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America Needs to Stop The Lies and The Liars

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 19, 2011 12:20 PM |

Real long term success and greatness are founded upon the principles that people do not lie, cheat, or steal. Our nation is neither succeeding nor is great at this point in time because we have allowed these vices to grow and spread throughout our society. Shame on us.

Our nation does have the potential to be a fabulous nation again; however, let’s stop kidding ourselves in thinking that we are a great nation currently. How is it that America has lost its greatness? Where are the aforementioned vices on display?

1. Great nations do not allow themselves to wallow in debt in the manner that we have.

2. Great nations do not allow themselves to plummet in educational standards and rankings in the manner that we have.

3. Great nations do not allow “regulatory capture” to propagate thoughout the financial industry in the manner that we have.

4. Great nations do not allow political systems to get corrupted by the big money of industry lobbyists in the manner that we have.

5. Great nations do not allow a polarization in political and economic standing in the manner that we have.

6. Great nations do not lack real statesmen who can evoke our best spirits and lead us to greatness. Who in our nation are real statesmen? Who?

I believe the crisis situation playing out currently in the state of Wisconsin is merely a harbinger of things to come across many of our states. The Wisconsin display may be an indication of problems we face in our future but, in my opinion, it is much more a reflection of the bubbling up of the failed policies and programs we have buried in our past. The burying occurred as a result of formal and informal lying, cheating, and stealing.

Great nations and great people do not bury their problems. They confront them.

Please do not think I am not eternally optimistic about the potential for true greatness for our nation and for each individual citizen within the United States. That said, if we think we will regain our greatness while maintaining so many of the same programs of the past, we are sadly mistaken.

Shared sacrifice is the order of the day. Why so? Look at the report card provided in today’s New York Times by Charles Blow who writes,
Empire at the End of Decadence,

It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country.

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures — some of which are shown in the accompanying chart — we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 — “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — we are among the worst of the worst.

Yet this reality and the urgency that it ushers in is too hard for many Americans to digest. They would prefer to continue to bathe in platitudes about America’s greatness, to view our eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur.

Numbers do not lie.

What is America’s future? We will only have a future if we confront our reality and stop lying about our past. We will only have a future if we expose those who propagate and profit from the lies. Why are our educational rankings so poor? Why are our prison populations so high? Why are our economic rankings so mediocre? Why do so few people trust those in Washington? We allow the lies covering these failures to flourish.

What do you want to do? Spread this message. Stop the lies. Stop the liars.

Larry Doyle

Please subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own and not those of Greenwich Investment Management. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Patrick

    LD,

    How to stop the lies and the liars?

    The same way those in Egypt inspired their revolution. Launch a third party utilizing social media.

    Here’s to the Sense on Cents Party!!

  • Turbo-Tim

    Speaking of cheating?

    How about our Secretary of Treasury on his taxes. We are supposed to trust this guy?

    Geithner Criticizes House Bill Cutting Spending

    Just trash the dollar, Timmy boy. Lie, cheat, and steal. Tim’s trifecta!!

  • Krauthammer

    Lies? America should not be so gullible.

    Barack Obama’s Louis XV Budget

    Five days before his inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama told the Washington Post that entitlement reform could no longer be kicked down the road. He then spent the next two years kicking — racking up $3 trillion in new debt along the way — on the grounds that massive temporary deficit spending was necessary to prevent another Great Depression.

    To prove his bona fides, he later appointed a deficit-reduction commission. It made its report last December, when the economy was well past recession, solemnly declaring that “the era of debt denial is over.”

    That lasted all of two months. The president’s first post-commission budget, submitted Monday, marks a return to obliviousness. Even Erskine Bowles, Obama’s Democratic debt-commission co-chair, says it goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.”
    The budget touts a deficit reduction of $1.1 trillion over the next decade.

    Where to begin? Even if you buy this number, Obama’s budget adds $7.2 trillion in new debt over that same decade.

    But there’s a catch. The administration assumes economic-growth levels higher than private economists and the Congressional Budget Office predict. Without this rosy scenario — using CBO growth estimates — $1.7 trillion of revenue disappears and U.S. debt increases $9 trillion over the next decade. This is almost $1 trillion every year.

    Yet for all its gimmicks, this budget leaves the country at decade’s end saddled with publicly held debt triple what Obama inherited.

    A more cynical budget is hard to imagine. This one ignores the looming debt crisis, shifts all responsibility for serious budget-cutting to the Republicans — for which Democrats are ready with a two-year, full-artillery demagogic assault — and sets Obama up perfectly for re-election in 2012.

    Obama fancies his happy talk, debt-denial optimism to be Reaganesque. It’s more Louis XV. Reagan begat a quarter-century of prosperity; Louis, the deluge.

