Talking Points 17th September

Goodmorning it’s Karnie with you today.  Thanks to Will in Canada for looking after the blog for us.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan this year.  According to the UN, every month things get worse and the number of civilian deaths increase.  Afghan MPs held a one day walk out protesting the increase.    Here’s a website that indicates the number of civilian deaths in Iraq.  The country’s latest incident was on Monday when 43 people lost their lives.  Can civilian deaths be justified in war?


Katharina in Belgium posted the ff on the blog over night: I think (fear) we have to keep talking about the current financial crisis: I just heard on BBC radio news that AIG has to raise something like 70 billion $ overnight to stay afloat. My question is: How many millions of ordinary people around the world will loose their life insurances and life savings if AIG goes under?

Since Katharina’s post, the federal reserve has bailed out AIG. Lehman brothers wasn’t given that luxury. It’s the most emailed story in the International Herald Tribune. Are you surprised that one company can be rescued whilst others are left to bankruptcy? And should this be allowed to happen? Is it time for stricter regulation?


Israel’s ruling Kadima party will choose a successor to it’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. The candidates most likely to succeed him are: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz. Who’s best placed to make progress on the Israeli/Palestinian issue?


Here’s a story we discussed earlier this week. Mums admitting they DO have a favourite child. It’s largely taboo to admit it, but a recent survey done by netmums here in the UK, says one in six mothers has a favourite child. Is it okay to love one child more than the other?

158 Responses to “Talking Points 17th September”

  1. 1 Katharina in Ghent
    September 16, 2008 at 19:14

    Hi Will

    I think (fear) we have to keep talking about the current financial crisis: I just heard on BBC radio news that AIG has to raise something like 70 billion $ overnight to stay afloat. I couldn’t find this on the internet yet, but this article from CNN is scary enough:


    So my question is: how many millions of ordinary people around the world will loose their life insurances and life savings if AIG goes under?

  2. 2 Nofal Elias
    September 16, 2008 at 19:21

    How many millions of people’s pensions effected by this financial crisis not just AIG, specially if you are retireing now. Share prices are very very low, also Endornment mortgage policies are effectet as well

  3. 3 Jessica in NYC
    September 16, 2008 at 19:31

    @ Jennifer
    I just read your post on the 9/16 TP and commented.

    @ Kathi,
    YIKES! I just heard something similar or the BBC world service.

    @ Will
    HI 🙂

  4. 4 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 19:35

    @Katharina The Fed and ECB have now indicated that they have their ducks in line to absorb failing financial companies. I hope they are right … this time.
    AIG is not a bank depository but if you had a life or health insurance policy with them I’m not sure if their is a state funded backup.
    Of note, the futility of military adventurism is now effecting the wealthy, witness commodity price run ups and downs and especially the Russian stock market before, during and since the invasion of Georgia. I hope the wealth learn that if you go to war, win or loose, you will wreck your stock market and all will suffer. This military BS needs to stop.
    My predicition, I think Putin will use a pseudo Russian stock market collaspe to absorb all wealth to the state and his oligaric friends under the guise of protecting mother Russia. Another example of socialism for the rich.

  5. September 16, 2008 at 19:38

    AIG is the shirt sponsor for my team manchester united. I just hope they bail themselves out fast.

  6. September 16, 2008 at 19:39

    Sorry – good evening, afternoon or Morning (Bob) and welcome to the TP.

  7. 8 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 19:41

    Also, look for a 1/2 point cut in the US interest rates by the Fed and AIG to go out tomorrow. Well see if my guess is right.

  8. 9 Jessica in NYC
    September 16, 2008 at 19:42

    @ Nelson

    Oh, well, if that isn’t a reason to save AIG I don’t know what is. LOL

  9. 10 Jens
    September 16, 2008 at 19:45


    well another ManU fan. i used to live in manchester and i have been supporting them way befor they became good again.

  10. 11 Robert
    September 16, 2008 at 19:48

    An interesting way to spot the next credit crunch victims, using he English Football Premier League?


  11. 12 Julie P
    September 16, 2008 at 19:52


    It’s not a good position for us. This seems like a train wreck that could have been avoided.

  12. 13 Robert
    September 16, 2008 at 19:56


    Depends on how you have sorted out your pension but not everybodies pension will suffer because of this. If you’ve just cashed in then you’ll be living off the last decades bubble in prices, and so although by recent standards are down, on the whole they’ll have done reasonable okay. If your just starting to build a pension pot, now is a brilliant time to start investing (IF you select the right companies). Buy share’s now at a knock down rate and let them recover over the next 20 years.

    The people who will suffer though are those retiring over the next years. But then I don’t really know how that can be solved. If the government save them then it send the wrong single to the younger generations about saving for your future, but it feels wrong that the risky decisions by bankers should hurt the normal person. I know people should use a diverse portfolio, but I can’t think of any type of investment that this crunch hasn’t affected.

  13. 14 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 19:59

    Oh well, wrong on the rates.

  14. September 16, 2008 at 20:00

    @ Jessica & Jens, In this part of the world we have being largely immune from the credit crunch and all these bank’s failing but the Mention of AIG got my attention for obvious reasons. Fingers crossed. Their sponsorship deal with Manchester united is the biggest in English football history. And the West Ham united’s former sponsor XL holidays went under. Now West Ham footballers wear sponsorless kit.

  15. 16 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 16, 2008 at 20:11

    @current U.S. financial crisis

    Bad news for everybody.

    It is going to have a bad impact on many countries.

  16. 17 Katharina in Ghent
    September 16, 2008 at 20:14

    @ Nelson:

    Oh well, if it’s just about T-Shirts… I’m sure there must be some Saudi-sheik left who doesn’t own an English club yet… 😉

    @ AIG

    If you have your pension fund with AIG and you want to retire soon, and AIG goes bankrupt… doesn’t that mean that your pension goes up into smoke and you’ve saved your whole life for nothing? Or wait a minute, not nothing, a lot of people on the board gave themselves huge bonuses with the money that the poor suckers saved from their meager paychecks. If there’s one thing that’s really wrong in the US, it’s the disproportion between the money that the top management makes and the money that the average American makes. You guys have said it often enough, there’s no middle-class left. My feeling is that soon there will be even less…

  17. 18 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 16, 2008 at 20:28

    “there’s no middle-class left”
    Not only in the U.S., in many other countries (at least in Central and South America) is the same. 😦

  18. 19 Jens
    September 16, 2008 at 20:40


    ManU is owned by a rcih american family….

    yeah the republicans are working really hard to destroy the middle class

  19. 20 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 16, 2008 at 20:56

    I have the Sean Hannity show now and the same news about AIG come over. Lets hold on!

  20. 21 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 16, 2008 at 20:58

    @ Luz Ma from Mexico
    You are correct about the middle class. To get even close you have to work overtime, have two jobs, and have a roommate to jut get close. Welcome to the new world!

  21. 22 Venessa
    September 16, 2008 at 21:01

    I’m curious how people are defining middle class? What is the amount of money that a household generates that consider them middle class. Someone who makes less than $75K per year and supports a family of 4, has a house etc. Is that middle class? What about 2 people with no kids making a combined income around $150k per year, is that middle class? I’m just curious what the income range is between poor and middle class.

  22. 23 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 21:03

    Exactly, company managements are out of control in for the short term buck … for them.
    BTW the CEO at Lehman had 10,800,000 shares that went from $70 to what is it now maybe a dime a share … really bad day at the office.
    Countrywide’s board was the best compensated, sadly including former Clinton cabinet members. Many in Congress we on the take from Fannie and Freddie. This whole thing is really crooked.
    The new ripoff, reverse mortgages, get old folks to deed the house to the bank for a loan and the right to live in the home for the rest of their lives. Government insured loan at that. Is this a great country or what?

  23. September 16, 2008 at 21:03

    @ Vanessa:
    I dunno, I consider myself middle-lower, I make less than any of those listed above haha. If any of those are middle class, I’m one poor poor man lol

  24. 25 steve
    September 16, 2008 at 21:04

    Back in the 1950s, a family of four could survive on the income of one person. That’s what middle class used to be. Money has been so devalued you really can’t do that without both parents working, or at least one having a really high paying job, if you live in a major city. If in NYC? Forget about it.. It can’t be done. Making 200,000 a year in NYC and you probably are considered for medicaid.

  25. 26 Jens
    September 16, 2008 at 21:06


    how many make 200k plus in ny? i doubt that many

  26. 27 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 16, 2008 at 21:08

    @ Venessa
    Middle class may be different in other countries because of the cost of items. Here in the US it can be dependent on the state you live in. For me middle class starts at 45K a year. At that pay you can get an apartment and live OK. If you do not have credit too much on credit cards.

    What do you think?

