The 25-Year 'Foreclosure From Hell'
December 30, 2010 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Patsy Campbell has been fighting her foreclosure in Florida courts for the past 25 years. She has not made a mortgage payment since 1985 while foiling the efforts of several banks to evict her from her home in Okeechobee, Florida.
posted by reenum (150 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite passage from the article:
A stern, confident woman who can quote Florida civil-procedure statutes by reference number, and who adores cooking Southern food and listening to classic Grand Ole Opry-era country music, Ms. Campbell steadfastly believes she is right.
posted by reenum at 12:21 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by hincandenza at 12:23 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


seconded...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2010


The problem with the world, in my estimation, is that many readers of the Wall Street Journal look at anyone who has to go through foreclosure/bankruptcy/late credit card bills is this woman.

And this is obviously not the case.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


The loan would change hands four more times, and four different lenders would try to foreclose on her. But every lender that held her loan either merged or collapsed.

So the savings and loan crisis systematically obliterated everyone who had a claim to her mortgage and now she's the asshole? Shame on you little old lady (for voting for McCain.)
posted by mek at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Florida

Say no more.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


According to Commercial Services of Perry's latest filings, Ms. Campbell owes the $63,801 in principal plus $148,000 in interest.

Now that's an asshole.
posted by mek at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to Commercial Services of Perry's latest filings, Ms. Campbell owes the $63,801 in principal plus $148,000 in interest.

Now that's an asshole.


No, that's end result of 25 years of compound interest without making a single payment. It sounds like she's hoping she just dies before the bills all come due.
posted by nomisxid at 12:32 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, the lady is a nutbar, but this is hilarious: ...a cautionary tale for lenders that cut corners and followed sloppy practices when originating, processing and servicing mortgages. Lenders are especially vulnerable in the 23 states, including Florida, that require foreclosures to be approved by a judge.

What, you mean that lenders have to be careful to follow the laws, and if they don't they are "especially vulnerable" in places where a judge checks to make sure they did? How outrageous! Those poor lenders.
posted by Nothing at 12:34 PM on December 30, 2010 [88 favorites]


Now that's an asshole.

What is that over 25 years of non-payment? About 4.8% annual?
posted by found missing at 12:36 PM on December 30, 2010


On the other hand, there is this story (via Zandar Versus The Stupid).
posted by Xoebe at 12:38 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, that's end result of 25 years of compound interest without making a single payment. It sounds like she's hoping she just dies before the bills all come due.

I refuse to have this discussion until we have decent usury laws. There must be a reasonable limit to how much somebody can be made to pay on a single loan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on December 30, 2010 [32 favorites]


The very fact that this is in WSJ makes me suspicious of its agenda. Is there a quick MeFi way to say "probably selected editorially as propaganda; didn't read"? Something along the lines of "tl;dr", but for dismissing sources of info with a strong potential for selection bias?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


4.8% is usury? Holy shit.
posted by found missing at 12:41 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


pseap;dr
posted by axiom at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


4.8% is usury? Holy shit.

4.8 percent in perpetuity is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


wrong
posted by found missing at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2010


On the other hand, there is this story (via Zandar Versus The Stupid).

And there's also this NPR story, which adds a little more balance:

Woman's Foreclosure Nightmare: 'Like A Black Hole'
posted by saulgoodman at 12:43 PM on December 30, 2010


Anecdotal evidence is great politics but poor policy.
posted by humanfont at 12:44 PM on December 30, 2010


yeah... I think she is a little whack... but seriously? At this stage of the evergoing mortgage clusterfuck the country has undergone a small part of me kinda supports her actions. Borrowers get the shaft when they don't follow the minutiae of the terms, so in this one instance it gets turned around. I wonder how much has been spend on legal fees by the mortgage companies to this point.
posted by edgeways at 12:44 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


pseap;dr

Concise and easily deciphered. I think we have a winner!
posted by The Confessor at 12:44 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a sucker for these stories.
"Someone defending a foreclosure action can raise defenses that are baseless, but are obstacles for the foreclosing lender," he says, calling the system "an unfair burden" for lenders.
My breath hitched a little, but then
"It's almost like clockwork. You know you're going to get another three-inch stack of documents every month or so, and you have to take the time to read through it," Mr. Summers says. "That is a burden on the courts, a burden on lawyers to decipher it, and it has enough meat in it that it's not all void."
This is the part of the story where I had to discreetly dab at the corner of one eye with a handkerchief.

Weep, weep for the banks.
posted by adipocere at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2010 [25 favorites]


wrong

I don't know if that was directed at me, but endless interest is classically defined as usurious lending. Ethical lending should have a cap on how much can be collected on an original debt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on December 30, 2010 [17 favorites]


It was directed at you. You have a stunted conception of how lending works.
posted by found missing at 12:48 PM on December 30, 2010


4.8 percent in perpetuity is.

You know who else argued that charging interest in perpetuity was usury? Yep.
posted by mek at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


This article is part of the WSJ's systematic campaign of propaganda to stem the tide of public sympathy for the millions of Americans who are being abused, exploited and cheated by the banks and the courts in an utterly corrupt foreclosure regime.

The WSJ is owned by Murdoch, remember?

Posting it here looks like some combination of stupidity and complicity to me.
posted by jamjam at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


It was directed at you. You have a stunted conception of how lending works.

Better that than a stunted conception of how argument works. I'll offer a remedial suggestion: Make your case.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on December 30, 2010 [36 favorites]


She could probably market her system on late night tv and make enough to pay off everything and put a down payment on a dozen more just like the one she's in now. Go Girl, put a scare in the WSJ!
posted by sammyo at 12:53 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


While Ms. Campbell is an extreme case, more homeowners in trouble are starting to use similar tactics and are hiring defense lawyers to challenge their foreclosures, hoping to drag out the foreclosure process long enough to reach a settlement with the lender

Hell yes to this. Seriously, the big banks do this with one another all day long.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on December 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'll take that hit, but I'm not doing remedial.
posted by found missing at 12:53 PM on December 30, 2010


I'll take that hit, but I'm not doing remedial.

Well, you've certainly put me in my place. Me and Jesus.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2010 [27 favorites]


Here is a great example of editorializing.

"She has managed to stave off the banks partly because several courts have recognized that some of her legal arguments have some merit—however minor. Two foreclosure actions against her, for example, were thrown out because her lender sat on its hands too long after filing a case and lost its window to foreclose. "

It is not a "minor" issue that the lenders waited beyond the legal time limit. The time limits exist for good reason; no one should be able to hold the threat to collect on a debt plus interest over your head in perpetuity.
posted by oddman at 12:55 PM on December 30, 2010 [23 favorites]


The WSJ is owned by Murdoch, remember?

It doesn't need to be a Murdoch paper for them to print stuff like this, they just know their audience, who probably think the middle class are just a bunch of deadbeats who aren't trying hard enough to be rich.

Since we're bringing up instances of bank malfeasance, check out this story: BOA wrongly foreclosed on a woman's vacation home and actually threw out all of her stuff.

Oh and a lot of cases the government actually owns these mortgages as part of the crap they bought during TARP or when they bailed out Freddie and Fannie. The banks are just servicers.
posted by delmoi at 1:04 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


It doesn't matter to me how big an asshole she is. A well-run business is like a smooth-running engine, and the basic act of running your business well is making sure the paperwork is in order. If banks, with their vastly greater resources than single individuals, can't get their own paperwork and procedures in order, I see no reason for the single individual to suffer for that.

I don't laud her being like an asshole, but I have zero sympathy for the banks. If you're going to be in the business of lending, it's incumbent upon you to do it by the books.
posted by fatbird at 1:05 PM on December 30, 2010 [33 favorites]


I read The Consumerist pretty regularly, so I get a steady stream of outrageous foreclosure stories into my life. (I first read about this there, actually.) I'm constantly amazed at how those borrowing the money are expected to follow the law exactly, even if they don't know what the law is, but the big companies with armies of lawyers think they can just run roughshod over legally binding things like "filing within the proscribed time limit" and "provide paperwork showing proof of the mortgage". I applaud every single person who holds the foreclosing institutions proverbial feet to the fire during the process. Because it seems as if the only way their collective hubris will be broken is if they realize that they actually DO need to follow the regulations and not just assume that the courts will side with Big Business against the Little Guy every time. And it's only been through a lot of these kinds of cases that a lot of the malfeasance has been revealed. Shredding documents, incorrect filings, lack of due process... Very few of those have been done by those borrowing money. But they seem to be nearly universal when it comes to the banks themselves.
posted by hippybear at 1:10 PM on December 30, 2010 [64 favorites]


She is a nutbar, but good for her in that the power disparity is enormous in situations like this. The banks generally have these items in their corner:

* Vast piles of money
* Endless attorneys
* The ear/cooperation of local, state and federal governments
* Relatively endless time

The person who borrowed the money has diddly-fuck in comparison.

People should pay their debts. Lenders should follow the law.
posted by maxwelton at 1:17 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


1. Take out massive loans
2. Never pay a dime
3. Die of old age
4. ???
5. Profit!!!

You can't take it with you, but you can do the next best thing: die leaving massive, unreclaimable debts. The system works!
posted by no_moniker at 1:19 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


You have a stunted conception of how lending works.

