The highest standard of care known to the law is the “fiduciary duty of loyalty”, i.e. “trusteeship” and Stewardship. There is no powerful legal bond that can bind people in a contract that a contract by which one person assumes to manage or care for the property of another as a fiduciary. So many things can be accomplished through trusteeship: one person can step into the shoes of another and do things that that the “grantor” of trust either cannot or does not wish to do. So today, September 19, 2010, on the last Sunday of the Summer, it was timely and appropriate to hear the Reverend Mary Haddad at All Saints address the story of Bernie Madoff in jail…. http://www.allsaintsbh.org/services/sermons/MH1040.mp3 People entrusted their money to Madoff and and now Bernie has been convicted of using his awesome power as a fiduciary for so many to do something that his “grantors” could not and did not wish to do: he made himself rich beyond belief (to the tune of ca. $67 Billion?) and then got himself indicted and sentenced to several lifetimes in Federal custody. The Reverend Haddad said of Madoff what so many others have said: that he was guilty of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, or at least U.S. History.
With no motive or purpose to defend Madoff or his career, I respectfully demur to the accusation that he was guilty of “the largest Ponzi scheme in history.” Far more accurate are the words of Attorney Michael Pines and Forensic Mortgage Auditor Malcolm Doney in describing the massive fraud of securitization in those words.
I take this as a good occasion to share Attorney Michael Pines’ complaint filed June 15, 2010 Michael T Pines’ NDCA Complaint for FDCPA-Wrongful Foreclosure 10-02622 Class Action (at the beginning of summer, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California) against my own “favorite” world-class criminal: Steven D. Silverstein (together with his associates Carol Unruh and Larry Rothman), among many other similar predatory and land-roving carnivorous sharks in the credit collection business in California. CAND-ECF-10-02622 Michael T Pines v Silverstein Docket 09-19-2010 *See especially June 15, 2010 Complaint at Page 3/34, Lines 9-10 “the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in the US.”
Even more specific, however, is the strange story of the “Deed of Trust” and its role in Non-Judicial Foreclosures in California and elsewhere throughout the United States, especially the Western States where Non-Judicial Foreclosure is almost the universal norm. The “Deed of Trust” would seem, at first glance, to create a trust with two equal beneficiaries: the mortgage grantor and his creditor (fka, in common law parlance, now effectively fictitious, and extremely misleading: “borrower and lender”). In reality, however, the Trustee of a Deed of Trust under non-judicial foreclosure statutes never carries out the sole act which he could actually (and legitimately) perform for both parties: he never holds the note and title until such time as the note is paid in full or a legitimate foreclosure is held. Truthfully, Trustees exist, in non-judicial states, to disguise the fact that they never do this because notes are sold upon closing or issuance (or, actually, before: upon credit approval—which is in reality the process of placing a transaction in a certain “tranche“, which means finding an initial “buyer” for a note characterized by a certain profile of real estate category [home/condo/duplex/triplex + square footage] real estate value x credit applicant’s credit score x credit applicant’s income x location [neighborhood character]). The trustee, then, in the non-judicial foreclosure state, is a servant of Mammon (NIV “Wealth”) and the attorneys who assist the Trustee (Silverstein and many if not most of the defendants in Michael T. Pines’ lawsuit) are engaged in a most unholy campaign of deception, fraud, and theft.
According to Malcolm Doney, a major Florida advocate and forensic auditor, (see e.g. MORTGAGE JUSTICE HOUSE LETTER), it is a specific combination of Federal Tax laws which created the incentives for mortgage foreclosure and securitization. The Income Tax and Estate (Inheritance) Tax were among the original goals of Communism as articulated by Marx in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 and later in Das Kapital and almost all of his major works. What is remarkable is the degree to which the Corporate Elite of the world has gravitated towards maximizing their own power through implementation of Communist strategies in the “reform” or restructuring of the Capitalist economy.
