author – Roger E. Schechter,
Black Letter Series, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn.; 1986
Hmmmm . . . . – wonder if those laws still exist? After watching the Goldman Sachs hearings in the Senate committee yesterday, when investors are told that a thing is good investment securities, when they know it is not – isn’t that applied to laws like this? Or rather, aren’t laws like this applied to situations like that?
I found another section of this book which had this sentence – “Nonetheless, some courts will impose a duty to pay if the equities of the situation require it to prevent unjust enrichment.” – What constitutes “unjust enrichment”?
English unjust enrichment law is a developing area of law in unjust enrichment. Traditionally, work on unjust enrichment has been dealt with under the title …
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_unjust_enrichment_law – Cached – Similar
English unjust enrichment law is a developing area of law in unjust enrichment. Traditionally, work on unjust enrichment has been dealt with under the title of “restitution“. Restitution is a gain-based remedy, the opposite of compensation, as a loss-based remedy. But the event it responds to is the “unjust enrichment” of one person at the expense of another.
Hazell v. Hammersmith and Fulham LBC  2 AC 1. Banks paid councils a lump sum (for Islington, £2.5m). The councils then paid the banks back at the prevailing interest rate. Banks paid councils back a fixed interest rate (this is the swap part). The point was that councils were gambling on what interest rates would do. So if interest rates fell, the councils would win. As it happened, interest rates were going up and the banks were winning. Islington was due to pay £1,354,474, but after Hazell, it refused, and waited to see what the courts said. At first instance Hobhouse J said that because the contract for the swap scheme was void, the council had been unjustly enriched with the lump sum (£2.5m) and it should have to pay compound interest (lots) rather than simple interest (lots, but not so much). But luckily for local government, three law Lords held that Islington only needed to repay with simple interest. There was no jurisdiction for compound interest. They said this was because there was no ‘resulting trust’.
Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington LBC  AC 669, the council had no authority to enter into a complex swap transaction with the German bank. So the House of Lords held that the council should repay the money they had been lent and a hitherto unknown ‘unjust’ factor was added to the list. Birks argued that the better explanation in all cases is an ‘absence of basis’ for the transfer of property. Searching through or adding to a list of open ended unjust factors simply concludes on grounds of what one wishes to prove, grounds that ‘would have to be constantly massaged to ensure that they dictated an answer as stable as is reached by the shorter ‘non basis’ route.’ (Birks (2005) 113)
The following eleven categories are examples of “unjust factor” (or what Peter Birks argued could be unified under one principle of a basis of a right being absent) which may ground a claim of restitution for unjust enrichment.
Unjust enrichment is a developed and coherent field in continental civil law systems. Continental lawyers say someone is unjustly enriched when there is no basis for their possession or title to some right or property. A more correct way of saying it is that someone has been “unjustifiedly enriched”. In German, the term is Ungerechtfertigte Bereicherung (§812 BGB) and in France the term is Enrichissement sans cause. English lawyers, however, have been accustomed to identify an “unjust factor”. The difference between “unjust factors” and “absence of basis” as a unifying principle has generated a lot of debate, particularly since Peter Birks changed his mind in his second edition of Unjust Enrichment (2005) in the Clarendon Law Series, and argued that the continentals had got it right.
The two leading theorists that have revived unjust enrichment were Lord Goff, who produced Goff and Jones on Restitution and Professor Peter Birks.
Black Letter Series, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn.; 1986
(excerpt – )
To constitute “unfair” conduct, an advertisement or commercial practice must pose a risk of substantial, unmitigated, unavoidable consumer injury.
(further – )
These advertisements may be deceptive, however, if analyzed under the historic definition of that term. Under the classic test, an advertising claim is deceptive if it has any tendency to deceive a significant number of consumers.
(also found on pp. 225 – )
2. True. The original version of the statute [VIII. Federal Trade Commission Regulation of Unfair and Deceptive Practices] only dealt with “unfair methods of competittion.” The 1938 Wheeler-La Amendment added the “unfair and deceptive acts and practices” language.
(and on pp. 228)
4. True. Such statutes have been applied against defendants who were making casual sales of used goods.
(and therefore, why shouldn’t it be applied to investment firms, banks, hedge funds and others in the investment community who engaged in deceptive and misleading practices that would’ve been illegal in any other context, including as the laws and statutes are applied to regular Americans being involved in casual sales of goods that were unlikely to have created the huge ramifications that the Wall Street players caused, my note.)
Unjust enrichment is a legal term denoting a particular type of causative event in which one party is unjustly enriched at the expense of another, and an obligation to make restitution arises, regardless of liability for wrongdoing.
Liability under the principle of unjust enrichment is wholly independent of liability for wrongdoing. Claims in unjust enrichment do not depend upon proof of any wrong. However, it is possible that on a single set of facts a claim based on unjust enrichment and a claim based on a wrong may both be available. A claim based on unjust enrichment always results in an obligation to make restitution. A claim based on a wrong always results in an obligation to make compensation, but may additionally result in an obligation to make restitution and on the other hand it will result in an obligation to make reimbursement which will allow the normal citizen to the courts for its wrongdoing which it never intended to do so. For discussion of restitution for wrongs, see the page on restitution.
At common law, a claim based on unjust enrichment can be submitted to five stages of analysis. These can be summarized in the form of the following questions:
Was the defendant enriched?
Was the enrichment at the expense of the claimant?
There are two established approaches to this issue. Traditionally, common law systems such as those of England and the US have proceeded on the basis of what may be termed the ‘unjust factor’ approach. Traditionally, civil law systems such as those of France and Germany have proceeded on the basis of what may be termed the ‘absence of basis’ approach. More recently, many common law systems have showed signs of a possible move towards the ‘absence of basis’ approach (see for example the law of North Dakota in the section on the United States below). Both approaches will be discussed.
The ‘unjust factors’ approach requires the claimant to point to one of a number of factors recognized by the law as rendering the defendant’s enrichment unjust. English law clearly recognises at least the following unjust factors:
‘Absence of consideration’ is particularly controversial because the cases that support its existence as an unjust factor can also be used to support the view that English law has begun to favour the ‘absence of basis’ approach (see next paragraph).
The ‘absence of basis’ approach does not deal in individual unjust factors. Instead it seeks to identify enrichments with no legitimate explanatory basis. Imagine that A contracts with B that A will pay $150 up front for B to clean his house. A pays the money. B’s enrichment has a legitimate explanatory basis – he was paid under a valid contract. However, let us now change the example and assume that the contract was in fact void. This is discovered after A has paid the money but before B cleans the house. B’s enrichment no longer has a legitimate explanatory basis so B must repay the $150 to A.
Notice that in the example just given, exactly the same conclusion would be reached using the ‘unjust factors’ approach. Under that approach, A would not be able to point to an unjust factor provided that the contract was valid, but could point to the unjust factor of total failure of consideration once we assume that it was void. In the vast majority of cases, a properly developed ‘unjust factors’ approach and a properly developed ‘absence of basis’ approach will reach the same result.
 What remedies are available to the claimant?
It is necessary to distinguish personal remedies from proprietary remedies. A personal remedy asserts that the defendant must pay the claimant a sum of money. By contrast, a proprietary remedy asserts that some property in the defendant’s possession belongs to the claimant, either at common law or in equity. There are several arguable examples in the English case law of the courts giving a proprietary remedy in an unjust enrichment claim. However, some commentators maintain that, in English law, unjust enrichment only ever triggers a personal remedy.
There are several reasons why it may be important for the claimant to seek a proprietary rather than a personal remedy. The most obvious is that showing that one is entitled to a proprietary interest in some property means that one need not compete with the defendant’s unsecured creditors in the event of his insolvency. It is also generally accepted, although with little justification, that a claimant who is entitled to a personal remedy only will be restricted to simple interest, while a claimant who is entitled to a proprietary remedy can get compound interest. The availability or non-availability of a proprietary remedy may also have consequences for limitation periods and for the conflict of laws.
English law gives effect to restitutionary proprietary interests (assuming that it does at all) through a number of devices. One of these devices will be discussed and another two will be mentioned briefly.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “market maker” or not, such as Goldman Sachs and about 2000 others are – they still can’t store explosives under their desks because they must abide by the laws which apply to that just as we all do, and they still can’t engage in failing to meet OSHA standards for a work place, nor can they be exempted from the regulations, statutes and laws governing the rest of us and the business laws that generally apply to everything.
I know yesterday during the hearings, the term “market maker” was used as a declaration of why “we get to get away with doing it this way, by law – because we qualify as a market maker.” That doesn’t mean everything else in the law and in international law doesn’t apply to them. It does not exclude their businesses, their business participation, their business practices and decisions, their business processes and their marketing practices from the laws governing everything else.
An Icelandic 1000-krónur note. The value of the Icelandic króna declined significantly during 2008.
Economic growth in Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 2000 to 2007. Iceland is in red.
The 2008–2010 Icelandic financial crisis is a major ongoing economic crisis in Iceland that involves the collapse of all three of the country’s major banks following their difficulties in refinancing their short-term debt and a run on deposits in the United Kingdom. Relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s banking collapse is the largest suffered by any country in economic history.
In late September 2008, it was announced that the Glitnir bank would be nationalised. The following week, control of Landsbanki and Glitnir was handed over to receivers appointed by the Financial Supervisory Authority (FME). Soon after that, the same organisation placed Iceland’s largest bank, Kaupthing, into receivership as well. Commenting on the need for emergency measures, Prime MinisterGeir Haarde said on 6 October, “There [was] a very real danger … that the Icelandic economy, in the worst case, could be sucked with the banks into the whirlpool and the result could have been national bankruptcy.” He also stated that the actions taken by the government had ensured that the Icelandic state would not actually go bankrupt. At the end of the second quarter 2008, Iceland’s external debt was 9.553 trillion Icelandic krónur (€50 billion), more than 80% of which was held by the banking sector. This value compares with Iceland’s 2007 gross domestic product of 1.293 trillion krónur (€8.5 billion). The assets of the three banks taken under the control of the FME totaled 14.437 trillion krónur at the end of the second quarter 2008.
The financial crisis has had serious consequences for the Icelandic economy. The national currency has fallen sharply in value, foreign currency transactions were virtually suspended for weeks, and the market capitalisation of the Icelandic stock exchange has dropped by more than 90%. As a result of the crisis, Iceland is currently undergoing a severe economic recession; the nation’s gross domestic product decreased by 5.5% in real terms in the first six months of 2009. The full cost of the crisis cannot yet be determined, but already it exceeds 75% of the country’s 2007 GDP. Outside Iceland, more than half a million depositors (far more than the entire population of Iceland) found their bank accounts frozen amid a diplomatic argument over deposit insurance. German bank BayernLB faces losses of up to €1.5 billion, and has had to seek help from the German federal government. The government of the Isle of Man will pay out half of its reserves, equivalent to 7.5% of the island’s GDP, in deposit insurance.
( . . . )
On 24 October, it emerged that Norway’s semi-public export credit agencyEksportfinans had made a complaint to Norwegian police concerning the alleged embezzlement of 415 million Norwegian kroner (€47 million) by Glitnir since 2006. The Icelandic bank had acted as an agent for Eksportfinans, administering loans to several companies: however Eksportfinans alleges that, when the loans were paid off early by borrowers, Glitnir kept the cash and merely continued with the regular payments to Eksportfinans, effectively taking an unauthorized loan itself.
