Open Thread: Matt Taibbi’s Xmas Festivus Carol

(Pat Oliphant via GoComics.com)

Ever the zealous over-achiever, in his Rolling Stone holiday post, Taibbi attempts to play all four of Dickens’ ghosts:

… Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.
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“You have to have skin in the game,” said Schwarzman, 64. “I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

… This incredible statement gets right to the heart of why these people suck.
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[I]t seems to me that if you’re broke enough that you’re not paying any income tax, you’ve got nothing but skin in the game. You’ve got it all riding on how well America works…
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People like Dimon, and Schwarzman, and John Paulson, and all of the rest of them who think the “imbeciles” on the streets are simply full of reasonless class anger, they don’t get it. Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.
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What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.
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Most of us 99-percenters couldn’t even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It’s called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don’t do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn’t take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life’s savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.
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But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.
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Nobody with real skin in the game, who had any kind of stake in our collective future, would do any of those things. Or, if a person did do those things, you’d at least expect him to have enough shame not to whine to a Bloomberg reporter when the rest of us complained about it.

Use this as a trading chip with your newly Libertarian college-freshman relatives; hey, it’s Rolling Stone, they were advocating marijuana legalisation even before Dr. Ron spawned the future ‘Aquabuddah’!

39 replies
  1. 1
    maven says:

    And published the day ‘Margin Call’ came out on DVD. Jeremy Irons is such a convincing sociopath-must viewing for anyone who doesn’t want to watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ or would rather sit home feeling Grinchish.

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    That cartoon has Callista using the “soshulist” word. How come it didn’t end up in moderation?

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    Taibbi doesn’t make his case against the banksters. They were merely unethical, not illegal.
    /in before burnspbesq
    /in before DougJ

    Also, DRONES.
    /in before Zander

  4. 4
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    If that Schwarzman guy was run over by a steam roller, I would laugh.

  5. 5
    Mike G says:

    In the same vein as the Taibbi article, this is also very good —

    “Dear Jamie Dimon”, by Josh Brown
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2.....mie-dimon/

    No, Jamie, it is not that Americans hate successful people or the wealthy. In fact, it is just the opposite. We love the success stories in our midst and it is a distinctly American trait to believe that we can all follow in the footsteps of the elite, even though so few of us ever actually do.
    We don’t hate the rich. What we hate are the predators.
    What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country. What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress. We hate those who’ve exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation’s wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else.
    So please, do us all a favor and come to the realization that the loathing you feel from your fellow Americans has nothing to do with your “success” or your “wealth” and it has everything to do with the fact that your wealth and success have come at a cost to the rest of us.

  6. 6
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    It wouldn’t pain me more to bury you rich
    Than to bury you poor
    In your Jesus Christ pose

  7. 7
    Helen says:

    Talk about skin in the game. I am bored to death with the rich not having skin in the war game. They were the ones who started these wars. The next time your wingnut uncle whines about high taxes, ask him the following: “Do you believe that all those soldiers who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan are patriotic? Is it patriotic to give your life for this country?” When he inevitably says “yes” then ask “Then why don’t you think that it is patriotic for you to give your money to pay for the soldier’s salary, and healthcare, and burial, and family? Is your money worth more than his life”

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    So please, do us all a favor and come to the realization that the loathing you feel from your fellow Americans has nothing to do with your “success” or your “wealth” and it has everything to do with the fact that your wealth and success have come at a cost to the rest of us and your cronies are nothing more than thieves who have robbed the rest of us.

    Just a friendly modification, for the sake of being blunt and honest about criminal shit like Dimon.

  9. 9

    We need to ruin these assholes.

  10. 10
    dance around in your bones says:

    @efgoldman:

    This is the boringest weekend of all to be alone.

    No kidding. Hope someone steps up to the plate! or at least all us ‘Loser Christmas’ folks get some love, hahha.

    Gads….Really, I am going to be surrounded by people this weekend. Just not the guy I loved since 1968. Frack. That kinda sucks.

  11. 11
    carpeduum says:

    I get a kick out of all the firebaggers at that orange site fapping over everything Taibbi says like he is some kind of fucking prodigy……hahaha!

    Little do they know he is just trying to sell them books….fucking idiots.

  12. 12
    someofparts says:

    So what if he sells books. He explains our messed up situation in terms my non-bookish, medium-information friends/colleagues might get. I’m happy to contribute to the support of someone that provides real value. Actually, by that standard, Taibbi should raise his prices.

