Friday, January 7, 2011

My Sister Is Dead, But The Games That Killed Her Continue In Washington

One year ago, my sister, Andrea, died.  The coroner said her heart gave out because she was overweight.  The doctor said her heart gave out because of a prescription medicine "misadventure."  But we who knew her best know she died because politicians, not statesmen, have occupied the halls of congress for too, too long.  Her heart broke, not from any physical reason, but from the rampant callousness with which the power hungry in D.C. and money mongers everywhere view and treat people like my sister, Andrea.  She did what they wanted her to do: she gave up and died.

She gave up hoping that Congress would ever have the will or wisdom to protect people like her, who at age 62, lost her job because of the financial fiascoes that occurred during the "smaller government" no-regulation years of the George W. Bush administration.  If she could find a job, she saw herself working well past a normal retirement age to replace the savings lost in the stock market collapse caused by the multiple Wall Street scandals.

She gave up hoping that she would find a job like the one she lost as a legal secretary in one of the largest law firms in Philadelphia, when that firm's major client, AIG, became another of the financial giants that was deemed "too big to fail." While AIG went on to receive $182 billion in federal financial aid and its chief officers retained their multi-million dollar homes and million dollar bonuses continued to be doled out, Andy and numerous others laid off as a result of AIG's bad choices were deemed too little to matter and left to the uncertain mercies of the unemployment compensation system.

She gave up hoping that anyone, anywhere had the ability to help her out of the morass of incompetence and indifference through which she had to slog as she endeavored to work with Wells Fargo, the holder of her home mortgage, to keep the wolf that was foreclosure away from her door.  As the following quotes from her blog make clear, each new phone call to Wells Fargo revealed some new paperwork snafu, some new hoop through which she must jump:

Thursday, August 6, 2009 ... Are you ready for my latest adventure with my mortgage company? Last night at about 8:45 P.M., I had a call from ... Wells Fargo. He tells me ... I was denied because I had not filed for a refinancing first. So, I said to him ... I did not make an application for refinancing because Wells Fargo told me I could not do so as I am unemployed. I was advised to send a hardship letter. I sent the letter. Wells Fargo answered me. I answered Wells Fargo. I spoke to a young lady a week or so ago who assured me that Wells Fargo had everything it needed ... He put me on hold. He came back and told me he would have to check with someone to see if they can re-process my case as I am unemployed and there is no point in filing for a re-finance since I am unemployed. He said he will call me tonight to tell me if they can go on from where they are now and just re-process me or if I have to start again from square one. Guess which one I think it will be....

Here I am on August 20, 2009. I have been trying since February 10, 2009 to get Wells Fargo to make changes to my mortgage payment amount. I have been laid off since February. I could not do a re-finance, but I did submit a hardship letter ... Last night, I had a call that advised that I had to submit a hardship letter and that I had to fax it (not e-mail) and that Wells Fargo could not proceed with my claim as there was no record of it on the system ... I have managed to pay my mortage thus far. I am not in default. I don't want to be in default ... I am over the side of a cliff and I am hanging on with no fingernails and there is no place to put my feet and there are jagged rocks below. My arm is getting tired....

 Andy held on as long as she could, but the struggle eventually took its toll:
Saturday, October 3, 2009 ... [T]he past few weeks have almost destroyed any faith I have ever had in anything. I do not like this feeling. I guess I cannot any longer say that I love my country. I do love the idea of my country. I know that I am better off in this country than I would be in most other countries, but that is little consolation to me. I am probably going to lose my home. I am probably going to lose my health care. There is nothing I can do about this. Through all of this, I have had to watch my elected officials play games on a daily basis. The members of the present House and Senate are, largely, a bunch of thieves and crooks and, in some cases, it appears to me, mentally unbalanced.
 When Andy died a few months later, the political gamesmanship that had so disheartened her was just starting to be ratcheted up in anticipation of the 2010 elections.  By the time we spread her ashes over the Atlantic Ocean in October, pollsters were calling the odds like bookies taking wagers on the next game, candidates were trash talking one another like players on a basketball court, and those with financial stakes in the outcome were sinking money into campaigns like advertisers at the Super Bowl.

And that's the real reason why the political parties occupying our congress are incapable of governing with the moral fortitude of a George Washington, the intelligence of a Thomas Jefferson, or the wisdom of a Benjamin Franklin.  They and all their minions view campaigns as huge, ongoing pep rallies, and governing as a big game, with nothing more at stake than the numbers on a scoreboard and dollars in the winners' pockets.

Neither party is concerned with fulfilling the mandate set forth for them in the Preamble to the Constitution, to "promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."  Legislating for them is not a matter of statesmanship, but of winning and losing, and grinding the losing party's face in the mud.  Passing a law is no longer a matter of right or wrong, wisdom or folly, conscience or sin.  It's a matter of how many people are on your team, how many men or women you can put on the field, whether you can change the rules to favor your side, if you can win in overtime by replacing a few key players.
America deserves better than this.  My sister deserved better than this.

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