THE BLOG
06/15/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Banking on Our Emotions?

The purpose of Mortgage Modification has long been forgotten. Really forgotten.  It was to help 'stimulate' our pathetic economy, not to reward scofflaws for their greedy misdeeds. Stimulation was to result in regular, home owning Americans re-entering the economy, purchasing as they did before.  It now is often seen by many of us regular folks as a narcotic to be offered to gambling, whoring, drug using, good-for-nothings. Nothing could be further from the truth. 70% of the USA economy is generated by us regular folks getting a new 'fridge' now and then.  The vast majority of Americans in financial/mortgage straits got there because of our greedy, manipulative, financial institutions, including our government, who destroyed the economy. The destruction has nothing to do with 'if two Caddy's are good, three must be better' families.  Our economy must be stimulated.  Wall Street is stimulated.  We Main Streeteers are anesthetized under a blanket of debt and misery.
  
Given the obscene, thuggish behavior of our Banks and Federal Government (hereafter referred to as "Banks") in their handling of the mortgage crisis, I can only come up with two explanations. Either the executive class of our financial sector has become so consumed with greed that the very stuff that makes them human has dissolved, or somehow, the villains created by Charles Dickens escaped from the books that held them and now run the banks.
 
How else can the draconian measures taken by these institutions be explained? If we really consider their actions and policies, are they that much different than a loan shark pistol whipping some poor schlep who got behind on his payments?
 
Before we go further, let's remember one thing. The "Banks" are not amorphous organisms that simply cannot perceive or understand human emotion (another way of saying "nothing personal, it's just business," also an axiom of the Mob, but I digress). "Banks" are organizations of people. And therefore, at some point in the bureaucracy, a human being must make a decision whether or not to eject another human being from their home because he has defaulted on a payment (or payments). And for me, what was a mystery, in this whole tragic mess, has suddenly clarified itself.  "Banks" much prefer to foreclose rather than modify, because they, get ready to be shocked, make more money, considerably more, by foreclosing. Have the "Banks" devolved into an incompetent greedy immaturity, "I want it my way or not at all!", or is there a streak of genuine sociopathic sadism running through our financial sector?
 
Even though non-foreclosures are indeed profit centers for "Banks", these institutions insist on inflicting hardships anyway, just because they can. Promises to the moon, 'Programs" to nowhere, Plans to oblivion, all amount to torture. Consider the true human cost of foreclosure: Depression, anxiety, horrendous loss of self-esteem, divorce, destroyed families, are all too often the result.  And suicides.  Twelve in California through March.  One family butchered by their 'I couldn't make the payment' father. Yet despite the ongoing pain and obvious cost in blood and tears, the machine grinds mindlessly onward. Those responsible either asleep at the wheel or too greed-sick to care. The victims of this process have virtually nowhere to turn. Meanwhile, the monstrous bailouts and obscene bonuses to the instigators continue.  Maybe we can talk them into buying 3 Caddies.
 
Most recently, in the past two weeks, there is a new round of 'Programs' offered by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and, our own Federal Government. One can only think that this new round of false hopes is at most an attempt to save face. Sadly, but not surprisingly, these programs would seem to be the equivalent of the loan-shark saying "I'm cutting you a deal buddy, I'm only gonna break one of your legs"
 
The latest misery-fueled engine of avarice to enter the fray is laden with numerous insulting features, which in Orwellian fashion has been labeled as "great and healing." Please remember Big Brother loves you as you review the details of these 'new' program and keep checking your pockets; First, showing great largess our brothers at the B of A, will not charge overdraft fees on checks written late for mortgage payments. In other words, it's party time. (Another crowbar blow to the knees). Leave it to B of A to ferret out utterly insignificant issues and 'cure' them.
 
Then, there is the continuing mirage of mortgage debt reduction. Bank of America warns that the Grail of mortgage debt reduction is not an easy way out and will not be offered to everyone. (Considerably less than 1% of all  B of A's mortgage customers) This program will be accessible by invitation only, based on certain criteria. ("Invitations" do not equal modifications). Such as, "Mortgage Reduction will only be offered to owners who obtained their loans from Countrywide during the year 2008 with proof of payment difficulty...In addition, B of A will allow only up to '30%' reduction of the principle value. (read and understand the fine print of B of A's 'principle value reduction plan,' and you'll choke.  The good news here is that choking will happen only if you can understand the fine print.  Nobody can.  Hence, little choking.) Why stop there at the figment of 30 or any percent. How about you only qualify if your loan was processed when Mars and Neptune aligned in the 5th House of Aquarius, and your documents have been signed with a quill taken from an egret under the full moon? Only then can you wait for your possible invitation into the imaginary Promised Land.  'Invitations'will be mailed starting in June.  Hell, that's just around the corner. I recommend not standing by your mailbox. 
  
What it boils down to is this: the "Banks" are acting like bullies, so deal with them as you would a bully. They play by their own distorted rules, so why shouldn't we?   I never thought I'd quote Senator Barry Goldwater, but he obviously saw this one coming.  "Extremism in Defense of Liberty is no Vice."  Amen Brother.