61% Underfunded Illinois Teachers Pension Fund Goes For Broke, Becomes Next AIG-In-Waiting By Selling Billions In CDS

Tyler Durden's picture

“If you were to have faxed me this balance sheet and asked me to guess who it belonged to, I would have guessed, Citadel, Magnetar or even a proprietary trading desk at a bank.” So begins a story by Alexandra Harris of the Medill Journalism school at Northwestern, which, however, does not focus on some exotic product-specialized hedge fund, or some discount window (taxpayer capital) backed prop desk (hedge fund) at a TBTF bank, but instead at the 61% underfunded, $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS), which just happened to lose $4.4 billion in 2009 (a year when, courtesy of America's conversion from capitalism to socialism, the market rose 60%), and 5% in2008. Yet underperformance can be explained. What can not, is that the TRS has now become a shadow AIG. As Harris notes "TRS is largely on the risky side of the contracts, selling and writing OTC derivatives, including credit default swaps, insurance-like contracts that guarantee payment in the event of a default, that were blamed in part for the 2008 collapse of Lehman Bros. and bailout of insurance giant American International Group Inc., or AIG." Demonstrating just how far the fund is willing to go in the "for broke" category, knowing full well that if it repeats AIG's implosion, the government will likely bail it out, is the disclosure that a stunning 81.5% of the fund's investments are considered risky - this means it is the fourth-riskiest investment portfolio for a pension fund in the U.S! All it will take is another Flash Crash-like event, or a liquidity crunch, and the 355,000 "full-time, part-time and substitute public school teachers and administrators working outside the city of Chicago" will likely end up with a big, fat donut in their retirement portfolios courtesy of some deranged lunatic, portfolio manager, situated externally at a bank like Goldman Sachs, who in taking a page straight out of Obama's bailout nation, has decided there is no such thing as risk. And to those naive enough to think the TRS is the only such fund which has now gone all-in on "no risk and infinite return", wait until such stories start emerging about every single massively underfunded pension and fully insolvent fund in the US.

From Harris' report:

Frank Partnoy, a law and finance professor at the University of San Diego who worked on Wall Street as a derivatives structurer in the mid-1990s, said TRS’s portfolio is an indication that investing is not about what is smart but what will generate the highest returns.

“It’s an epic illustration of how we’ve really gotten lost in financial complexities,” he said, after studying the Illinois Auditor General's 2009 audit of TRS and the fund's March 31 derivatives positions.

TRS said it uses over-the-counter, or privately negotiated, derivatives to maximize the performance of its portfolio and only allows money managers to invest in derivatives if they “have the appropriate expertise and knowledge and employ sophisticated risk management systems,” said David Urbanek, public information officer, in an e-mail.

The fact that TRS trustees and investment advisors approved the use of OTC derivatives isn’t, in itself, alarming. The financial instruments are not explicitly prohibited in the Illinois pension code, and many derivatives contracts provide protection against losses on other investments.

In the balance sheet provided to Medill News Service, TRS’s OTC derivatives portfolio showed that in addition to writing CDSs, the pension fund was selling swaptions and shorting international-based interest rate swaps. For each contract written or sold, TRS received a premium.


And as always happens when one collects pennies before a rollercoaster, the spectacular blow up always eventually catches up with you:

Unfortunately for TRS, its OTC positions soured in late April when Greece’s debt woes worsened, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain’s debt to AA and the euro dropped to its lowest levels since the currency’s inception. The International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank orchestrated a $1 trillion bailout to ensure that Greece and the other PIIGS—Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain—would not default on their debts.

“As the European debt crisis worsens, TRS’ positions are going to bleed money,” the trader said.

Where it gets even scarier, is that TRS may be fraudulently misrepresenting its massively underwater portfolio:

But the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System said if it unwound the OTC trades held in its pension fund today, the positions would have a market value of $5 million and a notional value of $1.1 billion. Notional value is the total value of a leveraged financial instrument’s assets.

It isn’t clear how TRS is valuing its OTC derivatives and market experts, among them Rosenthal, who estimated a loss of $515 million as of March 31, were skeptical the OTC positions could have been showing a net positive notional value.

TRS projects it will have logged a $158 million gain from its derivatives portfolio by the June 30 end of fiscal 2010— with $5 million derived from its swaptions, CDS and interest rate swaps positions—and just a fraction of its projected $627 million total return.

