A top adviser to Rep Ron Paul (R-Texas) said that the insurgent presidential candidate will probably not endorse Mitt Romney for president. "I would never say never," said Jesse Benton, national chairman of Paul's campaign. "I do not believe that that is likely." Benton told reporters that Paul and his campaign staff have appreciated the respect with which the Romney campaign has treated them in discussions about the party platform, which will be voted on at the Republican convention in Tampa in August. But Benton said the support of Paul's devoted supporters is not guaranteed to go to Mitt Romney, and issued a warning: Paul,a 76-year-old congressman from who is leaving the House after his current term, wants placed on the platform the following: a proposal for stricter oversight of the Federal Reserve, a ban on indefinite detention of American citizens, as well as a provision advocating greater freedom on the Internet, to keep the government from treating it as a"public utility." Benton implied that if the carefully selected items are not included in the platform, many of Paul's supporters might withhold support from Romney in the fall election. "The ball is in the court of the Republican Party, and the court of Mitt Romney." Benton said. "We're bringing forward an attitude of respect, and we're also bringing forward some very specific things that we believe in. If our people are treated with respect, if our ideas, their ideas are embraced and treated seriously and treated with respect, I think the Republican Party will have a very good chance to pick up a substantial number of our votes." "On the flip side," Benton continued, "if they're treated as they were in 2008, a lot of people are going to stay home!"
A problem for many citizens is that "doublethink and mind control" have become so deeply embedded and disseminated by the mass media, including the so-called quality free press, such as The New York Times and The Guardian. Allegedly sponsored by Al Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon played a central role in molding public opinion. One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to "fabricate an enemy". The "outside enemy" personified by Osama bin Laden is "threatening America". Pre-emptive war directed against "Islamic terrorists" is required to defend the Homeland. Realities are turned upside down: America is under attack. In the wake of 9/11, the creation of this "outside enemy" served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the American-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Waged on the strategic objectives behind the American-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. On the grounds of self-defense, the pre-emptive war is upheld as a "just war" with a humanitarian mandate. From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in the early 1980s, the US intelligence apparatus has created its own terrorist organizations, and at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. Meanwhile, a cohesive multi-billion dollar counter-terrorism program "to go after" these terrorist organizations has been put in place. Instead of "war" or "state terrorism", we are told of "humanitarian intervention" directed against "terrorists". Instead of "offence", we are told of "defense" or "protection", Instead of "mass murder" we are told of "collateral damage".
Don't waste any more time or energy on the presidential election than it takes to get to your polling station and pull a leaver for a third-party candidate- just enough to register your obstruction and defiance , and then get back out into the street. That is where the question of real power is being decided. Chris Hedges. May 2012. Runaway capitalism is moving unrelentingly towards sociopolitical-environmental collapse, cheered on by a two-headed single party machine known as US Congress. Activists, who see the coming disasters as catastrophic, are seeking revolutionary change through non-cooperation and occupy disruptions. Yet, many are still delusional hopefuls desperately fumbling with traditional responses, including "Kum ba yah" marches, and the futile support for progressive left-leaning candidates seeking positions of influence inside the Washington beltway. Do we understand that habeas corpus is no longer a legal protection in the US, or that the US president can torture and kill American citizens, let alone anyone in the world? How can we ignore the inconvenient truths of warrent-less wire taps and electronic monitoring for everyone? Why do we tolerate that US-NATO forces killing people in over one hundred countries in the world using special service operatives, private assassins and drones a million civilian deaths in Iraq alone? How can we be so blind as not to see our corporate media is a propaganda fog machine for the one percent? These questions, reflecting the reality of America today, are so far from the values of our traditions, that accepting any aspect of authority from Washington DC is a sacrilege to our honor. We are in desperate times.