  13. 13
    13th Generation says:

    But Anne, Matt Taibbi is a member of the professional left, so I should ignore him, or at least that’s what many followers of this blog have told me.

  14. 14
    andy says:

    Did a quick google search- there’s a good handful of marine/chandlery shops on Manhattan Island, so there is plenty of rope available when the time comes. The irony is that they really are there to sell the capitalists their own rope…

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    So, when the rich could buy their way out of conscription, they had more “skin in the game” than all those lazy galoots actually fighting the battles.

  16. 16
    Yevgraf says:

    I highly recommend listening to Jethro Tull Hymn 43 whenever I read about Newt or any other modern Conservatives of note.

    Oh father high in heaven — smile down upon your son who’s busy with his money games — his women and his gun. Oh Jesus save me! And the unsung Western hero killed an Indian or three and made his name in Hollywood to set the white man free. Oh Jesus save me! If Jesus saves — well, He’d better save Himself from the gory glory seekers who use His name in death. Oh Jesus save me! I saw him in the city and on the mountains of the moon –His cross was rather bloody –He could hardly roll His stone. Oh Jesus save me!

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    @El Cid: Precisely. Because skin is measured in dollars for these psychos; just like everything else is.

  18. 18
    debbie says:

    @ Mike G:

    I’m hearing Blankfein’s “doing God’s work” all over again.

    Dimon did an interview with The Times (I dn’t know if it was London or Financial) during a recent London trip. He expressed a longing for the “old days” when he and a bunch of bankers could sit around Larry Summers’ office and get him to call up a female regulator and order her to keep her hands off derivatives.

    We all know how that one turned out, don’t we?

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Chris says:

    @WereBear:

    Precisely. Because skin is measured in dollars for these psychos; just like everything else is.

    Robert the Bruce: “I respect what you said, but remember that these men have lands and castles. It’s much to risk.”
    William Wallace: “And the common man who bleeds on the battlefield, does he risk less?”

    Line from Braveheart that comes to mind virtually every time some shitstain from the other side of the aisle lifts himself from his Roman orgy long enough to say “poor people don’t have skin in the game.”

  21. 21
    Auldblackjack says:

    Remember when the National Guard were just weekend warriors who had found a nice way to pay for an education in exchange for helping out the people in their State whenever a natural disaster was visited upon them? Well, anyway – that how it was sold to them. Then the rules of the “game” were changed and the weekend warriors found their skin, bone, flesh and blood all in Iraq where IEDs were being used to separate these body parts from each other because of the 1% of the 1% ‘s desire for oil profits. And it was all done on credit. Now that the bill has come due Dimon, Schwartzman et al want everyone to have more skin in the game? The game is just a long con and Dimon and friend are just grifters. Fuck’em.

  22. 22

    @13th Generation: If Taibbi limited himself to columns like this one, he’d be fine. He does anger well. It’s when he pretends to actually understand the subject well enough to do anything resembling investigative journalism that he’s a complete disaster. Or when he needs to incorporate enough facts that, inevitably, a few of them don’t line up well enough with his chosen thesis so he just alters the facts until they behave properly.

    The problem isn’t that the man is on the professional left. It’s that he doesn’t have any greater attachment to honesty than his targets. Blaming Obama for not prosecuting bankers that the Obama Justice Department sent to prison is not the behavior of a journalist that anyone should pay attention to.

  23. 23
    James Gary says:

    Blaming Obama for not prosecuting bankers that the Obama Justice Department sent to prison is not the behavior of a journalist that anyone should pay attention to.

    What exactly are you referring to here?

    Also, it would help your case immensely if you cited specific factual disputes with something Taibbi wrote, rather than just meaningless ad hominem spew like your first paragraph.

  24. 24
    mining city guy says:

    I want to jump in here on the side of James Gary who had the same reaction that I did when reading J. Michael Neal’s post.

  25. 25
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    Geevum, Matt.

  26. 26
    r€nato says:

    so if the poor paid a minimum income tax of $25, these capitalist predators would STFU about them not having any ‘skin in the game’, right?

  27. 27

    […] of this ‘skin game‘ for the rich vs poor came this morning from the comments section at Balloon Juice off a post on Matt Taibbi’s piece in Rolling Stone last week: Talk about skin in the game. I […]

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Just askin' says:

    Well, gosh, as long as we’re talking about “getting some skin in the game”, how about General Electric and many of their fellow mega-corporations actually paying their @#$%&* corporate taxes?

