But the stories about the foreclosure mess that have hit the news in the last month truly take my breath away - people having their homes foreclosed upon who didn't even have mortgages, banks hiring Walmart floorwalkers as "mortgage experts" and having these "robosigners" sign off on thousands of foreclosures a month without knowing what exactly they were signing off on, banks hiring companies to illegally change the locks on doors of people's homes.
Barry at The Big Picture has been right on this story and with his expertise and knowledge of finance and the markets, he is a terrific resource to go to if you want to catch up on this story.
But the Kaplan Test Prep Post has a pretty good article this morning about the mess that says the rule of law has been superseded in a SYSTEMIC WAY by the banksters, hedge fund criminals and other Wall Streeters who believe they are TOO BIG TO FAIL:
Millions of homes have been seized by banks during the economic crisis through a mass production system of foreclosures that was set up to prioritize one thing over everything else: speed.
With 2 million homes in foreclosure and another 2.3 million seriously delinquent on their mortgages - the biggest logjam of distressed properties the market has ever seen - companies involved in the foreclosure process were paid to move cases quickly through the pipeline.
Law firms competed with one another to file the largest number of foreclosures on behalf of lenders - and were rewarded for their work with bonuses. These and other companies that handled the preparation of documents were paid for volume, so they processed as many as they could en masse, leaving little time to read the paperwork and catch errors.
And the big mortgage companies overseeing it all - including government-owned Fannie Mae - were so eager to get bad loans off their books that they imposed a penalty on contractors if they moved too slowly.
The system was so automated and so inflexible that once a foreclosure process began, homeowners and consumer advocates say, there was often no way to stop it.
"The problem is when you try to fight back against this machine, well, it's a machine," said Michael Alex Wasylik, an attorney for homeowners in Dade City, Fla. "You have to be able to get your case off the mass production line and to someone who will take the time to read what they file, but in many mortgage firms that person doesn't exist."
The financial incentives show that the problems plaguing the foreclosure process extend well beyond a few, low-ranking document processors who forged documents or failed to review foreclosure files even as they signed off on them. In fact, virtually everyone involved - loan servicers, law firms, document processing companies and others - made more money as they evicted more borrowers from their homes, creating a system that was vulnerable to error and difficult for homeowners to challenge.
"This was a systemic problem. It's not like a few renegade employees made mistakes," said lawyer Peter Ticktin, who defends Florida homeowners facing foreclosure. "It was industry-wide and pervasive, and everyone knew about it."
Ah, yes - the machine.
Therein lies the problem.
The country is now run by machines - machines that are owned by a wealthy few who do not care about anything but making sure the machines run efficiently and their money comes in every month.
Problems with the process?
Fuck you, where's my money!
Bank doesn't have proof that it owns the mortgage?
Fuck you, where's my money!
Bank is foreclosing on a homeowner who doesn't actually have a mortgage?
Fuck you, where's my money!
The only thing that matters is the money.
Truth, honesty, fairness, property rights, the Rule of Law, ethical business practices - none of these things matter.
The only thing that matters is the money.
This is where globalization, free trade, and the privileging of corporate culture over all else have brought us - the only thing that matters is the money.
And all this is happening AFTER these criminals nearly brought the country to ruin back in 2008.
Somehow, rather than hold the people responsible for this mess in 2008 - the top leadership at Goldman Sachs, at AIG, at Bear Stearns, at Lehman, at Merrill Lynch, at Morgan Stanley, at Citigroup, at HSBC, at BoA, at JP Morgan Chase, at Countrywide Financial, at the hedge funds, as well as the politicians who enabled this to happen like Clinton, Bush, most of the U.S. Congress, the freaking cheerleaders in the news media, and the regulators like Greenspan and Geithner who were supposed to be watching the store - we have allowed these motherfuckers to STILL run the country, make policy, steal from the working and middle classes and enrich themselves off the public dime.
Hell, we're allowing them to BREAK THE LAW.
