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What the Housing Crisis Can Tell Us about Racism, Sexism and Homelessness

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By Lisa Swanson of the NUBIANO Exchange

Over the past decade, the United States has seen many instances of housing injustice which have disproportionately affected blacks, women and low-income families. From the escalating subprime mortgage crisis to dwindling units of affordable housing, from increasing gentrification to decreasing funding for public housing, from the swelling homeless population of New Orleans to the progressing permanency of the Gulf Coast Diaspora, the most direct and devastating consequences of housing injustice, including the loss of homes, communities, and even lives, have consistently and overwhelmingly been borne by blacks.

This pattern is not coincidental. If we choose to view each of these problems and its race dynamics as separate issues, then we are guilty of ignoring the points of origin which connect them all together. According to Max Rameau, an organizer with the Center for Pan-African Development in Miami, Florida, the root problems of gentrification in the 2000s are the same as the root problems of segregation in the 1960s: people of colors’ lack of power and control over land, and white supremacy.

Typically, the phrase “white supremacy” is associated with hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Alliance. This extreme mental association hinders our recognition of white supremacy, also referred to as white privilege, in our everyday lives. Many white people would be very upset by the suggestion that white supremacy is a part of their everyday lives, and I think that most white people would say very firmly that they do not believe that white people are superior to black people. I agree that white people are not superior to black people, and that people of all shades and appearances are inherently equal. The first calling of my faith as a Unitarian Universalist is to “affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” I believe in every corner of my heart that we are all human beings with worth and dignity, and that the color of our skin does not matter.

I also believe that, in this society, the color of our skin matters; I believe that our society functions in a way which favors people with white skin and makes things harder for people with skin that is brown or black. This favoritism reinforces the superiority of white people, and white privilege becomes a self-sustaining cycle. There is nothing inherent in skin color with makes a group with one shade superior to a group with another shade of skin. But the racism that all of us in the United States experience every day is no less real for being manufactured.

Let’s take a look at the first of the housing issues on our list: the subprime mortgage crisis. At its heart, the subprime mortgage crisis is a crisis of discrimination. Originally, subprime loans were designed as a means of helping a loan applicant with a compromised credit history which would prevent her or him from receiving a conventional loan. To cover the lender’s increased risk, subprime loans carry high interest rates which can amount to paying tens of thousands of dollars in additional interest over the term of the loan. 

Subprime loans ought to represent a challenging but possible path to homeownership for those who have made mistakes with their credit in the past. But in reality, many mortgage brokers grant subprime loans in hope of turning a profit, rather than in the best interest of the aspiring homeowner. And rather than hinging on credit history, the granting of a subprime loan seems to be determined by the applicant’s race and gender. Subprime loans account for 55 percent of foreclosures—a disproportionate percentage, given that subprime loans make up only 13 percent of all existing home loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The high failure rate of subprime loans makes it clear that mortgage brokers rely on a lucrative strategy of granting loans inappropriately. And according to a 2006 Wall Street Journal article, 61% of all borrowers receiving subprime loans had high enough credit scores to qualify for conventional loans, indicating that other factors influence the quality of the loan that an applicant receives.

In February of this year, United for a Fair Economy (UFE) released a report titled Foreclosed: The State of the Dream 2008, which detailed how subprime loans have targeted people of color.  As a demographic group, people of color have sustained an estimated $164 to $213 billion total loss of wealth from subprime loans taken out during the past eight years. In UFE’s analysis, this is believed to be the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern US history. Looking at federal data, UFE determined that people of color were more than three times more likely to have subprime loans than whites.  For example, high-cost loans accounted for 55% of loans to blacks, but only 17% of loans to Whites. According to UFE, blacks lost more money in the subprime mortgage crisis than any other racial group.

In 2006, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found that women were 32 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than men—in spite of the fact that women and men have roughly the same credit scores.  Women of color were found to be the most likely of all demographic groups to receive subprime loans, while white men were the least likely.  This dynamic held true at every income level, and the disparity grew with applicants’ income levels. Among mortgage applicants who earned twice an area’s median income, black women were as much as five times more likely to receive subprime mortgages than white men.

Then there’s HOPE VI—another ostensibly well-intentioned idea gone wrong. HOPE VI is a program which was originally designed to solve some of the problems of what were referred to as “severely distressed” public housing units.  Launched by the United States Department of Housing (HUD) in 1992 and formally recognized by Congress in 1998, HOPE VI was intended to revitalize public housing projects through partially or completely demolishing existing low-income housing, and replacing it with mixed-income housing.  In reality, the promised mixed-income developments sometimes took almost a decade to build, diminishing any realistic likelihood of the original residents' return.  Most mixed-income developments built with HOPE VI money incorporated fewer low-income units than before. Some developments redefined “low-income” as a higher percentage of the area’s median income than would allow all of the original residents to be able to afford to live in the new “low-income” units.  As a result, tens of thousands of people of color, mostly black, were permanently displaced from their homes. The HOPE VI money which was intended to alleviate poverty did not benefit the demolished neighborhood’s original residents, but functioned instead as a de facto subsidy for middle class housing and as a driving force of gentrification.

Concurrent with HOPE VI and the burgeoning mortgage crisis, U.S. families have faced dwindling availability of affordable rental units and public housing.  According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the nation is 2.8 million homes short of the needed number of affordable rental housing units. In 2007, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report stating that funding for public housing had declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2006.  In roughly the same time frame, 170,000 units of public housing were lost to deterioration.

The loss of affordable housing, in conjunction with poverty, has been one of the driving factors of homelessness.  As the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) succinctly put it, "demographic groups who are more likely to experience poverty are also more likely to experience homelessness."  Since, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, blacks experience the highest poverty rate in the United States (slightly less than a quarter of all blacks are considered to be living in poverty), it follows that they represent the highest percentage of the homeless (49%, according to NCH).

And—please—don’t even get me started on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In short, owning a home, renting a home, and keeping one's home is difficult for everyone in these times—but it’s disproportionately difficult for black people, and especially for black women. And it’s not just disproportionately difficult for black homeowners applying for loans, or black tenants of public housing, or for black residents of the Gulf Coast. It’s consistently disproportionately difficult for black people everywhere in the U.S., of every class and locality. In contrast, owning a home, renting a home, and keeping a home is easiest if you’re white. The consistent disparity reveals an underlying force at work.

Speaking of which, let’s get back to the first of Rameau’s root causes of housing injustice: people of colors’ lack of power and control over land. UFE’s Foreclosed describes just how central control over land is to equality.

