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Captialism: A Love Story (2009)

On the 20-year anniversary of his groundbreaking masterpiece “Roger & Me,” Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” comes home to the issue he’s been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans. But this time the culprit is much bigger than General Motors, and the crime scene is far wider than Flint, Michigan.

During Mike’s childhood years in the ’50s, the richest paid a top tax rate of 90%.
The Tax Foundation posts historical tax rates on their website. From 1950 to 1963, individuals paid 91% or 92% of their income above $200,000 to the federal government.
The Tax Policy Center, a project run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, also posts historical tax rates.

Ronald Reagan opposed workers’ rights.
Some of Reagan’s pre-1980 anti-worker rights actions are described in a 2004 interview with Frances Fox Piven, professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers. While Governor of California from 1967-1975, Ronald Reagan opposed the efforts of the United Farm Workers to improve working conditions and wages for vulnerable migrant agricultural laborers. He famously ate grapes – then under boycott by the UFW – on television, to show his support for the farmers and his scorn for the workers’ cause. He also vetoed the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, a law that sought to give farm workers the right to unionize. The CALRA was signed into law in 1975 by Jerry Brown, Reagan’s successor in the California Governor’s office.

Ronald Reagan opposed the feminist movement.
Conservative pundit Phyllis Schafly stated in 2008: “[During his first presidential campaign,] Reagan had already announced his opposition to ERA [Equal Rights Amendment], and we did not intend to let him be embarrassed by the feminists on this issue.”
The National Organization for Women’s chronology of the Equal Rights Amendment: “January, 1981: Ronald Reagan becomes the first U.S. President opposed to a constitutional amendment which provides equal rights for women.”

During the Reagan administration, major corporations laid off tens of thousands of American workers while making enormous profits.
General Motors annual profits from 1981-89 are available via the pull-down menu at Fortune Magazine. GM layoff figures comes from the Economist, which wrote in 1989: “The company [GM] has already cut its worldwide payroll by 100,000 since 1981 to some 750,000.”
AT&T annual profits from 1981-88 are available via the pull-down menu at Fortune Magazine and for 1989 are online here. AT&T layoff figures come from a 1986 Los Angeles Times story: “The cutbacks mean that AT&T — for decades a haven of job security for American workers — will have eliminated 80,000 jobs, or a fifth or its work force, since it was severed from the 22 Bell System telephone operating companies in January, 1984.”
General Electric annual profits from 1981-89 are available via the pull-down menu at Fortune Magazine. GE layoff figures are from the October 14, 2002 Washington Post story “Rich with Irony”: “GE’s miraculous performance on Wall Street — stock prices increased 2,876 percent during his tenure — had long since erased [GE CEO Jack Welch’s] reputation as Neutron Jack, a nickname he earned after eliminating some 100,000 employees in his first years while (notoriously, at the time) spending millions on updating the buildings at the swank corporate training center in Crotonville, N.Y.”
Welch’s performance is also described in an August 14, 2002 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story: “‘Neutron Jack’ Welch, who laid off 100,000 people in the early 1980s, was one of those slash-and-burn CEOs who became a hero to Wall Street by ruthlessly focusing on the bottom line.”

During the Reagan era, millions of Americans were thrown out of work.
Los Angeles Times, May 28, 1991: “Since 1980, 2 million workers have been cut from the U.S. manufacturing payroll. Millions more have accepted – or been forced to accept – reductions in earnings.”

As productivity increased, from 1980 to the present, working people’s wages remained essentially frozen.
Increases in productivity and wages since 1973 are examined in the 2007 paper “The Productivity to Paycheck Gap: What the Data Show” by economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Baker writes: “The real hourly wage of a typical worker is only slightly higher in 2006 than it was in the seventies.” Exact figures are available in the paper’s figures 4 and 5.

The richest had their taxes cut in half.
The top marginal rate decreased from 70% in 1980 to 28% in 1989. Historical marginal tax rate tables are posted on the website of the Tax Policy Center.

