Showing posts tagged greed.

Responsibly Immature

Got ??'s   an0nym0u2   eat, sleep, rave, repeat

    The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains →

    Capital gains are the key ingredient of income disparity in the US— and the force behind the winner takes all mantra of our economic system. If you want  even out earning power in the U.S, you have to raise the 15% capital gains tax.

    Income and wealth disparities  become even more  absurd  if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation’s earners— rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%—  about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million—  are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.

    — 2 years ago with 62 notes
    #occupy  #occupy Wall Street  #occupytogether  #Protest  #wealth  #greed  #capital gains 
    Middle Class Families vs. Big Banks →

    Do we need more proof Washington’s not working for middle class families? We got it once again this week.

    The big banks and their army of lobbyists couldn’t stop the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, so now they are trying to undermine its work, enlisting their Republican friends on the Senate Banking Committee to stop the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the agency — just to try to slow up the agency from doing its work.

    It’s outrageous — and we’ve got to hold them accountable.

    I’m starting a petition: Sign on now to call on the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee to protect the interests of middle class families, to confirm a director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and to let the agency do its work.

    — 2 years ago with 43 notes
    #bank  #Protest  #middle class  #greed 
    Middle-class suburbs the new poor →

    Poverty in suburban communities near major cities grew by 53 per cent between 2000 and 2010.

    — 2 years ago with 1 note
    #occupywallstreet  #occupy Wall Street  #poverty  #greed  #economy 
    "The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George the III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the Revolutionary War.
    —Benjamin Franklin"
    — 2 years ago with 3 notes
    #quote  #occupywallstreet  #revolution  #corruption  #greed 
    An Experiment in Worgl →

    The year was 1932; the world was gripped by the greatest economic depression that it had ever known. One man in a small town decided to try something new to help the people of his community. In doing so the town made economic history. The town was Worgl in the Bavarian province of Germany. To understand the Worgl experiment you have to understand the man behind it. The towns mayor Michael Unterguggenberger. 

    Michael Unterguggenberger 

    Michael was born into an old Tyrolean peasant family. He lived the life of a poor European without falling into the mental trap of heavy blue-collar work. He apprenticed himself to a master mechanic. After apprenticeship he became a journeyman mechanic. At the age of twenty-one he had his first post at the Worgl railway station. His striving for social justice jeopardized his personal advancement. In taking a stand for his fellow workers as a trade union man, he was not promoted any higher. In 1912 he was elected representative for the union of Innsbruck Rail Engineers in the committee for personnel. Yet to the officials of the Austrian Railroad network he was seen as the person who represented the concerns of the workers against the moneyed interests of the railroad. Later Alex von Muralt would write that Michael Unterguggenberger always stressed that he was not a Marxist. 


    Worgl was a small town that had grown rapidly in the early 1900’s. Then came the crash of 1929, which quickly spread, into Europe. Michael was town councilor, he soon became deputy mayor. In 1931 he was elected mayor of Worgl. As mayor he had a long list of projects he wanted to accomplish. Projects like repaving roads, street lighting, extending water distribution across the entire town and planting trees along the streets. But in the midst of the depression out of the towns population of 4,500, 1,500 were without a job and 200 families were penniless. 

    Silvio Gesell 

    Michael read and re-read “The Natural Order” by Silvio Gesell. He talked with people in the town and convinced the members of the Worgl Welfare Committee to hold a session on July 5, 1932. In this session he gave a short summary and then proposed a “Distress Relief Program”. He stated that slow circulation of money is the principal cause of the faltering economy. Money as a medium of exchange increasingly vanished out of working people’s hands and accumulates into the hands of the few who collect interest and do not return it back to the market. He proposed that in Worgl the slow-circulating National Bank currency would be replaced by “Certified Compensation Bills”. The council would issue the Bills and the public would accept the Bills for their full nominal value. Bills would be issued in the denominations of 1, 5 and 10 shillings. A total issue of 32,000 Worgl “Money Bills” was printed and put into circulation. 

