It's so obvious a point I wouldn't think it needs mentioning, but too many people don't get it. When you have a banker agreeing to lend an average guy $500,000, the average guy is going to assume the banker knows what he's doing. Sure, he might suspect the banker's taking advantage of him to some extent, but it would probably never occur to him that there's a good chance he'd be unable to make his payments. He wouldn't know that the real estate market might crash and that if it did, he'd be upside-down in his mortgage. (In fact, he's probably never heard the term "upside-down" as it relates to mortgages.)
The average American has an IQ of 100 and a high-school diploma. He doesn't understand compound interest and isn't likely to have a good grasp of the nuances of housing markets or ARMs. The guy in the fancy suit with all the big words tells him he can handle the mortgage. And it's not just some guy who knocked on his door, but a man employed by a major national bank as an expert on mortgages. What's he going to do? Drill the guy on real estate markets and debt-to-income ratios? Or just trust that the guy knows what he's doing?
Republicans have been gleefully passing around this video that shows what some rich asshole thinks of average Americans like that who got screwed on their mortgages. They're "losers."
No compassion, no understanding. Just pure rage. Rage and hate.
Oh, and by the way, here's Santelli on September 2nd, saying that the economy was healthy.
I'm sure Republicans will soon be passing each other Santelli's next rant about how losers like himself are still rich and employed despite having been irresponsible and completely fucking wrong about the subject he is supposed to be an expert in.
Here's Matthew Yglesias, who says it better than I can:
Along with the absurd, Santelli-led revolt of the overclass against efforts to help middle class homeowners, there’s been a larger sense that “reasonable” people can all agree that there’s “plenty of blame to go around” and that on some level “irresponsible borrowers” deserve to take their lumps in all of this. I have my doubts.
When someone applies for a mortgage, there are two parties to the transaction. On one side of it is a teacher or a blogger or an electrician or a lawyer or a nurse or a guy who manages a Home Depot. On the side is a guy who, for a living, as a professional, works in the “deciding on what terms to offer people mortgages” business who works, for a living, at a financial services business. Businesses like that got in the habit of making loans with little regard to actual prospects for long-term payment on the theory that since house prices were rising, the borrower could always sell or refinance. That, to repeat, wasn’t the judgment of electricians and store managers; it was the judgment of people who were professional mortgage-offerers. They, in turn, were being lax in part because they were finding it very easy to sell the mortgages off as securities. And it was easy to sell the mortgages as securities irregardless of their quality, because big sophisticated financial services firms devised tactics for slicing and dicing the securities into packages that could be easily resold. Those packages could, in turn, be easily resold because they had high ratings from the bond agencies. These ratings were based on models which held that a nationwide decline in housing prices was impossible. The ratings agencies and the modeling firms were, in turn, regulated by the U.S. government. And in addition to the formal regulatory agencies, there are a variety of public officials—the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the President, the Secretary of the Treasury—who have a kind of generalized responsibility for oversight of the economy. Beyond the political system, the American media offers extensive coverage of business and real estate.
There really is plenty of blame to go around here. But I just don’t see how more than a tiny fraction of it could possible adhere to our electrician or teacher or secretary who’s decided, basically, that the financial services professionals and government regulators know what they’re doing. Now could she have known better? Sure. She could have been reading Dean Baker and Paul Krugman and others. The idea that this lending was all being undertaken on a false premise that a nationwide housing bust was impossible wasn’t a highly guarded secret. I was, for example, familiar with the chart above and with the analysis suggesting that a bust was, in fact, likely. And I believed that analysis. But at the same time, I write about U.S. public policy debates for a living. If there’s a dissident line of thinking that, despite its general unpopularity, is popular among left-of-center economists—well, that’s the kind of thing I know a lot about. But our nurse? Why would she know?