Wall Street Compensation, Our Near Meltdown 9-27-8

Wall Street Compensation, Our Near Meltdown
Who Speaks for America?


Every one is running around in a
dither wondering what is happening to our financial house, or is it house of
cards? Of course, the simple answer is greed, and how does Wall Street satiate
that greed? One of the easiest ways to make an incredible amount of money and
keep it is to become the Chairman of the Board of a Fortune 500 company. But
that alone doesn’t guarantee platinum parachutes at the end of one’s corporate
tenure. You don’t even have to be successful. Just look at the records of recent
beneficiaries of corporate send-offs, Ms. Carly Fiorina, who after almost
destroying Hewlett –Packard was sent off to be an economic advisor to John
McCain with a bank-roll in the scores of millions. She of course, for a short
moment, was being considered for vice-president on his ticket. Unfortunately
after not being chosen, the scorned woman decided to tell the truth, and in an
interview she stated that Sarah Palin could not be a CEO of a major Fortune 500
firm. When she realized her faux pas, she quickly amended her remarks to
include John McCain. Of course since “there is many a truth said in jest,” her
honesty really did hurt, and she has been declared persona non grata by the
Steve Schmitt/John McCain campaign machine.

But to be more current, yesterday
Washington Mutual, a bank holding company, whose stock had traded as high as
$45 per share collapsed. The stock had dropped in mid-September to as low as
$2.00 and the price finally settled at 16 cents this week. The Chairman Kerry
Killinger stepped down in June, but remained as the Chief Operating Officer.
This month he was forced to resign because of pressure from the investors and
Alan H. Fishman, a former CEO of the Sovereign Bank was named to head Washington
Mutual on September 8, 2008. The depositors were not happy with what
was going on and a massive run on their banks ensued as customers withdrew
almost $17 billion in less than two weeks. Secret negations were started after
the Office of Thrift Supervision seized the bank and placed into the hands of
the FDIC. The negotiations over this past weekend proceeded and JP Morgan Chase
became the new owner. The new CEO Alan Fishman, who was flying to Seattle when the transfer
was consummated, was now out of job. He had held that position for 17 days, and
for his time and effort he received a $7.5 million up front payment and a cash
good-bye present for $11.6 million. As George Gershwin once said long ago,
“Nice work if you can get it!”

So where does that money come from? Well for sure a good
chunk of it comes from the boards of trustees at many of these firms who want
to first ingratiate themselves with the company’s new “top dog” and later on,
if he/she fails wish to rid themselves of these characters as painlessly as
possible. Usually as a requirement to these “golden parachutes,” a written
non-disclosure, and non-compete statement is a must. Quite often though, many
of these “top-bananas” eventually select their own “cronies” as members of the
board. These “grateful” trustees feel obliged to therefore shower excess
compensation as a heartfelt expression of “thanks.” On the other hand, stock
options being executed at the right market timing bring countless millions to
the “golden parachute” beneficiary. Of course what better way to execute
valuable options than to inflate the stock with non-existent assets of
worthless paper on the books?  Please
note that when an initial public offering (IPO) hits the market, the inside
folk, the CEOs, and other officers, have already been allocated millions of
shares, while quite often, their employees were left out.

I recall vividly when John Hancock went “public” and the CEO
David D’Alessandro was allocated millions of shares. Were the Hancock employees
offered any stock? No! Were the Hancock employees offered any of the IPOs? No!
Of course, D’Alessandro did an excellent job for Hancock, but he increased his
own salary, making himself one of the highest-paid executives in financial
services. His compensation of more than $21 million in 2003 placed him 79th on Forbes's
list of best-paid CEOs and increased debate at John Hancock over discrepancies
between CEO compensation and shareholder returns. What else is new?

There are many, many stories out there on Wall Street and
four years ago I wrote some of this piece about executive compensation. Often
it has nothing to do with whether the company makes money, but most assuredly
it is connected to whether the stock goes up. Ironically the public and the
shareholders find out after the fact that the stock was run up on false
assertions, pumped up figures, and cooked books. Also over the years,
executives have tried to liquidate their massive holdings in an effort to cash
in before the public is completely aware impending revelations. Most
shareholders would be startled to see the company’s executives selling their
own stock. In truth, the average stock investor has his/her holdings mostly in
mutual funds, and has no idea when one of the companies, which make up that
fund, has experienced an executive’s excessive sale of stock. Just look at what
we are witnessing today with companies like Bear-Stearns that reached a high
water market price of $172 per share. We all should wonder how many executives
were bailing out as the stock began to slide in the year before its final
collapse. Unfortunately in a great many of these situations, many of the
employee 401K pension funds were overloaded with company stock, not unlike
Enron and other recent collapses. These company pension accounts disappeared
along with the demise of the parent corporation.

In the summer of 1969, I was a junior analyst with Bache
& Co., which offices were located at 40 Wall Street. Right after I was
employed, I was assigned to work with Ms. Mary DeSapio, whose sector, among
others was transportation, which included railroads and railroad cars. My
responsibility was to write evaluations of companies like St. Louis Car (closed
in 1973) and its parent company General Steel Industries. This was the dullest,
slowest and one of the worst sectors to cover on Wall Street. Ms. DeSapio had a
young intern who tracked her stocks. I had heard through the office “grape
vine” that she had made her reputation by discovering the emerging stock, the
Indonesian company Natomas Oil. In those days Natomas was selling at more than
100+ times its earnings and when I had arrived the stock was in the mid 150’s.
In talking to her young intern I found out that Ms. DeSapio still had a huge
position. Coincidently, I read a story in US
News and World Report
that the top Natomas executives were liquidating huge
amounts of stock. Being a good scout, I went to Ms DeSapio, a single wren-like
woman in her forties, and mentioned the story I had read. She seemed startled
that I brought up that stock. Maybe she was not happy that I had learned of her
connection to that speculative company. When her initial surprise calmed down,
she informed me that executive-selling didn’t indicate anything, and curtly cut
off our conversation. Despite her dismissing of my information, knowledge is
still king, and in that pre-Internet era, I believed that I had found something
interesting that may have had potential value. Ms. DeSapio in her arrogant and
condescending manner attempted to demean the value of that news and seemed
offended that I would bring up her pet project. Within a few weeks the Natomas
stock “tanked” dramatically, and if she didn’t sell her position, she was
really burned. It wasn’t long after that meeting that she was fired. Eventually,
in 1970, Wall Street experienced a huge recessionary problem of unusable leases
to cope with the pre-computer backlog of “paper” that was generated in 1968 and
1969. Thousands were fired, including yours truly. Bache was eventually
acquired by Prudential Insurance in 1981 and the 101-year old Bache name
disappeared until it was brought back and re-branded in 2007.