Homeownership is central to reaching economic equality and closing the growing divide between the wealthiest people in the US and everyone else in the country. Nearly 60 percent of the total wealth held by middle-class families resides in their home equity (the value of their home minus the amount they owe on it). Furthermore, home ownership is essential in acquiring other assets, including access to high-paying, good-quality jobs (with retirement plans, healthcare and other asset options), high-performing public schools, cleaner neighborhoods, and better health.

Home and land ownership is a vital component of upward class mobility. Land is the most secure form of wealth, and one of the most definitive sources of power. To some extent, controlling land means that you control your body—after all, you only control your body to the extent that you control the land it sits, walks, and sleeps upon. Put another way, having power over land means having self-determination. Although even that promise of security is weakened if you are black—after all, the New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, which once had the nation’s highest rate of black homeownership, is still struggling to rebuild almost three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Consistent with patterns established in the statistics we’ve examined so far, a greater percentage of whites own homes than blacks. 48.4% of blacks own homes, compared to 75.8% of whites. However, the situation is slowly improving; very, very slowly. According to Edward Wolff of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, the percentages of white and black homeownership will reach parity in year 7429 CE. That’s 5,423 years away.

I believe that that’s too long to wait.

For too much of our past—since white people arrived on this continent—white supremacy has been a driving force of North, Central, and South American society. For every disproportionate harm that people of color have experienced, white people have received a disproportionate advantage. In the United States today, some whites protest affirmative action without acknowledging or realizing that they are the beneficiaries of an “affirmative culture” of white superiority every day. A person in the U.S. is more likely to be granted a prime rate loan, just for being white. A person is less likely to be living in poverty, just by being white. A person is less likely to be homeless, displaced, or foreclosed upon . . . just by being white.

With regard to housing in our nation today, it is undeniable that racial inequality exists. So how can the playing field be leveled? A logical answer is government authorization of housing opportunities that benefit people of color. After all, white people benefited in terms of housing from the Homestead Act of the 1800s and the GI Bill of the 1940s, programs from which blacks and other people of color were either completely or largely excluded.

While we’re on the subject, we ought to acknowledge the fact that there are countless other areas in our society where white people have had, and continue to have, advantages which come at the expense of people of color. I’m willing to bet that these white advantages/color disadvantages stem from the same root causes of land ownership and white supremacy. And if so, then it seems only logical that the government should look into implementing a comprehensive set of opportunities that benefit people of color, from education to employment to media representation, so that the schools, workplaces, and culture of our nation embody racial equality.

This idea of reparations is nothing new. In his 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr., proposed that, “Just as we granted a GI Bill of Rights to war veterans, America launch a broad-based and gigantic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, our veterans of the long siege of denial.” N’COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, was founded in 1987, and United States Congressman John Conyers has been proposing the same bill, The Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African American Act, every year since 1989. Conyers has promised to continue to do so until it is passed into law. The bill number is H.R. 40—an acknowledgment of the never-fulfilled promise of forty acres of land and a mule as reparations to freed slaves in the 1860s.

Lately, popular momentum for the study of reparations proposals has been building. In 2006, the General Convention of the Episcopalian Church passed a resolution to urge the Church at every level to call upon Congress and the American people to support legislation initiating study of and dialogue about the history and legacy of slavery in the United States and of proposals for monetary and non-monetary reparations to the descendants of the victims of slavery.” True to their word, representatives of the Episcopalian Church were present when H.R. 40 had its first ever Congressional hearing in December of 2007. However, without a greater number of supporters, it is unlikely that H.R. 40 will acquire sufficient momentum to be brought to the floor for a vote.

Congress, HUD, and other institutions may come up with a way to solve the shortage of affordable housing, or to remedy the harm that HOPE VI has caused. They may come up with a way to slow the pace of foreclosures or to bring the Gulf Coast Diaspora home. These are very important things to do. But these problems are symptoms, not the root cause. And without treating the cause, other symptoms are bound to crop up. In this decade, the symptoms of white superiority have meant over a thousand deaths in the Gulf Coast, the greatest collective loss of wealth that people of color have experienced in modern times, and the disruption and devaluing of hundreds of thousands of lives of people displaced. How can we, as a society, continue to let the deeper problem go untreated? And how many more “symptoms” can our national body withstand?

Although white people in the United States might not consciously think that they are better than people of color, we live in a society which rewards whiteness and puts people with brown and black skin at a disadvantage. And I believe that, on some fundamental level, each of us believes what we live.

If we, all the residents of the United States, truly believed in racial equality—if we all truly believed in justice—then we, as a nation, would acknowledge not only past injustices, but also the current injustices which continue to be an irrefutable part of our society. And then . . . we would work to change it.

Lisa Swanson is the Legislative Assistant for Economic and Racial Justice for the Unitarian Universalist Association's Office for Advocacy. As a white anti-racist woman, she aims to inform and empower others by writing about issues of race, gender, class and sexuality.

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About Clayton Perry

  • According to the article,

    our society functions in a way which favors people with white skin and makes things harder for people with skin that is brown or black.

    This is most likely accurate; it is also true in places with non-White majorities.

    I have spent quite a lot of time in Asia (mainly Korea, but also Taiwan and Japan), in the Virgin Islands, the Windward and Leeward Islands, South America, and Central America. Consistently, I have noticed that lighter skin color is favored by the local, non-white inhabitants. Perhaps this is simply because many dark complected people work outside in the sun and dark skin is therefore associated with low status workers. I don’t know; perhaps there is another reason. A now deceased friend, as a young man many years ago, became a successful photographer by taking pictures of people in Jamaica and doctoring the photos to make the subjects appear lighter in the resulting portraits.

    I have no idea why this preference exists even in societies not dominated by Whites, but thought it worth mentioning.


  • Clavos

    In Haiti, an all Black country, most of what little wealth there is rests in the hands of the lighter-skinned people. The same is true of most of the political power.

    I have visited Haiti numerous times since 1958, and this situation has not changed appreciably since then.

  • Baronius

    There’s not much in this article worth commenting upon. The author takes six pages to state an argument without providing proof or substantiating her claims. There are two things that made me laugh, though:

    “Subprime loans account for 55 percent of foreclosures—a disproportionate percentage, given that subprime loans make up only 13 percent of all existing home loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.”

    Disproportionate? Why? These are loans at a higher rate of interest, so it’s natural that there would be more defaults. Furthermore, the fact that people are defaulting on these loans more frequently indicates that they were higher risks, so they shouldn’t have gotten prime rates.

