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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street

I’m disgusted

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Student Loan Bonanza

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Over the last five years I’ve become more and more disgusted by both our federal government and our financial industry as a result of our entire country, and government, becoming financialized. All that matters now is how much profit can be made, regardless of the consequences to human lives, and protecting the worse financial actors from the recent financial meltdown that caused a worldwide recession.

A couple of days ago, Matt Taibbi, wrote a lengthy piece in Rolling Stone Magazine about the student loan scandal that threaten our nation’s economy.

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal
The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education – saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy

I didn’t read this story two days ago when it was published. I wish I had since my voice now will make little difference – everyone’s moved on to the next scandal or reality show highlights. 

However much Taibbi’s rhetoric seems over the top, his actual story is accurate. A couple of years ago, the Higher Ed. journal he mentions published a story on the rapidly rising cost of a college education.

Although the journal didn’t go into the whole funding of students loans issue, the publication did lay most of the blame on institutions that went on a spending binge during the last decade, which universities defended as needing to do to “attract students”. According to the schools, competition among colleges required spas, hot tubs, outrageously expensive sports stadiums, cafeterias rivaling the best restaurants, and so much more. 



Money was cheap so colleges spent lavishly, expecting the public through taxes, to pick up the bill even as students were being saddled with higher tuition costs. Not long after that journal article came news of the UC Berkeley Chancellor being given a million dollar salary and a completely renovated (real) mansion (at the UC system) multi-million dollar expense. Within months, news broke of other chancellors receiving million dollar incomes…and other expensive perks. Like the dramatic increase in C-suite salaries, competition, you know. 



Then as the states’ began to deal with massive lost revenues following the financial crash, states cut back on higher educational funding, putting even more pressure on students in yet higher tuition costs. Even now under Obama’s Administration, as Taibbi notes, the federal government expects to make billions of dollars in profit off of student loans, especially since students cannot discharge those loans under bankruptcy. Nor were students and parents informed or warned of the hazards and total costs of those government backed loans. Now, we have millions of our young people’s lives being destroyed by the cost of loans they never understood and never expected.

To those of us who were paying attention, the inability of discharge student loans in bankruptcy is old news. The GOP Congress, under Bush 2, pushed it through, even though huge numbers of groups and people lobbied against it at the same time they turned over the student loan program to banks. What happened under that GOP sponsored and driven legislation is that student loans became one of only two financial obligations that cannot be erased in bankruptcy. The other is taxes owed. 



Taibbi is also correct about the degree requirement for even low skill workers. When I worked for Oracle back in the ’90s, even our receptionists were required to have 4-year degrees. Why, I have no idea; it’s not like someone answering the phone and forwarding calls needs an elevated education. 

Yet, in our increasing “information” economy, a degree has become a necessity…unless you agree with the recent GOP mantra that only some should attain a degree while the vast majority should forego college. To become what: checkers at Walmart or burger flippers at McDonalds? Even getting into a qualified tradesman program (not hyped for-profit ripoff programs), like plumbing or carpentry which cannot be outsourced, that actually trains apprentices and helps them with jobs are few and far between.

I keep asking but no one answers, why do we citizens continue to permit our entire economy to be financialized to the detriment of millions of families, both now and in the future? Why do we allow ourselves to be conned and lied to and abused? Why aren’t we fighting back not only with our votes but with our power to demand changes in electoral laws that protect our interests, rather than just the interests of the powerful, wealthy and connected?

As long as the voting public unwisely protects the lobbyists and wealthy donors who have far more power, influence, donor money, and ability to get their preferred message listened to and across to legislators, average Americans, and our future generations, will be nothing more than insignificant chess pawns.

It’s obvious that Obama is not really going to stand up for you. Neither will anyone on the GOP bench. Supply side, neo-liberal economics which has destroyed our jobs and our economy is all the GOP offers. And Obama’s Administration is not a whole lot better. Obama is not a progressive or a socialist or liberal. He’s center right on almost every issue. Even Republican TR was more progressive and more concerned about average Americans and new businesses and against the excesses of Wall St than Obama has been.

But nothing…absolutely nothing…will change until we voters demand that the entire campaign financing system be rebuilt from the bottom up. Corporations, so-called non-profit Super-PACs and unions are not people as all of our founders concluded and should not have First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. They are nothing more than legal fictions, which our greatest legal minds stated long ago. Moreover, TR eloquently wrote when money became heavily involved in the political process, corruption occurred either by bribery of legislators or by legislators blackmailing companies. In both cases, the public loses even as legislators grow more wealthy.