In the Wall Street Journal's Executive Pay Listing of
April 12, 2004, all the Fortune 500’s top executives had their sources of
income published. How ironic and fitting that this report should come
out on the anniversary of FDR's death, who understood quite intimately how
poorly financial institutions monitor themselves, the need for transparency, and
how greed drives our plutocratic “economic royalists.”  

Salary and Bonus- some selections: Freeport-McMoRan-CEO-
$5,540,000 in 2003 with $10M in stock options and $50M more in potential
options, Merrill-Lynch-CEO- $28M in 2003 with $37M more in unrealized stock
options, Time-Warner-CEO, $9.5M and $11.6M in stock options with
another $18.9M in unrealized options.  Also the front page of the NY Times' Business Day section, bonuses
top $41.4 million at troubled Interpublic for its executives. With Federal
taxes at 35% for anyone over $300,000 per year they should cry? This
compensation is way out of control. Where did they get all of their stock? They
didn't buy it!

Some critics of pay ratios, say formulas that exclude
options are useless. “Usually it's a charade,” says Mr. Alan Johnson
of Johnson & Associates, managing director of pay consultants in NY.
He says, “…employees see through it. They know the CEOs are making
millions on stock, so limiting them on salary means nothing. It is a PR
gimmick.” (The Wall Street Journal). It
is a known fact that in and around 1970, CEO's of Fortune 500 companies made in
real dollars a ratio of 43 to 1 over the average salary of their employees. In
real dollars, wages, taking in account inflation over the past 34 years or
so, have gone up slightly. In other words, the $17,000 of 1970 is not
worth much more than the $35-40,000 of today. Of course times
have changed, and our economy has shifted greatly over the last 30 or so years.
Our manufacturing has shifted to overseas, and we are much more of a service
economy today. No question “freer” trade has brought more
total prosperity to America.
But where is that prosperity concentrated and what will be the affects. In that
light, executive compensation is now 1000 to one! In “real” and tangible 1970
dollars, the average Fortune 500 CEO was making $731,000. By the year 2000 that
same corporate CEO’s compensation went to between $35 and $40 million. While
his worker’s income doubled in 30 years, their real income barely kept pace
with inflation. But the corporate executive had his income go up 52 times.
Inflationary worries were obviously not a factor. Besides all that good news,
the top income tax bracket was reduced by Ronald Reagan and his buddies at

So we have seen what has happened. The GOP/Right has
encouraged the lowering of taxes, the conglomeration of industry, the exporting
of jobs overseas, the deregulation of industry, and the accumulation of greater
money in fewer hands. Now, as in 1929, less people own more of America! In the
midst of this incredible increase in executive compensation, Ronald Reagan’s
administration lowered the highest tax brackets by more than 60% from 71% to
28% in 1986, while raising the bottom tax rate from 11 to 15%. In reality the
Reagan Administration created two tax brackets. The poorest earners paid up to
15% and multi-millionaires paid a little more than double? Did this increase
revenue to the Treasury? No! No wonder we experienced record deficits. Did it
increase wealth to the wealthiest? Yes! Recent articles have debunked the
“urban myth” promulgated by the flat-taxer’s and other anti-tax groups that tax
cuts increase revenues. In fact, tax cuts without expense reductions create
greater deficits. With that in mind, the Reagan years offered some of the
biggest deficits, (tripling the National Debt), continued high unemployment,
averaging over 7% in his tenure, and great private sector increases in wealth.

On the March 17, 2006, broadcast
of the PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times
columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that “in the Reagan years,
unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent.”

In fact, according to data
from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981, Ronald
Reagan's first year in office, the U.S. average unemployment rate
stood at 7.6 percent. During Reagan's presidency, it reached a high of 9.7
percent, and had declined to a level of 5.5 percent when Reagan left office.
The rate from when Reagan entered office through his last year declined by 2.1
points, far less than the eight-point drop for which Brooks credited Reagan.
(Besides that obvious reality in November of 1981, ten months into the Reagan
Administration, unemployment had risen to 8.5% and continued to rise to almost
10% through February of 1983.)

From the March 17 broadcast of The News Hour
with Jim Lehrer

BROOKS: I disagree a little. I think most people
who call themselves independent are really partisan. They're just lying.

And — and I think partisanship — one of the
things political science shows is that partisan shapes the reality you choose
to see.

People choose the reality that — that flatters
their partisanship. For example, in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13
percent to 5 percent. If you asked Democrats, at the end of that, did
unemployment go up or down under Reagan, 60 percent said it went up.
Republicans said down.

You choose the reality you want to see. And, then,
the Clinton
years, when you had the reverse, this time, it was the Republicans' turn to be
more pessimistic and wrong. People choose the reality that flatters themselves.

 c/o Media Matter for America http://mediamatters.org/items/200603210007

Along with Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich, we experienced
the Stock Market crash of 1987, the Savings & Loan debacle and bailout for
almost one trillion dollars, and the deregulation of broadcasting, which has
led to the consolidation of ownership regarding thousands of previously
independent stations.