OMX Iceland 15 closing prices during the five trading weeks from September 29, 2008 to October 31, 2008
Trading in shares of six financial companies on the OMXNordic Iceland Exchange was suspended on 6 October by order of the FME. On Thursday 9 October, all trading on the exchange was frozen for two days by the government “in an attempt to prevent further panic spreading throughout the country’s financial markets”. The decision was made to do so due to “unusual market conditions”, with share prices having fallen 30% since the start of the month. The closure was extended through Monday 13 October due to continuing “unusual market conditions”.
The market reopened on 14 October with the main index, the OMX Iceland 15, at 678.4, which corresponds to a plunge of about 77% compared with 3,004.6 before the closure. This reflects the fact that the value of the three big banks, which form 73.2% of the value of the OMX Iceland 15, had been set to zero. The values of other equities varied from +8% to –15%. Trading in shares of Exista, SPRON and Straumur-Burðarás (13.66% of the OMX Iceland 15) remains suspended. After a week of very thin trading, the OMX Iceland 15 closed on 17 October at 643.1, down 93% in króna terms and 96% in euro terms from its historic high of 9016 (18 July 2007).
Trading in the shares of two financial services companies, Straumur–Burðarás and Exista, resumed on 9 December: together the companies account for 12.04% of the OMX Iceland 15. The values of the shares in both companies dropped sharply, and the index closed at 394.88, down by 40.17% on the day. Trading in shares in SPRON and Kaupthing remains suspended, at prices of ISK 1.90 and ISK 694.00 respectively.
Ratings of Icelandic sovereign debt
(long-term foreign currency)
The four credit rating agencies which monitor Iceland’s sovereign debt all lowered their ratings during the crisis, and their outlook for future ratings changes is negative. The Icelandic government had a relatively healthy balance, with sovereign debt of 28.3% of GDP and a budget surplus of 5.5% of GDP (2007). Debt is now 90 percent of GDP with a budget deficit.
In addition, the value of foreign currency bonds which mature in the remainder of 2008 is only $600 million, and foreign currency debt service in 2009 is only $215 million, well within the government’s ability to pay. However the agencies believe that the government will have to issue more foreign currency bonds, both to cover losses as the banks’ overseas operations are liquidated and also to stimulate demand in the domestic economy as Iceland goes into recession.
On 24 October, the IMF tentatively agreed to loan €1.58 billion. However the loan had still not been approved by the Executive Board of the IMF on 13 November. Apparently, UK and the Netherlands had halted IMF’s aid to Iceland as the Icesave dispute had not been resolved. Due to the delay Iceland found itself caught in a classic catch-22 situation, loans from other countries could not be formally secured until the IMF program had been approved. The Icelandic government spoke of a $500M (€376M) gap in the funding plans. Dutch finance ministerWouter Bos stated that the Netherlands would oppose the loan unless agreement was reached over deposit insurance for Landsbanki customers in the Netherlands.
The IMF-led package of $4.6bn was finally agreed on 19 November, with the IMF loaning $2.1bn and another $2.5bn of loans and currency swaps from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. In addition, Poland has offered to lend $200M and the Faroe Islands have offered 300M Danish kroner ($50M, about 3% of Faroese GDP). The Icelandic government also reported that Russia has offered $300M. The next day, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom announced a joint loan of $6.3bn (€5bn), related to the deposit insurance dispute.
In 2001, banks were deregulated in Iceland. This set the stage for banks to upload debts when foreign companies were accumulated. The crisis unfolded when banks became unable to refinance their debts. It is estimated that the three major banks hold foreign debt in excess of €50 billion, or about €160,000 per Icelandic resident, compared with Iceland’s gross domestic product of €8.5 billion. As early as March 2008, the cost of private deposit insurance for deposits in Landsbanki and Kaupthing was already far higher (6–8½% of the sum deposited) than for other European banks. The króna, which was ranked by The Economist in early 2007 as the most overvalued currency in the world (based on the Big Mac Index), has further suffered from the effects of carry trading.
Coming from a small domestic market, Iceland’s banks have financed their expansion with loans on the interbank lending market and, more recently, by deposits from outside Iceland (which are also a form of external debt). Households also took on a large amount of debt, equivalent to 213% of disposable income, which led to inflation. This inflation was exacerbated by the practice of the Central Bank of Iceland issuing liquidity loans to banks on the basis of newly-issued, uncovered bonds — effectively, printing money on demand.
In response to the rise in prices — 14% in the twelve months to September 2008, compared with a target of 2.5% — the Central Bank of Iceland has held interest rates high (15.5%). Such high interest rates, compared with 5.5% in the United Kingdom or 4% in the eurozone for example, have encouraged overseas investors to hold deposits in Icelandic krónur, leading to monetary inflation: the Icelandic money supply (M3) grew 56.5% in the twelve months to September 2008, compared with 5.0% GDP growth. The situation was effectively an economic bubble, with investors overestimating the true value of the króna.
As with many banks around the world, the Icelandic banks found it increasingly difficult or impossible to roll over their loans in the interbank market, their creditors insisting on repayment while no other banks were willing to make fresh loans. In such a situation, a bank would normally have to ask for a loan from the central bank as the lender of last resort. However, in Iceland the banks were so much larger than the national economy that the Central Bank of Iceland and the Icelandic government could not guarantee the repayment of the banks’ debts, leading to the collapse of the banks. The official reserves of the Central Bank of Iceland stood at 374.8 billion krónur at the end of September 2008, compared with 350.3 billion krónur of short-term international debt in the Icelandic banking sector, and at least £6.5 billion (1,250 billion krónur) of retail deposits in the UK.
The Icesave logo, advertising it as “part of Landsbanki, Reykjavik, Iceland”
The situation was made worse by the fact that Icesave was operating as a branch of Landsbanki, rather than as a legally independent subsidiary. As such, it was completely dependent on the Central Bank of Iceland for emergency loans of liquidity, and could not turn to the Bank of England for help. The UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) was aware of the risk, and was considering imposing special liquidity requirements on Icelandic deposit-taking banks in the weeks before the crisis. However the plan—which was never implemented—would have forced the Icelandic banks to cut interest rates or stop taking new deposits, and might even have sparked the sort of bank run it was designed to prevent. The Guernsey authorities were also planning on bringing in restrictions on foreign banks operating as branches and on transfers of funds between Guernsey subsidiaries and parent banks (“parental upstreaming”). Landsbanki operated in Guernsey through a legally independent subsidiary.
The existence of a bank run on Landsbanki accounts in the UK in the period up to 7 October seems confirmed by a statement from the bank on 10 October, which said “Landsbanki Íslands hf. transferred substantial funds to its UK branch during this time to fulfil its Icesave commitments.” The transfer of funds from Landsbanki Guernsey to Heritable Bank, a Landsbanki subsidiary in the UK, also suggests a bank run in the UK. A transfer of “substantial funds” from Iceland to the UK would have been a significant downward push on the value of the króna, even before the effects of any speculation.
The current economic climate in the country has affected many Icelandic businesses and citizens. With the creation of Nýi Landsbanki, the new organisation which replaces the old Landsbanki, around 300 employees will lose their jobs due to a radical restructuring of the organisation which is intended to minimise the bank’s international operations. Similar job losses are expected at Glitnir and Kaupthing The job losses can be compared with the 2,136 registered unemployed and 495 advertised vacancies in Iceland at the end of August 2008.
Other companies have also been affected. For example, the private Sterling Airlines declared bankruptcy on 29 October 2008. The national airline Icelandair has noticed a significant slump in domestic demand for flights. However, the airline states that year-on-year international demand is up from last year. Guðjón Arngrímsson, a spokesman for the airline, said “we’re getting decent traffic from other markets… we are trying to let the weak [króna] help us.” He has also stated that it is impossible to predict whether the company will be profitable this year.Morgunblaðið, an Icelandic newspaper, is cutting some jobs and merging parts of its operations with the media corporation 365. The newspaper 24 stundir has ceased publication due to the crisis, resulting in the loss of 20 jobs.
Importers are particularly hard hit, with the government restricting foreign currency to essential products such as food, medicines and oil. The €400 million loan from the central banks of Denmark and Norway is sufficient to pay for a month’s imports, although on 15 October there was still a “temporary delay” which affected “all payments to and from the country”.
The assets of Icelandic pension funds are, according to one expert, expected to shrink by 15–25%. The Icelandic Pension Funds Association has announced that benefits will in all likelihood have to be cut in 2009. Iceland’s GDP is expected by economists to shrink by as much as 10% as a result of the crisis, putting Iceland by some measures in an economic depression.Inflation may climb as high as 75% by the end of the year.
Unemployment had more than tripled by late November 2008, with over 7000 registered jobseekers (about 4% of the workforce) compared to just 2136 at the end of August 2008. As 80% of household debt is indexed and another 13% denominated in foreign currencies, debt repayment is going to be more costly. Since October 2008, 14% of the workforce have experienced reductions in pay, and around 7% have had their working hours reduced. According to the president of the Icelandic Federation of Labour (ASÍ), Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, these figures are lower than expected. 85% of those currently registered as unemployed in Iceland stated that they lost their job in October, after the economic collapse.
Over £840 million in cash from more than 100 UK local authorities was invested in Icelandic banks. Representatives from each council are meeting to try to persuade the Treasury to secure the money in the same way that customers’ money in Icesave was fully guaranteed. Of all the local authorities, Kent County Council has the most money invested in Icelandic banks, currently £50 million.Transport for London, the organisation that operates and coordinates transport services within London, also has a large investment at £40 million. Local authorities were working under government advice to invest their money across many national and international banks as a way of spreading risk. Other UK organisations said to have invested heavily include police services and fire authorities, and even the Audit Commission. It is hoped that about one-third of the deposited money will be available fairly rapidly, corresponding to the liquid assets of the UK subsidiaries: liquidation of other assets, such as loans and offices, will take longer.
In an emergency sitting of Tynwald on 9 October, the Isle of Man government raised compensation from 75% of the first £15,000 per depositor to 100% of £50,000 per depositor. The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, Tony Brown, confirmed that Kaupthing had guaranteed the operations and liabilities of its Manx subsidiary in September 2007, and that the Manx government was pressing Iceland to honour this guarantee. Depositors with Landsbanki on Guernsey found themselves without any depositor protection.
On 11 October, an agreement was reached between the Icelandic and Dutch governments on the savings of about 120,000 Dutch citizens. The Icelandic government will cover the first €20,887 on savings accounts of Dutch citizens held by Landsbanki subsidiary Icesave, using money lent by the Dutch government. The total value of Icesave deposits in the Netherlands is €1.7 billion. At the same time, Iceland and Britain reached an agreement on the general contours of a solution: Icesave deposits in the UK total £4 billion (€5 billion) in 300,000 accounts. The figure of €20,887 is the amount covered by the Icelandic Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Fund (DIGF; Tryggingarsjóður in Icelandic): however, the DIGF had equity of only 8.3 billion krónur at the end of 2007, €90 million at the exchange rates of the time and far from sufficient to cover the Dutch and British claims.
The cost of deposit insurance in the UK is not completely clear as of November 2008. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) paid around £3 billion to transfer deposits from Heritable Bank and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander to ING Direct, while the UK Treasury paid an additional £600 million to guarantee retail deposits that were higher than the FSCS limit. The Treasury also paid out £800 million to guarantee Icesave deposits that were higher than the limit. A loan of £2.2 billion to the Icelandic government is expected to cover the claims against the Icelandic DIGF relating to Icesave, while the exposure of the UK FSCS is expected to be £1–2 billion.
