Who is the biggest King of Fraud — Bernie Madoff or Henry Paulson? A common sense discussion in layman’s language of our casino capitalism, skeevy CEOs and Pollyanna Psychosis

1. Casino Capitalism — making money from money with other people's money

What financial toilet is our government trying to flush us out of? Here's the best explanation I've read of the cause of our trouble — toxic mortgage-backed derivatives — by independent trader Jeffrey Carter:

“The collateralized debt obligation that is talked about is like you selling your car to Joe, but not getting any money today for it. Joe is going to pay you next year. As soon as Joe gets your car, he rents it to Jim. Jim doesn’t pay him, but offers to pay him monthly for the use of the car. Jim sells the car to a chop shop. The chop shop pays Jim a commission, and sells pieces of the car at a profit to Tim, Tom, Dick, and Harry. Harry buys Dick’s pieces, and puts together a new car — but has an accident. How is Joe going to collect? Who really owns the car? Of course it’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea. The government is going to bail out everyone, or pick a person in the chain.”

Sounds like quite the merry malodorous mess, doesn't it? In fact, it's so stinky that Goldman Sachs, while they were selling these derivatives, were also shorting them — i.e. betting their own money that the poopscoops they were selling to trusting pension funds were bound to lose their value.

And they call Bernie Madoff a crook. “Casino capitalists” is the kindest, gentlest name for what Wall Street people have become. They don't produce anything, they don't back entrepreneurs, they don't start factories, they don't create useful products, they don't build stuff, they're not actual dinkum kosher capitalists. They just use other people's money to make more money out of money. In other words, they borrow-and-bet. The bottom-feeders of capitalism. Parasites. People who have decided that the best use of their entire lives is to make money off money with borrowed money.

And boy, have they coined it. The financial companies' share of corporate profits in 2007 was 40%. Think of that — 40% of profits came not from doing anything except play around with money. And now we know that what they bet on — and with — is mostly crap. How much ca-ca? In 2006, Wall Street earned $62 billion in bonuses. To earn that much, they parlayed derivatives or debt or crap all over the world to a degree that people say now starts at $85 trillion. The Iraq War will cost us around $1 trillion, so we're talking 85 Iraq Wars of debt here. (The derivatives market itself is supposed to be $500 trillion.) Poor Barack Obama: he thinks he's going to save us from $85 trillion of crap by printing an extra one trillion.

This Wall Street gambling isn't even honest gambling. When the Wall Street fat cats lose, they run to the government to bail them out: please, Mommy, save us with a big suck on your taxpayers' bosom. They not only cheat, they're also sissies. They bet with someone else's money and, when they lose it all to the casino, they say, hey, I want my money back, and they get the casino management to ask the maids who clean the hotel rooms to fork over their taxes.

This is easy for them to pull off, because they have their plants in our government: former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was Treasury Secretary under Bush/Cheney. Call it the Washington-Wall Street complex: the bail-out backstop for borrow-and-bettors. There have been three big bailouts in the past decades: for the S & L Keatings, for the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, and now for our banking system, and still we haven't learned.

As Martin Luther King used to say about capitalism, it's socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

Of course these derivatives start off well. You borrow money from a bank to buy a house. In the old days, the bank held the mortgage and got your payments every month. In the new days of casino capitalism, where loans aren't held but distributed, the bank sells the mortgage to someone else, who now gets your payments. Now the bank can use its money to lend out money to someone else to buy a house. And the guy who bought the mortgage can package it with other mortgages and sell it to someone else for a commission, who can sell it someone else, everybody making a commission along the way, and everybody packaging this debt into some new derivative to sell to the next buyer of debt. It's a game of pass-the-potato.

But what if the original mortgage buyer goes into default? In the current meltdown, this is what happened. The poor guy who bought his home was conned by a predatory lender; after two years, his subprime mortgage payments “reset” — and they suddenly double. He tries to refinance his mortgage to make the higher payments like the predatory lender said he'd be able to do. But now the housing bubble has burst, and he discovers his mortgage costs more than his house is worth. So why try to settle a mortage for a house that's worth less than what he's paying for it? (BTW, one of the great untold stories of last year was that then-Governor Elliot Spitzer wrote a Washington Post editorial on February 13, in which he pointed out that the Bush administration was preventing the states from going after predatory lenders; the very next day the FBI began staking out his hotel and caught him in his callgirl scandal a few weeks later.)

