For example, have you ever noticed how TV news helicopters race to cover a fender-bender on Interstate 285, while completely ignoring a two-car fatality in Hall County? The explanation is simple; the event on 285 is close in proximity to the TV station, and the mayhem to be videotaped and broadcast on TV is absolutely free of charge to the broadcasters.
Correspondingly, the odd collection of protesters who have been congregating across the country, and locally at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta serve the same purpose for local TV news.
Even so, there seems to be some common denominators among the protesters who gather. They seem to believe big business is responsible for our economic malaise and continued high unemployment. Ask a dozen protesters why they’re congregating, and you’ll get a dozen different answers, but they all seem to boil down to this thought: “It’s big business’ fault we’re in this mess, and big business needs to fix it.”
I do believe it’s someone’s fault we continue to suffer economically, but in my opinion, the protesters are camping out in the wrong neighborhood. Let’s go back to fall 2008. The stock market tanked because it became painfully obvious that real estate had been substantially over-valued. How did Washington respond? Congress rewarded the offending parties — big banks — with bailouts to prevent them from defaulting on even bigger gambles; credit default swaps that would have forced the banks to pay billions to parties who had bought “chances” on the bundled real estate loans defaulting.
Here’s what should have happened. Instead of turning $800 billion over to banks, Congress should have created an emergency fund for homeowners who had suddenly lost 30 percent of their home’s value on paper. The only way the fund could be tapped was through negotiation between the bank and the homeowner. The bank would have the opportunity to avoid a homeowner defaulting on a loan, if the bank would write down the value of the loan to a reasonable amount.
Instead, we gave the banks enough money to avoid collapse and they got to keep 100 percent of the pre-crash paper value of their real estate loans. This created the horribly painful scenarios we see played out every day. Families who’ve lost their jobs can’t afford their pre-crash loans, the banks won’t negotiate lower terms, and we continue to slug through the resulting economic crisis. Even crazier, the federal government guarantees banks the pre-crash value of an FHA-financed loan, so it’s in the banks’ best interest to foreclose on those loans.
Here’s my point: Instead of “occupying” Wall Street and “occupying” Atlanta, we should be occupying Congress. Congress gave bailout money to the parties responsible for the crisis — big banks — because those same big banks paid for the campaigns of the senators and representatives who were and are in power. Until we as Americans place the pressure where the pressure is deserved and demand true campaign finance reform, we can only expect more of the same: big contributors determining how Congress responds to crisis.
Big business, small business, firefighters, police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers and ditch diggers need this real estate crisis to end. I’d like to see TV news cover that. I would love to hear from you.
Watch TrustDale TV at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays and at 11 a.m. Sundays on Fox 5; listen to Dale’s advice on the Rob Johnson Show on 640 AM WGST weekdays; and listen to TrustDale Radio at 3 p.m. Sundays on 640 AM WGST. For more information, go to www.TrustDale.com. You can reach Dale at Help@TrustDale.com.