Page 39


HIGHTOWER CREDIT-RATING FINAGLERS FREED BY MEEK CONGRESS AMERICA HAS THE WRONG assigning a grade \(from approach for dealing with thieves. Rather helps investors know than “looking back how risky bonds are. ward” at their misdeeds But the Big Three and “punishing” them, run a rigged game that we need to ask that they robs our pension funds not misbehave in the and other investors. future, then monitor Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch their behavior. are not independent Believe it or not, this public regulators, but is how congressional for-profit firms that leaders are addressing are paid fat fees by the thievery of three the very corporations little-known gangs. Con whose bonds they rate. gress’ compassionate Yes, this is an inherent approach is not meant conflict of interest. It for common robbers, allows rating firms to of course. No, no profit by merrily putting lawmakers are happy to smiley-faced grades on punish them to the hilt. lousy bonds, deceiv is reserved for thieves public. For example, the named Moody’s, Stan Big Three gave thumbs dard & Poor’s, and Fitch up to subprime housing the Big Three credit bonds that turned out rating agencies that to be worthless, leading evaluate the worthi to trillions of dollars in ness of corporate bonds, losses for the public and JANUARY 8, 2010 crashing our economy. Yet, our soft-on-corporate-crime Congress critters have declared these finaglers “too big to jail.” Rather than taking the Big Three off the street, Con gress is coddling them, meekly freeing them to continue their corrupt, for-hire, monopolistic system of credit-rating flimflammery. The important financial responsibility of grading corporate bonds should be done by a public entity whose sole loyalty is to the public-not to the corporations whose bonds are being rated. JIm HIGHTOWER FOR MORE INFORMATION on Jim Hightower’s work and to subscribe to his awardwinning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown visit BECOME AN OBSTRE1 PARTNER HEAR MICHAEL MAY’S AUDIO REPORT on Dallas at features/bigds-culture-game the city “credibility.” And there’s no doubt that these bold new buildings have already made a statement that Dallas is willing to bet big on world-class culture. The performing arts center is adding momentum to a downtown that is already changing fast. The football stadium could help turn a young football fan into the next Picasso. Now if the Cowboys could just make it to the Super Bowl again. CO INVEST IN THE NEW TEXAS OBSERVER Why should you become an Observer Partner? Aside from the benefits you receive when you join, you will help found a new era of journalism and discourse from The Texas Observer and be part of a new progressive dialogue on*. Pick your level Sustainer, Watchdog, Muckraker or Maverick? Give what you can and enjoy the benefits. And we’ll list your name on our Web site as a founding Observer Partner. Here’s what your money means for The Texas Observer: Sustainer $25 $50 $100 Supports The Texas Observer and the future of investigative journalism in Texas. Watchdog $150 $250 $500 $1,000 $150 pays a photographer for a print/web photo spread; $500 purchases new video editing software; $1,000 replaces a writer’s outdated computer. Muckraker $2,500 $5,000 $10,000 $Z500 pays a writer for a feature story; $5,000 pays for telephone/internet service for nine months; $10,000 pays health care for three writers. Maverick $15,000+ Contact us to talk about benefits and named reporting projects and positions. *New online privileges for Observer Partners You’ll be able to: build an individual profile page with a personal blog; network with Texas Observer staff and other Observer Partners; get full access to our archives; participate in our online book club, political discussions, polls and contests; and contribute information to ongoing investigations. For more information on Observer Partner levels and benefits, go to , email Julia Austin at [email protected] , or call 800-939-6620. OBSERVER