Now that the bubble has burst and mortgage-buyers default on their payments, our pass-the-potato game becomes a pass-the-hot-potato game. The last buyer in the chain is stuck with crap. What makes matters worse is that everybody who's been playing pass-the-hot-potato has been going into debt to play the game. Debt is made to sell and resell debt. This isn't the “wealth creation” that Wall Street brags about: it's debt creation, and only the guys who sold the potato early make a fortune out of their commissions and everybody else loses. It's one of your basic Wall Street scams, run by your basic sissy cheats.

These sissy cheats are encouraged to spend their lives pursuing this idiotic career of making money off money because their business is unregulated. For a start, they can borrow as much money as they can get away with to play around with. Bear Stearns, which doesn't exist today, borrowed $30 for every $1 dollar they had. They were leveraged 30:1. So a slight downturn put the tips of their Italian shoes in doo-doo, and a big downturn made them drown in their own vomit, like ten thousand Jimi Hendrixes.
How come Wall Street was allowed to go so deep into debt to speculate? Blame one guy: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. When he was CEO of Goldman Sachs, he obtained the SEC exemption that allowed brokerages to go from 12:1 leverage to 60:1 leverage.

So what would be the first thing to change to bring sanity to our financial system? Put a cap on leverage. Cap it at 12:1 or 6:1.

Common sense, right? Let's see if it happens. And help us all scream if it doesn't.

But how come these derivatives are running wild in the bowels of the entire world economy, like a phalanx of bears shitting in every inch of the woods? Way back in March 2003, Warren Buffett called these derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction” carrying “mega-catastrophic risk.” Blame four guys for their quotidian ubiquity. First, President Bill Clinton, who put the DLC stamp of approval on the neoliberal Washington consensus and was the big deregulator and job exporter of our time. Second, his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who later joined Citigroup and helped run them into the ground, and explained the economic policy of the Clinton administration by saying that the rich “are running the economy and make the decisions about running the economy.” Third, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who lowered interest rates to facilitate the housing bubble. And fourth, Senator Phil Gramm, who as John McCain's would-be Treasury Secretary said we were “a nation of whiners” and that we had “a mental recession.”

These four Poopmeisters of the Apocalypse masterminded two pieces of deregulation — the 1999 repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The last one was engineered by Senator Phil Gramm, who tagged 262 pages of dense language written by lobbyists onto an 11,000-page omnibus bill on the Friday before the Christmas recess. “The act freed complex derivatives from any regulation,” says Michael Greenberger, who served in the Commodities and Futures Trading commission in the late 1990s. “It set the stage for the present mess.”

So how can we corral these CDOs, credit derivatives, credit default swaps, etc. traded so widely and haphazardly that banks don't know each other's exposure, and won't lend to each other because they're scared shitless? Every day some Nobel-winning mathematician brainfarts another exotic derivative prodigal poop: that's the one thing Wall Street can create: bizarre new ways to make money off money.
Well, here the commonsensical thing would be for all of this trading in derivatives to happen through a central clearinghouse. You know, the way the stock market works. This way the market will know who owes what to whom. Every transaction stays trackable and transparent. The betting and borrowing stops happening all over the place, and goes through one casino. (If this casino is run by the government, they can tax every transaction so we can all make money off the betting; back in the 70s, Nobel-winning economist James Tobin suggested the “Tobin tax,” a teensy global tax on all financial transactions of 0.25% to help the world's poor.)

Common sense, right? Let's see if it happens. And help us all scream if it doesn't.

2. The Pollyanna Psychosis — the most contagious plague in the world

What a cap on leverage or a central clearinghouse can't save us from, however, are the bubbles produced by casino capitalism. Why do these bubbles happen? They have to. It's human psychology.

Says economist Charles Noussair, a professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, who runs laboratory experiments on people's behavior in trading conditions: “If you put people in asset markets, the first thing they do is not try to figure out the fundamental value. They try to buy low and sell high.” That's how bubbles happen; people are born speculators, i.e. cheats — less concerned about what a thing is really worth than about how cheaply they can get it in order to sell it higher to the next greater fool.

The system helps them in their cheating ways, too. In the mature capitalism of the industrialized world, where near-monopoly corporations produce too much stuff for us to buy, while the monied elite keep the earnings of the regular wage slaves down to the minimum they can get away with, you can't expect Adam Smith's “invisible hand” to help make sensible choices about where to invest capital.