    Worgl Money 

    On July 31, 1932 the town administrator purchased the first lot of Bills from the Welfare Committee for a total face value of 1,800 Schillings and used it to pay wages. These first wages paid out were returned to the community on almost the same day as tax payments. By the third day it was thought that the Bills had been counterfeited because the 1000 Schillings issued had already accounted for 5,100 Schillings in unpaid taxes. Michael Unterguggenberger knew better, the velocity of money had increased and his Worgl money was working. 

    Worgl money was a stamp script money. The Worgl Bills would depreciate 1% of their nominal value monthly. To prevent this devaluation the owner of the Bill must affix a stamp the value of which is the devaluation on the last day of the month. Stamps were purchased at the parish hall. Because nobody wanted to pay a devaluation (hoarding) fee the Bills were spent as fast as possible. 

    The reverse side of the Bills were printed with the following declaration: “To all whom it may concern ! Sluggishly circulating money has provoked an unprecedented trade depression and plunged millions into utter misery. Economically considered, the destruction of the world has started. - It is time, through determined and intelligent action, to endeavour to arrest the downward plunge of the trade machine and thereby to save mankind from fratricidal wars, chaos, and dissolution. Human beings live by exchanging their services. Sluggish circulation has largely stopped this exchange and thrown millions of willing workers out of employment. - We must therefore revive this exchange of services and by its means bring the unemployed back to the ranks of the producers. Such is the object of the labour certificate issued by the market town of Wörgl : it softens sufferings dread; it offers work and bread.” 

    Worgl Success 

    Over the 13-month period the Worgl money was in circulation, the mayor carried out all the intended works projects. The council also built new houses, a reservoir, a ski jump, and a bridge. The people also used scrip to replant forests, in anticipation of the future cash flow they would receive from the trees. 

    Six neighboring villages copied the system successfully. The French Prime Minister, Eduoard Dalladier, made a special visit to see the ‘miracle of Wörgl’. In January 1933, the project was replicated in the neighboring city of Kirchbuhl, and in June 1933, Unterguggenburger addressed a meeting with representatives from 170 different towns and villages. Two hundred Austrian townships were interested in adopting the idea. 

    One eyewitness report was written by Claude Bourdet, master engineer from the Zürich Polytechnic. “I visited Wörgl in August 1933, exactly one year after the launch of the experiment. One has to acknowledge that the result borders on the miraculous. The roads, notorious for their dreadful state, match now the Italian Autostrade. The Mayor’s office complex has been beautifully restored as a charming chalet with blossoming gladioli. A new concrete bridge carries the proud plaque: “Built with Free Money in the year 1933.” Everywhere one sees new streetlights, as well as one street named after Silvio Gesell. The workers at the many building sites are all zealous supporters of the Free Money system. I was in the stores: the Bills are being accepted everywhere alongside with the official money. Prices have not gone up. Some people maintained that the system being experimented in Wörgl prevents the formation of equity, acting as a hidden new way of exploiting the taxpayer. There seems to be a little error in that view. Never before one saw taxpayers not protesting at the top of their voices when parting with their money. In Wörgl no one was protesting. On the contrary, taxes are paid in advance; people are enthusiastic about the experiment and complain bitterly at the National Bank’s opposing the issuing of new notes. It is impossible to dub it only a “new form of tax” for the general improvement of Wörgl. One cannot but agree with the Mayor that the new money performs its function far better than the old one. I leave it to the experts to establish if there is inflation despite the 100% cover. Incidentally price increases, the first sign of inflation, do not occur. As far as saving is concerned one can say that the new money favors saving properly so-called rather than hoarding money. As money lost value by keeping it at home, one could avoid the depreciation by depositing in the savings bank. 

    Wörgl has become a kind of pilgrim shrine for macro-economists from a variety of countries. One can recognize them right away by their learned expressions when discussing the beautifully maintained streets of Wörgl while sitting at restaurant tables. Wörgl’s population, proud of their fame, welcomes them warmly.” 

    The Central Bank 

    The Central Bank panicked, and decided to assert its monopoly rights by banning complimentary currencies. The case was brought in front of the Austrian Supreme Court, which upheld the Central Banks monopoly over issuing currency. It then became a criminal offence to issue “emergency currency”. Worgl quickly returned to 30% unemployment. Social unrest spread rapidly across Austria. In 1938 Hitler annexed Austria and many people welcomed Hitler as their economic and political savior. 