By 2008, total household debt grew to nearly one hundred percent of the GDP.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides data on household debt and on GDP.

Personal bankruptcies increased dramatically.
According to the American Bankruptcy Institute (“Non-Business Filings”), in 1980 there were 287,570 personal bankruptcy filings in the United States; by 2005, that number soared to 2,039,214. (In 2006, the number of filings was dramatically down, but this was due to a 2005 change in the law that made it far more difficult and expensive for individuals to declare bankruptcy. Nonetheless the rate has been rising sharply since 2006.)

We locked up millions of our citizens.
According to the US Department of Justice, the number of people in jail or prison increased from 503,586 in 1980 to 2,293,157 in 2007.

Sales of antidepressants skyrocketed.
“National Patterns in Antidepressant Medication Treatment” by Mark Olfson, MD, MPH and Steven C. Marcus, PhD in the journal “General Psychiatry.” Data is from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (within the Department of Health and Human Services).

The cost of healthcare has risen since Reagan’s election.
The percent of U.S. GDP spent on healthcare is available from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The stock market rose enormously from the time of Reagan’s election to the present.
See Yahoo.com’s historical data on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In January, 1981, when Reagan was inaugurated, the Dow Jones was hovering under 1,000. In October, 2007, the index broke 14,000. (Although the Dow has since dipped significantly below this record high, it has still maintained huge gains since 1981.)

CEOs increased greatly from the time of Reagan’s election to the present.
The rise in CEO pay from 1980-present is available in the graph “Executive Pay and Unionization, 1980-2005” on page 19 of “Executive Excess 2008” by Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins and Sam Pizzigati of the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, based on Business Week and Wall Street Journal surveys.

At the time when Mike was making ‘Roger and Me,’ GM was posting profits of over $4 billion, while simultaneously eliminating tens of thousands of jobs.
According to Fortune magazine, GM made $4.86 billion in profit in 1989, while laying off over 40,000 workers.

GM eliminated nearly all its jobs in Flint, and went bankrupt.
“In the 1980s and ’90s tens of thousands of Flint autoworkers lost their jobs as GM struggled against foreign competition. Whole complexes of plants closed. The city shrank drastically as unemployed workers left to find jobs elsewhere. People abandoned their homes. Violent crime skyrocketed. Today the city has about 6,000 GM jobs, one tenth of what it once had.” GM declared bankruptcy on June 1, 2009.

In Germany, unions help hire and fire the board of directors so the workers have a say in what’s going on.
Automotive Industries, June, 1998: “Under the law, German companies are run by co-determination. Labor representatives have half the seats on the supervisory board. That board appoints individuals to the management board and may fire them. It advises management and reviews financial reports. It must also insure profits.”
Atlantic Times, February, 2006: “By law, publicly held companies in Germany are governed by a two-tier board structure, a 20-member supervisory board that appoints the managing board. Germany’s laws on worker co-management of companies, an idiosyncrasy much praised, despised and discussed, give worker representatives half the seats on the supervisory board.”

Shortly before Christmas 2008, Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors fired its entire unionized workforce of over 250 people, giving them only three days notice, and failing to pay legally required vacation and severance pay.
New York Times, December 13, 2008: “The word came just after lunch on Dec. 2 in the cafeteria of Republic Windows and Doors. A company official told assembled workers that their plant on this city’s North Side, which had operated for more than four decades, would be closed in just three days. But all the workers wanted, they said, was what they deserved under the law: 60 days of severance pay and earned vacation time.”
Chicago Tribune, December 4, 2008: “[Republic Windows and Doors], which has been in business since 1965, told employees Wednesday that its main lender, Bank of America, had canceled its line of credit due to a severe downturn in business at the plant … The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, which represents 260 workers at the factory, is protesting the closing, saying workers were not given the 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff as required by federal law, and has been told workers will not receive their vacation pay. The union is directing its ire at Bank of America, not Republic.”