A significant portion of TRS’s OTC derivatives are linked to interest rate swaps and those are tied to either the London Interbank Offering Rate or Euro Interbank Offering Rate. Interest rate swaps stipulate for every basis point tick upward in the LIBOR or EURIBOR, the fund is forced to pay out an interest rate that is two basis points higher. This is why the notional value of TRS’s U.S. dollar- and international-based interest rate swaps were in the red by $361.4 million at the end of March.

TRS’ portfolio also includes a large number of swaptions—or the right at a future time to enter into a swap position—which showed a loss of $14 million as of March 31. In addition, the fund sold approximately $154 million worth of CDSs guaranteeing the debt of dozens of companies, countries and states, among them American International Group Inc., GMAC, Panama, Mexico and California. (See graphic).

A large part of TRS’s international-based interest rate swaps positions are linked to the Brazilian Interbank Deposit Rate and Euribor in a bet that inflation would stay low in Europe but rise in emerging markets.

Rosenthal, who said TRS appears to be betting that long-term Treasury yields will greatly increase, is incredulous that the fund even has this view. “Their job is not to play the [Treasury] yield curve,” Rosenthal said. “It’s not their job to have that view.”

Swaptions, Euribor exposure, curve trades? What the hell happened to buy and hold. Does TRS really expect to survive this, when there are sharks like Goldman who know every single trade the TRS has on, and one day, sooner rather than later, will destroy it, but not before margin calling it to death in the process.

The logical question of who the hell is supervising this slow motion train crash surprisingly has no answer:

Section 1-109.1. of the Illinois Pension Code states it is the duty of the board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund to appoint fiduciaries to manage its assets—including the power to acquire and dispose of any assets—as well as assign others as fiduciaries to oversee activities other than asset management.

TRS said it makes day-to-day operational decisions concerning strategic asset allocation, portfolio structure and manager selection, but cedes all of its investment decisions, within TRS parameters, to professional money managers, a list some 60 names long that includes Goldman Sachs Asset Management, JPMorgan Investment Management, Northern Trust Co. and State Street Global Advisors.

When asked which managers were responsible for the pension fund’s derivatives portfolio, Urbanek, the Illinois TRS spokesman, said OTC derivatives positions are scattered across each asset class because they are “complementary positions” within each portfolio.

According to its investment policy, TRS encourages diversification of assets and “prudent” risk taking because these strategies align with its long-term investing goals. “Increasing risk is rewarded with compensating returns over time.”

“They’re not maintaining effective internal controls,” Partnoy said. “Is it prudent risk-taking to write CDSs on Brazil?”

At the end of the day, it appears the fund is doing nothing illegal by essentially offloading front-office duties to Goldman, which of course is happily trading in advance of the fund, to whose books it likely has full exposure, to benefit its own prop trading desk, and reward its own shareholders first and foremost: 63 out of 63 profitable trading days anyone?

The bottom line, experts say, is that there is no language in the Illinois pension code that prohibits pension funds and retirement systems from buying or selling OTC derivatives as an investment method. In the event of catastrophic losses, lawsuits would be filed against the fiduciaries, but ultimately taxpayers would be left holding the bag. 

And here we see where the next layer of catastrophic systemic collapse will come from: the multi-trillion pension system, which is now invested in the riskiest imaginable products, and whose existence is contingent on a market and economy, both priced to perfection. The Fed is surely aware of this, and will do everything in its power to prevent a catastrophic collapse. Yet the Fed always loses the battle at the end of the day. And if Americans were angry the last time they had to bail out bankers, just wait until it becomes obvious that these very banks blew up the pensions of tens of millions of Americans only so that the very same banks could enjoy at least one more year of record bonuses. It is not obvious where the next crash will happen. And it is certain that nothing will be done, as facing the problem would mean recognizing the massive losses already facing the pension system. And that would be the dominoes that forces yet another round of inevitable mark-to-market, and bank implosions. The timebomb is now ticking and there are merely seconds left before it goes off. We have been warned, and will do nothing to stop it.

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AnAnonymous's picture

The good news is that before 2009, the US was capitalism.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

This is and always will be about greed. It's the human condition. As an alternative (please explain your take on what capitalism is) to capitalism, what do you propose?

