Archive for the ‘bankers’ Category

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s an interesting question.

But worry not, I am not going to try to sell you an insurance policy nor even recommend one.

Quite the reverse in fact.

Many people have some kind of life insurance for the financial protection of their families if they should be unfortunate to pass away unexpectedly.

It is usually for enough money to pay off the mortgage with a little left over to provide some kind of income for the wife and kids.

At least that’s how it should be.

dead peasants indursnce

But there is a growing trend for employers to insure their employees. A nice gesture you might think at first. Until you find out that the beneficiary of the insurance would not be the survivors or estate of the insured employee, but the corporate pension plan!

It is unofficially known as “dead peasant” insurance, and hundreds of corporations have already taken out policies worth hundreds of billions of dollars, on thousands of employees, providing companies with a steady stream of income as current and former employees die  -  even decades after they have retired or left the company.

And new “dead peasant”policies worth at least $1 billion are being put in place every year!

Unsurprisingly the greedy money-grabbing banksters are especially fond of the practice. Bank of America’s policies have a cash surrender value of at least $17.6 billion; Wells Fargo’s at least $12.7 billion; and JPMorgan Chase at least $5 billion, according to filings with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

corporate greed

Of course the tax-men are to blame too – aren’t they always? – because so-called company-owned life insurance offers employers generous tax breaks. For example, company-paid premiums are tax-free, as are any investment returns on the policies and the death benefits eventually received. Although having said that it has to be admitted (grudgingly) that the I.R.S. has taken companies including Winn-Dixie and Camelot Music to court for using such policies as tax avoidance schemes.

Many people faced with a request from an employer to consent to such a policy are too afraid not to comply in case it affects their job or promotion prospects. They shouldn’t be because that would probably be illegal as well as unethical. Class-action lawsuits against several companies with such policies are already underway or have been settled. Several companies, including Walmart, settled the suits, paying millions to low-ranking employees who had been covered.

So if you are uncomfortable with the thought that your company might profit from your death, don’t sign up.

And as for the corporations? I’m as fond of making a few bucks as the next man, but you have to draw a line somewhere and I think corporations should be content with the contribution their employees make to their company profits when they are alive, instead of conniving to profit from their deaths also.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s Sunday so time for another Sunday Sermon.

There’s a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln that goes something like, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.

On the face of it Lincoln’s words seem rather clever and profound – and true. And so they are.

Up to a point.

But what Lincoln didn’t say (and he was a politician after all) is that you don’t have to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.

What you have to do is fool them long enough to do what you need to do – for example, in the case of a politician, to get yourself elected.  

 

graph Miss Universe

Which brings me to statistics.

Because the best people in the world at playing with statistics are politicians and governments.

Some people believe everything they are told. Others call the figures governments produce ‘disingenuous’ which is being very kind. And some don’t believe a word or a number that they produce. (Take a wild guess at which camp I am in.)

Government statistical results are in effect lies. You can’t call them that – although I just did – because they can find figures to back up what they say, it’s just that they choose the figures that tell the story they want to promote and ignore all the rest that tell a different story.

For example, to get on to one of my favorite rant subjects, there is a thing which I am sure most of you have never heard of called the ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’ or ‘SIGTARP’ for short.

When the government is challenged about what is has been doing to bring to justice the banksters, who stole and recklessly gambled away our money, they can quote you a statistic or two saying that over the last few years, SIGTARP has put over 100 senior bank executives in jail, each of whom was convicted of stealing from taxpayers.

Although that fact is ‘technically’ or ‘statistically’ true, what they don’t tell you is that the people they have gone after and convicted are all small time crooks, guilty of small time frauds that are seldom above $1m or $1.5 million in value.

All the super crooks who embezzled hundreds of $ billions and almost brought down the entire financial system aren’t even being seriously pursued. More than six years into the SIGTARP investigations there are literally still hundreds of billions of outstanding ‘loans’, from banks including Citi, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

They can quote figures all day long to try to mislead the people and make themselves look good, but a few small time crooks thrown in jail for stealing a million or two dollars here and there isn’t ever going to make much of a dent in the $ billions that were stolen. The politicians know that as well as anyone.

Perhaps Mark Twain’s “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” might have been a better quote!

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Many Happy Returns Webby!

Posted: May 10, 2014 in bankers, Business, Computers, Current Events
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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World-Wide-Web

The World Wide Web, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, turned 25 years old this year, 2014.

