BIG ENOUGH TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD?
by Hilary Hodge
[photo The Truth About via Wikimedia Commons]
[published: January 12, 2012 (6:30PM PST)]
The newspaper in Nevada County, CA, “The Union,” recently reported that Lou Conter, a WWII hero, lost his house to foreclosure. He was 91 years old. I lost my house to foreclosure. It was sad. But, for me, it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been. My husband-at-the-time and I were going through a divorce. We were going to have to sell the house anyway. In a way, we were lucky. The loss of our home was inevitable in our circumstances. Yet, when we bought the home, we never would have seen coming the way in which it unfolded.
For those who haven’t experienced the foreclosure crisis firsthand, I think there are a lot of misnomers about what happens. Let me share with you my experience.
My ex-husband and I were young professionals. We both had had the good fortune of college degrees and relatively well-paying jobs, for our age. We were about to be married. I was 25. He was 27. A month before our wedding, we became the proud owners of a modest two-bedroom-one-bath home in an affordable area. It was what real estate agents call a “starter home”. It was very much like what our parents had bought when they were our age.
The place was a mess. It was over 30 years old and belonged to an older couple. The wife had died and the husband was moving to an assisted care facility. The adult children regrettably had to sell. The entire place was covered in wall to wall faux-wood paneling. The whole house, including the kitchen and bathroom, had badly-stained, orange and lime shag carpeting. The back yard was full of weeds and black widows. We sunk $40,000 in credit card debt to make it our home. We spent our honeymoon, and the months after, refurbishing what we thought would be our long-time residence. We did the work ourselves.
When we bought the house, which was completely reasonable for our income, we were told “not to worry” about the adjustable rate mortgage, that we would be able to refinance in a few years and it would all be water under the bridge. We weren’t buying a house we couldn’t afford. We were duped.
The original mortgage payment on our Sacramento home was barely above the rent we were paying for a downtown apartment. Three years later, the mortgage payment jumped from $1,800 per month to $2,400 per month and then, three months after that, to $3,200 per month. We made every attempt to rectify our situation with the mortgage company, attempting a refinance and contacting every 800 number we could find.
It was a joke. Our original mortgage company, Countrywide Home loans, had sold to Bank of America. When we tried to go into any tangible location, we found it closed. All offices were empty. Door locked. Lights off. The locations looked abandoned. When we tried to call, no one could give us any information. It went on for months, with attempts every day. Finally, we decided to walk away. We were months behind and there was no one who could help us.
But we had our whole lives ahead of us. We would figure it out. Lou Conter has a different story. As The Union quoted, “[He is] one of the 18 remaining survivors aboard the USS Arizona in the Pearl Harbor attack.” The Union goes on to say that “As a young man, Conter saved himself and his compatriots from the inferno of the USS Arizona on Dec 7, 1941, before going onto pilot numerous dangerous missions over hostile territories in the Pacific Theater and lead his brethren into fierce battles that ultimately decided the destiny of an entire nation,” Conter was unquestionably an American hero. And yet, at 91, he had his American house taken away from him. Doesn’t it beg the question: who is really in charge here?
I had my house taken away. But I am not important. I didn’t fight in a war. I didn’t fight for American sovereignty. I am just me, part of the generation trying to make sense of things, trying to get by, right now.
Lou Conter is a part of American history. As The Union states, “Lou Conter is a member of what some call the ‘Greatest Generation”. And now, sadly, he has his place in history in more ways than as an American hero. Lou Conter is a part of this generation’s current crisis, in addition to his own generation’s crisis. As The Union states, (and I whole heatedly agree,) “Conter…has earned the right to rest on his laurels and relay his experiences to younger generations…”
In a recent article by the Huffingtonpost.com, actor Matt Damon was criticized for criticizing our president. They noted that he told The Independent, “I think [Obama has] rolled over to Wall Street completely. The economy has huge problems. We still have all these banks that are too big to fail. They’re bigger and making more money than ever…”
I appreciate Damon’s criticism. For me it points back to my question above: who is really in charge here?
I’m a minor historian, in the academic sense…but too big to fail? Like what? Like the railroads? Like “The Beatles”? Like Paris Hilton? Like The Third Reich? What does that mean? “Too big to fail?”
I think it’s a fair question. And it needs some academic aptitude. We live on a finite planet. So there is no such thing as “too big to fail”. But the fact that there are those who believe such a notion leads me to evaluation.
We are a nation of debt. But, almost more importantly, we are a world of debt. The European crisis is about debt. The Japanese crisis is about debt. The less-publicized Chinese crisis is about debt. Nations all over the world, both East and West, are in debt. According to scholar Charles Eisenstein, because of compound debt, “The powers that be recognize that the pyramid can’t be maintained…things are unraveling fast.”
Are we in debt to each other? Sort of, but not really. At the heart, at the heart of all of this, without going too much into the tricky and sordid mathematics of what we are facing, we are all in debt to a greater monetary entity known as “banks”. Just for America, we are trillions of dollars in debt. The fact that there are organizations who can change and determine the terms of our nation, the term of its debt, companies like S&P, should be an alarming reality to our people. On the C-Realm podcast, Charles Eisenstein further makes the point that the entire world’s GDP, the resources of the entire world at hand, exceeds the resources of the world we have within the debt of the world we owe. We can never truly pay what we owe. Never. Not monetarily.
My analysis is somewhat watered down, but it is on purpose. We have to see this in the plainest terms. We cannot continue trying to justify our debt. We have to bring this argument home; we have to see it for what it is: We are not a sovereign nation. We owe. If the people most responsible for preserving the promises of this nation, those like Lou Conter, are not benefiting from the promises of this nation, then who is?
We are being held hostage. The people, our laws, and our politicians (our elected officials, those who are supposed to speak for us) are being held accountable to an entity that is not our nation. It is real. It is extreme. And it is dire.
We cannot take truth in those who should defend us. We cannot hold those accountable because they have not been there for us. Our elected are bought. And we must make way for a new place in society.
People and houses are real things. They are tangible. Money is not. We have real resources we must attend to. Money is a pretend construct. Our money is no longer backed by the gold standard. Money only holds the value of the faith we put into it.
Why then, especially when we have real, tangible resources we should attend to, like human beings, are our policy makers still focusing on the management of money?
I am suggesting that it is not only possible, but probable, that those in charge of running the world, no longer see the people of the world as a viable resource or as a priority and that it very, very scary.