More Wall Street Corruption

Loks like good news, actually it is evidence of fraud: Splunk shares double in value on debut | Reuters

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc’s shares doubled in value on their market debut, as it tapped investor demand for enterprise-focused companies in an otherwise weak IPO market.
Technology companies such as Splunk, Demandware Inc and Guidewire Software Inc have been doing well at the markets, even as investors shun other deals.

So you build a company, and finally you take it public, You hire an investment bank to shepherd the deal for you. This involves setting the right price and lining up buyers. They talk to various funds and get advance orders for chunks of the stock.
Let’s say you are selling 1 million shares, and the price at the IPO is set to $10. That means you raise $10 million. You pay the fees, etc, and the company has some capital to use.
So the day of the IPO the stock jumps to $20. Sounds GREAT, right? Well, actually, that means that the company could have raised $20 million, but only raised $10 million. SOMEONE got that other $10 million, though. And the investment bank you hired was supposed to set the price correctly…
Do you see where this is going? You can be 99% certain that the “someone” who took off with the missing $10 million has something to do with the investment bank that enabled the $10 million to be available this way.

Current TV Gets Even Better

I’m watching Current TV on the Tivo a lot. I just love Cenk’s show!
And now: Current TV to Hire Gavin Newsom, California’s Lieutenant Governor –
If you are reading this outside of CA and don’t know who Gavin is, you’ll see…

Posted in TV

Simpson-Bowles Zombie Returns

President Obama and many Democrats spent much of 2011 talking about deficits instead of doing something about jobs. Now, a too-close election is on the horizon (too-close because of spending 2011 talking about deficits instead of doing something about jobs) and we’re being forced back to talking about deficits instead of jobs — by a Democrat!

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad says he is going to introduce the “Simpson-Bowles” deficit plan as his fiscal year 2013 budget resolution. This is a plan put forward by Alan Simpson, a retired Republican Senator who hates Social Security, and Erskine Bowles, a member of the Board of Wall Street’s Morgan Stanley. So here we are once again with the same old same old plan from the same old same old elites. Namely: cuts in Social Security and other things We, the People do for each other, combined with even more tax cuts for the rich. This austeridiocy plan to grow the economy by taking money out of the economy is a billionaire-backed zombie that never dies.

CNN: Bowles-Simpson back on table,

A key senator said Tuesday he would try to revive the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan as a starting point in negotiations over a long-term debt-reduction plan.

Democrat Kent Conrad, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, announced he would present the plan as his opening bid at the committee’s budget mark-up on Wednesday.

Murdoc’s (FOX) WSJ: Conrad’s Budget Surprise: Simpson-Bowles,

A key senator said Tuesday he would try to revive the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan as a starting point in negotiations over a long-term debt-reduction plan.

… The original Bowles-Simpson plan would reduce deficits by at least $4 trillion over 10 years by cutting defense and discretionary spending, curbing federal entitlement costs and reforming the tax code.

“Reforming” the tax code as used here means lowering tax rates for the rich and corporations, getting rid of a number of deductions to make it look like it isn’t such a big tax cut and then later putting back lots of new deductions and breaks for the rich and corporations.

Now Mr. Conrad could try to force the first Senate vote on the measure, though it would likely first come from the members on his committee. Mr. Conrad was on the Simpson-Bowles commission and voted for the plan in 2010. He’s also on the so-called Gang of Six lawmakers looking for a legislative path to put the proposal into law. The plan was originally designed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

Push It Through After Election?

Citizens don’t get to vote on austerity plans.

This time they’s going to try to get this austerity plan through when few are paying attention: after the election but before the newly elected Congress comes in. This way democracy won’t get in the way, and the public doesn’t get a chance to react and hold legislators accountable. This might sound rather like the Greek austerity plan to cut working people’s wages, cut the things the Greek government does for its people, lay off public employees, and especially yo sell off the things the public owns and operates so a wealthy few can profit.

