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May 31, 2007


David Garen

A most interesting and pertinent article. The concentration of wealth is dangerous for both the environment and society, and the connection between these two is a key point of the article. Since the rich and the corporations are also tied closely with politics, this seems to me to be almost an unbreakable stranglehold on power. How can things ever change when those who hold all the power don't want change?

It is also interesting to me that this message is coming from a European. Although the U.S. is the biggest bad boy regarding hyper-wealth and über-consumption, I guess some Europeans are also seeing this in their countries too. I wonder what the Germans would say about this?

Thanks for posting this ...


Jonathan Teller-Elsberg

A heads up: Chelsea Green Publishing will be releasing an English translation of Kempf's book (as How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth) in October 2008.

Steve Salmony

Economic meltdown?


Steve Salmony

A "sub prime" example of how the wealthy are destroying the world ???

Buddy, Can You Spare a Billion?

By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
Friday 04 April 2008

Meet Alan Schwartz, welfare recipient.

As the chief executive of Bear Stearns, he's getting rather more public assistance than your typical welfare mom - specifically, $30 billion in federal loan guarantees to help J.P. Morgan Chase take over his firm. But then, Schwartz has had rather more than his share of suffering of late.

As his firm collapsed, he was forced to forgo his entire 2007 bonus, leaving his compensation for the past five years at a paltry $141 million, according to Business Week. Things have become so bad that, the Wall Street Journal discovered, Schwartz has had to rent out his 7,850-square-foot home on the ninth green of a suburban New York golf course - leaving the poor fellow with only his 17-room, seven-acre home in Greenwich, his condo in Colorado and the athletic center he built for Duke University.

Schwartz's tale of woe tugs at the heartstrings all the more because he and his colleagues at Bear Stearns were, he believes, blameless for the bankruptcy of two hedge funds and the subsequent collapse of the 85-year-old investment bank. "I am saddened," Schwartz told the Senate banking committee yesterday. He was saddened that Bear Stearns was undone by "unfounded rumors and attendant speculation," despite its impeccable balance sheet.

"Due to the stressed condition of the credit market as a whole and the unprecedented speed at which rumors and speculation travel and echo through the modern financial media environment, the rumors and speculation became a self-fulfilling prophecy," Schwartz told the senators. "There was, simply put, a run on the bank."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) asked the corporate-welfare recipient whether he shares any blame for his indigent circumstances. "Do you believe that your management team has any responsibility for the company's collapse?"

Schwartz could think of no missteps - not even his decision to remain at a conference at the Breakers in Palm Beach while his firm was imploding. "I just simply have not been able to come up with anything, even with the benefit of hindsight," said the blameless chief executive, escorted into the hearing room by superlawyer Robert Bennett.

Fortunately for Schwartz, he had a sympathetic audience in the banking committee, whose members have received more than $20 million in campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. "I want the witnesses to know, and others, that as a bottom-line consideration, I happen to believe that this was the right decision," Chairman Chris Dodd (D-$5,796,000) said before hearing a single word of testimony.

"You made the right decision," Sen. Evan Bayh (D-$1,582,000) told the regulators who worked out the loan guarantee.

"The actions had to be done," agreed Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-$6,162,000).

Only a minority of senators, particularly those with smaller pieces of the campaign-cash pie, dissented. "That is socialism!" railed Sen. Jim Bunning (R-$452,000). "And it must not happen again."

To the extent the lawmakers objected to the Bear Stearns bailout, they worried that the Fed's actions would create a "moral hazard" - an economic term of art - that, as Shelby put it, "encourages firms to take excessive risk based on the expectations that they will reap all the profits while the federal government stands ready to cover any losses if they fail."

Shelby's notion was a curiosity for the senators, who don't often spend a lot of time worrying about moral hazards. No fewer than five other senators invoked the phrase. "I think the moral hazard was minimized," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, one of the witnesses, reassured the senators.

No moral hazard, however, would interfere with the lawmakers' compassion for the beleaguered Schwartz and his fellow witness, J.P. Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, who had given a combined $260,000 in political contributions in recent years - a small part of the $1.7 million their co-workers contributed in this election cycle alone. That's a sizable handout - but a good investment compared with the $30 billion federal hand-up.

"On behalf of all of us here on this dais, our sympathies go out to your employees," Dodd told Schwartz after his opening statement. "There's no adequate way we can express our sorrow to them for what happened. Obviously, shareholders, same sort of feelings, but obviously the employees particularly. It's a particularly hard blow."

