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CEOs From Hell!

Posted by terres on July 2, 2008

Overpaying CEOs
by Ralph Nader
July 1, 2008

The worst top management of giant corporations in American history is also by far the most hugely paid. That contradiction applies as well to the Boards of Directors of these global companies.

Consider these illustrations:

The bosses of General Motors (GM) have presided over the worst decline of GM shares in the last fifty years, the lowering of GM bonds to junk status, the largest money losses and layoffs of tens of thousands of workers. Yet these top executives are still in place and still receiving much more pay than their successful counterparts at Toyota.

GM’s stock valuation is under $7 billion dollars, while Toyota is valued at over $160 billion. Toyota, having passed GM in worldwide sales, is about to catch up with and pass GM in sales inside the United States itself!

GM’s executives stayed with their gas guzzling SUVs way beyond the warning signs. Their vehicles were uninspiring and technologically stagnant in various ways. They were completely unprepared for Toyota’s hybrid cars and for the upward spiral in gasoline prices. They’re cashing their lucrative monthly checks with the regular votes of confidence by their hand-picked Board of Directors.


Chevrolet pickup trucks and SUVs are seen at a dealership in Silver Spring, Maryland, July 1, 2008. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas. Image may be subject to copyright. See RTSF Fair Use Notice!

About the same appraisal can be made of Ford Motor Co., which at least brought in new management to try to do something about that once famous company’s sinking status.

Then there are the financial companies. Top management on Wall Street has been beyond incompetent. Wild risk taking camouflaged for years by multi-tiered, complex, abstract financial instruments (generally called collateralized debt obligations) kept the joy ride going and going until the massive financial hot air balloon started plummeting. Finally told to leave their high posts, the CEOs of Merrill-Lynch and Citigroup took away tens of millions of severance pay while Wall Street turned into Layoff Street.

The banks, investment banks and brokerage firms have tanked to levels not seen since the 1929-30 collapse of the stock market. Citigroup, once valued at over $50 per share is now under $17 a share.

Washington Mutual – the nation’s largest savings bank chain was over $40 a share in 2007. Its reckless speculative binge has driven it down under $5 a share. Yet its CEO Kerry Killinger remains in charge, with the continuing support of his rubberstamp Board of Directors. A recent $8 billion infusion of private capital gave a sweetheart deal to these new investors at the excessive expense of the shareholders.

Countrywide, the infamous giant mortgage lender (subprime mortgages) is about to be taken over by Bank of America. Its CEO is taking away a reduced but still very generous compensation deal.

Meanwhile, all these banks and brokerage houses’ investment analysts are busy downgrading each others’ stock prospects.

Over at the multi-trillion dollar companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the shareholders have lost about 75 percent of their stock value in one year. Farcically regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Fannie and Freddie were run into the ground by taking on very shaky mortgages under the command of CEOs and their top executives who paid themselves enormous sums.

These two institutions were set up many years ago to provide liquidity in the housing and loan markets and thereby expand home ownership especially among lower income families. Instead, they turned themselves into casinos, taking advantage of an implied U.S. government guarantee.

The Fannie and Freddie bosses created another guarantee. They hired top appointees from both Republican and Democratic Administrations (such as Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick) and lathered them with tens of millions of dollars in executive compensation. In this way, they kept federal supervision at a minimum and held off efforts in Congress to toughen regulation. These executives are all gone now, enjoying their maharajan riches with impunity while pensions and mutual funds lose and lose and lose with no end in sight, short of a government-taxpayer bailout.

Over a year ago, leading financial analyst Henry Kaufman and very few others warned about “undisciplined” (read unregulated) and “mis-pricing” of lower quality assets. Mr. Kaufman wrote in the Wall Street Journal of August 15, 2007 that “If some institutions are really ‘too big to fail,’ then other means of discipline will have to be found.”

There are ways to prevent such crashes. In the nineteen thirties, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose stronger regulation, creating the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several bank regulatory agencies. He saved the badly listing capitalist ship.

