Matt Taibbi – Santelli on Predatory Lending: You can’t cheat an honest man…

Matt Taibbi

 

Look at about the 5-minute mark of this video — Janet Tavakoli debating Rick Santelli about predatory lending. You basically have a whole panel of CNBC goons pooh-poohing the idea that predatory lending took place, setting up the inevitable revisionist history that the 2008 crash was caused by individual homeowners borrowing beyond their means.

My favorite part of this comes roughly at the six-minute mark. Tavakoli has just deftly explained how a lot of the predatory practices worked — people with limited financial literacy were presented with long and complicated mortgage deals, and told they would have a fixed payment in perpetuity or a guaranteed re-finance, or were nailed by fraudulent appraisals. Then she mentioned the big one, the fact that investment banks then took all these mortgages and with eyes wide open securitized them and sold them off as worthy investments to suckers on the other end of the chain.

While she’s saying all this stuff, Santelli, who is one of the fathers of the Tea Party movement, is shaking his head furiously, video-scoffing at everything she’s saying. When he finally does get a chance to speak, this is what he says:

Here’s my problem with this. It takes two to tango. You can’t cheat an honest man.

You can’t cheat an honest man? What the fuck does that mean?

This whole scene sort of encapsulates what’s wrong with the Tea Party movement. The movement, and let’s admit this, has some of its roots in legitimate grievances about government waste and some not-entirely-inaccurate observations about what’s left of the American welfare state. Of course what resonates most with the suburban whites who mostly make up the Tea Party are stories about minorities and immigrants using section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicaid, TANF and other programs, with the Obama stimulus being for them a symbol of this ongoing government largess. The heat of the Tea Party movement comes from the racial frustrations that actually exist out there, in the real world outside New York and LA, as urban expansion and immigration increasingly throw white and nonwhite communities together, with white Tea Party types more and more often blowing gaskets over increased crime rates, declining school standards, and mislaid or wasted tax revenue.

That this perception that minorities are the prime or sole consumers of government entitlement programs is absurdly inaccurate — white people, for instance, are overwhelmingly the largest nonelderly recipients of Medicaid, making up 42.8% of the program’s rolls nationwide, compared to 22.2% for blacks and 27.9% for Hispanics — is beside the point. The point is that the Tea Party is built largely on this narrative of “personal responsibility,” where the central demons are unwed black and Hispanic mothers and absent black and Hispanic fathers, who are, let’s face it, not uncommon characters in the American melodrama.

Which is another subject for another time, but let’s just say this: the Tea Party movement contains a lot of people who are far more impressed by what they can see with their own eyes than with what, for instance, they read about. I’ve been to Tea Party events where global warming was dismissed by speakers who, without irony, pointed to the fact that there was snow on the ground outside.And while very few people have ever actually seen a CDO manager or a Countrywide executive, or were aware if it when they saw them, the Tea Party folks sure as hell have seen who their neighbors in foreclosure are.

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Comments
One Response to “Matt Taibbi – Santelli on Predatory Lending: You can’t cheat an honest man…”
  1. Hannah says:

    It’s actually easier to cheat an honest man. Honest people generally aren’t expecting to get swindled, because cheating isn’t something that they would do.

    Also, honest people used to think courts and the legal system was there to protect them. Now we honest people know that that isn’t necessarily so. We were cheated out of fair trials. We were cheated out of having our day in court.

    We were cheated out into the streets.

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