Do You Want to See Something Really Scary?

Do you remember Twilight Zone--The Movie? I did not see it--my mother was extremely strict and never allowed us to watch horror movies or even light comedy containing anything that smacked of the occult. But I remember my father coming back from a trip and telling us that he had been driving with his nephew on a dark, wood-lined road when his nephew told about the scene from Twilight Zone where a set of characters are in a car at night trying to scare each other. Finally, one of them says to the driver of the car, "Do you want to see something really scary?" When his friend agrees, he turns his face away, and when he turns back he has become a monster who kills the young man who is driving.

If Hollywood were making that movie today, rather than having the actor turn into a monster, the director could just show him the dismal state of the economy and a list of the executive orders, taxes and new rules waiting for Americans in 2013.  When he saw what is looming in front of us, he would die of a massive fear-induced heart attack.

Let's start with the executive orders issued by the Obama Administration.  President Obama has repeatedly complained that our current system which requires that laws be passed by Congress is just too difficult to navigate, so he prefers to run the country by executive order.  Below is a short list of some of the major executive orders which he has signed while President:

UPDATE NOVEMBER 1, 2012:  Yesterday when I initally posted this, I took the executive order list from a popular email that is circulating.  A reader commented that in reality many of these executive orders date back to the Kennedy Administration, although they are still in force and could be used by the president. However, I strive to always be accurate, so I have corrected my list today to include only executive orders signed by the President this year.  Each of these is recorded in the Federal Registry:
EXECUTIVE ORDER 13602 signed March 15, 2012, creates the White House Council for Strong Cities and Communities to implement locally-driven community and regional planning approaches.  Think Federally-driven implementation of Agenda 21 goals for Smart Growth and Sustainable living.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13603 signed March 16, 2012, gives the federal government via various federal agencies control over all food, agriculture, livestock, farm equipment, all energy, all modes of transportation, all waterways, and all other resources including construction, in case of a national emergency and allows the secretaries of various departments to prioritize and allocate resources in both emergency and non emergency situations.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13618 signed July 6, 2012, gives the federal government power over all modes of communication in a national emergency.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13624 signed August 30, 2012, call for increased investment in industrial energy efficiency, allowing federal agencies to set and enforce new standards for manufacturing energy use.   
EXECUTIVE ORDER 13625, signed August 31, 2012, calls for the Federal Government to do a more thorough job assessing the mental health and possible mental instability of our troops and requires that federal agencies enroll 100,000 troops in a comprehensive mental health study no later than December 31, 2012. 
EXECUTIVE ORDER 13626 signed September 10, 2012, designates the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Agriculture as additional trustees for Natural Resource Damage Assessment and restoration solely in connection with injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of natural resources, including their supporting ecosystems, resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This order will give the EPA power over the areas affected by the Gulf Coast Spill of 2010 (effectively guaranteeing that they will never have any industry or drilling in these areas again.)
FURTHER UPDATE NOV 1.  (This morning Janet Napolitano announced that since Congress has failed to act with a CyberSecurity bill sufficient to meet the needs of the nation, immediately after election day the President will be issuing an executive order restricting the internet.) 

In addition to the executive orders, we have his signature legislative efforts which did pass through Congress--Obamacare and Dodd Frank.  Obamacare imposes taxes and restrictions on freedoms of Americans which we will just begin to experience in January of 2013, such as the new 3.8% tax on the sale of houses.  The taxes, fees and fines of Obamacare threaten individual access to healthcare and the very existence of small businesses nationwide.  And Dodd Frank, one of the scariest pieces of legislation ever passed, is about to produce crippling new regulations that will put homeownership out of the reach of average Americans.

We can expect greater and greater central management of our lives from Washington D.C. as the President forces us out of single family suburban housing and into tiny cramped quarters in the cities as part of "sustainable living."  And we can expect massive new powers bestowed on the EPA which will destroy the coal industry and cripple energy production while causing prices to skyrocket.  These new regulations are ready to be implemented but have been specifically delayed until after the election.

We can also look forward to 2 trillion dollars in tax increases to pay for massive spending and more nationalization of industry as the President campaigns by telling us that he wants to do the same thing for every industry that he did for the auto industry.  (Meaning, I suppose that he wants to take over all businesses and then sell them to foreign entities as he did Chrysler.)

We can expect greater inflation as fuel prices continue to increase, and we can anticipate even higher unemployment so that the ranks of the 23 million already unemployed will swell as more and more businesses shut their doors under the weight of heavy taxes and regulations.  The ranks of the 47 million people on food stamps will also swell, while the number of seniors will begin to shrink as the government rations health care.

And let's don't forget about implementation of the indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.  In September, the Obama Administration was able to get a three-judge panel to overturn the stay previously issued to prevent detention without trial or charges for Americans accused by the government of being threats to national security.  In a second term, we can look for the president to begin to use these broad powers against those he deems "domestic terrorists."

Anyone of the above list could be the subject of its own horror movie.  Taken together, there is nothing I can imagine that is scarier than an Obama second term.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Why, as a Small Business Owner, I Am Voting FOR Mitt Romney, and Not Just Against Barack Obama

During the month of October, I have been doing a series on the reasons why I am voting FOR Romney and not just against the current president. The first two installments of this series dealt with why, as an evangelical Christian, I am supporting Mitt Romney.  Last week, I wrote about my reasons as a freedom-loving American for voting for Romney.  Today, I want to list some of the reasons why, as a small business owner, I am voting FOR Mitt Romney and not just against Barack Obama. 

I have been self-employed for 14 and a half years.  In 1998, when I was 27 years old, I cashed in an IRA with a little over $10,000 and opened a mortgage broker company in El Paso, Texas.  My father had been working for another mortgage broker company in town, and he wanted to come into the company too, so we became partners. All we had to work with was the money in the IRA, so every penny had to count.  I found two offices that we could sublease, fully furnished, for $245.00 a month to include utilities.  We could not afford a computer, but the sublease did include a used portable Brother typewriter which we used heavily.  My father and I split the cost of a multi-purpose fax/copy machine.  We filed our incorporation papers as an S corporation in the state of Texas and we were in business. We didn't have a copier, but we had our fax machine for single paper jobs, and I drove to Kinkos several times a week to make copies of the loan packages we were sending out for approval. We did not have a refrigerator, but I brought our lunch and soft drinks to work each day in a Styrofoam cooler. 

In 1998, the Texas home equity law had just been passed, and the overall housing market was pretty healthy, but competition was stiff.  We had to prove ourselves to earn every deal.  We did not have any money for advertising but I knew that through hard work and diligence we could prove ourselves and build a business, and although for the first year and a half we barely made enough to survive, within less than two years we were making enough to lease our own office suite and a copier and to purchase an office-size fridge. Within five years we were able to purchase our own building.  By 2006, half of my family was employed by the company I had started with $10,000.

Owning a business is one of the most work-intensive, grueling journeys that any person can undertake.  In good times, competition is fierce.  In bad times, there is barely enough money to pay the bills.  In all times, a successful small business owner can expect to work long days, week in and week out.  For most of the 14 and a half years that we have had our mortgage company, my normal workday was 10 hours Monday through Friday, and I came to work many Saturdays and Sundays.  Our business is one in which there are strict deadlines--especially since we did primarily purchase transactions in which borrowers had contracts with deadlines that had to be met.  Any additional work that I did in the community, such as the service on boards of various organizations, had to be done outside of those hours.  The borrowers had to be taken care of and their transactions had to be closed in a timely professional manner because our service was the primary commodity that we sold.

Anyone who thinks that all small business owners are rich has never owned a small business.  I am now 42 years old.  I have never owned an expensive car--my last three cars have been Honda Accords.  I have never taken a nice vacation.  The last time I took a week off was in 1998 when my youngest brothers graduated from BYU and I took a week to go be with them in Utah.  Little did I know that I would never be able to have that much time off work again.  Over the past four years, as the economy has continued to crash and mortgage guidelines have tightened until qualifying is nearly impossible, I have seen my income shrink dramatically but my hours in the office have not decreased commensurately.  Our industry has been buried under a tsunami of regulations, paperwork and federal licensure requirements so expensive that I could no longer afford to keep a New Mexico license as well as a Texas license.  I have looked around several times over the last few years with the idea of changing industries because the mortgage industry is such a mess, but everywhere I go I find other small business owners who are being buried under their own sea of regulations and paperwork, or whose businesses are strangling because of the overall poor health of the economy at large.

Small business owners are truly the engine that moves the economy. We are productive because we have to be.  We don't get an "A" for effort or extra credit just for showing up.  We earn our own paychecks with our direct efforts every day or else we shut down.  Our reward for long hours of toil is that we get to come back and do it again tomorrow--we have made enough money to cover our office expenses and keep our homes out of foreclosure.

When I opened my business, I knew that it would be a lot of work, although honestly I was unprepared for the extent of the work and also for the fact that it would never get easier--I naively believed that sacrifices made in my twenties would be made up for with a life of greater comfort later.  But I believed that opening and growing a business would provide security for the future.  My father was fired from his job when I was a teenager, and the horrible financial problems that our family faced redefined many aspects of our lives from that time forward.  As a small business owner, I believed that I was building something unique from which nobody could "fire" me.  I might have individual disagreeable customers who did not like me and who did not come back, but I reasoned that if I worked hard and provided good service, I could build a strong business of repeat customers. I was not intimidated by my competition because I knew that I could compete and carve out a place for myself in this industry and that as long as I maintained a good reputation, I would be able to work. In that I was correct.

What I did not factor in was the runaway government regulations from newly created agencies full of overpaid, bloated bureaucrats that could destroy my industry and regulate me into oblivion and that no amount of hard work, or good service, or good will in the community would make even the slightest difference. And unfortunately, that is exactly what I have seen happen.  This past January, when President Obama illegally appointed Richard Cordray--a recess appointment while the Senate was not in recess--as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he activated all of the massive powers of the CFPB, including the power to finalize new mortgage regulations and forms.  So I sit here today, typing this post and wondering why I invested so many years in building a business that the government could wipe out with a few computer strokes and a 2000 page + piece of legislation called the Dodd Frank bill.

For that reason, I am dedicating today's post to 4 specific reasons that I am voting for Mitt Romney on November 6th.  I am listing them in no particular order.  Any one of these reasons would individually be enough for Gov. Romney to secure my vote; taken together they are very motivating for me:

1. Mitt Romney has promised to fire Ben Bernanke.  I met Ben Bernanke last year when he was in El Paso to meet the troops at Fort Bliss.  As the 2011 Chairwoman of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce I was invited to attend a luncheon round table of small business owners, and I sat next to Chairman Bernanke for about two hours at Carlos and Mickey's Restaurant.  As the small business owners complained that they could not get credit from banks because of new regulations, Bernanke responded smugly that any small business owner being denied credit because of new banking regulations should question the banks further since new regulations do not impede small businesses from getting credit. (Sure they don't.)  For more on this see Lunch with Ben Bernanke Part I. 

