Will America's Middle Class Rebel?

Fascinating article. I’d be interested in your thoughts and reaction:

  • Do you believe you’ve followed the rules?
  • Do you feel duped, exploited, victimized by government and big business?
  • Do you see any way to change America for the better other than rebellion beginning with mass civil disobedience?


By Gonzalo Lira – October 7, 2010
True story: A retired couple I know, Brian and Ilsa, own a home in the Southwest. It’s a pretty house, right on the manicured golf course of their gated community (they’re crazy about golf). The only problem is, they bought the house near the top of the market in 2005, and now find themselves underwater.   
They’ve never missed a mortgage payment—Brian and Ilsa are the kind upright, not to say uptight 60-ish white semi-upper-middle-class couple who follow every rule, fill out every form, comply with every norm. In short, they are the backbone of America.   
Even after the Global Financial Crisis had seriously hurt their retirement nest egg—and therefore their monthly income—and even fully aware that they would probably not live to see their house regain the value it has lost since they bought it, they kept up the mortgage payments. The idea of them strategically defaulting is as absurd as them sprouting wings.   
When HAMP—the Home Affordable Modification Program—was unveiled, they applied, because they qualified: Every single one of the conditions applied to them, so there was no question that they would be approved—at least in theory. 
Applying for HAMP was quite a struggle: Go here, go there, talk to this person, that person, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. “It’s like they didn’t want us to qualify,” Ilsa told me, as she recounted their mind-numbing travails. 
It was a months-long struggle—but finally, they were approved for HAMP: Their mortgage period was extended, and the interest rate was lowered. Even though their home was still underwater, and even though they still owed the same principal to their bank, Brian and Ilsa were very happy: Their mortgage payments had gone down by 40%. This was equivalent to about 15% of their retirement income. So of course they were happy.  
However, three months later, out of the blue, they got a letter from their bank, Wells Fargo: It said that, after further review, Brian and Ilsa had in fact not qualified for HAMP. Therefore, their mortgage would go back to the old rate. Not only that, they now owed the difference for the three months when they had paid the lowered mortgage—and to add insult to injury, they were assessed a “penalty for non-payment”. 
Brian and Ilsa were furious—a fury which soon turned to dour depression: They tried contacting Wells Fargo, to straighten this out. Of course, they were given the run-around once again. 
They kept insisting that they qualified—they qualified! But of course, that didn’t help at all—like a football, they were punted around the inner working of the Mortgage Mess, with no answers and no accountability.  
Finally, exhausted, Brian and Ilsa sat down, looked at the last letter—which had no signature, and no contact name or number—and wondered what to do.  
On television, the news was talking about “robo-signatures” and “foreclosure mills”, and rank illegalities—illegalities which it seemed everyone was getting away with. To top it off, foreclosures have been suspended by the largest of the banks for 90 days—which to Brian and Ilsa meant that people who weren’t paying their mortgages got to live rent free for another quarter, while they were being squeezed out of a stimulus program that had been designed—tailor made—precisely for them. 
Brian and Ilsa are salt-of-the-earth people: They put four kids through college, they always paid their taxes. The last time Brian broke the law was in 1998: An illegal U-turn on a suburban street.   
“We’ve done everything right, we’ve always paid on time, and this program is supposed to help us,” said Brian. “We follow the rules—but people who bought homes they couldn’t afford get to squat in those McMansions rent free. It would have been smarter if we’d been crooks.” 
Now, up to this point, this is just another sob story of the Mortgage Mess—and as sob stories go, up to this point, it’s no big deal. 
But here’s where the story gets ominous—here’s where the Jaws soundtrack kicks in: 
Brian and Ilsa—the nice upper-middle-class retired couple, who always follow the rules, and never ever break the law—who don’t even cheat on their golf scores—even when they’re playing alone (“Because if you cheat at golf, you’re only cheating yourself”)—have decided to give their bank the middle finger. 
They have essentially said, Fuckit. 
They haven’t defaulted—not yet. They’re paying the lower mortgage rate. That they’re making payments is because of Brian: He is insisting that they pay something—Ilsa is of the opinion that they should forget about paying the mortgage at all. 
“We follow the rules, and look where that’s gotten us?” she says, furious and depressed. “Nowhere. They run us around, like lab rats in a cage. This HAMP business was supposed to help us. I bet the bank went along with the program for three months, so that they could tell the government that they had complied—and when the government got off their backs, they turned around and raised the mortgage back up again!” 
“And charged us a penalty,” Brian chimes in. The non-payment penalty was only $84—but it might as well been $84 million, for all the outrage they feel. “A penalty for non-payment!” 
Nevertheless, Brian is insisting that they continue paying the mortgage—albeit the lower monthly payment—because he’s still under the atavistic sway of his law-abiding-ness. But Ilsa is quietly, constantly insisting that they stop paying the mortgage altogether: “Everybody else is doing it—so why shouldn’t we?” 
A terrible sentence, when a law-abiding citizen speaks it: Everybody else is doing it—so why don’t we? 
I’m like Wayne Gretsky: I don’t concern myself with where the puck has been—I look for where the puck is going to be. 
Right now, people are having a little hissy-fit over the robo-signing scandal, and the double-booking scandal (where the same mortgage was signed over to two different bonds), and the little fights between junior tranches and senior tranches and the servicer, in the MBS mess. 
But none of that shit is important. 
What’s really important is Brian and Ilsa: What’s really important is that law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game. 
Just like the poker player who’s been fleeced by all the other players, and gets one mean attitude once he finally wakes up to the con? I’m betting that more and more of the solid American middle-class will begin saying what Brian and Ilsa said: Fuckit. 
Fuck the rules. Fuck playing the game the banksters want you to play. Fuck being the good citizen. Fuck filling out every form, fuck paying every tax. Fuck the government, fuck the banks who own them. Fuck the free-loaders, living rent-free while we pay. Fuck the legal process, a game which only works if you’ve got the money to pay for the parasite lawyers. Fuck being a chump. Fuck being a stooge. Fuck trying to do the right thing—what good does that get you? What good is coming your way?  
When the backbone of a country starts thinking that laws and rules are not worth following, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to anarchy. 
TV has given us the illusion that anarchy is people rioting in the streets, smashing car windows and looting every store in sight. But there’s also the polite, quiet, far deadlier anarchy of the core citizenry—the upright citizenry—throwing in the towel and deciding it’s just not worth it anymore. 
If a big enough proportion of the populace—not even a majority, just a largish chunk—decides that it’s just not worth following the rules anymore, then that society’s days are numbered: Not even a police-state with an armed Marine at every corner with Shoot-to-Kill orders can stop such middle-class anarchy. 
Brian and Ilsa are such anarchists—grey-haired, well-dressed, golf-loving, well-to-do, exceedingly polite anarchists: But anarchists nevertheless. They are not important, or powerful, or influential: They are average—that’s why they’re so deadly: Their numbers are millions. And they are slowly, painfully coming to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it anymore. 
Once enough of these J. Crew Anarchists decide they no longer give a fuck, it’s over for America—because they are America.