Today, there is no real momentum in a frozen Washington, D.C. to bring regulation up to date. To the contrary, in 1999, Congress led by Senator McCain’s Advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm and the Clinton Administration led by Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury, and soon to join Citibank, de-regulated and ended the wall between investment banks and commercial banking known as the Glass-Steagall Act.

Clinton and Congress opened the floodgates to rampant speculation without even requiring necessary and timely disclosures for the benefit of institutional and individual investors.

Now the entire U.S. economy is at risk. The domino theory is getting less theoretical daily. Without investors obtaining more legal authority as owners over their out of control company officers and Boards of Directors, and without strong regulation, corporate capitalism cannot be saved from its toxic combination of endless greed and maximum power—without responsibility.

Uncle Sam, the deeply deficit ridden bailout man, may have another taxpayers-to-the-rescue operation for Wall Street. But don’t count on stretching the American dollar much more without devastating consequences to and from global financial markets in full panic.

Consider the U.S. dollar like an elastic band. You can keep stretching this rubber band but suddenly it BREAKS. Our country needs action NOW from Washington, D.C.

END

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Corporatocracy killing democracy!

Posted by terres on May 23, 2008

Corporatocracy turns its sights on last remaining pillars of democracy

by Malcolm Martin

http://www.opednews.com

The children are taught that the United States of America is a democracy. As the tale is told, at the founding of the nation, a government “of, by, and for the people” was established. […]

Then there is consolidation by vertical integration and its heavyweight champion is Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation. Wal-Mart has made a partner of the Chinese government. Working together, the partners have turned China into a vast subsistence-wage labor camp. […]

f you watch FOX, the reality is filtered through Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, NBC is General Electric news, CNN is Time/Warner news, ABC brings you into Disney’s world, and Viacom regularly checks the iconic CBS news department to make sure Edward R. Murrow is still dead and buried under a mountain of infotainment. That is when Viacom is not preparing America’s youth for slavery and death through MTV and B.E.T. […]

The corporations have begun forming their own Praetorian Guard. The massacre of Iraqi civilians and the patrolling of the hurricane ravaged streets of New Orleans have made Blackwater Worldwide, formerly Blackwater USA, the most famous of the rising corporate armies. […] Read More …

Copyright © OpEdNews, 2002-2008

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Posted in America, autocracy, bankruptcy, banks, bootjack tactics, cabal, Corporatocracy, democracy, Malcolm Martin | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Next Step Not Taken

Posted by terres on December 30, 2007

Please share with others.

The Next Step Not Taken
By Ralph Nader

1. Call them small investors, savers or shareholders – corporate crimes, frauds and abuses have battered them in the past decade. Think Enron, Worldcom, Wall Street’s brokerage and investment giants and now the big shaky banks. Trillions of dollars have been drained or looted by these corporate bosses while they pay themselves handsomely with other people’s money.

Speaking, writing and testifying against these massive unregulated rip-offs of defenseless Americans are two former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – Arthur Levitt and William Donaldson. Openly sharing their urgent pleas for reform are John Bogle, founder of mutual fund indexing and severe critic of excessive, often hidden, mutual fund fees, and Lynn Turner former chief accountant of the SEC.

These men are well known and respected in their fields, have ready access to the mass business media, possess great rolodexes of supportive people all over the country and could raise substantial sums of money. They are part of the monied classes themselves.

And for what? To start a large investor protection and action organization to represent the 60 million powerless and individual investors in our country. Individual investors really have no organized voice, either in Washington, D.C., or the state and local level where public sentiment and demand for action generates the rumble for change.

These experienced, superbly connected men, who have respected each other for years and are frustrated over inaction by those in authority, are not taking the next step.

To demonstrate their credentials, see their books Take on the Street: How to Fight Your Financial Future and Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don’t Want You to Know by Arthur Levitt, and The Little Book of Common Sense Investing and The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism by John Bogle. To document the broader urgency of their concerns, see veteran shareholder rights leader, Robert Monks’ new book Corpocracy.

