Diane Corbaley Smith

Diane Corbaley Smith
Berkeley & Sacramento, California,
June 11
I love thinking about culture and where we are headed as a society. Recently earned my Master of Arts in Theology. Professionally, I try to be a very fair Human Resource professional, most recently in the non-profit sector. Currently reading Ron Susskind's 'Confidence Men'. Love hanging out with the golden retriever dogs, the cat, the husband and walking by the river.


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Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 21, 2011 4:42PM

Crossing the Transom: Will Occupy Mobilize a Generation?

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I am honored, really, to have access to brilliant minds attending universities here in California.  These students have shared their experiences with Occupy Oakland, Occupy Berkeley and Occupy Davis.  Nonetheless, I can’t help but think they are motivated by the idealization of protest movements more than the moral reason for protest.

For nearly eighteen months as we have watched students riot in other countries such as Greece and Iran I have wondered whether we would have protests.  Other than brief gatherings over tuition hikes there hasn’t been much student movement.

 One reason for this is that our students are not the 99%.  Parents who pay the tuition to send their child to the UC system know that while it stretches their wallet, sending their child to university will give that son or daughter future opportunity to make 3.7 million dollars in the course of their lifetime.  Our student protestors know they are actually the 1%.  If they don’t know their place in this world, they should, otherwise they are making their protest a shallow mimic of a real problem.  Perhaps this unwillingness to accept their priveleged status is why it is difficult for Occupy’s  university students to develop a moral message about the effect of the global economy on the underserved population?

These students are too removed to fathom what it felt like to be the Latino family of four living on Alpine street in San Pablo, CA.  They bought their first 900 square foot home, put up retaining walls and laid down sod for a yard - only to lose it all in less than a year because they didn’t understand amortized payment schedules. This is reason for outrage. People have lost their life savings, their homes, and the security of believing that in America we play fair. 

The lenders and legislators who allowed this to happen have not engaged in the moral call to humankind to work with the interest of advancing our world forward.  Instead, they bowed to their own avaricious tendencies and their persistent will to survive. They are chewing on the bones of the American dream. 

Similarly, those who oppose the Occupy movement without acknowledging that this conversation must be had are holding onto their part in the status quo against any slippage of their own circumstances.   

Fifty-five years ago a movement began, indeed had started before it hit the streets, when the black citizens of Montgomery stopped riding the bus and began to change the world. Maids and janitors and gardeners walked to work and the economic impact on the transit system was real.  The bus boycott began in 1955.  It began in the community and grew. After time students and artists and white religious leaders joined the movement.  These are the sons and daughters of the status quo.  Against vicious dogs ripping open human flesh and black boys dangling dead from tree limbs, bombs thrown into homes and white students murdered for registering blacks, these people changed the world.  As time passed and the media showed these images, middle class Americans who stayed home were swayed enough to let the status quo be changed so that others could sit beside them at the counter.  

From 1955 to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed, to 1965 when the voting rights act was passed and then to 1972 and 1990 when Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, these were the people who left a legacy that changed this nation and the world.  Wherever you want to start the count, whether in nine years or ten, seventeen to thirty-five, civil rights were gained through diligence.

Can Occupy be a movement that mobilizes real change?  Will the students who have more advantage than 99% of the world look to history, religion, economics, political theory and philology to develop rhetoric that will shame us into playing fair once again?  And if so, is there the persistent will to endure against the current system that always has and always will fight to exist?

If you who are Occupiers want to succeed there should be studious attention to the problems you are trying to address.  Link arms to work with those currently in business, law and government to bring forth a movement that can sway public opinion.  

A protest movement is more than a campout; adversity will mean more than having your eyes irritated.  If you are about something real then put away childish things, look through the glass darkly to see the things you cannot yet see. Your generation is crossing  the transom to an age of national economies growing global communities.  The conversation will be challenging.  This is not an easy task, but it is yours. 

