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By “Mark Andrew Dwyer”


October 15, 2008

>>> Last updated October 4, 2009



Abstract. This commentary identifies the root causes of the present financial meltdown. It points out the main culprits of the housing market collapse and the downfall of the stock market that followed it: the "affirmative action" in mortgage lending policies that were imposed by some neosocialist-liberal "do-gooders", most notably, by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It characterizes the financial upset caused by the massive subprime mortgage defaults as perhaps the largest redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind; the redistribution that was made possible by government encouragement and sponsorship of speculation by the underqualified borrowers, as well as other opportunists who took advantage of the flawed scheme that aimed at the "equality of outcomes". It concludes with a projection that if the current trend of socializing of the market and economy continues, the U.S. will evolve into a political system that may be best characterized by this paraphrase of socialist ideology: "equal poverty for all".



If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.

[Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economy]



I should have known what was going to happen after the Democrats took over the U.S. Congress, in January 2007, with the lame duck Republican president in the White House that they promised to make irrelevant as soon as they consolidate their new grasp of legislative power. Because each time the socialists/Liberals have a chance to experiment with the socio-economic reality, pathology of one kind or another will inevitably follow.


Sure enough, it didn’t take long for the stock market to first fall sharply in February 2007, and, after a brief recovery, to begin its downward spiral in October 2007, which ended in a disaster that we are all witnessing now. As a result, millions of prudent and hard-working Americans lost as much as half of their retirement funds, and even more of them saw the equity in their homes melting about as quickly as snow in May.


Interestingly but predictably, the culprits of the financial meltdown, notorious for projecting their own vices, mistakes, and bad intentions on others, blamed the disaster on everybody, from mostly powerless Republican president to the Republican minority in Congress, except on themselves. And even when cornered with undeniable evidence, they denied, denied, denied, as if they remembered Bill Clinton’s (in)famous advice made to Monica Lewinski a decade ago. 


To set the record straight, I present an account of what led to the market crash and who is responsible for it.



Immigrant fairy tale


I remember this story of a family of immigrants that came to America to pursue their American dream. He worked as a security guard at a large company making some $12 an hour. She was a housewife. They had two young kids and were barely making the ends meet. One day in year 2000, he died in a car accident. She got on the federal government dole. Then it turned out that she was eligible for HUD-sponsored home loan with low interest and zero down. So, she bought a new condo in L.A. County, Calif., for a subsidized price of $125,000, paying less for her mortgage then for an apartment rent. (The regular price was just below $200,000 but the builder was required to set aside a number of units for low income buyers at a deeply discounted price, which he did.)


In about two years, the home prices went through the roof. She sold her condo for about $350,000, cashing a handsome profit of $225,000. Then she moved to a rental apartment, bought herself a fancy SUV, a collection of Louis Vuitton bags, and sent her kids to a private school. Now she had more than enough cash to go around; a handy supplement of her social security check left after her deceased husband on a $12 an hour job. Should the prices of homes collapse while she was holding her condo, she would just walk away with no losses, and start over again elsewhere.


In her case, the government-sponsored real estate speculation led to a redistribution of wealth from the other buyers who had to pay more in order for the builder to sell for less to low income buyers, from the subsequent buyers who had to pay a higher price as a result of sharp increase in demand, and from the taxpayers and investors who paid for the risk of the housing market collapse. This netted her with $225,000 that she did not earn or deserve. And there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, others like her. What a magnificent case of social justice that no liberal social engineer, not even Bill Clinton of Jimmy Carter, would have dreamt of just a few years before. The only problem was that the redistribution of wealth of this magnitude had to shake the free market and the capitalist economy that depends on it. And it did, as we all sorrily realized in 2008.



Speculation often leads to a market crash


It doesn't take an Einstein to figure the causality relation between the mass speculation and the market crash that usually follows it. In 1920-ties, multitudes of speculators were frantically buying on credit large amounts of stocks that they could not afford, in expectation of quick profits. They turned the stock market into a trivial pyramid scam that was doomed to fail (because it needed an infinite supply of new investors in order to function). Once the inflated prices begun to fall, the value of the paper "assets" that were used as collaterals for the investment loans bursted like soap bubbles, and the pyramid they built ended with a spectacular collapse that left the entire nation in misery and suffering for decades to come. (Some claim that the Federal Reserve was to blame for the crash – see [12].)


