March 10th, 2009
03:15 PM ET

The blame game

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/10/foreclosure-sign-getty.jpg]
Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Yesterday, our network aired a special report from foreclosure court. With the economy in shambles and millions of Americans in danger of losing their homes, we wanted viewers to see what is happening to folks in court in Florida and across the country, homeowners of every class and color, lining up to ask a judge for just a little more time to get their financial houses in order.

In some cases a reprieve is granted. In others foreclosure imposed. But every case is the story of the American dream distorted into a nightmare of overwhelming debt and loss. A cancer patient, a veteran, a widower and so many others forced into foreclosure, the debt on their homes now greater than the value of the home itself.

How did this happen? How could so many Americans be in such dire financial straights? Well, if watching the foreclosure process teaches anything, it is that there is enough blame to go around.

Blame the homeowners who took on more debt than they could afford — victims of a consumer culture that could not sustain itself. Blame the mortgage brokers who should have known better (and probably did) but who approved these loans anyway, blinded by their own greed. Blame the federal government that deregulated the banks and allowed our deficit to spiral into the trillions leading to this major recession, property devaluation and job loss. No job and you can’t pay your mortgage; and so it comes full circle.

It becomes obvious that none of us is entitled to play the blame game. We all share in the responsibility. Therefore, we must shoulder the responsibility of fixing the problem together.

Filed under: Economy • Housing Market • Jami Floyd
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Mike Syracuse, NY

    I have zero sympathy for anyone who signed a subprime mortgage. They either didn't read it first, or failed to understand it. Either way, not my problem, and my taxes shouldn't go to helping idiots.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Blaming people or institutions or groups isn't going to get us anywhere except mad and feeling sorrier for ourselves than we already do. I feel sorry for those being foreclosed on and I feel sorry for those of us who have a mortgage we can afford, no credit card debt, and a 401K that used to actually be worth something. When I was disabled out of the workforce 3 years ago my 401Ks were large enough with the interest they had made and would hopefully keep making to get me through retirement when combined with social security – I wouldn't live as well as I had but I could eke by. Now I probably can't and I can't work either. So the economy has really put me in a pickle. But, I'm going to figure out something and I'm not going to play the blame game – some things just are; once they get that way the only productive thing you can do is find a solution that will get you to where you want to be – no matter whose fault it is that you aren't there yet.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Frank Johnson, 909 Thistledown Lane, Birmingham, AL 35244

    Larry ... read my earlier comment and you can get to the bottom of it.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  4. Yvonne Moore

    This is a problem that has been going on waaaaay before Obama was elected; someone dropped the ball and now the American citizens have to pay.

    But my question to President Obama is, where is our bail out?? These banks and other big companies have been living off the hog far too long, it's their time to pay. What about the fact that I won't be able to send my daughter to college when she graduates this year-unless I sell my house, BUT sell it to WHO?? Or how about the fact that my business partner and I have just completed a business plan but won't be able to obtain a small business loan?? These bail outs are ridiculous, the average American needs the bail out, not Mr. Fat Cat, who's parachute pay out is beyond comprehension. &, oh, yeah, do you know of any companies hiring in Chicago????

    March 10, 2009 at 8:28 pm |
  5. Larry

    Who initiated the ’sub-prime’ mortgage?

    March 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  6. Christopher - Texas

    I whole-heartedly beg to differ. I have done nothing to contribute to this mess (won't waste time on the details), therefore I refuse to accept any level of blame for it. But as a responsible taxpayer, me and my children must now finance the resolution of it.

    People love to blame everyone else everything and take no responsibility for anything. Regardless of the seller's motivation or intent, when a buyer makes a purchase or investment that involves hundreds of thousands of dollars and does not take the time to fully understand what it is he/she is getting into, or makes a purchase that far exceeds their income, let's call it what it is...stupid, irresponsible, and lazy.

    How can a woman have the nerve to solicit sympathy from CNN viewers over being foreclosed on when she purchases a $500,000 home with an annual income of $50,000?

    March 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  7. Neo

    ^ sorry I meant the media was out of touch not the people who comment here.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  8. Neo

    When I read "someone takes on more debt then they can afford" it conjurs up images of some family going on a shopping spree to Gucci and Bergdorf's waiting for their mortgage bill to turn red .... Can we figure out why people are defaulting and can we attempt to put them in credit counseling? If it's a matter of redistributing their own wealth then can we just teach them how to budget? That's one. Two. If you work for a company that is not sustainable, how can you guarantee that you will have money to pay anyone. Isn't the company that hires us responsibility to stay in business and if not partner or be taken over by someone who can still save us our jobs? If that doesn't happen shouldn't there be some understanding on the parts of banks? I'm a bit confused here as to who's to blame as well. If you have a job you can pay for things, if you don't then something has to happen to keep the income flowing, but find out why people default. We're not all shopping at Bergdorff's ....

