First they stopped paying their mortgages, a move in which they were joined by many financially stretched middle-class folks, though the poor definitely led the way. All right, these were trick mortgages…there were “Ninja” loans…
Conservative pundits have been lamenting the low levels of “economic literacy” that allowed people to be exploited by subprime loans. Why didn’t these low-income folks get lawyers to go over the fine print? And don’t they have personal financial advisers anyway?
I wish I could report that the current attack on capitalism represents a deliberate strategy on the part of the poor, that there have been secret meetings in break rooms and parking lots across the country, where cell leaders issued instructions like, “You, Vinny – don’t make any mortgage payment this month. And Caroline, forget the back-to-school shopping, OK?” But all the evidence suggests that the current crisis is something the high rollers brought down on themselves.
When, for example, the largest private employer in America, which is Wal-Mart, starts experienceing a shortage of customers, it needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. About a century ago, Henry Ford realized that his company would prosper only if his own workers earned enough to buy Fords. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, never seemed to figure out that its cruelly low wages would eventually curtail its own growth, even at the company’s famously discounted prices.
-from “Smashing Capitalism” by Barbara Ehrenreich in This Land is Their Land.