How Beford Falls Became Potterville
- by Subversify Staff
- Posted on 12 August, 2011
From: Tales from Don Pedro
I first met Don Pedro when I was in my early 20s, working at a small brokerage firm on Wall St. He was one of the janitors employed by the owners of a medium-sized skyscraper. He had pulled me aside during lunch one hot summer day to castigate me for making lewd remarks to this gorgeous young secretary. In what would become a familiar scene, Don Pedro asked, “Why do you waste your fuckin’ time like that?’
Don Pedro’s English was a thing of beauty: at odds with his humble station and attire, with strong hints of the Caribbean and a self-assurance that was disarming. His English was heavily accented with his native Spanish, but even cursing, Don Pedro’s English was like listening to a song. Back then, I would usually tell someone like Don Pedro to go fuck himself, but there was something about this man that held me its power.
“Don’t look now, but that girl you just insulted, actually likes you. If you weren’t so fuckin’ busy trying to impress your friends and actually opened your eyes, you would see it,” he stated as if speaking to a child.
“See? Look: she’s going to look this way.”
And sure enough, she looked.
“Are you a smart guy,” he asked out of the blue.
“Sure, I happened to think I’m quite intelligent, as a matter of fact,” I replied.
He shook his head, “If you were really smart, you would have that lovely girl’s legs wrapped around your waist. You’re too fuckin’ stupid to realize that and because of your stupidity, all that beauty will go to waste on some hustler’s dumb-assed move.”
“Well, if you’re so smart, what would you do, old man,” I snapped back.
“My name is Don Pedro, never forget it. And because you seem to have some potential, I’ll help you out.”
From that point on, Don Pedro became something of a mentor to me. He seemed to always pop up at the right moment, or say the right thing, and his extended monologues on everything from philosophy to quantum physics to economics were worth their weight in gold. I was an avid reader even at that time, but Don Pedro opened my eyes and taught me how to read. He suggested books, pointing out that I read but that I was an undisciplined reader. He always had a book for me, a discussion on a particular work of art, and insight into a passage from a Thelonious Monk composition.
It was like that for us until that day so many years ago, when he said good-bye. He was right: I suffered tremendously. And yet here he was, in a janitor’s uniform yet again, that same shit-eating Burt Lancaster grin on his face, looking as if he hadn’t aged a day. I thought he had died. We had struck up a conversation and I was going on about default credit swaps and the financial collapse when I recognized the all too familiar impatience and the wave of dismissal with his hand as if saying you’re nipping at the ankle of the issue when you think you have it by the throat.
“What we have here isn’t a system based on capitalism nor the free market, or anything like that. In fact,” he spit out, “what we have is a casino. That’s what the economic elite have always wanted. Every crook has one. You see, a crook is basically lazy, and with a casino, people come to him to get robbed, and they bring in the cash so he can take it and screw the government at the same time. It’s been that way for a long time and there’s only one game bigger than that… ”I could see that don Pedro was starting off on a great point, so I waited patiently.
“… What happened was that one day in 1982 Congress passed the Garn-Saint Germain Act. It pretty much got rid of all the rules for savings and loans companies. They could charge what they wanted, pay what they wanted, buy and sell what they wanted, take deposits in any amount from anywhere, and then lend it to whomever they wanted, or even forget about lending and invest it themselves. Any idiot with a passably working pre-frontal cortex could see that this was maybe the first great opportunity in American financial history since the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, so everybody who knew and could, jumped at it.”
I looked at him to see if he was fucking with me, but he was serious, his expression a mix of disgust and earnestness, he continued, “You have to understand it wasn’t only that the rules changed, but that there was no one to enforce them. That was part of the program. If you don’t have regulations, you don’t have to hire regulators. A large part of Reagan’s propaganda was focusing the seething white middle class rage against ‘Big Government’ in order to justify cutting down the size of government.” He held up his hand before I could protest and added, “Yes, Eddie, I know Reagan grew the size of government, but that’s not important right now. What was important was creating the perception that he was shrinking government. In actuality, he was gutting certain parts of the government payroll.”
I was finally learning something about Don Pedro, who almost never disclosed any personal information about himself. He lived well, if modestly, for a janitor. He also had great taste in art, food, and music. Don Pedro could probably hold his own in a boardroom with his impeccable manner and elegant English dressed in a thick Spanish accent. He was also fond of what I saw as “blindsiding”: affecting the humble Latino act only to suddenly tear some idea apart with ruthless logic. It had been so long since I had seen Don Pedro and I found it strange that we met just like that — out of the blue. For me, Don Pedro was something akin to Castaneda’s quasi-mythic brujo, Don Pdero Matus. So I always tread lightly when he went into one of his prolonged dissertations because there was always so much to absorb.
