On Wednesday, 12 November, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that the Executive is officially abandoning its plan to use the $700 Billion set aside for the buying of bad mortgages from lending institutions as it was originally given permission to by Congress. This doesn't come as a complete shock as, only days after the Bailout Bill was passed, the Bush Administration dropped its original talk and started to buy ownership in these major financial institutions. What is surprising in all of this is what Paulson said he, as current king of the roost, is going to do instead.

Is he going to help the American people out who cannot afford to make their loan payments by encouraging banks to renegotiate the terms of these loans which would turn these "bad" mortgages into viable mortgages again, thus easing this "squeeze" on the economy? No. Paulson claims that is beyond the original scope of the powers given him by Congress, and therefore he will not be pursuing that option.

Is he going to use this money to guarantee these troubled loans, which would mean, again, that there is no “hole” in our economic system, and completely dodge the whole problem? No. That isn't what Secretary Paulson is going to do with your money at all.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday the $700 billion government rescue program will not be used to purchase troubled assets as originally planned. ... He announced a new goal for the program to support financial markets, which supply consumer credit in such areas as credit card debt, auto loans and student loans.
- AP news article

Yes. We are bailing out even more of the credit industry now - including the most predatory sector of the lending industry, credit card debt. Mr Paulson is going to take our money and use it to ensure that the American people are pushed further into personal consumer debt than we already are. Paulson – giving no details on the means by which he will accomplish this except saying it will take weeks to come up with a plan, and even longer before the plan can be begun, putting the beginning of this coming fiasco some time at the beginning of the Obama Administration – says these industries are in need of help because they are "grinding to a halt." That is to say, the credit industry in the United States has basically completely destroyed itself by over-indebting the American people, and now it needs your and my money to finance its survival.

I don't know about you, but I was not aware that it was the job of our government, supposedly set up to do our will, to use our money to finance a scheme to load more consumer debt upon the American people. What is even more staggering about the incredible irresponsibility, and possible outright evilness, of such a plan is that a very good portion of these home mortgages, which people cannot afford to pay off now, were originally taken out in order to pay off strangling credit card and other consumer debt. Secretary Paulson is basically suggesting as the solution to the problem, one of the original causes of the problem. On top of that, we are taking a problem created by people taking on debt given to them through predatory lending practices, and the proposed solution to this problem is to increase and revitalize the only other more predatory lending industry in our economy – the credit card industry?

Student loans, which Paulson wants to help expand as well, aren't much better these days. In the past student loans have been given with low interest rates and a pay-off schedule reasonable to someone pursuing a degree. Today, however, student loans are increasingly of the sub-prime type – the same type of loans, with ballooning interest rates and payments as the loan ages, that have gotten us in all this trouble in the first place.

Debt, especially consumer debt, has been a growing problem for Americans and American families for some time now. This debt, purposefully or not, becomes a form of control and an enforcement of the status quo. Student loans often force graduates away from their original goals in life into jobs that pay well enough to pay back their loans from school. Credit card debt becomes a weight on people's shoulders, one more stress to deal with in today's increasingly stressful world.

The incredibly insidious thing about debt is its inherent ability to enslave people. As personal debt is taken on, people become more and more dependent on their jobs as their only means of keeping from losing everything they have and one day, hopefully, becoming free from their debt. However, as people become more and more dependent on their jobs they are less free to take the risks required to get better jobs in order to make enough money to pay off their debts. People must take whatever they can get, unable to be picky about their jobs with such a heavy weight on their shoulders, forcing them into working longer hours and for less pay, often having to take on second jobs, working even more hours, and forcing people into a “wage” slavery – that is, workers unable to demand rights, decent pay, reasonable working hours or safe conditions because they are dependent on their jobs for survival to the point where they cannot risk doing the slightest thing that might cost them these jobs.

If you are thinking to yourself right now that this wage slavery concept is a bit of a stretch, just find a friend of yours that is being strangled by debt and ask them about their lives. You can also look around the world or to our own history – the wage enslavement of former slaves in the South after the end of slavery being a rather good demonstration – for other examples to bring the reality of all this home to you.

This is what Secretary Paulson wants to finance with our money. Instead of pursing reasonable and rational solutions to this economic problem, the Bush Administration has taken on the task of furthering and worsening the conditions that lay at the root of the problem. This makes one question why they would take actions that anybody with a rational thought in their head can plainly see are not only going to fail to solve the problem, but will make the problem worse - just one more demonstration of how our government, under any administration, has ceased to be a tool of the people and has become a tool to carry out the will of large corporations. It is bad enough that we Americans have to watch our backs to ensure we are not being preyed on by these corporations without having to hand over our own money – meant to be used for public goods such as building roads, etc. – to finance them.

So what can we, the people, do about this? Legally, pretty much nothing. All of those “oversights” that Congress demanded before passing this Bailout Bill, giving Treasury Secretary Paulson $700 Billion to do with as he pleases, pretty much only work if the money was used as it was originally intended to be used. We, nor our representatives in Congress, do not have any say since the money is not being used in this way. (Never let it be said the Bush Administration does not have some massively brilliant legal minds behind it.)

That is not to say, however, that we have to stand idly by and take this abuse and exploitation. We have a voice, we can speak up and demand that our will be heard. Our country was founded on the idea that a government is meant to do the will of the people it represents, and if that government ever stops doing the will of its people, we should replace it with one that will. This is one of the most American of ideals. We have the right to demand our government not only hear our voices, but that they act in accordance with what we want.

I encourage you to gather support among your friends and in your community. Decide what you can do about this problem. Brainstorm on what you can do to have your voices heard. If this means writing your congressperson and firing them, that's great. If you and your community are capable of so much more, of raises your voices high above the level of the white noise of our society, please do this. Stand up for your right to determine your own future, to not have it determined for you by corporate America.

"What man can make, man can unmake."
-- Frederick Douglass

A mere 12 hours after I originally read this news story I can no longer find any news articles making reference to this revelation by Secretary Paulson. Because of this, I have updated this article to include a quote from the original AP article that described this plan.

Notes from the Surf

How to stack a wall of tires
...but the color is all wrong =b

Mountain Goats
There better be something worthwhile on the other side...

i have bicycles on my feet
How to win any debate.

You wouldn't steal a handbag
I sure learned my lesson.

The Shifts in the Map
Interesting demographic changes in the recent election.

Some research into homophobia
“Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli.”

Fish, pork, and chicken contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, along with milk and eggs
"In 2005 China exempted over 2,000 companies involved in dairy and food production from regulatory controls arguing these companies were of good standard and could regulate themselves."

Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In
"You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on January 20. (They say,) 'You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.'"

Income inequality seen as the great divide
"Public opinion across Europe, Asia and the US is strikingly consistent in considering that the gap between rich and poor is too wide and that the wealthy should pay more taxes."

No president can save us... We have seen glimpses of another way to live and it's fucking beautiful.
"Directly confront systems of oppression, and respect the need for a diversity of tactics: support the use of a variety of creative initiatives ranging from popular education to direct action and self-defense."

Okay, no energy to write much tonight, but after juicing and talking about chemotherapy and nutrition and organic fud and health and my overpublicized digestive system and cancer and blahblahblah until the cows come home, I have to say that
Weight Watchers Recipe Cards, is my single most favorite web site EVAR.

I laugh SO hard every time I come back and read them. I try not to do it to often, so the text is fresh.

The soup is love, and we have an electrified fence.

grun o'doon
A letter sent to President Elect Barack Obama, regarding the recent changes in banking legislation.

Since I was twelve years old, I've had a full-time job. I've had to work hard for everything, and nothing was handed to me.

Recently, I've moved onto another profession. For the past year and a half, I have been playing the game of poker, America's favorite card game, as my primary source of income.

A friend of mine named James McManus showed me an article he wrote for the New Yorker, where it profiled you (assuming this letter ever crosses the desk of Mr. Obama) as a poker player of some talent.

Now, for personal reasons, I obviously do not want to see the UIGEA exist in any iteration. For overall economic reasons, the newest regulations booked by the lame-duck administration to prevent the banking industry from doing business with companies that do business with an industry that, for some, is immoral... that is not the role of government. To call this administration "Republican" is a sham on the already shameful Grand Ole Party.

I am writing you to ask, on behalf of myself and the millions and millions of those who feel the same way, to please stop these absurd and dangerous laws from harming the economy and the banking system more than they already have.

Regulation exists for a reason. That reason isn't to impose your moral beliefs on others.

Best of luck.

The first softlink below pretty much describes my mood today. I have tonsillitis, which has also caused the gum around my impacted wisdom tooth to flare up, so I'm in pretty much constant discomfort or pain at the moment. My mother is visiting; for some people this might be a support or a help, but not for me. Much as she might try to help, my mother is a needy person who always needs more attention than she gives. Jo's father is visiting; he's okay, but it's just one more person around the house talking. Jo is stressed because her tenants have given notice in the apartment that she owns and is renting out in Leeds; she has to find new tenants at the worst possible time. I have lots of work to do. I mean, don't get me wrong; we have no money, so work is Good. It's just that I have to do 2 websites in about 3 weeks, and right now I can barely concentrate on saying hello. I just hope things quieten down and I start to feel better over the weekend.

Oh, and let's not forget that this little Iron Noder Challenge thing is still going on, and I'm falling behind :-) I threatened a while back to serialize my novel on E2 and it looks like this is an option I may have to consider seriously. I know all this doesn't sound like a very serious lot of problems, and I guess it isn't. We are short of money, but we're not without support from family. I'm sick, but I'm not mega-sick. I have work to do, but it's not onerous. Jo is losing tenants, but they were assholes anyway, and she has no reason to think that she won't get new tenants. It's just that all these things are coming at once when we have no time to think about them and no ability to get distance from them when there's a little boy here who needs attention all the time and it's FUCKING COLD outside...Wow, it's been a long time since I've really needed a rant on E2.

Yesterday we went to Fountains Abbey. I wanted to set off at about noon, so of course what with my mother and the baby and all we set off at about 3pm and the sun was setting by the time we actually managed to walk down the path towards the Abbey. I got some nice photos, but that was about it. Really, it was a wasted trip.

Now I have to go out and meet them all in a cafe down by the river. It's a nice cafe. I'm not a nice person right now. I haven't even had a shower. Normal service to be resumed by the weekend, hopefully.


Friday started out well and rapidly deteriorated. My boss called to tell me someone had called in sick. I knew right away who had called and I know why she called my boss instead of me. My boss is a more lenient than I am and this person knows that she can get around having to talk to anyone by leaving a message on my boss’s cell phone instead of calling me at home. I ended up having to work on my day off. I wouldn’t have cared except I hate working Friday nights, this person has a habit of calling in sick, I had a ton of things to get done and I had agreed to pick my niece up. By the time I got to work there was no place to park. I was almost late to work because I had to buy a gift bag for a birthday party my girls were going to be attending. The girl I was working with is nice but I don’t know her all that well and I was crabby because I didn’t want to be at work.

Most of my regular customers are my fellow mall employees. If they always order the same thing and I see them in line I’ll try to have whatever they normally order up by the time they get through the line. I posted Mystery Date as fiction because it is but the person that writeup talks about is real. Friday night there were two people behind him in line when he was at the counter. I knew what he wanted so I had it ready and waiting. While I was waiting for his money I had this really strange feeling that he was watching me. Before I could ask what was wrong he started talking. He said that whenever a certain girl who works there rings up his order she took his money and used the key on the cash register to open it up. On three separate occasions he had seen her take money from people, set the money off to the side of the register, give them change and leave to work on their orders without entering anything into the computer.

I asked my friend which one of my employees was doing this. He said he didn’t know her name but he could describe her. His description was a perfect match for the girl who had called in sick. When I first started my job she was going on a medical leave and I’ve wanted to fire her ever since she came back from her leave in August. I told the guy who worked at the Apple store that his order was on me. I told the girl I was working with that I had to make a phone call. I went in back to call my boss but really what I needed was a couple minutes to calm down. The mall is closed two days a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. We’re headed into the busiest season of the year and now I’m down a person who stole from the store and works three days a week.

I work at the mall because a friend of my uncle’s was willing to give me a job. It’s a job, it can be fun but I wouldn’t be working there if I didn’t need the money. I do not love my job. I don’t hate it but I hate things like the fact that I can’t even go to the bathroom whenever I want. I work hard at my job. I try to be a model employee and I think I have good relationships with my boss and the people who work for me. One of the good things that came out of finding out that someone was stealing was my friend at the Apple store told me that I should forward my resume to him. I went on the Apple website to see what kind of positions they had open. I really like the guy who told me someone was stealing. I’m flattered that he offered to submit my resume to the powers that be and I would really like an opportunity to work somewhere other than where I work now because I absolutely hate working by myself all the time.

The problem is I feel bad for the people I work for now. Good people are hard to come by. I’m not irreplaceable but it’s not easy to find good staff. I know because it’s my job to interview and hire people. I’ve hired four new people and fired four that needed to go. I don’t know if that makes me a good guy or not but I don’t put up with crap and I don’t feel that my employees should have to either. Firing people who steal from the company is tricky. First you have to prove that they were stealing. Next you have to figure out how much they took. I can call my friend from Apple back. His testimony would probably stand up in court but we’re not going to get the money back. There’s no way to determine how much was stolen so why waste our valuable time?

I have nothing to base this on but I think I might actually get a job at Apple. I don’t know why I think this. Part of me thinks that maybe I’m just being optimistic and another part of me would like an opportunity to work with some cool people in an even cooler store. I like the casual work environment. The store is bright and seems well organized. The other day I was talking with one of the guys who works at the restaurant next door. In the past he hasn’t been overly friendly but he talked to me for about ten minutes. If I needed a job I could talk to him about one. He told me he was going to send some of the people who worked for him over to me for lessons on how to keep things clean and organized.

The longer I work at the mall the more people I meet. The more people I know the better chance I have at getting a different job but as I said earlier. Part of me doesn’t want to leave my boss in the lurch like that. My boss is one of the best employers I’ve ever had. She works hard. She’s tough, smart, shrewd, energetic and nobody’s fool but she’s also kind, sensitive, empathetic and she knows what it’s like to have my job. Right now I am grateful that I have a job. I no longer work in finance but I did for years and the way that Washington is reacting to the teetering economy is not very reassuring. It’ll be a while before the economy turns back around. In the meantime I’ll be sitting here wondering what would have happened if I would have gone back to school for a job I really wanted.

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