Not that you ever can anyway. For example, big corporation capitalism is not going to choose to invest in green energy; they're making too much money off oil. Some of these big sensible choices that private capital won't make, or can't make, is up to the bigger, visible hand of the government, i.e. we the people. Call it central planning, call it socialism, but it's what capitalism needs if it ever wants to sport a human face. It's why we don't privatize the police, or our legal system. It's why we should socialize our healthcare system, like all other countries in the industrial world, where healthcare costs half the $8000 per year per American it costs here, and they have better outcomes. It's why we're socializing AIG and our banks (heck, the government guarantees all deposits up to $100,000 anyway, they might as well own the banks). Some things are too important to society to be left to the profit motive of the Free Market Cult.

The only thing the Free Market Cult is good for is to let entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom to make money off giving us great new ways to enjoy life, within strict rules which give all of us an equal shot at bringing our ideas to market. That's what capitalism should be doing, and is great at doing — inspiring new entrepreneurs with the lure of lucre. But capitalism shouldn't be a license to give Wall Street predators the deregulated freedom to dump their Ponzi schemes all over our impeccant countenances. Wall Street is bad capitalism, Silicon Valley is good capitalism. The best example of good capitalism is the Internet — invented and established by the government, and then used by free-market entrepreneurs to become the set of ever-more provident tools we all enjoy today, which includes the best blog in the world, 3QD.

In mature capitalism the guys with the money try to make more money making more stuff than we need, while they try to restrict what they have to pay in wages to everyone else, and the only way out of this double-bind is debt-fueled consumption. Us honest regular folks never make enough money to get in on the rich-guy action, so we're enticed into debt to buy the stuff we're persuaded we need. (I mean, do you really need lemon egg aloe shampoo?)

A bubble happens when some asset is perceived as the next big thing to buy into and sell higher. Money piles into it, which jacks up the price, and debt is made to speculate with more money in it, so the price goes through the roof, independent of any actual value the asset may have. Tulips, anyone? Dot-coms, anyone? Houses, anyone? It can get really crazy. In the tulip bubble, people would trade their actual brick home full of furniture for two tulip bulbs.

Why does it get so really crazy? This is where the Pollyanna Psychosis comes in, a concept coined by my brilliant girlfriend for what happens when everything is going so well that nobody sits still for one moment to ask the big question: WTF?

The Pollyanna Psychosis is that contagious plague of irrational exuberance that descends on us all when we drive tech stocks into the stratosphere, or buy into a no-earnings Pet.com for astronomical sums, or start buying houses for speculation instead of for a place to make our home.

I know. I had Pollyanna Psychosis pretty bad myself during the tech stock/dotcom bubble of 1999 — 2000. I would track my stock gains every week, and work out that in a year I'd be a millionaire from my original $40,000 investment, and in five years a billionaire. As it is, my $40,000 went up to $240,000 in five months before the bubble popped. I had plenty of chances to sell on the way down, but gripped by Pollyanna Psychosis, I only sold when I was down to my original $40,000, forgetting that I was leveraged 2:1, so I was actually down to $20,000. Meanwhile I had not been paying my bills, hoarding all my money for speculation, so I ended up minus $40,000, with a loss of $80,000.

I deserved losing my savings, because I became a speculator — a cheat. I thought it was OK because everybody thought it was OK. Everybody thought they were entitled to a free lunch by speculating, just like the mendacious poop merchants on Wall Street.

Our Pollyanna Psychosis. It keeps all of us living beyond our means. It keeps all of us consuming what we don't need. Americans live in a constant throb of Pollyanna Psychosis. We're just not very self-aware. Our experience with three con-artist presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Bush) and two unnecessary wars (Vietnam and Iraq) has not been able to shake the psychosis.

Could this financial meltdown do it? It should, shouldn't it? I mean, it should severely shake our faith in unregulated capitalism, shouldn't it? We should wake up every morning yelling “regulate! regulate! regulate!” instead of “hey, let's make a new bubble!” (which will be green energy, by the way: remember to get out early before it bursts).

Common sense, right? Let's see if it happens. And help us all scream if it doesn't.

Mind you, how can you combat a Pollyanna Psychosis that's so genetic, arch-crook Bernie Madoff got away with a Ponzi scheme for so long? The SEC was contacted time and again by Harry Markopolos from 1999 on, with absolute proof that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme; in 2005 Markopolos reported to them 29 red flags in all. But the SEC made only cursory investigations. Hey, Madoff was their friend, and like everyone else, they had a bad case of Pollyanna Psychosis — the crowd disease that allowed Bernie Madoff to cheat his customers, friends and Jewish charities out of $50 billion. The illness that created $85 trillion of derivatives that the world is now choking on.

