Archive for the 'Philadelphia' Category


If We Could See The Crisis Coming, Why Couldn’t Anybody Else?

We thought that the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch over the weekend, the two latest “victims” in the financial calamity unfolding in our newspapers and on our TV screens, was an excellent opportunity for us to point out how right we were about the mortgage mess even before it started;

Every Homeowner…(6/9/2004);

…especially those who are mortgaged to the hilt, should read this article;

An excerpt;

Signs of a “”new era”” in housing are everywhere. Housing construction is taking place at record rates. New records for real estate prices are being set across the country, especially on the east and west coasts…As one loan officer explained to me: “”It’s almost too good to be true.””In fact, it is too good to be true. What the prophets of the new housing paradigm don’t discuss is that real estate markets have experienced similar cycles in the past and that periods described as new paradigms are often followed by periods of distress in real estate markets, including foreclosure sales, bankruptcy and bank failures.

OOOH, This Is BAD (7/2/2004);

From today’s WSJ;

The Johnsons thought they had it all figured out. After changing jobs, Paul had planned to rollover the $36,000 balance from his former employer’s 401(k) plan into an IRA. But a desire to live closer to their parents and worries that mortgage rates would head higher spurred them to cash out the 401(k) account last year and use some of the money to buy a home…”We’re making more money, but a lot of that is going into improvements on the home.””The couple also still owes state and federal taxes on the retirement-account withdrawal, and they haven’t started to rebuild their nest egg.

No real-estate bubble you say?;

A President’s Job Is Never Done (8/24/2004);

I just spotted this on the Mises Institute blog. James Bovard (always a must-read) wrote in Barron’s about George Bush’s initiative to close the gap between rich and poor. I can’t even start to comment on it. Here are some clips:

* A White House Fact Sheet issued June 17, 2002, declared that Bush’s agenda “”will help tear down the barriers to homeownership that stand in the way of our nation’s African-American, Hispanic and other minority families. … The single biggest barrier to homeownership is accumulating funds for a down payment.””

* Federal Housing Commissioner John Weicher said in January 2004 that “”the White House doesn’t think those who can afford the monthly payment but have been unable to save for a down payment should be deprived from owning a home,”” National Mortgage News reported.

* While zero-downpayment mortgages have long been considered profoundly unsafe (especially for borrowers with dubious credit history), Weicher confidently asserted: “”We do not anticipate any costs to taxpayers.””

Although Barron’s is a pay site, the full text of the article is on the blog if you scroll down a little. I just have one question that Bovard leave’s unanswered: Did we indeed elect Al Gore in 2000?

Some Eagles Fans Have Really, Really Lost Their Minds (2/3/2005);

…and could lose their houses.

From “”The Rude Awakening””, published by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin, authors of Financial Reckoning Day comes the following;

“”Mr. Dave Brekher, president and co-owner of North American Federal Mortgage Co. in blue-collar Northeast Philadelphia, realizes that enthusiasm is not the same as good credit.

His company has been asked to lend money to local football fans wishing to mortgage their houses so they can afford to go to the Super Bowl. “”No,”” he said.

“”If someone is that desperate, there’s always repercussions,”” he explained.

I Hope the Voters Remember This When He’s Up for Reelection (2/4/2005);

This is from the Philadelphia Daily News:

Kevin P. O’Donoghue, 36, of Glen Mills, sank $4,000 into a Super Bowl package that includes round-trip airfare, a four-night hotel stay, and one ticket.

He said that he told his wife after the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC championship: “”I don’t care if we have to mortgage our house, I’m going.””

He applied for a home-equity line of credit that required him to put up his home as collateral. He’s getting the money in a few days.

“”Sometimes the cards are maxed out, and you got to do what you got to do,”” he said.

For those of you who don’t know him, O’Donoghue is the township supervisor where I live so he wields fiduciary responsibility over my money. I will surely not forget this next time it comes time to elect a township supervisor. .

We Hate To Say We Told You So… (10/17/2005);

…but the “”crack-up boom”” is about to bite us all in the ass. Just this week;

When you get right down to it, people vote their pocketbooks.

And they are all about to be given a HARD kick.

Taking Advantage Of FHA, Buyers, Beazer Destroys Lives, Neighborhoods (3/28/2007);

When we last left this sorry tale, builder Beazer Homes had sold crappy 2-bedroom starter houses to low-income buyers in Charlotte, NC, an average of 20% of whom, it turns out, have since had those homes foreclosed.

Now the FBI, and the US Attorney in Charlotte are involved, and Beazer’s stock price is tanking, down 17% from an already low point.

As great as it is to see such a corporate pig get skewered, Beazer was only doing what the Bush Administration was urging them to do, which is to sell houses to people who have no realistic way to ever pay for them.