Maybe you can enlighten everyone then.
posted by blucevalo at 1:20 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


she my hero. look at the legal sytem and the banks failure to address the issue in a timely manner. No payment since 1985... sorry if you think she is an asshole but she got her house and no ones going to do much, well maybe now.

This is a clear case of get of my lawn if you can't take it back with-in legal guidelines.
That is Usury. The legal trick is compound(ed)

the key to this case: retired. insurance sales.
love the wicker chair.

posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I have a house to rent out, and I'm limited by law or regulation from earning more than X dollars over the lifetime of that rental to party Y, I will be forced to kick them out of their house prior to their payments reaching X. If I'm not allowed to kick them out, I will have no incentive to rent out my house in the first place.

If I rent out my capital, the same considerations apply.
posted by found missing at 1:29 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a gorgeous ouroboros of Lawful Evil! This entertains me greatly.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:32 PM on December 30, 2010 [19 favorites]


I'm constantly amazed at how those borrowing the money are expected to follow the law exactly, even if they don't know what the law is, but the big companies with armies of lawyers think they can just run roughshod over legally binding things like "filing within the proscribed time limit" and "provide paperwork showing proof of the mortgage".

There appears to be a bug in the way Americans think about these kind of things. They will grudgingly accept corporations escaping consequences, because "hey, overall health of the economy." They think it is always the homeowners fault when they can't make payments, even though the bankers themselves clearly can't even always do that.

We could have bailed out the homeowners and banks at the same time, print some cash and pay everyone's mortgage. I don't have a mortgage though, so fuck you guys. It's unfair for you to get something I don't have, just give ALL the money to the banks instead and make the owners keep paying anyway!

Hmmm...wait...what?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:36 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


If I have a house to rent out, and I'm limited by law or regulation from earning more than X dollars over the lifetime of that rental to party Y, I will be forced to kick them out of their house prior to their payments reaching X. If I'm not allowed to kick them out, I will have no incentive to rent out my house in the first place.

Great. You could just have easily said that at the outset and dispensed with the snarky assumptions about other people's knowledge levels.
posted by blucevalo at 1:37 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


How would a loan interest cap even work?

1. Take out a loan for $100,000 with a $50,000 cap on the interest. Don't repay it.
2. Put that $100,000 in a 5% interest savings account and wait 15 years (you now have $200,000).
3. Pay off the loan and the interest, pocketing $50,000 profit.
4. The banking system collapses due to everyone arbitraging the asymmetry?

I understand limiting the actual percentage (i.e. you may not loan at a 65% interest rate), but limiting the amount of interest a loan can accrue seems foolhardy. What system could be implemented?
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:39 PM on December 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


but endless interest is classically defined as usurious lending.

It's not endless interest, in the sense that had she been making her payments, she'd almost certainly be out of debt now. The loan was taken out in 1980, it's very unlikely that it was for longer than thirty years.

Whoever lent her that money was counting on a steady stream of small payments from her, eventually exceeding (by quite a margin) the original amount lent. This is because the lender couldn't use the money for other things; they could have invested in the stock market, say, or bought a house for themselves. That money should have grown into something comparable to the principal plus interest cited.

Instead, she in essence stole $68,000ish from her lender, and they've been trying for the last 25 years to get that money back. That's a long damn time to not be able to put money to work. And that's why the total figure is so high.

Calling this 'usury' is simply a lack of financial sophistication. A 30-year, 4.8% loan is a very, VERY good deal... quite astonishingly good, considering interest costs when the loan was taken out. The lender was taking on all kinds of risk of not getting their money back, and a 4.8% rate gives very little cushion to cover exogenous events. (like, say, a housing crash, or severe inflation, or simple unemployment by homeowners.) They'd have to collect on damn near every dollar to make that lending profitable enough, in aggregate, to be worthwhile.
posted by Malor at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


If I rent out my capital, the same considerations apply.

So your understanding of finances is entirely based on parallels to home rental.

Yes. I'm stunted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


dispensed with the snarky assumptions about other people's knowledge levels

agreed

Apart from usury angle, I agree that the financial institutions should be held to high standards in terms of their practices, paperwork, etc.
posted by found missing at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2010


So your understanding of finances is entirely based on parallels to home rental.

Yes, that was the point.
posted by found missing at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2010


After living there for so long, can't she claim the property through adverse possession? It seems the only part of the 5 part test listed on that page which she might fail would be the "hostile or adverse use" point, which after all this time in foreclosure she may pass after all.

Although, digging a bit deeper, if she hasn't paid the property taxes, she may not have this as an option. Each state is different in their requirements, and that seems to be a big on for Florida.
posted by hippybear at 1:45 PM on December 30, 2010


In other words, not only was that loan not usury, it appears she got a screamingly good deal.
posted by Malor at 1:45 PM on December 30, 2010


Ever wonder where that magic interest in your bank account comes from, given that as any economist will tell you, the actual value of the money in your account is constantly decreasing? Well, much of it comes from what Jesus would have called "usury" (those endless interest payments on loans the bank has made to your fellows in the community). We can debate the merits of Jesus' position, and his degree of financial sophistication, all day and night, but it's a hard fact that our economic system is more or less built on something Jesus himself spoke against, much like a certain space-dweller who also rose from the dead.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:49 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


So remind me here - biblical literalism good when it comes to lending money, bad when it comes to sexuality and shellfish consumption?
posted by JPD at 1:49 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


much like a certain space-dweller who also rose from the dead.

David Bowie?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


David Bowie?

Natch.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:53 PM on December 30, 2010


There's a space dweller who rose from the dead which is more of less built on something Jesus himself spoke against?
posted by hippybear at 1:54 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite passage from the article:

A stern, confident woman who can quote Florida civil-procedure statutes by reference number, and who adores cooking Southern food and listening to classic Grand Ole Opry-era country music, Ms. Campbell steadfastly believes she is right.


That is interesting that that's in there, isn't it? I wonder why they didn't tell us what kind of music and food the lawyers for the bank like? Oh yeah, because they're not trying to cast them as scheming, deadbeat hicks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:54 PM on December 30, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm actually looking forward to this whole "interest cap" idea that Astro Zombie is putting forth. We can place bets on how long it takes for banks to add this clause to their contracts:
Section 4.3.1.5 - Reloaning: Once per annum, lendee shall automatically be issued a new loan for the amount outstanding of the current loan. The current loan shall be repaid with funds from the new loan and considered settled for all purposes; the new loan shall be serviced at terms identical to the initial loan with the exception of the new principal amount. As the new loan consists fully of principal, the amount of total interest (pursuant to the "interest cap" clause of federal law) shall be $0.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


much like a certain space-dweller who also rose from the dead.


ET
posted by found missing at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2010


much like a certain space-dweller who also rose from the dead.

David Bowie?


This might be slightly off-topic, but what exactly *is* going on on the album Ziggy Stardust? Ok, so the Earth is going to end in five years. That's an interesting start. Then Ziggy Stardust comes down from space and starts a band. And then... rock and roll suicide? What?
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:57 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie, I'm not sure I buy the usury argument. She moved into the home in 1978 - she's only had the mortgage for 32 years. Now, you might argue that 4.8% in perpetuity is usurious, but 32 years is not long for a mortgage (heck, we get 40 year mortgages now) and I don't see that it applies here. Maybe if the courts are still going after the money in 50 years you'd have a point (and it seems like they might be).

Plus, do you have a cite for interest being charged in perpetuity being usury? Most of the references to usury I find deal solely with the rate of interest and not with the maximum amount of interest that can be charged.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2010


I wasn't thinking about Ziggy Stardust. I was thinking about the actual David Bowie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Say what you will about Emperor Palpatine, but the way he screwed the Trade Federation with his coup scheme totally helped out a bunch of people who owed them money.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Executive summery : Crazy old lady has largely crazy ideas about the law, yet she's just sane enough that lawyers are needed to debunk her. Crazy old lady's mortgage isn't worth all that much once you subtract the lawyer's fees, yet imploding banks keep buying her mortgage. It's fairly clear the story will end with crazy old lady losing her house once some bank that isn't already in a death spiral buys her mortgage.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Plus, do you have a cite for interest being charged in perpetuity being usury?

The Bible. All debts had to be collected after seven years or they were void.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wasn't thinking about Ziggy Stardust. I was thinking about the actual David Bowie.

Do you smoke grass out there in space, Bowie, or do you smoke Astroturf?
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:06 PM on December 30, 2010


what exactly *is* going on on the album Ziggy Stardust?

Apparently William Burroughs talked to Bowie about the whole story.
posted by hippybear at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


There appears to be a bug in the way Americans think about these kind of things. They will grudgingly accept corporations escaping consequences, because "hey, overall health of the economy." They think it is always the homeowners fault when they can't make payments, even though the bankers themselves clearly can't even always do that.

Maybe, but c'mon, this is not a David and Goliath story here.

This woman is clearly playing games with the legal system to avoid living up to her obligations.
I mean, claiming her husband's signature was forged, deeding the house to her daughter and back, denying the debt even existed in the first place, claiming bankruptcy the minute the case turns against her?

