Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mortgage Fraud as Carpet Bagging

     Today there was a good essay by Gonzalo Lira posted on the Zero Hedge website.  It told the story of a retired American couple who are a “kind, upright, not to say uptight 60-ish white semi-upper-middle-class couple who follow every rule, fill out every form, comply with every norm. In short, they are the backbone of America.”

     I feel the pain and frustration of the couple as they get jerked around by Wells Fargo.  You want to hear them say “screw you” to that bank and they eventually do.  Good for them.  I also did that a year ago when I canceled my WFC credit card and closed my bank accounts. My sympathies are with this seemingly nice couple.

     However, Lira makes a comment that I do not agree with.  He states “When the backbone of a country starts thinking that laws and rules are not worth following, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to anarchy.”  This is wrong.  When people start thinking that way what you get is full blown Dionysian culture, an era when the Rule of Man controls the Rule of Law.  Widespread capricious and arbitrary behavior is exerted by those with money and power to push around those that are weaker.  The Rule of Law is used to protect the powerful, not the weak.  All the weak can do is post signs that say “Trespassers will be shot on sight” and make sure the local sheriff gets a donation.  When the Rule of Man dominates a culture order does exist, it is just very Machiavellian.  (In an era when the Rule of Law is dominant average people use rules to circumscribe the minor outbreaks of capricious and arbitrary behavior).

     Lira seems to think that anarchy is the absence of or disregard for the Rule of Law.  He is wrong.  Anarchy is the breakdown of society, when there are no rules or any sense of order (aka, a Mad Max scenario).  We are far from that.  Over the last 40 years America has switched from a culture that believed in the Rule of Law (and its associated concepts of absoluteness and normal distributions) to one that is embracing the Rule of Man (and its associated situational and relative senses of order).  That is, from an Apollonian culture to a Dionysian one (see this.)

     When the Rule of Man is the dominant perspective, The Rule of Law has not been abandoned—it becomes secondary and subservient as people in power use it to their advantage to gain what they want, and that may be against You.  What is interesting is that the couple was forced to abandon some of their Apollonian Modernism (follow every rule, fill out every form, be normal) and adopt an intuitive and situational sense of order.  Their quiet f***you is very Post Modern Dionysian.

     The ongoing mortgage fraud is a horrible process and many good people are getting screwed by powerful corporations.   But it is hardly new in our history.  Let’s briefly visit the land grabs of the 19th century, our last era of Dionysian culture:
  • ·         Claim jumping in the mining camps was common,
  • ·         Range wars between large ranchers and homesteaders are the stuff of movies,
  • ·         The railroads took vast swaths of land from ranchers and homesteaders,
  • ·         Spanish land grants were cut up for use by “Americans”
  • ·         Native Americans were pushed onto reservations only to have much of that land swindled from them, and
  • ·         After the Civil War carpet baggers cleaned out whole towns in the South.
 It’s this last category that the mortgage fraud seems to resemble—slick opportunists using paper and pen to screw the rest.  Wall Street screws Main Street.

   People, such as the banker fraudsters, who are in the midst of a huge power-play, cannot be swayed by “reason.”  Only power can offset power. Our politicians could do it with paper and pen.  But, they would have to be coerced by something more intimidating than the idea of losing their bankers. Threats from the little people to vote the bums out will work on some; on others…

Well, they used to hang carpet baggers didn't they? Vigilantes may have to step in and right some wrongs. I'd settle for tar and feathers as that would be more fun.

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