The Fabric of the World


The Fabric of the World

“Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance, these are the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today,” Sanders told supporters in midtown Manhattan. “To those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation.”

Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp
Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp

These are the words of Bernie Sanders. You can find the full news article here at the guardian.

Sanders says that greed is “destroying the fabric of our nation.” But as a business ethics professional, I can tell you, greed in the form of unregulated capitalism is destroying the fabric of the world.

Over the past decade, the world has been subject to commercial attacks, an oil spill in the gulf that devastated an area larger than many states, fires related to palm oil production in Indonesia and other countries as large as dozens of American counties, dam failures in Brazil that released 60 million cubic meters of iron ore tailings into the water system, in Japan – radioactive contamination made several once thriving communities uninhabitable(1) and I can go on and on.

But let me close this litany of disaster with Volkswagen, the poster child for necessity of regulation with criminal penalties. Volkswagen inserted software in 11,000,000 cars designed to evade pollution controls by running one way under tests conditions and another on the road. There is no way that Volkswagen could have believed that they would never be caught. The pollution produced by an automobile is not always measured under test conditions. There had to be an underlying belief that the company is so well placed, so influential, employs so many people – that it will not be prosecuted and will get to keep most or all of the money.

As we have seen with the virtual non prosecution of General Motors in the United States, they may have good reason for that belief. Assessed a 900 million dollar fine after 124 deaths were traced to a below specs ignition switch, General Motors escaped criminal penalties in spite of having continued their wrong doing for 10 years after first detecting the problem.

Pure capitalism, unregulated greed, whether referred to as Neo-liberalism or free market fundamentalism is dissolving the fabric that binds us together as human beings.  It is not just an economic malady but a moral evil which must be addressed.

James Pilant

(1) In case, you wish to challenge me on the corporate responsibility for Fukushima and say it was a “natural” disaster – I would respond that building a nuclear reactor to an American design on low land near the coast on an earthquake fault in Japan is malfeasance.

Madoff Friends Face the Music


I always feel a certain element of surprise when the Justice Department acts on an economic crime. Much of the time they pretend it doesn’t exist or tell everyone how hard it is to prosecute. Well, this one is easy; some juicy kills for a prosecutor who will later parley his victories into money. I’m sorry to be cynical but considering the fish they let get away, these guys are not that much. Of course, they do deserve prosecution and I won’t be sorry to see them go to prison

 

English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
English: Bernard Madoff’s mugshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

.

 

It is important for business ethics that there be accountability. But right now, getting caught for financial improprieties is about as likely as getting struck by lightning. That’s not much of a deterrent.

 

James Pilant

 

Bernie Madoff’s colleagues going on trial – Salon.com

 

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/bernie_madoffs_colleagues_going_on_trial_newscred/

 

Ponzi scheme fraudster Bernard Madoff claimed he alone orchestrated his $65bn scam – starting tomorrow US prosecutors aim to prove that was another lie.Jury selection starts Tuesday in the case against five of the convicted fraudster’s closest colleagues – all of whom have pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting Madoff in his scheme.The charges include conspiracy to defraud, securities fraud and falsifying records of a broker-dealer. Madoff is currently serving a 150-year sentence after pleading guilty to fraud following the collapse of his Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities in 2008.Three of the defendants worked for Madoff for decades. Daniel Bonventre, the director of operations for the firm’s back office, started working for Madoff around 1968. Annette Bongiorno, his executive assistant, has known Madoff for over 40 years. Joann Crupi, who managed clients’ investment accounts, worked for Madoff for over 25 years. Also standing trial are computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez.According to the prosecution Madoff and his accomplises created false records and invented exotic trading schemes to explain the firm’s consistent high returns. In fact “the truth was that Madoff and his co-conspirators – with very rare exception – were not making any trades at all,” the indictment said.

 

via Bernie Madoff’s colleagues going on trial – Salon.com.

 

From around the web.

 

From the web site, Charles Omole’s Nigerian Strategies.

 

(I regard this as a similar situation to that in the United States. jp)

 

http://nigerianstrategies.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/efcc-and-the-magic-of-selective-prosecution/

 

This is a deliberate mess created by the politicians to give
impression they are waging real war on fraud and corruption when in fact
they are only interested in selective prosecution of their opponents.
To restore public confidence; The government should immediately publish
again a clear guidance of when EFCC, ICPC and Nigerian Police can lead
the prosecution of cases. EFCC with its specialised assets, training and
skills should concentrate on major, large and complex crimes only. The
Nigeria police should deal with minor and straightforward financial
crimes. As for ICPC; I am not really sure what value that brings to the
table. It should just be scrapped and EFCC should be strengthened to do
its work.

 

I believe one of the main reasons EFCC has not been as successful as
it should be is the fact that it is becoming jack of all trade and
master of non. It is prosecuting a N100,000 thief and a N100Billion
thief at the same time.  Human nature means many of their staff will be
more interested in the smaller and simpler cases; to be able to raise
their conviction statistics. But that is not why they were established.
EFCC should from now on focus on serious financial crimes and go after
the “big guns” and stop chasing thieving drivers and houseboys.  They
should leave that to the regular police.

 

Four Impossible Budget Plans, Four Candidates


Four Fiscal Phonies – NYTimes.com

Of course, Mr. Romney isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. In fact, all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich.

And nobody should be surprised. It has been obvious all along, to anyone paying attention, that the politicians shouting loudest about deficits are actually using deficit hysteria as a cover story for their real agenda, which is top-down class warfare. To put it in Romneyesque terms, it’s all about finding an excuse to slash programs that help people who like to watch Nascar events, even while lavishing tax cuts on people who like to own Nascar teams.

Four Fiscal Phonies – NYTimes.com

I never know whether I should write leading into the article quote or comment down here after it. I guess I’ll just hit or miss until I figure something out.

Well, the meat of the matter is that we have four president candidates for one party. Everyone of them is worried sick about the deficit and believes it will destroy the nation and do it quick. (I can provide you with quotes running down the page in an almost infinite pattern.) Everyone of them has a budget plan. And everyone of these budget plans would make the deficit worse. All of them insanely propose dropping taxes on the 1/10 of 1/% who have done so much to make the United States the envy of every ruthless malefactor of great wealth on the globe.

So, let me get this, the deficit is a serious problem but not serious enough to raise taxes, in fact, it’s not bad enough to make cutting taxes a problem.

Our political speech seems to have arrived at a high level of incoherence.

We’ve got to do better than this. We have to have people with some grasp of facts or, just at least, be able to count.

James Pilant

I’m adding a little note here defending Social Security from the deficit hawks who also want to cut taxes. JP

Social Security Didn’t Create the Deficit

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Disgraced Wyoming Horse Eater Admits Illegal Collusion (via Straight from the Horse’s Heart)


I’m going to side with the horses (and I don’t even like horses). I don’t think that butchering horses for their meat is a benefit to them.

Besides there is a heavy level of outrage in this particular posting. I very much admire the author’s passion and anger. I share it.

James Pilant

Disgraced Wyoming Horse Eater Admits Illegal Collusion (In My Most Outraged Opinion) by R.T. Fitch “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis Admits Access to Leaked Federal Document It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the motives behind the defunct and degenerate Wyoming state Representative Sue Wallis’ motives to eat horses; it’s all about the money.  But we can live with that as she is not that m … Read More

via Straight from the Horse's Heart

Bank of America Forecloses on Santa Clara Woman After Telling Her to Miss Her Payments | | St. George News | STGnews.comSt. George News | STGnews.com (via )


How many times do we have to read this same story? Telling someone that they have to stop paying to access a federal program, encouraging them to believe that they are going to get a loan modification, when your bank has already decided that no one is going to get this kind of deal, and then foreclosing on them when they fall for the bait – is this they way banks are supposed to make money?

James Pilant

SANTA CLARA – Bank of America foreclosed on a Santa Clara woman’s home, despite her doing everything she was instructed to do in order to prevent it. Annette Lake resided in her house in Santa Clara from 1986 until May 24, 2011, when Bank of America foreclosed on her home. Just after her divorce from her husband was finalized in 2008, Lake was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was laid off from her job during chemotherapy treatments. She began ha … Read More

via

About Those Notes…Evidence of Securitization Fail (via foreclosuresinmass)


I’ve been arguing the same thing, – that there was much more to the mortgage crisis than robosigning. So, give this a read. I like skepticism and intelligence. This article has both.

James Pilant

Since last October, shortly after the robosigning scandal broke, I've been talking until I turned blue in the face about robosigning being the tip of the iceberg with mortgage problems and that the real issue was chain of title. Robosigning appeared to be an almost unexpected deposition by-product; the real goal in the depositions that uncovered the robosigning was exposing the backdating of mortgage endorsement. And that they did–the notaries' … Read More

via foreclosuresinmass

on walking the walk. (via bee thousand)


How much to give? And who to give it to?

The eternal questions of those fortunate to have enough resources to give.

Here is a good discussion of a person trying to make the right charitable choices.

(In the United States, not getting your money diverted to private pockets when giving is very difficult. Scam artists masquerade under the sweetest and most persuasive names. They love names like veteran, children, etc. Be very careful who you give your money to and remember, the most important factor is what proportion of the charity’s contributions actually go to the charitable purpose. If you can’t find that out after a few minute web search, you are better off buying lottery tickets. In both cases your money is lost, but with the lottery, you know up front that your money is gone for no purpose.)

James Pilant

Special thanks to bee thousand.

So far, my dissertation research has consisted mostly in talking the talk but not yet walking the walk. But I’ve mulled over this for sort of a long time now and think I’ve finally come close to a decision regarding my participation in Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save plan (which is tied to his work on charity, which is sort of a central focus of my dissertation research). The algorithm which Singer recommends is donating 1% of your annual in … Read More

via bee thousand

Tri-State University Scandal, Small Story In The United States


There are two aspects of this story that I would like to talk about. The first that in the American media, this story is not front page news. It’s buried in the middle of the newspaper. The big coverage is in India.

