Justice for Some – Joseph E. Stiglitz

22 Aug

In America, the venality is at a higher level. It is not particular judges that are bought, but the laws themselves, through campaign contributions and lobbying, in what has come to be called “corruption, American-style.”

It was widely known that banks and mortgage companies were engaged in predatory lending practices, taking advantage of the least educated and most financially uninformed to make loans that maximized fees and imposed enormous risks on the borrowers. …

When it became clear that people could not pay back what was owed, the rules of the game changed. Bankruptcy laws were amended to introduce a system of “partial indentured servitude.” An individual with, say, debts equal to 100% of his income could be forced to hand over to the bank 25% of his gross, pre-tax income for the rest of his life, because, the bank could add on, say, 30% interest each year to what a person owed. In the end, a mortgage holder would owe far more than the bank ever received, even though the debtor had worked, in effect, one-quarter time for the bank.

via Justice for Some – Joseph E. Stiglitz – Project Syndicate.

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