Saturday, August 15, 2015

Draper Boom

In case you've had your head stuck in the sand, the prison move is a done deal.  The Draper site will be abandoned, and in a display of petty vindictiveness and short-sightedness on an effectively criminal level, The Powers are moving it to the airport (There's brilliance for you.  It isn't enough that everyone flying into or out of the principal airport in the state already has a comprehensive view of Jersey-grade industrial blight; now they'll get to see our leading growth industry as well.).  And the yokels who herd Draper down the sheep path are licking their chops.  700 acres of loose land.  It will look like the Oklahoma Land Rush.  And having learned nothing from the Sandcrest, er Suncrest Debacle, Draper will not make sure there is adequate infrastructure, performance bonds, or even a way for the schools to handle the influx.  The fun just never stops.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

I Come Here to Bury, not to Praise

And unlike Marc Antony, I mean it.  Karen Martinez has retired as local counsel for the SEC, and the hagiographies are everywhere.  Pardon me if I don't join in.

As I've said numerous times on this blog, its companion, and elsewhere, the 2007 crash was an obvious thing, and it happened because the regulators were ignoring what was going on.  Of course, the regulators had been ignoring most things since Reagan took office, ratcheted it up several notches with the introduction of derivatives in the late 80s, and went into full snooze mode after the repeal of Glass-Steagall.  By 2005, there were billboards and radio and TV ads for straw buyers, no doc liars' loans were everywhere, appraisers were making up values, and rating agencies were making up risk levels.  The banks knew their game was crooked, but they were making to much in commissions and fees to stop it.  I have no doubt they also gave orders to the regulators to look the other way.

Then in Fall 2007 the banks figured out the merry-go-round was coming to a halt, so they woke up Martinez and everyone like her, pulled a Louis Renault, "We're shocked, SHOCKED to find that mortgage fraud is going on here," threw them some of their own people as sacrificial lambs, pointed them to the smaller players and ordered them to crack down on the small graft because it was interfering with large graft, and reminded them to leave the large graft alone.  And Martinez and everyone like her dutifully obeyed.  And along the way they slandered me all over the territory because they had decided I was the kingpin of one operation because they flunked Corporations 101 by not being able to tell the difference between a registered agent and a principal.

Now she's retired with her federal pension.  I wish I were compensated so well for accomplishing so little.  So I shall not be praising Caesar, now or any time in the foreseeable future.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Warning to Blackberry Users

I use a Blackberry.  The reason is simple: I hate touch screens.  I have a bad attitude about them because I have a bad attitude about Apple in general, but aside from that, I just can't get the right touch for the screen.  I just want to scroll down or expand a view, and the next thing I know, I'm dialing the ISIS volunteer hotline or surfing bestiality sites or putting my kidneys up for sale on eBay.  So I stay with the keyboard.  Today out of the blue I get a text from T-Mobile telling me that in a month my Blackberry will turn into a paperweight.  As is typical with technoboobs, they've improved things so much that nothing works any more.  They're going entirely 4G, and of course that leaves no room for old 3G stuff.  Massive bilge, and of course entirely deliberate in good old American planned obsolescence fashion.  So for no good reason, I have to change phones.  And find a T-Mobile store out there that isn't full of idiots so that when I have them switch phones, they won't screw up both phones and my entire account the way they did the last time I tried to do this.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Fair Housing Act Lives

The Supremes have come down with a trio of scorchers in the last two days.  In a 6-3 vote, they upheld the Affordable Care Act and at least arguably adequate health insurance for everyone (Roberts wrote the opinion and managed to stay away the "great powers" nonsense he used in his prior opinion upholding the Act.  Scalia went straight of the rails in his dissent, of course, basically repeating the Cato Institute's extreme shoveling which boils down to saying that the federal government doesn't have taxing authority in spite of the 16th Amendment and doesn't have general welfare powers in spite of the main text of the Constitution.).  Today gay rights won 5-4 (And although the dissenters claim to be all about original intent, they displayed a complete ignorance of it here.  This decision will not lead to discrimination against conservative denominations; it will end the conservative denominations' use of state authority to prevent liberal denominations from performing same-sex marriages.  And since the dissent was never taught it, I'll point out that preventing denominations from using state power to enforce their beliefs on other denominations was exactly why the Founding Fathers adopted the religion clauses in the First Amendment.  The Four Horsemen will never admit what hypocrites they are, though.).

