Losing your house over a bill for a lousy fifty bucks. That's what happened to Jean Castro of Connecticut, who emigrated from Haiti many years ago. He's saved all his life to buy this house. (Note: he also owns the house next door.) Is he a deadbeat who refused to pay taxes? No, he's apparently always paid his property tax bills in full. However, the city of Bridgeport, where Mr. Castro lives, claims that Mr. Castro has run up various bills with the city before and refused to pay. On further examination, it turns out that the city sent the property tax bills to Mr. Castro, and he forwarded them to his mortgage company, which was supposed to pay them. The total bill was around $3,000 but most of that was for attorney's fees. The actual tax bill was a little over $50.00.
I used to have an arrangement like that with my bank. The city persisted in sending the bills to me, although I repeatedly (and often irately) notified them that the bills were to be sent directly to the bank, which was paying the taxes out of the adjusted mortgage amount that I paid monthly (they calculated the property tax plus mortgage and then billed me monthly for the sum including "a little something" for their trouble.) I finally terminated the arrangement because it was cheaper and less troublesome to pay the property taxes myself. So my sympathies are with Mr. Castro, of course.
I have no idea how efficient the city of Bridgeport is, but if they're anything at all like my city, they need to rethink their position on this. Taking someone's home because they were late paying a lousy $50.00 is ludicrous. As for the summons they claim they sent him, pish, posh, and piffle. $2,700 in attorneys' fees over a fifty-dollar debt? Puh-leez. The fact that the bank paid the bill indicates that someone screwed up here and that someone is not Mr. Castro. Chances are, like my bank, they delayed paying the bill and, in fact, delayed doing anything at all about it until caught flatfooted, and then paid to have the matter swept under the rug. It IS Countrywide Bank, after all, and their El Jefe is currently facing charges from the SEC, so who knows what can of worms this might open?
HuffPo reports that the March disbursement of Treasury monies called the "homeowners bailout is beginning to show some positive signs. They promise to keep an eye on the issue. We should all keep an eye on the issue. I'm still overwhelmed by negative feelings about the bank bailout, as the above picture clearly shows. I know it was necessary (and there I disagree with most of my good friends and fellow bloggers who have whupped me upside the head for such statements, but Your Cat Is A Stubborn Cat, and I plough on). The current financial crisis seems to be easing, and even Paul Krugman says so. Other countries are having differing degrees of fiscal troubles, but all the economies who could afford it (and even some who couldn't) have poured money into their troubled banks to shore them up. It could have been much worse.
Goodness knows the Bushies probably intended it to be, taking billions in loans from China to prosecute an endless and unjustified war.
And speaking of war, I'm currently reading a history of modern Japan (from the Tokugawa Shogunate through the 1980s), and came across these words of wisdom regarding World War II:
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East was created for the purpose of trying the political leaders who were responsible for "crimes against peace." [...] war criminals were charged with "the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging" of aggressive war. Most of these men were also tried for violations of the laws and customs of war [...].Wouldn't that accurately describe the Bush Administration? They declared war against Iraq before the UN's weapons inspectors had finished their task. Subsequently, American inspectors announced that they had failed to discover the "weapons of mass destruction" that purportedly formed the basis for an uninvited and unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign nation.
So, why exactly are we not trying these sons of illegitimate drunken toads-in-a-ditch for war crimes? Or is that reserved only for non-Americans? I think it would be a delicious irony indeed if Japan, Germany, and Italy would band together to create a war crimes tribunal for teh Bushies. OTOH, that would probably cause mass hysteria (I only find it amusing because of my deeply cynical nature). So perhaps it's just as well that the effort appears to span all continents and nationalities save this one.
Hint: Drop your fucking congresscritters yet another note urging them to move on war crimes. Sheldon Whitehouse (yay, Senator!) is hinting that torture investigations might well encompass the war criminals at the top. Stumble It!