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The OWS movement is one that has been a long time coming and very necessary. I agree with you, Diane, that it needs to eventually change into something with real policies as well as a reach out to coax the powers that be. I hope it will happen because otherwise the movement will fail and die out. The economic inequities in this country and the centralization of power with corporations and the wealthy is very dangerous. Washington is looking to cut the deficit entirely on the backs of the poor and middle class. This must be stopped. Corporate money dominating election campaigns must also stop. The movement needs to articulate these views better and influence the coming election. Excellent article and keen analysis, Diane.
"Can Occupy be a movement that mobilizes real change?" I hang on to the hope that it is - I cannot imagine simply continuing the current trajectory. Excellent piece! R
american culture creates political idiots. my first reaction to ows was "where's the program, where's the organization?"

there wasn't much of either, and still isn't. plenty of unhappy people and the mobile phone culture put a flash mob on a lot of streets, 'overnight.'

the establishment has not responded well, probably because protest is so infrequent that good strategy is not understood. the only way to turn ows into any kind of force, is to assault passive protesters with active and aggressive police. and sure enough, they're doing just that. every level of american society are political idiots.
$3.7 Million dollars in the course of a lifetime hardly constitutes a "1%" classification. The 1% refers to the fiscally elite group of Americans, who through their wealth control politics, government, and the national dialogue. The 1% don't buy first class plane tickets, they buy planes. The 1% don't abide by laws, they make laws. The 1% don't vote for President, they pick a President.
Being a former resident of the great State of California, I am quite certain that your classmates don't comprise this elite group of individuals.
Besides this small error, I like your piece and agree with what your assessment. Keep up the good work.
Mike, I caught that too, but I think that there's more that needs scrutiny.

For example, "motivated by the idealization of protest movements more than the moral reason for protest." Maybe. Maybe not. But if so, so what? Protests are the active expression of the very fundamentals of being an American. I can't say that this is a bad lesson to learn, regardless of which demographic you believe your students belong to. I agree with Mike; while the schools you mentioned are excellent, they are not generally regarded as a good place to send your children by those whose campaign donations make the politicians run around. In fact, the wild-eyed, smelly-hippie image of Occupy that is so often expressed by the anti-Occupy crowd is pretty much how the 1% we reference visualizes the inhabitants of Berkeley.

Your students are the 99% we're discussing, and will most likely remain so. To put this in perspective, less than $100K annually gets you a place in the top 20%; more than three-quarters of those households are two-earner families. It only takes about $250K annually to take your place in the top 1.5%, and yet, less than 150K households have this kind of income. Out of over 300 MILLION people. And these are not who we speak of when referencing the 1%; you can't afford to cause much wide-scale trouble with only a quarter million a year. Even the top tenth of a percent only make a couple of million a year. It would be more accurate to refer to the 0.001% or so, but the slogan's not nearly as catchy, and the point is made with the one we have. [If you're still confused, here's a list that can help you determine which group you belong in.]

Even if your students DID belong to the group we reference, there's nothing wrong with that. It's doubtful that kids of that age would already be purchasing elections and corrupting representatives. Possible, but unlikely. And, just as whites joined the civil rights movement alongside blacks, and just as veterans joined the anti-war movement alongside the non-military, there's absolutely nothing wrong with those who belong to the economic class at issue with protesting the situation right alongside us. To characterize every single person with this income as the problem would be wrong, and it's not what we're doing. The message is one of economic injustice, perpetrated by the very few upon the many, and upon the system itself.

I agree that it's an outrage for people to lose their homes because they did not understand something that should be simpler than it is; even worse is the way they actually lost their homes, through a process imbued with fraud at every step. But enormously wealthy doesn't automatically equate to "intelligent about financial matters". Why do you suppose they pay for armies of tax attorneys, accountants and money managers? The difference is that they have the money to make the payment, without even knowing how much that payment might be. And they can afford lawyers to fix any problems their lack of knowledge might create.

Will the "advantaged" students use what they are taught at college to make a difference? Somehow, I doubt it, because that's not what you teach them. Passing a class doesn't mean they'll be able to cut it in a real job, because with the exception of vocational programs, the vast majority of what they need to know to work, they learn on the job. You give them some skills--math, for instance--but nothing they couldn't learn on their own from the internet, had anyone taught them how to evaluate sources of information for credibility. Higher education has evolved to represent little more than an expensive piece of paper required to obtain jobs that pay well. Don't think these students are not cognizant of that fact; I'd bet they are. And again, there are probably classes that do a better job of imparting information that may one day be useful, but they are in a very small minority.

If you visit an Occupation, you will get a much better idea of what we stand for. We bring attention to the problem, and we impart information. The problematic concepts are so complex that some education is required before the cause of the problem can even be explained, let alone any solutions. You'll also get to see, up close and personal, what adversity we all face. Dangerous precedents that threaten the rights and freedoms we take for granted are being set every day. This does not make it our problem, or the problem of the Occupiers; this problem is one for EVERY American citizen, and for every one that desires American citizenship, because if we don't act, the America of the future will be the newest addition to the Third World.