Which is better for an economy: Millions of future jobs and trillions of future dollars, or a few people making a quick buck today by selling out their country? For decades, America's 1%-backed conservatives have chosen the latter course, and we can see the results all around us. Now the Obama administration has imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese solar panels, because China was "dumping", selling below cost, to drive American manufacturers out of business. Will conservatives support their country and our companies, or will they continue to side with our country's competitors? The Commerce Department yesterday concluded that Chinese solar panel companies are "dumping" product, selling below the cost of production, into the US market, and impose stiff tariffs: The United States on Thursday announced the imposition of anti-dumping tariffs of more than 31 percent on solar panels from China. The anti-dumping decision is among the biggest in American history, covering one of the largest and fastest-growing categories of imports from China, the world's largest exporter. Again and again, technology revolutions come along and disrupt economies. Countries that jump on new technologies are the countries that win the industries and jobs and revenue. This is how the United States became a world power: Railroads, steel, automobiles, airplanes, electronics, semiconductors, computers, the Internet, pharmaceuticals, biotech and software are a few examples, and in every case our government helped these new industries get off the ground. When these industries took root, the payoff was enormous!
Before we can understand what's really going on with JP Morgans loss, which will probably end up being a lot more than $2 billion, we need a little background: JP Morgan is the world's largest publicly traded company, is the largest bank in the US, the biggest of the too big to fail banks which are killing the American economy, Is the largest derivatives dealer in the world, and derivatives are inherently destabilizing for the economy. Essentially wrote the faux reform for derivatives, which did nothing to decrease risk, and killed any chance of real reform. Is the creator of credit default swaps, which caused the 2008 financial crisis, and is the asset class which blew up and caused the loss. Has had large potential exposures to credit default swap losses for years. Has replaced the chief investment officer who made the risky bets, with a trader who worked at Long Term Capital Management, which committed suicide by making risky bets. Went completely insolvent in the 1980s, and again in 2007, and was saved both times by the government at taxpayer expense.
At a lunch in the crypt at St.Paul's Cathedral before the Dalai Lama received the Templeton Prize, I was seated next to Canon Mark Oakley. "We need to move beyond relevance to resonance," he said. It was a call to move beyond the shallows to the depths, beyond the passing novelties of the moment to the echoes of the soul. The Canon summed up the vicious circle we too often find ourselves caught in: "We are," he said, "spending money we don't have on things we don't want in order to impress people we don't like." To find the peace of mind that alone can replace this aimless search, which has led to an epidemic of stress, anxiety, and drugs, legal and illegal. The Dalai Lama is looking specifically to neuroscience, to convince a skeptical, increasingly secular society of the power of contemplation and compassion to change our lives and our world. As he wrote in his 2005 book, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Sprituality: The great benefit of science is that it can contribute tremendously to the alleviation of suffering at the physical level, but it is only through the cultivation of the qualities of the human heart and the transformation of our attitudes that we can begin to address and overcome our mental suffering. We need both, since the alleviation of suffering must take place at both the physical and the psychological levels. It is for this decades-long passion to bring together science and spirituality that he was awarded the Templeton Prize, a $1.7 million honor given to "entrepreneurs of the spirit" who make "an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimensions, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works."
In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case and went to trial, because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on basic civil liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we could win. But every once in a while the gods smile on the damned. US District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where, as it was before, Obama signed this act into law December 31, the government cannot strip a US citizen of due process, or use the military to arrest him or her and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government's claims that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial, because none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction and that the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act. The ruling was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote.
The police states framework for suppressing information and opinion arguably threatens all forms of independent thought and appears poised to intensify as the war on terror continues. As the recent emergence of US plans for indoctrination in reeducation camps reveals, Western governments actual enemy is the capacity for a people to exercise critical thought en rout to intervening in and altering political-economic processes. Public opinion, defined by 19th century English political thinker William MacKinnon as to that sentiment on any given subject, which is entertained by the best informed, most intelligent, and most moral persons in the community is fundamentally at odds with police prerogatives, also exemplified in recent US Department of Homeland Security documents. The technocratic mindset of agencies such as the DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation that oversee federal, state, and local policing procedures seeks to short-circuit and quell dissent by identifying transgressive thought that deviates from an assumed normalcy, then interlinking it with perceived threats or violent actions against the state. In a grand governmental exercise of Freudian-style projection, the DHSs usage of inflammatory terms such as "terrorist and extremist" are routinely utilized to emphasize the nature and degree of various activist groups alleged deviant ideologies. This practice proceeds in light of the fact that most every terrorist act within the US since 9/11 has been carefully guided by the FBI or, as was the case with the initial underwear bomber, Western intelligence likely working in concert.
