Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On The US Bailout, And On Treating Key With Kid Gloves

September 24th, 2008

This is crunch week for the US financial system, and the Democrats need to play hardball and vote against the $700 billion bailout plan. Because (a) the plan probably won’t work (b) isn’t fixable and (c) will be politically suicidal in the presidential race in November if the Democrats end up owning it in Congress.

Lets take the political suicide aspect first. Every American – and especially every person who has lost their home in the recession/subprime fallout because their bank refused to help them re-structure their debt – is furious that Wall Street is getting bailed out at their expense. Even worse, if the Democrats enable the bailout plan to pass, this will allow John McCain and every Republican in a marginal seat to run as outsiders and rail against Washington – even though it was their party and its loony zeal for de-regulation that made the crisis possible, and inevitable.

The Republicans know this already. Here’s Patrick Ruffini, writing on the Next Right site:

Republican incumbents in close races have the easiest vote of their lives coming up this week: No on the Bush-Pelosi Wall Street bailout.

God Himself couldn’t have given rank-and-file Republicans a better opportunity to create political space between themselves and the Administration. That’s why I want to see 40 Republican No votes in the Senate, and 150+ in the House. If a bailout is to pass, let it be with Democratic votes. Let this be the political establishment (Bush Republicans in the White House + Democrats in Congress) saddling the taxpayers with hundreds of billions in debt (more than the Iraq War, conjured up in a single weekend, and enabled by Pelosi, btw), while principled Republicans say “No” and go to the country with a stinging indictment of the majority in Congress….

Oh, and beyond this suicidal enabling of the Republicans to campaign as Washington outsiders against the mess they have presided over for the past eight years….the bailout probably won’t work. Briefly, economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times lays out the four steps that caused the crisis, before concluding that the bailout plan focuses on just the last step in the chain. Here’s my (only slightly edited) summary of Krugman’s version of the causes :

1. The bursting of the housing bubble led to a surge in defaults and foreclosures, which in turn caused a plunge in the prices of mortgage-backed securities — assets whose value ultimately comes from mortgage payments.

2. These financial losses left many financial institutions with too little capital — too few assets compared with their debt. This problem is especially severe because everyone took on so much debt during the bubble years.

3. Because financial institutions have too little capital relative to their debt, they haven’t been able or willing to provide the credit the economy needs.

4. Financial institutions have been trying to pay down their debt by selling assets, including those mortgage-backed securities, but this drives asset prices down and makes their financial position even worse. This vicious circle is what some call the “paradox of deleveraging.”

OK. According to Krugman, the bailout plan is unlike the prior bailout of the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – which focussed successfully on step two. The bailout plan that is being promoted with missionary zeal by US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson – and with Soviet-like exemptions from judicial challenge in the courts – addresses step four, the deleveraging vicious cycle. And it might well fail, and/or hand over windfall profits to the culprits. How come ? Well, Krugman explains –

….The prices of many assets, not just those the Treasury proposes to buy, are under pressure. And even if the vicious circle is limited, the financial system will still be crippled by inadequate capital.

Or rather, it will be crippled by inadequate capital unless the federal government hugely overpays for the assets it buys, giving financial firms — and their stockholders and executives — a giant windfall at taxpayer expense. Did I mention that I’m not happy with this plan?

Meanwhile, there’s palpable rage building out in the heartland against bailing out Wall Street for its latest spasm of greed and folly. Here are some responses pouring into Krugman’s own newspaper :

If we taxpayers are going to be forced to bail out these lemming-like idiots on Wall Street (or Main Street), we should own the business not just the business’s bad paper.

Radical free-market crony capitalism is just the same as Soviet communism–it only works in theory. We’re seeing what happens when theory doesn’t work in reality.

The cronies are circling around Washington like a pack of buzzards waiting for the next helping to be offered up to them at the people’s expense. … I thought the U.S. was supposed to be an ownership society? Don’t the rich have to “own” their losses? Oh? That’s just for us poor and middle class suckers? Ah. I see. All animals are equal, I guess, but some are more equal than others, right?

Luckily, there is skepticism in Congress about the bailout.

