Thursday, March 22, 2007

Recovering from the Triangle: Whose Problem?

Continuing the theme of "creeping racism," Reuters just released two stories on the subprime lending crisis (whose racist angle I recently explored) dealing, respectively, with the Congressional and the Executive perspectives. What may be most important about these reports is what the reveal about the priorities of both of these perspectives. The primary focus appears to be on the institutions that provided the loans and on the impact of their problems on the domestic (if not global) economy. Turning the telescope around, this means that comparatively little attention is being paid to the borrowers. As was the case with Katrina, the processes of the governmental system have once again demonstrated an inability to recognize who the victims are and to give serious consideration to how they should be treated as subjects (rather than objects in the databases of the lending institutions). In the remarks he prepared for a Senate hearing, Joseph Smith, the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, described the situation of such borrowers as "unsustainable" but did not appear to have much to say about getting out of that situation through any path other than foreclosure. Nevertheless, that rather gratuitous verbal gesture was still better than the official statements from the White House, which simply chose to ignore saying anything about the borrowers in its assessment of the problem. It would be nice if these victims were spared the indignities suffered by the Katrina victims, but this is unlikely to happen if they lack a voice that can be heard by either the Congress or the White House.

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