This American Life is the only experience I have in my life, where I pay for something that makes me cry and breaks my heart on a regular basis. This episode deals with what was at first called the “sub-prime mortgage crisis” and then called the “credit crisis”. The voices in it, of people in the mortgage industry, of bystanders, of analysts, of regular people losing their homes make it one of the most intimate hours you can spend learning about the most recent failure of our capitalist culture.
The fact this even happened is an indictment of our society.
“It got to the point where, at one point, my son had seven thousand dollars in a CD and I had to break it…and…I mean…that really hurt. Cause I was saving that money for his college. I mean…I put two thousand back, but…it’s like you can’t have a future. They put you in a situation where after a while …you’re gonna fail…it’s so hard.”
-Richard, a marine. Back from Iraq. In foreclosure.
“It’s a No Income Verification Loan. They don’t call me up and say “how much money…” they don’t do that. I mean…it’s…it’s…almost like you pass a guy in the street and you say “Lend me 540,000 dollars?” and he says “Well, what do you do?” “Eh, I got a job.” “Ok!”
“I wouldn’t have lent me the money. And nobody that I know would have lent me the money. I mean…I know guys who are criminals who wouldn’t lend me that money, and they’d break your kneecaps!”
-Clarence made $37,000 in 2005. The guy who gave him his loan reported on the paperwork that he made $16,000 a month. That same year.