September 8th, 2009
Those of us who have spent a good part of our lives not being rich – or even middle-middle class – have likely spent quite a bit of our lives without health insurance as well. Or with junk insurance that doesn’t actually cover anything but Big Ticket Items such as major accidents and illnesses. And many of us have unfortunately discovered that junk insurance won’t pay for Big Ticket Items either, if ever those happen to accrue.
Thus we have likely been watching the D.C. Street Theater (recently back from nationwide tour over the August recess at Town Hall meetings in every state) with some amazement. Knowing that the truth is that health care is the third leading cause of death, perhaps wondering if greater access for some of the ~50 million Americans without insurance is actually going to “fix” what’s wrong with health care in this country. Which is #37 on the list of 37 industrialized nations in both access and outcomes.
One of the more “important” results of what is now more honestly being called Health Insurance Reform is the promise of government subsities to enroll as many of those ~50 million uninsured Americans in for-profit health care as possible. This is of course a way to compensate for-profit insurers for new regulations that will prevent them from refusing to insure those with pre-existing conditions, rescinding policies when the person gets sick or injured, and other racketeering practices that have 3 of every 4 of the “medically bankrupt” bankrupt despite HAVING insurance.Bankruptcy, Government Bailouts, Health Care | Comment (0)
June 4th, 2009
The subprime mortgage crisis in just about over. Those whose loans came with usurious interest rates have, if they got behind or lost their jobs, already been foreclosed upon. Now the issue is negative equity, the fact that real estate is depreciating so fast that homes are no longer worth the price paid, even with prime interest rates. Being “upside down” and expecting a higher rate to kick in on the original price is causing more and more people to simply walk away from their mortgages.
And indeed, walking away from the debt may be the best option for people who purchased during the “bubble” of inflated valuation. Because the underlying problem the bubble was based upon – ever-increasing wages for the working classes – has dismally failed to materialize.
We’re all paying for the bubble and the ridiculous amount of side-bets that got made by financial pyramid schemers who artificially produced and inflated that bubble. When the “average” price of a below “average” home (say, 50 years old, in need of repair, in a bad neighborhood and too small for a family) rises above $120,000 in one of America’s “Officially Depressed Regions” where a majority of citizens are chronically out of work and wages hover right around minimum, you know something’s got to give. That’s how it is in my nearest county with an actual city in it – Buncombe County, NC, home to the city of Asheville (pop. less than 100,000).Bankruptcy, Debt, Economic Depression, Housing | Comment (1)
November 3rd, 2008
We’ve seen a lot of desperation as the world (and US) economy tanks in the wake of the mortgage-loss pyramid scheme crash. We’ve heard a lot of hyperbole and rhetoric from the candidates who want to replace Bush-Cheney as President and Vice-President of the United States. This is The Week That Was, votes will be counted tomorrow night, and we should know sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday which of the contestants gets the erstwhile “prize.”
As Wall Street began its precipitous fall, Republican candidate John McCain was busy informing the nation that the ‘fundamentals’ of our economy are strong. No, they aren’t strong, they’re utter failures after years of massive tax cuts to the wealthy, heavy borrowing to support two wars, and the “Unfettered Free Market” [TM] frenzy allowed by blanket de-regulation of the banking and investment sectors.
To get an idea of just how outrageous things had gotten, consider the so-called “Mortgage Meltdown” that took so many once-staid capitalist houses into ruin. We all know that housing prices had ballooned in most urban areas of the country, a ‘bubble’ sustained by the practice of lending to workers whose incomes haven’t seen even a minimal rise in more than 30 years, for houses that cost easily twice as much as they could hope to afford and three times what they were actually worth. Many of these loans were made with specific criminal intent to skim fees off the top, and saddled with adjustable interest rates that worked just like time bombs to force people into bankruptcy.Bankruptcy, Economic Depression, Economic Recession, Education, Elitism, Government Bailouts, Housing, Income Inequality, Politics, Taxes | Comment (0)
September 15th, 2008
Retirement Accts. Decimated, Layoffs Coming
Well, it was a tough weekend. After insurance giant AIG hinted that it might be heading for bankruptcy, investment bank Lehman Bros. went ahead and filed Chapter 11. Merrill Lynch grabbed at a $50 billion takeover from Bank of America, which is already regretting its takeover of the nation’s largest mortgage lender [Countrywide]. Stocks fell worldwide on Monday even after intervention from the Fed promising eased restrictions on emergency funds.
