Tag Archives: Michael Bloomberg

The Billionaire and Right-Wing’s Racist Lies About Redlining

New Orleans    With the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency leading the way to gut the Community Reinvestment Act along with some other federal regulators, the last thing we should be doing is having to remind everyone, including the government and its legions of politicians, about the importance of stopping redlining of neighborhoods based on race, ethnicity, and income.  Yet, we are again forced to defend irresponsible and biased deflections from the rich, conservatives, and Wall Street as they attack fair lending standards for families seeking home ownership.  So here we go again, with feeling!

Michael Bloomberg in 2008 trying to finger the poor and minorities for the financial crisis is the equivalent of George H. Bush being mystified at the changes at the grocery store checkout counter when he was running.  What did Bush know about buying his own groceries?  Nothing.  Similarly, what does Michael Bloomberg, the newly minted Democrat, worth sixty billion dollars, living in luxury in Manhattan, know about what it might be like to try and get a loan in a regular neighborhood with a regular family wage, especially if black, yellow, or brown?  A thousand times nothing!

Most of the baloney about redlining driving the Great Recession has come from Wall Street, the securitizers, brokers, and the banking enablers looking to blame someone – anyone! – else for their fast buck, high risk greed and foolishness.  It’s not a surprise that Bloomberg sucked up that stuff, hanging around with his buddies in New York City, rather than hearing the tears and seeing the pain of families losing their homes and savings on the streets.

Robert Kuttner, writing in the Washington Post, was working at the Senate Banking Committee during 1975 when the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act was passed and 1977 when CRA was passed and therefore there at the birthing.  He points out clearly that embedded in the Act was the requirement that banks only make loans “‘consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions,’ which is to say with responsible lending standards.”  Senator Elizabeth Warren has been clear about where the responsibility lies as well.  She was quoted in the New York Times saying, “The end of redlining didn’t cause the 2008 crash.  Out-of-control greed by Wall Street and big banks, and the corruption that lets them control our government, caused the crash.  Predatory lenders steered families of color into the worst loans and those families lost billions.”  Kuttner also points out correctly that most of the abuses, such as the ones pointed out by Warren, also came from financial institutions that were not covered by the Community Reinvestment Act, so hardly felt “pressured,” as Bloomberg argues, to make the loans.

We need a stronger Community Reinvestment Act with broader coverage, fewer loopholes, encompassing more institutions.  We don’t need potshots at the CRA being fired off by folks looking to blame people, rather than force institutions to take responsibility and be accountable.  I’m tired of politicians, their enablers, and money men blaming us for their mistakes.

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Please enjoy 1. Sam Doores – Other Side of Town.

Thanks to WAMF.

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The Inequality Dividend: The Rich Against the World

budget-2013-fm-announces-extra-tax-for-super-richLittle Rock   Among the unforeseen consequences of the perversion of tax rates and the massive shifting of wealth to the one-tenth of one percent, is that now rather than the superrich just building hospitals, buying sports teams, getting university lecture halls named after them, and supporting the local symphony and arts museum, which most of us might have easily ignored or at least adopted a form of causal, “live and let live” indifference, their new newfound passions and playthings are too often in the area of public policy and politics.  Too many of them have twisted the old sayings into a new perversion.  It’s no longer a case that, “hey, if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”  Now, tragically, too many of them think that because they are rich, that also means they are smart.   I find this worrisome whether I agree with their new concerns are not, simply because they have created a cynical marketplace based on their ability to disrupt public life and attempt to define the agenda of citizen concern, simply because they are able to buy the time.

            Take Michael Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire, recent Mayor of New York, who is both the best and worst example of the breed.  Unlike so many, he was at least committed enough in the political process to stand for election, win, lose or draw, rather than being the puppet master, Koch Brothers style.  But reading how flippantly he throws around a commitment of $50 million to mobilize voters around gun control issues is scary even if I agree that guns are out of control.  His notion that he’s buying his way into heaven “without an interview,” as he argued, I also found every bit as creepy as the way the Koch Brothers manipulate religion to polarize opposition to the Affordable Care Act. 

            Applauding Tom Steyer, the Bay Area hedge fund billionaire, and his willingness to leverage his fortune to try and raise $100 million to force climate change front and center, would logically also force me to say that John and Laura Anderson are dandy folks for trying to dilute public employee pensions and push workers into 401k’s or look the other way at David Welch’s big bucks financing of unlimited lawsuits trying to end teacher tenure around the country, supposedly in the name of lower income and minority children in public schools.  I can’t do it.

            All of this just seems like elite attempts to purchase personal billboards in the public space, and none of that advances democracy, no matter whether the cause is worthy or warped.  Equally disturbing is the way that these mega-million money drops might also further monetize social change, and tilt the work towards the paymasters and away from the people.

            Not that this problem is new or that the Rockefellers were somehow better than the Facebook and Googlers.  Elite efforts to divert and coopt social change or to create client constituencies fill up whole book shelves in the libraries of political scientists and social movement theorists. 

            Old or new, the sheer enormity of the sums involved now, $50 million here, $100 there, and money is no object, are quickly creating a climate though where everything has a price and all issues are on offer and listed for sale with people just pawns to be manipulated every election day.

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