In late 1990-ties, the housing market had been maneuvered into a similar pyramid scam. Underqualified home buyers, many of them with no income, no job, no assets, and poor credit payment history, as well as other unscrupulous opportunists, many of them immigrants (legal and otherwise), encouraged by federally mandated ease of mortgage credit and low (now referred to as "predatory") interest rates, were taking advantage of the new rules in clear expectation of quick improvement of their lives. They risked hundreds of thousands of borrowed dollars in an investment that they could not afford, with no collateral of their own and no assets to offset possible losses. This drove the home prices up, encouraging even more underqualified buyers, along with other speculators who just took advantage of the flawed system that was supposed to make the "playing field even" for minorities, to invest in bricks.


And so the circle closed. The rising prices were translating onto speculative buying frenzy, which, in turn, caused prices to rise even higher. Some buyers sold their homes and cashed handsome profits, some others borrowed on equity and spent money on luxury items that they could hardly afford. I remember just a few years ago, when the economic uncertainty caused overall decrease in consumer spending, seeing minorities leaving shopping malls in droves with big bags full of merchandise. Somehow, I had no doubt that these were credit buyers. Who will pay for these, I wondered? Now I know. The middle-class taxpayers. Because as soon as the housing bubble has bursted earlier this year, there is no one else to pick up the tab for the defaulted mortgages and unpaid equity lines of credit. The money lent is the money spent (gone, that is) and so are the banks and the home equities that were supposed to make the loans secure. (Semi-federal Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack had to be bailed out by the U.S. government as a part of the rescue plan.)



"Equal lending" or redistribution of wealth?


I imagine Bill Clinton drafting his plan of redistribution of wealth from the most productive Americans to the needy minorities, who also happened to lag the national average in productivity but exhibit above average fertility (particularly, non-white Hispanics). He must have known damn well that working Americans would vehemently oppose any large-scale socialist model (Robin Hoodian seems like a more descriptive classifier here) of taking away from the rich and giving away to the poor. But he also must have hypothesized that should the wealth be redistributed "temporarily" in a form of credit, no one, except, perhaps, for the lenders, would object. And then the idea that if the credit paid off "by itself", as a result of speculative investment in highly demanded commodity, then no one at his right mind would ever notice (never mind objecting it) that the wealth was actually redistributed, might have completed the Clinton's plot.


The banks, backed by the federal government (HUD) and quasi-federal Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack, would lend money to underqualified minorities (the so called "less fortunate" buyers) who then would gamble it on hot housing market. Before anyone could realize its magnitude, the largest redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind would have been accomplished. And it largely had.


It was like lending lottery tickets to the poor: those who won just cashed the profits, and those who lost could not pay and walked away. A brilliant strategy that fooled all except a few who suspected that one day someone would have to pay for those profits, and these would not be the "less fortunate" who picked up the tab.



A fool and his money will part soon


Remember the Rodney King beating in 1991 that resulted in $2.7 million awarded to him in compensation for violation of his civil rights? Guess what, he has wasted all the money he’s got and lives in poverty, again. (It must have been that past slavery/discrimination thing.)


King’s example illustrates what is going to happen to the redistributed wealth, eventually. The lion share of it will end up in the pockets of those who cater to the "less fortunate" (the fortunes of rap "artists" and professional b-ball players will skyrocket, though) and prey on their na´vetÚ. After all, poor judgment, expectation of instant gratification, and a lack of personal responsibility are typical prerequisites for poverty in the U.S. (The typically poor judgment of underqualified borrowers turned real estate speculators made the housing market collapse even more inevitable.) And this, in turn, will give rise to calls for even more neosocialist nonsense, and be quoted as a proof that these were Republicans who are responsible for the redistribution and its fiasco.


But part of this redistributed wealth will also lead to accelerated population growth of those who cannot or will not subsist themselves (never mind their numerous kids), up to the point where the West will get stuck, again, in the Malthusian trap: the overwhelming number of the highly fertile but lowly productive poor will drag us all into ultimate poverty, and the "social justice" that will be a likely result of it will have just one major accomplishment to claim: equal poverty for all.