The crisis also prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reduce its foreign aid to developing nations, from 0.31% to 0.27% of GNP. The effect of the aid cut was greatly amplified by the falling value of the krona, leading the Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) to see its budget fall from $22 million to $13 million. Since Iceland’s foreign aid is targeted in sectors for which the country has particular expertise (e.g. fisheries, geothermal power), the cutbacks will have a substantial impact in countries which receive Icelandic aid – most noticeably in Sri Lanka, where ICEIDA is pulling out altogether.
On February 27, 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iceland’s new government is trying to raise $25 million by selling its ambassadorial residences in Washington, New York, London and Oslo.
On August 28, 2009, Iceland’s parliament voted 34-15 (with 14 abstentions) to approve a bill (commonly referred to as the Icesave bill) to repay the United Kingdom and the Netherlands more than $5 billion lost in Icelandic deposit accounts. Initially opposed in June, the bill was passed after amendments were added which set a ceiling on the repayment based on the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Opponents of the bill argued that Icelanders, already reeling from the crisis, should not have to pay for mistakes made by private banks under the watch of other governments. However, the government argued that if the bill failed to pass, the UK and the Netherlands might retaliate by blocking a planned aid package for Iceland from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Under the deal, up to 4% of Iceland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be paid to the UK, in sterling terms, from 2017-2023 while the Netherlands will receive up to 2% of Iceland’s GDP, in euro terms, for the same period. Talks between Icelandic, Dutch and UK ministers in January of 2010 dubbed as “Icesave” did not result in any specific actions being agreed upon. 
In April 2009, Iceland’s state prosecutor hired Eva Joly, the Norwegian-French investigator who led Europe’s biggest ever fraud investigations into bribery and corruption at oil group Elf Aquitaine, as special consultant to a 20-member ”economic crime team” to “investigate suspicions of criminal actions in the period preceding the collapse of the Icelandic banks” which may involve several Iceland’s business and banking leaders. Joly stated that the investigation will require a minimum of 2–3 years to build up enough evidence to secure prosecutions.
In an interview Joly stated that:
“Finding proof will start at home in Iceland, but my instinct is that it will spread. If there are things relevant to the UK we will get in touch with the Serious Fraud Office. If there are things relevant to Germany we will get in touch with their authorities. In Iceland, there is more than enough for a starting point for the investigation, given all the talk about market manipulation and unusual loans. If these are proved they are embezzlement and fraud. The priority is tracing any flow of assets from the banks and getting them back.”
The investigation is expected to focus on a number of questionable financial practices engaged in by Icelandic banks:
Almost half of all the loans made by Icelandic banks were to holdings companies, many of which are connected to those same Icelandic banks.
Money was allegedly lent by the banks to their employees and associates so they could buy shares in those same banks while simply using those same shares as collateral for the loans. Borrowers were then allowed to defer paying interest on the loan until the end of the period, when the whole amount plus interest accrued was due. These same loans were then allegedly written off days before the banks collapsed.
Kaupthing allowed a Qatari investor to purchase 5% of its shares. It was later revealled that the Qatari investor “bought” the stake using a loan from Kaupthing itself and a holding company associated with one of its employees (i.e. the bank was, in effect, buying its own shares).
Scrutiny of Icelandic business leaders
Since the crisis began, many of Iceland’s business leaders, who had previously been considered financial gurus who greatly developed Iceland’s economy, are now under intense public scrutiny for their roles in causing the financial crisis:
Reportedly, all of those under scrutiny are now rarely seen in public and some have apparently left the country. They are also reportedly the subjects of an ongoing investigation to determine if any of their business practices warrant criminal prosecution.
Statements from former politicians
Former Prime Minister Davíð Oddsson has claimed that Iceland needs to investigate “unusual and unconventional loans” given by the banks to senior politicians during the years before the crisis.
Björn Bjarnson, the former Minister for Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs, has started a blog detailing the problems with the business sector and the efforts to cover them up. This was cited as an example of how politicians and businessmen, who traditionally held a tight grip over the Icelandic media, have lost this control and that dozens of similar blogs have been created. Björn stated that:
“I have written a lot about problems in the business sector over the last 14 years, and I can only compare some parts of it to Enron. Here companies have been playing a game, using the media and publishing to make themselves look good. We only hope that the foreign media will soon begin to understand what has been going on.”
Some of the 6000 protesters in front of the Alþingishús, seat of the Icelandic parliament, on 15 November 2008.
Parts of the Icelandic public have arranged protests against the Central Bank, the Parliament and the government’s alleged lack of responsibility before and after the crisis, attracting between 3000 and 6000 people (1–2% of Iceland’s population) on Saturdays.
And a little about the Freedom of Information Act and financial firms –
§ 38:249 (US Code)
K. Eighth Exemption: Reports by Financial Institutions
1. In General
§ 38:249 (US Code) Introduction
5 USCS § 552(b) (8) provides an exemption from FOIA disclosure for matters that are contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.
Accordingly, a number of federal offices and agencies, including the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve System, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation have promulgated regulations affirmatively applying Exemption 8 to relevant information in their possession.
Some regulations, however, such as those of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, may contain provisions for the discretionary release of reports that are otherwise exempt.
As stated in the legislative history of the FOIA, Exemption 8 is designed to insure the security and integrity of financial institutions, since the sensitive details collected by government agencies which regulate financial institutions could cause great harm if they were to be indiscriminately disclosed. A major concern is that the disclosure of such reports containing frank evaluations of investigated banks might undermine public confidence in the soundness of such institutions and cause unwarranted runs on banks.
A secondary purpose behind the enactment of Exemption 8 is to safeguard the relationship between the banks and the supervising agencies. There was concern that if bank examinations are freely made available to the public and to the banks’ competitors, the banks will be less likely to give the agencies their full co-operation – (which they don’t do now, my note).
The courts have indicated that Exemption 8, like the other FOIA exemptions, must be narrowly construed, but this does not mean that the plain meaning of the language of the exemption can be overlooked.
Practice pointer: Although reports prepared by bank regulatory bodies are beyond the scope of FOIA disclosure, such reports might nevertheless be subject to discovery in the course of litigation.
Exemption 8 does not create independently any evidentiary privilege, its effect being only to permit the withholding of such information from the public generally.
If, however, the federal banking agency forbids the bank to disclose a report of an examination without agency approval, discovery of examination reports must be sought from the agency and not from the bank as part of pretrial discovery in litigation involving the bank. (or financial investment, financial brokerage, stock market records, or investment “auction” facility, my note).
(from pp. 256 – 257, 15 Fed Proc, L Ed; )
§ 38:250. What “financial institutions” are governed by
The term “financial institution” has been interpreted to include banks and other related institutions.
Thus, two sets of federal regulations, those of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve System, indicate that the exemption is applicable to reports relating to the affairs of any bank or affiliate thereof, bank holding company or subsidiary, broker, finance company, or any person engaged, or proposing to engage, in the business of banking, extending credit, or managing or controlling banks.
It has been held that examination reports of federal savings institutions are also exempt from disclosure. Although some fears have been expressed that if Exemption 8 is construed literally, the records relating to a closed bank will be perpetually sealed, it has been held that such records come within the scope of Exemption 8, at least where the bank has only recently been closed and where the records have not yet been turned over to GSA.
One question is whether national securities exchanges are considered to be “financial institutions” within the meaning of Exemption 8.
In one case, a Securities and Exchange Commission staff study on an off-board trading problem raised by a rule of the New York Stock Exchange, as well as of the transcripts made and documents received by the SEC in the course of its investigation, were held not? to be exempted from FOIA disclosure by reason of Exemption 8.
But it has been held that an SEC report regarding an inspection of one of the lesser stock exchanges is exempt as pertaining to a financial institution.
(and from pp. 259, 15 Fed Proc, L Ed)
§ 38:252 Other exempt information
Other types of information that have been held to be exempted from disclosure under 5 USCS § 38:252 (b) (8) include reports of the Comptroller of the Currency concerning the policies of a national bank, reports of FDIC examiners, and reports of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board concerning the financial conditions of savings associations.
Information concerning disciplinary proceedings involving specific stock exchange members, since it is of value to SEC supervision of the stock exchange, is protected by Exemption 8.
Freedom of Information
Federal Procedure, Lawyers Edition; 1990
§ 38:249 (US Code)
§ 38:250 (US Code)
§ 38:252 (US Code)
Volume 15, § 38:1 – 38:600
So much for the concept of transparency. It seems that is simply a term to be used in public displays of political arena working and not an application used in fact, in process, nor in financial services processes.
Conflict of Laws –
Entry, pp. 1085, Vol. 4, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978
The law of conflict of laws has to do with the resolution of problems that result from the fact that there exists in the world a multiplicity of different sets of courts and different systems of private laws; that is, law dealing with relations between persons. As the earth is presently organized, its surface is divided among nations that are independent of each other and that have no world government above them. Each of these nations maintains its own set of courts in complete independence of every other nation, and each nation has its own set of laws, written or unwritten.
The Law of Conflict of Laws: Function and Sources –
While in such countries as France, Sweden, Peru, or Japan, one single system of law obtains for the whole country, diversity exists in many others, especially nations organized upon a federal pattern, such as the United States, Canada, and, to a minor degree, West Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, or Soviet Union [today, Eastern European nations and Russia]. ( . . . )
Even in countries whose political structure is of the unitary rather than the federal pattern, differences can be found. In the United Kingdom, for example, considerable difference exist between the laws of England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Northern Ireland. (I’m not sure the extent to which that is true today, my note).
Diversity of laws exists frequently between a country and its colonies. (etc.)
Diversity of laws develops where a country is divided. (etc.)
Diversities of law within one country may also exist on an ethnic or religious basis. (etc.)
Because of the spread of Western civilization over the entire planet, the laws of modern nations, at least insofar as they are concerned with relations between private individuals, present a considerable measure of uniformity. (to some extent, my note).
They are sufficiently different, however, to make it important to know to what situations one ought to apply the law of one country, state, region, or group rather than that of another, especially when dealings are carried on between persons of different law units.
This question of determining which of the world’s numerous laws is the proper one to apply in a particular situation is in itself a legal question.
Those rules of law by which such questions of choice of law are determined constitute a major part of that field of the law that is known as private international law or the law of conflict of laws.
Other parts of this field of the law are concerned with the problem of jurisdiction — that is, the problem of determining in what cases the courts of a particular country or state are, or are not, to go into action — and, furthermore, with the problem of stating what weight, if any, is to be given in one country or province to the judgments and other decisions of the courts or other agencies of other countries or provinces.
In countries adhering to the French legal tradition it is customary to regard as parts of private international law also those rules that deal with nationality and with the legal position of aliens and nonresidents.
In accordance with usage in countries of the English legal tradition, however, the present article will be limited to jurisdiction, foreign judgments, and choice of law.
The name private international law, which is generally used in countries of European-continental tradition, and occasionally also in England, seems to indicate that it is a part of international law — that is, that system of law that is superior to all sovereign states and that, at least in theory, is uniform throughout the world.
This view was commonly held for many centuries, and when the name private international law was coined in the 19th century it was meant to signify that the supranational body of international law consisted of two parts, public and private international law.
While the former would determine the proper conduct of sovereign nations toward each other in both peace and war, the latter would, in a uniform way, tell all nations in what cases their courts ought or ought not to take jurisdiction, under what conditions foreign judgments were to be enforced or otherwise recognized, and in what cases the laws of one nation were to be applied rather than those of another.
pp. 1087, Vol. 4 (same entry – Conflict of Laws)
In the United States, the Constitution provides that “full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.”