    Germany was headed towards WWII and with the aftermath of the war much of what happened in pre war Germany just like what happened during the war was suppressed by the world. Germany was being rebuilt in the West’s image. The Worgl experiment was relegated to history.

    — 2 years ago with 44 notes
    #money  #worgl  #greed  #bank 
    Pledge to Move Your Money →


    Sign the Move Your Money pledge if you’ve stopped banking with Wall Street or you’re ready to start the process to close an account.Together we can show just how many people are taking action and how much the big banks stand to lose if they don’t change course quickly.

    In case you need some help, we’ll also send information about how to find a new bank and how to close your accounts without messing up your finances.

    — 2 years ago with 4 notes
    #bank transfer day  #Protest  #occupywallstreet  #occupy Wall Street  #anonymous  #wall street  #greed  #corruption  #corrupt 
    Thirty Of America's Most Profitable Companies Paid 'Less Than Zero' In Income Taxes In Last 3 Years →

    Many major corporations have managed to pay taxes at just over half of the corporate income tax rate, according to a new report.

    Nearly 300 of the nation’s most profitable companies paid an average tax rate of 18.5 percent from 2008 to 2010, less than half of the 35 percent corporate tax rate, according to a study by the Citizens for Tax Justice released Thursday. Of the 280 companies, 78 studied paid a tax rate of zero or less during at least one year of the three year period.

    And thirty companies, the report says, had a negative income tax rate from 2008 to 2010, even though they took home a combined $160 billion in pre-tax profits.

    The financial services industry netted the largest share — at 16.8 percent — of the $222.7 billion in total tax subsidies that the companies received, the study found. Wells Fargo took home the most tax subsidies of them all, raking in nearly $18 billion in tax breaks over the last three years.

    Officials at some major corporations lashed out at the study’s findings following its release. In a statement, GE called the report “inaccurate and and distorted,” according to the Washington Post. Verizon spokesman Robert Varettoni, told WaPo that “findings in this and other recent reports have been more politically motivated than truthful.”

    Even without lowering the corporate tax rate, large companies are still able to take advantage of a variety of loopholes available to them to avoid paying taxes. One, called the "active financing exception" allows corporations to sidestep paying taxes on overseas profits if the company derived those profits by “actively financing” a deal, according to the NYT.

    Corporations also commonly take advantage of a rule called “accelerated depreciation,” which allows them to write off investments faster than they wear out, according to WaPo. The companies then subtract the falling value of the investments from their taxable income.

    The findings come as politicians wrangle over the best way to cut the nation’s budget deficit. Republicans recently proposed lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and paying for it by eliminating business tax breaks. A study by the Joint Committee on Taxation, requested by congressional Democrats, found that eliminating the business tax breaks alone wouldn’t bring in enough revenue to make up for the lowered rate.

    Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said last month that if elected president he would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. Perry told The New York Times that he didn’t care that his tax plan could possibly increase income inequality. Another Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, vowed to slash the corporate tax rate as part of his 9-9-9 plan, which if enacted would cap sales tax, corporate income tax and personal income tax at 9 percent each.

    Companies such as Apple and Google are lobbying Congress to pass an additional tax loophole known as a repatriation tax holiday that would allow corporations to avoid taxes on more than $1 trillion in offshore profits, Bloomberg reports. In exchange, the companies argue, companies would invest those dollars in the U.S.

    U.S. corporations with foreign profits that amounted to 10 percent or more of their worldwide profits paid tax rates to foreign countries that were nearly one-third higher than the tax rates they paid to the U.S., the tax justice study found.

    The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reversed its position on the repatriation tax holiday last month, saying that it wouldn’t help to spur U.S. job growth or investment. The Treasury Department found that a similar tax holiday passed in 2004, did little to boost employment growth.

    In fact, several companies that benefited from the 2004 law cut jobs in its wake. Dow Chemical, Verizon and Bank of America are just some of the 10 companies that slashed jobs after benefiting from a repatriation tax holiday, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

    — 2 years ago with 8 notes
    #corruption  #corporation  #greed  #Protest 
    Most Corrupt Companies →

    Here is a ranking of the most corrrupt companies.

