New Slave Owners, New Plantation

The economic suffering of working families is nationwide, but I hope that it is not nearly as severe as in my home state of Michigan. It breaks my heart to drive across the Detroit area and see foreclosure signs popping up like weeds in the summer heat.

In 3 of the 4 zip codes in the area, the foreclosure rate exceeds 25% according to government statistics! The City of Detroit is already an urban Prairie with whole neighborhoods of deserted homes and empty lots. Coyotes have been seen within the City limits, along with other wildlife. But coyotes are not the only predators Detroit has seen. The City Fire Department’s pension fund is nearly bankrupt after being duped into investments by a slick Wall Street firm. City business has been up for sale to the highest briber of City Council members and other utility department heads.

It’s not only desperate in Detroit. Near Detroit’s Wayne County is Oakland County, one of the 10 wealthiest counties in the Country. Even in Oakland County the foreclosure rate is skyrocketing and challenges to property tax assessments are creating huge backlogs. Michigan is in a depression and I have to wonder how long before civil unrest begins. Hundreds of thousands of people are jobless, homeless and getting desperate – and who could blame them for being angry about yet another jobless recovery where the same multibillion dollar banking and investment firms who have ripped us all off are now being underwritten by our own tax dollars?

Citibank, which charges the people of Wayne County more in interest rates than some loan sharks, is increasing the salaries of managers 50% and giving out bonuses greater than those given before the recent bust – AFTER receiving billions of dollars of tax money for a bailout! Meanwhile, Detroit is becoming the reincarnation of Batista Cuba where poverty and desperation surrounds a few oases of Casinos and yacht clubs.

I get angry just being a witness to this social injustice which is only tempered by compassion for the people who are jobless, homeless and hopeless.

Are bankers the new slave owners and is a new style of plantation emerging in the U.S.?

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14 Responses to New Slave Owners, New Plantation

  1. Ben Bernanke says:

    To answer your question Mr. Fieger… yes, you are a modern day slave. Now get back to work doing your part in the system, making it outrageously expensive to fight the government and big business.

  2. angstless says:

    there is a new website…http://www.michiganpositive.com/ which you might be interested in. As you said there are enough bad news about Michigan and Detroit in particular to circle the globe. Here is one that is all about the ‘relatively’ little good news!

  3. Patricia Jankowski says:

    I have noticed the same thing you have noticed, Mr. Fieger.

    And there is a sort of karmic irony to it all at times.

    I know of a disabled man who lives in some MSHDA housing on the east side of Detroit, near the Grosse Pointe Park border. The building was built in 1924 and is used for a 12-unit apartment. There is another similar building just across the street…and then…nothingness.

    I mean, everyone is gone. The old house across the street is vacant and there are grasses, weeds and wildflowers growing for miles around the area.

    It is a ghost town.

    And this man can look out his window and see wild turkeys and pheasants.

    The wealthier people have gone, to leave the poorer ones behind. So now the wealthier ones live in crowded suburbs, and scramble to make their house payments, while this man gets to see the bit of nature that sneaks up on the untended land left behind.

    They say that what goes around, comes around. And it always does.

    One day, perhaps we will all be living in teepees, while the bankers and investors live in gorgeous high-rise lakefront condos.

    But lightning will strike the high rise condos first.

    So take heart. We will come out alright in the end.

    But thanks for the fight you’re giving them in the meantime. If you have obtained any amenities and/or luxuries in the process of that fight, as far as I’m concerned,

    YOU’VE EARNED THEM ALL!

    Sincerely,

    Patricia Jankowski, RN, LNC

  4. Wolfman says:

    After reading your blog and interview on WJR it brought-to-mind a picture of what’s to come that I helped with at the People’s Summit in Detroit. http://www.factoryrat.com/factoryrat/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=6569

  5. In response to “Ben Bernanke” comment, you should begin to critically analyze the pablum you have been fed by the insurance industry. You should also have the courage of your convictions to place your real name on your posts. Fieger does, and so do I.

    In Michigan, there has been draconian “tort reform” for several decades and yet, not surprisingly, no reduction in insurance premiums. In fact, there have been steady INCREASES. Despite lavish salaries, pensions, and benefit packages, the insurance moguls now argue that the INCREASES have been slowed by systematically limiting and terminating citizen’s rights to seek redress in the Courts. No one in press or government questions these assertions and forces these financial Goliaths to verify or document their self serving statements. Meanwhile, Insurance Industry profits have skyrocketed across the board. Do you really think the insurance companies are your friends? After 911, the insurance companies jacked up all rates from homeowners and commercial policies. Then in their beneficence, the insurance behemoths, rewrote their insurance policies to EXCLUDE coverage if you are unfortunate enough to be damaged by a terrorist attack. Rates have never come down or even stabilized. Many persons have been so indoctrinated, that they don’t even question the premises of what the insurance companies have done and do. The lap dog Sate legislatures and US Congress, have also passed laws insulating their enormous profits further, and shifting losses to the taxpayers. If we, the common people and average workers, all live on less, shouldn’t the insurance companies do the same? The question is never even asked.

