Michael Moore: Foreclosed Homeowners Like Rape Victims?
No, that's not a made-up headline. The foreclosed and/or evicted homeowners that have played such a role in the current economic meltdown - are they irresponsible borrowers that lived beyond their means or are victims that got swindled? Michael Moore is clear on where he thinks they fall.
Moore matched up with Fox News and conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity on Hannity's Oct. 6 program and Hannity attempted to have Moore explain why he didn't think there was a personal responsibility angle to the home foreclosure crisis.
Here's how it unfolded (emphasis added):
HANNITY: If you put your name on the dotted line in a legal document, don't you bear responsibility?
MOORE: These people have been deceived and they've been exploited. You know, this is like - this is like ...
HANNITY: No responsibility at all for them?
MOORE: No, this is like asking a woman how short was your skirt after she's been raped.
HANNITY: Aw, that's not ...
MOORE: That's not, that's not - you wouldn't, you wouldn't blame the victim for that.
HANNITY: Come on, Michael.
MOORE: Why were you walking on that side a town?
HANNITY: So they shouldn't - if there were balloon payments they shouldn't have read it? They shouldn't have hired a lawyer to read it for them?
MOORE: A poor person?
Hannity explained you weren't necessarily poor if you were buying a house and that not everyone is entitled to a house:
HANNITY: You're not that poor if you're buying a house, Michael!
MOORE: You don't understand what's going on here. This is ...
HANNITY: I was poor in my life. I lived in apartments. I couldn't even afford to pay my rent. And I would paint the apartments for my landlord.
"Sean, there have always been people who have lived beyond their means," Moore added. "We all know who they are. And there's probably one in every one of our families, or friends, or neighbors or whatever."
And Moore argued they didn't have the means individually to cause this crash, but it was the collective nature of home lenders enabled by Wall Street, trading derivatives not many people understood.
"No, but they've never caused a crash of this proportion before," he said. "That's because they can't. They don't have the assets and the money to be able to cause the crash that was caused by the people downtown here who were moving money around, taking bets out on money, derivatives, credit defaults, swaps insurance on the debt, then a bet on the insurance. That's why we ended up in the situation here."
Some estimates have one-third of all mortgages underwater, meaning the mortgage holder owes more on the home than the home is worth - partly from the collapse in home prices, but exacerbated by those who got into a mortgage with terms they couldn't handle in the long run.