    — 2 years ago with 8 notes
    #corruption  #corporation  #greed 

    Real Time with Bill Maher - Oct 21, 2011 - New Rules - on Occupy Wall Street.

    "These people down there, they’re not the counter-culture."

    "They’re the culture."

    "They don’t want free love, they want paid employment."

    "They don’t hate capitalism, they hate what’s been done to it."

    "And they resent the Republican mantra that the market perfectly rewards the hardworking and punishes the lazy. And the poor are just jealous moochers who want a hand out."

    "Yeah, cuz if there’s one group of people who hate hand outs it’s Wall Street."

    — 2 years ago with 3 notes
    #occupywallstreet  #occupy Wall Street  #bill Maher  #culture war  #Protest  #greed  #news  #wealth 
    Middle class hanging by thread as rich get richer, poor get poorer →


    This could be you sitting in the living room of a house that you’d never notice otherwise, a low brick suburban thing, the inside walls painted with care by the people who’ve made it their home, with a dog resting on the floor and a pair of cats trolling for attention.

    This could be you telling your story, about a husband and wife who tumbled off their middle-class foundation, who thought they did everything right, who keep spreadsheets and budgets, who pay all their bills, who work hard and bring home a decent paycheck, whose debt is not out of the ordinary.

    Not out of the ordinary. You don’t read much of that in the newspaper. You read about victims and fools, people who lost everything or screwed up big time — people nothing like you.

    But these two — there’s nothing unusual about them at all. They get up in the morning, they go to work, they work hard, their effort is valued by their employers, they bring home their money and they pay it into their house and their cars and their taxes and their groceries and their medicine.

    There’s no American dream in that. It’s the standard agreement. They went to college, they work in offices, they each bring home thirty-some thousand dollars a year. They bought a house for $150,000; in the two-car garage is a 12-year-old SUV and a 6-year-old economy sedan with eight payments left.

    There’s no fancy jewelry, no steroidal television set. They play by the rules.

    This could be you agreeing to tell your story as long as the newspaper doesn’t use your name, asking to be anonymous because you are anonymous — that’s all you ever wanted — and you want to stay that way, because you are so ordinary that no one would ever suspect you’d gone bankrupt, a condition you describe as ”the dirty little secret of the middle class.”

    You’re ashamed. You’re embarrassed. You, the one who does the household finances, you feel like you’ve let the other down. You look at your preschooler and you wonder whether you’ve cost him some future you never even got a chance to plan.

    You look at each other, and even though you know with cold hard reason exactly how you got here, you still wonder:

    How did we get here?

    Disappearing act

    The middle class is shrinking. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. These are kitchen-table ideas that are also facts, quantified by census charts that show two lines diverging, lines representing what some might call the haves and the have-nots. This couple, in their late 30s, are members of the first generation that may not do better than their parents.

    That’s even truer in Ohio, which ranks among the very bottom of states where incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living. In many, many households, the pieces of a middle-class lifestyle dangle by a thread. If one thread breaks —

    Last fall, after a Beacon Journal report detailing this troubling information about the new strain on the American middle class, the newspaper conducted a series of focus groups. Over seven sessions, 41 Northeast Ohio adults representing a wide range of backgrounds discussed their own lives in relation to that broad notion commonly known as ”the American dream.”

    Most offered a humble definition of that dream:

    ”A good paying job; owning a home; opportunities for everybody.”

    ”Probably owning a house, or doing better than your parents and hoping that your kids can make the same step.”

    ”Working hard and then, after working hard for all these years, being able to have a sense of security.”

    Collectively, they offered a profound body of real-life evidence to support the data, reaffirming that middle-class incomes are being eroded by the rising cost of maintaining a household.

    Virtually everyone in those sessions expressed some version of fear — a constant, mostly subconscious gnawing, the realization that one unexpected event could bring this dream down. A major medical expense, a layoff, an elderly parent or boomerang child joining the household.