The current system of financialization of our entire economy and political bribery and blackmail are killing our country and destroying the lives of our children and grandchildren. Just throwing these “bums” out and replacing them with another set of bums changes nothing since the incentives remain the same. Nothing will change but the faces. If America is to recover, the voters must demand new and strict new election donor laws, including a Constitutional Amendment and prohibitions on party gerrymandering, that puts power back into hands of voters again.

As voters, parents and workers, we must demand real change that protects our interests. Ask and demand all legislative candidates promise in their first term to promote election changes that prohibit lobbying donations and lobbyists writing legislation, make all campaign donations even to SuperPacs transparent and online within 24 hours, and a Constitutional Amendment that eliminates all non-human entities First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

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Written by Valerie Curl

August 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Missing 20th Century Republican Roots….

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Regarding the desire of many on the left and among Democrats to see the GOP die, I have very mixed emotions. I remember a very different GOP: one which had lived through the Great Depression and WWII and was firmly committed to fiscal responsibility, rebuilding and renewing the homeland, staying out of foreign military engagements as much as possible, and creating economic growth and security for everyone.

With this ignorant and bombastic GOP, I say keep up the publicity ’cause they’ll continue to lose and maybe lose even more sooner if the current Democratic fundraising push has legs, provided, of course, that the GOP doesn’t rig the electoral game too much more in their favor regardless of what is in the best interests of a constitutional democratic Republic. (FYI, a lot of these sneaky gerrymandering, etc., actions were Cheney’s grand idea. Another reason to hate that rotten old SOB.)

Movement conservative GOP libertarian ideology

Yes, I do want them to lose because they do not represent the GOP I grew up knowing and appreciating for their conservative yet economic moderation, understanding and knowledge of fiscal realities, their desire to rebuild and renew the American physical and economic landscape, and to keep Americans out of more wars. The modern conservative movement, and its many faceted coalition, no longer represent, let along understand, what those earlier Republicans stood for or helped build. Let alone why.

On the other hand, I’d like to see a renewal of a more centrist, post WWII like GOP, aka Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republican party, who were fiscally responsible (as in raised taxes to keep deficits and spending down), did not believe in American Imperialism or being the world’s great cops and liberty bringers, and recognized that the way to create both wealth and a strong functioning society was build the up middle class by providing economically family sustainable jobs and economic opportunity (including quality k-12 and affordable higher education) to anyone who worked hard enough to rise up through the ranks as two of my uncles did within major corporations to senior management ranks.

Those same old-fashioned Republicans, now called RINOs and who have been driven from the party by the Limbaughs, Ericksons, Coulters, and Hannitys of the GOP infotainment media universe, were the ones who also believed in efficient but enforced financial regulations that kept our financial system sound for 50 years. A financial soundness they knew had never happened before in the nation’s history, but at the same time empowered tremendous growth and development of new businesses, quite often through the sharing of financial and information resources of combined government and private enterprise.

Those Republicans had lived through the Great Depression and deeply understood the economic, family, and social harm caused by that speculative financial crash. Even Reagan proudly said he was an FDR Democrat (and a union head) until the ’60s when Democrats went too far left (and yes, Reagan was wrong on Medicare – the best thing the nation could do today economically would be to let go of its obsession with employer provided health care for one of the other OECD models in order to save well over a trillion dollars annually. But many like Reagan believed the AMA denunciations of Medicare way back when).

They, too, had experienced real war, unlike most in the GOP today who either like McCain cannot forget, let alone forgive, leaving Vietnam without winning, or hold to a Cheney-Kristol neo-con belief in American Imperialism that would have been antithetical to the Greatest Generation Republicans who fought WWII. Anyone who had read the dispatches of Ernie Pyle – there’s an out of print book of them and his diaries – quickly understands why Eisenhower kept the US out of more wars. Most of today’s leading GOP pundits and followers hold fast to their guns but have absolutely no knowledge or experience with actual realities of war. I’d bet few of them have ever seen the mid-1950s TV series, “Victory at Sea” that was aired every Sunday morning. They think guns, shooting, et al, are all fun and games kind of like a video game. But Ernie Pyle wrote about the dirty, bloody underside of war. Embedded with Army, he wrote about slogging through the mud, the American GIs (and himself) exhausted and worn out; seeing the bombed, bloody body parts of American GIs he knew spread across the landscape; seeing and feeling death and destruction everywhere as the Army moved north in Italy towards Germany.