Thank God [or whoever one believes in] many of the students realize this. Perhaps they have already learned what's important to maintaining any semblence of the American ideal. Maybe they'll be able to impart this knowledge on those who purport to educate them; those who are also the 99%, but haven't--or don't want to--realize it.
"...only to lose it all in less than a year because they didn’t understand amortized payment schedules."

This one statement explains what is wrong with those who are, or support, OWS. That being that the OWS people are looking for others to blame.

Someone bought a house. Great! They don't need to know how to read an amortization table. They just need to make a payment every month in the amount they were told to make or is on the statement they receive.

Also, it is your responsibility to know what you are doing. Are you telling me that these people don't understand how to make the payment and somebody should hold their hand every month to tell them what to pay? That is nobodies responsibility but your's. If you are going to buy a house, a car, or get a credit card you, and only you, are responsible to understand what is going on.

If you can't, or just don't, understand what you are doing then you shouldn't be doing it until you go and get the education you need. It's not the responsibility of the government, or the banks, to do educational testing to determine if you are smart enough to do what you want to do. That is a personal responsibility.
@ SOS - thank you for your thoughtful comments on the demographics of the 1%. Yes, .001% is what really comprises the 1% and we know that many of us won't be in that tax bracket. This report gives a rather reachable number to be in the 1% and those students have real potential to be the 1%. "It doesn't take millions to land in the top 1 percent of earners targeted by demonstrators. The actual threshold is $343,927, according to IRS statistics for the calendar year 2009, the latest available."(abcnews. See link below.)

But this isn't as much about whether your income level puts you in the tax bracket that keeps you in or out. It's about the influence you will bring to the table even though, as you say, "you can't afford to cause much wide-scale trouble with only a quarter million a year."

What makes this a powerful movement is that these students are the people are the future who will be influencing politicians, C-level decisions, the court cases. So, I'm not so certain that they can't cause wide scale trouble with just 100K a year. Ideas can be more powerful than money. My concern is whether the movement has grasped that it is about more than being OWS, but that there is an injustice that affects the bottom 75%. Can Occupy actually sustain a movement that addresses a demographic that we have yet to see attend the movement?

And lastly, let me say how much I agree that it is everyone's problem to solve and none of us should be sitting on the sidelines. It will always be the students, artists, poets and neurotics who will push the movement forward. And the rest, the C-Suite execs and lawyers have the connections and knowledge to take these ideas to the halls of justice. This is not an indictment of the Occupy movement, merely a hopeful desire that it will grow beyond tents and tuition to embrace real infrastructure change.

Read more: http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/national/who-are-the-1-percent%3F-the-answer-may-surprise-you...#ixzz1ePBFiTts
@Mike - you are right, the students I know don't comprise there level where they are actually picking the president. Wouldn't it be nice if they were! The world would be a better place, but they do come from families of influence and have access to halls. They will be one or two rungs below the .001% that SOS references. Thanks for your encouraging comments.
Howard - I really agree with your comment, " the movement needs to articulate these views better and influence the coming election. " It will be interesting to see how they mobilize in the next 12 months before the next election. Thank you for commenting.
SickOfStupid touched on almost every single point or fact that I was going to elaborate. So hat's off to him.

I will add to a few points though. White man gave Black man the emancipation of freedom. This doesn't absolve white man of all the hate, disenfranchisement and prejudice since that time, but it should go a long way to recognizing that these young college students could be the keystone to making OWS a movement with the force and power of actually changing this country from it's current path.

Like the white soldiers who committed a Blood Sacrifice for the black man's freedom, or the men who committed to give woman the vote, or able bodied people who changed legislation to provide easement to those with disabilities to mobility, sight, hearing, these young students (who are not really the 1%, but even if they were) are at that age where the passion and reason combined with the education and growth of the mind and souls should become enflamed not with the simple notion of protest, but with the weight and force of why protests such as this occur.

You do not give them enough credit. How are they so different from you, me or anyone else in history that sees wrongs and wishes to correct them? That youth and passion for a cause doesn't make of them blind zealots, it makes of them a force to contend with in their desire and enthusiasm for making a change.

Some people educate themselves, but more likely and more commonly, the education comes from an older, hopefully wiser body of folks whose task it is to provide the direction and focus of that education. This movement is no different.

I work with some young kids in their late 20's and early 30's. They are already out of college, working to make their ideas succeed and they are wicked smart. Like me, you, or anyone else who has taken the time to invest in learning how to learn, to come to think independantly and to look around them with clear eyes.

