Archive | Corporate Statism

More banks were using scams. Imagine that.


I figured as much, especially the rearranging of debit card charges for overcharge fees. I’ve had that happen to me:

Most Americans were shocked when they learned that thousands of Wells Fargo employees had opened millions of fake accounts.
People who work at other banks weren’t surprised at all.
Nearly a dozen current and former employees at large and regional banks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citizens Bank, PNC (PNC), SunTrust (STI), and Fifth Third (FITB) tell CNNMoney that a sales obsession pervades their banks. They say they too are under immense pressure to get customers to open multiple accounts.
They described a focus to push as many different products — think debit cards or new online accounts — as they can, an industry practice known as cross-selling.
“Wells Fargo is not the exception (with its) absurd sales culture,” said one former manager of two large regional banks.
Related: 5,300 Wells Fargo workers fired over 2 million phony accounts
‘Industry-wide problem’
No other major banks have been accused by regulators of widespread opening of phony accounts like Wells Fargo (WFC) has been.
But Thomas Curry, one of the country’s chief banking regulators, said that “banks are under enormous margin pressure. That could be a bad environment.”
Curry, the head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, told a Senate panel this week that the agency is investigating whether other banks have employed high-pressure sales tactics that led to fake accounts.
One former banker at a regional bank told CNNMoney he witnessed the practice at his company.
“The customers wouldn’t even know,” said the banker, who insisted his name not be used. “Wells Fargo isn’t the only one. This is an industry-wide problem.”
Another scam this banker witnessed involved employees rearranging debit charges on customer accounts to maximize the size of the overdraft fees they experienced.


Wells Fargo whistleblowers were fired

Wells Fargo CEO To Address Accounts Scandal Before Senate Panel

This guy will never get another job in banking, either:

“They ruined my life,” Bill Bado, a former Wells Fargo banker in Pennsylvania, told CNNMoney.

Bado not only refused orders to open phony bank and credit accounts. The New Jersey man called an ethics hotline and sent an email to human resources in September 2013, flagging unethical sales activities he was being instructed to do.

Eight days after that email, a copy of which CNNMoney obtained, Bado was terminated. The stated reason? Tardiness.

One former Wells Fargo human resources official even said the bank had a method in place to retaliate against tipsters. He said that Wells Fargo would find ways to fire employees “in retaliation for shining light” on sales issues. It could be as simple as monitoring the employee to find a fault, like showing up a few minutes late on several occasions.

“If this person was supposed to be at the branch at 8:30 a.m. and they showed up at 8:32 a.m, they would fire them,” the former human resources official told CNNMoney, on the condition he remain anonymous out of fear for his career.


Donald Trump has blind trust issues

Trump offers 'condolences' for Chelsea blast that killed no one – New York Daily News

So Newsweeks’ Kurt Eichenwald did that blockbuster piece last week about the insane foreign policy conflicts presented by Trump’s business interests, which most of the media promptly ignored in favor of assorted nonsense. This is his followup:

Like a political Elmer Gantry, Donald Trump goes from city to city, proclaiming that only he can save America, spinning outrageous statements and spewing lies before heading off to his next revival meeting. Serious questions about his candidacy for the presidency are left unanswered or buried under a flurry of deceit. Confronted with the recent Newsweek… Continue Reading →


Elizabeth Warren kicks Wells Fargo CEO’s ass

This was a thing of beauty, to watch Sen. Warren give this guy the treatment he deserves:

And if you really want to torture yourself, you can watch her interview last night with Rachel Maddow in which she says that yes, there were criminal referrals against banks in the 2008 crash — and she wants to know why the FBI didn’t charge them:

Now, I have long since accepted that Obama believed what was left of the financial and economic system would not survive criminal charges. Who knows? I was not in his position, I don’t know. But I do know he told the American people there was nothing that rose to the level of criminal acts.


Scott Walker’s dark money runs deep

The Koch Brothers walking their dog, Scotty.

Two years ago, prosecutors investigating Scott Walker for illegal campaigning, alleged that he was the center of a “criminal scheme”: Prosecutors allege that Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and those of Republican senators fend off recall elections during 2011 and… Continue Reading →

The Trump organization’s secretive global financial web

Trump Family

If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security… Continue Reading →

Our patent system is broken


Patents were originally granted as an incentive to inventors. Now it’s all gone terribly wrong:

The cost of dozens of brand-name drugs have nearly doubled in just the past five years. Public outrage over drug prices extends from Capitol Hill to the presidential candidates to patients. In response, pharmaceutical executives are spending more on lobbying and marketing. Yet for all this attention, most of the proposed solutions for reducing prescription drug costs—tougher negotiations, appeals for transparent R&D costs or investigations into insurers—miss one of the primary sources of the problem: the way we award patents.

