The Death of the Pursuit of the Dream
[col. writ. 9/18/07]
(c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The letter came from someone who I didn't know.
It was short, to-the-point, and shocking.
A young wife and mother was at her wit's end, because she was about to lose her family's beloved home.
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It surprised me, and stunned me.
I've been reading about the problem in several papers, but here it was.
The prospect filled this young woman with dread and terror.
I wondered how many others were joining her in this journey into possible homelessness, and my research uncovered a rising number, all across the nation.
From San Francisco, to Brooklyn: from Philadelphia, to Buffalo; in cities on both coasts and in places in between, we are seeing the loss of homes by working families, many of whom have been duped into acquiring, not homes, but the sub prime loans that made home-buying possible.
Many of these loans were made with what's called adjustable rate mortgages (or ARM's).
ARM's suckered poor folks to buy into them, with 'teaser' rates meant to attract them, but as the antonym suggests, the rates get adjusted, and almost always upwards. Before long, people began paying 50% more than they paid six months earlier, only to be out-priced, and then, -- boom! -- a few missed mortgage payments, and foreclosure is sure to follow.
With this financial slight-of-hand, people are tossed out of their homes, and the properties?
They're just flipped again, again -- and again.
For bankers, builders and speculators, it was the next best thing to free money.
It was great!
Well, it was great for everybody except working folks, ho often lost homes that they've dreamed of owning.
If the corporate media is to be believed, average people were simply too stupid to know that they couldn't afford to buy a house.
But that was the very foundation of the sub prime lending industry.
Several years ago, I remember ads in the Black press, advising folks of the ease with which to buy a house these days.
Few people took into account how ARMs actually worked.
In the last 6 months, over 50 sub prime lending companies have gone out of business.
One of the biggest, New Century Financial, filed for bankruptcy protection in April, 2007.
But, having made their mint, their bankruptcies ain't like yours (If you can get 'em, after the U.S. Congress made it harder, that is).
New Century sold their stock before the shortfall, netting over $40 million in profits.
So, owners have one fate; working folks, with few assets, have another.
Once again, a capitalist bubble has burst, with one bunch taking the goodies, and the other taking the proverbial hole in the center of the doughnut -- (nothing).
I thought of that woman's pain; her feelings of loss, dread, and horror.
Magnified over tens of thousands, and then millions of people, we begin to see the scope of this problem that threatens to scuttle the hopes and dreams of (at least) a generation.
--(c) '07 maj
[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org');">http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
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Hans Bennett is a multi-media journalist mostly focusing on the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners. An archive of his work is available at insubordination.blogspot.com and he is also co-founder of "Journalists for Mumia," (more...