$7.7 Trillion

Bloomberg has done some interesting work and uncovered that the Federal Reserve was willing to provide big banks with secret loans worth $7.7 trillion, far more than the public, or even most regulators, were led to believe.

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.


“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Stark Facts About Homeless Children

A few stark facts have further raised my awareness about homeless children.

  • The average age of a homeless person in the United States is seven years old.
  • Approximately 1.35 million children in the United States are homeless every year.
  • In 2010-2011 school year,  most states had 11% increase in the number of homeless students.
  • 1 in 5 children don’t have access to nutritional food on a daily basis.
Check out Seminole County Families in Transition for more information.

Barney Frank to Retire

And he’s sassy about the current Republican Congress:

“It consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann … and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann.”


We Are Creators, Not Custodians

I wrote this in June and it seems even more appropriate now, as we see our friends and neighbors occupy the streets in search of a fairer world.

We are not merely custodians of the world we occupy, we are its creators. Too many see themselves as astute critics; criticism is good, but participation is far more powerful.

That was part of some journaling I did during Netroots Nation, but I think it’s even more applicable to the Occupy movement.

I’ve never been more excited than to see my fellow citizens asserting their right to build the world they want to live in, rather than serve as custodians to what the elite have created.

What’s the Worst State to Have HIV/AIDS?

I’m not particularly surprised the answer is Mississippi, but some of these details are cringe-worthy and downright revolting. It’s like listening to Bill Dannemeyer say gay people should be sequestered on an island somewhere.

Combine racism and political indifference to poverty with homophobia — there’s been a rapid rise in infections among young men having sex with men in the state — and you’ve got a public health disaster that state politicians mostly ignore, or worse. ”I’ve been called a nigger and a faggot by state legislators right in the Capitol,” Alonzo Dukes, executive director of the Southern AIDS Commission in Greenville, Miss., told Human Rights Watch for a recent report. Continue reading “What’s the Worst State to Have HIV/AIDS?”

End Marriage Discrimination

Yes, this is that cute video that all your friends have been posting on Facebook. But, (1) it is indeed cute, and (2) I think the phrase “end marriage discrimination” is a potentially important shift in political language.

Jay-Z and Terry Gross

If you’ve never listened to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interview Jay-Z, go do it now.

“I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice — anything just to get a paper bag,” he says. “And I’d write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook. As I got further and further away from home and my notebook, I had to memorize these rhymes — longer and longer and longer. … By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn’t need pen or paper — my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape.”

How the Rich are Different From You and Me

They’ve got tax strategies, for one:

Yet for Mr. Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder fortune whose net worth is estimated at more than $3.1 billion, the evening went beyond social and cultural significance. As is often the case with his activities, just beneath the surface was a shrewd use of the United States tax code. By donating his art to his private foundation, Mr. Lauder has qualified for deductions worth tens of millions of dollars in federal income taxes over the years, savings that help defray the hundreds of millions he has spent creating one of New York City’s cultural gems… Continue reading “How the Rich are Different From You and Me”

Faith in Government, And Lack Thereof

If you’re wondering why Americans have so little faith in our leaders, the phrase “bitpartisan corporate influence peddling” might ring as true do you as it did to me. At its core, it’s why the Occupy movement exists.

The lineup promoting TransCanada’s interests was a textbook study in modern, bipartisan corporate influence peddling. Lobbyists ranged from the arch-conservative Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to TransCanada’s in-house lobbyist Paul Elliott, who worked on both Hillary and Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaigns. President Clinton’s former Ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin, a major contributor to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential and Senate campaigns, was on TransCanada’s payroll, too. (Giffin says that he has never spoken to Secretary Clinton about the pipeline.) Most of the big oil companies also had a stake in the project. In a recent National Journal poll of “energy insiders,” opinion was virtually unanimous that the project would be approved.

Of course, that’s not exactly what happened, but close enough. The pipeline was moved away from crucial groundwater sources, giving even more credence to the prediction that Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.