The Democrats have to avoid making a few patch-up changes. That really would be putting lipstick on a pig. They should tough it out, at whatever (therapeutic?) risk to the financial markets. Otherwise, if the Democrats end up owning it in Congress, the bailout could well cost them the November election.

Peters, Key and the “L” Word

The double standard evident in the media treatment of Winston Peters and John Key this week has been breathtaking. With a few notable exceptions – eg, Mary Wilson’s fiery exchange yesterday with Key on RNZ’s Checkpoint programme – the media pack has largely bought Key saying ‘ Sorry. ” The trust and credibility issues raised by Key’s behaviour over the TranzRail shares are being quietly buried.

By contrast, Peters has been vigorously pursued for months for every sign of wrong-doing over his handling of the Glenn donation. Yes, he probably knew something about the Glenn donation, and his belligerent attitude didn’t help his case. But does anyone really think that if Peters had said “ Sorry, I forgot to file ” back in February, the media would have chosen to forgive and forget, as seems the case with its handling of Key ? Wouldn’t an apology from Peters in February ( or in July ) have merely amplified the calls for him to be drummed from his Ministerial post ?

Out on the hustings therefore, Peters will get some traction with his claims that he has been persecuted by his corporate enemies and by the elite media. As for Key, ‘Sorry, made a mistake’ doesn’t really cut it, not in an aspiring Prime Minister. How hard is it for any MP to work out that it is wrong to be pursuing the subject of Tranzrail in Parliament – or even being National’s associate transport spokesperson in the first place – while he or his family trust hold a significant financial stake in the rail operator ?

Every day in Parliament begins with a prayer and commitment to set aside personal gain. Yet Key’s family trust held 50,000 shares in Tranzrail at the same time he was asking parliamentary questions about it, twice in October 2002, and again in April 2003. Not to mention when he met representatives of Rail America on 20 May 2003 to discuss Tranzrail, barely two weeks after he himself bought a further 50,000 share stake in Tranzrail without disclosing it.

Key bought these shares on May 7. Barely two weeks beforehand on April 23, he had sought in Parliament the minutes of confidential meetings held between the government and Tranzrail, but was denied them on the grounds of commercial sensitivity. Three weeks after he had bought those 50,000 Tranzrail shares, Key appealed to the Ombudsman to help him overturn the commercial sensitivity decision.

Is this innocent ignorance – or sheer arrogance ? To Wilson on Checkpoint, Key conceded he had established by July this year just how many shares taken together, that he and his family trust had owned. Yet when challenged by TVNZ’s Fran Mold this week, Key at first offered her the wrong, lower estimate – between a third or a half the true figure. Only when Key belatedly realized that she knew the truth, did he shift up to the correct figure. It looked like he was lying to Mold. Especially if we use the standard that the NZ Herald editorial on September 12 used to condemn Winston Peters –

“It it is one thing to try to keep the truth confidential, it is another to deny it when directly asked. Then it becomes a lie. “

Not that the Herald has used the “L’ word with respect to Key. Rather, in the last 24 hours, its headlines have all but congratulated him on his ( much belated) frankness, not once but twice : as in “ Key Admits Mistake Over Shares” and “Off-Key Leader Admits His Mistake.” ( Off key, you understand, He really wasn’t being himself that day. ) TV3 did use the “l” word, but carefully attributed it to the Government. As in “Key Lied About Ownership of Tranz Rail Shares: Labour

No one is accusing Key of insider trading. What the episode indicates is that Key has been consistently cavalier about the distinction between his business dealings and his public duties, and then tried to cover that up – both this year to Mold, and previously as well. How else to explain his curious statement to the House in October 16, 2003 when he seemed intent on presenting himself as a paragon on disclosure, while talking about the Pecuniary Interests Bill that has lately caused Peters so much grief :

“It might be a bit uncomfortable, but if I am a shareholder of Tranz Rail and I want to get up in this House and start talking about that company, then my shareholding is relevant.”

