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James Howard Kunstler: The Surrealist Vista

The latest rogue wave broke about ten days ago, when an orgy of foreclosure revealed massive irregularities in mortgage contracts and property titles, suggesting a slovenliness so arrant and broad that even the states' attorneys general woke from their narcoleptic raptures of golf to shut down transfers of distressed property. But this was only after the banks themselves declared "moratoria" in a perhaps vain attempt to forestall further discovery of their countless misdeeds. And somewhere along in there the title insurance industry had a whack attack. During this period a new cliché issued from a million pie-holes: the rule of law. Well, as Joni once sang to we happy Boomers, " don't know what you got 'til it's gone...." To systematically ignore the niggling, stodgy lawful protocols regarding contract documents - notarization, due diligence, various dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s - was easy on the way up Fraud Mountain. On the ride down, though, it turns out all those niceties comprised the braking apparatus, Now the cargo of swindles is accelerating out-of-control and breaking apart. Suddenly this cliché - the rule of law - begins to assert its meaning for this nation of slobs, morons, and grifters, to the degree that even lawyers begin to understand what's at stake (as opposed to just how much they can get paid), though the bankers may never learn.

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