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This week’s argument in the North Carolina Supreme Court over the scandalously lax practices of major banks when it comes to foreclosing on people’s houses provides a powerful reminder of this simple truth:

The “genius” of the market frequently amounts to human beings acting greedily, lazily and immorally (and getting rewarded for it). Obviously, this can occur in government and nonprofit settings too.

This is not to say that market capitalism can’t accomplish amazing things; it’s a remarkably powerful (and frequently positive) force for the creation of wealth. But, utlimately, it is just that — a tool that human society should harness and use — not, as the market fundamentalists contend,  some kind of divine creation to which we should all bow down.

Strong consumer protection laws are one important way to make market forces work for the many. Let’s hope, as the Charlotte Observer editorial board argues this morning, that this case and others like it spur Congress to act accordingly.    

 

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Instead of making an earnest effort to tackle the nation’s continuing jobs crisis, Congress has wasted most of September steering the federal government towards a near-shutdown over the question of whether hurricane disaster relief must be paid for with cuts to federal investments to promote clean energy.

This continued dithering seems to be leave little hope for speedy passage of even the broadly bipartisan elements of President Obama’s American Jobs Act.   There is hope that at least once piece of the President’s proposal has a realistic chance of being adopted even in the face of continued inability of Congress to focus on Americans’ number one priority.  That’s largely because the administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency can act to refinance millions of home loans to historically low interest rates without Congressional approval.

The Congressional Budget office estimates that the program would benefit roughly 2.9 million homeowners, enabling them to save $7.4 billion in monthly interest payments in the first year alone.  That’s billions of badly needed dollars that homeowners can then redirect to shore-up their finances and use to help our sluggish economy. Read More