Every once in awhile someone comes along who makes one long for the days of debtors’ prisons.
The State newspaper reported Wednesday that a Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to lying in bankruptcy papers she had filed in Columbia. Amanda Boulware, 42, of Union City, Ga., filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy papers in August 2007 in Columbia, but did not include in them that she had also filed for bankruptcy at least nine previous times, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Boulware was subject to a five-year ban on bankruptcy filings ordered by a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Georgia at the time of her Columbia filing.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing will be carried out at a later date, the paper reported.
Up until the middle of the 19th Century, debtors’ prisons were a common way to deal with individuals who were unable to pay off debts.
To hear the green industry (and don’t think it isn’t an industry) tell it, there is no downside to creating “green jobs” – those that are considered “environmental friendly.”
But there are very real costs involved, even though the benefits can be extremely dubious. That’s the conclusion of a recent paper issued as part of the University of Illinois Law and Economics Research Paper Series by a group of business, law and economics professors who identify and debunk several of the myths involved with the green jobs movement.
In the paper, called “Green Job Myths,” Andrew Morriss of the University of Illinois, William Bogart of York College of Pennsylvania, Andrew Dorchak of Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Roger Meiners of the University of Texas-Arlington point out that what green jobs advocate are proposing would result in dramatic shifts in energy-production technologies, building practices and food production.
“These calls for dramatic changes in every aspect of modern life are wrapped in a new package in the green jobs literature, promising not only a revolution in our relationship with the environment but to employ millions in high paying, satisfying jobs,” they write. “Despite their new packaging, these calls for creating a new society through central planning are as old as human history. The failure of the twentieth century’s utopian experiments suggests caution in undertaking such widespread transformations of society.”
Highlights of the paper include:
Myth: Everyone understands what a “green job” is.
Reality: No standard definition of a “green job” exists.
Myth: Creating green jobs will boost productive employment.
Reality: Green jobs estimates include huge numbers of clerical, bureaucratic, and administrative positions that do not produce goods and services for consumption.
Myth: Green jobs forecasts are reliable.
Reality: The green jobs studies made estimates using poor economic models based on dubious assumptions.
Myth: Green jobs promote employment growth.
Reality: By promoting more jobs instead of more productivity, the green jobs described in the literature encourage low-paying jobs in less desirable conditions. Economic growth cannot be ordered by Congress or by the United Nations. Government interference – such as restricting successful technologies in favor of speculative technologies favored by special interests – will generate stagnation.
Myth: The world economy can be remade by reducing trade and relying on local production and reduced consumption without dramatically decreasing our standard of living.
Reality: History shows that nations cannot produce everything their citizens need or desire. People and firms have talents that allow specialization that make goods and services ever more efficient and lower-cost, thereby enriching society.
Myth: Government mandates are a substitute for free markets.
Reality: Companies react more swiftly and efficiently to the demands of their customers and markets, than to cumbersome government mandates.
Myth: Imposing technological progress by regulation is desirable.
Reality: Some technologies preferred by the green jobs studies are not capable of efficiently reaching the scale necessary to meet today’s demands and could be counterproductive to environmental quality.
Much of the problem rests with the fact that analysis provided in green jobs literature is deeply flawed, resting on a series of myths about the economy, the environment and technology, the authors assert.
“To attempt to transform modern society on the scale proposed by even the most modest bits of the green jobs literature … is an effort of staggering complexity and scale. To do so based on the combination of wishful thinking and bad economics embodied in the green jobs literature would be the height of irresponsibility,” they write.
“We have no doubt that there will be significant opportunities to develop new energy sources, new industries, and new jobs in the future. Just as has been true for all of human history thus far, we are equally confident that a market-based discovery process will do a far better job of developing those energy sources, industries, and jobs than could a series of mandates based on imperfect information,” they add.
(Hat tip: Cafe Hayek)
The tiny Bank of Westminster was hit with a cease-and-desist order by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in February after the regulatory agency determined there was reason to “believe the Bank has engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices and has committed violations of law and/or regulations.”
The FDIC ordered the bank, one South Carolina’s smallest institutions with less than $30 million in assets, to cease and desist from numerous practices, including:
- operating without effective board oversight and executive management supervision to prevent unsafe or unsound banking practices and violations of law and regulations related to the Bank Secrecy Act;
- operating in violation of law, regulations, and/or statements of policy of the FDIC and SC State Board of Financial Institution’s Report of Examination of the bank dated Sept. 2, 2008;
- operating with an ineffective system of internal controls to ensure ongoing compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules;
- operating without effective coordinating and monitoring procedures by a designated individual responsible for ensuring day-to-day compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules;
- operating with an ineffective training program for appropriate bank personnel to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules; and
- operating without an effective system of independent testing for compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.
The Oconee County institution was given 60 days to develop, adopt and implement a written plan for continued administration of a program reasonably designed to ensure and maintain compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules, and was ordered to submit the plan to the FDIC’s regional director in Atlanta for review.
According to the FDIC order, the bank’s plan shall require the review, enhancement, or restatement of:
- a system of internal controls, including policies and procedures to detect and monitor all transactions to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules. The goal is to specifically address the opening and monitoring of accounts with frequent wire and check activity, the monitoring of high-risk and suspicious activities for all types of accounts, products, services, and geographic areas;
- policies and procedures with respect to high-risk accounts and customers, including the adequacy of methods for identifying and conducting due diligence on high-risk accounts and customers at account opening and thereafter, and for monitoring high-risk client relationships on a transaction basis as well as by account and customer;
- policies, procedures, and systems for identifying, evaluating, monitoring, investigating, and reporting suspicious activities, particularly including transactions involving high-risk customers or accounts, and/or high-risk jurisdictions, and the appropriateness of the bank’s criteria for designating an account as high-risk and ass essing the bank’s procedures and systems for identifying and monitoring customer transactions in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act rules; and
- policies and procedures regarding the identification and reporting of cash transactions.
Bank President William Abbott said his institution will comply with requirements outlined in the cease-and-desist order, according to a report in GSA Business.
“We are in the process of addressing all points as outlined in the order to cease and desist non-compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act,” he told the publication. “We expect to be in full compliance within the designated time frame.”
The Bank of Westminster apparently had a rough year in 2008. The closely-held bank, begun in 1935, saw its assets fall to $29.7 million from $33.9 million during the year, according to FDIC data. Deposits dropped to $24 million from $25 million during that period.
At some point recently, the bank apparently decided not to participate in the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program. (Under the Transaction Account Guarantee Program, participating institutions can provide customers full coverage on non-interest-bearing transaction accounts for an annual fee of 10 basis points.)
It appears the bank issued a statement to that effect not too long ago because when one does a Google search for the phrase “Bank of Westminster has chosen not to participate in the Transaction Account Guarantee Program” it returns a link to the bank’s webpage. However, there is no longer any specific information on the bank’s website about its participation in the program.
Also, the bank contacted the FDIC last year to report that counterfeit cashier’s checks bearing the institution’s name were in circulation in association with mystery shopping and rewards program scams.