I mean, I love an underdog, but this is a woman who, apparently, just doesn't feel like paying.
posted by madajb at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Adverse possession claim probably won't work, because you typically have to be in possession of the property for a certain time limit without dispute. The law was intended, I believe, to sort of punish landowners that do not develop their land, and let it lay fallow.

: 1. Take out a loan for $100,000 with a $50,000 cap on the interest. Don't repay it.
2. Put that $100,000 in a 5% interest savings account and wait 15 years (you now have $200,000).
3. Pay off the loan and the interest, pocketing $50,000 profit.
4. The banking system collapses due to everyone arbitraging the asymmetry?


How is this different than taking out a loan for $100,000 at 5% interest, then investing it at 6% interest, and pocketing the difference? As far as I know, this is EXACTLY what investment is; the banking system does not collapse as a result of this. It's not like you're supposed to lose money every time you borrow it. It has nothing to do with the fairness / unfairness of perpetually compounded interest.

As far as I know, interest scheduling is always unfairly tweaked to favor lenders. Have you ever tried to pay off a loan early, and then informed that you have to pay an interest penalty for giving back their money sooner than they expected (i.e. the "payoff amount")? Although I understand why it's done, it doesn't seem very equitable to me.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Bible. All debts had to be collected after seven years or they were void.

So you're good with no more mortgages, then, and no more long-term debt for major infrastructure projects?

A book from fifteen hundred years ago might not be the best authority on financial matters.
posted by Malor at 2:15 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


WSJ was sure to get in the dig about how her house is the white-trash eyesore of the neighborhood. Not that any serious capitalist reading that yellow rag would develop any kind of Robin Hood associations towards her in the first place.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:20 PM on December 30, 2010


Maybe, but c'mon, this is not a David and Goliath story here.


Clearly this woman is in the wrong, I was speaking in general. Most people in foreclosure are not like her, she is an amazingly rare case. This kind of thing happens in the news, it becomes news because it's weird, not because it's common.

Since this is the WSJ and there is an ideological theme there, it's probable this story is just getting big play in that paper for other reasons. They want to encourage the bug that blames homeowners entirely for their own situation and refuses to let them escape.

It's much more important for people to know about, "Banks steal trillions, get bailed out by taxpayers because they can't pay their obligations, give each other bonuses, take homes back from taxpayers who can't pay their obligation." Unfortunatly, that isn't news anymore, just a mundane detail of our lives.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:21 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


s/Robin Hood/David vs. Goliath

I forgot we were sticking with the biblical theme.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2010


After living there for so long, can't she claim the property through adverse possession?

I dunno about the US, but in the UK I'm pretty sure that would fail because the possession wasn't adverse - the banks were actively trying to sue her.

So your understanding of finances is entirely based on parallels to home rental.

Perhaps you should explain in which respects this case deviates from the lawnmower example (which, btw, I'm fairly certain was an illustration of the general principal that enjoyment of someone else's property should be paid for, even if the enjoyment has gone on for a long time).
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 2:23 PM on December 30, 2010


BTW the WSJ is like the Weekly World News when it comes to stuff poor people do.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


A book from fifteen hundred years ago might not be the best authority on financial matters.

I'm not saying it should be. I'm calling for a cap on the maximum amount people can collect on a debt. The issue with being able to collect 4.8 in perpetuity is that, given enough time, somebody could end up paying 200 or 300 percent on their original debt. It's a reasonable rate, but without some cap even a reasonable debt can balloon into usury.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2010


Whoever lent her that money was counting on a steady stream of small payments from her, eventually exceeding (by quite a margin) the original amount lent.

This is technically true, but also bullshit. That lender long since ceased to exist because it turns out they were unsound (and were bailed out by HW, of course...). Her mortgage has since changed hands six times since then, each time being sold to another bank for a small fraction of its paper value, due to its toxic nature. I'd guess whoever is holding it now paid pennies on the dollar for its original $63k value, if that, so they are out a couple grand at most. They want to collect >$200k from a retired senior citizen (profiting immensely if successful) without even proving they have the legal right to do so, and you find that defensible?

Let's not forget that Florida is the state with the now-infamous "rocket docket" - if they can't foreclose on her there, there is absolutely no way the bank here has a valid claim. Whatever they are holding is probably an outright forgery.
posted by mek at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm generally on the side of the homeowner in mortgage disputes, but not this time. This isn't a case of demanding that a third party produce the mortgage documents: it's a case of someone using dishonest delaying tactics that a lawyer couldn't resort to without penalty. Her actions are almost consequence-free to her: unless she needs to take out another loan she can squat on her illegitimate windfall until she dies. In the meantime she's tying up the limited resources of the court system and raising the banks' costs - and don't think they aren't passed on to consumers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:31 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


A book from fifteen hundred years ago might not be the best authority on financial matters.

How about a book from Adam Smith?
The legal rate, it is to be observed, though it ought to be somewhat above, ought not to be much above the lowest market rate. If the legal rate of interest in Great Britain, for example, was fixed so high as eight or ten per cent, the greater part of the money which was to be lent would be lent to prodigals and projectors [(scam artists)], who alone would be willing to give this high interest. Sober people, who will give for the use of money no more than a part of what they are likely to make by the use of it, would not venture into the competition. A great part of the capital of the country would thus be kept out of the hands which were most likely to make a profitable and advantageous use of it, and thrown into those which were most likely to waste and destroy it. Where the legal rate of interest, on the contrary, is fixed but a very little above the lowest market rate, sober people are universally preferred, as borrowers, to prodigals and projectors. The person who lends money gets nearly as much interest from the former as he dares to take from the latter, and his money is much safer in the hands of the one set of people than in those of the other. A great part of the capital of the country is thus thrown into the hands in which it is most likely to be employed with advantage.
Some things are common knowledge to all religions for a reason. Usury being one of those things. There's a great talk by Elizabeth Warren where she explains that there were three periods of usury laws in world history: one started with Hammurabi's Code in the 15th Century BC and ended in 1980. The second part lasted from 1980 until 2010. The new Consumer Protection Agency marks the start of the third.

The basic premise is that if you allow financial games to become immensely profitable, all of the capital in an economy will immediately flood to finance, because it represents immediate returns, zero work, and zero risk when the banks are all backed up by governments. Who is going to invest in a factory in the United States and wait twenty years to get their money back when they can give the money to Capital One and let them defraud millions of middle-class Americans with legal loopholes? (Bonus points for passing laws to make money equal free speech, so now any democratic effort can be drowned out by the zeroes in your bank account.)

And in fact, you can see the effect of all the liberalization of capital across the world since the 70s: third world nations stripped of their independence and natural resources, middle class consumers pushed into an asset hole and stripped of their savings despite their productivity going through the roof, and multi-national corporations which now rival states in the depth of their resources and reach of their influence who are re-writing all of the law around the world to suit themselves.

For every woman like this fighting the system with it's own dirty tricks usually employed against regular people, there are millions of people who have been pushed over the edge by bank rules that do nothing for the economy except for pushing up one stock by a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. I hope she keeps her house. I hope the bank loses their ass on this deal. And I hope everyone sees her example and follows it, and the banks that practice all of the tricks they're whining about in the article every goddamn day go out of business too. America will be a better place without them.
posted by notion at 2:43 PM on December 30, 2010 [34 favorites]


Astro Zombie: The issue with being able to collect 4.8 in perpetuity is that, given enough time, somebody could end up paying 200 or 300 percent on their original debt.
You've never bought a house, have you? A typical 30-year mortgage means you're paying about 2x the original amount lent. This happens all the time, since you are borrowing a large sum for many years. As someone posted in response to you above, capping such a limit would just lead to paper tricks like forced relending of the remaining principle to pay of the previous debt and start a new one- which is kind of what a home loan is already.

much like a certain space-dweller who also rose from the dead.
I thought this was a reference to Astro Zombie himself.
posted by hincandenza at 2:48 PM on December 30, 2010


The one thing I'm gleaning from this whole story is that fewer and fewer people on either side of the financial ledger are willing to play by the rules. Bankers are content to run their institutions over a cliff for their own bonuses; homeowners like this woman claim somehow to be above the rules and therefore get to live in a house for free for years on end. Everyone seems to be doing their damnedest to game the system rather than simply pay off their debts and uphold their end of the contract like boring but decent citizens in a society run by responsible adults.
posted by spoobnooble at 2:50 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those who are arguing that 4.8% on a 30-year mortgage is predatory lending? Have never bought a house. That's a good mortgage. Loans along those terms are what allow people to own real estate that they can pass on to their heirs. If such loans weren't possible, you would have fewer homeowners. I don't see paying a mortgage at a good rate for thirty years being any worse at all than paying some guy rent until you die. Quite the contrary.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:52 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, if we're going to be citing the Bible for financial advice, I assume it's okay to use it for a science and history textbook too.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2010


How is she above the rules if the court is allowing her to stay in her house?
posted by wuwei at 2:58 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


homeowners like this woman claim somehow to be above the rules and therefore get to live in a house for free for years on end....Everyone seems to be doing their damnedest to game the system

Mission Accomplished, WSJ.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:00 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mission Accomplished, WSJ.

furiousxgeorge, I do printer repair work part-time while I go to school. If we ever meet, remind me to introduce you to the dozen or so people who have told me I should deal with customers in cash only rather than pay taxes.
posted by spoobnooble at 3:04 PM on December 30, 2010


Also, if we're going to be citing the Bible for financial advice, I assume it's okay to use it for a science and history textbook too.

