NJ shares in historic $25 billion fed-state mortgage fraud settlement

President Obama has responded to the injustices and fraud enacted by banks upon mortgage borrowers with the negotiation of a massive, wide-spread assistance program for one of America’s greatest ills – the home foreclosure crisis. Visit the website National Mortgage Settlement which is maintained by Attorney Generals from every state in the country (except Oklahoma) to learn more about the $25 billion dollar settlement that America’s five largest banks will pay over the next three years.

Oklahoma is exempt from the settlement as it did not wish to participate. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans are also exempt but other aid may be available to help borrowers with these types of loans. Find out if you are one of them at
http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup
http://www.freddiemac.com/mymortgage

Joseph A. Smith, Jr. was appointed for a three-and-a-half year term to monitor compliance of the joint state-federal agreement. The settlement calls for $20 billion to be paid directly to borrowers. An additional $1.5 billion will be paid to homeowners victimized during foreclosure that have already taken place and $3.5 billion more will fund the services of legal aid and housing counsellors; compliance oversight; and will reimburse government agencies for monies spent to date on addressing the foreclosure crisis. This demonstrates how committed the Obama Administration is to ensuring that the settlement is properly handled. Too often, programs which are intended to right an injustice fail to be properly implemented because funding is not allocated to facilitate public access to the programs and not enough oversight is provided to make sure the intended actions become reality. But not this time.

How borrowers have been affected by the market manipulation

Banks have foreclosed upon plenty of homeowners whose mortgages they did not own. It’s also been discovered that many homeowners were paying mortgage bills faithfully each month, but the financial institution billing them did not own their mortgage and years of payments were not being crediting to reduce their principal balance, so over time the balance grew instead of diminished.

Mortgage holders have faced what may be an even larger problem, though. Many of the houses purchased in the years before the mortgage crisis reached scandalous proportions, cost too much in the first place. And, that was entirely due to intentional market manipulation caused by the banks. This is why:

The mortgage lending bubble caused a buying frenzy when homeowners were indiscriminately approved for loans who did not have earnings sufficient to repay them. This reckless practice made the cost of property increase dramatically as it created an insatiable demand for homes that eventually inflated purchase prices and made homes cost way more than they were worth. Part of the $20 billion settlement requires banks to provide, “up to $17 billion in principal reduction and other forms of loan modification relief nationwide,” on the grounds that the banks who caused that artificial price inflation should not be allowed to collect payment on the unrealistically large mortgages people were saddled with as a direct result of the bank’s manipulation which drove home prices up to completely unjustifiable levels. The banks were happy when their scheme worked and they had thousands of buyers paying mega bucks for huge mortgages on homes that cost 40% more than they were worth. This settlement says, “The party’s over now and it’s time to give back that 40% of price padding you colluded with your financial industry colleagues to artificially create and stick borrowers with paying for.”

The settlement also requires banks to provide refinancing options at today’s historically low interest rates. Families with lower mortgage payments will naturally find it easier to pay their mortgages.

The reality of this truism can best be seen through the lens revealing the terrible toll that high mortgage rates have exacted in Black and Latino Communities. As if the various mortgage scandals so many American families have struggled with weren’t bad enough news, Black and Latinos have had an additional brand of abuse to contend with, one which bank employees admit was specifically targeted to members of these ethnic groups because of racial bias. They have been victims of a type of loan red-lining practice which caused them to pay substantially higher rates for their already overinflated mortgages than White borrowers paid. This in turn made their families and communities feel the economic pinch that much more. Several settlements in the past 9 months have addressed this issue, but those reparations do not make up for the great harm that has been done.

How the federal-state settlement program may benefit you

The program will be enacted over a three year period. For a comprehensive report about aid the program offers, visit http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com/help. Here’s an excerpt:

Over the next six to nine months, the settlement administrator, attorneys general and the mortgage servicers will work to identify homeowners eligible for the immediate cash payments, principal reductions and refinancing. Those eligible will receive letters.

WHERE YOU CAN GO FOR HELP
Keeping in mind the timeline above (a three year period), you may contact the banks directly if you need additional information:

Ally/GMAC: 800-766-4622
Bank of America: 877-488-7814 (Available M-F 7am – 9pm CT and Saturdays 8am CT – 5pm CT
Citi: 866-272-4749
JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901
Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212 (Available M-F 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST)

There is an information page for each state where you can find information about help you’re eligible to receive if you’re in foreclosure now. New Jersey residents visit this page.

You may qualify for a financial settlement if you’ve already lost your home. If you think it will be hard to find you, contact your state’s Attorney General and give them your current contact information.

If you experience a problem with your mortgage servicer, use this form to learn where in your state you can get help. Or, contact the national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by visiting http://www.consumerfinance.gov or calling 855-411-2372.

More at
New Jersey Consumer Affairs Press Release
Mortgage Settlement Servicing Factsheet
Also see Black and Latino borrowers victims of mortgage red-lining

Fire Demarco for underwater mortgage relief and $1 billion in savings

The good people at Rebuild the Dream tell us,

DeMarco is the Bush appointee who has been dragging his heels and blocking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from engaging in targeted principal reductions (resetting home loans to fair market value) for struggling, underwater homeowners on the grounds that it would cost the taxpayers too much.

Today, two things happened. First, FHFA produced a study that said principal reductions would actually save taxpayers more than a billion dollars. And then DeMarco announced that he still wouldn’t allow any principal reductions!

(Sign the petition to) tell President Obama: If DeMarco won’t change his mind, he needs to change jobs. Fire him now!

Sources:
1) “Regulator Rebuffs Obama on Plan to Ease Housing Debt,” NY Times 7/31
2) “Letter from Secretary Geithner to Acting FHFA Director DeMarco,” U.S. Treasury Department 7/31

As NJ poor get poorer, rich get MUCH richer

Legal Services of New Jersey’s (aka Legal Aid) Poverty Research Institute income disparity study

entitled “Income Inequality in New Jersey: The Growing Divide and Its Consequences,” found the distribution of income between 2000 and the end of 2009 was heavily one-sided, with more than three quarters of the income gains going to the well-to-do in just 20 percent of the state’s households. That left little for everyone else, and some backtracked.

Significantly, more than a quarter of the gains went to just the top or richest one percent of the populace – an estimated 75,000 people living in households with incomes of at least $570,000. On the other end, those in the 40 percent of the state’s households with incomes under $34,300 – roughly 3 million people – actually saw their incomes take a hit during the decade.

… despite a brief dip in the income inequality barometer during the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009, the gap between the haves and have-nots once again widened in 2010. And there already are forecasts by economic experts that, when the Census figures for 2011 are released in a few months, poverty will have increased in the nation to the highest level in some 50 years.

… Legal Services president Melville D. Miller, Jr., announced that the non-profit organization will do annual studies of the issue and release such “inequality audits” to the public.

How Youth are affected

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book puts New Jersey in 19th place nationally in Economic wellness, a category which takes into account the

…percentage of children in poverty, median family income and percentage of households spending a large part of income on rent.

The result “is an uphill battle” for the state’s youth, says Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Newark-based Advocates for Children of New Jersey. ACNJ compiles statistics by county, while the Annie E. Casey Foundation measures numbers statewide for the Kids Count report…

“Our sense is that low-income families are really struggling,” Zalkind adds. “They’re having a much harder time bouncing back (from the recession) than the rest of the state.”

In 2010, nearly one-third of the state’s children lived in a low-income household, an increase of 14 percent from 2006, according to Census figures, the primary source of data for the Kids Count report. The number of children living in a family where no parent had regular, full-time employment was 27 percent, up from 25 percent in 2009.

Bald eagle symbolizes GOOD government

Friend and civil rights attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky wrote on Facebook today in response to this picture,

I saw this posted on Facebook this morning and found its irony overwhelming.

The bald eagle would likely be extinct right now if the government had not imposed strict environmental regulations against DDT and other poisons that were killing them off. The government also greatly increased the protection of bald eagles by declaring them an endangered species and by engaging in a wide variety of programs to both conserve and increase their population and habitat. If I were a bald eagle, therefore, I most certainly would trust the government.

