Categories
social commentary

Veterans for Trump waited months for Facebook to help after their page was hijacked by a North Macedonian businessman

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/09/17/popular-facebook-page-vets-trump-seemed-be-place-former-military-months-macedonians-controlled-it/

In case there’s a pay wall in the way of the article: Essentially a Facebook page started by patriotic veterans in the USA was taken over by some business guy in Macedonia and it took months for the Americans to get Facebook, an American company, to hear their plea for help.

It’s interesting that even in this era of heightened awareness of foreign disinformation efforts to meddle with US politics it took months for these people to get Facebook’s attention – and that only really happened after they said they’d buy advertising.

I’ve read in other places about how hard it is to get the attention of a human being at Amazon or YouTube. Even after your Amazon marketplace business has been hijacked or scuppered by bad actors you have to spend thousands of dollars and months of time to ‘correct’ the situation with Amazon.

It appears that these digital Titans are loathe to employ real humans to do customer service and support because that would bite into their profits too much. So they appear to think they can get away with automation as much as possible. And there’s a never ending series of tales of woe that result from this no matter if it’s customer, vendor or employee relations involved.

Categories
politics social commentary

Trump’s plans for housing

Trying to understand Trump can be confusing at best.

He says on the one hand he’s there to help those left behind by the mess the ‘elites’ have made. On the other hand he’s filthy rich and most things his administration does make things easier for the rich and harder for the working schlump.

This last week I read two stories about Trump’s administration related to having a home or not.

First let’s look at the buying a house part: (https://beta.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/09/10/trumps-housing-finance-plan-will-make-mortgages-more-expensive-especially-black-borrowers-say-housing-groups/ )

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the entities that purchase mortgage loans and package them into securities they guarantee. Fannie is the Federal National Mortgage Association and Freddie is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

They are government sponsored enterprises created near the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s to “the organization’s explicit purpose was to provide local banks with federal money to finance home loans in an attempt to raise levels of home ownership and the availability of affordable housing … expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgage loans in the form of mortgage-backed securities, allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or ‘thrifts’).”

Essentially to help create and maintain a housing marketplace where citizens can afford to buy homes and home can afford to be built.

Trump’s administration has this plan to overhaul the country’s housing finance system. Part of it is to end government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fair Housing and Lending groups say this will make mortgages more expensive for minority borrowers and aspiring homeowners in the South Midwest and Rural communities.

Why would they say that? Because it would change the direction from citizen centered to profit oriented “The plan is a potential windfall for hedge funds that have invested heavily in the companies’ stocks.”

Those that know say this will make it harder for those at the bottom and edges of the economy to become home owners.

With the way the economy is going it is becoming harder and more expensive to hold onto that home once you’ve got it.

Property values are climbing and with them taxes. The single biggest portion of household debt is rent or mortgage. And it gets bigger each year. Faster than pay cheques increase for sure.

And the employment market is changing as well. More of the old dependable well paying jobs are being replaced with lower paying and gig style employment with less benefits.

So at a time when people are faced with more costly living they are also put into a less beneficial working environment. Which means even more people are close to that ‘one missed pay cheque and you lose your home’ situation. Or one unexpected large bill. Or one accident.

Did you know that in many places by missing just one bill payment on any bill your bank will jack your credit card interest rate up to %29? So that tight home finances plan your family had gets even tighter. And slipping through the crack gets even easier.

That’s how people get squeezed out of the system and become homeless. And once they are homeless it’s a very hard slog to get out of it.

These days many jobs do direct payment for payroll. But that requires you to have a bank account and if you’re homeless with no fixed address good luck getting one of those. Potential employers want people who can and will show up for the job consistently on-time. Homeless people aren’t seen as fitting into that category of hires. Writing resumes, having clean clothes, having a phone to call back on – these things are essential to finding a job and not easy to have if you’re homeless.

Homelessness has a stigma attached to it.

Many people who are not homeless don’t understand and are scared of the them. They are seen as lazy, drug using, petty criminals who litter the streets and parks with their little tarp shanties and discarded needles and bottles. While that may not describe the majority of the homeless it’s the perception the rest of society apparently has.

The homeless situation in quite a few US cities has become very bad. Los Angeles has 60,000 homeless living within it. Nearly all cities in California have serious, crisis level, homeless problems.

Trump’s administration has a plan for them too . . . (https://beta.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/09/10/trump-pushing-major-crackdown-homeless-camps-california-with-aides-discussing-moving-residents-government-backed-facilities/ )

The title says it all: Trump pushing for major crackdown on homeless camps in California, with aides discussing moving residents to government-backed facilities

  • What government backed facilities are they talking about? Where?
  • Who will run these facilities? Government or Private?
    IF it’s private businesses – how much funding will they get?
    How much profit taking will they do?
  • How did the last government mandated housing for undesirables work out? The places they send illegal immigrants to.

And if it’s a crackdown and the homeless don’t want to leave sunny California for some other place what happens then? Will they be rounded up by force like ICE raids do for illegal immigrants?
When they resist will they be charged with a crime and sent to Administrative Detention camps?

As many point out the actions of this administration have tended to cut supports for the homeless and make affording a home more difficult. This all exacerbates an already bad situation.

But maybe it all works out for the best in Trump’s mind.

  • The homeless will never stay at a Trump branded facility.
  • His big money friends will make even more profit from all of this.
  • Doing something to get the homeless out of people’s sight and mind will likely play well with his supporters after Fox News has massaged the story.
  • And he gets to beat up Democrat city’s administrations and politicians while doing it.
Categories
Nature

Wasps

We discovered this nest on the underside of a chair on our deck.

Generally the markings on the wasps all looked like this.

Not identical but very close in form.

As if they’re all wearing the same team jerseys.