Freddie Mac has again entered the spotlight as a new report claims the government-sponsored enterprise betrayed American homeowners after placing multibillion-dollar bets that will pay off if homeowners remain shackled by costly mortgages with interest rates well above current rates. In a scathing new revelation of their investigation, National Public Radio (NPR) and ProPublica, an independent investigative news service, uncovered multibillion-dollar investments made by Freddie in late 2010 that will pay off only if homeowners remain trapped in high-interest mortgages.
Central banks are often justified on the basis that a complex, modern economy requires top-down management by experts. These people, it is said, can study the markets and then “fine-tune” the economy to keep it humming along.
On the morning of August 3, 2011, armed agents of the U.S. government and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office conducted a raid on a small private club in southern California, seizing the substances being sold therein and arresting three individuals on felony charges. It was the second raid on the club in two years and the culmination of a yearlong investigation by 10 local, state, and federal agencies that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “used high-tech video equipment hidden on a utility pole for round-the-clock surveillance and undercover agents to make covert buys.”
Obama’s Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, has created new regulations for farming safety that would bar children under 16 from much of the work of agriculture. The rules would keep them from “agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins” or from handling most types of “power-driven equipment” as well as being involved in the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.” Solis explained, “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. Ensuring their welfare is a priority of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach.”
As January ushers in a new year, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to instate a minimum wage rate of more than $10 an hour. Climbing from $9.92 to $10.24, the city’s new labor mandate will hike the city’s minimum wage more than $2 above the California minimum wage and nearly $3 more than the rate set by the federal government.
Americans are quickly getting poorer as the much-touted economic “recovery” remains elusive. Household wealth plummeted by more than four percent from July to September according to a report released last week by the Federal Reserve, marking the steepest drop since 2008 and the second quarterly decline in a row. That represents an average loss of about $21,000 per household in just three months.
Last week’s announcement that the auto industry could add as many as 167,000 jobs by 2015 merely confirmed what some economists were saying: that lower wages allow car manufacturers to hire more people more profitably. As part of the agreement between the federal government and the unions in 2007, a lower tier of wages was created in order to halt the hemorrhaging of cash the carmakers were experiencing that led to the bailouts. The unions reluctantly agreed to accept the two-tier system, concluding that a lower-paying job was better than none at all.
If you’ve seen “Little Blue Dynamos” ads urging you to consume blueberries, you probably assumed they were simply the result of blueberry producers getting together to promote their product. In fact, they are the result of certain blueberry producers’ collusion with the federal government to force all blueberry growers and importers to fund such promotions under the threat of hefty fines for noncompliance.
Here’s a story that’ll tickle your McRibs. On December 1 a law seemingly banning McDonald’s Happy Meals went into effect in San Francisco. The “Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance” prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with meals that do not meet with the city’s approval — namely, meals with too many calories, too much salt or fat, or insufficient fruits and vegetables. Just a few days before the ordinance took effect, SF Weekly reports, McDonald’s announced it had found a simple way around the statute: Charge customers extra for the toys.