2. It would not take you very long, searching the Internet, to come up with scores of retired high military officers, from Generals and Admirals on down, high-ranking former diplomats and national security officials, who have spoken and written against the invasion of Iraq and the continuing quagmire and casualties that have cost our country so much and destroyed so much of Iraq and its people.

These outspoken, stand-up Americans, include former cabinet secretaries, agency chiefs, and White House special assistants, who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

No one can question the experience and service of these straight-talk, former public officials. They have seen it all. Wealthy, like-minded funders would return their calls.
Organized together into a powerful, well funded advocacy organization, these Americans can have a decisive impact on Congress and the White House, because they would be able to reach the American people through the mass media with the truth, and the strategies for peace and justice.

Although active in their pursuit of a sound foreign and military policy that does not jeopardize and bankrupt America, they have not taken this next step.

3. Can you possibly count all the progressives—elected, academic, authors and columnists—who are tearing into the Democratic Party for how often they caved in Congress this year to George W. Bush and his minority Republicans in the Senate and House?

There is nothing new about their complaints. Whether on foreign or domestic policy, whether on the domination of giant corporations over elections, legislatures, regulatory agencies and mass media, whether on the destructive results and portents of corporate globalization and autocratic trade regimes (WTO and NAFTA), progressives have been criticizing the Democrats for years now.

Hear it from Bob Herbert of the New York Times, John Nichols of The Nation magazine, the duos of James Carville and Paul Begala, Mark Crispin Miller and Jim Hightower, Bill Moyers and Anthony Lewis, Senators Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown, and Congressman John Conyers and Ed Markey – to name just a very few of the grossly disappointed and outraged critics of the establishment Democrats, and their Democratic Leadership Council and their corporate financiers.

But they do not take the next step. Or steps. Either organize into a powerful counter-weight inside the Democratic Party to make progressive demands that cannot be shrugged off, or move to a progressive third party that can either lever its messages to the Democrats or compete with them?

How many years can the bad Republicans and their corporatist allies keep pulling the mainstream Democratic Party toward them and leave progressives with the futility of the least worst form of disastrous corporate government?

There are many influential and knowledgeable people in our country who know what causes are critical to pursue, what redirections are necessary for present and future generations, what assets of persuasion and change to amass. But they are stalled in this state of the next step not taken.

Taking the next step is the difference between talking and acting, between promise and performance, between autocracy and democracy!

END

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Posted in autocracy, banks, corporate crimes, corporate financiers, democracy, Democratic Party, Enron, frauds, Ralph Nader, Republicans, Securities and Exchange Commission, Worldcom | Leave a Comment »

Cosmic Scale Evil: Money Fetishism and the Looming Omnicide

Posted by terres on September 22, 2007

The following is posted at the Peoples Voice
http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/cgi-bin/blogs/voices.php/2007/08/08/p18766
http://tinyurl.com/289955

