Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Both Trump & Clinton Are Status Quo Actors In This Film
More Blacks Are Now In Prison In The 
U.S. Than There Were Slaves In 1860?
The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization & the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage & testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, & formerly incarcerated women & men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis .. trailer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Blackstone’s Tony James Touting What Looks Like Hillary’s Scheme to Gut Social Security

Put it another way: this is just another form of looting. Obamacare was written by the health insurance lobby and look how well that has turned out. Just imagine what sort of cooking ordinary Americans will get from the kitchen of Tony James and his fellow private equity robber barons. From Sirota’s story:

The proposal would require workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll into individual retirement accounts “to be invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers,” as James put it. In other words, individual voluntary 401(k)s would be replaced by a single national system, and much of the mandated savings would flow to Wall Street, where companies like Blackstone could earn big fees off the assets. And because of a gap in federal anti-corruption rules, there would be little to prevent the biggest investment contracts from being awarded to the biggest presidential campaign donors.

In other words, this is the worst of all possible worlds. You have an individual account, but you are not permitted to invest in stocks and bonds; you may not be permitted even to choose your asset allocation. Worse, James’ language suggests that the vehicles will be “run by professional asset managers,” As any student of John Bogle will tell you, paying for active managers is a waste of money, but Hillary wants to go that route on an industrial scale so as to further enrich grifters like Tony James (let us not forget that the Blackstone has paid fines in an SEC settlement for charging fees it was not authorized to take, which in most walks of life would be called embezzlement).

It’s perverse to see James praise public pension funds for their high allocations to alternative investments even when he and his private equity colleagues snigger privately about their lack of sophistications.

Again from Sirota:

In the blueprint of the plan, James lamented that 401(k) systems “don’t invest in longer-term, illiquid alternatives such as hedge funds, private equity and real estate,” and said the new program could invest in “high-yielding and risk-reducing alternative asset classes.” In a CNBC interview, James said he wants the billions of dollars of new retiree savings to be invested “like pension plans.” He noted that in “the average pension plan in America, about 25 percent is invested in stuff we do, in alternatives, in real estate and private equity and commodities and hedge funds.” Unlike stock index funds and Treasury bills, those investments generate big fees for financial firms — and critics say they do not generate returns that justify the costs.

So James is looking for a way for Blackstone to unload its failed investment in single family rental homes, where it is struggling to find an exit strategy, on government-mandated investors? How sporting of him.

And there is another layer of this that is not pretty: the more money that is in the hands of mega-funds, the less corporate accountability. CEOs can regularly pay themselves well out of line with performance and get away with other governance failings by virtue of the fact that most institutional investors either can’t be bothered to try to discipline them or have incentives not to (they want the 401 (k) or pension or Treasury funds management business). Mega-funds that are selected via a largely if not entirely political process have even less reason to push for good governance.

I hope you’ll circulate this post and/or Sirota’s story widely. This is what you can look forward to in a Clinton administration. Don’t say you weren’t warned.