I bet most Americans believe the current mortgage crisis came on suddenly and might even be wondering how so many smart people in the financial sector could be so shocked by the enormity of it. In fact, all of it was seen and predicted by many honest people. The following is the article I wrote and published in October 2006. Make no mistake, the mortgage crisis like so much else happening in the nation is a consequence of the decline and corruption of American democracy.
We the people once owned our democracy. We elected "representatives" to run it for US. Have you noticed? Somewhere along the way we lost our democracy.
It was foreclosed by wealthy and power elites that corrupted our "representatives" who literally sold us out. Our homeland was foreclosed right in plain sight. Sure, we citizens still reside in the USA, but we no longer own our democracy. We pay rent through our taxes. But we no longer have any equity. Our democracy is owned by the rich, and their partner foreign elites and governments, which is why in a strict sense it no longer is a democracy, but rather a plutocracy. Modern day aristocrats – an apt terms considering the many political dynasties in our ruling class - maintain the charade that America is still a democracy by letting us vote. They also give us many freedoms to distract us from our dire political conditions. They're smart, so they limit our choices to the main parties that constitute the two-party duopoly. Even smarter, they convert consumer spending (that they spur) into economic inequality, making them, the rich, even richer and everyone else, all of us, poorer.
How We Lost Democracy Ownership
People born into American citizenship or sworn into it have inherited a democracy debt – a kind of political mortgage – that requires payment, not in dollars, but in engaged and responsible citizenship, ensuring that those elected to manage the government do so in the public interest. People like Thomas Jefferson told us about the burden placed on Americans. But paying our democracy mortgage has declined over the past fifty years.
With sprawl and all the enabling automobile addiction, roads and chain stores, the power elites knew exactly what they were doing. They made Americans time poor and too tired to be politically active. Through distraction based on borrowing and spending they suckered Americans into defaulting on their democracy debt. Democracy was foreclosed, without any notice letter being sent to us. Ownership was transferred to the rich and powerful elites sitting atop the corporate state and, not coincidentally, making tons of money from land development and home building. Wal-Mart was elected corporate wage-killer-in-chief.
Which brings us to our current new twist on Foreclosure USA. Millions of Americans have experienced, or will soon experience, foreclosure on what once was hyped as the cornerstone of the ownership society – they are losing their homes. The bursting of the housing bubble is often talked about in terms of slower home sales and lower prices. The latest data: In September, the number of existing single-family homes sold dropped 14.2 percent, compared to September 2005, and the median price dropped by $5,000.
But something much worse is happening and accelerating in virtually every community in all the states. In a delusional democracy with delusional prosperity we now are witnessing the proof that the ownership society is also delusional. Apparently no one has told George W. Bush.
Up to 4 percent of America's mortgaged homeowners might lose their homes to foreclosure in coming months, one of the nation's largest lenders predicted recently, as those homeowners find themselves trapped by heavy debt and the housing slump. That's four times worse than the historical average of 1 in 100 mortgaged homeowners who fail to keep up payments. First American Loan Performance, a mortgage-data company based in San Francisco, says overall the national foreclosure rate has climbed 27% from a year ago with an estimated $110 billion worth of homes expected to go into foreclosure. Rick Sharga, a vice-president at RealtyTrac, said recently "Over a trillion dollars is going to readjust in the next 15 months. We had almost 850,000 foreclosures last year and we are at 913,000 through September." He predicted that national foreclosures could hit 1.2 million to 1.3 million by the end of this year. Guess George W. Bush has not heard about this, only about great economic growth.
And what about the ever-sprawling Sunshine State? Florida has one new foreclosure filing for every 254 households, more than four times the national average. Foreclosure activity in the third quarter of 2006 rose by 14 percent compared to the second quarter of the year. It was 39 percent higher than the same period last year.
How about the Northeast? In Massachusetts, 1,812 new foreclosures were initiated in August, which is 72 percent more foreclosures than August of last year, and 266 percent more than in August 2004. The July to August increase was 34 percent, making it the largest month-to-month increase in the past three years. When comparing foreclosures during the year ending Aug. 31 (15,309), to the previous year (10,517), foreclosures increased statewide by nearly 46 percent.