MSNBC afternoon host Dylan Ratigan took to the ramparts of The Huffington Post on Thursday and urged home owners to stop paying their mortgages as a leftist protest against a government too cozy with the bankers. The title was "They Keep Stealing -- Why Keep Paying?"
The crisis was all Wall Street's fault, and now they're back to paying themselves bonuses after a federal bailout. So stop paying them. (Notice Ratigan doesn't suggest you protest Washington and TARP by refusing to pay your taxes.) This piece sounds like a direct-mail letter:
You didn't cause this mess. They did.
Now you are struggling to make the same payments on this mortgage on your now overpriced home even in light of a crashing economy and massive deflation, all while the government does everything in its power to help Wall St. keep the bonuses coming.
Well, it is becoming time to take matters into your own hands... I suggest that you call your lender and tell them if they don't lower you mortgage by at least 20%, you are walking away. And if they don't agree, you need to consider walking away.
It probably doesn't feel right to you.
That is because you probably are a good person. But your mortgage is a business deal, and it is not immoral to walk away from a business deal unless you went in to the deal with the intention of defaulting.
But somehow, even though the corporations are pumped to exercise their new rights, former bankers like Henry Paulson, current ones like Jamie Dimon and -- get this -- now even Fannie Mae execs want to keep you from exercising your rights.
But before you let them (or anyone commenting below) force you into paying that $500k mortgage on a $300k house, ask them if they'll push Jerry Speyer into "honoring his obligation" by breaking into his $2 billion personal piggy-bank to keep paying for Stuyvesant Town?
Or how about asking Hank and Jamie to lecture fellow bailed-out CEO John Mack about how "you're supposed to meet your obligations, not run from them"? Maybe make him use some of his $50+ million for those buildings he bought in San Francisco?
And before shaming and punishing American homeowners, did they nag Steve Feinberg about helping "teach the American people...not to run away" by writing a check out of his billion-dollar pocket to cover all the stiffed landlords and vendors at Mervyn's? After all, at least you aren't single-handedly putting 1,100 employees out of work when you walk on your mortgage.
As part of the deal for your house, your mortgage holder gets interest payments from you and they also use the note to your house for their capital reserves. In return, they take the risk of a foreclosure. In many states, you paid extra to have a non-recourse loan where the lender just gets the house back if you stop paying -- your interest rate would've been much lower if you were held personally liable like a student loan. But if you still feel bad, then donate the money saved to charity instead of to their bonuses.
Even if you agreed that everyone on Wall Street is a knave and a thief, Ratigan is still preaching that two wrongs make a right. Or, to be more precise, the second wrong helps the populist agitators regain "our captured government" from the financial elite. (Did he clear that phrase with Chris Matthews, because it sounds "dangerously anti-government," doesn't it?)
Meanwhile, our captured government has made it clear that they want to further reward these banksters because there are clearly better ways to "save" the economy without rewarding those most responsible for the damage.
Instead of claw backs for the past theft and strong financial reform for the future, they choose to cover-up the gross misuse of our tax money, making our country worse by helping the criminals on the backs of the most honest.
But thankfully, in this country we still have the tools to fight back and regain our country. Our vote, our voice, our laws and what we choose to do with every penny we have that doesn't go to taxes are the benefits of our hard-fought freedom, and in this battle we must use them all to fight back. It's time for the citizens to once again own this place.