Under this clause, the states, and by statute, the territories, are obliged mutually to enforce their money judgments and to recognize the res judicata and law-changing effects of their judicial acts, provided the state by which the judgment was rendered was acting within the scope of its jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The only other defenses that might be raised are grave irregularity of the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained and, in certain cases, lack of finality.
In countries that follow the general principles of the common law, a foreign judgment usually is willingly enforced and otherwise recognized unless (1) the country by which it was rendered lacked jurisdiction according to the notions prevailing in the place where recognition is sought, or (2) the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained were tainted with fraud or were otherwise grossly unfair, or (3) the recognition or enforcement of the foreign judgment would seriously interfere with an important public policy of the country or state where recognition or enforcement is sought.
In addition to these requirements, most civil-law countries (except, of course, those few in which foreign judgments as such are not enforced at all) also demand that reciprocity with the country whose judgment is sought be recognized. (. . . )
Nowhere will a foreign judgment be enforced or recognized unless the country by which it was rendered had jurisdiction to do so under the notions obtaining where recognition is sought. These limits are sometimes wider, however, than those that a country will concede to others for the exercise of their jurisdictions.
pp. 1088, Vol 4
The greatest difficulties have arisen in the field of contract. Many courts and writ have held that problems of the law of contract are generally to be decided under the law of the place where the contract was made.
Under a refinement of this theory (1978, my note), problems concerning performance are to be decided under the law of the place where the contract was to be performed.
But where is a contract made when it was concluded by the exchange of letters between Tokyo and Paris, or San Francisco and Chicago? Where is the contract of sale to be performed when the seller has to obtain the goods in New Orleans and ship them from New York to Amsterdam, and the buyer, a business firm in Oslo, has to pay the price at a bank in London?
furthermore, what intrinsic connection with the parties’ relationship does the place of contracting have at all, if, as frequently happens, the contract was made at a place at which quite accidentally the parties’ minds met. Should German law really be applied to a contract concluded by a Dane and an Italian while they were flying over Germany in an airplane?
The view most widely followed by the courts of both civil-law and common-law countries is that problems concerning an alleged contract are to be decided in accordance with that law which the parties expressly agreed to be applicable, or which is recognizably that law upon the basis of which the parties negotiated and made their contract.
Theoretical objections to this practical view still carry some weight, especially in the United States. Where no particular law can be discovered as the one upon the basis of which the parties transacted their business, detailed differentiations must be made depending on the kind of contract in question (sale, insurance, transportation, contract for services, suretyship, etc.) and on the particular problem to be decided.
Although the field of contract is the most important for international and interstate trade, it is the one beset with the most uncertainties as to choice of law. Fortunately, the substantive laws do not widely differ from one another, and business has learned to avoid many of the difficulties through resorting to arbitration and appropriate drafting. Through skillful draftsmanship the experienced international lawyer can prevent many of the difficulties that can so easily arise under private international law.
(out of the order offered in the text – but important here)
The notion that the courts of a country should ever have to decide problems under foreign law rather than invariably deciding all problems coming before them under the law of their own country is by no means self-evident.
It has its rationale mainly in the thought that it would be unjust to teh parties concerned if a problem were decided under a law that they did not know might cover their situation when they began the transaction that led to the subsequent litigation. (but does not apply to false advertising, misrepresentation, fraud and other illusory, illegal, fraudulent, corrupt, unfair, unscrupulous or criminal business practices, my note, because even at a very basic level, those engaging in it know by its nature to be wrong and likely to fail the merits of any legal test of acceptable practices. – cricketdiane)
(further, on pp. 1088, Vol 4 – Conflict of Laws)
The necessity to apply the law of a foreign country or province, however, constitutes an inconvenience to the court and the parties. Although judges are familiar with the law of their own country, they cannot be expected to be familiar with the laws of the whole world. (but they can read at least as good as I can, my note.) Foreign law must therefore be especially pleaded and proved, often at considerable inconvenience and expense.
European and American scholars of the late 19th centuries attempted to reduce the whole field of choice of law to a few principles that could be expressed in a small number of highly generalized maxims.
Their results, however, proved impractical. Since the problems of choice of law are almost as manifold as those of substantive private law, these efforts turned out to constitute oversimplifications.
Mid-20th-century writers and courts regard it as their task to elaborate patiently those detailed rules of narrow application that are necessary to do justice to the infinite variety of actual life.
Some U.S. scholars also stress the interests of states to implement their policies over divergent policies of other states. The results of the manifold efforts can be found in the works listed in the bibliography. Here no more can be done that state some overall approaches, which must not be regarded as rules of immediate applicability. (their note, not mine.)
(also out of order from the text – )
In their general approach to the problem of jurisdiction, the common-law countries still proceed from the long-obsolete notion that no civil suit could be commenced in any way other than by the defendant’s arrest by the sheriff. Consequently, an action can still be brought in any place in which the defendant is personally served with process, (or in which they own property or have conducted business, my note), even though he may be there only for a few minutes to change airplanes.
In modern times it has come to be widely held, however, that personal service upon the defendant is no longer an indispensable requirement of jurisdiction and that an individual may be sued in the country or state of his residence, even if the summons is not personally pressed upon him. a corporation can always be sued in the country or state in which it has been incorporated.
(and, also out of order – but very interesting – )
As another example, the courts of New York regard themselves as an “inconvenient forum” for suits between nonresidents concerning a tort committed outside New York.
With few exceptions, Anglo-U.S. courts will not try controversies concerning title to, or trespass upon, land situation outside the state. (my note, but this changes when it involves money, securities, exchange of securities, fraud, fraudulent business practices, currency manipulation or currency forms as the property in question.)
(etc. – lots more good information here, but I need to lookup something else.)
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978
pp. 1085 – 1088; Vol. 4, “Conflict of Laws”
Essentials of Business Law, Second Edition –
1984, 1986, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minn.
authors – Smith, Mann, Roberts
pp. 700 – 701, 702 – Part Nine, Regulation of Business
Figure 39 – 3 Restraints of Trade
Restraint – Standard
Price fixing … Per se illegal
Market allocations … Horizontal: per se illegal
Vertical: rule of reason
Group boycotts … per se illegal
Tying arrangements … per se illegal (* if seller has power in tying product or a not insubstantial amount of interstate commerce is affected in the tied product.)
However, in the text –
Economic analysis indicates that a monopolist will use its power to limit production and increase prices. Therefore, a monopolistic market will produce fewer goods at a higher price than a competitive market. Addressing the problem of monopolization, Section 2 of the Sherman Act prohibits monopolies, attempts to monopolize, and conspiracies to monopolize.
Thus Section 2 prohibits both agreements among businesses and, unlike Section 1, unilateral conduct by one firm.
Although the language of Section 2 appears to prohibit all monopolies, the courts have not interpreted it in that manner. Rather, they have required that in addition to the mere possession of market power there also must be either the unfair attainment of the monopoly power or the abusive use of that power once attained.
It is extremely rare to find an unregulated industry with only one firm, so the issue of monopoly power involves defining what degree of market dominance constitutes monopoly power. Monopoly power is the ability to control prices or to exclude competitors from the marketplace. The courts have grappled with this question of monopoly power and have developed a number of approaches, but the most common test is market share.
A market share greater than 75 percent generally indicates monopoly power, while a share less than 50 percent does not. (but what constitutes the actual market base is subjectively determined, my note). A 50 to 75 percent share is inconclusive (1986).
Market share is the fractional share possessed by a firm of the total relevant product and geographic markets, but defining the relevant markets is often a difficult and subjective project for the courts.
The relevant product market, as demonstrated in the case which follows (at the bottom of pages 701 – 702), includes products that are substitutable for the firm’s product on the basis of price, quality, and adaptability for other purposes. For example, although brick and wood siding are both used in buildings as exteriors it is not likely that they would be considered as part of the same product market. On the other hand, Coca Cola and Seven-Up are both soft drinks and would be considered part of the same product market.
The relevant geographic market is the territory in which the firm sells its products or services. This may be at the local, regional, or national level. (or in the cases we have today – in the international arenas, my note.)
For instance, the relevant geographic market for the manufacture and sale of aluminum might be national, whereas that of a taxi company would be local. The scope of the relevant geographic market will depend on such factors as transportation costs, the type of product or services, and the location of competitors and customers.
If sufficient monopoly power has been proved, it must then be shown that the firm has engaged in unfair conduct. The courts have not yet agreed on what constitutes unfair conduct (that is not true even when it was written and certainly not now – my note).
One judicial approach is that a firm possessing monopoly power has the burden of proving that it acquired such power passively or that it had the power “thrust” upon it. An alternative view is that monopoly power, when combined with conduct designed to exclude competitors, violates Section 1. a third approach requires monopoly power plus some type of predatory practice, such as pricing below marginal costs (among others, my note.)
(from – )
Essentials of Business Law, Second Edition –
1984, 1986, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minn.
authors – Smith, Mann, Roberts
pp. 700 – 701, 702 – Part Nine, Regulation of Business
excerpt from “Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis” by Krajewski, Ritzman: 1993, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.
(pp. 296 – 299: also pp. 300 about diseconomies of scale, found below first reference passages and Managerial Practice 8. 1 “The Agony of Too Much – And Too Little – Capacity”)
Capacity is the maximum rate of output for a facility. The facility can be a work station or an entire organization. The operations manager must provide the capacity to meet current and future demand or suffer the consequences of missed opportunities.
Capacity plans are made at two levels. Long-term capacity plans, which we describe in this chapter, deal with investments in new facilities and equipment. These plans look at least two years into the future, but construction lead times alone can force much longer time horizons.
Currently, U.S. investment in new plant and equipment is $550 billion annually (1986). Service industries account for more than 64 percent of the total. Such sizable investments require top-management participation and approval because they are not easily reversed.
Short-term capacity plans, which we discuss in later chapters, are constrained by long-term plans. Short-term plans focus on work-force size, overtime budgets, inventories, (short-term capital plays, etc., my note), and the like, rather than on capital investment decision.
Capacity planning is central to the long-term success of an organization. Too much capacity can be as agonizing as too little, as Managerial Practice 8. 1 demonstrates. When choosing a capacity strategy, managers have to consider questions such as, should we have one large facility or several small ones? Should we expand capacity before the demand is there or wait until demand is more certain? A systematic approach is needed to answer these and similar question and to develop a capacity strategy appropriate for each situation.
Capacity planning requires a knowledge of current capacity and its utilization. A statistic often used to indicate the degree to which equipment, space, or labor (or throughput of product, my note) is currently being utilized is the average utilization rate, calculated as follows:
Average Utilization Rate = Average Output Rate divided by Capacity
and expressed as a percentage. The average output rate and the capacity must be measured in the same terms, that is, time, customers, units, or even dollars.
Output Measures – are the usual choice of product-focused firms. Nissan Motor Company confidently states its capacity to be 450,000 vehicles per year at its Tennessee plant. Capacity is well understood as an output rate because customization is low.
For multiple products, however, the capacity measure must recognize the product mix. For example, ( . . . )
Input Measures – are the usual choice of process-focused firms. For example, managers of a job shop think of capacity as machine hours or number of machines. Just as product mix can complicate output capacity measures, so also can demand complicate input measures.
Demand, which invariably is expressed as an output rate, must be converted to an input measure. Only after making the conversion can a manager compare demand requirements and capacity on an equivalent basis.
