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Usurious Returns on Phantom Money: The Credit Card Gravy Train

  • The credit card business is now the banking industry’s biggest cash cow, and it’s largely due to lucrative hidden fees. 
  • The Ultimate Shell Game

Ellen Brown, Web of Debt

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February 14, 2014 | You pay off your credit card balance every month, thinking you are taking advantage of the “interest-free grace period” and getting free credit. You may even use your credit card when you could have used cash, just to get the free frequent flier or cash-back rewards. But those popular features are misleading. Even when the balance is paid on time every month, credit card use imposes a huge hidden cost on users—hidden because the cost is deducted from what the merchant receives, then passed on to you in the form of higher prices.

Visa and MasterCard charge merchants about 2% of the value of every credit card transaction, and American Express charges even more. That may not sound like much. But consider that for balances that are paid off monthly (meaning most of them), the banks make 2% or more on a loan averaging only about 25 days (depending on when in the month the charge was made and when in the grace period it was paid). Two percent interest for 25 days works out to a 33.5% return annually (1.02^(365/25) – 1), and that figure may be conservative.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her websites are,, and

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Suicides of Bank Executives, Fraud, Financial Manipulation

  • The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again.
  • Tony Blair is a war criminal who has links to a fraudulent banking network.
  • Jamie “I Put Millions Out Of Work” Dimon Gets A Raise

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

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blair_war_lie.jpgFebruary 14, 2014 | JPMorgan Chase is the unspoken architect of fraud, corruption, not to mention the establishment of the largest Ponzi scheme in World history.The agenda is to steal and appropriate wealth through market manipulation.

Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the website. 

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Jamie “I Put Millions Out Of Work” Dimon Gets A Raise, Jonathan Tasini, Working Life 

23 January 2014 | Par for the course. Though you would be right to say “you have got to be kidding,” the truth is that the signal has been sent from the White House and from most of Congress that the bankers will not go to jail and they will not bear any personal cost of causing the greatest financial crisis in generations, a crisis that cost millions of people their jobs, their retirement, their dignity and their futures. And the crystal clear example, from the outset, has been Jamie Dimon. He’s getting a big fat raise.

Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable 'will throttle choice on the web'

Media & Technology

  • Angry consumer groups say proposed $45.2bn mega-deal will drive up costs for millions – and call on FCC to block takeover
  • Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet

Dominic Rushe, Guardian (UK) 

media-consolidation-drawing.png Thursday 13 February 2014 | Consumer groups reacted angrily to the merger of cable giant Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) on Thursday, claiming the combination could “throttle” choice on the internet.

Comcast’s proposed $45.2bn takeover of TWC will create a media behemoth that will dominate broadband internet access across the US. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, will also cement its position as the pre-eminent force in cable TV.

Dominic Rushe is the US business correspondent for the Guardian (UK)

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Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet, Michael Winship, 

  • A new ruling could put Web users at the mercy of the cable companies. Now's the time for us to stand up and fight
  • You can start by contacting the FCC chairman’s office and demanding that he and his colleagues stand resolute and forthright in favor of net neutrality, an Internet open to all.
  • Court Backs Internet Censorship: Open The Internet Now!
  • One Frightening Chart Shows What You Might Pay For Internet Once Net Neutrality Is Gone

Series | Super Bowl XLVIII Illustrated, Part Two: the stadium swindle

  • The second installment in a four-part series 
  • Series | Super Bowl XLVIII Illustrated, Part One: the NFL gameplan
  • Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers

Jason Novak and Mike Duncan,

Friday 31 January 2014 | 

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Series | Super Bowl XLVIII Illustrated, Part One: the NFL gameplanJason Novak and Mike Duncan,


Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers, Alissa Scheller, Huffington Post

  • The NFL may be generating money faster than Peyton Manning can rack up touchdowns but the league's owners have a history of looking for handouts when it comes time to pay for new stadiums. Here is a look at the staggering amount of public funds used to build the homes for NFL teams as well as a few of the NFL's other staggering fiscal stats.
  • Bill Moyers | Stadium Funding Deals Only Enrich the Plutocrats

Walmart Stumbles on SNAP; Warns of Lost Profits

Corporate Accountabilityand Workplace banner

  • Retail Food is a huge engine of our economy. Putting water into the gasoline that feeds that sector, will have dire consequences,of which we are beginning to now see.  Wal*mart and other grocers need to get active on the Hill now, lobby against any SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill, threaten to withdraw funding for all rural conservative candidates, ... or face a rather dismal, ten year slump... .
  • Everyday Low Wages at Walmart: Brought to You by Government Policy

kavips, Daily Kos

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Betty Culver

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220px-Wal-Mart_The_High_Cost_of_Low_Price.jpg Jan 31, 2014 | Saw this headline across quite a few feeds this morning.... Can't say it enough... I told you so....Do you know the real reason?  

