Archive for the ‘Crony Capitalism’ Category
- A 95-year-old church choir leader, Daisy Dolsey, thought she had paid her $639.47 property tax bill. But the District of Columbia still listed her as owing $44.79 — which turned out to be an error. She lost her $300,000 home because of this $44.79 erroneous tax delinquency while she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.
- 76-year-old Bernie Coleman, a retired Marine, lost his home over a $134 property tax bill he owed to the local Washington, D.C. government. The aging Coleman was struggling with dementia, so had no knowledge of this tax bill.
- A 48-year-old math teacher almost lost his home because the tax office had erroneously credited his correct $1,400 tax payment to another taxpayer. He had to go to court to get his home back.
According to the Post, of more than 200 homeowners in the District of Columbia who lost their homes to tax-lien foreclosures in recent years, one in three owed less than $1,000 in taxes.
Here’s what’s happening.
Tax delinquencies are being sold to predatory collection companies and hedge funds — many of them run by former executives for J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America who know how to use the rules to foreclose quickly on your home.
The goal of these tax-lien foreclosure investors and hedge funds is NOT to collect the tax, but to make it impossible for you to pay your tax so these investors can quickly foreclose on your home to make a huge killing.
The way they do this is they buy tax delinquency liens from the government (often a modest delinquency that you might not even know about) and they immediately tack on interest, penalties, and attorneys fees.
Tacking on the attorney fees they supposedly spend to collect the alleged tax delinquency is the real kicker.
These attorney fees typically run about $300 per hour. So your $44 tax bill can quickly mushroom into a $5,000 or even $10,000 three-alarm fire.
Remember, these tax-lien foreclosure investors are not trying to solve your tax problem. They don’t care about the $44 you owe the government. What they want to do is quickly to turn your $44 tax problem into an unmanageable $10,000 crisis (by piling on attorney fees) so they can quickly foreclose on your $300,000 home (as happened to Daisy Dolsey).
So your $300,000 home is stolen legally over a $44 tax issue — that might be an error by your municipal government’s tax office.
The victims of this legalized theft are typically the elderly and the infirm who might be suffering from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. This can also easily happen to soldiers returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan — especially if they’ve been wounded and are hospitalized or are suffering from PTSD.
But it can happen to almost anyone.
THE WASHINGTON POST reports that . . .
- A 58-year-old bank employee almost lost her house in 2010 because the tax office mistakenly sent bills and notices to a wooded lot across from a strip shopping center in Virginia.
- A 69-year-old hat designer was given the wrong payoff amount and had to go to court to save her home.
According to the Post, one in five District of Columbia tax liens was sold to tax-lien foreclosure investors . . . BY MISTAKE! The DC tax office is so disorganized and dysfunctional that tax payments are routinely credited to the wrong taxpayers, or not credited at all.
Files of taxpayers with alleged tax delinquencies (many of them erroneous) are then sold to these predatory foreclosure investors.
The District of Columbia describes how this horrifying tax-lien auction program works here >>>
What’s happening in the District of Columbia is especially egregious. But we’re seeing the same trend in other municipalities — where local governments are strapped for money and are looking for every and any way to collect boatloads of quick cash. The biggest pot of cash you likely have is in your home.
You can’t hide your home in your mattress. You can’t move your home overseas. Your home is a big fat target for local governments and clever tax-lien foreclosure investors.
So, if you think of your home as a pretty “safe” investment,” think again.
Your home is a big fat stationary target — up for grabs.
Tax-lien foreclosure investing has become a huge multi-billion-dollar business in America.
As detailed by CNN, one of the leading buyers of tax liens in the so-called Fortress Investment Group — a $53 BILLION “alternative investments” hedge fund. ”Several times a year, municipalities in 28 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, auction off scores of property tax liens, also called certificates, to investors,” reports CNN.
These tax-lien auctions have become like Piranha feeding frenzies for tax-lien foreclosure investors.
This is how your $44 tax bill can end up in the hands of these predators, then quickly mushroom to a $5,000 or $10,000 delinquency after attorneys fees are tacked on. You must then either pay, or lose your home. These predators hope you can’t pay your bill, so they can scoop up your home. It’s an evil business.
These people are experts on the rules and laws. They’ve argued thousands of tax-lien foreclosure cases in court. They know how to game the system.
These predators, of course, know that most Americans can’t afford to pay lawyers $300 per hour to fight these sharks in court.
Could your home soon be seized by parking ticket investors over parking tickets you haven’t paid that you might not even know about — that you might not even owe?
This is one reason why America is quickly becoming like a Third World country.
Who will want to buy property if it can be seized over an erroneous $44 tax bill?
“Crony Capitalism” Has Become an Enormous Threat to Liberty
I used to be a big supporter of privatization — the contracting out of government functions to private companies as a way to save money because the private sector is so much more efficient than government. Clearly the government must use private companies. The government is incapable of building fighter planes or making computers — can’t innovate or make much of anything.
The Soviet Union found that out.
But privatization and public-private sector partnership are fraught with peril. I’m starting to see public-private partnerships — “crony capitalism” — as a huge threat to liberty.
More and more, we are seeing government partnering with the more efficient private sector to shake down, abuse, and even imprison the American people.
With the explosion of private prison companies (which contribute truckloads of cash to the campaigns of judges running for judgeships) is it any surprise that one of every hundred Americans is now in jail or prison? Is it any wonder that we have more Americans per capita in prison than any other country in the world — more than Cuba, more than the Soviet Union under Stalin?
