Keynote from Symposium at Stetson Law School


In which Niemoller, Aaron, and Jamie Raskin all make an appearance. 

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JP Morgan Chase, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, and the Corruption of America


The Justice Department has just obtained documents showing that JPMorgan Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, has been hiring the children of China’s ruling elite in order to secure “existing and potential business opportunities” from Chinese government-run companies. “You all know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters program,” says one JP Morgan executive in an email, because “it almost has a linear relationship” to winning assignments to advise Chinese companies. The documents even include spreadsheets that list the bank’s “track record” for converting hires into business deals.

It’s a serious offense. But let’s get real. How different is bribing China’s “princelings,” as they’re called there, from Wall Street’s ongoing program of hiring departing U.S. Treasury officials, presumably in order to grease the wheels of official Washington? Timothy Geithner, Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, is now president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus; Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag is now a top executive at Citigroup.

Or, for that matter, how different is what JP Morgan did in China from Wall Street’s habit of hiring the children of powerful American politicians? (I don’t mean to suggest Chelsea Clinton got her hedge-fund job at Avenue Capital LLC, where she worked from 2006 to 2009, on the basis of anything other than her financial talents.)

And how much worse is JP Morgan’s putative offense in China than the torrent of money JP Morgan and every other major Wall Street bank is pouring into the campaign coffers of American politicians — making the Street one of the major backers of Democrats as well as Republicans?

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By Lisa Wade, PhD.

There is a winding line of counties stretching from Louisiana to South Carolina, a set of states that largely voted for McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.  The map below shows how counties voted in blue and red and you can clearly see this interesting pattern.

These counties went overwhelmingly for Obama in part because there is large black population.  Often called the “Black Belt,” these counties more so than the surrounding ones were at one time home to cotton plantations and, after slavery was ended, many of the freed slaves stayed.  This image nicely demonstrates the relationship between the blue counties and cotton production in 1860:

But why was there cotton production there and not elsewhere?  The answer to this question is a geological one and it takes us all the way back to 65 million years ago when the seas were higher and much of the southern United States was under water.  This image illustrates the shape of the land mass during that time:

Jeff Fecke at Alas a Blog discusses it this way:

Along the ancient coastline, life thrived, as usually does. It especially thrived in the delta region, the Bay of Tennessee, if you will. Here life reproduced, ate, excreted, lived, and died. On the shallow ocean floor, organic debris settled, slowly building a rich layer of nutritious debris. Eventually, the debris would rise as the sea departed, becoming a thick, rich layer of soil that ran from Louisiana to South Carolina.

65 million years later, European settlers in America would discover this soil, which was perfect for growing cotton.

So there you have it: the relationship between today’s political map, the economy, and geological time.

I have borrowed the information and images below from Jeff Fecke at Alas A Blog.  His discussion, if you’re interested, is more in depth.

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corporate tax: or, losing friends to investment banking


remember the first day of freshman year of college when we were nothing but a name and a dot on the map at the front of the hall?

remember when we did
not cry when our parents left us in those rooms too cramped  for all of our expectations (and, perhaps, naïveté)?

remember the first time we met and you told me that you were still open, but you were pretty sure
you’d declare a major in philosophy or english because

you wept the first time you read perks of being a wallflower
and we shared a sacred and unquenchable lust for bad science fiction

remember how hopeful we were –
that this school would
allow us to “find ourselves,”
“change the world,”
and other slogans we

recited from all the view books
the ones we stitched to our throats
when they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up

so when you changed your major to econ,
so when you pledged that fraternity
so when you replaced t-shirt with j-crew,
so when you accepted that ‘prestigious’ position at an investment bank
and expected me to be proud of you because you were going to ‘dismantle the system from within’
because you were different from ‘them’
i couldn’t help but wonder at what point
we become the tucked in shirt, the
wallet in pocket, the 9-5
we grew up fearing

you, whose love of learning stuck longer than the stickers your teachers adorned your homework with
you, who couldn’t fall asleep after reading marx in debate camp because things finally made sense again
you, who came to this university with a spirit unable to be disciplined

what happened to you?

you who sacrificed dream for diploma,
revolution for resume,
in that factory that produces profit out of potential prophet
where change falls from hearts into pockets
don’t give a fuck bout teaching you to stop it
'cuz gotta make that endowment rocket!

‘liberal arts college degree’ becomes a fancy way of saying
‘can spend 8 hours designing power point slides’ 
‘can forget all promises for promotion’
'can quote classic literature at business dinners to seduce the clients'

so what if i told you that they lied to us about what we’d be taught?
would you believe me?
so what if the best way to dominate a world is to pretend that you are saving it?
so what if this education was really about making you so ignorant that you forgot how to think for yourself?

you, the twenty something year old
idealist gone corporate in your
first suit throwing your theory at a Wall that will swallow you up and spit you back on the Street discharged like the cold hard cash
of an ATM machine your heart beat reduced
to a series of transactions
when you hugged me goodbye i almost expected you to ask me for a receipt:
proof of purchase for a friendship you
consumed when it made cents for your
career trajectory. sorry i did not make
the cut for the walking resume
you mistake as a body

I want to believe you because I want to believe in the power of a creativity undisciplined: that time we read our first book, saw our first eclipse, saw her smile. The joy and chaos of it all.
So what if it’s just chaos?
That space and time before friendship got postponed by deadlines
future segregated into interviews and internships

So what if we are really insignificant like the dot on the map from freshman year?
Why does it matter?  What if we are nothing? What if that is beautiful?
What if we cried when our parents left us but didn’t tell each other?
What if I am crying because you are leaving me but will not tell you because I do not have the market value  to make you listen
that I think you are worth more than any salary increase they will give you, that your mind cannot be transcribed on a spreadsheet of numbers, that I am waiting here for you, broke, but not broken,
remembering what you could have done
before you
sold out.

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In a recent survey, 24 percent defined the American dream as “not being in debt.” They’re not trying to get ahead. They’re just trying to get to zero."

RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013

24%. Nearly a quarter of people whose deepest hope isn’t a vacation home or a third car or a business of their own. But just to not spend their life worrying about how much they owe someone else.

And how much of that debt is for things we’ve been told were necessary- student loans, auto loans because public transit isn’t an option, credit cards and medical expenses because they can’t afford health insurance. Yeah, I’m sure some of it is on other things, less necessary things, but so much of our culture is bent on tying people down to as much debt as it possibly can.



On the left we have the lyrics from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. On the right we rape survivors participating in Project Unbreakable, showing the various things that were said to them by their rapist.

From the Mouths of Rapist: The Lyrics to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

for people who are like “but it’s just a song…”