(pp. 297 – Managerial Practice 8. 1)
The Agony of Too Much and Too Little Capacity
Too Much Capacity –
The commercial real estate market in most major U.S. cities is sick, (1993) caused in part by the recession in the early 1990s. At the same time many tenants, especially those in the financial industry, are undergoing restructurings expected to cut demand for office space for years to come.
The vacancy rate of office space is 26 percent in Miami, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and Dallas alike; it is 20 percent nationwide. Values have declined as much as 30 percent in some markets, and the capacity glut hurts everyone. For example, the CenTrust Tower in Miami, a 47-tower building built by a failed thrift for $165 million, was recently sold for only $38 million.
To make matters worse, the real estate industry is suffering from a virus becoming known as the “rollover risk.” Tenants from well-planned and pricey buildings are being lured to cheaper, empty buildings.
With the exception of the credit squeeze, rollover risk may be the single greatest obstacle to the recovery of the real estate market.
“There isn’t a tenant in Washington who pays the rent who isn’t getting two calls a week from brokers asking the tenant to break the lease and move into cheap space elsewhere,” says a banking consultant in Washington, D.C. “The entire market is being cannibalized.”
Too Little Capacity –
In the late 1980s the world’s airlines re-equipped their fleets and vied to buy a record number of commercial passenger jets. Orders for Boeing, Airbus, and McDonnell Douglas surged to more than 2600 planes.
Douglas alone had a backlog of some $18 billion in firm orders for its MD-80 and new MD-11 widebody. That’s enough to keep its plant fully utilized for more than three years.
Despite the number of orders, Douglas’ commercial aircraft division announced a startling loss, Airbus had yet to make money, and even the mighty Boeing fought to improve subpar margins.
The large number of orders caused many problems. For one, Douglas’ suppliers in the metal forging industry were unable to keep pace with sales. Another problem was with its own work force: In two years, Douglas’ work force doubled, but training periods were abbreviated and the new hires were much less productive than seasoned employees.
Plant managers tried to keep on schedule by pushing planes along the assembly process, even if all the work at one particular station had not been completed.
Work was also subcontracted to other plants, including a sister plant that makes combat planes and a leased plant owned by the U.S. Air Force.
Because of the capacity shortage, costs skyrocketed and profits plummeted. By the start of the 1990s, the capacity pressure was relieved because American had cut back on the hypergrowth strategy that had set the pace for the entire airline industry in the 1980s.
Sources: “Office Buildings, Under Pressure Already, Face Threat to Their Leases,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 1991; and “Planemakers Have It So Good, It’s Bad,” Business Week, May 8, 1989.
(from pp. 297, Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis, 1993)
Diseconomies of Scale –
New Rules Breed Wasteful Mergers – Law in the News pp. 705, Part Nine – Regulation of Business, Essentials of Business Law, Second Ed., 1986
New Rules Breed Wasteful Mergers by Herman Schwartz
Public policy is always fertile ground for irony. Today, for example, the economic landscape is strewn with merger fiascos, but current antitrust policy toward these combinations is increasingly lenient. “economic efficiency” is now the “only goal” of merger policy, according to a former Justice Department official.
As a result, the merger wave of the 1980s surges ahead, reachinng a new peak last week with the Allied Corporation’s $5 billion plaanned union with the Signal Companies, the largest industrial merger ever (outside the oil industry).
This preoccupation with economic efficiency ignores Congressional intent and judicial precedent. The legislative history of the antitrust laws contains almost no mention of efficiency, production or price. Rather, there is an insistent Jeffersonian concern for the small entrepreneur – for social, not economic reasons.
Thus, the Supreme Court has always ruled that efficiencies cannot save an otherwise illegal merger.
Steel mergers were supposed to “rationalize” a sick industry. But LTV, for example, is having so much trouble digesting Republic that, even though LTV’s own steel sales rose substantially in the first quarter of 1985, it lost $156 million and operated less efficiently than the other top steelmakers; before the merger LTV had been among the most efficient.
Elsewhere, the once-voracious ITT will spin off 12 industrial technology acquisitions in its third major asset sale in eight months, with more to follow. G.E. has shed Utah International, after a loss of perhaps $3 billion.
Du Pont’s acquisition of Conoco was described by one market analyst as “dead weight pulling Du Pont down all the time.” And the history of railroad mergers like that of Penn Central (permitted in the name of “efficiency”) is dismal: in 1979, Forbes magazine concluded that 14 out of 17 rail mergers were unsuccessful.
At least some of these deals would have been blocked by an antitrust policy more consistent with Congressional intent and established law. ( . . . )
One merger consultant estimated that 70 percent fail.
(out of order in the content of the article – )
Nevertheless, when the Administration (1985 article, my note), took office, William F. Baxter, then the Assistant Attorney General in charge of anti-trust, promptly redrew Federal guidelines to ease restrictions on mergers between competitors. The guidelines further legitimized virtually any “vertical” merger — between customer and suppliers — or between companies in neither a directly competitive nor supply relationship.
Soon, deals — such as the proposed Allied-Signal merger — were proposed “that never would have been . . . before the Reagan Administration took office,” as one businessman put it. (etc. Last June, the Antitrust Division further softened the guidelines.
Experience shows that the supposed benefits of a merger are often illusory.
( . . . ) Today, Mobil is trying to spin off Montgomery Ward, after pouring over $600 million into it, and is taking a $500 million charge against earnings. Exxon has written off a $1.3 billion investment in Reliance Electric. . . . And Arco’s divestiture of its refining and retailing operations shows that vertical integration may yield not efficiencies, but trouble.
pp. 705, Essentials of Business Law, 2nd Ed.
inset article from New York Times Company, 1985
Managerial Considerations in Job Design and Work Measurement pp. 279 – 281, Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis
Compensation Plans –
Compensation plans based on work measurement typically involve incentive schemes. Those used most often are piece rate and individual incentive plans.
Piece Rate Plans – piece rate is a compensation plan based on the number of units processed during a day or week. (my note – that is whether it is stocks, bonds, investment “deals”, seams in a pair of blue jeans or what management must specify as a “fair day’s work.” – that last part came from the text.)
Individual Incentive Plants – sometimes, incentive plans are used to motivate workers. Such plans reward output that exceeds a predetermined base level. (etc.)
Quality and Compensation Plans – the purpose of incentive pay is to encourage high levels of output from employees. However, a high rate of output may be achieved at the expense of quality. What is the advantage to a company if a worker produces at 115 percent of standard but has a 20 percent defective rate?
In Chapter 3, when we discussed total quality control, we argued that quality at the source is critical for achieving world-class quality performance. Incentive plans that do not recognize and reward quality may not motivate the worker to produce high-quality goods.\
Two basic approaches are used to recognize quality in incentive pans. The first is the autocratic approach, which docks the worker’s pay for defective production or requires the worker to repair all defects at a lower rate of pay.
The second is the motivational approach, which is based on the concept of extra pay for extra effort. (etc.)
Many variants (including game theory popular in the last twenty-five years whereby the extreme levels of compensation, rewards, perks and bonuses of the executives are used as a motivating carrot for all mid-level performs who would be enticed to think they could have that eventually too, my note) of the motivational approach of including quality in work measurement are used in practice. the important point is that quality should be clearly recognized when compensation plans are being developed.
(Apparently, there also needs to be a standard set for what represents “quality” especially in the financial investment industries – because not every deal qualifies as “the deal” nor should it be, as exemplified by yesterday’s Senate hearings with the mid-level management / decision makers of the Wall Street investment firm, Goldman Sachs, – 04-27-10, Senate investigations committee.)
It has resulted in the collapse of large financial institutions, the bailout of banks by national governments and downturns in stock markets around the world. In many areas, the housing market has also suffered, resulting in numerous evictions, foreclosures and prolonged vacancies.
It contributed to the failure of key businesses, declines in consumer wealth estimated in the trillions of U.S. dollars, substantial financial commitments incurred by governments, and a significant decline in economic activity.
Many causes have been proposed, with varying weight assigned by experts. Both market-based and regulatory solutions have been implemented or are under consideration, while significant risks remain for the world economy over the 2010–2011 periods.
And on pages 300 – 301 of the same book – Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis, 1993 -in the section titled “Economies of Scale”
there is also – Diseconomies of Scale
. . . Historically, many organizations have subscribed to the concept of economies of scale. The concept seems simple: Increasing a facility’s size (or scale) decreases the average unit cost.
But in reality, it’s not at all simple. At some point a facility (or business, corporation, bank or conglomerate, my note) becomes so large that diseconomies of scale set in. Excessive size can bring complexity, loss of focus, and inefficiencies, which raise the average unity cost. (etc.)
muckety map - good example of diseconomies of scale - AIG / Goldman Sachs / Wall Street bailouts
(Figure 8.1 found on page 300 of the book below – not really applicable)
Figure 8.1 also shows a second dimension to the concept. Not only is there an optimal size for a facility but also an optimal operating level for a facility of a given size. Economies and diseconomies of scale are represented not just between cost curves but also within each one.
As the output rate approaches a facility’s best operating level, economies of scale are realized. Beyond that level, diseconomies set in.
pp. 300 – 301, Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis
My Note – I had another chart or two about these general concepts and some online information that I found awhile back, however – by the time I find it in my computer – it could be awhile. Therefore, I’m going to take a break, start a new blog entry and check online for the ones I was trying to find, which would have to be easier.
Share in GDP of U.S. financial sector since 1860 - must not include derivatives - Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University - Thomas Philippon, The future of the financial industry
Derivatives were suggested to be over $600 Trillion dollars – I don’t think that is included in the GDP . . .
(of anywhere, now that I think about it, my note) – cricketdiane
FBI investigates after school district denies monitoring students
February 20, 2010 6:33 p.m. EST
NEW: FBI will try to determine whether wiretap, computer intrusion laws were violated
Pennsylvania family claims assistant principal watched boy through laptop’s webcam
Official: It was mistake not to tell families of feature allowing school to monitor hardware.
District only accesses laptop if it’s reported lost, stolen or missing, school spokesman says
(CNN) — The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that a Pennsylvania school official remotely monitored a student at home, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told CNN on Saturday.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said the FBI became involved in the case after a family filed a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District, located outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The family accused an assistant principal at Harriton High School of watching their son through his laptop’s webcam while he was at home and unaware he was being watched. The family also says the school official used a photo taken on a laptop as the basis for disciplining the student.
In a statement issued late Friday, District Superintendent Christopher McGinley rejected the allegations.
“At no time did any high school administrator have the ability or actually access the security-tracking software,” he said. “We believe that the administrator at Harriton has been unfairly portrayed and unjustly attacked in connection with her attempts to be supportive of a student and his family. The district never did and never would use such tactics as a basis for disciplinary action.”
A school official said it was a mistake not to make families aware of a feature allowing the school to monitor the computer hardware.
The law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told CNN that the FBI will try to determine whether federal wiretap or computer intrusion laws were violated.
But FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said he could not disclose the existence of an investigation.
In a lawsuit seeking class-action status filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley are suing the school district, its board of directors, and the superintendent. They claim that the district unlawfully used its ability to remotely access a webcam on their son’s laptop computer, which was issued by the district.
The lawsuit says that on November 11, 2009, the plaintiff’s son was told by the assistant principal at Harriton High School that he was caught engaging in “improper behavior” in his home which was captured in an image via the webcam. According to the Robbins’ complaint, neither they nor their son were informed of the school’s ability to remotely access the webcam. It is unclear what the boy was doing in his room or if any punishment was given out. (although on a tv interview with the student and his mother, he indicated that he was [popping a candy mint which was taken by the school assistant principal to be drugs, paraphrased more or less] and he said the assistant principle showed him a still picture that she took of him in his room.)