This is really Freudian stuff, since Key had bought and sold ‘ relevant’ Tranzrail shares only months before, without disclosing them. Since Key says he knew it was relevant to disclose such holdings, why didn’t he do so a year – or six months before – when he had such holdings but didn’t disclose them ? When did he see the light ?

Leaving that aside… In the name of honesty and transparency, Key could have and should have disclosed his Tranz Rail “mistake” during that October 16, 2003 speech, by adding to the statement above something to the effect that : “ But until recently I had shares in Tranzrail, and didn’t disclose them as I should have, and I now want that put on the record.” He didn’t, of course.

Since Key has now had to be dragged kicking and sceaming into the full light of disclosure on these matters, this still has to put a question mark over his fitness for leadership. When for instance, did the National caucus that Key now proposes to lead by example, first find out that their associate transport spokesperson held a large bloc of shares in Tranz Rail ? Did he tell them – and if so, when – or did he just let them read about it in the newspaper ?

It is not simply that Key is wealthy, or that he has business interests. Phillip Burdon, a previous National Cabinet Minister and millionaire, juggled his personal business and public roles without giving any cause for alarm. It would be interesting to know what Burdon makes of the shares question. These current concerns about Key go to the heart of any future National government – if only because National is proposing to commit large sums of taxpayer money into PPP joint ventures between the government and the private sector.

At the best of times, these PPP contracts will be hard enough to manage in a way that safeguards the public interest. If it can be avoided though, the public shouldn’t be letting its interests be represented by someone who has played so fast and loose in the past with the conventions that surround personal gain and public service.

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    1. 34 Responses to “On The US Bailout, And On Treating Key With Kid Gloves”

    2. By brian marshall on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      um, I don’t think John Key ever said he didn’t have shares. Winston said he never had a donation. Also I couldn’t tell you how much is exactly in my bank accounts at the moment. I imagine John Key would be in the same situation with amounts of share of individual companies.

    3. By Harvey Wilson on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      Umm, what needs to be explained is this. Key has admitted that by ‘early 2003′ Tranz Rail was becoming a ‘hot issue’, so he decided to sell his stake. Tranz Rail was a hot issue by April. Key was National’s transport spokesperson. he was asking questions. He was at select committee hearings. Did he divest? On 7 May 2003, he doubled his holding – he ‘divested’ by buying another 50,000 shares at 45c. Interestingly, a couple of weeks later, Toll launched its takeover bid. The share price recovered to around $1. And then Key sold. The 7 May purchase significantly mitigated the losses he incurred.

    4. By Shonkey on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      When Don Brash failed to tell the truth to the public regarding his affair duting his first marriage it was just a matter of time before the same flaw reared its ugly head again and bought down his bid for PM. John Key also has a fatal flaw which he lied about in parliament and to the public .It is not the flaw that is the danger -it is the denial of it. It also will only be a matter of time before John Key’s greed will emerge again and ruin all those about him and possibly the country. Take a good long look at the PPP get-richer schemes Andy Kreiger, Keys financial mentor, is promoting. John wont be able to help himself. Guaranteed.

    5. By FletcherB on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      I agree that some of the press has gone very lightly on Key on this issue.
      I agree that he is now proven to have been “economical with the truth” and only admitted to the facts when he knew he was outed twice in the last two weeks. (Tranrail shares/ Lord Tory Whats-his-name)…

      Unfortunately, while I’d like to say that makes him unfit to be a leader…. if you examine Helen Clark’s small-scale scandals like painter/speed/gate…. then add in her wilful blindness to the facts surrounding Winston Peters and her despicable public undermining of first the Auditor General and now the SFO and Privaleges Committee….
      You’d have to say that makes her unfit too, by the same standards, no?

      So, either, none of them are fit to be our nations Leader… or you have to hold your nose and vote for someone you cant trust 100% on every single matter, but that is likely to lead the country in a direction you prefer…

      The only people up for leader are already proven liars… so you cant really use being a liar as grounds for judging which is best.

      It stinks, I dont like it, but I will be voting either directly for one of them, or someone else (who may or maynot also be a liar) that will support them in a coalition…. still not sure which though?