    For the last dozen or so years, the government has been pushing creditors to give loans to minorities and inner city residents. More loans went out than should have. This was government action at its finest (as was the HOPE program), and now the author wants the government to get more involved?

    I know something about the housing market. I don’t have the financial standing to get a decent loan. If I bought a house, the terms would have been terrible. So I didn’t buy a house. There would have been a lot fewer defaults if people hadn’t overextended themselves.

    The other amusing thing was the author’s assumption that Katrina was so obviously racist that it didn’t need to be discussed.

  • Baronius,

    It all depends on how one defines “racist.”

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
    “They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”


  • Condor

    No one should live beyond thier means. In other words, no matter how good the snake oil sales seem to be, you BETTER be able to afford it.

    That said, there are large number of gullible idiots out there, and plenty of corrupt sales people willing to take full advantage of those who are a sucker for a “good deal” — didn’t P.T. Barnum state that “there’s a sucker born every minute” — believe it.

  • Here is another newly discovered and substantial problem, mention of which is sadly omitted in the article. It seems that in New York State, of all places, lottery games which residents of poorer areas tend to play have somewhat lower payouts than other lottery games equally available there.

    “Losing by the Numbers,” a series in The Buffalo News, found lottery players in poor, minority neighborhoods generally lose more than other lottery players because they more frequently play online numbers games that, by law, pay out less than the scratch-off tickets popular in other communities.

    One must wonder why nobody told them; the Government needs to do something, right now.

    For shame, I say.


  • Robert Firth

    Baronius is right. For years, banks lent money only to people who could afford to repay. Then a bunch of liberals screamed that this was a racist policy – and browbeat the banks into lending to minorities who couldn’t afford to repay.

    So now the banks are racist for doing exactly what the liberals told them to do. Don’t you love the sound of chickens coming home to roost?

  • I think the logic behind many of Lisa Swanson’s critics is interesting. Their comments are focused on individual “stupidity” and “gullibility,” so much so that Robert Firth asserts that the chickens are coming home to roost. Perhaps. But more often than not, when “chickens come home to roost,” they tend to pile their excrement (read: the consequence or “lesson learned”) on top of one group or individual. That is not the case, however.

    Banks are crumbling.
    Communities are dying.
    And Americans of all stripes are suffering.

    P.T. Barnum may have said that a “sucker is born every minute,” but it is wrong to paint the issue as creditors being “pushed” into doing something that they did not want to do by liberals screaming “racism,” “sexism,” “classism” and the like.

    Malicious corporate practices took advantage of PEOPLE, especially minorities, women and the poor. Period.

    Human nature might make it “easy” to place the blame on others, but if we continue to focus on individual “short-sightedness,” instead of institutional malfunctions, then America will be the loser in the long run.

    Martin Luther King said it best: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

  • Condor

    Back in the 80’s when loans were 12 to 14 percent… I didn’t buy a house. In the 90’s I bought my first house, I was hitting 40. But the note was low enough that I was comfortable with the payment. Sold it, moved up. But I waited until the timing was right.

    I have a niece who is on her 4th house and she’s 34. New norm? Perhaps, but keeping up with the Jones’ should not put you on the skids when the first economic burp happens. That’s called living life on the serrated edge.

  • Lumpy

    this article comes off as vaguely racist, outdated and confused. there is no ‘housing crisis’ most of the houses foreclosed on will become rental units and rental prices will go down. the so called mortgage crisis has made home ownership possible for responsible minorities and low income buyers for the first time. yes some people made mistakes and face a very temporay inconvenience but the overall impact of this adjustment period should be positive.

  • Doug Hunter

    A lame bit of leftist race agitation.

    I’d be interested to know how successful minority and ethnic groups fit into your white supremacist/oppressor model. If whites are so into rigging the system in their favor then why have they allowed certain minorities to surpass them in a variety of success indicators?

  • Lumpy

    among those minorities doing well are poor african americans who are substabtially more upwardly mobile than poor whites, though hispanics outdo both.

  • Lumpy

    among those minorities doing well are poor african americans who are substabtially more upwardly mobile than poor whites, though hispanics outdo both.

  • ow

    key phrase – probably eligible for A paper…but discrimnation subordinates people to lousy loans that carry higher risk of defaulting….a nice fixed loan at a reasonable rate carries less risk. I had 680 an still driven to subprime…but know counterparts that have same or less and got better offers…me first time home buyer…maybe that’s the reason not complection????

  • The contention that all this mortgage mess is owing to liberal pressure is bullshit. Countrywide, Wells Fargo and many other lenders did what they thought would make them a bundle of money. These companies did not go out and make loans they did not believe would make money.

    Whenever something turns to shit in the corporate world, there is inevitably someone who finds a way to blame it on liberals. It just couldn’t be individual and/or corporate greed at fault. Heavens no!

    The tenor of most of the comments here border on true racism – the borrowers are “gullible and stupid” – good ole Step-n-Fetchit buyin’ a house.

    The lenders are, in the eyes of most commenting here, without fault. They just either responded – presumably kicking and screeming – to leftist pressure, and in contravention of their share holders’ interests, or were just taking advantage of circumstances feeling justified banking on the concept of caveat emptor.

    It is also true that a large number of the most culpible borrowers were not individual home buyers, but rather investors buying several homes in the full knowledge that they would never be repaying those loans. Most took the money and ran. The “gullible” who wound up on the shit heap were mainly guilty of actually trusting someone (ie: the mortgage broker, loan originator, realtor, builder, etc.; something that obviously no one should ever do. The corporate community in general is not to be trusted. It’s the American way.

    So the lesson to be learned here by those who lost their ass is NEVER trust any of those people. Assume that they are all crooks – all bankers, all brokers, all builders, all realtors.

    Maybe, if the gun laws get looser over time as appears likely, a borrower could just carry heat to a closing, and if they feel like they might be getting screwed, just blow some motherfucking banker to hell. That’ll teach those thieving cocksuckers!


  • Clavos

    “Assume that they are all crooks – all bankers, all brokers, all builders, all realtors.”

    The phrase “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) dates all the way back to Roman times.

    Not all bankers, etc. are crooks, but the buyer should approach ALL business dealings as if they were.

    One doesn’t have to be rude or obnoxious about it; merely ensure all the Ts are crossed and all the Is are dotted.

    I’ve bought nearly a dozen houses in my lifetime (my wife and I were forced to move a lot). I hired a lawyer to protect me for the first couple of transactions, until I learned how to protect myself. I still hire independent appraisers when I buy real estate. I’ve never been burned in a real estate deal.