  27. 28 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 21:13

    Another corruption, per the SEC regualtions, management has to report when they buy shares of stock in their own company so all shareholders know, This drives up the price of the stock and lowers the price of a short, i.e., a bet that the stock price will go down. So insiders publically show that they are buying shares but privately are picking up cheap shorts more than offsetting the share buying. Result, their real bet is that the stock is going down. European insiders do the same things here on the exchanges in the stocks in Europe. Bin Laden I’m sure had huge shorts prior to 9/11. He made money big time.

  28. 29 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 21:21

    WHYS team, your getting the same social economic spectrum. Listen to the accents, eastern seaboard and SoCal. Get some Hispanics and workers in Texas. Go to an fundamentalist black church. Go to the Bayous, get some oil workers. But generally, you folks do an exceptional job. Nothing short of that.

  29. 30 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 21:24

    @Brian Larson

    I’m pretty sure that what you describe is illegal–“insider trading.” Not that this would stop bin Laden, of course, but we put people in prison for that here.

  30. 31 selena in Canada
    September 16, 2008 at 21:25

    It looks like the government is going to bail out AIG.

    What does that say about the free market? Wait a minute… am I repeating myself?

  31. 32 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 21:42

    @Brian Larson

    Reverse mortgages are not “old folks deeding the house to a bank in exchange for the right to live in it.” They already have the right to live in the house if it’s paid off of course, and if not, they are paying a tiny payment (based on the price 30 years ago, a fraction of what their neighbors pay for rent or purchase of a much more modest space). The reverse mortgage gives them a big pile of cash, or a line of credit, that supplements their other income in retirement. Essentially, it lets them spend the equity in their house without their having to sell the house. It’s a great deal for them. For their kids, grandkids, etc., not so much. But that’s not because the bank took the equity, it’s because Granny and Gramps spent it. Lately, with house values falling, not such a good deal fot the bank, either. That’s not the fault of the “greedy bankers” but the greedy grandma and gramps.

    It’s pretty remarkable to me that people imagine some fat Monopoly caricature gazillionaire person somewhere being “greedy” and living off the sweat of the brow of the noble “workers,” when the reality, if we bother to stop and actually learn it, is quite different.

  32. 33 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 21:48

    Dwight, I have a question. Word has it that the Republicans in District 10 (Dennis Kucinich's district in Ohio) have been spreading literature accusing Kucinich of voting and acting against legislating that would ease the health care crisis in the States. Have you seen one of these? If so, how did it read?

    Roebert (you're not Donovan?), there is much t be said for seeing the glass half full. Verbal trips in that direction seem to be more pleasant than verbal trips in the opposite direction. Do not worry about it.

    280 Venessa September 16, 2008 at 6:15 pm
    Epilepsy cannot be cured…. I’ve been asking for quite awhile and will plead my case again on the next visit. Without the doctor’s okay insurance will not pay for it.

    Goodness! For all that Islam grips life tooth and nail, there is a clause in Shia Islamic jurisprudence allowing for permanent sterilisation in such cases where a medical condition would endanger mother or child. *rolling eyes* For all that we do not live in a theocracy, some people sure do impose norms that go even beyond the religious call of duty.

    Are we sure that the U.S. has not slid into a theocracy?

    It is so scary to have epilepsy. The fear of a seizure; and the fear of not really knowing when the next one will strike wears away at the nerves. And those days or weeks when seizures seem to pop up more than usual are so difficult! And the medicine! It may stave off seizures (to some degree), but their side efects can be so unnerving! Venessa, do you have a companion animal who can smell a seizure coming? Some dogs can be trained to smell for it and alert the owner. The owner can then go to a safe place where the seizure won’t thrash him against hard surfaces and cause injury (hopefully).

  33. 34 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 21:49

    45 Jens September 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm
    What a bummer. I live in new mexico and did not know that the beeb was coming.

    A bummer for us, too, Jens. We blogging WHYSayers would certainly have enjoyed hearing your perspective from the fuzziness of a live mic.

  34. 35 Venessa
    September 16, 2008 at 21:50

    Thea ~

    I think $45k is reasonable. We’re talking 1 individual right or are you saying $45k to support say a family of 4? I purchased my first house making $50k per year 5 years ago but that doesn’t get much considering my house was under $150k. I would think $50k per year in Portland could be considered middle class at that time but I’m not sure if that is the case now.

  35. September 16, 2008 at 21:52

    Thats it, I’m going in and demanding a raise tomorrow! I wanna be middle class too! hmph! [pouts]

  36. 37 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 21:52

    @Selena They will bail it out AIG because it it is an unknown, The impacts cannot be calculated. Bear Stearns got bailed but Lehman did not because the effects of Bear were unknown at the time. It happened too fast. Lehman, they could figure out the effects and other firms could disengage. So that puppy was toast.

  37. 38 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 16, 2008 at 21:55

    I was thinking one person. In Indianapolis I was making 45K when I purchased my home as a single perosn. My home at 120K. Good luck to you.

  38. 39 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 21:57

    @Brett It is not what you make but what you save. The secret to being free is to know the difference between what you need and what you want. In my humble opinion. Full disclosure, kinda an old loser in the conventional sense.

  39. 40 Julie P
    September 16, 2008 at 21:58


    Why wait? Do it today, then we’ll all know if you still have a job or not. 😉

  40. September 16, 2008 at 21:58

    @ Brian:

    I’m right there with ya and completely agree 🙂

  41. September 16, 2008 at 22:02

    Why wait? Do it today, then we’ll all know if you still have a job or not. 😉

    Hahaha, thanks Julie!

    I’ve been promised a cut of sales I process and make as soon as ‘things get worked out’… I’m guessing that is tabled until another time…. Raise time is Feb. and I have taken on nearly double the workload in the past year. If I get the simple standard 3% raise, it will be quite the disappointment. Now a standard 3% raise plus the 1-2.5% commission on departmental profit which I was promised…. Now I wouldn’t mind that at all. Don’t really know what to say or how to address it though….

  42. 43 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 22:02

    @ Brett Thanks

  43. 44 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 22:04


    To answer your questions, no, AIG going bankrupt does not mean that everybody, or anybody, loses their pensions or insurance. It means the stockholders lose out, but as we know from the wise people on this blog, stockholders are by definition “rich people,” so we should cheer their ruin, or at least not mourn it too much.

    Also, no matter how often anyone says otherwise, there is a huge middle class in the US, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and always. By far the majority of the population is in the middle class. And our middle class earns most of the income and holds most of the assets.

  44. 45 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 22:06

    @ Brett: Document what they promise. I’ve worked where I have gone in at 3 AM to copy the records to shown I was frauded. The Federal Labor Relations Board, if they don’t withohold or pay employer taxes they are in for a major …

  45. 46 Dennis@OCC
    September 16, 2008 at 22:08

    @ Will:

    Thanks for the host….

    I would have thought some of the regulars, would be concern about
    where i was….

    IKE came visiting New York State…


  46. September 16, 2008 at 22:12

    Document what they promise.

    I’m gonna start doing this, along with trying to get defined time lines instead of “when things get worked out”. My company is great, has wonderful perks, but with the increased job load I’m doing for my division (what about 4 departments do separately for the main portion of the company), I’m kind of hoping that the increased pay would come along with the increased workload and responsibility. Especially since it was discussed verbally at one point in time.

  47. 48 Venessa
    September 16, 2008 at 22:12

    Don’t pout Brett! I’m on your side for a raise; let me know whom I need to talk to! I can be very persuasive and it’s gotten me a lot of raises. J

    I’m just trying to understand how people are defining middle class. I wasn’t sure if people based it on yearly income or standard of living. I lean toward standard of living vs. income because the wage gap varies so much from state to state. I suppose if you can afford good housing that consists of a payment roughly 25% of your income or less you are doing good.


    Like I said I was making $50k 5 years ago when I bought my $132k house by myself. My husband and I bought our current house for $280k but we also have a much larger income. Based on standard of living we are definitely middle class with under 25% of our net income going to our mortgage payment. We live within our means and also enjoy vacations, toys, eating out and remodeling our house with money we have been diligently saving.

  48. 49 Julie P
    September 16, 2008 at 22:15


    I’ll support you if find yourself suddenly unemployed! 🙂

  49. September 16, 2008 at 22:16

    I’ll support you if find yourself suddenly unemployed!

    So will the rest of the taxpayers 😉

    Hahaha, jk.

  50. 51 Venessa
    September 16, 2008 at 22:17

    Brett ~

    You can come live with us if you are unemployed. 🙂 We have an extra room but you have to be willing to help me with a garden and swing a hammer for the remodel…hehehehe!

  51. 52 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 22:17

    @ Brett Cash talks and Bull [] walks.

  52. 53 Julie P
    September 16, 2008 at 22:18

    Brett, don’t you want to be a kept man?

  53. 54 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 22:18

    re: AIG

    I find it hard to believe that such a huge problem could happen with no-one at the company understanding the risks being taken and no-one in the corporate hierarchy being aware that such risks were taken until it was too late. It is just hard to imagine that in the chain of events leading up to this, there was never any breach of ethics.

