Pickpocketing the American Taxpayer

Money Matters...
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Enigma
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Post by Enigma » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:00 am

I don't advocate stimulus spending (see previous post)

I don't advocate tax increases (to the poor and middle class)

I certainly don't advocate tax cuts (people out of work or losing their jobs don't benefit) and from Labbies last post somehow thinking that gearing tax benefits further towards property speculation [i.e. no capital gains benefit] will somehow mean responsible investment (that's how we got into this mess)

Printing money is the worst possible option which is what $1,000,000 to each household would do and would debase the currency out of existence. You may as well use leaves as a currency after that is done.

To clear the mess though, there needs to be a number of SERIOUS market corrections (already taking place) however moronic governments around the world think they can intervene and control the market (like Japan in the 90's, like 1929 etc etc.) its not going to work.

There needs to be a rebalanced in work/life/SPENDING/DEBT. How about this for radical....

1. Write off all personal debt - bank income gone
2. Nationalise all banks - income not important
3. TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR SAVINGS - wealth built on savings not debt
4. Let 'bad' business DIE don't rollover loans
5. Tighten bank lending practices

What a way to re-capitalise the banks! People would have a reason to put money in the bank rather than chase returns on the stock market. In Australia we get taxed (income tax) on savings. Why would I ever want to save? The money put in the bank can be rolled over / lent to businesses (already up their ears in debt) at a competitive SAFE rate.

This model would never fly because our consumer driven societies could not survive and would [temporarily] further exasperate unemployment (depending on who you believe).... less stock market speculation, less consumerism (retail markets collapse - happening anyway).... the list goes on.

BUT it would mean

1. Smaller bank loans
2. Less dependence on banks
3. Asset deflation (eg. house prices drop due to less demand) which means 1. (smaller loans).
4. Balanced employment levels
5. Balanced Work/life via less hours on the job

We could work 20 hours / week (but wait for it) wouldn't need as high a salary because we are no longer servicing all that debt $300-500K loans for a house (+18% credit card interest rates for example). Now THAT would mean getting off the TRED MILL which is being run by the banks anyway (you live to pay your debts).

We still have the same number of people working (or more) just not working as many hours and perhaps getting paid less. Call it efficiency if you like.

You COULD even call it freedom.

I mean its nutty to think that the entire planet can continue to consume indefinitely forever. But that is what most western sovereign macro economic policies are based on - Keynesian Economics.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Keyn ... omics.html

Now a days both parents are working 40-50 hours/week with 2-3 kids in child care struggling to make ends meet. What a joke. Pretty soon the kids will be working too, just to pay off all the debt!! And some people wonder why the fabric of society is being 'stretched' I think its pretty obvious and it has to stop.
Last edited by Enigma on Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dark Angel
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Post by Dark Angel » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:14 am

Enigma wrote:Printing money is the worst possible option which is what $1,000,000 to each household would do and would debase the currency out of existence. You may as well use leaves as a currency after that is done.
Deflation...can we say Japan in the 90's
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Post by Labbie » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:55 pm

Dark Angel wrote:
Enigma wrote:Printing money is the worst possible option which is what $1,000,000 to each household would do and would debase the currency out of existence. You may as well use leaves as a currency after that is done.
Deflation...can we say Japan in the 90's
Can you say idiocy?

How would having and entire stimulus package of approximately $120 - $150 million cause worse inflation than one of over $800,000,000,000?
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Post by Enigma » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:10 pm

The Japanese government issued more than 1 Trillion US$ in stimulus in the 1990's.

The Japanese economy is 1/3 the size of the U.S.

It didn't work and they have had nearly 20 years of deflation.

So... after issuing 3 times the stimulus/debt (and tax reductions) that has just been approved in the U.S. it made basically NO difference, and the recovery took 20 years.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN?!

"Between 1992 and 1995, Japan tried six spending programs totaling 65.5 trillion yen and cut income tax rates during 1994. In January 1998, Japan temporarily cut taxes again by 2 trillion yen. Then, in April of that year, the government unveiled a fiscal stimulus package worth more than 16.7 trillion yen, almost half of which was for public works. Again, in November 1998, another fiscal stimulus package worth 23.9 trillion yen was announced. A year later (November 1999), yet another fiscal stimulus package of 18 trillion yen was tried. Finally, in October 2000, Japan announced yet another fiscal stimulus package of 11 trillion yen. Overall during the 1990s, Japan tried 10 fiscal stimulus packages totaling more than 100 trillion yen, and each failed to cure the recession. What the spending programs have done, however, is put Japan's government in poor fiscal shape. The "on-budget" government spending has caused public debt to exceed 100 percent of GDP (highest in the G7), and even more debt is apparent when the "off-budget" sector is included."

http://mises.org/story/1099
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Post by Labbie » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:31 pm

Huge demonstration in West New York tonight as residents protest proposed 27 percent tax hike
by Agustin Torres/The Jersey Journal

Chanting "Down with the rat, no more taxes" in Spanish, and other pointed slogans, hundreds of residents upset over a proposed 27 percent municipal tax hike turned out to tonight's commissioners' meeting at the West New York Middle School on 57th Street.

Over 300 residents never made it inside the school's gymnasium before the doors were locked due to overcrowding. But they didn't go home. Instead they stood in the cold and rain and loudly voiced their dissatisfaction with city government and Mayor Sal Vega -- the ostensible "rat" -- in particular.

"For not letting us in, Mayor Vega owes us an explanation why taxes are going up and why we were not let into the building," Raymond Morejon shouted through a bullhorn.

Draped over a car was a banner that read, "Stop the Madness." The crowd was a mix of ages and many had whistles.

At points, the crowd chanted for Vega, who has three years left to his term, to resign.

The main organizer of the demonstration was Dr. Felix Roque, a West New York physician who is gunning for the mayor's job.

As the crowd grew more agitated, police closed off 57th Street to street traffic. Union City police were called in to assist West New York cops.

Vega couldn't be reached to comment tonight. In the past, he has blamed the economic crisis and the State of New Jersey for the proposed tax hike.
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Post by Labbie » Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:26 am

Hundreds protest stimulus in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at the St. Louis Arch to throw tea bags into the Mississippi River Friday to protest President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Bill Hennessy, one of the organizers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was inspired by Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC. Santelli, an opponent of the plan, called for another Boston Tea Party.

Jackie Smith, a former tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the speakers.

"We are mad as hell and we need to stay mad as hell," he said. "Don't let up."

The demonstration was orderly, the newspaper said. Hennessy and others distributed tea bags but they asked protesters to open up the bags and dump the tea, not the paper.

Other protests were planned around the country, KMOV-TV reported.
Never argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.

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Post by Dark Angel » Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:38 am

Labbie wrote:Hundreds protest stimulus in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at the St. Louis Arch to throw tea bags into the Mississippi River Friday to protest President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Bill Hennessy, one of the organizers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was inspired by Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC. Santelli, an opponent of the plan, called for another Boston Tea Party.

Jackie Smith, a former tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the speakers.

"We are mad as hell and we need to stay mad as hell," he said. "Don't let up."

The demonstration was orderly, the newspaper said. Hennessy and others distributed tea bags but they asked protesters to open up the bags and dump the tea, not the paper.

Other protests were planned around the country, KMOV-TV reported.
LMAO...St. Louis Tea Bag Party. I'm thinking they forgot what the real reason for the Boston Tea Party was...and it has nothing to do with the stimulus package.
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Post by Sarge_II » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:45 pm

Labbie wrote:Hundreds protest stimulus in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at the St. Louis Arch to throw tea bags into the Mississippi River Friday to protest President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Bill Hennessy, one of the organizers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was inspired by Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC. Santelli, an opponent of the plan, called for another Boston Tea Party.

Jackie Smith, a former tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the speakers.

"We are mad as hell and we need to stay mad as hell," he said. "Don't let up."

The demonstration was orderly, the newspaper said. Hennessy and others distributed tea bags but they asked protesters to open up the bags and dump the tea, not the paper.

Other protests were planned around the country, KMOV-TV reported.
Those jerks. Those are teabags I could have bought to be making my awesome iced tea throughout the summer.
Typical. Waste got us into this mess, so they think more waste is the way to go. Jerks.
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Post by Dark Angel » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:47 pm

Sarge_II wrote:
Labbie wrote:Hundreds protest stimulus in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at the St. Louis Arch to throw tea bags into the Mississippi River Friday to protest President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Bill Hennessy, one of the organizers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was inspired by Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC. Santelli, an opponent of the plan, called for another Boston Tea Party.

Jackie Smith, a former tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the speakers.

"We are mad as hell and we need to stay mad as hell," he said. "Don't let up."

The demonstration was orderly, the newspaper said. Hennessy and others distributed tea bags but they asked protesters to open up the bags and dump the tea, not the paper.

Other protests were planned around the country, KMOV-TV reported.
Those jerks. Those are teabags I could have bought to be making my awesome iced tea throughout the summer.
Typical. Waste got us into this mess, so they think more waste is the way to go. Jerks.
No Sarge it's not like that at all...these are Republican activists using free market principles to try to stimulate Lipton company...the problem is though that like most everything they do...it doesn't work and it's not a new idea.
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Post by Dark Angel » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:34 am

This guy is spot on...(warning some language)

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Post by Dark Angel » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:54 am

Dark Angel wrote:
Sarge_II wrote:
Labbie wrote:Hundreds protest stimulus in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at the St. Louis Arch to throw tea bags into the Mississippi River Friday to protest President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Bill Hennessy, one of the organizers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was inspired by Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC. Santelli, an opponent of the plan, called for another Boston Tea Party.

Jackie Smith, a former tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the speakers.

"We are mad as hell and we need to stay mad as hell," he said. "Don't let up."

The demonstration was orderly, the newspaper said. Hennessy and others distributed tea bags but they asked protesters to open up the bags and dump the tea, not the paper.

Other protests were planned around the country, KMOV-TV reported.
Those jerks. Those are teabags I could have bought to be making my awesome iced tea throughout the summer.
Typical. Waste got us into this mess, so they think more waste is the way to go. Jerks.
No Sarge it's not like that at all...these are Republican activists using free market principles to try to stimulate Lipton company...the problem is though that like most everything they do...it doesn't work and it's not a new idea.
LMAO...ok quoting myself here because it fits the comments...


The Weird Contradictions of the Tea Bag Revolution
by: Bob Cesca for Huffington Post

Throughout history, there have been more than a few unfortunate and ill-conceived branding and marketing ideas to have been thrust into public view. I'm not just talking about minor infractions like the recent Cocaine energy drink or that children's candy with the hard plastic "prizes" suitable for choking buried inside. I'm talking about serious failures. Probably the most famous example of an epic fail product was the diet pill known simply as "Ayds," circa 1982. The slogan: "Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds?" I'm not making that up.

In the past several years, this caliber of epic fail has also appeared at various political protests. There's the infamous mullet-headed pro-war demonstrator holding a sign reading: "GET A BRAIN! MORANS." And just a couple of weeks ago, there was this display of fail by a protester from the far-right blog Free Republic:

As the sign demonstrates, the funniest and most contradictory aspect of the recent far-right revolution is, hands down, the tea bag thing. But it's not just about the double entendre aspect of "tea bagging." A lot of it has to do with the idea that far-right conservatives are emulating the Boston Tea Party.

Let's recap. It began with the on-air rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by the Coward Rick Santelli -- "coward" because he's apparently too afraid to go on The Daily Show and, instead, Jim Cramer went on and took a beating for something that Santelli basically started. Nevertheless, according to one of the official tea bag websites, Santelli is credited as the patron saint of the movement.

And unless I'm mistaken, the basic idea of the tea bag revolution is to protest against government bailouts and in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans. Ultimately, the tea baggers (can I call them that?) appear to be against allowing the Bush's tax cuts to expire. Strangely, they also appear to be against President Obama signing into law the largest middle class tax cut in history. They're also against helping middle and working class "losers" keep their homes. (By the way, your neighbor's mortgage is your problem. Just watch your property values plummet as soon as there's just one foreclosure on your block.)

This series of Obama policies, they say, portends tyranny in America. Of course none of the policies of the Bush administration were considered tyrannical by many of the current tea bag leaders. You know the list of Bush trespasses. The illegal searches and seizures, the illegal electronic eavesdropping and torturing. The suspension of habeas corpus, the record deficits, the doubling of the national debt and so on. None of that was tyrannical. But allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent to expire is absolutely the vanguard of totalitarianism.

So the organizers of the movement have picked up on Santelli's tea party reference and are rebelling against higher taxes for the rich and corporations by purchasing thousands of tea bags and dumping them into various waterways.

To sum up: higher '90s-era tax rates for the wealthy and corporations? Tyrannical. Tax cuts for the middle class? Also tyrannical. Therefore, emulate the Boston Tea Party as a means of underscoring these positions.

Here's the problem.

The Boston Tea Party was ultimately precipitated by a massive corporate tax cut.

In 1773, the only major multinational corporation at the time, the British East India Company, was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. According to that obviously liberal organization, the Boston Tea Party Historical Society, one solution was to bail out the corporation by offering it a government loan. But instead, at the urging of the East India Company's powerful lobbyists and supported by King George III, Parliament passed the Tea Act which almost entirely eliminated the duty -- the tax -- on British tea exported by the East India Company to the American colonies. How do we know this? Well, the actual subtitle of the Tea Act, for one:
An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

The rationale was that lower taxes meant lower prices, which meant the East India Company would sell a lot more tea. Your basic free market precursor to Reaganomics and supply-side economics in action. In other words, the British government's solution to the East India Company's financial crisis was, in effect, a tax cut. A big one. Exactly the same economic solution that's been pushed by congressional Republicans and the tea bag revolutionaries 236 years later.

The tax cut was viewed by colonial patriots as another example of British tyranny against smaller merchants whose business would be severely undercut. Consequently, political activists and, most famously, the Sons of Liberty, organized a boycott against the East India Company's tea. And later that year, when the Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor were docked in Boston harbor, the Sons carried out their famous protest.

So. Whoops.

It turns out that that the tea baggers, led in part by Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds and the Coward Rick Santelli, are politically more in line with the tax policies of King George than the views of the Sons of Liberty and the colonial patriots. The tax baggers emulating a protest against a corporate tax cut -- but, oddly, in support of tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Furthermore, King George was against a corporate bailout loan. And so are the tea baggers. And I don't think it'd be a stretch to suggest that many of the tea baggers are recipients of the president's middle class tax cut.

Not only that but the tea bag revolutionaries are being urged to buy thousands of corporate tea bags, rather than horking them from Lipton trucks -- Griffin's Wharf style. Sam Adams would be so proud. Then again, to be fair, the revolutionaries are being urged to get the proper government permits for their revolution against the, you know, government. We shouldn't expect that such law-abiding revolutionaries would seek out pilfered tag bags.

So in keeping with a long, embarrassing history of ill-conceived, contradictory or just plain self-defeating marketing ploys, the tea baggers seem to have adopted a concept that completely and utterly contradicts what they claim to stand for. Don't misunderstand me, though, they absolutely have a right to protest or do whatever the hell they want. They also have a right to be ridiculously and hilariously inconsistent. In a strange way, consider this column as helpful advice to the tea baggers. Perhaps it's time to quietly abandon the whole tea bag thing.

Unfortunately, I doubt they'll listen. Last week, with crocodile tears streaming down his punch-me face, Glenn Beck urged his viewers to: "Believe in something -- even if it's wrong. Believe in it!" Looks like they're way ahead of you, Glenn, you crazy bastard you.
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A.I.G. (Arrogant Incompotent Greedy)

Post by Dark Angel » Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:58 am

Well they're back at it again...little did the world know while getting taxpayer money they're suing for guess what tax payments to the federal government...this would be funny if the Catch 22 weren't so sad. All I can say is this takes a lot of nerve.



A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments


While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.

A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens.

A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government, which has an 80 percent stake and has poured nearly $200 billion into the insurer in a bid to avert its collapse and avoid troubling the global financial markets. The company is in effect asking for even more money, in the form of tax refunds. The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.

The lawsuit, filed on Feb. 27 in Federal District Court in Manhattan, details, among other things, certain tax-related dealings of the financial products unit, the once high-flying division that has been singled out for its role in A.I.G.’s financial crisis last fall. Other deals involved A.I.G. offshore entities whose function centers on executive compensation and include C. V. Starr & Company, a closely held concern controlled by Maurice R. Greenberg, A.I.G.’s former chairman, and the Starr International Company, a privately held enterprise incorporated in Panama, and commonly known as SICO.

The lawsuit contends in part that the federal government owes A.I.G. nearly $62 million in foreign tax credits related to eight foreign entities, with names like Lumagrove, Laperouse and Foppingadreef, that were set up or controlled by financial products, often through a unit known as Pinestead Holdings.

United States tax law allows American companies to claim a credit for any taxes paid to a foreign government. But the I.R.S. denied A.I.G.’s refund claims in 2008, saying that it had improperly calculated the credits. The I.R.S. has identified so-called foreign tax-credit generators as an area of abuse that it is increasingly monitoring.

The remainder of A.I.G.’s claim, for $244 million, concerns net operating loss carry-backs, capital loss carry-backs, a general refund claim and claims for refunds of other tax-related payments that A.I.G. says it made to the I.R.S. but are now owed back. The claim also covers $119 million in penalties and interest that A.I.G. says it is due back from the government.

In part, A.I.G. says it overpaid its federal income taxes after a 2004 accounting scandal that caused it to restate its financial records. A.I.G. says in part that it is entitled to a refund of $33 million that SICO paid in 1997 as compensation to employees, which it now says should be characterized as a deductible expense.

A.I.G.’s lawyers in the case, at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, referred calls to the company. Asked about the lawsuit, Mark Herr, an A.I.G. spokesman, said Thursday that “A.I.G. is taking this action to ensure that it is not required to pay more than its fair share of taxes.”
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Post by Dark Angel » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:48 am

March 19 (Bloomberg) --

Citigroup Inc. plans to spend about $10 million on new offices for Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit and his lieutenants, after the U.S. government injected $45 billion of cash into the bank.

Affidavits filed with New York’s Department of Buildings show Citigroup expects to pay at least $3.2 million for basic construction such as wall removal, plumbing and fire safety. By the time architect’s fees and expenses such as furniture are added, the tally for the offices at the bank’s Park Avenue headquarters will be at least three times as high, according to a person familiar with the project who declined to be identified because he’s not authorized to comment. Citigroup said the project will help it save money over time.

Pandit, criticized by lawmakers over Citigroup’s use of U.S. bailout capital, canceled an order for a company jet in January and told Congress on Feb. 11 that, “I get the new reality and I’ll make sure Citi gets it as well.” Of the biggest U.S. banks that received federal aid, only Citigroup has turned to the government three times for rescue. The company, once the biggest U.S. bank by assets and market value, has agreed to limit perks and restrict executive pay.

“In this environment, it absolutely sends the wrong message,” said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, referring to the office renovations. “Timing in life is everything.”

Cost Savings

Citigroup said in a statement that the construction is part of a global space-saving initiative. The bank plans to reduce its office space worldwide by more than 10 million square feet to help save $15 billion over the next few years, according to a company official who declined to be identified. Pandit has already slashed Citigroup’s dividend and sold units to free up capital. He said in November that he would cut 52,000 jobs, about 15 percent of the firm’s headcount as of Sept. 30.

“Senior executives in our corporate headquarters are moving from two floors to smaller, simpler offices on a single floor,” the company’s statement said. “Based on estimates made when the project was initiated, we expect to generate savings in the next few years well in excess of the project costs.”

The company said in a statement today that consolidating its office space will save $20 million over the life of its lease. Citigroup began planning the renovation last June and obtained demolition permits in September, before the bank received any bailout funds, said a person briefed on the process.

Sub-Zero Fridge

Some city approvals for the project weren’t issued until after Citigroup got its first $25 billion from the U.S. in October, under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, according to records available at the New York Department of Buildings.

The new executive suite will be located on the second floor of Citigroup’s office on 399 Park Avenue, a floor below the one Pandit, 52, inherited when he took over as CEO from Charles “Chuck” Prince in December 2007. The second floor previously contained offices, which are being demolished, as well as boardrooms and executive-dining quarters. The floor being vacated will be subleased, Citigroup said in its statement.

Plans and instructions for the bank’s contractors, on file with the city, specify the installation of at least one Sub-Zero Inc. refrigerator and icemaker in the renovated space, along with “premium grade” millwork and Madico Inc. “Safety Shield 800” blast-proof window film. The project encompasses 17 private offices, each with space for administrative assistants, as well as two conference rooms and open areas with “soft seating,” according to the plans.

‘Parallel Reality’

“Maybe there’s some rational argument” for the remodeling, said Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “But I think our friends in the banking and financial universe have to understand that they have to stop living in an alternate parallel reality.” Given the nation’s economic challenges, “people simply don’t understand those types of expenditures,” he said.

Citigroup hired New York-based Conant Architects, whose Web site says it designed the bank’s offices in downtown and midtown Manhattan. The plans also list acoustical, telecommunications and lighting consultants, as well as engineers.

Lawmakers have criticized banks over the way they’re using TARP funds. Democrats led by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd say more of the money should be going to consumer and small-business loans.

Liddy to Thain

American International Group Inc. CEO Edward Liddy was lambasted by lawmakers at a hearing in Washington yesterday for allowing the insurer to allocate $165 million for bonuses to employees after taking government loans.

President Barack Obama spoke out against inappropriate spending at banks on Jan. 23, following reports that former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO John Thain incurred more than $1 million of expenses to redecorate his personal office at the New York- based securities firm. Thain was ousted the same month, after Bank of America Corp. completed its takeover of Merrill.

Citigroup fell 48 cents, or 16 percent, to $2.60 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 61 percent this year.
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Post by Gavin Shaw » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:04 am

It seems some companies think the taxpayer is a never ending source of money...
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Post by Enigma » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:50 am

Go work for the U.S. public sector at Citibank, one of the big sellers will be that you will be working from home since they plan to save 1.5 B p.a. on properly rental!

What a frak'n joke! :smt005
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Post by Labbie » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:11 pm

I'm sure Obie and his gang will find a way to tax this too...


More Americans go fishing as recession deepens

MEREDITH, New Hampshire (Reuters) – From his wooden fishing shack on Lake Winnipesaukee's thinning skin of ice, Mike MacDonald doesn't need to think twice about why more Americans are going "fishin'" in the deepening U.S. recession.

"This costs $6 (4 pounds) to get a bucket of bait and it will last the whole day," he said, skinning a fish next to a hole drilled into the frozen New Hampshire lake. "Compare that to skiing -- one day of skiing would cost $80 just for the lift ticket."

As Americans forgo expensive vacations, costly dinners and shopping mall splurges, many are opting instead for the quiet simplicity of fishing, according to the sport fishing industry and reports from bait shops and fishermen.

From the icy north to fly-fishing streams in Texas, angling is on the rise. For families, it's an inexpensive outing. Those with a knack for it can trim their grocery bills. And for newly unemployed, it's something to do.

"I'm seeing a lot more fishermen down here," said John Miller, owner of Bob's Sport & Tackle in Katonah, New York. "With the economy the way it is, people are getting laid off from work and don't want to sit at home and do nothing.

"The cheaper alternative," he said, "is to go fishing."

Hard times have had this effect on Americans before. In the last U.S. recession, from 2001 to 2002, spending on fishing rods and reels rose 12 percent to $343 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, a trade body that measures how much people spend on sporting goods.

That can add up. When including the cost of fishing rods, tackle boxes, lures, lines and other equipment, recreational fishing in the United States is a $2.2 billion industry, according to the association's data, which excludes spending on fishing tourism, clothing and fishing lessons.

Sports network ESPN added 44 percent more pages than planned to an insert in its "Bassmaster Magazine" aimed at saltwater fishermen because of advertiser demand, the Walt Disney Co-owned network said last week, citing demand from suppliers of equipment and boats to bass enthusiasts.

In Texas, fishing licence sales have increased considerably in recent months, said Tom Harvey, a spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "We suspect it's because the price of gasoline has come down considerably and thus facilitated more driving and boating," he said.

In the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, where there is a stream stocked with trout in the winter, Mike Hamilton, a 47-year-old fly fishing pharmacist, said fishing close to home was something he could do without breaking the bank.

"I'm not into spending a whole lot of money on my recreation," he said on a cold March morning, standing in the stream with fly rod in hand.

"SIMPLE AND PRETTY CHEAP"

In February, amid a bombardment of dire news on the U.S. economy, an annual ice fishing derby on Lake Winnipesaukee drew nearly 5,500 people -- among its best seasons ever and up about 7 percent from last year.

"All you need is a licence and then you can come out, cut a hole in the ice and fish," said Steve O'Brien, who has fished there since November. "It's simple and pretty cheap."

Nearby at A.J.'s Bait & Tackle shop, owner Alan James Nute said fish bait sales are up 25 percent this season. He attributes some of that to one of the frostiest winters in memory -- the ice is about a foot (.3 metres) thick -- but said the bad economy is also drawing crowds.

"We've had one of our best Januarys and Februarys ever," said Nute. "We've had cold winters before but this winter seems better. I think a big part of the reason is that fishing is just really cheap. Just about anyone can do it.

"Some people's hours have been cut at their work or they've now got weekends free. Or they lost their jobs outright and what else are they going to do?"

In 2007, as the U.S. economy began skidding into recession, spending on fishing rods and reels hit a 10-year high of $356 million, the National Sporting Goods Association said. Data for last year is not yet available.

"The one little treat people are giving themselves these days is getting out and going fishing and getting away from it all," said Mel Berman, who runs a fishing talk-radio show in Florida, a major destination for anglers.

George Taylor, owner of Taylor's Trading Post in Madbury, New Hampshire, said he's seeing more families buying bait. "When the kids have time on their hands, fishing is a good alternative instead of spending money on other things like the movies," he said.

Bait fisherman John Konz, 65, who works at a waste water treatment plant in Texas, said low costs were among the factors that lured him to angling. He rigged up his rod near the bank of a stocked trout stream that cost $5 to access.

"What else can you do for $5 a day or whatever?" he said. "How can you go wrong?"
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Post by MzSnowleopard » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:49 am

to sum it all up in 10 words or less:

the rich get richer and the poor... get screwed.
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Post by Labbie » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:44 pm

I'd go for this....as long as they make it effective for those age 50 on January 1st, 2010!!
Mr. Obama,

There’s about 40 million people over 50 years old in the work force - pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations.

1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They either buy a house/pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

Any Questions??

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American Taxpayers Union
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Post by Dark Angel » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:01 am

Labbie wrote:I'd go for this....as long as they make it effective for those age 50 on January 1st, 2010!!
Mr. Obama,

There’s about 40 million people over 50 years old in the work force - pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations.

1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They either buy a house/pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

Any Questions??

Regards,
American Taxpayers Union
Sounds like a good way to leave a vacuum...and Labbie sounds like a Hoover Vacuum salesman.
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Post by Sarge_II » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:03 am

No, Kirby. :)
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Post by Labbie » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:19 am

Neither, it's just that if we can get this passed and not go into effect until 1/1/10, I'll be 50 and then it's new PCs for everyone!!!
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Post by Dark Angel » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:13 am

Labbie wrote:Neither, it's just that if we can get this passed and not go into effect until 1/1/10, I'll be 50 and then it's new PCs for everyone!!!
Well I'm sold...at least on the fact that Labbie has been in the Kool-aid again. :smt005
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Post by MzSnowleopard » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:22 am

Dark Angel wrote:
Labbie wrote:Neither, it's just that if we can get this passed and not go into effect until 1/1/10, I'll be 50 and then it's new PCs for everyone!!!
Well I'm sold...at least on the fact that Labbie has been in the Kool-aid again. :smt005

He's quick- I'll give him that... I guess I didn't hide the Kool-Aid well enough. He must have trackers on the containers.
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Post by Gavin Shaw » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:28 pm

MzSnowleopard wrote:
Dark Angel wrote:
Labbie wrote:Neither, it's just that if we can get this passed and not go into effect until 1/1/10, I'll be 50 and then it's new PCs for everyone!!!
Well I'm sold...at least on the fact that Labbie has been in the Kool-aid again. :smt005

He's quick- I'll give him that... I guess I didn't hide the Kool-Aid well enough. He must have trackers on the containers.
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Post by Labbie » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:14 pm

Hey, where do you think the Kool-Aid comes from? [smilie=drogar-evil(dbg).gif]
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Post by Sarge_II » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:16 pm

I think that's an Epic Fail video, instead. Cat failed.
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Post by Dark Angel » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:23 am

Just when you thought Citigroup couldn't get any dirtier...

Citigroup Plans to Lay Off A Third Of Cleaning Force While Taking Bailout Money


Just two weeks after Sam Stein first reported Citigroup's anti-union assault on the Employee Free Choice Act, the financial behemoth is taking their fight directly to the workers. Citigroup plans a second round of layoffs to their cleaning force -- a move that would displace over one-third of their cleaning force for six New York City properties.

As the recipient of a $50 billion tax-payer bailout, Citigroup has come under fire for its corporate spending practices, including a planned $10 million renovation of corporate office suites and a $7.7 million bonus for embattled CEO Vikram Pandit. In laying off these 107 workers, Citi's total savings amount to just over $6.5 million, substantially less than either of those elective expenditures.

In response to the expected layoffs, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) brought a proposal to Citi on Monday. The proposal calls for cutting the number of layoffs and including severance pay and COBRA health insurance to alleviate the impact on those who will become unemployed.

The move pits Citgroup -- who recently hosted a conference call to galvanize opposition to the pro-labor Employee Free Choice Act and who downgraded its assessment of Wal-Mart in response to the retailer's overture to unions -- against 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service worker union in the country.

"We were disappointed, to say the least, when they came to us with this," said Matthew Nerzig, a spokesman for 32BJ SEIU. "After reviewing the occupancy of these buildings, we see no justifiable reason for laying off a third of their workforce. It's out of proportion with what's needed and crosses the line of decency and fairness."

Citigroup refused to comment for this story and referred calls to Cushman & Wakefield, the property management company contracted by Citi. Cushman & Wakefield released a statement saying, "We are engaged in good faith negotiations with SEIU Local 32BJ and are working on a solution that will be responsive to market conditions and the issues raised by the union. We have and continue to comply with both the spirit and letter of the current bargaining agreement and hope to resolve the matter to everyone's satisfaction."

Nerzig and SEIU put the blame squarely on Citi's shoulders. "Building owners, and not their agents, decide these matters. And in this case, it's Citibank that is pulling the strings," Nerzig responded.
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Post by Dark Angel » Fri May 01, 2009 4:04 am

And a little good news today from the BofA stock holders anual meeting...ya I signed my proxy card to oust the idiot too.

BofA's Lewis ousted as board chairman, stays as CEO


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) shareholders voted to oust embattled Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis as chairman of the board on Wednesday in what could be a precursor to his eventual replacement as CEO as well.

The bank's board "unanimously" expressed support for Lewis to stay in the CEO post despite the fact that shareholders "narrowly" approved a proposal to require an independent chairman.

Lewis, who will remain chief executive, will be replaced in the chairman post by Walter Massey, 71, a director of the bank's board since 1998 and also a director of McDonald's (MCD.N).
"We knew that it was going to be close, but this is an unambiguous vote of no confidence," said Campbell Harvey, professor of finance at Duke University.

"Whether he chooses to remain as CEO or not, the dominant influence that he had at Bank of America is now a thing of the past," he added.

Similar moves last year foreshadowed the ouster of the chief executives of two large, troubled banks -- Ken Thompson at Wachovia Corp and Kerry Killinger at Washington Mutual Inc (WAMUQ.PK). Wachovia was later bought by Wells Fargo, while Washington Mutual failed.

"It's kind of the first step toward the end for Lewis," said Ralph Cole, portfolio manager, at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management in Portland, Oregon. "It shows there's at least some constituency that's not happy with his performance. I just don't think he's going to last," he added.

Massey has also served on the boards of Delta Air Lines Inc, Motorola and BP. He is president emeritus at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he served as president until 2007. The former director of the National Science Foundation becomes one of the few African Americans chairing a major U.S. company.

Some shareholders expressed consternation that Massey, as long-time board member, does not represent a big enough change in leadership for the board.

"We are disappointed that the board apparently did not consider looking outside the current directors for a truly independent chairman," said Jerry Finger, who in 1996 sold his Charter Bancshares Inc of Houston to a Bank of America predecessor, and his son Jonathan in an e-mailed statement. The Finger family campaigned against Lewis' re-election.

SHAREHOLDER FRUSTRATION

All 18 directors were elected to the board by "comfortable margins," the bank said in a statement, although several major shareholder groups including The California State Teachers' Retirement System and the California Public Employees' Retirement System had said they would withhold their votes for the entire board. Spokesmen for both pension funds declined comment after the vote.

About 2,000 people attended the annual meeting, more than triple the year-earlier number. The 62-year-old Lewis listened to dozens of attacks from shareholders over his leadership, and in particular the bank's controversial purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co, but also got substantial praise.

He fielded many complaints over the bank's failure to quickly disclose huge losses that Merrill was amassing, as it was paying out billions of dollars of bonuses to employees. Bank of America's shares have fallen by about three-fourths since the merger was announced in September.

"You knew what was going on with Merrill Lynch, you kept it from us. You're still keeping it from us," said Judy Koenick, who said she lost $27,000 on the bank's stock. She wore a shirt saying "Fire them all!!! Kenneth Lewis, & the board of directors, make a clean sweep."

Lewis stood patiently behind a podium on a stage for much of the meeting, often twiddling his thumbs or biting his lip as shareholders vented their frustration.

Others were more supportive. A 92-year-old man who said he owned a half million shares, said that in buying Merrill and the troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp, Lewis "believed he was doing something good for America." The man added: "If we don't have Ken, who do we have?"

LEWIS DEFENDS MERRILL PURCHASE

In a speech, Lewis defended buying Merrill for $29.1 billion of common and preferred stock, saying that it was "good value" and that abandoning the deal would have caused "serious harm" to Bank of America and other banks. He also said he saw no need for Bank of America to make further acquisitions.

Bank of America needed a $20 billion federal bailout to absorb Merrill. Lewis has indicated that regulators pushed him to keep quiet about Merrill's losses and not to back out of the merger. He told shareholders that "as a legal matter, there was no duty" to disclose the bank's talks with the government.

"They should have disclosed it," said Ed Morais, a financial adviser and shareholder from Charlotte attending his first annual meeting. "It seems like he chose to put Merrill Lynch shareholders ahead of Bank of America shareholders." He spoke before the meeting.