    It’s just prudent and common sense to trust, but verify.

  • Doug Hunter

    “The contention that all this mortgage mess is owing to liberal pressure is bullshit. Countrywide, Wells Fargo and many other lenders did what they thought would make them a bundle of money.” – Baritone

    Do you live under a rock in fairytale land? You’re sadly misinformed on how much money and power there are in the race business. Search ‘CRA minority mortage’ or something similiar on google and find out how this mess started with pressure on banks to loan to low income and minority customers. If they didn’t make the loans (or preferably pay off the right racist agitation group who were essentially allowed to enforce the program through fed filings) they opened themselves up to bad ratings, lawsuit hell, and inability to expand or merger.

  • No rocks here. I have been in the real estate business in one capacity or other for nearly 30 years. Yes, certainly pressure may have been applied, but as with the individual borrowers, the lenders ultimately made the decision to provide such loans and it was done in a way to insure that in one way or another, they would make money in the process, which in and of itself is to be expected. But these loans were set up in such a manner as to be very complex, the terms of which were at best confusing, leaving many buyers, especially first timers totally without a clue. No one counciled these people to “trust but verify.” They were encouraged, prodded even, to simply trust, to hell with verification. “Oh, well, you can have an attorney check it over if you want, but this deal is only good for another 7 minutes and 12 seconds. Then rate goes up. But, hey, you do what you think’s best. Anyway, would I lie to you? Tell me true now, do you think I’m a liar? You cut me to the quick.”

    Should they have done as Clav suggests? Yes. But does it absolve the lenders and their high pressure tactics because they failed to do so? Clav is an intelligent, educated guy. Many of the sub-prime home buyers may or may not have been intelligent, but many were not educated – formerly or informerly – about the process of buying a home and obtaining financing.

    Rather, a mortgage broker or loan originator, or perhaps a realtor took many of these wide eyed people in hand and dazzled them with the site of 3000 square foot homes with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, big family rooms and a lot of other bells and whistles – the fucking American dream – and led them with that enticing carrot to the closing table. And before they knew what hit them, they were supposed home owners, but more to the point, they were mortgagors who didn’t quite understand why 6 months or a year, maybe two, down the road their mortgage payment suddenly went up in leaps and bounds while their income stayed much the same or even dwindled. As wifey scrambles to find that manila folder with those 176 pages of finely printed closing documents, hubby is on the phone being shuttled around by the mortgage company’s automated answering system, not sure which fucking button to push.

    “And oh, by the way, didn’t you notice? Your original mortgage company sold your loan 6 months ago. Cut Throat Mortgage no longer carries your loan. It is now owned by Fast Talking Savings and Loan. Have a nice day.” And on it goes.

    Of course, I don’t contend that ALL banks and mortgage companies, or ALL mortgage brokers (most, but not all) or ALL Realtors are crooks. Hell, I pretended to be a real estate broker for about 7 or 8 years. (I couldn’t sell water on the Sahara.) I have been and continue to be a certified residential appraiser for over 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of bullshit in that time. I’ve seen a lot of bamboozlers and a lot of the bamboozled. It ain’t pretty.

    I’d also say that if the lenders succumbed to pressure from whatever source to make bad loans, then they are no less gullible and stupid than the individuals who got stung with a big mortgage and a white elephant house that they can’t sell.


  • STM

    I don’t know what you guys are complaining about.

    My mortgage interest rate has gone up 15 times in the past two years – largely thanks to the sub-prime idiocy in the US that has led to the cost of borrowing/lending going up in first-world countries world wide. I am paying roughly $600 ($US580) more a month since it started going up.

    It now sits at a whopping 9.29 per cent, and I get no tax break on it unlike in the US. The banks have even started putting it up independent of what the Reserve Bank of Australia decides on official interest rates. It’s a joke, fair dinkum.

    We have the opposite problem to the US, in that the economy is hot and riding the back of a mining boom (and a wages blowout). Low unemployment and household spending off the scale has led to underlying inflation now heading towards 5 per cent.

    To say I’m p.ssed off would be an understatement, because when you throw the sub-prime crisis into the mix it’s a disaster. I’d like to wring the necks of the sub-prime lenders too, as I don’t even live in your bloody country and I’m suffering as a result of their greed and the greed of the corporates who jumped in on the act.

    I’m already working my tits off doing a six-day week, petrol prices have gone up at least 50 cents a litre in the past six months, and I’m now getting stung every time I go to the supermarket because the economy of this vast country is entirely dependent on the road transport industry.

    I blame Bush (and the previous Aussie PM John Howard, Bush’s best mate) for that whole stinking mess, plus the idiots who are speculating on oil as a result – they’re responsible for about one third of the increase in fuel prices.

    They should stick to OJ, pineapple juice and pork bellies. You know, we’re talking about something that is breaking the budgets of ordinary people. In thwe space of a few months, my monthly household budget has come to resemble the GDP of a small African nation (not Zimbabwe, although if the pressure gets any worse we might be heading there).

    Speculating on oil and driving up the price will bring everyone undone at some point.

    Right now, the price of oil is vastly over-valued, and us fools who aren’t making a quid out of it in Wall St or London are paying for it at the pump, the supermarket, and ultimately, it impacts on our struggle to meet rising mortgage costs.

    Bush and his administration couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, and it’s beyond me how he got control of a place like the US in the first place. Maybe they were planted there by aliens as part of a plan to destroy the global economy of planet Earth (Pablo, where are you when we need ya??) They fu..ing well near succeeded, too …

    Let’s hope the next comer has some better ideas, because the way it works at the moment, you fart, we suffer.

  • The one thing I’ve found with the three different homes I’ve owned is that the lenders always tell you that you qualify for more than you should be qualified for. I bought the home I live in now about 5 years ago. I remember when I got my loan approval they told me I qualified for some ridiculous amount. Something like $400,000. I figured that a $400,000 home loan would require somewhere in the neghborhood of $4000 a month house payment. Well, I knew damned well I couldn’t afford a payment like that and told my realtor that I only wanted to look at houses in what I considered to be my price range which was less than half that amount.

    The other problem I see is that banks and other lenders could take care of this problem if they really wanted to. All they’d have to do is restructure the loans and then…poof! No default. So, the way I see it, the banks and other lenders have done this to themselves.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I figured that a $400,000 home loan would require somewhere in the neghborhood of $4000 a month house payment. ”

    That’s the same rule of thumb of cost I used. As a small business owner I am forced to live below my apparent means as well because my income is highly variable. I think it’s better that way. The problem with a regular paycheck is people find a way to spend every last dime of it between their bills. If one unexpected thing occurs (which invariably it will) they’re pushed onto credit cards and late/overlimit fees or even worse.