My father and mother’s generation had lived through the hell of the Great Depression and WWII. My Dad rode the rails as a teenager, looking for work to send money home to his family and to support himself. My mom’s family lost their home and moved into a cousin’s barn, while my grandfather walked the highways and streets of eastern Washington, selling spices door to door. My dad convinced his mother to lie about his age so he could join the Army and later transferred to the Army Air Corps because he was allergic to horses. He and two other uncles became part of the USAF during WWII. Dad flew missions over Africa. My two other USAF uncles flew missions over Germany. Another uncle was lost when his ship was sunk in the Pacific. That is what Eisenhower knew about war and what today’s neo-cons have never experienced war and do not know…and have never experienced. They never joined up. They have never known the dirt and exhaustion, the horrors of the killing and the ugliness of death.

These prissy gun-toting haters of our social safety net have never experienced the fear, loss and devastation that my parents and grandparents went through. Worse, they don’t care to even learn or even understand. But the Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans knew just as Democrats of that era knew. Just as my Republican parents and grandparents knew. They had seen and lived through the worst of deregulation and speculation as well as the real horrors of war. They demanded stability, economic growth and opportunity for a better life than the one in which they had grown into adulthood. They demanded some sense of economic security and the knowledge that the killing was over. They supported reasonable, sound gun laws, as did the NRA in those days, to end the killing of which they had seen far too much.

They supported a social safety net because they knew how easily it was to lose everything they had worked years to achieve to be left with nothing: not homes, not jobs, not businesses, and often without families. They approved of restrictive regulations on Wall St. to prevent another Great Depression, caused by over speculation and gambling. Even the very McKinley-like Lochner SCOTUS eventually finally gave way to public demand for more social equity that put workers on a equal footing with owners and eventually gave way for more new business development and opportunity.

These are the reasons why Reagan was an FDR Democrat until the overreach of Democrats in the ’60s. For all of the GOP’s glorification of Reagan, they have quite literally forgotten, or chosen to ignore, what he had lived through and who he really was. They’ve twisted him into a McKinley laissez-faire hero he never was. In truth, he probably felt closer to a Rockefeller Republican with a great deal of sympathy for 1950s McCarthy-Bircher anti-communistic ideology. There is no where in his record of actions, legislation or speeches in which he preaches a laissez-faire, libertarian ideology. He was a real product of both the Great Depression and World War II…not of the cynical, selfish, ignorant modern movement conservative. I know. I lived in California, as an adult, during his Governorship as well as his Presidency. I watched him and I saw him. He is nothing like what modern conservative claim him to have been. Even his breaking of the Air Traffic Controllers Union was a product of union over reach rather than a hatred of unions. As a union negotiator, he knew and understood the values of unions in protecting the membership’s wages and benefits as opposed to inflating corporate profits at the expense of workers.

So, if and when the GOP returns to its 20th Century, post Great Depression, roots, I will begin to root for it as my parents did. Until then, I will pray – and work towards – for the national and state wide demise of its current incarnation. I believe our nation – and all her people – deserves better than the current GOP.

Financial History Does Rhyme…

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Economist Alan Blinder

Alan Blinder: Financial Collapse – A 10-Step Recovery Plan: “1. Remember That People Forget…. 2. Do Not Rely on Self-Regulation…. 3. Honor Thy Shareholders…. 4. Elevate Risk Management…. 5. Use Less Leverage…. 6. Keep It Simple, Stupid…. 7. Standardize Derivatives and Trade Them on Exchanges…. 8. Keep Things on the Balance Sheet…. 9. Fix Perverse Compensation…. 10. Watch Out for Consumers…. Twain is said to have quipped that while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme. There will be financial crises in the future, and the next one won’t be a carbon copy of the last. Neither, however, will it be so different that these commandments won’t apply. Financial history does rhyme, but we’re already forgetting the meter.”

Darn good advise. But will organizations and people take note or long remember?

H/T Brad DeLong

Written by Valerie Curl

January 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Neo-Liberalism Brought On the Fiscal Cliff

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Victors-SpoilsWhile the nation rapidly approaches the so-called fiscal cliff as a result of Republican intransigence on taxes, a few other facts should be highlighted.

