The Bone Award -- honoring Thrown Bones
The Mortgage Settlement with the major servicing banks was announced with great fanfare the other day as a HHHHHEEEEEUUUUUUUGGE step toward repairing the housing sector, after years of failed attempts to "help struggling homeowners."
It's a thrown bone. Whether it will have more than a marginal effect on the apparently terminally comatose housing sector or whether it will actually help more than a few struggling homeowners remains to be seen. Best prognosis is "We'll have to wait till the swelling goes down."
The problem is, of course, that many millions of Americans have lost their homes and their futures in this Endless Recession, and every mortgage/foreclosure program to "help" them has been operated as a scam by the banks to continue to inflate the value of their phantom mortgage assets while extracting the maximum amount possible from multiple sources of payment for faltering mortgages.
It was in the financial interests of banks to encourage/force homeowner mortgage default, to extend "consideration" of mortgage modification and continue to receive payments from the struggling homeowners, to "approve" modification but not actually enter into it, and then to foreclose; banks were paid every step of this tortuous path for struggling homeowners, and through this and other sleights, they could and quite cheerfully did receive multiple full payments on defaulted mortgages. It was horrible for struggling homeowners, wonderful for the banks. Naturally, they want to keep that con going for as long as they possibly can.
Consequently, few are taking the mortgage settlement at face value or believing that it will actually help more than a few struggling homeowners. The People have been defrauded by these shell-games and promises too many times already.
Nevertheless, it is a bone, the first of what may be a cascade of them this election year.
Millions of Americans have been pushed into poverty during the long years of this Endless Recession. Poverty rates (pdf) are higher now than at any time in a generation, and they continue to rise. Hunger stalks the land. Homelessness is on the upsurge. While unemployment rates are officially declining and "the economy is producing jobs again," much of the decline in the unemployment rate is due to the increase in the number of permanently unemployed who have left the labor market. Wages and benefits for those who still have jobs have been slashed, in many cases by 50% or more, and whatever pensions remain to workers are under fierce assault by the Overclass.
This relentless class war against workers has not even paused to reflect on its many victories as the campaign continues to extract essentially everything of value from the Lesser People in order to keep the Highest of the Mighty in far more whores and heroin than anyone could consume in many hundreds of lifetimes.
But in an election year, bones are traditionally thrown to the ravening masses, and this election year is no exception. The situation is a bit different than previously, though, because of the general discontent at the continuing economic devastation ordinary people are facing, and because of the rowdiness of the crowds of demonstrators and protesters against economic and social injustice which the Occupy Movement continues to assemble.
Something must be done. Bones! That's the answer! Don't make any substantive change that might involve, oh, you know, "shared sacrifices" on the part of the Accumulative Class, heaven forefend! Perish the thought. Just throw some bones.
The People will think the pols really do care about the well being of the masses.
Clue: they don't. The People are nothing but resources to be exploited or parasites to be disposed of; they have no other utility at all to the Overclass. If keeping them docile and servile requires that an occasional bone be thrown, then so be it. The $25 billion or so that this settlement costs is barely noticeable pocket change which will likely not even be paid.
There are more ways to squeeze the teats of this system for the benefit of wealth and privilege than are dreamt of by our philosophers.
Since this particular bone is being thrown earlier by several months than I expected, we may speculate about what all has been set aside by Our Rulers to quiet the the tumultuous hordes beyond the Palace gates. The violent repression of protest that always accompanies the throwing of bones, as well as the separation of the masses into antagonistic segments fighting it out, is also well underway. Damn, everything's a casino as far as Our Rulers are concerned.
It's clear the Overclass is in beginning mitigation mode, but whether their mood turns into a full panic, with visions of tumbrils and guillotines dancing in their heads, remains to be seen. The Revolution may be under way, but it so far only threatens their self-image and their legitimacy, not their persons or even any substantial portion of their property.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, the Rulers do not take the rising tide of protest against the March of Austerity seriously. It's stunning how oblivious they insist on being as they mindlessly insist on their programs of wealth extraction and mass impoverishment to satisfy the ever-hungry, indeed, insatiable, demands of the bankers.
In a sane world, this pattern would never have been allowed to occur, but if by chance it had got under way, the sane response would have been to cancel the bets that are driving the Austerity Train, then cancel the debts and clear the slate. But instead, the bets keep getting paid off and the debts keep increasing, while the People and whole nations are further and further impoverished in a mad race to... what? What do they think the result can possibly be?