What is so remarkable about Christianity is that it stands for mutual assistance and community sharing of food and all other resources, but on a voluntary basis as an aspect and element of the love of God (which Jesus would undoubtedly have told any non-believer means, quite simply, “the love of all that which is good and positive and beneficial to human beings,” whether or not he would try to convince that non-believer that human beings are those whom God created in his own image—I strongly suspect that if he had met any modern-style atheists, Jesus would have been equally unperturbed by the come back, “you mean God is the image that humans created of themselves”—he would have told some parable whose essential message would have read: “and your point is—what exactly? that man idealizes all that is good in himself, calling that good ‘God’, and therefore worships himself and only thinks he worships God? Or is the problem that God is unworthy of worship because He resembles Man, except that no man is as good as the ideal which man has created of God for himself to aspire to or emulate something better? Or is the problem that Man cannot know God except through his own experience and that experience by definition cannot include the experience of God? Jesus was above all such sophistry, and whether we believe he was born of a virgin or not, his superiority of moral reason is sufficient cause to call him “God.”)
The point of not worshipping God and Mammon is that the worship of “God” is the assumption of a fiduciary duty towards all one’s fellow men and women, and of building up “treasures in heaven” by which we mean (as I think Jesus meant) “the ideal of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men,” and the First and Greatest Commandment: Loving the Lord thy God with all thy Heart and Spirit, and the Second being like unto it: Loving thy Neighbor as thyself (which inevitably means sharing your food and your table and your clothes with him, as well as your house if he loses his)”, whereas the worship of “Mammon” is the worship of wealth, in the sense of accumulating it for the benefit of oneself alone, and of excluding all others from “the feast.”
Everyone who fights injustice in a realistic and practical manner (i.e. taking into account the material realities of the world), will ultimately, undoubtedly, be accused at one point or another of doing so for selfish reasons, so that even the wars we wage are struggles of fiduciary duty—handling the interests of others as we would handle our own, vs. handling the interests of others for our own benefit. None of us can exist in the world without a series of material shells for our soul: we all need our bodies which must be fed and clothes, and homes in which to “store” our bodies even once they are fed and clothed, and cities and towns or at least some land on which to locate our homes. Jesus suggested we share all of these things, but he fought and opposed the ” redistributionist” taxing authorities of his days, and the hypocrites among his people who worked with the Conquering Romans to “redistribute” their wealth back to Rome,
Yet on the one hand, here in Luke 16, Jesus tells us you cannot serve both God and Mammon, and yet elsewhere, he instructs us to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s (i.e. money) and unto God that which is God’s.” Such passages, on their face, seem almost as contradictory as those I discussed two weeks ago regarding “blessed are the peacemakers” vs. “I come not to bring peace but a sword” and to set everyone against everyone else.
I suppose the best compromise is that we should all seek to be good Stewards (i.e. Trustees) for each other, but that every trustee must be certain that he is physically capable of executing his office and duties of trust, by accumulating all the material wherewithal necessary to achieve these goals. Virtue without realistic reason is impractical, but considering practical necessity only, without virtuous reasons, is evil. The Macchiavellian world of Bernie Madoff and Silverstein considers only practical reason.
But according to Reverend Mary Haddad in her “last Sunday of Summer” sermon on Sunday, September 19, she discussed a report in New York Magazine that, in jail, Bernie Madoff, ironically enough, was “free at last” now that he was in jail. http://nymag.com/news/crimelaw/66468/
By this is meant by “free at last” in this article is that Bernie Madoff in jail now can be a friend, a fiduciary to other prisoners, a bit philosophical and open, and not bound or tied to the tangled web of lies and deceit he had used his freedom to create. Bernie Madoff can now do unto others as he would have them do unto him. Unlike the gang of con-artists at the end of “The Producers” (aka “Springtime for Hitler“), Bernie Madoff apparently cannot continue his life of crime “inside”—he is free of all that now. As one who has experienced federal prison in very small doses, I do not recommend it for anyone’s health, and I certainly do not think that the huge number of Americans incarcerated today is healthy for the nation as a whole. But perhaps, for Madoff, it is helping his selfish (i.e. criminal) self to die, so that he may one day be born to eternal life, or at least into a world where he will love his neighbor as himself, and not worship Mammon, whether or not he worships God.
Luke 16 (King James Version)
1And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
10He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luke 16 (New International Version)
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6” ‘Eight hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’
7“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
” ‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
10“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”