March 15, 2012

F(oreclose) The Banks, Sarasota

Occupy Sarasota was calling it a Mock Foreclosure. They would turn the tables on Bank of America.

I had envisioned another episode like the one back in June of last year, when a Florida couple sent the sheriff in to padlock a Bank of America branch and cart off the office furniture. Five months prior, Bank of America had filed for foreclosure against the couple, but the couple actually owned the house outright. They had paid cash for it. Unfortunately, that hadn't stopped the foreclosure process. Although they won in court and Bank of America was ordered to pay the couple's legal fees, Bank of America never did pay. So, the couple's lawyer went in to seize the Bank's assets in this amusing WFMY News report.

Back to the Mock Foreclosure. Occupy Sarasota pinned foreclosure notices on the Bank building, but these were immediately removed. Sign-waving, flyering, and engaging the citizenry were the follow-up act.

Paul T and Leslie T comment on F(oreclose) The Banks

Amazingly, this small protest attracted a couple of counter-protesters. One of them, Maryellin K, gave her analysis of the foreclosure crisis. I expected to disagree on most counts, but in fact I thought her initial analysis was spot on. I find it a bright point of hope that a thoughtful person who sees themselves as a polar opposite to me can find so much common ground.
Maryellin concludes that, ultimately, the voters should take the lions share of blame for the 2008 sub-prime disaster and the resulting financial meltdown. But, here I have to disagree. The idea that individually, we can use our vote to affect how our representatives vote is idealism, at best.

Beyond such idealism, what does the research show? In Economic Inequality and Political Representation, Larry Bartels, of Princeton University, looked at how U.S. senators responded to rich and poor constituents.

In every instance, senators appear to be much more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of constituents with modest incomes. On average, my estimates suggest that constituents at the 75th percentile of the income distribution have almost three times as much influence on senators’ general voting patterns as those at the 25th percentile, and several times as much influence on specific salient roll call votes. The preferences of constituents near the top of the income distribution are even more influential, while those in the bottom fifth receive little or no weight, especially from Republican senators.

The Occupy Movement has provided a forum for large swaths of the public to express their anger that our elected government representatives are not, in fact, representing us. I would add that our representatives are doing an admirable job representing corporate interests, such as those of Bank of America.


  1. Good video of Occupy Bank of America. Maryellin raised some really good points about sharing the responsibility. However, we have limited choice and power in who runs for office and who we vote for. E.G., on my last vote for the state election, the only thing that won that I voted for was redistricting!

  2. When my children were young, I gave them a choice of which TV show they wanted to watch. However, I only let them choose between two PBS stations. Certainly, they thought they were choosing what they got to view. But, in fact I was making the real choice. This is akin to a voter's choice when they get to the polls. The voter may feel like they are making the choice. But, in fact the folks deciding which candidates end up on the ballot are the real powerhouses. And those folks are the large campaign donors - not voters of moderate income and wealth.