“So, you’re telling me you had something to do with savings and loans?”
Don Pedro dismissed this with a rueful shake of his head and continued as if I never asked the question, “Imagine I go to college and started working right after graduation. When I get there, the regulators still knew all the players and all the rules were fifty years old. The money coming in was all from local people with passbooks, and the money going out was for mortgages on local one-family houses.”
“You mean like in the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?” I asked, chuckling. “Did you change all that?”
“No,” Don Pedro said, ignoring my bard, “I was just a bus boy at that party. And that’s what it was like — a party. You have to understand what was happening. One day the rules change, so each savings and loan sets its own rates. The next day, deposit brokers start taking money from everywhere in the world, breaking it into hundred-thousand-dollar chips and depositing the chips in whatever institution anywhere in the country had the highest interest that day. So if Bodeen and Bubba’s Bank in Armpit, Texas, gives an extra quarter point, suddenly it’s got millions of dollars being deposited: Arab oil money, skim-off money from business, drug money from Miami and New York, Yakuza money from Japan, money the CIA was washing to slip to some ideologue such as bin Laden, and lots of tax money.”
“Wait. Did you just say tax money?”
“Sure. You think they keep it in a lock box under the president’s bed? Say there’s a billion-dollar budget for some program. It’s got to be on short-term CDs so they can use it when they need it. A loan broker pops it in whenever the interest is highest. Half a year’s interest on a billion dollars at eight percent is forty million, right?”
“If you say so.”
“And this is money that can’t rest. It can’t stay put if there’s another bank that’s offering higher interest. One point of interest on one billion is ten million dollars. There were all kinds of city-government funds, college budgets, whole states that got their money a few months before they spend it. The count on the timing and figure the interest in as a way to stretch it. And it doesn’t matter if the money was in the Bank of America or the Bank of Cornhole, Iowa, because it was all insured.”
“So, how would this create an opportunity for you?”
“Forget about me for a minute. A few other things had to change first. Bailey Building and Loan is suddenly a happening thing.”
“Bailey Building and Loan?”
Don Pedro rolls his eyes and says, “You know, the little storefront savings in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? The archetypical American mom and pop savings and loan with assets of, say, a million dollars built up over twenty years? One day they offer a nice rate on their CDs; the next week they’ve got four hundred million in deposits. That happened a hell of a lot more often than people think. There were a few obstacles, however. They’re offering, say, nine percent. That means they’ve got to turn maybe ten, even twelve to make a profit. There’s very little in Bedford Falls that you can invest in that pays ten percent, and nothing at all that you can invest four hundred million in. So you’ve got to invest it the way you got it, in the great wide world outside of Bedford Falls.”
By now, Don Pedro was telling all this with pleasure. He seemed to be far away in familiar territory, a place filled with numbers. I let him talk.
“The Bailey Building and Loan Association is run by George Bailey III. He goes along for years and years, paying three percent on savings, charging six percent on loans. He knows his limits because they’ve been written down in a law since the thirties, when his grandparents quelled a panic by using the $2,000 set aside for their honeymoon to satisfy the depositors’ needs until confidence in the Building and Loan was restored. George is honest. He was born there, and he’s got two plots in the cemetery for him and Mrs. Bailey right behind his grandparents’ and behind his great-great grandfather who got shot in the ass during the fuckin’ Civil war. George even starts up Bailey Park, an affordable housing project. They and the other residents no longer have to pay high rents. But me? I know George Bailey is vulnerable.”
You said he was honest. What was his weakness?”
“One day George wakes up and finds himself on another planet. He’s got to pay nine percent and pay twelve. His million-dollar bank suddenly has four hundred million in deposits. He can’t invest it fast enough in the usual way to make the forty or fifty million he needs to turn a profit. In the middle of all this, in walks this nice person: maybe someone like me. Maybe I’ve been referred to George by a deposit broker who’s been putting lots of those hundred-thousand-dollar chips in the bank. Or I simply happened to meet one of his regular customers socially. Anyway, I’m a developer, or a general partner in a limited partnership. I’ve got a piece of land that’s been appraised for twenty million, I want to develop it as a resort, and I need a loan of ten million to finance it.”
“Is the land real?”
