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Old 04-22-2010, 01:26 AM   #691
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there are many major cities that don't even have charitable hospitals, and those that do often aren't that charitable.
This does remind me of a story one of my professors told us.

I went to a small, Catholic(in name only, lol) college in Vermont, and this guy taught Christian Healthcare ethics as well as a class called Work, Capital and God.

He is a relatively big name in Vermont academic and business circles, and he used to be on the board of a Catholic, read charitable hospital. It was set up as a non profit. Donations were a part of the revenue stream.

What did this board he was on suggest they do to cut costs? Get rid of the nurses' union and start treating less of certain diseases, etc.

I am not saying either move was right or wrong, just that "charitable" hospitals, when put in the same market of providing care, faced with the same realities of the system as every other for profit hospital, they will behave the same way.

They have to stay in business, after all. Have to pay doctors, nurses, pay for equipment, training, beds, etc. Doctors will not work for free.

As for donations covering the costs, donations move up and down with a lot of different variables(how do you think charitable giving is doing with 10% unemployment?) and are not a reliable, consistent and (relatively) predictable revenue stream.

At least with the current system, you know how much Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance companies reimburse for certain procedures and have a general idea of the breakdown of what you see at your particular hospital and in what volume and can budget from there.

As for a 1-1 tax credit as AEON suggested, it would probably help spur charitable contributions, but a lot of people still are not in a financial position to be able to wait until tax season to break even on any given contribution. If you are donating a significant amount to charity, the local real estate developer, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the local software company owner or marketing executive, odds are your income is high enough that the tax credits, while nice and welcome, do not factor very much into the decision to donate.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:46 AM   #692
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Let's say we did have competing rating systems. How are they constructed? Are they profit driven? Where is the checks and balances?
Ratings agencies would be paid fees for their services, by the companies wanting to be certified. The more reputable the agency, the higher fee they can charge. The check and balance? Reputation and rule of law. If an agency has a great track record of rating correctly, the better its reputation, the better its profits. However, if they get charged with fraud or their ratings are off – their reputation (and their profits) will suffer
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:54 AM   #693
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Aren't we guaranteed "life" --
How do you interpret that? If we take it literally, then the government has failed every single person that has died since those words were put to paper – and will eventually fail both you and I – as we are certain to die.

In my opinion, it is referencing the government’s responsibility to protect us from harm at the hands of others.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:58 AM   #694
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As for donations covering the costs, donations move up and down with a lot of different variables(how do you think charitable giving is doing with 10% unemployment?) and are not a reliable, consistent and (relatively) predictable revenue stream.
Do you think it is possible that the free market system could be efficient and innovative enough to lower the costs across the board to a level that charity is only needed in the rarest, most dire occasions?
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:07 AM   #695
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Laws regarding fraud, bodily harm, and property rights (in this case intellectual) should be sufficient if properly enforced. For instance, our current financial crisis is a result of improper enforcement of fraud – not by lack of regulation.
In the end, it was the regulators and not the free market that determined who survived and who didn’t. The coming regulations will probably secure their positions (after a few wrist slaps).
Good discussion!

Though there was a significant amount of fraud that was flat out not enforced, the biggest causes of our financial crisis were subprime mortgages and the securitization of said mortgages(i.e. the derivatives market).

These 2 areas had one thing in common- they were unregulated!

1.)A subprime loan market that had always existed exploded in size throughout the early/mid 2000s. These little fly by night firms could hand out loans without any documentation or other standards required by more mainstream, regulated banks and by ethical, licensed mortgage companies who took the business seriously. My Dad did real estate from 1987 until he passed away a year ago, and between 2002 and 2005, he would always tell me that "anyone can get a mortgage now, they hand them out from crackerjack boxes, this is an accident waiting to happen."

The mortgages that originated from the regulated market had far, far less issues when it came to defaults, foreclosures etc than ones that originated from non regulated firms.

2.)Though 1 now ensured we had ourselves a foreclosure crisis, that in and of itself, though bad, is not necessarily a financial crisis(think early 90s mild recession, that started with a foreclosure crisis).

What led to the takedown of our entire financial system from this subprime mess was the massive securitization of the loans into complex financial instruments known as derivatives.

The derivatives market was $800 billion in 2004, exploded to $300 trillion in 2007 and is now worth nearly $600 trillion, and these are not typos! To put this in context, the value of stocks, bonds and bank deposits combined, in the entire world in 2008 was a mere $167 trillion!

