30 September 2008

The Heart of Dorkness

It's almost not worth the physical effort to press the keys to debunk Stanley Kurtz and his anti-ACORN rant in the NYP yesterday. I've been swamped with work, writing, and getting the new site designed and launched, so I've been a bit behind on my reading. Didn't see this until I was sent a link to it. And...well...it's as crazy as anything you'd expect to read in the Post, or from Kurtz.

WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.
I'm sorry, did you think corporate greed was at the heart of our financial problems? You were wrong. It's a bunch of protesters in Chicago.

Kurtz argues that ACORN "forces" banks to make "bad loans" by intimidating and filing complaints against banks in non-compliance of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. Well, only those banks trying to expand (buy out smaller banks) or merge (be bought out by bigger banks.) Because that's the teeth in the CRA, preventing banks from getting bigger if they don't follow it.

Like most so-called free marketeers, Kurtz doesn't believe in a free market. He believes in one where corporations are free to do as they will and people are free to shut the fuck up, bend over, and not whine when their assholes bleed. But in a truly free market, people are free actors as well and ACORN is doing nothing but acting freely here.

You see, what Kurtz isn't saying is that any bank that didn't want to give out these allegedly bad loans did not have to. The only penalty? Not being able to gobble up smaller banks or be assimilated by larger ones. And that would be bad, why? Because small, community banks don't yield windfall profits for hedge fund managers? Because behemoths are somehow more efficient?

But that's good. Blame the community organizer for the financial collapse. Don't blame the Keating Five guy.

You know, now that I think about it, that was one of those times John Sidney crossed the aisle to work with Democrats. John Sidney was the only Republican member of the Keating Five.

What? The S&L crisis of the '80s has nothing to do with the collapse of today? Correct, but the endemic corporate greed that caused the former is the cause of the latter. Not community organizers. And a vote for John Sidney is a vote for corporate greed of the worst kind.


2old4this said...

Rats, for the first time, I completely and utterly disagree with you.

Bottom line is we're in this damn mess because of loans to people who couldn't possibly pay them back.

Redlining was simple common sense, and when the Dems forced this practice to end, well, here we are.

1992 was the beginning of this end.

I do agree that greed has inflated the cost, also that the fatcats of failed companies shouldn't get bonuses. But that's about it.

If you have any specific info regarding this, please give it to me. I could be wrong after all.

R.A. Porter said...

Well, friends *are* allowed to disagree. :)

My problem with redlining is that it's extremely indiscriminate in its discrimination. So even someone with a good job, good credit, and utterly responsible who can pay a loan off can't get one because of the neighborhood. Not because of who he is, but where he lives.

Beyond that, loans *were* given to people who couldn't afford them. But that's because of the greed of the lenders. They knew they could sell the high risk loans up to another lender or Fannie/Freddie and not have to bear the risk. They did this for quick, ready profits, not because some community organizers were hassling them. In fact, all the community organizers I've ever known would be shocked to learn they have all this heretofore unrealized power.

Any bank was free to say, "no" to any loans. They chose not to because they were profitable in the near-term - by selling the high-risk loans up the chain - and in the long-term - by keeping them in compliance with the CRA, and therefore capable of swallowing up/being swallowed by other banks. If they were content remaining moderately sized and not seeking massive profits, they would have been more judicious in their lending.