I draw the line at schizophrenia

There is an epidemic in a disease that is running rampant in America now.  I call it organizational schizophrenia.

The beginning of this epidemic was caused by the federal government policy that everyone should be able to buy their own home. The federal government chose banks as its partner in this venture.  The banks were “encouraged,” as only a strong federal government backed by well organized underprivileged groups willing to demonstrate can encourage.  With true Yankee ingenuity, banks rose to the challenge by inventing ways to approve the flood of highly unqualified but eager homeowners rather than risk government audits (bothersome even if everything is legit); or risk organized protests at their business doors or home by highly enraged, discriminated-against non-homeowners (sympathetically backed by union muscle).

One of the “think outside the box” or “think outside conventional mortgages” solutions that the lenders came up with was to give two mortgages to a single purchaser on a single property. The first mortgage was for 80% of the property, and the second mortgage for 20%.

Unfortunately, no invention can make an unqualified buyer qualified.  With the inevitable record foreclosures resulting from the of the stupid, er, compassionate federal policy, the “two mortgage” invention has caused some problems. In 2009 there was a condo in Florida that traded its single citizen-buyer-owner for a schizophrenic owner through foreclosure.  The schizophrenic owner?  It is the bank that provided the two mortgages—Wells Fargo and Wells Fargo.  To get a clear title, Wells Fargo had to sue itself, complete with one legal firm for Wells Fargo and another legal firm for Wells Fargo.  (In our legal system, it would be a conflict of interest for the same legal firm to represent both plaintiff and defendant.)

In this suit, the two sides did not see eye to eye on the issues.  When Wells Fargo answered the complaint for the lawsuit, Wells Fargo denied all of the allegations that Wells Fargo made except for the admission that the defendant (Wells Fargo) was the owner and holder of the second mortgage.  Wells Fargo, in other words, called itself a liar.

Here is the really scary thing.  Al Lewis wrote in a July 9, 2009 article in the Dow Jones Newswires Column that he was so intrigued by the case that he called a mortgage foreclosure lawyer in Florida.  This attorney, Kristofer Fernandez, said that he had seen several such cases.   “Four or five years ago, you would have never seen this,” Fernandez said. “Now, it’s very common.”  Four or five years ago, Mr. Fernandez?  How about NEVER before.  (You can read about this at http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/al-lewis-wells-fargo-bank-sues/)

Common?  Just how many of these silly schizophrenic lawsuits are there that we, the taxpayers, have subsidized through bailouts?  Couldn’t one lawyer have figured out how to write off Wells Fargo interest in the second part to clear the title?  Wouldn’t a quit claim deed clear something up without the expense of a lawsuit?  At the very least, couldn’t the second side simply have failed to respond so that a default judgment could have been obtained?  I’m not sure how the suit ended, but if Wells Fargo hasn’t won and lost by now, it is inevitable that it (or should I say they?) will win and lose at some point.

Another bit of organizational schizophrenia was created when Obama made the UAW the biggest stockholder in Chrysler (55%) and a major stockholder in GM (17.5%).  What that means is that the UAW workers who work at Ford own a majority stake in one of their competitors and a major stake in another.  This may be the screwiest Employee Stock Ownership Plan ever.  Usually, the employees end up with stock in their own company as incentive to improve the product.  How exactly does it work, when you own a majority stake in your major competitors?  At least the UAW has now sold some of its stock in GM, but not nearly all of it.

I think it’s some kind of government plot to spread this disease intentionally, and not just an “unintended consequences” situation.  In an expanding attempt at the spread of this disease, the administration is now trying it out on individuals:  specifically, TSA screeners.  Otherwise law-abiding citizens are being asked to look at nude bodies all day and to perform same-gender, sexual touching (which is extremely unwelcome according to most of the traveling public).  Didn’t anyone tell the TSA chiefs that online porn can be addictive?  Didn’t they read the manuals at any private corporation that had to design training programs for their employees because of federal laws that define unwelcome touching as sexual harassment?

“Probable Cause” is required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution before a government official can search you.  In practical terms, that means that a policeman can’t stop you at random when you are driving down the road from one place to another and demand to search you and/or your car without some reason or suspicious behavior.  Just driving your car isn’t enough to create suspicion that you are going to commit a crime.  (At least, not yet.)

In the case of airline travel, the government has decided that it is suspicious that you want to fly from one place to another.  The simple act of trying to board an airplane is deemed suspicious enough to subject citizens to lewd exposure in public and/or fondling.  A federal agent with far less training than a policeman can insist that you are photographed nude or feel you up based on nothing more suspicious than the fact that you are flying somewhere that you want to go on public transport.  What’s even worse for me is the fact that it is same-gender fondling, as if lesbian or gay fondling is less objectionable than heterosexual fondling.

Just how does this make the TSA screeners feel?  Probably pretty schizophrenic.  One side of them knows they are doing something that could get them arrested if they weren’t on the job, the other side knows that they are being paid to do so.  One side of them must realize they are doing what the Constitution says the government can’t do, the other side of them must realize that the government is telling them to do it or lose their job.  At least, I hope that’s how they feel.  If the alternative were true, the screening process that allowed them to get their job probably didn’t do well in the background check department.  Before you feel too sorry for them, though, the TSA screeners will be unionized (promised never to be allowed when they were authorized) so they won’t have to worry about getting fired for overstepping any line.  They’ll probably get fantastic healthcare benefits, including expensive psychiatric coverage, to deal with job stress.

REALITY CHECK

I started writing this over a year ago and let it sit, adding to it when something occurred and seemed appropriate.  Looking at it now, the events, once seemingly so bizarre, now are commonplace.  Bizarre foreclosure stories?  Not even news.  Lots of talk about the greedy bankers, none about the elected officials, many still in office, that held the gun to the head of the greedy bankers.  Auto company bailouts?  I heard just the other day where the UAW is planning for a nasty contract battle with Ford and trashtalking management (SURPRISE!).  I have read several articles, and not one mentions the conflict of interest with the union’s ownership position with respect to GM and Chrysler.  Naked body scanners?  In just a few short months, you have to be arrested for printing the 4th amendment to the Constitution (the pesky one about unwarranted search) on your chest to make the news.  Just part of flying.

We have accepted the schizophrenia.  A creeping change has once more taken us in the wrong direction and been accepted.  We did vote in the ballot box in November to curb the federal government.  That resulted in a body which agreed to $6 billion in budget cuts on the same day that $72 billion was added to the deficit.  Wow.

Where do we draw the line at acceptance?  I sometimes envy those who live in their insulated world where nothing is changing or has changed in any dramatic way.   For over 200 years the change has been creeping, and it is so comfortable to think of it as same old, same old.  There have probably always been those who have said that something that the federal government was doing would irrevocably change America, but we always adjusted.

There are a great many who think that we have reached the breaking point or soon will.  I hope that the others will wake up before we have lost what we had.  I think it should be now, before we are all schizophrenic.

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Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am glad to see you back posting on your blog again. I don’t agree with lots of what you say, but your writing is stimulating, and I find plenty of food-for-thought.


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