As a citizen, I trust big government a whole lot more than I trust big corporations. Indeed, government and unions are the only things that ordinary people have available to them to fight against the abuses of corporate power and the plutocrats who are now running the country. The biggest problem with government is that the corporate plutocrats have way too much influence over what it does (and doesn’t) do. Our big struggle is to make government responsive to the needs of ordinary people rather than to corporations and the rich.

The bald eagle is a great symbol of how wonderful government can be when it works properly.

Obamacare is fair – and now constitutional!

Today, the Supreme Court justices announced through the SCOTUS blog that Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional and will be upheld as US law. The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether Congress has the power to force people to buy anything and was upheld on the basis that the government has the free right to impose taxes, and Obamacare (as the act is popularly known), does just that. The victory provides another shining example of how brilliant the president’s team is. Despite aggressive push-back from conservatives opposing the law, the legislation drafted by the White House team does what most of the people of the United States want it to do: it uses the constitution to protect and help its citizens. This is a true victory for America and a great day in Kimilandia.

Excellent, balanced coverage of reactions to the ruling was provided by The Nation. At 12:15pm, President Obama listed the benefits of ACA in his speech to the nation. If you would like to know exactly what Obamacare is and what it does for the American people, watch this clip.

My social media posts on Facebook and Twitter tell the rest of the story:

Kimi Wei Individual mandate has survived as a tax! 30 million people without health insurance now will get it.

Kimi Wei Chief Justice Roberts of SCOTUS joined the left for Affordable Health Care provision vote http://www.scotusblog.com/

Kimi Wei Young people often don’t get health insurance thru jobs, so parents pay their healthcare bills. It helps that Obamacare lets parents to keep them on their own insurance policy to age 26. http://www.democracynow.org/

Kimi Wei Law regulates insurance industry and requires those WHO CAN AFFORD to do so, to buy health insurance.

Kimi Wei Basis of SCOTUS’ decision to uphold Affordable Health Care bcs it taxes (not fines) people for no insurance http://www.scotusblog.com/cover-it-live/ #p2

Kimi Wei Remarkable: Kennedy sided with Right and Roberts broke from conservatives and voted in favor.

KimiWei “Can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good”. It’s not perfect, but that wasn’t the question SCOTUS decided.

KimiWei Democracy in the US was upheld. What a great way to start my day.

Some background

The Christian Science Monitor points out that people are already being forced to buy healthcare

Conservatives like to argue that health care is not a right. But, in fact, it is. For years, federal law has required most hospitals to accept patients into their emergency rooms whether or not the sick and injured have the means to pay. If you run your car off the road and break your leg, the EMTs don’t demand to see your insurance card or ask, “credit or debit?” They trundle you off to the nearest hospital–which must fix you up…

This care is, of course, not free. Those of us who are insured pay for it. Indeed, the medical business survives on the black art of cost-shifting—that is to say, spreading the costs of those who can’t (or won’t) pay to those who can.I can’t help but wonder if states barring the mandate could find themselves with no insurance coverage at all. Here’s why: Insurers would still be required to sell to all comers and still could not underwrite for health status (another key provision of the new health law). If they must sell to all, but only the sick buy, the insurance market will fall into what is happily called the death spiral. Premiums will keep rising as only those most in need of insurance buy, until coverage becomes unaffordable for nearly everyone and insurers finally abandon the market. Remember, in the health debate it was the insurance industry, not those wacky Democrats, that demanded tough penalties for non-buyers.

An article in The Nation reviewing this issue concluded: Obama’s healthcare is constitutional.

Although the challengers focus their attack on the individual mandate, that provision cannot be separated from the act’s prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates based on “pre-existing” medical conditions. No one contests Congress’s constitutional authority to enact that overwhelmingly popular protection from dubious insurance practices. But without the individual mandate, the nondiscrimination protection would be unworkable. People would have a powerful incentive to wait until they get sick before they buy insurance, because they could not be penalized for doing so. Such “free-riding” would defeat insurance’s purpose of spreading risk. As one expert told Congress, health insurance cannot work if people can delay buying it until they are on the way to the hospital. Several states have tried to prohibit discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, but the reforms have failed everywhere they have been enacted without an individual mandate. (Only in Massachusetts, where the protection is coupled with a mandate, has the reform been sustainable.)