Derivatives were explicitly barred from being regulated in the Gramm-Lech-Bailey act of 1999, co sponsored by an army, literally an army, of BOTH Democrats and Republicans, passed a Republican controlled Congress and signed by a Democratic President Clinton. Larry Summers, Obama's NEC chair, was heavily involved as treasury secretary, and I think he and Clinton have even gone as far as to apologize.

So in an era of deregulation like never seen before, accelerated by GW Bush in the 2000s, this crisis takes place.


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Super-sized corporations are often created by regulations designed to keep competitors out of the market place. It’s a cycle: big corporation puts their man in office, man in office returns the favor passing regulatory reforms, regulatory reforms keep smaller companies from entering into the regulated space because of the cost of being regulated, big corporation becomes “too big to fail”
Truer words have never been spoken! Very often, regulations, though they look benevolent and like they are designed to make sure AEON and U2387 do not get screwed, they are often written in a way that protects super-sized corporations(read those who pay for both parties' campaigns). I think the solution to this is campaign finance reform with teeth, something that actually takes the money out of the system. If the head of Goldman Sachs wants to contribute to Obama(which he has, big time), then let it be through his own personal account, un attached to the firm he runs and because he truly thinks Obama has the best policies.

Everyone has the right to contribute, sure, including super sized CEO taking TARP money, but when it comes to lobbyist/PAC contributions, the analogy I always make is "can you go up there and lobby a Judge?" "your honor, here is $5000 and a phone call to the Governor telling him what a great guy you are, and to reappoint you, now let me go free even though I robbed that store at gunpoint and stole Indy500's car?"

The Goldmann or the too big to fail companies are doing the exact same thing- here is some money from us, now please do not regulate us, and if you do, do it in such a way that keeps those pesky competitors the hell out of here!

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And as it turns out – the only “regulations” that we really needed are the current laws that protect the citizens from fraud, bodily harm, and property rights (including intellectual property).
Respectfully disagree. I think market concentration regulations, like anti trust, are greatly needed to prevent monopolies and excessive market concentration that often leads to super sized crony capitalist corporation X or Y being "too big to fail." You may say we have had those for years and firms are still too big to fail, and that is true. But here comes another place where you and I find common ground!


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No, laws aren’t enforced by regulations, but by law enforcement
These need to be enforced, and they should have been enforced a hell of a lot better than they were in the run up to the financial crisis. But again, who runs the SEC? It was former Wall street darling Chris Cox. Treasury? It was former Goldman big wig Hank Paulsen. Currently, with Obama, the Wall Street connections in that administration run extremely deep, most notably Larry Summers, who I like very much, just pointing out!

So ultimately, the law enforcers are appointed by the President after approval from Congress, both of whom depend on the people being regulated by said law enforcers to finance their campaigns.

That I think is the vicious cycle, and that is what leads to the often terrible, ineffective construction of regulations.

I am not saying all regulation is always good all of the time, as I stated above. There are bad regulations, as I said above, mostly due to the fact that these companies have such influence on the people writing them. Whose phone call is the President, regardless of party answering personally? Yours or mine? Or the CEO of Citibank? It is a matter of who they are accountable to, and when that changes, so too will the nature of regulations.

Then of course there are the regulations that are flat out stupid and ineffective- rent control comes to mind ( also trucking, airline, railroad and oil price regulations in the 70s), and regulations that are well intentioned but needlessly burdensome. I think a lot of this could be solved by streamlining agencies and looking hard at a principles based approach to regulation as opposed to a thousand or a billion page list of specific criteria that those regulated will no doubt find a loophole in!

I think Britain and some other countries have had a lot of success reducing costs of compliance, increasing efficiency and still accomplishing the goals of a regulatory agency through this principles based method.

Though it may seem that I really disagreed with a lot of what you wrote here, I really do not think we are that far apart!
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:19 AM   #696
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No, laws aren’t enforced by regulations, but by law enforcement.
Well, that is a form of regulating something, is it not?

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Laws regarding fraud, bodily harm, and property rights (in this case intellectual) should be sufficient if properly enforced. For instance, our current financial crisis is a result of improper enforcement of fraud – not by lack of regulation.
I'm with BVS, I'd say both of those were contributing factors to the current situation.

In theory what you say makes sense, and it sounds good. But what if the law enforcement fails? There's corruption in that, too.