Today, too many drug makers receive patents for unmerited and unjust reasons. Take, for example, the hepatitis C drug Harvoni®, which has one the largest sticker prices despite its origins in previously published information and compounds. In the last year, China and Ukraine have rejected patents for sofosbuvir, the base compound for Harvoni, on the grounds that it doesn’t deserve a patent. Or, take Baraclude, a hepatitis B drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb whose lowest known price in the U.S. a few years ago was $15,100. In a successful patent challenge that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, the generic drug maker Teva showed that the patent claim on the base compound in the brand name drug was invalid—which then allowed Teva to go on to offer a generic version for half the cost in the U.S. and for as low as $427 in the developing world by other companies.

While TV ads and sticker-shock pricing by major corporations would have us believe that every new drug they roll out is a breakthrough invention, the reality is that they are often playing games with the lax standards in the U.S. patent system.

In its current form, the TPP attempts to “fix” this problem by … imposing the same patent practices onto other countries.

More on the waterslide case

Verruckt at Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark

Tragedy struck last week for a Kansas family whose 10-year-old died during a ride on the world’s tallest waterslide. The accident occurred on the Verruckt, a raft-ride at the Schlitterbahn WaterPark in Kansas City, Kansas. While the park has reopened for business, the 168-foot slide remains closed during an ongoing investigation. The accident comes during a week when at least four amusement park accidents have left children aged 3 to 16 hospitalized.

According to media reports, the boy, who is the son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab, died of neck trauma and possible decapitation. Two women in the same raft with Caleb Schwab were treated for facial injuries. The women were not related to the boy who was seated with them for the ride.

Verruckt has been open for two years at the Kansas City park, and has drawn some criticism for the straps that hold riders in the rafts being Velcro instead of buckles. During preliminary tests, sandbags used as dummies flew off the ride, prompting designers to change the descent angles and delay the opening.

The ride, which reaches speeds of up to 65 mph. during the 17-story drop, has a minimum height requirement of 54 inches. Two to three riders in a single raft must also meet a combined weight of 400-500 pounds. Riders must make reservations as a group and are given a specific ride time. However, there is also a stand by walk-up line for single riders and those unable to make a reservation.

With about 30,000 children suffering injuries each year at the nation’s amusement and water parks, the Schlitterbahn death and other recent accidents raise serious questions about safety and liability. Kansas statutes don’t specifically mention water slides, but permanent rides must be inspected at least once a year by a qualified individual. Schlitterbahn had passed previous state audits despite discrepancies in record-keeping.

The park has been sued for negligence at least three times in the past few years. Two of the suits involved another inner-tube water ride, but none of the suits have involved the Verruckt water slide. All were settled out of court for undisclosed terms.

Amusement park riders accept some responsibility in that they are expected to follow the posted rules and regulations. Where a ride states a specific height requirement or weight restriction; or advises riders with pre-existing medical conditions not to participate, it is axiomatic that the rider must faithfully abide by those conditions.

Personal injury attorney John Yannone commented, “Riders do not waive all liability claims simply because of posted ride regulations. While tort and liability laws vary across the nation, there are general legal assumptions that hold some universal applicability. In product liability law, one of the foremost principles is that the product is free of defects that may pose a hazard to health and life. A rider boarding a rollercoaster naturally assumes that the track, rollers, cars, and safety restraints have been designed and tested to protect her from injury or death.”

Therefore, when a serious accident like the one in Kansas City happens, both riders and owners must be looking to the law for guidance on liability. Already, media reports are surfacing of riders who complained about the Verruckt restraint system being too loose or failing. This could have a significant impact on Schlitterbahn’s liability in the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab.
Continue Reading →

Did Aetna quit Obamacare when it didn’t get big fat merger? Elizabeth Warren says ayup!

Aetna Looks To Boot Obamacare Due To Losses

Little-known fact: Butthurt is also covered by Obamacare We’ve known for some time now that corporations are people, my friends, so it should be no big surprise they’re occasionally capable of acting like petulant toddlers when they don’t get their way. Or maybe the Magic of the Free Market just looks that way sometimes. What we’re… Continue Reading →

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