Wall Street is feasting off Main Street’s pain

Free lunch for banks

Perhaps you are comforted believing that the U.S. government, Federal Reserve, and Wall Street are all working assiduously to provide you with a job. Ha ha ha ha. Not so. The Federal Reserve, our central bank, is loaning money to banks at zero percent, and the banks can gamble with that free money, knowing that if their bets backfire, the government will bail them out. The head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, says he will keep doling out free money to Wall Street and other banks as long as unemployment remains high.

And you think Wall Street wants unemployment to go lower? Silly girl/boy! Wall Street is feasting off Main Street’s pain. In theory, financial institutions should loan out the money it gets from the Federal Reserve. But it’s not happening. Gambling has been so much more profitable — and fun.

Long range, Wall Street needs a prosperous Main Street, says economist Murtaza Baxamusa of San Diego’s Center on Policy Initiatives — but, “in a perverse way,” the moneybags would prefer that the employment recovery not come right away. By gambling in currencies, stocks, bonds, and commodities with that free money, the banks are building up their reserves — dangerously depleted because of the popping of that bubble they created. That’s the banks’ and the Fed’s top priority. Not Main Street’s.

First, you have to understand that the Federal Reserve is essentially owned by banks. Its mandate is to keep the banking system intact. The Fed’s decisions are not ratified by the administration or the Congress, although the government has appointment and oversight power over the central bank, which gives lip service to citizens’ well-being. Recently, Bernanke said his only concern was Main Street’s economic health, not the banks’ health. His nose extended out six feet after making the preposterous assertion. Bernanke works for the banks. He even rubs it in. He is always reassuring Wall Street that inflation is not around the corner. Wages aren't rising, he boasts. Do you find that comforting?

“The Fed is a captive of the large commercial banks as well as Wall Street bankers and, as such, will do what is generally believed to be in those constituencies’ best interest,” says Arthur Lipper III of Del Mar, a Wall Street veteran and international financier. “The Fed has become an agent for Wall Street and will keep interest rates low until a significant fall in the U.S. dollar” forces a rate increase. (The dollar has been plunging for years against other currencies.)

“Are Wall Street and the banking system getting rich at the expense of Main Street?” asks E. James Welsh of Carlsbad’s Welsh Money Management. “The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’ ”

But he doesn’t think the Fed is just sating Wall Street’s greed. “The Fed doesn’t have a choice in terms of keeping rates near zero,” says Welsh. Despite the propaganda, banks have not regained their health, Welsh says. Similarly, “Housing has not bottomed,” and commercial real estate is a disaster. The Fed is loaning money at zero because “it is trying to make banks profitable so that they can absorb additional losses that are coming — commercial real estate, credit cards, every form of credit.”

President Obama publicly urges the banks to make loans, but it is empty rhetoric. There is not that much demand for loans anyway. Of course, consumers and businesses can’t borrow at zero. Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates are over 5 percent, and the average rate on credit cards went above 16 percent in December.

Main Street is being hit by a triple whammy. Not only do we pay high interest rates while the banks pay zero, but we also get exceedingly low interest on our savings accounts and money market funds. The rates are so low it almost forces us to buy bonds or high-yielding stocks to get income. The Fed is fixated on jacking up the stock market, stating that half of Americans have money in the market directly or indirectly. That’s true, but stocks are overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of the rich, who are effectively getting even more government welfare. So the Fed’s policy further exacerbates the huge income and wealth gap between the rich and the rest of us.

Meanwhile, companies strive to keep costs down to make their stocks more attractive. So they are not boosting employment. “Not hiring is one thing,” says Baxamusa. “But the egregious nature by which top executives are giving us the middle finger hurts. Top executives are making 300 times what the average worker makes,” and on Wall Street the ratio is even higher.

The banks are paying back government loans so they can dodge federal rules and pay their chief executives outlandish salaries — a dubious way to gain popularity on Main Street. These same banks are unwilling to dump smelly assets and take losses, rather like the way Japanese “zombie banks” did for so long. Risky mortgage-related paper stays on American banks’ books, so woes are pushed into the future. Worse, the banks — whose greed and stupidity led the world to the brink — are fighting attempts to introduce stringent regulation that would prevent or at least slow down another lemming march.

It’s bad enough that the big banks and the central bank would like to see unemployment last longer. But there are other reasons why rehiring will be painfully slow: “I do not believe there is any reason for most companies to begin hiring again, as they are operating more efficiently now than before and lots of companies have learned to make do with fewer personnel,” says Lipper. “With the cost of employee benefits rising, there is less incentive for companies’ hiring and training people.”

Says Baxamusa, “One of the key problems is the lack of accountability of the financial services industry. In the last decade, the nation was built on a house of straw — essentially Wall Street paying executives to blow up balloons rather than hire workers to produce goods. It was an artificially inflated economy.”

All too true. So if it’s futile to put money in a savings account, what do you do? Buy stocks, bonds, commodities? Welsh says all this Fed and government stimulus “has produced a hollow recovery — more challenging than anything we have seen since the 1930s.” Sometime this year, perhaps, the artificially supported economy will run out of gas. The consumer is 70 percent of the U.S. economy. The federal authorities’ decision to let unemployment rise while ministering to the banks will backfire. It’s possible 2010 will be as bad as 2008, says Welsh. “The cupboard is bare. Social ramifications will be ugly,” he says. He fears deflation. Stocks could crumble again. Because of troubles abroad, the dollar could rise and push gold down.

Lipper, however, says, “I believe inflation is inevitable and that the U.S. dollar will decline.” He would avoid most U.S. securities but likes precious metals, Asian currencies, and royalty entitlement contracts, by which a company seeking capital can sell 3 percent of its revenues for 20 years instead of selling its stock. Lipper pioneered the concept.

In any case, Baxamusa, Welsh, and Lipper agree: It will be rough for a while.

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"Main Street is being hit by a triple whammy. Not only do we pay high interest rates while the banks pay zero, but we also get exceedingly low interest on our savings accounts and money market funds. The rates are so low it almost forces us to buy bonds or high-yielding stocks to get income."

It also seems to be forcing a lot of bank/financials dependency on higher credit card rates as well.

Response to post #1: One factor in the banks' driving up credit card rates is their insatiable greed. Another is that last spring, Congress passed news laws that inhibit the banks' ability to lift interest rates on cards. The news laws go into effect Feb. 22. So the banks are raising rates before those laws will be enforced. Best, Don Bauder

Anyone who thinks we're starting the recovery is going to be deeply disappointed.

Commercial real estate, consumer debt, over leveraged businesses that cannot refinance...all ready to collapse.

The cheerleaders in the press who just recycle sunny forecasts should be ashamed. They're the same ones who rah rah'ed the bubbles of the past decade, and they still have their jobs.

It's truly sad to see what my country has done to itself. San Diego is a microcosm of the same rot. Unfortunately, when change finally comes I doubt it will be a "velvet" revolution...more like the French Revolution, I'm afraid.

We should learn from the Romans, and ask "cui bono?"

O tempore, o mores!

Response to post #3: Don't forget another wave of foreclosures in residential real estate. You are correct: the press is not doing its job, with some notable exceptions such as Paul Krugman, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Gretchen Morgenson, Floyd Norris, etc. Unfortunately, some of the most perceptive writers, such as David Cay Johnston and Naomi Klein, left newspapers to write books. (Incidentally, I am not saying I agree with everything that Naomi says, but she is a great writer and investigator.) Best, Don Bauder

The government and the Fed should loan directly. The banks will not refinance their scandalously profitable credit card debt and the bloated payments are stifling the world economy. The government should refinance directly, secured by future tax returns and Social Security payments.

This program, universally available at perhaps nine percent, would force the credit card companies to lower their rates to match, or loan their money elsewhere as a result of their cashed up position,

Banks could administer the program, and this might break down the monolithic Wall Street opposition to reform.

