When The Unconscionable Becomes The Norm…

"When the unconscionable becomes the norm, we stand at the precipice of socio-economic extinction." – Douglas Castle
The article which follows was written by Douglas Castle, author and advocate of the Global Interworked Cooperative Business Community (GICBC), a new form of entity based upon a collaborative paradigm of shared contribution and shared rewards which may provide a vehicle to save the fast-fading notions of democracy, government by the consent of the governed, government by and for the People, advancement based upon merit, and a form of industrious capitalism where currency is a means of exchange and store of value, but not a mountain of scrip standing between the entrenched and protected "ruling class," (a small minority of persons controlling in large part the fate of everyone) and the dispossessed, disillusioned and desperate masses who no longer experience a quality of life that gives them cause to live. Please do consider becoming a member of The National Networker Companies, an organization which is Humankind’s first GICBC in the making. Become a member for free by clicking on http://twitlik.com/IN . I am honored to be the Vice-Chairman and Director of Strategic Planning for this instrument of change.
Dear Readers:
Two articles are re-printed for your information below. The first is labelled People’s Exhibit A, and the second, People’s Exhibit B.
The first article is the now-commonplace whining (with no actual question, answer, or opinion provided, at all — very dry stuff, like cayenne pepper) about AIG awarding giant bonuses to a horde of unscrupulous, compunction-free gamblers who have all but stolen money from the ever-thinning wallets of the American People, and will, with great encouragement, continue to do so. The article is really just there to rile you up a bit. You’ll be more receptive to Exhibit B when you are infuriated to the point of screaming until your vocal cords are bloody. Exhibit A should get you you there. If it does not bother you, or if it makes you shrug your shoulders like Oscar Madison and say something along the lines of "So what else is new? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I’m going to get a coffee. Want some?" then don’t read Exhibit B.
What you might instead be looking at is "How has it come to this? That here, in what used to be called ‘The Land of Opportunity,’ the poor, or even the middle class are no longer permitted a chance at becoming rich? That’s not opportunity — that some kind of trap. We need to pull this poisoned tree up by its roots, and plant something fresh and new in its place. The existing system is so convoluted and conflicted that trying to "fix it" is as futile as raising the dead by singing songs to a worm-riddled corpse. This has to be scrapped and replaced. This is like a 20-year old car that needs so much work every month that it would be cheaper to junk it and buy a new one…in fact, I could have bought three news ones by now with all the moiney I’ve thrown into that depreciating asset! Let’s dump this vehicle and shop for something that works!" If this reaction comes out in you, I heartily encourage you to read Exhibit B.

Author and Commentator Robert Reich is looking in the right place. Instead of complaining about "Big Government" he is concerned, and rightly so, about our shrinking Democracy. This is truly the core issue. I will be adding the Huffington Post to my Twitter resource and news update list, and I feel a blog post coming on…Google the term "GICBC."
Please stick around for the read…er….the ride.
Douglas Castle

People’s Exhibit A
Reports: AIG to pay out $100 million in bonuses
Wed Feb 3, 7:05 am ET


NEW YORK – American International Group Inc. is set to pay out about $100 million in a fresh round of bonuses to employees of its financial products division, the unit whose risky bets helped sink the company leading to a $180 billion government bailout, according to reports published Tuesday.

AIG agreed to cut the retention bonuses by $20 million but will still hand out $100 million Wednesday, The New York Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Washington Post, also citing people familiar with the situation, said the retention payments are for employees at the division who agreed to accept 10 to 20 percent less than AIG had initially promised them two years ago. In return, they are getting their money more than a month ahead of schedule.

AIG is still due to pay out tens of millions of dollars more in March, mostly to former employees who did not agree to the concessions, the Post reported.

A message was left with an AIG spokesman seeking comment.

New York-based AIG faced intense public and Congressional criticism last March when it paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in retention bonuses to employees months after receiving the government bailout.

When the credit crisis hit in the fall of 2008, the U.S. government rescued AIG from the brink of collapse in exchange for an 80 percent stake in the insurer. AIG’s near collapse was not due to its traditional insurance operations, but instead risky derivatives contracts written by the financial products division. ####

People’s Exhibit B

The item which follows was written by Robert Reich, and I happened to stumble upon it while glancing over the Huffington Post.


Robert Reich

Former Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley. Posted: February 2, 2010 06:24 PM

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

A version of this column appears in the current issue of The American Prospect.

I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem — small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to "experts." But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money — 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt — mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy — and it’s hard to see exactly why it would — the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making continues. Will Treasury use what’s left of TARP to help stimulate more jobs and, if so, how? Will the Fed stop buying mortgage-backed securities? No one knows.

The same pattern is evident on other issues. Congress can’t decide whether or how to limit the pay of financial executives. So where does the issue end up? The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Fed both say they’re going to look at whether pay levels are appropriate. The House and Senate can’t agree on what to do about climate change. Who decides? The Environmental Protection Agency concludes it has authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

The debate over health-care reform looked like democratic deliberation until you realize the key negotiations that framed the deal occurred behind closed doors, between the White House and Big Pharma and Big Insurance. The Administration promised these industries some thirty million new paying customers. In return, they agreed not to oppose the plan. Big Pharma even placed a firm limit on how much it would cut its costs over the next ten years — $80 billion, and not a penny more. How do I know this? Not because this crucial deal was made in public, but because it was leaked to the press.

Personally, I want the government to limit the pay of financial executives, regulate greenhouse gases, and reform health care. And no one wanted a financial meltdown. But I’m appalled by the process that’s been used to reach these objectives.

A big piece of the problem is this: Washington is now so overrun by lobbyists representing moneyed interests that it’s become almost impossible to make policy in the open. If the Treasury and Fed tried to decide publicly which industries and firms should get hundreds of billions, they’d be inundated. Wall Street lobbyists are blocking real financial reform. The energy industry has filled the House’s cap-and-trade bill with special subsidies and exemptions. Big Pharma and Big Insurance would have killed off the health-care reform if they hadn’t been bought off. When it comes to the long-term deficit, Congress is incapable of acting because so many special interests have their hands out.

But the answer isn’t to give up on democracy. Back-room policy making can succumb to private interests just as easily as lobby-infested legislatures (much of the public suspects the Treasury of being too cozy with Wall Street as it is).

The real answer is to recommit ourselves to cleaning up democracy. Yes, I know: The Supreme Court’s recent grotesque Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which decided corporations are people entitled to First Amendment protection, complicates this. But the goal is still possible to achieve with more public money for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse private funding, more constraints on lobbyists, tighter rules for who must register as a lobbyist, fuller disclosure, and tougher rules on the revolving door between public service and private gain. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman recently came up with another good idea: A $50 tax credit per person, which they can send to the candidate of their choosing.

Yet nobody seems to be talking about these sorts of reforms. They don’t appear on Obama’s agenda. True, they don’t generate lots of public excitement or appreciation, and they’re murderously difficult to enact. But without them our democracy doesn’t stand a chance.####

Please stay with me. Follow me on Twitter, The National Networker, Linked In, the blog reviewers. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with me directly.  If you are as ambitious as you are angry, then we are not merely destined, but obligated, to meet. I can be emailed at DouglasCastle1@live.com.  Thanks.





About DouglasCastle1
For further information about my professional background, please view any of the following resources: MY LINKED IN PROFILE: http://www.linkedin.com/in/douglascastle; MY PROFESSIONAL BLOG: http://GlobalEdgeInternational.com

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