  • The data of The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in its “The State of Working America” analysis shows that between 1983 and 2010 the top 5 percent of income earners increased their share of the pie by 74.2 percent, while the bottom 60 percent of us had our share of national income decrease.
  • As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.1%. (Economist Edward N. Wolff of New York University 2012).
  • Wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts. Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s
  • New York Times analysis by David Cay Johnston of an Internal Revenue Service report on income in 2004; although overall income had grown by 27% since 1979, 33% of the gains went to the top 1%. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% were making less: about 95 cents for each dollar they made in 1979. The next 20% – those between the 60th and 80th rungs of the income ladder — made $1.02 for each dollar they earned in 1979. Furthermore, Johnston concludes that only the top 5% made significant gains ($1.53 for each 1979 dollar). Most amazing of all, the top 0.1% — that’s one-tenth of one percent — had more combined pre-tax income than the poorest 120 million people (Johnston, 2006).
  • But the increase in what is going to the few at the top did not level off, even with all that. As of 2007, income inequality in the United States was at an all-time high for the past 95 years, with the top 0.01% — that’s one-hundredth of one percent — receiving 6% of all U.S. wages, which is double what it was for that tiny slice in 2000; the top 10% received 49.7%, the highest since 1917 (Saez, 2009).

Here is what Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has to say about the neo-liberal economics policy that led to these statistics and why Democrats and Progressives should reject them.

Neo-liberal economics has devastated the global economy and produced all of the predictive failures and evil consequences that progressives have long attributed to its micro-economic myths. Far too many progressives, however, continue to believe the similarly mythical and self-destructive macro-economic myths about deficits, debt, and austerity. It is hard enough countering Pete Peterson’s billion dollar campaign to inflict austerity and unravel and privatize the safety net. Peterson funds myriad front groups. We also have to counter the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, which dominates Treasury, OMB, the Justice Department, and the office of the Chief of Staff and favors austerity and unraveling the safety net. We should not have to deprogram progressives indoctrinated into repeating neo-liberal economic dogmas.

Progressives should be able to observe that the neo-liberal macro-economic predictions have been consistently falsified by reality. They should have seen documentaries like Inside Job and Capitalism: A Love Story about the catastrophic failure of neo-liberal economics and economists. They should read sites like New Economic Perspectives and Paul Krugman’s columns that explain why austerity is self-destructive and why the safety net need not, and should not, be attacked. Progressives need to say “no” to anyone who wants to “bleed” the economy through austerity or cutting the safety net.

Prof. Black points to the reason why much of So. America hates neo-liberal economic policies after having to suffer through them decades ago. And it’s why Ecuador’s Rafael Correa refused to enact neo-liberal economic policies after the world wide recession hit. As a result of Correa’s policies, Ecuador’ economy is growing and doing well.

Written by Valerie Curl

December 28, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Just Say No…To Mary Miller to Head the SEC

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Mary Schapiro, the current Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, has resigned her position, effective on December 14. President Obama has nominated Mary J Miller to replace Shapiro. However, it appears Ms. Miller does not have the qualifications for this top cop position.

Simon Johnson, over at baselinescenario.com, explains Ms. Miller’s credentials:

The Obama administration is floating the idea that Mary J. Miller, under secretary for domestic finance at the Treasury Department, could become its nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ms. Miller, a longtime executive in the mutual funds industry, has served in the Treasury under Timothy Geithner since February 2010.

Ms. Miller represents the financial sector’s preferred approach to financial reform – some rhetoric but very little by way of serious effort. She has no time for people who are serious about making the financial system safer. And there is no willingness to really face down powerful people on Wall Street.[…]

She has no experience as a regulator or as an enforcer of the law. She has never worked on securities fraud. And she has no track record of standing up to powerful vested interests; in fact, she helped push the recent JOBS Act, which greatly undermine the protections available to investors. In addition, her work experience is entirely within the mutual fund industry – 26 years at T. Rowe Price. And a major agenda item now for the S.E.C. is mutual funds and how to make them less vulnerable to the kind of runs that occurred in September 2008. (For a primer, please see my recent column for Yahoo Finance.)

The mutual-fund industry does not want reform, and it worked long and hard to keep Mary Schapiro, the departing S.E.C. chairwoman, from pushing forward some sensible ideas. After outside pressure was brought to bear, including by Ms. Bair’s systemic risk council (of which I am a member), there are signs that the S.E.C. will finally at least issue some proposed changes for public comment.

After the 2007-2008 financial meltdown, we need the best cop to clean up the Street. And there are much better candidates for this top, vitally important position, namely Neil Barofsky, former Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, and Sheila Bair, formerly head of the FDIC.