Wilkes-Barre has one of Pennsylvania’s highest rates of juveniles in detention.
Of those juveniles who were brought before the juvenile courts in Luzerne County, a very high percentage were placed in detention – that is, taken out of their homes and placed for a time in a juvenile facility. The statewide average in Pennsylvania is just under 10% of kids that go to juvenile court are placed in a facility. In Luzerne County, 25.8% were. See pages 28-29 in the 2007 report on Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions.

Luzerne County hired a for-profit, private company to deal with juveniles, owned by two entrepreneurs, one of whom was attorney Robert Powell.
Times Leader, January 27, 2009: “July 2001: A group of private developers called “Pennsylvania Child Care” sends Luzerne County an unsolicited proposal to build a 48-bed juvenile detention facility in Pittston Township … The principal investors were identified as Greg Zappala and attorney Robert Powell.”

Robert Powell’s friend Judge Michael Conahan used his influence to shut down the county’s public juvenile facility, and helped Powell get the $58 million contract to provide services to Luzerne County.
Times Leader, January 27, 2009: “October 2002: Conahan publicly announces that judges will stop sending youth to the [public juvenile facility] River Street center at the end of the year because the building is too rundown … December 2002: Conahan takes official action to remove funding from the county budget for the county’s River Street center. County majority commissioners approve the court’s budget request. The court returns the River Street center license to the state, essentially closing the place… Oct. 20, 2004: [Commissioners] Skrepenak and Vonderheid vote to lease the Pittston Township detention center for 20 years at a cost of $58 million …”

Hillary Transue was placed in detention for making a MySpace page mocking her Assistant Principal.
New York Times, February 13, 2009: “At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke. Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.”

Robert Powell, one of the owners of PA Child Care, cut a business deal with Judge Conahan and Judge Ciavarella, paying them $2.6 million to help the for-profit juvenile facility.
MSNBC: “Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC.”
Times Leader: “Ciavarella and Conahan pleaded guilty to federal charges that they accepted more than $2.6 million in kickbacks in connection to the construction and operation of juvenile detention facilities.”
UPDATE: Times-Tribune: When a judge refused to grant lenient plea deals, Ciavarella and Conahan withdrew their guilty pleas in August 2009; however, they are expected to be re-indicted and tried.

Robert Powell enjoyed his ill-gotten gains on a private jet and a private yacht, called the “Reel Justice.”
Times Leader: “[Powell] owned a 56-foot yacht named “Reel Justice,” and a 12-seat Rockwell International jet is registered at his business address.”

6,500 kids were unjustly convicted.
Times Leader, July 28, 2009: 6,500 children were convicted by Ciavarella during this time period.
A judge has recommended that all 6,500 records be expunged because of the corruption scandal: “In an unprecedented decision, a court-appointed master on Wednesday recommended the wholesale reversal of thousands of convictions of juveniles who appeared before a corrupt Luzerne County judge. In a 32-page report, Arthur E. Grim, the special master appointed by the state Supreme Court, said evidence that the youths were deprived of their constitutional rights was so expansive and persuasive that all the cases heard over five years should be thrown out and not be retried. The cases involve youths who appeared between 2003 and May 2008 before former judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., who is awaiting sentencing for a guilty plea to federal corruption charges.”

Regional airline pilots are often paid low salaries, which sometimes are less than those paid to fast food restaurant managers.
New York Times, May 17, 2009: “Neil A. Weston … went $100,000 into debt to train for a co-pilot’s job that pays him $25,000 annually.”
Buffalo News: “Rebecca Lynne Shaw loved flying so much she was willing to work for less than $24,000 a year, live with her parents and commute cross-country for her job as a first officer with Colgan Air … [S]he worked a second job at a coffee shop to make ends meet.”
A Taco Bell manager makes more than $30,000 annually according to a salary survey.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers” have a mean annual wage of $30,810.