When the Greek Prime Minister proposed letting the public vote on this austerity plan he was removed, and bankers took control of the country, this is how it went:

Nov. 1, 2011: Greek PM puts bailout deal to public vote

Nov. 2: Greece sticks to bailout vote, as U.S., Europe weigh options
Nov 3: Greek prime minister abandons referendum on Greek debt plan

Nov. 9: Greek prime minister set to resign

Nov. 10: Ex-banker Papademos is new Greek prime minister

Ezra Klein talked with Conrad about his budget plan, and reports on the conversation in the Washington Post, Can Simpson-Bowles really pass the Senate?,

I’ve heard from some of my Republican colleagues who … said you’re doing exactly what needs to be done but we’re not going to be able to do something like this until after the election. And I think that’s true for many Democrats as well. … Simpson-Bowles put the vote of the commission after the 2010 election to try and insulate it from politics as much as possible. That’s what we’re trying to do here … I don’t expect a vote after the election.

… We should be swift to say to people, however, that compared to current law, it’s a $1.8 trillion tax cut.

Grand Bargain – Till They Go Back On The Deal

Aside from the whole subvert-democracy thing where they decide this after the election so no one can be held accountable, the record for “deals” is not good. The “debt-ceiling” hostage deal finally ended with Republicans agreeing to “sequestration” that includes military spending cuts. But it hasn’t worked out that way:

TPM: Bait And Switch: GOP Leaders Renege On Debt Limit Deal Defense Cuts

Oh, and if you really do want to do something about the deficit, think about this: Jobs Fix Deficits!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Will AT&T Do A Komen And Ruin Its Brand By Hurting Workers?

AT&T looks to be shooting for a double-bad award right now. They’re backing the hyper-partisan ALEC, and they’re trying to get their workers to take cuts while they shower cash on a few at the top. More and more, people are reacting to these kinds of attacks on We, the People — look at what happened to the Komen Foundation! So will AT&T do the right thing or will they risk destroying their brand like the Komen Foundation did to theirs?
For decades big corporations have been getting away with all kinds of anti-public, anti-worker stuff — blasting us with propaganda, pushing a right-wing agenda, paying little-or-no taxes, cutting regulations, and passing all the gains to a few at the top (the 1%). But people (the 99%) have been waking up to this stuff, and are fighting back against this alliance of big corporations and the right wingers. And when people react, it can work.
In Corporations Supporting ALEC Are Risking Damage To Their Brands I wrote about the “brand-equity” damage that companies are risking when they associate with hyper-partisan, right-wing outfits like ALEC. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation got in bed with right-wingers and completely ruined their brand:

A few months ago, in a move to please the conservative right, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. How’d that work out for them? Komen’s “brand equity” dropped 21 percent, one of the most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever.
How far a drop was this? Komen was ranked among the top two. This year it ranked No. 56. That’s a drop of 54 spots. The value of the Komen brand is ruined. The Komen executives behind the Planned Parenthood decision were forced out.

You don’t want to hear the phrase “most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever” when you’re in charge of a brand with recognition like AT&T has. And if even that doesn’t worry you the phrase “executives behind the … decision were forced out” might.
The Link
Last year I wrote about workers at Verizon, the wealth of the company, the demands that workers give up more of a middle-class existence, and their strike:

Verizon, with $108 billion in revenue and huge profits, is not paying taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice, in Verizon Pushes for $1 Billion in Concessions from Workers, While Receiving Nearly $1 Billion in Subsidies from Uncle Sam, explains, (emphasis added below because I got mad when I read it.)

Despite earning over $32.5 billion over the last 3 years, Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government during that time.
… In fact, if Verizon paid its corporate income tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have owed more than $11 billion (rather than negative $1 billion). This alone is enough to avoid the recent cuts in the debt deal to student loan programs.

CTJ also points out that, “…the top 5 executives at Verizon received more than a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation over the last 4 years.”