“Sure. That doesn’t mean I own it, or that it’s worth anything close to twenty million.”
“Didn’t they look at the deeds?”
“Sure. The owner is Pan-Atlantic Enterprises of New York, or Big Fuckin Deals, Inc. of Boca Raton. I’m an officer.”
“How did you make it look like it’s worth twenty million?”
“In those days there was no licensing law for appraisers anywhere in the country. So I’d get an appraisal that said what I wanted. Then we’d do a land-flip.”
“Buy it for a million. Sell it to my brother-in-law for six million. He sells it back to me for ten. I sell it to Big Fuckin Deals, Inc. for twenty.”
“Of course it worked. They’ve been doing since the Romans.”
“If it was that played out, why wasn’t it risky?”
“I’m sure you’re familiar with the term, ‘motivated seller’?”
“Well, the day after Bailey starts getting these brokered deposits, he becomes a motivated lender. He’s got four hundred million to lend out. If he makes ten percent, that’s forty million a year. He pays his depositors nine percent, or thirty six million pays his overhead, and he’s got maybe two million left in profit. He’s part owner, or at least a major stockholder. The others are local people, friends of his. He wants that profit. But if he lets the deposits sit in the vault, he’s losing three million a month. That’s a hundred thousand a day. That’s almost forty-two hundred an hour. Shit, it’s costing this guy thirty-three thousand dollars just to sleep eight hours!”
“You’re saying George Bailey fooled himself.”
“No. Sure, George never played in the Big Leagues before, but he wasn’t stupid. I’m a nice, personable businessman. I dress impeccably. I have a bright smile and I’m flashing mad money. I had a hot business I wanted to expand. Hot businesses need banks. Banks need hot businesses. He got fooled because he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do: for the first few years, a great company looks exactly like the company I was showing him. So he cut a check.”
“But what if… ”
“What if he said no? If Bailey didn’t bite, I’d leave him to somebody who had a pitch he liked better, and I’d go after his golfing buddy, Bubba, in the next town, who by now has five hundred million to move. But we hardly ever had to do that. Bailey would have to hump pretty damn hard for a reason to turn me down, and he knew he didn’t have time to hump. He had to find jobs for his dollars.”
“So you get a loan, what then?”
“Correction, Big Fuckin’ Deals, Inc. got a loan. Big Fuckin Deals spends it: building expenses, salaries, et cetera. But Big fuckin Deals neglects to pay the interest.”
“What did Bailey decide to do about it?”
“I’ll skip a few phone calls, meetings, and threats. Usually that takes months. At some point, Bailey realizes that he’s got a problem. He can do several things. One is to foreclose on the land. That’s fine with me. I just sold a one-million-dollar piece-of-shit of swampland for ten million. Another option is to accept my excuses and roll over the loan into a new one that includes the interest I owe him. Now it’s a new loan for eleven million. Some of those banks carried loans like that for five years.”
“Because Bailey hasn’t lost any money until he reports the loan as nonperforming. If he makes a new loan, he not only hasn’t lost ten million, he can put another million as an asset. This satisfies the regulators, if any should get around to Bailey with all the other work they’ve got. It keeps the bank looking healthy, so Bailey has breathing space.”
“Why does he need such expensive breathing space?”
“Because he didn’t make the forty million he needed to turn a profit. If he was a quick learner, he made maybe thirty five million: eight and three quarters percent. He’s still got to pay nine percent to the depositors, so he’s maybe a million in the hole at the end of the first year. From one perspective that’s not bad. It cost a million dollars to make his bank four hundred times as big as it was the previous year. But now he’s on a treadmill that’s going faster and faster. He needs to attract more brokered deposits so he can make more loans. If he gets another two hundred million, he can bring back maybe fifty or sixty million next year and easily absorb the million he lost. As I said, he’s not stupid. He knows that he looks great on paper as long as he’s moving fast. But if somebody take a photograph — that is, stops the action and actually studies it — his bank is insolvent. So now his main goal is to keep the system in motion.”
“At this point he must know that you weren’t going to pay the money back.”
“Actually, they all knew too much. See, Bailey has been around the block enough times to have seen problems come and go — the oil crisis and the stock market slide in the early seventies, the inflation after that. He’s a survivor. There was no question this wasn’t going on forever. If he rode it out, then when it ended, he’s be sitting on top of a shit load of money and could sort out the change later. But if he stopped now, he was out of business. Sometimes these guys would do anything to keep the money moving through — loan anything to anybody and then cook the books to keep the loan from going bad.”