The second thing I want to talk about is here – today, I read this. From DNA Daily News and Analysis based in Mumbai, India. –

The large-scale mushrooming of fake Indian agents working on behalf of lesser-known foreign universities are to blame (my emphasis) for students falling prey to fraudulent institutions like Tri-Valley University (TVU) in the US, say experts.

“This is sad but true. In India, we have no regulatory mechanism to monitor agents working for foreign universities. These agents work for lesser-known or fraud universities abroad and dupe Indian students. They mislead students into joining fake universities abroad like TVU in the US,” says Manjula Raman, a career counsellor and principal of Army Public School, Bangalore.

It required a great deal of effort for this scandal to happen. Yes, there were agents in India exploiting these students but the American tolerance for sham universities and colleges is the other half of the equation. One make the other possible.

I personally know of some sham schools. Most people here do. Colleges spring up with signs in store front windows and four room buildings. Usually some religious education designed to train you as a minister or get you a certificate for office work.

My suspicion is that overseas, one American college looks very much like another.

Agents in India are taking advantage of how the American educational works (or doesn’t work). But there were a good number of Americans involved as well.

Fraud

I want the people responsible in India for these students’ plight to go to jail.

I also want the Americans defrauding these students to go to jail.

James Pilant

The Saga Of The Students From India And Tri-valley University Continues


Some of these students have had to wear ankle bracelets that electronically broadcast their location. I have a report that there were 18 students required to wear these and two of these have now been detained. Their appeal is unlikely to be heard until September. If you count the remainder of February, that is seven months wearing an ankle bracelet. What’s more it is long time to be in legal limbo, unable to attend another university or work.

This is from the Times of India

The Indian students duped by a fake university in the US face an uncertain future as their appeal is not likely to be heard in a court there before September.

The 1,555 students, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, feel they are being subjected to inhuman treatment by the US authorities for no fault of theirs. They want the Indian government to immediately come to their rescue and help them transfer to other US universities.

The families of the students are worried as the US authorities have tied radio monitors to their ankles and may deport them for violation of visa rules.

The dreams of the students to pursue higher education in the US came crashing last week after the Tri-Valley University in California was raided for helping foreigners to illegally obtain student visas.

This is a program from an Indian law firm in the United States explaining the situation.

The government of India has expressed concern. This is from the DAILYBHASKAR.in.

Voicing concern over the welfare of Indian students affected by the closure of a California-based university, India on Friday asserted that students had valid visas and conveyed to the US that they should be given chance to clarify their position.

The students hold valid visas, a senior official said here on Friday, adding that India is hopeful they will be given adequate opportunity to clarify their position.

“Our immediate concern is the welfare of students. We are in touch with US federal agencies,” a senior official said. India’s consul general in San Fransisco also is in touch with students, the official said.

I am concerned too. I have a link to an online petition. I want you to understand clearly. This is not a petition that says there should be no investigation or that further inquiries should not be made. The petition asks for fairness. How many of you can disagree with that?

America is a very strange place for foreign students, not quite like the television view. Justice should not be denied but some kindness and a full consideration of their rights is not too much to ask for.

If you want to sign an online petition to ask the State Department to treat these students fairly, you can go here.

To my readers outside the United States, you do not need to be an American citizen to sign this petition!

So, come in and help.

James Pilant

P.S. I’m getting some indications that the investigation is focusing on a relatively small number of students. There is no direct announcement of this, but I am an attorney. The “feel” of the case is wrong. If they considered all of the students guilty, they could have moved all of them to a detention camp, since that number of students would have suggested an international conspiracy. In the United States, you file against everybody possible and then you narrow it down. I “think” (remember this is just my feel for what is going on) that the authorities are trying to sort through the cases and the fact that there are so many agencies involved is slowing the process.

BOA: BAD BANK, BAD BANK, WORSE BANK (via Livinglies’s Weblog)


Right!

This is how I feel as well. It’s a good read. Be warned, he’s really upset. But so am I when I’m dealing with this issue.

Here is my writing on the same subject. You can see that I get passionate about foreclosures too.

Robo-Signing Foreclosure Freeze Update (via Foreclosureblues)

Lots of Links on the Foreclosure Fraud Crisis (via Rortybomb)

“We Can Either Have a Rational Resolution to the Foreclosure Crisis or We Can Preserve the Capital Structure of the Banks. We Can’t Do Both” (via Foreclosureblues)

Sheldon Whitehouse Weighs In On The Foreclosure Crisis

Third Way Comments on Foreclosure Fraud Policy in the Post-Ibanez Landscape (via Rortybomb)

Foreclosure Speed Made Loan Modifications Impossible

The Vast Majority Of Foreclosures Were Done Correctly?

In total, I have 46 posts about the mortgage crisis.

James Pilant

BOA: BAD BANK, BAD BANK, WORSE BANK COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary Bank of America to Create Troubled Loans Unit BANK STILL ATTEMPTING TO KEEP FORECLOSURES A POLITICAL ISSUE AS LEGAL OPTIONS RUN OUT EDITOR’S NOTE: As for what this means for homeowners, it is obvious that BOA is trying to come up with some formula that will be politically acceptable the final result of which will still be that they will get hundreds of thousands o … Read More

via Livinglies’s Weblog