New Slave Owners, New Plantation

July 7, 2009

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.?

Banksters and Broke-sters

March 11, 2009

Throughout history there have been certain occupations and ethnic groups that seem to be ready-made as scapegoats. Sometimes status and ethnicity are combined, for example, ”Jewish Bankers” or “welfare cheats” (i.e. African-Americans). As our economy continues to deteriorate we can expect that old scapegoats will be dusted off and used again. Never mind that the real welfare cheats are the banksters and broke-sters who took our money, are taking our money and will be taking our money. Doesn’t it make you just a little bit angry to know that your tax dollars are going to bail out the same bankers who have been refusing to lower your mortgage interest rate so you can save your home? Now we are forced to save their businesses.

Scapegoats are meant to take the attention away from the real culprits. It would be easy to lump all banksters and broke-sters together because the abuse in the financial industries seems to be widespread. I am sure there are “good guys” out there, but I am not about to take up a lantern and wander the streets at night looking for them. What those people have done may not be illegal, but it sure is immoral. Bankers and brokers justify their immorality by saying there was no illegality. They blame the victims – homeowners, especially “poor people” (another popular scapegoat) who took the money offered to them to realize the American dream.

Bankers and brokers are no different from me or you insofar as we are all guilty of greed sometimes. We all want more than we need sometimes. The difference between us and them is that they have power. We would be put in jail immediately if we robbed a liquor store of a few hundred dollars. But men like Madoff can rob people of billions and stay comfortable in their $7 million Manhattan penthouse (making fur with filthy lucre).

Bankers are fighting tooth and nail to prevent bankruptcy judges from being able to reduce mortgage principle when they could have reduced the rates voluntarily and helped people avoid bankruptcy. They just don’t want to reduce rates because it might cost them a few dollars. They wouldn’t help a family keep their home even if foreclosure costs the banks far more than lowering the interest rate. That kind of power should not be in the hands of people who care for nothing more than their own treasure and feel that they are beyond accountability.

You should e-mail or write your representatives in the Congress and tell them that we want the power to negotiate mortgages foreclures out of the hands of the banksters we are bailing out.