"Idiots on Wall Street Kicking Sand in the Face of the American Taxpayer"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If That Don't Beat All

Okay, now here's something for you to chew on today (go ahead, spit out that tobacco). Not only are our tax dollars being spent on bailing out the big boys on Wall Street, but also on financing their lobbying efforts to keep the government regulators out of their hair so they can continue to do with our money what they want.

From Robert Reich:

Yet what's happened to the Wall Street campaign contributions and to the lobbyists? They're still going strong. We now know that many of the financial giants that have been bailed out by taxpayers continue to finance a platoon of Washington lobbyists, who are at this moment trying to influence TARP II and the next attempt to regulate Wall Street. In effect, your money and mine, and that of all other taxpayers, is paying these lobbyists to push Congress in a direction we have every reason to believe is not in our interests but in the continued interests of Wall Street. Citigroup, the recipient of $45 billion of taxpayer money so far, is still fielding "an army" of Washington lobbyists, according to the New York Times. Its lobbyists are working on a host of issues, including the bailout. In the fourth quarter of 2008, when it got its first infusion of bailout money, Citi spent $1.77million on lobbying fees. During the last three months of 2008, at least seven other firms receiving bailout funds (American Express, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, Morgan Stanley, PNC and Bank of New York Mellon) lobbied the government about the bailout.

And you want to know what they are doing with that money, besides paying millions for lobbying efforts? Not loaning to you and I, that's for sure.

As Grandma used to say, "If that don't beat all..."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't Bank on the Bank

So you thought the bank bailout would provide some financial relief for average America? Well, don't bank on it.

Back in November, while most American families were struggling to put food on their tables, bailed out bank executives were conferring on their plans for the $700 billion dollars of our taxpayer money. The first $350 billion received, no strings attached, with no requirements to disclose what the money is used for. At a conference held at the Palm Beach Ritz Carlton, an oceanfront luxury hotel, the bankers were wined and dined by investment analysts and enjoyed "evening cocktails by the pool and a golf outing at a nearby country club." (Price of a one night stay at the Ritz Carlton? Anywhere from $399 to $1149.) Interestingly enough, the conference was sponsored by the New York City based investment banking firm, Sandler O'Neill & Partners.

Among the bankers plans for the money? Not likely increased loans to consumers, but plans requiring the services of investment bankers. As reported by Mike McIntire in The New York Times:

Mark Fitzgibbon, research director at Sandler O’Neill & Partners, which sponsored the Palm Beach conference, said banks seemed to be allocating the bailout money for four general purposes: increased lending, absorbing losses, bolstering capital and “opportunistic acquisitions.” He said those approaches made sense from a business perspective, even though they might not conform to popular expectations that the money would be immediately lent to consumers (emphasis added).

Well, of course those approaches make sense to Mr. Fitzgibbon. If the banks immediately lend to consumers, they don't need his services.

And keep in mind it is not only troubled banks receiving bailout money, but healthy banks catering to the wealthy:

Speaking at the FBR Capital Markets conference in New York in December, Walter M. Pressey, president of Boston Private Wealth Management, a healthy bank with a mostly affluent clientele, said there were no immediate plans to do much with the $154 million it received from the Treasury.

“With that capital in hand, not only do we feel comfortable that we can ride out the recession,” he said, “but we also feel that we’ll be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves once this recession is sorted out.”

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to say "Happy New Year" and share our plans for 2009. As my husband's pay continues to decrease each pay period, I'm still jobless after almost a year. We've tapped out borrowing from family and resorted to taking out a loan against my husband's dwindling 401K to be able to survive. We made the house payment for December, but not sure whether or not we can make the January payment. We've begun boxing up for the eventual move from our home, as we know we won't be here much longer. "Quit thinking so negatively," our daughter admonishes us. I try to explain there is a difference between negative thinking and realistic thinking.

