NJ shares in historic $25 billion fed-state mortgage fraud settlement

President Obama has responded to the injustices and fraud enacted by banks upon mortgage borrowers with the negotiation of a massive, wide-spread assistance program for one of America’s greatest ills – the home foreclosure crisis. Visit the website National Mortgage Settlement which is maintained by Attorney Generals from every state in the country (except Oklahoma) to learn more about the $25 billion dollar settlement that America’s five largest banks will pay over the next three years. read more

New study released: Who austerity hurts

Friend and civil rights attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky posts a link to an extensive new 84 page study of the detrimental effects of austerity entitled Prosperity Economics: Building An Economy For All. “Worth reading,” he says.

Fire Demarco for underwater mortgage relief and $1 billion in savings

The good people at Rebuild the Dream tell us,

DeMarco is the Bush appointee who has been dragging his heels and blocking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from engaging in targeted principal reductions (resetting home loans to fair market value) for struggling, underwater homeowners on the grounds that it would cost the taxpayers too much.

Today, two things happened. First, FHFA produced a study that said principal reductions would actually save taxpayers more than a billion dollars. And then DeMarco announced that he still wouldn’t allow any principal reductions! read more

As NJ poor get poorer, rich get MUCH richer

Legal Services of New Jersey’s (aka Legal Aid) Poverty Research Institute income disparity study

entitled “Income Inequality in New Jersey: The Growing Divide and Its Consequences,” found the distribution of income between 2000 and the end of 2009 was heavily one-sided, with more than three quarters of the income gains going to the well-to-do in just 20 percent of the state’s households. That left little for everyone else, and some backtracked.

Significantly, more than a quarter of the gains went to just the top or richest one percent of the populace – an estimated 75,000 people living in households with incomes of at least $570,000. On the other end, those in the 40 percent of the state’s households with incomes under $34,300 – roughly 3 million people – actually saw their incomes take a hit during the decade. read more

Bald eagle symbolizes GOOD government

Friend and civil rights attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky wrote on Facebook today in response to this picture,

I saw this posted on Facebook this morning and found its irony overwhelming.

The bald eagle would likely be extinct right now if the government had not imposed strict environmental regulations against DDT and other poisons that were killing them off. The government also greatly increased the protection of bald eagles by declaring them an endangered species and by engaging in a wide variety of programs to both conserve and increase their population and habitat. If I were a bald eagle, therefore, I most certainly would trust the government. read more

Obamacare is fair – and now constitutional!

Today, the Supreme Court justices announced through the SCOTUS blog that Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional and will be upheld as US law. The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether Congress has the power to force people to buy anything and was upheld on the basis that the government has the free right to impose taxes, and Obamacare (as the act is popularly known), does just that. The victory provides another shining example of how brilliant the president’s team is. Despite aggressive push-back from conservatives opposing the law, the legislation drafted by the White House team does what most of the people of the United States want it to do: it uses the constitution to protect and help its citizens. This is a true victory for America and a great day in Kimilandia. read more

Us or them? Goals for public education

An increasingly corporatized school system wishes to crush students with learning challenges because they are not expected to fulfill the mission being set: that students during the course of their educations should be trained to become willing and obedient servants of large corporations and of wealthy individuals upon graduation. But, is this what the people of the United States want to be? If not, we must begin evaluating what public education means to our families, our children and our overall society. We must ask: what is the purpose of public education? What are the life, moral and academic lessons we want imparted to our children during the course of their public school educations? read more

Societal abuse built into big business

I often say that the reason people don’t protest the skulduggery practiced in business and by the politically conservative right, is because the rotten things done in the name of legal profit-making and “improving society” boggle the minds of decent, hard-working people so much that those decent people cannot believe the terrible things they see done by people who are pillars of the community, some of whom are even sworn to protect the public interest, even when those things take place right in front of their eyes. Apparently, these acts are too horrible to witness. Mitt Romney is up to his eyeballs in a bilking scheme that while legal, is obviously amoral – and it also ends up causing formerly well-employed workers to become dependent on taxpayer supported program after they lose their jobs and then discover that Bain Capital’s recommendations have allowed their bankrupted employers to wipe out employee pension funds too. Bain Capital has been mentioned often in the news recently, because Mitt Romney is a former company executive. read more

What is Cory Booker’s vision for Newark?

Honestly, I don’t know enough about Newark politics to make a judgment call about how well Cory Booker governs. I do have growing questions about how some important city matters are being handled, though. As the Green Drinks Newark founding host, people bring issues and questions to my attention and I feel a moral obligation to look into them. This 21 May article by Josh Benson purports to addresses some of the underlying political reasons things happen the way they do in Newark. Josh quotes State Senator Ronald Rice as saying, “… if people don’t understand it now by … Cory traveling throughout the country, the people he meets with, people he supports and all the stuff happening in Newark with hedge funds and investors, if they don’t understand he’s completely beholden to them, there’s something wrong with them.” read more

Draw your line for Trayvon Martin

Hosts on a radio show this morning were discussing Trayvon Martin’s murder. A caller surprised everyone by saying that Trayvon’s death is a great tragedy, but it’s also tragic, “when we kill each other and no one ever talks about it.” The hosts acknowledged the truth of that statement and honored it by agreeing that there’s way too much acceptance in society today of urban violence whereas the “sexier” crimes that become high-profile stories grab maybe too much media attention. read more

Nobility in finance: are they kidding?

This morning I shared a chuckle with my friend Rita over the hypocrisy of finance executives who are expressing dismay over today’s lack of morality in their ‘once noble profession’. Rita agreed when I said, “What they guys do was never good, but when they were able to strut around acting like they were taking care of people by taking everyone’s money and no one knew enough to challenge that image effectively, they could fool themselves into believing they were helping people. Things have become so polarized in our society that it’s become very clear what’s been really going on and now these guys are being called out on it. Naturally, they don’t like that: it’s uncomfortable for them.” read more