Tags: WSJ

Phone Companies are Now Selling Your Personal Information

The Constitution, privacy, civil liberties, that’s all so…20th Century. Who wants privacy when your personal smartphone habits such as location and web-browsing information can be sold by your service provider without offering any compensation to the user. At least Google let’s you use their search engine for free while they spy on you.  The phone companies charge you for that privilege. Now that’s what I call economic progress!

In light of this, let’s not forget what the ACLU recently received from the U.S. government when they filed a Freedom of Information Act request about text message surveillance policy.  They got 15 pages of blacked out, redacted text.  Now, from the Wall Street Journal we discover:

Big phone companies have begun to sell the vast troves of data they gather about their subscribers’ locations, travels and Web-browsing habits.

The information provides a powerful tool for marketers but raises new privacy concerns. Even as Americans browsing the Internet grow more accustomed to having every move tracked, combining that information with a detailed accounting of their movements in the real world has long been considered particularly sensitive.

The new offerings are also evidence of a shift in the relationship between carriers and their subscribers. Instead of merely offering customers a trusted conduit for communication, carriers are coming to see subscribers as sources of data that can be mined for profit, a practice more common among providers of free online services like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

When a Verizon Wireless customer navigates to a website on her smartphone today, information about that website, her location and her demographic background may end up as a data point in a product called Precision Market Insights. The product, which Verizon launched in October 2012 after trial runs, offers businesses like malls, stadiums and billboard owners statistics about the activities and backgrounds of cellphone users in particular locations.

Carriers acknowledge the sensitivity of the data. But as advertisers and marketers seek more detailed information about potential customers and the telecom industry seeks new streams of revenue amid a maturing cellphone market, big phone companies have started to tiptoe in.

So they clearly understand the negative privacy implications, but after careful consideration (of the bottom line) they decided to sell the information anyway.  How thoughtful.

Read the Full Article »

Just Keep Dancing: Introducing the 97-Month Auto Loan

While many of us have been shouting about this from the rooftops for years now, with each passing day it becomes more clear what a terrifyingly gigantic powder keg we have created.  There is no debate that this will end in a compete financial holocaust, the only question is when and how.  As time progresses, the practices and desperation of the status quo to keep the sheeple in debt and consuming is getting increasingly insane.  We learn from the Wall Street Journal that:

The average price of a new car is now $31,000, up $3,000 in the past four years. But at the same time, the average monthly car payment edged down, to $460 from $465—the result of longer loan terms and lower interest rates.

In the final quarter of 2012, the average term of a new car note stretched out to 65 months, the longest ever, according to Experian Information Solutions Inc. Experian said that 17% of all new car loans in the past quarter were between 73 and 84 months and there were even a few as long as 97 months. Four years ago, only 11% of loans fell into this category.

Such long term loans can present consumers and lenders with heightened risk. With a six- or seven-year loan, it takes car-buyers longer to reach the point where they owe less on the car than it is worth. Having “negative equity” or being “upside down” in a car makes it harder to trade or sell the vehicle if the owner can’t make payments.

Hmmm, sound familiar?

Car makers have mixed feelings about long-term loans. They allow consumers to buy more expensive—and profitable—cars. But long loans may keep some people from replacing their cars, cutting into future sales.

I love how THAT is what they are concerned about.

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It Never Ends: Top Obama Housing Advisor Jumps Ship to Wells Fargo

No one should be surprised by this, particularly since Wells Fargo is the favored financial vehicle for America’s top crony capitalist – Warren “I’m just like you because I drink cherry coke and eat hamburgers” Buffett.  The person in question in the latest payoff revolving door move is Bob Ryan who is currently a senior advisor to Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Ryan is currently a senior advisor to Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development. He joined HUD in 2009 as the first ever chief risk officer at the Federal Housing Administration and served briefly last year as the agency’s acting FHA commissioner. He previously spent 26 years at Freddie Mac.

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Ben Bernanke Just Told a Massive Lie About Milton Friedman and I Can Prove it

Ben Bernanke is so desperate to find support regarding his steal from the poor and give to the 0.01% policies he is now telling blatant lies about famous, dead economists that can’t refute what he says.  In this case Milton Friedman.  In his Q&A today, The Bernank claimed:


Well I suppose it’s easy to make things up about people that can’t claim otherwise, but he made a big mistake this time.  Why?  Because Anna Schwartz, who co-wrote the famous work “A Monetary History of the United States” with Milton Friedman in 1963, actually came on the record on several occasions calling out The Bernank and saying there’s no way Friedman would agree.  The sad part about this is it seems Bernanke waited until Schwartz died to really start spewing the lies.  This guy is not only dangerous he is despicable and increasingly desperate…

Don’t take it from me though, back in October 2008 Anna Schwartz had this to say in the Wall Street Journal:

Ms. Schwartz thinks that our central bankers and our Treasury Department are getting it wrong again.

This is not due to a lack of money available to lend, Ms. Schwartz says, but to a lack of faith in the ability of borrowers to repay their debts. “The Fed,” she argues, “has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible.”

Rather, “firms that made wrong decisions should fail,” she says bluntly. “You shouldn’t rescue them. And once that’s established as a principle, I think the market recognizes that it makes sense. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich.” The trouble is, “that’s not the way the world has been going in recent years.”

In 2002, Mr. Bernanke, then a Federal Reserve Board governor, said in a speech in honor of Mr. Friedman’s 90th birthday, “I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

“This was [his] claim to be worthy of running the Fed,” she says. He was “familiar with history. He knew what had been done.” But perhaps this is actually Mr. Bernanke’s biggest problem. Today’s crisis isn’t a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure. “I don’t see that they’ve achieved what they should have been trying to achieve. So my verdict on this present Fed leadership is that they have not really done their job.”

Full WSJ article here.

Not enough proof for you?  Well in tribute to Anna Schwartz after she passed in June of this year, Forbes wrote:

Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, has followed the same path in confronting the current economic crisis, Schwartz charges. Instead of the steady course that the monetarists recommend, the Fed and the Treasury “try to break news on a daily basis and they look for immediate gratification,” she says. “Bernanke is looking for sensations, with new developments every day.”

Yet isn’t Bernanke a disciple of Friedman and Schwartz? He publicly refers to them as mentors, and, thanks to their scientific breakthrough, he has famously declared that “the Great Depression will not happen again.” Bernanke is right about the past, Schwartz says, “but he is fighting the wrong war today; the present crisis has nothing to do with a lack of liquidity.”

Full Forbes article here.

Ben Bernanke, I didn’t think it was possible, but you have hit a new low.  History will not be kind to you.

In Liberty,

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg Throws a Tantrum: Says Cops Should Strike Until Citizens are Disarmed

Poor little billionaire mayor of NYC, Mike Bloomberg, is at it again!  Clearly he couldn’t handle the heat he got for using the tragedy in the state of Colorado (where I happen to actually live) to push his anti-gun agenda.  So how does a megalomaniac cry baby respond?  By throwing a temper tantrum of course.

While on Piers Morgan show on CNN, this despotic control freak showed his true colors.  When asked by Mr. Morgan: “Why do so many Americans not feel angry enough to demand further gun control?” Here’s his answer:

Well, I would take it one step further. I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say, we’re going to go on strike. We’re not going to protect you. Unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.

There you go folks.  This guy, who is the mayor of the largest city in the United States, doesn’t really care about public safety.  He wants to disarm you and he becomes a petulant child about it when he can’t get his way.  In this excellent article from the WSJ, the author rightly tears Bloomberg apart.  He writes:

And whether Bloomberg meant to suggest a real strike threat or an empty one, it seems obvious that such a move would be counterproductive. The prospect of police shirking their duty to protect the citizenry strengthens, not weakens, the case for private ownership of firearms and other tools of self-defense.

A police strike, as Bloomberg figured out a day late, is illegal in itself. Bloomberg’s strike would be for the purpose of curtailing the citizenry’s constitutional rights. The mayor urged an unlawful rebellion by government employees against their employers, the people. Since ours is a government of the people, established by the Constitution, this was nothing less than a call for insurrection.

Full article here.

What It’s Like to Fight a National Security Letter

Here’s a very quick and interesting article from the WSJ.  I mean this case is once again a perfect microcosm for what is going on in America today.  These are the types of folks that the Department of Injustice and the FBI are chasing after, while there are thousands of financial criminals running around free after destroying the entire U.S. economy.  Just like they charged modern American heroes like senior NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, under the Espionage Act (unsuccessfully at the expense of millions of taxpayer dollars).

So here is the story of Nicholas Merrill, who received a National Security Letter in 2004, and was so scared to tell anyone about it that during his trial his father developed cancer and passed away without him ever being able to share his story…

Key Quotes:
Mr. Merrill is one of only a few people in the U.S. who can talk publicly about what it’s like to receive a national security letter, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seek financial, phone and Internet records about companies’ customers.

Later that year, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Victor Marrero found that the law behind national security letters was unconstitutional, in part because it lacked a provision allowing for challenges.

Appeals and settlement negotiations continued in the case until 2010.

The FBI eventually dropped its request for information, but Mr. Merrill remained under the full secrecy order until the case was settled.

He said that during that time, he was unable to explain to people why he was missing important events or tell them when he was emotional about a ruling. During the trial, Mr. Merrill’s father developed cancer; just before he died, Mr. Merrill says, he thought about telling him of the case, but eventually he decided against it.

The American Gestapo at work ladies and gentleman.

Full article here.