(link from

The Fed’s Fatal Overreach (4/1/2008);

Just when you think you have seen it all, a proposal has arisen from the Bush White House to empower the Federal Reserve to take over the entire US financial system.

Now right about now, anyone like us who has followed the Fed-inflated real-estate bubble, followed by the collapse of the housing marketthe Fed origins of the mortgage crisis, and the Fed-caused recession can be forgiven for making a gurgling noise as their head explodes from the unbelievable hubris, the BALLS behind such a move.

The prescient words of the great Ron Paul chill the spine at this moment;

We had missed the 5:30 Ferry, but the good people at Shepler’s quickly boarded us on another boat and made a special run to take us and Ron Paul over to the Island..

… I asked him how much longer he thought those guys in Washington could keep going before everything started to collapse, and he said “”Not much longer, things are starting to fall apart and this time they will not be able to stop it.””

To singlehandedly destroy an economy, quickly steal away from the scene, then return with a flourish annoncing that salvation is at hand is exactly what compulsive arsonists do.

And the people should rise up and put them in exactly the same place as arsonists – in prison, every last one of them.


Of Endings, And Beginnings

Keep Your Spirit Alive, Son

Keep Your Spirit Alive, Son

As I watched Ron Paul address the 10,000 assembled for the “Rally For The Republic” at the Target center in St. Paul tonight, I realized that it was really, finally, the end – the end of his magnificent 2008 presidential campaign, the end of any hope of restoring our liberties in this election cycle, maybe (hopefully not) ever.

I reflected on the fact that, even though absolutely no response was forthcoming to the widespread opposition to the Iraq War, there seems, in the near-absence of it as a campaign issue, a tacit admission that neither the Democrats or Republicans has any answers, in part due to Ron Paul’s complete exposure of the immorality of their positions. I don’t know what to make of it.

Shuffling around the kitchen afterward, I ran across my small son’s backpack and lunch bag, readied for his first day of (government) school tomorrow, and I felt a profound sadness, I’m not quite sure why.

I wrote a song (I can’t write music, so I guess it’s just a poem for now, the chorus goes;)

Don’t say we let the world go by

That all we did was nothing

I will fight for you and I

Will keep the fires burning


The World’s Biggest Record Collection

Paul Mahwhinney's Ginormous Record Collection

Paul Mahwhinney

Here, courtesy of Sean Dunne and Vimeo, is a vinyl junkie’s wet dream.

Pittsburgh PA’s Paul Mahwhinney is, due to health problems and poor market conditions, forced to sell the world’s largest record collection.

The collection’s value was once appraised at $50 MILLION. In February, he closed his store, Record-Rama, when the collection failed to meet a $3 MILLION minimum bid.

The only possible buyers of a collection that size are the record companies, but they have their own problems.

(Philly people – note the Dynagroove record that pops up at 0:48. (OK, so it isn’t THAT Dynagroove))

This collection is virtually unprecedented, a veritable Library of Alexandria of vinyl.

Another library, the Library of Congress, took a look at his record collection a few years ago.

Based on their survey, they estimate only 17% of the records produced between 1944 and 1966 are available commercially.

Paul Mahwhinney has the other 83%.

Here’s hoping the collection, or the parts therof, finds a good home.

However, at the other end of the Quaker State, Philly’s own Val Shively is no slouch either;

(link from Eric O’Connor on Postal Blowfish)


Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Inga Saffron of the Inky asks why some buildings are built “green” while others in the city of the equivalent of an “SUV.”


In one corner of Center City, a private developer has just completed the tallest green building in America, the Comcast Center. Three blocks east, the state is beginning work on an equally large building, the Convention Center expansion. Consider it the SUV of meeting halls.

I understand her frustration but this situation should illustrate something to those who would ask government to do good by them. If the PA Convention Center, the very definition of a government make-work project designed from the ground up to benefit no one but politicians and their union allies, is so completely out of touch with ecologic principles, why do people in search of what they term “sustainable development” look to the government to provide it?


Taxpayer-Funded SEPTA Metro Competes Unfairly With For-Profit Newspapers

I remember it like it was yesterday. SEPTA came up with the idea to launch its own little newspaper. The Metro would be a benign little affair to be distributed only at SEPTA rail stations and bus terminals.

Designed to be read by a commuter during the length of his trip on public transportation, Metro is concise, easy-to-read and filled with lots of color. Today’s premier edition consisted of 23 pages of news, weather, jobs, money, sports and entertainment.

But flash forward 8 years and it seems that distribution has morphed and competes directly with every other Philly rag.



If there can ever be a predatory pricing scheme, this would be it. Not that a lot of people, younger ones in particular, would mind seeing dead-tree newspapers go away, but one cannot help think that SEPTA has a distinct and unfair advantage since the entire organization is a ward of the State and funded at gunpoint largely by taxpayers.

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