- Posted February 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Since our government’s success at getting a “National Mortgage Settlement” from some of the largest of banks in the USA, I have a few questions of a very serious nature.
Were the fines levied and collected just for more spending money for the Federal government or are they to be used to make injured party’s whole, or at least “repaired” at this point? I thought the entire idea behind Lawsuits was to make the Injured Party whole again. I would like to know the plans we (my government) have to accomplish this. What about those of us, in this situation with another bank, not one of the (only) five participating in the settlement? And here is why I ask.
I used to be a “Small Business Owner”, maybe not by Washington standards, which seem to put a “small” business between $50,000,000 – 100,000,000; no I built my business to almost $5M, over 19 long hard years. I did this like many other Americans, forsaking vacations, watching every dime I spent, working long hours and expanding as carefully as I could. And I, at one point directly employed about 35 people, from skilled office staff, to tradesman on my payroll. I also employed about 60 different types of sub-contracting companies; mostly other local small businesses.
The only problem with the entire scenario, is that I was a Homebuilder in Florida. You know, building the American Dream… So, now that the American Dream has turned out to be a nightmare for a lot of hard working people, me included; I wanted to share some of my realities, in today’s world, for me and my family.
I have lost my business, my real estate holdings that were attached to that business; and with the ripple effect, because I personally guaranteed EVERYTHING (as a small business person has to), I have now lost my home. This was the place where me and my wife raised our two children.
I have (literally) gone as far as Africa to find work to help feed and house my family. I have lived apart from them now for almost two years. Please stop and think about that for a moment.
Almost two years. Two years of not seeing the Birthdays, Anniversary(s), any other event, large or small. Two years of not being there for my kids or my wife; no matter their age, your kids always need you (or at least I am lucky, mine do). And how good do you think all of this works for a marriage??? Not real well.
Back to when this came about… At first, my wife, for quite some time, didn’t understand why my business just “went away”? She found it hard to imagine what I was doing wrong, and why I had lost all we had worked for. She didn’t quite understand how much my industry depended on the lending of money, on so many levels. And she thought we were the only ones in this predicament. So, not only was I struggling to keep a business going, I’m trying to keep a family on track and a relationship going with my wife of 27 years.
Not only am I experiencing all of this, but so are all of my employees, suppliers, sub-contractors and their employees are drug along with me and all of the other builders in this same predicament. Our community, once very strong from the building business, is struggling.
And I have yet to see too many in the Lending Industry pay any price, other then (finally) this settlement. In looking at the breadth of that industry; from the Rating Agencies, Banks, Underwriters, Mortgage Originators, Mortgage Servicers; I have seen very little in the way of prosecution at any level. Yet, everyone I know who had been a “small business person” has had to defend all sorts of Lawsuits, Foreclosures, Bankruptcies.
And to cut through the rhetoric, the Lending Industry, before the crash, seeing and knowing there was BIG trouble on the horizon, rode a dying horse until it fell over, crushing many Americans. I have yet to see anyone in that industry say, “My Bad”, let me give back some of these commissions and fees; or anything like this. And they never will…
So, to get back to my original question, how will this money from the “Settlement” be used? How will those of us damaged by this huge debacle be ever compensated? How will it begin to make me whole again; how will it allow me EVER be able to but another house, to make my family a new home?
And what about many of the other banks, who operated in much the same manner as that of the ‘big five’ did? How do those of us, who had these banks as “partners” before the crash, get any satisfaction from their misdeeds???
I ask these questions, as I see Congress not working together to solve many of our ongoing national problems, especially our financial ones. I see big business getting their way, over the interests of many Americans; with many of the payoffs being directly to many campaign accounts. I see the Banking Industry not changing much of what they do or paying for their past mistakes in any way.
And yes, I say that in light of the big settlement. I can only imagine how much they really made in the housing boom, to be able to give a bit of it back now.
And yes, I ask these questions, not in a rhetorical manner. I would like to know your stance and some insight on how to repair my life, my family and yes, this Country.
Emerson J. Clauss III
Formerly, A Proud Homebuilder