Bernanke's Federal Reserve has been the author of regulations which have specifically and purposely destroyed the mortgage industry--discriminating against small business owners and in favor of Wall Street Banks as "legitimate" loan originators, so I am not a fan.  But while his mandates have hurt me, his quantitative easing policies are damaging the entire country.  Right now, as a result of QE3, mortgage interest rates are in the 2.75% range for 15 year fixed mortgages while 30 year mortgages are in the low 3's.  Bernanke claims that quantitative easing does not cost taxpayers any money whatsoever--the Federal Reserve buys Treasury bonds and will resell them when the economy improves.  But in fact, he is hurting taxpayers, because he is buying Treasury bonds from the U.S. Treasury--the taxpayers--at a volume designed to force the interest rates down artificially low, which in turn causes mortgage rates to drop to artificially low levels so that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--also owned by the taxpayers--can make thirty year mortgage loans at 3% interest rates.  Fannie and Freddie (the taxpayers) will be servicing these loans long after interest rates have risen back to normal levels.  Does that sound like a good monetary policy to you?

The Obama Administration would argue that this stimulates the housing market and helps homeowners but I strongly disagree.  In El Paso, where mortgage values never saw the rapid appreciation of other parts of the country and therefore also did not see the degree of depreciation that other areas have experienced, property values continue dropping.  Every home I have had appraised this summer, with one exception, has appraised for less than expected.  Those homes being appraised now which were appraised last summer are appraising lower than they appraised in 2011--not exactly a banner year for real estate. And in my conversations with underwriters from Texas--a state not nearly as hard hit as many others--I have determined that property values are dropping around the state. So quantitative easing is not shoring up property values.

It is also not helping the average homeowner. The people who are refinancing into these historically low interest rates are certainly happy to get the loans, but they don't NEED the loans.  In order to get a refinance with one of these incredibly low rates, borrowers have to have plenty of documentable income, good credit, good assets and equity in their homes.  Borrowers who fit that description already have low interest rates--they are just getting a LOWER interest rate.  Borrowers who are struggling because they are out of work or they can't make their payments must take their chances with a loan modification which they may or may not get.  The legitimate need of many borrowers who really do need help because they are in mortgages they cannot pay due to job loss or reduction of income has given rise to a plethora of frauds and scams as unscrupulous con artists have taken the last savings from those who are desperate in exchange for help that is not coming. And then there are the millions of homeowners who are not desperate--they have not missed any payments and they are not going into foreclosure--but  refinancing to a lower payment would make their lives easier.  Most of them don't qualify under the stringent new requirements. 

While the low interest rates do not impact everyone, the inflation that quantitative easing produces does affect all of us.  From rising food costs, to rising prices of commodities, to rising gas prices, we all feel the effects of inflation.  Those same families who don't experience the benefits of the low interest rates notice that they have much less money every month due to rising prices.  Bernanke and his monetary policies need to go.

2. Mitt Romney will repeal Dodd Frank.  Dodd Frank was sold to the American people as a populist effort to reign in Wall Street and the big banks, but Governor Romney was exactly correct when he said that Dodd Frank was the biggest "kiss" the Wall Street Banks had ever received.  In reality, Dodd Frank discriminates against small businesses and community banks in favor of the Wall Street Banks.  I personally bank at a local bank--as a result of Dodd Frank they closed their mortgage department last year because they cannot comply with the onerous new regulations. From new forms that change disclosure of costs to make bank loans artificially appear less expensive than broker loans, to new forms and procedures required only of brokers, each part of Dodd Frank dealing with mortgages is written to favor the Wall Street banks at the direct expense of smaller competitors.  And the regulations and paperwork that we have seen until now are just the beginning--after the election the qualified mortgages are about to be unveiled which will effectively regulate average American families out of homeownership and which will make it impossible for small mortgage businesses to remain operational.  Like so much of what we have seen from the Obama Administration, Dodd Frank does the exact opposite of what it purports to do--it concentrates wealth and power into the hands of an elite few while stripping everyone else of their opportunity to work and compete in the mortgage industry.

3. Mitt Romney will repeal Obamacare.  I am particularly infuriated when I hear liberals smugly talk about companies with no health insurance as moochers.  In 1995 my mother was in a horrible accident where she was run over by the family van.  Because of the severe financial problems, she had no health insurance and, other than the surgery to repair the extensive damage done which included multiple broken bones, she had virtually no health care.  When we started our business, I knew that eventually I wanted us to have a good health insurance policy.  I had to wait until we were making enough money to pay the premiums, but after we got established our company set up a small business policy with Aetna which provided excellent coverage for everyone employed here.  The business paid 100% of the premiums.  A couple of years ago, we had to let the insurance go because we could no longer afford the premiums, and so now I am uninsured again--not because I don't value health insurance, but because the economic polices of this Administration have made it impossible for me to afford it.  I cannot afford to pay fines in lieu of insurance to a government that is increasingly taking every additional dollar for taxes while regulating more and more strictly how much I am allowed to earn.  If Gov. Romney wins this election and gets the economy moving, I will be glad to go out and purchase health insurance again, but when I buy it and what I purchase should be my decision and mine alone.