    6. By ak on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      “The double standard evident in the media treatment of Winston Peters and John Key this week has been breathtaking.”

      Absolutely correct: contrast the shiploads of venomous ink directed at a minor party politician in a concerted and drawn-out public stoning, with the treatment given a relatively unknown individual poised to assume the proverbial “unbridled power” over millions of lives.

      “Mistake” my arse: yet another blatant lie coming on top of the Ashcroft lie, the “can’t remember which side” Springbok Tour lie, the “can’t remember” Crosby-Textor-hiring lie, and God knows how many other “mistakes” ignored by a blatantly partisan media.

      Most telling sound-bite occurred on TV1 early on: as Key pulled his now-customary wide-eyed “aw shucks, I’m human” routine, Guyon Espiner (top-rated “pro” of the top-rated outlet) was heard to murmur a sycophantic, almost pleading, “but…but you fixed it straight away, right?”

      The EFA stymied the propaganda barrages from the Hollow Men, but as Brownlee noted in the book of the same name, (p88) “the work was done…” (on the media) over a long period. “Work”, eh? We may never know the details of such shady toil, but the fruits are blindingly obvious.

    7. By Vince Damphousse on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      I seem to recall reading about the Key’s Tranzrail thingy months ago, perhaps on No Right Turn. Maybe the weirder story is that this wasn’t a story until Labour decided to use it as a weapon.

    8. By Ron on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      I would trust Helen Clark over John Key anytime—-He’s so slippery, and only owns up when he’s found out.
      Besides, I would not want to see a man who can’t remember how many shares he had, running this country!
      He was also wrong about Iraq—God help us.
      Helen Clark will one day in retrospect be seen as one of our greatest leaders ever.

    9. By Malcolm Jackson on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      Do you remember David Parker? Perhaps John Key can find a nice civil servant to write a backdated “get out of jail free card”

    10. By dan on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      This is no bailout it’s a scam to stick it to the American tax payer. The picture is bollux.

    11. By Margaret Swift on Sep 25, 2008 | Reply

      Key and kid gloves.

      John Key is not fit to be Prime Minister, a proven liar, he has already said a liar should not be in our Parliment (Winston Peters he was speaking of then).
      But aside from that, today I was out door knocking for Labour and was told by a resident of our community she was voting for National because they were told at a meeting their welfare policy was to completly cut all welfare totally. Everyone on a benefit must work at least 20 hours a week for their payment, sounds good.
      How many times has work schemes being tried and how many times have they failed because they cost more to administer than the welfare payments that are paid out. Lets ask how they are going to manage this.

    12. By Patricia McCarty01nz on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      Those who want to read more about the corporate capitalist philosophy that underpins the self-serving mind-set of John Key and fellow travellers like Douglas, Prebble, Hyde and members of the Business Round-table, should read ‘The Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klein.

    13. By brian marshall on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      Margaret, if John Key is not fit to be PM because he’s “lied”, how does that compare to Helen Clark. By that definition she shouldn’t be PM also.

      At least you have the guts to admit you’re a labour party member/supporter unlike some on here that claim they present a balanced view.

      Here’s my disclaimer. I’m not a party member and never voted for ACT or National, nor Labour.

    14. By Ms M on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      Gordon I too have been gobsmacked by the media’s indifference to John Key and the issue of these shares. Henry on Breakfast did nothing more than put him over his knee and give him a sound spanking.

      “Naughty boy, now run along and do as your told.”

      It’s like our, or should I say ‘their’ media, do seem intent on chasing the smoke of he said/she said, when the real story is the raging inferno that is John Key and his friends in big businesses manipulating the sale of our railway in 1993, 2003 and their scathing criticism in 2007 when the Government once and for all took their tonka train wreck off them.

      I suggest readers check out Wishart’s briefing room, in particular Investigate issue June 2002, link attached.

      Wishart is not my favourite person, but in this case, this article is very timely.

      I find Stephen Frank’s comment: “Non-disclosure by crooks. They will just route the “dealings” through family members or some other disguise”, most timely of all.