    Just for kicks, I went to the aigcorporate.com site and looked at the sections on corporate governance and codes of ethics . . . if anyone knew anything and didn’t take some action (or in some cases didn’t know when they should have), they would certainly be violating the AIG code of ethics and subject to disciplinary action (unless, of course, as the code indicates: “From time to time, AIG may amend or waive certain provisions of this Code”.

    Unfortunately, a breach of ethics is not usually a criminal offense, and it is doubtful the corporation will put forth any financial disciplinary action, if such a breach was acknowledged.

  54. September 16, 2008 at 22:20

    You can come live with us if you are unemployed. 🙂 We have an extra room but you have to be willing to help me with a garden and swing a hammer for the remodel…hehehehe!

    Sure! I’m all over gardening and remodeling 🙂 It’s either that or show up with my bags and three dogs on the doorstep of the Bush House in London with a sign that says “Will Moderate For Food”

  55. September 16, 2008 at 22:26

    Well as it stands, last year I bought my house on my primary job which at the time was paying me 32.5k, for $130,000.

    I had a part time job which hadn’t been part time for 6 months or something so I couldn’t claim that income for the loan, but I was pulling about 4-6k per year bartending occasionally on the weekends.

    I’ve been doing the roomie thing since buying my house and lived with an ex for awhile and now with a fellow bartender, its always been to their advantage because I let them pay me less than what they would be paying elsewhere for rent, and its to my advantage because its essentially free money to help with the mortgage and repairs/upgrades.

    I always considered myself lower-middle class, there’s people especially around here who are far worse off than I and I consider myself VERY lucky.
    I guess, as noted above, it changes drastically depending on the region of the US your in.

  56. 57 Dan
    September 16, 2008 at 22:28

    I see where an Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia issued a Fatwa calling for the death of Mickey Mouse. Is it that Saudi Muslims are frightened of cartoons or is it that they love issuing decrees of death for everything?

  57. 58 selena in Canada
    September 16, 2008 at 22:29

    Darling Dennis,

    I don’t get time to read all the posts. So, I didn’t realize you weren’t around.

  58. 59 Tom D Ford
    September 16, 2008 at 22:32


    I recommend keeping a log of all conversations so that you have the context when or if any one conversation becomes important. So you don’t look like a one time whiner when you need credibility.

  59. 60 Jens
    September 16, 2008 at 22:35


    i am actualy a much more amicable person in real life…….i am sure microphones are fuzzy, i remember they were pretty hard and made of metal.

  60. 61 Robert
    September 16, 2008 at 22:38


    I’ve never really thought of middle class as being about money. Perhaps this is a slightly British outlook on what class is. A middle class family would generally have a certain exasperation for what they want out of life. Lower class would be those who just don’t care and would try and live on hand outs. Upper class those that have money and names behind them. Obviously the different classes will tend to have different incomes, but a middle class family could be broke and a lower class one filthy rich.

  61. 62 Brian Larson
    September 16, 2008 at 22:39

    @Michael “Code of Ethics “We don’t need no stinking “Code of Ethics”.
    Humor aside, business doesn’t have the slightest clue or care about ethics unless it is a marketing advantage.
    As to the debacle, the basics are: Do you want to go to your boss and say, “You have royally screwed up and your loans are bad”. No, you prevaricate and make up some rosy picture. After all, your boss’ head is in a noose.
    The eventual outcome, I worked at a credit union with a delinquency rate of 18 percent. all we could do was send out late payment letters, repo and sell cars. These firms are being merged because they can’t keep up with the paperwork and bad loan processing.
    The national foreclosure rate is 9.2 percent. I can document sales here on the Central California Coast with a decline in value of 60 percent from the peak. Jeeze, this is going to be a might fine show.

  62. 63 Jens
    September 16, 2008 at 22:46


    what kind of names behind them do you refer to???

  63. 64 Venessa
    September 16, 2008 at 22:53

    Brett ~

    I have friends that are also in the same position as you and have roomies; it helps with your own standard of living. I’m with you too; there are plenty of people who are much worse off. I think about the days when one of my two week paychecks couldn’t even cover my rent in low income housing. I ate one meal a day, counted down to the pennies and had to drop out of college for that period of time. I still think I was doing pretty well compared to some people.

  64. 65 Robert
    September 16, 2008 at 22:54


    As in the family names. The most extreme examples in the British context this would be the old hereditary lords and the vast land owners. In the American context I suppose the best examples would be families like Rockefeller and Rothschild (Bush perhaps?) etc.

  65. 66 Etson
    September 16, 2008 at 23:12

    Have you wondered just how much McCain does not understand the economy or know how to address the current or future problems? Then check out the link below of an airing on CBS 3 Philadelphia to hear for yourself from him. A matter of fact, I will just tell you what he said:

    “We need to set up a 9/11 commission in order to get to the bottom of this [the current economic crisis] and get it fixed and act to clean up this corruption.”

    Slip of the tongue? Or one cannot talk [knowledgeable] about what they don’t understand?

  66. 67 Dennis@OCC
    September 16, 2008 at 23:14

    @ Selena:
    No problem!!!!

    @ U.S. Elections and the current financial problems:
    who is going to win because of the banking, mortgage and
    related crises…


  67. 68 Dennis@OCC
    September 16, 2008 at 23:16

    @ the ideal of being a kept guy!

    i am very interested in the idea….


  68. 69 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 23:23


    Thanks for explaining the difference between class–a concept which hardly exists in the US–and income, which Americans mistake for class because it’s the closest thing we’ve got, and doing so with brevity and wit.

  69. 70 jens
    September 16, 2008 at 23:24


    i though you refered to like BSc, PhD etc and I can tell you these after your name don’t make you rich in the UK, quite the reverse

  70. 71 jens
    September 16, 2008 at 23:25


    i think he was just inferring that a similar commision should be set-up. give him a break he just left one word out. happens to the best, even you…..

  71. 72 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 23:30


    That’s very interesting about the AIG “code of ethics” — I wouldn’t have thought to look there. Of course it’s all twaddle–what counts is whether they told the truth to their shareholders, and that’s governed by specific laws codified and enforced by the SEC.

  72. 73 Julie P
    September 16, 2008 at 23:35

    Cool, Dennis! I could use a concubine. 🙂

  73. 74 Bert
    September 16, 2008 at 23:37

    No concept of class in the US? Hmmm. I’d say there is general acceptance of at least three distinct classes:

    The obscenely rich, such as movie stars and other top entertainers, pro athletes, and CEOs of major corporations.

    The professional class, which perhaps broadly are those who attended college and perhaps beyond.

    The working class.

    With all the requisite shades of gray in there, of course. I’d say that leaving aside the obscenely rich, income is not necessarily a good discriminator in the other two. For example, certainly many educators don’t earn more than many in the working class.

  74. 75 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 23:38


    Hey, I’m happy to hear you bought a home last year. Even if it may not look so good just now, it’s a very smart thing in the long run. May I ask if you had to put down a big down payment? I’m not intending to pry into your private life, but rather hoping you’ll turn out to be a beneficiary of the loose credit policies that everyone is now pointing to in horror, saying “how could lenders have been so greedy.” In fact the more appropriate question would be “how could banks have been so generous, and who benefited therefrom?”

  75. 76 Robert
    September 16, 2008 at 23:50


    The banks would be generous because in a society built on debt the more you loan the more you earn. There was always a way of passing the debt onto some one else.
    The banks would therefore benefit from the generous (lax?) philosophy.

    The general public engaged in such techniques as well. 6/12 months interest free balance transfer on credit cards aren’t much different to what the banks were doing, just shifting the loan to different lenders so it always appears as “new” and not bad debt.

    The above works until somebody either panics and stops lending or makes a mistake and leaves debt in one place too long. The current mess seems to be a mixture of both this problems.

  76. 77 Roberto
    September 16, 2008 at 23:53

    RE Nero and Romans fiddle as Romes burn:

    ——- Insurance giant AIG is down to 5% of it’s value from last September.

    Just one shoe after another after another dropping. The global financial captains have steered their Titanic into the iceberg while drunk on power and greed. I’ve been shouting iceberg ahead, but my voice is too small too distant to be heard over their party.

    AIG about ready to go the way of Bear Stearns, or perhaps Lehman Brothers. US tapped out with 6 trillion in debt to China, Russia and the Saudis primarily.

    Who will be left standing to rebuild Houston? The damage done makes Katrina look like a baby sister.

    Oh, well, maybe if we can get a handle on lipstick on a pig, Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter, Obama’s flag pin, everything to fall blindly in place. The elite can continue to import a million Mexicans in the country yearly to build and clean their property scams for a pittance while we the unwashed citizens pay for their medical care and kids education.