And now they're coming for education - putting the machine in place in Washington and in cities all across the nation to "measure" schools, "measure" teacher performance, "measure" student performance with batteries of standardized tests created by corporate companies with no-bid contracts, then closing down the "bad" schools and opening up for-profit charter schools in their place.
All of this is brought to us by the same billionaires and hedge fund criminals who brought us the Tech Bubble, the Housing Bubble, the Credit Crisis of '08, and now the Foreclosure Crisis of 2010.
And we literally are fighting back against the machine - in public education, Joel Klein and other corporate edu-deformers see online education as the wave of the future.
One teacher in a central location (perhaps India or Sri Lanka?) communicating with students all across one city.
What a boon for the corporate reformers!!!
You can fire tens of thousands of teachers, increase class sizes to one hundred students, stop investing in infrastructure like school buildings, and save municipalities millions a year in education, salary, and benefits costs.
This, my friends, is the wave of the future.
This is what the education reformers want to bring us.
And of course as they socialize people over the Internet rather than in classrooms, they will be disempowering the future generations from the ability to socialize, to communicate well, and of course to mobilize in the face of societal problems they may want to change.
Don't kid yourself, that is the plan Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson, and other edu-deformers have for the future of America.
A compliant workforce trained just well enough to run things but not socially or intellectually conscious enough to know just how badly they are getting fucked by their corporate owners.
It is time to take back the world from the corporate owners.
It is time to smash the machines.
It is clear that this will not be easy.
You would have thought after the near collapse in 2008 that the scumbags who brought that about would have been banished from business and leadership roles in society.
Unfortunately those very same people - or people just like them - are still running things and still enriching themselves off the backs of others.
So I fear that a democratic movement is not going to be enough to take back the country from the banksters and the Bloombergs.
But we must try.
And we must remember that all these "crises" from the Housing Bubble to the Credit Crisis of 2008 to the Foreclosure Crisis of 2010 to the manufactured "Education Crisis" of 2010 are all linked together.
They have all been created to enrich the banksters and the hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson, and advance the power, wealth and prestige of billionaire vulture philanthropists like Gates and Bloomberg.
UPDATE: I should add that the "change agents" of '08 - the Obama administration - doesn't think the foreclosure fraud problem matters all that much and won't support a national moratorium on foreclosures until the problems in the system can be worked out.
Once again, the Obama people siding with the Big Banks and the hedge fund criminals.
How's that for change we can believe in!
POSTSCRIPT: Barry at The Big Picture has some advice for what to do if you have been personally harmed in the foreclosure mess.
Here it is:
My advice: If you have been in any way personally harmed by the illegal actions of any bank, law firm, process server, or loan servicing agency, you MUST file criminal charges.
If your home was broken into by a firm to change the locks illegally, that is breaking and entering, and conspiracy. If the wrong bank filed a foreclosure action, if the wrong house was foreclosed upon, its time to go criminal prosecution route.
Go to the local police department, fill out the requisite forms. Then go to your District Attorney’s Office or County Prosecutor’s office, and ask to speak to someone in charge. Tell them you want to prosecute. You can also contact your state Attorney General about the same. Follow up with written letters, that you send you your local newspaper and the NYT, WSJ, USA Today.
If any local DAs balk — some will know bank execs from the political groups and golf courses — let them know you will keeping a written record of all of this, and you plan to make sure that their opponent in the next election knows all about their bank coddling ways. When they stammer, hammer them about their opponent’s interest in who is and isn’t a bank bitch.
Corporations that get free speech rights also have liability for their own criminal actions. Its way past time we start forcing those responsibilities to have some meaning.
This is not about keeping deadbeats in their homes, as a few idiots and liars have asserted. The corporate sympathizers who are too busy fellating the bank to recognize what is going should be ignored. This is about fundamental property rights and the Rule of Law in the United States — nothing less.
Much of Barry's advice can be used to address a whole host of other problems with the system too.