4. Last but certainly not least--Mitt Romney understands that small businesses matter.  He said correctly that the policies of the last decade have heavily favored Wall Street corporations over small businesses.  I cannot speak for every industry, but I can certainly affirm that this has been true for my industry.  The fact that he understands this and recognizes that those of us who have small businesses are not going to work the hours we work and make the sacrifices we make only to be buried under regulations and see every extra penny consumed by taxes tells me that he has a proper perspective on the role of business and business owners.

On November 6th, I am going to go to the small, rural polling area where I have voted in every election since I was eighteen and I am going to cast my ballot for Mitt Romney and a straight GOP ticket.  The outcome of this election will determine what my job title is in January of 2013.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her  novel The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Widespread support for Scottish Government to act to protect Scots from payday loan and high interest lenders

A very wide range of organisations met yesterday in the Scottish Parliament at Kez Dugdale MSP's Debtbusters meeting to discuss how we can protect Scots from the usury practices of payday lenders and high interest credit providers. In attendance were MSPs, councillors, and representatives from the Accountant in Bankruptcy, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, credit unions, Citizens Advice, the Church of Scotland, welfare rights advisors, the Law Society of Scotland, Carrington Dean insolvency practitoners, and Money Advice Scotland.

Attendees heard an update on the campaign work of Kez Dugdale MSP and Stella Creasy MP on attempts to protect consumers from the exploitative practices of payday lenders in Scotland and the UK. The Scottish campaign was backed by the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Johann Lamont MSP who addressed the meeting, along with Margo MacDonald MSP, a fierce critic of usury lenders.

Govan Law Centre's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly, spoke to GLC's paper on Fast track Debt Arrangement Scheme to provide more flexible respite and a better escape route for Scots entrapped in toxic payday loans. A clear outcome from the meeting was the Scottish Government had to act, and we needed a multifaceted approach including:
  • amending and improving the Debt Arrangement Scheme to better tackle the consumer detriment from payday loans (particularly so that interest and charges can be frozen from the very outset, whereas at present this can only happen on approval of a debt payment plan);
  • a Scottish public 'wealth warning' campaign about payday loans, and much better financial education in Scotland, targeted at the payday loan demographic;
  • the promotion of responsible credit union lending, with local government support through all tools available, and Scottish Government backing for a 'guaranteed loan fund' to enable credit unions to compete with payday lenders in the public interest.
GLC's Mike Dailly said: "Two and half thousands year ago the Romans capped interest rates at around 8.3%. It's hard to believe we've allowed toxic payday loans to flourish in 21st century Britain, with citizens bring charged up to 5,000% APR. Many states in America have banned these products, and in 2007 Congress introduced a law to ban payday loans for military personnel because it was seen as a national security issue.  We believe it is a national financial health issue in Scotland". 

"Often the result of such expensive indebtedness is enforced poverty, personal hardship and threatened homelessness as clients cannot pay their rent or mortgage or buy household groceries as payday lenders hoover money and charges from their bank accounts each month.  While the Scottish Parliament cannot ban payday lending we do have the devolved power to protect our citizens from exploitation by using debt laws innovatively". 

A full report report from the meeting has being prepared by Kez Dugdale's office, together with the next steps for the Scottish campaign, which Govan Law Centre fully supports.

Scottish Parliament: consensus for change at the Fair Access to the Legal Profession event

The student-led Campaign for Fair Access to the Legal Profession's (CFALP) event in the Scottish Parliament witnessed a remarkable consensus for progressive change from SNP, Labour and Lib-Dem MSPs, members of the Scottish legal profession, university representatives, civic society groups and law students tonight (23 October 2012).

The event hosted by the SNP's Edinburgh Central MSP, Marco Biagi heard from two fourth year law students who were now faced with the harsh prospect of being priced out of the Diploma (PEAT 1) after the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, moved their funding goal posts and any hope of being able to afford to complete the mandatory PEAT 1.  The voice of law students shortly to be excluded from Scotland's legal profession because of an unfair change in the funding arrangements was met with overwhelming support in a packed Committee Room 6 in the Scottish Parliament.

The event also included speeches from CFALP's campaign co-ordinator, Tim Haddow, NUS Scotland President, Robin Parker, and GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly, who said:

"Scottish law students are not asking for preferential treatment - all they want is the right to borrow the same amount of student loan support that other vocational students can borrow. Architect students can borrow additional student loans for up to six years, while medical and dental students can borrow for their fifth year of study.  Postgraduate trainee teachers also have access to student maintenance loans. Why not law students?"

"There is no logic in the current policy of the Scottish Government.  It is regressive, unfair and against the aspirations that the Scottish Government has for an inclusive and successful Scotland. I hope the Scottish Government will reconsider".

The debate session also heard contributions from Scottish Labour's Sarah Boyack MSP (who advised that Mike Russell MSP had now declined an invitation to convene a summit of all affected and interested parties in Scotland), the Scottish Greens' Alison Johnstone MSP, the Lib-Dems Liam McArthur MSP, Law Society of Scotland President Austin Lafferty and Dr Nick McKerrell of Glasgow Caledonian University. 

No-one disagreed that urgent action was required to prevent law students from less well off backgrounds being excluded from PEAT 1 by reason of socio-economic circumstances. 