  77. 78 Robert
    September 17, 2008 at 00:00


    I know how bad the pay is for academics etc. I got enough letters after my name to enter my profession of choice and then left. It wasn’t really about the money though, I had no interest in the doctorate and wanted out into industry for change and I find I enjoy it more then academia. As a colleague of mine says, “my career is my hobby and what I do for enjoyment, my salary just compensates me for wasting 50% of my time on the paperwork and other pointless parts of my job”.

  78. 79 Etson
    September 17, 2008 at 00:11

    @ Jens

    And “one word” is not important? Try saying “I did” when you are supposed to say “I did NOT” and you will understand the importance of one word.
    Besides, he did not simply leave out a word, he complete replaced one concept with another. Amidst such stinging economic news? You mean to tell me the economy is still is not registering with this guy. Even babes are miscalling their moms “economy” instead of mama. How can it therefore not register!

  79. 80 Brian Larson
    September 17, 2008 at 00:30

    @Jonathan “How could banks have been so generous, and who benefited therefrom?”
    The intermediary banks, mortgage brokers and agents benefited from fees while creating and packaging a real estate sale and or loan. The loan was then bundled into instruments that blended the loan with many other from through out the country. Others bought these instruments, generally larger banks. These instruments were in turn blended with other instruments thus diversifying the risk further. Derivatives, financial contracts used to offset possible negative outcomes and resell possible positive outcomes, were then created to balance the risk and profit from the margins. The resulting instrument, as modified by derivatives, was then rated “investment grade” by the rating agencies that earn their fees from the instrument creators. This rating allowed pension plans, insurance companies and other “safe” investment groups to include the instrument in their portfolio of safe securities. What was not planned for was the aggregate effect of this very favorable home ownership system that inflated values dramatically. This unsustainable rise in home values became self-fulfilling, a bubble. What we are seeing now is the systemic collapse in housing values and an in mass deleveraging of these investments.
    The beneficiaries: intermediary banks, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers, title and escrow companies, investment bank instrument creators, rating agencies, in short, all that could charge a fee for their service and avoid the consequences of a bad loan.

  80. 81 jens
    September 17, 2008 at 00:33

    well i am trying to find a path in between academia and industry. academia alone is a little to removed from reality for me. i got an adjuct faculty position while not working for a university. a PhD can be very useful for industry as well. sometime i wish i would have gone into industry after college.


    well i am by no means a mccain supporter, but sometime one just forgets to say a word and the sentence comes out wrong. there are much bigger issues with the republicans than him having left a word out in a sentence. my issue is the persistant spread of lies, whenever they open their mouths.

  81. 82 steve
    September 17, 2008 at 01:08

    If anyone has in iPhone 3G and you haven’t downloaded the iPhone 2.1 update, I highly recommend it! 3G actually works now!

  82. 83 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 17, 2008 at 01:36

    “i though you refered to like BSc, PhD etc and I can tell you these after your name don’t make you rich in the UK, quite the reverse”

    Not only in the UK…


    Here it is a big deal… still very important… sadly…

  83. 84 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 01:54

    @Bert about “classes”

    You left out the lower class, which in America doesn’t work but lives on welfare and/or by crime.

    “Working class” is a really pretty funny expression in postindustrial America, since it’s a transplant from 19th century Europe. It’s both out of time and out of place.

    It used to mean the masses of people who had to work to stay alive, versus the landed gentry, who had a lot of time on their hands. Here and now, the richest people (“highest class” if you must) work long and hard, and the professional “class” works long and hard. Everyone works except the very poor.

    The real determinant of “class” here and now, as I think you implied, is attitudinal: education, values, whether people are oriented to the future or to present consumption, etc.

  84. 85 Shirley
    September 17, 2008 at 02:29

    57 Dan September 16, 2008 at 10:28 pm
    Is it that Saudi Muslims are frightened of cartoons or is it that they love issuing decrees of death for everything?

    Another culture of life vs culture of death question.

    From 1990 to 2005, CEOs’ pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained 4.3%. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, when inflation is taken into account. [Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Dunhoff, Sept 2005, updated Dec 2006]

    As of 2001, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 33.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 51%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 84%, leaving only 16% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

    Adjusting for inflation, the net worth of the median American household fell 10 percent between 1989 and 1997, declining from $54,600 to $49,900. Between 1970 and 1990, the typical American worked an additional 163 hours per year. In 1998, weekly wages were 12% lower than in 1973 on an inflation-adjusted basis. Productivity rose 33 percent over that period. Had pay kept pace with productivity, the average hourly wage would have been $18.10, rather than $12.77. [Wealth Distribution Statistics – 1999, Charles Mueller] In 2006, the U.S. median annual household income was $48,201 according to the Census Bureau.

    After you adjust for inflation, the wages of the typical American worker – the one at the very middle of the income distribution – have risen less than 1% since 2000. [Special Report Inequality in America]

  85. 86 anonymous
    September 17, 2008 at 02:43

    We’re getting back on our feet in the north, but the relief effort has been a colossal disaster in and of itself.

    I was at a gas station today and was nearly physically attacked by staff members imposing a ration on gas. We were barely able to secure enough for our car, much less the generator.

    We are gravely concerned over the plight of areas such as Pasadena. The federal government, due to miscommunication, bureaucratic bungling, and a dearth of incompetence, has left the city and environs in extremely desperate need of resupply. The stores and gas stations that opened today were in a state of literal seige – and this is in the NORTH.

    We can only imagine the state of affairs in the south, where thousands of impoverished families are being left almost literally to fend for themselves. The city has moved forward bravely with its own recovery efforts, and the Mayor (Bill White) is to be absolutely commended for his heroic efforts on behalf of our community.

    The federal government and administration have clearly failed to learn from Katrina. Our hearts go out to the people in the south, some of whom have desperately clung on throughout the storm to find no relief in sight in the aftermath.

    Power is still down in my area, but we are making it.

  86. 87 Roberto
    September 17, 2008 at 02:44

    RE AIG:

    ————— US government bailing out AIG with a government backed $85 billion loan.

    Ah, nutin’ like good’ol corporate welfare. According to my Scottrade quote sheet, they have fallen to a market capitalization value of $10 billion. What genii these yazoos are. Not only can they pester me with marketing calls every day to sell me their useless insurance, but they can con the government into giving them almost 10 buck$ to the dollar in value.

    Looks like the CEO and board of directors gonna have some bountiful bonuses and a merry Christmas this year after all.

    To the tune of $300+ per every man, woman, child and idiot in America.


  87. 88 anonymous
    September 17, 2008 at 02:45

    ^^ update from Kelsie in Houston

  88. September 17, 2008 at 03:25

    Michael, REgaurding comments in “capitalism” post.

    First, thanks for the reading suggestion. I will will make a point to look into it soon. I am about ready for something new and non political.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. However, I recently had an epiphany while writing a blog post. If there is a God as a definitive being (opposed to a collective consciousness.) then we are here in this dimension for one reason. It is a test to prove that we can live an eternity in peace and harmony in paradise. That is going to require that we accept his judgment with out question. If that is true, the most important attribute is “faith” in the almighty. It meshes well with why Jesus had to suffer and die. It was the most profound act of “faith”. That being the case, I have no faith. Once I did. Then too many things stopped making sense. If you are interested, I wrote about it here.


    Ignore the title, and some of the content. I was meaning to write about something else, and even tried to make it fit in the constraints of that topic. I ended up coming up with different material. I have been meaning to rewrite it.

  89. September 17, 2008 at 03:32

    I think the most appauling thing about the current economic woes is how people are supprised by them. All of these collapses are related in one way. As a matter of fact one could say many of our problems are based on one thing. The existance and promotion of “credit”. Fanny, Freddie, housing crisis, Lehman brothers, even insurance is really credit for problems that might exist. We need somebody to stand up and say, “enough with the credit industryu already.” Why atre these CEOs the highest paid in the country.

    The problem is that capitalism need one component to work properly. Consumers. illegal immigration, NAFTA, the WTO, and economic stimulus is all about getting more consumers into the market. To the business plan of a Wal-Mart we are just a number. The more of us there are, the better they do.

  90. 91 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 03:38

    G’day all!

    @ Roberto

    Part of the AIG deal is that the government will have an 80% equity stake in AIG and they specifically mention the power to veto the payment of dividends to share holders. Although not mentioned I would hope this power of veto would also include management bonuses.

    @ Jonathan

    Many posts above you said that a bankrupt AIG wouldn’t mean millions of people losing their insurance or pensions–only the shareholders would lose out. Care to explain your reasoning? A bankrupt insurance company is one without funds to meet their obligations–and these obligations include the payment of insurance claims or of pensions which were in the form of insurance policies (very common). Yes, shareholders would lose too but they have very little sympathy from me because they were the ones who benefited big-time when AIG was pursuing a reckless, high risk, profit at any cost management style. The customers who invested all or part of their life savings with AIG only benefit when there’s a payout.

    For this reason, the government bail-out was absolutely necessary–but it should never have come to this. Proper regulation and oversight earlier would have been a much better policy.