And I'm still waiting for somebody, anybody, to answer this question:

Quote:
Besides that, nobody has ever come up with an answer to why they're not bothered about the fact that they're REQUIRED to have car insurance, but when it comes to health insurance, boy, that gets their hair up.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:49 AM   #697
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I already posted this but the site was flaky...if it shows up twice, sorry...

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Good discussion!
Yes, I agree!

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Though there was a significant amount of fraud that was flat out not enforced, the biggest causes of our financial crisis were subprime mortgages and the securitization of said mortgages(i.e. the derivatives market).
The more we learn about the securitization process and the large parts of the derivatives market during the last 10 years – it seems that fraud was a major factor (fraud on those that did the bundling, the credit agencies, the accountants…etc). Is it fair to say the jury is still out to determine if it was lack of fraud enforcement, and not a lack of regulation that caused it? (not to mention it was the government that pushed for subprime mortgages – causing banks to take risks they wouldn’t ordinaly take – and it was the desire to get this risk off their own books and “out there” - that really led the likes of Goldman and Lehman to manage the CDO and CDS racket the manner in which they did.)

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My Dad did real estate from 1987 until he passed away a year ago, and between 2002 and 2005, he would always tell me that "anyone can get a mortgage now, they hand them out from crackerjack boxes, this is an accident waiting to happen."
Your father, God rest his soul, was obviously right on.
Again, isn’t this another example of fraud - committed by both the lenders and the borrowers (creative accounting, stated income loans)?
Unfortunately I have to go to bed, so I can’t address all your points (you made quite a few).

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Though it may seem that I really disagreed with a lot of what you wrote here, I really do not think we are that far apart!
I think you’re probably right.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:55 AM   #698
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Besides that, nobody has ever come up with an answer to why they're not bothered about the fact that they're REQUIRED to have car insurance, but when it comes to health insurance, boy, that gets their hair up.
I believe you’re only mandated to cover liability for injuries and property damage done to others. I’m not quite sure I see the comparison. It’s about protecting the property rights of others. If you wish to protect your own property – you are welcome (and wise) to do so – but that isn’t compulsory.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:00 AM   #699
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In theory what you say makes sense, and it sounds good. But what if the law enforcement fails? There's corruption in that, too.
True - law enforcement can fail - so why add yet another several layers to increase the opportunity for corruption? My point is, just because law enforcement fails - we shouldn't set up a host of other entities that will also fail. Simply hold law enforcement accountable.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:10 AM   #700
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I did want to add that the last few pages have been very pleasant. BVS, Moonlit_Angel, and U2387 – all three of you have been courteous, respectful, and challenging (in a good way). I appreciate that. Thanks.

Now I'm really going to bed...Good Night!
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:14 AM   #701
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I believe you’re only mandated to cover liability for injuries and property damage done to others. I’m not quite sure I see the comparison. It’s about protecting the property rights of others. If you wish to protect your own property – you are welcome (and wise) to do so – but that isn’t compulsory.
It's just simply the fact that it's funny that one bothers people and the other doesn't, that's all. A car, while a nice thing to have, an important thing to have, even, isn't an absolute necessity in people's lives. Your health, on the other hand...

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True - law enforcement can fail - so why add yet another several layers to increase the opportunity for corruption? My point is, just because law enforcement fails - we shouldn't set up a host of other entities that will also fail. Simply hold law enforcement accountable.
And who will hold them accountable? That's a fine argument, but why can't the same be said for government, too? If your answer is to hold law enforcement accountable when they fail, well, do the same with government. The entity itself isn't so much the problem as it is the people who work within it. You get a competent government, or a competent law enforcement, you will get competent results.

Angela
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:31 AM   #702
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Is it fair to say the jury is still out to determine if it was lack of fraud enforcement, and not a lack of regulation that caused it?
No, its more than fair! All we do know is that both a lack of fraud enforcement and a lack of regulation was present. I will just say that I lean one way, and this line here will give it away: remember, most of what was done with subprime loans and derivatives trading was perfectly legal.

We do know the final answer: It was a combination of both, but it will take a while for us to know how each one was weighted.

