The Decline Of the Middle Class
I have been obsessed with this nose dive in purchasing power since the 1990s - when, in addition to the decline in wages, people were being relentlessly marketed by subprime lenders who targeted seniors and their adult children. The cash cow targets were the seniors with large equity balances in their homes - a lot of them had No Mortgages, No Debt.
I was interviewing people who had been swindled by various fraudulent practices, including my developmentally disabled neighbor 2 houses away, whose likewise developmentally disabled mother died after complications of a stroke after heart surgery at age 81. This left my neighbor Steve, a pizza delivery driver, with a mortgage balance of $142,000 on a house all paid for 14 months earlier with no debt balance.
The roof of the house had needed replaced, Steve needed a reliable vehicle for his non-livable wage job - so when a slick loan solicitor called them offering money to lend - Steve and his mother got talked into a $25000 for a roof and a vehicle. Within 4 months of paying monthly statements with mom's SSI, repeated systemic exploitative calls by the same Ameriquest loan rep churned the balance 3x in 10 months up to $140,000+
In addition to exploitation of these vulnerable adults, with the debt escalation, this rep made sales of full coverage unemployment, life and disability insurances with one time premiums that amounted to $38,000 - which were wrapped into the ever escalating loan.
When Steve's mom died, the SSI went away. Payments were over $1400 a month - Steve grossed $1200 a month. I took him to the family lawyer who then appointed me administrator to Steve who became estate executor under the lawyer's guidance. That began 3 yrs of shepherding my neighbor through actions on Ameriquest via the FCC, giving testimony about subprime loans and their victimizing of vulnerable people to the WA State Senatorial Committee on Finance, cremating his mom and placing her ashes at his father's burial plot, covering these costs and others during those 3 yrs until I was reimbursed $1600 that I paid to keep the lawyer involved till Steve and I took care of all the details like estate sales, selling the house before it was foreclosed, finding an inexpensive room for him to live, helping him handle estate bills and his own, and more. WHEW it took a lot out of me.
Steve received disbursements from 2 class action suits that were a pittance of the $80,000 he an his mom were defrauded by way of the insurance premiums, 16% interest and 4 loan origination fees.
Steve ended up going to Las Vegas during its boom and became homeless 2 yrs later. When going back and forth to AZ - for my POA duties for my mother-in-law, I kept tabs on Steve and looked him up at St Vincent's Village in N Las Vegas in their shelter and later in a tiny subsidized apt. St Vincent caseworkers did a good job even when Steve didn't get enough hours in the off season to pay for his room - he just stayed in the shelter until he was given more hours.
Las Vegas has yet to bounce back from their housing bubble - theirs popped early. Steve married a disabled woman receiving SSI and he still does dishwashing at Pizza Huts. He qualifies for services related to his birth defects but he refuses to see a social worker. When he is not working, he likes to hang out in the old downtown core with the covered atrium. When my husband came through Vegas last week he chatted with a homeless woman on the street while he smoked a cigarette, shared a smoke with her and described Steve, asking if she ever sees a fellow of that description there. She said she knew him and that he brings left over pizzas when he gets off work to share with her and others outside a particular casino. I happen to know that the management there lets certain homeless folks weather the night in a low usage slots areas. I've met Steve there twice on separate trips when he has brought food for his friends. My husband told Steve's friend to relay a msg that Joe Brando was looking for him and that Marge sends her love. I hope that msg gets to him.
Steve's not the only person I know who met similar desperate means in the last 18 yrs. I have witnessed intimately how the economy has shrunk and how precarious even educated and highly functional people have lost livable wage jobs and are not able to find affordable rentals, as they have aged into ill health. It's been bad for a long time and yet the lucky folks still managing to get by, will dehumanize the have-nots as lazy and deserving of their poverty.
Horseshit. It's systemic class segregation and the number of victims are growing. It's real and lurking in your future right now. Even people with steady work and savings will not be immune to rising market pricing as people flock to the most prosperous cities leaving places that used to have stable communities with enough cash flow to keep the money circulating IN THE COMMUNITY. Once a town depends on corporations for things that used to be made locally, every consumer dime leaves the community for corporation bank accounts and board rooms.
I found many more victims of these companies. Regulations regarding these companies were never tightened up - no one went to jail and in fact the biggest and worst subprime loan companies were purchased by Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual and US Bank - who pretty much adopted the subprime shark lending tactics.
Everyone who is not clued in to the dynamics playing out in Washington DC and their state capitols better develop a nose for danger. And stop bad mouthing their unfortunate neighbors. The perpetrators of this financial schism know where you all keep your nest eggs and investments. You lucky ones so far are rapidly moving up the list of potential targets for a shaking down of your surplus cash and assets. The extraction economy playbook has been followed to the letter since 1980. It's not just natural resources, prosperous businesses and mergers they're after.
The amount of money extracted out of local economies since the 1970s is staggering. The world financial syndicate still hasn't secured Enough to satisfy them and their friends. Are we going to let these globalists own the world? People aren't even putting up a fight yet. What's it going to take to shut the money/asset outflow from the USA?
Ideas, anyone? Someone? Does someone hear me?