Of course, some might consider $30 billion an adequate expression of sympathy, but Dodd was apologetic as he gently probed Schwartz. "You both will have forgotten more in the next 10 minutes than I'll ever probably understand about all of this," he told the witnesses, but didn't the irregular trading at Bear Stearns mean than "more than just rumors" were behind Bear Stearns's demise?

"You could never get facts out as fast as the rumors," Schwartz explained. "It looked like there were people that wanted to induce panic."

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reminded Schwartz that two of the firm's funds went bankrupt in 2007. "It caused concern, not only here but on Wall Street," the senator said. "Did that dramatically alter your behavior?"

Evidently not. "I'm not sure I understand the question," Schwartz

Steve Salmony

For an instructive, naturally persuasive explanation of the "pyramid scheme economics" underpinning the sub prime mess, please click on the follwoing link.


Steven Earl Salmony

Millions of winners and billions of losers.

Perhaps the unfair and inequitable distribution of the astounding wealth derived from the world’s human economy is resulting in some people suffering inordinately when natural disasters occur.

The way the global economy is managed and continuously grown, wealth is consolidated in the hands of a few million fortunate winners. Many too many people are the billions of unfortunate losers in the human community.

The family of humanity ‘owns’ a leviathan-like, manmade economic construction in the shape of pyramid due to the organization of the global economy as a soon to become patently unsustainable colossal ponzie scheme.

Steven Earl Salmony

Please consider, now, a point of view to which I subscribe from Lee Iacocca that might be helpful here.

Lee Iacocca Says:

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course'

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned 'Titanic'.

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up.

These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage.......... and common sense?

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening.

Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope...................If I've learned one thing, it's this:

You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action..... It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close.

Sincerely yours,


Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

Steven Earl Salmony

No time like the present for needed change........

Is the tiptop of the human construction we call the global political economy a place from which leadership can gain a reality-oriented view of what is happening on the surface of the Earth? Perhaps those of us at the top of the global economic pyramid are living in a secluded, unmaintainable material world of our own making and are willfully refusing to accept the limitations of the natural world in which the rest of the family of humanity lives.

If it turns out that the conspicuous consumption and relentless hoarding of the rich, the famous and the powerful are evidence of unsustainable lifestyles, what is the human community to do differently? Perhaps necessary change is in the offing.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

Steven Earl Salmony

Virtual mountains of scientific evidence indicate that a contradiction exists between the finite physical reality of the world we inhabit and the cornucopian fantasy of so many economists assuring us Earth is a sort of maternal presence, like an ever-expressive teat at which the human species can suckle from now onward.

Perhaps the contradiction between fantasy and reality is better posed in the form of a question about oil deposits.

Is oil a depletable natural resource with limited availability for human consumption in our time or is oil an essentially unlimited product of a planet that indefinitely can produce resources for human benefit without regard to Earth’s physical limitations?

Steve Salmony

Dear Friends,

There are many lessons in these threads, but this thread appears to point out so dramatically one of the most pernicious human-driven challenges confronting the family of humanity: the deleterious effects of filthy lucre that is consolidated in the hands of a tiny group of people at the tiptop of the human community's global economy. The way the economy of humanity is organized and managed, endless economic growth, endless wealth accumulation, conspicuous resource consumption and endless hoarding of limited resources are presented as the only way to play "the only game in town." That the 'only game in town' richly services the few, unfortunately sacrifices the "many too many" and is soon to become patently unsustainable is shrouded in silence.

Of course, everyone who looks out at the world with fresh eyes as Magne Karlsen, Trinifar, John Feeney, Dave Gardner, Paul Ehrlich, David Pimentel and Russ Hopfenberg do, sees this immediately and refuses to allow personal, selfish interests and the approbation of others to keep them from breaking the silence that engulfs most people in the human world today.

The lesson here to which I draw attention is the way wealth and the power it purchases serve so pervasively to corrupt the thought, judgement and will of the economic powerbrokers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians, and leave the rest of us searching, despite the silence, for acknowledgement of the need to find a sustainable path to a good enough future. The well being of our children and a chance at life for coming generation are being put at risk by too many leaders who adamantly call for evermore over-consumption, overproduction and overpopulation on the tiny planet God blesses us to inhabit and not overwhelm, I suppose.



Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

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