  • Clavos


    i never meant to imply the lenders, RE brokers, etc. were blameless. What I was pointing out was that they were not the only participants who should shoulder some of the responsibility.

    Were some (maybe many) of the buyers lacking in education and/or experience? Undoubtedly. All the more reason why their common sense should have been screaming at them “get some advice!”

    The bottom line is, however, that the most damaged in this debacle is the housing industry (and therefore the economy as a whole), and especially the bankers.

    The buyers are losing their houses, sure. Houses which, in most cases were bought for little or no money down; what monthly payments they may have made while living in the properties amount to rent. Many were able to simply walk away from the properties, and all continue to be able to rent elsewhere, just not own. Ironically, those who got out without credit damage may actually benefit from the consequent plunge in property values and may be able to buy something they can actually afford soon.

    As for the speculators, fuck ’em. They were NOT naive and uneducated; they knew what they were doing, and if they got caught with their pants down, tough shit, that’s part of the game.

    I speculate all the time in the stock market, and sometimes I lose; nobody’s to blame but me.

  • bliffle

    I find it difficult to blame the buyers for the simple reason that the lenders are basically operating a monopoly or oligopoly. The buyers are simply confronted with terms that they have NO say in (like pre-payment penalties, rate controls, etc.) and only narrow choices as to ‘points’ and interest rates. There is NO free market because federal bank controls are weak so state controls (even weaker) apply.

    The lenders themselves have found ways to reduce their risk by bundling the loans as AAA bonds and selling them off before the crisis. Nowadays the banks and S&Ls are basically just sales offices: they have no longterm connection to the loans they make.

    And that brings up the REAL problem: the influence of the load peddlers. They only have responsibility for selling the loans, then they collect their fees (exorbitant, but negotiated with the lender only) and move on before the spit hits the fan. They have enormous influence over lenders because they show high revenue figures, so they get the rates and terms they need to sell mortgage paper to buyers. They inherit the immunity to anti-trust laws. When housing goes best they move on to selling whatever is hot, like LCDs and HDTV.

    The poor buyers are confronted with a situation where they must act and their choices are controlled by an oligopoly.

  • bliffle

    All home buyers are forced into the role of speculator by the circumstances of the market. The reason a guy buys a $400k house he can’t afford this year (but maybe next year when his salary increases and he has some equity in the house) instead of the $150k house he can afford is because there is no $150k house.

    RE sales people openly tout this line. They have to, or they’d never sell a house.

    Part of the problem is that the sales fees taken by RE companies and RE sales people have increased disproportionally over the past several years because they are based on gross price. And the fees are non-negotiable. Another de facto monopoly.

  • Clav,

    I agree with you regarding speculators/investors. But many of them knew they were going to walk away from the beginning. It was all a part of the plan.

    I also agree that prospective home buyers should attempt to get independent advice or counceling about the process and the various pitfalls. But most, I’d say, the vast majority don’t. Most prospective buyers depend on their realtors, their loan originators, etc. to be honest and straight with them. Frankly, I’d say most are, although there is another factor – that being the ineptitude of some of those same people. A huge number of people go through the process of becoming a realtor – taking classes, gettng licensed, signing on with a real estate sales company and wind up selling at most 2 or 3 houses (one to themselves, one to Uncle Roy and maybe one to Bob and Betty Firsttimers) before quitting in frustration. It is often these people who don’t really know what the hell they are doing, who don’t really understand the process much better than the Firsttimers. It’s not that they are being deceptive, they are just not experienced enough, and don’t always ask questions of others more experienced when they should. Instead, not wanting to look stupid, they plunge on guessing and keeping their fingers crossed that they didn’t fuck up.

    There are even more seasoned brokers, mortgage brokers, loan originators and appraisers who again aren’t necessarily trying to pull a fast one, but who are just lazy, not willing to take the time and effort to do their jobs properly. What was it called? – “The Peter Principle” or some such wherein after a time people settle into a job having learned what minimum effort is needed to keep the job without expending anymore time and effort than absolutely necessary. There are a lot of ways we victimize each other without even knowing or intending to.

    Also, for some, the notion of seeking advice from an attorney is off-putting at best in that attorneys don’t have the highest level of consumer confidence either, and their advice doesn’t come cheap in most cases. But, there are in most communities, and perhaps on-line, consumer groups that will provide information and counseling to one degree or another, usually for a reasonable fee, some for free.


  • bliffle – there WERE $150k houses before all this mess started! My house WAS worth $150 when I bought it. Now it’s supposed to be worth double that! Not that I’m bitching about all the equity I gained in 4years, but how the hell does that happen???

  • bliffle


    If your house has doubled (and you can actually sell it) then sell it and move to Australia or Mexico or Panama and sit out the collapse. But your $150k gross profit is reduced by all the fees and taxes, so it won’t be near that.

  • I understand that, but it’s really unfair to say that there are no $150k houses out there. Maybe not where you live, but there are still some here, or more accurately, there were when this mess started.

    I’m not going anywhere. I have plans to buy one more house, smaller than the one I’m in now and only a single level. I hate the thought of getting old and falling down the stairs and breaking a hip or something like that…I have 2100sf. Very little property, but hey, I hate to cut grass anyway!

    I’m sitting out the hoising crash in my living room!

  • Andy,

    Not to butt in between you and bliffle, but my guess is that it just depends on where in the world you are. Overall the housing market is obviously taking significant hits. But, there are segments, owing to their specific location and/or their particular features that are holding steady, or in your case, increasing in value.

    In the Indianapolis market the hardest hit areas are those that I refer to as “Vinyl Village” tract homes – those built generally within the last 10 years or so, boasting volumes of vinyl siding, most built on concrete slabs ranging from small ranches to moderately large 2 level boxes situated in what till recently was a corn or soy bean field. By and large, many of them are, relatively speaking, junk, being poorly designed and built, not significantly superior to your average modular or even mobile home. In most of these additions dozens of these homes sit empty, in various states of repair while on the next block over, new homes continue to be built. It is ludicrous.

    However, even here in humdrum old Indy, there are areas of well built homes in nicely established neighborhoods which are in fact holding or increasing their values. Lakefront properties are generally the strongest owing to their relative scarsity and high demand.