“So what you’re saying is that people got loans and walked away with the money.”
“That was only one specialty. there were other people who made a lot of headlines by building bullshit empires — lending themselves money to build phantom communities in the desert and paying themselves and their families fifty million in salaries for doing it. But that’s not the important thing, what I’m trying to tell you is that all this was going on for a long time, and the ones you read about weren’t the only ones who did it. They weren’t even the only ones that got caught. They were just the very unlucky ones who got convicted.”
“It meant that one of those overworked and underpaid low-level federal accountants had to get around to looking at all the loan papers, spot yours, notice there was something wrong with the loan, ask questions, get the wrong answers, and convince his supervisor to do something about your loan instead of someone else’s. Even the procedures were mindboggling. That stereotype of cold-blooded bank examiners popping in out of nowhere and padlocking is a myth. It never happened that way. Not once.”
You’re saying it was staged for television cameras?”
“No, not exactly. The images were real. What you didn’t see was what happened before… “
To be continued…
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…
Eddie SantoPrieto- Don Pedro’s English was like listening to a song, there was something about this man that held me its power.
Translate: the wealth “created” by the financial “industry” is all smoke and mirrors – what else is new?
It’s a good thing I invest in things that have actual utility (guns, ammo, non-perishable foods, wilderness survival gear, etc…) – no matter how many upswings and crashes this rigged market game expereicens, my supplies retain their value…
Very few people have a strong grasp on how banking institutions make their money; or i should say, how relaxing regulations has allowed these banks to inflate property values, float their funds between various institutions,and capitalize on forfeitures. Inflated values keep the “real” off estate. The one hundred thousand dollar homes whose real value would not have brought more than thirty five thousand in a market based on average income and housing needs, are now being plowed under as “over-development” while the banks plot out their next get-rich quick investment.
What the banks continue to ignore is this; their playing field has become a more and more inclusive clientele. Only the wealthy can continue to invest with the banks, and they have nothing to offer that eighty percent of the population can afford. While this particular economic wheel remains motionless, the effects creep steadily up the ladder. We are currently seeing it in the oil industry. As it bumped its price per barrel into brackets even the upper middle class could not afford, consumption went down, lessening the demand for oil products.
We are witnessing it in tourism, which affects the airlines, the hotels and recreational facilities. We are witnessing it in gross index products which sit on the shelves for lack of buying customers. The rich have nothing better to do now than create a playground for the rich, ignoring the needs of the rest of the world, feeding them synthetic foods that shorten their life span, supplying them with recycled water, enticing them with junk for homes that are not their own while they play chess games on who has the most money.
This is part of a short story I’ve never finished and I’m not trying to retell the fact that the “free market” is rigged. Most people with a working pre-frontal cortex already know this. I’m sure MOST people who read Subversify are already aware. what I was trying to say, from a socio-political POV, is that while many of us “know” the game is rigged, very few know just HOW and WHEN it was rigged. In fact, I wrote this piece because many of the same people who actually claim to know this, advocate for policies (i.e., “libertarianism”) that reinforce it. Karlsie, as usual, hits the nail on the head with her observations re: deregulation and making the connections showing how we are really INTERRELATED, not isolated individuals taking pot shots at squirrels in the wilderness while waiting for Armageddon to arrive.
I was also trying to show that these things don’t happen overnioght, or merely through a mysterious cabal. What’s happening today is the result of a neoliberal campaign that has taken place at a global level or several decades.
[Quote=Eddie]: deregulation and making the connections showing how we are really INTERRELATED, not isolated individuals taking pot shots at squirrels in the wilderness while waiting for Armageddon to arrive.[/quote]
Think about it – if all or most of us were “taking pot shots at squirrels” (as you so eloquently put it) we would not be in this mess today: we would not be caught up in all these ridiculous investment bubbles nor would we be particularly affected by the disastrous results when they finally burst – such things would not impact our ability to survive because we would have a means of existing apart from the “free market” (or so it’s often refered to as being anyway…).
Come on Eddie – this civilization is doomed to the shithole of history and I’m pretty sure you’re aware of that: don’t throw stones at the folks “waiting for Armageddon” because it’s the survivalists and militia men that will inherit what’s left of the world when the state goes belly-up (and it *will*). If I were you, I’d make good friends with some of these folks you ridicule as they might be all that stand between you and oblivion when shit hits the fan…
Azazel, or whatever your name is: you think you have the isseue by the throat when in actuality you’re barely nipping at its cuffs. My point is that if you’re not doing anything except masturbating with your guns, then you really have nothing useful to add. Why even comment? If you were REALLY down, you’d be shooting at powerful people, or taking out “The Cabal”(lot good that would do), instead of shooting at squirrels in your back yard.
