There’s the OUTRAGE: Riverside Man Booby-Traps Foreclosed Home
Here’s how the LA Times, in just a few brief paragraphs, reported the story today:
“A 42-year-old Riverside man has been arrested on suspicion of setting up fake booby traps outside his foreclosed home, authorities said today.
Former homeowner Daniel Gherman was booked on suspicion of attempting to assemble a device designed to cause great bodily injury and on four counts of assembling or possessing a facsimile explosive, officials said. The investigation is ongoing.
A U.S. Bank representative was checking the house Tuesday in the 1400 block of Orange Street when he discovered several explosives outside the structure. Officers from the Riverside Police Department arrived about 2:45 p.m. and confirmed the explosives were made to look like pipe bombs, officials said in a statement.
At least nine homes in the neighborhood were evacuated, police said.”
There’s the “outrage,” AND, I’M AFRAID IT’S ONLY JUST BEGUN
“Former homeowner Daniel Gherman?” Now that’s a way to phrase something, don’t you think? That really encapsulates a man who got so angry, so enraged, so desperate to make a statement, and felt so powerless that he was willing to blow up his house and potentially kill unknown others… children, maybe.
In January of this year, I wrote an article on MSNBC’s Newsvine titled: “Where is the Outrage,” which I have re-published below… because I think it’s important that my readers on ML-Implode see it. It asked the question and offered an answer.
Where is the outrage over what’s being allowed to happen to millions of American homeowners? Why aren’t there people marching in the streets? I mean, here in LA there was marching in the streets over gay marriage being voted down, but millions losing homes… quiet as a church mouse.
I asked the question because I’m a student of human behavior. And I know America and Americans… and we’re not a calm, serene, sit-back-and-take-it kind of people.
But, I answered the question in the article as well. I realized that the reason we hadn’t been seeing the outrage I was expecting was that those losing homes had bought in to the same garbage that the rest of the country had been fed: “It’s the fault of sub-prime borrowers.” These people are ashamed… they’ve been told it’s their fault and they believe it. So, instead of marching in the streets, turning to violence, the unimaginable tragedy that’s being allowed to continue today is being endured quietly.
And God damn anyone who allows that to continue even one more day.
We’ve been fed so much crap about this economic meltdown that I can barely stomach it anymore. It’s not the “fault” of sub-prime” borrowers, and never has been. Did borrowers break the bond market? Did borrowers leverage their trillions in assets forty and more to one? Did borrowers fraudulently construct mortgage backed securities and pass them off as being “triple A” rated bonds? Did borrowers securitize something? How many borrowers issued or purchased credit default swaps?
Borrowers are guilty of wanting to buy homes. Their guilty of listening to so-called “experts” who told them they could qualify for loans that should have never been made in the first place. They’re guilty of not seeing The Great Depression Part 2 around the corner… but so is Henry Paulson… and everyone else on the planet… or did I miss something?
Beyond the borrowers, the next group in the firing-line for the blame game is mortgage brokers. Oh yes, they were the ones that did all those things, huh? They sold what they were told to sell. They did their jobs. What was expected of them. Should they have policed the situation? Yeah… that’s just what we should all expect… that mortgage brokers should police… the banks themselves.
Listen up… I’m done being even slightly politically correct about this… enough! It’s the banks that are responsible for this. Period. And the more time that passes, the more eveyone will come to realize this. And then there’ll be outrage on a scale that will make the 1960s look like a day at the beach.
We have to stop the foreclosure crisis in this country or it will threaten everything that makes up our way of life. It’s not just one of the problems… it’s the only problem. If it’s allowed to continue, it will lead to political instability in our country, and threaten our entire world.
I voted for President Obama because I believed him when he said he’d take the steps needed to solve the housing crisis. He wouldn’t be concerned with politics as usual. He’d bring change to Washington.
And what’s he done? Well, let’s see. Not a God damed thing, that’s what. His homeowner rescue plan is nothing more than more insipid and out-of-touch blathering by a D.C. politician. He’s clearly more concerned with his popularity ratings and the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections than anything else. He went to Europe… visited with foreign dignitaries… fought over bipartisanship nonsense… debated stimulus…
… and adding insult to injury, made speeches telling homeowners that they shouldn’t hire a firm to help them out of the worst nightmare imaginable… ENOUGH!
