Expanded from the 12-30-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
To hell with year-end wrapups. Let's look at what we can do to impact the future.
REIGN IN BIG BANKING. Legislation is needed to stop the rape and pillage of banking customers. On Dec. 15, the Tribune's Janine Kearney and Debra Reid reported on the Kafkaesque but very familiar case of Janie Boykins-Raschilla who saw U.S. Bank on Oddie Blvd. turn a 34-cent overdraft into more than $500 in service charges. The bank has refused to reverse any of the usury it is trying to extract from a woman who lives on $600 a month of Social Security.
Janie Boykins-Raschilla reviews banking documents. (Photo: Debra Reid/Daily Sparks Tribune)
I uploaded a special edition of the Barbwire on Dec. 18 to track the issue. It will serve as the latest of more than a dozen NevadaLabor.com consumer war rooms.
Thereat, you will find a link to a 2003 New York Times article which notes that such service charges "translate into an annual rate of 1,000 percent or more .(and) are paid disproportionately by low- and moderate-income people .
" (C)ritics say the programs are similar to the 'payday loans' made by check-cashing outlets and other 'fringe banks.' Those loans, which are often exempted from usury laws because of their small size, usually cost $10 to $15 for every $100 borrowed and must be repaid in two weeks, terms less expensive than the cost of the overdraft programs.
"'The purpose of this is not, in my opinion, to help the consumer,' said J. Philip Goddard, deputy director of the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions. 'These programs are only to increase fee income.'
"The fees represent about 30 percent of banks' operating profits," the Times reported.
Janie Boykins-Raschilla's nightmare began when she got a new debit card and tried it out at a convenience store which charged an extra 50 cents to use it.
Her $1.00 purchase became $1.50 with just $1.16 in the account. The bank's computer paid the extra 34 cents and added $37.00 for its trouble.
Banks are an awesome lobby in Nevada, both profitable and powerful.
Their main legislative goal for the past two sessions has been getting their taxes lowered. USeless Bank's treatment of Janie Boykins-Raschilla stands as evidence to the contrary. New legislation to control these latter day loan sharks is screamingly needed.
Any sponsors out there?
IMPEACH CHENEY. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Florida, wants to hold hearings on the impeachment of the vice-president. He undoubtedly wants to consider an impeachment resolution introduced months ago by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a candidate for president. In a bizarre bit of disrespect, an op-ed being circulated to major newspapers by Wexler and Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) does not mention Kucinich at all.
I am glad to see other Donkeykongs finally showing some guts. I endorsed the impeachment of Bush and Cheney earlier this year and joined with legion other Democrats in revulsion when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her first act, announced that "impeachment is off the table."
You may not get a conviction in the senate, as the Republicans failed with President Clinton, but at least you will eat up at least half their waking hours preparing their defense. That's less time to go invent new foreign disasters that get lots of people killed.
You can sign the online petition supporting Wexler's call for hearings at wexlerwantshearings.com.
And ask him why he's polling people as to whether or not they think legalization of online gambling is a major issue.
SUPPORT NATIONAL HEALTH CARE. Rep. Kucinich is the only presidential candidate of either party advocating for a national, government supported basic health care system similar to Medicare.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has introduced a bill to do just that. I will link a list of current co-sponsors to the web edition of this column. None of Nevada's three congresscritters has as yet signed on.
Why not? Go ask them.
REMEMBER. We lost two great ladies this month. Former Sparks resident Bernie Pennington, 85, passed away on Dec. 19. She and her husband Lester lived in a perfect house with a perfect garden in a perfect Sparks neighborhood. One of my fondest memories is of a visit to Bernie and Lester's where my wife and I came away with one of Bernie's home-made pies made with fruit from her backyard. She was one of Harrah's longest tenured employees, an institution in the Garden Room. Lots of locals, myself included, would waive our place in line to wait for a table on Bernie's station. She was a link to a fading past when things were smaller and friendlier in these parts.
On Dec. 15, former realtor Connie Foster passed away just two days shy of her 67th birthday. The Tonopah native is survived by her husband of 26 years, George Foster, former business manager of Sparks Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 350. Mrs. Foster was active in the Storey County Democratic Party where her husband served several terms as chairman after his retirement from the union. A memorial service will be held on Jan. 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Peppermill in Reno.
STOP RETIRING THE TRUTH. The latest round of downsizing at the Reno Gannett-Journal is not unique in the age of chain gang media.
"Rather than freeing up time for reporters to cover important stories, the new model often means simply laying off salaried pros and putting the squeeze on whoever survives the cuts," writes Adam Weinstein in the January-February edition of Mother Jones.
"As Ryan Sholin, a new-media blogger, writes 'It's hard for lifelong newsroom types to see layoffs one day and reader participation initiatives the next and not feel a bit slighted.'
"By forcing their beleaguered staffs to depend on outsiders for content, then running the content without much editorial oversight, newspapers may be taken in by crackpots and sly marketers Take the 'South Dakota Politics' and 'Daschle v. Thune' blogs, which influenced the Gannett-owned Sioux Falls Argus Leader's coverage of the state's 2004 senate race. Eventually, the bloggers were found to be on the payroll of just-elected Republican Sen. John Thune." (Stop the Press Releases by Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones, Jan.-Feb. 2008, pages 72-73)
A similar thing happened here in 2004 when now-convicted drug dealer Eddie Floyd accepted $30,000 from Republican operatives to turn his radio station's morning show into wall-to-wall Bush pushing and Kerry bashing. The on-air "newsmen" even read Bush speeches verbatim from GOP websites. Only this column reported the skulduggery.
Just yesterday came word that the Miami Herald, once a great newspaper, has begun outsourcing some of its copy editing to a contractor in India.
Be well. Raise hell.
NAOMIKLEIN.ORG: The Shock Doctrine Short Film
A Film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein, directed by Jonás Cuarón
An official selection of the Toronto Film Festival
An official selection of the Venice Film Festival
The Shock Doctrine short film is cleared for Internet use but not for broadcast,
so feel free to share it with your friends.
NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
I've been telling you so for more than 10 freakin' year
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
Learn about the goodies which suffering profitmongers suck from the public trough
Nevada: Right to Work for Less
Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it
The Dean's List
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?
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Copyright © 1982-2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org; a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, and the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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