Doug Young, spokesman for the Lower Merion School District, told CNN that the district would only remotely access a laptop if it was reported lost, stolen or missing. ( my note – apparently they are admitting that the “security protocol” is available on every computer they have given out to students [which is implied by their admission stated here and publicly], and that every one of these computers can be accessed remotely by their staff at their discretion through the webcam and any other information software they’ve licensed.)
If that happened, the district would first have to request access from its technology and security department and receive authorization, he said. Then it would use the built-in security feature to take over the laptop and see whatever was in the webcam’s field of vision, potentially allowing them to track down the missing computer.
(my note – that is beyond any measure, against Constitutional guarantees of rights to American citizens, including children and families. It is also a typical cold war and Nazi Germany era gestapo mentality – spying.)
During the 2009-2010 school year, 42 laptops were reported lost, stolen or missing, and the tracking software was activated by the technology department in each instance, according to McGinley’s statement. A total of 18 laptops were found or recovered.
At no time did any high school administrator have the ability or actually access the security-tracking software.
–Christopher McGinley, Lower Merion School District superintendent
McGinley said the parents and students were not explicitly told about this built-in security feature.
“Despite some reports to the contrary, be assured that the security-tracking software has been completely disabled,” McGinley said in the statement.
“This feature was limited to taking a still image of the computer user and an image of the desktop in order to help locate the reported missing, lost, or stolen computer (this includes tracking down a loaner computer that, against regulations, might be taken off campus).”
In order to receive the laptop, the family had to sign an “acceptable-use” agreement. In order to take the laptop home, the family would also have to buy insurance for the computer.
In the “acceptable-use” agreement, the families are made aware of the school’s ability to “monitor” the hardware, Young said, but it stops short of explicitly explaining the security feature. He said that was a mistake.
(my note – that is also true for every other school student’s computer issued by any US local school system.)
Young told CNN that the district is very proud of the laptop program and its ability to close the technology gap between students who have computers at home and those who don’t. He acknowledged that the schools have to take a step back to re-evaluate the policies and procedures surrounding the program.
Multiple requests for further comment from the lawyer for the Robbins’, Mark Haltzman of Lamm Rubenstone LLC, went unanswered.( The school board is made up of lawyers in Lower Merion, up to and including the school board chairman, my note – see below for the school board’s nine members and other local officials who are responsible for this. There are probably some at the state level in the Education Department and State of Pennsylvania Legislature that are directly involved in this policy and its use.)
CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Nicole Bliman contributed to this report
There was a case several years ago that successfully prosecuted against a man who had made a peephole in a women’s bathroom mirror and there have been some successfully prosecuted against peepholes in dressing rooms and bathrooms in the US. Now, why is it that the school systems have a right to come into our homes by remotely accessing any computer webcam? Isn’t it the same criminal act?
It also means that any real protection from unreasonable search and seizures, any real rights to the protections of our privacy in our own homes, and any protection of our basic human and civil rights are no more than pretense and no longer actually exist. The fact that this school system found it appropriate to remotely view the events and activities occurring in the privacy of this and any other student’s bedroom in their parents’ home for any reason – indicates a complete ignorance of our bill of rights and US Constitution. It has to also be criminal under the laws of any state contained within at least eight statutes that I can remember, from the laws against “peeping Tom” behaviors to the laws against electronic eavesdropping and wiretaps.
Members of the Harriton, Lower Merion, PA high school administration responsible for this policy and their secretaries –
Lower Merion School District
301 East Montgomery Ave.
Ardmore, PA 19003
The Lower Merion School District (LMSD), located in Philadelphia’s historic Main Line suburbs, serves the 62,000 residents of Lower Merion Township and the Borough of Narberth. Established as one of Pennsylvania’s first public school districts in 1834, LMSD enjoys a rich tradition of achievement, innovation and community partnership and a longstanding reputation as one of the finest school systems in the United States. The District’s six elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools provide a challenging, multi-disciplinary academic program and dynamic, co-curricular experience to more than 6,900 students.
Of the District’s nine eligible schools, all have received recognition for excellence by the Commonwealth and seven have received the National Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Education. LMSD schools rank among the highest in Pennsylvania for SAT and PSAT scores, AP Participation rate, total number of National Merit Semifinalists, total number of International Baccalaureate diplomas granted and in numerous publications’ “Top Schools” lists. Approximately ninety-four percent of high school graduates attend institutions of higher learning.
LMSD’s comprehensive instructional program encompasses an array of services for special needs and gifted children as well as community-based learning programs, extended daycare, early-intervention literacy support, an International Baccalaureate diploma program and a full menu of high school honors and AP courses. An extensive range of course offerings in core areas, music and the arts, technology and special subjects form the foundation of the District’s secondary curriculum. Themed, year-long middle school programs offer students enhanced opportunities to explore subjects through hands-on, interdisciplinary study and block scheduling. The District’s World Languages program enables all students to receive uninterrupted foreign language instruction from second grade until the time they graduate from high school.
More than 500 supervised academic, athletic, community outreach and performance-oriented co-curricular programs are available in the District, from elementary school technology clubs to high school varsity sports. In addition to serving student programs, the District’s facilities are utilized by thousands of community members for enrichment programs, recreation and general use.
The District’s professional staff consists of than 630 full time teachers, 80% of whom have advanced degrees. The faculty is complemented by a support staff of more than 500 skilled individuals. A guidance counselor and psychologist are available in every school.
LMSD maintains one of the lowest class size averages in Pennsylvania. The student-to professional staff ratio at the secondary level is 11:1 and average class size in the District is approximately 21 students. In addition to providing a supportive teaching environment, the District offers one of the highest salaries and best benefits packages in Pennsylvania and extensive staff development opportunities.
LMSD is in the final phases of implementing a Capital Improvement Program that began in 1997-1998. Nine of ten school projects have been completed, including six elementary schools, two middle schools and Harriton High School, which opened in in September of 2009. The new Lower Merion High School is scheduled to open in Fall 2010.
LMSD is one of only two districts in Pennsylvania to earn Moody’s highest bond rating, a reflection of outstanding fiscal strength and stewardship.
( My Note – somewhere there are state legislators and department of education policy makers who are directly responsible for abrogating the Constitution of the United States in every case where the use of these “security protocols” to remotely access laptop webcams in people’s homes, have been utilized in denial of every human and civil right guaranteed American citizens along with their children, who are also citizens and guaranteed rights. – cricketdiane)
Board of Directors
The Board of School Directors is comprised of nine members. These members are elected locally to act as a corporate body in fulfilling within the Lower Merion School District the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s obligation to provide public education.
School Directors are elected at municipal elections on odd-numbered years to serve four-year terms beginning on the first Monday in December following their election. The major responsibility of the Board is to set policies that define the nature of public education from Kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Parents and residents are encouraged to attend the Board’s Business Meetings and the Education Committee Meetings. Formal action is taken only at the Business Meetings. Time is set aside for questions, comments or suggestions from the public at the beginning of each meeting. All meetings begin at 8:00 PM and are held in the Lower Merion High School library. For more information, click on School Board Meeting Schedule.
Current members of LMSD Board of School Directors:
David Ebby, President
Linda Doucette-Ashman, Vice President
Democratic Candidates for Lower Merion School Board
Diane DiBonaventuro has served as a School Director in Lower Merion since December 1999. For the last several years she has been the chair of the Facilities Committee and an active participant in the planning and implementation of the Capital Program. She helped shepherd through the planning, bidding and construction of Penn Valley, Gladwyne and Merion Elementary schools, all of which have been completed on time and on budget. She previously chaired the Finance and Policy Committees. In addition to her extensive volunteer work with the schools, Diane is the executive director of the Main Line Girls Basketball Association. The MLGBA is a community sports league for girls in grades 2 through 12. Diane received her B.A. and teaching certificate from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught middle school in North Philadelphia, lower school at Friends Central and then moved on to the college level where she was a coach, instructor and eventually a Director of Athletics. She has worked at Bryn Mawr College and Immaculata College. Diane lives in Rosemont with her husband of 20 years, Warren Higgins, their two children, both products of Lower Merion schools, and their two dogs. She attended Lower Merion schools until her family moved in 1972. After graduating from college in 1982 she returned to Lower Merion and has lived in the district for over 30 years. (Click here for Diane DiBonaventuro’s “issue statement”.)
Linda Doucette-Ashman is an environmental attorney who worked in the corporate legal departments of Polaroid Corporation, American Cyanamid Company and Cytec Industries for 12 years. Her practice concentrated in the areas of regulatory affairs, contracts and community relations. She received a B.A. in Mathematics from Mount Holyoke College in 1985 and her law degree from New England School of Law in 1988. Linda has spent the last 7 years actively involved at Gladwyne Elementary and most recently at Welsh Valley. She participates in the classrooms and on various Home and School Association committees including serving as Inter School Council representative and Co-Coordinator of Gladwyne’s Foreign Language Club. She also served as a Board Member for the Committee for Special Education, a volunteer parent organization assisting parents with children who have IEPs, 504 Agreements or GIEPs, and was the Co-Chair of its Gifted Committee for 2 years. She is a member of the Newcomers Club of Bryn Mawr, a non-profit group which provides fellowship to new residents in the Main Line area, and served on its Board for 5 years. Linda lives in Villanova with her husband Harvey Ashman and their two children who attend Welsh Valley and Gladwyne. (Click here for Linda Doucette-Ashman’s “issue statement”.)
David Ebby is a partner in the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, where he specializes in commercial real estate law. Prior to practicing law, he taught upper school history and English at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD. David grew up in Bala Cynwyd and attended Cynwyd Elementary and Bala Cynwyd Jr. High before graduating from Episcopal Academy. He received his B.A. in 1985 from Amherst College and his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law in 1989. David resides in Bryn Mawr with his wife Jane, a spinning instructor at Main Line Health and Fitness, and their three children who attend Welsh Valley Middle School, Gladwyne Elementary and Friends Central. (Click here for David Ebby’s “issue statement”.)
Susan Guthrie is an economist with expertise in labor economics, the economics of the public sector, and the estimation of economic damages. Until October 2006, she was a Principal at The Brattle Group, an economic consulting firm, where she led economic analyses on behalf of large corporations in cases involving commercial damage claims often in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. While at The Brattle Group, she also served on the Board of Directors. She has been a home room parent for the last two years at Merion Elementary School. Susan received B.A.s in applied mathematics and economics from the University of California at San Diego and her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1995. She moved to Merion Station in 1999 where she now resides with her husband, Todd Sinai, an Associate Professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and two children who attend Merion Elementary. (Click here for Susan Guthrie’s “issue statement”.)
Lisa Fair Pliskin has served as a School Director in Lower Merion since December 2003. She is currently the chair of the Finance Committee. During her tenure she has served as a member of the committees on Policy, Facilities, Communications, Personnel and Audit. Lisa is Vice President & General Counsel of Kravco Simon Company, a management and development company specializing in retail properties located in King of Prussia. Prior to joining Kravco, Lisa was Counsel with the law firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll with a broad transactional real estate practice. Lisa received her B.A. from Tufts University and her J.D. from New York University Law School in 1989. Lisa grew up in Lower Merion, attending Penn Wynne and Ardmore Junior High School and graduating from Lower Merion High School in 1982. She resides in Merion Station with her husband, Dan Pliskin, a corporate and securities lawyer, and has two children who attend Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Merion Elementary. (Click here for Lisa Fair Pliskin’s “issue statement”.)