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/b/2.....-taxes.htm

    Thanks largely to getting over $62.4 billion in federal tax subsidies, 12 major U.S. corporations managed to pay no federal taxes in 2008, 2009 or 2010, despite posting $171 billion in combined profit, according to a new report from the Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).

    In fact, according to CTJ’s analysis, the 12 companies – though enjoying over $171 billion in pretax U.S. profits – report their federal income taxes were negative: -$2.5 billion.

    None of the 12 companies; American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell International, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo, paid “anything close” to the 35% tax rate required by the tax code, according to CTJ’s report.

    The most highly taxed company, Exxon Mobil, paid a tax rate of 14.2% over the three years, a full 60% lower than the required 35% tax rate. In 2009 and 2010, Exxon Mobile paid only $39 million on its $9.9 billion profit – an effective tax rate of only 0.4%.

    “Had these 12 companies paid the full 35 percent corporate tax, their federal income taxes over the three years would have totaled $59.9 billion. Instead, they enjoyed so many tax subsidies that they paid $62.4 billion less than that,” reported CTJ.

    According to CTJ, had the 12 companies analyzed paid a 35% tax rate, total federal revenue for the three years would have been 12% higher than it actually was.

    In other words, you paid taxes so the likes of Exxon Mobil didn’t have to.

    “These 12 companies are just the tip of an iceberg of widespread corporate tax avoidance,” said Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice. “Our elected officials have a duty to the American public to make reducing or eliminating the vast array of corporate tax subsidies the centerpiece of any deficit-reduction strategy.”

    In August 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that from 1998 to 2005, two-thirds of all large U.S.- and foreign-controlled business operating in the U.S. managed to pay no (zero) federal income tax on a combined $2.5 trillion in sales.

  30. 30
    Just askin' says:

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/b/2.....-finds.htm

    Big Business Pays No Taxes, GAO Finds

    Even with thousands of pages of tax laws, two-thirds of all large U.S.- and foreign-controlled business operating in the U.S. managed to pay no (zero) federal income tax on a combined $2.5 trillion in sales from 1998 to 2005, according to a new report (.pdf) from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

    The corporations succeeded in paying zero taxes, according to the GAO, by reporting no net income or overall losses during the years studied. Others claimed extensive tax credits and losses from previous years to avoid paying taxes.

    In 2005, GAO found that 28 percent of large foreign companies operating in the U.S. and 25 percent of large U.S. corporations paid no taxes.

    “This report makes clear that too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) who, along with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), requested the GAO study.

    *****

    So yeah, you want to talk “skin in the game”?

    Bring it on, a$$h0les!

  31. 31
    ItAintEazy says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Shoulda added “In b4 J. Michael Neal”

    “The Lehman lawyers crafted their 10-K very carefully so that it was misleading, but also within the law. They gave the figure for Fuld’s compensation. They just buried it. That sort of technicality is pretty important in establishing a criminal case.”

    Yep.

  32. 32
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @J. Michael Neal: Yeah, I read your supposed list of Taibbi’s horrible lies. It’s useless.

    Page 1 lists a bunch of companies that Taibbi claims engaged in criminal actions. He doesn’t do anything to support those claims on the page.

    The whole fucking page of text, and you focus on one single line that’s there just to set the stage for the rest of the article. Taibbi does, in fact, support his claims in other articles, but I guess according to you he should have reprinted five articles right there or else he’s, and I quote, “lying.”

    But way to ignore the actual point Taibbi is making in favor of this pathetic nitpicking.

    Page 2 describes the relationship between the SEC and DOJ. At the bottom, it mentions Rite Aid, a case from more than a decade ago. So, at a minimum, it says nothing about the views of the Obama administration. It’s also very interesting that he omits the fact that, in 2002, the DOJ secured convictions and eight or ten years sentences in prison against four executives of the company. That’s kind of a blow to his thesis, don’t you think? Not telling his readers that part is misleading, at best.

