Friday, June 6, 2008

Ed McMahon - Feels like snark, but I got nothin'.

Ed McMahon was on Larry King last night talking about the recent news that his home is in foreclosure. I want to be snarky about it, eat the rich and all that, but I think it is just sad.

What rarely gets reported, and what probably goes to the fact that being rich don't make you smart, is that McMahon won more than the value of his home in a lawsuit against a company that was supposed to clean the mold from his house, but did not. McMahon could have paid his home off at that time but he chose not to. They say that the money went to gutting and rebuilding the interior of the home, but it doesn't look like that's what they did. From the little clippy they showed this morning, McMahon & Wife's excuse on being broke was that they spent beyond their means and showered too many gifts upon their friends. Well, when you go door to door doling out 10 million dollars, sooner or later it catches up with you.

McMahon is not alone. It seems that in Manhattan, some erstwhile Susie Socialites are quietly trying to scale back but are hoping that no one will notice. "I know the Escalade is two years old, but I just can't bear reprogramming the mp3 player". Look for victory gardens atop Fifth Ave penthouses all summer long. "The corn? It's ornamental!" I hear koi are delicious.

From Dailykos:

So New York’s very wealthy are addressing their distress in discreet and often awkward ways. They try to move their $165 sessions with personal trainers to a time slot that they know is already taken. They agree to tour multimillion-dollar apartments and then say the spaces don’t match their specifications. They apply for a line of credit before art auctions, supposedly to buy a painting or a sculpture, but use that borrowed money to pay other debts
What was that thing about the subprime mess being the fault of ignorant, low class borrowers who had no business messing with finance? Ha Ha! I found my snark.

You know what Ed McMahon and I have in common? Ascot? no. Faded trophy wife? no. Halitosis? Let me check-(huhh, huhh in my palm) yeah, probably particularly if he likes as much coffee as me. No the other thing is that Countrywide Mortgage foreclosed on me, too.

A few years ago in the midst of the re-fi, go-go market, Ben and I bought a duplex. Right after we bought it, a new lender bought the mortgage from the lender we had at closing. That lender was Countrywide. For some reason, Countrywide sent all correspondence to the rental unit (though our home address was prominent in the closing papers) where the tenant promptly threw it all away. At our house we would casually notice that we weren't receiving our mortgage bills but assume that the shell game was continuing and that sooner or later we'd get our statement.

When we finally got our statement it was in the form of a sheriff knocking on the door and handing me a summons.

In the next few weeks our conversations with Countrywide were truly bizarre. Let me say that the first thing we did upon discovering which company owned our property for us was to pay up our balance. However, Countrywide didn't want to dismiss the foreclosure until we paid their legal and search fees, which they claimed came to over three thousand dollars.

"Send me your itemized bill. Show me the hours you've been charged for," I said.

"Well," they hesitated. "A lot of that is internal. We had to do a search to find you so that we could serve you with papers."

"How did you do that?" I asked. "Did you hire a detective?"

"No. We did an on-line search".

They googled me for three grand?

"Did you check your own database?" I asked.

"Of course"

"Then you probably should have found us, since you hold another of our mortgages."

So Countrywide dropped the foreclosure, and we promptly financed through another lender. I could never say for sure but my suspicions are that Countrywide had a little scam going where they quickly moved for foreclosure so that they can collect fees they don't incur. I think that by the time we were served we had missed two of their statements. Unfortunately, the foreclosure is on our credit reports - as resolved, but still. The other crappy thing is that all those people who bought those real estate get-rich guides call you on the phone because they've seen in court records that there is a foreclosure against you. They want to buy your property for pennies on the dollar. Even though we weren't actually losing a home, it felt humiliating to get condescending calls from rank amateurs.

I feel for people, even Ed McMahon, who go through it for real.


dguzman said...

I'm amazed that companies get away with shady practices like that. Then again, I'm sure it's just an "oversight" and "not our policy!" seeing as how Bush has put in place soooo many tough restrictions on business and the market!

I don't feel sorry for McMahon--I feel sorry for people who never had those millions to lose. He and his wife were obviously greedy bastards trying to take advantage of a system they know was skewed in their favor. And now it's caught up with them.

Sorghum Crow said...

Holy crap, and let me guess, the sheriff had a giant check that said you may have already won a brazillion dollars.

Splotchy said...

A really nice post.

And your snark is doing fine, by the way.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I have no sympathy for the rich who suddenly find themselves hurting because of the idiots they elected. I do have sympathy for your and your problem. You did the right thing, they didn't.

Fran said...