What we have seen in this country has been an explosion in
private wealth and a crying need for public revenues. This drought in public
revenues has resulted in an aging infrastructure, which includes; poor and
deteriorating bridges and roads, an antiquated electric grid system, weak,
porous and inadequate levee systems, un-dredged harbors and rivers, a
deteriorating reservoir system and over-crowded dangerous airports. In the
Clinton Years, taxes on the wealthiest bracket went up to 39.6%, three extra
brackets were created, there were tax cuts for the middle class, surpluses
ensued, and over 20 million jobs were created. A benefit of that expansion of
the work force, especially in the center cities, resulted in a dramatic
lowering of crime in the period from 1993 through 2000. (Another urban myth was
that Rudy Giuliani’s police tactics alone lowered crime in NYC. What is
conveniently forgotten was that crime dropped dramatically in urban centers
throughout America
without Giuliani’s help!)

Of course, one immediate result is that the
“entitlements;” Social Security and Medicare are under attack.
Certainly they are threatened by the demographics facing us. We have a large
“baby-boom” population (64-74 millions) that is aging. This
population emerged from parents that had 2.6 children per family. It
is now being replaced by a generation that is composed of 2.1
children per family. Generally speaking this smaller population is not as
wealthy and earns less in the service sector than its parents, the
baby-boomers, earned in the manufacturing sector! Is the answer less taxes
for this wealthiest of classes? It was said that to tax these people at
previous levels would only bring in 4% more! Well 4%, if that is correct, will bring
in $40 billion at least. Also, why is $75 billion being used from the
Social Security Trust Fund to be used to help balance the budget and defray
more deficits? These same antagonists of Social Security say it is “broke” and
therefore people like John McCain and his leader, President Bush, have called
for its partial or complete privatization. This would be another trillion
dollar gift to our Wall Street “friends.” Conveniently they have forgotten that
the Social Security system runs surpluses and that since Nixon’s time over $2
trillion has been borrowed from this Fund to pay for trinkets like Star Wars space
missile defense systems, the 600 ship navy,  and an all-volunteer army. I am sure that
figure of $40 billion is probably incredibly low. I have also
noticed that a recent report has stated that the IRS has been lax regarding the
issue of corporate taxation. In fact, US Corporations are not paying their fair
share, and many have been running to offshore tax shelters for years,
while they drape themselves in patriotism! The case of Stanley Tool recently
comes to mind! So with corporate taxes at all-time lows (post WWII) and the
capital gains tax at 15%, and the highest marginal rate at 35%, one can readily
see why we have a $500+ billion deficit that is growing. Should we continue
down this path until we are broke?

By the way the myth
regarding unemployment: Courtesy the United States Bureau of Statistics

Since 1928
there have been 13 presidents, 7 Republicans (Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush
Sr, and Bush Jr) and 6 Democrats (FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson, Carter and

Six of the
seven Republican Presidents had unemployment
increase while in office.  Ronald Reagan is the only
Republican President since 1928 to leave office with a lower unemployment rate.

All six
Democratic Presidents had unemployment
decrease or stay the same while in office.  The worst
Democratic performance was Jimmy Carter, who had the same unemployment rate
when he left office as when he entered.

Viewing the
President's 4 year term gives an even more pronounced effect.

Of the
Repubilican President's 9 terms, unemployment has
increased in 7 of the 9 terms.

Of the
Democratic President's 10 terms, the unemployment rate
never increased.

Here is the
same list, sorted by decrease in the unemployment rate.

Unemployment Rate, U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 period         start end  chng   President
Jan 1993 Jan 1997    7.3   5.3  
-2.0   Clinton I

Jan 1985 Jan 1989    7.3   5.4  -1.9   Reagan II
Jan 1961 Jan 1965    6.6   4.9  
-1.7   JFK/Johnson

Jan 1965 Jan 1969    4.9   3.4  
-1.5   Johnson  

Jan 1949 Jan 1953    4.3   2.9  
-1.4   Truman  

Jan 1997 Jan 2001    5.3   4.2  
-1.1   Clinton II

Jan 1981 Jan 1985    7.5   7.3  -0.2   Reagan I  
Jan 1977 Jan 1981    7.5   7.5  
0.0   Carter  

Jan 2005 Aug 2008    5.2   6.1  +0.9   Bush, GW II
Jan 2001 Jan 2005    4.2   5.2  +1.0   Bush, GW I
Jan 1953 Jan 1957    2.9   4.2  +1.3   Eisenhower I
Jan 1969 Jan 1973    3.4   4.9  +1.5   Nixon  
Jan 1989 Jan 1993    5.4   7.3  +1.9   Bush, GHW
Jan 1957 Jan 1961    4.2   6.6  +2.4   Eisenhower II
Jan 1973 Jan 1977    4.9   7.5  +2.6   Nixon/Ford

One cannot begrudge Ronald
's personal admirers their moment of eulogy. And particularly not in
view of the man's wise embrace of Mikhail Gorbachev late in his term, his
gallant departure into Alzheimer's 10 years ago, and Nancy Reagan's noble
advocacy since then of government support for stem-cell research. There were
moments beyond politics when those of us who opposed Reagan the most could, and
did, tip our hats to him.

But let's talk economics. It is not too early to
contradict those who would elevate Reagan above Franklin Roosevelt, John F.
Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, or even Bill Clinton, on this score. Yes, Reagan
did change the course of history. But his economic legacy was mainly
destructive, and especially so for the world's poor and our own working class.

Among postwar administrations, who had the best record on
economic growth? The answer is Kennedy-Johnson (49 percent over eight years),
followed by Clinton
(34 percent), followed by Reagan (32 percent). Among postwar two-term
presidencies, Reagan beats out only Eisenhower (21 percent) and Nixon-Ford (24
percent). Call him the best of the Republicans, if you want.