This program might pay for itself, but if it loses money helping those hoodwinked into 29% interest rates, at least it helps the victims as well as the perps of the fraud that is modern banking. The previous bailouts mostly helped those who should be styling orange jumpsuits on the courtroom catwalk, while preserving their "right" to seize assets under the absurd terms of the new bankruptcy laws.

A Main Street bailout would be very popular, and an election approaches.

Response to post #5: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac either make or back up most mortgages these days. It's almost direct government lending, since the government controls those entities, having put them in receivership in 2008. The idea of the government issuing credit cards to bring down those interest rates would face a lot of opposition, just as the public option has in the healthcare bill. Best, Don Bauder

Forcing the banks to loan money at this point will only delay the economic recovery. Poorly capitalized small businesses are a drag on the economy right now, particularly in San Diego. These businesses limp along month after month selling products and services at a loss, endangering the finances of well-managed and capitalized small businesses who are forced to meet their pricing. This is a major reason why the economy will not revive. If these losers are given loans, they will use the proceeds to continue to operate their businesses at a loss until they cannot obtain more loans. These businesses are going to go under anyway, regardless of whether they receive loans or not. Granting loans to these businesses is like flushing money down the toilet. Obama is doing the right thing: attacking the banks publically for not loaning money while quietly supporting the Fed's efforts to strangle these businesses by denying them loans.

The loan modification programs that were designed to keep homeowners in homes they could not afford to buy is also impeding the economic recovery. Homeowners who pay 75% of their income on mortgage payments are homeowners who cannot buy new cars, eat in restaurants, or spend money to support the economy. The government needs to clean the economic deadwood out of the housing market and put these homeowners in rentals so they have money to support themselves and the economy. It makes no sense for a homeowner to make a $5,500 per month mortgage payment on a house the homeowner could rent for $2,500 per month. The homeowners inability to spend the $3,000 per month differential between mortgage and rent is stifling the economic recovery.

Response to post #7: In the Japanese recession/depression that began in 1989, it was the banks that were kept zombies. The government wouldn't lose them down. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #8: Response to post #8: Your criticism of the loan modification problem is an interesting one. Reminds me of the former complaints against FEMA. After a disaster, it would give loans to people so they could go right back into disaster-prone areas. Finally, FEMA figured out it was exacerbating the problem. Best, Don Bauder

The government and the Fed should loan directly. The banks will not refinance their scandalously profitable credit card debt and the bloated payments are stifling the world economy. The government should refinance directly, secured by future tax returns and Social Security payments.

Now that is a novel idea I have never heard before and makes total sense.

And because it makes so much sense that is the exact reason the gov won't do it-they will be bought off by the financial/WallStreet industrial complex.

The parasites are killing off the host (middle class America), and they won't stop until the have sucked all the blood out of the body-killed it 100%.

Response to post #11: Henry Ford understood that to sell autos, he had to have a middle class with the funds to buy them. I don't know why today's CEOs don't grasp that fundamental truth. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for reading the proposal to help stem the wave of high interest rate bankruptcy. The basic idea is similar to the old Direct Student Loan program, loans for those with no conventional security, except that it's limited to retiring high interest debt. The government might demand special means of collecting, as it does with the student loans.

The perfect storm of a bad economy, new bankruptcy laws. floating interest rates and default insurance is sending millions slouching towards bankruptcy. This program helps those who would not be in distress at reasonable interest rates.

More is needed of course, and the government must lead the way because the jokers who lent us into this disaster invariably ask the government to collect for them, the jokers who borrow declare bankruptcy, and the judge must follow government rules in resolving the mess.

Mr. Bauder, what do you think is the best proposal to divert the bankruptcy stampede?

Response to post #13: One positive step would be to repeal recent laws. Prior to the Great Recession, the Congress passed a measure that stacked all the cards in favor of the banks and against the interests of the consumers. I wrote about it for the Reader circa 2005. Best, Don Bauder

I read those articles and you were right on the money.

Just as death wrote every line of the fire code, fraud wrote every line of the business code, and anyone who proposes deregulation encourages what is now a criminal act.

We understand this when someone argues for a new look at our drug laws, but when a Milton Friedman or Allan Greenspan propose breaking the current business law they are hailed as saints of our cult of greed.

Even worse, proponents of deregulation were placed in the Fed and in key law enforcement offices, this was like placing Cheech and Chong in charge of drug law enforcement, except that it's not funny yet. Generations to come will laugh at us.

I agree we should return to the laws that worked for decades and were recently repealed, I would go back further to fixed interest rates, and ban the ARM.

This is the year for reform and confronting the banking powers, Obama intends to aim his formidable rhetorical cannons at the banks, hoping the Republicans will stand in the way and lose the election. Amidst the smoke and confusion lets hope some good laws get passed.

Response to post #15: But when Obama named to his administration Geithner, Summers, and Schapiro (to the SEC), I realized there would be no change. Summers fought hard for the end of Glass Steagall, along with the now-discredited Greenspan, Rubin, and Levitt. It was a disastrous move -- one of the causes of the current economic megrims. Geithner at the NY Fed was always a Wall Street whore. Ditto Rahm Emanuel. Schapiro was an old Washington hack. The same Wall Street crooks that ran Bush around by the nose are now in charge of the Obama administration. Now that Coakley has lost in Massachusetts, Obama should fire the head of the Democratic National Committee and name Howard Dean, whose strategizing won the 2008 elections. But Emanuel supposedly hates Dean. Obama has to show he has guts. Best, Don Bauder

The government might demand special means of collecting, as it does with the student loans.

Then it will NOT work.

The "special means of collecting" given to student loans violates the Constitution, and results in fraud. Massive fraud.

The current student loan situation is permeated at every level with fraud, being perpetrated by large SL companies and to a lessor extent the DoE.

I have been suing the Dept of Ed/SallieMae/Their Alter Egos over numerous laws that appear to be unconstitutional, put into place by the student loan/educational industrial complex.

This case has dragged on far longer than it ever should have-but when it ends it is going to either make history or give government a green light to engage in fraud in every area it operates -including the IRS.

In response to SurfPuppy, I endorse the Direct Student Loan of the 1970's which helped me through college, not the current program which I am unfamiliar with. The idea is to replace high interest debt with fixed rates. Perhaps your student loans could be bundled and replaced.

Your case nevertheless is a poster child for a supporting point I never made because of space, that the wave of bankruptcies caused by complex financial instruments will completely clog our courts, making only the lawyers rich. There must be a way to resolve these cases before bankruptcy.

Mr. Bauder has pointed out that the previous bankruptcy laws kept the creditors respectful, because bankruptcy lost them money. Now thanks to hedging and the nasty terms of the new law, they believe that the government, through judges and marshals, is their own loan sharking thug, and that if that doesn't work they collect on the loan sharking insurance they placed with AIG.

A college education is worth any price, even bankruptcy, at least you know your rights. And the surf is still free.

Response to post #17: There is no doubt the government engages in blatant fraud in a number of very large areas of the economy. But will you find a judge willing to challenge the government on the point? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #18: With the government now controlling AIG, will we ever get to the bottom of the massive fraud there? Best, Don Bauder

Mr. Bauder,

I believed the economic crew that Obama chose was the right one at the time of his inauguration, because they reassured world markets, and I believe they have the flexibility of thought to recognize failure and change direction. Now is the time.

We should remember that the stimulus package with all its flaws is the most vigorous response ever to an economic downturn, if measured in dollars. The troubles are simply larger than ever before. That such an amount of money could be printed without a surge of inflation shows the untapped capacity of the world economy, and shows the need for a second stimulus that we should see soon.

These stimulus packages are a Keynesian response to the current troubles, and demonstrate independence from the bankers who follow the Monetarist belief that only banks should print money.

Obama won his position with daring and careful planning. He is not overly patient. We will see action.