There has never been anything like it before, certainly not as regards the impact it has made on society and the way we live our lives. Many of those changes are good, many are not so good and a few are downright annoying.

Here’s my take on some of them.

To concentrate on the good parts first, the one thing the www has done, for those who can use it effectively, is to give access to information that was previously only available to the elite few who managed to claw their way into the lofty heights of academia, or who worked in places where information was readily available. Now the same information is accessible at the touch of a button to anyone and everyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Another benefit, in my view anyway, is that is has sent a massive wake-up call to telephone providers world wide, many of whom were fast asleep, content to rake in healthy profits from antiquated systems. No longer do we have to settle for slow and temperamental data transfer lines. Nowadays, particularly in the last few years, people are demanding systems that can cope with download streams in the gigabyte range. If you are old enough to remember the first modems you will know you wasted too much of your life trying to download at 12Kb/sec., sometimes less.

Freedom is also a welcome by-product of the World Wide Web.

The freedom to work in any country in the world, from virtually any country in the world is one big plus – it is for me anyhow. Another one I particularly like is the freedom to watch TV programs that I like, when I like, no longer tied to the schedules of some brainless bean-counter working for a broadcasting company. And the freedom to have your say on things as and when the mood takes you – they call that blogging don’t you know! – is also a great advantage to the ordinary person.

www words

As is the freedom to disseminate information across the globe instantly, as Mr Snowden ably demonstrated, although I would hazard a guess that the powers that be would not agree with me on that one.

Indeed, this is the one aspect of the www that really bothers big brother.

China for example is one country where access is controlled by the state. Coincidentally this year also marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you’ll find articles about that if you do a search, but probably not in China. They get away with it because they are not a democracy and do not pretend to be one.

In other countries, like the good old Land Of The (Not So) Free (Anymore)), the powers still like to con their people into believing that they are living in a democratic nation and that the people have the power to vote for this or that. But think for a moment, when was the last time you got to vote on whether to start a war, or whether to give $billions of your money to the greedy banksters to pay themselves huge bonuses and gamble away the rest?

It is because they need to keep the pretence of democracy going, that they do not yet have the confidence to start overtly censoring the internet. But they do all they can to snoop on what people are reading, or writing, or looking at.

This is where the freedom the www and associated technology provides can also be a negative, when it is used by governments to surveil us and record every piece of data they can. If they were doing this selectively and targeting terrorists and criminals no one would be too worried. But they are doing it to all of us, guilty and innocent alike.

big brother is watching

They are also doing everything they can think of to impose taxes on internet commerce – of course they have to coz they’re stoney broke.

The www has revolutionized business practices and created all sorts of new commerce opportunities, Amazon perhaps being the best example of a company that has gone from nothing to a multi-billion dollar business in just a few years.

Communication and social interaction are also areas where the www has liberated the ordinary person – first with email and more recently with social media. In the near future expect to see social media expanding to become much more than individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We are already seeing many new applications that are allowing people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.

social media

Another negative is that the World Wide Web has unwittingly facilitated the proliferation of pornography and violence, and is teaching a generation of morons all the wrong things. Things that will ensure they become a burden on society, not an asset.

And it has also opened a whole new environment in which criminals can operate. Millions of dollars are being stolen every day through scams, confidence tricks and outright theft.

You could say (and I frequently do) that people dumb enough to fall for these scams deserve all they get, or all they lose, is perhaps a better way of putting it. You know, the idiots who believe they really have won a lottery they didn’t buy a ticket for, or who think that Dr Umbungo Watanga from Nigeria is being truthful when he tells them that someone they never heard of has left them $25 million and all they need to do is send all their personal details and a few thousand dollars to unlock the fortune that awaits them. There really is one born every minute it seems!

All that said, and twenty-five years on, the www is still in its infancy. We have come a long way in the past 25 years, but we have really only scratched the surface as regards what the web has the potential to do to further improve our daily lives.

Where the vision to develop the www will come from in anyone’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that the initiative won’t come from governments or their bureaucratic servants, simply because the people we elect to those positions do not have the required intelligence.

So its up to you. If you have any great ideas you want to share, send me an email.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

Bankster pyramid of greed and corruption

They say rats squeal when they are being hunted and nearing capture and they’re right.

None more so at present than the rat banksters and nowhere more so than on Wall Street. If you listen carefully you can hear them squeal even above the noise of the New York traffic.

And the reason for the squealing?