Well, if there is actual history to be found in it, yes. There is an entire discipline in teasing out the parts of the Bible that are history. People of reason know to take good advice wherever it comes from.

And, no, I've never bought a house. Don't intend to, either. For my lifestyle, renting makes more sense, and costs about as much, without me mortgaging a third of my life to a bank.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:11 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


@spoobnooble:

Some people break the rules, yes. Still, there is no reality where anything close to "everyone" is doing anything like what this woman is doing. You will find the general opinion in America is that you should feel bad if the bank took the house, even though that is just fulfilling the bargain they made together. The idea that people should be able to steal houses is far from approved.

People think both sides should follow the rules. The banks take advantage of this with an excuse about their necessity for us, but people still think what they do is wrong.

If we ever meet, remind me to introduce you to the dozen or so people who have told me I should deal with customers in cash only rather than pay taxes.


I will quickly shift the subject to corporate tax rates and loopholes and how that is a problem orders of magnitude more serious and more tolerated.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:16 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying it should be. I'm calling for a cap on the maximum amount people can collect on a debt. The issue with being able to collect 4.8 in perpetuity is that, given enough time, somebody could end up paying 200 or 300 percent on their original debt. It's a reasonable rate, but without some cap even a reasonable debt can balloon into usury.

Easily solved by giving them their money back. And that isn't what usury is.

Interest is principal x interest x time. You are renting money. If you never pay it off, you still have to pay the rent.
posted by gjc at 3:34 PM on December 30, 2010


furiousxgeorge, I will concede here that I'm going on general impressions only. And may the FSM strike me down if I ever claim to be an expert on financial issues. But I honestly believe that corruption of a financial system can eventually work from one side to the other. The corruption of the U.S. banking system has been documented before on Metafilter; meanwhile, however, there are people here who are siding with the crazy lady for no other reason than the banksters are assholes who win more often than not by bending the very rules they set out.

And that's what led me to the thought about the many people who have recommended to me to try and do more work under the table. I don't pay taxes with any joy in my heart, but lately I've had a growing suspicion that more and more people think that taxes are an outright sin (see also: Libertarians, the Tea Party etc.). What's that line from Lt. Daniels' wife in The Wire? "The game is rigged... but you can not lose if you do not play."

It would be awfully nice to see some governmental body step in and do a biblical-wrath style cleanup of the American banking system. But the more likely thing to happen in the short term, I believe, is more people trying to beat and cheat the system just like the big boys. And anyone dumb enough to still follow the rules is nothing more than a patsy.

I've always been a pessimist, but frankly, I think I've been indulging a bit too much in this pastime of late.

Anyway, I'll step out of the thread now and let the proceedings continue before I dig myself in any further.
posted by spoobnooble at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am tired, to the bone, of the puritanical, holier-than-thou, judgemental attitude we take towards individuals in economic trouble, mostly because we simultaneously take a laissez-faire, complacent, shoulder-shrugging attitude towards the exact same behavior, on a massively larger scale, when done by corporations.

I will not even play the tiniest of violins for these institutions of finance, the ones that are doing their best to hold the heads of 90% of the world's population under water so that they may have slightly fatter wallets, on the exceedingly rare occasions when some determined individual dodges ruination at their hands. When they clean up their acts, or the government forces them to clean up their acts, then I will give a fuck.
posted by emjaybee at 3:46 PM on December 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


But I honestly believe that corruption of a financial system can eventually work from one side to the other.

It may be heading that direction, but we aren't there. Most people are honest hard workers who make their payments. The corrupt people among the foreclosed is a subset of a subset of Americans.

On the other hand, the national banks are pretty much 100% all involved in the corruption that led us to this point, the tiny subset are the ones with clean hands.

So sure, some people say "Fuck this, they are assholes." They have a point. The situation is unconscionable. Sinking to their level isn't the solution, but people are jobless and desperate. For some of them it's getting to a Jean Valjean situation. They don't see screwing the banks as the right choice, just the only one.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:54 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


It may be heading that direction, but we aren't there. Most people are honest hard workers who make their payments. The corrupt people among the foreclosed is a subset of a subset of Americans.

There were definitely corrupt individual actors obtaining illegitimate mortgages etc during the housing bubble, but that doesn't mean that targetting the individual can be successful in any way. The whole problem is that the system is structured not only to enable this activity but in fact encourage it. And that is all on one side, the bank's side.
posted by mek at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2010


You are renting money. If you never pay it off, you still have to pay the rent.

Interestingly, this line supports both sides of the argument. In economic terms 'rent' has two defintiions. The more well known refering to hiring of goods or services, the second refering to the excess profit to be made through imperfect competition.
posted by biffa at 4:10 PM on December 30, 2010


biffa, I don't think you've fully captured the meaning of "rent" in economics.
posted by found missing at 4:13 PM on December 30, 2010


No one is going to the bible for financial advice. Usury is a concept with a long history and many meanings, both legal and moral. Someone asked where the concept was defined such that it included collecting interest in perpetuity. Bringing up the bible in this context is a perfectly valid response. It's a place where the concept is defined how the poster said they intended it. It doesn't mean you have to balance your checkbook with clues from revelations.
posted by Nothing at 4:14 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


4.8% is usury? Holy shit.
followed by
4.8 percent in perpetuity is.


Yeah, it's usury, when you consider that those rates are set by the Fed, and used to lend our own money back to us, on top of all the fees that those bastards collect. I've said it here before; the bank is not your friend. The bank wants your money to leverage against Fed borrowing, to make even more money (profit), and it doesn't care of some of the people who provided that leveraging with deposits are hurt by their wild schemes that are covered by - you guessed it - those depositor's tax dollars! We have been screwed every which way by these thieves.

And f*ck double bottom-line accounting that doesn't account for the downstream social costs of profiteering and other financial institution crimes, over *decades*. Who pays for that? The banks? The people who are at the institutional top in those thieving institutions? Of course not! You and I pay for it, while the banks continue to hire mathematical geniuses to invent yet more convoluted ways to leverage our deposits, to make more money so that they can hire more lobbyists to convince the Congress to increase fees, and create bankruptcy laws that favor the banks.

If I could put every single CEO and senior board member from every major bank and hedge fund and any other financial institution that participated in the last 20 years of screwing this country, I would do it in a *heartbeat*; and furthermore strip them of every single asset they own. They deserve even worse than that, but have paid for their crimes with filthy lucre.

Last, this woman has abused the system, but it's not even a fraction of the smallest weight known to mankind, in terms of damage caused by the rich f*cks who are laughing it up, drinking champagne with their year end bonuses tomorrow evening, and having "in-crowd" conversations about their next ideas for f*ucking you, and me.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:17 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I once had a mortage about the same size as the OP's. A little bigger, just over $50K at 9.8% fixed, which was a very good rate in 1992. And if I did the usual homeowner thing by the time I finished with it in 2022 I'd have paid over twice the asking price for the house.

And for awhile that's exactly what I planned to do, because inflation and interest rates both went up, and I was paying less to rent the money than the money was losing in value every year.

My mortgage payment was $485. Since it was a fixed rate (the only kind any sane person should ever consider taking out) I would still be paying $485 a month to live in this house today, and I'd still be paying $485 until 2022, after which I would be paying zilch. Meanwhile, rents in this neighborhood have climbed to $1200+, and home values have climbed (and stayed high thanks to Katrina) such that I'd face a similar payment for a new mortgage.

That's a pretty good deal, if you don't screw it up by getting a variable rate or more home than you can afford or not noticing that you're buying in an unsustainable bubble. Or, to be fair, finding out you need to move with bad timing. But one of the reasons I work for a lot less than I could get if I moved to California is that my job is exceptionally stable. Another is that housing is cheap...

As it happens though I no longer have the mortgage because inflation went down a bit in the late 90's and I came into a bit of cash and was able to make extra payments on it to pay it completely off. Since I did that the amount I gave to the bank is more like 45% of what was paid for the house. And boy the bank did not want me doing that. In the late going, when I knew I was getting close to having it fully paid, getting the bank to tell me what the balance was was like pulling teeth. They finally relented and sent a note informing me that I still owed the princely sum of $82, just in time to avoid receiving an overpayment.

At this point in time I've paid considerably less for the privilege of living here than I would have if I had been renting since 1992. Is that usury? Perhaps technically, but I think it was a pretty good deal. Then again, in 1992, they weren't quite as on the ball with thinking of creative ways to trick you into signing on for something you really shouldn't have been trying to handle.

Living here still isn't free. I have to mow my lawn, arrange for repairs, and pay property taxes, all of which a landlord would do for me but for which he'd also charge me as part of the rent. And as an owner I don't have to wait for some stranger to say OK when a fix is needed; when the water heater dies I just buy a new one and install it.

