Wednesday, May 30, 2012


May 30, 2012

In the age of the company boss where multi-million-dollar Wall Street bonuses are dime a dozen, many of us mere mortals are having to squeeze our pennies. Some older folks here in Walton County must choose between medicine and groceries: do you starve or do you succumb to your illness.
That’s not right.
Nor is this: One third of our military have lost their homes to the greedy banks, many of them while away on active duty, fighting for the very system that’s shafting them. And some families have been evicted by banks even if they never had a mortgage.
The organization Veterans Today says that at least one in every three military families have lost their homes since 2008. “Banks have saddled military and veterans’ families with thousands of dollars in illegal charges, in most cases not only violations of the mortgage contract procedures themselves but, in many cases, outright criminal fraud.”
Of course Bankzilla gets away with this kind of stuff regularly by stonewalling at first and then simply throwing up its hands and bleating: “administrative error”. In the real world – as opposed to the world of high finance – this isn’t a “mistake” but a crime called conversion. Thievery. The big boys get a pass, the rest of us get jail.
To all those who support an America run by big money I say watch those banks: they will gitcha. Just like they did DeKalb police officer Christopher Rorey who followed the rules, requested a little breathing space and consequently found himself and his family tossed onto the street.
They were victims of a foreclosure racket that preys on middle class folks struggling for breath under a recession caused by the very financial raptors that now swoop down to finish them off. The coup de grace, and not always legal.
Stick ‘em up, folks! Times have changed: in today’s America it’s the banks robbing the people
The five largest predators, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Ally Financial and Wells Fargo, were fined a total of $25 billion by the Federal Reserve six months ago. Their foreclosure activities had sparked a 16-month state-and-federal probe which these perpetrator banks consistently obstructed, reveals the inspector general for Housing And Urban Development. They obfuscated, hid documents, gagged employees... 
Eight more are being penalized, including SunTrust and the very untrustworthy Goldman Sachs, so beautifully described by writer Matt Taibbi as “a great vampire squid with its tentacles wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Bloodthirsty Bank of America is one of the ones that evicted the families of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and also foreclosed on people who owned their homes outright, free and clear. That bank simply ignored the trembling protests of their blameless victims.
So they pay the fines... out of their illegal gains of course. They get to keep the lion’s share. How does that work? If I were charged with a financial crime my home, car and pet giraffe would all be confiscated and taking care of fines with “suspect” money from my bank account would be verboten. Yet it’s okay for these insatiable Pac-Man finance houses to use their fraudulent gains to pay penalties. It’s as though the government is complicit in this travesty.
To impede a further financial meltdown, a weak regulatory law was introduced, one called Dodd-Frank that was further enfeebled by politicians doing the big banks’ bidding. But even having their hands tied with paper chains was too much for Wall Street’s moneygluttons, so addicted to booting the helpless out of their nests.
Dicey James Dimon, head of America’s largest bank, the much-hated JP Morgan Chase, has been the spearhead of Big Money’s struggle to free itself from regulation altogether. And then this month he revealed that his bank had gambled away $2 billion with even greater loss anticipated. This happened in a calm, slow market and was caused by the same high-risk betting from his outfit and others that brought about the 2008 crash. It cost us taxpayers way more than the $700 billion  in TARP loans authorized by President George W. Bush and his treasury secretary Henry Paulson,  the former boss of the aforementioned succubus Goldman Sachs. The bailout’s true cost, Bloomberg News reported 18 months ago, is a head-exploding $12.8 trillion.
The FBI is investigating Morgan Chase and shareholders are suing the company for taking excessive risks. Romney the “vulture capitalist”, as Texas Governor Rick Perry famously dubbed him, shrugs this off: it’s all in the game, baby, “that’s how it works in a public market”. Until one day the bank that’s too big to fail learns the roulette wheel stopped on red and “rien ne va plus”. And gets to vacuum another enormous bailout sum from victims, us taxpayers.
Of course the local cockalorum will leap – I’m applying the word figuratively for this geriatric bore – to condemn President Barack Obama, whose friend and benefactor is Five Card Dimon. They deserve censure, no question. But worse than Obama is Wall Street Mitt, who has pledged his squillionaire pals gains worth billions in exchange for the millions they’re pouring into his campaign.
To quote the late George Carlin: “It’s a big club – and you ain’t in it”. Yes, they’re all in bed together, the undead one percent. Meanwhile, too many ordinary Americans count themselves lucky just to be sleeping out of the rain.


© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.