This week, America’s quiet revolution started in an unlikely place. Cook County (Chicago) Sheriff Tom Dart got sick of evicting families paying rent, innocents all, as well as evicting owners in foreclosure proceedings.
Sheriff Dart in his own words:
As Cook County sheriff, I am responsible for running a 10,000-inmate jail, providing patrols to unincorporated areas and securing the courts.
But perhaps no part of our job is as difficult as the work done by our eviction units. On any given day, our deputies could be asked to throw a family out of their home, with all of their possessions left on a curb — sometimes pilfered through by those living nearby.
Where mortgage firms see pieces of paper, my deputies see people.
Yet no matter how difficult they are, evictions are part of our job.
What isn’t part of our job, however, is to carry out work on behalf of the multi-billion-dollar banks and mortgage industries.
Too many times, our deputies arrive at a home to carry out a mortgage foreclosure eviction, only to find a tenant — dutifully paying their rent each month — who is unaware their landlord stopped using that rent money to pay the mortgage. They had no fair warning that they were about to be thrown out of their home.
The facts are ugly and getting worse. 10,000 families per day are facing eviction. Per day. Five days a week. 6,000,000 families have been evicted or are in the last stages of foreclosure. That’s 24,000,000 moms and dads, boys and girls. By the 2009 new year, 10% of America may face foreclosure or eviction.
At the same time, we remain occupied in Iraq, watching over a simmering civil war, wasting lives, minds, bodies, and over $10 Billion a month. http://zfacts.com/p/447.html
On the other side of Wall Street, two examples (clearly not the only ones) describe why the revolution has already started. The only question is how it will turn out.
Insurance Giant AIG knew that their brain-(t)rust lost over $5 Billion gambling on the Wall Street mortgage pyramid scheme. Even so, they changed the rules in order to reward those executives in charge, ignoring the huge losses. Even after they knew they lost billions, a July, 2008 headline proclaimed “AIG Pays Former CEO Sullivan a Severance Package Worth $47 Million.” To pour gas on a raging fire, just one week after they begged for (and received) an emergency $85 Billion bailout from the US taxpayer, the top execs rewarded themselves with a five star resort with luxurious golf and spa facilities. The dinner tab alone for these lucky dozen couples? $150,000.
Pity the poor AIG execs. Had they looked across Wall Street to their neighbor Lehman Bros, they would have seen real greed and avarice. Lehman gambled your money on the same mortgage pyramid scheme that AIG invested in and insured. Shortly after Lehman begged for a Federal handout, they made sure that their CEO received $415 MILLION in cash bonuses. They even paid millions to several ex-employees who were fired because of the financial collapse.
Conservative estimates suggest that Wall Street, in a financial orgy that would have impressed Caligula’s whores, ignored hundreds of billions in losses, yet still found a way to pay more than $3 Billion in bonuses in 2007 alone.
Hedge Funds, Derivatives, faux financial insurance (unsecured), and more, provided Wall Street execs and other financial institutions with a virtual license to steal. And steal they did. While the techniques they used may seem complex and use strange terms that cause most humans’ eyes to cross, the theory is simply. They inflated the value of their assets, sold them to other criminals, took the profits, and then, they did it again.
Over $150 TRILLION dollars of hedge funds, derivatives and financial instruments were created on a base value of $1.5 trillion in real property values. And with every transaction, they took more money for themselves.
Who should we blame? Actually, three culprits stand out in this mess. Alan Greenspan, Phil Gramm, and George W. Bush.
Alan Greenspan loved the derivatives and their bonus programs, and as Fed Chairman, he pushed this insanity further along on Wall.
Phil Gramm, as Senator, UBS bank VP and lobbyist, and chief economic adviser to John McCain, personally made hundreds of millions, while pushing forward the massive deregulation of our financial industry. Had Phil failed, we might still face a recession (these cycles can never be broken), but not the deep depression we now face.
And then we come to Boy George. His push for ever more sales, ill-advised home ownership, and more deregulation, acted like jet fuel poured on a massive forest fire. His anti-government mantras hid the fact that his cronies were enriching themselves, while deliberately turning a blind eye to out and out theft and fraud. (the countless billions lost in Iraq alone could save 20 million American families) And those parts of the federal government tasked with preventing this insanity? For the most part, they were cheerleaders, making sure that the haves and have mores kept getting ever richer.
As a measure of how screwed up our country has become, we have squandered more than $120,000 per person in our Iraqi occupation. That ignores the fact that we killed or caused the deaths of more than a million of them, and made 4 million others homeless, jobless, or starving refugees in nearby countries. By any objective, rational measure, Iraq was, is, and will be an abject failure, despite John McCain’s obscene claims to the contrary.
For the past eight years, the entire US economy has amounted to little more than a fraud, a Potemkin Economy, of sorts. Prince Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin, lover of Catherine the great, lord of the Russian armies, and commander of its navies, was accused of orchestrating fake villages to convince Catherine and foreign visitors that her economic plans actually worked, while the serfs continued to suffer in utter destitution. In reality, Potemkin was given a bum rap because jealous German historians feared Mother Russia above all else.
As much as the Potemkin Villages were a fiction, our “strong” economy is even more of a fiction. The only thing strong about it is the stink it sends downwind. The only thing worse is watching Treasury Sec. Paulson and hapless Ben Bernanke flail away each day, calling for emergency press conferences, assuring us that all is well, while the building in background collapses in flames. Hurricane Katrina had nothing on these guys.
Sure, there are other culprits, especially Dem and GOP leaders from both houses of congress. It is a pity that we no longer cherish brains and ability when electing congresscritters and senatwhores. In fact, if we took John Bolton’s prescription for the UN and applied to those currently infesting our Congress, then replaced them with 100 new senators and 435 new congressmen by simply picking them randomly off the street, it is unlikely that they could do any worse.
But back to my original point. We already are in a quiet revolution. The question is where we will go from here. Will we remain quiet? or will we get as angry as circumstances and enraging facts suggest we should?
One choice, our best choice, is a quiet revolution with massive bankruptcy law changes, moratoriums on foreclosures,(and return to property for those evicted this past year), the federally enforced rewriting of the most outrageous mortgages, indictments and convictions of many of the Wall Street barons, and a thorough federal take over & change of the entire usury credit card industry.
The other choice is far less appealing. It is quite possible that if we continue along today’s path, we face a violent revolution. And many people will die in the process. It is not beyond anyone’s imagination that evicted families take to the streets, and take aim at the execs who created this mess, and profited from it. It won’t be simply a Lehman CEO getting punched in the face at his health club (ah, to be a fly on the wall), instead, it will be locking up each executive and his family in one of their mansions, and watching it burn to the ground.
Those two and only those two are our choices. The second is much closer than most of us realize, and those in charge of our country had better recognize it. Anger is growing, as is desperation. Desperate people lose their inhibitions, their rational behavior, and will strike out. And then, America as we know it will cease to function.