17 March 2009


White Collar Crooks Pillage America

Part Twelve

The acid reflux of the Clinton – Bush years has given us NAFTA, guised as a good trade agreement. But since it’s implementation in 1994 we’ve seen that isn’t so by the erosion of U. S. jobs. It’s left the American worker in a Mexican state of underpaid joblessness. You will soon find American workers hopping the fence to Mexico just to find work at the American companies that abandoned them. And although in 2008 Bush left us a $1.3 trillion deficit---the banking crisis we find ourselves is the culmination of President Clinton’s decision in 1993 to deregulate the banking system. And as the cleaner President Obama has come in to clean up the bad decisions and poor politics left to rot by Clinton and Bush.

I recall the very day the financial shafting began, I walked into my bank and looked at the metal stand that held the sign with removable numbers and letters. It notified the customers of the saving accounts percentage rates. The 5% or 6% rate had been replaced by the interest rate of 2%. We wouldn’t find out how much we were really losing until 2008.

Fast forward past Presidents 42 and 43 and a country riddled with Ponzi schemes. The white collar crooks would amass billions over a 15 year scam of stealing from the naive rich and unknowledgeable poor---and giving to the crooked corporate wealthy. President Clinton is the blame for the free for all attitude---President Bush for exploiting Clinton’s policy making. The deregulations Clinton enacted across the banking, telecommunications and transportation [airlines] sectors paved the way for Bushy and his cronies to step in and rape and pillage the U. S.---like a gang of Brooks Brothers wearing corporate oil thugs.

Clinton's decision to be soft on regulation initiated the financial gluttony within the first consumer driven corporations; Enron, Adelphia Communications and WorldCom to collapse under the weight of greed. By deregulating, the lack of government regulations and oversight, Clinton gave them the green light to gouge the consumer with ease. Fifteen years worth of buy-outs and takeovers, gaining financial momentum and no one to answer to---produced a greed beyond comprehension, and the financial ruin we currently find ourselves in. While consumer product and services suffer increasingly year after year, the public's only recourse is to file a grievance, which our Washington officials simply crumple up for use in interoffice putting practice.

We had our first taste of corporate greed with the CEO's at MCI WorldCom and Enron. It all began in 1996 when the first of the corporate deregulation's occurred between the Telecommunications Companies. The telephone companies involved were: NYNEX / Bell Atlantic (currently Verizon), AT&T and MCI. The deregulations were meant to assist the consumer with discounted competitive prices. But, within months additional taxes, taxes on top of taxes, surcharges and connectivity fee's were applied to the monthly bill. During the first year I observed the .75 cent connectivity charge creep to .98 cents, then $1.50, onward to $1.78.

At that point I wrote a letter to then AT&T CEO, Michael Armstrong in protest against this additional connectivity fee. For many months, I and others refuted the charge but without any support from our Governmental officials, AT&T extorted the fee. Behind the extortion was FCC honcho, Harold Furchtgott-Roth, raking in monthly from New York State residents solely (who pay the highest rates in the country) $37,763,000 (Yes, that's thirty-seven million dollars a month).

By the second year the connectivity fee went upward to $2.50, pulling in $53,000,000 million per month for Mr. Armstrong's lunch money. Allowing him in 1999 to purchase Time Warner Cable, or should I say "we" bought it for him. One month after the acquisition, cable companies were deregulated and the cable rate increases were unstoppable. By 2000 New Yorkers forked over $9.04 per month to the renamed Universal Charge (also known as The Universal Service Fund), giving Mr. Roth a nice little IRA of $191,648,000 million. Imagine $191.6 million dollars from ONE State in one month. Throughout the United States they pulled in a hefty monthly allowance of $2.5 billion from long-distance telephone users (separate from your long-distance charges).

What a profitable deal Washington, D.C. has made with the FCC. If the purpose of this Universal/ Connectivity Charge is really intended for the use of providing "affordable" telephone communications for low-income consumers, and consumers in rural areas, along with assisting schools, libraries, rural healthcare providers with Internet access and lastly disbursing funds to local telephone companies. Then with a liquid monthly income from The Universal Service Fund of $2.5 billion across the country, these recipients could have been wired ten times over. If they were truly spending the monies on the goodness they profess, then the surplus "Fund" money (PAC money) collected by American's should reach out further and wipe out poverty, hunger and homelessness in the United States, and probably could in one month.

Unfortunately for us, the Electric Companies followed suit. Hiding behind the shield of deregulation they are using the same staggered inflation practices. Electric bills were suppose to decrease $5 a month for each customer, has conveniently reverted to increasing rates. The cost of a newer form of deregulated energy.

Interestingly enough Utility Companies invested heavily in telecommunications. Allowing them to use jointly owned telephone/electricity poles they offered the consumer one-stop shopping. Telephone-television cable-electricity became "one," charging whatever they want since they bought up all the competition. This is the backlash from the 1994 Clinton administration's introduction to the "Information Superhighway."

The California Enron black-outs have shown us the repercussions of deregulation by using this strong arm control tactic: "Pay us more or you'll sit in the dark." This is a sampling of how Utility deregulation is letting the U.S. Citizens see that we have literally given our "power" away to Corporate Washington. Our water source is next. Maybe down the road even the air we breathe.

With such lucrative dealings in deregulation, acquisitions and merges---the airlines have jumped on the band-wagon. (I wonder if the board game Monopoly will add deregulation to their game?) The Airline Industry has spent the last decade dismantling competitive airlines by gobbling them up one by one without even a burp. With the fading antitrust regulations, three of the six major U.S. carriers have swallowed up other Domestic and International carriers through mergers and buy-outs---once again their reasoning: to supply the consumer with one-stop-shopping.

The new conglomerates called OneWorld Alliance, Star Alliance and Global Airlines in essence have formed an alliance against the consumer. Inflating fares on some routes from 30 - 200 %, and increasing pet fares from $75 dollars round trip to $400 for the same flight. Forcing the consumer to pay as much for Fido as for another human being and he won’t even get to sit beside you. Then after Sept.11th they all cried poverty and bankruptcy, and the Government bailed them out---repeatedly. Deregulation and bailouts---what more could a company ask for.

With the airlines in cahoots, as consumers we have to pay-up or shut-up. Shopping around with other airlines is a thing of the past. The big-three are banding together arm and arm charging the same prices. Using airport taxes, surcharges (there's that word again) and fuel costs to hide behind. And they wonder why there's air-rage. At what point must we the consumer be financially bled before we lock arms and regulate ourselves against Corporate Washington? Please, don't be mistaken---I have nothing against Big Brother. I kind of like living in the new Deregulated States of America, it gives me a warm, cozy feeling as I sit in the dark without a telephone or cable T.V., and wonder what life must have been like in the old Moscow.

Copyright 30 July 2001, revised June 2002 & March 2009, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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