    Location, location, location!


  • We have similar things happening here in Va Beach. For some reason, builders decided that it’d be a good idea to build $500k to $1mil homes here. You really have to see some of these monstrosities they build!

    I have heard that the market is different all over the place…I know I have family out in Phoenix and the last I heard, my cousin sold his Remax business…

    The largest percentage of the population here is military…these monster homes are all sitting empty with the exception of the occasional Missy Elliot type buyer, we really don’t have folks around here that can afford homes like that…besides the fact that Oceana creates so much noise polution that people don’t want to spend that kind of money to listen to FA-18’s all day. And I won’t even get into our traffic issues…

    But the homes in the range of my house do still seem to be moving. LIke I said, military town, so people are constantly moving in and out…

    Waterfront would be nice….maybe my last house…

  • Andy,

    Of course, what you mean by water front and what I mean by it are two very different things. You are, I assume, refering to the Atlantic Ocean, while I, here in Indy, am alluding to man-made reservoirs, even down to small retention ponds that are sometimes laughingly refered to as “lakes.”

    Still, there are 3 modestly large reservoirs in and around Indy and most of the residences built on their shores are pretty high end.

    I know what you mean about the “monstrosities.” We have a number of those monolithic edifices which are more monuments to the owners’ relative wealth than simply dwellings. I have appraised a number of such homes. While they are impressive, I often wonder just what people do with all that space. We have an approximately 1500 square foot 1 level home with a full, mostly finished basement which gives us – now just my wife and I – around 3000 square feet to bounce around in. (Our 2 kids were still with us when we bought the place.) The house sits on just over an acre of ground. With my balky knees, caring for it has become problematic.

    It is an older home and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that newer houses do – for instance, we have 3 bedrooms but just 1 and a half baths above grade. There is a full bath in the basement, though.

    Still, it has become in recent years more home than we need. We intend to update the place over the next 2 to 3 years and sell it in what we hope will be a more favorable market. Impossible to say about that, though. If we had to sell today, we’d lose our butts.

    I can’t imagine living in one of those McMansions – some having in excess of 10,000 square feet of living space plus a basement. Former NBA player, Reggie Miller’s house is currently on the market here for around 7.5 million in case you are interested. It has a mere 14000 plus square feet of living space on over 6 acres of ground on the waterfront of Geist Reservoir. It is modest, of course, but it would at least provide a place to hang one’s hat, don’t you know?


  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    from the swelling homeless population of New Orleans

    Why should I spend my valuable time reading a six page article article when you propose, right off the bat, that Katrina was an act of injustice & racism?

    That is just utter bullsh!t!!

  • Lumpy

    are u using the term ‘mcmansion’ correctly? I thought it referred to large homes built on old lots in old neighborhoods, either in place of an older home or as an expansive remodel of an older hime.

    as for big homes in Virginia Beach, I’d think they had some appeal for wealthy retired naval officers ot maybe as vacation homes. I
    usually go to the eastern shore when I go to the beach and there are some big vacation homes there and they aren’t sitting empty during the summer season.

  • Oh, I think “McMansions” applies to most of the very large homes being built pretty much everywhere in the country. The original designation was, as you suggest I think, correctly, regarding new, large homes being built on one or more sites where smaller, older dwellings once stood. But, being in the business, I hear it used to describe the homes in entire new additions.

    We have sub-divisions being built wherein most of the homes are generally designed to resemble old Victorian or Georgian homes of the 1880s trough the turn of the century or so and include integrated business and shopping, recreation facilities, parks, schools and churches. For my money, they are somewhat too “cutesy” – trying so hard to be something that they really are not.


  • Surfer

    Does anyone find interesting the correlation between financier losses in sub-prime, and the sudden rise of oil prices through speculators.

    Burn us one way … then burn us another.

    Or, we fucked that up with our greed, now let’s fuck something else up and everyone but us in the process.

    Because of course, when you’re on a $500,000 plus a year package plus mega bonuses, who gives a rat’s arse about what the poor twerps are paying at the pump?

    Or for that matter, who’s losing their homes as a result of totally irrepsonsible lending.

    Cause, you know, I’m alright Jack …

  • It is kind of an “I’ve got mine, so fuck you” attitude that some of them seem to have. But, what are ya gonna do?


  • Surfer

    Bliffle: “Sell it and move to Australia or Mexico and sit out the collapse”.

    Bliff, you didn’t read my post above.

    Things are not that bright here, either. You can’t buy a decent house in Sydney now for under $500,000 (about $US482,000).

    And the sub-prime collapse has had a huge effect on property and building approvals in this country, because it affected the availability and cost of credit worldwide.

    So no, don’t come here, unless you want to be paying through your arse for mortage interest rates nearing 10 per cent or you’ll end up living in a tin shed out in the bush somewhere.

  • Surfer

    I agree B-tone. It’s all about greed, and we’re getting stung at every turn because of it.

    These things have a huge effect on the average Joe Blow punters like us.

    I’m all for people trying to make a quid, but there’s got to be a line in the sand. Perhaps it’s time governments started legislating to rein in this insanity.

    Isn’t that what governments are for??

  • The Obnoxious American

    I notice no one ever mentions tax assessments in this so called “crisis.” Out here in the tri state area, where property values are headed downward, for some reason our local governments feel that the tax assessment for such properties should be increased. There are some moderately priced houses (500k range for this area is moderate if low end) with yearly tax bills in the 5 figures. That’s well over 1000 extra a month. And if your locality decides to raise taxes on your home, there is no bailout for that. What are these assessments based on exactly? Value, perceived value, or local gov need?

  • The Obnoxious American

    and oh yeah, this article is whiney and ridiculous. I believe we are all equal, equal in rights, and equal in our responsibility. Shame so many think equality means not having to be responsible.

  • Obnoxious American:

    One’s belief in something does not make it real. That’s where faith enters into the equation. In the end, you hope that your faith in ________ (e.g. God, government, the system) pays sufficient dividends for a lifetime of obedient service.

    Yes, too many Americans placed BLIND faith in a system BROKEN by UNETHICAL human spirits. And yes, naivety was a key factor in this sad tale of events. It is preposterous, however, to assume that this crisis had equal distributive impact.

    Like you, I believe that all human beings are equal. The key word… BELIEVE! For better or worse, my experience—as an African-American male—has shown that my beliefs are dreams that have yet to become fully realized. But… I continue to BELIEVE that America and her citizens will learn, one day, to develop and sustain a “communal ethos.”