    15. By Matthew Woods on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      The lack of focus on JK’s dealings is extraordinary and looks very bad for impartial reporting in this country. Rather than ascribing this to a conspiracy – which is tempting – I believe the cause is a self absorbed attitude in the media. The focus on the ‘lie’ illustrates this. Apparently the only big crime is deception or obfuscation, and only then when dealing with the media. Even being momentarily confused when a question is asked is ‘embarrassing’. On the other hand, if one admits one’s dealings, even if they include blatant conflict of interest bordering on corruption, that deserves credit and immediate forgiveness.
      Many reporters seem to think the news is only made when they stick a microphone in front of someone. Spare us please, we need facts, but I suppose they cost more to deliver than cheap theatre and glib opinion.

    16. By brian marshall on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      Quote from kiwiblog…

      “The ODT editorial today starts off on John Key and Tranz Rail but really focuses on Clark.

      The New Zealand First leader’s lawyer, Brian Henry, told the privileges committee he personally paid $40,000 in court costs awarded against Mr Peters to National MP Bob Clarkson.

      Mr Peters then told the committee that he repaid his lawyer, which meant he did not have to declare the sum under Parliament’s rules.

      However, in evidence to the committee, the Serious Fraud Office said its investigations showed Mr Peters did not repay the money; the Spencer Trust, through which NZ First’s donations were channelled, did so.

      Miss Clark’s response to this, when questioned by journalists, was that she did not intend to waste any more time on the matter.

      Rock solid proof that Peters lied to both the public and the privileges committee. And all Clark can say is she had not bothered to read the report and doing so would be a waste of time.”

      Trust Clark over Key. Not bleeming likely.
      Matthew, I really think you are right about the media though. They haven’t had a recent history of investigating or uncovering a story. Corngate is the closest they have come, and it wasn’t mainstream media.

    17. By David on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      $700 000 000 000 / 305 247 000 = $2 293.22483

    18. By Evelyn Gilbert on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      For those of you who want to know why John Key is unfit to be elected only have to look at the financial and economic meltdown that is taking the financial system down.

      John Key was the managing director of debt in 1999. He worked of and on in Wall street and had an office in New York in the main office of Merrill Lynch in New York. His job? Managing the development of the crap that is now imploding our global economy.

      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3715/is_/ai_n8869409

    19. By Brian Marshall on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

      Oh for Christ’s sake Evelyn. Do you really believe the crap that Labour are spitting out about John Key or are a Labour party member also?
      John Key’s working career has had less effect upon finacial meltdown in the US than Michael Cullen’s had the ability to make fundimental differences to our finance companies here in New Zealand.
      The US housing loans market was flooded with a wave of cheap cash which was thrown at people who never should have been given the loans in the first place. Those loans were then packaged and sold to banks and other investment organisations. With the housing market crashing, the “Sub Prime” loans, which should never have been granted, became greater in value than the houses they were lent on and people have just walked away from their homes. I’m not sure how much John Key is personally liable for, maybe you could tell me….

    20. By Free Market Ideologue on Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

      John Key will use the global budget crisis that follows the Wall St crash to be the rationalization for more deregulation, deep cuts into social programmes; slashing of apprenticeship schemes, cutting pensions, slashing health and education budgets, and for a renewed push to privatize what is left of the public sector ( with a predatory eye on plenty of fat-cat shares for himself.) We will also be told that our hopes for a green future are, sadly, too costly. Unfortunately our rather fascist corporate media will continue their anti democratic propaganda by applauding every villainous policy he makes. It was Abraham Lincoln I think who said, it is governments job never to let big business loose on the people.

    21. By Dave McArthur on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      Evelyn Gilbert has a valid point and Brian Marshal reveals a remarkable ignorance of the real reasons for the credit collapse. In brief the repeal of the Glass Steagall legislation occurred at a time when this psychotic structure we call “The Market” valued mineral oil at an insanely low 0.04 cents per man-hour of labour equivalent. Anything is possible at this price and credit exploded as Americans and New Zealanders alike invested in air-conditioned McMansions in the sunbelts, SUVs, motorways, air travel and other wasteful uses of mineral oil.