The Merrill deal and bonus payments are the subject of shareholder lawsuits and investigations by members of the U.S. Congress as well as regulators including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

"Lewis may have a lot of litigation ahead of him," said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, professor and head of Yale's Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

Bank of America has received a total of $45 billion in taxpayer funds and may need more after results of government "stress tests" are released, probably next week. The tests gauge banks' ability to weather a deep recession.

Lewis declined to discuss details of talks with regulators about the tests, including whether the bank might need to issue more common stock to bolster capital.

Shares of Bank of America rose 53 cents, or 6.5 percent to close at $8.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; additional reporting by Elinor Comlay, Paritosh Bansal, Phil Wahba and Dan Wilchins; editing by John Wallace, Gerald E. McCormickand Bernard Orr)


And...


With Lewis out as BofA chair, is CEO job at risk?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Now that he's lost his title as Bank of America's chairman, Ken Lewis has to convince angry shareholders he should keep his job as CEO.

Lewis couldn't escape investors' fury about his decision to buy Merrill Lynch & Co., although he says he was pressured by the government to go forward with the deal. Shareholders voted to strip Lewis of his chairman's job Wednesday and continued to press a day later for his complete removal, leaving many people wondering how long he can hold on as chief executive of the largest U.S. bank.

"Shareholders and the American people have given Ken Lewis an overwhelming vote of no confidence and he must resign as CEO immediately," the Service Employees International Union said in a statement.

Experts say Lewis' future depends on his bank's ability to survive the recession and on the steps the government takes after completing a "stress test" of the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank and 18 other large banks. The tests are designed to see how banks would fare if the economy deteriorates further.

"The single biggest issue are these stress tests," said Sydney Finkelstein, professor of management at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. "If the Treasury has to sink in a few more billions of dollars to Bank of America after all that's transpired already, then I think that may be the end of Ken Lewis as CEO."

Taxpayers have already supported the bank with $45 billion in government bailout funds since October. If the government requires Bank of America to accept more capital or take other actions that dilute the value of existing shares, shareholders' anger is bound to increase.

Already upset about the tremendous drop in the company's stock price, continuing losses and ongoing government investigations surrounding the Merrill Lynch acquisition and bonus payouts to Merrill Lynch employees, big investors called again Thursday for Lewis' removal.

"The onus is now on the board to act on the underlying management and board concerns that drove yesterday's shareholder vote," said William Patterson, executive director for Change to Win Investment Group, in a statement. He said those actions could include accelerating the board's CEO succession plan, or even refiguring Bank of America's board itself.

CtW Investment Group works with union-affiliated pension funds, and has about 33 million shares in Bank of America. Last year, the group accused Merrill Lynch of failing shareholders and said the plummet in the investment bank's stock could be attributed to poor governance.

Some other big investors, including California's employee pension fund, had called for shareholders to oust Lewis and his fellow directors at Wednesday's four-hour meeting, which was attended by more than 2,000 people. But shareholders did vote to retain the entire board. CalPERS said Thursday it was not commenting on the vote results.

Banking industry consultant Bert Ely said, "Lewis may be on the board, but there's been a sufficient vote of no confidence in him."

"Does he stay? That's something that may take a while to work out," Ely said.

Lewis, 62, has said he intends to sit out the current financial crisis as CEO, leaving at the earliest when the crisis is over and at the latest, after three years. The board on Wednesday expressed its full support of Lewis.

Lewis' commitment shows he is not giving up, Finkelstein said. Lewis served as chairman and CEO since 2001.

"Given the embarrassment of what happened to him he really should be lying low, but it doesn't seem to be that way," he said. "I think that says something about him and the thickness of his skin because he has been criticized a lot in the last six months."

As late as last fall, Lewis won praise as an industry powerhouse whose bank was built by scooping up struggling firms such as mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. and investment bank Merrill Lynch.

The rebuke from the company's shareholders was the latest in a series of blows Lewis has endured since the Merrill Lynch deal closed Jan. 1. Merrill Lynch reported $15 billion in fourth-quarter losses and it was learned that Bank of America had approved the early payout of billions of dollars in bonuses to Merrill Lynch employees.

James Post, a professor of corporate governance and ethics at Boston University, said Lewis was likely caught off-guard when the results of the voting were delayed for several hours, as the bank has said more votes were cast in person at the meeting than normal.

Bank of America Wednesday evening issued a statement that the board of directors had met, elected Walter E. Massey, president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, as chairman and unanimously voted to keep Lewis as CEO.

"I think (Lewis) was surprised, then embarrassed, and then probably said, 'Well, let's get on with it,'" Post said.

Because Lewis has a previously established relationship with Massey as a fellow board member — Massey has been a Bank of America director since 1998 — Post said it is important for Massey to create a "hard-nosed" stance with Lewis.

"The pressure is all on Massey to establish himself as a credible board chair, and the way he does that is to really take seriously the oversight responsibility," Post said. "As the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months, the board is clearly going to be under pressure to establish its independence."
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Post by Dark Angel » Fri May 01, 2009 4:20 am

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