The culprits


The culprits of the current meltdown have been already identified, and I don't have much to add, except for summarizing the evidence and its analyses that are readily available on the Internet (see The Evidence section below).


Let's look at them in anti-chronological order of their "contributions".


The last nail into the coffin was driven in mid-2000’s by various groups, politicians, and officials, most of them left-leaning Liberals, but also some "compassionate conservatives" (neocons seems like a better characterization here), as well as corporations and their lackeys, who made sure that massive lending to credit unworthy borrowers was not obstructed by "discriminatory" standards that would reverse the "progress" and "move the clock of the history back".


President Bush, by many referred to as a neocon, with his elitist disregard of the majority opinion of rank-and-file Republicans, was about as unwilling to resist the government mandated and backed subprime mortgage lending to underqualified minorities as he was unwilling to secure the American border and immigration laws.


A group of Democratic federal lawmakers, most of them - it seems - members of ethnic caucuses in the U.S. Congress (most notably, the Hispanic lobby; particularly, U.S. Congressman Joe Baca, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus - see this very insightful Wall Street Journal article [14]), as well as various government officials, like Clinton's HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo, vigorously pushed for keeping the lending standards ridiculously low and fiercely resisted any meaningful attempts to put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack under Congressional control. A clear indication of what they were trying to accomplish there were their repeated charges of "racism" against anybody who would question sanity of the disastrous mortgage lending system that was in place. (Now we know what was the main reason of saturating the government and its agencies with the "underrepresented” minorities; they were injected there in order to resist any policy changes that they considered disadvantageous to their kin.)


Just in 2007, Barrack Obama, probably, out of racial solidarity, vocally defended "the idea" of lending and selling to underqualified minorities that could not afford to buy a house, and that sentiment went along well with President Bush's quest for the "ownership society". A blogger wrote: "Obama sees [minority] America as one [that is waiting for] gigantic subprime loan that needs to be bailed out with our tax dollars." Obama confirmed his receptiveness for the redistribution of wealth in his recent comment made to a plumber concerned with Obama’s "tax the rich" plan; he said: "Spreading wealth around is a good thing." He seems to perceive the often quoted phrase "it’s the economy, stupid" as is the "economy" were synonymous with the "handouts to the poor". The hints along these lines he already gave us at several occasions are particularly disturbing in the context of already humongous American subsidies to Africa and mass transfer of wealth and technology to such traditionally Third World countries as China and India; the trends that did not help to avoid the financial meltdown that we are experiencing now.


ACORN, the "grass-root organization" to which Barrack Obama owes his executive experience as a "community organizer", intimidated several major banks into lending to risky borrowers of color (to which the ACORN refers to now as "predatory lending"). The milestone in that intimidation was a lawsuit against the Citibank the ACORN filed and won.


Several banks (in particular, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, New Century Financial Corp., and Ameriquest Mortgage Corp. – see [14]), as well as other corporations and organizations (for instance, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals or NAHREP – see [14]), welcomed the new revenue and fat profit opportunities created by the new financial order. With the home prices soaring, lending to underqualified borrowers (encouraged by advices like NAHREP’s slogan "Place Your Bets on Home Ownership" – see [14]) looked like a risk-free steal, particularly when the federal government assumed the actual, if underestimated, risks of the betting. Moreover, the "less fortunate" were much less careful with the free money they got from the system than those who worked hard for it, so the wealth redistribution translated onto a sharp increase in consumer spending and resulted in higher prices and sales that led to fatter profits, to the delight of the manufacturers and distributors.


I remember how the parking lots of companies with "diverse" workforce looked like some 15 years ago: old civics, tercels, and escorts, along with rusted road cruisers of the 60-ties, set the tone. Today, new SUVs, camrys, accords, and European imports took their place. If you don't see what I see, try to find out what percentage of home equity borrowers used their loans on actual home improvements or capital investments, and what percentage of them spent their money on fancy cars and luxury items that they could hardly afford? The answer to this question should give you a hint why so many corporations welcomed what the (mostly) Democratic wealth redistributors in the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch (not that the federal courts were objecting it) were doing.