Just like you, me or those younger kids in college, reaching higher, not just in hopes of earning more money, but in hopes of achieving their personal dreams, to make their lives better -- to make a change they can be proud of in retrospect.

I have yet to meet in my generation, the one before mine and the two or three after mine, those vague folks who wanted to protest just because there was a protest. I've seen a few here and there, but they're the same slobs who freak out over a stupid football game's outcome, which changes nothing for the vast majority, including most of the players on the field.

Have faith. These young students are, quite possibly, the lever to make this movement's issues act as the fulcrum to change. And if you think you are seeing folks who are acting out of some misguided idealistic notion of protest (which I don't know what that is, honestly) then, if you are at all invested in seeing the movement succeed, guide them, encourage them, explain the situation -- or better yet, take a field trip to an encampment and make them interview those at an Occupy movement.

Catnlion: I believe she was referring to the fact that people believe they are borrowing, say, $100,000 to buy a home, and do not realize that they are really borrowing $300,000.

Sure, the homeowners bear some blame. However, the banks bear the lion's share [pardon the pun, it appears to be genetic]. Due to the demand for subprime loans packaged into pools rated as AAA low-risk, high return investments, banks actually sold loans they hand't even made yet. Since banks had already sold the loans, they weren't at all picky about who they lent them to. Fraud is inherent in every step of the process. You can read a simple explanation of the mortgage crisis here, if you're so inclined.

It actually IS the responsibility of the banks to ensure that the people they lend to understand what they're signing. There's also a responsibility to adhere to lending/underwriting guidelines, but the banks didn't accept that one, either. It's also frowned upon--and illegal--to bribe appraisers to overvalue homes to create fake instant equity on paper, allowing banks to get away with making bad loans. I could go on and on.

Personal responsibility is not a card one should toss lightly at the homeowners, lest the rest of the personal responsibility deck come flying back to tear the argument to shreds.
Diane, thanks for your response.

Yes, students have the potential to earn upwards of $250K annually. No, that's not the 1% the Occupy movements are protesting.

Which demographic are you talking about when you refer to one that has yet to Occupy? Occupy has a little bit of everyone, including the very wealthiest, and the very poorest. Representatives from each demographic Occupy, visit, speak, donate, give interviews in solidarity. The mainstream media does not accurately report Occupy. For the real story, check out the Occupy blogs, the small, independent media sources, and the sources themselves: We Are The 99% and ,a href="http://occupywallst.org">Occupy Wall St.

"Ideas can be more powerful than money." EXACTLY. This is why it doesn't really matter what kind of financial advantage your students might have, as good ideas are not limited to those with money. By the way, there are plenty of lawyers who make a difference every day who don't even come close to cracking the top 20%. I hope the students continue their activism as well, but if they don't, others will, and they don't have to be wealthy to do so. The poor and middle class can certainly influence politics, since nothing scares a lifetime politician more than the prospect of not getting re-elected.

Occupy has always been bigger than just "tents and tuition". In fact, tuition is kind of a minority goal as relates to Occupy. The message of Occupy is everywhere. If you believe it's as small as tents and tuition, you're missing rather a lot. Take some time to visit the 99% site I linked, and read through their stories. The majority of the stories come from poor and middle class families, with head of households in the 20-45 age range [this is an estimate, as more stories are added all the time]. You'll also find just about everyone else represented there.

To get the real message, and the real info, you have to seek it. If you allow the mainstream media to make their sole view your own, believing yourself informed about Occupy would be far from truth.
Completely agree with owl's points. Thanks for your comment, by the way, and I am a "she". ;)
The OWS what want to achieve? Stop share market?To take away all wealth of super rich?Want employment?Want to changes the government?Idonot understand theirtrue intention.Isit notherd tendency?Without any clear cut aim how can you achieve your aim.?
You make some good points. I'm a college professor and I do see my students want to create change and write about it. I teach journalism and my students are reporting on race, immigration, poverty and the OWS movement too. By the way, there is a new civil rights movement brewing in Alabama and it's over that state's anti-immigration law. People from around the country, including undocumented youth, have gone there to protest that state's law and commit civil disobedience.
My son attends one of those schools and will be home tomorrow. I'll ask him about his views on the Occupy movement and get back to you.