Daniel Johnson worked in middle management for Amegy Bank in Houston, Texas. Although he was not an executive or an essential element of the business, when Dan died, Amegy received nearly $5 million in life insurance benefits.
Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2009: “In December, Irma Johnson accidentally received a check for $1.6 million, from Security Life of Denver Insurance Co., payable to Amegy Bank. According to a lawsuit Mrs. Johnson filed in February in a Houston state court, in 2001 the bank told her husband, Daniel Johnson, a credit risk manager who had survived two brain surgeries, that he was eligible for supplemental life insurance of $150,000, if he signed a consent form authorizing the bank to purchase an insurance policy on his life. Four months later, the bank fired him. Mr. Johnson died from a brain tumor at age 41 in 2008. His widow and two young children received no life-insurance benefits, which the bank had canceled when Mr. Johnson left.”
Houston Press, July, 2009: “… Johnson’s attorney, Mike Myers … told [the reporter] that, during the discovery process, he found out that Amegy had allegedly taken out two policies on Johnson. Thus, with the second, alleged $3.1 million policy, the amended suit says Amegy made $4.79 million off a dead employee.”

Purchasing life insurance policies on non-essential employees is a common corporate practice, one referred to in the insurance industry as “Dead Peasants” insurance.
Sunday Oregonian, April 28, 2002, “Dead Peasants May Return to Haunt PGE”: “Dead peasants are corporate-owned life insurance policies that companies – from Walt Disney to Nestle to Portland General Electric – take out on their own employees while designating the corporation as the beneficiary. That delightful epithet, The Wall Street Journal notes, originated in a 1996 memo from one of Winn-Dixie’s insurance consultants, who barked, ‘I want a summary sheet that has … the Dead Peasants in the third column.'”
National Law Journal, February 2, 2009: “Bank of America Corp. officials issued a statement acknowledging that the company uses BOLI policies and asserting that they are legal. ‘The bank does have this type of insurance in place. It is a legitimate business practice used by many companies. And, like many companies, Bank of America uses this insurance to help defray the cost of employee benefits,’ said Bank of America spokesperson Shirley Norton. She would elaborate no further.”
Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2002: “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. took out COLI [Corporate Owned Life Insurance] on about 350,000 of its workers in the 1990s, offering $5,000 in life insurance to those who agreed to be covered. Only 500 asked to be excluded, a spokesman says. The brochure that Wal-Mart gave to employees noted that the company would provide the benefits ‘as a result of financial gains from life insurance policies Wal-Mart will purchase … [that] will result in the financial benefits for the corporation.’ But the brochure didn’t make it clear that the company expected to receive a benefit far outstripping the death benefit it offered workers. ‘We could have communicated more,’ a Wal-Mart spokesman says now. In 1998, the company canceled the $5,000 benefit for workers … Wal-Mart says that it ended its janitors coverage by January 2000, and that it no longer receives death benefits when employees or former employees die. The company says it ‘has substantially resolved’ all COLI-related issues with the IRS. ‘We were looking to reduce our corporate income taxes,’ the spokesman says. ‘That’s really why we did it. … It was a tax strategy that didn’t work out as expected.'”
Houston Chronicle, June 7, 2002, “Dow Chemical Is Accused of ‘Dead Peasant’ Insurance”: “Several other companies — including Camelot Music, Winn-Dixie and American Electric Power — also sued the IRS over the issue of deductions. In those cases, the IRS successfully proved the expenses were made solely to avoid federal income tax liability.”
Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2002: “Valued Employees: Worker Dies, Firm Profits; Why? Many Companies Insure Staff, Yielding Benefits On Taxes, Bottom Line; Where to Put Dead Peasants”
National Law Journal, February 2, 2009: “[John] Failla [a partner in the litigation group and insurance recovery practice at New York’s Proskauer Rose,] who advises business policy holders on insurance matters, noted that, despite all the litigation surrounding COLI policies, they’re still wildly popular, accounting for more than 20% of life insurance policies written every year. ‘Look, COLI is a very, very active market,” Failla said, “I think it’s fair to say that they’re writing billions of dollars a year of face amounts … I think the statistics I’ve seen suggest that, even now, a quarter or more of the largest companies have COLI programs.'”

