The Ten Most Outrageous Economic Calamities of 2012
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"Regulators, prosecutors, investors and insurers have filed dozens of new claims against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and others, related to more than $1 trillion worth of securities backed by residential mortgages."
The lawsuits and fines could cost the banks upwards to $300 billion. Fat chance. The big banks know that the authorities will shy away from severe penalties for fear of upsetting the economy.
#4. For the first time Wisconsin spends more on corrections than higher education:
Thanks to the Wall Street crash, state and local revenues plummeted for yet another year as tax revenues declined due to high unemployment and business failures. As a result the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reported on August 16th, that " Wisconsin state spending quietly hit a milestone: For the first time, the state budgeted more taxpayer dollars for prisons and correctional facilities than for the University of Wisconsin System. For 2011-'13, Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers allotted just under $2.1 billion to the state's public universities and $2.25 billion to the Department of Corrections. It's a gap that is unlikely to close any time soon."
How sick is that? We're filling our prisons up with those caught in the pathetic War on Drugs, even as money-laundering banker-criminals are allowed to roam free. At the same time we starve our higher educational institutions while our complex economy and democracy requires a more educated public. As the chart below clearly implies, our spending priorities are insane.
#3. As of November, 2012, 4,707,000 Americans have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks, and 21 % of all U.S. children live in poverty
The greatest calamity of the Wall Street crash is that four years later there still are over 20 million Americans without the full-time jobs they need. And 4.7 million of them have been out of work for over a half year, the most since the Great Depression. Little wonder that 21 percent of all children live in families who earn wages that total less than $23,350, the official poverty line.
How can this be happening in the richest country on Earth? The answer is simple. The super-rich are running away with our wealth. We have the worst income and wealth distributions in the world. No wonder our political leaders bail out Wall Street instead of putting our people back to work.
That sad truth is that the unemployment/poverty crisis could be solved rapidly. All we need to do to hire workers to rebuild our infrastructure and weatherize our homes and businesses. At the same time we should eliminate tuition at all public colleges and universities. The resulting building and educational boom would bring us back to full-employment in a hurry.
How do finance it? Make Wall Street pay for the damage it has done. Wall Street and Wall Street alone caused the financial crash and the ensuing unemployment crisis. A small financial transaction on their enormous casinos would finance the jobs and education programs we truly need.
#2. The Phony Fiscal Cliff Occupies America
2002 should be remembered as the year that the super-rich and their Washington lackeys manufactured a debt crisis in order to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But there is no debt crisis. Government debt is high because the Wall Street crash drove up unemployment and reduced tax revenues. That coupled with the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich (and two unfunded wars) ran up public debt. But, if our people were at work, our debt would be shrinking rapidly as a percent of GDP. And even now, interest rates are at all time lows as investors all over the world want to put their money into dollars. Let us repeat: there is no debt crisis, no rising interest rates, no difficulty repaying our debt. Nada.