      A decade later, shock horror, we learn the Conservation Principle of Energy does hold after all and we have destroyed a large portion of this amazing resource. Now “The Market” is valuing it at 0.4 cents a man-hour of labour equivalent, still an insanely low value, but ten times the price of a decade ago. Inflation is rife as a result.

      You have to be really stupid to not see where such behaviour is taking us – catastrophic global war. John Key was and remains at the heart of this insanity (as are all our Parliamentarians). This war was not inevitable if we had instead invested in intelligent uses of electricity and rail. Unfortunately, for instance, the 20 plus billion dollar asset (NZ Rail) was gifted in a vastly corrupt process to a few merchant bankers so they could gut it at their leisure. This they have done. The fact that John Key was trading off this profoundly devastating deal for profit over an extended period shows he remains oblivious to the immense danger we all now face. He is still the wheeler-dealer he was in the psychotic Merrill Lynch and still believes humans are mere disposable commodities. He has no vision at all of how of how we are going to transition beyond the Cheap Oil/Gas Age that we are now exiting.
      The real cause for concern is not John key, or similar folk like Michael Cullen, Russel Norman et al. Rather it is the corrupt state of our media which does not see or care about the central issue, which is that our current use of mineral oil is a recipe for devastating inflation (also known as war, famine and disease). I fear it has calculated that there are better short-term profits in housing speculator, car and mineral oil trader ads and in dramatic headlines about heroic battles, grieving families, body bag counts and general misery.
      Note to Gordon – The explosion in McMansions, SUVs and the repeal of the Glass Steagall acts occurred under the Bill Clinton/Al Gore Administration and the vast bulk of Congress supported these activities. Both Barrack Obama and John McCain support the recent $US25 billion subsidy to US auto manufacturers and it looks as though both are Emissions Traders at heart.

    22. By Bill on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      No-one is accusing John Key of being responsible for the Sub-Prime crisis. The point at issue is the failure of either economic judgment or moral compass that allowed him to direct the very engine room of this scheme to defraud. Debt Markets is where the “dodgy Debts” were packaged up for sale.
      In view of the fact that, as a top exec with Merrill Lynch, he must have been aware of that firm’s fraudulent collusion with Enron and chose to remain with the firm, it seems likely that it was deviation in the moral compass rather than incompetence – after all, he did profit substantially from his time with Merrill.
      http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=fxWOLU2ZNOAC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=Merrill+Lynch+history+corruption&source=web&ots=dC7nAiEXb0&sig=NKD0uJLtVGJKDX2W2WgtAA4imFI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

    23. By julieg on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      This is a better bailout plan, please suggest it:

      Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a ”We Deserve It Dividend”.
      To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.
      Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..
      So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.
      My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a “We Deserve It Dividend”.
      Of course, it would NOT be tax free.
      So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.
      Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

      That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.
      But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500 in their pocket.

      A husband and wife has $595,000.
      What would you do with $297,500 to $595,000 in your family?

      Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
      Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads
      Put away money for college – it’ll be there
      Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
      Buy a new car – create jobs
      Invest in the market – capital drives growth
      Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – health care improves.

      Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

      Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back.

      And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

      If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 (‘vote buy’) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

      If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult
      U.S. Citizen 18+!

      As for AIG – liquidate it.
      Sell off its parts.
      Let American General go back to being American General.
      Sell off the real estate.
      Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

      How do you spell Economic Boom?

      I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion “We Deserve It Dividend” more than the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

      And remember, The Family plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

    24. By Pete on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      Yes John Key is a liar I believe. Of interest to me is that a large number of our newspapers inlcuding the NZ Herald are owned by Irish Billionaire Tony Oreilly who owns APN. I don’t know much about Mr Oreilly but it troubles me that he does business with The Caryle Group. He is in partnership with them in his Australian Media Holdings. The Carlyle group are big in weaponry so when I saw a full front page article in the NZ herald about our poorly armed forces it made me wonder was this fair comment or Tony trying to do his Carlyle associates a favour with some weapons sales to NZ. I don’t mjuch like the connection of a neocon associated group with the owner of a large part of our media. It’s scary.
      Yes the Herald ran front page after front page attacking Winston with some good reasons. But their treatment of MR Key is to let him off the Hook. I think Winston’s case is less of a red flag because its pretty hard for politicians to keep any sort of public profile and their parties operating without money. No excuse but Mr Key’s objective was entirely his own personal gain through his position. This is from someone who’s not lacking money so there’s is no mitigating factor.