    Among all those focus group participants were these two, the only married couple to sign up. In separate sessions, they each told how one job loss from which they both expected to rebound quickly instead dragged on — for one month, then two, then three. By the time of the focus groups, a year had passed and even though she was re-employed, it was too late.

    ”The American dream is different for each person, and it changes on your circumstances,” she said then. ”My dream is just to be able to keep my house.”

    Those who heard those remarks reacted the same way you might have reacted.

    That could be anyone.

    That could be me.

    Familiar story

    As you trace back through their story, you understand why they thought they would be all right.

    They met when they were in their 20s and married in 1998. Both area natives, they’d each graduated from local colleges, managing to do so without debt. With side jobs and help from their parents, they entered the work force ready to earn and contribute to society, assuming the mundane nobility that defines the American middle class: the notion that millions of anonymous people each do their small part and the nation moves steadily forward.

    He was working as an advertising copywriter; she was a home health-care administrator. They bought a house in Canton and then, within a year, her company disbanded and she lost her job. Three months later, he was laid off as well.

    To keep up with their bills, they ran up some credit-card debt — about $25,000 — but they got back on their feet and they worked the credit-card payments into their new household budget. He found another job with a software firm, but it soured in 2001, when the dot-coms bottomed out. The company downsized by about 70 percent; he bailed and landed in a job he liked better, making $35,000. She went to work for a bank, bringing home nearly $55,000.

    Their family income of $90,000 was well above the median of $59,184 in Summit County, where they would soon move. And although their individual incomes were somewhat below the combined median wages of $114,000 for a couple their age and race with college degrees, they were managing just fine.

    A couple of years after the birth of their child, they moved into this brick suburban house where they now live, with a nice yard and a manageable mortgage, taking another small step forward. Their only significant expense outside the basics were medical bills and prescription costs related to her chronic back problems. Prescription co-pays alone cost them $450 a month, but she runs a careful budget. It was nothing they couldn’t handle.

    When the interest rates were right, they took out a second mortgage to pay down credit-card debt, a fiscally responsible move.

    Then, as these things often happen, the bank where she worked got swallowed by a much larger bank, which analyzed its new holding and identified redundancies in services and eliminated her division. She was downsized.

    This was a setback, but not a crushing one. They had a young child at home, and her commute to Cleveland had long been a burden. She had a solid work record in a common field — mortgage lending. She had three months’ severance pay, more than enough to tide them over until she found another job.

    A month passed. Two. Then three.

    Finally, she found something. Not a great fit, but a job with a mortgage company. She arrived her first day, relieved, but almost immediately things seemed wrong. The job was not at all what had been described to her, she says. It was shady, she says. Cold calling, high pressure. She didn’t feel right about it and decided it would be better to make a clean break and keep looking.

    She felt like she was doing the right thing. The ethical thing, even. What she didn’t realize is that by accepting the job and then quitting after a single day of orientation, she had disqualified herself for unemployment benefits. She had worked for the company for only a matter of hours, but she’d been paid — $42 — and the rule was clear.

    As a result, she forfeited 26 weeks of unemployment at $416 a week, or $10,816. She tried every appeal, but was denied.

    Four months passed, then six. The severance was gone and she cashed in her 401(k) pension savings account, slightly bewildered. She lost 20 percent of her nest egg to taxes, and another 10 percent to early withdrawal penalties, leaving $4,731.63, which they applied to their credit-card bills.

    How could it be this difficult? She was doing everything right, sending out resumes, scouring the ads. She kept broadening her search and lowering her expectations.

    ”CareerBuilder became my friend during that time. We had an ongoing relationship,” she says.

    He was bringing home his paycheck, working every extra hour he could, picking up freelance jobs. They’d cut deeply into their budget. They’d analyzed every expense and trimmed everywhere they could. They eliminated their cell phones. They switched their grocery shopping from Giant Eagle to Marc’s ”Deep-er Discount” store.

    They managed to pay every bill. She had always been in charge of this function, and took pride in her efficiency — she’d worked in banking; she knew her way around a spreadsheet.

    ”He’s the left brain; I’m the right brain,” she says. ”This is how our relationship always had been.”