The unemployment rate stood at 6.6 percent when Kennedy
took office and at 3.4 percent when Johnson left it. The average over their
eight years was 4.8 percent. When Clinton
came in, unemployment was at 7.4 percent; it averaged 5.2 percent during his
two terms and fell to 3.9 percent by the end. And for Reagan? Unemployment
stood at 7.5 percent at his inauguration, and it averaged that same 7.5 percent
during his entire eight years. The jobless rate was 5.4 percent when Reagan
left office.

Inflation did come down — from just over 10 percent in
the oil crisis year of 1980 to just over 3 percent in 1983. But at whose
expense? Here the correct contrast is with FDR, who controlled inflation while
doubling output over four years in World War II. In the process, Roosevelt leveled the pay distribution and created the
modern American middle class.

Reagan's disinflation came from unemployment over 10
percent, from his attack on unions, and from high interest rates, which drove
up the dollar and cheapened imports. Those measures bankrupted much of the
manufacturing belt. They damaged the middle class. And they created a vast
trade imbalance and a rising external debt whose consequences haunt us still.
Precisely what Roosevelt built, in other
words, Reagan did much to destroy.

Mythmaking especially surrounds Reagan's economic ideas,
where memory blurs reality into romance. In truth Reagan's economic team was a
shotgun marriage between ideologues, monetarists and supply-siders who couldn't
stand one another. There was even a good-humored (though conservative)
Keynesian mixed in — Murray Weidenbaum, the first chairman of Reagan's Council
of Economic Advisors.

I remember Murray sidling over to me at a meeting of a
deplorable group called the Gold Commission — an official assembly of nut
cases, to be blunt about it — in the Cash Room of Donald Regan's Treasury
Department, on the day in 1982 when the CEA's first “Economic Report of
the President” for Reagan's presidency was published.

Economist- The son of renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith and of Catherine
(Kitty) Atwater Galbraith, he earned his BA
from Harvard in 1974 and Ph.D from Yale
in 1981, both in economics. From 1974 to 1975, Galbraith studied at King's College, Cambridge.

In conclusion, whether one is a Democrat, Republican or an
independent, or liberal or conservative, the one reality which should be most
apparent to all is that we are way too much in debt. Our personal, corporate
and government borrowing is out of control. Our personal savings rate is
non-existent. Our economic society has been driven by debt, and the “greater
fool” theory which postulates that there is always a greater fool out there who
will pay a premium for what we own. We are running huge budgetary deficits, we
are fighting wars that we are not paying for, and we owe over $11 trillion to
ourselves and foreign countries. We are buying cheap imported goods from
Wal-Mart, who once prided itself on only “selling American!”  They have becomes the world’s greatest
retailer and they are a conduit for our dollars to go straight to China. We are
purchasing $700 billion on foreign oil, and much of it is going to regimes that
do not like us and some of that money is going to finance militants and terrorists
that are threatening our very existence. What we need is honest and strong
leadership. And we need that leadership now! Our society will not long exist
with an attitude of business as usual, and that we are the best because we are
Americans. As Lincoln stated in his famous
speech in Springfield, Illinois in June of 1858, “A House Divided
Against Itself Cannot Stand!” He was talking about slavery, and today we have
to be talking about economic slavery. It is the issue of the great economic and
social divide that has arisen in our country and has the potential of ripping
us apart.

I often quote FDR who said the following, “The test of our
progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it
is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”  FDR, the Second Inaugural Speech, January 20,


“The immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the
sins of the cold blooded and the sins of the warmhearted in different scales.
Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in the spirit of
charity than the constant omissions of a government frozen in the idea of its
own indifference.” FDR, from remarks he made in 1936.


In the spirit of those remarks we have to pull together for
the commonweal and address the fissures that are renting our nation state
apart. This means sacrifice and cooperation. Let us hope it begins in January.




















































































































































































































































































































































































The Advocates with Mik Moore 9-24-08

The Advocates


Mr. Mik Moore


 Wednesday, September 24, 2008, at 12:00 Noon, I am hosting
my show “The Advocates” on WVOX- 1460 AM, or you can listen to the program’s
live streaming at www.wvox.com. One can call
the show at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio.  Our guest today is Mr. Mik Moore and our subject
today is:  “Are the Democrats Taking the
Jewish Vote to Lightly?”

Mr. Mik Moore is the Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder,
Jewsvote.org and has fourteen years of experience working in the often
overlapping worlds of communications, politics, and the Jewish community. He is
currently on leave from Jewish Funds for Justice, where he serves as Chief
Communications Officer. Before joining JFSJ in 2005, Mik did electoral and
policy work for a variety of elected officials and non-profit organizations in New York City. Mr. Moore
serves on the board of The Jewish Week
and is board chair of the Jewish Student
Press Service. He studied at Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, spent a year in Israel
with the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea, and holds a B.A. from Vassar College
and a J.D. from Georgetown Law.

Mr. Moore will address some of these questions:

Are there states which the Jewish vote will be

Do Jewish voters question Obama’s support for Israel?

Is the McCain campaign connected to the spread of
internet rumors about Obama?

Why do most Jews vote Democratic?

Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the
public differing views on current “public policy “issues. “Public policy,”
therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the
years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has
been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public
policy of the United States.
Also, over time great struggles have ensued over the control of the direction
of “public policy” For example: free trade vs. protectionism, slavery vs.
emancipation, state’s rights vs. Federalism, and an all-volunteer armed forces
or the “draft.”

One can find my essays on FDR and other subjects at https://www.richardjgarfunkel.com.
One can also listen to all of the archived shows at: http://advocates-wvox.com, including last
week’s show with Mr. John Berenyi discussing the continuing crisis of
confidence in the financial markets.