In response to the question in the title, I can report that most of my readers are. Almost everyone got the point of the last column. They see the absurdity of the governments claim that the identity of the tough, macho Navy Seals, who allegedly murdered Osama bin Laden, has to be kept secret in order to protect our fierce warriors from reprisals from Muslim terrorists, while those government officials responsible for the torture and deaths of large numbers Muslims can walk around, identity known, unprotected and safe. A few members of Congress are also awake, but not very many. Indeed, we are losing two of the most aware, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. Kucinich was redistricted in order to get rid of his independent voice. He carried 75% of the votes from that part of his old district that was included in his new one, but the new voters lacked the intelligence to vote for him. Ron Paul, in our time of tribulation, tried for the Republican presidential nomination on a platform of saving the US Constitution, but those who voted in Republican primaries were not interested in saving the US Constitution. Now we are down to US Rep Walter Jones. Initially, Jones was a member of the warmonger crowd. He was angered when the French government cast doubt on the George W Bush regimes reasons for the need for war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jones said at that time that he was renaming French Fries Freedom Fries. Jones unplugged from the Matrix and has been sentient for some time. Recently, the tyrant Obama and the government operative Panetta, a political whore who has been in a variety of government positions, and is currently Secretary of Warmongering, announced publicly that, the US Constitution notwithstanding, the executive branch no longer needed the authority of Congress to go to war.
Or Has He? The corporate media is abuzz with headlines saying that Ron Paul has finally seen the light, thrown in the towel, and ended his campaign. However, Ron Paul supporters believe that, while he won't be campaigning in the primary states, Paul is still in the race, and will be focusing on winning delegates in caucus states. For example, Policy Mic argues: Ron Paul announced today in a letter to supporters that he will not campaign for the popular vote in states that have not yet held their primaries. In his under-reported IDD strategy ("It's the Delegates, Dummy"), Paul has focused on the fact that presidential nominees are chosen by delegates, not by popular vote. Paul's campaign has focused to date especially on states that allow committed Republican Party members to have a greater voice in the process. States like Iowa, Nevada, Maine, Louisiana, Washington, and Colorado have been states where Paul supporters have made tremendous inroads in winning party leadership positions and being influential in the national delegate selection process. While many states have yet to finish the delegate selection process, it increasingly looks as though Paul could dominate the nationwide delegate process, called long ago in Romney's favor. Paul's announcement today fits that same vein, but will no doubt surprise many of his supporters. Not only is Paul saying "It's the Delegates, Dummy" to Mitt Romney and the national media, he is taking it a step further and saying that spending his supporters' money on winning the popular vote is of such little importance to the campaign, that they aren't going to waste time or money on that any longer.
As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In 'New Economic Visions', a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore, in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exiting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back. Just beneath the surface of traditional media attention, something vital has been gathering force, and is about to explode into public consciousness. The "New Economy Movement" is a far-ranging coming together of organizations, projects, activists, theorists and ordinary citizens committed to rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up. The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the "99 percent" in an ecologically sustainable and participatory community-building fashion. The name of the game is practical work in the here and now, and a hands-on process that is also informed by big picture theory and in-depth knowledge. Thousands of real world projects, from solar-powered businesses to worker-owned cooperatives and state-owned banks, are underway across the country. Many are self-consciously understood as attempts to develop working prototypes in state and local "laboratories of democracies" that may be applied at regional and national scale when the "right political" moment occurs. The movement includes young and old, "Occupy" people, student activists, and what one older participant describes as thousands of "people in their 60s from the '60s' rolling up their sleeves to apply some of the lessons of an earlier movement.