    But February 2007 arrived and she went to pay the bills and the money wasn’t there. She figured and refigured, but it just was not there. In a matter of eight months since she had lost her job, this couple who’d done everything the right way, who’d never questioned their secure place in the midstream of America, found out just how close they were to falling like a stone.

    ”I felt guilty; this is my fault,” she says. ”I felt like I had disappointed him.”

    He looks at her from across the couch and he says she never should feel this way, and he appears entirely sincere. Maybe this was the thing that saved them — some intangible thing, some strength of love and commitment, something about good times and bad, sickness and health. Maybe. Whatever it was, they didn’t panic. They contacted a bankruptcy attorney. The lawyer told them they’d done exactly the right thing in acting sooner than later. They still had not missed a bill payment, but their credit-card debt had mushroomed to about $55,000. They weren’t bankrupt, but they were at its lip, staring straight down into its deep pit, bracing themselves to fall as best they could.

    It seems odd to hear this story, which suggests there is a ”right” way to fall. It begs the question of why it happened at all.

    Why does it seem wrong that she couldn’t find a job when everything in her resume and her demeanor suggested nothing but grade-A employability? Why does it seem wrong that a family with no unusual spending habits, with some available cash, with a carefully controlled budget, even with family and friends helping them along — why does it seem wrong that it all fell apart so quickly?

    Here’s why: because it could be you. Because their example reveals the fear that no middle-class American can avoid completely: the fact you are one blind-side punch from losing everything you’ve worked for — and make no mistake — you’ve worked hard, you’ve done the right things, you are a good person.

    You’ve earned something. You’ve got something. But that also means you’ve got something to lose.

    Bankruptcy hearing

    The downtown parking deck quickly turns into something from a slapstick chase routine. They’re in the right place, they think, but they can’t find their way to the bankruptcy hearing.

    The aging SUV with an ailing differential climbs one level, then another, him looking for an opening as she double-checks the Google maps printout to confirm — yes — they’re at the right place. They park, and every door they try, all over the deck, is wrong. They find themselves on the opposite side of the massive office complex from where they’re supposed to be, looking down onto a grassy hillside. Five minutes till the pre-hearing meeting with their bankruptcy attorney and they wind up back where their wandering began, only to realize that they were in the right place to begin with.

    Finally, they enter the concourse of the Shoppes at Akron Centre — the downtown plaza formerly called Orangerie Mall — and locate the storefront government office.

    She’s clutching a thick folder of papers as they enter the beige, undecorated domain of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of U.S. Trustees — the place where Chapter 7 bankruptcy hearings are held.

    With rows of padded chairs all facing a blank wall and two closed mahogany doors, it feels more like a doctor’s waiting room than a government office. Add the plate-glass windows overlooking the mall commons, with the faint strains of Muzak and the scent of I.C. Sweets’ popcorn drifting in, and it all feels slightly disconnected from reality.

    Clients sit stiffly next to dark-suited attorneys, some in informal conference, some chit-chatting about the previous night’s Super Bowl game with false calm. The debtors assume a uniform pose, sitting stiffly, faces drawn tight, eyes downcast, clutching sheaves of paper before them, braced for something.

    It seems strange to realize that most of these people, after enduring a hearing of five or 10 minutes, will leave here simultaneously bankrupt and relieved.

    This couple spent the weekend printing out the information they’d compiled — pharmacy records, tax returns, car payment transcripts, an appraisal showing their home to be worth less than they owe on the mortgage.

    In publicly filed paperwork, the bankruptcy process scours every detail of a debtor’s existence.

    A list of personal assets shows a collection of books and compact discs worth $300, clothing worth $200 and four cats and a dog worth $0.00.

    In total, the paperwork lays their lives bare. It details the medical expenses that have been their greatest burden — currently $652 a month. It shows their annual $90 outlay for haircuts. And finally, it shows a discomforting bottom line: an average monthly income of $4,887.72 and average monthly expenses of $4,875.50.

    A buffer of $12.22.

    Compiling this information has defined the past weeks and months.

    ”It was on our mind most of the weekend,” she says. ”I was kind of short-tempered. You want to hurry up, get it over with.”

    ”I was kind of nervous,” he continues, ”kind of puttering around, trying to find things to do to occupy my time.”

