David Dayen: The Great Foreclosure Fraud
By David Dayen
Below is an excerpt from Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, published on May 17 by The New Press.
There is a rot at the heart of our democracy, rooted in a nagging mystery that has yet to be unraveled. It gnaws at people, occupies their thoughts, leaves them searching for answers in the chill of the night. Americans want to know why no high-ranking Wall Street executive has gone to jail for the conduct that precipitated the financial crisis.
The oddest thing about the predominance of the question is that everyone already assumes they know the answer. They believe that too many politicians, regulators, and law enforcement officials, bought off with campaign contributions or the promise of a future job, simply allowed banker miscreants to annihilate the law in pursuit of profit. But they must not like the explanation very much, because they keep asking why, as if they want to be proven wrong, to be given a different story.
Maybe they don’t like the implications of a government that lets Wall Street walk. It does too much violence to the conception of the country they have in their mind, with its ideals of justice and fairness. It explains the disempowerment people feel in the face of a rigged economic and political system, with differing standards of treatment depending on wealth and power. It engenders a loss of faith in core institutions, turning our democracy into a sideshow, where the real action happens offstage. It inspires people to don tricornered hats and protest crony capitalism, or pitch camp at the base of Wall Street and refuse to move. It generates a profound anxiety, for if bankers can bring the economy to the point of ruin and get away with it, what’s to stop them from doing it again? It makes our economy seem too fragile, our laws too impotent.
Or maybe people just want the details filled in, to confirm their suspicions, so they can point fingers at those who created this two-tiered system of accountability. There must be a set of facts that prove we’re living in a new Gilded Age, where holders of prodigious wealth guide government policy the way a string guides a marionette. There must be a smoking gun.
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