Citigroup’s research department wrote three memos for investors concluding that wealth and power in the U.S. were increasingly concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, stating the top 1% of the population now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined.
The Citigroup memos have been discussed by the Wall Street Journal and Alternet.

There are many “worker cooperatives” in the United States, companies which are run democratically by the workers, who also own the company and share equitably in the profits.
The Isthmus Engineering website describes the company’s “Seven Cooperative Principles”:

• Open membership – no gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination
• Democratic control – one member, one vote
• Equitable economic participation among members and distribution of profits based on patronage
• Autonomy and independence – controlled by members
• Education and training
• Cooperation among cooperatives
• Concern for community

The Alvarado Street Bakery website describes cooperatives as “a business voluntarily owned and controlled by its member patrons and operated for them and by them on a nonprofit or cost basis. It is owned by the people who use it … based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.”

Students from the top schools often go to Wall Street, where they can make a lot of money, rather than into the science and math fields.
According to Spring 2008 surveys conducted by three top colleges, more seniors who already had accepted full-time jobs at the time of graduation were headed to the financial services industry than to any other field. 27% of Harvard seniors with jobs, 31% of U Penn graduates, and 41.5% of Princeton seniors with jobs were going into financial services.

A company owned by large banks processes large numbers of mortgages in Flint, Michigan.
New York Times, April 24, 2009: “Although the average person has never heard of it, MERS – short for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems – holds 60 million mortgages on American homes, through a legal maneuver that has saved banks more than $1 billion over the last decade but made life maddeningly difficult for some troubled homeowners … About 3,000 financial services firms pay annual fees for access to MERS, which has 44 employees and is owned by two dozen of the nation’s largest lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.”
According to the MERS website, “MERS is organized and existing under the laws of Delaware, and has an address and telephone number of P.O. Box 2026, Flint, MI 48501-2026, tel. (888) 679-MERS.” Slide 29 of a document on the site states that 96% of mail processed by MERS concerns foreclosures.
UPDATE: According to a MERS mailroom employee, as of mid-2009 MERS apparently no longer processes foreclosures in the Flint area; as thousands of mortgage and foreclosure-related documents arrive at the Flint P.O. box, they are immediately forwarded to another MERS’ processing center in Ocala, Florida.

Bob Feinberg, a former loan officer for Countrywide, offered discounted loans with good rates and low (or no) fees to VIPs, including current and former lawmakers.
Portfolio, June, 2008: “Two U.S. senators, two former Cabinet members, and a former ambassador to the United Nations received loans from Countrywide Financial through a little-known program that waived points, lender fees, and company borrowing rules for prominent people. Senators Christopher Dodd, Democrat from Connecticut and chairman of the Banking Committee, and Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, refinanced properties through Countrywide’s “V.I.P.” program in 2003 and 2004, according to company documents and emails and a former employee familiar with the loans. Other participants in the V.I.P. program included former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and former U.N. ambassador and assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.”
Portfolio, July, 2008: “Feinberg, who served as gatekeeper for the V.I.P. program from 2000 to 2004, wrote hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of loans‚ ‘as much as $400 million in 2003 alone‚’ for customers whom his superiors had singled out for special treatment.”

The FBI warned of an approaching “epidemic” of mortgage fraud in 2004.
CNN, September 17, 2004: “Rampant fraud in the mortgage industry has increased so sharply that the FBI warned Friday of an ‘epidemic’ of financial crimes which, if not curtailed, could become ‘the next S&L crisis.'”

The FBI says that 80% of the mortgage fraud was induced by the banks, not the individuals seeking loans.
Rocky Mountain News: “The FBI report said research indicates that 80 percent of mortgage fraud nationwide ‘involves collaboration or collusion by industry insiders.'”

After 9/11, more than 500 FBI white collar crime specialists were transferred over to terrorism.
New York Times, January 22, 2009: “The senators noted that, by some published estimates, the Bush administration failed to replace at least 2,400 F.B.I. agents who were transferred to counter-terrorism squads. As a result, the F.B.I’s white collar crime units are currently down at least 625 agents from pre-9/11 levels, a reduction of 36 percent.”