    The “bogey man” trial lawyer is not going to work any more to justify this financial gluttony by the Insurance Industrialists. It is not Fieger’s name as a party on any lawsuits. It is someone’s father, aunt, uncle, nephew, or daughter, that is the party. A jury award to them goes right back into the local community economy. Ask why insurance companies are not obligated, by law, to invest their enormous profits from mandatory No-Fault products here in Michigan, and not buy an overseas port or build a mall in Southern California. The answer can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State Web Site: http://miboecfr.nicusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/mi_com.cgi where you can view the purchase of votes by “political contribution.” Insurance was intended spread risk and compensate injured persons pursuant to law. It was not intended to create financial leviathans, that buy and sell votes of our politicians.

    Addressing the original premise of the Fieger post, as I stated in a recent radio interview at a small radio station in Detroit/Highland Park, in ancient Rome 95% of the population were enslaved. NOTHING HAS CHANGED. True economic and political freedom has been subverted by monied interests (casinos, banks and insurance) and other special interests. However, all is not irrevocably lost. In our Constitutional system, the figurative slaves can VOTE and serve on a JURY. On a jury, you become THE LAW and no matter what the hired gun from the insurance company does, your decision is final and usually sticks. Help your fellow citizens by voting and serving on a jury and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. They need us more then we need them. Perhaps a general strike? Spread the word.

  6. HOW USURY BECAME THE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES.

    On Fieger’s point about Credit Card company charging usurious rates, the following is instructive on how this occurred. The usury rate in Michigan is 5%, unless agreed in writing which is then limited to 7%. Criminal usury is 25% and is punishable by 5 years in prison, unless “authorized or permitted by law to do so.” MCL 438.31. So, not surprisingly, the special interest bankers and credit card companies dictated to the Michigan Legislature to allow them to charge otherwise usurious rates. I would not doubt if the bill itself was written by a banker lobbyist, and rubber stamped through committee, floor vote in both houses, for the then governor’s automatic signature. One might ask, how can it be usury for a loan shark to charge the same rate of interest as a credit card company?

    In Michigan our politicians passed a law allowing it, but many other States have not. In those cases a Federal Banking Law from the Civil War was used to “preempt” the State’s law designed to protect its citizenry. The State (Minnesota I believe) challenged the “export” of the Nebraska interest rate by First National Bank into it’s State. On December 18, 1978, the high court ruled, unanimously in First National Bank’s favor. The decision maintained that the 115-year-old National Bank Act takes precedence over usury statutes in individual states, making enforcement of the State usury laws impossible.

    First National Bank was represented by none other than Robert Bork at oral arguments. Judicial restraint, when it came to the bankers’ interests, ruled the day, so called “conservatives” and so called “liberals” were in total, happy agreement.

    As Douglass opined in the decision, “[b]ut the protection of state usury laws is an issue of legislative policy, and any plea to alter [the law] to further that end is better addressed to the wisdom of Congress than to the judgment of this Court.” So, its easy: Congress can amend the law capping or limiting credit card interest rates charged by the banks. Don’t hold your breath.

  7. Bill Dickens says:

    I have been saying for several years now that the Republicans have won their War on the Poor and are well into winning their Contract on the Middle Class.

    This recession certanly proved that the Brokerage Houses, Ben Stein, and others have done their utmost to keep ones finances completely non-transparent and have sat quietly by as their clients slid into poverty.

    We have come so far since when I read the Great Society Speech over LBJ’s shoulder at my Commencement and left me inspired about the future of Ameica.

    So when is someone going to take on that ambitious idiot Cox? It is well rumored that he was at “the Party”. And would someone explain to me, is “urban legend” a legal term and grounds for calling a halt to the State Police investigations just as they were about to strike paydirt?

    Conceivably he and others could have saved the City 10 to 12 million and lots of mud on our faces.

  8. Patricia Jankowski says:

    Mr. Cusumano,

    Brilliantly and eloquently said!

    Bravo!

    I hope you blog here again, I want to read more of yours.

