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yawn, what a surprise
How does one become the recipient of Obama’s cronyism? Apparently, an alternate path to massive campaign donations (à la Solyndra) is being involved in massive scandal. Such is the case with Aspire Resources, who last month became one of the primary collection agencies for government student loans (a trillion dollar industry, before those “greedy” banks handled both the loans and collection thereof). Obama, in what some considered an attack on capitalism, and others a downright unconstitutional act, took over the student loan industry in 2009.
What scandal was Aspire Resources involved in?
With a little digging we found Iowa Student Loans (ISL), the non-profit arm of Aspire Resources, was mired in scandal just months before Obama won the Presidency.
“A report released last fall by Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller demonstrates how ISL officials carried out this strategy. According to the report, the agency’s leaders pursued a concerted strategy to steer students in the state to its most expensive private student loan products. Among other things, the AG found that ISL had provided kickbacks to colleges that recommended its private “Iowa Partnership Loans” to their students; gave financial rewards to their employees based on the number of private loan borrowers they secured; paid bonuses to staff members at the college access centers they managed based on the number of borrowers they brought in; falsely advertised its private loan products as the “lowest cost” options available; and routinely failed to advise students and their families to exhaust their federal student loan eligibility before taking out private loans.”
The request comes at a time when the government is looking for ways to collect tens of billions of dollars.
According to a report by the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service, the Education and the Health and Human Services departments as well as FMS itself referred debts totaling $35.9 billion to private debt collectors in the 2010 fiscal year.
The Education Department accounted for the largest share by far - $28.8 billion referred to 22 private debt collection companies. The firms collected $685 million outright, and another $1.7 billion was recast into agreements that are designed to be paid monthly, according to the report.
Prison Labor in America as the Dubious Answer to Corporate Flight
More than 80,000 prisoners are employed in some variety of inmate work program, but the typical image of chain gangs at work along the edges of the highway is changing. Inmates are just as likely to be engaged in apparel manufacturing, at computer terminals, or in telemarketing consumer services.
All states employ some of their prisoners in labor situations, but the details of these programs vary from state-to-state. Some prisoners work in government industries or assemble products for the state; others manufacture goods that are sold on the open market. Private sector manufacturers subcontract through inmate work programs in 38 states, with companies such as Victoria's Secret, CMT Blues, and Target Corporation using prison labor to manufacture their retail products. In at least three states, labor is mandatory for everyone in jail.