Obama Turns the Corner in the Polls 9-25-08

Obama Turns the Corner in the Polls

September 25, 2008

Richard J. Garfunkel

Looks like fortunes have been changing for the
Democratic ticket since my last 50 state survey. I'll work on a new one this
rainy weekend. As I thought, Sarah Palin's novelty has worn
thin and the “blush is off her rose.” A plurality of the
public does not feel she is qualified, what else is new? McCain's
flip-flops and grandstanding is eroding his numbers and in the words of James
Carville, “It’s the economy stupid!” Maybe his ads which have
pretzeled the truth are starting to backfire with the press, the moderates and
the non-gullible.

The latest October surprise is one promulgated by the Three
Blind Mice: Bush, Paulson and Bernanke. Wasn't it only in the spring when
Paulson and George (Herbert Hoover) Bush told us don't worry, “prosperity
is just around the corner.”  And wasn't a few days ago that ancient
John McCain thought that the economy was fundamentally on solid ground. Well
according to the Three Blind Mice, the ground is trembling. All one had to do
was listen to another impossible performance by our fearless leader in his
monotonic, no animation style to find out how disengaged he is regarding
his day job. As the NY Times said in its lead editorial “He
could have offered a great deal more than an eerily dispassionate primer on
credit markets in which he took no responsibility at all for the financial
debacle.” When has this guy ever taken any responsibility I ask of
Lewis “Scooter” Libby?

What else could one expect from this heir to the political
legacies of Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, US Grant, Warren Harding, Calvin
Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover? He even makes Jimmy Carter, look sincere, honest,
intelligent and engaged. The Times went on to say, “In the end,
Mr. Bush's appearance was just another reminder of something that has been
worrying us throughout this crisis the absence of any real national

Of course everything this Medusa of ill-tidings touches
or says turns around to stone. His ideas range from A to B, and they can be
summed up in two words, “cut taxes.” By the way for your friends that
are “supply-siders,” a recent published study proved that tax cuts do
not generate more revenues, Surprise, surprise!

So here we are facing a bailout of $700 billion which
is equivalent to 25% of last year's US Budget and makes the costs of
the ongoing morass in Afghanistan
and Iraq
look like peanuts. But the greatest irony of this whole mess is that the
fractured Republican Party is running against itself on this issue. McCain
decided to fly to the rescue while supposedly suspending his campaign.
Another lie! His campaign proceeds, his commercials air, and the
machinery of his apparatus is still on the move, But before his
mad dash to Washington he made sure that he had a stop-over in NYC to
schmooze with Katie Couric. He stated that he would rather be a
patriot first and a candidate second, even if it costs him the election. I
agree! This seems to be another act in his farcical campaign
melodrama that brought us the hurricane suspended convention, Sarah Palin,
the golden girl from the Yukon,
and now the abandonment of the debate at Old Miss.  But Obama and the
public was not sucked into this black hole of fabrication. Barack Obama intends
to be at the debate, and I assume big John McCain, who would
rather be in the Hanoi Hilton, will show up also. He would also like
to have Sarah Palin have her first full press conference on the Alaskan tundra
with the caribou and her dogsled. I assume they would
want to have her VEEP debate the opening night of the World
Series. Look for more fun and games before this one is wrapped up!

Letter to the NY Times City Room Blog 9-25-08

September 25, 2008

Letter to the NY Times
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/25 regarding Roosevelt
Island and the now approved Memorial to FDR

Congratulations to Mr. William vanden Heuval and his
magnificent efforts and work regarding the memory of one of New York's greatest sons. Obviously, to all
who have a sense of history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt will remain fondly in
the hearts of all freedom-loving Americans. His remarkable leadership in
confronting the Great Depression, and reversing the panic and our slide to
oblivion should never be forgotten or deprecated, by the “fiction writers
inside and outside of Congress.” The reforms instituted in the First
Hundred Days of the New Deal should be a lesson to us today regarding the miscreants
of greed who have brought our financial well-being and stability to a dangerous
precipice. The apostles of de-regulation are now begging for relief as they
hold the whole financial system hostage to their falsehoods and empty words.
Wasn't it in only April and May when our modern day Andrew Mellon and Herbert
Hoover, declared “prosperity is just around the corner.” Hopefully
come this November the American people will rise up in their “righteous
indignation” and throw those rascals to the dustbin of history.

FDR conquered polio, saved our economic institutions,
founded the Warm Springs Foundation that found the cure for that dreaded
disease, and rallied the country in the wake of its “Day of Infamy.”
FDR the “Soldier of Freedom,” aptly named by historian James McGregor
Burns, made us “The Arsenal of Freedom,” authored the Atlantic
Charter, created Lend-Lease, and cemented the alliance of Allied nations that
brought the fascist totalitarians to their knees. He also brought us the GI
Bill, Bretton Woods monetary reform and the United Nations. Churchill said of
him that he, “was the greatest man he known.” No better site could be
then on Roosevelt Island that flanks both the FDR Drive and is in
the shadow of the UN. I look forward to visiting this memorial, and again
“hats off” to Bill vanden Heauval and his great work.

Richard J. Garfunkel


The Advocates with John Berenyi 9-17-08

The Advocates


John Berenyi

September 17, 2008, at 12:00 Noon, I am hosting my show “The Advocates” on
WVOX- 1460 AM on your dial, or you can listen to the program’s live streaming
at www.wvox.com.  One can call the show
at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio. 
We have a return guest today with Mr. John Berenyi, who is no stranger
to these broadcasts.

topic today is, “What is the current situation with the financial markets.” Mr.
Berenyi was on The Advocates almost one year ago (October 25, 2007) talking
about the Subprime mortgage meltdown, he accurately predicted there would be
more rough waters ahead in the financial marketplace. Mr. Berenyi was also a
participant on our New Year’s prediction program panel (December 26, 2007) and
articulated the same concerns.  

of the questions Mr. Berenyi will address are the following:

Why did Lehman Brothers collapse?

Can there be other situations like this?

What is the impact on other companies like AIG?

Why is there a failure of government action?

What happened to regulation?

