Monday, May 12, 2008

Robber Barons

Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes: States Seize Citizens' Property to Balance Their Budgets
Resources to Search for Unclaimed Property in Your Name

May 12, 2008 —

The 50 U.S. states are holding more than $32 billion worth of unclaimed property that they're supposed to safeguard for their citizens. But a "Good Morning America" investigation found some states aggressively seize property that isn't really unclaimed and then use the money -- your money -- to balance their budgets.

Unclaimed property consists of things like forgotten apartment security deposits, uncashed dividend checks and safe-deposit boxes abandoned when an elderly relative dies.

Banks and other businesses are required to turn that property over to the state for safekeeping. The problem is that the states return less than a quarter of unclaimed property to the rightful owners.

Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff's safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked "owner unknown."

"I was appalled," Ruff said. "I felt violated."

Unknown? Carla's name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address -- a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too -- still does -- and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she's the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

"They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed," Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that's not all. Her great-grandmother's precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

"These things were things that she gave to me," Ruff said. "I valued them because I loved her."

California's Class Action Lawsuit

Ruff is not alone. Attorney Bill Palmer represents her and countless other citizens in a class action lawsuit against the state of California.

"They figured the safety-deposit box was safer than keeping it under the mattress," Palmer said. "In the case of a lot of citizens, they were wrong, weren't they?"

California law used to say property was unclaimed if the rightful owner had had no contact with the business for 15 years. But during various state budget crises, the waiting period was reduced to seven years, and then five, and then three. Legislators even tried for one year. Why? Because the state wanted to use that free money.

"That's absolutely correct," said California State Controller John Chiang, who inherited the situation when he came into office. "What we've done here over the last two decades has been dead wrong. We've kept the property and not provided owners with the opportunities -- the best opportunities -- to get their property back."

Chiang now faces the daunting task of returning $5.1 billion worth of unclaimed property to people. Some states keep their unclaimed property in a special trust fund and only tap into the interest they earn on it. But California dumps the money into the general fund -- and spends it.

"It's supposed to be segregated and protected," Palmer said. "California has taken all of that $5.1 billion and has used it as a massive loan."

California became so addicted to spending people's money, that, for years, it simply stopped sending notices to the rightful owners. ABC News obtained a 1996 internal memo in which the lawyer for the Bureau of Unclaimed Property argued against expanding programs to notify rightful owners. He wrote, "It could well result in additional claims of monies that would otherwise flow into the general fund."

Seizing More Than Safe-Deposit Boxes

It's not just safe-deposit boxes. A British man went to retire and discovered the $4 million in U.S. stock he had been counting on had been seized and sold for $200,000 years earlier -- even though he was in touch with the company about other matters.

A Sacramento family lost out on railroad land rights their ancestors had owned for generations -- also sold off as unclaimed property.

"If I had hung onto it, I would be a millionaire, multimillionaire," said John Whitley. "But that didn't happen because we didn't get to hold it."



Now you know why Granpaw buried his money in Mason jars because he did not trust banks, they cannot be trusted. In fact in case of a national emergency: "The U.S. Government has the authority to prohibit the private possession of gold and silver coin and bullion by U.S. citizens during wartime, and, during wartime and declared emergencies, to freeze their ownership of shares of mining companies, the Treasury Department has told the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee. But gold and silver owners aren't alone in such jeopardy. For the U.S. Government claims the authority in declared emergencies to seize or freeze just about everything else that might be considered a financial instrument". @ The Free Republic

Isn't fascism just wonderful?



micki said...

Conservatives are happier than liberals -- it says here

micki said...

DEN -- go here to CALIFORNIA UNCLAIMED PROPERTY and do a search to see if you or a family member has unclaimed property held by the state

One of my sisters and I discovered that Washington State was holding "unclaimed property" in our dad's name, that dated back to the 1960s. It was several thousand dollars that was, by law, turned over to the state by Prudential Life Insurance. We got the money by providing his death certificate (he died in 1996) and some other paper work. We did the same thing for a deceased aunt from Michigan -- as her survivors, the money was legally ours. (A friend who is a lawyer -- I know, nasty word to some -- told us about this. She said why should the state keep it?)

Anyone who wants to try this, do a search for your state, i.e. Michigan unclaimed property

micki said...