Credo Action has created an online petition urging President Obama to appoint an S.E.C. chairman who will hold Wall Street accountable, and naming Mr. Barofsky as a worthy choice. The petition had more than 35,000 signatures by Wednesday morning. I urge you to sign the petition so we get the best SEC cop available…and not another Wall St sympathizer.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Preventing National Decline

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Presidential Candidates Romney and Obama

I’ll be honest, I want Obama to win. Not because he’s a great president. We would need another TR or FDR for that. But campaign costs and the way campaigns are funded, along with Citizens United, make a real reformer president unlikely at present. Look what happened to Obama. He told Wall St during the ’08 campaign that he would raise their taxes and reform the financial system; when he actually tried they revolted to the tune of half a billion dollars in negative ads and lobbying.

Nevertheless, Romney will be a disaster as president.

This afternoon, I spent time reading some of my favorite financial and economics blogs: Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s Baseline Scenario and Jesse’s Café Americain. Through their blogs, I clicked over to a blog by Judge Richard Posner, appointed by Reagan, who now sounds more liberal than modern conservative Republican; then onto an interview with Glen Hubbard, Romney’s leading economics adviser (ugh, what a arrogant sleeze!); and then found a new blog, Capitalism Without Failure.

In each blog, I became more firmly convinced that if Romney is elected, Wall St and the uber wealthy will win; that we average people, like you and me, not only don’t count in their considerations, we’re irrelevant; and that any chance to reform the financial system into becoming a system that provides capital to businesses rather than a high stakes, high risk gambling casino will fail. Most of all, if the nation continues to celebrate the “greed is good” and “me first and only” ideology that has been fostered over the last 30 years, the nation will see another devastating depression within a few years. It will be far worse than the Great Recession and would likely spark violent revolutions worldwide.

Yesterday, I read a Business Week Charlie Rose interview with Jeremy Grantham who owns a highly successful equity fund business. He, too, is sincerely worried about coming events that the GOP ignores or has convinced its base is irrelevant or misleading (pdf). He told Charlie the U.S. is in for a major fall if it doesn’t wake up to what is going on worldwide and here at home.

Over and over again, I read the hazards that await the country if this nation doesn’t change paths. Obama, I believe, is attempting to change those paths if not well, considering the legacy of monied forces arrayed against him and his innate desire to cut a deal rather than being the progressive reformer TR was.

Romney, on the other hand, is a continuation of GW Bush on steroids, and the GOP Congress is worse. In Bloomberg View, Jonathan Alter writes that if Romney is elected, not only will we not know which Romney shows up at any particular moment, he’ll be constantly looking over his shoulder to the GOP Congress to see how he should act and what he should say. He’ll be led along by Norquist, DeMint, and Blackrock’s Schwartzman to name a few. Ryan will probably control the budget, just as Cheney controlled energy and national security.

Our nation is already suffering OECD ratings losses in a variety of competitive areas, from education to equity and mobility to loss of new business start ups to income security to health care to governmental ability to resolve problems and issues. Given the Romney-Ryan budget plans, neo-con national security advisers, and the whole far right wing conservative movement of the GOP, I cannot conceive of a Romney administration increasing the nation’s OECD competitive ratings…or even Harvard’s Business School Review’s competitive rankings.

It’s hard for me to believe that so many people have been conned by Romney. He’s a chameleon whose only beliefs are his destiny to become president (fulfilling Daddy’s dream?) and that the wealthy are superior beings. The US cannot be run as if it’s an LBO in the making. Or at least it should not be. As John Winthrop told his small community of colonists back in the early 1600s, the community needed to needed to take care of each other as Jesus required. And only in ensuring the economic viability and equitable opportunity of every colonist would that community become the “shining city on the hill” – the light of Jesus.

Yet, now, nearly one half of the nation would choose to elect a man, and a party, who choose to negate everything Winthrop told his Puritan parishioners and which that colony worked so diligently to achieve in terms of equity and opportunity, from free schools to physical and monetary care for the poor and disabled to income taxation based on ability to pay without causing family harm for the general needs of the commonweal.

There are plenty of things about which dislike the Obama Administration. But a Romney administration would be even worse – not by any stretch of the imagination better. Romney would lead the nation down the path of Depression and aggressive selfishness.

Blast From the Past – On Elections, That Is

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If you’re not familiar with Bloomberg’s Echoes column, you should put it on your reading list. Echoes features columns on the intersection of politics and history. Most are fascinating.

