One takes a certain liberty in treating an extreme anecdote as indicative of a pattern. But in the context of the ongoing residential mortgage crisis, it is justifiable. The Washington Post thinks so. The paper's March 4 print edition features a lengthy cover story on a suburban Maryland couple, Keith and Janet Ritter, who readily admit to their freeloader status. The Ritters in 2006 bought their home for nearly $1.3 million with almost no money down and, in the ensuing years, haven't made a single mortgage payment, having adroitly used state law to avoid foreclosure and eviction. "We don't believe in living for free," says Mr. Ritter, without irony. He and his wife, after interminable legal wrangling, face eviction. Yet even now, they're mounting a last-ditch effort to get their property back. They're an extreme example of what's become a common syndrome across the U.S.
Securities law firms are lining up to get a piece of the action after a class action lawsuit was filed against federally subsidized First Solar, Inc., allegedly because the company failed to disclose the massive costs it was incurring due to defects in its solar panels, leading investors to believe the company’s stock was worth more than its actual value.
Fresh off the heels of its European Car of the Year award, the Chevy Volt has been named "Vincentric Best Value in America." You just can't make this stuff up. I didn't know that there were so many awards in the auto industry, but the less that the Volt sells, the more awards it seems to win. After this latest award, it dawned on me that the Chevy Volt is eerily like Wilbur, the prize-winning pig from the classic children's tale, Charlotte's Web.
Anyone following the Chevy Volt story has seen the internet headlines trumpeting the blog by General Motors' Bob Lutz in which he blasts Bill O'Reilly, Fox News and what he calls, "the rabid, sadly misinformed right." It remains a mystery as to why GM would take a political stance, and seek to identify with one ideological faction over another. It's ridiculous to blame poor Volt sales on a Republican conspiracy. It is also pretty stupid. After all, some of the people who buy cars are Republicans.
NLPC Associate Fellow Fred N. Sauer asserts that General Electric is no longer a great industrial company, but is now dominated by its General Electric Capital Services (GECS) division. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the financial media that GECS has been GE's strength in recent years, Sauer argues that GECS is dangerously reliant on short-term financing to support its own lending. The result is a company ultimately dependent on political influence to mitigate the risk, creating opportunities for the well connected, like Warren Buffett.
'Occupy Wall Street' and similar protests around the nation were only the beginning. The Service Employees International Union, as much as anyone, is making sure of it. The SEIU these past several months has been playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role in transforming these rallies into the raw material for a new generation of activists. Through varied front groups, the union is taking its fight against banks, energy companies and other corporations to a new level, making sure reluctant elected officials feel their wrath. These nonprofit organizations, typically operating under monikers such as "good jobs" and "a fair economy," may seem spontaneous and benign. Yet they are union stage-managed. And as their leaders become more sophisticated and networked, unions may wind up a good deal more effective in their drive to place the U.S. economy under public control.