Unclaimed property - Washington State

Unclaimed property -- Michigan

Unclaimed property - Minnesota

DEN said...

No luck uncovering any lost funds dammit!

I'm so poor, I cannot afford to pay attention!

ò¿óarol said...

Someone sent me a shortened version of Micki's article last week...from Fox News. I wrote back saying that was because conservatives aren't as smart as liberals and they happily enjoy their ignorance. If she would have been here, I probably would have grabbed her by her neck! Arghhhhhh!!!!!!

ô,ôarol said...

Bob's parents are listed in the unclaimed property thing, but it's useless to try to see what it even is the state has. We got hold of the request form back in 1999. Impossible to fulfill each requirement. They managed to complicate things so much they get to keep whatever it is.

Don't ask me what the requirements on the form were. I've long forgotten.

micki said...

Carol, I think it's gotten easier. All we needed was a death certificate and a signed affadavit (sp?) that we were the legal "heirs." It took about a month or so -- and VOILA! A check in the mail.

They even gave the amount of the unclaimed property -- I have rights to some unclaimed property in Texas but it's so miniscule that it's not worth the trouble to recover it.

micki said...

DEN -- I took out your last name for security reasons (hahaha), but are these people related to you -- they have the same last name as yours.

Name Held In Last Known Address Reported By Amount

AXA SA Under $100

DEN said...

Micki, nope, lotsa people with my last name around WI and MN.

Propagating Catholics.

micki said...

Darn! I wanted to find some gas money for you!

Carol...would Bob's parents be Steve, Stephen and Elizabeth?

DEN said...

The Yacht Party(AKA repugs)

micki said...

Remarks from Senator Clinton and Senator Jeffords on why they oppossed "Dick Cheney's Energy Bill in 2005, which BHO voted FOR

DEN said...

Sam Seder interviews Russ Feingold on secret laws. (7min long)

DEN said...

McCain’s Lobbyists In Trouble For Foreign Lobbying

Progressive Media USA
PUBLISHED: May 11, 2008
Over the last two days, John McCain campaign has lost two advisors who resigned because of their lobbying firm’s work for the military regime in Myanmar. Unfortunately, these men are only two of 112 lobbyists who are advising, working for or raising money for John McCain’s presidential campaign. And they are not the only ones who have lobbied for foreign governments with headed by questionable foreign governments, including dictators. Here is some key information on McCain lobbyists.

The Who's Who of sinister a-holes

David B. Benson said...

387 ppm now:

World CO2 levels at record high, scientists warn

DEN said...

Doc, sounds like we better get on the ball here, does not bode well for many creatures survival including us.

Just have to stop burning stuff!

Shut off the entire fossil fuel combustion idea, it DOES NOT WORK.

Money trumps science when there is a lot to be made, short term thought disregarding long term consequences.

Thx 4 the link.

Saladin said...

Dang Mr. Benson, CO2 thru the roof, but no more global warming? What's up with that anyway? Guess all those models were wrong, like people tend to be.

First, here's a fun blurb:

Exxon cuts ties to global warming skeptics
Oil giant also in talks to look at curbing greenhouse gases

MSNBC staff and news service reports
updated 10:42 a.m. PT, Fri., Jan. 12, 2007

NEW YORK - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is engaging in industry talks on possible U.S. greenhouse gas emissions regulations and has stopped funding groups skeptical of global warming claims — moves that some say could indicate a change in stance from the long-time foe of limits on heat-trapping gases.

Exxon, along with representatives from about 20 other companies, is participating in talks sponsored by Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit. The think tank said it expected the talks would generate a report in the fall with recommendations to legislators on how to regulate greenhouse emissions....

Read the whole silly article at the above URL

Meanwhile back in reality:

Global warming profiteers are wrong

Christopher Monckton
April 3, 2008

Climate alarmists are alarmed, scaremongers scared, for their predictions of catastrophe are not coming true. "Global warming" has stopped. For 10 years, average temperatures on earth have not risen. For seven years, the trend has been downward. The fall between January 2007 and January 2008 was the biggest since records began in 1880.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's climate panel, says it had better find out where it got its sums wrong. Lord Lawson, a former UK Treasury Secretary, says the panel should be scrapped.