    Moreover, unlike Obama, Louis had the decency to admit he was forfeiting the future. He never pretended to be winning it.

  • Tea Party

    When lies are repeated so often, the liars start to believe their own lies and those listening are not able to decipher the lies from the truth.

    Who in America is going to keep the liars honest? The media are tasked with this charge but they themselves have been corrupted by the very process itself.

    Keep bringing it…in fact, get more aggressive.

  • fred

    LD,

    Among our sins? Justification. We invade sovereign nations without invitation or when it suits our purpose, we exhibit total disreguard for the mechanisms of free markets. Why do our reasons provide safe harbor for our actions?

    Among our moral deficits? Accountibility. Our Presidents lie under oath, our CEOs deny responsibilty; where and what are the repercussions?

    When I was young, religion was important in shaping my life. Among other things, religion taught that action was right or wrong, in and of, itself. That action zwas answered with consequence. That consequence built character. Has the role, or the message, of religion been changed or replaced?

    • fred

      LD,

      Honesty, hardwork, responsibility, greed; all are called into question from our leaders in industry and government.

      Must read: http://bit.ly/gx6hMJ. Paulson interview by FCIC carried in Stone Street Advisors and posted at eWallstreeter. Takeaway: The cause of the MBS/CDO mess was lack of enforcement of existing regulation and failure to perform due diligence on every level from origination to final institutional investment.

      He calls out the Fed for lack of oversite and also the “big banks” for being severely overlevered and exposed to even minor drops in asset values.

      I’m not a lawyer but I would consider “agency” and “due diligence standards” central to selective civil prosecution of some high profile players as an example to all.

      The public should not have to suffer the entire loss as long as so many persons retain bonus and excessive compensation payouts as a result of this massive fraud.

  • More Lying

    Doctor Writing Fake Sick Notes for Protesting Teachers?
    February 19, 2011 1:18 P.M.
    By Katrina Trinko
    Tags: Wisconsin

    This photo via the MacIver Institute, which reports, “Man purporting to be a Doctor, Wi Lic #21403 is handing out fake doctors notes w/o exam for teachers.”

    Shouldn’t doctors involved in this activity lose their licenses?

  • Fed Up

    We’re Fed Up and We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore!

  • http://www.MotivateAmerica.us Kevin L. McCrudden

    Larry. I am not from the financial industry, but many of your readers will recognize my last name. My brother Vincent is from the financial community.

    I have been reading your site to get a better understanding of how so many feel the same way about the “financial regulators” being corrupt and immoral and yet, nobody does anything.

    Your readers are pretty sophisticated and I agree with many of their comments. I have a company called, “Motivate America.’

    Our parents immigrated to the states from Ireland after serving in World War II. They always instilled in us that America is the greatest country in the world. And our 88 year old Dad still believes that, but seems as frustrated as many of your readers.

    Larry. America and what is stands for is still the greatest country in the world, but regreatbly, you’re correct. So many things must change in order to get back on track.

    I want you and your readers to know that is also my brother’s beliefs. He has been frustrated, as many of your readers and people in the financial community have been.

    He has fought a long battle, by himself, for what he believed to be right. This isn’t about being “anti-Governement” or being “Anti-American”…in fact, it’s the exact opposite…it is being exactly like America. Fighting for justice and fairness. Fighting against those that have destroyed our credibility and American values to line their pockets.

    Larry. Your readers are asking you to step up. They are asking you to become more aggressive. This isn’t Egypt…this is America.

    Larry. People are looking for leadership. They are looking for leaders with integrity to help make change. Lets work together to address these issues. Lets bring the financial community together to stand up and tell Washington that change needs to happen NOW!

    I saw somewhere that someone was proposing a “Walk on Wall Street!” to demonstrate against the corruption, greed, stealing and lying.

    Larry. I too like what you’re writing and your readers obviously trust you.

    Help bring people together Larry to make the necessary change. Obviously the people of the Tea Party originated from this very same feeling and sentiment….as did our forefathers when they declared their freedom from tyranny.

    Maybe it’s time for a peaceful gathering to remind Wall Street and Washington who they really report to.

    God Bless and thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

    KLM

  • James

    You can print money ( BTW – the Daily Show has a great vignette where Bernanke says he’s printing money and over a year later says he’s not printing money on
    60 minutes ) and drive up asset values but for the most part you can’t drive up normalized cash flow on those same assets.

    It’s called a bubble.

    Note to Greenspan. You CAN tell when you have a bubble. When rent on a Las Vegas home equals a 1 pct yld, that’s a bubble.

    In the old days your local banker would see that and kill the loan. Today your megabank just does a spreadsheet review and sells off the loan.

