Home > General Comment, political-economy > Infernal Revenue… (As seen on TV)

Infernal Revenue… (As seen on TV)

amd_lupoeThe stories say it all: a nation of working families so trapped in a cycle of debt the least misfortune – theirs or someone else, it really doesn’t matter – carries them over into the abyss of despair.

Ervin Lupoe seems like he was a good man. School officials said as much, as did his neighbors and family.

His co-workers seem genuinely filled with grief, his former employer appears devastated with embarrassment at being singled out as complicit in the circumstances surrounding this horrible act.

According to the Associated Press, Lupoe and his wife were fired by Kaiser Permanente for what appears to be a discrepancy – perhaps a lie – in their application for child care:

Lupoe and his 38-year-old wife both were recently fired from their jobs as hospital technicians at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center West Los Angeles. They had lied about their income to try to get cheaper child care, Cortez said.

“They were terminated because in the health care field, records are an important part of the process, and people trust us with their health,” Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Diana Bonta told the Los Angeles Times.

In the AP’s view, at the time of the firings, Lupoe and his wife were drowning in debt

Investigators found evidence of spiraling financial woes, including a bounced check to the Internal Revenue Service. Lupoe owed at least $15,000, as well as thousands of dollars on a home equity line of credit.

He also was at least one month behind on a mortgage for his home in Wilmington, near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Cortez said.

Not so fast, rebuts the LA Times, the couple’s financial situation,

…though pressing in recent months, did not appear to be especially dire. The Lupoes were behind one month in their mortgage, investigators said. They found notices of two bounced checks — one for about $15,000, the other for almost $2,000 — to pay for property taxes and penalties, according to the police sources. Investigators said it did not appear they were behind on their credit card payments.

In the last two years, the couple had finished a home remodel that included the master bedroom and bathroom, and purchased new kitchen appliances including an industrial-grade refrigerator, the sources said.

Two news sources look at the same information and come to quite different conclusions.

The true failure in both pieces, however, is the lack of context: For years Washington has encouraged and facilitated the accumulation of consumer debt to fund the expansion of the economy; and taken its share off the top to fund aircraft carriers which today threaten the global population.

The bizarre behavior of pouring ridiculous sums of money into home renovations – industrial- grade refrigerators? – was part and parcel of a deliberate policy by Washington to encourage speculation in the home mortgage market – a policy which today has saddled countless millions of American working families with negative equity in their homes, the contracting out of the most basic family duties, such as childcare, and the persistent danger that even the slightest perturbation in the labor market will render them less than penniless: in debt and homeless with no possibility of climbing out again.

lupoe

The speculation unleashed by Washington spawned an entirely new form of pornography: Home renovation reality shows like Divine Design, and others, which lavished incomprehensible amounts of cash on kitchens and bathroom makeovers – promising to turn over-sized McMansions into oases of consumer excess.

Shows like Flip This House sprung up to show how a small group of well organized entrepreneurs make fantastic profit buying dilapidated homes, adding a few superficial improvements, and selling those homes into red hot residential property markets in a week or two.

Entire cable networks – HGTV, DIY, FoodNetwork, Fine Living – suddenly appeared out of nowhere to promote the gospel of residential property speculation, bringing in tow the late night scam artist promising millions in profits flipping homes in your spare time.

For sixty years, this has been the context of such tragedies – a context conveniently ignored by the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times as Washington begins a new round of speculation and bubble to address its constant and ever growing hunger for resources in pursuit of global hegemony.

And it ends with a bounced check to the IRS.

Empire is not the accidental policy of a moron from Texas which result in the slaughter of a million Arabs. It is a deliberate and complex policy in which that slaughter is intimately connected to slaughter of a wife and children by a father in California.

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