3. Who is the biggest King of Fraud — Bernie Madoff or Henry Paulson?

Which bring us to our odious comparison between Henry Paulson and Bernie Madoff.

For two decades Bernie Madoff ran a classic Ponzi scheme. He probably got into it slowly, made the 12% a year he promised his customers for a good while, then fell short and thought he'd make it up later, maybe did make it up later, but gradually got in over his head, and then just kept going, because as long as his sucker friends kept investing with him, he could pay enough of them their 12% to keep going. Only when the present crisis struck did he lose his nerve because he figured too many of them would want too much of their money back, so he finally confessed to his sons, who turned him in. They were more honest than their father — he probably confessed to give them a chance to split with the takings, but they wisely decided not to take this paternal opportunity.

In our stinky comparison, what did Henry Paulson do? Besides expanding leverage from 12:1 to 60:1 when he was CEO of Goldman Sachs, he took his firm from $20 billion in debt to $100 billion of risky debt by the time he left. Good for you, Henry. Today Goldman Sachs has had to give up being an investment bank — i.e. a speculating cheat — for being an ordinary bank.

Then, when Henry moved on to become Treasury Secretary and the venerable but over-leveraged Lehman Brothers, an arch competitor of his old firm, got into trouble in 2008, he threw Lehman Brothers under the bus, so Goldman Sachs would have a bigger playing field open with one of their competitors out of the way.

But when his old firm looked like it was getting into trouble, Henry acted. He went to Congress with a rush-rush the-heavens-are-falling three-page memo, seeking the authority to spend $700 billion to buy up the toxic mortgage-backed securities held by Wall Street, without any accountability, or transparency, or any legal recourse against any of his actions.

Just think of the gall. Give me $700 billion to save my buddies on Wall Street, without me having to tell you how I spend that money and without any legal redress about whatever I do with the money.

Seriously, who is the bigger conman here — Bernie Madoff who cheated his friends and fellow Jews and charities out of $50 billion, or Hank Paulson, who tried to bludgeon the people of America into giving him $700 billion which he doesn't have to account for?

He says he's trying to save the financial system of the universe. He says credit is frozen all over. Oh, yeah? Despite the recent financial market turmoil, a declining GDP, and an increase in loan-loss reserves, commercial bank lending actually grew $336 billion, or 4.9%, from August to Dec. 24, according to Federal Reserve data. So what is old Hank doing when he's not shaving his head bald like Telly Savalas? One thing he's doing is helping his buddies keep their mansions in the Hamptons while all over America regular folks are going into foreclosure on their homes.

Funny how it's never occurrred to these fat cats to do something about the real hurt — about people losing their homes to foreclosure. Why don't they buy all the original loans and renegotiate them so people can keep their homes, or maybe pay rent for them so they at least have a place to stay? Obviously because these fat cats don't know anybody like that. Not our class, darling. Our Wall Street cronies come first; screw the folks on Main Street.

Funny how the money is never there to overhaul our broken public education, or double the salaries of teachers, or make college free for everyone, but it's always there for corporate welfare or to save the hides of fat cats.

It's all very weird: when Paulson first called in the banks, and told them about asking Congress for money to help them, two banks — Bank of America and Wells Fargo — said they didn't want any money, but old Hank said, no, you've got to take the money. I guess he didn't want them to make him look bad, like he was maybe bullshitting the rest of us.

What's more, when Hank scares up the authority to spend the money, what does he do with it? He doesn't use it to buy up the toxic securities, like he said he needed to do. No, he changes his mind. Or shall we say, he goes back on his word. Or shall we say, he just lied to get the money in the first place. Or shall we say, he didn't know what the hell he was doing when he asked for the money. Or shall we say, he was just another entitled scared-shitless sissy cheat. Whatever. No, instead of buying the toxic securities, he just gives the money to the banks, with a vague understanding they should lend it out. But with no accountability from them. They don't have to tell him or Congress or us what they've done with our money.

In fact, when Associated Press asked 21 banks who got more than $1 billion each these four simple questions — how much has been spent? what was it spent on? how much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest? — here's what they said:

JPMorgan Chase, who got $25 billion: “We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it.' We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to.”

