Tags: Crony Capitalism

How Mega Corporations Rigged the H-1B Visa Program at the Expense of Small Business

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“The H-1B program is critical as a way for employers to fill skill gaps and for really talented people to come to the United States,” said Ronil Hira, a professor at Howard University who studies visa programs. “But the outsourcing companies are squeezing out legitimate users of the program,” he said. “The H-1Bs are actually pushing jobs offshore.”

Those firms have used the visas to bring their employees, mostly from India, for large contracts to take over work at American businesses. And as the share of H-1B visas obtained by outsourcing firms has grown, more Americans say they are being put out of work, or are seeing their jobs moved overseas.

The top companies receiving H-1B visas in recent years, Professor Hira found, include Tata Consultancy Services, known as TCS, Infosys and Wipro, all outsourcing giants based in India; Cognizant, with headquarters in New Jersey; and Accenture, a global operation incorporated in Ireland.

– From the New York Times article: Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, and Jobs Leave the U.S.

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Retirement Assets of 100 CEOs Equals Combined Retirement Assets of 41% of American Families

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The following speaks for itself.

From Fortune:

The retirement assets of 100 Fortune 500 CEOs are worth more than the entire nest eggs of 41% of American families, a new study shows.

That means the 100 largest CEO retirement accounts—which totaled $4.9 billion last year—would equal the total saved by 50 million U.S. families, according to a report that was jointly published by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government.

Now here’s the truly egregious part of all this…

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Obama’s Nominee to Head the FDA Has Very Deep Ties to the Pharmaceutical Industry

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No one who knows him thinks he wants to weaken the regulatory agency he has been chosen to lead. But he has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any FDA commissioner in recent memory, and some public health advocates question whether his background could tilt him in the direction of an industry he would be in charge of supervising.

– From the All-Gov article: Obama’s Nominee for FDA Chief Scrutinized for Ties to Big Pharma

Nothing from the above quote should surprise anyone. One of the hallmarks of the Obama Administration, has been his penchant for consistently surrounding himself with some of the biggest cronies America has to offer. From choosing Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury, to the coronation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the list is almost endless.

Of course, it’s not just his cabinet choices that have justifiably raised eyebrows, but also his nominees to head various agencies, seemingly for the sole purpose of maintaining the status quo and protecting “elite” criminals. No such choice was more blatant than Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As I noted before she even worked a single day on the job: Meet Mary Jo White: The Next SEC Chief and a Guaranteed Wall Street Patsy.

This prediction proved to be accurate in spades, as we learned in subsequent years. See:

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New Gallup Poll – 75% of Americans See Widespread Government Corruption

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The chart below from Gallup, is the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a Banana Republic. Which makes perfect sense, because America is a Banana Republic.

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Here are some additional observations from Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three in four Americans (75%) last year perceived corruption as widespread in the country’s government. This figure is up from two in three in 2007 (67%) and 2009 (66%).

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United Airlines CEO Walks Away with $21 Million Exit Package After Resigning Due to Corruption Probe

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Crime and corruption pay in America; you just have to be a corporate CEO, Wall Street executive, senior member of the military-industrial-intelligence complex or a politician. These so-called “elites” have perverted American justice to such a degree that not only are they now entirely above the law, they’re actually rewarded for unethical and crony behavior even after they get caught.

Nothing sums up how completely fraudulent and corrupt the U.S. economy has become than the following story, which describes how the United Airlines CEO who stepped down in the midst of a corruption probe is rewarded with a $21 million exit package, “free flights for life,” and free parking in downtown Chicago forever. No, I’m not making this up.

From the Omaha World-Herald:

When Jeff Smisek stepped down as United Airlines’ chief executive last week amid a federal corruption probe, he didn’t walk away empty-handed. He will receive at least $21 million in cash and stock, fly free for the rest of his life and keep his company car.

Then there is the parking.

He can park free in downtown Chicago and at airports in Houston and Chicago for the rest of his life.

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More American Cronyism – U.S. Government Selling Visas to Fund Luxury Apartment Buildings

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Merging, on paper, the affluent midtown neighborhood and the struggling one uptown placed Hudson Yards in a community with an overall high unemployment rate, positioning developer Related Cos. to gain low-cost financing from foreigners seeking green cards.

