Jake Berliner: The Practical and Economic Bankruptcy of Rand Paul’s Lunch Counter Libertarianism

Last night, on the Rachel Maddow Show (of all places for this to happen), Rand Paul said that he wasn’t necessarily comfortable with the government telling private businesses how to deal with race. Specifically, he didn’t seem particularly favorable to desegregating lunch counters.

Pretty much everyone is rightfully offended by this sentiment. The question of whether or not it is an overreach of government to desegregate lunch counters is long settled. What still exists is the sort of economic libertarianism that drives one to Paul’s conclusion.

Paul’s beliefs about constrained government – one so limited that it can’t enforce basic rules that serve the good of society – translate on the economic front into a free market responsible for virtually everything. In this case – theoretically – if the market was not amenable to segregated lunch-counters, people would stop buying food at segregated diners, and the hidden hand would have cured racism.

What we know from actual experience is that, in some parts of this country, things just did not work that way. Cultural norms allowed discriminatory practices for generations until the federal government stepped in.

It seems obvious, but it’s worth saying: there are lots of other important functions the free market can’t fulfill. We look to the government to provide infrastructure, schools, national defense, public health and emergency services, etc. One of the best parts of living in a modern, advanced industrialized nation is that life doesn’t have to be nasty, brutish, and short. And with the protection and services of organized government come certain responsibilities for the private entities that enjoy said benefits.

Is there a legitimate debate about the proper role of government in the economy and our everyday lives? Of course. And the ideological consistency of Paul and other libertarians has its attractions, especially when contrasted with the Republican party, which wants “liberty” in some places (taxes) and the heavy hand of government in others (the bedroom).

But the fact is that, as America enjoys its place as the one true global superpower, we no longer have the luxury of a government that sits idly by and allows the free market to solve every problem, whether of civil rights or economic prosperity. While competition and markets have been key to allowing the innovation that has driven American prosperity, so too have crucial pieces of government investments. From decisions over two centuries to build a world-class Navy capable of allowing the U.S. to be a titan of global commerce, to Eisenhower’s National Highways, to the creation the Internet, to preventing a second Great Depression, key, responsible government actions have not only not impinged on our economic freedoms, they have enabled the prosperity that has made us not just free, but truly great.

In the months ahead, we will hear plenty about freedom from those who claim its mantle. But right now, the great economic challenges that face the nation do not arise from the heavy hand of government in the affairs of the private sector, but instead from the potential economic catastrophe that government action is required to avert. So consider – what sort of economic stewardship would Rand Paul’s ideological consistency offer us? What would he and those who agree with him have done over the last two years as the American and global economies melted down?

There can be only one conclusion: While Paul’s lunch counter libertarianism disgusts us, it is his economic libertarianism that truly imperils us.

Read more: Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights Act, Rand Paul, Segregation, Rand Paul Rachel Maddow, Economy, Globalization, Lunch-Counter, Discrimination, Libertarian, Recession, Politics News

George Goehl: B of A Comes to the Homes of Americans Everyday – And It’s Not Pretty

Hundreds of people from communities across the country visited the Chevy Chase home of Bank of America’s Deputy General Counsel, Gregory Baer, last week.

On Wednesday, Fortunate Magazine’s Nina Easton, who lives across the street from Baer, wrote in her column that going to Baer’s home was out of bounds. Today she took her story to Fox News. See SEIU’s response here.

Bank of America came to the homes of millions of Americans when they engaged in predatory lending that helped drive the financial crisis, foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of families, littered communities with vacant properties, and stripped wealth from families by financing payday lenders that charge an average interest rate of 455 percent.

Bank of America came to the home of Trenda Kennedy of Springfield, IL when they called the day her son died to tell her they were preparing to foreclose. Ms. Kennedy has tried, repeatedly, to work with Bank of America to modify her loan and prevent foreclosure, but with no result. She has sent Bank of America the documentation necessary to negotiate a loan modification 12 times, the exact same number of times they have misplaced it. Now it is quite possible that Ms. Kennedy will soon not have a home.

Bank of America came to the home of Edda Lopez of the Bronx when they refused to honor a modification agreement from her previous lender, which Bank of America bought. Ms. Lopez, who is in a wheelchair, has lived in her home for nearly 20 years. Last August she renegotiated her mortgage payment under the Homeowners Affordable Modification Program. In March 2010 Bank of America sent Ms. Lopez a notice refusing to honor that agreement. Unless something changes, Ms. Lopez could soon be without a home.

Bank of America came to the home of Mitzi Rivers-Singleton of Wichita, KA when they provided millions in financing for payday lenders such as Advance America. In an attempt to keep her utilities on, she fell victim to Advance America and the predator debt cycle of payday lending. A $300 payday loan costs the borrower on average $750, stripping wealth from families that don’t have much wealth to begin with. It’s especially troubling that Bank of America, which played a key role in the financial crisis, received billions in taxpayer bailouts, then finances a product designed to prey on taxpayers in tough economic times.

Sadly, the stories of these three women are not unique, but demonstrate how Bank of America wreaks financial havoc in the homes of Americans everyday.

Bank of America has come to the neighborhoods of millions of Americans, and it’s not pretty. Take Chicago, where in 2009, Bank of America filed foreclosure on nearly 4000 families, well over 1000 more than the second highest foreclosing lender. Not only are families now without homes, neighbors are stuck with vacant Bank of America properties driving down property values and becoming havens for crime and drugs.

Going to Baer’s home was not a first attempt to engage Bank of America, but rather a last resort. National People’s Action has tried the formal channels of engaging Bank of America with no success.

We’ve sent letters via U.S. Mail and delivered them by hand, emailed, called, and protested outside of Bank of America offices. Despite more than 20 different attempts to get Bank of America to address their negative impact on neighborhoods nationwide, the bank has continued foreclosing on families, littering neighborhoods with bank owned properties, and financing payday lending.

Our goal is to convince Bank of America to improve corporate policy so they do a much better job at helping people build wealth vs. stripping wealth away. We are hopeful that they will listen to the growing number of people calling for Bank of America to start being good for America.

Read more: Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, Wall Street, Payday Loans, Financial Reform, Home Foreclosures, Business News

UPDATE 1-Mexico’s Slim: Latam co opportunities in Europe woe

NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) – Mexican billionaire Carlos
Slim said on Thursday the European debt crisis presents an
opportunity for Latin American companies to expand.

Spy chief Blair expected to resign Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Spy chief Dennis Blair is expected to tender his resignation to President Barack Obama on Friday, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

BP accused of cover-up

VENICE, La./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Thursday accused energy giant BP of falling short in the information it has provided about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in a clear sign of Washington’s growing frustration with BP’s handling of the spiraling environmental disaster.

RBS mulls sale of UK’s Priory-FT

LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland
is mulling a private sale of health group The Priory,
abandoning plans for a flotation due to turbulent financial
markets, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.