Us or them? Goals for public education

An increasingly corporatized school system wishes to crush students with learning challenges because they are not expected to fulfill the mission being set: that students during the course of their educations should be trained to become willing and obedient servants of large corporations and of wealthy individuals upon graduation. But, is this what the people of the United States want to be? If not, we must begin evaluating what public education means to our families, our children and our overall society. We must ask: what is the purpose of public education? What are the life, moral and academic lessons we want imparted to our children during the course of their public school educations?

Are schools molding our children’s minds well? Are they teaching them truths and the working skills that society will value when they’ve completed secondary school? Is public education giving our children the tools for knowing how to take good care of their bodies, the earth and to collaborate with others to create meaningful social systems and healthy communities? Are they being taught in school to know and appreciate the historical contributions of all people to the evolution of society, not just the contributions of the dominant faction? Note: For more on this topic, see the Amistad Act created by the New Jersey legislature.

The issue of school spending is another topic begging to be addressed. School budgets are 3-500% what municipal budgets are. That is: school systems spend 3 to 5 times the amount of money needed to run an entire municipality. Yet, voter turn-out at school board elections remains low and residents infrequently attend school board meetings, ask questions about school spending and academics, or voice their opinions about these matters. One country-wide study found that voter turn-out for a schoolboard election in Austin, TX was only 2.5 percent and that the Austin families most in need of educational attention don’t push the board to make changes that will benefit their children. But affiliations with high-performing schools often means that board members don’t know what’s happening in lower performing schools and with their students. A google search on the term voter turnout low in schoolboard elections nation wide produces page after page of articles, whitepapers and discussions on low voter turnout across the country.

You might also notice how many chambers of commerce are commenting on and discussing this issue – and wonder why that might be. Privatization has become a big business concern, with large corporations and their employees reaping tremendous financial and social benefits from school privatization. Knowing this, corporate interest makes perfect sense.

Which segues naturally into yet another question we should be asking ourselves: how much influence and profit in our schools are we willing to give to companies and individuals who are either 1) physically located outside of our communities; or 2) come to live within their boundaries but avoid having their children engage with ours because privatized local schools and private school vouchers makes private-school-type educations for their children pretty close to free. This is true for those students able to get the hard-to-secure charter school seats or whose parents can manage the cost and logistics of shuttling them back and forth to out of town schools.

The time has arrived to set clear goals for our children’s education and make certain that the shaping of their young minds is imbued with good morals, community values and historical truths. The value of banning privatization on any level should be critically analyzed, but at the very least, in any conversation about food served to our children during the school day, the consideration for how any corporate entity can profit by providing this service should never become part of the conversation.

Resources
School Privatization & Choice:
A Sociopolitical Analysis

The role of school site councils

Citizens for Public School Education

New Jersey Coalition on Privatization asserts that privatizing government services will harm state in the long run.
newjerseynewsroom.com/state/group-organizes-to-fight-nj-privatization-efforts
nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/nj_coalition_privatizing_gover.html
Members include
CWA Local 1081
Food & Water Watch
IFPTE Local 194
Latino Action Network
Peoples Organization for Progress
Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Progressive Democrats of NJ
Newark Water Group
New Black Panther Party
New Jersey Friends of Clearwater
New Jersey Sierra Club
New Jersey Labor Against the War
New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
New Jersey Tenants Organization
Utility Workers of Union of America
1199 SEIU UHWE NJ

Societal abuse built into big business

I often say that the reason people don’t protest the skulduggery practiced in business and by the politically conservative right, is because the rotten things done in the name of legal profit-making and “improving society” boggle the minds of decent, hard-working people so much that those decent people cannot believe the terrible things they see done by people who are pillars of the community, some of whom are even sworn to protect the public interest, even when those things take place right in front of their eyes. Apparently, these acts are too horrible to witness. Mitt Romney is up to his eyeballs in a bilking scheme that while legal, is obviously amoral – and it also ends up causing formerly well-employed workers to become dependent on taxpayer supported program after they lose their jobs and then discover that Bain Capital’s recommendations have allowed their bankrupted employers to wipe out employee pension funds too. Bain Capital has been mentioned often in the news recently, because Mitt Romney is a former company executive.

