Friday, October 26, 2012


Two new blogs from The Lion:

 It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why so many people hate government and the current political system in this country.  At times, government appears to deliberately act for the best needs of the wealthy and powerful and ignores, or even worse punishes, the average citizen.  At times like these, I find myself more often than not in agreement with this "pox on all of their houses" sentiment.

     The Wall Street Journal is reporting states that received part of a $25 billion settlement from 5 large banks that improperly processed foreclosures, have taken these billions and not used them to help distressed homeowners.  Rather, they took the money and used it to close state budget gaps.  More than $1 billion will go into state general funds and not to help people who lost their homes due to the illegal actions of these banks.

     This settlement was trumpeted as a huge victory for homeowners who had been victimized by the banking system.  State attorneys general, like Kamala Harris in California, portrayed themselves as modern day David's going up against and defeating financial Goliaths.  They were fighting the good fight.  Someone had to stand up for homeowners who had been abused and crushed.  Families who had lost their homes unnecessarily would be made whole.  This was publicized as a huge victory for Main Street at the expense of Wall Street.  Now we discover, those who were most directly affected will get little if any help.

     California governor Jerry Brown decided to take the $410 million the state received and put it into existing state obligations instead of using it to help those taken advantage of by greedy and immoral banks.  Attorney General Harris allegedly objected saying the funds should go to counseling and legal aid for distressed homeowners.  However, there is no evidence Harris fought very hard and she appears to have given Brown a pass.

     This outrage comes as CNN highlights a man in Michigan who lost his home to illegal foreclosure, and whose state was a part of this wonderful victory for the little folks, and who received a check for $840 as his portion of the settlement.  As he said, it isn't even enough to pay his rent for one month.

     How do Brown justify this thievery, this shell game, and this betrayal?  They don't.  For them this is business as usual.  They pushed for a quick settlement.  They wanted to avoid a long investigation into the mortgage practices of these banks and they didn't want to pursue criminal charges against anyone.  The banks coughed up a small amount with the guarantee no one goes to jail and no one can be sued.  It is the definition of a sweetheart deal and unfortunately homeowners will not be belles at the ball.

     Years ago I opposed a state lottery because I knew almost none of the money would reach schools.  The California legislature cut back education funding the same amount as the lottery might produce thus cancelling out any benefit.  This is the same government who wants voters to raise their own taxes to fund schools, but refuses to modify Proposition 13 to exclude commercial properties from its provisions which would raise billions of dollars in new revenue (corporations lobby much better than distressed homeowners).

     I believe government has a role to play in leveling the playing field in a capitalist economy.  However, when the capitalists buy access and purchase accommodations and influence politicians so they turn their backs on their constituents, government has been usurped and needs to be changed.

     The banks pay a little one goes to jail...politicians claim a heroic victory...everyday, gum-chewing homeowners and their families get screwed.  It isn't hard to see why so many hate the government and anyone associated with it.  When does Harris run for re-election?

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