Contemplating The U.S. Navel

Me, Chicago, Hollywood and The Federal Government

Becky Sarwate

Becky Sarwate
Location
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Birthday
December 31
Title
Communications Manager
Company
Insurance Brokerage
Bio
I am about as liberal as they come, and please don't expect to change me, though I do sometimes sneak up on you with a surprise (pro-death penalty, for instance). Although gainfully employed as a full-time Marketing Manager, I keep my toes in the freelance pool as a journalist, theater critic, blogger and proud President of the Illinois Woman's Press Association. To read my work on this page is to find vignettes about Chicago, Hollywood, my own turbulent life, and of course, my number one passion: local and national politics.

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
JUNE 29, 2011 11:10AM

Missing the Point of the Anemic Housing Market

Rate: 9 Flag

Until four months ago, I had very little interest in real estate and personal finance news. I do not own a property, nor do I wish to, exist mostly off the credit economy grid and don’t have much of a head for financial statistics. That all changed in February when I was hired as a senior writer for a respected housing market and stock analyst. By day, I research, write and report on the numbers, which I don’t have to tell you folks, have been seriously depressing in recent years.

Typically, I try to keep my two writing worlds separate. In the evening and on weekends, I am preoccupied with theater, politics, urban agriculture and of course, myself.

Recently, because of immersion in the topics, I have come to understand that my disinterest in banking and housing limits my understanding of the full political scope.  What could be more important, from a public policy perspective, than sustained, long-term unemployment and a pullback in available credit absolutely decimating middle class American families and their home values? Yet tragically, both political parties have chosen to ignore these truly pressing concerns in favor of epically immature posturing regarding gay marriage (Rick Santorum), Executive branch limousine rides (Michelle Bachmann) and pushing disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner out of office (Nancy Pelosi). While our elected officials play chicken with a vote on the debt ceiling, Middle America has been placed on the sidelines.

It has been nearly three years since the world learned that irresponsible, and in most cases criminal activity on the part of large Wall Street financial firms had brought the economy to its knees. To date the banks and their financial partners have had to pay the piper very little. But periodically, a wrist slap is handed out so that lawmakers and legal eagles can tout the appearance of justice to the voting public.

This morning, on the front page of the New York Times and other media outlets, we learned that Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank in terms of asset holdings, plans to set aside $14 billion to repay a group of critical investors as a resort of its malfeasance in bundling and selling high-risk mortgages.

Who are these critical investors, you may ask? According to reports, the claimants are “a group of heavyweight holders of the securities, including Pimco, BlackRock and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that have been pressing for a settlement since last fall.”

Does anyone suppose that this group has been the real victim of Wall Street’s shell game? While it’s wonderful to hear that the bank is going to have to make some restitution, it is with the wrong folks. None of this $14 billion will ever reach the hundreds of thousands of American families who have lost everything because of the risks taken by a small group of arrogant charlatans.

Meanwhile, hopes for a housing market recovery, or even confirmation that we have finally reached the bottom, continue to be dashed. This week, CBS MoneyWatch reported that home prices in six cities fell to new all-time lows, and nationwide, home values are averaging 2000 levels. For those keeping score, that is 11 years of lost equity.

Who will finally decide that it is beneficial to the nation, and politically advantageous enough, to throw American homeowners a lifeline? Voluntary loan modification programs have proven to be a sick joke marked by millions of reams in lost paperwork. No one on Capitol Hill seems to want to touch the development of a plan to create jobs (which is the real key to getting the housing market back on its feet), and around we go.

It’s utterly disgraceful to have to endure the chronic bellyaching of Big Business, whining about the hostile corporate attitude of the Obama administration, while stories like this one go unheard.

Bank of America can spare the $14 billion. The nation’s middle class can no longer afford the loss of dignity, combined with collective callousness, bought on by the risks of elite cads who fail to connect with the real repercussions of their actions. And our public servants need to stop enabling this destructive disconnect.

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When the political managers of the nation take money from hard working middle and working class folks in order to "bail out" those whose malfeasance is blatant and obscene in its proportions, it takes no great genius to figure out that there are some "kickbacks" to those same politicians going on.

'Merika is getting a right royal fucking over by those who have most to lose when it finally hits bottom; stupid people doing stupid greedy things with no foresight whatsoever.

Many articles, such as this one, can, and have, made this clear. Many also point the way to proper corrective measures. Those measures aren't happening. Those measures won't ever happen.

Soon it will be of far less value to all but the elite to know how to manage money than it will to know how to hunt rabbits and grow personal food crops. All the political and economic blather in the world won't put one spoonful of food in the mouths of a hungry population.

It may well be that citizens won't rise up over money matters but just watch what happens when their children are unfed and starving. When that time comes, and it's not far off, a revolution would be the nicest thing that can happen. You won't like the worst....

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Just goes to show you the inherent class-bias of our financial institutions. It reminds me of the Bernie Madoff situation. Sure, he was a crook, but the only reason he was arrested and sent to jail was because he defrauded mostly rich people. The media publicized many of the "normal folks" he defrauded, but the fact is, that the majority were very, very affluent.


That is why he is in jail now.

However, the vast majority of the financiers who prey upon the poor and middle classes, they never get charged and never go to jail and the banks are totally ok with them. In fact, they love them.

r
"Restitution to the wrong folks." I could almost laugh at the absurdity, except it's not funny.
I don’t think I can say anything better here than Skypixios already said about what you wrote here. I might suggest a little less aplomb and a little more awareness of what's going on around you and I don’t mean in the cloistered citadels of the rich. They are a very very small minority here and growing smaller every day. An army that cannot defeat a bunch of lightly armed rebels in Afghanistan is not going to protect them especially against their own family's and loved ones. Look at what happened when the Czar ordered his troops to fire on the people. Maybe you should read what Paul Craig Roberts, considered by many to be the most influential writer on the internet, wrote today. You may want to check and see what your fellow Americans think of the NY Times here is the latest Gallup Poll:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/143267/distrust-media-edges-record-high.aspx

You can also read what Chris Hedges wrote about the death of the main stream media the other day. People are throwing away their newspapers and turning off their TV’s if you are waiting for them to admit they have been willfully lying to you for the last 10 years you will be waiting along time. This is not Europe, China, or even Russia people here are armed to the teeth. If you want to know what happens in a country like that when it go’s off look to Africa where they are also armed to the teeth. Excuse my bluntness but I don’t want to see you get caught building sand castles on the beach. There is a hurricane rolling in.
Yep, the American public gets ripped off yet again.