Archive for the ‘Mortgage Fraud’ Category

When the Occupy Wall Street protest started a month or so ago, it was dismissed as a rag-tag group of disgruntled young people, old people and the unemployed. Not surprisingly — from where I sit, at least – it has rapidly gained momentum, spreading around the country and around the world.

So what’s happening, and why? An alternative name the protesters give themselves explains at least some of what’s going on. They call themselves the 99 percent, versus the 1 percent who own and control most of the assets, politics and economics in this country and around the world.

During the past 30 years, the 1 percent have gained in every measurable way — income, assets and political and economic power — at the expense of the 99 percent. Most lower and middle class people have lost real income, political and economic power and their chance to retire comfortably, educate their children and live without fear of an economic catastrophe. For a while, the 1 percent kept the 99 percent from feeling the pain via low interest rates and easy borrowing. That masked the reality that the 99 percent were losing in just about everything.

But no more. Once the housing bubble popped and the global financial crisis appeared, there was no escape from the chilling reality that the 1 percent were on top of the world and the 99 percent were left holding the bag.

That’s the reality that the Occupy Wall Street and it’s affiliated movements spring from. The 99 percent are fed up with being on the short end of the stick. For the old, after a lifetime of working hard and striving to save for retirement, they have faced the reality that no retirement is safe from the ravages of “the market” and that one health crisis could bankrupt themselves and their children due to the shredding and pending destruction of the social safety net.

For the young, they are overloaded with student loans purchased to get an expensive college education that would allegedly position them to get a good job on graduation. Problem is, by the time they graduated, the economy went south and took many decent paying jobs with benefits with it. Now all most of them can get is low paying jobs without benefits so they can choose between paying back their student loans or eating and paying rent.

As for those of us who don’t fall into those two categories, but also fall into the 99 percent, some of us are slightly better off, but many of us aren’t. Too many of the working poor can barely make ends meet or aren’t making them meet at all. Too many who still cling to the middle class are either living paycheck to paycheck or are losing the battle and relying on credit cards — or worse, payday loans — to keep themselves afloat. And don’t forget those who are suffering in the wake of the collapse of the housing market. This includes the millions who are underwater on their homes, those who are being foreclosed against and those who were victims of housing boom fraud.

So it’s about economic injustice and the long simmering anger that many of us feel against the political and economic establishment. That is, those who bailed out the banks at the expense of the rest of us and who continue to shower political, regulatory and economic advantages on the banks, the banking class and the other 1 percent.

It’s about time this rage surfaced and the 99 percent began to hold the 1 percent accountable. It’s long overdue, and I’m hoping something lasting will come from these protests once people are over the romance of protesting. Don’t let the banking class off the hook!

I wasn’t going to blog today, because I’m trying to get out of town to take my kid back to college and have a ton of stuff to do. But after reading Matt Stoller’s starkly accurate analysis of just what is going on with the Obama administration, I feel compelled to comment.

It’s the best commentary I’ve seen on what is happening economically and politically in this country since 2008. Stoller nails it:

“When you look closely at the most significant areas of government, it becomes clear that the President and his Administration are enormously powerful actors who get a lot done. Handing over our national wealth to the banks and to China is not  nothing. These people are reorganizing the economy and the political system so that there are no constraints on the oligarchical interests that fund and pay them. That is their goal.”

He discusses it in the context of Eric Schneiderman, the NY Attorney General who is bucking the latest give-away to the banks, a “settlement” over robo-signing and other criminal foreclosure and mortgage practices. Stoller lauds Schneiderman for standing up for what he believes — that the banks engaged in criminal fraud on a wide-spread scale and should be prosecuted — despite the very real personal risks attendant upon that position. He excoriates the administration, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and other actors in this farce, saying:

“Right now, the ‘settlement’ talks are the equivalent of law enforcement negotiating with a serial killer over whether he’ll get a parking ticket, even as he continually sprays bullets into the neighborhood. Even having these ‘settlement’ talks when the actual crimes haven’t been investigated or a complaint hasn’t been registered should be example enough that this process is rigged as badly as Dodd-Frank.”

Like many, for the first year or so of the Obama administration, I believed that he was a decent guy who would do things for the people who put him into power. That’s where I went wrong: I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the people who elected him, but the powerful financial elite who funded his campaign that he would ultimately choose to be accountable to. And make no mistake, it’s a choice. Obama could have chosen to do the right thing despite the political costs to himself, but he hasn’t. Stoller writes:

Yeah, Obama got money from Wall Street. But Obama is choosing to pursue a policy of foreclosures and bank bailouts not because of any grand corporate scheme. He just wants to. He thinks it’s the right thing to do, and he’s doing it. If you don’t think it’s the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be disappointed in him any more than you might have been disappointed in Bush. Obama is not trying to do the opposite of what he’s doing, he’s not repeatedly suckered by Republicans, and he isn’t naive or stupid.”

So like Obama and Schneiderman, we all have choices whether to act according to what we believe, to act with integrity, or not. We can continue to delude ourselves about what is really going on in Washington DC and New York and all over the country in regard to the financial elite’s complete ownership of the political and economic system. We can make excuses and continue to enable this system that is running the economy and the people in this country off an economic cliff. Or, we can do what we can to change the system, even if it’s just making a different choice in the voting booth in 2012. As Stoller puts it:

“Paying ugly costs for standing up is routine, unfortunately, in modern America. And the least powerful among us face far worse consequences than the politicians who are embarassed. But integrity exists, and Schneiderman is showing that free will can be exercised in it’s service. This fact is true of many people, not just Schneiderman; Bill McKibbin, Jane Hamsher, Dan Choi and others just got arrested in front of the White House to register dissent. So the next time someone tells you that you hae no choice but to support one of the two branches of the banking party, just remember, you also have free will. And the only person who can take that away from you, is you.”

Thank you, Matt. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MatthewStoller