None of the above "contributions" would have been possible if it weren't for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), signed into the law by President Carter in the first year of his presidency (1977), and rejuvenated by President Clinton's executive order in 1995. It penalizes lenders that dare to not lend a specified quota of dollars to "underserved" communities (usually, low income blacks of Hispanics).


CRA would have no chances of being enacted by the Congress and sent to President Carter’s desk if it weren’t for the sweeping civil rights legislation of 1960-ties signed by President Johnson, and the "war on poverty" that he launched after the signing. In particular, none of the CRA’s main objectives could have been spelled out without imposition of the neosocialist concepts of “equal opportunity", "affirmative action", and similar "anti-discriminatory” measures based on an invalid assertion that any inequality of outcomes proves the inequality of opportunities.


Virtually all Democrats were claiming in the 1960-ties that the draconian changes that they were about to inflict to America would not cause a market collapse, an economic downturn, or a demographic tossup. And they keep repeating their mantra today, except that they now say that the sweeping demographic changes caused by the disastrous Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 is a blessing for America because "diversity is strength". (Hmm. Kinda weird blessing. Despite the "strength" that engineered diversity gave to us, Washington Mutual, a large bank with the most diversified workforce in America, was about the first among the big ones to fail.)


We need to remember how futile the Democratic Party’s promises have been, particularly these days when they promise to "fix what’s wrong with America", again. For it doesn’t take an Einstein to predict that whatever disasters their “fixing” is going to bring on our heads, they will declare them, post facto, a good thing for America, as they have done in the past for so many times.



The remedies


It would be absurd to expect that the current crisis, caused by decades of the neosocialist "corrections" to free market and capitalist economy and amplified by a well-orchestrated push for diversity and multiculturalism as well as a concerted effort to obstruct immigration and border enforcement, may be cured by even more neosocialism and by the party that is mostly responsible for virtually all root causes of the catastrophic financial meltdown of 2008 that followed these "corrections". (Even more absurd would be blaming the Republican Party for the idea of the redistribution of wealth that is one of the main objectives of the political left.) Any insinuation to that effect reminds me of the "remedies" that the progressive socialist governments administrated as a result of economic decay in then-socialist "people's democracies" in Eastern Europe in 1960-ties and 1970-ties.


When the disgruntled masses of workers took their discontent with low and further deteriorating living standards and working conditions to the streets, their governments were quick to dismiss the demands for the abandonment of failed socialism. "The economic difficulties that we are experiencing" - they said - "are not the result of socialism. They are the result of not enough socialism." And so these governments, acting against common sense and clearly negative experience, went back to imposing even more progressive socialist ideas on their peoples and economies, until the workers' paradises they were building completely collapsed in 1980-ties and 1990-ties. Because for a genuine Marxist-socialist, things cannot function properly as long as there is even a shade of free market or capitalist economy left around.


In order for us, Americans, to avoid a similar fate, we must reverse the disastrous policies of the liberal left that were imposed on our country in the aftermath of President Johnson's initiatives of 1960-ties and gradually implemented up until now. We must stop the government from interfering with the free market and capitalist economy under the pretense of administrating "affirmative action" and similar "anti-discriminatory" policies, and make it focus on fulfillment of its actual Constitutional duties, like the enforcement of the border, contracts, and immigration laws (just to name a few that they have neglected lately), instead. We must firmly resist pushing America on the one way street to neosocialism, the inevitable failures of which will always be blamed by its enthusiasts on not enough regulation, taxation, and governmental control.


We must bring the current subsidies of high birth rates among those who cannot afford (or are unable to) secure proper upbringing and decent living standards for their kids to a stop, or they will drag us all into global poverty.


And, above all, we must stop electing liberals, neosocialists, and neocons to positions of power, which goal may require smashing the current monopoly on mass information (mass indoctrination seems like a fairer descriptor here) held by strongly socialist-leaning public schools, the "liberal" media, and entertainment industry that openly and shamelessly sides with the political left.


Defeating the most left-leaning senator in the U.S. Senate (now, the president-elect) and a presumed beneficiary of Harvard’s affirmative action, Barrack Obama, who wants to cure the neosocialist errors of the past with even more neosocialism (that is what he actually means by change) seems like a logical start in that direction. Voting for a third party candidate, or not voting at all, will accomplish virtually nothing in this respect. The history of the world indicates that road to socialism is usually a one way street; all those who believe that "the worse the better" strategy will serve as a wake-up call that will eventually save America may wish to remember that.


(Added January 9, 2009) An illegal alien (of Latino extraction, judging from his last name Guerrero and picture – see [15]) was caught after taking out $787,000 in loans on a stolen Social Security number. According to CBS, at the time of his arrest he had the guts to tell police that “they should be arresting real criminals and not a good family man.” (No word on what kind of bailout program was he planning to use to pay these loans off.) This seems so typical of Mexican “immigrants” who not only break the law of this land and drive us all, slowly but steadily, into poverty, but even when caught in flagrante maintain their macho arrogance and contempt of law enforcement.


How can we fix our ailing economy while millions of “good family men” like Guerrero hop the American border as they please and milk the gringos without having a shade of remorse? Does anyone at his right mind still wonder why our lending system collapsed, dragging the entire financial systems into a meltdown? For it would only take a million of Guerreros to steal $0.78 trillion dollars, an equivalent of the entire bailout package that was passed by the U.S. Congress last year. [top]


>>> (Added October 3, 2009) A reader signed as John of an earlier version of this article [16] questioned its plausibility and wrote: 

"This article lacks validity. Author suggests that the poor caused the crash, which is totally absurd."

Unfortunately, the claim that in an industrial or post-industrial society the primary source of the wealth of the rich is the exploitation of the poor has been a common myth for some 160 years now. It was a point of departure for Marx's theory of capitalism and the basis of mandate that socialist revolutionaries gave themselves when they decided to break the law in the name of "social justice". If taken for granted, it makes any thesis that these are the poor that drag the otherwise healthy economy into collapse must look absurd, indeed.

But how can anyone get rich by ripping off the poor who, supposedly, have nothing left (except, perhaps, for the welfare benefits and that sort of things that they get from the rich and the middle class) to be ripped off? You certainly can hire them to perform some low tech work for an even lower wage and then overcharge your customers and clients, but that would add up to no more than a blip in a 12 trillion plus American economy.

A recent book [18] (a highly recommended reading) by a renowned economist (and the chair of the Department of Economics at University of California, Davis), Gregory Clark, debunks the above mentioned myth both on theoretic and factual grounds. It explains what drives the technology-based free market economy down using the concept of "Malthusian trap", first observed and described by Thomas Malthus around the turn of 18th century. Clark makes it clear that it is the poor who have been the main beneficiaries of the economic boom brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and that, historically, they had dragged (the majority of) the society into poverty. And this is exactly what they are doing now.

Here is a brief description how the Malthusian trap works.

When substantial technological progress in production of goods in a free market economy is made, the increase of demand of labor and supply of economic surplus that follow it drive the prevailing wages up. This, in turn, increases incomes of wage earners (the poor) and causes their rapid population growth, which, eventually, depresses the wages while placing unsatisfiable demand for additional economic output needed by the overgrown population. This kind of growth is economically unsustainable and inevitably leads to crises and more poverty. (The original Malthus' observation was that any increase in handouts to the poor temporarily increased their living standards and translated, via their increased fertility, to their geometric population growth which, eventually, drove their living standards down back to the level of subsistence.)

Although since the Industrial Revolution begun, Western societies have managed to avoid falling into the Malthusian trap (so far), we are making good "progress" towards it.


Writes Clark ([18], page 1): "short-term gains in income through technological advances were inevitably lost through population growth." And later (page 2): "the biggest beneficiaries of the Industrial Revolution [in 19th century England] has so far been the unskilled," and also (page 236)" "Wage earners and foreign customers, not entrepreneurs, were the overwhelming beneficiaries of innovation." (So much for the theory of the exploitation of the poor as the source of wealth.)

That's right. According to data collected by Clark, the wage earners (the poor) and, to some extent, foreign customers, and not the inventors, not even the entrepreneurs, were the main beneficiaries of the technological progress achieved by the Industrial Revolution. But that, of course, couldn't last long. After pre-empting the lion share of material benefits resulting from a more efficient economy, the poor used them partially to perpetuate their excessive population growth and, later, showed a tendency to lose the remainder, with whatever edge they gained so far, to the competition with other wage earners (due to sharply increased supply of labor; a phenomenon that these days is typically delayed by labor unions, but this just exacerbates the problem rather than solving it). The latter phenomenon (labor competition) gave rise, at the end of the Malthus' cycle, to exploitation of wage earners (temporarily mitigated by labor unions and pro-labor legislation) which added to the wealth of the most aggressive and surviving owners of means of production.

In simplistic terms, a class of inventors and entrepreneurs boosted economic output beyond the level of minimum subsistence. But the wealth they created was mostly transfered to the the poor (according to the evidence presented by Clark, most of the inventors, patent holders, entrepreneurs, etc., that engineered the Industrial Revolution died in poverty) and to foreign customers (sounds familiar?). There, part of it was used to fuel rapid population growth of the poor, while part of the remainder has been or is being lost to what is now referred to as exploitation, and has ended or will end up in the pockets of the surviving owners of means of production. When the vicious circle (Malthusian trap, if you will) closes, the main "gain" will be a larger population of the poor than before the economic improvement.

(From this perspective, current calls for "equitable redistribution of wealth" must sound like pure extortion!)

It must be obvious for an intelligent and knowledgeable observer that the current economic crisis is an instance of "progress" towards the Malthusian trap. The population of those who cannot subsist themselves and their progeny above the official level of poverty is growing to the point where the wealth that they demand to be redistributed to them via inflated wages, tax credits, welfare, unpaid loans (like those that caused the "subprime mortgage" meltdown), and similar redistributive instruments needed to maintain their decent living standards, as well as cost of the bureaucracies needed to administer these instruments, draws form the economy more than the economy can bear, never mind the fortunes that "foreign customers" (like, for instance, oil sheiks), domestic profiteers (including those who siphon national wealth overseas), speculators (like George Soros), and crooks (like Bernard Madoff) cashed out of the astonishingly progressing American and Western European economies.


This socio-economic arrangement is obviously unsustainable. Hence the inevitability of the meltdown from which most of us suffer these days. (And we haven't landed in the Malthusian trap, yet.) The root cause of our misery is the bleeding-heart "Liberals", (neo-)socialists, and other Leftist and Left-leaning maniacs' conspiracy to help the poor, be it domestic or imported, multiply and drag us all into poverty. (Some call the latter an unintended consequence.) Once accomplished, it will be acclaimed as the ultimate "social justice" and "progress", I suppose. [top]





[1] EVIDENCE FOUND!!! Clinton administration's "BANK AFFIRMATIVE ACTION" They forced banks to make BAD LOANS and ACORN and Obama's tie to all of it!!!


[2] Subprime loans “affirmative action” - Andrew Cuomo


[3] Obama Says That SubPrime Mortgages For Those Who Can’t Afford Them Is A Good Idea


[4] Spread the Wealth


[5] Cuomo For SEC? WTF?


[6] Democrats Defend Fannie/Freddie from Regulation - 2004 Video


[7] Democrats were WARNED of Financial crisis and did NOTHING


[8] Who is Responsible - Meltdown - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wall Street


[9] Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are "OK"


[10] Immigration and the Mortgage Meltdown


[11] The 'change' Obama brings


[12] America’s Minority Mortgage Meltdown/ Diversity Recession: The Smoking Gun?


[13] Bernanke: Federal Reserve caused Great Depression


[14] Housing Push for Hispanics Spawns Wave of Foreclosures


[15] Man Steals ID, Takes Out $787,000 In Loans

[16] Government-sponsored speculation and the housing market crash

[17] Clark, G., "A Farewell to Alms; A Brief Economic History of the World"

Princeton University Press, 2007.


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Past commentary (September 12, 2008) “Who is Pontius Pilate here? (Charlie Gibson is)”


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