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Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’

I’ve heard this stated many times before… “When the revolution comes, they’ll not only want to know what side you’re on, but what side you’ve been on.”

I’m reading about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and watching the “Occupy Portland” protests skeptically. The protesters in Portland (estimated by police to be about 5000) gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland yesterday after marching from the city’s waterfront.  With so few news outlets in the northwest, we’re not quite sure what these protesters want.  Some say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate “Wall Street.”  You know the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs what seems like the 4th branch of the government!

99%

The one thing we do know is they’re angry, that 1% have all the money and they’ve got next to nothing and believe they are the 99%.

People are hurting. This is not a one party issue. This is a human issue. This is a fight over the future of America.  I’m not saying you can’t be rich, but you’ve got to pay your taxes.  How much should they be?   Let’s start the debate.  However, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, everything they’ve saved, and you don’t exhibit compassion, you don’t reach down to help them, then you’re on the wrong side.

We all know friends or have family members who have worked really hard all their life only to lose their home and get no support from the banks.  The banks are on the wrong side.  Greedy real estate bankers loaned money to anyone who could “fog a mirror” which then cratered the housing market and is now helping bankrupt the country.  Then they demanded taxpayers bail them out, a demand that complicit, corrupt politicians (yes, of both parties) were only too happy to oblige.

Occupy Portland

And, like most of the protestors I’m fed up with the political gridlock in Washington.  Both sides stand in the way of change.  At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush than when Obama was elected.  The middle-class is worse off.  The gap between rich and poor is alarming. Because it stifles ambition. Why make the effort if you can’t get ahead?  And if you think the American Dream still exists, you probably live in Europe, the odds of going from the bottom to the top are much more difficult.

And suddenly all of this is a hot issue?!  Huh?

Some politicians and members of the media have chastised the protesters suggesting that they should stop protesting and go get a job or should instead start companies so they can help form a less self-involved, more gregarious and forward-thinking American capitalism.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Slam the folks trying to shed some light.

These people aren’t against the system. Most are not lazy people sitting around looking for a handout.  They don’t want to bring down America. They just want some sense of fairness restored to the system as it is, and they want a chance to participate and be heard. Instead, they’ve been marginalized by corporate money and ripped off by their banks and financial institutions.  They’ve been promised that hard work and a good education are what it takes to succeed, then slammed by a lack of opportunities, then told by sneering political candidates that if you’re poor, well it’s they’re own fault. It’s not really surprising that things have reached a boiling point.

This isn’t about protests; it’s about how banks, corporations and corrupt government policies are disenfranchising and bankrupting everyday Americans.  The protests are about taking proactive steps towards rectifying — or at least shedding light on — that situation.

Since the Vietnam War, I’ve never seen anything like this as a form of political protest. It’s wrenching, honest and true.  Personally, I can’t stop thinking about this guy,

Photos courtesy of AP (Map), Oregonlive (Pioneer Place) and We Are The 99 Percent.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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By this time you’ve already heard that our President, Barack Obama, a man who ran on a platform of hope and change, is getting us deeper into Afghanistan.  Isn’t Al-Qaeda in Pakistan?  And, if the Soviets couldn’t win there, why can we?  A country owned by China with disastrous financials (that’s us, in case you didn’t recognize your homeland).

If you join the armed forces to serve your country, to pay your bills, you’re entering Hotel California.  It seems you can never leave.  You jumpily wait for people to attack you or detonate IEDs.  Coming home to a country that pays you lip service, but doesn’t give a rip because people can’t find a job.  If you come home at all.  And if you do return, you’re likely traumatized.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is paying record bonuses and their Chairman Lloyd Blankfein says the firm is doing God’s work.  Huh?  What deity does Mr. Blankfein pray to who wants to see the populace suffer?  Used to be Wall Street helped build America, now traders just profit off exotic investment instruments.

But there is good news (sarcasm alert!).  The enormous financial outlay of the 8+ year war has brought into sharp focus Bagram Airfield, where off-duty soldiers can obtain everything from Kyrgyz massages to purchase a BK burger.  Including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  According to AFP reports, the dealer for those away from the front lines sells about 4 motorcycles a month to U.S. servicemen.  With another 30,000 troops being deployed, and most of them set to take off or land on Bagram’s runway in route to fight the Taliban it means H-D should expect a sales increase proportional with the troop surge.  In fact, I just read a post on the H-D forum from a soldier who bought a 2009 Night Train yesterday.  Congrats Army_Train85 and thank you for your service!!

Obama’s speech wasn’t all that inspirational for me, but he did state (you can read the full text of his speech here) that sending the extra troops will cost the U.S. military $30 billion dollars this year — or $1 million for each newly deployed soldier.  That’s high-finance and hard for me to wrap my head around it.  In fact, it’s difficult for me to understand the cost ($28 a head) of each and every meal prepared for U.S. soldiers on the base cost more than most Afghans earn in a month.  That alone might explain the attraction to the Taliban-linked narco-terrorists.  Sigh. I wish there was a better way…

At any rate, as Bagram turns into a military “boom-town”…H-D is poised to take advantage.

Photo courtesy of Corbis/Shaun Schwartz.

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chapelA good riding buddy of mine lost his father recently.

Coping is difficult for family and for friends it’s can be challenging to know what to say or not say that might remind the person about something they don’t want to remember.  But close friends know how not to say a word and yet provide comfort.

Frank served in the U.S. Army and was a Korean War veteran which meant he always had a sense of purpose to what ever it was he was doing.  I first met him back in the early ‘80s when he ran his own company selling electronic components.  I worked at a medical instrumentation company which purchased his parts and I’ll never forget his deep vocabulary of “one-liners.” A salesman of high integrity to the very core and one that would make Glengarry Glen Ross “ABCs” proud.   I remember on more than one occasion “chasing” him out of the manufacturing assembly area for chatting up the “common people” not because he had a talent of figuring out what his clients were always up to, but was the kind of guy who made people laugh and truly enjoyed learning more about the folks he worked with.  Chatting/laughing and killing time in manufacturing = fewer widgets thus the need for chasing him off.

I was a privilage to know Frank and I was thinking about his — “Trust No One” — saying while I wrote this post.  How prophetic that the biggest story of the week is the insane profits at Goldman Sachs.  If you’d rather get your news from “Rolling Stone”, Matt Taibbi weighs in HERE.  Clearly Wall Street’s bad habits — above all, the system of compensation that helped cause the financial crisis — have not gone away.  In addition, it spotlights that by rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis.

Frank passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of his family and friends.  Small as it may be, I wanted to provide a shout out of remembrance and re-commit to memory his one-liner as I sit in front of the TV screen, anesthetized by “talking heads” hoping our future doesn’t go down the drain as banking insiders believe it’s business as usual.

Photo taken at Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Az.

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