The way I read this, this is another grab at your savings whilst they still have purchasing power. A question arises: in light of the full knowledge of the theft of savings via AIG bailouts, who is it that has been bought out in the hierarchy of the TRS, to facilitate this latest scam?   

downwiththebanks's picture

A start would be nationalizing the NY Fed and cutting off the spigot to the parasites.

Devore's picture

So giving the henhouse keys to the foxes is the answer all along? Your definition of parasites must be different from mine.

jeff montanye's picture

the point seems to be that the foxes already have the keys to the henhouse:  rather than have a central bank owned and run by commercial banks, perhaps one directly controlled by the government of the u.s. with some, admittedly declining, democratic (vote based) controls/checks and balances on its actions would be preferable to the status quo.  imo it may not have made much difference; the corruption and incompetence seem nearly universal.

Teaser's picture

government f's everything up.  The only solution is a return to sound money.


for you anti-goldbugs out there, that means money tied to something tangible, that can't be made from nothing.


people asking for the government to take over the fed and print money directly are INSANE!


Have you learned nothing from reading the posts here?

Howard_Beale's picture

Once again, the issue in the threads below are an argument about capitalism, which has never existed, or communism for that matter.

How do you call oil company tax breaks capitalism? How do you call farm subsidies capitalism. We are all delusional. There is no form of government on this earth that is pure anything.

Time to get over it and stop the defensive egos and utopian views. It's all an illusion we have been sold--lock, stock, and barrel. Pay the same gas prices as the rest of the world? Yeah, right. We have capitalism....NOT. 

Now to the subject of the post, which is the Illinois Teachers Pension Fund, my stepfather is a recipient, as a professor at the U of I. That's not a union gig, by the way for all you assuming that all in the fund are union employees. It covers the universities as well. In 1999 he wondered how long it would last. He's a brilliant man that understands the implications of not only a bankrupt state but how poorly managed this fund has been. Luckily (and methodically) my parents have no debt and own significant farmland. But if the pension goes belly up-and we have no way of knowing that this will be another bailout other than it is Obama's home state--there will be many others coming.

And with muni's sinking like stones with no ability to return to balance, the truth is, it is a no win situation. The bailouts will stop. The people are furious--even those that need it most--the times, they are a changing.

So, in final, we must STFU on capitalism like is was some great thing we had. Because we didn't. We had subsidized milk, gas, grains, etc for 50 years. That's no free market. Let those ridiculous tax cuts expire. Bye Bye to one of just the many transfers/maintaining of wealth to those that least deserved it. Trickle down economics my ass...try trickle down unresolved bladder issues. David Stockman was right..it was a sham.

Insert witty title's picture

So lets work to devolve power to local levels and reduce the size of federal government, educate europeans that the EU and Euro is doomed to failure and reduce the ability to the state to interfere, reducing the incentive for corporates to abuse excessive governmnet power and b forced to do what they are supposed to - compete against each other.


I respectfully refuse to stop talking about capitalism because we dont' have it and havn't had it before. My beliefs may be wrong but they include that socialism at least as bad as any bastardised form of corporate statism and not a step in the right direction of reducing state size and power.

ejmoosa's picture

Greed is too simple a reason.  It's more about the have-nots, looking at those that have and saying "Hey, I can do that".  The only thing is they cannot.


Investing and understanding risk isn't easy.  Those in the education system teach theory.  The real world is very different.  Retirement funds of teachers and other public workers reached a critical mass and then they decided they should invest socially.  Boycott some nations, invest in others, because of the "social good" it would bring.  It never materialized.

Now they are behind the 8-ball, and their backs are to the wall.  They may as well go to the roullette table, pick black or white, and let it roll. 

Exactly how does one pick winners and losers in a capitalist system when A) you detest Capitalism and B) you really do not understand it to begin with.


The answer: Poorly

aurum's picture

when our elected officials and not so elected officials get to choose who wins and looses, capitalism ceases to exist. the problem is not the concept of capitalism. the problem is most are brought up to believe that true capitalism does exist and when people find out that the game is skewed for the benefit of a few, they get pissed off and rightfully so. the problem in capitalism is the greed at the top who will stop at nothing to have a $87000 area rug for their office while their company is insolvent....and this is probably the same issue with TRS. and if it wasnt for the taxpayer, there would be plenty of "have nots" that supposedly understand true capitalism and they would not have enjoyed the full "benefits" of "capitalism".



jeff montanye's picture

don't pick white at roulette; you'll lose.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Perhaps,"covet" might be a better drive descriptor for the "have nots" wanting the things that other fortunates posess. Regardless, the "have nots", wanting to increase the comforts that make life easier, is not the same as the "want all's" drive to take what is not theirs (other folk's savings) by misdeeds or (graciously) mismanagement. That denotes wanton greed.

Ragnar D's picture

Oh not more of your sniveling authoritarian revisionism again...

Trying to pretend the failures caused by central planners forcing their will on the ignorant peons is somehow the fault of "capitalism" makes you a useful idiot at best, and a control freak fraud at worst.


But yes, the solution to the massive failures every time you dictate to individuals that they cannot interact freely and make their own decisions will be solved by more of the same *this* time...

downwiththebanks's picture

"Sniveling," eh.  Wow.

What you call 'failures', I call normal.  The savings accounts of said peons to which you refer above weren't stolen by accident, and the government didn't do the stealin' - they just abetted it.

Capitalism functions as it always has - he who accumulates most, wins.  That's the objective.  

That GS does this better than anyone means only that they steal most efficiently.

ejmoosa's picture

Frankly, a key component of capitalism is destruction.  Ineffective and poorly allocated capital is destroyed.

At the expense of everyone in the capitalist system, we have allowed ineffective capital that should have been destroyed to continue attracting even more capital investment, keeping it from other, effective and efficient uses.  Fannie and Freddie are prime examples.

This not only limits the performance of efficient capital, it exponentially grows the losses of bad capital, which should be destroyed. So you take away from the winners and support the losers longer than they should even exist.

Why reallocate your capital that is poorly allocated if the government is going to bail your ass out?  Hell, you do not have to do a thing.  Government will make you whole again for the decisions you know you should have made.

Don't blame capitalism.  We do not have true capitalism in this country.  We have democratic capitalism.  And it is destined to fail every time.


downwiththebanks's picture

I'm not blaming capitalism, and my analysis isn't confined to Babylon.  

The users of capital operate within a dynamic system to gain control of productive forces - land, labor, and resources - by whatever means necessary.  Historically, this has occurred chiefly by means of fraud, theft, and murder.

Some people call this "freedom".

ejmoosa's picture

if we did a body count, socialism and communism far outnumber capitalism when it comes  to deaths.

And we already know how the productivity of socialism and capitalism turn out.

BumpSkool's picture

But... could you not count the 17th,18th and 19th century slave trade, driven by European-based capitalism in the death toll as well? The slavery deaths from America and South America had a massive fatality rate, at a time when warfare technology was not advanced surely rank along side the deaths from socialism/communism. In pure numeric terms, you may not be right.

Howard_Beale's picture

And he may be wrong. Conjecture.

damage's picture

Actually.. there is absolutely nothing capitalistic about fraud, theft, and murder. It is lack of enforcement of these laws (mainly fraud) which helped lead to the state we are in today, but to say "capitalism" is all about fraud, theft, and murder.. or to say "freedom" is about fraud, theft, and murder. I completely disagree. Laws against murder and theft protect "freedom" / "liberty". Laws that go further than this though only restrict freedom.

Village Idiot's picture



AnAnonymous's picture

Woooo, big comment.

Do you measure what you say actually?

The US is the wealthiest country in the world, draining more resources than any other society (per capita) before.

If indeed,  it is a lack of enforcement of these laws (mainly fraud) which helped to lead to the state we are in today, it's telling this lack is the key of the US success.

So do you measure what you say?

Howard_Beale's picture


Most people don't have the ability to measure what they say. Usually the closest you can get is glass half empty, half full.

I like numbers, stats, good science, and valid analysis with something to back it up. Thus the love for ZH and their work. But this rah rah, capitalism is being tarnished by the "few" greedy and fraudulent, totally fails to perceive the greater issues at hand. I find it insulting to the collective intelligence of this blog.  

We live in a state of corporate fascism, no capitalism other than a few brave entrepreneurs to be found that hopefully will survive. All the warnings from the founding fathers to Eisenhower have come to fruition.

Capitalism...wake up. It's not even on the horizon and the sun is setting.