The Freedom Prayer

I have posted this before, but now just a little more than two weeks from the election, I am posting it again as a reminder to pray for our nation:

“Lord we come to You tonight to ask for Your forgiveness. The Bible promises that when we seek You, we will find You, if we search with all our hearts.
"Lord we confess that we have not followed Your commands. We have not loved You with our whole hearts--we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We have not stood for the truth of Your Gospel. We have sat by and said nothing when Your name was blasphemed and mocked. We did not take a stand when we saw Your laws despised.
“We know that many times we ourselves have been among the worst offenders. We have lived sinful lives that are contrary to the word of God. Like Esau, we have traded away our birthright for a little convenience; we have despised this incredible gift of freedom that You provided for us and allowed all of the liberty that our country offered to be trampled down. We have forgotten the words of King David who said that it is better to fall into the hands of God than to be at the mercy of men, and so we now find ourselves living under the rule of a cruel and despotic government who has stolen everything from us and shows us no mercy.

“We know that everything that is happening to us is a result of our bad choices, both individually and as a nation. You gave us the gift of being born into a free nation—the greatest nation the world has ever seen. You gave us a form of government unlike any other that had ever been known by any other people, and we did not value it enough to defend it.

“For all of these things, Lord, we ask Your forgiveness.  We pray tonight that You will change our hearts so that each of us will begin to love what You love, to hate what You hate and to want what You want. We ask You to save our nation, for we know that the Bible teaches that salvation belongs to our God—no political party, no ideology, no government can save us.  If we don’t find salvation in You, we won’t find it at all.
“Please turn Your face to us again, and give us back our freedom, and restore our country so that we can truly be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We ask all these things in the name of Your son, Jesus.  Amen.”

Excerpted from The Planner.
 Alexandra Swann's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

"'For I know the intentions of my plans for you,' said the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, so that I may bring you hope in the end.  And when you call on me and (kneel down and pray) before me, And as you love me with all your heart, you shall find me,' said the Lord."  Jeremiah 29: 11-13 as translated from the original by Victor Alexander.

UK 'bedroom tax': GLC calls for Scottish solutions to prevent homelessness and human misery for tens of thousands

GLC is calling on the Scottish Government to set up an additional, special fund in Scotland to mitigate the impact of next April's 'bedroom tax' where tenants of councils and housing associations will face cuts of 14 to 25% in their housing benefit where they are deemed to have an extra bedroom or more.

In an address to a public meeting of tenants in Glasgow's *Pearce Institute, GLC's Principal Solicitor Mike Dailly also called upon Scottish local authorities and the Scottish Government to set up 'Homelessness Prevention Funds' where tenants can borrow small loans interest free to stave of homelessness.  Such schemes have already been successful in some parts of England.

He also called upon the Scottish Government to support an amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 to prevent social landlords relying upon rent arrears accrued through the bedroom tax being founded upon in court actions for eviction – such debts could be pursued through other civil debt recovery routes. Such a measure could be implemented on a transitional basis to ensure Scottish tenants had sufficient time to explore all options, given it was physically impossible for all tenants to downsize due the lack of alternative accommodation in the social rented sector.

Mike said: "Where are Scottish tenants expected to go? The private rented sector has already expanded and the Scottish Government has helped this by allowing homelessness duties to be met by them. But private landlords when interviewed about their planned responses to housing benefit cuts have not said they will increase supply by building more houses; rather they will sub-divide existing houses, often former council houses”.

“It is incredible to think that the UK Government is going back to the future – recreating the conditions for the emergence of high cost slum housing – by driving people into smaller and more cramped homes as they tax the low paid and poor. The return of the ‘single end’. Victorian values recreating Victorian housing conditions”.

The text of Mike’s talk is available online here (opens as a PDF) * on the evening of Thursday 18 October 2012.

* UPDATE - the next Glasgow meeting on housing benefit cuts will take place in the Pearce Institute, Govan Road, Glasgow at 7pm on 27 November 2012. All welcome. Confirmed speakers include Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, Mike Dailly, GLC, and John Flanagan, Chair of Govan Housing Association, with further MSPs and councillors tbc. Organised by tenants and residents associations in Govan and Linthouse. 

Three More Reasons Why, as a Freedom-Loving American, I am Voting FOR Mitt Romney and Not Just AGAINST Barack Obama

Readers of this blog know that I have been using this month to write a series of posts about why I am voting for Mitt Romney as opposed to simply voting against Barack Obama.  The first two posts in this series, Why, as an Evangelical Christian, I am Voting for Mitt Romney and Not Just Against Barack Obama, and Reason # 8 Why, as an Evangelical Christian, I am Voting For Mitt Romney and Not Just Against Barack Obama told why in the context of my faith I am choosing to vote for Mitt Romney.  Today I am listing three more reasons why from the perspective of a freedom loving American who believes in what our country has to offer, I will be casting my vote for Mitt Romney in a little under three weeks.

I watched the debate between Obama and Romney with a lot of anticipation on Tuesday night.  I think that Gov. Romney did exceptionally well in holding the President accountable for a lot of his actions over the past four years. But other than the heated exchange over Libya, which I know we will get back to in next week's debate, the more interesting part of the night for me was the exchange over high gas prices.  Romney pointed out correctly that when Obama took office in 2008 the average price of gas was about $1.87 per gallon. This week the average price of gas is about $3.70 per gallon, which means that gas prices have doubled during the last four years.  (This is, by the way, not a surprising revelation to all of us who are struggling to come up with the $50.00 we need to fill up our mid-size cars.)  Romney was making the case that Obama's energy policies have failed--if they had not failed, gas prices would be down instead of up.

