In a new Salon article, David Dayen eloquently sums up root cause of the new feudalism, which is being helped along by the federal government and federal courts:
“Many focus on how the failure to prosecute financial crimes, by Attorney General Eric Holder and colleagues, create a lack of deterrent for the perpetrators, who will surely sin again. But there’s something else that happens when these crimes go unpunished; the root problem, the legacy of fraud, never gets fixed. In this instance, the underlying ownership on potentially millions of loans has been permanently confused, and the resulting disarray will cause chaos for decades into the future, harming homeowners, investors and the broader economy. Holder’s corrupt bargain, to let Wall Street walk, comes at the cost of permanent damage to the largest market in the world, the U.S. residential housing market.
By now we know the details: During the run-up to the housing bubble, banks bought up millions of mortgages, packaged them into securities and sold them around the world. Amid the frenzy, lenders failed to follow basic property laws, which ensure legitimate transfers of mortgages from one legal owner to another. When mass foreclosures resulted from the bubble’s collapse, banks who could not demonstrate they owned the loans got caught trying to cover up the irregularities with false documents. Federal authorities made the offenders pay fines, much of which banks paid with other people’s money. But the settlements put a Band-Aid over the misconduct. Nobody went in, loan by loan, to try to equitably confirm who owns what.“
Who owns what–that’s the question, right? Well, that’s the thing, you see. That’s where all of this has been going for some time. They have let us have our fun–“they” being the banks, the financiers, the 1%, whatever you want to call them.
They let us have our little “Constitution” and our “property rights” and the rest of it. Or so we thought. While we weren’t looking, though, they enslaved us in that “freedom.” There aren’t any debtor’s prisons in America anymore? Think again–the entire country is a debtor’s prison.
And so the question of “who owns what” is now being decided–in favor of the banks. They’re going to own it all–through fraud like MERS and horrible court decisions–and we’re going to be the serfs. Hell, we already are the serfs. And “who owns what?” The lords own everything. The velvet glove is coming off the iron fist.
It’s feudalism. Everything old is new again. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And the “government?” The banks are the government. Dick Durbin confirmed that in no uncertain terms:
You hear that? Durbin says, “[the banks] frankly own the place.” And that’s the name of the game, isn’t it–ownership? As we’re seeing, that’s how ownership is being resolved in the courts: the banks own everything, the people own nothing, despite the litany of well-known fraud and wrongdoing that Dayen points out above.
The question of who owns what is being decided, right now, and the decision is almost unanimously in favor of the banks, not the people. And that’s not an accident. It’s the new feudalism, and it based on nothing more than paper, as Dayen points out in his conclusion:
“If you or I pick the lock on a house and try to steal everything in it, we’d probably go to jail. But if I were a bank, and I wrote down on a piece of paper that I simply owned that house, I’d get away with it. That’s the sad legacy of trying to cover up massive fraud instead of dealing with it.”