ColorLines editor Kai Wright uses an Eddie Murphy sketch to demonstrate how the $26 billion foreclosure settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks essentially lets them off the hook. He says it’s time for Wall Street to take responsibility for the crisis.
An old Eddie Murphy bit, made famous in his raunchy 1980s album “Raw,” tells you all you need to know about the foreclosure crisis. In the bit, a cheating husband has been caught in the act by his wife. “It wasn’t me,” he protests. “But I saw you,” she insists. “Wasn’t me,” he just keeps repeating. Faced with no escape, he springs the trap by asserting up is down and daring anyone to say different. I’d have once called that move straight up ‘hood; I now know it’s straight up Wall Street.
Last week, five of the nation’s largest banks and 49 of its attorneys general announced a $26 billion settlement that essentially let the banks off the hook for the widespread use of fraudulent documents in the foreclosure process. Today, the San Francisco County assessor released an audit suggesting that many, many more demonstrable crimes were committed during the foreclosure bust of the past few years. My use of passive tense is not accidental; the audit doesn’t name names, though it’s long past time we start doing so.
“It is very apparent that the system is broken from many different vantage points,” Phil Ting, the county assessor, told the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson. Actually, someone broke the system, and evidence that the break was willful is now piled as high as banking execs’ bonuses. Morgenson describes the audit as such: “About 84 percent of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities.”
That’s not a quirk. That’s not a system that needs tweaking. That’s not even incompetence. It’s rampant lawlessness. And it’s by design.
Read Kai Wright’s entire blog entry at ColorLines.