My next door neighbor is spending $1200 a month to rent a place nearly identical to mine. I spend about that much a year on my place. (It would be even less, but we got assessed partially out of Louisiana's very strong homestead exemption on property taxes after Katrina.) Considering that rent is paid on after income tax money, that's equivalent to making almost $10 an hour more than I do. I have no complaints whatsoever.

The evil is not mortgages. The evil is what the banks started doing after 2000 seducing people into mortgages they shouldn't have taken on, and botching up all the paperwork. (For that reason alone I am SOOOO glad I paid the damn thing off early.)

Oh, and spoobnooble -- that bit of money to pay it off early? That came from the proceeds of a card counting team. Needless to say, nobody paid taxes on any of that money -- except me. The other players have all had nail-biting moments facing the IRS, laying low unable to spend money whose existence they can't explain, and generally worrying. I kept perfect records, paid my taxes on my honest winnings, and I'm free and clear if anyone wonders how someone making what I did in 1998 was able to pay off a mortgage. If you're in a position where tax cheating is easy, you need to make sure your records are all according to Hoyle because you'll be guilty until proven innocent with the IRS. Unless you just like stress, that's the reason to pay your taxes even though you could get away with cheating.
posted by localroger at 4:24 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Interest is principal x interest x time. You are renting money. If you never pay it off, you still have to pay the rent.

And it's thinking like that, without the consequences of how interest for the necessities of life - just *think about it* - cause so much degradation. Why, for instance, according to "financial formulas" and "international accounting" and all the other BS that's been invented to profit the haves, does the labor of a Manchurian or Peruvian or Kenyan worker earn less than someone in a more developed nation, with the f*ucking banks playing the daily margins on those formulas, and damn the social consequences.

Rent? For money? Money is "desire incarnate". That's really all it is, at bottom. How about a few "financial formulas" that cater to the desires of the everyday person? We are lost because we have been brainwashed by these bastards, with their "economic models" (apply Godel's Incompleteness Theorem to those models, how about doing that!??). You and I have been screwed, and we continue to be screwed as long as we play by the rules of their complex games.

It will take a long time, a LONG time, to make the system more transparent, if ever, especially when these bastards are bring ever more complex systems to bear, and ever more money to bribe with.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:24 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The lender was taking on all kinds of risk of not getting their money back, and a 4.8% rate gives very little cushion to cover exogenous events.

And, in fact, you might not be surprised to find out the actual lender went bust. The note has been repurchased -- at a huge discount -- six times, by firms who figure that they can slam dunk a foreclosure and net a bunch of money on a small investment.

Of course, what this requires them to do is properly purchase and register the title, then the foreclosure would be a slam dunk. However, it is obvious that not one of them, and probably not even the original lender, bothered to do the legally required paperwork.

Which means that, while they have a lien against the property, they don't hold the note, and thus, they cannot foreclose, because the note is what gives them the right to do so.

And, you know? If I fail to fill out my tax forms correctly, I'm at fault. If I hire someone to do so and they fail to fill them out correctly, I'm still liable for the fault (though I might recover some for the failure to perform.) If the lenders -- who presumably can afford trained staff and lawyers to review -- can't be arsed to do the legally required paperwork properly, I can't be arsed to help them exert a right they do not have.

It's that simple. If you didn't transfer the note legally, you do not have the note, and without a note, you cannot foreclose. Do not pass go, do not collect $200K worth of house. File the lien and hope like hell you get lucky, and then go fix your paperwork process.

Lenders thought that following the rules was too costly. Now, they're finding out just how wrong that is. See, there's a very deep problem here. Failure to transfer the note doesn't make the note disappear automagically. It could very well mean that somebody is holding a valid note, and a few years later, they look at it, go "hmm, we're not getting payments" and foreclose - a completely legal foreclosure, because they hold the note, and that's what the note does -- you pay me X in installments of Y, amongst other things, and if you don't, I repossess the property.

What this robo-singing paperwork fraud is doing is making it unsafe to purchase property in the US -- because you *cannot* know if the property you are being sold is clear. This is driving title insurers crazy. Many have stopped issuing policies on foreclosed properties. Enough of them do this, and foreclosed property becomes unsellable to anybody except cash buyers -- and you're a frank sucker to pay cash for property that you can't insure against clouded title.

Basically, the entire title system in the US is rapidly being compromised. This is a very bad, no good, economy destroying thing. What the US really needs is a proper title registration system, but, at best, we'd have 51 of them. Thus, the current system of country registration, strict rules on transfers, and title insurance.

It's a bit of a hack, but it works fine when the rules are followed. The lenders stopped following them. So, who should be penalized?
posted by eriko at 4:40 PM on December 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Vibrissae, money is not "desire incarnate," money should be a metaphor for the value of the things we desire. Three dollars might mean a gallon of gasoline, a loaf of bread, or half an hour of paddling a small boat around the lagoon at City Park; the reason for using money is so that we don't have to seek out people who have things we need and need things we have. If the guy renting the boats at City Park doesn't need the services of a computer programmer, I can still get the use of a boat.

So the idea of renting money is no stranger than the idea of renting that boat at City Park. The bank has the money but doesn't need it at the moment; there's a house I want to buy but I don't have the money. So we make an agreement and I rent the money so I don't have to figure out how many hours of programming are worth $50,000 to offer the guy with the house. As it happens it takes most people quite a while to return that much money, so the rent ends up being pretty large, even larger than the large amount paid for the house. But a large number of factors come into determining whether it's a good or fair deal, and it is by no means always theft as some people seem to think.
posted by localroger at 4:45 PM on December 30, 2010


While I have only a minuscule amount of sympathy for this woman, I would kinda like to have a beer with her.

I don't have a single atom of sympathy for the banks involved, however, and can't imagine wanting to even be in the same room with that blowhard real estate lawyer quoted in this story.

I don't think anybody portrayed here is covered in glory.
posted by Leta at 4:48 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, all you people defending the banks here, defending the principal of "capital" are missing one very important point.

It's not the bank's fucking money. Banks themselves only contribute a tiny percentage of their "own" equity. The rest, that's us.

Until the US and the EU reign in leverage caps for banks, it's NOT their fucking money. It's always somebody else's, in the best case scenario, and in the worst (and most common) the "money" only exists on paper.

Banks exist to move money around in an efficient manner; whose efficacy is served is a matter for the (clueless) voters and the regulators they indirectly elect.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:05 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, if we're going to be citing the Bible for financial advice, I assume it's okay to use it for a science and history textbook too.

Well, if there is actual history to be found in it, yes. There is an entire discipline in teasing out the parts of the Bible that are history. People of reason know to take good advice wherever it comes from.


There are also common sense lessons to be learned, if you can accept that correlation sometimes reflects causation. Like not eating pig meat because it may be infected with trichina worms, for example. This comes from close observation of people and their behaviour, and it turns out that a blanket ban on eating pigs is an effective public health measure.

Similarly, observations of the effects of usurious lending practices led to religious bans on charging interest (I think this is true of the Koran and the Old Testament(?) - I don't know about other books). People observed the spread and the effects of the parasites on society, and they took steps to limit their activities. There are still banking systems where interest isn't charged. Pakistan springs to mind, although it's probably not going to convince anyone to switch lending models.

And on preview, what digitalprimate says above.
posted by sneebler at 5:35 PM on December 30, 2010


except that no one is denying usury as a bad thing, they just take issue with a home loan at 4.8% interest being called usury.
posted by JPD at 5:52 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Islamic banking is actually a fascinating topic and worthy of its own FPP.
posted by mek at 5:52 PM on December 30, 2010


islamic banking is like stuffing a burger with cheese and calling it kosher because it doesn't obviously have dairy in it.
posted by JPD at 5:55 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the idea of renting money is no stranger than the idea of renting that boat at City Park. The bank has the money but doesn't need it at the moment; there's a house I want to buy but I don't have the money.

I completely disagree. As the last poster said this is your money, created on margin by your government (the Fed) to give banks an opportunity to lend on margin. The idea of "money making money" is an *invention*, and that invention has been vastly improved on by creating lots of other inventions that led to complex leveraging schemes.

Banks and margins exist from *law*. These are laws that Democratic citizens agree to let come into play, for the benefit of efficient exchange. However, when the idea of "efficient exchange" is counter-weighted by the massive damage caused by financial leveraging, it's time to call in the act!

Again, why does a rice farmer in Nigeria earn so much less for his labor. Why? Because some double bottom line accounting regimen says that certain assets are worth more than others, relative to the value of one nation's ability to pay, borrow, etc. Screw that! That's the banking system, made international. It's *kept* people poor, disadvantaging certain cultures because they're not favored by the double bottom line accounting concept of "terms of trade".

What's missing from those who defend contemporary financial institutions is a grounding in what money is: it's *fluid* and can mean lots of things. It can be a pure medium of exchange based on no-margin assets. Why not that? Who is to say that we need capital to drive invention? Necessity is the mother of invention, and when the "necessity" for more money becomes the dominant meme, we get interest, then usury, because "more money" translates to the things that money can buy. We get caught in that because we're *wired* to accumulate. And now that the bank marketers - and lots of other marketers - know that, and are learning how to manipulate this human propensity, money becomes even more the means to "desire incarnate", to the degree where money itself is the goal, for all the imaginary things (in the mind's eye) that money can buy.