In what was in my opinion the most asinine response of the entire evening, Obama responded that of course gas prices were lower in 2008--we were heading into the worst recession since the Great Depression and a terrible economy always makes energy prices lower.  In an effort to save Obama from his own rhetoric, moderator Candy Crowley stepped in and asked Obama a follow up question which I think is the real key to this whole issue. She asked the president whether high gas prices were not just the "new normal" for Americans, and he responded that they were.  He also answered that his energy policy includes new mileage standards for cars which will make them more fuel efficient and will use less energy.

This "new normal" question is the true mantra of liberals in the United States.  This phrase actually translates to, "All of the good times are gone, all of the prosperity is gone, and all of the opportunity is gone.  There's nothing you can do about it.  Deal with it."

Aside from the absurdity of pretending that low gas prices are a function of a failing economy--an argument so preposterous that even my 91-year-old grandmother, who is a life-long left-leaning Democrat, knows its ridiculous--this energy policy debate involves a number of issues that no one has mentioned.  First, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the new mileage standards will increase the average price of cars by $3000.00 and the price of some models by as much as $12,000.00 pricing as many as 7 million people out of the new car market. In spite of what liberals pretend, this is not an achievement to brag about.  Millions of people who cannot afford cars mean millions more who will rely on public transit.  And although the new efficiency standards will supposedly save consumers $500 in year in gas for drivers driving 15,000 miles annually, those savings can be eaten up by increasingly rising fuel costs.  The facts are simply this--the Obama Administration pursues an energy policy that makes gasoline increasingly expensive because in order to implement its green agendas Americans have to stop driving.  In March of this year, Energy Secretary Steven Chu made headlines when he testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he would give himself an "A" in his handling of energy policy. While many conservatives shook their heads at his grading system, the truth is that Chu believes he deserves an A because his energy policies are moving the United States in exactly the direction the Obama Administration wants us to go. In 2008, Chu stated that Americans will not change their driving habits unless we have gas prices in the U.S. as high as they are in Europe.  Since green energy and green agendas are a major focus of the Obama Administration, which has squandered $90 billion dollars of U.S. tax money throwing our hard earned dollars at now bankrupt green energy companies, pursuing an energy policy that brings down fuel prices would be counter-productive. It is simply not going to happen.  For more background and perspective on this see Nowhere to Hide--Looking Forward to $9.00 a Gallon Gas.

Mitt Romney has stated that he will approve the Keystone Pipeline--something that Obama will never do for the reasons I have outlined above.  By opening drilling and exploration and lifting burdensome regulations from the coal industries,  Romney will be doing more than creating jobs--he will be allowing us to have access to the energy that preserves our way of life.

The Obama's Administration's war on fuel goes hand in hand nicely with its war on single family housing and home ownership.  When Obama and Biden attack Romney for saying that he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, they frame the argument as if it is a pro-big business move.  But Romney is exactly right when he says that Dodd Frank was the biggest "kiss" the mega banks have ever received.  The real losers in Dodd Frank are community banks and small businesses and consumers.  Next week I will address these issues from the perspective of the small business owner, but today I want to address some of the impact on consumers.

Many Americans do not realize that we are now just weeks away from new mortgage regulations being unveiled that will regulate most Americans out of homeownership.  When the "qualified mortgage" guidelines are unveiled right after the election, we are going to see new guidelines for down payment and debt qualifications so restrictive that many Americans will never be able to buy a home, sell their existing home or refinance their existing home.  Those restrictions, coupled with new servicing guidelines that force banks to make fewer mortgage loans and implement punitive actions by the government against the mortgage industry, are going to mean that homeownership is going to go from the American Dream that everyone can aspire to, to a privilege of the upper classes only.  Lack of access to mortgage capital is going to leave Americans renting micro apartments under 200 square feet like those currently being built in New York City by Mayor Bloomberg and depending on public transportation wherever they go.  Repealing Dodd Frank is not about giving a pass to financial institutions--it is about restoring freedom and opportunity to the American people.  We are about to see our entire way of life disappear in this country to be replaced by a society where the government tells us where we can live, where we can go, and how we can travel there. 

Without repeal of Dodd Frank we will never have access to the capital we need to make our dreams a reality.  Dodd-Frank cuts off and strangles capital and lending thereby cutting off access to freedom and opportunity.  These new regulations, coupled with trillions of dollars in tax increases that the Obama Administration will impose in a second term, will strip away every opportunity for people to advance, build wealth and acquire assets.  Mitt Romney will repeal this awful, abusive piece of legislation, and that repeal, coupled with lowering taxes, will preserve opportunity and advancement in our nation.  For that alone he has my vote.

Finally, I am voting for Mitt Romney because he reminds us that we don't have to settle for a country in which 23 million Americans are unemployed, 47 million people are on food stamps, business owners can't stay open because of oppressive regulations and gas prices continue to rise. Do we want a financially stable nation, or do we want a nation with $16 trillion in debt where every penny we earn is subject to massive taxes to pay for an ever increasing bureaucracy? While the liberals tell us that the mess we are in is the "new normal" and we had better just get used to it, Romney reminds us that we don't have to live this way.

The 2012 elections are a crossroads for this country.  We are going to determine whether we want to be a free, prosperous nation with private property, private enterprise and opportunity, or whether we want to descend into poverty and socialism where no one has freedom or opportunity.  The ultimate battle here is about more than cars and housing--it is about whether we will pass on to our children a nation with the same opportunities and responsibilities that we inherited or whether we are going to pass on to them a land where their efforts are not rewarded, where they have no hope and no opportunity.