John Berenyi, has undergraduate and graduate degrees in, engineering,
management sciences and applied economics from Columbia University.
He has been an investment banker, who has specialized in alternative energy and
environmental finance for the past 25 years. In the early part of his career,
as a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard
University, he developed the composite
set of environmental indicators to measure the quality of life in cities across
the United States.
Cities, counties, states, and academic institutions have adopted this work,
across America,
as a tool for public of public policy and evaluation. Today, after a long
career serving companies like Citicorp, HSBC Capital and IF Rothschild, he is
the managing director of Ecocite, a Canadian-based company that works as an
energy investment trust for eco-property development. He is also the Senior
Advisor on Energy to the AJ Congress to implement the US-Israeli Energy
Independence. Act.

John Berenyi has appeared on The Advocates and has talked to
us about such varied subjects as: “Our Crumbling Infrastructure,” August 23,
2007, and “The Subprime Mortgage Crisis,” on October 25, 2007. One can listen
to our guest by accessing The Advocates website: http://advocates-wvox.com. His other
appearances were on December 26, 2008, January 23, 2008, and April 16, 2008.

Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the
public differing views on current “public policy “issues. “Public policy,”
therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the
years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has
been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public
policy of the United States.
Also, over time great struggles have ensued over the control of the direction
of “public policy” For example: free trade vs. protectionism, slavery vs.
emancipation, state’s rights vs. Federalism, and an all-volunteer armed forces
or the “draft.”


Dueling Letters to the Editor Spetember 12, 2008

Criticism of my Letter to the Editor and my Response!
September 12, 2008

 Criticism of Palin elitist Letter

Richard J. Garfunkel's
Saturday letter, “McCain's pick tough to take seriously,” attempting
to prove Sarah Palin's inexperience for vice president, has instead
demonstrated the classism and elitism rife in liberal critique of the Palin

As the self-proclaimed
ideology championing the voice of the little guy, liberals repeatedly use the
geographical and socio-economic status of Palins constituency as evidence for
her political inadequacies. The terms in Mr. Garfunkels letter, for example
“small-town,” “tundra of Alaska”
and “backwoods primitivism” both demonstrate my point and insult
small-town America.
At what point did D.C. politics and law degrees become prerequisites for POTUS?

I'd be proud to have Sarah
Palin represent my country as the VP, and when she decides to visit New York, be the first
to treat that “backwoods” piece of trailer trash to her first NY

Kyle G. Krueger

Cortlandt Manor


RJG Answers small-town guy
from Cortlandt Manor!

As a G-d-fearing so-called elitist, I am proud to be a
card-carrying middle of the road Democrat. It is true, like many so-called
elitists I read, study, and remember. I remember John McCain and the “Keating
Five” and how his “heroic” background helped whitewash him from the fate
of the other Abscambers. I also recall that unlike the “elitist”
president of the Harvard Law Review, Barack Obama, he was fifth from the bottom
of his class of 900 at Annapolis.
I assume he was an affirmative action selection because of his illustrious
name. I also remember how he dumped his first wife after she was injured in a
car accident. I also remember that he was the Chairperson of the Commerce
Committee that overseas things like regulation and the financial marketplaces.
I also remember him as a knee-jerk supporter of the Reagan-Bush-Bush troika who
worship at the throne of deregulation and the free (for all) market. These are
the same people who decry government, and its bigness, but scream for help when
they get into trouble. But this time the libertarians of the right really have
gotten us in the slippery slope soup. My friend from Cortlandt Manor, Mr.
Krueger was unhappy with my characterization of Governor Palin's home hunting
grounds. Basically Alaska is not like the
small home towns of almost any Americans, no less the good folk of Cortlandt Manor
and Westchester County. In truth Alaska is 93% white, has a majority of men,
has tremendous social problems, has one of the smallest populations and has by
far the fewest people per square mile on this side of the earth, and its
“tundra” is not like any other state. Look, some Alaskans really like
the governor for bringing home the “bacon” (pork.)

In fact, Sara Palin
was able to “earmark” almost $220 for every man, woman, child and
moose in our 49th State. Can you imagine if Barack Obama could have increased
the Illinois
earmarks from $22 per capita to her number, we would all be broke.

But I really appreciate Ms Palin for her GOP family values
that seem to replicate her running mate and America's Mayor who is on wife
number three and whose children don't seem to want to talk to him. But no one
should bring up the fact that the governor has had management problems with her
own family while she is pontificating about others and their “elitist”
G-d depracating ways. But the governor has some resume problems that accompany
her moose hunting credentials. She didn't seem to be a corruption fighter, she
seems to be involved in a modern day book burning, she seems to be involved in
abusing her power regarding her familial problems, she seems to not have sold
her jet bomber on Ebay, she seems to have criticized her Wasilia predecessor,
Mayor Stein for not being Christian. It seems he is a Lutheran.  Maybe being a Lutheran is not Christian
enough to a “newly” born Evangelical. It seems she thinks our efforts
in Iraq
are a new chapter in the Crusades and that our “western G-d” has
blessed that ill-conceived and executed adventure. But we in Westchester
are elitists when we want our elected officials to have half a brain. We should
applaud Sara Palin and her vast educational and academic experiences at five
colleges. Of course she eventually graduated, I think from the Harvard of the
Rockies, the University
of Idaho. But of course a
famous North Dakotan, GOP US
Senator Roman Hruska, defended Nixon's mediocre choices for the Supreme Court,
G.Harold Carswell, and Clement Haynesworth, by saying that being a
“C” student was under-represented on the Court. The Senate and the
public didn't buy that load of malarcky and rejected those two idiotic choices.
So Sara Plain isn't a genius. Who needs smart
people? Look at the trouble we got in with another Ivy Leaguer George Bush II.
But maybe he was a legacy just like John McCain! Do we really believe that he
got in on his own?

