Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Move on, already...

It's tempting to jump on the "Ah-Hah! See -- it was the bank's fault all along" bandwagon making the rounds this month among foreclosure victims (for lack of a better word).

I have to admit that I've spent an inordinate amount of time giggling at the vacuous expressions on mortgage-provider employees as they try to explain how they came to sign off on thousands of foreclosures barely having the vaguest idea of what a mortgage is.

For those of us who lost everything during the past few years, we're just happy that, for once, we're not being blamed. And if it means throwing those poor slobs under the bus, I've got to admit for a brief moment it meant relief.

Honestly, though, I know it's not those dazed, confused souls trying to maintain some semblance of dignity as they try to justify signing documents stating they work in states they've never been to or witnessed signatures of people they didn't know. But let's face it, we've all had it out for the financial community in general ever since Bear Stearns went belly up. Bernie Madoff had us lighting torches and marching through the village.

For people like me, it's been good to have the banks around to absorb some of the smug self-righteousness of those who are surviving this financial climate. If I had a nickle for every person, pundit or writer that used the phrase, "living in houses they couldn't afford based on money they hadn't yet earned," I would still be a homeowner. Other than that being the ultimate in arrogant statements, I've found that to be the case in most households -- even ones that are not facing foreclosure.

Which is why I've stopped gloating over this current mortgage crisis. Yes, there was and is rampant greed in the financial world that caused varying degrees of malfeasance. But...


BIG HONKIN' BUT... that still doesn't excuse our national obsession with buying, wanting, lusting after and judging by Stuff. Focusing on the financial world's contributions to our economic woes may be satisfying, but it gets us nowhere. I heard the fashionable response when someone makes dire economic predictions based on what's happening now is to slough off the whole economic downturn on "a dip in the cycle;" in other words, no need to worry -- this is just what happens sometimes and we'll be back to business as usual again in no time.

Well, yeah...that's why it's cyclical; it's also known as insanity -- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

We all know that the world was slightly insane, right? And Financial Experts (credentials, please!) claim the key to getting the economy running again is to get money into the hands of the consumer so they can buy more Stuff. And it's probably true -- it really will get us back to where we were, again and again and again.

I am not so naive to think this event was going to change the economic tide of the universe. But there may be out there...and you know who you are...people who recognize this financial upheaval for the gift it is -- albeit a very, very hard gift to accept. It's like getting a big, humongous girdle for Christmas from a really skinny friend and when you look at it you swear it's way too big but then it turns out that it not only fits you, but also makes you look really, really terrific -- you hate to admit that it's a perfect fit and that you needed it all along, but there's no getting around the fact that you need it because you are too damn bloated.

kind of gift.

Someday I will write of my Journey to the Center of the Socio-economic Earth Sector, where my only armor was my race and my willingness to grovel, neither of which I'm particularly proud. That's for another day.

The point is, I'm glad I know now what I didn't know in my insulated middle class existence. And that's what I think of when I see people grasping at straws to stay in the homes they can't possibly maintain the payments on or refusing to accept that they are in over their heads and are, instead, victims of the hapless banking system.

I want to tell them, Let it go. Admit it: unethical and illegal banking practices aside, you were drowning. Accept it, learn from it and, for your own sake, move on.

Then, maybe, the things will go back to the way it was for everyone; and, for some of us, it will be even better.


Anonymous said...

That guy looks like he drives a Chinook camper...

Tim said...

My parents grew up during the Depression. In order to put three kids through parochial schoold and college, they were always frugal and later, when the kids were grown and they actually had money, they never really trusted their prosperity and continued their frugal ways. My in-laws were the same way and I think it rubbed off on my wife and me. Those habits were pretty useful when we were first married and in grad school and had NO money. Take-out fish and chips was a big Friday night splurge then. When we finally had jobs we lived simply, bought a modest house, and saved when we could. So, although it's a little scary right now, we're okay. I never understood the impulse to buy the biggest house, the most expensive car, the most lavish vacation that you could possibly get a loan for. That's not a new delusion; there were people doing that when I was a kid. But to be leveraged to the max leaves you horribly vulnerable, not only to major downturns but to little setbacks. I couldn't live with the anxiety that would produce.