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(not to mention it was the government that pushed for subprime mortgages – causing banks to take risks they wouldn’t ordinaly take – and it was the desire to get this risk off their own books and “out there” - that really led the likes of Goldman and Lehman to manage the CDO and CDS racket the manner in which they did.)
Not sure I can go with this. Certainly not if you are referring to the Community Reinvestment Act, which explicitly had standards prohibiting the kind of subprime loans that were defaulted on en masse. In fact, government regulated loans, CRA or otherwise, had consistently much lower default rates. What is often missed is that a high cost loan given to a middle or upper income borrower that they can not afford can also be subprime. Any loan can be subprime given the right(or more accurately, wrong) terms. Hence why there are empty suburban, upper middle class/lower affluent developments in places like Loudon County, VA(DC exurbs), The Santa Clara valley, San Francisco and LA exurbs, Phoenix suburbs, Las Vegas, empty condo buildings in Miami, etc.

2 hardly liberal sources:

Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with subprime crisis - BusinessWeek

President's Speech: Opening Remarks to the 2008 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference (3/31/2008)

What pushed fly by night creditor to offer and Lehman and friends to securitize bad loans was the good old fashioned profit motive, which is a good thing so long as it is not taking excessive, dishonest, unrealistic risks with the money of you and I, neither of whom were involved in any way.

With securitization, ultimately, you change the dynamic of John the banker who you see at the diner giving you a loan and being on the hook if you default. Now John can say, "I don't care if you pay me back or not, I have already made big money selling your loan to Wall Street." So if he is unethical even in the slightest, John from the diner will no longer care if you can document your income, as you'll lose your house, but he wont lose his money like he would have before.

I think securitization, the overall trend being about a generation old, has led to innovative methods of financing ideas and businesses and has been a net positive, it is just something that can blow up when our worst impulses go completely unregulated.


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Your father, God rest his soul, was obviously right on.
Again, isn’t this another example of fraud - committed by both the lenders and the borrowers (creative accounting, stated income loans)?
Thank you! Cancer is a terrible thing, and he was 58 and built like a light to middle weight boxer until January 2009, so it takes you way too fast. He was a great guy, Vietnam combat medic, who just never could kick the smoking.

Creditors AND BORROWERS- Thank you for including that!! Agree 100%, and it is often glossed over, these borrowers were just as greedy and culpable, buying things they knew they couldn't afford through deals they knew were too good to be true. My Dad, no arch conservative, in fact our views matched pretty well, said that all the time.

Yes, another example of fraud, the kind of fraud that is plain to you and I but unfortunately was not quite as plain to the government! In order for it to meet the legal definition of fraud, they of course have to break a law, and again, a lot of what happened between 2000 and 07(roughly) was shady, unethical, fly by night(my dad dealt with many "mortgage companies" that were run from a cell phone and nothing more!!) and perfectly legal

Making it illegal and subject to fraud enforcement as you suggest would of course mean regulation. Heres hoping it is not the burdensome, excessive anti competitive regulation you and I both worry about!

Please remember always my bottom line on this: Regulation is not my only answer, and I am as scared of the prospects of getting the regulation wrong and the resulting consequences as I am of what will happen if we keep the status quo.

The whole thing is obviously very complicated, and the fact that I had a father in Real Estate who I helped out a lot and the fact that I read a little bit on this stuff in no way makes me an expert or more qualified than anyone else to know exactly what happened or what to do about it.

That is the hard part, and to every Congress person, Democrat or Republican and President Obama, all I have to say is "better you than me!"
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:45 AM   #703
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Do you think it is possible that the free market system could be efficient and innovative enough to lower the costs across the board to a level that charity is only needed in the rarest, most dire occasions?
If I understand you correctly from your quoting of reason and dislike of regulation, you are talking about the extreme end of the free market spectrum, not the still very free though not quite there US system? If not, sorry in advance.

I think, theoretically, it could be. However, when markets go unregulated(which we have been a long way from for quite some time), history has proven that monopolistic tendencies do develop. It does run counter to what one would think, but nonetheless, it has happened. I don't know if it is an economies of scale issue or what have you, but in every market that has tried the unfettered course, things have gotten out of hand with respect to concentration and regulators have had to step in with antitrust. Of course, monopolies can charge whatever they want. There is also the issue of collusion between companies.

There really exists no perfectly competitive free market, don't think there ever really has been one. Granted, we were much closer to this before the Teddy Roosevelt era, but there was the rampant protectionism, the massive land grants and subsidies to oil and railroads to build industry in this country, etc. In short, all the things that Milton Friedman and friends would have had serious issues with, if not coronaries over!