There is a link between what the workers at ATT and Verizon are fighting, the right-wing, anti-union agenda that the big corporations are pushing, and what is happening to your own pay and benefits, and the fight to keep from being laid off or getting a job if you have been or get laid off. There is also a link to the fight over minimum wage, Social Security and Medicare cuts and other things that are a “safety net” that keep you from being pitted against other desperate people, fighting for just a scrap of a life instead of a secure place in the middle class.
There is a link between these things and the anti-government, anti-tax agenda that weakens the ability of We, the People to regulate and tax the corporations, and to use taxes to fight the aggregation of wealth and power to a few who then use that wealth and power to erode our democracy. Democracy is We, the People watching out for and taking care of each other, and part of that is keeping the power to tax and regulate and set limits on what the biggest can do. Democracy is one-person-one-vote not one-dollar-one-vote!
Democracy Requires Effort
Democracy takes work, and organization, and awareness, and information, and requires people to be eternally vigilant. Sounds corny, but look what happens when the public gets apathetic or we let ourselves be persuaded that “job creators” deserve special favors, etc… Look what happened to our country and economy since the Bush v Gore Supreme Court ruling that gave us tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and war. Look what has happened since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that lets big corporations and billionaires spend unlimited amounts to influence our elections.
AT&T Strike Coming?
Right now the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and AT&T (AT&T) are negotiating contracts affecting a total of 40,000 workers. On March 31, union members voted to authorize CWA to call strikes if agreements on new contracts weren’t be reached. CWA workers are engaged in a “mobilization” preparing for the possibility of a strike to support their negotiators in “the fight to hold on to the American Dream.” A strike is a big deal and a major sacrifice by the workers involved.
AT&T had more than $31 billion in profits in the last 2 years! Now, in negotiations with their workers they are trying to squeeze even higher profits, asking for givebacks in health care and other areas. CWA is asking them to “take the high road” in negotiations, and not work to help kill off the middle class:

As we approach the end of several AT&T contracts, CWA members have a choice: help make sure AT&T stays on the high road, providing good, middle-class jobs — the path to the American Dream — or risk that they join competitors on the low road with layoffs, cost shifts and outsourcing.

AT&T thinks it can just hit the union, squeeze the workers, get some more bucks for those at the top. But we’re in a different environment now, and plenty of people are coming to understand that things like this are not just between a company and its own workers – people are starting to see the connections between a company doing this to their workers and their own job situation! They are starting to understand the way things get harder and the pay and benefits get more scarce for others means the same will happen to them.
CWA’s newsletter: Mobilization In High Gear At AT&T,

As AT&T contract negotiations go into overtime, so has mobilization by CWA members.
CWA members have a lot of creative mobilization actions underway to support their bargaining teams and to stand up for the American Dream of good jobs and good benefits.

More Than Just AT&T’s Workers
Even if you do not work at AT&T this is about you, too. If AT&T can beat down their own workers, other companies will have it easier beating down their workers. If workers can be beaten down like this, then minimum wage cuts and cuts in Social Security and Medicare and the rest of what We, the People do for each other can’t be far behind.
BUT we can fight back. What happened to the omen Foundation shows that we can have an effect. The companies leaving ALEC behind now show that we can have an effect. Support CWA’s workers. Support the organizations fighting ALEC. Let companies like AT&T know that you are aware of their game now, you are ready to stand up for other people in this fight to keep the middle class, and the paths to the middle class for poor people, and the democracy that enabled that middle class.
Actions calls on AT&T to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), members began making phone calls to AT&T headquarters to demand that the company stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of the group’s role in the spread of discriminatory voter ID laws, and “stand your ground” laws like the one that has prevented justice for Trayvon Martin in Florida. News broke last week that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, and Intuit have ended their relationship with ALEC. Today called on AT&T to follow suit.
“After hearing from us about ALEC’s involvement in voter suppression, major corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have done the right thing and decided to stop funding the group,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of “But despite numerous letters, emails and telephone calls from ColorOfChange, AT&T seems unconcerned their dollars are helping to suppress the black vote, support shoot first laws and undermine our democracy. It’s time that AT&T hears the voices of people all across the country who expect better.”