    As a white anti-racist woman, Lisa Swanson has stepped outside of herself to interpret the world around her. Whether you agree with her or not, that’s a hard act to follow.

  • Lumpy – have you been to Cape Charles? There’s a reason those homes aren’t empty. It might have something to do with waterfront property and two golf courses, one designed by Arnold Palmer and one designed by Jack Nicklaus.

    As far as some of the monster homes here in Va Beach, they’d probably have more appeal if, like I said before, FA-18’s weren’t buzzing them all the time.

    As far as tax assesments go, our city council didn’t waste any time reassessing EVERYTHING in this town…of course, the rate adjustments come much slower…we’re supposed to be a vacation city, which means we should be able to get some revenue from all those freaking hotels that block the view of the beach…but our city council likes to put the burden on the locals!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    As a white anti-racist woman, Lisa Swanson has stepped outside of herself to interpret the world around her. Whether you agree with her or not, that’s a hard act to follow.

    Still, she lumps in Katrina with what our Government has supposedly turned a blind eye to as an injustice and/or racist event. HELLO!!

    I think interpreting our world,especially on this issue, on a race basis is a f*cking cop out!.

    You should re-read comments #11 & #12, as I agree with them wholeheartedly!

  • The Obnoxious American

    “As a white anti-racist woman, Lisa Swanson…”

    I’d like to know what this means exactly? Are all whites considered racist, unless they earn the moniker of “anti-racist”?

    I think Clayton, that Lisa, and perhaps you, are seeing the world through a permanently affixed lens of racism. I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist, we all know it does, as a Jew I’ve had my share (although anti jewish views would be “prejudice” more than racism, still fruit from the same tree).

    My point is, categorizing someone as a “white anti-racist” implies other whites are racist, unless they have somehow earned the “anti” moniker.

    To me, this article, if written by a white person, sounds like a lot of misplaced white guilt (unless her great grand parents had slaves). If she’s African American, then she is just making a whole lot of excuses.

  • It seems like I submitted a brief comment in this regard here or somewhere in the last day or two, but can’t find it.

    The gist of it was that I find it odd and disingenuous that those who seem to discredit any notions of racism having any effect on society in general are white. I guess us pale folk have a better perspective on whether or not people of color remain victimized owing to their race, than they do. We’re doubtless more objective. We are, I guess, indeed superior in our ability to confidently make such pronouncements. Blacks, Hispanics and others just don’t understand how good they’ve got it – owing largely to white folks’ largesse and benevolence.


  • Obnoxious American:

    Should you wish to contact Lisa Swanson, feel free to e-mail her at the address listed.

  • Lisa Swanson

    Dear Obnoxious American,

    You wrote, “. . . Categorizing someone as a ‘white anti-racist’ implies other whites are racist, unless they have somehow earned the ‘anti’ moniker.”

    In my mini-biography, I used the word “white” in order to clarify my cultural/racial background for interested readers. I used the word “anti-racist” to describe my personal philosophical orientation with regards to the politics of race.

    “Anti-racist” can be used by a person of any race to describe him or herself. It is not a term reserved for whites. Using the word “anti-racist” to describe someone simply communicates that that person (of whatever color) opposes discrimination based on race.

    Does this imply that people, or white people specifically, who do not describe themselves as anti-racist are racist? I don’t believe so. This is a statement about how I personally identify. I do not believe that describing myself in this way somehow levels a charge at all other whites as being racists. I do, however, believe that it acknowledges that our society upholds racist power structures as a norm.

    There is no official accreditation process for calling oneself a “white anti-racist,” just as there is none for calling oneself a straight ally of BGLT people or a pro-feminist ally of women. However, for me, using terms like these to describe myself indicates a commitment to opposing oppressive power structures and viewpoints, to learning about relevant issues and engaging in personal growth, and to maintaining accountability to the affected populations.

    I like to use the word “anti-racist” not only because it reflects my beliefs, but also because I hope that using the term will invite others who have not heard it before to ponder how they may or may not feel comfortable identifying as an anti-racist person. I hope that using the word will help to make anti-racism more visible so that more people (of all races) can find a positive identity for themselves in combating racism.

    Finally, my identity and work as an anti-racist, to quote Katrina Browne, come “not out of personal guilt, but grief.” My advocacy for reparations is not an effort to assuage a guilty white conscience. Rather, it is my deepest, truest response to an honest look at race-based economic and cultural injustice in our nation.

    For more information, and to read someone else’s take on white anti-racism, see here.

  • Cindy D

    RE#40: I can agree with you OA with a slight change in your comment.

    I believe we are all equal, equal in rights, and equal in our responsibility. Shame so many think [that merely claiming a personal belief in] equality means not having to be responsible [for correcting the injustice done by the racial privilege that has benefited them].

  • Cindy D

    Here is an excerpt from an interesting (to me anyway) essay by Tim Wise called: A God with Whom I am not Familiar

    “Those Looters Should be Shot, Praise the Lord, and Pass the Guacamole!”

    This is an open letter to the man sitting behind me at La Paz today, in Nashville, at lunchtime, with the Brooks Brothers shirt:

    You don’t know me. But I know you.

    I watched you as you held hands with your tablemates at the restaurant where we both ate this afternoon. I listened as you prayed, and thanked God for the food you were about to eat, and for your own safety, several hundred miles away from the unfolding catastrophe in New Orleans.

    You blessed your chimichanga in the name of Jesus Christ, and then proceeded to spend the better part of your meal–and mine, since I was too near your table to avoid hearing every word–morally scolding the people of that devastated city…


    Your God–the one to whom you prayed today, and likely do before every meal, because this gesture proves what a good Christian you are–is one with whom I am not familiar.

    Your God is one who you sincerely believe gives a flying fuck about your lunch. Your God is one who you seem to believe watches over you and blesses you, and brings good tidings your way, while simultaneously letting thousands of people watch their homes be destroyed, and perhaps ten thousand or more die, many of them in the streets for lack of water or food.

    Did you ever stop to think just what a rancid asshole such a God would have to be, such that he would take care of the likes of you, while letting babies die in their mother’s arms, and old people in wheelchairs, at the foot of Canal Street?

    Your God is one with whom I am not familiar.

    But no, it isn’t God who’s the asshole here, Skip (or Brad, or Braxton, or whatever your name is).

    God doesn’t feed you, and it isn’t God that kept me from turning around and beating your lily white privileged ass today either.

    God has nothing to do with it.

    God doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl.

    God doesn’t help anyone win an Academy Award.