    Pat J

  9. WHAT IS A NAZI?
    Obviously, the National Socialist Party in Germany circa 1926-1945. No, a “Nazi” is a person who, after being in an organization or group, the wrong organization or group, for a period of time, is capable of anything, no matter how immoral or heinous. Unfortunately, there are more of these moral zombies then you would think lurking about us everyday. Recently, a friend of ours stated that she was leaving her law firm. She said that she was representing an HMO that denied coverage to a family, and as a result, a young boy had died. The victim’s family was shattered. Implicit was that she thought it was morally wrong to withhold medical care from a child; medical treatments that would have prolonged or saved his life. Implicit too was that she had legally represented, delayed, obfuscated, and counseled this brutish white collar thuggery by the HMO for years and years. But, at the same time, I sensed she had been representing these entities despite her conflicted emotions and self loathing. She had lost her dignity, but she still had a conscience. The shekels they threw on the floor for her she snatched up and took to the bank, but still the work bothered her. Recently, she said that she had had enough, and quit or was fired for refusing to follow her boss’ instructions on a file. This surprised me because I had no idea that she was representing these entities. The guilt and burden must have been difficult for her, because I know in my heart she is a good person. The big pay-off: her former law firm won’t pay her for her percentage of the hourly fees billed on her files. She was at that firm for about 16 years. Now, suddenly, she is one of the subhumans; on the outside. The point is that “Nazi” phenomenon can take over anyone, anywhere. Anne Frank said “[d]espite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart,” and that she hoped for and looked for the best in people. Unfortunately, there are too many hard of heart that believe no price is too high, morally or spiritually, to pay for their private enrichment. Whether it is a Wall Street Banker or some other self ordained “wunderkind,” they pay the ultimate price in their hollow soul. Hopefully, our friend will continue recover her dignity and get on the right side of this fight, a fight she can believe in.

  10. Jeanetta F. says:

    It really pains my heart to see what myself and other Michiganders are going through. Yes it’s modern day slavery in every since of the way. The system is not designed to help families and people who are trying to help themselves. My husband and I went from over 150k income in 2006 to just last year being denied public assistance three times! We never thought we’d one day lose our home, cars and most importantly our livelyhood. We both are victims of the “Auto Mess” and trying to maintane a small business that is costing more to operate than what we are profiting. It was not until a month ago when my son was attacked and we didn’t have the money for hospital bills or to take him for a return visit to the doctor to have stitches removed that we realized just how bad things really are. Imagine having to remove your childs stitches yourself! I’ve always been an optomist but I’m beginning to lose faith. I pray things turn around soon because it very hard on families right now and families are what contribute most to society and the economy!

  11. Rick E. says:

    Frank,

    I am pretty sure the comment was an attempt at humor from someone posing as Ben Bernanke, you know, the Federal Reserve chairman. As in this is what Ben would say behind closed doors.

    At least that is what I was trying to get across.

    I am in total agreement with your posts. Lighten up a little?

  12. remy says:

    Geoff,

    This has only become a problem when it hit middle America. Many people in this country and around the world are starving and killing for meals. We have always lived under “civli unrest”. People hve just not tnoticed it because it was on the other side of the tracks, overpass or bridge.

    Now middle America, who has always benefited from the abundance of resources available to them for a modest price, is feeling the repercussions of what it will be like when we are dependent on others to sustain our lifestyles.

    Fortunately for you and I, our profession allows ua a semi-permeable bubble to insulate us from the full wrath of the recession. Blessed are we that have at our disposal the ability to have our voice heard.

    We the People in order to form a perfect union… I wonder if anyone has read this lately?!?

  13. Patricia Jankowski says:

    More on the subject of getting ripped off:

    Tort Reform is Not Reform and is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
    This is from the People Before Profits Grassroots Action Center:

    ———-

    Your Rights Are Under Attack! Fight Back!

    It is no surprise that greedy insurance companies are taking advantage of the healthcare debate to work their own agenda. Their latest target – innocent victims of medical malpractice injured through no fault of their own.

    If you are injured due to medical malpractice, you should have your day in court, right? Well not if the insurance companies get their way. They want to set limits on how much you are compensated for your injury or the death of a loved one, and they want to create hurdles that will keep you from ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. It’s all about their bottom line.

