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The Morning Grumpy – November 30th

30 Nov

News for you to read during your morning grumpy…

1. As you undoubtedly wake up to news reports of the LAPD beating the ever-loving shit out of the peaceful protesters at Occupy Los Angeles, you might STILL be wondering what all those Occupiers are protesting. The Sunlight Foundation has another piece of the puzzle for you to consider

On Sunday, Bloomberg News reported on an estimated $13 billion worth of income that banks gained by taking advantage of the Federal Reserve’s below-market interest rates, which were sometimes as low as 0.01 percent.

The six banks that benefited the most from this “subsidy” – Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo – reaped a combined $4.8 billion of estimated extra income from the below-market loans.

All six have also averaged at least $2.7 million in lobbying a year for the period 2008-2010. And all six have averaged at least $2 million in campaign contributions for the last two electoral cycles. Four of the six banks rank among the top 100 political contributor organizations for the last two cycles.

I don’t want to speak for the whole of the 99%, but I’ll go out on a limb and say we’re collectively pissed off that we live in a plutocracy. Right, Bill Moyers?

2. Analysis of the latest census data has been trickling out and this most recent work caught my eye. An interactive map at the NY Times gives insight into American poverty rates sorted by county.

Between 2007, the year the recession began, and 2010, the poverty rate rose by a statistically significant amount in nearly a quarter of counties (722 of 3,142) across the country.

Let’s compare Erie County with Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, you know, where your friends moved to find work.

Erie County

  • Poverty Percentage,  All Ages: 14.3%
  • Poverty Percentage , Under Age 18: 20.9%
  • Poverty Percentage, Ages 5-17: 18.3%
  • Median Household Income: $46,773

Mecklenburg County

  • Poverty Percentage,  All Ages: 15.6%
  • Poverty Percentage , Under Age 18: 21.3%
  • Poverty Percentage, Ages 5-17: 19.6%
  • Median Household Income: $52,363

Maybe the grass isn’t so greener in North Carolina…well, it probably is if you’re a white collar, mid-career professional.

3. I’d love to see a mashup of the census poverty rates and mortgage data.

At the end of the third quarter, 10.7 million homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their home is worth.

Those homeowners may continue to pay their note, but those who suffer a shock like job loss or illness are at a high risk of foreclosure because they are unable to downsize by selling.

Forty-five percent of borrowers have less than 20 percent equity in their homes, and almost 70 percent of those mortgages carry interest rates above 5 percent, while the current average rate for a 30-year loan is closer to 4 percent.

Yeah, shit is fucked up and bullshit.

4. Which is why Robert Reich says that America needs to restore its basic bargain.

For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.

Get it? Corporate profits are up right now largely because pay is down and companies aren’t hiring. But this is a losing game even for corporations over the long term. Without enough American consumers, their profitable days are numbered.

Or, we could give more tax cuts to corporations and millionaires and hope for the best.

5. The middle class continues to be squeezed. The average cost of tuition, room, and board at a 4 year public university was $15014 per year in 2009-10, up from $8653 in 2000-01 . Personal health care expenditures were $2066 per household in 2000, in 2010 they were $3157 per household. Wage Stagnation for the bottom 50%, incidentally the people whom rising costs hurt the most.

6. Did you know the GOP runs a clown college? Neither did I, but it appears to be pretty fantastic.

Fact Of The Day: It takes nearly 450,000 servers using 20 megawatts of power at a monthly cost of $2MM (higher without local subsidies) to power the Google platform.

Quote Of The Day: “You without me is like Harold Melvin without the Blue Notes, you’ll never go platinum!” – Snoop Dogg

Song Of The Day: “The Love I Lost” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (Featuring Teddy Pendergrass)