  91. 92 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2008 at 03:48

    @ Jonathan

    “Here and now, the richest people (”highest class” if you must) work long and hard, and the professional “class” works long and hard. Everyone works except the very poor.”

    So you’ve never heard of “The Ladies Who Lunch”?

    There is a class of people who inherit massive wealth and who take great pains to keep themselves out of the public eye. I suppose they’re like the dark energy of the universe. They exist, they hire and pay the best highly educated people to make them more money, and they are influential in backroom politics. They have no need to do work, and their attitude as expressed to a friend of mine years ago who asked what they do is “work is for poor people”.

    A few years ago, they were referred to as “white shoe Republicans”.

  92. 93 Dennis@OCC
    September 17, 2008 at 04:08

    AIG [American insurance group] and the Global Depression?

    Does, it has the hallmarks of it or not?


  93. 94 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 04:57

    RE Economy

    What is wrong with McCain? McCain insist the “fundamentals of our economy are strong”? About time Obama attacks McCain for saying extremely ignorant things. Can’t wait for Obama-Biden to expose McCain-Palin for the frauds that they are during the debates.

    PSSST: McCain talk to AIG execs you have on your campaign staff, the govt is giving them a “big” loan. Isn’t Allen Greenspan on your campaign? McCain, you have got to start seeking their advice. Please, it’s scary to hear you speak.

  94. 95 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 05:06

    The BBC World Service this morning had a programme where they interviewed at length a McCain supporter and an Obama supporter.

    What struck me was that the McCain supporter was voting that way almost entirely due to “security” fears. He actually acknowledged that Obama might be stronger in a number of other areas (including the economy) but was absolutely obsessed with the need for America–and, through that, his family–to be “protected”. He felt that McCain’s military experience was the only way to achieve this protection.

    While I know that there are dangers in this world, surely it’s paranoia to be so concerned by “security” above all other issues. Yes, there’s a remote possibility my family or I might be involved in a terrorist attack…but I’m more concerned about things like the economy and education. Certainly, I’m far more likely to die in a car accident or of cancer or heart disease that I am in a terrorist attack.

    I can only suppose that the years of scare-mongering by President Bush and now McCain have had the desired effect.

  95. 96 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 05:15

    RE Palin

    A McCain campaign spokesperson said Palin is not EXPERIENCED ENOUGH to run a company like HP, but can run the country. LOL Yes, GOP is completely makes sense to have someone be a heart beat away from the Presidency of a 14 TRILLION dollar ECONOMY with someone who is not qualified to run a billion dollar company.

    Anyone read David Brooks NYT Why Experience Matters? It is hilarious to see the GOP a traditionally elisist party now back peddle and minimize experience and it’s value.

  96. September 17, 2008 at 05:24

    Bob – thanks for taking over.

    But – re your last post:

    “McCain had roughly 20 hours in combat,” add to that he crashed five, yes 5 planes, that makes him well experienced to be president.

    HTML McCain combat.

  97. 99 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 05:26

    @ Bob,
    “….surely it’s paranoia to be so concerned by “security” above all other issues”
    *sign* This is the only reason Bush got re-elected. Gore lost the election by 100,000 votes from Ohio.

    @ Jens
    Did you see the Bill Maher interview with Rachel Maddow? I think I’m going to send him a “luv” fax. 😛

    @ Ludna, Hi. Has this been reported in Iraq?
    RE Geneva Conventions

    The Bush admin is trying to prevent American vets from suing the Iraqi government for being held hostage under Saddam Hussian? It feels to me as if Bush is thinking ahead of the US’s best interest incase Iraqis think about hiring lawyers to sue the US for holding them hostage… Isn’t this why the Geneva Conventions suppose to be our measure standards for international law for humanitarian concerns? Wouldn’t the Geneva Conventions prevent citizens from suing other governments during a time of war? How can it be disregarded then invoked again?

  98. 100 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 05:34

    @ Nelson
    Rest easy, your precious Manchester United still has a sponsor. AIG was bailed out by the US Govt with a big loan.

    @ Julie P
    Is the train wreck over?

    @ McCain
    LOL– stop playing music people’s music who dislike you.

    @ Palin
    Wonder if she would take her tanning bed to Washington DC? I guess we’ll never know.

  99. 101 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 05:43

    Re: Ike

    Thanks to Kelsie for the updae (as posted by “Anonymous” at 2:43 AM above). It’s always good to hear from you but sorry to hear how badly the emergency management is going.

    Surely it’s a scandal that the lessons of Katrina appear not to have been learned. What will it take for the USA to join the first world in terms of a workable system of disaster relief?

  100. 102 Venessa
    September 17, 2008 at 05:50

    Bob ~

    Your final sentence sums it up. Campaigns based on fear have been diverting people’s attention from the more alarming problems the US is facing. People are actually convinced that the War on Terror (the joke that it is) is utterly essential. I sure wish the same kind of consideration and money were spent on the calamity this country has become.

  101. September 17, 2008 at 06:01

    @ Hurricanes~

    Did you read about Cuba and the hurricane damage there?

    I lived in the Caribbean and went through many hurricanes. The first day after a hurricane has passed nothing happens. People come crawling out of their safe places staring at the sky, and the trees all broken off at 30 feet. Then come many days of work with no shade. And long nights with no electricity… and your water gets scarce and the toilet may back up. Constant cleaning . After a few days the big trucks and rescue teams show up.

    The first night when there is no current and the storm has passed is especially frightning.

  102. September 17, 2008 at 06:03

    A friend of mine said that the best way to handle the finacial problem is to stop bailing out the crooks and people who have been screwing the little people for way too long.

    Best idea would be to give a really sizable stimulous package to each and every American who has actually filed last years federal income tax. Give them $100,000.00 The dumb people will just go out and blow the money, but that money will circulate into the economy pay for consumer goods and just get the jump start on the economy that will do more good than harm.

    The really smart folks will use the money to pay down debt. MAny people owe a couple hundred thousand dollars on their mortgages. Paying off half their debt will do a lot to steady the finacial markets.

    If there are a hundred million federal tax payers, you do the math….only a trillion bucks or so. What is another trillion here or there. Time to give the little folks a lift.

    troop on the Oregon coast

  103. 105 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 06:06

    @ Luz and Thea

    It’s true. The middle class is gone and has been for a while.

    Two beloved families I know in the south that are life-long GOP, families of four (2 kids), college educated parents, live in sensible homes, with two working parents in decent paying jobs that cannot afford health care. So as as good parents they choose to cover their children and neglect their heath. This is middle class poverty.

    @ Steve

    Indeed, it is hard to live a city with astronomical higher prices for everything. I gasped when people in C&T lived on 20k /year. You can’t rent an apartment for 20k /year in NYC.

  104. 106 Bryan
    September 17, 2008 at 06:17

    Bob in Queensland September 17, 2008 at 5:06 am,

    I wouldn’t put it past the World Service to deliberately pick a dumb Republican to cast the party in the worst possible light. World Service propaganda is endless. But I’ll reserve judgement until I hear the programme. Do you know which one it was?

    Do you have anything negative to say about the Democrat? Or was he/she simply a shining example of political correctness?

    Certainly, I’m far more likely to die in a car accident or of cancer or heart disease that I am in a terrorist attack.

    That’s true (for Australia at least) but it misses the fundamental point of the aim of terrorism – which is to terrorise people by means of the prospectof being blown to bits when they board a bus or shop in a market simply because they are the ‘wrong’ religion or race or whatever. Nobody is threatened in the same way by car accidents.

    Dunno what the statistics are but it’s likely that more people are currently being killed in terrorists attacks in Iraq than in car accidents.

  105. 107 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 06:18

    @ Kelsie

    Please continue to keep us updated, the news cycle has passed and it’s hard to get updated info from national media. I have been reading the Houston Chronical— thanks goodness for the internet! Or should I thank Gore, LOL!

    @ PortlandMike

    I read it, too. *sign* The US has offered 5 million and Raul Castro refused it. I guess all politicians are happy to cut off their nose to spite their face.

    I never make a good politician. If I were Castro I’d take the 5 million before Bush changed his mind and ask for 10 more while I had his sympathy. If I were Governor Rick Perry of Texas I’d be crying to the media asking for help for Houston, Galveston and all affected areas. I guess he’s be kicked out of the GOP if he does. 😦 When will people come before politicians’ egos?

  106. 108 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 06:20

    @ troop

    Er, have I missed something? Surely giving every tax payer $100,000 will cost each taxpayer….$100,000! (Actually, it’ll cost a bit more than that since the thousands of bureaucrats it will take to administer the scheme won’t work for free.)

    Or are you assuming that the government can just print extra money? I’m sure economists have a name for printing money to get yourself out of a problem–but for now “foolish” will do.

  107. 109 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 06:27

    RE AIG & Pensions

    @ Kathi
    I was wondering about that. I have been trying hard not to panic, my employer gives us two options for retirement investments accounts and those two companies invest in companies like AIG, so it would appear it affects us non-rich folks.