Paid for by Leadership for Excellence in Education
Pamela Levinson, Treasurer
David Ebby is a partner in the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, where he specializes in commercial real estate law. Prior to practicing law, he taught upper school history and English at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD. David grew up in Bala Cynwyd and attended Cynwyd Elementary and Bala Cynwyd Jr. High before graduating from Episcopal Academy. He received his B.A. in 1985 from Amherst College and his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law in 1989. David resides in Bryn Mawr with his wife Jane, a spinning instructor at Main Line Health and Fitness, and their three children who attend Welsh Valley Middle School, Gladwyne Elementary and Friends Central. (Click here for David Ebby’s “issue statement”.)
(above info about democratic board members found here – )
Real-estate lawyer David Ebby has become the third young partner to leave Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin in Philadelphia, as he rejoined his original law firm, Drinker Biddle & Reath.
Ebby, 42, joined Hangley Aronchick along with his father, Stuart Ebby, in 2001, bringing with them a significant real-estate development practice. It was assumed that when the elder Ebby, 68, retired, he would pass down his book of business to his son.
But David Ebby has decided to return to the firm where he spent the first five years of his career. He started Monday.
Hangley Aronchick Chairman William Hangley said Ebby takes with him a significant book of business. He is not surprised at the move because Ebby maintained a close friendship with Drinker Biddle Managing Partner Andrew Kassner and Drinker Biddle had been pursuing him.
Kassner said Ebby is just hitting his stride as a business producer and practitioner and his arrival fits Drinker Biddle’s goal to expand its real-estate practice. The firm currently has 32 real-estate lawyers, including 16 in its Philadelphia and Berwyn offices.
In addition to the elder Ebby, Hangley Aronchick still has real-estate partners David Scolnic and Richard Goldstein. Hangley said the firm would like to replace David Ebby with a senior-level real-estate practitioner.
Hangley Aronchick, a 50-attorney firm that competes for talent and clients with the city’s largest law firms, has an elite commercial-litigation practice but has found it slower going in building its transactional practices.
Hangley Aronchick is also home to Stuart Ebby’s other son, Robert Ebby, a partner in the litigation department. Late last year the firm lost two other partners in their 40s, intellectual-property litigator David Wolfsohn to Woodcock Washburn and white-collar litigator Hank Hockeimer to Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll.
National Education Association wants to know – maybe they don’t know that a twelve year old was arrested in New York City for doodling on her desk with a washable marker with the same shame and treatment as someone that set the building on fire. Her chances of being a straight A student probably less desirable to her now. That ranks right in there with the spying on people and students in their own homes using the webcams on the laptops loaned out to them for school and then holding those people accountable for things done in their homes and bedrooms and living rooms and dens that the school system judges to be “improper”, whether illegal or immoral or not.
That’s in the same neighborhood with the girl student who was strip searched by the principal because another student accused her of having a tylenol pill which took her from being a normal person with good grades to being a survivor of psychological trauma, shame, humiliation, degradation, and sexual / self-image based trauma. These are the acts of a time in our country when the conservatives have been in control of policies which have made this country into something other than the America intended by our Revolution and Constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. – cricketdiane
Lower Merion Commissioners 2010
The Board of Commissioners of Lower Merion Township
Somebody or some group of many somebodies needs to start contacting these people from the Commissioners of Lower Merion PA to the Republican and Democratic committee members in the county along with the school board members who thought that using the webcam on student’s laptops to look at whatever they damn well pleased within people’s homes is the “American Way”. They are severely misguided and no telling how many other school systems and local communities’ officials around the United States are engaging in the same activities from spying through the webcams where elderly members of the communities are using “their loaner” laptops to scanning through webcams on school children’s and high school students’ laptop loaners across the US.
How long are the citizens of the United States going to sit by and not say a word that makes any difference when it matters?
P.S. And if anyone has a “loaner” laptop from the state, community, school system or if any of their children or family members have one – I would suggest finding out what their “security protocols” are where their ability and willingness to spy within people’s homes using those computer webcams has become standard operating procedure. Put a piece of tape over the webcam or folded 3×5 card to stop the camera being used remotely by these _________ (fill in the blank) officials and know that the internet use of these systems are being used as information collected about the student and the family without regard – so keep it in mind.
In support of the enforcement responsibilities of the Division, the Administrative Management Section provides a diverse array of management and technical services. These services include, but are not limited to, personnel administration, budget formulation and execution, facility services, mail and file operations, and automated systems.
The Complaint Adjudication Office reviews cases provided to it by departmental components or the EEOC alleging employment discrimination by employees of the Department of Justice and renders a final decision for the Department.
The Coordination and Review Section exercises both programmatic and non-litigation enforcement responsibilities. Under Executive Order 12250, the Section coordinates the enforcement by Federal agencies of various statutes that prohibit discrimination in programs that receive Federal financial assistance. The Section also has authority to investigate certain complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion against certain recipients of assistance from the Department of Justice.
The federal criminal civil rights statutes provide for prosecutions of conspiracies to interfere with federally protected rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, the use or threat of force to injure or intimidate someone in their enjoyment of specific rights (such as voting, employment, education, public facilities and accommodations) and criminal housing interference.
The Disability Rights Section implements the Department of Justice’s responsibilities under titles I, II, and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment (Title I), in all activities of state and local governments (Title II), in places of public accommodation and in commercial facilities (Title III). The Section’s responsibilities include enforcement, technical assistance activities and certification of building codes. Enforcement responsibilities cover a broad spectrum of potential actions including investigations, informal or formal settlement agreements, consent decrees (approved by a court), and litigation. To promote voluntary compliance with the ADA and to enhance enforcement efforts, the Technical Assistance Program provides free information and technical assistance to businesses,state and local governments, people with disabilities, and the general public. The Section also develops regulations to implement Titles II and III of the ADA, including standards for accessible design, and coordinates Federal enforcement of Title II and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and other Federal statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs that receive Federal financial assistance. The Section also operates a pilot project to facilitate the use of mediation to settle ADA disputes.
The Educational Opportunities Section enforces federal statutes which prohibit public school officials from engaging in discriminatory practices involving both elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
The Employment Litigation Section enforces against state and local government employers the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and other federal laws prohibiting employment practices that discriminate on grounds of race, sex, religion, and national origin.
The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section has principal responsibility for enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap and familial status. In addition to its enforcement responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act, the Section enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibits discrimination in credit transactions, and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants and places of entertainment, and Title III of the 1964 Act which prohibits discrimination in public facilities.
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices investigates and prosecutes employers charged with national origin and citizenship status discrimination under Section 102 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). It also investigates allegations of document abuse and retaliation as a result of the Immigration Act of 1990.
The Special Litigation Section is responsible for protecting the constitutional and federal statutory rights of persons confined in certain institutions owned or operated by state or local governments. These institutions include facilities for individuals who are mentally ill and developmentally disabled, elderly persons in nursing homes, inmates in prisons and jails and juveniles confined in detention halls. The Section also investigates state and local law enforcement agencies alleged to engage in a pattern or practice of violating citizens’ federal rights and may bring civil lawsuits to remedy such abuses. The Section has also been charged with the civil enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which prohibits the use of force, threats or physical obstruction to interfere with access to reproductive health services clinics or places of worship.
The Voting Section is responsible for the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and other statutory provisions designed to safeguard the right to vote of racial and language minorities, disabled and illiterate persons, overseas citizens, persons who change their residence shortly before a Presidential election, and persons 18 to 20 years of age.
The Special Litigation Section is responsible for protecting the constitutional and federal statutory rights of persons confined in certain institutions owned or operated by state or local governments. These institutions include facilities for individuals who are mentally ill and developmentally disabled, elderly persons in nursing homes, inmates in prisons and jails and juveniles confined in detention halls.
The Section also investigates state and local law enforcement agencies alleged to engage in a pattern or practice of violating citizens’ federal rights and may bring civil lawsuits to remedy such abuses.
The Section has also been charged with the civil enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which prohibits the use of force, threats or physical obstruction to interfere with access to reproductive health services clinics or places of worship.
US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Section
My Note –
USA – the land where schools, school boards, police, counties, states and local officials perpetrate every last horror utilized by the tyrants and oppressors of past dictatorships from history. Why did my ancestors fight tyranny and spill their blood for this?
The FDIC is often appointed as receiver for failed banks. This page contains useful information for the customers and vendors of these banks. This includes information on the acquiring bank (if applicable), how your accounts and loans are affected, and how vendors can file claims against the receivership. Failed Financial Institution Contact Search displays point of contact information related to failed banks.
This list includes banks which have failed since October 1, 2000.
AIG Decides to Keep Unprofitable Mortgage Insurer (Update1)
February 12, 2010, 04:20 PM EST
AIG, which was rescued in September 2008 after losses from bad bets tied to housing markets, posted a $1.43 billion operating loss from mortgage insurance in the first nine months of 2009 as U.S. foreclosure filings climbed to a record. The company said in November that it tapped the Treasury Department line within its $182.3 billion rescue package for about $4.2 billion, in part to restructure United Guaranty.
Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc., the insurer divesting assets to repay a government bailout, opted to keep its money-losing U.S. mortgage guarantor after selling Canadian and Israeli subsidiaries of the unit.
AIG made a “recent decision” to hold onto Greensboro, North Carolina-based United Guaranty, Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, a Moody’s Investors Service analyst, wrote yesterday in a research note. AIG executives told her of the move within the past few months, Isaacs-Lowe said today in an interview.
United Guaranty was founded in 1963 and sold to AIG in 1981. The business generated $2.8 billion in operating income and $600 million in dividends for AIG in the eight years prior to the housing slump, the company has said.
United Guaranty was ranked the fourth-largest U.S. mortgage insurer in the first six months of 2009, behind No. 1 MGIC Investment Corp., Radian Group Inc. and PMI Group Inc., according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade journal. All the firms were unprofitable in the first nine months of 2009.
Essent Guaranty Inc., backed by investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., became the first newcomer to the U.S. mortgage-guaranty business since the housing collapse, leaving it unburdened by policies sold in 2005 and 2006 when underwriting standards were lower.
Until 2007, private mortgage policies had been among the most profitable types of coverage sold by insurers. From 2004 to 2006, members of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America reported a profit margin of at least 35 cents for every dollar they collected in premiums. Auto insurers made less than 5 cents on every dollar in 2006, according to A.M. Best Co.
Last week offered some sobering news on the housing market: Even with broad government support for housing, data from the National Association of Realtors showed that the median price of single-family homes continued to decline in 2009. RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties, said foreclosure filings rose by 15 percent in January compared with a year ago.
Foreclosure is generally a long process, with multiple filings as delinquent borrowers fall ever further behind. What is most ominous about the latest RealtyTrac numbers is that nearly 88,000 people had their homes repossessed in January, a 31 percent increase from a year ago. The big jump indicates that many foreclosures that were in process in 2009 are now beginning to move to repossession and, eventually, auction. With more than four million homes in that pipeline, the foreclosure crisis shows no sign of abating.
[ . . . ]
There is an emerging consensus among financial experts and policy makers that the key to successful modifications is to reduce the amount of the borrower’s loan balance, rather than merely reducing the monthly payment. The goal is to lower the payment while restoring equity, thus giving borrowers both the means and the incentive to keep up with their payments.
