David Dayen on “Chain of Title” & Housing Choices

30 May 2016 – I have a house rabbit named David Dayen. That’s how highly I think of our guest this week.  Dayen is a highly respected financial news and economics journalist for a reason. He finds a way to make even the most dry and dense topics understandable while also making it absolutely clear why we should all care. David’s first book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud (also on Audible.com  here),  is meticulously researched and a deep dive into the foreclosure crisis. Typical of David he found a unique way into the story through the lens and lives of three regular people who, instead of going quietly into the dark of foreclosure shame, chose to shine a revelatory light. Whatever you know about the foreclosure crisis sprouted, quite directly, from the questions Lisa, Michael and Lynn asked and the shocking answers they unearthed. Heroes are those who run into the fire, into the storm, to bring others to safety. Chain of Title is a gripping, true-to-life rendering of the lives of heroes and the deeds of villains. And, whether you know it or not, what this handful of people discovered changed your life. You can follow all of David’s writing here and I strongly recommend subscribing to his weekly summary e-mail.

I lead into David’s interview with some information about Gresham’s Law, the idea that bad money drives good money out of the market, meaning that Wall Street criminals make it virtually impossible for competitors to continue to abide by the law. I also talk about something that seems obvious, asymmetric information, meaning that the seller knows more than the buyer. One would think that was as plain as the orange on a carrot but three people won the Nobel in economics for describing how asymmetric information influences macroeconomics and, in the case of Wall Street, further influences the criminographic environment.

Will brings up something which so often gets left out of the political mix, housing. He observes that the desires and right to choice of those who are among the most vulnerable in our society, the homeless, must be sine qua non to any array of solutions. Will uses, as an example, a heart rending description of the state of homeless shelters in Washington, DC.

Will and I open the show with what can only be described as a rant. I read an article this week which eloquently encapsulates my feelings regarding the 2016 Democratic primary, Misogyny Rules the 2016 Election by Victoria A. Brownworth. I truly am done with the sexism which is spreading, from the top down, through the Sanders campaign. Bernie’s silence, in some cases, and defense, in others, regarding the violence being committed against women by his campaign makes it clear that it is a leadership-lead issue. Bernie reveals himself with the lack of women (with the glaring exception of his wife) in the upper tier of his campaign as well as his shocking opinion that he believes Hillary to be “unqualified” to be President. (His too little, too late “apology” not withstanding.) Bernie’s personal rage at the world has permeated all facets of his campaign. He and his cult are frightening women…on purpose. Bernie could have been great. Instead he is the leader of a cult that is tilting ever more toward increasing degrees of violence. History will remember him as an old, white man who, while choking on his privilege, turned away from leadership and toward ignominy. Good riddance. – Arliss

First off, I apologize for the lack of music in today’s show. We simply had too much content and not enough time. I had to cut my discussion of Bernie’s e-mails and a section from my block where Arliss and I discussed the Tiny House movement. Across the nation communities have begun using tiny house neighborhoods as part of a menu of solutions for homeless housing. Tiny houses provide homeless folk with a place of their own, an address, a place to sleep protected from the elements, a place to cook their food, and a place to feel safe.

But I also made a promise at the top of the show which I was forced to cut: that I’d provide access to the threats Roberta Lange recieved. For those who want to see just a small selection of the nearly 1000 phonecalls and hundreds of thousands of harassing text messages received by Lange, here’s a dropbox folder released by the Nevada Democrats. 

I’m really frustrated with the situation. I want to talk about what we can do to make the Democratic Party better, more transparent and the process more trustworthy. I want to talk about things like Modern Monetary Theory and work on the housing policy I described in today’s show. But unless the people who step-up to lead chase the dangerous nonsense out of the process we can’t have those conversations. We simply can’t be silent while women are harassed and while people call for their public lynching. If we want to change the conversation we absolutely cannot afford to let it fall into the gutter. We need leadership, not rhetoric. – Will

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