AnAnonymous's picture

The founding fathers did envision the land grab. Some of them even pursued it.

WaterWings's picture

Yep. The Federalists didn't even want civil rights. Those that truly envisioned freedom for all were few and far between. But we are not taught the sinister side in public schools. We are not taught how to demand the rule of law other than holding an angry sign and announcing intentions for voting time.

Fuck that. "To arms, to arms."

WaterWings's picture

Howard, it sounds kind of like you're not gonna take it anymore.

But I want to know what greater issues we have at hand. Gulf of BP evacuations? Yeah, that's a bigger issue. Martial law? Yep, that too. Who cares about entrepreneurs coming up with some big idea - central planning is the status quo; your elected buddies will pass the cash as long you help them get rich too and keep the sex parties a secret.

So I agree, we don't have capitalism - and that's because we no longer see people going to jail. It's Open Season for corruption now. 1984 is here. Keep your head down. Say nice things to police officers. Pay all your taxes, no matter how oppressive, and thank them for allowing you to prepare online. If they want to inspect your house for whatever reason bake them cookies. Don't get angry, and don't touch gov't employees - that's assault and a federal offense. Their safety is of the utmost importance.


So this is not the United States anymore. We are a serfdom controlled by DC now.

Grab the popcorn kids, the show in the South is gonna be amazing. Poor souls.

(seriously, if you live within 200 miles of the coastline you should have moved yesterday)

Oh regional Indian's picture

Actually, picking up from your first sentence, a key component of all creation, if which vaious isms are mere subsets, is destruction.

The seed of destruction allows for creation in the first place.

How the cycle plays out is one thing (the road, the way, the means), how it ends/transitions (there are no real endings) depends on which paradigm within said creation dominated.

I think greed and selfishness, both used in their most literal, common meanings, dominated this cycle. So the coming transition is going to be ugly. Retirement funds, usury based are just a symptom pf the larger malaise.


AnAnonymous's picture

Please define capital.


Because the story of destruction in a nice one in a context of limited resources.

Ineffective in what terms?

If you have several solutions rising out of a pool of resources and that a solution has drained a meaningful share of the resource pool before being labelled inefficient, the solution has still drained the meaningful share of resources and casting it out is casting out that meaningful share of resources.

Please explain how your vision of capitalism deals with accumulation effects.

I am eager of reading.

homersimpson's picture

What's next - you going to file a docket in court to remove the name Redskins from the Washington NFL team? Geez... Go grab a room with Karl Marx.

Thoreau's picture

FYI, it's not safe to use your REAL name on this forum.

williambanzai7's picture

My real name is williambanzai without the 7.

Howard_Beale's picture


My name is Howard Beale without the underscore.

Assetman's picture

Hehe... My name is Assetman, without the "et". :)

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

That's a scream...Thanks for that.

(my name is MUD)

downwiththebanks's picture

I just think when one pays homage to the greatness of capitalism that they also pay homage to what it expropriated by force to get the whole damn thing going.

Dr. Acula's picture

Capitalism = means of production in private hands.

Owning means of production doesn't mean you expropriated. That's only one of the ways to get there.

Howard_Beale's picture

Capitalism means a hell of a lot more than means of production in private hands. It means laying off costs (externalities) to the taxpayer in the interest of the shareholders. It means finding the lowest cost of production worldwide, until they are no longer the lowest cost and leaving a community or country devastated. I'm not pulling this out of my ass..it's the truth of how made in China goes to made in Honduras, to made in Vietnam, to made in Jacarta (which get's labeled China for political reasons).

You may have been referring to the Utopian capitalism.

There are few corporations that have not gained wealth at the expense of taxpayers through lobbying or polluting their land and waters, or the human race for that matter. Deaths of humans are a cost of business and companies take out policies on their own employees, JUST IN CASE.  Whether it be dumping toxic waste, considering human lives as a cost of doing business (Bhopal disaster, BP, PG&E, JPM, GS, GE, Merck, Phizer, Exxon, etc) it's this lovely ideal so many seem to reach for. You expect responsibility...stand up human beings. We get nothing of the sort.

