What do you think of this story (from today's New York Times):
Countrywide Is Assailed in Protest of Policies
I have to wonder if this is the kind of thing community organizations should be using their resources to protest. I don't know all the details behind Countrywide's problems, but when it comes down to it, did they force anyone to take out a mortgage they couldn't afford? Are adjustable rate mortgages inherently a scam? What exactly are all these people angry at? If Countrywide lied to borrowers, defrauded them, or otherwise did anything illegal, ok. From the way the story has been reported, it's hard to tell if anyone is actually accusing them of that. It seems like there is just a lot of free-floating anger about the fact that people might lose their homes, and the response was to organize a protest. But I don't see anyone carrying signs that say "STOP MIDDLE-CLASS GREED!" or "END FINANCIAL ILLITERACY NOW!"
BOSTON, Oct. 11 — The Countrywide Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest lender and loan servicer, reported on Thursday that delinquencies and foreclosures in its portfolio were rising steeply.
A few hours later, the company became a target of borrower anger in Boston as about 100 people gathered at three Countrywide offices to protest its practices.
The delinquency figures released on Thursday by Countrywide together with the protest, organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, indicate that Countrywide finds itself increasingly at the center of the mortgage storm that began this year.
Thursday’s protest was the second this week organized by a borrower advocacy group and aimed at Countrywide. On Tuesday, ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, organized a protest in eight cities....
In Boston, homeowners and community advocates rallied outside Countrywide offices. The protesters, many of them older homeowners, wore T-shirts that depicted a shark and the words “Stop loan sharks” on the front, and “sharks beware” on the back.
“Go down to Maple Street and see the homes that have been boarded up, that are being left, discarded,” said Cheryl Lawrence, a tenant organizer for City Life/Vida Urban. “People got into scandalous loans,” and now the homes are just sitting there, she said.
Later, several residents shared their mortgage problems, which have a familiar ring — homeowners facing foreclosure because they are unable to refinance or because their mortgage is now more than they can pay.
I do have mixed feelings about this topic. Home-ownership taps into some very deep emotions and I can understand how awful it must feel to strive to attain something that you then lose, with some big faceless corporation as the villain. But it's hard not to get a little judgmental when people seem to blame anyone but themselves when their decisions go bad.