The current one, or should I say the one I’ve chosen to focus on, describes the 1884 presidential campaign of Republican candidate James G. Blaine vs. Democrat Grover Cleveland.

When a Plutocratic Dinner Doomed a Presidential Campaign

The Cartoon that Changed the Election in 1884

The cartoon that changed the 1884 election. Source: Walt McDougall, New York World, Oct. 30, 1884.

Running neck-and-neck with Democrat Grover Cleveland, Blaine had to win the state. To help fill his campaign coffers, Blaine agreed to attend a sumptuous fundraising dinner, organized by 200 prominent Republican supporters, on Oct. 29. The venue was the ballroom at Delmonico’s, a swank restaurant in the financial district. Among the guests were several of the richest, best-known and most politically connected businessmen in the country, including the Navy contractor John Roach and the financier Jay Gould.

A Bad Day

Blaine’s day began badly when he took part in an impassioned rally hosted by several hundred Protestant clergymen — all Republicans — at which a Presbyterian minister denounced the Democrats as the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.” The slur soon went viral, outraging Irish Catholic voters who might otherwise have sat out the election.

The worst was yet to come. The Delmonico’s dinner played into the hands of journalists primed by a long and bruising campaign to accentuate Blaine’s financial ties with Wall Street. Most devastating of all, it furnished New York World illustrator Walt McDougall with the theme for a blistering cartoon that would run the next day on the front page of one of the city’s biggest newspapers.

McDougall’s cartoon — titled “Royal Feast of Belshazzar Blaine and the Money Kings” — portrayed Blaine as a supplicant at the beck and call of plutocrats who dined on “monopoly soup,” “patronage” and “lobby pudding” while a humble laborer and his family looked on, begging for crumbs.

“Mammon’s Homage” screamed the headline that accompanied the cartoon: “Millionaires and Monopolists Seal Their Alliance.” McDougall’s work was an instant sensation. Democratic activists enlarged it into posters that they plastered on walls all over the city and on placards that the party faithful held aloft at rallies.

The cartoon had clearly hit a nerve. Blaine’s refusal to make a full disclosure of past financial dealings troubled many voters, including some influential Republicans, while party insiders, including many businessmen, feared his full-throated endorsement of government policies they assumed would hasten economic consolidation. Opposition to monopoly was a potent rallying cry in 1884, and the New York World had been editorializing for weeks that a Blaine presidency would widen the gap between rich and poor.

History, which, by the way, is a part of a now much maligned liberal arts education, does hold lessons for us. Lessons which the GOP and its party leader Mitt Romney seem to have forgotten.

Currently, Mr. Romney appears to be following the lead of Blaine: denigrating nearly half the nation’s population, aligning himself with Wall St interests, and spending a large share of his time fundraising among the nation’s most wealthy. If Romney loses this election, which new polls suggest is likely, it will be because he failed to understand the American populace. By aligning himself with the wealthiest in the nation, he effectively has disconnected himself from average middle and working class Americans.

These average Americans, from left, right and center, are outraged by the Wall St bailouts; the corruption that led to those bailouts and the continued revelations of Wall St corruption; by CEOs who are given outrageous salaries and benefits regardless of poor company profits and performance; and by corporate interests being put ahead of the American people in so many ways. Yet, the Romney-Ryan ticket not only does not “get it,” they apparently do not care.

Given everything Romney and Ryan have said and written over the last couple of years, these two men do not understand average working Americans…nor do they much care about them. Their alliance is with this economy’s economic and financial winners, not with the rest of the nation’s population.

Some accuse me of hating business or being in the tank for Democrats. Nothing could be further from the truth. I worked in the private sector for over 30 years and often doubled my employers’ profits.

My interests now, and always have been, are to make the United States stronger; to even the playing field for all businesses; create a taxation system of which Adam Smith would approve; and streamline the federal government to meet the needs and challenges of a globalized, highly competitive 21st Century without dumping the regulations required to protect the American people from “bad actors”; and to create a economic system and economy capable of meeting the many challenges of the 21st century.

Romney has now publicly aligned himself, through his own “inelegant” but truth-telling statements, with the ethos of that earlier losing candidate, Blaine, back in 1884.Think about it: are the nation’s people all that much different from people back in 1884? The GOP needs to think about it.

Romney, by his very words and deeds, has now become the Blaine of 2012: “Millionaires and Monopolists Seal Their Alliance.”

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