Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Americans Want Wall Street & the Banking Industry to Suffer

*updated 9/30/08 2 PM EST

When it was first announced that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke were asking for a $700 billion in order to stabilize (bailout) Wall Street, the response of most Americans was,

"Oh, Hell NO!"


Because for many Americans watching the great ships of the financial industry like Washington Mutual and Wachovia go down stirs up feelings of ...


Why are American's SO outraged?

Because over the past 3-4 years, while some in Washington were repeatedly stating that the economy was fundamentally strong, financial institutions were loosing the hounds of hell on millions of honest, hardworking Americans who were struggling to stay afloat.

*It seems that Mr. McCain simply doesn't understand.

And while Americans were struggling with stagnant wages, declining real estate values and mounting debt, many of them encountered someone like the guy who uttered the following quote:

"I like to make the analogy the you know, you're like,
you're like this pirate on this pirate ship, right.
And you've got that person and you're walking them out on the plank
and you walk them as far as you can walk them out on that plank
without pushing them off and then you bring them back to get what you want."

-- uttered by a debt collector ( who has hopefully lost his job and his shirt)
from the movie "Maxed Out" by James Scurlock

Not only did debt collectors like this one walk Americans to the edge of the plank but he and many of his compatriots literally pushed their victims headlong into bankruptcy, foreclosure, ill health and in some cases, suicide. And to these guys it was all just a game.

Two million Americans filed bankruptcy in 2005.

Now the same financial institutions, represented by The Federal Reserve, are asking the people, who they've charged usury rates as well as merciless fees and penalties, to bail out their sorry backsides. And the American people are supposed to say,

"OK, No Problem, Kick Me Some More."

I don't think so.

In the following video clip Wharton Business School Graduate and Film Director James Scurlock and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren discuss the abuses that Americans have suffered at the hands of banking industry pirates:

Click here if the video is not visible

The following is an abbreviated synopsis of the movie "Maxed Out" from the film's website:
Maxed Out reveals the secrets of the new bank. John Ballew, a Midwestern banker whose neighborhood bank has been merged so many times he's lost count, tells us why suggestive selling is the primary qualification for working at a modern bank. Bud Hibbs, a well-known consumer advocate and the collection industry's enemy number one, explains why banks want us to be late. Liz Warren, a Harvard Professor who conducted the largest study of why Americans are going broke—at a rate higher than during the Great Depression—debunks the conventional wisdom that only "bad apples" declare bankruptcy. Liz's study proves that the bare necessities, not Prada shoes, are killing American families. A lifelong Republican, Liz's foray into the world of debt changed her politics and inspired a best-selling book: "The Two Income Trap".

Maxed Out reveals that the financial industry's best customers are the broke and the bankrupt. The most profitable niche of the industry is called "alternative" or "sub-prime"—euphemisms for a business formerly known as loan-sharking. They target those with less than perfect credit-people like Mark Mumma, whose frustration with the sub-prime credit card issuer Providian caused him to start the website From 2000-2002, Providian paid over $400 million to settle charges that it defrauded its customers. Soon after, a Providian director and the chairman of its compliance committee was appointed corporate crime czar by George W. Bush.

Maxed Out exposes the modern debt-style in all of its absurdities and contradictions. Nowhere are these more evident than in a journey with award-winning investigative journalist Mike Hudson, who travels to Mississippi, Pittsburgh, and New York City interviewing the victims of predatory lending scams. The most shocking discovery? The predators aren't boiler rooms or goodfellas. They are the nation's largest and most respected financial institutions! And they're not just preying on adults anymore. In 2001, FirstUSA hired two teenage high school students as walking billboards to make their cards seem "cool". FirstUSA also pioneered "partnerships" with colleges—paying them millions of dollars for access to their students' personal information, setting these kids up for ruin.

Maxed Out examines an industry that thrives on making people fail, then pursues them relentlessly to death's door. The film features a shocking interview with Bob and Chris—two idealistic entrepreneurs from Minneapolis whose "People First Recoveries" is buying bad debt all over the country in the hopes of huge profits. They're going to make "People First" a big success by being shockingly duplicitous. To get psyched up, Chris and Bob imagine themselves as "debt pirates", wrestlers and professional football players. The personal information at their disposal and the ways in which they are allowed to use it—calling people's neighbors and relatives to humiliate them into paying, for example—are nothing short of terrifying for us, fun for them.

So, what can Bush, Bernanke, and Paulson say to the people who have been terrorized by the financial industry and who are now flooding the Congressional offices with angry letters?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Because if your credit is maxed out, or you've borrowed against all of the equity in your home, or you've already lost your home or you've declared bankruptcy, you're not going to be frightened when someone tells you that without a bailout the banks won't be able to extend more credit.

For more reasons why Americans are outraged check out the following video, "In Debt We Trust" by Danny Schecter which explains how the banking industry has already made "hundreds of billions of dollars" from the poor :

Click here if the video is not visible

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