Response to post #21: Distinguished economists such as Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman want a bigger stimulus package. But both agree on this key point: Obama would have been more effective had he concentrated the stimulus from the bottom up, instead of the top down. Obama, led by Summers and Geithner, did exactly what Bush had done: put the money into rescuing the big banks. Some of those banks should have been shut down or broken up. Then there should have been aggressive moves to put reforms into place, particularly the regulation of financial derivatives, the control of excessive leverage of financial institutions, and a crackdown on the hiding of money offshore. Nothing significant was done. Those banks still run the government, as they did under Bush. Best, Don Bauder

Totally agree with #22. The candidate of change turned out to be "nothing but the same old same old." Which anybody who wasn't a complete idiot could have predicted.

Response to post #23: It will take a real calamity to effectuate real change. If the 2007-2009 calamity couldn't do it, then I don't know what would. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #24: Society must make choices. To do so, it must have information -- such as the story you relate. Best, Don Bauder

It MAY take a real calamity. It WILL take a real leader.

To answer Mindy #114

Real education is about the soul, not money. I commend your acquaintance for leaving his television set and trying to improve himself. The cost of his transplant will probably far exceed his education costs. The tragedy is that he didn't get his education before he made his stupid choices.

No student is certain to live to graduation.

Mr. Bauder 122

The banks run the world economy, and have done so since the monetarist nostrums won the day in the Nineteen Eighties. and the leveraged buyout emasculated the manufacturing corporations that dominated for the century before. On this point I agree even with Ralph Nader, but I disagree about the results.

I see general but incomplete progress grinding to a halt due to a collapse in demand caused by an over reliance on credit to stimulate the economy. We have enjoyed a long period of prosperity and the dominant banks deserve credit for this along with the blame for our present collapse.

We need to increase spending power to empty worldwide inventories, reforming banking and lowering interest rates is only part of the solution. Increasing the minimum wage could help, along with restoring worker protections. Unfortunately powerful interests can defeat these reforms if presented piecemeal.

I expect they will be combined with some wildly popular idea that can't be filibustered. One such idea is the payroll tax holiday.

Workers and businesses currently pay eighteen percent in social security taxes alone, if this were temporarily suspended it could give a nice jump start to the economy. It should be combined with an after holiday extension of the tax to those making millions.

This would be dangerous of course, since some might want a permanent holiday and that would explode our deficit and currency, but these are not safe times.

The Brown victory might make this easier, since nothing would help the Democrats more than the Republicans filibustering a tax cut at election time, because their banker friends don't want to pay their share.

A tax cut will be part of the second stimulus. It will pass.

Response to post #27: Unfortunately, you are probably right: there will have to be an unspeakable calamity before we will get meaningful reform. It looks like we will skate paste the last one without Wall Street getting reformed. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #28: Education has always been partly money-oriented (that's what trade schools are all about), but the trend escalated beginning in the 1980s. Business schools are greed-smitten. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #29: I have not heard nor read about people not getting their transfer payments. Let me know if you have some good sources. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #30: Both factors you cite are at the root of our woes. There is an overreliance on consumption and debt. And the melting away of the manufacturing base is deleterious, too. Best, Don Bauder

The idea is to replace high interest debt with fixed rates. Perhaps your student loans could be bundled and replaced.

By Psycholizard

I agree with the concept, just not the comment about fraudulent protections like student loans have, laws which allow and promote fraud.

My problem is not with the student loan itself, it is with the fraud that goes on within it, fraud that is allowed by DoE themselves and to be engaged in by the lenders-straight up fraud.

If you borrowed $10K, you do NOT want to get forced into paying back $2 million. You borrowed $10K, plus interest, you didn't borrow $2 million.

Obama would have been more effective had he concentrated the stimulus from the bottom up, instead of the top down.

I was 100% against the "stimulas", aka TARP, as was 94% of America, BUT they should have done it from the bottom up once the decided to go forward with it.

Response to post #35: Hard to argue: if you borrow $10,000, you shouldn't pay back $2 mil. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #36: Yes, the rescue should have been from the bottom up. But those on the bottom don't control Washington. Best, Don Bauder

Hard to argue: if you borrow $10,000, you shouldn't pay back $2 mil.

An extreme, but accurate, example of the fraud in the student loan industry.

It is not extreme or uncommon to see small student loans of $5K, $$8K, $10K be manipulated to over $100K with fraudulent schemes put into place by the lenders. Allowed by the fact that the consumer protection laws do not apply to student loans, that they can unconstitutionally attach your wages and property without a court order and that the gov has unconsituionally taken away all statue of limitations (meaning a private student loan lender can sue you 10, 25, 30 years down the road) and you have the perfect set up for abuse by essentially organized fraudstirs. No where in out legal system does a gov entity, or anyone else, get to violate due process of law by abolishing Statute of Limitations or attaching real and personal property without a trial and court order.

These issues are all in play right now-if the gov is given the green light by our courts to #1) take away Statute of Limitations and #2) the right to due process by the courts before attaching property in student loans, it is only a matter of when, not if, they will start applying these actions to all other areas of their reach-including the IRS.

How you you (or anyone else) like the IRS to come looking for you for a tax bill they said was underpaid 30 years ago, and you now owe $100K on a $5K disputed under payment and they are going to start attaching your wages and filing liens on your property today to pay it back-with out a chance to go to court or to be heard???? That is what will happen next.

Mr. Bauder 34

I read your articles of a few years ago that explained how our purchases of foreign manufactured goods were financed by foreign purchases of interest bearing debt. You rightly predicted that the day of reckoning would be made more painful for both supplier and consumer by this action.

One of the consequences is the walk on the dollar, which even today is improving our trade balances. If the walk should become a run our trade deficits might disappear due to foreign goods being priced off the shelves.

This country can still manufacture, farm, mine and produce raw materials. Our trade deficits will eventually be settled with goods and services, through surpluses. This should help our manufacturing, and tourist business etc.

I see a sounder US economy ahead when foreign creditors force us to settle up, not richer perhaps, but based on production instead of consumption.

What do you think? Because you predicted the bubble, we all should be reading.

It is not extreme or uncommon to see small student loans of $5K, $$8K, $10K be manipulated to over $100K with fraudulent schemes put into place by the lenders.

Most of the borrowers who find themselves in this situation are educational sociopaths, professional college degree collectors with an aptitude for "learning" who attend college year after year mainly because they enjoy the college experience and are too lazy to work. These sociopaths expect society to foot the bill for what amounts to an extended vacation at college. SDSU is crammed with these losers, student loan recipients who come here from other states to enjoy the beaches, hang out in bars, and party. These SDSU students could have lived at home and attended college in their own states at no cost to the taxpayer. When they graduate they feel screwed for life because they owe $60,000 and can't buy a new BMW. The New York State Bar recently denied admission to a student loan recipient who ran up a $500,000 student loan tab during his 30 year college career.


Response to post #39: Sounds like Sallie Mae should be walking the streets in a red dress alongside Fannie Mae. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #40: Manufacturing is less than 10% of the U.S. economy. Greedy corporations, anxious to post short range earnings to please Wall Street, forfeited our manufacturing base. A change in the trade statistics arising from a weak dollar will have less effect than people think. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #41: You make a good point. Some SDSU faculty members would agree with you. Best, Don Bauder

nice overview...lets talk about the fed an audit would be a nice starting place before we can get to justice we first need the truth.

Burwell #41

Students earn their places at our public universities, and most must work hard to graduate. I'm sure their parties and vacations are not as extravagant as those held by the executives enjoying 0% loans from the government.

Debts should be repaid, but this can become impossible, especially when high interest and penalties are involved.

I regularly receive solicitations from loan sharks. The big print says 0% the small print says 29%. The loan sharks ask the government to collect for them at the higher rate while receiving loans at 0% themselves. Reforms are needed to stop the surge of bankruptcies.

As for the candidate to the bar, if no fraud was involved it proves the surf puppy's case that weird remedies are granted the student loan lender. How will he pay back that loan if he can't chase ambulances?

