David Hines
Who owns what?
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By David Hines
December 1, 2010

Those who thought they owned mortgage-backed securities may have been mistaken. Courts have ruled that MERS, the electronic registration system created to facilitate Mortgage-Backed Securities, has clouded ownership of the debt. MERS hasn't standing in court to foreclose.

In an effort to overcome the deficit, a booming business has developed in "re-creating," i.e., falsifying, documents. Moreover in the effort to sell ever more property during the housing boom, forgeries were rife. To make deals, signatures were routinely copied by agents of lenders.

The paperwork mess has led to serious errors. Foreclosures have been attempted on homeowners who were not late in their payments, and even some who owed nothing at all. When local cops refuse to foreclose on a clouded mortgage, at least one bank resorted to breaking and entering. Foreclosed owners have retaliated in kind, breaking into their foreclosed homes.

This is a legal nightmare that could tie up the courts for years to come. Depending upon the jurisdiction, a defaulter need merely say, "Show me the document with my signature!" In many cases it can't be done.

No matter how government tries to resolve the issue, somebody is going to be burned. Owners of the debts include managed retirement accounts and foreign banks. The courts siding with home buyers would cost these entities a lot of money. It could also bankrupt some major US banks — or more probably cost the taxpayer trillions of dollars more to bail them out again. But if the banksters' excesses are enabled — again — a lot of middle-class people will be up in arms, politically and maybe even literally.

The first attempt to help the banks was pocket-vetoed recently. That was before the election, when any overt action might have had repercussions at the polls. What happens now is up in the air. The Supreme Court is likely to have a say.

Moving on to other ownership issues...

Surely you own your money, right? I suppose you own the paper ticket. If money represents the value of your labor, though, the Federal Reserve owns it. The Fed can inflate away its value at will.

Do you own gold? If you're holding it in your hand I guess you do. That is, until government repeats its FDR-era confiscation. If you own it in an Exchange-Traded Fund, your ownership might be in doubt. The ETFs have less metal in their vaults than is promised to "owners." Much gold has been leased out to speculators; whether their speculations pan out and enable them to replace the gold remains to be seen.

How about your own body? No again. The newly-appointed "food czar" is Michael Taylor. He was Vice President and Chief lobbyist for Monsanto. He has long been against your having the choice of putting organic food into your mouth. If you are what you eat, then you're to be an adjunct of government.

During the recent election, and most all elections, people went on about the "American Dream." At one time that dream was of amassing the resources to take care of one's own family, beholden to nobody. Recent usage posits it as the ease of going into massive debt, both personally and governmentally. The problem, some say, is that there isn't enough money and credit. Therefore the Fed borrows and prints more so that you can borrow more from the banksters.

In past elections politicians touted the "ownership society." It must be odd, then — at least to those who buy into buy into campaign rhetoric — that their machinations have created so muddled a concept of ownership.

Who owns what? Excellent question.

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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