Well with Sara Palin, and John McCain, who has made
flip-flopping and newspeak an art form, the blush maybe off the rose. His
economic doubletalk and nonsense has finally penetrated into most voters’
heads, and the GOP ticket of old and dumb with young and dumber seems to have
peaked. I am glad that Mr. Krueger will head her parade of anti-elitists and
book-burners down to the public square where they will bow to the Golden Calf
of Creationism, flat-earthism, and hiss at Darwin's memory. I recommend that he
re-see “Duck Soup” with the Marx Brothers and see how the Country of
Fredonia worked (Karl wasn't in that film!)

Richard J. Garfunkel

Letter to the Editor of the Journal News 9-4-08 FDR and 1932

Letter to the editor of the US News and World Reports

Editorial about FDR and the most important election-

September 11, 2008

 Richard J. Garfunkel

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the
abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who
have too little.”  FDR, the Second
Inaugural Speech, January 20, 1937


“The immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the
sins of the cold blooded and the sins of the warmhearted in different scales.
Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in the spirit of
charity than the constant omissions of a government frozen in the idea of its
own indifference.” FDR, from remarks he made in 1936.


Thank G-d for Franklin Delano Roosevelt! Ken T.
Walsh's column hit the nail squarely on its head. The three years of Hoover
inactivity on top of the Coolidge five-year sleep-a-thon created, as Arthur
Schlesinger articulated in his book, “The Crisis of the Old Order,”  a climate of despair and a reality of
collapse, panic and the inability to cope. One should read his great prose. The
Great Depression threatened the very essence and survival of our Democracy. All
over Europe, country after country turned to dictators, and desperation was
changing into the distinct possibility of social disorder and revolution in America. Roosevelt stopped the bleeding, reversed the slippery
slope of the collapse and engineered the greatest period of financial, economic
and social reform in our history into 100 days. The recovery to the pre-crash
inflated and unrealistic market numbers advanced every year until the Dixiecrat
forces and the Wall Street plutocrats demanded a slowdown in New Deal spending.
When FDR exceeded to their wishes the economy quickly reverted to almost
pre-recovery status. FDR realized almost immediately that the pump must be
still continued to be primed, and he reversed course quickly, and the severe,
but short recession of 1938 was stopped. As to foreign affairs, FDR warned us
of the totalitarian rise in Europe and Asia
with his Quarantine Speech, but he
was silenced by hundreds of editorials, egged on by the American First
isolationists, which sought his impeachment for his warnings. Eventually with
the passage of Lend-Lease, the repeal
of the Neutrality Laws, and the authorship of the Atlantic Charter created from the essence of the Four Freedoms
State of the Union
Address of January 1941, the country started to take re-armament seriously. FDR
beat back the Lindbergh hatred and the isolationist insanity, racism and
xenophobia. After Pearl Harbor, he made the United States into “The
Arsenal of Democracy,” created a winning strategy and partnership with
Winston Churchill, and selected excellent military leaders to prosecute the
war. He became truly “The Soldier of Freedom,” as named by James
McGregor Burns in his award winning book of the same title. His leadership
established the GI Bill of Rights, the Bretton Woods Monetary Reforms, the
United Nations, and established the basis for Eleanor Roosevelt's authorship of
UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The future world is
more in the image of FDR than any other person. It is his world we live in. Roosevelt's dual leadership through the panic and
recovery days of the Great Depression and the dark days of WWII made him the
“essential” and “indispensable man.” Churchill said,
“Franklin Roosevelt was the greatest man he had ever known.” President
Roosevelt’s life, he said must be regarded as “one of the commanding events of
human destiny.”  Enough of the
revisionism of the far right!


The Advocates with AF Cook 9-10-08

The Advocates

“The Democrats in the
Red Zone

Ms. AF Cook

Wednesday, September 10, 2008, at 12:00 Noon, I am hosting
my show “The Advocates” on WVOX- 1460 AM on your dial, or you can listen to its
live streaming at www.wvox.com.  One can
call the show at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio. My guest this afternoon
from Arlington, Va., is A.F. Cook, the author of “Democrats
in the Red Zone: an Independent Voter’s take on the game of political

A.F. Cook is an author, sometime blogger, and average
American citizen whose recent book, “Democrats in the Red Zone: an Independent
voter’s take on the game of political perception” was published in November
2007. Cook wants Democrats to be savvier about how they play the political
perception game. She believes Republicans retain an edge in their understanding
of American cultural biases, and that Democrats must sharpen their rhetoric and
cultivate more mainstream perceptions of their constituencies to gain an upper

In a direct challenge to the organizational culture of the
Democratic Party in particular and liberal culture in general, Cook asserts
that such a strategic shift will only occur when barriers to inclusion based on
class and educational credentials are broken down within those two cultures.
Cook believes that America’s
voting majority — especially football fans — detests one trait even more than
dishonesty: pretentiousness. In her view, the impact of Sarah Palin’s
nomination as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate clearly
illustrates this reality.

Cook lives in Virginia,
which she calls a “red state going purple.” Originally hoping for a
presidential run by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, she is currently a
supporter of Barack Obama

Today’s discussion will be an update on the state of
American politics in the wake of the last eight months of campaigning since our
guest, A.F. Cook was last here. AF Cook will tell our audience how she perceives
the strengths and weaknesses of all four candidates, and why both Joe Biden and
Sarah Palin were added to the national tickets. Some of the questions A.F. Cook
will address are the following:

What is meant by the term “game changer?”

What does the term the “American People” mean to

Has American feminism been advanced by the
candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin?

You can also access on The Advocates’ website, http://advocates-wvox.com and hear A.F.
Cook’s last interview, discussing her book, “Democrats in the Red Zone,” which
was originally broadcast on January 2, 2008.

Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the
public differing views on current “public policy “ issues. “Public policy,”
therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the
years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has
been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public
policy of the United States.
Also, over time great struggles have ensued over the control of the direction
of “public policy” For example: free trade vs. protectionism, slavery vs.
emancipation, state’s rights vs. Federalism, and an all-volunteer armed forces
or the “draft.”