One of the advantages of serving a few tours in Iraq as an officer is the number of contacts I've made who have gone on to be senior planners in Afghanistan. What I am hearing from them about the state of things in Afghanistan, and reading the tea leaves, it seems that President Obama may be on the verge of announcing a major change in mission in Afghanistan, one which largely pulls back our troops from previous plans for the summer, and puts us on an expedited path towards ending the war. Currently, Afghanistan is obviously a big subject at the NATO conference in Chicago, with France's new government already having promised to remove troops. Meanwhile, General John Allen has announced his departure as commander of forces in Afghanistan, while the President just returned from Afghanistan. And, it seems not coincidental that The New York Times Sunday edition ran a piece on Obama's last shift on the war. Even still, the entire strategy and summer offensive only would be ultimately successful if the Afghan Army, with the support of the people, could defeat insurgents themselves, in the same way the Sunni Awakening and Iraqi Army did in Iraq. Being that, Afghanistan is a fractious and decentralized country, that was a tall order. That's why VoteVets.org has always called on President Obama to adopt a counter-terror mission in the region. Counter-terror operations target the enemy where they are, and take them out. It's the strategy that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaeda targets around the world. It costs less in money and lives. It doesn't deplete our troops and our military. And it doesn't put military men and women in the position of having to win over an entire country, under the real risk that a few bad troops could topple the entire house of cards!
Denied no longer, US officials admit US-Saudi cash & logistical support arming terrorists in Syria. Recently reported in "Brookings Announces Next Move in Syria: War," it was stated that "by the US policy think-tank Brookings Institution's own admission, the Kofi Annan six-point peace plan in Syria was merely a ploy to buy time to reorganize NATO's ineffective terrorist proxies and provide them the pretext necessary for establishing NATO protected safe havens from which to carry out their terrorism from." It was also examined in detail, how in 2007, US, Saudi, and Israeli officials admitted they were creating a militant front of extremists for the sole purpose of causing the destabilization of Syria we see today, and ultimately overthrowing the Syrian government. It was noted how these extremist militants had direct ties to Al Qaeda. Now it is fully admitted that weapons, cash, and logistical support is indeed being provided to terrorist forces in Syria by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf States. This, despite a current UN ceasefire the West has continuously berated the Syrian government for violating, indicates that indeed reorganizing, rearming, and redeploying NATO's terrorist proxies is complete, and another round of destructive violence has begun. In the Washington Post's article, "Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors money, US coordination," Not only is this admitted, but claims made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been confirmed that Syria's historically violent Muslim Brotherhood is also directly arming and funding contingents of extremists, committing acts of terror across Syria.
Next month in Baltimore, they're going to celebrate the War of 1812. That's what we do with wars. We say they're the last resort. We say they're hell. We say they're for the purpose of eliminating themselves: We fight wars for peace. Although we never keep peace for wars. We claim to wage only wars we have been forced into despite all possible effort to find a better way. And then we celebrate the wars. We keep the wars going for their own sake after all the excuses we used to get them started have expired. The WMDs have not been found. Osama bin Laden's been killed. Al Qaeda is gone from the country where we're fighting. Nobody's threatening Benghazi anymore. But the wars must go on! And then we'll celebrate them. And we'll celebrate the old ones too, the ones that were fought here, the ones that were in their day not quite so heavily painted as last resorts or humanitarian missions. Last year Congress- woman Sheila Jackson Lee persuaded Congress to create an Iraq-Afghanistan Wars holiday. It's on our calendars now along with Loyalty Day (formerly May Day), Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day), Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and of course September 11th, among many others. Last week there was an Armed Forces Spouses Appreciation Day. The military holiday calendar is like the Catholic saints' day now: There's something every day of the year. But there's no celebration of the times we avoided war. We claim to prefer peace to war, but we don't make heroes of those presidents or Congresses who most avoided war. In fact, we erase them.
