Monday, October 27, 2008

How they destroyed our economy

Remember how we all chuckled at the "community organizer" jokes at the Republican Convention? Oh, how little we knew. Now, some did, because they'd been writing, and speaking and sounding the alarm for years, but we didn't listen. The media didn't notice, they were all ga-ga over o-ba-ma and neither did the talk shows. Just a few conservative and libertarian publications and think tanks.

Remember when we thought the community organization gig was ACORN and just some voter fraud--hadn't we seen that in both parties? Gosh, in Illinois, it doesn't matter if you vote at all "down state"--Chicago will take care of it and they have enough dead people and dogs to vote in your place. JFK might have lived a long life as a Massachusetts senator if his party hadn't stolen the Illinois vote in 1960 from Richard Nixon.

Turns out it was a much bigger cancer behind the subprime loans. Here's an article from 1995, describing guerilla warfare by the community groups which eventually brought down the wealthiest country and most powerful government in the world--without firing a shot.
    After a raucous Senate Banking Committee hearing exploring Fleet Financial Group's record on lending to minority communities, the Federal Reserve Board governors agreed to consider taking action against the New England banking giant. Among the community activists present at that February 1993 meeting with the governors was Bruce Marks, Director of the Boston-based Union Neighborhood Assistance Corporation (UNAC) known for waging guerrilla warfare against banks that fail to meet fair lending standards. When Marks and company returned six weeks later, only to be informed that the governors had decided not to act on the matter, the group took action of their own by rushing the front steps of the Reserve and blocking the entrance.

    As the group of roughly 60 stood at the front door, a limousine pulled up, and out stepped a man resembling Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. The protesters naturally seized upon the opportunity to make their case with the head of the Fed. They ran over and surrounded the car, overwhelming the secret service agents and the Greenspan look-alike. The man turned out to be not Greenspan but Italy's minister of finance. Although the group would have preferred a face-to-face meeting with Greenspan, mistakenly accosting the Italian finance minister was only a minor embarrassment for Marks, who regularly uses high-pressure tactics in his crusade against redlining banks.

    Marks had attended the Senate Banking Committee hearing with 400 angry residents from various states, many armed with tales of injustice wrought by Fleet. The protesters, who included gospel singers and Baptist ministers, sang and chanted as they paraded in wearing bright yellow T-shirts depicting a loan shark.

    "It was like a gospel revival meeting," Marks said. "I don't know if ever there's been a committee meeting where 400 people just took it over." National Housing Institute
And then skip ahead to the Winter 2000 issue of City Journal, probably written in late 1999.
    There is no more important player in the CRA-inspired mortgage industry than the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. Chief executive Bruce Marks has set out to become the Wal-Mart of home mortgages for lower-income households. Using churches and radio advertising to reach borrowers, he has made NACA a brand name nationwide, with offices in 21 states, and he plans to double that number within a year. With "delegated underwriting authority" from the banks, NACA itself—not the banks—determines whether a mortgage applicant is qualified, and it closes sales right in its own offices. It expects to close 5,000 mortgages next year, earning a $2,000 origination fee on each. Its annual budget exceeds $10 million.

    Marks, a Scarsdale native, NYU MBA, and former Federal Reserve employee, unabashedly calls himself a "bank terrorist"—his public relations spokesman laughingly refers to him as "the shark, the predator," and the NACA newspaper is named the Avenger. They're not kidding: bankers so fear the tactically brilliant Marks for his ability to disrupt annual meetings and even target bank executives' homes that they often call him to make deals before they announce any plans that will put them in CRA's crosshairs. A $3 billion loan commitment by Nationsbank, for instance, well in advance of its announced merger with Bank of America, "was a preventive strike," says one NACA spokesman.
And here's Marks putting himself in a positive light at a "world citizenship, global humanist" blog. I wonder Mr. Marks, where are those poor and low income people you put in houses today? Do they have jobs? Do they have pensions? Where are the multitudes of employees sopping up government grants to the non-profits for paper pushers and fee takers, and hastily hammered together housing corporations to rebuild communities? Do you even care, or were they always just your route to destroy the United States economy?
    Marks’ role as an aggressive crusader for reform of the powerful banking and lending industry has its representatives up in arms. On May 5, 1999 from the Senate floor, Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), head of the Senate Banking Committee, attempted to portray banks as victims of Bruce Marks. Gramm described Marks as, “… someone who graduates from college, goes to graduate school, and goes to work for the Federal Reserve in acquisitions and mergers, quits and goes into business, spends four years harassing banks and bank presidents, and finally the bank (Fleet Bank) caves and gives them $1.4 million, gives them $200,000 to set up their organization; they now have twenty offices, lending $3.5 billion…” Senator Gramm continued, “There is a CRA protester who calls himself an “urban terrorist” who used those charges against a bank, harassed them for four years, went to a speech of the president of the bank (Fleet Bank CEO Terrence Murray) at Harvard University, disrupted the speech, made this man’s life miserable for four long years.” Bruce Marks wears this personal attack as a badge of honor.

    Under Marks’ leadership, NACA has garnered commitments of over $6.7 Billion for the best mortgage product in America. NACA now has 31 offices throughout the country and will double in size within the next 12 to 18 months. NACA has become the largest housing services organization in the United States.

Community Reinvestment Act Harmful legacy

For a lefty hissy fit on the conservatives waking up to the CRA's mistakes, see here, so don't say I don't provide an alternative view, which the left never does.

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