Only that federal authorities are at long last closing in on some of the worst culprits whose greed and contempt for their clients caused the financial crisis we have all be suffering from during the past decade and more.

But before you start clapping the feds on the back, let me say it is too little and too late. None of the banksters are likely to face jail sentences which is what they deserve for their crimes against the people.

Foreclosure-Homes

However, it is something and these days that’s about the best you can hope for.

In terms of the numbers, the banksters are facing fines of something in the region of $63 billion.

Wow, listen to them squeal!

It seems like a lot of money – and it is a lot of money, it could keep all of us blogging away happily for the rest of our lives and then some. But put in the context of what the banksters defrauded their clients out of and what they lost it is just a pittance.

Putting the figures into context, J P Morgan Chase’s $13 billion mortgage settlement in November was probably some kind of record, but they issued more than $460 billion in mortgage securities.

To illustrate it in numbers people can relate to better, that’s like a thief stealing a thousand dollars from you and getting away with it if he paid you back $28.

I bet the amount of the settlement doesn’t seem so big now. Nor is it commensurate with the size of the crime. But that’s what they’ll probably get away with. And they’re not even grateful for this small smack on the wrist, hence all the squealing.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Time for a mid-week rant I think.

danger bureaucrats at work

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You may have noticed from the tag line of this blog that its major theme is to expose stupidity and bureaucracy and hopefully to encourage people to fight against it, rather than meekly fall in line with every idiotic rule and regulation that the bureaucratic morons introduce to make our lives a misery.

It is one of those curious contradictions in life that the stupider people are, the more they complicate things and the more they try to regulate things that require no regulation.

They just don’t understand that simplicity can sometimes be the most effective solution to problems – if indeed the problems they perceive even exist in the first place.

On the other hand, things that do need regulating, like the banksters for example, are left largely without interference.

how many bureaucrats does it take to screw in light bulb

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The big question is, why do these idiot bureaucrats needlessly complicate our lives? 

Many years ago I figured it out.

They do it to try to enhance their own importance. It’s as easy as that.

Let’s face it, most bureaucratic jobs don’t take a rocket scientist’s brain to cope with them. They are easy and repetitive but if done correctly can be completed quickly and without upsetting anyone.

But the bureaucrats won’t have it that way. Complicate the task is their solution. If they do that they need more staff to help them. If they have more staff they get to be in charge of more people, which makes them more important. If they complicate it even more they might need a whole department. And on and on it goes.

In the business world there are empire builders in all large companies. People of mediocre ability, but with enough survival instinct to create a belief that what they do is useful to the company. 

As time goes on they are able to hide within their little empires inside a company and no one questions if what they are doing is really needed and certainly few realize how dumb they are. It is only once they leave this safe environment that the truth becomes clearer.

I have encountered several of these beasts out in the open and it is not a pretty sight. They are so dumb that they have forgotten how dumb they really are. Inflated with their artificially induced and undeserved stature within their former companies they imagine that out in the real world they are, not just ‘as good’ as everyone else, but ‘better’ than everyone else! Invariably they make a mess of things, but unfortunately they cause a lot of damage, sometimes irreparable, before they are caught on and fired. 

Obviously the same type of people are in public life too. In fact this is where they excel, because here it is much harder to pin down their accountability and fire them. In many cases the people who have the power to fire them are exactly the same types and the last thing they want to do is diminish the size of their own empires.

baseball cap bureaucrats suck

Have you ever noticed that an average town or city can function quite well and efficiently with a mayor and a handful of administrators.

Yet if you take the same town or city ten years later, while it probably hasn’t changed much as regards size, (only in exceptional circumstances would it have doubled or trebled its population or area), it’s local bureaucracy has more than doubled and trebled in size, probably a lot more. It probably also has an increasing number of by-laws and regulations and to pay for it all more and more property and other taxes are being demanded from the community. Clearly all this additional bureaucracy is not needed. But it is there and will continue to grow.

Why do we allow this? Why do we keep electing people whose only idea seems to be the provision of the same basic services at an ever increasing cost?

Big government, federal government, is even worse.

The European Parliament, for example, churns out regulation after regulation after regulation, about ridiculous things like how straight a cucumber should be or how bent a banana can be and still be called a banana! 

Washington has adopted the same strategy, sticking its nose in things that are none of its business and that only serve to hinder rather than help the people who elected them.

banana wars

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It’s about time we tried to stop this spiral into disaster.

It’s time big brother and all his little administrators had their noses put out of joint. 

