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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

President Obama should go to Foreclosure Court

You do get the feeling the President just doesn't get it. There is a Herbert Hoover quality to his pronouncements that the economy should be doing better with the stimulus packages his administration has passed and that many jobs have been created and people really are doing better. The President should go sit in foreclosure court. That might just jump start his awareness.

In foreclosure court you sit in the back and wait while the attorneys for the banks march up to the judge. The attorneys sit on the other side of the low wainscoted divider in high backed leather chairs. They are there for the banks. The people getting foreclosed sit in wooden benches next to each other like criminals waiting trial. There is no talking in court. Many of the defendants need a interpreter who gets up and speaks loudly in Spanish so everyone in the court will hear. On this particular day the judge makes the announcement that there will be no more interpreters after today because of cutbacks.

So then you wait and watch. One by one people go up before the judge and plead for time. That is the best you can do. The banks lawyers have foreclosure orders in hand and they want to! The judge gives some people twenty eight days, but others he grants the order of foreclosure. The people shuffled out glumly knowing they have to leave their home or the sheriff will evict them.

The President doesn't seem to understand this reality. The people in the courtroom are from all walks of life. Some people come as husband and wife, many times only one spouse shows up to get the bad news. Foreclosure court never ends. The court fills up as fast as the judge gavels the cases along. The lawyers troop in and out. The banks have at least five attorneys present. It is always the bank versus the individual. It is an assembly line in reverse. This is not production, but destruction. Destruction of an American Dream gone horribly wrong.

So I think President Obama should stop in just for a little while. You sit there for an hour and you get it. Sometimes there is a tearful woman and everyone feels really bad for a moment. Everyone remembers these are peoples homes and not just judgements of default on loans. The lawyers pause, the cops look away. The judge waits for the woman to compose herself, then everything gets rolling again. The sad assembly line of our bleeding nation.

William Hazelgrove's latest novel Rocket Man is due out in September. The story of a man trying to hold onto his home.

Books by William Hazelgrove