On November 6th, I am voting for Freedom, Opportunity and Prosperity.  I am voting for Mitt Romney.  I hope you will join me.

Read Alexandra's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, free on Kindle October 17 through October 21st.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her newest novel, The Chosen, about one small group of Americans' fight to restore the Constitution and end indefinite detentions without trial, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

ACLU suit accuses Morgan Stanley of fair housing discrimination:

The Wall Street Journal reports that American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on behalf of Michigan Legal Services, a non-profit community advocacy group, and five individual Detroit residents against Morgan Stanley. The ACLU alleges that Morgan Stanley provided critical funding to New Century Financial Corp., a now-defunct subprime lender, and encouraged lending tactics that raised the risks associated with the loans. New Century was the second biggest U.S. subprime mortgage lender until its collapse in April 2007. The ACLU accuses Morgan Stanley of discriminating against black homeowners and violating federal civil rights laws by providing incentives to subprime mortgage lenders to originate mortgages that were destined for foreclosure. The ACLU is calling it the first case to connect racial discrimination to mortgage securitization, in which loans are bundled and sold to institutional investors. It is also the first case where homeowners are suing an investment bank directly rather than the subprime lender whose loans the bank bought, the ACLU said.

GLC to participate in free Scottish mortgage repossession conferences

GLC's Principal Solicitor will be speaking at a free conference focussing on recent legislative and case law changes in Scottish mortgage repossession law, in Glasgow on 3 December 2012.

The event is being hosted and sponsored by the Carrington Dean Group. Mike will provide a review of recent Scottish case law, with a focus on statutory pre-action requirements and the issue of legal costs and charges in repossession cases. Other confirmed speakers include, Citizen Advice Scotland, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Tom McEntegart, managing director of TLT Solicitors. The conference will include an afternoon panel debate session chaired by advocate and Scottish Legal Action Group chairman, Robert Sutherland.

The conference will be held in the Laprohaig Theatre, Teacher’s Building, Glasgow on the December 3, 2012. A shorter seminar will be held in the Ramada Encore Hotel in Inverness on December 6. Anyone interested should contact in the first instance. Both events are free to advisers and solicitors working in the industry.

Online Payday Loan With Instant Approval - Getting Money Immediately

Online payday loan with instant approval is just one name of a payday loan in California offered by payday loan companies. People refer to these loans by many other names. Cash advance payday loans, quick cash loans, immediate cash loans and emergency payday loans are examples of other popular names. The main objective of these loans is to make to you available required funds when you are facing a short-term financial crisis.
What Is The Basic Idea?
The idea behind the online payday loan with instant approval is very simple. You get money to meet unexpected expenses when your pay date is still a few days away. People try to obtain these loans when they are in real need of money. After paying off urgent bills you can make repayment of this loan when you receive your next paycheck.
The Internet has made it really possible to offer online payday loan with instant approval. This is because it is the most powerful tool to get any information and the fastest mode of exchanging information. The Internet saves you precious time that you may have wasted in just sending the application and waiting for days to get its approval.

Reason #8 Why (as an Evangelical Christian) I am Voting For Mitt Romney and Not Just Against Barack Obama

Last week I wrote a post listing 7 reasons Why, (as an Evangelical Christian) I am Voting for Mitt Romney and Not Just Against Barack Obama.  Today I am going to explain the eighth reason why, in the context of my faith, I am voting for Mitt and against the current president.

In the summer of 1997, my two youngest brothers were attending seminars at BYU in order to earn their undergraduate degrees.  I took a two week vacation from my job and went to Provo, Utah, to be with them and with my mother during that time. Stefan and Judah spent every day in school from morning till late afternoon, and so Mother and I had to find ways to entertain ourselves during those hours. 

During that two week period, BYU was hosting an exhibit of the artifacts from Masada, which was on special loan to the campus via the BYU Jerusalem Cultural Center.  The exhibit traveled under guard with  posted signs that the 1997 trip was the first time that these artifacts had ever been in the United States.

As I went through the exhibit, I was amazed.  We saw portions of the book of Isaiah contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls, pottery from the Holy Land, and artifacts which had been excavated from the fortress at Masada, where the last Jewish rebellion against the Roman government occurred about 66 A.D.  The residents of Masada had lived in the fortress for five years, before they finally committed suicide to avoid capture and execution by the Roman army. 

Cassette tape recorders were provided to each visitor so that we could tour the displays while listening to an explanation of each item that we saw. We saw replicas of Herod's palace and the last temple, artifacts left by the Roman soldiers, and shards of pottery and makeup brushes and brass mirrors left by the women who had lived at the fortress. When we came to a collection of very small clay lamps which were about the size of the palm of an adult hand, Mother motioned to me to turn off my tape recorder.  "Look," she pointed. "This explains the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins--five had enough oil for their lamps and the other five did not.  This explains why the five with the oil could not share theirs with the others."  I looked more closely at the lamps and saw what she meant--each little lamp was made like a nightlight with only enough supply of oil for one night.  When we had finished talking I clicked my cassette recorder back on to hear the narrator explain, "These oil lamps would have been the ones referenced in the parable of the ten virgins."