Remember, “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”,  wherever and whenever you can!

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Time for another Sunday Sermon, otherwise known as a rant!

 Foreclosure Notice Yellow Photo

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First it was Cyprus where the bankrupt government tried to steal money right out of people’s bank accounts. If you want to read that again click here and here.)

Then it was the turn of the greedy bureaucrats in Australia who decided to tax pensions TWICE, once when you put the money in and again when you tried to take it out! (For the original post click here.) 

Now in bankrupt Spain the politicians are at it, however, this time they aren’t proposing to steal some of the money in your bank account  –  oh no, this time they want to steal your entire home!

Yes, you read it right, the Spanish government has announced this past week that they want to seize homes that have been foreclosed on by banks and developers.

Not that I have any sympathy with the banksters, not by a long chalk! But theft is theft, and theft by governments is perhaps the most evil of all simply because the victims have little or no remedies available – other than pack up and go somewhere else.

se vende

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As usual the politicians and bureaucrats are trying to dress this theft up as something helpful. They say they will rent the confiscated foreclosed homes to Spanish families who will be allowed to live there rent-free for up to three years.

Sounds great, but as usual what these political morons have failed to do is think their policy through.

If they go ahead with this plan to steal homes the consequences will not be what they think.

First of all it will destroy what is left of the mortgage market in Spain because no one will want to make home loans on Spanish real estate if there is no viable foreclosure mechanism should things go wrong for the mortgagee.

Second, it will go a long way to killing off the buy-to-let sector, which is the thing that has been keeping the real estate market afloat in these financially strained times. Home sales, not just in Spain, but in many countries have been boosted considerably by cash rich investors picking up what they consider to be ‘bargain’ properties at a level that yields a decent return on their capital. Where will they get that return if the government kills the rental sector by renting out homes for free?

And third, it will also kill off the recent Spanish drive to attract foreign investors by offering residency to anyone who spends around $200,000 buying up the glut of Spanish property currently on its real estate market.   

If these things were happening in Zimbabwe or even Venezuela everyone would be calling it a disgrace. But it is happening in Europe and Australia and America. And it will get worse the more desperate the politicians and the bureaucrats become as they make the mess they created worse, not better.

Who on earth put idiots like these in charge?

It wasn’t you was it?

pointing_finger_clip_art_23483

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Remember this post from way back towards the end of May 2012?

 Furious Flabbergasted Facebook Fools Face Frightening Falls From Fanciful Flagging Financial Flotation Farce. 

As well as being the biggest F’ing title ever seen on a WordPress blog, it drew attention to the debacle that was the much heralded launch of Facebook shares on the stock market.

facebook ipo

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Well, the fallout from what is now being called the IPOcalypse continues.

The head honcho at Nasdaq has had his CEO’s bonus slashed because of it, and rightly so.

But don’t start feeling sorry him just yet. Even with a slash he will still be taking home a $1.3m bonus, slightly north of half a million dollars lighter than it would have been, but still enough to get by on.

Oh yes, and that’s bonus on top of his $1 million salary!

Others at Nasdaq have also been penalized, including Anna Ewing, VP in charge of “technical glitches” that messed up the first day of trading. Her bonus was cut by over a quarter of a million dollars. But keep those hankies where they are, she is still left with a $574,125 bonus for the year.

Losses for angry brokers and traders from the botched IPO, on the other hand, have been estimated at around $500m. Nasdaq has approved just $62m in compensation, I suppose they needed the rest of their money to pay out the bonuses?

Like the banksters, it all begs the question of just how incompetent do you have to be in the financial industry to not just lose your bonus, but lose your job as well?

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A few days ago I had a bit of a rant against the banksters. You’d have thought that would have done me for a while but there’s more, prompted by yet more procrastination and what can only be called undiluted BS from high government officials.

Banksters-Wanted

This time the main culprit is Attorney General Eric Holder, who Wednesday last testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He told them that he is concerned that some institutions have become so massive and influential that bringing criminal charges against them could imperil the financial system and the broader economy.

Where have we heard that one before?

It’s just his version of the “too big to jail” bollocks that we have been hearing from these gutless government wonders for the past five years.

And unfortunately he isn’t alone in this cowardice. A growing number of lawmakers have effectively suggested the same thing.

Home of the brave? Not as far as these bureaucrats are concerned. They would much rather throw the weight of their bureaucracy against small businesses struggling to stay afloat in the economic storms created by the banksters than tackle the real problem, i.e. the banksters themselves.