    25. By Honest John on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      At last, a news media that is prepared to publish the REAL oil. There is definately a “smell” here when Peter’s is unmercifully lampooned and skewered by every Talkbck Host, TV reporter, Journalist, and Political Assassins, on a NOT PROVEN BEYOND ANY DOUBT with hard ACTUAL evidence(circumstancial evidence only)and Keys is let off by them all (they have all turned to look the other way)by mearely saying, oops sorry!Forgive me for believing that our Law is based on facts. No facts, no case!
      Keys has dug up the dirt, loaded the gun, promised Hyde of ACT a “Winnie Peters Ministerial position” if elected, (Roger Douglas brought in to do the dirty work that Keys is too frightened to do as Roger is only a one term polli anyway, so Hyde fires the bullets, (and sits behind Peters like a overstuffed Mafiaosa Hitman at the Privileges Committee hearings), the Media (read Newspapers, Radio and TV and we all know who owns them!) desperate to sell advertising at premium prices act as “lets make the news and not report it” (we are not accountable and can be our usual irresponsible selves anyway!) and be naughty little mischief makers to boot, Maybe even they are making a big donation to National not to overlook a donation and Tax break Honour to our man in Manoco, Labour gets traction in the polls by denying that there is any wrongdoing by anyone, and I, am sitting at my computer frantically writing the script for my next TV Drama Blockbuster based on all of the above. Hell, don’t I sound a cynical devious sod (sorry Balwin but I’ve already caught the weasel and put a tail on it.) Maybe I am like the media?

    26. By Dave McArthur on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

      Tony Oreilly has long had interests in mineral oil/gas exploration see the latest

      http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88795
      Tony O’Reilly and Exxon Mobil
      “That the production wing of global energy corporation, Shell, has a presence in the west of Ireland is now well known. Shell have been joined by another of their kind; Exxon Mobil, sometimes known as Esso. It’s a company which, like Shell, has left a long dark oil slick like trail of controversy and notoriety across the globe. Exxon Mobil are in alliance with Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Ireland’s most influential businessman…
      The tale of this latest energy industry development in the west, has then at least two strands: the potential political influence that can be brought in to support Providence Resources, and the international record of Exxon Mobil.

      Forty five per cent of Providence Resources is held by Sir Anthony O’Reilly, and his son is the company’s CEO. Sir Anthony is also, of course, CEO of, and owner of a large shareholding in, the Independent News and Media group. IN&M owns the Sunday World, the Sunday Independent, the Star, the Irish Independent, the Evening Herald, part of the Sunday Tribune, many local papers in Ireland and many media outlets overseas.

      In brief expect the NZ Herald to support the interests of the large fossil fuel corporations and to fight any attempt to review our Fascist Electricity Reform legislation.

    27. By Kevin on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      Don’t care how many shares he had or there value when bought and sold. Its about credibility. He has been interviewed on several occasions about the quantity of his shareholding and only came clean when a reporter bailed him up with the truth. I believe the “H” and “L” words apply here…

    28. By brian marshall on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      I’m well aware how the credit crisis has arisen Dave, and I’m far from ignorant. I’ve been expecting it there since the housing market started to go belly up over there. I just don’t let idealogy blind me or accept people opinions blindly.

      Here’s a piece or advice for you. Question everything and wonder what the angle is of the person you are listening to or reading.
      From what you’ve written I’m left with the impression you are a communist or Social creditor. Either way John Key is not responsible for the world credit crisis and does not eat children. Like most politicians in this country, he wants what’s best for New Zealand and the only difference is how it is achived.
      Also NZ rail is not worth 20 billion. I’m sure Michael Cullen would like that, since he paid a lot less, but it’s not worth a tenth of that.

