Economy

Credit unions did not escape

Submitted: Mar 21, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

2-23-09
CounterPunch.com
The Cooperative Model
How Credit Unions Survived the Crash...RALPH NADER
http://www.counterpunch.org/nader02232009.html

While the reckless giant banks are shattering like an over-heated glacier day by day, the nation?s credit unions are a relative island of calm largely apart from the vortex of casino capitalism.

Eighty five million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers. Your neighborhood or workplace credit union did not invest in these notorious speculative derivatives nor did they offer people ?teaser rates? to sign on for a home mortgage they could not afford.

Ninety one percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth in mortgage lending than any other kinds of consumer loans they are extending. They are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account, such as the FDIC does for depositors in commercial banks.

They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses? stock options as do the commercial banks.

Credit Unions have no shareholders nor stock nor stock options; they are responsible to their owner-members who are their customers.

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State of the birds and of the Endangered Species Act

Submitted: Mar 20, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The unprecedented "State of the Birds" Report 2009 caused a small stir in some circles during a week otherwise devoted to stories of unprecedented extortion by finance, insurance and real estate representatives in and out of the Obama administration.

The Wall Street Journal, in an apparent lapse of syntactical clarity, offered this line:

Among the more than 800 bird species in the U.S., 67 are listed as endangered or threatened by the federal government, the report says.

Certainly under the Bush administration, including the former president's parting shot at gutting the Endangered Species Administration (see last posting by Badlands), a wide variety of wildlife species in the US have been endangered or threatened by the actions and especially the non-actions of federal government agencies charged with their protection. As the collected works of former Department of Interior Inspector General, Earl E. Devaney, documented, these agencies were frequently in the pockets of the extortionists now destroying the national human habitat and economy. The most outrageous case Devaney investigated, involved oil and gas leases in Colorado, home state of Obama's Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar.

The Wall Street Journal continues:

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State of the birds and of the Endangered Species Act

Submitted: Mar 20, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The unprecedented "State of the Birds" Report 2009 caused a small stir in some circles during a week otherwise devoted to stories of unprecedented extortion by finance, insurance and real estate representatives in and out of the Obama administration.

The Wall Street Journal, in an apparent lapse of syntactical clarity, offered this line:

Among the more than 800 bird species in the U.S., 67 are listed as endangered or threatened by the federal government, the report says.

Certainly under the Bush administration, including the former president's parting shot at gutting the Endangered Species Administration (see last posting by Badlands), a wide variety of wildlife species in the US have been endangered or threatened by the actions and especially the non-actions of federal government agencies charged with their protection. As the collected works of former Department of Interior Inspector General, Earl E. Devaney, documented, these agencies were frequently in the pockets of the extortionists now destroying the national human habitat and economy. The most outrageous case Devaney investigated, involved oil and gas leases in Colorado, home state of Obama's Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar.

The Wall Street Journal continues:

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The fish

Submitted: Mar 15, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

"Capitalists forget the masses. Socialists forget the money." -- Mike Tharp, executive editor, Merced Sun-Star.

"Capitalists and newspaper editors work without aid of memory." Badlands Journal editoral board.

In the stirring, hairy-chested whine beneath, written on a weekend when, long after every newspaper in the region has seen all its finance, insurance and real estate flak predictions of the easing of foreclosures and the bottom of real estate prices buried by reality, Sonny Star's top editor calls for a Big public works project for Merced to provide work and restore civic confidence.

In general, Californians believe that the history of everything from the state to their subdivision began when they arrived. This appears to be doubly true of the manly Tharp, recently returned from the Green Zone in Baghdad, who calls in vigorous prose for the government to build something around Merced. Right now, if you please.

The government continues to sink hundreds of millions of weakening dollars into a win-win, public-private partnership project adjoining Merced. The project is called UC Merced. It was repeatedly presented by several generations of UC administrators, UC Merced boosters, politicians and business leaders -- and incessantly by UC Merced Bobcatflaksters -- to be a publicly funded "high-tech, bio-tech engine of growth." But we don't hear so much as a backfire, let alone a Great Purring Sound. 

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Class actionable sheetrock

Submitted: Mar 01, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

2-26-09
The National Law Journal
Something Rotten in Drywall, Say Homeowners
Sulphur emissions suspected from drywall of undetermined origin
Daily Business Review
John Pacenti

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202428594677


George and Brenda Brincku knew they only wanted to use the best products for the third house they built together. She said they learned the hard way by scrimping in the past.

When it came to drywall, they insisted their subcontractors use an American-made product.

But the couple started experiencing unusual problems along with a number of owners whose homes were built in 2005 and 2006 when construction materials were scarce. The coils in their high-end air conditioner failed repeatedly. There was a strong odor in a downstairs bathroom.

"We knew something was wrong,"said Brenda Brincku.

They then read news accounts about houses with similar problems blamed on flawed toxic drywall manufactured in China by Knauff Plasterboard Tianjin and other Asian companies. But the Brinckus' home near Fort Myers didn't have Chinese drywall. Their drywall came from U.S. companies including National Gypsum in Charlotte, N.C.

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Thatcherism reflux

Submitted: Mar 01, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We received this morning a quote from Margaret Thatcher:

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.

It is an extremely well-crafted statement, a veritable capitalist proverb.

However, the problem with a speculative real estate boom is that you also eventually run out of other people's money, whereupon, having privatized the profits, you socialize the debt.

However, another problem with socialism Thatcher did not mention is that, depending on the year, sometimes California agribusiness runs out of the public's water.

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Reply to McEwen

Submitted: Feb 23, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal Editorial Board

We are going to preface this detailed reply to Bill McEwen’s Fresno Bee Sunday column, “Valley on verge of a catastrophe,” with three remarks:

 

  1. Environmentalists did not create the drought. In fact, it is possible the drought would have been less severe if environmentalists’ warnings about global warming had been heeded earlier.

 

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Mors immortalis -- Lucretius

Submitted: Feb 21, 2009
By: 
Bill Hatch

Death is immortal; real estate values do not rise forever.


2-21-09
Reuters/CommonDreams.org
Soros Sees No Bottom for World Financial "Collapse"...Pedro Nicolaci da Costa and Juan Lagorio
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/02/21-0
NEW YORK - Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.

He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.

"We witnessed the collapse of the financial system," Soros said at a Columbia University dinner. "It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

His comments echoed those made earlier at the same conference by Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman who is now a top adviser to President Barack Obama.

Volcker said industrial production around the world was declining even more rapidly than in the United States, which is itself under severe strain.

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State of the debate over Social Security

Submitted: Feb 18, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

2-16-09
The Guardian
Saving social security--Here's a cheap and effective form of economic stimulus – tell America's baby boomers that their welfare benefits are safe...Dean Baker
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/feb/16/obama-social-security-economy

The stimulus bill approved by Congress last week - and due to be signed into law by President Obama tomorrow - is a very good first step toward slowing the economy's decline, but it clearly is not large enough to accomplish the job. The US economy will be seeing a loss of close to $2.6 trillion in demand over this year and next due to the collapse of housing and commercial property bubbles.

To counteract this collapse, Congress gave President Obama just over $700bn in real stimulus. President Obama will have to make further requests from Congress to close the gap between what the economy needs and the stimulus package approved last week.

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