And just before Christmas…. What CAN we do to help?

I can see now that I’ve bit off more than I can chew here, in San Fra-homele-cisco. I walked past a guy the other day who seemed to be dead. I’ve seen it before here. After awhile, well, it must be like the guys on the “Bataan Death March” in 1942, after awhile, seeing lots of people collapsing, you get kind of used to it, and besides, you realize that you’re a part of the same goddamn march.
Do you know. I’ve been thinking about this: ALL renters are, basically, “candidates for homelessness”. They are almost all of them, a couple of paychecks away from being turfed out into the street. Now! Some of the lucky ones know they have family they can go to, in case of a disaster like that hitting them. But others have no family at all. Or, they have family, alright, but they’re not on speaking terms with them!

Speaking of these people in abject poverty who have no place to spend the night other than a concrete sidewalk… Some people look down on these homeless and feel they’re all mental cases, drunks, drug-takers, etc., but I am not so sure about that. I’ve seen the faces. I think some of them were caught, taking care of Mom or Dad or Grandma for the last handful of years, and did a good job of that, but then Grandma died, and the check in the mail stopped coming, and the rent could not be paid, or, the house had to be sold-off.
This Administration seems to be very good for the oil companies, Haliburton, etc., but very little help is filtering down to a lower level. Now, some of the “HAVES”, the actual HOME OWNERS in this country, ALSO face the prospect of possible financial bankruptcy and ultimate homelessness, thanks to the policy of generously lending excessive amounts of mortgage money to people who just barely, if at all, qualified. Or, let me rephrase that! The policy of generously lending excessive amounts of mortgage money based on the idea that a piece of real estate APPRAISED at a HIGH ENOUGH level to justify lending “on the property” rather than “on the person”. I’ve done. that. Received loans on real estate that I couldn’t really afford, but the property made the loan seem a reasonable risk. Now, with real estate prices all flattened-out and even on the decline, all those folks who were used to dipping into home and other property equities every 3 or 4 years and pulling out enough money to live on, are all being disappointed — there are no more loans forthcoming! And if they’re loaded-up with mortgages, no money left, after the mortgages are paid-off. No money to take European or Hawaiian or Las Vegas vacations anymore. No money to buy a new house, not even to DOWN-SIZE to a SMALLER, CHEAPER house… no! Some of those people are going to be shit out of luck and end up on the street, kind of like me!

What this country is going through with the mortgage crisis reflects the situation in 1929 on the stock market. In 1929 the problem was BUYING ON EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF MARGIN. Someone could get into stocks with very little cash and the rest on margin, i.e., credit. But if the prices of shares went down just a modest amount, as they did for a few days in a row in mid-October, 1929, some margin calls –asking for money money— had to be made by brokers. Put up more money! This caused these people to have to sell other stocks. This caused prices to slide lower. This set off MORE margin calls! There was Black Thursday… a weekend to think about it… and then Black Monday and Tuesday… sheer PANIC took place, all sellers, no buyers. Well, I hate to suggest that the same kind of situation is taking place in mortgages. But, hey! Too many people were given too many mortgages representing TOO MUCH $$$ MONEY, they were loaned money on the purported (appraised) values of the properties rather than their own incomes… The houses may not be worth that much anymore… prices are in flux…. NOW, the ones who either got in at the end, or who refinanced and refinanced again… may lose their shirts! And that may ultimately lead to more people who are homeless. Perhaps the democrats will take over in a year or two, just as Roosevelt did in 1932-1933, with a mighty task at hand. But I’m looking at the democratic candidates for the presidency, and so far I don’t see any Roosevelts — do you?

Best, ——Ed