What hypocrites the bar would be to deny entry to those who are bankrupt. After all lawyers take lots of baths, they just can't wash off the slime.

re: #39, 42:

If Sallie Mae would be walking alleys in a red dress, that would mean we'd be screwed only short term. SurfP is talking about a long, miserable marriage!

re: 39, 42, 47:

It is so wrong to compare loan sharks to prostitutes just because someone gets screwed. Technically the hos don"t do the screwing and cheating, and work hard for their Ben Franklins. And they never go to the judge to make you pay up.

Response to post #45: I would like to see a TRUE audit of the Federal Reserve. One reason for the resistance is that an honest audit would reveal some things that the Fed has been lying about. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #46: Hypocrisy, they name is ABA. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #47: If you catch a social disease from the lady of the evening in a red dress, you have a long term problem. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #48: Maybe the metaphor was a bad one. I will have to ponder that today. Best, Don Bauder


I am OUTRAGED that you would dare to drag the good name of prostitutes in the mud by comparing them to those awful Federal institutions!

Apologize, all of you, for besmirching the good name of working girls everywhere. They might occassionally roll a drunk or con a John, but they'd NEVER behave as horribly as the Feds have in the last few decades.

And if they did, they'd at least have the common humanity to feel sorry for it afterward.

No woman in a little red dress on El Cajon Blvd ever did as much damage to San Diego as former city manager Jack McGrory, for example, and you'd never see them parading around proudly touting their magnanimity like Padres and Peregrine owner John Moores.

You owe the ladies of the night an apology for even putting them in the same class as those lowlifes on Wall Street and K Street and C Street.


Hugh G. Rection President, Project for International Monetary Protection Services (PIMPS)

BTW: Don, did you see this article in the Economist?


It explains a lot about how the slime at the top can simultaneously claim the moral high ground while condemning others for petty crimes.

Lord Acton was right...



Mr. Bauder 52 try

Dating Sallie Mae is catching herpes from your first girl friend, fun and educational at first, but you pay forever.

We should overlook the morals of the borrowers and lenders involved and get them some treatment, because the disease is spreading.

Response to post #53: You are right, Fred. I should apologize. Laying for pay is a minor sin. Lying for pay is a major sin -- and destructive to society. Thanks for chastising me. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #54: Excellent article. I believe that power attracts the corruptible, and the aphorism should be stated more strongly. Power attracts sociopaths. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #55: There are worse social diseases than herpes. Best, Don Bauder

re: #55: psycholizard, why moralize our prostitute metaphor and ruin the fun, then offer a diseased girlfriend in stead?!

How do you know I wasn't talking about a Salliemae CEO-- like Mr. Hugh G. Rection @53? I bet he enjoys sporting a red dress in the alley fromn time to time...and with the profits, he can afford to make that dress a Prada!

psycholizard wrote: "Technically the hos don"t do the screwing"

Voice of experience? ;)

Response to post #59: We don't need the prostitute metaphor. Say it this way: Fannie Mae and Sallie Mae were the brides at the weddings at which everybody who kissed the bride got trench mouth. Best, Don Bauder

re: #60: Here! Here! I'll go with that--and add that my excitement of yesterday had much to do with having to beg Sallie for a forbearance that very afternoon. (Make of this what you will, PUNdits) ;)

Re:59 et al

I am so ashamed that anything I wrote might be confused with moralizing, which I believe should be left to hypocrites, because they are so good at it.

Mr. Bauder likes to add a little spice to his column because some, incredibly, find economics bland, I endorse this. I merely wanted to shake a few more drops of the hot sauce. I forgot that some would drink the sauce straight, and forget the meal.

Main street hustlers and Wall Street hustlers share a complete lack of shame, in this the metaphor is completely apt. I think it's obvious now who the followers of this blog like more. As for personal experience, I drove La Jolla cab and got to meet both types, they get along well.

When the loan sharks meet the deadbeats in bankruptcy court, we should leave the moralizing to the party of family values, and get to work reforming lending laws as Mr. Bauder suggests. It would not be wrong to divert some of the trillion dollar bank bailout to add some sweetener to the process in the form of lower interest rates for distressed borrowers, since we already loan at 0% to the banks, and without the bailout they also would be deadbeats, or so they say.

I think we all enjoy hard times with funny people more than lavish parties with the humorless. Done both.


Response to post #61: Don't beg Sallie for anything. Pay her. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #62: Remember: not long before the recession hit, the banking industry rammed through Congress a bill that gave banks a big leg up on consumer borrowers, particularly in the credit card area. Best, Don Bauder

re: #63:

"Don't beg Sallie for anything. Pay her."

"Beg" was a bit hyperbolic--request/inform would better represent what happened. And that's a bit of advice I won't be currently taking, Mr. Bauder--if you don't mind. Paying Sallie now means working more hours to pay her, and giving up on getting the Phd.

Sooo, I think I'll go with the original plan of postponement of payment until the deferment kicks back in. ;)

Defer, forbear, postpone--the poor student's only weapon against such virulent social disease--that is, until SurfPuppy slays the old corpulent dragon that is Salliemae. ;)

Re: 64

I remember the articles about the new bankruptcy laws and was opposed, mostly out of sympathy for the underdog, but I didn't understand how they would wreck the home mortgages.

Most of the reforms I favor involve returning to the apparently radical times of my youth. In those days when you borrowed money the bank told you when and how much you would pay to the penny to avoid default.

Now when you borrow money the bank asks you to make a play in some cost of funds markets that the banker finds too risky and therefore wants you to hedge his bets or in the case of the credit cards just makes up the amount you will repay with sliding interest rates.

Two individuals have the right to draw up any contract for repayment they like. but if the judge is asked to collect the contract should be simple and clear.

Radical ideas of course, but they did work before.

Response to post #65: Samuel Beckett should have written a play entitled "Waiting for Sallie Mae." Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #66: "Simple and clear contracts": now there is a radical concept. Best, Don Bauder

re: #67: I think he should have written a play entitled "Running From Salliemae."

It would be interesting to know how many students have defaulted on loans in the last few years--maybe SurfPuppy knows the stats?

Anyway, holy cow--Beckett DID write that play, Mr. Bauder! Why, here's an excerpt:

Vladimir: We have to come back to-morrow. Estragon: What for? Vladimir: To wait for Salliemae. Estragon: Ah! (Silence.) She didn't come? Vladimir: No. Estragon: And now it's too late. Vladimir: Yes, now it's night. Estragon: And if we dropped her? (Pause.) If we dropped her? Vladimir: She'd punish us.

You know, I think you're onto something here, Mr. Bauder. Have you read this play yet? You promised you would in another thread--you know, it's important to have hobbies besides opera. Even if you can't go on, you must go on. ;)

Response to post #69: When I was at the University of Wisconsin ('50s) we had parties on Lake Mendota on a pontoon boat we called "The Godot." The names Sallie Mae and Fannie Mae weren't popular then. I believe Sallie Mae didn't exist and if Fannie Mae did, it didn't carry that moniker. Best, Don Bauder

Debts should be repaid, but this can become impossible, especially when high interest and penalties are involved.

You must also remember that there is a TON of fraud in the student loan process-from charging the wrong interest, charging the wrong principle, computing the interest rate wrong, to forcing defaults on borrowers to add on 40% of a loans balance (as allowed by low) without incurring any costs at all-much less 40% of whatever the balance is.

I can't go into all of the fraud, but the only way the SL industry gets away with it is because they have been granted-unconstitutionally granted- extra ordinary powers (powers not in use ANYWHERE else except student loans), powers put into place by the bought and paid for Congress.

I regularly receive solicitations from loan sharks. The big print says 0% the small print says 29%.

By Psycholizard 5:59 p.m

Psycholizard, I was wondering if you think this place was honest, the right place to get a loan;


Please advise ;)

As for the candidate to the bar, if no fraud was involved it proves the surf puppy's case that weird remedies are granted the student loan lender. How will he pay back that loan if he can't chase ambulances?

Yes, this was a very weird case-it was the NY Bar's denial of his background clearance that centered around the $400K of student loan debt. And as stated, this is no indication of fraud, or a reason to deny a professional license of any kind. I am sure this case is going to be appealed to the SCOTUS (if they take it is another question all together) because it is the first time any applicant has been denied a license based on student loan debt.