    Their attorney arrives and she runs them through a sort of pregame routine, a litany she could recite in her sleep — her office has handled 20 such hearings on this day alone. They nod and answer each question; they’ve been through every detail over and over for months.

    He’s going to ask how much you owe on your house.

    He’s going to ask if anyone owes you money that’s collectible.

    He’s going to ask if you expect an inheritance.

    He’s going to ask about your vehicles.

    He’s going to ask how you found yourself in this position.

    The wife reaches absently for her husband’s hand. He takes it.

    OK, let’s talk about mortgage reaffirmations.

    The hearings are running behind schedule, and the conversation settles into small talk. They mention to their attorney that they’ll celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this year.

    She smiles. ”Gonna do anything special?”

    ”With what?” the husband asks wryly.

    And finally — after months of self-examination, of self-doubt, of self-consciousness, wondering whether something’s wrong with them or something’s wrong with the American dream — the mahogany door in the colorless wall opens and a man in a suit steps out and calls their names.

    They enter with their attorney. The door closes.

    Five minutes pass and they re-emerge. She exhales hard and her shoulders relax. They bid the attorney farewell.

    ”It’s done,” she says.

    The road forward

    They’ll pay about $900 for the equity in their cars and they’ll forfeit their $1,900 federal tax refund and $400 state refund. The bankruptcy will stay on their credit report for 10 years; for the first two years, it will be very difficult for them to get credit, and if they do, the rates are certain to be very high.

    But their credit-card debt is gone. They’re back to zero. They’re keeping their house. They’re sure they can manage from here.

    They return to the elevator and make their way back through the parking deck, retracing those uncertain footsteps.

    ”Well,” he says, ”if we ever have to do this again, we’ll know where to go.”

    She scowls.

    Some sort of order has returned, a recalibration of the numbers, the deficit wiped away. This couple will do nothing different from what they’ve been doing all along — living within their means, working hard and hoping that the lightning that struck twice is finished with them, and that holding up their end of the deal will be enough this time.

    But what does that mean for the rest of us?

    What does that mean for a couple — maybe you, maybe someone you know — who suddenly find themselves unable to provide their children the college education they thought they could afford?

    What does that mean for someone whose corporation is ”restructuring,” someone wondering from behind cubicle walls what will become of her?

    For someone whose medical insurance claim has just been denied?

    What does that mean for a middle class that is undeniably shrinking, in a state where the struggle is harder than most?

    Where does the lightning strike next?

    — 2 years ago with 77 notes
    #occupywallstreet  #greed  #economy  #corruption  #wealth 

I have waited years to buy a house – waiting for prices, driven up by bank fraud, to come back in line with actual value.
Now there is a huge stock of foreclosed homes available, but it is being kept off the market.
The government has decided to sell these homes en masse at huge discounts to the same crooked investment banks that caused the financial crisis.
Goldman Sachs and their ilk are about to profit yet again from yet another government intervention that rigs the market for the benefit of the 1%.
There is no free market. I want to buy one of these houses, but I can’t.
Because I am the 99%.


    I have waited years to buy a house – waiting for prices, driven up by bank fraud, to come back in line with actual value.

    Now there is a huge stock of foreclosed homes available, but it is being kept off the market.

    The government has decided to sell these homes en masse at huge discounts to the same crooked investment banks that caused the financial crisis.

    Goldman Sachs and their ilk are about to profit yet again from yet another government intervention that rigs the market for the benefit of the 1%.


    There is no free market. I want to buy one of these houses, but I can’t.

    Because I am the 99%.

    — 2 years ago with 33 notes
    #wearethe99percent  #greed  #corruption 
    Join Bank Transfer Day →


    Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by this date, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won’t support companies with unethical business practices.

    • Research your local credit union options
    • Open an account with the one that best suits your needs
    • Cancel all automatic withdrawals & deposits
    • Transfer your funds to the new account 
    • Follow your bank’s procedures to close your account before 11/05

    USA: http://www.findacreditunio

    — 2 years ago with 17 notes
    #bank transfer day  #bank  #greed  #occupywallstreet  #protest  #wealth  #economy  #corruption