Letter to the California Progress Report -September 9, 2008


Letter to the California Progress Report –September 9, 2008

Column by Irwin Novick “Happy Days are Here Again, the Resurgence of FDR.”


Thank you Mr. Nowick!

FDR was the single greatest elected politician in modern history and was
able to overcome the devastating physical challenge of Polio. He was a vigorous
man who overcame a lifetime of sickness. He had wonderful mentors, Theodore
Roosevelt, Al Smith, and Woodrow Wilson. He took something from all of them,
and was smart enough to avoid the problems they all experienced. He shaped his
own destiny, built the new Democratic Party, halted the panic that paralyzed America after four years of Depression, created
the New Deal, and led America
towards recovery. He was labor’s greatest friend, created social safety nets
for the average American. He restored faith in the market places, the banks and
government. He created the Social Security, and rebuilt America’s
devastated middle class. He was one of our greatest conservationists and he
brought electricity to parts of rural America that had been ignored for
200 years.

He rallied the public, instilled great respect from the world at large, and
inspired great enemies and opposition. He took on the Fascists when America wanted
no part of that fight, created the United Nations, and built the “Arsenal
of Democracy.” Through his actions at the Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, he put forth his vision of the
world based on the “Four Freedoms.” His vision is the vision of
today’s modern world; his vision is of the world community pulling together for
the common good. FDR had to withstand an “American First” style isolationism
that cut across almost all social and political barriers and subgroups. FDR had
to use his unequaled mastery of the America
political landscape to, on one hand, re-arm America, and on the other hand,
battle the limitations of our Neutrality Laws and the passion of people like
Charles Lindbergh, who were his most vocal critics.

FDR mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, as we fought an
effective and remarkable two-ocean war. He selected and appointed our excellent
overall leadership with his Joint Chief’s Command, led by Admiral William D.
Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along
with Admiral King. FDR's selections, in all of the theaters of his
responsibility, of MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent and
carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates, which included
Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle,
Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others spelled
eventual success. His speeches and cool leadership gave the people confidence
after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR's leadership of
the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca,
Teheran and Yalta
were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West.
His sponsoring of the Bretton Woods Conference had the most lasting effect on
the future world's economies vis-à-vis monetary stability. All in all FDR's
domestic leadership before and during the war were unprecedented. The late
President, the architect of victory, won a hard earned election in 1944, with
excellent majorities in Congress, even with his health suffering from advance
heart disease and arterial sclerosis. One of FDR’s final achievements was the
“GI Bill,” which brought educational benefits, training and opportunity to

He was able to maintain his majorities in Congress all through his tenure in
office, and even though the Democrats narrowly lost Congress in 1946, they
quickly recovered their majorities until the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But
from 1954 until the 1980's the FDR-New Deal coalition of Democrats maintained
Congressional hegemony.

FDR's legacy was one of not only unprecedented leadership, but of government
innovation, reform and restructuring. Both have great-unequaled places in the
history of our world and our time. Not only did James McGregor Burns write his
wonderful book, “FDR, The Lion and the Fox,” but he followed it up
with the award-winning, “FDR, The Soldier of Freedom.”

Both books still make great reading. FDR is the most written about man in
history, and I had the pleasure of being at the Roosevelt Summer reading Fest
at Hyde Park, NY this past June 21st. It was hosted by the
FDR Library under the wonderful leadership of Ms. Cynthia Kock. I also had the
pleasure of having a number of the authors there that day as a guest on my
radio show, “The Advocates.” One can hear the broadcasts of those
shows by accessing its archives at http://advocates-wvox.com.

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown, NY


Letter to the Editor of the Journal News 9-4-08


September 4, 2008

 Letter to the Editor:of the Journal News

Since the time of Herbert Hoover, most nominees of the two
major parties have selected outstanding people to serve as their running mates.
A number of these individuals had a lifetime of experience in the mainstream of
American political life. Harry Truman selected veteran United States Senator
Alben Barkley, a former majority leader, and John F. Kennedy picked a powerful
United States Senator, Lyndon Johnson, who was also a Senate Majority Leader.
Aside from one’s philosophical perspective, Presidents Roosevelt, Eisenhower,
Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Reagan and George W. Bush picked individuals with
records of substance. At times Presidents have made mistakes with failures like
Spiro Agnew, and Dan Quayle. On the other hand, losing presidential candidates
have also made embarrassing mistakes with choices like, Bill Miller and
Geraldine Ferraro. But all of them, with few exceptions, had maturity, national
experience and exposure, and were not seen as radicals outside of the
mainstream. Again, with politics aside, most could have succeeded the
presidency without the public being overly concerned. During the Republican
National Convention, one GOP spin doctor compared the choice of Governor Sarah
Palin with Harry Truman, stating, he was an unknown Senator. In truth, Truman
was 60 years old, had served with distinction during WWI as the Commander of Artillery
Battery D, served as a well-respected administrative county judge for ten years
in Missouri,
and was a United States Senator for ten years. He created and led the
critically regarded Truman Committee, a WWII oversight sub-committee, dealing
with waste and corruption. Unfortunately as a matter of expedience, Senator
John McCain, the newly minted GOP standard bearer has selected Governor Palin
of Alaska, whose libertarian and reactionary views are far outside the
mainstream of American thinking, whose experience beyond the small town life
and tundra of Alaska is nil, whose confused set of values smacks of abject
hypocrisy, and whose prejudices reek of religious bigotry, insensitivity, and backwoods
primitivism. She may be lauded by her sycophantic supporters as a gun-toting,
all-American “hockey mom,” but it seems to all that her teenage daughter was
badly compromised by a self-confessed foulmouthed “hockey” lout. The first and
most important choice of any candidate for the presidency is their running
mate. No matter how her blind supporters bleat, it is mighty tough to take this
pick seriously.

 Richard J. Garfunkel