Nation Action:Tell AT&T to Stop Funding ALEC

The Nation is asking readers to join the CMD’s call and implore one of the ALEC corporations with which many Nation readers may do business, AT&T, to refrain from giving the organization any more money. Email senior executives in charge of “Corporate Citizenship” Channing Barringer ([email protected]) and Mark Siegel ([email protected]) and call the executive charged with legislative and regulatory issues Walt Sharp (210-821-4105) and politely tell them that it’s not helpful to their business to fund a group that has worked to suppress voter turnout, privatize public schools, Medicare and Social Security, hand out tax breaks for new tobacco products, promote concealed gun laws, harass immigrants and gut minimum wage laws. After making your voice heard, share this info with friends, family, Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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GOP Ads Will Be Trying To Keep You From Voting

High turnout always favors Democrats. This year the Republican/corporate effort is to keep people from voting. In the states there’s the who voter suppression thing – voter ID laws, shutting down the places where you can get the right ID, laws blocking registration drives, laws killing multi-day voting, etc.
But there is going to be a different kind of anti-voting effort, too. The ads are going to be designed to turn people off, make them hate the idea of having anything to do with this election. You are going to see the TV and other information channels saturated with so many lies and smears and so much nastiness and intimidation and manipulation, all designed to make people want to do anything but vote.
The ads are not about persuading anyone to vote because there aren’t enough people who don’t already know how they will vote. The incredibly shrinking swing vote – The Washington Post

Of the 23 percent who called themselves undecided in the latest Pew poll, 9 percent lean toward Obama while 7 percent lean to Romney. That leaves just seven percent as purely without any opinion between Romney and Obama.

Did You Know An Oil Prince Owns Big Part Of FOX?

I’m sure you’ve seen the ongoing conservative campaign against any energy source that isn’t oil. Headline at Drudge, links to Fox story: Wind Industry Has Lost 10,000 Jobs Under Obama,

A recent lengthy report by Reuters confirms what many conservatives have long known: President Obama’s promise to create millions of so-called “green jobs” has been a colossal and expensive failure.

But did you know that the #2 owner of FOX is a Saudi oil prince?

Corporations Supporting ALEC Are Risking Damage To Their Brands

Some companies are learning that supporting hyper-partisan groups can backfire when their customers find out about it. In recent weeks a number of companies are trying to distance themselves from the partisan, right-wing group ALEC before their brands become as damaged as Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, is a shady, hyper-partisan, state-based lobbying group that was able to wield power by staying under the radar. Recently the Trayvon Martin shooting case exposed how ALEC helped push through a dangerous “shoot first” law in Florida. Now people are learning that ALEC is also getting state laws passed that limit the voting rights of minorities, limit the power of working people to negotiate for better wages and limit the power of citizens to fight for cleaner environment. So now the big corporations supporting ALEC risk being seen as fighting people’s efforts to have a better life, and their brands are at risk.
(Please visit Alex Exposed for more information. See alsoAtlantic: Exposing ALEC: How Conservative-Backed State Laws Are All Connected)
Komen Foundation’s Serious Brand Damage
A few months ago, in a move to please the conservative right, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. How’d that work out for them? Komen’s “brand equity” dropped 21 percent, one of the most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever.
How far a drop was this? Komen was ranked among the top two. This year it ranked No. 56. That’s a drop of 54 spots. The value of the Komen brand is ruined. The Komen executives behind the Planned Parenthood decision were forced out.
Harris Interactive: Scandal Rocks America’s Support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, According to 23rd Annual Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study,

Based on findings reported in the 2012 Harris Poll® EquiTrend® study, Susan G. Komen’s current brand equity score of 55.1 represents a 21% drop in brand equity over the prior year ─ a historic drop in the study’s 23-year history, surpassed only by Fannie Mae in 2009.
From “Gold Standard” to “Trailing the Pack”
Since its inclusion in the EquiTrend survey in 2008, Susan G. Komen has consistently rated as either the first or second most equitable non-profit organization in its category. This year, SGK fell 54 spots to 56th place out of 79 non-profit brands surveyed.

