DeChristopher, Mozillo, and Power in America

By | July 23, 2011

These two names tell you everything you need to know about who has power in this country and who does not:  Tim DeChristopher and Angelo Mozillo.

You know Angelo Mozillo. He founded Countrywide and ultimately turned it into a massive securitization machine, processing as many mortgages as possible regardless of how grossly inflated the value of the home or how blindingly obvious it was that the mortgages would not be repaid. Countrywide was instrumental in inflating the housing bubble; by early 2008 it was the biggest mortgage originator.

According to lawsuits, Mozillo and others at Countrywide knew the mortgages were junk but kept making and securitizing them anyway, hurting homebuyers and investors. Mozillo apparently used his insider awareness of how lousy the loans were to cash out stock at the most opportune time: before the bubble burst and Countrywide was still a high priced stock. Mozillo took home nearly $400 million in five years. Almost everyone else has been deeply hurt by the recession the burst housing bubble caused.  And Mozillo’s not yet done damaging people and our economy: Countrywide’s bad acts may yet bankrupt Bank of America.

Have you heard of Tim DeChristopher? Most people haven’t. Tim is a 28 year old college student who is passionate about America. About our land, our energy policies, and our climate. And he’s passionate about achieving justice through nonviolent civil disobedience.

When the Bureau of Land Management held an auction to lease oil and gas drilling rights on public lands, Tim showed up and bid $1.8 million he didn’t have, winning the auction on 14 parcels, and driving up the prices on others. He derailed the auction and 22,000 acres were not leased.

Tim bid as political protest, getting in the way of the powers that be doing something to his country that he deeply objected to.Tim acted his conscience nonviolently and effectively denied oil companies the ability to lease 22,000 acres of public land they wanted to drill. That was his crime: preventing oil companies from acquiring property they wanted—drilling rights on public land that Tim believed was supposed to be off-limits. Tim committed a property crime to stop a property crime.

Tim acted knowing he could get in trouble; knowing he probably would. It’s called disobedience for a reason. And looking at Tim’s actions, it’s called civil for a reason too.

Law enforcement doesn’t call what Tim did civil disobedience. Read the rest here


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