Murder, Suicide and Financial Ruin: How the Class War Is Destroying Americans' Lives
Mark Ames' column "Class Warfare" was first published on ConsortiumNews.com.
This past Thursday, a Modesto, California, man whose house was in foreclosure shot and killed the Sheriff’s deputy and the locksmith who came to evict him from his condominium unit. Modesto authorities responded by sending 100 police and SWAT snipers to counter-attack, and it ended Waco-style, with the fourplex structure burning to the ground with the shooter inside.
It’s not surprising that this should happen in Modesto: Last year the Central California city’s foreclosure rate was the third worst in the country, with one in every 19 properties filing for foreclosure. The entire region is ravaged by unemployment, budget cuts, and blight — the only handouts that Modesto is seeing are the surplus military equipment stocks being dumped into the Modesto police department’s growing arsenal.
The shooter who died was 45 years old and he appears to have lost his condominium over a $15,000 home equity loan he took out almost a decade ago, owed to Bank of America. The condo was sold at an auction for just $12,988 to a shady firm, R&T Financial, that doesn’t even have a listed contact number. Too much for the former security guard, who barricaded himself in the condo which had been in the family for decades. He refused to walk out alive.
These “death by foreclosure” killings have been going on, quietly, around the country ever since the housing swindle first unraveled. Like the story of the 64-year-old Phoenix man whose daughter and grandson were preparing to move in with him after losing their home to foreclosure — only to get a knock on his door surprising him with an eviction notice on the house he’d owned for over 30 years. Bank of America foreclosed on him despite his attempts to work out a fair plan.
We now know that the same banks that had been bailed out over their subprime fraud disaster were, by the time this happened, headlong into another criminal scheme, this time foreclosure fraud. The fraud was effected both illegally and in bad faith on a scale so vast it’s hard not to think that it was carried out by some marauding foreign army.
Anyway, the old man grabbed a .357 and a beer, walked outside into a sea of Phoenix cops and snipers, and fired his gun off until they cut him down in a hail of bullets.
Sometimes the “losers” in this class war make it easier on everyone else by killing themselves and setting themselves on fire as they’re being evicted, as one Ohio couple recently did. Others class war “losers” aren’t as cooperative, like a Florida man who was gunned down by police after he set his foreclosed townhouse on fire last year.
It’s exactly the sort of lopsided class war that Warren Buffett first officially acknowledged in 2006:
“There’s a class war, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Buffett is right to call it a one-way war, in both a metaphorical sense and in a literal sense, given the endless wars being waged for over a decade now, wars that are tied to the class wars at home.
Murdering Afghan Civilians
Nothing illustrates the interlinking between the class war at home and the imperial wars abroad more starkly than the example of Staff Sgt. Roger Bales, the Army sniper accused last month of killing 17 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children.
The Army is trying to pin it all on Sgt. Bales’s supposedly deranged mental state, but their version of events contradicts what the victims and eyewitnesses in the village have been telling the few reporters who have had a chance to actually interview them. They’re saying that they saw several American soldiers participating in the massacre, as well as a helicopter.