Corruption is a feature, not a bug

The Baby Loan That Wasn’t

Orbán pulled a nasty trick on gullible couples who applied for the loan-for-babies state program.

The days has come. I’ve been searching for a clip on YouTube and it was not there. The reason I’ve been searching is that it reminded me of something.

house of lies 1

The fictional bankers of the show House of Lies, who broke the mortgage market but still want to collect their bonuses and look good. Image: House of Lies/Showtime

It was a scene from season 1, episode 1 of the hit show ‘House of Lies’ produced by Showtime. In it, a bunch of unscrupulous consultants present an equally unscrupulous bank with a plan to not help their struggling mortgage customers – while still looking good.

And the way they do is a sham loan amnesty program.

Step 1 – Announce that your bank is so nice, it declares loan amnesty on eligible mortgage holders.

Step 2 – Collect praise and your bonuses on the same day.

Step 3 – Become Man of the Year on the cover of Time Magazine and put your nasty, fat face next to the words “New Era of Corporate Responsibility”

house of lies 2

Put your nasty, fat face next to the words “New Era of Corporate Responsibility” Image: House of Lies/Showtime

Step 4 – Eliminate 95% of applications but in such a slow process that no one can point out when exactly it stopped being an amnesty program.

I quote because I can’t attach the clip:

“- After the announcement we will roll out the amnesty applications. We estimate in an initial surge to market of about 17 million applicants. And after the initial disqualifications, we’re left with about 9 million remaining. Then the applications will go through processing with another 8,800,000 eliminated. Nearly half of which will be due to good old inertia and lack of follow through.
Then a final fine comb will go through along with a series of technical dequeues. 6% mortality dequeue.
– It’s your basic bump-and-grab, guys.
– You have a mark: the customer. A jostler bumps into them, creates a distraction. That’s the amnesty program.
– The grab: that’s you all taking your bonuses, while they’re all admiring your amnesty program.
– By the time all the paperwork’s in, you’re probably about 50,000 full write-downs.
Total cost? Not as much as…

By the time the details of the program go through, most of the applicants are eliminated as ineligible and you have collected not one, but several annual bonuses. Meanwhile, the poor applicants are fighting the bank’s poor clerks, collecting paperwork, waiting and hoping – not suspecting that they are just stooges in a scam that was created as a distraction.

Something similar is apparently happening in Hungary right now, with the loan-for-babies state program, better known as Orbán’s breeding drive for purebred Huns.

For those who haven’t heard of it, King Orbán offers roughly 30 thousand euros in mortgage loan for couples who sign a contract to stay married, don’t move house, and deliver at least three new Hungarians to the king during the next ten years – and then they can see their loan forgiven. Failing to deliver any of the above conditions (and then some), however, triggers a repayment obligation with penalties.

The announcement went ballistic, even in international media. I keep hearing it from mouthbreathing losers from all over the world that isn’t it great, you can now make a woman spread her legs for you by pointing out the loan program. Surely, even the biggest loser can score a woman for domestic use (and a home in the first place) under such a giving father of a prime minister.

Not so fast. Turns out, losers especially need not apply.

As details and the actual implementation of the grandiose breeding program started to trickle, people have noticed something a beginner management consultant (or political spin doctor) could have predicted right at the beginning: that it is not meant to help anyone who actually needs help with starting a family. Just as every poorly-thought-through policy, it sounds great, but doesn’t really address the real issue:

Why can’t two, working Hungarians have enough income to buy a house without state help in the first place? 

And the second question that is on every Hungarian politician’s mind:

How will they make sure gypsies don’t get anything – least of all incentives to have more children. 

Anyone with half a brain could have told you the second would happen. And anyone who doesn’t believe propaganda would have predicted the first.

Turns out, things like the prospect of pregnancy can make banks think twice whether a couple can get a loan. You’ve read that right, the breeding loan, whose sole purpose is to offer money in exchange for births, is hard to come by for couples where the female might be out of work for breeding at any time during the future. And banks are technically correct. Birthing indeed decreases the chance of a couple to be able to repay their debts (and stay financially afloat in the first place).

Other conditions, such as a high enough income level – but not from state handouts – are hard to prove for those who had already became pregnant and collect pregnancy benefits. People who don’t have sizable savings are also out of the game, as house prices have way outgrown the size of the loan. Eligible properties are also desperately rare and whimsically located. The entire national housing market has been redrawn by regulatory whim. Loans tend to go to towns with Fidesz mayors and not go to places that didn’t vote for Orbán had enough. But a crony’s poor quality housing development gets the eligibility approval, even if it’s a holiday bungalow far from any jobs.

Anyway, a standard issue American Republican would lick his lips in delight over the superficial details of program – and once more when he hears that it is totally “privately executed” by banks, “to ensure the feasibility of the loans”. But between the public posturing and the private execution, the whole point of the loan fell through on the floor.

Sadly, people will blame the banks. Banks are safe to blame. Orbán is not. He will be Breeder of the Year and his ring gets kissed for this. It already has.

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