[This started as a footnote to a long-overdue blog posting which updates my situation. As sometimes happens with [my] footnotes, it got rather out of control , but as too often doesn’t happen with [my] blog entries, it actually got finished. So this is the appetizer; main course to follow fairly soon.]
By far the most sobering, “Did I really know what I was doing?” episode in my generally very positive first year of being feral was discovering that despite perfectly good credit, extensive retirement assets which I can now liquidate without penalty, a decades-long and uninterrupted record of home ownership, an ample documentable income stream and the intention of putting down a large down-payment, as a new small business owner, I was totally ineligible for a mortgage. Anywhere. One of a number of points where one realizes that while the U.S. establishment talks a pro-small-business line, in reality they really don’t like small business at all, and they really want you to be under the control of some large organization Just Like Them. Nothing new here: medieval Europe worked pretty much the same way, and “Communist” China still does.
Thus I was immensely pleased to see that because he also now runs a small business, even the former chair of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, can’t get a mortgage.
So allow me a somewhat extended digression on this topic—you’re reading this blog at work, right?
There was a government project I consulted on which held large periodic meetings attended by people from other agencies, and I noticed one person in particular who, year after year after year, sat there without ever asking or being asked a question, in what appeared to be a state of utter oblivion. At first I was [mildly] upset, thinking “Why, oh why, are we paying this person??” until it occurred to me that the reality could be far more interesting.
This individual’s behavior, I came to realize, was completely consistent with the following scenario: The individual had once been a meditation master in some exotic order of warrior monks. Their monastery had been betrayed by a highly skilled but impatient protégé of the reigning abbot, and in one horrific night was destroyed by a rival order. This individual, through a spine-tingling series of heroic acts which may well have violated the laws of physics, at least as the uninitiated think we understand them, escaped and finally, Yoda-like, found refuge as a GS-12 in an obscure Federal agency. What I viewed as obliviousness was in reality the outward manifestation of a deep meditative state—the seventh or eighth jnana, or perhaps beyond. And one day, at just the right time and place, the surviving monks will receive The Call…
Hey, fits the existing evidence and is more interesting.
So what does this have to do with banks. Notice that the only things banks do nowadays is build more and more and more bricks-and-mortar branches. This in the internet age. They certainly don’t lend money, not to me, not to Ben Bernanke. They just build branches, and staff them with pleasant folks who spend day after day waiting for the dozen or so people to walk through the doors, though in Albemarle County , two-thirds of those are asking for directions to the downtown pedestrian mall or Monticello.
But that is only what you think you are seeing. In point of fact, each one of those apparently useless bank branch buildings is a node of a vast network of advanced laser battle stations that have been constructed in anticipation of an attack by a hostile alien civilization—Independence Day and the Transformers series are actually training films—and when that day comes, the people in those “bank branches” will rush into the “vault”—those are actually blast doors, and in the meantime those rooms are just used to store coffee for the nearby Starbucks, certainly not money for loans—notice there is always a nearby Starbucks—and change into brightly colored form-fitting Spandex uniforms—the commanders get to wear capes—and wage an apocalyptic battle for the salvation of the planet. Barack and Hillary have this all under control.
Nah…the truth is much simpler. What we are witnessing is a systemic pouty fit over the fact that the banks are no longer able to routinely commit multiple acts of machine-assisted fraud, violate legal norms dating back to the time of the Magna Carta, destroy the lives, hopes and dreams of millions of people, then stick the taxpayers with the bill when the house of cards implodes, and do this with complete impunity. Impunity is not enough: they want to be able to do it all again. Until that point: we’ll take your money and invest in our own bricks-and-mortar, and there is nothing, nothing you miserable peons can do about it. So there!
Ben Bernanke can’t get a mortgage? Hell, Elizabeth Warren probably can’t even get a pre-paid debit card!
And the mouse? Happy ending actually: I was able to borrow directly (not with a bank) against some of those retirement assets, and we found a [smaller] house for less than we’d been ready to pay, sold our existing house without a realtor—our attorney charged $125, not 6%—and we now have a house, and no mortgage. I’m guessing Mr. Bernanke will do okay as well.
But multiply those experiences by hundreds of thousands and one can easily see how this five-plus year “bank strike” is slowing the economic recovery.
As for the meditating warrior monk at those meetings: I’m sticking with that story.
1. So as a footnote, this has no footnotes. Except this one. And the next one
2. Charlottesville, Virginia: we moved.