The guy in this case had stated that the true amount of the debt is only $200K, and that Sallie Mae forced him into default and added in the other $200K in bogus fees and costs-a claim repeated millions of times by SL borrowers.

Response to post #71: All in the interests of education. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #72: Hmmm. 139.34%. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #73: Usurious interest rates can cause ambulance chasing lawyers. So can sociopathic personalities. Best, Don Bauder


Well that loan offer had me laughing, but at least it was a fixed rate. I didn't read the penalty rates however.

I heard a banker state (on television) that maximum interest rates would be the end of capitalism. If so, the John Birchers were right- I grew up under communist controlled bankers. Somehow they made a living at 10% and less.


Very funny. But when you wandered onto the topic of opera, the topic of my useless and priceless degree, you stated an untruth, opera is more than enough. There are many operatic Beckett settings, and I think he should wait for Godot the opera. Of course Godot may only be produced after we die. (lack italics ruining joke)

In any case Psycholizard is my band for funny music, Electrolizard is the serious stuff. http://www.myspace.com/psycholizards

Slap that Sallie bitch 4 me.

To those who think Obama's team doesn't listen;

State of the Union excerpt 2010

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. (Applause.) Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. (Applause.) And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

Now we know he walks into a lobbyist buzz saw, and passage will be difficult, but he listens to us, and works hard.

I don't know, Psycholizard, it sounds like some really bad creative destruction to me. The government encouraged what ultimately became an industry in the student loan process. You can tear that down and make it sound good by using terms like "tax credits", and "Pell Grants", but let's examine what's really going on here. Basically, the Obama administration's plan is to destroy the current process in the private sector and reassemble it in the public sector. I mean, the debt is still there, debt is debt, and it's still subsidized by the taxpayer. But instead of having banks and agencies running the show, now the government is going into the student loan business.

I fail to see how this is an improvement.

So who is going to pay for all this "free" socialist health care?

"One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted – immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed."

Oh really? The worst of the storm has passed? LIAR!!!!!

"So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They’re not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I’ve witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana and Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children – asking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work."

LMAO! Like this guy really reads the letters the school children send him. LIAR!!!!

"For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don’t understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isn’t; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it. Not now."

Maybe Wall Street wouldn't be so quick to be greedy if stupid Americans would pay their bills instead of rushing out to buy useless s*** they don't need.

"Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal."

As if Democrats REALLY hated spending other peoples money.....LMAO! LIAR!!!!

"As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed."

The ONLY jobs this swindler and con man has saved are government jobs!!! LIAR!!!!!

"Tomorrow, I’ll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information. We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it’s time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America."

Translation: Al Gore is going to get even wealthier off YOUR tax money!!! LIAR!!!!!!

"Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle-class. That’s why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on Middle-Class Families. That’s why we’re nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving every worker access to a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That’s why we’re working to lift the value of a family’s single largest investment – their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments. This year, we will step up re-financing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform."

Yeah right! If this moron had included a provision in his housing bill that investors had to take a back seat on purchasing homes just put on the market, the economy and the housing market in general would be looking better. Instead, banks who own foreclosed homes wait until there are a sload of first-time home buyers out there and the investors come along and jack the price so high that most working stiffs couldn't possibly compete. Fin' jerk off!!!!!

"I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; and families – even those with insurance – who are just one illness away from financial ruin"

This one made me laugh the hardest. The Great Messiah Obama wanted to be the Brett Favre of politics-a hero. "Look at what I've acomplished!!!! Critics be damned!!!" He wanted to beat his chest so f***in' bad he could taste it. Look what the black man has done that whitey couldn't do in 233 years!

"After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we’ve taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier."

Translation: Every president should have his wife stick their nose into national issues. Democrats are good for one thing and one thing only-"fixing" things that aren't broke!

"Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them."

What's there to explain Barry? You want socialized medicine!

"But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber."

Hey messiah? There's clearly a difference between Health Care REFORM and Obamacare.

"We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work. We’ve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it."

MY GOD, I'M SHOCKED! :-O Shocked I tell ya! A Democrat who says he doesn't want to spend other people's money to further his sick, twisted political agenda? I'll believe it when I see it.

"But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress. And it’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."

Hey a**hole! If you Democrats were too busy spendin' other people's money, you might have enough to equal the Republicans spending on campaigns and re-elections! It's called free speech and it's the Democratic way. OH! I forgot. Democrats are elitist little pricks who only want the world to work in their way. My mistake.

"But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent – a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government."

As an American, the only frustrating thing from this speech is that it sounded like Obama hadn't realized that he'd f***in' won! This is the EXACT reason why the Independent voters like me will clean house later this year and usher in a new set of pompous windbags to take your places.

"Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who’s to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let’s put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let’s leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future – for America and the world."

Translation:Let's take away freedom for the safety of security. Isn't worrying about what the rest of the world does, gotten us into this mess? When will we stop offering to be the World's Babysitter and mind our own affairs?

"As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home."

Yeah right! This motherfer said he'd have our troops out of that shole by now. Why should we believe him this time?

"These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences."

I'll bet their shaking in their Birkenstocks too... :-/

"Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, our government – still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away."

Would that be like a certain someone who likes to talk a good game but can't deliver? Just curious....

"I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it."

You can have your change Barry. I want my dollar back!!!

Ladies and gentlemen...I give you...the black Jimmy Carter. A one-term, lameduck president. Bush was such a horrible Republican president that we actually voted this guy in? WE need an everyday common man-on-he-street candidate. Some a**hole who picks his nose in traffic, farts in the bathtub and laughs and knows how to do a kegstand.

The more things CHANGE, the more they stay the same. Hope is for perennial losers who think with their politics instead of their brain...

Response to post #77: It's true that in the past, states with usury laws, such as Ohio, suffered during a general rise in inflation and rates. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #78: I've never heard of an opera based on Waiting for Godot. But it would be cheap to produce. There are few characters. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #79: I fell asleep during the speech -- must have missed that part. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #80: The private sector is making a mess of it. Give the government the chance to do the same. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #81: Earlier in the day, Geithner said that if the Fed and government hadn't saved AIG, the financial system would have collapsed. Obama said that evening that if his government hadn't taken its initiatives to save the banks, the world financial system would have collapsed. I have never heard anyone ask them specifically: "Explain how the world would have collapsed. Which banks would have fallen into insolvency? Which derivatives would have caused a nuclear reaction? Get specific, please." But nobody asks. My feeling is that if it had really been that bad, there would have been reform by now. Best, Don Bauder

Response: Pistol, it is true that Obama is shifting many initiatives from the private to the public sector. You resent that. But you have to realize that the private sector has failed utterly. Greed killed it. I don't like the shift to the public sector, either, but what else are you going to do? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #83: Again, Pistol, your argument fails when you argue that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unfortunately, the private system IS broken. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #84: Lobbyists SHOULD have to account for every penny they bribe politicians with. If nothing else, it would give more meat to the press. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #85: He should depart Iraq AND Afghanistan. They are purposeless wars a la the book, "1984." Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #86: Americans distrust their institutions for very good reasons. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #87: That guy who picks his nose was exactly what you got for two terms: George W. Bush -- a complete disaster. Best, Don Bauder

Don, health care reform consists of forcing the hospitals to quit overcharging people. I went to the emergency room on the advice of my GF's mother when I broke my toe. They told me there was nothing that could be done about it and billed me almost $1,000 With Obamacare, the taxpayers would've been billed almost a grand instead of me. I took bad advice knowing there wasn't anything that could be done. How fair is it that Joe Blow Taxpayer has to foot the bill for my bad choices? I don't mind Medi-care because it's mostly senior citizens that have payed into the system for years and are getting back what they put in.

Health care reform is just that-REFORM. Reforming something is alot different than total change. "Change" that I don't believe in.

