Haitan Strongman and the housing crisis

According to CNN, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a former Haitian strongman accused of being responsible for deaths of thousands of Haitians that supported his political rivals, has just been convicted for participating in fraudulent mortgage practices. Prosecutors have alleged that Constant, in his position as the Suffolk Country branch manager for a New-Jersey based mortgage bank D&M, profited by arranging false high appraisals of homes. Most people including myself believe the United States is a country of law and order. Yet, I can’t help but wonder why isn’t anyone checking out who becomes a mortgage broker. Recently the Miami Herald broke a story, that uncovered more than 10,000 individuals with criminal histories were allowed to work in the mortgage business in Florida. The Miami Herald report has found that racketeers, bank robbers and cocaine traffickers were able to get into the mortgage business. If you had any doubts about why our country is in a housing crisis, your questions should be partly answered.

The Miami Herald

Working

Every morning I follow the same routine, I turn off at M. Boulevard, wave my badge to get into the parking lot. I walk up to the #7 entrance, wave my badge again on RFID sensor, and walk around the revolving door. Some days, I choose to enter through the 24-hr entrance which requires security to look through my bag. I proceed towards the factory, staring at new pieces of equipment that I have no idea what their function is. Then I wave my badge again and make my way into the design center and navigate my way through the cubes to my desk. My cube pictured above is not that small at least it has space to move around in. The downside to cubes is the lack of privacy, one minute your surfing the net, and you look up and voila there’s your manager staring at you.
I don’t really drink coffee in the morning just orange juice usually. I read the news for about 10 minutes, check my company email account which I don’t check at home. I stroll over to talk to my group members and give them an update over whatever engineering project I’ve been tackling. We use to talk about LOST when I started in May. Now we talk about mundane topics. I spend the morning coding or running tests. I leave promptly at 12 for lunch, sometime I order take out and bring it back to my cube. I suppose it really depends on how I feel. Some days I have to deal with suppliers from Korea, or Germany. I sit around some pretty pricey equipment in my cube, the two signal generators sitting next to my laptop are worth about 90,000 dollars together. That’s a Motorcycle, and maybe two BMW three series. I guarantee any piece of test equipment sitting around is worth at least 5,000 dollars. I spend the afternoon finishing up my work, keeping my manager up to date and documenting my work. Then my day is done, I casually stroll out the way I came in, and prepare myself mentally for the 1 hr drive home.
If you haven’t figured it out, my ultimate part-job would be being a Tech columnist for a major news organization. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see my name on the byline in the NY-Times?

China on the move

Next week all eyes turn to Beijing, as China hosts it first Olympic games and the world gets to peer into the new republic of capitalism. China has become what few would never have imagined a country where striking it rich, and making a name for yourself is now the way to live.

Undoubtedly the days of Mao, and the communal way of life are relics of the past. If you have any doubts of how economics is influencing new lines of thought, look no further than the new bank notes. Mao Zedong, the founder of communism in China was dropped from the new note, instead it will feature the Olympic stadium on the front and an ancient Greek statue on the back. In Beijing and Shanghai many young Chinese are enjoying the nightlife, and breaking traditional family obligations of arranged marriages.

In many ways, it can be argued China is changing more rapidly by the minute than any country ever has. The interesting question behind it all is, will China respect the wishes of the people. The Chinese labour market is plagued with problems of overworking factory workers with no benefits, and subjecting workers to unsafe conditions. It would be unrealistic to expect China to become a democracy overnight, but its reasonable to see China back off its hard line stances and start giving its workers and dissents some civil rights. That is of course, if the Chinese government knows whats good for them.

Whats new in Miami

Lately, I’ve been going to work daily at Moto, coming home and finding something to do. I go to the gym fairly often. I drive about 40-45 minutes to work everyday, most days I top 100 mph on the way to work, trying my best to avoid the highway patrol. I occasionally hang out here and there with high school friends in town, but most of them are scattered around the world traveling, or doing internships.

Whats been on Shawn’s mind lately?Well…living in Miami Florida is always a trip.

Q: Is American moving forward?

Every morning as Americans we wake up believing, we live in one of the greatest countries in the world. That belief is not too far from the truth, for the past two-hundred and thirty two years America has become one of the most powerful countries that have ever existed in course of modern history. However lately, many people have been worried about the economy, and whether things are getting better or worst in America. If we look at a snapshot of our current point in history, we have an unstable economy, a high unemployment rate, and high gas prices. I think primarily people are concerned about the economy more than anything, which is understandable everyone has to eat. I don’t want to blame the Bush administration for all the economic problems we are facing.

The thing I really want to know is why aren’t we making an investment in our education system to produce people that are more capable at competing with emerging markets like China. When I was in Taiwan earlier this year, it was painfully obviously the government was putting tons of money into the semi-conductor market, and getting tons of talent from the school next to the research park. What are we doing to stand out? Are we better off now than 7 ½ years ago?Why am I hearing about a banking crisis weekly, where are regulators that were suppose to be watching the banks?Those are all fair questions.

I realize in a free-market economy, by virtue the system produces winners and losers. My real problem with the republican way of thinking is the idea of a winner takes all strategy. The great thing about America is that you can go out and risk it all on what you’re passionate about, you can go out and start your own business and you might become a millionaire. The good news if you don’t that’s ok too, because we have bankruptcy laws that will help you recover from your risks. The issue I have with the way the Bush administration is the way they view risk. If they had it their way they would remove most regulations and bankruptcy laws. History has already shown us what happens when we don’t regulate industries we end up with people that dominate the market and amass enormous personal fortunes. What about the losers? Well they lose pretty darn hard since there’s no safety net to catch them, might as well not risk a lot. On gas prices I blame the government by not taking more proactive measures to look for alternatives to oil. I mean its common sense who wants to be held hostage to whatever price Saudi Arabia, or Iran and OPEC decide to charge for oil. Some people argue that we should drill offshore, I sure wouldn’t like to see oil-rigs off Miami Beach. So why not just find something cleaner and cheaper that can be made right here in the US. Brazil uses 100% ethanol and imports no gas.

It’s the Economy Stupid

Perhaps one of the greatest political catch phrases of all time is “It’s the economy stupid”, which Bill Clinton used against G.W.Bush’s father and subsequently went on to win the election. The rest is American history, recently many have been upset after John McCain’s top economic advisor said America is “a nation of whiners.” He claims we are in a mental recession, and not an actual one, McCain has since distanced himself from his economic advisor. While his economic advisor statement maybe vaguely true in many areas, Americans are paying more for gasoline and other expenses. I don’t think its in my imagination that I’m paying $4.10 a gallon for gas every time I go fill it up. Meanwhile yesterday, IndyMac Bank became the second largest financial institution to close in US history. That’s pretty bad news for customers with more than $100,000 at IndyMac, since the federal government only insurances deposits up to $100,000.

As usual to allow my readers to have an unbiased version of the stories I’m talking about. I encourage you to read the article on “the mental recession” for yourself.

IndyMac

Lastly, today its Gayathri’s twenty birthday so don’t forget to wish her a Happy Birthday and a wonderful day 🙂