The Daily Show: The Fine Print

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A couple years ago, the country was talking a lot about the war on terror and whether or not the Patriot Act is legal. And while we were all talking, the economy was about to collapse.

It turns out that our big banks - JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America - had made a bunch of crap mortgage loans and then had bundled these loans up into bales of crap loans that companies like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers sold back and forth to each other at ever increasing prices.

Then those companies came to us and said, "If you don't give us $700 billion, everything you love and hold dear in this world will turn to Tang."

Now we bear the risk of owning these mortgages, and the banks - the guys who got rich originally selling the loans - would step away, merely servicing the paperwork. What could go wrong?

Well, wrong signatures, missing documents, false documents, false use of notary publics and even one executive from GMAC admitted to blindly signing 10,000 foreclosure affidavits a month.

There are now questions about whether workers were even reading the documents.

What?! The banks weren't even reading the fine print?! You're the people who came up with fine print in the first place!

We never read the fine print. On anything. Have you ever seen the fine print on an iTunes contract? You think I'm going to wade through 52 pages of crap to get to my Katy Perry songs?

So what is in the fine-print affidavits and such?

"These affidavits attest to two very important things," explained Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland. "One, that they actually own the property and have the right to foreclose. And two, that the person that was the borrower was in default."

That's not fine print - you're not even reading the regular print!

We the American people, as owners of over half of these crappy mortgages, can demand a halt to these foreclosures until all the paperwork is straightened out. Unless some weird Catch-22 has been implanted in the fine print of this scenario, resulting in a "Sophie's Choice" situation.

"Delaying the foreclosure process significantly means that house prices are going to be weaker for longer and so will our economy," said economist Mark Zandi.

So we can either improve the economy by throwing millions of families out of their houses just in time for the holidays, or we can let them stay in their houses and crash the rest of the economy. Hmm.

Maybe Congress can step in and make it easier for Americans to challenge the authenticity of foreclosures and other legal documents!

Nope. They quietly passed - without public debate - new legislation requiring courts to accept valid document notarizations made out of state, which would make it harder to challenge foreclosures.

At least President Obama is paying attention - he pocket-vetoed that legislation. Thank you, President Obama. You know, it's crazy when getting us back to square one feels like victory.

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