I'm not anti-government, I'm anti-monopoly. When the government takes something over, they create laws that forbid private companies from competing. F that bulls! I'm all for letting businesses collapse. Banks, auto companies, healthcare companies. ANY company in this country who runs their business into the ground out of greed should be allowed to fail. Another company can come along and either follow in the previous company's footsteps or learn from that same company's mistakes and offer a better product. Healthy competition is better for this country overall than the government taking over an industry and not allowing competition.

I'm all for forcing lobbyists to account for every penny as well. Regardless of the SCOTUS decion, does anyone in this country REALLY believe that they will change a Democratic vote to a Republican vote and vice versa because of increased spending on ads and corrupt influence? This mid-term election, I'm voting strictly Independent with the caveat that if there isn't an Independent candidate, I'll vote Republican. No amount of money or advertising or lobbyists will change my mind. How does the SCOTUS decision affect my vote? It doesn't but according to Barry, EVIL forces are at play. It's a simple matter of semantics, our constitution and freedom of speech.

G.W.B. wasn't the common man. He was a spoiled brat and an ignoramus to boot. Since Kennedy died, the American public hasn't exactly made the best choices for president. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm any better. If I hadn't been in prison for his first term, I would've voted for Bush Jr. The last go round, I voted for Obama. We need a 3 party system.

Response to post #99: There was no choice in the last election. It had to be Obama. Would you have wanted an aging ignoramus, McCain, with a total nitwit, Palin, waiting in the wings? The thought still gives me the chills. Best, Don Bauder

I want to thank all those who illustrated the buzz saw of opposition that reform faces. Take heart SDaniels, Surfpuppy, everyone, the buzz is very loud, but the saw is not sharp.

I don't know, Psycholizard, it sounds like some really bad creative destruction to me. The government encouraged what ultimately became an industry in the student loan process. You can tear that down and make it sound good by using terms like "tax credits", and "Pell Grants", but let's examine what's really going on here. Basically, the Obama administration's plan is to destroy the current process in the private sector and reassemble it in the public sector. I mean, the debt is still there, debt is debt, and it's still subsidized by the taxpayer. But instead of having banks and agencies running the show, now the government is going into the student loan business.

I fail to see how this is an improvement.

Gringo-You fail to see how it is an improvement because you don't know anything about the fraud that is taking place in the student loan industry, by the so called private sector.

If you can even call it the private sector, because there are only 2 major compnaies, both are engaging in massive fraud-fraud which steals from the student borrower and ultimately the taxpayer when the fraud reaches a level the borrower cannot pay back.

The fact is there is NO NEED for a middle man (private sector) in student lending- it justneedlessly drives up costs .

Earlier in the day, Geithner said that if the Fed and government hadn't saved AIG, the financial system would have collapsed.

And right after that Geitner said he say the Easter Bunny running down Pennslyvania Avenue.

94% of ALL Americans were AGAINST the TARP bailout-and paying out $13 billion to Goldman was a fraud. It stank then, It stinks now. It will still stink tomrrow.

Don, the thought that a half-dead chimpmunk or a dumb Alaskan gives me chills as well. The Democrats sold us a bill of goods and we bought it hook, line and sinker because we knew the alternative was worse. Like I said, America needs a strong Independent candidate in all elections. It's slowly becoming a 3rd party system but I doubt I'll live long enough to see it.

re: #78: So serious! How can I have stated an "untruth" when I was just joking about Mr. Bauder's opera habit? But since you insist on a smackdown, let's consider that in its libretti, opera has to rely on literature, too, lizard. ;)

Response to post #101: Don't be so sure. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #2: If only two are in the business, you can bet that they are cooperatively gaming the system. Best, Don Bauder

Oh and PS: Beckett should remain on the stage, by all means, and radio too--he did many works treating word and music-- but I have not enjoyed any operatic takes on his work, unless the operatic elements are built in, such as "Happy Days."

Response to post #103: Repeat: why don't politicians call Geithner on that statement? If he really saved the system, how? Who would have gone broke? Whose neck was in a noose? Why did the government decide to save the losers? But nobody asks Geithner to get specific. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #104: Bring back the Whigs! Or the Mugwumps! Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #105: Wagner wrote his own libretti. Best, Don Bauder

Part of the reason nobody really takes any Independent candidates seriously is because of that dickhead Ralph Nader and all the eco-nazis. People are tired of hearing about both of those kind of candidates. The only one I respect thus far is Ron Paul and I've heard even he's in bed with the Republicans.

Whigs and Mugwumps sounds like a cool opera. Maybe psycholizard's "less serious" band could write the music. ;)

Ross Perot could have won the Presidency in 92 as an Independant. He was leading the biggest state in the union-CA, Perot had 44 points to 32 for Clinton, to 20 for Bush.

Ross turned out to be a little whacho, but he was saying all the things people wanted to hear-and be implemented into law-back in 92.

To follow the completely natural logical progression from banking laws to bankruptcy court to theater of the absurd.

Roger Reynolds and others have set Beckett to music, if Godot hasn't been performed as an opera. it might be because the copyright is pricey or difficult. Certainly composers would jump at the chance, Steve Reich or Philip Glass might make a classic. If anyone has a spare million or so to get started? Money sings also.

Now the opera I want to see is JD and Nancy.

Response to post #112: Ron Paul runs as a Republican now, even though he is essentially a Libertarian. Remember that he ran for the presidential nomination of the Republicans in 2008.Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #113: The Whigs were around for a long time. The Mugwumps didn't last long. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #114: Perot didn't make it, but kept Bush I from succeeding himself. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #115: Beckett's ashcan school of drama would make wonderful opera. There is one play in which a prosperous son keeps his parents (quadruple amputees, if I remember correctly) in an ash can. The father keeps repeating, "Is it not time for the painkiller?" Best, Don Bauder


That line explains our times to the ages.


Response to post #12: The play was written in the 1930s or 1940s, I believe. Best, Don Bauder

Perot didn't make it, but kept Bush I from succeeding himself.

Yes, Perot stole away many more republican votes than democrat votes.

Ron Paul is pretty far out there if you ask me. The guy is a medical doctor, yet stated that everyone has access to healthcare through "emergency rooms".

That is such a crazy statement that I just can't trust anything else that comes out of his mouth.

To summarize the action, Surfpuppy's plaintive barking alerted the blogosphere to the crimes of Sallie Mae, a shameless hussy that won't roll over, instead running an extortion racket. Hugh G. complained that Sallie was wrecking the business of his stable of fine ladies, who don't want to be confused with that type of trash. When Sdaniels reported that she was talking to Sallie a lynch mob was forming to do her in. But POTUS arrived on the scene, and announced that he intended to hang Sallie strictly legal like.

Suddenly Refried Gringo and Pistol Pete, enraged because they believe that POTUS Lied, LIED on both his job application two years ago and his recent job evaluation, came to rescue Sallie, scattering bullet points from the moral high ground.

The Psycholizard stares in wonder underneath the safety of his rock. Will POTUS kill Sallie with his veto pen, or will she succumb to Surfpuppy's fangs of death? Will she find love with Philly Buster, who may now be her only hope?

All this is to be continued Sunday because Psycholizard plays tonight.

Response to post #122: Ron Paul has a fanatical following. He also opposed the Iraq war all along. He is consistent. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #123: Psycholizard plays WHAT tonight? Best, Don Bauder

To post #125

Psycholizard performs original music, and did a show last night, I try to transcend genre, but I currently play an R&B set thanks to the assistance of my friends who specialize in that style. I change into my alter ego Electrolizard for my modernist musings.

123 was a BLAST, psycholizard--lovin' your style, you wily little reptile, you. I think Mr. Bauder was giving you a chance to spam your scene--legitimately. But also because we are curious ;)

PS: Wouldn't they be postmodernist musings, psycholizard, or are you truly a modernist?


I endorse modernism. post modernism, classicism, minimalism. shamanism, any idea that helps an artist get the job done. But my personal school is reptilism, the belief that art should reach the inner reptile. in common parlance, tickle the funny bone. make your hair stand up, start your toes tapping. Thought is delusion, only the inner reptile truly lives.