And yesterday the Fair Housing Act was salvaged 5-4, with the same line-up.  Disparate impact can still be used to make a discrimination case.  Disparate impact means that, if you look at the figures (in this case financial assistance for affordable housing) and they show impermissible discrimination (race, religion, etc.), you can use that to show discrimination.  You don't need a smoking gun, such as an in-house memo saying, "Don't sell to minorities."  Disparate impact became a thing when I was much younger and there was obvious red-lining going on in sales and lending, but the banks, builders, and real estate companies weren't stupid enough to leave a trail.  It was happening with winks and nods, but it was definitely happening.  So statistics became the evidence to keep discrimination at bay.  The majority yesterday decided that was a good thing.  The dissent would rather make the discrimination laws a dead letter by making them unenforceable unless the discriminating party attains an "ain't gonna happen" level of stupidity.  In other words the dissent wants to make discrimination effectively legal.  And that's about all you need to know about Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas.

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Monday, June 01, 2015

But There Isn't a Problem with the Financial Sector

Dick Fuld, the financial genius whose leadership ran Lehman Brothers into the ground (Yes, I know he had plenty of help from several other financial deities, notably Goldman Sachs, but it wasn't like he was resisting their siren songs.), crawled out from under his rock last week for the Marcum Microcap Conference.  He immediately blamed the government for the financial crisis, by "forcing" lending to "unsuitable borrowers."

I'll be the first to say the government screwed up in this mess, and that it in fact made things worse by pumping up the bubble by expanding the pool of "eligible" borrowers beyond what was advisable.  But what really caused the mess, people?  Fast and loose fund raising by the banks?  Even more fast and loose lending with fraudulent appraisals and credit checks?  Definitely.  If the government was to blame, it is because it was criminally asleep at the switch in controlling all this fraud.  But the banks were the core of the problem and remain so because of people like Fuld, who remain in charge and continue to blame anyone but themselves.

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The Road Lawyer

Now for some self-promotion.  For some time I have had a more recreational blog, The Road Lawyer.  I've never really gotten it off the ground, though, since I just don't travel as much as I did 10 years ago.  In honor of the new movie, I think I'll give it another try.  Since I'm not really traveling, though, I think I'll blog about my travels in Law World, which have had plenty of twists and turns.  I might be compelled (at long last) to call out a few people and places who have been less than kind to me and mine.  We'll see how it goes.

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A Rant

First, something of a rant.  It makes me physically ill when I see the signs on buses and Trax cars saying that Utah Transit Authority has won a big, hairy award.  UTA is pathetic.  It is clown shoes marinated in weak sauce.  It is the worst transit system I have ever dealt with, which is truly damning given the years I was at the mercy of Washington State Ferries.  I'm not going into details.  Anyone who actually has to deal with this bloated, unresponsive, frankly corrupt nightmare knows what I'm talking about.

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Repair Work

Had to have the plumbing contractor out this week replacing the water drain.  Tree roots had gradually torn the tile pipes apart.  Plumber of course had to tear into the street to connect to the main line.  City had issued all required permits.  A couple of the more obnoxious, self-absorbed residents of my neighborhood still called the cops.  Twice.  For blocking emergency vehicle access.

Words of advice.  First, to my "neighbors": Things break, and when they do, they have to be fixed.  Don't call the cops; you'll just end up looking like an idiot, although you're such megalomaniacs I doubt you'd notice.  I really hate to think how you'll behave when the city needs to resurface the street.

Second, to home buyers.  Things break, and you'll end up having to do something about it.  Don't cut corners; hire professionals.  My plumber (B&E Plumbing, BTW) pulled the permits and made sure the inspector was there.  He made sure all the safety equipment was in place, which proved to be a good thing when the pit walls decided to slump (IMNSHO, the soil had not been prepped right when the street was put in.) and left part of the street hanging in midair.  A cut-rate operator would have had two men buried alive and the entire street caved in.

And another thing to home buyers: Really check the neighborhood.  Check and see how often the police have been called out and why.  A lot of call-outs doesn't necessarily mean high crime.  It may mean worse: a neighborhood of spiteful brats who believe they should be treated like Louis XIV when they are more deserving of being treated like Louis XVI.

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Comments

Several new comments.  First, over at Credit Slips, I commented on how Chapter 11 is a fail train for small business reorganization because of the hammerlock lenders force on small businesses.  Next, a pair over over at Naked Capitalism.  First, a reply to Calgacus's claim that Right historically wins over Might (My experience is that Right has won a few battles, but Might keeps winning the wars.).  Then a comment on Lambert Strether's article on deflation noting the historic uses of deflation to protect the 1%.

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