Administration officials have resisted that approach, in part because they believe it would be too expensive. Another obstacle is the lenders themselves. In general, a lender is unwilling to take losses by reducing principal unless the owners of the second mortgage on a home also take a hit. For banks that own the second mortgages, such losses would be huge — something they clearly would prefer not to face up to.
Banks’ unwillingness to take losses on second mortgages may also be holding up so-called short sales, in which a lender agrees to retire a first-mortgage debt by taking the proceeds from the sale of the home, even when the amount is less than the mortgage balance.
The number of Americans who owed more than their homes were worth was virtually nil when the real estate collapse began in mid-2006, but by the third quarter of 2009, an estimated 4.5 million homeowners had reached the critical threshold, with their home’s value dropping below 75 percent of the mortgage balance.
They are stretched, aggrieved and restless. With figures released last week showing that the real estate market was stalling again, their numbers are now projected to climb to a peak of 5.1 million by June — about 10 percent of all Americans with mortgages.
“We’re now at the point of maximum vulnerability,” said Sam Khater, a senior economist with First American CoreLogic, the firm that conducted the recent research. “People’s emotional attachment to their property is melting into the air.”
Suggestions that people would be wise to renege on their home loans are at least a couple of years old, but they are turning into a full-throated barrage. Bloggers were quick to note recently that landlords of an 11,000-unit residential complex in Manhattan showed no hesitation, or shame, in walking away from their deeply underwater investment.
[ . . . ]
It would cost about $745 billion, slightly more than the size of the original 2008 bank bailout, to restore all underwater borrowers to the point where they were breaking even, according to First American.
Using government money to do that would be seen as unfair by many taxpayers, Mr. Barr said. On the other hand, doing nothing about underwater mortgages could encourage more walk-aways, dealing another blow to a fragile economy.
With prices now down by about 30 percent, underwater borrowers fall into two groups. Some have owned their homes for many years and got in trouble because they used the house as a cash machine. Others, like Mr. Koellmann in Miami Beach, made only one mistake: they bought as the boom was cresting.
Guy D. Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance magazine, says he does not hear much sympathy from lenders for their underwater customers.
“The banks tell me that a lot of people who are complaining were the ones who refinanced and took all the equity out any time there was any appreciation,” he said. “The banks are damned if they will help.”
David Rosenberg, the chief economist of the investment firm Gluskin Sheff, wrote recently that borrowers were not victims. They “signed contracts, and as adults should also be held accountable,” he wrote.
Of course, this is not necessarily how Wall Street itself behaves, as demonstrated by the case of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. An investment group led by the real estate giant Tishman Speyer recently defaulted on $4.4 billion in debt that it had used to buy the two apartment developments in Manhattan, handing the properties back to the lenders.
Moreover, during the boom, it was the banks that helped drive prices to unrealistic levels by lowering credit standards and unleashing a wave of speculative housing demand.
[ . . . ]
Mr. Koellmann applied last fall to Bank of America for a modification, noting that his income had slipped. But the lender came back a few weeks ago with a plan that added more restrictive terms while keeping the payments about the same.
“That may have been the last straw,” Mr. Koellmann said.
For the truth is that lack of fiscal discipline isn’t the whole, or even the main, source of Europe’s troubles — not even in Greece, whose government was indeed irresponsible (and hid its irresponsibility with creative accounting).
No, the real story behind the euromess lies not in the profligacy of politicians but in the arrogance of elites — specifically, the policy elites who pushed Europe into adopting a single currency well before the continent was ready for such an experiment.
Consider the case of Spain, which on the eve of the crisis appeared to be a model fiscal citizen. Its debts were low — 43 percent of G.D.P. in 2007, compared with 66 percent in Germany. It was running budget surpluses. And it had exemplary bank regulation.
But with its warm weather and beaches, Spain was also the Florida of Europe — and like Florida, it experienced a huge housing boom. The financing for this boom came largely from outside the country: there were giant inflows of capital from the rest of Europe, Germany in particular.
The result was rapid growth combined with significant inflation: between 2000 and 2008, the prices of goods and services produced in Spain rose by 35 percent, compared with a rise of only 10 percent in Germany. Thanks to rising costs, Spanish exports became increasingly uncompetitive, but job growth stayed strong thanks to the housing boom.
Then the bubble burst. Spanish unemployment soared, and the budget went into deep deficit. But the flood of red ink — which was caused partly by the way the slump depressed revenues and partly by emergency spending to limit the slump’s human costs — was a result, not a cause, of Spain’s problems.
(etc. – he claims that the single currency Euro has created the problem – – I don’t agree, but it does mean that some options for currency adjustments are not available to use for fixing the situation as a result of the single currency – my note)
My Notes – Who decided that the value and costs of property, including basic shelter / housing would be at a price far beyond the reach of any real wages made in a year or in five years of a citizen’s efforts?
When was that created and was it by the natural laws of supply and demand at the time or was it constructed with intention?
And, what has it become now / as a natural outgrowth of housing values having exceeded the real income of the majority of our population, along with the uses of mortgages as an asset class to be bought and sold and leveraged against – what do we have now as a result of this huge disparity between income and housing costs?
What happens when banks are allowed to borrow at 0% interest from our Treasury using our money, although they are a bad credit risk in every respect at the time they are allowed to borrow many millions at 72 to 1 (or more) against every dollar of assets they pretend to have? (and at asset valuations they pretend are at a level that was taken before the economic downturn)?
Not only are people walking away from their upside down mortgages, they are also not being employed in any reasonable period of time after being dumped by companies whose only interest was to pad the bottom line for a short period of time to inspire conditional confidence in their stock shares?
What happens when people realize that they are not going to be employed anytime in the next five years, are not going to be able to own another house in their lifetimes, watch their children not have access to a higher education because the money intended for it was returned to them depleted of over 75% of its initial value, and begin to understand the disparity of return on their time and efforts if and when companies do choose to hire them back?
Who was it that decided the next natural progression in the economic foundation of our country would drop manufacturing and replace it with money making money industries? Who decided that it would be a strong, healthy foundation for our economic future? What bunch of ninnies came up with that?
So, now that companies do not have to profit or to be profitable in the primary business model under which their business operates, but simply have to manipulate investment portfolios to their advantage, what real value do those companies (and state budgets and Wall Street firms) have to the employment base, in interactive services and products available to the benefits of our population, and in our longterm financial growth as a nation?
When large corporate and institutional players are the only ones basically manipulating the markets, the stock markets, the commodities markets, the futures and speculative plays marketplaces, and international economies and markets, what actual real values exist for any of the things being traded?
Just as when in 2008, the speculative increase in the oil futures drove prices up to record profits for those speculators and their firms, entire industries across the United States suffered massive losses as they covered the extra costs of those oil prices at the consumer level. But, the entire play was no more than a manipulated construct. It wasn’t the real value of the commodity in any sense but it was passed along to the consumers, including throughout the increased business costs passed along secondarily to consumers.
And, what value do those speculators have and the profits they skimmed off that play when their time, effort, talents, resources, and availability of cash isn’t used for anything productive that enhances the overall economic foundation and future of the United States? It isn’t being used to underwrite alternative energy options, it isn’t the speculators that are inventing something which solves real problems in our communities nor that solves climate change causes nor do those resources make our companies more solvent and more competitive. What good do they do?
When housing mortgages are packaged and sold, then resold and a number of financial products are made based on them, including the credit default swaps, the mortgage insurance products, leverages are made against them in huge loan packages based on their value, then what real value do they have going forward? Are they real? Are they a pretense with no more value than what someone in Wall Street or the backrooms of a banking firm somewhere says that they have? Are they real capital formation, or are they in fact, not worth the paperwork they are printed on? What trade actually exists on them in any solvent form once people across the world in every aspect of our society and financial systems are aware that the values are unfairly being manipulated and don’t exist in the real world?
Trickle down economics is a failed economic policy from the Reagan years and beyond Greenspan’s idea of an unregulated economy – at what point do the Wall Street firms and gigantic banking conglomerates realize the basis of their comparative valuation structures have re-valued real assets somewhere below zero? Why don’t they know that now? Losses that required a loan over $180 Billion dollars for AIG seem to be a clear indication of what that means. As they have tried to sell off assets, which have borne little of their estimated and accounting values – it would indicate the disparity that exists between the real economy, the real values and their perceptions of values? Why does it not tell them anything that makes sense to them in a broader understanding of what they are doing?
To me, it indicates that using a “money making money” basis for our overall economic foundation is not a sound choice, among other things. It also shows me that the integral factors of trading values are manufactured and not real.
Over the course of all these elements put together, it tells me that our economy and our economic growth, our economic foundation, our economic future, it set out over air with no real foundation whatsoever. The basic relationships that should exist to maintain a stable structure of values for the purposes of comparison and realistic values being set to actual assets, values, housing, properties, corporations, loans, loan products or whatever financial instruments does not exist in any actual sense.
It also shows me that the rules do not exist for either the values nor for the plays that can be made with them which makes the system more like a polished poker game of bluffing than a real market or any other monetary concept of actual values.
What happens when those banks, financial firms, investment banks, investment houses, stock brokerages, financial investment funds, insurance companies acting as hedge funds, and other exaggerated examples of financial imprudence get to play by a set of rules which offers large grants, loans and offsets when they are insolvent, defaulting on loans, exemplify a bad credit score and a bad credit risk, whose past behavior indicates bad choices and even tremendous bad judgments and bad plays, insider trades, conflicts of interest and abuse of their fiduciary trust?
What basis of economic growth and what new understanding of fiduciary trust does that become when those same people and institutions are refusing credit to anyone whose credit score resembles what they had when they used and continue to use the American taxpayer’s money and our National Treasury to cover their losses?
(An implicit obligation of the United States means what now?)
– cricketdiane, 02-15-10
I watched as the economic forecasters and analysts continued to say it is all better now, the same way they said in 2008 that we weren’t in a Recession (while not being willing to even use the word in many cases). Either they don’t know what the hell they are doing or they are lying about what they do know. I’m not sure which it is, but to continue paying analysts and advisors whose sole intent is to propagate lies in the name of instilling a falsely founded confidence in a system whose values are distorted, at best – is beyond me to understand.
The economic models that I understand are dimensional and well-founded in larger pictures of integrated values. When the Reagan administration cronies and Republican administration policy makers decided to fudge the numbers throughout statistical data sets that they had to collect and make public by law, it did not change the facts. The unemployment numbers inclusively are not the numbers published by the US Labor Department as a result of the changes made by Republican administrators, however – it didn’t change the facts on the ground in this country. And, since everyone making analyses knows that those employment and unemployment numbers have been divided into unnatural categories of data and statistically manipulated by that division, they should know better than to assume the rate of unemployment is anywhere close to 10% in the United States. Even adding the admitted unemployment figures across every state, yields a figure much higher on any given date and even those do not include those citizens who are in our prisons at the moment, put in mental hospitals for some reason, having to work part-time when they can’t afford to live at that rate, retired by having to go back to work because their pensions have been stolen by Wall Street, and those who have not continued to collect unemployment benefits but are still unemployed. The real loss in consumer buying power can be significant enough that even China knew to put its focus on other markets that don’t include the United States.
Don’t tell me that everything is all okay now – that isn’t even close to the truth.
If nobody can afford to buy a house except those people who “flip houses” – then what is a house really worth?
If 90% of the bread produced goes unsold and into the trash bin, then what is a loaf of bread worth? Is it really worth the $4.29 that is being charged for that loaf of bread?
(everything from my notes on down are my thoughts about it – understandably I still have more questions that are unanswered – I will study it some more.)