    Um, Taibbi isn’t talking about the Obama administration specifically, so I don’t know why you think it’s some kind of blow to his credibility that he’s not talking specifically about the Obama administration. Also, Taibbi’s thesis is that the Rite-Aid case was ignored for over a year and that the investigation was deliberately dragged out. (Actually, this is Lynn Turner’s thesis, which Taibbi quotes. Is Lynn Turner also a liar?) So no, the fact that the case eventually resulted in prosecutions, years too late to act as a deterrent to other corps like Enron from playing dirty accounting tricks, does nothing to rebut the actual point Taibbi was making.

    On Page 3, he discusses the Pequot insider trading case. Note that the time period he’s discussing is 2005. You might remember who was president at the time. You won’t get an argument from me that the Bushies were too loose on policing things. However, once again, Taibbi fails to tell the whole story. Once the administration changed, the SEC went back and investigated Samberg some more. Last May, they settled and Samberg paid a $28 million fine. Once again, don’t you think Taibbi might have mentioned this part?

    Again with the Obama obsession. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, Taibbi is not actually trying to attack Obama personally here? What exactly makes you think Taibbi is trying to pin Bush’s crimes on Obama? Certainly it wasn’t anything in the article you’re fisking so poorly.

    In any case, that Samberg eventually settled for a fine that was undoubtedly less than he “earned” from his crimes is not as impressive as you seem to believe.

    He admitted no wrongdoing, though. This is a very serious problem, but it doesn’t stem from lax enforcement. It stems from the fact that insider trading is excruciatingly difficult to prove in court. You have to be able to show that the defendants not only talked to each other, as Taibbi shows, but you need to PROVE that they discussed the insider information. Suspicious timing doesn’t cut it. Seeing the quo doesn’t get you to the quid. You need to be able to document the actual conversation, and show what was said. In almost all cases, that can’t be proven.

    Ok? I’m not sure what this is supposed to refute. Do you think Taibbi disagrees with this? Does anything in the article suggest that he thinks prosecutions are, or should be, easy? (I’ll save you the time. He doesn’t.) What he’s pointing out is that the SEC and Justice often simply don’t try, or worse, they shitcan people who want to try. Or was Taibbi also lying about Gary Aguirre?

    You know, page three paints a pretty damning picture of SEC collusion with those they’re supposedly regulating. Which part of the story Taibbi lays out isn’t true? You keep picking at nits while ignoring the big picture right in front of you.

    On Page 4, he talks about AIG and Joseph Cassano. He goes through the decision not to charge Cassano with anything, but he never actually mentions why that decision was made. The problem with trying to prosecute disclosure cases is that you need to able to prove not only that what the defendant said was false, but that he knowingly lied. There’s no way to prove that, because Cassano pretty clearly believed what he was doing was safe long after he should have known better. (It’s also pretty clear that Cassano didn’t understand the products he was trading, and so it would be extremely easy for him to make a case that he didn’t realize they were false statements.)

    Therefore, even discussing the matter makes you a liar. Gotcha.

    Further, once again, the timing is important. Taibbi’s story starts in the summer of 2007. By that time, AIGFP had stopped writing CDS for about a year. They were trying to hedge away a lot of their exposure. (Again, this doesn’t prove that Cassano knowingly lied; what scared them wasn’t the likelihood of the deals going bad, but rather their magnitude. They may well have known the probability, too, but that’s not documented. So, no proof.) At that point, AIG was already doomed and there was no way to save it. If Joseph Cassano did violate disclosure rules in the fall of 2007, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in aggregate. Specific investors who bought AIG shares after that point might have a case for having suffered losses, but the only difference would have been which investors took a bath. If it’s provable, it’s still worth going after, but it falls well short of Taibbi’s implication that it led to the crisis.

    Taibbi’s implication is that lax enforcement and the ease of avoiding prosecution emboldened Wall Street insiders to push the envelope when it came to flouting rules and regulations. Saying “that’s a lie because it’s hard to prosecute,” makes no sense. He’s agreeing with you, for fuck’s sake!

    I’m skipping the rest of your page 4 bullshit, because it’s the same thing: you complain that prosecution is hard, therefore Taibbi is lying when he says that prosecution wasn’t happening. You have nothing to say about the many, many facts that Taibbi lays out here. We’re just supposed to assume they’re all lies because Taibbi is a lying liar. You don’t actually refute a single one of his facts.