If you are a corporate executive, numbers like that are terrifying. This is a completely ruined brand, and it only took a few weeks to get there after people heard about their association with the partisan right. This is what happens to a brand when it is caught associating with the likes of ALEC.
Corporations Leaving ALEC
Now that people are finding out what ALEC is doing, some of the big corporations that fund them are dropping out to protect their brands. In recent weeks Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Intuit, Mars, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo made their escape. Their business depends on people having positive feelings about their brands, so they dare not risk a Komen-style brand crash.
The NY Times, in an editorial, Embarrassed by Bad Laws,

The council, known as ALEC, has since become better known, with news organizations alerting the public to the damage it has caused: voter ID laws that marginalize minorities and the elderly, antiunion bills that hurt the middle class and the dismantling of protective environmental regulations.
… In recent weeks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Intuit, Mars, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have stopped supporting the group, responding to pressure from activists and consumers who have formed a grass-roots counterweight to corporate treasuries. That pressure is likely to continue as long as state lawmakers are more responsive to the needs of big donors than the public interest.

But there is a long list of companies that are still supporting this partisan, anti-citizen organization.
When Coca-Cola left ALEC, Richard (RJ) Eskow explained, in Good Guys Win One: With ALEC, Things Go Better Without Coke,

Score one for the good guys: After being pressured by Color of Change and other progressive groups, Coca-Cola has left ALEC – the cynical corporate coalition that has pushed a bevy of anti-democratic, anti-middle class, and anti-consumer initiatives.
Now that Coke’s come around, next up is Walmart. Their response on the ALEC issue was equivocal and unacceptable. And the issue needs to be raised directly and firmly with the other companies that back the organization – a list that includes AT&T, Bayer, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Pfizer, and UPS.
[. . .]
No Defense
It’s true that ALEC is like the United States Chamber of Commerce, in that many of its member companies don’t realize what it really stands for. But the ones who have consciences (or understand the power of consumer anger) will eventually respond, just as they have for the Chamber. (Many leading corporations have left that organization as it moves to the extreme right.)

Richard concluded with the point I wanted to make here, so I’ll let him say it:

Heads up, Walmart. Know who does a lot of shopping in your stores? People who have been victimized by ALEC policies: Poor people, minorities, and people who are working more and earning less. They’re getting wise, they’re getting angry – and they’re getting involved.

Companies: you are risking ruining your brands by associating with partisan, right-wing groups like ALEC. Executives: needless ot say, you are risking your careers if you are funding ALEC or any other partisan, right-wing lobbying groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, even Heritage Foundation.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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I Didn’t Know!

In a conversation, I wrote, “Romney made his money by laying people off and keeping for himself what they were paid. It’s an issue now because this kind of thing has been happening to a lot of Americans, who don’t like being laid off so someone who is already really rich can pocket what they were making — and not even pay taxes on the money.”
Response I received:
“You are a confused left wingnut – totally oblivious to real life, capitalism and the need for producers to provide for all you socialist “takers”.”

Put Them In Jail

“Prison is what makes the difference. Otherwise, it’s only money.” If you put executives in jail when they commit crimes, the rest of the executives will stop committing crimes!
How to Prevent Oil Spills,

But there is another reason corporate executives need to be prosecuted when corporate crimes take place. It sends a signal to every other executive about what is — and is not — acceptable behavior. The threat of prison can change a culture faster and more effectively than even the heftiest fine. If, after the Texas City explosion, one BP executive or more had been prosecuted, it seems to me quite likely that the Deepwater Horizon accident would never have happened. A prison sentence would have done the thing that all those fines never did: force the company to begin paying attention to safety.
Prison is what makes the difference. Otherwise, it’s only money.

OK, NOW, go read Richard Eskow’s story of ANOTHER SEC “settlement” for felonies that \enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us: The Latest SEC/Goldman Sachs Sweetheart Deal Is the Worst One Yet

Must Prosecute!

Companies that get away with breaking rules gain advantage over ones that don’t, forcing them out of business. All that remains is corruption, extraction. So jobs move to China, private equity breaks unions, etc.
For Capitalism to Survive, Crime Must Not Pay | Next New Deal

When unequal justice prevails, the party that does not need to follow the law has a distinct competitive advantage. A corporation that knowingly breaks the law will find ways to profit through illegal means that are not available to competitors. As a consequence, the competitive playing field is biased toward the company that does not need to follow the rules.