    An example of why Mr. Market is not always right.

    Not only should mark to market accounting be suspended but mark to mark lending (I’m making this label up to show correlation ). If an assets cash flow equivalent value lies out of a range then a higher borrowing rate and or bigger down payment should be required and Uncle Sam should get a piece of that for being lender of last resort.

    Which leads to one last thing. Taxes should be replaced by fees. The difference between fees and taxes is that fees imply usage by the entity funding.

    If military defense was funded only by fees paid by businesses and social programs were funded only by fees on individuals, expenses would be looked over with a fine tooth comb.

  • James

    Hope the Repubs don’t overreach and give the Unions ammo

    The munis need to cut labor costs.

    But if Repubs are seen breaking a covenant in order to give tax breaks to businesses they are toast.

  • Christie in 2012

    In response to your question as to who our leaders are, Peggy Noonan’s weekend commentary is a MUST read. Noonan writes, Where the Leaders Are

    Pensions and benefits on the state level, he said, are the equivalent of federal entitlements. They have powerful, “vocal” constituencies. He introduced pension and benefit reforms on a Tuesday in September, and that Friday he went to the state firefighters convention in Wildwood. It was 2 p.m., and “I think you know what they had for lunch.” Mr. Christie had proposed raising their retirement age, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment, increasing employee pension contributions, and rolling back a 9% pay increase approved years before “by a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature.”

    As Mr. Chrisie recounted it: “You can imagine how that was received by 7,500 firefighters. As I walked into the room and was introduced. I was booed lustily. I made my way up to the stage, they booed some more. . . . So I said, ‘Come on, you can do better than that,’ and they did!”

    He crumpled up his prepared remarks and threw them on the floor. He told them, “Here’s the deal: I understand you’re angry, and I understand you’re frustrated, and I understand you feel deceived and betrayed.” And, he said, they were right: “For 20 years, governors have come into this room and lied to you, promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, and just hoping that they wouldn’t be the man or women left holding the bag. I understand why you feel angry and betrayed and deceived by those people. Here’s what I don’t understand. Why are you booing the first guy who came in here and told you the truth?”

    He told them there was no political advantage in being truthful: “The way we used to think about politics and, unfortunately, the way I fear they’re thinking about politics still in Washington” involves “the old playbook [which] says, “lie, deceive, obfuscate and make it to the next election.”

  • Huckleberry

    Actually, your list is totally wrong. Take a look at Paul Kennedy’s book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Many great nations have been guilty of most of the points you raise. And that is why their greatness erodes.

    Can it be reversed? As much as it pains me to say it, I doubt it. The kind of patriotism that lends itself to grand efforts of cultural resurgence does not exist in this country. What an “American” is I no longer know. Instead, we have a paranoid, know-nothing nationalism on the one hand, and a weak, cynical, cosmopolitanism on the other.

    All the things you rightly celebrate (honesty, hard work, fair play) are mocked by our celebrity culture.

    I see today where no charges will be filed against Angelo Mozilo. And this is the system our troops are being blown up for? Seems like a reshuffle and a new deal are in order.

    • LD

      Mr. Huckleberry,

      Your referencing Mr. Kennedy’s work and the premise referenced therein proves my point. I thank you for adding to the ‘sense on cents.’

  • http://www.wtffinance.com Jesse

    I just found your blog and started reading. I mostly agree with you but disagree with your statement that

    “Numbers do not lie.”

    Numbers lie all the time. Look at the CPI that is distorted as the BLS consistently tweaks the formula in order to under report inflation, look at the banks earnings reports that are skewed due to the change away from mark to market regulation to mark to bubble where they mark up their assets and values of their liabilities to fake their earnings to appear profitable. Or how about the Debt to GDP ratio which is a debt to debt ratio for the US economy. Numbers lie all the time and you can make numbers represent anything you want them to represent if you have the agenda to do so.

    • LD

      Jesse,

      Your point is a good one. I should have been more specific in stating that numbers when fully exposed and detailed do not lie. The “on the surface” numbers and reports provided to paint a picture do lie but there is a total lack of ‘sense on cents’ in those numbers.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Nice site by the way.

    • http://www.HelpVinMc.com John Smith

      Jesse. You’re right, unfortunately, politicians and the government and Wall Street and the Banking industry make numbers lie all the time. The NFA, CFTC and SEC regularly abuse accounting methodologies to misrepresent the truth.

      As we all learn in college, statistics and numbers can be used to defend anything.

      It’s a time for new leadership, change and reform. It’s time for honesty in government and true “transparency.”