This Huffington Post article compares the tactics used by companies like Bain Capital to the mafiosi practice called bust out and describes how this process works in the legal world of big business:

The Obama campaign has recently raised the profile of private equity by highlighting the bankruptcy of Ampad, an office supply company that was busted out by Bain Capital. The company went bankrupt, while Bain investors made roughly $100 million… (by taking) control of companies and run(ning) up their credit.

Cash from the loans and cost savings are funneled back to the investors. This looting continues until the company can’t pay its debts. When it finally collapses, the company files for bankruptcy to extinguish the debt — but private equity investors … get to keep the gains they’ve already reaped.

Romney by the way, become the unofficial Republican presidential nominee last night after winning Texas’ delegates to the GOP national convention. In a Times interview, Romney tells a reporter that Obama can’t understand how jobs are created because he doesn’t have Romney’s long years of experience in big business, but the Washington Monthly tells a different story about Romney’s relationship to jobs:

The Republican took a chance on a company and decimated it. The workers lost; the community lost; and when GST needed federal intervention, the taxpayers lost*. But Romney and his investors still took home millions… Steel worker and Army veteran Donny Box worked at (the GST mill in Kansas City) for 32 years. “We lost our jobs, they made millions,” Box says in the ad. “Mitt Romney wants to call himself a ‘job creator’? Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs. He cares about money.”

This is why you need to be registered to vote for President Obama on November 6, 2012. Remember, if you’ve moved since you last voted, you need to record your address change. In New Jersey that means filling out a registration form and checking the box indicating a change of address update; other states may have different rules, so check with the elections registrar of your county or parish. Voter registration form for New Jersey is here. Residents of other states can get voter registration information at thisismyvote.org.

What is Cory Booker’s vision for Newark?

Honestly, I don’t know enough about Newark politics to make a judgment call about how well Cory Booker governs. I do have growing questions about how some important city matters are being handled, though. As the Green Drinks Newark founding host, people bring issues and questions to my attention and I feel a moral obligation to look into them. This 21 May article by Josh Benson purports to addresses some of the underlying political reasons things happen the way they do in Newark. Josh quotes State Senator Ronald Rice as saying, “… if people don’t understand it now by … Cory traveling throughout the country, the people he meets with, people he supports and all the stuff happening in Newark with hedge funds and investors, if they don’t understand he’s completely beholden to them, there’s something wrong with them.”

I am personally interesting in knowing:

  • Why were redevelopment funds spent to create the Prudential Center in Newark instead of on overall downtown development as was intended? The economic development world knows that sports arenas do not serve sustainable downtown development. Iin fact, they create more transience in a community and are costly in terms of infrastructure wear and tear (streets, for example) and city personnel allocation (like police). The Prudential Center’s creation has had the expected effect: it has produced a beneficial anchoring effect in the area immediately surrounding it, but has failed to help the downtown area overall.
  • Why is the mayor working to hand off Newark’s water system to privatized interests? The water system has been a long time Newark asset, for both health and financial reasons. It seems like there’s every reason to keep it under city control.
  • Why isn’t there more outcry over the state’s refusal to return local control of public schools to Newark, and why are private schools that have already been allowed to take up residence in Newark public school buildings, now getting ready to completely gobble up the institutions they’re situated in? Several Newark schools are scheduled to insta-magically transform overnight into charter schools: one night, a public school will close and in the morning it will open up as a private institution which is paid for by city taxpayer funds but over which local residents will have no say in how it’s being run; with financial and operational administration likely to be provided by an outside entity with no local ties; and this institution will likely exclude – all at once, or gradually – students with learning disabilities or need for ESL support.
  • I perceive community gentrifiers as having a tremendous need for a support web of exclusive charter schools in the neighborhoods they want to occupy, plus access to a robust school voucher system of the type supported by Governor Chris Christie. The first will provide the convenience of being able to send their children to exclusive, private style institutions paid for with public funds within the city limits. And the voucher system will enable gentrifying families to disassociate their children completely from the local community, by making it possible for private schools to be funded with public taxpayer dollars and by making it economically painless to send those children to private schools outside of the cities into which their families re-locate.
  • Why is Newark courting Hess Oil Company’s proposal to bring in yet another heavy duty fuel burning plant? The residents of Newark already struggle mightily with breathing and other health issues from the cumulative particulate pollution in the air of their city, and this will only bring more health troubles.