    @ Jonthan
    LOL–it’s true I don’t “feel bad” for the very-rich share holders, but I do “feel bad” for the people who would lose their jobs. I have a few friends in Wall street who are far from rich people and need their jobs.

  108. 110 Jessica in NYC
    September 17, 2008 at 06:38

    @ Bryan and Bob

    Remember, women get a double whammy: Single women in their 30s are more likely to get killed by a terrorist than get married… imagine how much those stats go up in big cities. However, don’t quote me I might be remembering that silly quote from some news magazine wrong.

  109. 111 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 06:39

    @ Bryan

    Actually the McCain supporter I heard was probably more articulate in support of his views than the Obama supporter. However, my point was that making security issues such an overwhelming factor in one’s choice of candidate is surely misguided. The actual risk to any American citizen (or British or Australian) is actually minute compared to other daily hazards. Sure, governments and security officials must be vigilant but is this REALLY such a major threat that your perception of a candidate’s abilities in this area should over-ride all other considerations? (Whether these perceptions are accurate is a different debate!)

    Safety experts actually assign a rather gruesome cost/benefit analysis to spending. I recall in the UK they decided not to upgrade railway signalling because a billion pounds spent on this would save 3 lives a year (except it would be 30 lives in ten years in one big train wreck). The same billion pounds spent on road improvements could be shown to save 1000 lives a year in reduced accidents. Perhaps voters need to mentally do the same sort of calculation about the war on terror.

    I’ll have to Google on Iraqi statistics but, having experienced Baghdad drivers, I’m prepared to bet that more people die on the roads than in terror attacks. And that’s Iraq!

  110. 112 Bryan
    September 17, 2008 at 06:43

    Jessica in NYC September 17, 2008 at 5:15 am

    RE Palin

    A McCain campaign spokesperson said Palin is not EXPERIENCED ENOUGH to run a company like HP, but can run the country.

    I don’t know what this proves. She probably also isn’t experienced enough to be a tax attorney or design a nuclear power plant. She probably can’t do heart surgery either.

    You are letting your dislike of Palin and the Republicans cloud your judgement.

  111. 113 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 06:45

    @ Jessica in NYC


    I actually recall that quote from the film “Sleepless in Seattle” but I’m not sure I consider Meg Ryan an authority on the issue!

    However, perhaps you’ve hit upon the solution–maybe we need a dating agency to introduce single women in their 30s to single terrorists of a similar age.

    “Honey, I’m just out to blow myself up.”

    “Not so fast. Take the garbage out first.”

    Problem solved.

  112. 114 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2008 at 06:58

    @ Bob in Queensland September 17, 2008 at 5:06 am

    “… but was absolutely obsessed with the need for America–and, through that, his family–to be “protected”. He felt that McCain’s military experience was the only way to achieve this protection.”


    I do not feel that a shot down pilot has any credibility in protecting me! He was shot down!

    If anything, he failed at protecting himself, let alone protecting the US.

    McCain failed in his mission, that is forgive-able, but rewarding him for that failure is unconscionable!

    McCain is a War hero, but that does not make him qualified to be President!

  113. 115 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2008 at 07:06

    More on McCain:

    Would you really elect a man who got shot down? A man who has demonstrated his lack of ability? What kind of record is that?


    Is there anybody out there?

  114. 116 Bob in Queensland
    September 17, 2008 at 07:12

    @ Tom D. Ford

    I would tend to agree with you. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: “To be shot down once may be regarded as a misfortune; to be shot down 3 times must appear to be carelessness”.

    However, that’s not my actual point here. Whatever one thinks about McCains miltary qualifications, should security issues be the main deciding factor? I don’t think so.

  115. 117 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2008 at 07:41

    @ Bob in Queensland

    No, security is just a, a, well what’s the appropriate word?

    A distraction!

    From jobs and , … ah what the h*ll, hasn’t it all been said and written before?


    This era of Conservative Republicans in the US is like when rabbits were introduced to Australia, they’re prolific breeders, they infest everywhere, and they disrupt the eco-system and kill off everything of value.

  116. 118 Jack Hughes
    September 17, 2008 at 09:06

    This era of Conservative Republicans ….rabbits…

    Is this your level of debate ?

  117. 119 Robert
    September 17, 2008 at 09:45

    Re AIG

    Why are the public only taking an 80% stake in the company? Why not 100% and then sell it in 5 years? If the $85billion doesn’t appear then the will company fail, so the current value of the shareholders investment is ZERO. Although I dislike the notion of state bail out for failed companies, if it does happen the state should take all the company. I suppose that this some funny accountancy or legal dodge going on so that this doesn’t have to be called a nationalization.

    Over this side of the Atlantic it looks like a second Northern Rock is on the cards. Talks about forming a superbanks with HBOS and Llyods TSB

  118. 120 Mary Eboigbe
    September 17, 2008 at 09:48

    What Tsvangarai did was the best choice available to him under the circustances.

    I do not want to believe that he has made a wrong choice.

    Peace is always cheaper than violence.

    The time to rebuild Zimbabweis now. There can be no better time.

    I write from Nigeria(Naija).

  119. 121 Bryan
    September 17, 2008 at 10:06

    Jack Hughes September 17, 2008 at 9:06 am,

    Apparently it is. In fact the election debate on this site over the past few months has been mostly of the “shoot first, then check what you’ve shot at” variety. As an example, the majority of people here have gone along obediently with the anti-Palin crowd, jumping to confusions and trashing her without even assessing the evidence of her achievements.

    The BBC, of course, led the pack:


    Pity that Newsnight show where the impartial BBC tore into Palin and turned its collective nose up in contempt at the Republicans while showing five times more of Obama than it did of Palin – even though the topic was meant to be about the latter – is no longer available. (Or perhaps it is but I don’t know how to retrieve it.)

  120. September 17, 2008 at 10:13

    America Falters, the World Squirms and Squeals!
    TEHRAN – It is the same old story all over and again. When we come, we come big but it is nobody’s business to question why.
    Here we are with the greatest slump in money and financial markets in the world this century, and the US Fed assures the public that it will continue to invest and uphold financial institutions. What if the Fed is wrong? What is the major blunder that triggered the current global financial crunch?
    Should US have invaded Iraq? Is the three trillion dollar price tab of the Afghan and Iraqi invasions justified?
    Americans were told to spend what they didn’t have in the fifties and sixties, the heyday of hire-purchase and long term credit. Now they are being told not to spend what they have, because they simply don’t have it.
    Is someone getting away Scott free? Who blundered? Why is Europe adamant all of a sudden? A couple of billions here and there to prop up EU banks, and silence local investors, is that it?
    Should we shut up? Is there some murky truth around the corner which we should seek out. So much talk of the red devil and threat of Communism in the seventies and eighties that no one dared to extol the virtue of communal trust, the simple life, and secure future for our sons and daughters, peace and stability where men of all colours and races live side by side.
    It is all very well to dangle free speech and civil rights, but who can prop up international financial markets and revive public trust in governments around the world?

  121. 123 Roberto
    September 17, 2008 at 10:25

    RE “”A McCain campaign spokesperson said Palin is not EXPERIENCED ENOUGH to run a company like HP, but can run the country.””

    ———- That McCain spokes is Carly Fiorina, the infamous witch woman who ran HP into the ground with a ridiculous merger of struggling Compaq. Ranks up there with AOL’s aquisition of Time Warner where AOL/Compaq brought nothing to the table save back breaking debt and bureaucracy that exceeded share values they paid.

    These CEO golden parachute crook types run politics and McCain and Obama have to do business with them to secure their support, because without it, you might as well be riding on the back of a garbage truck with a ” vote for me” sign.

    Just as disturbing as Rove behind the scenes in a spare Cheney bunker somewhere playing an unknown role in McCain’s campaign, is the tandem of Mr & Ms Slick unleashed in public promoting their own branded koolaid.

    Facts are that the economy is attempting to duplicate The Journey to the Center of the Earth while the ants on the surface desperately attempt to reconstruct their disturbed nest. The global economy is simply bigger than the combined forces of McCain and Obama.

    America could elect that lip sticked pig with a side of freedom fries for the veep and it would make no difference what so ever save what the history books record.

    Of course, this just the view of an unwashed cynic.

  122. 124 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 10:42


    Re AIG, this wasn’t/wouldn’t have been a “bankrupt insurance company.” The holding company has/had a liquidity crisis, but as the NYT said, “The main insurance unit has remained profitable.” The principal troubled unit was/is (ahem) a London-based financial products group.

    Re the McCain supporter who had only “security” on his mind, bear in mind that the BBC felt it had to find a McCain supporter, and as you know, terror/security is pretty much the one note McCain plays. In other words, what else would a McCain supporter talk about?

    Re troop’s stimulus plan, it’s classic Keynesian stuff: Spend and run a deficit during hard times.