Google and the big Internet and mobile device companies have now been coopted by the NSA, the CSA, and law enforcement agencies to track and spy on the activities of every American, including monitoring your bank account (another quick source of cash for the government). We now learn that the federal government is tracking 80 percent of all credit card transactions. The government is collecting and storing all your emails, cell phone conversations, and Internet searches.
What we are seeing is the rapid evolution of government (at all levels) into an ultra-efficient mafia operation. But I much prefer the real mafia — the old fashioned Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky types. These guys only required 10 to 20 percent of your business as the price for protection.
- Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
- SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
- Solyndra ($535 million)*
- Beacon Power ($43 million)*
- Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
- SunPower ($1.2 billion)
- First Solar ($1.46 billion)
- Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
- EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
- Amonix ($5.9 million)
- Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
- Abound Solar ($400 million)*
- A123 Systems ($279 million)*
- Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($6 million)*
- Johnson Controls ($299 million)
- Schneider Electric ($86 million)
- Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
- ECOtality ($126.2 million)
- Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
- Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
- Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
- Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
- Range Fuels ($80 million)*
- Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*
- Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
- Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*
- GreenVolts ($500,000)
- Vestas ($50 million)
- LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)
- Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
- Navistar ($39 million)
- Satcon ($3 million)*
- Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*
- Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)
*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.
SOURCE: Heritage Foundation >>>
The bank bail out was not $770 billion (TARP). It was $7.7 TRILLION . . . from the FED’s money printing press
That’s more than half the total size of the U.S. economy
BLOOMBERG: The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.
“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”
NEW YORK TIMES: The amount of customer money missing from the collapsed trading firm MF Global may be more than $1.2 billion — double previous estimates — the trustee dismantling the firm’s brokerage unit said on Monday.
But the surprise finding, which caught regulators off guard, may be overstated, according to a person briefed on the investigation. Some regulators say they believe that the trustee double-counted $220 million that had been transferred between units of MF Global, this person said.
Still, the much higher number highlights the disarray of MF Global’s records and raises significantly the hurdle for tens of thousands of customers seeking to get their money back. The trustee’s estimate represents a significant portion of customer funds held by MF Global.
Regulators suspect that as investors and customers fled MF Global in the last week of October, the firm used some of the customer money for its own needs — violating Wall Street rules that customers’ money be kept separate from the firm’s funds. Much of that money may never return.
Accuses Leftist Obama Crony Jon Corzine of Stealing Customer Money, Collapsing His Firm, and Destroying Investor Confidence in Financial System
THE BLAZE: Ann Barnhardt describes herself as a an “an old-school commercial hedge broker specializing in CATTLE and GRAIN.” And she just shut down her business by delivering a passionate and chilling open letter posted on her website.
“I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not,” she writes. And then she unloads:
Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette. [Emphasis added]
POLITICO: Solyndra executives repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment this morning as House lawmakers pressed them to answer questions about the company’s financial collapse and any hopes of repaying their $535 million federal loan guarantee.
“While I hope to have an opportunity to assist this committee in the future, on the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer any questions,” Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison told Energy and Commerce oversight subpanel Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who opened the questioning.
White House email warned of risky Solyndra venture; worried about potential political damage with 2012 coming up
WASHINGTON POST: A White House official fretted privately that the Obama administration could suffer serious political damage if it gave additional taxpayer support to the beleaguered solar-panel company Solyndra, according to newly released e-mails.
The firm had burned through millions of dollars and in January still tottered near collapse. The official wanted the government’s top budget official to warn Obama’s energy secretary about the risk, according to the e-mails.
NEW YORK TIMES: The 1,100 full- and part-time employees who were abruptly laid off two weeks ago aren’t the only ones whose paychecks have been affected by the sudden and dramatic failure of bankrupt solar energy company, Solyndra Inc.
Because for its brief lifespan, Solyndra proved to be pretty good for the lobbying community.
According to records filed with the Clerk of the House and a search of disclosure forms compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Solyndra spent nearly $1.9 million on lobbying activities over a period of 43 months from 2008 to 2011.
About $1 million of that was earned by the company’s two in-house lobbyists, Joseph Pasetti and Victoria Sanville, over an 18-month period from 2010 until this year. But Solyndra has also had several big-name lobbying shops on its payroll, including established powerhouses Dutko Worldwide and Holland and Knight, which began representing the then-fledgling company in 2008.
FOX NEWS: When Democrats said President Obama was “pro-business,” we didn’t know they meant one business in particular.
There are a few companies on the Obama corporate A List – Democratic patrons Google and Goldman Sachs both turn up again and again at White House functions and for special recognition – but no company seems to get the VIP treatment that General Electric receives.
Obama will announce today on a visit to a G.E. plant in Schenectady, N.Y. that G.E. CEO Jeffrey Immelt will lead his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The panel replaces the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker.
Volker, who helped President Ronald Reagan whip inflation and launch two decades of growth, will be replaced by Immelt, who has often spoken of his desire to put G.E. on the inside track for government subsidies and incentives in the Obama era.
Whether it is pushing the president’s plan for global warming fees in order to create demand for his “Ecomagination” line of windmills, solar panels, etc., boosting the president’s national health-care law as part of an effort to sell more medical equipment, or enthusing over the Obama strategy of making loans available for industrial exporters, Immelt has been an Obama stalwart all along. Immelt has also consistently argued to shareholders that there is big money to be made in advancing the Democratic agenda.
While most corporate leaders have taken a wait and see approach to Obama’s occasional overtures to the private sector, G.E., along with Google, Goldman and few others, have backed him to the hilt.
It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies. G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is always in the market for new subsidies and incentives.