“SILENCE = DEBT” - A talk by Brian Holmes
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Occupy Chicago Headquarters
Student debt — which is now hitting the trillion dollar mark, even bigger than outstanding credit-card debt — is part of the fabric of false promises and hyper-individualized coercion that we call neoliberal governance. It hooks into a continuum that begins with payday loans, moves through the concealed robbery of the stock markets and ends in the Treasury’s extortion of trillions of dollars from the rest of the world to pay for bloody useless wars. The only way to achieve the cancellation of existing debts and the foundation of a new set of emancipatory social institutions is to overcome the fear of each debtor and generate the trust we need for massive resistance. One strategy (among others) is to open up the analysis of the debt-based economy through teach-ins that can be led by students, adjunct faculty or professors, whether inside or outside the university. These teach-ins could become an existential point of contact between isolated individuals in the knowledge-factories and the Occupy movement. The point is to transform the very meaning and purpose of education, and to start generating a new map of rights and responsibilities that can help us navigate beyond neoliberal governance.
Top Foreclosure Firm Threw Homeless-Themed Halloween Bash
If you’re one of the nation’s top “foreclosure mill” law firms—representing Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo in their attempts to foreclose on homes and evict homeowners—what better way to celebrate Halloween than by throwing a party where everyone comes as a dirty, homeless victim of your practice?
The New York Times’ Joe Nocera was sent a series of photos from a Halloween party thrown last year by the firm of Steven J. Baum—the “merciless” foreclosure mill, subject of a Justice Department investigation, and defendant in at least two class-action lawsuits over its shady foreclosure practices. In one photo, two women with fake dirt on their faces hold a sign that says “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and was never served!!”; in another, a woman holding a beer bottle in a paper bag pushes a shopping cart with a sign saying “will work for food.” They’re pretty horrible! Like, “would offend the richest, whitest frat at the most conservative university in the south” horrible. You can see the rest of the photographs here.
But, oh, it’s just Halloween, right? Usually Baum employees are kind and empathetic to the people whose lives they’re ruining, aren’t they? Well… no. The anonymous woman who sent the photos to Nocera says that they’re emblematic of the culture at Baum:
In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners - invariably poor and down on their luck - that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
The firm, when contacted by Nocera, called the photos “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.” Well… yeah. Because your firm is horrible and your work sucks.