Community-based movements to halt the flood of foreclosures have been building across the country. They turned out in Cleveland once again in October, when a coalition of grassroots housing groups rallied outside the Cuyahoga County courthouse, calling for a foreclosure freeze and constructing a mock graveyard of Styrofoam headstones bearing the names of local communities decimated by the housing crisis. (They did not, unfortunately, stop the more than 1,000 foreclosure filings in the county the following month.) In Boston the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America began protesting in front of Countrywide Financial offices in October 2007. Within weeks, Countrywide had agreed to work with the group to renegotiate loans. In Philadelphia ACORN and other community organizations helped to pressure the city council to order the county sheriff to halt foreclosure auctions this past March. Philadelphia has since implemented a program mandating “conciliation conferences” between defaulting homeowners and lenders. ACORN organizers say the program has a 78 percent success rate at keeping people in their homes. One activist group in Miami has taken a more direct approach to the crisis, housing homeless families in abandoned bank-owned homes without waiting for government permission.
It’s unlikely, though, that any of these activists will be able to relax soon.
When I was a lad, I ran off to San Francisco, like hippies from all over, to be free and unconventional and rid of the whole corporate America trip.
I ended up working at the Bank of America, thanks to a pink collar stoner chick who fudged my typing test.
While working at their headquarters, I learned about the proud heritage of the bank, which had rebuilt San Francisco in the early 20th century, in the wake of its great earthquake.
Today, of course, bankers are universally regarded as monuments to heroic greed, spectacular corruption and epic incompetence–one short step above child molesters on the social scale. Adrift in their bubbles, intoxicated by their own emissions, only they remain unaware of this downward turn in public perception.
When a reporter for the AP politely asked them what they were doing with billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ bailout ransom, they sniffily replied to this effect: “Listen, you tawdry little man–we don’t give a fig about you and your shabby readers. We have parties to attend. Kindly pay up and shut up. Then find your way out.”
Men have short memories. It wasn’t so long ago in the long view of history that, faced with a similar situation, the rabble roused themselves in the streets of Paris and handed the nobility their heads. Good times.
Today, gun shops can’t keep up with demand.
Being a peaceful sort and averse to noise, I got to thinking that maybe it doesn’t have to come to bloodshed and armed insurrection.
Is it conceivable that bankers today are capable, if only in theory, of once again doing the right thing? Could they ever, even in an imagined world, earn their fat paychecks and lead us out of the mess that is largely their own creation?
Trying to wrap my head around that wild notion, I am once again transported back to a more innocent era.
All across the nation
Such a strange vibration …