Friday, October 3, 2008

A Mantra for Our Times: Why, Why, Why?

Earlier today the US House of Representatives passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 - H.R.1424, aka the $700 billion (actually closer to $850B now) bailout, and sent it to President Bush who almost immediately signed it.

To view a breakdown of the vote click here.

Now Congress can adjourn for the weekend and return to the comfort of their homes. Unlike 90 year old Addie Polk, who will spend this weekend in a hospital bed. You see the 90 year old shot herself when sheriffs tried to evict her from the home in which she has resided since 1970.

CNN is reporting:

Fannie Mae said it will set aside the loan of a woman who shot herself as sheriff's deputies tried to evict her from her foreclosed home.

Addie Polk, 90, of Akron, Ohio, became a symbol of the nation's home mortgage crisis when she was hospitalized after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wednesday afternoon.

Residents of Akron have rallied behind Polk, who is being treated at Akron General Medical Center. She was listed in critical condition Friday afternoon, according to Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, mentioned Polk on the House floor Friday during debate over the latest economic rescue proposal.

"This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world," Kucinich said after telling her story. "This bill fails to address the fact that millions of homeowners are facing foreclosure, are facing the loss of their home. This bill will take care of Wall Street, and the market may go up for a few days, but democracy is going downhill."

"There's a lot of people like Miss Polk right now. That's the sad thing about it," said Sommerville, who had met Polk before and rushed to the scene when contacted by police. "They might not be as old as her, some could be as old as her. This is just a major problem."

In 2004, Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The same day, she also took out an $11,380 line of credit.

Over the next couple of years, Polk missed payments on the 101-year-old home that she and her late husband purchased in 1970. In 2007, Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage and later filed for foreclosure.

Just think, while so many of us were worrying about how much money our investments were losing or were anxiously awaiting the Vice Presidential debate, a 90 year old woman in Akron, OH was debating whether it was better to die than find herself homeless. Here are Rep. Kucinich's comments about Ms. Polk on the floor of the House.

Of course according to Minnnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Addie Polk isn't a victim but just one of the many reasons the financial markets are crashing.

You see Rep. Michelle Bachmann,( R-Minn.), read aloud a quote from an article in Investors Business Daily about the economic crisis which seemed to blame everything on blacks and other minorities. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann explains the rest of her comments during his "Worst Persons in the World" segment which aired on Sept. 30.

Is Rep. Bachmann racist? I don't know.

What I do know is that Ms. Bachmann's comments are shared by millions of Americans.

It's easy to blame the poor for their misfortune and now blame them for causing ours.

It's easier blaming the poor than looking at those with extreme wealth, (a state to which we all aspire), and holding them accountable for the manner in which they attained their wealth.

It's easier blaming the poor than looking at the flaws in a financial system based not on manufacturing, agriculture or technological innovation but debt and credit instead.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich raised the following questions about the "bailout bill" as he addressed his colleagues earlier today.

For more on this topic check out this week's edition of Bill Moyer's Journal and his interview with scholar Emma Coleman Jordan

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