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May 10, 2012     Times
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May 10, 2012

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Allen said the Discovery display was really impressive - as you can see in The Discovery will be displayed just as it was after its last space flight. Hon- his photos, oring its work during the U.S. Space Program. By Rebecca Drake There's a famous movie line that goes, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". I think that is the attitude many Americans feel today about their government. We blame Obama; we blame the Republicans, the Democrats, blame, blame, blame. But, are we blaming the wrong source? After seeing Matt Taibbi interviewed on TV, I had to get his book. He talked about how Americans are so off target for the anger and disillusionment we feel. In his book, "Griftopia", he focuses on Wall Street, the hedge funds operators, the speculators, and Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chairman. I'will focus on his second chapter because it's a real eye-opener. Taibbi describes Greenspan as a socially inept, "bug-eyed, ugly duckling" who climbed his way to the'top by ingratiating himself to the rich and powerful. Born in 1926, he unapologefically wrote of his awe for his mentors as a college intern at Brown Brothers Harriman. He was impressed by Prescott Bush, grandfather of GW Bush as much as the plush, extravagant surroundings Q 18 of the investment bank. He witnessed the inner sanctum of the upper class and the trappings of their wealth. Greenspan became "the perfect front man for hijacking the democratic process" for scamming the middle class. As the deadpan figurehead of the so-called apolitical Fed, he became credible to John Q. Public. He preached laissez-faire capitalism yet acted as an interventionist for a "welfare program" for the wealthy few at the very top. He talked ruthless free market orthodoxy but walked a path that used all his power as chairman to protect his wealthy patrons. One other great influence was objectionist novelist, Ayn Rand, a Russian refugee, whom he met in the 50's at little parties. Their friends became known as the "Collective". They had an enormous impact on birthing a "crackpot anti-theology dedicated to legitimizing ruthless self-interests". It hit the trendy NY Upper Eastside cocktail circuit. Many described her book, "Arias Shrugged", as a "towering monument to humanity's capacity for aristocratic paranoia". She described faith as a "short-cut to destroying the mind". Marx himself called religion as "opium for the masses". The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 as a quasi-public institution with an unelected banking official to control the money in our economy. Greenspan was originally opposed to the Fed while he was part of Rand's inner circle. In 1968, he became Nixon's advisor on domestic policy and then his Bureau of the Budget. He moved on to Ford's Council of Economic Advisors in 1974 and with Reagan in 1980 to reform Social Security. He became Chairman of the Fed in 1987 and remained there for 20 years. Reagan used Greenspan to head a commission that used a hidden tax hik e to cover Reagan's supposedly anti-tax administration. He was appointed to the National Commission on Social Security Reform, which hike.d the Social Security tax, later described as "revenue enhancement". Hedge fund managers or Wall Street investors hide their money in capital gains or interest. Their income is capped at $160K and everything above that is not taxed at all. It takes away money from the middle class at a disproportional rate. Under GW Bush, he recommended raising the age and reducing SS benefits, but yet included a massive tax cut for the wealthy. Mt. Pulaski Times Two economic disasters followed his appointment 1987, the portfolio derivatives that nearly buried the global economy and the S & L crisis, like Chas. Keatings' Lincoln S & L. Greenspan flooded the economy with money downstairs in the printing press. He cut rates. He showered Wall Street with more money. Now baby boomers started retiring and were losing their funds by the billions. Pension funds and unions were rushing into equity markets. He intentionally lured the middle class into riskier investments in the stock market, which was overvalued. Greenspan didn't believe these companies were valued incorrectly; we just needed to redefine "value". The effects of his constant money printing were definite and contagious. Every Wall Street mess was bailed out with reams of cheap cash. This gives you an overview of Taibbi's chapter but there's so much more in "Griftopia". This book should ring alarm bells for the middle class and baby boomers. It covers the housing market crash, the mortgage scam and more. This information affects everyone in the middle class. I recommend reading it. Then you can place blame in the right place. Thursday - May 10, 2012