It’s not difficult to find gloom and doom on Wall Street today over how many jobs in the financial sector are going to be lost. Worse, that concern will in fact translate into a whole lot more jobs lost out in the real world where you and I live. Factories will be closed, inability to finance durable goods orders will exacerbate the problems, and GM is about to go under too. It ain’t even close to over yet, folks. If all you lose is your home, you’ll be among the lucky ones.
I’ll be posting more good information on stretching leftover dollars for those real people being harmed by all this, maybe even have something to say about the fact that there’s no gas in my region right now at all, leaving nothing to ration. Or tell you how I fare on my plan to sell my now-useless diesel ‘vintage’ Mercedes so I can buy a horse (have plenty of grass and kudzu). But in the meantime, best advice – if you’ve got gas – is to head directly to your regional farmer’s market and buy as much rice, other grains, fresh veggies and fruits as you can possibly afford. I’ll talk a bit about how to preserve it through the winter too, since it’s not really that hard.
I will also start posting information about growing some of your own food, even in the winter. There will be lots of links to great sources for information on these strategies too, so please stay tuned. The best advice I can give to people who end up here after searching something on Google because they’re just now joining our Shoestring Budget ranks, is…
All you really have to do is survive. The future is the future, it’ll bring its own problems and opportunities. Right now you just need to “ride it out” in one piece (and all of a piece family-wise). Money’s just paper at this end of real life, you CAN learn to make do on much less of it. And who knows? Once you’re out the other end of the tunnel, you might even find that you can live a much happier, fulfilled and truly shared life without all that much of it. It’s a good lesson to learn. It puts things in perspective, something this modern world could use more of.
Lehman Brothers collapse stuns global markets
Lehman Files for Bankruptcy, Merrill Sold, AIG Seeks Cash
Wall St.’s Turmoil Sends Stocks Reeling
Credit Crunch: How to Survive the Recession
20 Ways to Live on Almost Nothing
Uninsured? More Ways to Survive
July 1st, 2008
Your bank just locked its doors. Should you worry?
Pittsburgh: Forty people wearing red tee shirts and carrying signs marched right into a National City Bank last Friday morning. They chanted “Criminal Offenders, Predatory Lenders!” and blew whistles. They demanded an immediate halt to home foreclosures.
The group dispersed after police were called and nobody got arrested, but no one got any relief from foreclosure either. The demonstration was part of a national effort by the group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which provides free counseling to low and moderate income home buyers. As more and more families lose their homes, ACORN hopes protest actions will become more and more visible.
From shelters and coalitions for the homeless all over the country, reports are coming in of overwhelmed facilities and no end in sight as new faces join the ranks of the homeless. The ‘lucky’ ones, about 76% of renters and homeowners displaced by the continuing mortgage crisis, are moving in with relatives and friends. The rest are on the streets, living in their cars, or filling emergency shelters. It’s going to get worse.Bank Failures, Bankruptcy, Economic Depression, Economic Recession | Comment (0)
June 18th, 2008
* [h/t Frodo Baggins]
The cost of everything is still rising fast, despite the influx of ready cash to taxpayers in the way of rebates going to pay arrears on the mortgage or electric bill. The number of people losing their homes and losing their jobs continues to rise as well. And in a little-publicized indicator no one likes to talk much about these days, the number of Americans declaring bankruptcy is shooting through the roof – up nearly 30% [27.0] in the first quarter of 2008 over the same period in 2007. As Samuel J. Gerdano, Executive Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute says…
Bankruptcy, Debt, Economic Depression, Economic Recession | Comment (0)
“Bankruptcies are rising due to the heavy burden of household debt and growing mortgage problems. We expect this trend to continue through 2008.