Polls reveal that voters worldwide, bored with wolf-crying scientists, see "global warming" as just another pretext for more tax, regulation and empire-building. So the tiny clique of politicized scientists driving the scare are desperate to revive fear of doom. Otherwise, the multibillion-dollar climate-change industry is headed straight down the pan.

A favorite tactic is to blame any passing extreme-weather event on "global warming." This just in: "A 5,282-square-mile ice shelf has begun to collapse because of rapid climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula. The Wilkins is one of a string of ice shelves that have collapsed in the past 30 years. Larsen B disappeared in one month in 2002. Six similar collapses underscore the region's unprecedented warming."

Blood-curdling, but false. The Wilkins Ice Shelf, like its vanished neighbors, was not there in the medieval warm period, or in the 2,000-year-long Holocene Climate Optimum, when global temperatures were above today's.

Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who first spotted the disintegration in March, says the Wilkins has been in place for a few centuries. So it was not there before.

The Antarctic Peninsula represents just 2 percent of the continent, and still less of its ice mass. The vanished ice shelves covered a combined area just 1/55 the size of Texas. Massive chunks break away from Antarctica all the time, to re-grow in colder times. Whalers' logs going back centuries report sightings of vast icebergs hundreds of miles long.

Since regular temperature records were first kept 50 years ago, most of the continent has been cooling. The Antarctic peninsula is an exception. Local undersea volcanic activity may be partly to blame.

Another factor is the warming effect of the recently ended 70-year Solar Grand Maximum, when the sun was more active, and for longer, than at almost any similar period in the past 11,400 years. Long-term ocean changes have also contributed.

In the Arctic, the media reported less summer sea ice than at any time since records began. Most did not report that records began only 30 years ago; that at both Poles there is more sea ice now than ever since records began; that there are five times more polar bears today than 50 years ago; that the Arctic was warmer in the 1940s than today; or that the average thickness of the vast Greenland ice sheet grew by 2 inches yearly from 1993-2003.

Even the UN's climate panel says melting ice will not raise sea level by Al Gore's imagined 20 feet for several millennia, largely through natural causes.

Back in the Antarctic, winter has come, so ice-shelf disintegration has stopped. Even if Wilkins collapses altogether, melting ice shelves add not a millimeter to sea level: the ice is already floating. Niklas Moerner, who has spent his entire 30-year career studying sea level, says sea level will rise this century by little more than the 8 inches observed in the 20th century. Just 3 inches of that rise will come from ice-melt. "Global warming" profiteers had better start looking for another job -- or another scare.
Can we please concentrate on the true disasters, like never ending war and the politicians that propagate them?

David B. Benson said...

Den --- Just fossil fuel. Burn all the charcoal you want.

Just don't use any lighter fluid. :-)

David B. Benson said...

Saladin --- Monckton is well-known to be a fool.

Global warming will continue and continue to contribute to further climate wars.

DEN said...

Sal, you are way off the mark with that thought. There is a tremendous amount of burned fossil fuel being pumped into the air every second.

That upsets the natural balance BEYOND normal parameters, more CO2 from pollution HAS to have an effect.

Denial prolongs the inevitable, loss of food supply = dead humanity and everything else depending on the right ratio of gases to breath to survive.

Action needed now, not 10 years when it's to late to turn back the clock.

Electric renewable energy is the only solution, solar, wind and wave power. Let the Earth balance out the atmosphere as only it knows how.

Maybe then we won't be fossils for some future lifeform to discover.

Saladin said...

It's funny that everyone that disagrees with the "cult" is a well known fool. It's also quite a coincidence that the only solution is to tax the people into oblivion, but then I guess that would solve everything!
DEN, I don't disagree with any of that, fossil fuel is primitive, we can do much better, but it isn't causing climate change. There hasn't been any warming for 10 years, that is a fact, and the prediction is for 10-15 years of cooling, a natural cycle brought about by the sun and ocean activity. CO2 has nothing to do with it. And, since when has the earth been balanced? Since humans came around to determine what balance was, for them? If you disagree maybe you would like this new club:
Dear Humans, Give The Earth A Break, Commit Suicide
Human reduction, by hook or by crook.

And we also have this lovely video:
Iran, You Know, The One On The Table For Obliteration, Right Next To The Sugar And Salt And Pepper Shakers
Global warming? What a fucking joke. When the nukes fly, then you can worry.

micki said...

Climate change tied to Arctic caribou decline