Robert Rubin, the former Secretary of the Treasury, was a top executive at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. While at Treasury, he worked to deregulate the banking industry.
New York Times, January 10, 2009: “Mr. Rubin helped loosen Depression-era banking regulations that made the creation of Citigroup possible.”

After he left the Treasury, Robert Rubin was paid over $115 million by Citigroup.
New York Times, December 4, 2008: “[Rubin] has been awarded more than $126 million in cash and stock [from Citigroup] over the past decade.”

Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and current Chief Economic Adviser to President Obama, made millions of dollars in speaking fees, as well as $5.2 million from his part-time job at a hedge fund.
Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2009: “In total, Mr. Summers made a total of about 40 speaking appearances to financial sector firms and other places, with fees totaling about $2.77 million.”
New York Times, April 6, 2009: “Mr. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president who is now the chief economic adviser to President Obama, earned nearly $5.2 million in just the last of his two years at one of the world’s largest funds.”

Timothy Geithner did a poor job as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
New York Times, April 27, 2009: “An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions. His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records.”

Former Secretary of the Treasury Henry “Hank” Paulson, who engineered the Wall Street bailout, was an extremely well-paid CEO of Goldman Sachs just prior to taking the helm of the Treasury.
New York Times, March 31, 2006: “In his 32-year career at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson has accumulated a $700 million equity stake in the Wall Street firm.”

There were numerous Goldman alums in the Treasury department during both the Bush and Clinton administrations.
New York Times: “Indeed, Goldman’s presence in the department and around the federal response to the financial crisis is so ubiquitous that other bankers and competitors have given the star-studded firm a new nickname: Government Sachs. [Some critics] note that decisions that Mr. Paulson and other Goldman alumni make at Treasury directly affect the firm’s own fortunes. They also question why Goldman, which with other firms may have helped fuel the financial crisis through the use of exotic securities, has such a strong hand in trying to resolve the problem.”

Hank Paulson and other Goldman Sachs alums (as well as other Wall Street insiders) worked to deregulate the financial industry while the taxpayers paid their salaries.
According to CBS, Paulson was pushing deregulation even during the financial crisis: “Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announces the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression, Monday, March 31, 2008, at the Treasury Department in Washington.”
New York Times, November 24, 2008: “Instead of deregulation, Obama has sworn to usher in a period of re-regulation, to avoid the freewheeling risks that Citigroup and the rest of the financial industry undertook after Rubin, with Summers, helped tear down the regulatory walls between banks, brokerages and insurance companies and freed them to trade in unregulated and little-understood derivatives worth trillions of dollars.”

Many of Goldman Sach’s rivals were felled by housing derivatives.
New York Times, September 15, 2008: “Lehman Files for Bankruptcy; Merrill Is Sold”

Citigroup ordered a $50 million private jet for the use of its top executives.
While according to CNN Citigroup had planned this jet purchase, the New York Times subsequently reported the public outcry ultimately caused them to cancel the order: “The Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup have canceled orders for private jets for top executives in the aftermath of the financial crash and a public backlash over corporate perks.”

Goldman Sachs set aside $6.8 billion for bonuses in 2008, the same year in which they accepted $10 billion in TARP funds from the American taxpayer.
CBS News: “According to a report from financial news agency Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, for example, has set aside $6.8 billion for bonuses, and Morgan Stanley, $6.4 billion.”

Goldman Sachs was President Barack Obama’s number one private contributor, with nearly one million dollars in contributions.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman employees and their families and the Goldman Political Action Committee contributed almost $1 million to the Obama presidential campaign.

Despite fear-mongering about the word “socialism,” particularly around the time of the 2008 Presidential election, only 37% of young people prefer capitalism over socialism, while 33% prefer socialism to capitalism.
Rasmussen Poll: “Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided.”

Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans decided to stop performing foreclosure sales until he was satisfied that distressed homeowners had been given adequate opportunities to avoid foreclosure through federal assistance.
Morning Sun, February 3, 2009: “‘I cannot in clear conscience allow any more families to lose their homes through foreclosure sale until I’m satisfied they have been afforded every option they are entitled to under the law to avoid foreclosure,’ Evans said. ‘The moratorium does not prevent lenders from foreclosing on homes. The sheriff’s office just won’t sell them,’ Evans said. ‘The sale is what pre-empts the person from having an option later to renegotiate the mortgage.”

The Trody family of Miami was evicted from their home of 22 years. After a brief stay in a bread truck, they moved back into their home, which was in foreclosure.
Seattle Times: “On Feb. 20, Mary Trody and her family of 12 – including her mother, siblings and children – were evicted from their modest blue house northwest of Miami that the family had lived in for 22 years, because her mother had not paid the mortgage. After a weekend of sleeping in a paneled truck, however, the family, with the help of Take Back the Land, moved back in.”
UPDATE: The bank has indicated that it will not pursue further action against the Trodys, and has suggested they will turn the title over to a non-profit group. The Trodys are still in their home.

Bank of America and Republic Windows and Doors agreed to all the sit-down striking workers’ demands.
New York Times, December 13, 2008: “Workers celebrated Wednesday after their six-day sit-in at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago ended with their getting everything they had asked for.”

On December 30, 1936, the workers of the Flint GM factories took over their plants and staged a sit-down strike that lasted 44 days, ultimately resulting in a key union victory over the company.
Detroit News: “The feisty young United Auto Workers launched the first of a series of sit-down strikes against General Motors at Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint. The goals were to earn recognition for the UAW as the bargaining agent for GM workers, and to make the company stop shipping work to plants with nonunion workers. The strike lasted 44 days and became the first of many union victories.”

Michigan’s Governor sent the National Guard in to protect the workers from the police and the company thugs, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s approval.
Times Herald: “[Governor Frank] Murphy moved into the governor’s mansion on Jan. 1, 1937, only 48 hours after members of the infant United Auto Workers barricaded themselves inside a GM factory in Flint. On Jan. 11, workers and police fought a pitched battle that injured 27 people, including 13 strikers with gunshot wounds. A court ordered the governor to expel the strikers, but Murphy had his own ideas. He sent the National Guard to Flint, where soldiers kept the peace while the governor helped mediate a compromise. A few weeks later, the most significant strike in the history of organized labor ended peacefully.”
Professor Neil Leighton, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan-Flint, argues that Governor Frank Murphy acted with Roosevelt’s tacit approval. Only two years later, in 1939, Roosevelt appointed Murphy as his Attorney General. In 1940, FDR nominated Murphy to the Supreme Court, where Murphy served till his death in 1949.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a “Second Bill of Rights.”
The full text of Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 State of the Union speech is available at the FDR Library website.

The Italian Constitution guaranteed all women equal rights in 1947.
Italian Constitution: “Article 37: (1) Working women have the same rights and, for equal work, the same wages as working men. Working conditions must allow women to carry out their essential role in the family and ensure special appropriate protection for the mother and the child.”

The post-World War II German constitution said that the State has the right to take over property and the means of production for the common good.
German Basic Law: “Article 15 (Socialization). Land, natural resources and means of production may for the purpose of socialization be transferred into public ownership or other forms of publicly controlled economy by a law which provides for kind and extent of the compensation.”

And here’s what we wrote up for the Japanese: all workers have a right to organize into a union. And academic freedom is guaranteed.
Japanese Constitution: “Article 23. Academic freedom is guaranteed … Article 28.The right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively is guaranteed.”
The American Experience, PBS: “[General MacArthur] Staff member Beate Sirota Gordon, then in her early twenties, still remembers the day well: ‘… General Whitney [head of the government section] called us into a meeting room… And he said, “You are now a constituent assembly … And you will write the Japanese constitution”‘ … Their work resulted in a thoroughly progressive document … including not only most of the American bill of rights, but such things as universal adult suffrage, labor’s right to organize, and a host of marriage and property rights for women … After marathon negotiations in early March, Japanese officials accepted the American draft with only minor revisions.”