Though I agree 100%, the market is the best, most efficient and cost effective way to answer the what to produce, how to produce it and who gets what is produced questions, that does not mean it is always perfect at doing all things. You are talking to a Democrat who has no interest in seeing our system re made along the lines of say, Germany or Sweden and has no problem with the market answering most questions nearly completely(hair salons, convenient stores, condo developments, concert promoting companies...) or to a great extent(health care, college education....)

We let the market do health care to a great extent. And we have, for those with the access, the highest quality care, the best trained doctors, the most innovative research, development and equipment, etc. The reason we have Medicare is because the free market, as good as it is in the areas mentioned, was not taking care of senior citizens, the people who need health care the most.

Now, the idea of increased competition in health care driving down costs is perfectly valid, and it has been used extensively by Obama and Congress in crafting this bill. The exchanges are competitive, they let individuals and small businesses buy from many more companies than the 2 or 3 that likely dominate their home state.

I just do not make the leap from "more competition between companies is good, efficient and drives down costs" to "we would be much better off if we took free enterprise to its most extreme and left everything to it." Because, has I said, though on paper, the extreme of this situation would lead us to believe it is a perfectly competitive utopia, the reality of what has happened when societies were at, or at least closer to this extreme relative to today has been quite different. It has actually been anti competitive and antithetical to the idea of business and competition and efficiency in many ways. This is one of the most fascinating ironies I have ever encountered.

As for it reducing costs enough so that charity is only necessary in very narrow circumstances, my answer is I don't know, but anything is possible. Everything of course would hinge on whether charitable entities could afford to stay up and running faced with the same pressures as for profit or non profit in name only entities.

I am not asking for agreement, but I truly hope I made some sense, I realize my posts are long and far from concise. Thank you for reading!
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:42 AM   #704
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How do you interpret that? If we take it literally, then the government has failed every single person that has died since those words were put to paper – and will eventually fail both you and I – as we are certain to die.

In my opinion, it is referencing the government’s responsibility to protect us from harm at the hands of others.
Protect us from harm? Like being able to protect us from a very preventable disease like diabetes? I interpret that to mean that no child, woman, man live shorter lives just because they're poor. People are dying or living poor quality lives due to diseases that you and I could afford to prevent or treat.

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Do you think it is possible that the free market system could be efficient and innovative enough to lower the costs across the board to a level that charity is only needed in the rarest, most dire occasions?
I absolutely don't. Even with the most incentivized tax breaks... I've never in my life seen an example of anything being completely taken care of by charity.

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I believe you’re only mandated to cover liability for injuries and property damage done to others. I’m not quite sure I see the comparison. It’s about protecting the property rights of others. If you wish to protect your own property – you are welcome (and wise) to do so – but that isn’t compulsory.
But one's poor health due to lack of preventative medicine becomes a drain on everyone else. So in that way it is very much like car insurance.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:05 AM   #705
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If I understand you correctly from your quoting of reason and dislike of regulation, you are talking about the extreme end of the free market spectrum, not the still very free though not quite there US system? If not, sorry in advance.
Yes.For the sake of this discussion I’m quoting sources like reason.com because in general I am a very big proponent of limited government, very limited. While I do understand the need for regulations to keep in step with those that create new schemes which are technically legal but are clearly used to deceive, manipulate, and steal – I certainly do not trust the government (more specifically – career politicians) to be any more noble and honest than the thieves wearing suits, especially since the career politicians depend upon the thieves in suits to fund their campaigns.

Campaign finance reform, as you mentioned, would be a huge step in the right direction. However, we have these folks currently in office that are unlikely to pass new legislation that would probably end their own careers.

My overall fear is that the US citizens will be sold on the notion that the crises is the fault of capitalism, and the career politicians (funded by the thieves in suits) will enact new legislation that will more than likely not protect the common citizen any more than today – but will continue to protect their campaign contributing friends and create more government jobs (therefore voters dependent on these new jobs created to support these new rules).

In theory, I hold the view that politicians must surrender all wealth when elected and will receive a stipend for the rest of their lives that will keep them sheltered, fed, and clothed at exactly the median level of the rest of the US. Practically, I’m not sure what we can do. The incestuous relationship between the political parties and business in nothing more than stealing from the public for their own benefit, and one way or another it will end – for it is ultimately unsustainable. How the cycle gets broken is still something I’m willing to consider.
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