Don't fool yourself; language creates thought (good research on that). Accounting is a mathematical language that follows rules of mathematical logic. Godel proved that no formal system of mathematics - nay, any formal system - will accumulate problems that the rules of the system cannot solve. We are seeing that with our current accounting methods. We don't need to revolutionize the banking industry, we need to evolve accounting theory to account for the harm that accounting abuse causes. Cooking the books with complicated derivative formulas, and clever international currency exchange plays that make fortunes every day have got to stop!. We are hurting ourselves, playing a World Monopoly game that gives commercial financial institutions of the world 1000 "get out of jail cards" to our one; that has them owning most of the property before the game even gets started, and gives them 100 throws of the dice to our 3.

Just look at the world, today. Ireland, Portugal, Russia, America, Chine, etc. etc - not to mention all the harm done to the smaller nations that sell us their meager goods, We are all hurting because of the way money is legislated and manipulated. Why would anyone want to cause such harm, knowingly cause such harm, or turn a blind eye to the possibility of such harm, in if it wasn't that money itself has become the object of desire, for all the imagined things that money can buy (including the ever-elusive sense of happiness). Where is the reward in culture in *giving*? Recent polls show empathy in American kids is way down. We have been sucked into thinking about "things", and the money that will buy those things. Money is the means to fulfillment, in a world that has killed every other measure of value, or means to achieve value. We need to start waking up to this, as fact, because it is fact. Follow the money, and you'll clearly see what I mean. Trace any illegal financial transaction back. Look into why someone works three jobs to pay for a sh*thole in a bad neighborhood. It's all about the fulfillment of desire, and the the sole means to meeting cultural expectations that have been shaped by balance sheets.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:59 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry, a large corporation will use every trick in the book, why shouldn't a borrower. Payback is a bitch.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:12 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


So the idea of renting money is no stranger than the idea of renting that boat at City Park

Your analogy is badly off the rails. First of all, there's no credit check at City Park. A credit check only available from three private corporations that have little incentive to give you an honest score. There is no legal way to compel them to prove with documentation that their records are correct.

Second, it has been shown in example after example that lending institutions like to rip off people of color.

So, if you only had the option to get approval from unaccountable corporations to get approval from racist lending institutions, then yes, renting money would be like renting a boat. Not to begin touching the economic realities of unequal trading partners and the tendency of enormous lending institutions to consistently break laws to push up profits because middle class people don't have time to decode all of their bullshit legalize, because they're too busy fighting for necessities in the first place.
posted by notion at 6:21 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ug: legalize = legalese.
posted by notion at 6:25 PM on December 30, 2010


Vibrissae, you have generalized a very deserved disrespect for the way a lot of things are done onto some foundational concepts that are not nearly as plastic as you seem to think.

Money is a token. It allows me to trade my computer programming skills for a pedal boat ride when the pedal boat owner doesn't need programming services. That's all it is. Or rather, that's all it should be, and much of the evil spawned in recent times has to do with trying to make it something else. We recently had a big knock down drag out here about what I consider the evil of "differential pricing." It might look like a good idea but it basically destroys the concept of what money is.

Given this, the idea of renting money is no different than renting half an hour on the pedal boat. It is in fact exactly the same thing, since a certain amount of money is exactly the same thing as half an hour on the pedal boat. If this is not the case the money isn't serving what we normally think of as its intended purpose.

Now, you can do one of three things with this whole idea of "money:"
  1. Eliminate it. Replace it with ... what? Barter? Doesn't scale. "From re: abilities to re: need?" Doesn't work. Been there, done that.
  2. Make it slide. This is the whole "differential pricing" thing, although you seem to be hinting at "differential pay" as well. Except that the people who are getting screwed by your cool algorithm will just quit the system and go to one that doesn't fuck them. It basically ends up being the same as "abilities/need" except more complicated, and still doesn't work.
  3. Make it worth whatever people are willing to trade for it. That's what we theoretically do.
Now there is no doubt that much evil is conducted because of the temptation of large amounts of capital, but the thing is Communism and various other progressive systems (including in many instances the US progressive income tax) don't work for precisely the same reason. Large amounts of concentrated capital are necessary for our society to function, and they will be a target for every sort of scoundrel and thief and they always have been and always will be and that will be true no matter what the system is that allows for the large amounts of capital. That is why you must have a strong government with consistent laws that are applied to the rich as well as the poor.

The evil in our time is not money itself, it is that the system of lawful governance that keeps the money system from being abused has been bought. And it's not a recent thing; it really happened in the 19th century. People get hung up on this idea of a "free" economy but what's meant by that isn't "free to do whatever you want," it means "what happens when people meet on a level playing field." And that idea is now, in a practical sense, deader than Elvis. But it doesn't mean the basic idea can't be made to work, it just means that our society lost the will to do so a century and change ago.
posted by localroger at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


notion, the problem with racism at the lending institutions and credit agencies has nothing to do with the basic idea of credit as the idea of renting money, with the money standing in for the thing you are "really" renting. That's corruption in a system that's necessary to govern large transactions, and you will have to deal with that in any system that deals with large transactions at all. And buying a house is a large transaction; it will attract every scoundrel and ripoff artist in earshot. That's why you need strong governmental regulation to keep the system honest. And that's something our loudest political voices have been trying to eliminate since before I was born.
posted by localroger at 6:42 PM on December 30, 2010


Just look at the world, today. Ireland, Portugal, Russia, America, Chine, etc. etc - not to mention all the harm done to the smaller nations that sell us their meager goods, We are all hurting because of the way money is legislated and manipulated. Why would anyone want to cause such harm, knowingly cause such harm, or turn a blind eye to the possibility of such harm, in if it wasn't that money itself has become the object of desire, for all the imagined things that money can buy (including the ever-elusive sense of happiness). Where is the reward in culture in *giving*? Recent polls show empathy in American kids is way down. We have been sucked into thinking about "things", and the money that will buy those things. Money is the means to fulfillment, in a world that has killed every other measure of value, or means to achieve value. We need to start waking up to this, as fact, because it is fact. Follow the money, and you'll clearly see what I mean. Trace any illegal financial transaction back. Look into why someone works three jobs to pay for a sh*thole in a bad neighborhood. It's all about the fulfillment of desire, and the the sole means to meeting cultural expectations that have been shaped by balance sheets.

Me no speaky Chinee.

Seriously, you really don't understand economics. Giving, empathy and materialism has nothing to do with it. I can pretty much guarantee people working three jobs to live in a shithole in a bad neighborhood don't think for a moment about meeting cultural expectations. They just want to have somewhere to live.
posted by gjc at 7:34 PM on December 30, 2010


Sorry, a large corporation will use every trick in the book, why shouldn't a borrower. Payback is a bitch.

This, many times over. The entire real estate industry is built on lenders jiggering the system for their own benefit; and we're supposed to be outraged because some clever woman in Florida has managed to outsmart a battalion of highly-paid lawyers?

If you don't want things like this to happen, reform the system. Until you do, don't ask me to cry for the banks. Because you know what? Fuck them.
posted by steambadger at 7:54 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Went to the job centre for a crisis loan yesterday, had to get past two burly security guards on the door - they followed me in while i talked to the advisor. I told him i needed a crisis loan, he told me i would have to go away and phone for that and heres the number and no you cant use the phones in the job centre. So after moving through broken phoneboxes that shut down halfway through, then having to go to a payphone with no door in the middle of winter, I finally get through the waves of classical muzak, feeding coins and coins in (quite how you apply for money with no money to contact the money people bemuses me) - they tell me I have the wrong number, they give me the right number. I phone the right number, they tell me theyll send me a form. I ask if i could have got the form at the jobcentre instead, they tell me yes I could have. I go back and get the form.

So, yes I hope this woman sticks it to the man and puts them through the longest legal rigmarole and boggiest quagmire in fucking history - and I hope others follow her lead until the government steps in and passes some legal bullshit to absolve mortgage lenders of all responsibility. It may all be happening in a different country from mine, of course - but the principles of being messed about by those in power and cheering on someone sticking it to the man are universal.

Her mortgage has since changed hands six times since then, each time being sold to another bank for a small fraction of its paper value, due to its toxic nature. I'd guess whoever is holding it now paid pennies on the dollar for its original $63k value


She could buy her own mortgage and pay herself back for pennies, no ?