Well you know me - I am a big sap and at some level have sympathy for almost everybody.

It is not like Ed can't eat, but what is f*cked up is that he was in the same idiotic fantasy world as the rest of us.

I have pretty serious money issues too, that I brought to my marriage. I am actually in a pretty big funk today.

Anyway as I was deciding about spending 8.99 or 11.99 at a needed job searching item at Office Max, I thought about the fakery.

If I was spending stupid amounts of money at work on hotels and food, why not on me? So call me an asshole and don't feel sorry for me, but I made mistakes.

Now for the record I went into debt over travel and most of it not luxury, buying too many dinner and drinks for me and others, buying stupid stupid amounts of books and magazines and other assorted ways.

I had a crappish house and I drive a 10 year old (fuel efficient!) Honda - no Escalade for me and never wanted one.

Whatever, the point is that many of us have made some kind of stupid mistake in life, generally more than one.

We often get another chance. I am not so sure this time.

Great post and btw love the photoshoppy BushByeBye.

We are all screwed.

Dr. Zaius said...

Everyone has hard times. It doesn't really matter if they are rich or not, they are still in a difficult position. The test of true compassion is not if you can empathize with those people that are very similar to you, but if you can empathize with those that very different from you. Great post!

And say what you will, Ed McMahon was great straight man for Johnny Carson - a role that is often undervalued.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Jess. MaMahon isn't very funny to me anymore BECAUSE, he got timed out by the Bush machine. That's something we all have to fix and . . . . SOOOON!!!

s. douglas said...

His home is worth more than the average person will make in their lifetime, and we're supposed to feel "empathy" for him?


Yes, he's losing a home, but the circumstances are much different than say, someone like you Jess.

There's no reason for him to be broke. It's simply greed, and arrogance. And I'd bet he has financial advisors, and such to help him invest his money (Something most of us do not have).

Give me $5 million, and I'll live the rest of my life off that money.

There's a time for empathy, and compassion, and there's a time for something else.

The Uber Wealthy have been waging an all out war against Common Joe, and Jane for decades, and maybe it's time for a few of them pay the Piper.

Here's the "Snark," the day after his home was foreclosed, Mc Mahon received an envelope from Publisher's Clearing House, which read, "You Might Be a Winner!"

Distributorcap said...

i kinda agree with fairlane --- give me $2 million and i could live my life nice for a long time

as for you Jess -- i so feel for you -- and what a pain it must have been dealing with Countrywide

after all -- someone had to pay for Mozilo's 160 million golden parachute

great post

Ed said...

It's hard to feel sympathy for the rich when you can be darn sure that they don't give a rats bum about you or me. You know that, although it's not fun to be in that situation, McMahon isn't going to be a pauper.

After losing my job last fall and seeing our savings dwindle to nothing, last month a very unpleasant reality was looming - foreclosure was going to be in the near future. Fortunately for us, the last mortgage we took out was through a local credit union who guaranteed they wouldn't sell it to someone else. As a result, I was able to talk to real people face-to-face and it looks like we're going to be able to work something out. So, if you can, I would certainly recommend that you give your business to a credit union rather than a bank and make sure that they will service the loan themselves rather than selling it to another institution. I think we would be up Ye Olde Creeke if we had done otherwise.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I had Countrywide once too and dropped them for similar reasons. I had to call them and ask where to send the check when they bought my loan. Scary stuff.

Mauigirl said...

There are a lot of scams out there, not surprised Countrywide might be perpetrating one of them. My mom and dad got into huge debt (to the tune of $70k) what with my father's medical bills and also just basically living beyond their limited means (those groceries do pile up). At any rate, I signed her up for one of those credit consolidation deals where they say they'll help you pay off your debts and negotiate with your creditors. They did manage to pay off a couple of them but then they got in trouble with the FTC and were closed down - apparently for deceptive practices. Mom ended up having to declare bankruptcy after my dad went in a nursing home and the debt got even worse.

It can happen to anyone and right now there are definitely hard times for a lot of people. It's sad, and scary.

BAC said...

If someone makes $1,000,000 and they spend $1,000,001 they're broke.

These are tough times for a lot of people.


pissed off patricia said...

Rich people are not always wise with their money. Just like the rest of us.

The lady who cuts my hair got into an awful mess with Countrywide. They were charging her all sorts of fees she didn't understand. Bottom line, the fees turned out to be bs.

Claire said...

Great post. Yes, let's let business run unfettered without all of this onerous will trickle down to the rest of us. (never mind the fact that what trickles down is not money...)