  123. 125 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 10:42


    I like the looks of your income-tax rebate stimulus program. It looks suspiciously like an income tax cut, though, which we’re assured by Democrats would be disastrous, because implicitly it’s better for the government to have lots of money and the people relatively less.

  124. 126 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 10:43

    @Tom D Ford

    Oh, sure, there are a few very wealthy people who don’t work. But there are so very few of them that they aren’t relevant to my point about class in America. They and their husbands are almost all involved in philanthropy. Their money was inherited from people who earned it, rather than stole it, so economically it’s a draw. My point stands: “Working class” is an anachronism in 21st century America, where nearly everyone who doesn’t work is poorer, not richer, than workers.

  125. 127 Roberto
    September 17, 2008 at 11:26

    RE Hurricane Ike survivors:

    ——- Obviously a great hardship for what may still be over a million people still in shelters, unable to return home because of the carnage.

    What strikes me is the simple minded approach of some of the ones who remained who now want disaster relief to wave a magical wand and restore their lives. They didn’t fill up their vehicles with gas, they didn’t stock any nonperishables and drinking water, they didn’t purchase generators or enough gas to keep them running to keep some independent power for perishables and medical devices, they had no plan to deal with any floodwater encroachment, and if they chose to ride out a direct hit in the first 20 miles inland, they are certified crazy.

    Now, of course, I feel for these people as well, but it’s scary that they may be licensed to drive and registered to vote with their seemingly poor grasp of reality. I can excuse the poorest, most uneducated, most downtrodden as these folks always to be a burden to themselves and others, but too many of these others have no such excuse.

  126. September 17, 2008 at 12:07

    @ Jonathan:
    I put down 1k towards the $130,000. Within the first year I paid over 1,500 towards additional principal over my general mortgage payment, and have prepaid it two months ahead. I make it an absolute rule to put at least $35-200 extra per month towards principal.
    In my case the bank was being quite generous… I hadn’t had my new job which the loan was based on very long (less than 6 months), but had a second backup job which I couldnt claim due to it going from full time to part time status within those 6 months.
    BUT, I have spent my entire life building good credit and had just paid off my $6,000 3 year car loan in 5 months, I’m assuming the bank didn’t mind tossing money my way lol.
    Still, I thought it would have been much harder to get a loan than it was… The hardest part was finding somewhere that I wanted to live which had the features I was looking for.

  127. 129 Auspicious Ndamuwa
    September 17, 2008 at 12:08

    Civilian casualties are the worst thing that armed conflict causes. The most unfortunate thing is that during fierce hostilities such mishaps are inevitable since a warped sense of judgement always result into fatal scenes. Considering the fact that human error cannot be ruled out in armed conflicts, man shall for a long time suffer terribly. The best thing would have been to put an end to these “wars” that have turned man into his own worst enemy. Stop the arms race and let us live as if we only had blunt tools, the way it was in the garden of Eden. I condole all the affected families in Afghanistan, I weep with them.

  128. 130 steve
    September 17, 2008 at 12:48


    Condemned prisoner says his weight gain would make lethal injection “cruel and unusual punishment” due to his veins being difficult to find due to weight that he gained while on death row.

  129. 131 Yogesh Pareek,India
    September 17, 2008 at 13:02

    You can try to minimize civilian casualities,but you can’t really stop them.Terrorists often take refuge in civillian areas and when army attacks such areas,this results in heavy civilian casualities.Army heavily depends on the secret information,and when such information is wrong, you can imagine what happens..Innocent people die and this is a trap terrorists often use ,It happens all over the world whether its Afghanistan,Kashmir ,SriLanka or any other conflict zone.People stop helping armed forces.
    We have to understand,that Afghanistan is not like any conflict zone.Even the British who ruled over Indian subcontinent failed to conquer this region at that time.And this historical mistake is now taking its toll.
    Now the focus should be on rapid development of economy,so that a common man starts to get fruits of development.as early as possible
    Otherwise We all are in serious trouble.

  130. 132 Dan
    September 17, 2008 at 13:09

    I wonder why people here just do not get it.
    The Islamists have made innocent civilians legitimate targets. Despite protests from some that profess Islam a religion of peace and the radicals are not part of the religion, the TRUTH is that rank and file Mulsims pray for the radical’s success. If they don’t then the protests worldwide against the radicals would stop them but Muslims only protest cartoons worldwide.
    Today, innocents live in a war zone created by the Muslims who hide behind innocentsd and inside Mosques further denigrating their God.
    For innocents to stop dying it will take Muslims to start admiting the truth of their religion and for them to rise up against those that have placed innocent lives in jeopardy. Until then the truth that Muslims simply desire the destruction of all around them and ultimately their Ggod is undeniable.

  131. 133 Shirley
    September 17, 2008 at 13:20

    re: post by 120 Mary Eboigbe September 17, 2008 at 9:48 am

    It’s just that it is so difficult to imagine that anything good could come out of any deal with Mugabe. How realistic is it to assume that any power might be shared with Morgan?

    Wanna Be Like Ike
    re: post by 127 Roberto September 17, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Roberto, I wish that you had your own blog so that you could add that post to it. Excellent piece of writing. I agree with nearly every word.

  132. 134 Nofal Elias
    September 17, 2008 at 13:26


    I would say what is wrong with gasing him.
    Next story would be he is suing the state for making him so fat whilst in prison.
    Just like people suing McDonald.

  133. 135 steve
    September 17, 2008 at 13:32

    @ Nofal

    Because when the stated picked lethal injection, that usually means that’s the only option to execute people with, so if he got too fat to be “humanely” executed that way, there is no other way of executing them legally. So there is no gas chamber in that state. Also, no firing squad.

  134. 136 Nofal Elias
    September 17, 2008 at 13:41

    @ Steve,

    Hanging ? 🙂

  135. 137 Jennifer
    September 17, 2008 at 13:49

    @ Lethal injection

    Put him on a diet.

  136. 138 Angela in Washington
    September 17, 2008 at 13:50


    I was reading this article about different cities and thought you might enjoy. Travel + Leisure has a list of the 25 favorite american cities and DC is listed highly on it. I personally like that Charleston is ranked 4th for the most attractive people.


  137. September 17, 2008 at 13:58

    If a prisoner can get to be overweight on death row, I would say we are doing things wrong. I think a new law should be proposed. No food for prisoners that are too big to execute. That or force them to eat my wife’s cooking being made ever since she got on this “low fat/ low calorie” kick.

  138. September 17, 2008 at 14:10

    Hi Dan
    Reyr September 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm
    Much of what you say is true since Americans and Europeans are generally timid and tolerant when it comes to religion.
    The Islamic agenda here is history. The current struggle within and outside government is money and influence, not whether you are faithful, Christian or Jew.
    In many ways, the United States prefers to keep things this way. It is friends with Saudi Arabia, the home of Osama ben-Laden and radical Islam but at odds with Iranian Shi’ites who have long discarded the straight and narrow for a free for all, may the best man win jousting tournament.

  139. 141 Jennifer
    September 17, 2008 at 14:12

    @ Is it okay to love one child more than the other?

    No. It can be detrimental when parents love one child more than another.

    My mom loves my brother and I both equally but in different ways. We are two distinct people. I am the oldest so she expects more from me. My brother is the baby and we both look out for him.

  140. September 17, 2008 at 14:13


    There are a few problems with the “send everybody money approach.” First, they did that. What happens is the money either gets spent on bills that were already made, thus not stimulating anything. Or it takes a quick stop in Wal-Marts bank account before being bundled up and shipped off to china. The problem with our system is that there is a huge hole in t. Like a car leaking transition fluid, we just keep adding more and hoping that will fix the problem.

    Secondly, if you send people more money then they make, you are submitting to a very socialist ideology. That is why communism and socialism break down.

    Last, if everybody got huge checks, inflation would skyrocket at least in the short term. Once there it might actually stay. The following year the country would need a 300% raise to keep up.

    Lol, I am sure if these concepts aren’t clear you could ask John “The economy isn’t my strong point” McCain or Sarah “She Couldn’t run a big business” Palin.

  141. 143 Shirley
    September 17, 2008 at 14:16

    Good morning 🙂 Ike dumped tons of rain on us up here, killed the grass that I was growing in containers, and now it is cold!

    Btw, is there a mod awake out there who could drop me a line?

  142. September 17, 2008 at 15:20

    So, why has nobody asked where the government is getting all this money to “bail out” these businesses? I mean we have billion in deficit, billions in trade deficits, and we have unnamed expenses in Iraq. It seems the government is in debt up to its ears. So where is this money coming from? “I mean a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money.”

  143. 145 Pangolin- California
    September 17, 2008 at 16:18

    I’m sitting here listening to one person after another on NPR try to explain that the AIG bailout really isn’t socialism for the rich. Then I look at the stock market ticker and it appears that people might not be as clueless as they seem.

    The US stock market is diving because it’s all a huge fraud. We have no legitimacy anymore. If you beleive what the talking heads on the tube are saying more power to you but you better plan a garage sale to pay the rent because your stock portfolio isn’t going to cut it.

  144. September 17, 2008 at 17:29

    @ Dwight,

    Yes, agreed all your points are the way I thought the things were. The friend who told me the pay each tax payer are bigger stimulous package to the tune of what it is going to cost to bail out the large crooks organization who interpreted reckless risk as not their problem.

    The problem that is actually looming is that there are so many average citizens who are tired of being screwed economically by the system. Take the health insurance problem…….it is run by really greedy, subtle, bad guys making unheard of profits. Someone gets sick and the insuranve company pays cirtually nothing, and have lots of legal people to keep them from paying. Why does not the government step and say no more worthless health care plans. Then when medical bills come due there is an inability to pay mortgages, and the bills.

    Here is the problem: You have enough people who feel screwed, they will quit, take on new identities, and then the government has no one paying taxes, or playing by the entire corrupt system. How do you prove who is an illegal immigrant, from a person who is flat fed up with it all.

    If things really get bad, and people have nothing to lose, they become enemies of the state and a hopeless drag on the society that continues on with something to lose, but they too will fail if all around them is failure.

    Give each tax payer $100,000.00 X 100,000,000 tax payers and they are all instantly reinvested into the society. The large screw the people for the money companies will end up with the money they need, because the people with the $100,000.00 will hand it over to pay debt or buy consumer goods.

    The big corperations will have to get it the old fashioned way. They will have to earn it.

    During the depression of the 30s, people who were not in debt even lost everything. They got taxed for their farms with no ability to pay the new outragious, bills.

    I just built a house that cost me $50,000.00 The county immediately announces it as having a value of a million dollars, and now I have this enormous responsibility to pay $6,000 a year property taxes. If I only make $1,000 a month how do I pay the county taxes, and remember there are still state and federal taxes to pay plus there are high food, fuel and basics like heat, and all.

    There is no reason a government like what we have should survive unless they start making it possible for a government retire-ee like me to survive on a pension that is now impossible to live on.


  145. 147 Jason from Houston, TX
    September 17, 2008 at 17:36

    Prepare yourselves for a controversial statement: “Companies going out of business are good for the economy and society.” I remember my favorite Economics prof starting a class with that statement. He went on to say that companies go out of business for the following reasons:

    * consumers have determined that there are better alternatives elsewhere in the market (failure due to external sources),

    * the company was woefully mismanaged (failure do to internal sources), or perhaps

    * all of the above.

    In all cases, however, the market will ultimately *gain* more than it lost as a result of the failure. As long as the demand for the product or service exists, there will be people and companies in the market willing to provide that produce or service.

    By keeping AIG from failing, the U.S. government has offset and extended the losses to the market as a whole over the long term in exchange for preventing the losses from occurring in the short-term; in other words, they’ve made things *worse*. Taxes upon the U.S. citizenry must be effectively raised to accommodate this move, and the U.S. dollar must lose value relative to other currencies as a result of how this was done. Add this to future consequences of past bail-out efforts on the part of the U.S. government and the expense of conducting two wars overseas and the U.S. has a huge, huge problem to overcome. I have no ideas on how to remedy this in less than 30 years.

  146. 148 Jens
    September 17, 2008 at 17:40

    @jessica NY,

    yes i did, he makes me laugh so much, while really one should be crying at the state of affairs…..

  147. September 17, 2008 at 17:43


    Thanks for your note. The hundred thou needs to be a tax free stimulous package. The important message here is take care of the little people as well as the big earners.

    Along with that there needs to be a straight flat tax for everyone and company or Corporation.


    Gross earnings……………………………………40,000
    business expenses…………………………….20.000
    adjusted annual income……………………..20,000

    10% to gov…………………………………………..2,000

    Along with that the first two thousand you pay to the gov. gets matched by the government and you have $4,000 for a health insurance plan.

    If private health insurance companies cannot handle the admin of the health care system they get out of the business and go do something they can make a living out of and the government basically administers a health care system for
    4% of their cost, the way the medicare and social security system works, and works well I might add.


  148. September 17, 2008 at 17:47


    Agree totally with the theory you bring up. From the ashes of wiped out, failed companies should come real customers who can pay to put their money and needs in the hands of those much better positioned to deliver on the needs.


  149. 151 Roberto
    September 17, 2008 at 18:22

    RE “”I have no ideas on how to remedy this in less than 30 years.””

    ——- Easy. Just start nationalizing everything, create your own books, and take your own profits.

    Works for Venezuela, and more importantly, hugely works for China and Russia. Kick all those no good corporate crooks out and put in your own political crooks.

    Bingo, back in business. Looks like GWDolt has more in common with Chavez and Putin than he let on. Looked into Putin’s eyes and got a sense of what he wanted to aspire to be.

  150. September 17, 2008 at 18:26


    First you need a tax lawyer. If that doesn’t work you might need a good electrician that might make suggestion on how to “devalue” your house. Lol.

    Anyway, the problem is one that can be exemplified in Zimbabwe. The government recently printed a $10 million bill. The result of the suggestion would be such a devaluation of the dollar that a square of toilet paper would be worth more.

    The real problem is that you have so many people who believe in the fantasy of the US economic system. The “ownership society” was a pipe dream marketed and sold to them. The American public’s ignorance of the cause and effect of basic day to day economic choices have lead to this chaos. They were only one part of the puzzle. The government propped big credit business have allowed them to feel secure in making these bad loans. But what is happening today is too many people have bought homes they couldn’t afford, ran up debt on credit cards they can’t pay back, and saved nothing for a rainy day. It is not easy to point the finger at yourself, so you blame the government.

    Your current situation with your home is the result of some kind of local corruption. It is sadly a situation that is occurring in communities across the country. As they struggle to gain finical ground, they have taken to cannibalizing their own local citizenry.

    You want to know when the economy will start getting better? When you stop getting credit card offers by the dozen every week. Especially when filing for bankruptcy.

  151. 153 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 18:27


    To be serious, $100,000 is way too much for a “tax relief” amount, but I like the principle, and I love it that people who trumpet about the $300 or $3,000 or whatever it was are also in favor of higher taxes. They don’t get the point.

    Continuing to be serious, you’re also right about the flat tax impulse, if not the details. The best way to work it is to get rid of even the business expense deductiion–any deduction or different treatment becomes a loophole which is then stretched by clever accountants and lawyers which is what we need to end.

    I’ve read that if we simply wiped all the deductions and the rest of the stuff, the tax rate to support the current bloated government at the current bloated level would be 12% and change–12.5% or something between 12 and 13%.

    It’s too bad that “class” envy and other unlovely sentiments probably make the adoption of a truly fair tax impossible. People prefer the fiction of higher tax rates for “the rich” to the reality of higher tax revenue from the rich from a flat rate.

  152. 154 Jonathan
    September 17, 2008 at 18:36


    If it were “socialism for the rich,” wouldn’t the stock markets be UP today? How does their being DOWN confirm that simple formulation?

  153. September 18, 2008 at 01:50


    If you delete business expenses what to say to the Grocery store owner who pays 69 cents for a can of peas and sells them for 79 cents. Gross inome of 79 cents without the 69 cents for product plus the expenses for advertising in the local fish wrapper newspaper. The guy who makes my parts for my fire tools, makes 4 percent on what he sells types thousands. That is above what he spends on raw materials like steel and aluminum stock, and wages for his employees, and depreciation on equipment, cutting oil and all those things that it takes in order to make that 4 percent on each part manufactured.

    No way to devalue a home passed by local building department codes.


  154. 156 Tom D Ford
    September 18, 2008 at 06:22

    @ Jonathan


    Building tax deductible Opera houses to party in, gosh how I admire their philanthropy.

    Fiddling while Rome burns, where have I heard that before?

  155. 157 Tom D Ford
    September 18, 2008 at 06:28

    “Can civilian deaths be justified in war?”

    If those civilians chose to be born on land that holds American Oil, yes!

    Big Oil is entirely justified in murdering foreign people for their Oil because, um, just because!

  156. 158 Bob in Queensland
    September 18, 2008 at 06:57

    @ Jonathan

    Sorry, I missed your reply yesterday!

    Re: AIG

    I’m curious: if a holding company has a “liquidity crisis” can a division under that ring fence its funds? There was a celebrated case in the UK when a holding company had a problem and one of the parts of the company (in this case a “Chrismas Club” was not allowed to keep it’s finances separate, causing the inevitable human interest stories about ruined Christmases and Scrooge banks.

    I wonder about this because I doubt a republican government would have bailed out AIG unless the collapse was going to hit the man in the street (i.e. voter) hard.

    Re: Keynes

    My addled aging brain remembers some Keynesian economics, but what would he have said about an economy that budgets at a deficit even in good times?

    Re: Stimulating tax breaks

    A hundred thousand per taxpayer isn’t a break…it’s Zimbabwean inflation!

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