    On Page 5, he discusses a few more cases without mentioning the problems with prosecution. Then, he says something very revealing. He points out that DOJ did prosecute people from Bear Stearns for its collapse. In Taibbi’s words, “Yet the case still somehow ended in acquittal — and the Justice Department hasn’t taken any of the big banks to court since.” The evidence against the people at Bear Stearns was significantly stronger than anything investigators had on the other parties Taibbi talks about. Taibbi doesn’t seem to recognize, or at least he’s pretending not to recognize, the very good reason no more prosecutions were brought. You can add to this the failure of the prosecution of Henry Samueli for backdating options. It’s not because they don’t want to prosecute. It’s because they don’t want to waste taxpayer money on prosecutions they believe will fail. Taibbi’s amazement that the case ended in acquittal, if it’s real and not feigned, stems from the fact the he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, and doesn’t realize how hard it is to prove guilt to the level needed for a conviction.

    You don’t refute any lies here, you just speculate on Taibbi’s bad intentions and insult him. Wow, you sure showed him! Never mind that more aggressive investigations and more willingness to prosecute cases that aren’t slam dunks would work as a deterrent. Who cares, right? Only liars care about actually trying to reduce malfeasance. Non-liars know that saving taxpayer money by not trying to stop the malfeasance is the smart thing to do!

    There are some very real problems at the SEC. It’s badly underfunded, but good luck changing that in this environment. The revolving door Taibbi rails about is pernicious, though I think it says more about the lack of funding and how underpaid SEC lawyers and accountants are rather than the direct corruption Taibbi alleges.

    Oh, you think that, do you? Well, I guess if you think the corrupt actions weren’t all that corrupt, they’re ok. Oh, and anyone who disagrees with you is nothing more than a horrible liar who should be ignored. Because JMN knows best! But again, you’re not showing how Taibbi lied. You’re just saying that Taibbi is correct about what happened, but that you choose to interpret that is the most forgiving way possible. That’s a lot closer to lying than Taibbi got to in this article.

    In the end, as is usually the case when Matt Taibbi writes about matters financial, he does not know what he is talking about. He is interested in an entertaining rant, but he seems to have zero interest in helping his readers understand what is going on. He omits key details in order to provide misleading accusations. He really doesn’t understand the law involved. It bothers me intensely that so many people around here think that he is someone to turn to for reporting on this issue. He’s fucking wrong. My ire isn’t, as is usually asserted, that he says, “Fuck,” a lot. It’s that he’s a poseur who is lying to you.

    You are completely full of shit.

    Yeah, color me unimpressed with this supposed fisking you link to every fucking time you see Taibbi’s name on this site.

    You didn’t actually refute any lies. Which facts that Taibbi lays out here are wrong? The best you can do in whine about omissions that are tangential to the point at best and moan that Taibbi isn’t giving the right sort of person the benefit of the doubt.

    Weak. Sauce.

  33. 33
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    Also, let me ask you Taibbi haters this:

    Why is it that, when it comes to Democratic politicians, we are supposed to be endlessly patient and forgiving, but when it comes to the far rarer commodity of leftist pundits who can actually get on TV, nothing less than the strictest and most stringent standards must apply, and should any of them ever fall short they are forever tainted and useless?

    I still read people saying that Taibbi must be ignored because he quoted someone who speculated that the bailouts could end up costing us $26 trillion. Ok, I can buy that Taibbi deserves criticism for this, because that claim proved untrue. So far. However, at the time Taibbi said this his critics were pointing out that the bailout wouldn’t cost more than a trillion or so, and we’d get all that money back. Now we know that the emergency loans amounted to more than $7 trillion and those won’t be paid back anytime soon, and if/when they are we’re be getting a pittance of interest for them. Sounds to me like fucking everyone got it wrong, so I’m not sure why Taibbi must be singled out for ostracization. I’m certainly not seeing any of the commenters here who were just as wrong as Taibbi about this stepping up to resign from ever writing about financial matter again.

    But all this ignores the greater point: get rid of Taibbi, and who will replace him? Who else can bring these issues to a level that an average person can understand them? And also gets invited on the talking head shows to explain his position, even without constant equivocation? Certainly not JMN, who seems to think that if a 5 inch high stack of spreadsheets isn’t good enough for middle America, then they don’t deserve to know what going on.

    Meanwhile, we must forgive and forget that the Democrats in Congress just voted to enshrine indefinite detention without trial as a permanent law. And I agree that we have no choice but to do so, outside of maybe some primary challenges. I’m just not so myopic as to pretend that our pundits and writers aren’t equally important. I’m not ditching Taibbi any more than I’m ditching the Democratic party. Neither are perfect but they’re the best we got.

