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Life Arts    H2'ed 9/11/10

David Petrovich, Working to Keep Homeowners In Their Homes, Part Two

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Welcome back for the conclusion of my interview with David Petrovich, author of Fight Foreclosure: How to Cope with a mortgage you can't pay, Negotiate with your lender, and Save your home. Dave, we've been talking about the apparent lack of real help from the government. The logical, perhaps naive question is then, what does our government actually want? Does it want one in eight households to find themselves out on the street? Is that in the national best interest? And if not, why are they not jumping in with two feet to turn this situation around?

It should be obvious to all thinking people our government is doing more to protect corporate profits than its citizens' welfare.

It is clear to me year after year after year our government, our (s)elected representatives ignore the wants and needs of the majority in favor of their corporate masters' interests, the one percent who own and control eighty percent of the nation's wealth including its tools of production.

Why else would our "consumer protection" laws permit the perpetual pollution of our air and water and earth for profit? Or the manufacture and distribution of unsafe, non-nutritious sometimes deadly food? Or restrict our citizens' access to affordable health care or life-saving medicine by instead empowering a middleman to take 30% of every health care dollar when our own government run programs charge less than 4%? Or spend trillions sending our armed forces to bomb the crap out of people whose natural resources are wanted by American capitalists. Or reward financial giants billions of dollars in taxpayer money while watching as millions go without work, without health care, and who are positioned to lose their homes.

I say "selected" representatives because we really don't have much choice but to vote for whoever the party bosses trot out in front of us each November. You don't become a party-boss horse unless you are willing to run the race in the way the party boss wants. I don't see much choice. I see the two major parties as the left and right wing of the same bird of prey: capitalism. They all represent corporate interests above the needs of the majority. There are a few exceptions like Bernie Sanders and to a lesser degree, Dennis Kucinich. We need more like them. There may be others but they don't get mainstream media attention. According to my daughter's textbook, The Law of Democracy (she's a third year law student) the two-party system is rigged to protect itself from meaningful challenges from third parties who have alternative views.

I hope the government doesn't want massive unemployment or widespread homelessness. In one regard, it would serve to help create a cheap labor pool " where people will work for a few bucks an hour. That would stop the inflow of illegals, and allow our corporate masters to have their pick of skilled laborers for cheap without having to go offshore. When Americans do go back to work no doubt many jobs will come without benefits including health care, pensions, paid vacations, etc. But it creates a problem, too. If the "middle class" is abolished, who would buy the expensive cars, expensive houses, etc.? American capitalists would need to secure new markets for their products. Perhaps, overseas?

No, I think things got way out of hand and upset the balance of things. Historically, capitalism doesn't solve its problems" it just redistributes them. But this is a topic for another day.

Ireland had a mortgage crises, too. From what I read, the government bought up (almost) all the toxic loans from investors and, as owners of the mortgage and loans, were able to "unbundle" and then modify them without having to navigate the complexities of securitization. That's what we should have done. In fact, one justification for early bailout strategies was for the government to purchase and then repair toxic loans but this plan has not yet materialized as it was promoted. Instead, the investors who already made billions were further compensated for losses sustained and their subsidiary servicers are still making money hand over fist on the plight of victims of unscrupulous lending practices, and a failed economy.

In order to "jump in with both feet" to fix the mortgage finance/housing mess (or fix industry-favored environmental laws, or fix anti-consumer agricultural policies) our government's first priority has been to appease Wall Street while telling Americans they must "suck it up" and endure a hypothetical recovery period.

At this point, simply modifying toxic mortgage loans may be pointless for the millions who are out of work, or working less than full-time. In addition to a mass modification program, we'll need a simultaneous national moratorium on collection and foreclosure. We'll also need an incentive for those who are paying their mortgage loans and think it unfair to reward people they view as irresponsible.

There are some good ideas floating around, but their implementation is painfully slow and may be a case of too little, too late.

I wish I could disagree with your take on the current situation. Let's go back and talk about SPOCH and the advise you offer those facing foreclosure. Once the foreclosure process begins, is the homeowner doomed?

No, the homeowner isn't doomed, but not all who face foreclosure will do everything which is necessary to maximize the chance to save their home. Some families won't be able to save their home no matter what they do due to their own financial pickle. The bottom line is in order to save a home from foreclosure the borrower must be able to establish communication with an uncooperative loan servicer, and then negotiate an affordable workout.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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