As we prepare for our move, we daily scan the "For Rent" section of the local newspaper. Lots of rentals in today's market, but the rent in our area is astronomical, normally running about the same amount as our current unaffordable house payment. Looks like we will be moving to an area where we really don't want to live, you know, what we think of as an "undesirable area". I don't want to do that to my son, have him move away from his friends, have to change schools, but we have to do what we have to do. The important thing, after all, is that we remain together as a family and I have faith we will survive our move intact. We do count our blessings and know there are much worse things that could befall us.

If you are facing foreclosure, here is a great source of ideas on how to avoid it.

God Bless in 2009!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Time Flies When You Can't Pay the Bills

I didn't realize how long I have been away from this blog. All I can say is "My how time flies when you can't pay the bills!" It's true. I know I just got my monthly credit card statement. You know, the one I haven't paid in several months. And I know I just got the past due notice not two days ago, and here it is DUE DATE again. Irresponsible I know, but I don't even open it anymore. Can't bear to see that HUGE interest rate, along with the over the limit fee and the late fee added to that progressively rising balance. But I derive some comfort from watching the news because I know I'm not alone.

The good news is we worked out a plan with the mortgage company to get our house payment back on time. The bad news is we can't afford the increased payment we worked out. Hell, we couldn't afford the payment before we worked it out. And I'm beginning to realize why so many people are losing their homes to foreclosure. You begin to see the mortgage payment as a big black hole sucking up what little money you are making each month. The money you need to eat and pay medical costs and clothe and educate your children. The money you need to buy gas for your car to make sure the oil companies can keep gorging themselves on those big profits. The money that should be going into your shrinking 401K?

So the government has bailed out the big boys on Wall Street and we are supposed to be comforted to know that hopefully (all fingers and toes crossed) the move will free up the credit markets so my husband will continue to have a job and a paycheck. So you, if lucky enough to still have a job, can keep it and continue to have your paycheck.

Otherwise, freeing up credit won't help our family one iota. Because when you don't pay your bills on time, YOU CAN'T GET CREDIT!!!!! It is a big Catch-22. The mess on Wall Street led to my job loss, and we can no longer pay our outstanding obligations. Therefore, we are losing whatever little credit standing we had. And if we lose our home, our credit standing will be further damaged. Yes, my husband will hopefully still get a paycheck, we just won't have anywhere to live. Because who is going to rent to someone with crappy credit???

Suggestions anyone?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Discouraging Words

So I applied for a job on Tuesday. A local magazine was seeking someone to distribute their publication. One job. Over thirty applicants. Haven't heard back from them. Not surprised!

This morning, in honor of the last day of school, I let my son sleep in and I drove him the 8 miles to school as opposed to his catching the very early bus. Passing the gas station, I noticed the price of one gallon of unleaded gasoline: $3.90.

My husband got paid today. I paid the bills. Some of them were late and we got stabbed with those extra service charges. But, we have water, electricity and cable for another month. Woohoo! And we have $220 left to hold us over for another month. Hmmm... trying to figure out how to divy that up:
-Medications? (one daughter with no insurance = $200.00/month for prescriptions)
-Doctor visit? (daughter has to go to doctor this month = $100+ ).
-Food? Son is out of school for the summer so that means three meals a day at home. (Have you fed a growing boy lately??)
-Gas for the car?
I just can't decide which of these luxuries to splurge on....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Truckers United

As the price of gasoline inches toward the $4.00 per gallon mark in our neck of the woods, with every drop put into the tank, I want to stomp my feet in protest. And I can do that. But what's better. I can stand up with the truckers and say, "hey, wait a minute..."

Perhaps my ignorance is showing, but could someone answer me this:

Why are independent truckers barely staying afloat while big oil companies post record profits?

Could it be the same reason why many families are losing their homes to foreclosure while the government bails out the big banks?

I don't know. That's why I asked.

Drew Carey Tells Us to Stop Whining

Drew Carey tells us Middle Class Americans to stop whining because, according to him, we actually have it better than ever. Seems Mr. Carey thinks our bare cupboards are merely an illusion brought on by media brainwashing.

Thanks, Mr. Carey. I'll serve that information to my family tonight at dinner. Right along with the spam.