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Vs Wall Street Banksters

On the brighter side, if there is one, Holder’s comments and those of his conspirators should bolster an increasingly vocal group of politicians who argue the nation’s biggest banks have become too large and need to be curbed.

Among this group are Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who pressed Holder on the issue in a letter sent in February, airing their disappointment that no major criminal charges had been filed against banks or their employees in the wake of the financial crisis.

Also Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted financial regulators during a separate hearing for failing to bring any major financial institutions to trial since the meltdown.

Of course when questioned by Sen. Grassley, Attorney General Holder tried to slither out of answering the issue by saying that, “The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share.”

However, he then quickly added that ultimately the best deterrent would be if they could bring charges against individuals instead of companies, BUT that all of the bad behavior on Wall Street leading up to the crisis may not necessarily have been criminal and that his criminal team has been “as aggressive as they could be.”

In other words, too big to jail yet again. And the government, still afraid to act, continues to pretend to do something while actually doing nothing.

Pathetic!

So over to you America.

You elect these cronies and cowards, or the people who appoint them.

When are you going to demand they act in YOUR best interests and not in the best interests of the banksters?

The March Of Tyranny

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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origin of banksters

Time for another rant about the slime of creation, also known as the banksters.

This blog is about highlighting and fighting against stupidity and bureaucracy and there is no better example of this than the banking industry.

Their stupidity is only matched by their arrogance and their greed.

More than five years on from plunging the world into a financial catastrophe, and all of us into debt that will take generations to sort out, they are still at it!

And the governments are still faffing about, afraid to take on those who bribe them with “contributions” to their election campaigns.

banksters table

For example, the European parliament only reached a “tentative deal” last Wednesday evening to limit bankers’ bonuses at twice the value of their fixed pay. They call it “imposing the toughest limits on pay since the financial crisis”. Gimme strength!!! Of course, the deal, still has to be endorsed formally by governments and lawmakers (i.e., the bureaucrats), and is the result of 18 months of farting around (they call it negotiating).

It’s a start, but a poor and a slow one.

It shows how long it takes for a no-brainer to happen in heads that have no brains!

In timely manner, latest results last week came from Europe, namely the grandly named basket-case Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Lloyds Group, and Spain’s lesser sounding Bankia.

Already more than 80% owned by the British Government (i.e., taxpayers) who stupidly bailed out these idiots to the tune of almost $70 billion, RBoS have announced further losses of around $9 billion!

To make matters worse, $1.6 billion of that was to compensate clients wrongly sold insurance and interest-rate hedging products – which is a nice way of saying they have been caught fleecing their customers and now have to pay back money they cheated their clients out of in the first place.

They called it a “chastening year”.  

Meatime Lloyds chalked up further losses to the tune of more than $2 billion!

And the banksters aren’t any smarter in Spain either. Bankia also this week reported a net loss of €19.06 billion ($25.04 billion) for 2012, by far the largest in Spanish corporate history.

And you know what? Let’s add insult to injury.

These dumb-asses are looking for bonuses for their efforts.

Can you believe it?

banksters bonuses

If someone starts a business and it fails, no one gives them a bonus – they lose their business (usually because the banksters force them to close down).

Just how on earth have we allowed the banking industry to create a culture of stupidity to take hold and remain in place after such clear evidence that it is not working. It is completely absurd.

Hit your sales targets, make money for the company and yes sir you can have a bonus and well deserved. Cost the company $ billions and drive it to bankruptcy because of your incompetence and the only bonus you should get is early parole for good behavior.

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That’s Europe taken care of, can’t go without a word about the American banksters too.

Latest news is that they “have discovered” that they wrongfully foreclosed on more than 700 members of the military during the housing crisis and seized homes from about two dozen other borrowers who were current on their mortgage payments,

The banks, namely Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, only found the foreclosures after regulators ordered them to examine mortgages as part of a multibillion-dollar federal settlement. Each bank “discovered” around 200 members of the military whose homes were wrongly foreclosed in 2009 and 2010.

So while military personnel are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend the country, the slime in the banks are busy trying to illegally foreclose on their homes.

Incredible!

Not only do these foreclosures violate the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law requiring banks to obtain court orders before foreclosing on active-duty members, but they violate every common law of decency.

The sooner governments come to their senses and put these banksters out of business the better and cleaner the country will be.

banksters wrecked the economy

***end rant***

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