What are your thoughts on these issues? I’d love to know.

Draw your line for Trayvon Martin

Hosts on a radio show this morning were discussing Trayvon Martin’s murder. A caller surprised everyone by saying that Trayvon’s death is a great tragedy, but it’s also tragic, “when we kill each other and no one ever talks about it.” The hosts acknowledged the truth of that statement and honored it by agreeing that there’s way too much acceptance in society today of urban violence whereas the “sexier” crimes that become high-profile stories grab maybe too much media attention.

The fact remains that Trayvon’s story deserves as much attention as we can generate for it. An innocent child is now dead and criminal charges are not being brought against his killer due to the Stand Your Ground “self-defense law” in Florida which encourages violence against anyone a person believes to be threatening him or her physically even if that suspicion proves later to be unwarranted. The New York Times reports,

The (Florida) state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, who fought the law when it was proposed, said: “The consequences of the law have been devastating around the state. It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with…

“The person who is alive always says, ‘I was in fear that he was going to hurt me,’ ” Mr. Meggs said. “And the other person would say, ‘I wasn’t going to hurt anyone.’ But he is dead. That is the problem they are wrestling with in Sanford.”

Trayvon was speaking with his 16 year old girlfriend as he walked home after buying a bag of Skittles, and told her he was worried about the man following him. She told attorney Benjamin Crump about the call

ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life. Martin had been talking to his girlfriend all the way to the store where he bought Skittles and a tea. The phone was in his pocket and the earphone in his ear, Crump said.

“He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him,” Tracey Martin said. “And that’s the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy, and the guy backtracked for him.”

The girl was so distraught after the killing that she spent a night in the hospital, the lawyer said.

“She was really traumatized over this. They were dating. … It’s a situation where to know you were the last person to talk to the young man who was one of the most special persons in the world to you,” Crump said.

You can pay homage to Trayvon’s memory and his family and friends by adding your name to the petition to prosecute Trayvon’s killer, and discussing this tragedy and its ramifications at every opportunity. Societal reform is needed and it starts with us.

Nobility in finance: are they kidding?

This morning I shared a chuckle with my friend Rita over the hypocrisy of finance executives who are expressing dismay over today’s lack of morality in their ‘once noble profession’. Rita agreed when I said, “What they guys do was never good, but when they were able to strut around acting like they were taking care of people by taking everyone’s money and no one knew enough to challenge that image effectively, they could fool themselves into believing they were helping people. Things have become so polarized in our society that it’s become very clear what’s been really going on and now these guys are being called out on it. Naturally, they don’t like that: it’s uncomfortable for them.”

Former Citigroup Chairman John Reed has some awareness of how wrong things are. He told Bill Moyers

“I’m quite surprised the political establishment would listen to groups that have been so discredited,” Reed tells Moyers. “It wasn’t that there was one or two or institutions that, you know, got carried away and did stupid things. It was, we all did… And then the whole system came down.”

Greg Smith sees it too, and says as much in his op-ed piece on March 14 in the New York Times, Why I Am Leaving Goldman-Sachs:

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

Unfortunately, these guys are delusional. It gives me an ache in the pit of my stomach to watch these men hypocritically attempt to whitewash their actions by blaming the rape of the 99% by themselves and their colleagues on an imaginary downgrade in the supposed, earlier, nobility of their profession. “Noblesse oblige,” Rita says. It’s clear that neither of them wishes to recognize any responsibility for the systematic exploitation of the vulnerable – and of society as a whole – by the powerful for purely personal gain. They certainly don’t wish to admit that they happily acted in this role as highly compensated representatives of an extremely lucrative profession, as long as they could see themselves as shining lights of corporate goodness instead of what they really were. This reminds me too much of Nazi officers who claimed they were just doing their jobs when they followed orders to effect and oversee the slaughter of millions of people during the European Holocaust.