    Now some of the insurers biggest benefactors – Republicans in Congress who receive their big fat campaign donations – are doing their bidding and trying to restrict your access to justice. It’s time to stand up for the injured! Tomorrow, President Obama will address Congress and the nation about healthcare reform. Please contact the White House today and tell them that under no circumstance does tort reform belong in the healthcare bill. Patients should not have to give up their right to go to court in order to get healthcare reform, and patient’s rights are not a bargaining chip.
    – People Over Profits Action Network
    Please read this Orlando Sentinel article, it is very enlightening, and don’t forget to contact the White House TODAY. You canclick here or visit http://www.peopleoverprofits.org/nomedmal

    Medical Malpractice Reform Won’t Slash Health Care Costs
    Scott Maxwell TAKING NAMES September 6, 2009
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-locorl-maxwell-tort-reform-0906090609sep06,0,3538912.column

    The courtroom is one of the last places in America where David can take on Goliath.
    Where a single man, wronged by powerful interests, can seek justice from a panel of his peers.
    And where a woman who lost her child — and is worried that other women might lose theirs — can bypass the bureaucrats and turn directly to her fellow Americans for help.
    Our legal system is the best in the world — created by our Founding Fathers, who believed that unfettered access to courts and reparation was so important that they placed it in the Bill of Rights.
    Yet now, after more than 200 years, we have people trying to undo it.
    All in the name of health care reform — even though the facts show it would do little to actually help the common man.
    If only the facts mattered.
    Instead, emotions and talking points prevail.
    And the results are surreal — people screaming in town halls, begging to limit their own rights.
    We hear from people who claim to revere this country’s founding principles and are willing to fight till their dying breath to protect the Second Amendment or the First … but who seem eager to abandon the Seventh.
    And why? Because some talk-show host told them to? Because their chamber of commerce told them it might be good for business?
    Certainly the proposals titillate Corporate America.
    After all, virtually every proposal that’s out there — from capping damages and making it tougher for poor people to file lawsuits to taking juries out of the equation altogether — means less accountability.
    And so the special interests and their lackeys portray “tort reform” as some sort of magical elixir that will instantly drive costs way down.
    Except it won’t.
    That’s not me saying so. It’s the Congressional Budget Office — the one run during the Bush administration under Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
    In 2005, after conducting an exhaustive study, the CBO reported that malpractice accounted for “less than 2 percent” of health care spending.
    So would you be willing to chip away your own rights — not to mention the Bill of Rights — so that your monthly premiums would drop from $225 down to $220?
    The folly of that logic was on spectacular display at a town hall in Missouri last month.
    Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was facing a rowdy room. They were screaming at her — and for malpractice reform.
    Finally, McCaskill told the crowd: “We did very, very aggressive tort reform, and there has been a dramatic drop-off in malpractice lawsuits in Missouri.”
    The room exploded in wild applause.
    “Now, I’m wondering,” she continued, “how many of you that are clapping saw your health care costs go down?”
    Crickets chirped, and not a hand was raised.
    No one had a talking point prepared for that one.
    Many of the talking points aren’t accurate anyway.
    Personal injury trials aren’t skyrocketing. Bush’s Justice Department determined that the number of cases resolved in U.S. District courts fell by nearly 80 percent between 1985 and 2003. And very few of them reached seven figures.
    In fact, when juries do hand out big verdicts, it’s usually for a reason — because they saw a big problem.
    Civil trials have been responsible for doing all kinds of things that government has not.
    Big verdicts can stop pharmaceutical companies from marketing unsafe drugs, automobile manufacturers from selling cars with deadly design flaws, and toy companies from making playthings that will harm children.
    When you hear about a big judgment, do you focus on the widow who received millions of dollars — or the fact that, because of that verdict, a product that might’ve made you a widow too will no longer be on the market?
    This isn’t big government shoving mandates or verdicts down your throat.
    It is your friends, neighbors and fellow Americans serving their country as jurors.
    I’m candid in saying I come by my appreciation of the law naturally. My father is a lawyer who has defended doctors at prestigious hospitals and represented wives who became widows after an operation went wrong. Both sides deserve representation.
    Most doctors do good work. And the medical boards are much better than they used to be at self-policing.
    But do you completely trust your family’s health to internal checks and government bureaucrats? Before you answer, you should know that, just last month, Florida revealed that health officials completely dropped 49 discipline complaints of doctors because a of a backlog so big they couldn’t meet the six-year statute of limitations.
    Yes, we need to bring down the cost of health care — and malpractice insurance.
    We need to listen to ideas from all sides to make it happen.
    But “tort reform” not only flies in the face of what our Founding Fathers wanted, it is tantamount to slapping handcuffs on your own wrists.

    ———–

    Amen. The scariest thing here is how people are being duped into thinking that negligence and corporate greed are not only okay, they’re good and they will make us more secure.

    Sometimes I feel like many Americans are like naive high school girls who marry a bad boy and try to change him into a good boy.

  14. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    Wow, this was written 2 years ago but still true today. I was recently laid off and I feel like I’ve been hurled in front of a train while passers-by barely glance at me. And they continue reading articles about Donald Trump and Sarah Palin eating pizza because that’s really important!

    J.

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