Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Tag: Wal-Mart

When Banks Break the Law, Families Suffer

Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

Image via Wikipedia

We can see from the full article excerpted below that  the banks’ evasion of State recording statutes and poor internal bookkeeping has led many families to disaster.

I have read some bloggers who talk about deadbeat buyers but where are they now when it is obvious that widespread fraud and incompetence were common in the industry for years?

The decision of a family to buy a home is almost always the single most important financial decision of their lives.

Beginning in 2000, that investment became a chip in a Wall Street game of financial speculation. But the industry found that those chips were heavily regulated by law. Not like modern regulations but regulations older than this nation itself. The rules were that property ownership had to carefully recorded, geographically correct and a chain of ownership clearly established. Owning property was considered a critical part in an individual’s life and was protected by the law from injustice.

But this inhibited trading, so the industry created their own system of property transfer (MERS) and we know from the many lawsuits in sloppy or virtually non-existent records keeping to accelerate the process. Today, those injustices have come back to haunt middle class homeowners.

Please read the attached article and get a fell for what economic injustice feels like when the affliction has human face.

James Pilant

Foreclosure From Old Mortgages ‘Most Egregious Manifestation’ Of Broken Housing Market

Diane Thompson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, says she has defended hundreds of foreclosure cases, and in nearly all of them, the homeowner was not in default. “The record-keeping on the part of the mortgage servicers is not to be trusted.”
The problems grew from a lot of sloppy recordkeeping that began during the housing boom, when Wall Street built a quick-and-dirty back-office operation to process mortgages quickly so lenders could sell as many loans as possible. As the loans were later sold to investors, and then resold around the world, the back office system sidestepped crucial legal procedures.
Now it’s becoming clear just how dysfunctional and, according to several state attorneys general, how fraudulent the whole system was.
Depositions from “affidavit slaves” depict a surreal, assembly-line world in which the banks and their partner firms hired hair stylists, fast-food kids and Wal-Mart floor workers, paying them $10 a day, to pose as bank vice presidents, assistant secretaries and corporate attorneys.

Foreclosure From Old Mortgages ‘Most Egregious Manifestation’ Of Broken Housing Market

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When You Have A Second Rate Infrastructure, You Have A Second Rate Country



Here in the United States, it seems we are besieged by the label, Made in China. No longer just Wal-Mart toys but bridges, major building projects and the new Martin Luther King Memorial come from the Communist giant of Asia.

How did we get here?

It’s easy. There was a unified effort on the part of business and many of our politicians to defund the government and make it powerless. Businesses don’t want to pay taxes, that’s to be expected. What was not expected was an extremely well-financed coterie of bought theorists and servile politicians of the worst sort who successfully pushed the idea that taxation was a form of theft.

Successful societies are not built on the success of the financial elites. They are not built on the size of the military. Those are elements of a successful society, though we overvalue and over invest in both.

Successful nations build on good infrastructures. We have a deteriorating one – read this from Popular Mechanics

To fix our infrastructure, from dilapidated levees to congested roadways and ports, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has estimated that the country needs to spend $1.6 trillion over five years. Only $1 trillion of that, the organization says, has been allocated or promised. Accepting those numbers, we need an additional $600 billion to reverse the slide of infrastructure, a figure that seems as difficult to produce as it is to comprehend.

I have talked with visitors to the United States and they tell me how shocked they are by how run down everything looks. Well, it is run down. We have not been paying for keeping it up.

What is run-down in the United States that we might want to fix? According to a special report from Popular Mechanics (cited above), we need to fix the 14,000 miles of levees supervised by the federal government, fix the power grid in the United States (currently 400 billion kilowatt-hours are lost as current flows over long distance lines), fix the one-quarter of the 599,893 bridges in the United States that have structural problems or outdated designs, upgrade our ports to handle shipments more effectively and fix our canal locks on the 12,000 miles of U.S. inland waterways.

That would be a start. That would be just to get back even again.
What would we want to do to become a first-rate economy? We could build high-speed rail, invest in green development, the new urbanism and land recycling. That would be a start.
We have the know how and the people to build a wonderful America, but is there any political will in our spineless bickering ruling class?
Here’s what David Sirota thinks –

This problem is most obvious — and shocking — in our government. As opposed to multinational corporations, which care only about maximizing shareholder profit, our public-policy arena is supposed to be focused on building America. But in this golden age of big-money politics, with multinational corporations buying our lawmakers, we get the opposite — even during an unemployment crisis. Today, municipalities outsource public works projects, congresses water down “Buy America” laws, and presidents champion trade deals that encourage companies to send jobs overseas. That trickles down to give us American iconography made in Chinese factories, American real estate owned by Chinese companies, and American civil rights memorials constructed with Chinese slave labor.

I have no argument with his conclusions. Our government staggers, brain-dead and stupid, while competing nations best us in one area of endeavor after another.

It’s sickening. It’s depressing.

Where is the America that did things?

How do you find that America when every magazine and news service talks about is where the taxes are lowest as if that were the only value in a society?

Maybe that America is gone and cannot return. Maybe Milton Friedman stabbed it in the heart and it is in the middle of its death agony? Maybe the John Gaults of the world have moved to offshore oil platforms and abandoned it? Maybe we have monetized every human value and there is nothing left of greatness here?

But I’ll bet on this nation. In spite of its leadership, in spite of lunatic billionaires, in spite of bizarre self-serving philosophies of greed and self centeredness, I still believe in America and its possibilities.

James Pilant

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (via Gooseberry Bush)

These are my favorite lines from the post.

Wow! That’s interesting. So, apparently, Walmart has no responsibility for looking at these skewed numbers and wondering just why, exactly, that far more men than women are “qualified” to be managers. No one in their human resources department ever once questioned these statistics? Are we really saying as a country that we believe that men are innately more “qualified” to management 67% of the time? That’s not sexist. Of course not.

Those are also my thoughts. This decision is a travesty, a disaster.

Please read the article.

James Pilant

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back Two stories have made the news lately that involve women’s rights. The one step forward is Saudi Arabian women driving despite that country’s ban on women drivers. Despite the fact that there is not one civil, written law prohibiting women from driving, Saudi women who drive are jailed because of the ruling of conservative Muslim clerics. Some 40 women with int … Read More

via Gooseberry Bush

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Does The Bottom Line Always Trump Ethics?

From Reuters, a comment from China Labor Watch:

“The case of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, shows that corporate codes of conduct and factory auditing are not enough by themselves to strengthen workers’ rights if corporations are unwilling to pay the real price it costs to produce a product according to the standards in their codes.”

Acting ethically costs real money. It limits the return on investment. It complicates dealings with suppliers, competitors and often the government.

Doing the right thing is never cheap. The wrong thing can make you enormous sums of money in a world where this kind of behavior has no down side.


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