Skip to comments.Looting Main Street. How America's Biggest Banks Looted America's Cities With Deals like Greece's
Posted on 03/06/2011 9:08:21 AM PST by SeekAndFindEdited on 03/06/2011 11:44:56 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
If you want to know what life in the Third World is like, just ask Lisa Pack, an administrative assistant who works in the roads and transportation department in Jefferson County, Alabama. Pack got rudely introduced to life in post-crisis America last August, when word came down that she and 1,000 of her fellow public employees would have to take a little unpaid vacation for a while. The county, it turned out, was more than $5 billion in debt meaning that courthouses, jails and sheriff's precincts had to be closed so that Wall Street banks could be paid.
Wall Street's Bailout Hustle
As public services in and around Birmingham were stripped to the bone, Pack struggled to support her family on a weekly unemployment check of $260. Nearly a fourth of that went to pay for her health insurance, which the county no longer covered. She also fielded calls from laid-off co-workers who had it even tougher. "I'd be on the phone sometimes until two in the morning," she says. "I had to talk more than one person out of suicide. For some of the men supporting families, it was so hard foreclosure, bankruptcy. I'd go to bed at night, and I'd be in tears."
This article appeared in the April 15, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.
Homes stood empty, businesses were boarded up, and parts of already-blighted Birmingham began to take on the feel of a ghost town. There were also a few bills that were unique to the area like the $64 sewer bill that Pack and her family paid each month. "Yeah, it went up about 400 percent just over the past few years," she says.
Wall Street's Naked Swindle
The sewer bill, in fact, is what cost Pack and her co-workers their jobs. In 1996, the average monthly sewer bill for a family of four in Birmingham was only $14.71 but that was before the county decided to build an elaborate new sewer system with the help of out-of-state financial wizards with names like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. The result was a monstrous pile of borrowed money that the county used to build, in essence, the world's grandest toilet "the Taj Mahal of sewer-treatment plants" is how one county worker put it. What happened here in Jefferson County would turn out to be the perfect metaphor for the peculiar alchemy of modern oligarchical capitalism: A mob of corrupt local officials and morally absent financiers got together to build a giant device that converted human shit into billions of dollars of profit for Wall Street and misery for people like Lisa Pack.
Invasion of the Home Snatchers
And once the giant shit machine was built and the note on all that fancy construction started to come due, Wall Street came back to the local politicians and doubled down on the scam. They showed up in droves to help the poor, broke citizens of Jefferson County cut their toilet finance charges using a blizzard of incomprehensible swaps and refinance schemes schemes that only served to postpone the repayment date a year or two while sinking the county deeper into debt. In the end, every time Jefferson County so much as breathed near one of the banks, it got charged millions in fees. There was so much money to be made bilking these dizzy Southerners that banks like JP Morgan spent millions paying middlemen who bribed yes, that's right, bribed, criminally bribed the county commissioners and their buddies just to keep their business.
I posted only the relevant portions of the article. Click on the above link for the rest.
Warning -- obscenities in the article. Reader discretion advised.
The whole thing was an obscenity. The people who authorized it (on both sides) should be suffering right along with the sheeple.
It is hard to fathom why we need to read the Rolling Stone to get these stories.
“The people who authorized it (on both sides) should be suffering..”
Totally agree. BOTH sides need to be hung out to dry. The TBTF banks and the politicians.
Honest journalism appears to have been lost long ago, if it ever existed.
How can they be honest when they depend on their advertisers? They never really were independent, and remain so, unfortunately to this very day.
“Warning — obscenities in the article. Reader discretion advised.”
Yeah, Taibbi has to relay the information in ‘Left-Speak’. If there’s not enough flowery expletives, the target demo will start thinking the article belongs in the Weekly Standard.
How much of this could have been avoided by having the contracts made public long before they were signed ?
Unfortunately, the Kelo vs. New London decision by the Supreme Court also makes it much easier for corrupt local politicians and officials to rip off their constituents. All they have to do is decide it is in the city’s or county’s “best interest” to take private property from one individual, business or entity and sell it to another.
Wall Street lending on municipal bonds. Shocking.
Taibi, the communist, thinks money grows on trees.
And none of this is the fault of the Democrat and RINO politicians who piled up huge debts, issued more and more bonds, borrowed more and more money, and then found that they were, well, in debt?
I blame the politicians first, for insane borrowing, and the banksters second, for agreeing to lend to them.
Hell of a read. Hard to believe we can recover from this without some serious strife. Third world style government needs tp be rooted out.
RE: The people who authorized it (on both sides) should be suffering right along with the sheeple.
As one reads the story and how a project budgeted for just $250 Million balooned to 5 times its original etimated cost, one cannot help but appreciated the foresight of Chris Christie when he vetoed the potential boondoogle that is the NJ to NYC train tunnel that was originally estimated at $6 Billion and now is estimated to cost $14 B ( and will that be the end of it?).
You can take this to the bank — when government estimates the cost of a new program to be X dollars, mulitply that by 4 at a mimimum.
The "Wall Street bankers" weren't the problem here . . . the incompetent, corrupt public officials who signed these deals were.
And look who the impetus was: that’s right, the EPA.
For anyone who looks around at his county, city, or state, and asks “How did it get like this?”, this article explains a lot.
AND THE REAL LOOTING OF ALL AMERICANS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR ALMOST 100 YEARS THANKS TO OUR GREEDY, CORRUPT, SELFISH AND INCOMPETENT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, MAINLY OUR CONGRESS.
“The Wall St bankers weren’t the problem here”
Lending other peoples money to “incompetent, corrupt public officials” while personally enriching themselves, personally corrupting public officials, personally walking away from the consequences of their personal actions and hanging the public with their gold plated disasters.
Problem, what problem?
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.