    Now you may commence calling me a lying firebagger who loves George Bush or whatever bullshit you fling at people who are slightly outside your chosen tribe.

  34. 34
    d0n camillo says:

    Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.

    Of course, the solution to that problem is easy. Just raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Then suddenly virtually all Americans would be earning enough to pay taxes. Why do I get the feeling this smug entitled prick would prefer to just raise taxes on people who are presently earning too little?

  35. 35

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire:

    Um, Taibbi isn’t talking about the Obama administration specifically

    Yes, he is. His entire thesis, laid out on the first page, is that there has been no enforcement SINCE THE FINANCIAL CRISIS. The fact that most of the cases that he cites to support this thesis took place years before that crisis indicates just how weak his case is.

    Then read the last page. Yes, he is targeting Obama. If that’s the case, his evidence should do something to support that.

    Also, Taibbi’s thesis is that the Rite-Aid case was ignored for over a year and that the investigation was deliberately dragged out.

    No, it isn’t. From the first page you liked so much, his thesis, repeated several times on that page is:

    “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

    That’s his thesis. Then, for his first example, he uses a case in which executives did go to jail. Except that he never mentions that fact. That’s lying by omission.

    So no, the fact that the case eventually resulted in prosecutions, years too late to act as a deterrent to other corps like Enron from playing dirty accounting tricks, does nothing to rebut the actual point Taibbi was making.

    Yes, years too late. The Rite-Aid case involved financial statements that were falsified from 1997 to 1999. The SEC filed charges in 2002. That’s how long these things take. The SEC has to conduct an actual investigation, which is not a quick process when the target fights subpoenas.

    This isn’t nitpicking. Taibbi fundamentally misrepresented one of his pieces of evidence, both through commission and omission. That’s lying.

    In any case, that Samberg eventually settled for a fine that was undoubtedly less than he “earned” from his crimes is not as impressive as you seem to believe.

    I never made a claim one way or the other as to whether the settlement was impressive. I simply noted that it existed. Of course, your assumption that it was for less than the profits from the trade is wrong. The trades resulted in $14.8 million in illegal profits. The settlement was for all of them, plus $3.2 million in interest for the time lapse between the illegal trades, plus a $10 million fine. Like Taibbi, you really should do some research before running your mouth.

    Mentioning that the settlement even existed is a step farther than Taibbi went. Here is how he ended his discussion of the case:

    Aguirre didn’t stand a chance. A month after he complained to his supervisors that he was being blocked from interviewing Mack, he was summarily fired, without notice. The case against Mack was immediately dropped: all depositions canceled, no further subpoenas issued. “It all happened so fast, I needed a seat belt,” recalls Aguirre, who had just received a stellar performance review from his bosses. The SEC eventually paid Aguirre a settlement of $755,000 for wrongful dismissal.
    __
    Rather than going after Mack, the SEC started looking for someone else to blame for tipping off Samberg. (It was, Aguirre quips, “O.J.’s search for the real killers.”) It wasn’t until a year later that the agency finally got around to interviewing Mack, who denied any wrongdoing. The four-hour deposition took place on August 1st, 2006 — just days after the five-year statute of limitations on insider trading had expired in the case.

    He never mentions that the case was reopened. He never mentions that Samberg paid a fine of $28,000,000. Any journalist with the slightest commitment to honesty would have mentioned that. Ending the story where Taibbi did constitutes a lie.

    You know, page three paints a pretty damning picture of SEC collusion with those they’re supposedly regulating. Which part of the story Taibbi lays out isn’t true? You keep picking at nits while ignoring the big picture right in front of you.

    I find it telling that you believe that omitting key elements of your story and leading readers to believe that the facts are contrary to what they really are constitutes nothing but a nit.

    Ok? I’m not sure what this is supposed to refute. Do you think Taibbi disagrees with this?

    I can’t read his mind, only his story. Based upon that story, I’m forced to conclude that he does disagree with it.

    Does anything in the article suggest that he thinks prosecutions are, or should be, easy?

    Given that all he complains about is that there haven’t been more (well, he says any, though his own citations, fully explained, show this to be a lie) successful prosecutions without ever addressing why they are difficult, yes he seems to think that they should be.

    What he’s pointing out is that the SEC and Justice often simply don’t try,

    That’s what he says, and he supports his point by omitting all mention of the fact that the SEC and Justice did put effort into those cases.