"Thought is delusion, only the inner reptile truly lives."

Now I know what psychoanalysis by a lizard feels like!

Just what I need to contemplate while trying to work up a prospectus for the 'big paper'--using "thought." ;)

Response to post #126: Who are R&B? Rachmaninoff and Beethoven? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #127: We are indeed curious. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #128: Where does Zemlinsky fit in here? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #129: You must be the guy creating those Geico ads. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #130: Thought is delusion? Often, yes. Especially what passes for political thought. Best, Don Bauder

To 131

I asked my pal Electrolizard about the Rockman and the Beathaven, he says he likes them, but is more influenced by Rameau and Bach. There was this kid Steve Merrill who worshiped Mahler, before he was transformed by the bite of the Great Lizard.

Response to post 136: How about Respighi and Brahms? Actually, in one of his greatest works, The Birds, or Gli Uccelli, Respighi picks up a piece, "The Hen," by Rameau. Best, Don Bauder

to 130

Full points for spotting Reptilism's debt to the great Pre Reptilian Sigmund Freud.

To clarify, thought is a path to the truth but thought is not truth and truth is not thought. Therefore all thought is delusion. because it cannot be truth.

You will write a great essay in spite of this advice.

Response to post #138: Thought may not be truth, but if it's a path to the truth, as you say, it doesn't deserve to be called delusion. Best, Don Bauder

re: 138: Double-jointed lizard! (sometimes two joints is just two joint?) Zen Buddha/hydraulic metaphor-tokin' Freud! ;)

to 139

All thought is stock prospectus, the creation of the beast, for the beast. Only by understanding the needs of the beast can we understand thought, or the stock prospectus.

All thought should be tested by reason before granting it power, just as we should go over the books with a calculator before investing.

Ignore the glossy pictures, except in the case of penny stocks where the prospectus may be more valuable than the stock to collectors of funny books.

Response to post #140: I knew Freud would come into this colloquy. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #141: The only thought that goes into a stock prospectus is: 1. The lawyers figuring how to make it as unfathomable as possible; 2. The insiders figuring how their intention to dump their cheap shares as quickly and quietly as possible can be concealed in the document. Best, Don Bauder

No points for confusing my play on Keats for Zen. Wait a second, full points for noting the timelessness of the farcically pompous.

Did Keats know Zen? Perhaps he met her in the intellectual brothel run by Madame de Stael.

to 143

This is 99% true, but there are rare cases where the prospectus is iced, where the insiders know they have struck oil, or found a new drug, and conceal this from the suckers they intend to buy out.

There are even rarer cases of publicly held companies run by honest reptiles, I've heard of them, never seen one, but intend to invest as soon as I catch that snipe in the backyard my friends told me about. I'll invest the money I get from selling the snipe to a zoo.

re: #138: No points for confusing my prospectus with an essay.

re: #144: No, no, Zen was the just the fun-loving little sometime mistress of Byron, and in less funner times, of de Stael at salon. Her foremost duty was to keep a placid mien before Madame, and almost as important, attend that the opium pipes were at all times full and sticky.

Re #42: That was a typo, Don. She meant "Fraud".

Response to post #144: "Farcically pompous." Good. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #145: Most often, of course, the insiders know they have nothing, although most have hope. Sometimes they do know they have something and want to keep it hush-hush. In such a case, they might do better not going public. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #146: Come now. Lord Byron only dabbled in dope for medicinal reasons. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #147: Freud. Fraud. What's the difference? Best, Don Bauder

Re #146

We lizards have a dispute with the Zen people going back to that haiku about the frog jumping in the water. A lizard was meant to be in that haiku but was written out at the last moment. They tore up his contract, saying the the lizard walked off the scroll. He thought the man was sleeping, it's easily confused with meditation.

No one knew that the haiku was to be the hit of the millennium, I mean "plop plop" something must be lost in translation.

In fairness to the East, they got their drug habit from the West, and lost some wars trying to stop the trade.

to 147

Such an an important influence on Reptilism deserves defense. My exposure to Freud is limited to TOTEM AND TABOO, but I can testify that any lover of prose must find him a great writer, even if they reject his careful argument for instinctively absurd ideas. His argument that revulsion and absurdity is an important window on human instinct can't be refuted by mere mockery, or by pointing out that his ideas are revolting.

Psycholizard thanks Dr. Freud for being among the first to treat the mentally ill, who were previously chained to cages, or burned as witches.

His discovery of the unconscious alone makes his place among modern thinkers. The discovery that childhood trauma can lead to adult mental disease has saved generations from the beatings that once were the duty of parents.

As for psychoanalysis, many early twentieth century medical treatments have been superseded by more effective ones, that doesn't make the previous treatments a fraud. Remember that psychoanalysis is fundamentally harmless, the same can't be said of electroshock or lobotomies.

I detest the modern quacks who treat neuroses with surgery. Healthy bowels should not be cut by gastric bypass because someone has a neurotic desire to eat. Healthy testicles should not be removed because someone feels stylish only in a dress.

We the insane want to thank Dr. Freud for being the first to listen to us carefully, and thank him and his followers for not attacking us with knives.

Re #153: Im the same post that you type "they reject his careful argument for instinctively absurd ideas", you pontificate "I detest the modern quacks who treat neuroses with surgery. Healthy bowels should not be cut by gastric bypass because someone has a neurotic desire to eat." Insane? Nah, you're obviously not. Ignorant? Absolutamente, Señor!!!

Response to post #152: Everybody loses those drug wars. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #153: Psychoanalysis is not harmless to the pocketbook. And many women were burned as witches who had few or no signs of mental illness. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #154: At least you recognize that somebody who posts on this blog is not insane. Some think we are all batty. Best, Don Bauder

to 154

The surgeon frightens me more than the mugger for two reasons; the mugger, after taking your money usually doesn't bother to cut you, and when he cuts you he only knows enough to bring you to a quick death. The surgeon takes your money AND cuts you, and knows enough to keep on cutting you for years.

A surgeon saved my life, but I know that he has the ego that can take a little teasing, Thorton Hospital Heart Team a cheer for you. My surgeon told me "We don't follow the standard here, we set the standard.".

Morbid obesity is a terrible epidemic, and I wouldn't denounce a treatment without alternatives. Before removing the bowels try removing the television and refrigerator from the patient's home. If this fails, send the the patient to an island paradise lacking only unhealthy food.

I know these radical treatments would be cheaper than gastric bypass surgery, I suspect that a study might prove them more effective, but I doubt this study will ever be made, because no one could make a lot of money.

Self knowledge of insanity is the first step to rational mind. I am insane. I am also ignorant. My knowledge of Freud is limited to one incredibly provocative book, I know even less about gastric bypass, but I believe it violates the principle "First do no harm.".

Inform us

to 149

This scam is usually for firms who are going private, by the time they get done, buying out the suckers is sometimes sold as an act of charity. After going private the books are harder to access, so the scam is difficult to spot. The story is man bites dog because scammers rarely run profitable companies.

I think I have read of this in your column, in any case you are my leading expert in Ben Franklin's first law of economics; "A fool and his money are soon parted.".

There is one line in the prospectus that is normally completely truthful, taxes paid. The books kept for the government are usually starkly pessimistic. Tax lawyers are cheap and pliable, so firms that seem to be paying too much taxes have two great assets for the investor, insiders that wish to stay in, and management that obeys the law.

I forgot Dale Akiki when I implied witch hunts were of the past. The prosecutors are always more unhinged than the witches. Those elsewhere in 1994 should check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Akiki To the credit of our psychotic city, it was said that the Crips and the Bloods united to protect him during his thirty month martyrdom in our jail, the jury didn't buy it, and the jail deputies threw in to get him a limousine home. The two million settlement was cheap, and helpful, but justice was thwarted when we didn't see Ed Miller frog hopping in orange.

re: 115: Used to like Roger Reynolds more--a bit staid for my tastes now. Reich I appreciate more, but Glass? You really want to give sweeping, blowsy, savannah-plainsy Glass a score for a Beckett opera? Why not someone a bit more minimalist, o foulizarde? ;)

re: #104: What is a "chimpmunk?" Sounds like the offspring of an ascetic and an ape.

