Operation Occupy Wall Street


#2281

This is a nice inequality graphic from the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/09/04/opinion/04reich-graphic.html?ref=sunday


#2282

Banks spend millions each year both bribing elected officials and finding ways to squirm legally around existing rules and regulations so I'm not exactly fretting that we aren't being fair to them.
I put my money in a bank, they make money off that money, then have the balls to charge me a fee to store my money there? And don't even get me started on "overdraft fees". The bank assumes a $5 "risk" and gets to charge a 5,000% fee. WHILE manipulating the system to increase the overdraft risk exponentially by giving themselves the right to put in withdrawals before deposits AND charging me a fee for this "service" that I "agreed" to by not disagreeing. They make BILLIONS a year off of a few thousand in "risk".
They created a legal "poor tax" and now are trying to get sympathy. I say fuck 'em. They declared war on the poor and are crying "foul" when the poor fight back.


#2283

Actually for about a thousand years the common law concept of ownership has allowed people to acquire good title in land that has been abandoned. To some degree, adverse possession is not an attack on ownership, but an important component of property rights that ensures land is not going to waste.


#2284

Just to be clear, the current legal definition of abandonment does not seem to apply in this case (however, IANAL -- if an actual lawyer wants to chime in I would love to hear it). So I figure you are saying that we should move our definition back to the old ways (at least the old ways as you believe them to be). Right?

An appeal to the past, I can't argue with that. The old ways are always the best ways. Tried and true I always say. Like slavery, can't get more tried and true than that can you? Amirite?


#2285

I don't know whether or not it is legal in New York, nor whether adverse possession would apply in any case. Nor do I know whether it would be good policy in this case. I was just addressing your idea that squatting attacks the concept of ownership. I don't think it does, because the concept of ownership has always (in the common law world, anyways) been subject to the limit that where land or property is abandoned or in disuse, it can legally be put to use and good title can be based on that use.

You're the own who brought up the "concept of ownership" here, so I don't know why you're getting all pissy at me for actually providing some context for that concept.


#2286

Besides, most of the foreclosures were illegal anyway and the banks should be hammered for violating the law.

Bwahahaha, as if that'll happen.


#2287

Besides, most of the foreclosures were illegal anyway (because the banks did not have the correct paperwork, as said paperwork was deliberately lost in the process of selling the mortgages to holding companies) and the banks should be hammered for violating the law.

Bwahahaha, as if that'll happen.


#2288

Ugh.

We can't raise taxes either, because taxes were higher in the past, and since slavery is also in the past and slavery is bad then higher taxes is also bad. Because clearly, when someone looks back at one thing in the past they are actually trying to revert everything to how it was back then.


#2289

Aside from the (apparent) dubious nature of the foreclosure procedures enacted by many banks, I'm not sure these properties can be considered abandoned. Someone owns the title, and if it's to be contested it should be done in the courts.

To be clear, I'm a big fan of putting homeless people in foreclosed-upon homes for which there is no ready buyer. As onerous as it might sound to our conservative citizens, studies indicate the best cure for chronic homelessness is government-sponsored housing, not temporary shelters or halfway houses, but actual residential apartments paid for by the government. If there are empty houses sitting around, I don't see why we shouldn't put families in them, but I don't think we can just close our eyes to the fact these titles do exist, they are owned by the banks, and there are big debts attached to them. Sooner or later that has to be resolved, and unfortunately for this idea one of the best ways to resolve it is to find someone else willing to assume a portion of that debt to buy the house. That becomes difficult when squatters are occupying it.


#2290

And squatters are really good for property values. They are also known for taking good care of the property.

I seem to remember a story of some guy in England who took advantage of their squatter laws in inventive and lucrative ways.


#2291

I seem to remember reading at least a few articles that seemed to indicate banks didn't do much better.


#2292

They're better than the bank letting the house sit there to rot for years, which is apparently what's going on now.


#2293

Well, sure. The banks are welcome to sue the squatters for trespass. It's a self-help system, in the sense that the title-owner is the one who bears the burden of litigating (and proving title). It will be interesting to see whether the banks actually can prove title, as other posters have alluded to.


#2294

Personally, I'd rather see the original mortgagee squatting in the house if at all possible. Unless they moved in and never made a mortgage payment, they at least put some equity into the home and deserve to have the property awarded to them in the event the bank can't produce proof of the title.

Not that I'm against giving free homes to the homeless, just that it would be a bit more just to see the homeowner back in place.


#2295

I guess I don't see why someone should be allowed to live for free in a property that doesn't belong to them. I would love to never have to pay for rent and have a free place to live but that is not how things should be.


#2296

Tell that to these guys:

The basic point is that land is a limited resource and it shouldn't be left to go to waste.


#2297

Counterpoint: Land is a limited resource and requires intelligent management, not constant utilization. The tragedy of the commons exists both in the city's foreclosed homes and the country's enormous tracts of tillable and forested land. If you throw open the gates to "anyone who wants to use it" then you're going to see trashed houses, leached soil, and razed forests in a matter of months.

H.


#2298

I don't see why. If you attach title to usage, the squatter has at least the prospect of owning the land free and clear. He or she has an incentive to protect the home, because he or she has a kind of property interest in the home - a kind of property interest that can one day expand to full legal title. Why would a squatter trash a home if he or she has the prospect of owning it?

In terms of utilization, preservation can be a form of utilization. But there has to be some effort to protect title. So the question here would be whether the banks will (or even can) protect their title by seeking to eject to squatters.


#2299

So can I come move into your basement free of charge and live there? Or perhaps an unused room you have?


#2300

There's an assumption in the scenario that there will be more foreclosed homes in which to move, otherwise you would be correct. A one-time allocation can work, but a general "If it's unused, go ahead and use it" will incur the tragedy since they'll move in and stay until conditions are unacceptable, then move on to the next plot.

This exact thing happened in the Deep South during the 1800s, landowners would work a field to death, then buy more land and abandon the fallow field. Later on it would be taken by someone else and a tangle of title claims would wind up in the courthouse. The trick is that back in those days possession really was 90% of the law. Today you would either face the occupiers trashing the place and moving on, or improving the place only to face legal challenges after the fact. It's a sticky prospect.

H.