"Regarding U.S. same-store sales for the company’s fourth quarter, ending Friday, Wal*mart said it expects sales, excluding fuel, to be “slightly negative” to its earlier guidance of flat sales at Wal*mart stores "

Why are those sales negative?

Chief financial officer Charles Holley said Wal*mart saw a greater-than-expected negative impact from reductions in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. The cuts went into effect on Nov. 1.

kavips is a Daily Kos member.

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Everyday Low Wages at Walmart: Brought to You by Government Policy, Dean Baker, Huffington Post

  • When Congress decides to give us a budget that unnecessarily raises the unemployment rate, it is also deciding to put downward pressure on the wages of low-paid workers. This is a policy decision to redistribute income upward, even if the people in Congress have no clue what they are doing.
  • The Wal-Mart You Don't Know

This Valentine's Day, Occupy the Romantic-Industrial Complex

Sex & Relationships

Let's find a way to honor relationships that does not rely on buying stuff.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay, The Nation

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February 13, 2012 | This Valentine’s Day, enthusiasts are expected to spend approximately $17.6 billion on romance-related goods—jewelry, cards, flowers and chocolates—a ten-year high, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s not even the whole picture, when you include all the other things that go along with the “perfect” romantic experience: heart shaped doohickeys, sexy lingerie, bikini waxes, fancy dinners, candle lit romantic massages for two, romantic getaways, puppies and couples counseling. Clearly, the economics of love is serious business.

But despite evidence of how much love costs these days and cultural norms that are evolving away from traditional gender roles in romantic relationships, the commercialization of Valentine’s Day continues to communicate traditional and conventional fantasies about gender and love. It’s what theorists call heteronormativity: the structures and norms that privilege heterosexual monogamy, while simultaneously stigmatizing behavior that deviates from this model. How is it that heteronormativity still has such a stronghold on the public imagination, despite the fact that more and more people are choosing to delay or forgo marriage or despite the fact in more and more states across the country, marriage is no longer limited to people who are straight? How has it still intact after the Kim Kardashian marital disaster saga, or the notorious marital flameouts between Kevin Federline and Britney Spears or Katy Perry and Russell Brand? How has it weathered scandal after scandal in which the most ardent supporters of “marriage between a man and a woman” are unable to stay faithful?

Samhita Mukhopadhyay is a digital strategist at Purpose. 

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Truth to Tell | Minimum Wage in Minnesota

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  • Who has it right? Can anyone really know for sure until these changes go into effect? Can a wage increase in absence of any other corporate regulation at the federal level to reign in greedy profit margins really do more good than harm? TruthToTell’s Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi ask these questions and more of our guests.
  • Falling Behind. How High Should It Go?

Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi, Truth to Tell, KFAI-FM | MN

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TTT_SMFeb 2, 2014 | "Americans overwhelmingly agree, nobody who's working full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty…and that is why I firmly believe it is time to give America a raise.” This was the proclamation of President Obama in his recent 2014 State of the Union address. The President even gave some credit to higher wage renegades at the St. Paul-based chain Punch Pizza (though he caught some flack for saying they were based out of Minneapolis) for voluntarily raising their starting wage to $10 an hour because it was the right thing to do for employee morale. But the president’s comments on Tuesday night weren’t the first we’ve heard about raising the minimum wage in America.

5_state_region_minimum_wage_2014_modified.jpg The debate over whether or not raising the minimum wage will help or hurt already struggling low-wage Americans has been raging on for decades, particularly in the wake of the great recession.


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Series | Super Bowl XLVIII Illustrated, Part One: the NFL gameplan

  • The first installment in a four-part series 
  • The Super Bowl of Subsidies

Jason Novak and Mike Duncan,

Thursday 30 January 2014 | 

Full story…


The Super Bowl of Subsidies, Kristen Steele, The Economics of Happiness Blog

  • As one journalist wrote: “(Having a pro sports team) is about the intangibles of identity and pride, which are far harder to value.”  I, for one, think that’s a useful metric for more than just the NFL. Are we prouder of ravaged landscapes and emptied oceans than we are of clean air and waters full of life?  Do we want to identify with a society that puts people and livelihoods first or one that idolizes corporate profits?
  • The NFL and other corporate subsidies


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