The Suicide Solution – CommonDreams.org
A few days before Congress passed its Housing Bill, Carlene Balderrama of Taunton MA found her own solution to the housing crisis. Just a little over two hours in advance of the time her mortgage company, PHH Mortgage Corporation — may its name live in infamy — was to auction off her home, Balderrama killed herself with her husbands rifle.
This is not the kind of response to hard times that James Grant had in mind when he wrote his July 19 Wall Street Journal essay entitled “Why No Outrage?” “One might infer from the lack of popular anger,” the famed Wall Street contrarian wrote, “that the credit crisis was Gods fault rather than the doing of the bankers and the rating agencies and the governments snoozing watchdogs.” For contrast, he cites the spirited response to the depression of the 1890s, when lawyer/agitator Mary Lease stirred crowds with the message that “We want the accursed foreclosure system wiped out…. We will stand by our homes and stay by our firesides by force if necessary…”
Grant could have found even more bracing examples of resistance in the 1930s, when farmers and tenants used mob power — and sometimes firearms — to fight foreclosures and evictions. For more on that, I consulted Frances Fox Piven, co-author of the classic text Poor Peoples Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail, who told me that in the early 30s, a number of cities were so shaken by the resistance that they declared moratoriums on further evictions. A 1931 riot by Chicago tenants who had fallen behind on their rent, for example, had left three dead and three police officers injured.