Didnt George Harrison pull a similar move like this once ? Buying the rights to 'he's so fine' so they couldnt sue him anymore ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:10 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


sgt.serenity wrote: Went to the job centre for a crisis loan yesterday [...] So, yes I hope this woman sticks it to the man and puts them through the longest legal rigmarole and boggiest quagmire in fucking history

I think this is what Marxists call false consciousness. This woman is doing very nicely for herself at a huge cost to the community. I'm not talking about the banks - they can look after themselves. I'm talking about the overburdened court system which is forced to deal with her illiterate, rambling briefs. I'm talking about the taxes that the mortgagor would have paid. I'm talking about the higher fees paid by other borrowers to cover the cost of her mortgage. And I'm talking about the harsh court rules that have already been imposed in other jurisdictions as a result of vexatious defendants like her. You know what the end result of her actions will be? All borrowers will suffer. Banks won't let widows take over a mortgage. They won't let them roll over. They'll have a higher threshold for providing a mortgage in the first place. But she'll be fine, she's sitting on nearly a quarter-million dollars of other people's money.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:37 PM on December 30, 2010


always Florida!
posted by naplesyellow at 8:38 PM on December 30, 2010


second that. my she laugh and IMO, if the banks come after her full force, i people will donate. im down to 6.38$ til tomorrow, sgt, if i could, i would.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 PM on December 30, 2010


She got very lucky with the RTC taking over her mortgage. I suspect if she had stopped paying her original lender, this story never would have been written.
posted by vespabelle at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2010


You know what the end result of her actions will be? All borrowers will suffer. Banks won't let widows take over a mortgage. They won't let them roll over. They'll have a higher threshold for providing a mortgage in the first place.

This is the complaint of slaves worried that there will be a crackdown if they revolt. If we must all do what we are told without complaint for fear of future retribution by banks, then banks have too much power.

As for the burden on the courts; well others have already pointed out that banks being unwilling to do their paperwork has as much or more to do with this case than a borrower attempting to take advantage of their error.
posted by emjaybee at 8:55 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If her briefs were rambling and illiterate she'd have been out on her ass by now.
posted by wuwei at 10:05 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course, what this requires them to do is properly purchase and register the title, then the foreclosure would be a slam dunk. However, it is obvious that not one of them, and probably not even the original lender, bothered to do the legally required paperwork.

Which means that, while they have a lien against the property, they don't hold the note, and thus, they cannot foreclose, because the note is what gives them the right to do so.

And, you know? If I fail to fill out my tax forms correctly, I'm at fault. If I hire someone to do so and they fail to fill them out correctly, I'm still liable for the fault (though I might recover some for the failure to perform.) If the lenders -- who presumably can afford trained staff and lawyers to review -- can't be arsed to do the legally required paperwork properly, I can't be arsed to help them exert a right they do not have.


I come into a lot of threads and patiently explain that X, despite having been wronged, cannot sue because they lack standing. Sometimes people think this means that I am in sympathy with the bad guys du jour of outragefilter. What I'm really doing is saying that other competing needs sometimes outweigh the need of this one party to obtain personal justice in the matter.

And so it is here. Our legal system works because it is based on a set of rules that are designed to ensure predictability and orderly transactions. Here, the banks are fucked. They lack the first thing you need--standing to sue. Whether or not this woman is winning the battle despite personal immorality is irrelevant. The fact is that our system requires that your name be on the note to sue. And the value of having a predictable system, where all parties must follow the rules trumps any concern about the moral hazards of this woman's case or any other foreclosure case. Plain and simple, for our system to work, note holders have to play by the rules. If they don't, they don't get standing to sue.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm talking about the higher fees paid by other borrowers to cover the cost of her mortgage. And I'm talking about the harsh court rules that have already been imposed in other jurisdictions as a result of vexatious defendants like her. You know what the end result of her actions will be? All borrowers will suffer. Banks won't let widows take over a mortgage. They won't let them roll over. They'll have a higher threshold for providing a mortgage in the first place.

Its the note-holder's fault. She has every legal right to contest the foreclosure.

What rules against defendants? Clue me in here.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 PM on December 30, 2010


Here's the thing--we do not think of the concept of "efficient breach" as something that individuals are morally allowed to do--which is wrong, because corporations do it all the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth wrote: She has every legal right to contest the foreclosure.

She has every right to contest the foreclosure, but she doesn't have the right to engage in an unnecessary paper chase which has been an unproductive and unnecessary use of judicial resources.That smackdown was from a judge, after she presented what the original article calls strongly worded and colorful briefs that
presented dozens of reasons why Ms. Campbell thought the bank didn't have the right to her house: Paul Campbell's signature was forged on the original mortgage, she said, and the original sellers never received money from the bank. At other times, she said the mortgage was never properly conveyed between banks and federal agencies, and she demanded paperwork that they were unable to immediately produce.

Attorneys' fees and court costs from previous cases hadn't been paid, or the amounts were wrong, she argued. One brief said that "Defendant Campbell specifically denies the existence of any debt.What rules against defendants? Clue me in here.

I'm talking about the specialised dockets that were created in some states specifically to deal with foreclosures, as described in this article.

Here's the thing--we do not think of the concept of "efficient breach" as something that individuals are morally allowed to do--which is wrong, because corporations do it all the time.

This woman is not engaging in efficient breach. Efficient breach is necessarily efficient: it is a net benefit to all parties after all claims are settled. Her behavior is profoundly inefficient, and wasteful. She's just gaming the system.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:29 PM on December 30, 2010


biffa, I don't think you've fully captured the meaning of "rent" in economics.

I said there were two meanings. I was only giving short descriptions of both. Would you like more information on one or both?
posted by biffa at 2:06 AM on December 31, 2010


Only one thing left to do; Burn the house down!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 3:01 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have a lot more sympathy for this woman if she was making "payments" to an account somewhere, which would show good faith. As far as I can tell from the original story, which I read on the bus when it appeared, and some related stories (which were as far as I could tell based on the WSJ), she hasnt'.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:33 AM on December 31, 2010


The WSJ is two papers: the front of the book consistently has some of the best journalism in the world; the back of the book is entertainment for people who pay people to read the front of the book.

If you didn't know this before, you can now use Internet or library search to verify it.


Thus, the most probable motive for gathering and publishing this story is that it's odd, atypical and yet indicative of many trends: banks not having their shit together and consumers who don't know what they bought -- ie, what they owe and why.

Are we in a state of disarray due to a lack of oversight and a short-term minded political culture? Yes! Are the poor always going to feel shocks far worse than the rich? Yes! (Hence many religious and non-religious traditions of mercy and fairness up to and including public schools and unemployment insurance.)

But is the natural state of our economy or of economic activity around the world psychotic? If you believe that, it's as an article of faith not reason.

MetaFilter is a flower in a field made possible by a robust economy. Banks made ISP's possible. Banks made production runs of modems possible. Banks made the sales of infrastructure bonds that wired your area possible.

Etc.
posted by noway at 7:00 AM on December 31, 2010


I remember the 80's, and 4.8% in the 80's didn't seem right.

So I looked it up, and even if these numbers are a little off, it's likely that her interest rate was more than twice that.

Here are the ARM rates for the same time period.
posted by Thistledown at 7:31 AM on December 31, 2010


Well, I was pretty sure that found missing was talking through his hat.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:46 AM on December 31, 2010


No, need for speculation, tables, or memories of the era. My hat and I just calculated the percentage interest rate, compounded monthly over 25 years that would accrue $148,000 of interest on $63,801 of principal. I came up with about 4.8%. If my math is wrong, I stand to be corrected.
posted by found missing at 8:15 AM on December 31, 2010


Actually no, buildout of basic telco services was done by the Bell System, which was a monopoly, i.e. a rent seeking enterprise. Who allowed that monopoly? Why , the government, i.e. all of us. And who funded the basic research that made the internet possible? Why, all of us did. Banks just put their hands in the revenue stream.
posted by wuwei at 9:39 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


She should pay her debts - but I can't see the downside of her working the legal system or finding legal misfilings or honest mistakes in court process and appealing on those grounds - that's what the big lawyers for the big corporations do. Everything matters in court proceedings.

Why is it suddenly wrong when an individual uses the same tactics?
posted by TravellingDen at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2010


The WSJ is two papers: the front of the book consistently has some of the best journalism in the world;

This is sadly less true than it was a decade ago. As their editorial board has become more whackadoodle the journalism has suffered simultaneously. I don't know if that's a bleedover from Murdoch ownership or if it's just the news business suffering as revenue suffers. But the WSJ of today can barely carry the water of the WSJ of twenty years ago.

Perhaps as a comparative measure they're still miles ahead of others but - as a long-time reader - the paper's decline makes me sad.
posted by phearlez at 9:47 AM on December 31, 2010


TravellingDen:
It's wrong because she's a serf and she should know her place. That's the narrative. Nasty, isn't it?
posted by wuwei at 9:58 AM on December 31, 2010


Why is it suddenly wrong when an individual uses the same tactics?

It's not, and having read this article closely a lot of the things that make her look less sympathetic are pretty irrelevant. It's not too surprising, and it's a big reason that basic journalistic practice is to quote experts rather than to your own analysis.

While that's been pretty seriously gamed by politicians in recent years to allow the most insane positions to get presented as parallel and of equal merit, this article does a great job of showing the merits of that approach.

For example: Once, she questioned whether there really was a debt at all has a pretty clear oh-ho, you sneak! feel to it - of course there's a debt, you took a mortgage! How can you deny that? But if you know anything about dealing with debt in the law you know about requiring validation.

That's not the same thing in a secured debt like this as it is in 3rd party debt collection, but it still amounts up to saying look, if you are going to invoke the force of law then you need to establish the amount and the dates of activity so that we can equitably determine the amounts due and what dates we use to determine interest calculations.