When workers drilling tunnels at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, began to die, Union Carbide had the answer. It hadn't been taking adequate precautions against the inhalation of silica dust, a known danger to workers since the days of ancient Greece. Instead, in many cases, a company doctor would simply tell the families of the workers that they had died of "tunnelitis," and a local undertaker would be paid $50 to dispose of each corpse. A few years later, in 1935, a congressional subcommittee discovered that approximately 700 workers had perished while drilling through Hawk's Nest Mountain, many of them buried in unmarked graves at the side of the road just outside the tunnel. The subcommittee concluded that Union Carbide's project had been accomplished through a "grave and inhuman disregard of all considerations for the health, lives and future of employees." Despite the "Hawk's Nest Incident" and thousands of Depression-era lawsuits against foundries, mines, and construction companies, silicosis never disappeared. In the decades since, as TomDispatch authors David Rosner and Jerry Markowitz have repeatedly demonstrated, industry worked tirelessly to label silicosis a "disease of the past," even while ensuring that it would continue to be a disease of the present. By the late 1990s, the Columbia University researchers found that from New York to California, from Texas all the way back to West Virginia, millions of workers in foundries, shipyards, mines, and oil refineries, among other industries, were endangered by silica dust. Today, there is a new silicosis scare on the horizon, and a new eco-nightmare brewing in the far corners of rural America.
A surplus of mediators have been around all the time, including the heavy weight Quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia, as well as heaps of terms of reference of UNSC resolutions, bilateral signed accords and road-maps, in addition to marathon bilateral talks that have left no stone unearthed, international as well as regional conferences were never on demand to facilitate the peace process, which has been lavishly financed to keep moving. However, the Palestinian Israeli peace-making is still elusive as ever as Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot has been, without a glimpse of light at the end of the endless tunnel of Israeli peace-making is still elusive as ever as Samuel Becketts "Waiting for Godot" has been, without a glimpse of light at the end of the endless tunnel of Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory and people. Palestinian Israeli peace-making has been for all practical reasons on hold since 2000, and bilateral peace contacts have been dormant since Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 2009, except for a failed five-round exploratory talks hosted by Jordan last January. The latest indirect exchange of letters between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and PM Netanyahu and the joint statement issued by their corriers pledging mutual commitment to peace are no less misleading: NO Peace, No War is still the name of the only game in town, which is in fact the ideal prescription for the implosion or explosion of an unsustainable "status quo" in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories: The almost twenty-year old US led and EU financed peace process is still a non-starter for any feasible, creditable or sustainable peace-making in any foreseeable future. The end result is that all mediators have failed, and it is time to acknowledge their failure!
In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case, and went to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on our liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we could win. But every once in a while, the gods smile on the damned. US District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where, as it was before Obama signed this act into law December 31, the government cannot strip a US citizen of due process or use the military to arrest him or her, and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government's claims that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial, because none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction, and that the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001 Authorization to use Military Force Act. The ruling was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote. Maybe it will be overturned. But we and other Americans are freer today than we were a week ago.
The future strategy for Afghanistan is the main item on the agenda at the NATO summit in Chicago. But French President Francois Hollande's plan to withdraw troops earlier than planned does not suit the allies. It is the biggest summit in the history of NATO. The 28 members of the alliance, as well as representatives from more than 60 states, plan to meet on Sunday and Monday to discuss the future of the alliance. US President Barack Obama has invited the guests to his hometown of Chicago, which is currently enjoying an early summer warmth. The issues include everything from "Smart Defense", how to pool resources so that limited defense budgets can be maximized, to the missile defense system for Europe a project that has caused considerable tension with Russia, up to the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. But for Obama, the top item on the agenda is possibly the most pressing, the future of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The plan is for an orderly withdrawal of all NATO troops by the end of 2014. The newly elected French President Francois Hollande, however, has already announced that he intends to bring all French troops home by the end of this year. There is also a considerable lack of support for the Afghanistan mission in other countries, such as Germany, for example. Chancellor Angela Merkel is also at the summit, along with her Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere. Warnings over hasty retreat: Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel is warning against a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Speaking at an event organized by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, he said only: If the exit plan is implemented with the appropriate care, can we hand over Afghanistan in 2014, that fulfills the minimum of alliance conditions."
