Meet Lori Polin. Her flashing white smile, chipmunk cheeks, and highschool cheerleader looks are displayed on every bit of sales literature you can find, in typical real estate broker style.
I've never met Lori, as she moves about in the Hillsborough County community, which differs greatly from the Pinellas County one. Even though we're sister counties, we're miles apart. But when you look at her site and read today's St. Pete Times story, you feel like you know her well. In fact, you know her so well that you immediately want to go take a shower to rid yourself of some of that grime that seems to rub off from the newsprint.
Lori's brilliant smile also apparently conceals a scheming mind. She helped some local real estate speculators to cash in on the ebullient mortgage market between 2005 and 2007, by selling them homes that were inflated far above the market price.
The men would approach Lori and offer her a price far above the asking price, and she would happily sell it to them. Again and again and again. No questions asked, according to Lori, of course. She seems to posess a remarkably incurious mind for someone who has been repeatedly named a top ReMax realtor.
Then the men defaulted on the loans, pocketing vast sums of money in the process, and adding their own two cents' worth to the burgeoning mortgage crisis.
Now the Florida Attorney General has slapped a lawsuit on 25 people involved in this scam. Lori "...is not named as a defendant because real estate agents are exempted from the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act under which the others are being sued," reports the Times.
I am a political moderate. I am also very far from perfect, as most of us are. But knowing this, I acknowledge that deep down inside of us is a turgid, seething little Id always more concerned about the state of ourselves than the state of others.
That is why the classic Republican model of Trickle Down Economics and laissez faire business practices is so highly impractical. Ultimately, we are driven by self-interest. Some of us fight against this on a daily basis, and some of us embrace this.
We cannot rely on others to have our best interests at heart. That's why AIG, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have floundered. That's why many more financial institutions are hovering at the precipice.
Once you remove fences, cattle wander. Once you remove imposed boundaries, businesses and people are prone to wander as well. That rule applies both professionally and personally.
We walk a fine line between too much and too little government. There are some areas in which the government is not needed. But without societal rules and laws, people will push the boundaries beyond all decency. That's human nature, and human nature is something that all politicians on both sides like to forget. They pretend it doesn't exist, burying it's distasteful existence as one would bury a putrescent zombie that refuses to lay down and die.
If someone worries about their fellow man, they are a rarity. They also cannot be counted on to continue to do so on a consistent basis.
That's why the government takes care of doling out public assistance, paving the roads, ensuring that we have parks for our children to play in, and beaches to walk on. Because if it were up to Big Business, every park would become a parking lot, every beach a hotel, and the needy in our society would be sitting at every street corner, begging for their next meal.
In my opinion, this extends to healthcare as well. The insurance companies are in business to make money. That means minimal pay-outs, minimal care, and maximum profit. And doesn't that make sense? Of course it does! They have stockholders to answer to.
And that's why we need federal regulations on the healthcare and financial sectors. The reason we are having the problems we are having now are due to the lack of regulations we currently have.
This is the reason that AIG fell. This is the reason that the other financial institutions have fallen or are teetering on the edge. This is the reason why Lori and her cohorts successfully defrauded the system for so long. And this is the reason why the Republicans are sometimes wrong, and the Democrats are sometimes right.