I don’t think people understand how bad it is… to lose one’s home. Do you? Do you know what that would feel like. To lose something you’ve worked for all of your life? Your family’s security? The place where all of your memories are made? To fail as a provider and protector? To look into the eyes of your children as they pack their things? To think about the day you’ll drive away afraid to turn and look back?
It’s beyond anything I can imagine, short of losing a family member.
Here’s another story that failed to make national news, and there are so many you couldn’t count them all. This article was written by Dan Childs, of ABCNews.com:
July 25th, 2008: Carlene Balderrama, 53, from Taunton, Mass. Killed herself. Note to mortgage company: “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead.” According to reports, PHH Mortgage Corporation notified police less than 90 minutes before house was to go on the auction block. By the time police arrived on the scene, she had fatally shot herself with her husband’s rifle. Taunton Police Chief Raymond O’Berg noted: “It has a lot of people talking, because there are a lot of homes in foreclosure here. It’s just a tragedy. Then again, someone told me that these financial stresses are tough.”
She left another suicide note for her husband and son saying take the insurance money and stay in the house.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Here’s the story I wrote this past January… but is only getting more relevant each day that passes.
WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?
According to the numbers published this past week by the Washington Post, along with countless others, in 2008 alone there were 2.3 million home foreclosures in the United States. 2.3 million. 2.3 MILLION!
… That’s 191,667 a month. … 44,231 each week. … 6,301 every single day, 365 days a year.
So… where’s the outrage? Yes, I know there are plenty of people railing on about the economy, the bailouts, the credit crisis, the economic stimulus package, and the like, but the whole thing seems far too orderly and calm to me. I’m not kidding here… where is the outrage? Why aren’t there people rioting in the streets? I mean throwing bricks through windows… committing random acts of violence… serious outrage!
There was more outrage over same sex marriage, for heaven’s sake. Same sex marriage? Compared with hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes each month? You’ve got to be kidding. I have a good friend who is gay and even he said he’s much more concerned about losing his home than marrying his boyfriend.
I am basically a peaceful, non-violent person. I’ve never advocated violence as a solution for anything, except in self-defense… or in opposition to an oppressor. But, I feel have to admit something here…
I’ve owned my home for 19 years. For 19 years I’ve made my mortgage payment on time and as agreed. A couple of years ago it was ridiculously appraised at roughly $900,000 (Southern California, remember.) Six months ago, it might have appraised at $700,000. Today, it might appraise for $500,000, I really don’t know.
Let’s say that I refinanced a couple of years ago and had an adjustable rate mortgage of $450,000. And let’s say that my payment was adjusting upward, I couldn’t refinance at a fixed rate, and was now in jeopardy of losing my home. I have to tell you that I would be BEYOND PISSED OFF. WAY BEYOND.
It’s not my fault that Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poors screwed up the secondary mortgage market by slapping “AAA” on anything and everything. It’s not my fault that the real estate market is now in a free fall. It’s not my fault that the banks are in trouble, not my fault that leverage, derivatives and new accounting regulations have exacerbated the losses, and certainly not my fault that nothing has been done to stop the carnage.
And I’M losing MY home? Like hell. I’d be on fire.
First of all, I’d burn my house to the ground before I’d watch the bank foreclose. Think I’m exaggerating? Don’t bet on it. And second of all, if I didn’t have a child I’m responsible for, I’d be loading my shotgun and preparing for a shoot-out at the OK Corral before someone comes and tells me to leave my own home. Someone feel like calling me “irresponsible”? Really? Well, you better duck ’cause I’m not playing. This is my home you’re talking about.
And if I did end up having to vacate my home, I’d make Cindy Sheehan’s protest look like a bake sale on Happy Days. I’d never stop screaming… I’d go after everyone involved in every way imaginable. I’d be a very dangerous person. You would not recognize me. No one would like me. Society’s rules would no longer mean very much in my mind. Jail? I’d already be in jail.
Did you hear about 90 year-old Addie Polk of Akron, Ohio? Shot herself “at least twice in the upper body,” according to CNN. Why? She was being foreclosed on… evicted… losing the 101 year-old home she and her husband bought back in 1970. Here’s the story from CNN.com:
Addie Polk, 90, of Akron, Ohio, became a symbol of the nation’s home mortgage crisis when she was hospitalized after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wednesday afternoon as deputies came to remove her from her home, which had been lost to foreclosure. On Friday, Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith said the mortgage association had decided to halt action against Polk and sign the property “outright” to her. “We’re going to forgive whatever outstanding balance she had on the loan and give her the house,” Faith said. “Given the circumstances, we think it’s appropriate.”