  • coe

    LD – there have been some very good books that probed the decline and fall of the great civilizations in man’s history..the one common theme from the lessons learned by the Greeks to the Romans to the Western Europeans and now to America might be the decay, even abandonment of a moral compass – a compromise in the sense of right and wrong, a neglect of the importance of a community ethos, a discarding of a shared and practiced value system centered on truth..sadly, I agree with many of your and your readers’ comments – people lie, figures lie – both in commission and omission..manipulation, spin, obfuscation have all replaced honesty and integrity..your laundry list of our nation’s problems with spiraling deficits, an ineffective and declining education system, influence peddling and corruption at all levels of business and politics, a polarized reality of haves and have nots, an arrogance of our place on the world stage, and a lack of inspirational leadership frame the breadth of what must start to change if we are to right the ship..comments by folks like Gov. Christie of NJ are refreshing, but the more important question is where are the other 49 Governors? Why don’t they have the insight and courage to tell the truth..I think we all know the answers..keep at it, LD..you have traction and are adding value to the debate!

  • http://www.fjmfi.com Fred Mc

    You may want to read my “Tale of Two Countries” on the above site.

  • Kathy

    Larry, this is the saddest thing you’ve ever written, and very true.

  • MandatoryMP

    This is painfully true, I think I am living proof of the plummeting financial regulatory standards. — signed Mandatory Sentenced

  • Phill

    “2. Great nations do not allow themselves to plummet in educational standards and rankings in the manner that we have.”

    Can you explain this statement in a scholarly manner without lying?

    • LD

      Let’s start it off by my asking you if you have seen our nation’s educational rankings amongst industrialized countries?

      Do you think those rankings are reflective of anything?

      They are reflective, in my opinion, of the breakdown of the nuclear family and an educational system that has gotten bloated, inefficient, and strangled by teachers’ unions.

      How does this strike you?

      *As a nation we have, over the last 50 years, transferred our spending from private sector to the public sector and education expenses are a large part of that shift and the justification for it.

      * For naught.

      * A wonderful example of the power of organized labor when arrayed against the public budgets.

      * One way to resolve our financial difficulties would be to immediately and drastically reverse this process. Drive all the spending decisions back to the local level and remove all mandates and union pressures from the process…let school choice, home schooling and private initiatives return to the fore and defund the left in the doing.

      Check out the graph in the attached that highlights dollars spent vs scores generated by American students over the last 40 years.

      Has Federal Involvement Improved America’s Schools?

      Spending has tripled inflation adjsuted while scores are a flat line.

      Also, maybe the fact that our nation’s children are increasingly borne into single parent families is also a huge factor.

      Urban graduation rates are running at approximately 50% with many of those social graduations in which students are still not prepared for further education.

      Think there is a correlation between single parent families, the wasteful spending by urban teachers unions and overall academic performance?

      Remember, let’s not lie to ourselves here!!

  • fred

    LD,

    Correlations often flash false positives. A tops down approach to solving problems often doesn’t work. In my experience the answer to our educational problem is individual attention and personal committment by parents.

    As with my own children, some students are self motivated and some need constant attention. As an example, my oldest son gets straight A’s, I never have to remind him to do his homework; my daughter is a B/C student and was having some difficulty with French. Although her French teacher was willing to meet with her and help her, I realized I had to get more involved as a parent; just asking her how things were going and attending parent teacher conferences wasn’t enough.

    Money, class size, learning environment, materials, etc. wasn’t the issue, she attends a very reputable private school. What I began to realized was that my personal involvement and committment was the key. I began working with her every night; using flash cards, we worked on conjugation and vocabulary (5-10 words per night). Suprise, within 2-3 weeks her teacher reported a big improvement in her performance.

    It’s not easy…over the holidays and school vacation we quicky stopped our flash card routine, she is not self motivated and I had so many important things demanding my time.

    As a society we love to throw money at our problems, as parents we never have enough time. Well, if we want better educational results, we have to make the time. Being a good parent goes far beyond paying the bills and exposing our children to opportunities, it takes parental nurturing, self sacrifice and a committment of our time.

    Our national educational problem is very similar to our national weight problem, we have the gym memberships and the home exercise equipment, what we lack is the motivation, the time, and the perserverance.

    • LD

      Fred,

      Great point…but regrettably how many families and parents do not have nor take the time, nor have the interest, nor make the effort to support their children?

      Additionally how about those families in which the children were brought into the world with only one involved and engaged parent?

      Are we allowed to raise these points in America circa 2012?

  • fred

    LD,

    Rather than back to the future, we need to move foreward to the past.

    There was a time when strong family values, self reliance and self sacrifice for the benefit of future generations were important.

    Somehow we have lost the identity of our greatness; self actualization, selfishness(gotta get mine) and a reliance on the ‘village to raise our children’ have become the common mantras.






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