The value of focusing on precision is a lost art in American society, which is why the mortgage crisis — and to a greater extent the corporate and political debacles of today — are symptoms of a new-age philosophy that is more focused on delivery than on process, value or work ethic.
In other words, our government and political leaders have checked out on their true responsibilities so to speak. Today's leaders must have read Oprah's favorite book, "The Secret," which claims a person creates happiness by just thinking happy thoughts or happy bubbles as it where.
It's a great idea for those who don't like to work hard in the process of building firm foundations. But then again, firm foundations, never spawn from quick, easy results. Although, they do stand the tests of time.
So how does this all apply to the mortgage crisis? Well, it's at the core of it.
If the forefathers or early American colonists are looking down upon us, I can only imagine faces of utter disappointment.
The mortgage crisis is the perfect example of what inflicts us. The government and partnering institutions, as well as some businesses, took a short cut to the homeownership goal, neglecting quality and clarity in the process. Homeowners who were quick to buy McMansions so they could run with the Joneses in a budget crunch are no better in certain respects. But, it's important to note, the subsequent fallout ended up hurting many homeowners and individuals who never bought into the excess.
As the process unfolded, it became clear our world for a long time has been based on happy thoughts without firm foundations.
As the courts have said, the banking industry in many situations does possess a legal right to foreclose on homeowners who are challenging banks in the name of MERS, robo-signing or other issues. Even if there is a legal right to foreclose based on judicial opinion, a general lack of execution did develop systems that are not intuitive or efficient enough to reach the ethic of clarity.
Instead, they were efficient for the purpose of speed. It is similar to the neglect of nuclear energy watchdogs in Japan, whereas the Fukushima reactor became overly vulnerable to acts of Mother Nature. In that case, as is with the domestic mortgage industry, the culture of complicity among regulators and other powers outstripped the application of common sense.
Finding property records should always be an orderly process since property is the lifeblood of our freedoms. But instead, we end up in a perennial game of who is on first? Right now, it appears no one, depending on who you ask. On the other hand, we can't move properties now because politicians, who pushed homeownership for the sake of homeownership, are interrupting new lending with measures that are overcorrecting and hurtful to other borrowers.g>
The forefathers protected property rights the most. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Jefferson's point is not to be anti-capitalistic, but rather pro-competition. Capitalism through the process of supply and demand is the life blood of a free society. Society certainly doesn't need an Occupy Wall Street solution, where a bunch of disgruntled people run towards socialistic utopias to resolve the nation's economic malaise. But a reality check is needed.
Capitalism and the ability to do business are certainly critical to a free people, but so is personal and business ethic.
The structure of the mortgage cycle that the led to the crisis with loan qualities buried in securities and shadow recording systems may be deemed legal by courts in many situations, but it doesn't mean they were solid or ethical business practices. Securitization is a great practice, it allows investors to provide cash flow that creates more opportunities for Americans. This is exactly why the players from start to finish need to aspire to a higher ground, so the process is indisputable and open.
To be fair, there are many in the industry who never created the excesses and who are focused on leveraging capital for the benefit of society. But it's difficult for them to plead their case in this type of environment.
The result of cutting corners in business, government and life has led America into a state of losing sight of what made her truly exceptional. It is not a country designed for people and businesses to do whatever the law permits.The U.S. statutory code is not big enough to record every unethical business practice or leadership crisis that could possibly exist.
The forefathers, instead, called for a higher principal that lawyers and politicians could not create in books. They wanted a private sector of individuals who were ethical in their own right, so the elites would have no justification for intervening in their creative enterprises. But for that structure to work, the business sector must have its own sense of ethic and purpose. They also need to hold the country as a whole in high esteem.
Business wants freedom, and that's a good thing. As Calvidge Coolidge said, "Business is the business of America." But business must remember one thing, if it wants government to remain in its rightful, small place, business must act as a private citizen with a personal ethic in full display. As Thomas Paine said, "Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
The inevitable conclusion is simple. An open, ethical solution to the mess is needed. And in the long-run, less fatigue would have been created if precision and a sense of ethic had reigned early on.
Write to Kerri Panchuk.