Yes, when you separate out these legal twiddles and present them like normal human conversation it sounds sleazy. It's the same problem when the news reports that someone filled a motion to dismiss. Yes, of course it's insane to suggest that we just let Mr Manson go and drop this whole thing, but it's part of the process - same as stopping at that intersection's stop sign in the middle of the night when there's nobody for miles around.

The article does it several other times. more homeowners in trouble are starting to use similar tactics and are hiring defense lawyers to challenge their foreclosures, hoping to drag out the foreclosure process long enough to reach a settlement with the lender is silly. Any collection proceeding may have continuances from either side as paperwork is brought into order or as discussions proceed. It's not asymmetrical - a lender who would prefer to just get paid rather than foreclose on a house in a depressed market might postpone a hearing to allow more time to negotiate, but would we condemn them for filing the suit to force negotiation forward?

Equally prejudicial for no good reason: In response, Ms. Campbell filed for bankruptcy, effectively blocking the foreclosure until a stay is lifted by a bankruptcy-court judge. Her filing lists $225,000 in real-property assets, and lists a secured creditor's claim of $63,801, which is equal to the unpaid principal on her mortgage. In previous court arguments, she had maintained that no lender held a secured claim against her because the note was improperly assigned.

That's got the same oh noes before she said it didn't exist but in her filing she admits here's a claim! And it's irrelevant. As before, demanding that the opposing side proves their claim and refusing to do their job for them isn't sleazy, it's just the process. Listing the existing claim on a bankruptcy filing is just the way it works. You cannot discharge a debt in bankruptcy if you don't list it. People often have problems in their bankruptcies when they don't list an outstanding debt - if it's not listed it's not protected and someone can show up down the road demanding they get paid.

Other bias items simply lack context to determine if they're inane or not. Paul Campbell's signature was forged on the original mortgage, she said, sounds moronic if you're not up on all this robo-signing insanity of late. This was a whole different time period, but it's not completely crazy to imagine that the same underlying sleazy impulses that drove folks to do that might not have drove a late-70s banker who lost some paperwork to re-create it and pretend it's the real stuff. I don't think it's likely, but is it completely implausible? Perhaps not in context, but it doesn't help in this article that so many other things were made to sound worse than they really are.

More obviously stupid is something like At other times, she said the mortgage was never properly conveyed between banks and federal agencies, and she demanded paperwork that they were unable to immediately produce. What does "immediately produce" mean in this context? How can anyone with any knowledge of the legal system claim that immediately has any meaning that we'd recognize in day to day life? Far more likely is that she requested they produce documentation they couldn't ever produce, since in every other circumstance a request would just be made for a temporary extension to find what they need.

Or perhaps not, but you could never tell from this article. It makes no explicit mention of statutes of limitations on debt, other than the oblique She maintains that at this point, no one owns her mortgage note, and that because of fraud and paperwork mistakes by the banks that transferred it over and over again in the 1990s, the debt has been made void. That again sounds stupid if you're not aware of these things - which many are not, which is tragic since it's an affirmative defense - but if you know anything about the underlying concept of "justice delayed is justice denied" you know it really does have some purpose to exist.

This woman might be a complete slimeball but reading this article with a little knowledge and effort at objectivity sure makes it look somewhere between an example of accidental bias and a hit-piece.
posted by phearlez at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


Imho, there is no such thing as a vexatious defendant, period. I'd imagine her countersuits could be vexatious of course, but that's another question. For sure, there is considerable political pressure to weaken consumer protections, but that's the fault of authors like that of the little hit-piece we're discussing here, not those that actually utilize the protections, justly or not.

As noted up thread, there is only one reason she's gotten this far, namely that her mortgage holders keep going belly up. In fact, there might of course be very good reasons for this, like say all the banks who'll pay the most for her mortgage are already being run into the ground by incompetent management.

In fact, the legal system is fairly good at dealing with assholes. It thanks litigious assholes for the extra billable hours of course, but it still handles them. It's just not good at dealing with people who wander off.

I'd assume the legal system will eventually take away her house once some bank finds it cost effective to pursue foreclosure to conclusion, which is exactly what the article suggests that's already happening now.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2010


I wonder if it would help people understand if you looked at it like this. In criminal cases we require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We require both defense and prosecution to follow certain procedures to make sure the trial is fair. Often, we let probably or almost certainly guilty people go.

We do this because people feel it is worse to punish the innocent than let the guilty go free.

This woman is guilty, she is getting off because of technicalities. However, we NEED those technicalities to make sure the system doesn't let the banks exploit people who are not doing what she is doing. We can throw the book at this lady, or we can get rid of the regulations and laws that protect us all...doing both is tricky.

The banks have a burden of proof here, just like a prosecutor. If they can't meet it, tough shit. You don't have to like it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:03 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Efficient breach is necessarily efficient: it is a net benefit to all parties after all claims are settled. Her behavior is profoundly inefficient, and wasteful. She's just gaming the system.

Given the fact that the note-holders don't have the right to foreclose, I think a settlement for less than the value of the note would be a net benefit to all parties. The attorney's fees incurred by the lenders are no doubt greater than the value of the house if it is foreclosed.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on December 31, 2010


This woman is guilty, she is getting off because of technicalities. However, we NEED those technicalities to make sure the system doesn't let the banks exploit people who are not doing what she is doing.

There are no technicalities in the law. None. There are the things a party must do to secure relief or to avoid losing a suit. These things are not technicalities at all, they are the procedural requirements to obtain victory. They are there to ensure that each and ever plaintiff and defendant is treated the same and that the process works properly.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:19 PM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would be surprised if the first thing the new owners of the note did was anything other than an offer to settle.
posted by JPD at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2010


Imho, there is no such thing as a vexatious defendant, period.

I've seen court rules designed to prevent vexatious plaintiffs from frivolous suits. But I have never once seen a rule designed to prevent a "frivolous" defendant. By definition, she can never be frivolous--she is defending a suit brought by another party. The law requires that the plaintiff must meet every requirement in order to win the suit, for it is taking the step of stripping property rights from the defendant.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:22 PM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm talking about the specialised dockets that were created in some states specifically to deal with foreclosures, as described in this article.

A specialized docket is not a court rule.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:26 PM on December 31, 2010


Closest thing to frivolous defendants would be the freeman on the land types. You can't prosecute me because of the gold fringe on your flag! You can't prosecute me under your naval law, only the fictitious corporation you registered under my name in ALLCAPS when I was born!

Or maybe Orly trying to get out of her fine...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:30 PM on December 31, 2010


Closest thing to frivolous defendants would be the freeman on the land types. You can't prosecute me because of the gold fringe on your flag! You can't prosecute me under your naval law, only the fictitious corporation you registered under my name in ALLCAPS when I was born!

Or maybe Orly trying to get out of her fine...


They are entitled to make their arguments. And they will get shot down. The freemen of course do not realize that there is no allodial title, and that they hold their fee simple title from the state. Orly is just crazy.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:57 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eriko and Ironmouth hit on the most interesting (to me) part of these debates, and it's an issue that stands apart, or at least in concert, with what's going on with this woman. In most, if not all, of these cases, the bank that's trying to foreclose can't prove that it owns the loan. The loan itself has gone through such a long process of getting bundled into a security, and sold, and resold, and rebundled, that whoever finally thinks that they own the rights to the homeowner's money can't prove that they do. The banks were so sloppy with the paperwork that they can't prove that ten years down the road another bank won't show up and claim a right to the money. That's why the banks are so screwed. I would bet that the majority of homeowners who bought during the bubble would end up with a favorable settlement if they challenged their banks to prove that they own their loans. Of course, it would destroy everyone's credit in the process, but it's probably worth it for a lot of people if they're underwater on their mortgages.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:53 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Craven, that is part of the bug in thinking I mentioned upthread. People don't care that no one actually knows who owns the house, they just know damn well this woman didn't pay for it so she shouldn't have it.

They never consider who is gonna end up with the house once it's taken from her, as long as she is punished. But then, if we don't figure out who really owns the mortage and just take houses when the banks say to...how do we know the banks aren't doing exactly what she is doing?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:09 AM on January 1, 2011


*don't know who owns the mortgage on the house. As of now, SHE owns the house regardless.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:11 AM on January 1, 2011


phearlez: I'll start reading the WSJ more often to look for that slip. I also judge papers by the relative options.

wuwei: yes, i agree, government also plays a huge role in capital markets -- by regulating via laws and by stimulating activity through the reserves, the mint, bonds, Fannie and Freddie, etc . We are its paying customers.

I'm for more, more healthy banking options and that's impossible without an effective, impartial, state-run banking system.

Free and fair markets. Liberty and justice for all.

What prompted me to jump into this thread was a desire expressed in various comments to do away with banks because they are immoral. Banks are not immoral, bank keepers and bank thieves and some bank customers are immoral.

I don't think there would be a MetaFilter without a Netcom, Speakeasy, Prodigy, GeoCities and even an AOL. Lots of speculative capital in those businesses.
posted by noway at 9:29 AM on January 2, 2011


« Older For all the faults of the poorhouse, the system it...  |  Snowflakes under an electron m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments