The following is from the most recent TMQ article on ESPN (found here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/080819) but I just had to share this piece with all of you because of how sickening it is....
Government Policy Rewards CEO Lying, So We Get More of It: Increasingly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are looking like little more than devices to transfer money from the pockets of taxpayers to the pockets of Fannie and Freddie senior executives. Former Fannie Mae boss Franklin Raines paid himself about $50 million for years in which, we now know, the company lied about its earnings in order to inflate executive bonuses, while management was playing fast and loose with other people's money. Beginning in 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went off the cliff, their stocks plummeting to less than 20 percent of their previous values, and taxpayers were put on the hook as guarantors of the firms' bad management decisions. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Mae-Mac debacle will cost taxpayers $100 billion or more. Yet Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron was paid $14.5 million for 2007, including a $2.2 million "performance bonus." Syron has taken home $38 million total from Freddie in the past five years. Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd got $14.2 million for 2007, plus a substantial prepaid life insurance policy and other perks including "financial counseling, an executive health program and dining services," the Washington Post reported. Hey, $49,000-a-year median U.S. households, you are being taxed for millionaire Mudd's "dining services." Bon appetite.
Executives receiving very high pay justify their deals on two grounds: that they are risk-takers in high-pressure situations, and that they have valuable expertise. Now we know that no one at the top of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took any personal risks -- everything was federally guaranteed, and all mistakes billed to the taxpayer. Here, the New York Times reports that Syron was repeatedly warned in 2004 that the organization was taking on bad loans, and did nothing. Syron justified his inaction by complaining to the Times that he was under pressure from various Fannie constituents. That's why he was paid so much, to take the heat! Yet he took no heat, rather, devoted himself to avoiding responsibility. If things go well, executives are lavished with money and praised as risk-takers. If things go poorly, executives are lavished with money and blame others.
And just what incredible expertise do Syron and Mudd possess? They made billion-dollar blunder after billion-dollar blunder; they failed to realize things as basic as buyers borrowing without documentation of income may not be able to repay loans. People chosen at random from the phone book could hardly have performed worse. Yet the federal bail-out legislation just signed by George W. Bush does not require them to give back any of their ill-gotten gains.
This is the core lesson of CEO overpay scandals: The corrupt or incompetent executive always keeps the money. He may be caught and embarrassed by bad press, but he keeps the money while someone else -- shareholders, taxpayers, workers -- is punished. Raines recently settled a federal legal complaint by agreeing to return about $3 million of his $50 million, but kept the rest; his employment contract was worded such that even if he was malfeasant, whatever he took from company coffers was his. Hilariously, federal prosecutors claimed victory because Raines "surrendered" to the government a large block of stock options -- options now worthless, owing to the Fannie Mae decline Raines helped set in motion by lying about Fannie numbers. Until Congress enacts a law that allows money taken by corrupt or incompetent executives to be recovered, the lying will continue. Lying by CEOs is what society rewards!
Why does Congress tolerate the swindle aspect of Fannie and Freddie? For the standard reason: Congress is on the take. Here, Lisa Lerer of Politico reports that in the past decade, Fannie and Freddie spent almost $200 million on campaign donations to Congress and on lobbying members of Congress, some of the lobbying money going to former members. This year, for instance, Fannie gave the legal max of $10,000 to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and to Republican House Whip Roy Blunt, neither of whom face meaningful re-election challenge. As for costly lobbying, the implied deal is: Don't rock the boat while in office and someday you too will be a former member getting easy money to lobby former colleagues. During Senate debate on the Mae-Mac bailout, Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to permit a vote on an amendment that would have barred Fannie and Freddie from giving money to members of Congress. Reid did not merely oppose the measure, he refused to allow the Senate to vote on it -- so that members of Congress could remain on the take, without having to go on record about the matter.
Now that taxpayers are covering Fannie and Freddie's cooked books, the $200 million diverted to Congress in effect came from average Americans, forcibly removed from their pockets -- and thanks to Senator Reid, more will be forcibly taken from your pocket and placed into the accounts of senators and representatives. This is what TMQ calls a Sliver Strategy. The Sliver Strategy is a means to disguise embezzlement. Congress looked the other way while Fannie and Freddie approved vast amounts of bad debt, in order to shave off a sliver for itself -- in this case, the $200 million in lobbying and donations. Had Congress simply awarded itself $200 million, editorialists would have been outraged. Because the money was slipped in to a larger fiasco of much greater sums wasted, Congress got away with it.
One of the John McCain commercials says something about us being worse off than we were 4 years ago, and for some reason, John McCain sees this as a good thing for his campaign? Perhaps he forgot that 4 years ago, he spent his days campaigning for George Bush's re-election and trashing John Kerry. Obviously THAT worked out well. Thanks John McCain! Maybe you should at least admit to the people how wrong you were supporting Bush since now obviously you're trying to create as much distance from his as possible.
Would I expect his own campaign to point this out to me? Of course not...but do you know who SHOULD point that out to us? The Media. Have they? Of course not. I guess we'll have to leave it up to Obama to point this out to us in another one of his commercials and round and round we'll go.
Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.
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This comes directly from an instant message convo:
now that brett favre has been outed as a huge doucheface, i can't wait till someone tears down lance armstrong
1) lets see... he got cancer, his wife stood by him. he got rich popular and famous, and dumped her ass.
2) for the first 6 months or so that the live strong bracelets were being sold, the money didn't go to cancer research. where did it go?
3) he fucked an olsen twin.
4) let me get this straight. he won the tour de france without performance enhancers, and yet, the last 3 years multiple riders (and one winner) have been caught using performance enhancers, and had worse times than he did?
5) he's a texan, and he rides a bike.
6) he's like ricky bobby. he pretty much only won because of how good his team is, but they never seem to win stages, and they aren't famous and probably aren't rich
7) he did a horrible job hosting SNL.
8) he made the media shove cycling down my throat. no one cares about bike riding.
9) did i mention that he probably did performance enhancers, and is lucky he never got caught?
10) he got famous using our money. for the last 4 races, he was sponsored by the United States Postal Service. where does the postal service get its money?
Let's see what he comes up with next!
It was easy to scoff two years ago when word leaked out that Amazon was launching its own digital music service. The Seattle-based online retailer wasn't just mulling an iTunes-like download store - it was supposedly drawing up plans for a branded iPod-like device.
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