Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't Blame Me... I voted Nader '08.

Let me be clear- I'm glad Barack Obama won.  I think it was a good thing for the nation overall, am proud a majority of Americans voted for him (although it should have been a landslide, not just in electoral votes). However, living in NY I knew Obama didn't need my vote. That's why I voted for
Ralph Nader, again. 

I knew Obama would not be able to take on the plutocracy; the oligarchs that he has just bailed out with TARP. The Democratic party has too many ties to Wall St. and Obama's selection of Timothy Geitner, a protege of Robert Rueben (neoliberal economic policies under Clinton) who helped dig this economic hole we are in is evidence to the point.

To hear moderate economist Simon Johnson of MIT say: "There comes a time in every economic crisis, or more specifically, in every struggle to recover from a crisis, when someone steps up to the podium to promise the policies that - they say - will deliver you back to growth. The person has political support, a strong track record, and every incentive to enter the history books. But one nagging question remains. Can this person, your new economic strategist, really break with the vested elites that got you into this much trouble?" then to see the bailout without a dime going to help people stay in their homes it's apparent from the bailout that answer to Simon's question is "NO!".

An interesting conversation on Democracy Now! gives two damning perspectives of the TARP bailout from respected economists Robert Kuttner and Michael Hudson.

Nader's plan. outlined last fall, would fix the situation. 

Immediate Changes Required for Any Bailout

- No bailouts without conditions and reciprocity in the form of stock warrants

- No more lobbying for any company that is bailed out

- No golden parachutes and get out of jail free cards for guilty executives

- No bailouts without public hearings

Changes to Housing Market

- Reduce the moral hazard in U.S. mortgage markets by introducing covered bonds for the majority of mortgage products as they do in Western Europe. That gives institutions that finance mortgages an incentive to be prudent, because they cannot just unload them and wipe their hands clean of the liability, but are instead on the hook if the homeowner defaults.

- Maintain neighborhood stability and housing security by passing a law with a sunset clause allowing below median-value homeowners facing foreclosure the right to rent-to-own their homes at fair market value rates.

- Avoid future housing bubbles by removing implicit government guarantees for new mortgages that exceed thresholds of greater than 15-20 times the annual fair market rent value of the home.

Structural Changes to Financial Markets

- Make the Federal Reserve a Cabinet Position, so it is accountable to Congress, as well as making sure all Federal Reserve Bank presidents are appointed by the President and answerable to congress.

- Reduce conflicts of interest by taking away power for auditor and rating agency selection from companies and placing it in the hands of the SEC to be administered on random assignment.

- Implement a securities speculation tax, starting with derivatives to deter casino-style capitalism.


My only trepidation for a Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich presidency (as unlikely in our corrupt election system as that would be) that would actually stand up to the banksters would be that they wouldn't be long for this world. However, it's the kind of free thinking and dedicated service that we need now. 

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