Personally, I don't think this movement will do much if anything. I think those that are most to blame have paid little to no attention at all. However, whatever these students motivations are to participate, maybe the impact of this event will inspire them to take action when they are running this country, in the not too distant future.
@SOS - I will go ahead and take a look at the 99% link you referenced. I am interested in hearing their voices. There are really two points to make in response to your comments since I think that essentially we agree that the 1% isn't a target number so much as is the ability to influence the top 1%. I was thinking about Barack Obama as an excellent example of the kind of students I'm in contact with, the kind who come from middle class backgrounds (or less), are smart, thoughtful and who are headed on to do really big things with their lives.

But, there is essentially a real concern, not just in my piece but in so many others that the ideas of Occupy, if it is beyond tents and tuition, are not getting heard and therefore not swaying the public. (The pepper spray event at UC Davis seems to be eliciting sympathy.) We are wondering and commenting on whether the movement itself will become less self-referential. I think that your Occupy - OWS or Occupy 1 - was critiquing a broader problem in capitalism then we are hearing as the movement has spread. I'm not denying that it is meaningful to those who are participating in the movement. It is very moving, it just isn't larger than that - yet.
@ Teresa - Excellent comment on the other civil rights movement.

" By the way, there is a new civil rights movement brewing in Alabama and it's over that state's anti-immigration law. People from around the country, including undocumented youth, have gone there to protest that state's law and commit civil disobedience."

Immigration is the next civil rights frontier and Alabama's recent legislation really highlights how we think in such black and white, us and them ways without analyzing the issues that bring desperate people to this country - and how we benefit from their presence. I'll keep a ear out for more news on that.
Diane, You seem to have thought about this a lot. I would be interested in your take on the Occupy San Diego protester with the bullhorn, who called for "a moment of solidarity" on behalf of the man who fired an assault rifle at the White House.
btw, did you mean 'crossing the threshold?'
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--upton sinclair

"One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas."
--victor hugo

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
supreme court justice louis brandeis

occupy party reaches critical mass/seismic effect--now what?

"Personal responsibility is not a card one should toss lightly at the homeowners, lest the rest of the personal responsibility deck come flying back to tear the argument to shreds."

Personal responsibility is exactly where I would lay the blame for someone and their home loan. If I bought a home I agreed on the price. If there is a problem with the loan process how does that affect the price I agreed to before everything was done with the loan? When I sign the loan docs that say the payment amount each month is whatever I am responsible to make it. I know what it is. I know what I bring in and pay out. If I don't write the check each month that is my problem. It has nothing to do with the apprasial or an amortization schedule. Those are just things you are using to deflect the blame to someone else and away from the one who is signing the paperwork. Nobody put a gun to your head and made you buy a $500,000 home while working at McDonalds flipping burgers.

"Personal responsibility is not a card one should toss lightly at the homeowners, lest the rest of the personal responsibility deck come flying back to tear the argument to shreds."

Personal responsibility is exactly where I would lay the blame for someone and their home loan. If I bought a home I agreed on the price. If there is a problem with the loan process how does that affect the price I agreed to before everything was done with the loan? When I sign the loan docs that say the payment amount each month is whatever I am responsible to make it. I know what it is. I know what I bring in and pay out. If I don't write the check each month that is my problem. It has nothing to do with the apprasial or an amortization schedule. Those are just things you are using to deflect the blame to someone else and away from the one who is signing the paperwork. Nobody put a gun to your head and made you buy a $500,000 home while working at McDonalds flipping burgers.
@ Catnlion: I'm not saying those homeowners are all blame-free, but how can you justify blaming someone for being ignorant or stupid about something like that? If they're too ignorant or stupid to understand how it works, they're probably also too ignorant or stupid to KNOW that they're too ignorant/stupid to understand how it works.

There are underwriting regulations for precisely this reason. But the banks ignored them, because they had already sold the loans, didn't care that the borrowers were almost certainly going to default, because they would not be the holder of the loan when that happened. They intentionally committed bribery and fraud to ensure that the loans could be made to people they never should have been made to. They didn't care that they were hurting other banks and investors down the road, provided that they got their money.

My question to you is if you believe in accepting responsibility, how can you absolve the banks--who deliberately and regularly committed crimes in order to violate the very clear lending regulations, and presumably were not stupid or ignorant, just incredibly greedy--but not the borrowers? At the very least, don't they both bear a share of the blame? Or is it okay, in your view, for wealthy corporations to deliberately commit crimes, but not okay for poorly educated people for make an error?

It's not okay for anyone to commit crimes. That's why they are crimes.

So how many loans were written and how many of them have a crime in the process? If you are going to tell me 1 out of 10000, I'm going back to regulators do your job and most of those who got their home foreclosed on it's their fault.