Atlanta, Ga.-based SunTrust Banks Inc., which got $3.5 billion: “We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking.”
Birmingham Ala-based Regions Financial, who got $3.5 billion: “We manage our capital in its aggregate.”
North Carolina-based BB&T Corp. said the bailout money “doesn't have its own bucket.”

Some banks said they simply didn't know where the money was going. No bank provided even the most basic accounting for the federal money. Others said the money couldn't be tracked.

Most banks wouldn't say why they were keeping the details secret. “We're not sharing any other details. We're just not at this time,” said Wendy Walker, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Comerica, which received $2.25 billion from the government.

Bank of New York Mellon, which received about $3 billion: “We're choosing not to disclose that … I just would prefer if you wouldn't say that we're not going to discuss those details.”

Gadzooks and forsooth: we're not telling you anything, and we don't want you to tell anybody we're not telling you anything.

This sounds to me like outright fraud. They got our money under false pretenses and they tell us to go screw ourselves? Because Hank Paulson made it legal for them to tell us to go screw ourselves?
The common sense question is: WTF? Are we, the people of America, going to let Hank Paulson and the banks get away with this? What are we, total idiots?

First thing we should do when we regain our senses, is ask Congress to make a law to force the banks to tell us what they've done with our money.

Common sense, right? Let's see if it happens. And help us all scream if it doesn't.

4. Our skeevy CEOs and their unaccountable behavior

Why did Henry Paulson behave in this entitled, arrogant way? Here's why: he's a CEO.

That's what CEOs do, act without accountability. Not all CEOs, though. There is a minority of CEOs you can count on no more than your two hands who don't live for money or status, but actually have the welfare of society on their minds when they do their jobs. I'm talking about Craig Newmark from Craigslist, Ted Turner from CNN, the guys from Google, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, and the biggest convert to this minority, Bill Gates. If you know of any others, please let me know. We should put up huge statues to all of them, because they're the lone standouts among a crowd of the biggest self-entitled privileged elite bastards that ever lived. Look what happened when we put two ex-CEOs, Bush and Cheney, in charge of our country.

What is a CEO? It's our modern version of an old-style monarch. Heck, it's good to be the king. You're the absolute ruler of a vast army of wage slaves in your corporation. And what does your corporation do? Its profit is privatized; its losses are socialized. Like Detroit makes the cars, and the rest of us have to pay for the roads, the accidents, the hospitals and the environment being crapped out by their emissions. The movie “The Corporation” tells us that if anybody had to describe a corporation as if it were a person, it would be the profile of a sociopath.

So as the CEO, you're the absolute ruler of a sociopath. You can fire thousands at a time while you pay yourself millions. When you screw up, you can walk away from a job lousily done with a golden parachute of $100m plus. This doesn't happen to anyone in any other job in the universe in the history of humankind. No accountability whatsoever.

I once met one of these lauded CEOs, perhaps the most lauded CEO of them all: Jack Welch, who ran GE. He had fired workers by the thousands at GE at that time, and was called “neutron Jack” because, like a neutron bomb, he killed the people while the buildings remained standing. The best thing I can say about him was that he was brutally honest, and gave me a huge insight into CEO mentality, and how screwed-up it is. Here's what I learned from his own mouth.

Looking at the lovely advertising campaign I'd created for GE, he said two things. Number one, he said he didn't do advertising to get more happy customers. He could care less about them. He did advertising because he wanted his fellow CEOs on the golf course to tell him how impressed they were with his commercials. Brutally honest: his advertising was there to impress his peer group, and screw everyone else.

But that was not the most revealing thing he said. Listen up, worker bees, to the next story, if you want to sincerely enter the mind of a super-successful CEO.

I had created a co-generation ad for Jack Welch, which was a deal whereby a factory can sign up with GE to help build a facility to generate its own electricity for its plant. Then it could sell any surplus electricity back to the utility who were legally obliged to buy it from the factory. You could actually make money on the electricity you generated for your plant. It sounded like a great deal for the GE customer, and that's how I wrote it.

Jack Welch chuckled when he read the ad. He said it was actually a better deal for GE, because once the factory signed the deal with GE, they were locked into paying GE an exorbitant retainer to run the co-generation facility. They couldn't get out of the contract and they couldn't get their electicity any other way. GE had them, in his gleeful parlance, “totally fucked.”

I remember being kind of shocked at the time. This is how the most famous CEO in the world talks about his customers? Is this really how these top people think who run our world? That the rest of us are just their suckers?