New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges on the Killing Machine Known as Capitalism
Michael interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, Chris Hedges, about the ills of capitalism.

“You talkin’ to me?” — Commie Taxi Drivers in Wisconsin
Worker-owned co-op Union Cab company of Madison, Wisconsin: Taxi drivers in Wisconsin go all crazy for workers’ control.

How to Run the Place Where You Work
A more in-depth look at worker owned co-ops that includes Michael interviewing Tom Webb, a worker co-op expert from Canada. They talk about how to bring DEMOCRACY to the workplace and to our economy and about the rise of worker-owned co-ops worldwide (1 billion people are members of co-ops and 3 billion have some or most of their needs met by cooperatives). Webb also lays out how capitalism feeds our worst problems including environmental destruction and why cooperatives are better at social and environmental justice.

The Banks Kick Them Out, Max Kicks Them Back In
A powerful extended interview and scenes filmed in Miami/Dade county with land rights advocate/organizer, Max Rameaux (Take Back the Land). Max appears in the film in the scene where the Trudeau family in Miami defies a court ordered eviction and moves back into their foreclosed home. Max is brazen in confronting the criminality of the massive foreclosures of low income families that are commonplace today. Max: “Housing is a human right … We need to advance the cause of justice, to rethink and then put into action a new relationship to land … Stop helping the banks. Use land and vacant houses not to make a profit, but in the way it’s intended: to house human beings … This benefits everyone: the neighborhood and the family who gets a home, and the bank who gets a home kept in better condition than if left abandoned.”

The Rich Don’t Go to Heaven (there’s a special place reserved for them!)
In a truly heartfelt conversation, Michael and his friend/priest who married him, Dick Preston, speak about the clash between Christian values and Capitalist values.

Congressman Cummings Dares to Speak the Unspeakable
Extended interview by Michael of Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland, member of the Congressional Black Caucus) filmed on a D.C. park bench in 2009. The interview about the financial crisis, it’s causes and the people hit hardest is raw and personal. Congressman Cummings feels the pain of his Baltimore constituents who just want to be treated fairly. His anger is deep as he wonders if we are working to regulate the wrong kind of system — and if maybe, just maybe, capitalism is a system we need to discard.

Sorry, House-Flippers and Banks — You’re Toast in Flint, MI
How to downsize a city synonymous with poverty, unemployment, and capitalist failure — Flint is a third-world, unlivable city in the United States. Michael talks to old friend, Dan Kildee (Chairperson of the Genesee County Land Bank) and Treasurer of Genesee county (Flint), Michigan. The Land Bank aims to make Flint — where 40% of properties have been abandoned — more sustainable by taking back the abandoned factories/houses/businesses and demolishing & cleaning them up, then, offering the land to neighbors if they agree to use it for a garden or keep it up. Thousands of plots are now being utilized in this attempt to make urban Flint sustainable, safer and more livable for those human inhabitants abandoned by capitalism.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma? It’s Capitalism
Capitalism & the food industry:

– Let’s Go Local – Michael Pollen
– Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmer – Petaluma, CA
– City Slickers – Backyard garden program, West Oakland, CA – A non-profit establishing and supporting back yard organic gardens (86 gardens as of May 2009).

What If, Just If, We Had Listened to Jimmy Carter in 1979?
Blast from the past: President Jimmy Carter’s July 15th, 1970 “Energy Speech” that comes down on our supreme values of owning and consuming. What if we had listened to Carter?

The Socialist Bank of — North Dakota?
The mission of this state-owned bank is not profit, but to serve the people of the North Dakota. No risky derivatives or subprime loans. Here’s another way to do business.

*** VIDEO PREVIEW *** Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren on How Wall Street Got Away with Murder
Blu-ray exclusive: Extended interview with top TARP cop, Harvard Professor, Elizabeth Warren. She’s sassy and real and tells it like it is, while wearing a nice light blue wool-tweed suit.