Don’t you just love that last line? Given the circumstances, we think it’s appropriate? Which circumstances might those be, Brian?
You mean the circumstances in which you guys went after a 90 year-old woman who had lived in her home for some 38 years… foreclosed and sent Sheriff Deputies to evict her? Really? Stunning, truly stunning. Couldn’t work that out any other way, Brian, is that what you’re telling me?
You’re a real horses ass, Brian, you know that? Does your mother know about what you did here? How about your grandmother? Your wife and kids? Because I am so going to tell them. I’m going to tell everyone Brian, you insipid prick. A 90 year-old woman? Were you planning on having her physically removed, Brian? I hope she’s okay, Bri baby… ’cause if she doesn’t make it you are going straight to hell for this for sure, and you better pray that she doesn’t have a son like me, because I have a policy about people that kill my mother and don’t go to jail as a result.
So, now you’re saying that it’s “appropriate” for Fannie Mae to forgive her loan balance entirely? You’re offering to FORGIVE her? Why you sanctimonious sonofab#t@h! You’re going to forgive her? Listen jackass… it sounds to me like you should be begging HER forgiveness, and like some plaintiff’s counsel should be hauling your worthless carcass in front of a jury. Because there’d be a line from Akron, Ohio to Disneyland in California of people willing to line up to get on that jury.
“No sir… no preconceived notions here. Nope, haven’t heard a thing about the case. Of course, foreclosures are the right of lenders when irresponsible people aren’t making their payments.” Then I’d get in there and have but one question: “How much are we allowed to award the plaintiff?”
And that’s far from being the only story of sheer desperation and human tragedy as related to the foreclosure crisis. Take a look at these:
A woman in Tennessee fatally shot herself as sheriff’s deputies were arriving to evict her from her home. The couple had reportedly been granted an extra 10 days to appeal the foreclosure.
In Ocala, Florida, a man set fire to his home, which was in foreclosure, after shooting his wife, his dog, and himself… in that order I believe.
Another woman, who had hidden the foreclosure from her husband until the very end, shot and killed herself, leaving a suicide note and an insurance policy and reportedly faxing a note to the mortgage company, telling them that she would be dead before they foreclosed on the property.
Experts say that the economic crisis is causing chronic anxiety among people who feel that they have no alternatives. These people can sometimes panic or “snap” due to anger and take drastic measures.
Suicide? People are killing themselves over this mess and not taking anyone with them? Amazing. And it still seems like a drop in the bucket compared with 2.3 million foreclosures in 2008 alone, doesn’t it? I figure that each one of those foreclosures had to impact at least two people directly, and I figure those two people each had two close friends or family members. And what about 2007’s foreclosures, which were also in the two million range. So, do the math and there have to be ten million people affected by this… at the very least!
So, where is the outrage? Why aren’t these ten million people absolutely hopping, screaming, fighting mad. It’s a question that has plagued me for at least the last six months now… maybe longer. And 2009 is forecasted to be even worse, as far as foreclosures are concerned… 2010 too! The way things are right now, we’re still going to be dealing with this in 2011.
People… this is a big deal… a really big deal… but everyone who looks at this just goes: “Yes, it sucks. But did you hear Obama’s speech and what’s for dinner?” Really? Where is the outrage? What have we become… an exceptionally mature and accepting society? Like hell we have.
Then, just the other day, the answer came to me. I can’t be sure, of course, so I wanted to run it by you guys… you know, the readers of this article. Here’s what I think is happening:
The reason no one is screaming bloody murder as a result of losing their homes is that they’ve bought into the idea that our economic crisis is THEIR fault. They heard talking heads on television asserting that everything is the fault of sub-prime borrowers and they bought it… hook, lie and stinker… the sub-prime borrower LIE.
And so they’re deeply ASHAMED. They don’t want to tell anyone what they’ve done. They should be calling for the heads of those that allowed this mess to grow into the meltdown of the global banking system. Instead, they’re thinking it’s their own fault and they’re killing themselves as a result, for God’s sake.
How do they even know they’re sub-prime borrowers? I can’t tell if I’m a sub-prime borrower. I checked every single page in my package of mortgage paperwork and nowhere does it say sub-prime or prime borrower. How would I know? Or should I simply assume that every adjustable rate mortgage is sub-prime, because if that’s the case, I’ve never heard that before.
And is the problem one of sub-prime borrowers going forward? I know that sub-prime borrowers were the first to default as the situation unfolded, but is that what’s happening now?
The Washington Post conducted a study of the situation this past week, and here’s what they had to say:
One oft-repeated assertion no longer holds true. Those in trouble are not, primarily, lower-income borrowers. The foreclosure crisis has become a wave, afflicting neighborhoods of every stripe.
The Washington Post analysis of available data shows that the foreclosure crisis knows no class or income boundaries. Many borrowers ensnared in the evolving mortgage mess do not fit neatly into the stereotypes that surfaced by early 2007 when delinquency rates shot up. They don’t have sub-prime loans, the lending industry’s jargon for the higher-rate mortgages made to borrowers with shaky credit or without enough cash for a down payment.
In October 2008, for the first time, the number of prime mortgages in delinquency exceeded the sub-prime loans in danger of default, according to The Post’s analysis.
The foreclosure crisis hasn’t played itself out. The next wave looms in the form of a new batch of adjustable-rate mortgages scheduled to reset over the next two years. Unless the market comes back with a roar, which is unlikely, more borrowers will struggle to hang on to their homes.
Yet here we are… turn on the television and you can still catch an ignorant, uniformed stuffed suit blathering on about how irresponsible sub-prime borrowers should not be “bailed out”. I heard one guy claiming that loans were being made to people that didn’t even speak English. Didn’t even speak English? Oh my God. I bet he’s not happy that loans were being made to brown people either.
Doesn’t everyone realize that what’s happening is going to impact everyone… you too. The water is rising. Are you planning on waiting until it’s lapping at your nipples before you start to wonder why no one has bothered to stick a finger in the proverbial dyke?
Here’s just a smidgeon of what AP has reported over the last couple of months:
Across the country, authorities are becoming concerned that the nation’s financial woes could turn increasingly violent, and they are urging people to get help. In some places, mental-health hot lines are jammed, counseling services are in high demand and domestic-violence shelters are full.
“The financial stress builds up to the point the person feels they can’t go on, and the person believes their family is better off dead than left without a financial support,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Washington D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.
Dr. Edward Charlesworth, a clinical psychologist in Houston, said the current crisis is breeding a sense of chronic anxiety among people who feel helpless and panic-stricken, as well as angry that their government has let them down. “They feel like in this great society that we live in we should have more protection for the individuals rather than just the corporation,” he said.
“I’ve had a number of people say that this is the thing most reminiscent of 9/11 that’s happened here since then,” said the Rev. Canon Ann Malonee, vicar at Trinity Church in the heart of New York’s financial district. “It’s that sense of having the rug pulled out from under them.”
With nowhere else to turn, many people are calling suicide-prevention hotlines. The Samaritans of New York have seen calls rise more than 16 percent in the past year, many of them money-related. The Switchboard of Miami has recorded more than 500 foreclosure-related calls this year.
“A lot of people are telling us they are losing everything. They’re losing their homes, they’re going into foreclosure, they’ve lost their jobs,” said Virginia Cervasio, executive director of a suicide resource center in southwest Florida’s Lee County.
Something has to be done here. Someone has to tell the people losing their homes that it’s not their fault… that they’re not bad people because they’ve been caught up in the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.
So, they took out an adjustable rate mortgage? So what? In most countries that’s all they have are adjustable rate mortgages. I don’t remember anyone telling me that the adjustable rate mortgage I was taking would also be the last mortgage I’d qualify for in my lifetime. No one said anything about that… no one mentioned the word “sub-prime”.
Maybe if they knew… they’d feel better… maybe they wouldn’t be shooting themselves from shame.
Maybe the millions who have been left high and dry, abandoned while Wall St. bankers plan luxury sales conferences and ludicrous bonus deals, would rise up and say that they’re not buying it anymore… that they now know that it’s not their fault. That they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Hell, maybe they’d all vote against those that turned a cold and blind eye to their heartbreaking and traumatic losses.
Maybe everyone… you and I… will come to their aid and support their cause, because we will all come to realize that, there but for the grace of God go us all. It would do us all some good to remember that we are our brother’s keepers.
After all… who would Jesus foreclose on?
PLEASE… SHARE YOUR STORY WITH ME. YOU CAN PUT IT HERE, OR YOU CAN SEND ME AN EMAIL. I WANT TO KNOW. YOU’LL BE ANONYMOUS. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT’S REALLY ON YOUR MIND.
BECAUSE IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. IT’S THEIRS.