Nothing in my later experiences with CEOs has disabused me of this suspicion, and neither have the actions of Henry Paulson, especially in his role as public servant.

Look at what these buggers get paid. According to Corporate Library in Washington, the chief executives of the 11 largest companies in the United States earned a combined $865 million over the past two years at the same time as their shareholders lost $640 million.

Where else does this happen? In Japan, CEOs make around 17 times what the average worker earns; in Europe, 22 times; but in the US, 344 times plus. An American CEO makes in a day what an average worker earns in a year. American greed is like American murder: way out of proportion to the rest of humankind. That's the difference between us and the rest of the world: we really like to kill each other and rip each other off.

It wasn't always thus. In 1950, the average pay of an S&P 500 CEO was less than 30 times that of an average US worker. By 1980, before the Reagan Revolution, the average pay of the S&P 500 CEO was approximately 50 times higher than that of an average US worker.

But by 2007, the average pay of an S&P 500 CEO had soared to more than 350 times as much as that of an average US worker. Regular income for regular folks peaked back in 1973. Since then our productivity has increased manifold, but our pay not at all. The income gap is growing faster in the United States than in any other developed nation. Between 1990 and 2000 in the U.S. worker pay and inflation stayed about equal, while corporate profits rose 93% and CEO pay rose 571%. The top tenth of one percent of US income gatherers get as much money as the bottom half: the top 300,000 people make as much as the bottom 150 million.

Meanwhile, the part of federal revenue coming from corporate income tax decreased from 33% in the 1950s to 11.9% in 2005. Hundreds of companies have avoided taxes by relocating to tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Eighty-two of our largest corporations paid no tax in at least one of the first three years of the Bush administration.

How do we rein in these bastards? First, we can do something about their pay. You don't have to cap compensation, as some have suggested (like cap a CEO's salary at 20 times a regular worker's pay). All you have to do is use the tax code. Progressively. Like it used to be before Ronald Reagan came along.
I propose that anybody should be able to make up to $5 million a year if they run a good corporation well. They're just hired guns, wage slaves like the rest of us — they don't own the company — so $5 million is plenty. For that, they'll be able to buy a new house every year, and after seven years they'll have as many houses as John McCain.

You want to pay them more? Go ahead. But this is my proposal: any money you make over $5 million a year, your stock options and capital gains included, gets taxed at least 95%. Yes, you heard right: 95% goes to the government, you keep 5%. So if you get paid an extra $100 million over your $5 million, you get to keep another $5 million, and the government gets the other $95 million.

Listen, this is not outrageous at all. Before Reagan started moving money from the have-nots to the haves, progressive tax rates of the rich at 90% were the norm. Yes, that was the case back in the good old days, when one man could support a family of two kids and a stay-at-home wife, own a house and send his kids to community college on his salary as a blue-collar factory worker. The days before the Reagan Revolution.

You want to do something about income inequality, start with a 95% tax rate on any income anyone makes over $5 million. We should agitate for Congress to revise our tax laws accordingly.

One final matter of finance: what should Obama do about stimulating our economy?

Only one thing: create more jobs. So besides helping out the states and the unemployed, and computerizing all medical records, and buying up all the bad mortgages and renegotiating them, he should forget about capitalizing the banks. Let the bad ones like Citigroup break up or go bankrupt, and the rest fend for themselves. Let Wall Street clean up their own mess, even if they have to shrink and die before they can live to scam us again.

I'd concentrate all the money possible on funding an American green-energy project to create green-collar jobs that can't be outsourced. I'd make it the central endeavor of the Obama administration. I'd make it as important as the Manhattan project which gave us the atom bomb, or Kennedy's man-on-the-moon-in-ten-years. I'd get the whole country green-energy crazy. I'd spend at least a trillion dollars on it, if not two trillion –on research, tax breaks, electric cars, a new energy grid, wind turbines, solar panels, winterizing houses, and the like. I'd plunge us into massive debt for it. The last great thing we did was getting Europe back on its feet with the Marshall Plan. Maybe we can atone for the more than thirty wars we've started since then by jump-starting the rescue of our planet.

So that's my program for saving America. Cap leverage, establish one clearinghouse for all derivatives, force the banks to tell us what they're doing with our bail-out money, tax the hell out of CEOs, screw Wall Street, and create a green-energy bubble.

Common sense, right? Let's see if it happens. And help us all scream if it doesn't.