    Therefore, even discussing the matter makes you a liar. Gotcha.

    No, discussing the matter while consistently misrepresenting facts makes you a liar. Taibbi criticizes people for not prosecuting Cassano without ever addressing the question of what such a prosecution would have entailed. Either Taibbi has no idea what would need to be proven to secure a conviction, or he doesn’t think that that information is important in assessing the performance of the SEC. Either possibility makes him a reporter that you shouldn’t trust.

    Taibbi’s implication is that lax enforcement and the ease of avoiding prosecution emboldened Wall Street insiders to push the envelope when it came to flouting rules and regulations. Saying “that’s a lie because it’s hard to prosecute,” makes no sense. He’s agreeing with you, for fuck’s sake!

    No he’s not. Saying that it wouldn’t be possible to secure a conviction due to the difficulty/impossibility of proving the necessary elements is not the same thing as saying that there was lax enforcement. The latter is a criticism of the specific people working for the SEC. The former is a combination of criticism of the way that the laws are written and an observation about the constitutional requirement to prove criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That you can think that Taibbi agrees with me suggests that you don’t understand the disagreement at all.

    You have nothing to say about the many, many facts that Taibbi lays out here.

    Here you lie about my post. Much of the rest of page 4 deals with Dick Fuld, which I most certainly did address as a factual matter. What I pointed out is that, contrary to Taibbi’s assertions, Fuld and Lehman followed the law very carefully.

    As is frequently the case with Taibbi, the problem isn’t with the specific facts he cites, but rather what he does and doesn’t say about them. In the case of Fuld’s compensation, his own words say that there’s no there there:

    On one page, a chart indicated that Fuld had been awarded $146 million in RSUs. But two pages later, a note in the fine print essentially stated that the chart did not contain the real number — which, it failed to mention, was actually $263 million more than the chart indicated.

    That right there says that, legally, Fuld and Lehman did nothing wrong on this issue. They followed the law exactly. Therefore, as an argument, it has zero place in an article complaining about a lack of prosecutions. Taibbi slid in a direct admission that there was no illegality, but doesn’t let that stop him from saying, “. . . the SEC had a chance six months before the crash to move against Dick Fuld . . .” No, they didn’t. He would have had to violate the regulations for them to have had such a chance.

    You don’t refute any lies here, you just speculate on Taibbi’s bad intentions and insult him.

    There are two possibilities here. The first is that Taibbi knowingly lied in the article when he said that there should have been lots of convictions. The second is that he lied when he said that he knew anything about financial regulations and that he lied when he said that he did a serious amount of research. There is no alternative explanation that does not involve him lying.

    Never mind that more aggressive investigations and more willingness to prosecute cases that aren’t slam dunks would work as a deterrent.

    How the fuck would launching a bunch of prosecutions that they knew would end in acquittal deter anyone from doing anything? The only way that it could do so is through the threat of using the Department of Justice to harass people despite not being able to convict anyone. As I pointed out in my post, it would be EXTREMELY unethical to use the ability to prosecute people that way. If prosecutors don’t think they can get a conviction, their code of ethics forbids them from bringing charges, even if they think that a crime was committed. The problem isn’t that they are following their ethical obligations in these cases. It’s that they don’t do so often enough.

    Non-liars know that saving taxpayer money by not trying to stop the malfeasance is the smart thing to do!

    No, people without proto-fascist tendencies don’t think that charges should be filed when prosecutors don’t think there is a realistic chance of conviction.

    You didn’t actually refute any lies.

    That you don’t consider the sort of omission Taibbi engaged in when looking at the Rite-Aid and Samberg cases is very telling about your basic honesty. That you don’t consider Taibbi to have lied on the matter of Dick Fuld’s compensation means that you have no problem with advocating a position that is directly contradicted by what you write in the next paragraph. That’s not only a lie, it’s a lie that shows stupendous contempt for the reader.

    Which facts that Taibbi lays out here are wrong?

    A non-comprehensive list:

    1) That the Rite-Aid case is in any way relevant to the thesis he laid out on the first page;

    2) That the Samberg case is in any way relevant to the thesis that he laid out on the first page;

    3) That the SEC could have moved against Dick Fuld over his compensation six months before Lehman went bust;

    4) That there is overwhelming evidence of illegality over Lehman’s use of Repo 105s in its accounting, given that the accounting rules mandated that they be treated in exactly the way that Lehman did;

    5) That the SEC has overwhelming evidence against AIG, despite the fact that there is zero evidence with regards to key elements of what it would take to prove a crime.