The program through which that happens, known as EB-5, enables foreign nationals to obtain U.S. permanent-resident status by putting up money for new business ventures that create American jobs. It gives ventures in high-unemployment and rural areas a special status to encourage investment. But as the program’s popularity has soared in recent years, the bulk of immigrant investment is going to projects that are located, like $20 billion Hudson Yards, in prosperous urban neighborhoods.

At least 80% of EB-5 money is going to projects that wouldn’t qualify as being in Targeted Employment Areas without “some form of gerrymandering,” estimates Michael Gibson, managing director of USAdvisors.org, which evaluates projects for foreign investors.

Increasingly, the money appears to be flowing to the flashiest projects, which the investors often see as safest, EB-5 professionals say. Among those getting EB-5 money are an office building set to host Facebook Inc. near Amazon.com Inc.’s Seattle headquarters, a boutique hotel in high-end Miami Beach, and a slim Four Seasons condo-hotel in lower Manhattan that sports a penthouse with an asking price above $60 million. In all of them, geographic districts were crafted to include higher-unemployment areas. 

– From the Wall Street Journal article: How a U.S. Visa-for-Cash Plan Funds Luxury Apartment Buildings

Another day, another story highlighting just how completely corrupt and sleazy the U.S. economy has become.

I’ve covered the issue of EB-5 visas before, and how a program that was initially supposed to help high unemployment neighborhoods attract investment, has become another scheme to further enrich America’s crony capitalist class.

Before we get into the meat of this post, here are a few excerpts from last year’s piece, How NYC’s Biggest Real Estate Project in a Generation is Being Financed by Selling Green Cards to the Chinese:

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The Pentagon Creates Partnership with Apple to Develop Wearable Tech

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Last week, in the post JP Morgan Hires Recently Retired U.S. General, Raymond T. Odierno, I made the following observation:

How can you ensure that the interests of TBTF Wall Street mega banks and the military-intelligence-industrial complex remain aligned? Create a revolving door of course.

Of course it’s much, much bigger than this. The genius of the current status quo system is that it has created a complicated and opaque interlocking system of crony partnerships and interdependencies between the government, mega corporations and academia so massive, wealthy and powerful it has become exceedingly difficult to challenge. This is precisely because almost everyone now depends on it for their paychecks.

Creating such corrupt networks often happens in the shadows, and in recent years has taken the form of “public-private partnerships” and secret trade deals such as the TTP, TTIP and TISA. This is how modern America operates in a nutshell, and it’s continued metastasis is rapidly destroying what’s left of freedom, common sense and free markets in this nation.

Moving along to today’s post, how free does it make you feel that the Department of Defense is partnering with 162 companies, universities and other groups to develop wearable technology? How independent can these companies and universities actually be when they are engaged in such schemes with the U.S. government. The answer is obvious: Not independent at all.

From NBC News:

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Jeb Bush’s Deep Love Affair with Lobbyists and Cronyism While Governor of Florida Exposed

 

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In September 2006, with real estate prices in free fall and panic seizing much of the state’s economy, Bush and state officials were debating the merits of a proposed $50 million purchase of forest and wetlands near Orlando, Florida, to protect it from possible future development. The land under consideration was called “Joshua Creek.” It was owned by a developer called Land South Hunters, which was itself an affiliate of Land South Holdings, a company that enjoyed the labors of a well-connected lobbyist in Tallahassee — Rancourt of the Southern Strategy Group.

Bush voiced concerns that the state was paying far too much at a time in which Florida real estate values were plummeting. “I get emotional when a guy a year ago bought something for $32 million and wants to sell it to us for $50 [million],” said Bush, according to minutes from the meeting. “The worm has turned on real estate prices. Every article in the paper, every paper is writing about it. And I just do not believe that we should necessarily be the purchaser that always shows up with the big number.”

After hearing from Bush, state officials opted to defer voting on land acquisition for two weeks. Rancourt then emailed Bush after the meeting seeking to get together to discuss the land deal.

“My purpose is not to make the case for any specific agreement but merely to ascertain if additional information would make it worthwhile to continue discussions on this piece of property,” Rancourt said. “I am happy to arrive alone or to have my client from Lakeland with me at the meeting if that would be beneficial. That is your call of course, as well as if you are interested in sitting down at all. I would appreciate the opportunity but will understand if you have made your decision.”

Bush responded later that night. “Thank you David. If we can schedule something, I am happy to meet,” he wrote. Bush said his aide would meet with Rancourt otherwise, and blind-copied two members of his staff on the email. Two weeks later, Bush and top state officials discussed the project again, with Land South Hunters’ owner and lawyer present.

“If we purchase this, you’re going to make a great profit without any development risk,” Bush told the lawyer, according to minutes of the meeting. “We’re buying it from you, and we don’t factor that into our appraisal. I think that’s just wrong.”

Those concerns notwithstanding, Bush and his cabinet voted to approve the terms of the deal. Not for the first time, Southern Strategy Group had appeared to deliver for its client.

– From IBT’s excellent article: As Florida Governor, Jeb Bush Provided Special Access to Lobbyists

The most disturbing part of the Clinton vs. Bush Presidential spectacle being shoved down the throats of the American public, is that you couldn’t find two more discredited, disingenuous, corruptible, self-interested political family dynasties if you tried. Naturally, this is exactly why the only people with political clout in the U.S., billionaire oligarchs and corporate executives, want these two clowns running against each other. Either way, they win.

While I’ve spent a great deal of time covering the cronyism and greed of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush is cut from exactly the same cloth. One of the investigative journalists who has uncovered a lot of the dirt on Hillary, David Sirota of International Business Times, is now out with incontrovertible proof of how America would be governed under a third President Bush. How do we know? Well, because we have plenty of evidence of how he handled things for eight years as governor of Florida.

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Obama’s “Jobs Czar,”GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt, Threatens to Outsource Jobs if Export-Import Bank Expires

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Another year has come and gone, and it’s once again time to face the issue of a crony capitalist favorite: The Export Import Bank, also known as the Ex-Im Bank. Last year, I covered the contentious battle, which of course was ultimately won by powerful multi-national corporate interests. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, Officials at the Ex-Im Bank are Under Investigation as it Fights for Survival:

I think the most important aspect of this entire fight is the fact that on opposite sides of the debate are not Democrats versus Republicans, but once again Republicans vs. Republicans (as in the Dave Brat vs. Eric Cantor race). We again see tea party Republicans facing off against establishment RINOs. On one side we hear claims by the tea party wing that the Ex-Im merely serves as a conduit for crony capitalism and favoritism to large corporations, or those willing to bribe officials. On the other side, we see establishment Republicans, who are extremely cozy with mega-corporations, maintaining that the institution plays a crucial role in financing American exports to make them competitive.

Looking at this paragraph a year later, we have seen the revolting display of RINO Republicans pushing through the sovereignty destroying, corporate crony giveaway know as trade “fast track” of the TPP. We can once again marvel in disgust at how completely bought and paid for these establishment crooks really are.

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How the Clinton Foundation Paid Sidney Blumenthal $10K per Month as He Gave Horrible Libya Advice to the State Dept.

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Mr. Gowdy’s chief interest, according to people briefed on the inquiry, is a series of memos that Mr. Blumenthal — who was not an employee of the State Department — wrote to Mrs. Clinton about events unfolding in Libya before and after the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. According to emails obtained by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.

But an examination by The Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.

While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and the planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. 

Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.

– From the New York Times article: Clinton Friend’s Memos on Libya Draw Scrutiny to Politics and Business

Keeping tabs on the shadiness, cronyism and ineptitude of Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State alone is a full time job. I’m not even kidding, it feels like every day I wake up to another story that in itself should be enough to disqualify her as a Presidential candidate. Yet she remains the front runner to win in 2016, which proves without a shadow of a doubt that America is not a functioning democracy, but a clownish oligarch-owned Banana Republic.

Before I get into the many disturbing and dangerous angles to the Sidney Blumenthal story, it’s important to highlight what a complete and total disaster U.S. foreign policy in Libya has been during the Obama Administration. Rather than helping the situation, NATO destroyed the nation and left it far worse than it ever was under Qaddafi. I highlighted this fact in detail earlier this year in the post, The Forgotten War – Understanding the Incredible Debacle Left Behind by NATO in Libya. Here’s an excerpt:

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