On the subject of Tech--exporting jobs has worked out really well for their bottom lines, hasn't it? But we don't really want to know how toxic the waste from producing chips is, do we? Because it's not in our back yard. It's disgusting what happens with chip waste in the Pacific Rim and other countries INTC, AMD, and all the generics manufacture. Furthermore, with the lovely outsourcing so that when Radu (and I love Radu) says, hello, this is Scott--well that's great for one little Indian town that puts their brightest to work for $10 a day. But when the people that lost their jobs to India can't afford the toys because their jobs are gone, it's one big shot in the foot. Short sighted bullshit. Oh, let me kick NIKE in the ass too. They started this build up a labor force until it is too expensive, and move on and leave a wasteland. I used to know the founder of that firm. I can't even say his name he disgusts me so.

Anyone on this post that thinks unfettered capitalism is a welcome ideal is not informed of the insane asylum we live in. It's utter horseshit. And yeah, let the criminals clean up the crime scenes....like the Gulf, like Bhopal...they don't. They just want to cover their asses. I think BP should be put into receivership tomorrow. The well is broken in the casing and we all know it. Time to let Tony "get back to his life". Somewhere in obscurity and hopefully behind bars for not being forthwith before Top Kill that they knew there was a much more serious problem.

How the hell did we get here? Unfuckinglimited liability should be the way it is. PERIOD. They can keep their pets and main residences. Everything else goes on the block.

It's a sad, sorry state of affairs.

Insert witty title's picture

Hi Howard,


Respectfully a question if I may, because I have read a lot of your posts and thanks for taking the time to contribute.

Costs can only be externalised to the taxpayer if a state is of a certain size no? If the means of production are held by competing individuals, or if there is enough competition between larger pools of means of production/capital whatever, it is more difficult to externalise costs on to the taxpayer as no one corporate pool is big enough to influence the state.

Even better what if the state was of an insufficient size as to mean influencing it produced no outcome?

I guess I am having problems with your definition of capitalism including the exportation of costs to the taxpayer. Capitalism must mean risks and rewards are born by the capitalist. You can't call what we have at the moment capitalism.

What we have at the moment can be called corporate statism for example, but I can't see how if the state wasn't of sufficient size to attract the interest of a large corporate as the most efficient form of profiteering ie no need to compete on quality or price or whatever, just gain influence on the state to protect/grow your business.

If the state is kept small, with devolved power in the hands of local communities this course of action wont' be available to the corporates and they will have to resort to competition.

From what i have read of the US constitution, and the intentions of the founding fathers this is what they aimed to achieve - well Jefferson etc rather than the Federalists anyway, and wow, they lost that fight.

Just because this has been perverted doesn't mean its capitalism.

I am anxious to read your thoughts on what i have written, always trying to pick up new things.


Kind regards, IWT


EDIT - oh and this idea of 'unfettered' capitalism. I have never read that advocated by any libertarian text of any merit. Libertarian texts, yes i am a Hayek fan, to me advocate strong state presence in areas such as property laws for one. They just want the laws to be set in advance, known to all, and applicable to all rather than changed in an ad-hoc fashion to suit whatever cause appeals to the government at the time (Hi Obama).

Finally for me, if you reduce the size of the states power, you reduce the ability of large corporate to abuse the state.  

I'm new to this stuff as of the last two years or so, so please take it easy on me if i'd made a mistake or two.

Howard_Beale's picture


My thinking doesn't encompass that last 10 or 20 years...I go back to the beginning of the industrial age when externalities were that of human life in the name of profits. Government was much smaller then. But the wealthy always preside on the matters of what war to get involved in (think JPM and Woodrow Wilson--JPM had assets to protect in Europe and we sacrificed our youth.) and how to handle those pesky people that want fair labor practices. I am not a Libertarian. I am a combination of many ideas that calls for personal responsibility on the corporate level and regulations that punish the criminals. I would like that to apply to all government criminals as well---hello, Timmay, welcome to your cell.

In matters of something like a public utility, take the easiest example of PG&E (the basis of Erin Brockovich). PG&E was basically a monopoly at the time so your thesis that competition with a smaller state might hold merit. But time and time again, competition hasn't proven to be a behavioral control if regulations are there that can't be enforced. 

There is no difference today in the military industrial complex than there was 15 years ago when there were 10 large companies. Now there are 3 due to mergers. Probably a bad example since they have had the government captured since the late 60's.

Back to a public utility like PG&E, to own up to their externalities, it took getting seriously caught with proof of cancer, miscarriages, deformed children, etc. to stop the carnage.