BTW, you have never explained how not knowing the payment is say $1800 per month, which is on the payment coupon, and not knowing you don't make that much or that you have to send that much is the banks problem.
As promised, I brought up the Occupy movment with my UC son. I told him that I understood Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Washington, but that I didn't understand what is motivating college students to assemble, and, for what purpose.

He knew exactly what Occupy was and mentioned the examination and debate about it that has "occupied" much of his Poli Sci class lately. He said that the UC Regents have increased tuiton excessively over the past few years, allegedly to cover budget shortfall and lack of State funding. At the same time, those same Regents were voting in raises for themselves, which have put all of them well into the 1% catagory. Not something that he and his fellow coeds support.
@rooster88 - thanks for sharing the feedback from your son. He's right that the administratie burden of running the schools are unfairly being placed on the back of the students. I have a professor friend at a private school who mentioned that the endowment is gone because the school borrowed the endowment. *sigh*
Have a wonderful thanksgiving. I like your name, by the way.
@ Catnlion: There are approximately 50 million outstanding mortgages. Around 60% of those are held by a MERS member. Just about 100% of MERS mortgages have been estimated to involve at least one instance of fraud; frankly, I'd be shocked to find any significant number of mortgages with ONLY one, particularly with regard to the mortgages issued after the demand for MBS went through the roof. At that point, the initial lenders were desperate to make loans to anyone, as they had already sold these non-existent mortgages. It's difficult to answer here with any more clarity, due to the many types of fraud committed by many different players. You have the initial lending banks, who bribed appraisers to grossly overvalue homes so that loans would appear to conform on paper; committed fraud in their manipulation of undesirable facts and numbers to make loans they shouldn't have made; committed conspiracy to commit fraud [with appraisers, mortgage brokers and other initial lending banks]; committed fraud in selling these sub-prime, bad loans to other banks while representing them as good loans; committed fraud in selling mortgages to REMICs--tax-free real estate trusts, provided that all conditions were met--that did not exist, or were made and included after the legal time limit for inclusion had expired; fraud by the purchasing banks, who packaged the bad mortgages, allowed them to be included despite the REMIC violations [tax fraud] and sold shares in them while misrepresenting them as conforming REMICS and excellent investments; conspiracy to commit fraud [with other banks at this level and with ratings agencies, who knew but looked the other way]; the banks, etc. who committed fraud, larcency and conspiracy by forming MERS to intentionally avoid paying required fees and mantaining clear chain of title; MERS, servicing banks, lawyers and owners, who, despite lacking required documentation--including but not limited to proof of ownership of the mortgages--illegally foreclosed or attempted to foreclose, and conspired to commit fraud and larceny by cooperatively manipulating the legal system [including but not limited to forgery, perjury & filing false instruments] in order to get away with foreclosing illegally.....I could go on and on and on. It's just sick, truly, truly sick.

As far as I can remember, they don't give you the payment coupons before you sign the documents, and they [everyone involved] generally don't read through a two-inch stack of paperwork before signing. Yes the homeowner bears some responsibility here, but so do the attorneys representing them, and so do the banks. It IS the banks' problem if the homeowners did not make enough money to qualify for the loan in the first place, which is exactly what was happening. The initial lenders were so desperate to lend in order to fill the mortgages they had already sold that regulations were basically ignored. They could ignore them, because there was zero risk of financial loss to the initial lender, as the bad mortgages they were making had already been sold to another bank to be packaged.

Again, I'm not saying the homeowner is blameless. What I'm saying is that the crimes committed by everyone on the bank side were so widespread as to be essentially routine. As a result, more than $1 TRILLION in damages has been inflicted upon the American people, and our economy was nearly destroyed. Yet people want to blame the homeowners, who generally committed no crimes that I know of, and who are not responsible for the damage to the economy. Focusing on the homeowners allows the banks to get away with the crimes they committed and the damage they caused, without criminal consequences, and without any civil consequences to speak of, in relation to the size of the damages. Counties will never recoup all the money they are owed from the banks. Investors will never recoup the losses they incurred as a result of the banks' crimes. Homeowners suffered a tremendous plunge in home values due to no fault of their own, leaving many underwater. Americans lost jobs due to the economic crisis caused by the conspiracy of the banks, and are at risk of losing their homes because there just aren't enough jobs to go around.

Considering the scope of the damage, just what are we saying if we continue to blame the victims [stupidity is not a crime] and allow the criminals to escape justice and restitution?