    29. By Pete on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      Brian

      Why don’t you stop putting labels on people. Is anyone who is opposed to the corporate control of our media in our democracy a communist. You obviously engage in smear tactics which is rife in Americas right now. Its a means of shutting people up for fear of unwarranted attacks and labels. Those tinfoil hat wearing liberal nutcases (this is the sort of smear been used against anyone who questions Bush) predicted fall of the housing market long before it started to collapse long before you had any idea. We have many misconceptions about world events at this time largely due to the corporatisation and consolidation of media interests in the United States of America and vearound the world and likely here also. Western news is turning into a propaganda circus of the wealthy elite who own the coorporations. My observation of this does not make me a coommunist in case you are wondering.

    30. By Bill on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      “Like most politicians in this country, he wants what’s best for New Zealand and the only difference is how it is achived.”

      Like many who understand the origins of this crisis, I am not confident that someone lacking the foresight to realise the consequences of his industry’s practices is the best person to sort out the ensuing mess.

    31. By Pete on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      coommunist etc

      Oooh! that sort of posted itself without my permission :)

    32. By Pete on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      Here’s an excerpt from the “WinterPatriot” blog showing the same sort of labelling tactic going on in the US. Yes I believe its deliberate distortion and attempted smearing.

      http://winterpatriot.blogspot.com/2008/09/congratulations-we-just-spent-700b-on.html

      “So in the post-9/11 world there are only two possible political positions. If you’re not “with Bush” then you’re “with the terrorists”, and that makes you “Russian”, “communist”, “socialist”, “liberal”, “leftist” and many other derogatory terms too — all of which now mean exactly the same thing.”

    33. By Brian Marshall on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

      Pete, I don’t like to label anybody anything but I am not going to sit on hands while someone calls me ignorant when I’m very well informed of the facts and far from ignorant.
      Oil price is not the reason for the finacial crisis. The US experienced a bubble and like all bubbles from Dutch tulips to Goat farming, they bust at some stage.
      The US housing crisis and finacial crisis has a varied cause and I would be the first to say that the republican government had helped make it worse, however it’s because I am informed of the facts that have to reply to what is coming across as anti John Key Bias. (Started by the Labour party trying to smear National abit like the US presidential race mentioned above)
      So I brought a house for me and my family 6 years ago, and since I knew then that the housing market was likely to keep going up for a while and possibly crash in a bubble like what had happened overseas, does that make me not fit to comment about housing?

      And lastly if you read my previous comments, I made it very clear I agree about the loss of independant media and investigative journalism. I read left wing blogs and right wing blogs and make up my mind myself. For every John Key didn’t get the number of shares right there is two political interference in appointments of a govt dept or a David Benson-pope or Taito Phillip Field.

    34. By Pete on Oct 1, 2008 | Reply

      Brian

      You are welcome to an opinion like everyone else although I don’t agree with it. However my objection was to your calling Dave a communist. It looks like you are trying to smear using a totally unfounded statement
      rather than give a valid opinion.

      As I said this is sort of smearing and intimidation is a tactic of the neocons in the U.S. I would never accuse you of being a secret Neocon though because I have no proof. But accusing people of being a communist is a trade mark far right Neocon tactic.

    35. By Brian Marshall on Oct 2, 2008 | Reply

      Actually Pete, smearing is a disgusting tactic that is not limited to any polictical persuation, and it’s rampart amount the left leaning leaning in NZ too. Look at all the John Key is a liar bulldust. It diverts attention real balanced debate about policies and that is why I question everything and everyone.
      John Key never denied ownership of shares. Winston denied getting a donation. Helen Clark denied not wanting to debate on TV with the minor parties, but whoop-dee-doo, it’s all not really that frigin important except Winston kept on blatantly lying. (“No mean No – really means yes” For crying out loud???)
      Anyway check my prior post. I did not call Dave a communist or social creditor, I just stated I was getting the impression he was one. I also stated earlier that I had never voted National, Labour or ACT so people
      reading my comments might not think I’m just being a Pro Nat and could argue a realistic debate instead of just idealistic nonsense.

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