Read about the fraudulent HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) here.

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0 0
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Patriot Angel
Patriot Angel
9 years ago

I second the emotion. There are MILLIONS of middle class and upper middle class taxpayers out there and if they all quit paying their taxes and quit following the rules, well, government won’t get their salary now will they? As far as Wells Fargo goes. I knew years ago that they were rip offs. I was with them for 2 months. Every time I turned around, they were bouncing one of my checks and claiming NSF and charging bounced check fees when I KNEW the money was in there. I had direct deposit from a hospital where I worked as… Read more »

9 years ago

It’s time for us to stop being compliant little citizens and stand up for what is rightfully ours. Democracy is government by the people; not only the rich people, but everyone. Over the past 20 years, we’ve been duped repeatedly by those voted in to represent us. It’s time to STOP the B.S.

Doc's Wife
Doc's Wife
9 years ago

I believe more and more people are doing this. This past weekend we were visiting with dear friends who own a very popular local restaurant. They are fine upstanding citizens. They own a farm outside town that is fully paid off and a home in town that I feel sure is underwater. I have never been so shocked when she admitted that the bank would not help them at all, so she simply gave them their house keys! These are honest, hard-working, salt-of-the- earth Christian people. You could have picked my husband and me up off the floor with what… Read more »

9 years ago

This IS exactly what obama wants….

9 years ago

People might want to think twice about turning their backs on their collateral — when China comes looking for their loan repayments — if you don’thave anything to pay them with, they’ll just take your organs.

9 years ago

of course they didnt qualify they are white.. they should look at the option of greek lightning setting fire to their house and taking the insurance money. a little bit of grease in the broiler set the kitchen on fire and get the pets out of the house and get out a bag of marshmellows and call the fire dept. and just maybe they’ll put the fire out.

Doc's Wife
Doc's Wife
9 years ago
Reply to  igor

Sadly, I know people who have done this, but not recently.

9 years ago

I have not followed the rules but lived my own life by my own lights completely anticipating social collapse since 1968. On the other hand, given that the shape and time of the collapse was much later than anticipated by my limited knowledge, like many others I became far too sanguine and now am unemployed and virtually out on the street. Will the Middle Class revolt? Yes, but in the most reactionary backwards way possible. This is because the Middle Class built it’s wealth by obedience to authority not by independent action. Therefore, the new civil war will only benefit… Read more »

9 years ago

I think this a very plausible scenario, as people who truly love freedom and liberty are only going to tolerate being pushed so far.
I think we are right on top of the breaking point, too.
It will be very interesting to see what happens when the 1099 provision of CommieCare kicks in come January.

jack gordon
jack gordon
9 years ago

Smart people , they decided to have their own stimulus after all Wall Street
got their second QE2 . Bravo , that should send Washington a message.