Of all of the experiences I have enjoyed over the course of my life, seeing the artifacts from Masada is in the top 5. The exhibit was a profound reminder that the nation of Israel was completely gone for almost 2000 years. As the child of parents who were in the Jesus movement, I grew up in a house where the star of David was prominently featured, and I learned from my earliest youth that the Jewish people are precious to God. To see the belongings of these people who were exterminated and scattered by the Romans was a profound reminder of the struggles of the Jewish people throughout history and particularly the long struggles of Israel as a nation to maintain its sovereignty.

As evangelicals, we believe that Israel is a nation that has a special and unique history and an important future.  We believe that the promise of God in Genesis to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and the entire world will be blessed because of you," extends to the entire nation of Israel.  We also agree with Benjamin Netanyahu that the reestablishment of the nation of Israel May 16, 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that it was God who re-established this nation as an independent state.  Therefore, we reject statements such as the one made recently by Henry Kissinger that within ten years the nation of Israel will cease to exist.  We stand against Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric not only because it is racist and genocidal but also because it stands against the purposes of God.

For evangelicals, there is a clear distinction between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.  Romney, we have learned, has maintained a friendship with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu since 1976 when they were both recruited by Boston Consulting Group.  In his foreign policy speech this week, Romney denounced the Obama Administration for distancing itself from Israel and promised that we would work closely with Israel in his administration.  Mitt's stated willingness to work with Netanyahu to protect Israel's interests in the Middle East is a stark contrast to President Obama who has stated that the boundaries of Israel need to be returned to their pre-1967 borders--a concept which is completely unacceptable to pro-Israel Evangelical Christian voters.

Abraham Lincoln said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."  When we stand with the nation of Israel in friendship and military support, we are on God's side.  That's one more reason why on November 6th, I am voting for Mitt Romney and not just against Barack Obama.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me A Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her newest novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Lenders new PAR arguments rejected in NRAM, Santander & Nationwide v. Doyle and 4 others

New legal arguments by Aberdein Considine & Co., solicitors on behalf of three UK lenders have been rejected in a Scottish judgement from Sheriff Deutsch at Glasgow Sheriff Court. The judgment pertains to five separate mortgage repossession actions which were heard together earlier this year, with GLC's Principal Solicitor acting for all five defenders.

The 'Doyle judgment' provides helpful discussion on what lenders need to do to satisfy the 2010 Pre-Action Requirements (PAR) Order, with examples of three cases which failed to meet the 'minimum standard' required under the 2010 Order, and two cases which met the statutory test.

The Pursuers' solicitors unsuccessful challenged the ratio in Northern Rock (Asset Management) Plc v. Millar 2012 SLT (Sh Ct) 58, but had also set forward a number of new legal arguments which had not been considered in Millar. A number of new propositions were advanced, including: that the Interpretation Act 1978 did not apply; 'default' was truly under standard condition 9(1)(b); there should be a flexible time for PAR compliance; and that there was no mandatory requirement to comply with regulation 2 of the 2010 Order. All of these arguments were rejected by the court.

The Pursuers' solicitors were able to show that there had been actual compliance with the PAR in two out of the five cases, and accordingly these were continued to determine further procedure, while three actions were dismissed as incompetent. The full judgment is available here (online PDF).

Aberdein Considine refuse to give copies of pre-action mortgage documents in Scottish repossession cases

Govan Law Centre (GLC) is concerned to note a change in practice by one of the panel firms of solicitors who represent lenders in Scottish mortgage repossession actions. Aberdein Considine and Co., Solicitors have advised us that they will no longer provide copies of formal mortgage correspondence sent to customers before court proceedings were raised. This change in practice will adversely affect many of our clients in future.

We are required to check such correspondence in order to properly advise our clients of their legal rights.  Not all customers retain all such documentation, particularly where they are under financial pressure or have health or other problems. All other lender’s firms in Scotland currently provide defenders' advisors with copies of pre-litigation correspondence when requested, which is often available in electronic form and can be readily provided by e-mail.

GLC is concerned to note that Aberdein Considine and Co., Solicitors will no longer provide us with copies of formal pre-litigation letters send by their clients. The Financial Services Authority's MCOB rules requires authorised firms to deal fairly with any customer who is arrears of his or her mortgage (R13.3.1).  This extends to agents acting on behalf of firms. Firms are also expected to liaise with a customer’s advisor regarding payment or sale shortfalls.  

GLC doesnot believe that the policy approach of Aberdein Considine and Co., is in the interests of lenders' customers and appears to be at odds with the FSA’s Principles of Business (Principle 6).Accordingly, GLC intends to formally take these policy issues up with lenders in the first instance

Are UK payday lenders breaching EU irresponsible lending rules?

Are UK payday lenders breaching EU rules on irresponsible lending and if so what does this mean for consumers?  Govan Law Centre publishes a brief thought paper by Mike Dailly examining the 2010 Consumer Credit (EU Directive) Regulations introduction of section 55A and 55B to the Consumer Credit Act 1974. 

GLC and our partners have seen increasing examples of how the need for small, short term loans are being ruthlessly exploited by payday lenders to the detriment of our clients and communities. Households have become entrapped in impossible cycles of indebtedness with monthly default, roll over and eye watering usury interest rate charges.

Often the result of such expensive indebtedness is enforced poverty, personal hardship and threatened homelessness as clients cannot pay their rent or mortgage or buy household groceries as payday lenders hoover money and charges from their bank accounts each month. GLC believes this is unfair, unethical, and against the public interest.

GLC is in the process of actively challenging the right of payday lenders to recover their fees and charges on behalf of our clients and will share any developments in due course.