    And once again we have another attempt @ media ploy by the banks to make the homeowner feel guilty ..... reading these comments methinks some of you are a bit out of touch. Everyone in America SHOULD be a millionaire or close to it, it's the 10% wealthy that hold on to their bourgeois mentality to the point of recession. If everyone was a millionaire, our billions would be trillions, so on and so on.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  9. milton smith

    Maybe turn oil into carbon fibre body plating for craft, homes and everything, then scrape all the military equipment and go with harrier technology and canadian secret avro aero flying suacer tech. After all the carbon fibre has replaced everything we will all be rich and on mars hilton hotel sipping tea and eating blood cake.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  10. milton smith

    Maybe turn oil into carbon fibre body plating for craft, homes and everything, then scrape all the military equipment and go with harrier technology and canadian secret avro aero flying suacer tech. After all the carbon fibre has replaced everything we will all be rich and on mars hilton hotel sipping tea and eating blood cake.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  11. Larry

    Where did the concept of 'sub-prime' mortgages come from?

    March 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  12. Anne

    I did not assume more debt than I could afford, I did not get sucked into a bad morgage, I did not profit from this greedy culture. While our friends went on lavish vacations, bought houses they could not afford and took jobs with risky startups, my husband (teacher) and I (RN), didn't use credit cards, didn't go on vacations, took secure jobs. Now we have to help pay for this irresponsibility? How discouraging.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  13. Joe Price

    Instead of continuing to support the bailout of these financial institutions, redirect the money to the People so that they can pay off these mortgages and then the banks and the people achieve solvency.

    There are 350 million people in the US. If you give each one a million, it's a lot cheaper than 350 billion thrown away on the banks that got us here to begin with and it infuses cash at the root of the economy to feed this recovery that everyone says we so desperately need.

    I can't believe that nobody has put forth this recommendation and would like to hear your informed opinion.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  14. Ed Iowa

    This is very sad for such a great country and educated people to be in in this condition.
    But the blame falls squarely on Greed. Wall Street as well as Washington Politicians.

    Last week Citigroup was in terrible financial trouble and was expecting another taxpayer handout, in fact asking for a handout.

    Then this weekend the buzz was that maybe these large financial institutions COULD be shut down, in fact 2 senators were ready to shut down Citigroup.

    Now today they are profitable.

    Now is this another Wall Street / Political scam on the American people?

    That is why the majority of Americans are so scared to invest in this country today. And they feel no remorse in getting their debt paid off.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  15. David-Las Vegas

    This story is very moving. Thank you for bringing the focus to the lives affected. We are all in this together.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  16. Headhunter -- Hail to the Chief!

    Anderson – Foreclosure - It's happening all around us in some of the most affluent communities in Orange County, CA. There is no one entity to blame for this disaster, but I think it's particularly maddening (here in California), that the mortgatge products that were sold to people were truly a prescription for failure. Most of the time, the true facts weren't even disclosed to the purchaser who figured ignorance was bliss at the time they signed on. It occurs to me that he morgage and prostitution businesses have been very similar over the past few years!!

    March 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Frank Johnson, 909 Thistledown Lane, Birmingham, AL 35244


    You need to go back and look at the New York Times piece written by Steven A. Holmes on September 30, 1999 and it might help you to blame the correct people rather than everyone. And .... we don't all share the responsibility as you and most other commentators keep saying.

    Best Regards.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  18. Susan (Anaheim, CA)

    I would like to disagee with your last statements. I have worked all my life and done things the way you are supposed to. I saved for YEARS for the down payment on a house I could afford. I pay off my credit card debt every statement. I don't buy all the toys. Most of the people I know have done the same thing. Yes, we're the boomer generation.

    The catch is, I am one year away from retirement, and all the savings, 401K and everything else I have done to make sure I would not be a burden to anyone else has been drastically reduced. So for doing all the right things all my life, my reward is to probably not be able to retire and enjoy the rest of my life like I was supposed to, and to have no choice about whether I want to support all those other people who were irresponsible.

    So no, I would prefer to have the money I worked so hard to save, and I would also prefer not to be burdened with responsibility for the people who only lived for today.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  19. GF, Los Angeles

    Oh no I take no responsibility for what happened whatsoever. I do not own a home (can't afford a down payment even though I have excellent credit and could've easily bought a home) and I carry zero credit card debt. I actually do have savings (in several accounts) but not enough to weather what we're experiencing right now. The irresponsible has created this domino effect that the responsible have now lost their jobs and can't afford to pay their mortgage. Let the irresponsible lose their house and help those who did what they were suppose to do but are now caught in this mess.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  20. sherm

    Anderson i would like to comment on the state of America and how i feel President Obama is doing.... We have given President's, Congressman and Congresswoman one or more terms to help fix whatever problems America has had in the past. We need to wait and see which way we go only one of two things can happen, and then we past judgement. When you give someone a job to do, also give them the time to DO IT!!!

    March 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  21. Junior

    The housing market is something that was just a part of the wave of terrible things to come. There is a long line of people who had helped this problem along for years on end, from sides of the lane. I am really tired of the blame game, a little late for that. Lets figure out a way to fix the problem and how not to allow this to happen again.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  22. Melissa

    Actually, I think the blame almost completely falls on the theiving banks and businesses. Yes, the owners should not be in debt, but everyone is in debt, and most people don't understand how the economy works. Not to mention the fact that most of these homeowners probably thought they'd be able to afford their homes and they probably WERE able to afford them when they first struck the deal.

    No, its the thieving businesses increasing the prices and interest rates to astronomical heights and taking advantage of ignorant people that are the despicable ones here.

    I'm sorry, I know exactly who to blame. And it isn't the game.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm |