Eskow, Richard (RJ)

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a well-known blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, an experienced consultant, and a former musician. He has experience in health insurance and economics, occupational health, benefits, risk management, finance, and information technology.

10 Reasons Millennials Should Be Wary of Rand Paul's Libertarianism

By Richard Eskow

Republican Senator Rand Paul has been making a big play for millennials lately, most notably by taking his civil liberties pitch to colleges around the country. Paul has got the right idea when he says his party must “evolve, adapt or die” (although I think the first two are virtually the same thing). Katie Glueck of Politico wrote that “The Kentucky senator drew a largely friendly reception at the University of California-Berkeley as he skewered the intelligence community.”

An FDR Birthday Wish: Unapologetic FDRs for Tomorrow

By Richard Eskow

Yesterday, January 30, was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday. In a week of mourning for Pete Seeger, that’s a good time to remember what Pete’s friend Woody Guthrie had to say in song about FDR: “This world was lucky to see him born.”

The White House website’s biography of Roosevelt says that, in a time of national crisis, “he restored our faith in ourselves.” That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. He restored our faith in government, and in government’s ability to serve as the expression of our best selves.

Jobs or Inequality? That’s No Choice At All

By Richard Eskow

What’s the economic issue we should focus on – jobs, or inequality? An increasing number of people, including the President and New York’s new mayor, have suggested that inequality of wealth and opportunity is the defining issue of our time.

But some of the folks at the Washington Post’s “WonkBlog” are having none of it. First editor Ezra Klein declared that unemployment, not inequality, should be the left’s defining issue. That drew responses from the likes of Paul Krugman and Jared Bernstein (and yours truly, here).

Bright Future

The "Real JFK" - Not Conservative, and Not Forgotten

By Richard Eskow

Listen to the breath, the unbroken message that creates itself from the silence,
it rushes towards you now, from those youthfully dead.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, "Duino Elegies"

Fifty years. That's how long it's been since John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Half a century can seem so brief - just a flash in time - or so terribly long, an endless walk through dusty corridors.

Presidents are the products of the times at least as much they are the shapers of them. They ride into office on great waves of half-understood historical forces, waves that can make them transformative leaders or capsize them without warning.

Don’t Feel Sorry for JPMorgan Chase

By Richard Eskow

Scandal-tainted megabank JPMorgan Chase is losing legal ground in the wake of its multi-year crime wave (if the term “crime wave” seems harsh, we invite you to review the evidence here, here, and here.) But in the wake of its tentative $13 billion settlement with the federal government, it may be on the verge of winning at least one battle – in the court of public opinion.

What Should We Think About The Arrests at JPMorgan Chase?

By Richard Eskow

Four years after Wall Street’s malfeasance dealt a telling blow the economy, and long after tens of billions of dollars have been paid out for banker fraud, reports say that we’re about to see the first arrests of Wall Street bank employees. What’s more, the suspects work at JPMorgan Chase – a banks which, ironically enough, politicians and pundits insisted was the “good bank” after the financial crisis hit in 2008.

In fact, Chase CEO Jamie Dimon spent years speaking out forcefully against additional bank regulation. (Lately, not so much …)

Financial cases can seem complicated. What should we think about these recent announcements in the “London Whale” case?

Is Obama’s Corporate-Friendly Approach Really "How Liberals Win?"

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Recently my friend and colleague Bill Scher challenged progressive critics of President Obama's conciliatory approach toward corporations with a New York Times op-ed entitled "How Liberals Win." Far from being "business as usual," Bill writes, "the Supreme Court's upholding of Mr. Obama's health care law reminds us that the president's approach has achieved significant results."

Bill argues that, critics notwithstanding, ours is not "a system paralyzed by corporations." He adds: "The most liberal reforms in more than 40 years have been brought about because Mr. Obama views corporate power as a force to bargain with, not an enemy to vanquish."

JPMorgan Chase: Break Up the Big Banks Now. Here's How

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

When Jamie Dimon revealed that JPMorgan Chase had lost billions through risky and legally questionable trading, he said the losses would be about $2 billion and maybe more. Apparently it is more - a lot more. People in a position to know are saying the real figure is probably in the $5-7 billion range.

The JPMorgan Chase scandal - and yes, it is a scandal - shows us why we need to break up the big banks as quickly as possible.

But that won't happen unless we can get our hands around the real scope of the problem, which is probably far greater than we're being told. That means cutting through the enveloping shroud of jargon, euphemisms and double talk - "crap," if you will - that keeps us from seeing the situation as it really is.

Here's why we need to do it, and here's how.

Talk Talk

Geithner’s World, Part 1: Three Years of Immunity for Bad Bankers

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Here's a walk down memory lane that's worth taking, even if it makes your blood pressure spike a little: Three years ago Tim Geithner was in the position of having to explain why the Federal government wasn't going to nationalize the nation's failing banks. In 2009 many people expected that to be part of the government's bank rescue plan.

Only three years. It seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

In 2009 there was a very compelling argument for a Federal takeover over these failing institutions, which had been so negligently (and very possibly criminally) mismanaged could no longer survive on their own. And while nationalization wasn’t the only course worth considering, this snapshot from our national past reflects the gravity of the crisis caused by bankers.

Social Security and Medicare: Behind the Numbers and the Spin

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Here are some headlines you won't see after the government releases new figures on Social Security and Medicare later today:

"Social Security Trust Fund Even Larger Than It Was Last Year"
"Growing Wealth Inequity Will Lead to Social Security Imbalance Later This Century"
"For-Profit Healthcare Poses Threat to Medicare, Federal Deficit, and Overall Economy in Coming Decades"
"Public Consensus Grows For Taxing Wealthy to Restore Long-Term Entitlement Imbalance"

Instead here's what we've already seen:

"Aging workforce strains Social Security, Medicare"

That headline's completely wrong, and yet it's been repeated in dozens of different news outlets (sometimes with minor variations) as they run an improved, but still misleading, news story on Social Security and Medicare from Stephen Ohlemacher at the Associated Press.