American Dream? More like “Rude Awakening”

A modern-day nightmare: the story of a foreclosure

Watched a video this morning where a commentator said, “money is ruining America.”  Specifically he meant Big Money — you know, the Koch Brothers variety.  Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know where I stand on that issue.  I think a large majority of people in the U.S. probably agree with me, and the rest are teabaggers — or else, they just haven’t been paying attention.

Later I started to think about an immigrant family who allegedly came here chasing the “American Dream,” as pro-mass immigration politicians and media pundits so love to put it, usually with accompanying dewy eyes.

Well folks, here’s this family’s idea of the American Dream.  It has to do with Big Money, but these people are not the Koch Brothers.  They are eastern European immigrants who came to this country only in the last 20 years or so.  Where I live there are lots of them, and let me tell you — a lot of them are currently bailing out and going back to their homelands while they still can live well on whatever is left of their “American Dream.”

This particular family moved into a relative’s neighborhood about 7 years ago, when a homeowner there, (a credit junkie who was about to face an enormous hike in his mortgage payment — he had an ARM — at the same time he started paying a hefty mortgage on a dream farmette he’d built far in the boonies), charged this family almost half a million dollars for a house in an area where even at the height of the bubble, houses were only about $375,000.00.  May sound like a lot now, but a few years ago it could be considered a bargain, even if you were only getting a 2-bedroom 1950’s tract house for that amount of money.  And what these people bought was that and only that, even if an unfinished room had been added onto the back of the house (which supposedly accounted for the extra-high asking price).

They moved in with an army of relatives helping them.  The formerly wide, quiet suburban street was transformed into a congested urban nightmare with rows of BMW’s, Lexus’s and other luxury cars parked along both curbs, often sitting idle for days.  At times it was so jammed that getting down the street was impossible.  Then they started blocking driveways, and as I remember, at one point my relatives couldn’t back out of their driveway (even when it wasn’t blocked) because there was no room to maneuver the car once it was out in the street.

The unanswered question in all this — which remains unanswered to this day — is how these poor, hard-working immigrants who came here with nothing, came upon all this money (or at least enough to get a half-million dollar mortgage plus loans on a caravan of luxury vehicles).  As I said, there was and is no answer.  We still don’t know what this family did for a living.  We do know that they were culturally ill-adjusted to the point where they were astounded and furious if you asked them to kindly NOT sit in your driveway making cell phone calls (I’m not even talking about sitting in a car making a call, I’m talking about parking one’s designer-jeans-clad ass on the driveway and making a call), or not to dispense with their endless cigarette butts, beer and Coke cans on your lawn.  May sound petty, but this is life in suburbia, and they were continually breaking the unwritten rules.

As the years went by, the hordes of relatives dropped away and it was possible to traverse the street again.  The family started to behave somewhat more civilly, even though they maintained a haughty distance from their neighbors.

This past year the remaining fancy cars and SUVs have pretty much disappeared, and the house has looked almost abandoned, and lately brightly-colored notices have been appearing on the front door, often hanging there for weeks.  Someone said they saw a sheriff’s deputy deliver one of these.

An obvious conclusion: the money well has dried up and they are facing foreclosure.  It’s even possible that the are making plans to flee the country.

This is not the first such story I’ve heard in recent times.  And somehow, such stories almost always involve immigrants.  And so I ask, as I have before, “what is this American dream?”

Is it merely about stuff?  Is it about owning, however temporarily, an overpriced house and fancy cars?  Is it nothing more substantial than that?

Judging from comments I’ve heard from some immigrants in the past decade, for a portion of them, that’s all it ever was.  And that is not enough.  But I guess to people like the Kochs, on whom we can partially blame the present state of things, it was enough to help set up an immigrant industry that dumped an unsupportable bumper crop of immigrants in the U.S., the sheer bulk of which was unlike anything ever seen before, helping to throw our salaries, housing market and finally our standard of living into an unstoppable tailspin.  In the end, it has benefited no one except those who weren’t affected by it.  People like the Kochs, for instance.  And it is people like them I hold responsible for bullshit like this.

Yes, I’ve seen immigrants come here and work their asses off.  They deserve all the best, and our help.  But people like the ones I’ve just mentioned?  The Just Here for the Stuff crowd?  Forget it.  No sense in coming here merely to get mountains of junk that you couldn’t get at home.  In the end, it only drives you broke and if you’re smart, you’ll realize you were better off without it.

If this sounds teabaggery to you, go stuff it.  Think about what I am saying.  This country was never solely about things, and anyone coming here solely for things is in for a rude awakening.  Kinda like that family I just told you about.

Time to rethink it all, Hoss.

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