Liz
~~~~~~

Cosmic Scale Evil: Money Fetishism and the Looming Omnicide

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
~ Cree prophecy

Two frequently asked questions I receive regularly are, first, whether humanoids are an intelligent species; second, are they good or evil?

If, having evolved for 1.5 million years, a species is unable planning to survive another 20 years, I normally retort, and the actual chances of their survival in large numbers is about as big as a fat zero even in 10 years, would you consider that species intelligent or stupid? Humanoids depend on planet Earth and its life support systems to survive, yet they have wreaked destruction on the planet driving her ecosystems to the verge of imminent collapse. Would you say they are good or evil?

The activities of humanoids, especially the elite, are not consistent with the way of life!

What is Evil? Most everyone used to have a mind image or an emotional intelligence of what evil was, or represented. They readily identified evil with the wrongs of the world. Today, however, most definitions create confusion portraying evil as what is ‘anti-norm.’ The ‘new’ definitions, which are concocted from the ever-shifting narratives created by the Hollywood clique and their slick counterparts in the media, have permeated the public psyche with ease. Truth, goodness and other basic decencies of civilization play no part in those definitions. Never before in the history of civilization has sight overcome right to such outrageous extents.

Not surprisingly, the new definitions utterly fail to depict evil. If anything, they serve to pervert the meaning, while giving rise to fallacies of ad hominem, name-calling and demonizing of the subject. When George W. Bush was busy planning the genocide of Iraqis (George W. Bush and Tony Blair together with their puppeteers, cohorts and mercenaries have murdered about 1million Iraqis since March 2003 in their war of aggression), he called Iraq, among other states, an ‘axis of evil.’

Traditionally, within the monotheistic religions, evil represented what was ‘wicked,’ ‘malevolent,’ ‘sinful,’ ‘iniquitous,’ ‘immoral,’ or simply ‘against God,’ something to avoid, especially for fear of divine consequences.

Theologians’ paradoxical definitions, however, gave rise to the ‘problem of evil,’ the dilemma of reconciling the existence of evil (and suffering) alongside an omnibenevolent (the state of being perfectly good), omnipotent, and omniscient God. The futile attempts by the theodecians (philosophers) to solve this dilemma through self–negating theodicies resulted in lowering the threshold of common values of morality.

Most readers have come a long way from viewing the “almighty” as an angry Herculean male figure with a bloodstained sword in one hand, ready to slay and smite more sinners, while clutching to lightening and fire with the other hand poised to strike down or rain brimstone on the unbelievers who might escape the first pass.

‘Lord finally had it with Sodom, not to mention Gomorrah,’ goes the legend. So why has he spared the White House, not to mention 10 Downing Street? Why no pillars of salt stand staring at the onlookers outside the Capitol Hill or the Houses of Parliament? Surely, it cannot be for lacking evil.

Evil is as evil does,’ utters the modern ‘sage.’ But, he stops short of proclaiming what exactly evil is or his doings are. Is it a person, gene, meme, ideology, creed, philosophy? Is evil a he, she, group, race? Why do evil? How do evildoers keep score? When does evil occur? What is worst evil? What is cosmic scale evil?

Cosmic scale evil is the killing of everything, omnicide, the wholesale obliteration of all living beings on our planet, through systematic destruction of Earth’s ecosystems.

It has taken an incredible 4.5 billion years for our precious planet to evolve from a fiery ball to become the exclusive oasis of life, the solitary habitat for the living species in an otherwise cold, dark, inhospitable segment of the observable universe. Yet, in an infinitesimal fraction of that time the money fetishism of a cabal of moneychangers, who have corrupted all social, political and cultural systems manipulating the masses through deception and coercion, has sown the seeds of our destruction driving a living planet to certain ecological death.

The Babylonian cabal’s web of intrigue has perverted all spiritual and political ideologies as well as social and cultural institutions that might pose the slightest threat to their agenda, while establishing fake organizations [they are designed as management tools to control the masses and insure against unforeseen circumstances] and self-serving systems of economy and politics that have promoted and protected their nefarious plot to control the world, albeit an ultimately lifeless world.

They created a myth with a carefully calculated narrative that promoted their plot as ‘compassionate,’ ‘free world,’ ‘democratic,’ among an array of weasel words, while circumventing social conscience and exerting their control in the name of human community, but at the expense of destroying life on Earth. They created a veil of repression which obfuscated benevolent, sustainable economic and social models that would benefit humanity at no cost to the environment. They drove the world at full throttle toward omnicide.

As a result, 15 out of 24 ecosystems that are vital for supporting life on our planet face imminent collapse including fresh water, fisheries, air and water purification systems, and the systems that regulate climate, natural hazards, and pests—with the remaining one-third of our life support systems following closely.

Meanwhile, the Babylonian creed has helped the shareholders of the top 10 banks in the world amass combined assets of about 16trillion dollars in 2006 [c.f., total GDP for 2006 calculated at the official exchange rate was an estimated 46.7trillion dollars.] How much of 16 trillion dollars in paper, gold, platinum, diamond … could you consume to satisfy your basic needs in the middle of The Sixth Great Extinction?

Next: How to Stop the Looming Omnicide!
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August 8, 2007 By, Harry Saloor Founder, The Management School of Restorative Business, http://www.restorative-business.org

Posted in banks, ecosystems, evil, Fetishism, Omnicide | 4 Comments »