Who says I’m not acting against those in power? Sorry, but I won’t admit to or deny anything on that front (no talking about fight club, you know…) – I know, that answer is unsatisfying. But you should know how people who say too much can give away their “trade secrets” and essentially hang themselves with their own words…
And I’m not “nipping at the cuffs” here – I’m pointing out that “civilized” people are too damn dependent on the establishment for their own benefit: if most people had some means of surviving apart from the established socio-economic order, it’s total implosion (which will likely happen in the next decade or so) would not affect them so much – rendering all this tak about loan practices and land-flips and the like purely academic (after all, who needs state-issued monies in a post-state world?).
Azazel: I say you’re not doing anything. I seriously doubt you’re acting militia-wise and if you are, ain’t nobody big time getting hit. LOL!
As for the rest, I’m not waiting for the implosion. I come from 100 of years of resistance. Resistance is in my blood. I don’t wait for shit.
Oh yeah, seriously speaking, if you’re buying guns and ammo, then you’re NOT living apart from the social order. In fact, YOU CAN’T live apart from the social order, that’s a delusion. If ALL you’re doing is buying guns and ammo, then you’re DEFINITELY supporting the status quo with your purchases. You know, the gun lobby, the NRA, etc.
It’s a myth that you can live outside the social order, or that you have no connection. you’re just as connected as the dumbest, most naive motherfucker you would express contempt for — you’re just like the rest of us.
Wow! been a long time since you took my brain and scrambled it. Yes the “free market” is rigged and the deregulations destroyed the “good” in many a good man. My biggest issue is most of those good men wanted these things without realizing it was at their own peril. To add insult to injury a well stated political sales pitch still can make them a “motivated buyer” of this bullshit.
BTW…a lot of times you have been my “Don Pedro” thank you for that. Be patient with me, im still learning…still trying…still tired of not knowing.
“Azazel: I say you’re not doing anything. I seriously doubt you’re acting militia-wise and if you are, ain’t nobody big time getting hit.”
Believe what you will – I know better than to talk about what I do in public…
“As for the rest, I’m not waiting for the implosion. I come from 100 of years of resistance. Resistance is in my blood. I don’t wait for shit.”
That’s nice and all, but you stike me as having the instincts of the wild dog – constantly running after prey that ca run much faster than himself, hoping that the prey will tire out before he does. I have instincts more akin to the crocodile: I prefer to wait until an opportune moment before exherting myself – until then building stregth for a massive strike.
“Oh yeah, seriously speaking, if you’re buying guns and ammo, then you’re NOT living apart from the social order. In fact, YOU CAN’T live apart from the social order, that’s a delusion. If ALL you’re doing is buying guns and ammo, then you’re DEFINITELY supporting the status quo with your purchases. You know, the gun lobby, the NRA, etc.
As one revolutionary once said “they will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” I have no qualms buying supplies from my enemy – as they will eventualy be turned around against them…
I cannot think of a single instance in which deregulation turned out to be a good thing. There are plenty of examples of how deregulation screwed all but the wealthy few. I don’t really remember a time since I was in high school that we haven’t seemed to be heading for disaster, either in terms of the increasing power of the religious right, the decreasing protection for ordinary people and consumers, or both. I’ve seen a pattern of abandonment of responsibility and regulation, as well as increasing amounts of gibberish being spouted about economics, with everything that had previously been said and taught being–well, pretty much ignored.
So am I surprised when you connect the dots in this way, or when Richard Wolff connects a different set of dots that lead back to the 1970s? No. But I did see either pattern before the dots were connected for me? TO be honest, no. Definitely not. And I’m grateful for the history lesson and the added clarity.
It’s funny; Eisenhower about the military-industrial complex but not about bankers. He had the right idea but too limited an understanding. There will always be industries and institutions that can be the vehicle for the game.
I have to admit, I feel pretty hopeless when I consider the extent to which the government is corporate-owned and to which there is no one looking out for–you know, the rest of us. Everyone. All of the people who aren’t in charge and aren’t super-rich. I don’t see any way things get better unless people begin to understand and get angry enough to demand change.