The House endorsed the continued war in Afghanistan on Thursday, despite the acknowledgement from Republicans and Democrats that the American people are war-weary after more than a decade of conflict. By a vote of 303-113, lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have swiftly ended combat operations in Afghanistan by limiting funds only to the "safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops and military contractors from Afghanistan." More than 10 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, American public support for the overseas conflict has deteriorated. An Associated Press-GfK poll released last week, showed that backing for the war has hit a new low, and is on par with support for the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Only 27 percent of Americans say they support the war effort, and 66 percent oppose it, according to the survey. "The American people are far ahead of Congress," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, sponsor of the amendment, who called on Congress to stand squarely with the American people. "It's past time to end the war and bring the troops home." Opponents of the amendment conceded that the public has grown tired of war, but they argued against a precipitous withdrawal. "If we leave too early and the Taliban and al-Qaida return, more Americans will suffer," Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said. The vote came as the House considered a $642 billion defense budget for next year, debating more than 140 amendments to the far-reaching legislation. Final passage of the measure was expected Friday. Rather than a speedy withdrawal from Afghanistan, the spending blueprint calls for keeping a sizable number of US combat troops in the country.
That sound of shattered glass you've been hearing is the iconic portrait of Jamie Dimon splintering as it hits the floor of JPMorgan Chase. As the Good Book says, "Pride goeth before a fall," and the sleek, silver-haired, too smart-for-his-own-good CEO of America's largest bank has been turning every television show within reach into a confessional booth. Barack Obama's favorite banker faces losses of $2 billion and possibly more, all because of the complex, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't trading in exotic financial instruments that he has so ardently lobbied Congress not to regulate. Once again, doing God's work, that is, betting huge sums of money with depositor funds, knowing that you are too big to fail and can count on taxpayers riding to your rescue if your avarice threatens to take the country down, has lost some of its luster. The jewels in Dimon's crown sparkle with a little less grandiosity than a few years ago, when he ridiculed Paul Volker's ideas for keeping Wall Street honest as "infantile". To find out more about what this all means, I turned to Simon Johnson, once chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, and now a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He, and his colleague James Kwak founded the now-indispensable website baselinescenario.com. They co-authored the bestselling book, White House Burning, an account every citizen should read to understand how the national deficit affects our future. Bill Moyers: If Chase began to collapse because of risky betting, would the government be forced to step in again? Simon Johnson: Absolutely, Bill. JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail. Hopefully in the future, we can move away from this system, but right now it is too big.
Gordon Gekko, the infamously cutthroat capitalist and lead character in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, captured the heady years with a single, indelible line: Greed is good. Today, it is Edward Conard, a friend and former colleague of Mitt Romney's at the private equity firm Bain Capital, who has offered a new mantra for the private equity firm Bain Capital, who has offered a new mantra for the 1%, a cri de coeur for the Gekkos of the twenty-first century: Inequality is good. In his new book "Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've been told about the Economy Is Wrong. Conard argues that gaping income inequality is an indication of a healthy economy, not a sick one. The more unequal we are, Conard told the New York Times Magazine, the better off we all will be. Why? Because economies grow and thrive when smart people devise solutions to our thorniest problems by inventing or perfecting goods and services. Conard singled out a group of twenty-somethings sitting at a Manhattan coffee shop one afternoon, deriding them as lazy "art-history majors." Those people should be out creating businesses and taking risks, he insisted, because that's how societies prosper. And the way to encourage that risk-taking is the promise of obscene wealth for those who do succeed, and, implicitly, dismal poverty for those who don't. How obscene should that wealth be? In 2008, the top 1% commanded 21% of all income in America. Conard says our society would improve if only that figure were doubled. Needless to say, there is no shortage of Conard critics. The more respectful ones ask: Teachers do not fit Conard's entrepreneurial ideal, are they no use to society? What about judges? Government regulators? Others dismiss Conard as an out-of-touch millionaire living in a fantasy land!