There’s something we ‘regular’ citizens wrestle with that the elites never seem to: a sense of moral duty.
For example, following the collapse of the housing bubble, many people struggled with mortgages they could no longer afford to pay, fearing the shame of default. Many believed defaulting was wrong somehow; that it was their moral obligation to pay their mortgages, no matter how dire their personal situation. And of course, the mortgages lenders did their utmost to reinforce this perception.
In a perfect world, we would honor our debts and obligations, every one of us. But the world is an imperfect place ,and moral obligation is something that almost never enters into the decision matrix of our society’s richest. Or the banking industry.
For them, the number one (and two, and three…) rule is that whatever is expedient and makes the most money is the right thing to do.
For the bottom 99%, it’s like playing with a stricter set of rules than your opponent: you’re not allowed to hit below the belt, and they’ve brought a baseball bat into the ring.
Note how this guy had to fight through his middle class conditioning before coming to a sense of peace over his decision to enter into a short sale on his house:
Sep 29, 2014
The closest I ever came to acting like a rich person was two years ago when I short-sold my primary residence. I might have been able to keep it but strategic default made life easier. I owed about $400,000 on a house that short-sold for $150K. The bank lost more than a quarter of a million dollars, and I lost at least $80K in down payment and property improvements.
I was taught growing up to “keep my word” and that your handshake “meant something.” Yet businessmen and individual wealthy people make decisions that are far less moral than a short sale. People “incorporate” so they can avoid legal responsibility for individual actions.
It works great. You can stiff creditors, declare bankruptcy, pollute daily and raid pensions to enrich individual executives. If it all goes wrong, like it has so often for Donald Trump, you can keep your mansions and individual fortunes.
I entered the shark-infested waters of high finance with a short sale. It was the worst ethical decision, but the finest, most profitable business moment, of my adult life. It was an informative, even transformative, experience.
This poor guy has a very bad case of ‘middle class morality’. It’s a very real phenomenon. All our lives, we are all taught (programmed?) to stay within the true and narrow groove of middle class life, pay our bills, and be on the hook should things go awry.
Not everybody holds that view, however. As he continues in the piece, the author discovers something important along the way:
I always knew business was getting over on me, but I had no idea the extent until I started looking to short-sell. I first learned all I could aboutprivatehome financing. I called up some shady investment groups around town and questioned them at length. I didn’t end up using them, but they were frank, informative and unashamed.
“Who would pay 11 percent on a home loan?” I asked.
“Rich people,” said “Bill” from the legal loan-sharking company. “The rich have terrible credit.”
Rich people = bad credit: Just let that sink in.
Bill told me in roundabout ways that rich people never pay a bill if there is any way around it. If something goes wrong in an investment or a business, they always preserve their own assets first.
Rich people have terrible credit. They know that there’s a system and it has rules. And, for them, these rules can (and should) be optimized for their own benefit. So they do anything and everything that works to their advantage.
There’s a reason and a logic to that which I can appreciate, but it makes me wonder where the rest of us obtained our deep-seeded beliefs about duty and responsibility towards debts.
Similar to rich people, banks do not have any entangling moral restrictions on their behaviors. That absence allows them to get away with extraordinary misdeeds, none more obvious and damaging than those that the Federal Reserve has perpetrated on the nation, specifically, and the world, more broadly.
To understand why, we first have to discuss something called Financial Repression.
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