So, Pete? In between your exhortions against a badly run public sector, have you paused for breath, and prepared your speech to "Don and friends" here, to disclose the fact that you are a tax cheat?

re: 162: Correction: Exhaustion made me say "exhortion" instead of exhortation. Looks like a word, perhaps could be a word, is not a word--unlike chimpmunk ;)

re: 153: "We the insane want to thank Dr. Freud for being the first to listen to us carefully"

foulizarde: Freud rocked, to be sure, and I am a staunch fan, but he did not listen to us that carefully--not in the way you suggest. In fact, his "blank screen" approach to the analyst/analysand relationship--or lack thereof--an oversight which has led in our time to to an entirely new branch of therapy called "relational psychoanalysis."

Agreed with #154: A gentle reminder to psycholizard that comments on Freud should perhaps be a bit reserved until one gets a few more texts under one's belt? ;)

to 161

I'm not a follower of Minimalism or Beckett, I suggested these names because their star power might make a hit, and because undramatic drama might fit with undramatic music.

I've been hiding under a rock for many years, you seem more the expert.

to 164


Response to post #158: What gets me is that the morbidly obese males that sit in front of a TV munching chips and watching football think they are macho. But the birdwatcher, who trudges long distances, struggling through brush and briar, is considered a sissy. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #159: If a firm is paying its taxes legitimately, that is a good sign. But this is complicated; it's hard to determine whether taxes are honest. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #160: The Dale Akiki case was a disgrace. What was bad, though, was that it ruined the career of Ed Miller, who otherwise was a very good DA. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #161: Even as an opera lover, I have never seen a Glass work. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #162: A monastery held a fish and chips fry to improve its community relations. A local citizen went to one of the frocked monastery members and asked for some chips. Said the monk, "I'm the fish friar. The guy over there is the chip monk." Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #163: You're forgiven. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #164: I didn't study psychology much (maybe one class), but back in the 1950s, Freud was the rage. But not all bought into his theories. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #164: An opera based on a Beckett theme would not have to be minimalist. Best, Don Bauder

SD- :-D My mistake. Didn't realize that I had typed chimpmunk instead of chipmunk. And yes, I do fudge the numbers before the numbers are fudged against me.

to 173

When Godot ascends to the public domain, let all join in, perhaps he will save opera.

to 166

Guys who watch two choreographed bodybuilders hug each other in a professional wrestling match are macho, those who watch girls dance at the ballet are sissy.

Actually, foulizarde, you were the one to utter these words, and Duhbya was right to point out their error:

re: #153: "I detest the modern quacks who treat neuroses with surgery. Healthy bowels should not be cut by gastric bypass because someone has a neurotic desire to eat. Healthy testicles should not be removed because someone feels stylish only in a dress."

I will elaborate: It is likely an uninformed assumption that gastric bypass is never a viable medical treatment. A preferred one? Probably shouldn't be, but we'd have to be clear on the etiology of the patient's disease, whatever it may be, and the prognosis of his/her condition(s). I'm happy to leave that to qualified experts.

As for gender reassignment: If you, foulizarde, suffered lifelong mental distress because, as you gradually realized, you were born in the wrong body, I'm sure you would appreciate the option of gender reassignment, which might allow you to avoid the usual alternative--suicide. Freud was the bomb, but he would have gotten the prescription wrong on this one, too, entrenched as he was within his generation's understanding of proscriptive male/female roles. Anyway, those who undergo gender reassignment have a lot of psychiatric hoops to jump through before they are approved for it. I'm also happy to leave them to qualified medical experts, rather than to the "Just Deal With It" school of psychiatry.

re:#166: So true! From my small store of experience I can say that birdwatching takes a lot of coordination; your eyes are glued above while your feet may be about to walk you into a mud pit. I bet out in Colorado you have better birdwatching than we do here, Mr. Bauder. I'm tired of taking my laminated "Southern California Shore Birds" card down to Coronado, and trying to imagine I've been able to differentiate between the beak's curve and length of dozens of birds who all resemble one--the common sea gull.

re:#169: Since we've hijacked this thread, so you haven't seen a Glass work, but have you heard one?

re:#170: Well played!

re:#173: Do go on, Mr. Bauder. I can't imagine a Romantic era style composition for Beckett, but perhaps you can change my mind ;)

Attention: foulizarde, we are now totally out of my intellectual comfort zone, so jump in!

I'd be ok with Satie--quirky, little sound cues here and there, but no opera! Can't deal with the thought of a Beckett play as an opera! Sob. Perhaps I cannot be swayed...

Response to post #174. Chimpmunk. I like that. Chimpmonk, too. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #175: And some of those ballets, particularly in operas such as Faust, Samson & Delilah and Tannhauser, are sexually arousing. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #176: Our best birding was in the wooded eastern exurbs of Cleveland. Fantastic. Can't remember even hearing a Glass opera, but my memory gets worse with age. Finally, your response to a Beckett opera is "Sob." How about "Saab?" Now there is a plot for a tragic opera. Its name, of course, would be Saab Story. Best, Don Bauder

to 176

I stand by my basic assertion that medical treatment should be non invasive as possible, two procedures I mentioned, lobotomy and electroshock, have few defenders today, even though they may have helped in some cases, I can't say. Many submitted to these procedures voluntarily, that is no defense of the doctors who perpetrated these crimes against the insane.

So it is with gastric bypass and transgender surgery; some may be helped, many may desire these procedures, but they should only practiced as the very last option, anything else is medical malpractice, quackery, I stand behind the statement.

In both cases, society loathes the victim of the disease, this encourages the self loathing inherent in surgeon assisted self mutilation. Both need love and respect, and should realize that the surgeons knife can't bring this, and that love based on thinness or gender will not last as long as the consequences of their surgery.

My rejection of gastric bypass is based only on anecdote, the victim lost weight, gained weight, then lost her life within a few years, perhaps not as a direct result, but she was not made healthy. I know others who have lost over a hundred pounds without this treatment. Anecdote proves nothing, a ten or twenty year study could change my mind, but it should be compared with non invasive treatment. The Romans used to vomit, this seems less dangerous to me. I realize that removing the TV and eating fresh food you prepare yourself is too cruel for most.

Nothing can change my mind about modern castration however, and not just because it frightens for instinctive reasons, but because I believe we should stop people from harming themselves. Your revelation that prospective castration patients often commit suicide doesn't surprise me. SUICIDE AND SELF MUTILATION ARE CLOSELY LINKED, we should try to save people from both.

The modern argument for transgender surgery are more deeply flawed than the ancient reasons, there often was a great soprano trapped in a tenor's body, castration did help monks keep the devil away. But there is no woman trapped in a man's body, because woman and man are thoughts, and thought is free.

All humans should be true to their instincts, so far as they don't harm others, woman, man, straight, gay, these are only ideas, useful guideposts perhaps, but not law, or identity, cut your own road. Those who love are lovable, seek to love those that can love you in the skin that you were born, don't cut yourself to please them.

Response to post #180: During the Nixon administration, the officials in the White House would often mumble, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." As to castration: I can't tell you what pain I suffered when our male cats and dogs were fixed. Best, Don Bauder

to 181

Job pressure causes more self destructive behavior than anything except for sex.

As for our pets, made for the land of the quick and the dead, they aren't as quick as our automobiles, so the procedure is life saving, because it keeps them home, among the slow and alive.

I will never use castration again to support an argument, because as we have seen. it distracts, but also because it's too creepy, even for a lizard.

You endorsement of Ed Miller persuades me that I went too far. I guess even the prosecutor can be victim when a witch hunt rolls through town.

Response for post #182: I am all for neutering pets. But it's painful. Best, Don Bauder

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