Small government does not make corporations more responsible. That is a human function that can only be done from the top without the interest of shareholders being the only concern. If we cannot provide structures that reward responsible behavior and severely punish those with unlimited liability to put into their models before undertaking projects for which they have no cure, then we are doomed to the lobbying efforts and government failure in the name of greed for all concerned.

We cannot afford this type of nonsense anymore. There must be unlimited liability for corporate failure for capitalism to behave responsibly. We must have a government that cannot be bought by lobbyists. The Federal Reserve has lobbyists and look at the raping and pillaging they are doing on an ongoing basis.

I believe that capitalism must be regulated and that workers have the right to form unions as they did in 1915 when they were considered nothing but part of the money machine. And again, the lives of the men and women BP has taken in just a few years are mere "costs" to them.

There is a very interesting film called "The Yes Men Who Fixed The World" who are two men that have impersonated CEO's, etc for major corporations and caused a ruckus around the globe. One of their sillier ideas was to provide corporate leaders with a human cost element that would lessen the burden of death in their endeavors. The audience responded with varying degrees of interest due to the way it was presented but a few men cornered them after it was over and said is was an idea whose time had come.

I look at the small city councils around me here in the Marsellus shales. I see Chesapeake getting rights for peanuts to drill. People around here with wells made the front page of the newspaper a few months ago since they could light their tapwater on fire. Of course, their wells were 1/2 mile from the drilling so Chesapeake told them they had a pre-existing condition--if it was 1/4 of a mile they might have had to pay up. WTF? Where is the responsibility I ask once again? Shale drilling is a whole new ballpark and with PA broke, they just let the gasholes (as I call them) do whatever they please in the name of jobs (which few are locals, most are imported from around the country) and tax revenues, although they already have so many tax breaks I doubt the state makes a penny. 

The fact that criminals should clean up their crime scenes just gets me irate--how the hell am I supposed to enjoy CSI Vegas anymore?

Because it just isn't working. The people of the southern tier of NY want the drilling to start there now and the NY EPA is still trying to decide if it is the right thing to let happen. We're all in this mess. Little government, local, state, and federal. There is just no accountability and we are all part of it. Greed and fear--the dominant forces of the market--are the dominant forces of much of our current human condition. It's time for all of us to change. Read CD's series, if you haven't already. He's shedding a bit of light here that is very much needed. 

Insert witty title's picture

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I will have to print out and think about what you have written but again thanks for taking the time to reply.


I wrote above to another of your posts that i believe the small state and devolved power the way forward. For now I hold on to that view but who knows maybe what you have written above will lead me down a different path.

To going forward with open eyes and an open mind.

Thanks again


Howard_Beale's picture

I think the Rothschilds and JPM may have issues with that statement....lol. But I agree. Look at the rise of the unions in 1915. There was a reason for that. It was called slavery of labor. It was a war they didn't lose then, but they have now.

For those of you that refuse to believe that most wars are fought for profits, and to save the wealth of the wealthiest, keep your heads in the sand. We sacrifice our youth and children for it in the name of liberty and freedom. Would you send your children or go fight yourself so save JPM from his German risk exposure in 1915?

Would you sacrifice your children or yourself now in the war on the middle class ? There is no difference. It's a financial war this time with the transfer of wealth sucking the life out of every last person in this country.

JLee2027's picture

Stolen land?  Since the Indians were nomads, just who owned the land?  Stolen land my ass.

AnAnonymous's picture

What a stupid comment.

Today, people live in nomadic style. Mostly the wealthiest people on the Earth. Does not mean they dont own land because they live a nomadic life style.

This kind of comment finds their roots in the US citizens inability to cope with their past. They live on a fabled vision of their past and when conflicted with facts from their past, their efforts all are concentrated on finding a way to deny the facts.

In the case of the US, the massive landgrabbing was performed by the US itself and most importantly, in a US law framework. The vision of the Indians themselves is useless as the US cast its own law framework over them.

It is not a matter to know whether or not the Indians respected their own rule of law. But whether or not the US respected its rule of law.

Of course, the true friend of the Indians President Andrew Jackson gave a brilliant answer to that. 

JLee2027's picture

What an accurate comment you mean.  Indians had no concept of land ownership. NONE.  

Take your garbage elsewhere