But understanding and getting angry requires not believing idiot things like regulation slows job creation. It means not being a libertarian or a teabagger. It means not believing that you are going to be super-rich any day now. It means being a clear enough thinker not to vote for anyone who pays lip service to your religious beliefs. It means not thinking that only people who deserve it suffer and lose everything,so therefore, it won’t happen to you. It means not buying into any of the myriad idiotic bigotries that keep people at each other’s throats.
So, as soon as we solve all the problems of human nature OR get everyone to start thinking critically, we’ll be sitting pretty. So, no problem.
As an alternative, everything could get much, much worse and enough people could suffer badly enough to create consensus and a demand for change. Or, if the people in power are smart, they’ll see that it doesn’t ever get that bad, so that they don’t have to make too many changes. After all, they’ve demonstrated good sense, caution, and restraint up until now…
OK, so why the brotha from the Caribbean have to be the janitor?
Rippa, I think he’s either voluntarily atoning for his past sins or magically appearing to use his mystical powers to help Eddie when he’s needed and isn’t really a janitor at all.
LOL@ Rippa: He’s actually MORE than just a janitor, but that’s giving away my story, you fuck.
@Karten: As long as we all don’t settle back into buying guns and taking pot shots at squirrels while waiting for the apocaplypse to come, we’ll still have a chance.
@Azazel: you can say what you want, but my actions are there for public record. My programs are REAL, they help REAL people NOW. I can list them and point to them where you can quantify them if you want. Anyone here who knows me, knows what I’m about, I don’t need to prove anything. You, OTOH, smack me as what we could call a “table revolutionary”: you TALK a game, and might yell at your mother or family members while seated at the dinner table, but I don’t see you doing more than that. but you’re not really about much. If you ARE doing something, I would be most happy to hear about it, as I respect people who implement critical thinking into subversive action. If you’re just “waiting,” I have no use for you.
Me, shoot at squirrels? I just rescued a baby opossum that would otherwise have drowned. I save my potshots for idiots, and I bring my own ammo to the battle.
The day I have to pay someone for ammunition is the day I give up the fight.
Azazel: You seem to think that investing in the NRA and the gun lobby (via your consuming of their products and reinforcing their ideology) is somehow a good thing, because you pose as some kind of revolutionary and somehow, you’re working to overturn them. That’s a lot of bullshit, frankly speaking — a rationalization to do nothing.
But if that’s what you think is revolutionary thinking, then you should prostrate yourself before me, because, unlike you and the few pennies you donate to the NRA and the gun lobby (through your purchases), I actually TAKE literally MILLIONS of dollars from corporations and government and turn it around to help people empower themselves. For the last ten years, for example, I managed AT LEAST a 500k budget ANNUALLY — funds WILLINGLY given to me by mostly corporate foundations and some government entities. Multiply that by 10 and you get what? $5 MILLION dollars used to help literally THOUSANDS of people help themselves through organizing, political consciousness-raising, skills training, education, etc.
You’re PAYING the NRA and gun lobby for the rope you hope to hang them with and corporations have been PAYING ME for the same rope.
I don’t talk about what I do because much of it isn’t exactly “legal” – I believe I’ve mentioned this before. And for the record, I don’t discuss what I do with the family either (they have a hard time thinking outside the Republican hyperpatriot box that they’ve been sealed in for some time…).
Also, regarding that NRA garbage, who says I’m getting my guns through them? I buy most of my weapons from private sales (person-to-person, not through dealers; which is technically “legal” but involves no papers or profit to the arms industries) and I also get a few from “other” sources I won’t mention. I won’t deny that I buy amunition, but I also do a lot of reloading as well (which keeps more money in my pockets, and thus out of the coffers of NRA affiliates): but all the same, I have no problems buying ammunition from mainstream dealers when I need to – as those rounds are to be used against the system later (once again, I will not give details).
And you can boast about how much you take from corporations all you want – the 500k/year you take from them is a drop in the bucket as far as the powers that be are concerned. And based on what you claim to spend it on (“political organizing” – as if that ever did anything more than force a handfull of concessions: essentially naming one’s price for servatude), you aren’t much of a threat to the established order: feel free to keep chasing “reform” – I’ll just wait until I have the power to kill the beast once and for all…
Oh, and I care little for the notion of “public record” – very little done in public has all that much significance. It’s what’s done is secret, behind the scenes, that really matters: no movement of any kind gets far without an underground – every MLK *needs* a Malcom X operating from the shadows in order for his message to be taken seriously (otherwise, his impassioned pleas fall upon deaf ears…).