If you aren't aware, there is an economic meltdown underway in America, particularly in our urban centers. There is a rot at the core of the system that preys upon poor neighborhoods and communities of color. The most recent sign of this meltdown is the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. Sadly, my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, is being ravaged more than any other in the nation.
Harry C. Alford from the Washington Informer recently wrote an interesting essay on the impact of this economic crisis in Cleveland. The article, "The Economic Rape of Cleveland," briefly explains how the sub-prime scheme worked:
This game broke all of the rules. It exaggerated housing appraisals to boost lending amounts. It eased credit rules to allow people who did not qualify for mortgages to get them anyway and pay the consequences later. Hedge fund investors fell into the same trick that made Enron famous. They fronted asset investments that were really poorly collateralized loans that would soon default and leave the investors holding the “bag.” Middle men brokers and package dealers ran these schemes for quick fees and cash. In the end, the investors and new mortgage owners would take the big hit.
He goes on to look at Cleveland as
a typical Chocolate City in regards to this matter. Cleveland, Ohio seems to be a perfect example. It’s a hardworking town with a strong history of neighborhoods producing some of the greatest American citizens. A black middle class was formed decades ago and is indeed an institution in this population center. Maybe this is why the subprime hustlers targeted Cleveland. It had plenty of established black property owners who could be exploited while the activity remained under the “radar” for a while.
In a devastating conclusion that should outrage us all, Alford writes:
There is one particular zip code in Cleveland that has over 1,000 present foreclosures. The neighborhoods in this part of Cleveland have become slums overnight and the blacks living there didn’t see it coming. It was fast and there appears nothing they can do. This city has been violated in every economic sense of the term. Their virtue has been quite lessened and the repair is not even imaginable. The elected officials, community leaders, chambers of commerce, etc. are lost in trying to find a solution to this devastation. All they can do now is stop the hustlers so that the present state can be termed the “bottom." But even doing this doesn’t mean that “which way is up” can be visualized anytime soon.
And then, plaintively:
Yes, the lovely city of Cleveland has been ripped off. There are other cities, counties and rural communities around the nation facing the same crisis. Greed and hustle coupled with bad policy and weak laws have hurt us miserably. Our children will pay the price and all we can do is start over once again. It hurts. t hurts real bad and will have a very long-term effect. Cleveland was raped. She was not alone. Lord, help us please!
This is the cost of conservative economics, people! These are real live human beings, devoured by large economic interests and then cast off in a seedy profit scheme that counted on their vulnerability... and relative invisibility to the rest of the nation. These white-collar criminals assumed no one would care in the end about these poor neighborhoods, about these communities of color. They believed no one would raise alarm or protest.
Well, now is the opportunity to prove them wrong... or right.
Is this the world you want to live in?
Is this the kind of economy we should countenance?
What will you do?
What will we, as a society, do?