    Taibbi buries his readers with a blizzard of facts without ever linking those facts to his charges. To claim that there is overwhelming evidence of a *crime* you need to address the critical elements of what constitutes that crime. Taibbi never does that.

  36. 36

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire:

    I still read people saying that Taibbi must be ignored because he quoted someone who speculated that the bailouts could end up costing us $26 trillion. Ok, I can buy that Taibbi deserves criticism for this, because that claim proved untrue.

    The bigger problem isn’t that the claim was untrue. It’s that the claim was so utterly implausible that no one with the slightest fucking clue of what they were discussing should ever have believed it in the first place. That Taibbi repeated it in print means either that he doesn’t have the slightest fucking clue as to what he is talking about, or that he does have such a clue but assumes that his readers don’t, and so he can get away with making the claim.

    Now we know that the emergency loans amounted to more than $7 trillion and those won’t be paid back anytime soon, and if/when they are we’re be getting a pittance of interest for them.

    This is absolutely and utterly false. Either you are lying, or you are credulously reading people that are lying to you. To start with, there was never $7 trillion in loans at any one time. What you are discussing was an overnight borrowing facility that the Fed ran. That means that much of borrowed money was repaid before more loans were taken out.

    Beyond that, this was all money from the Fed, not the government. As it happens, the Fed turned over about $100 billion in *profits* from these loans over to the Treasury. I don’t consider that to be a pittance, and it is a lie to say that we have no idea when we will get it, since we already did.

    But all this ignores the greater point: get rid of Taibbi, and who will replace him?

    Hopefully someone who values honesty. Tha
    There are a lot of problems with the nature of these programs, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the government loaning money to banks that it will never get back.

    Unless, of course, that kind of fact is irrelevant to you.

    But all this ignores the greater point: get rid of Taibbi, and who will replace him?

    Hopefully someone who has a commitment to honesty. That means someone other than Taibbi and someone other than you.

  37. 37
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    Hopefully someone who has a commitment to honesty. That means someone other than Taibbi and someone other than you.

    You volunteering?

    No, of course not. You write books on the “philosophy of business.” Meanwhile, real liars are on TV telling real lies to the people, but who gives a fuck about that? If the little people wanted to understand what’s going on they should have gotten an MBA from Harvard.

    This is absolutely and utterly false. Either you are lying, or you are credulously reading people that are lying to you. To start with, there was never $7 trillion in loans at any one time. What you are discussing was an overnight borrowing facility that the Fed ran. That means that much of borrowed money was repaid before more loans were taken out.

    So, when Bloomberg writes: “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.” they are lying to me. Sorry JMN, but they have slightly more credibility to me than a dishonest hack like you.

    You’re right, though, that the number doesn’t refer solely to loans, so I take that back.

    It’s merely that 7.77 trillion dollars used to prop up the banks in various ways. It wasn’t all loans. THAT CHANGES FUCKING EVERYTHING. Golly, I though the game was rigged in favor of big connected banks, but if that $7.77 trillion bucks wasn’t all used as almost zero-interest loans, that means everything is swell. How silly of me.

    When these institutions have finished sucking away the last of the middle class’s wealth and turned the US into New Brazil, it’ll be a great comfort to know that evil ol’ Matt Taibbi was in some ways wrong about the methods used to do so.

    Though, when that day comes, I suppose our lords will have a place for gormless lapdogs like yourself. Don’t expect the rest of us serfs to be so fucking blase about it, though.

    You’re a real piece of work, JMN. Dishonest to the core yet the first to scream, “Liar!” Are you angling for a job with Politifact?

  38. 38

    I give up. Your last post indicates that you don’t even know what the various terms your using mean.

  39. 39
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @J. Michael Neal: And your post indicates that you don’t know what “your” means.

    Yup, you’re the big genius who’s going to dictate terms to the rest of us shlubs, who’s such an expert. But you can’t even get your/you’re right.

    You’re not half as smart or honest as you think you are. I mean, come on.

    JMN: Your a liar or somebody lied to you!

    Me: I got this info from Bloomberg.

    JMN: Oh! Uh, well, your too stupid to understand the plain language Bloomberg used. I’ll be flouncing away now.

    What a prick.

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