    God didn’t get you your last raise, or your SUV.


    Why did they loot?

    Are you serious?

    People are dying, in the streets, on live television. Fathers and mothers are watching their baby’s eyes bulge in their skulls from dehydration, and you are begrudging them some Goddamned candy bars, diapers and water?

    If anything the poor of New Orleans have exercised restraint.


    Can you even imagine what you would do in their place?

    Can you imagine what would happen if it were well-off white folks stranded like this without buses to get them out, without nourishment, without hope?

    Putting aside the absurdity of the imagery–after all, such folks always have the means to seek safety, or the money to rebuild, or the political significance to ensure a much speedier response for their concerns–can you just imagine?

    Can you imagine what would happen if the pampered, overfed corporate class, which complains about taxes taking a third of their bloated incomes, had to sit in the hot sun for four, going on five days? Without a Margarita or hotel swimming pool to comfort them I mean?


  • Cindy D

    Oh, I nearly forgot, that Katrina post was for you Brian aka Guppusmaximus.

  • After reading comment #49 I just have a couple of questions…what does “People are dying, in the streets, on live television. Fathers and mothers are watching their baby’s eyes bulge in their skulls from dehydration, and you are begrudging them some Goddamned candy bars, diapers and water?” have to do with people looting TV’s and stereos and liquor?

    I don’t recall seeing looters with candy bars or diapers or water….but that’s just me.

    And all those people left to fend for themselves at the Superdome, by their own “chocolate city” mayor, do they see their black mayor as a racist as well? Oh no, that’s right, it’s Bush’s fault!

    Some friends of mine in MS pointed out to me that there’s a neighborhood in New Orleans that was just as devestated as the ninth ward, but somehow, we never saw that on tv…guess those white folks in Bernard Parish just don’t show up on tv as well as the ninth ward folks…

  • It depends on your contrast settings Andy.

  • Yeah…maybe it’s time I got an HDTV???

  • I don’t recall seeing looters with candy bars or diapers or water….but that’s just me.

    Were you there, Andy, or were you just relying on the news media to bring you unsensationalized, unbiased and comprehensive coverage of what was happening on the ground surface?

    If the latter, I think I see where your problem may lie…

  • Clavos

    Fact is, both kinds of looting were going on.

    I have a friend who was there (he lived yards from the 17th St. canal levee break) throughout the storm and a week of its aftermath, when he finally left, in search of power.

    The conservative media focused on the thieves, while the lib newsies concentrated on the victims.

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of how much looting was opportunistic thievery vs “shopping” for needed supplies.

  • I’m sure Mr Rogers would be able to tell us.

  • Finally, my identity and work as an anti-racist, to quote Katrina Browne, come “not out of personal guilt, but grief.” My advocacy for reparations is not an effort to assuage a guilty white conscience. Rather, it is my deepest, truest response to an honest look at race-based economic and cultural injustice in our nation.

    I’d submit that you’re suffering from a delusional syndrome or else a tragic ignorance of the facts surrounding the entire argument (such as it is) for reparations. To punish one generation for the sins of another 3 or 4 or more generations removed is the definition of injustice, just as rewarding someone for the suffering of their great-grandparents would be.

    Do you think that I deserve reparations for my ancestors who came here as indentured servants being cheated out of the land they were promised after they served a decade or more of indenture? Sure it was 350 years ago, but the descendants of the Tidewater Aristocrats who played this bait and switch game on us MUST be made to pay!

    While we’re at it, let’s give reparations to all the Okies who were forced off their land by rapacious banking practices during the 1920s and 1930s. And how about some reparations for my wife because her ancestors were forced off their tribal lands in Oklahoma in 1886 and forced to settle in Texas and pretend to be white. More reparations, dammit!

    Let’s have reparations for everyone for everything that ever happened in the past. Reparations for the descendents of heretics burned in Spain. Reparations for the descendents of Jews deported from England in the 14th century. Reparations for all the Scotts and Irish transported to Australia and America. Reparations for Arabs forcible converted to Christianity in 1492. Reparations for the Irish who were raped by Vikings. Reparations for the Etruscans who were conquered by Romans.

    Give me a break.


  • Clavos, aka Mr. Rogers

    Reparations for us Messicans that lost Aztlan to you gringos…

  • What do us mutts get?

  • You have to give reparations to yourself.

  • I shudder to think Andy… I shudder to think. A case of Whiskey, limes, and a slingshot?

  • Franco

    “It would be interesting to see an analysis of how much looting was opportunistic thievery vs “shopping” for needed supplies.”

    Fair questions Clavos, but that is only going to get the left and right battering it back and forth. So I will let the liberal Mayor of New Orleans make an argument to those on the left who would try to deny it was opportunistic thievery. Let the left argue with itself.

    The Mayor Ray Nagin thought the opportunistic thievery had come to so dominated the streets that he ordered the police to stop trying to save lives and instead ordered them to stop the looting! Only opportunistic thievery would have justified such an order.

    Associated Press – September 1 2005 – NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Ray Nagin ordered 1,500 police officers to leave their search-and-rescue mission Wednesday night and return to the streets of the beleaguered city to stop looting that has turned increasingly hostile.

    “They are starting to get closer to heavily populated areas — hotels, hospitals and we’re going to stop it right now,” Nagin said in a statement to The Associated Press.

    Looters used garbage cans and inflatable mattresses to float away with food, blue jeans, tennis shoes, TV sets and guns. Outside one pharmacy, thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break through the glass.

    Looters waded through hip-deep water as they ripped open the steel gates on the front of several clothing and jewelry stores.

    Police were asking residents to give up any firearms before they evacuated neighborhoods because officers desperately needed the firepower: Some officers who had been stranded on the roof of a hotel said they were shot at.

    Police said their first priority remained saving lives, and mostly just stood by and watched the looting. But Nagin later said the looting had gotten so bad that stopping the thieves became the top priority for the police department.

  • reparations to myself…guess I’ll buy myself a beer!

    whiskey and limes? Tequila and limes sounds much better, even better would be a tequila good enough to not require groceries and I’d prefer a bb gun to a sling shot!

  • Baronius

    Lisa, I’m with Obnox on this one. You wrote about matters of race and signed your writings as an anti-racist. It puts any critic at a disadvantage.

  • Lisa Swanson

    Dear Baronius, Obnoxious American, etc.:

    What it means to call oneself an anti-racist is an important topic, and your questions & comments have inspired me to choose that as the subject of my next Nubiano article. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for its posting on Blogcritics in the next month or so.