The Washington Post explains how the D.C. government enables some of the worst people in the world:
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb....This is what you get as a result of the absolute disappearance of economic liberalism as a centerpiece of the Democratic Party's thinking. This is what you get when the public is so beaten down by economic predation that no progressive organizations ever fight back effectively.
All because he didn't pay a $134 property tax bill.
The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale -- an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes.
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts -- then foreclosed on homes when families couldn't pay....
Coleman, struggling with dementia, was among those who lost a home. His debt had snowballed to $4,999 -- 37 times the original tax bill. Not only did he lose his $197,000 house, but he also was stripped of the equity because tax lien purchasers are entitled to everything, trumping even mortgage companies....
Notice that this program started in 2001 -- the moment when we'd all become cheerleaders for capitalism, when liberalism had come to mean rooting on the "New Democrat" economics of Bill Clinton (yes, a tax increase on the rich, but also welfare reform and the end of Glass-Steagall). So it's fitting that when this program went into effect in 2001, an article in the Washington Business Journal sold it as a swell investment opportunity:
With the stock market down and venture capitalists sitting on the sidelines, the District is offering investors an alternative with double-digit returns.The scumbags doing this aren't the big Wall Street names, but this is still evil:
A guaranteed 18 percent profit looks pretty tempting right now to investors licking their wounds from the dot-com carnage. That's the interest District government charges on unpaid property taxes. And beginning July 16, tax liens can be bought like any other commodity -- and the interest just keeps compounding....
"The clock doesn't stop once a tax lien is sold," says Herbert Huff, D.C.'s deputy chief financial officer. "A lot of investors are in this just to get the 18 percent." ...
One 65-year-old flower shop owner lost his Northwest Washington home of 40 years after a company from Florida paid his back taxes -- $1,025 -- and then took the house through foreclosure while he was in hospice, dying of cancer. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her family home to a Maryland investor over a tax debt of $44.79 while she was struggling with Alzheimer's in a nursing home.A sane society would regard the parasites who do these things the way we regard child rapists. A sane society would reserve its worst prisons for them. But that's not us, is it?
UPDATE: BooMan adds:
People probably know that ACORN registered people to vote, but that's about all they know about the former community organization. Registering voters was never more than a sideline. They actually contracted the whole thing out to PROJECT VOTE. The main thing ACORN did was fight back against this. When you walked into an ACORN office, the people at the desks manning the phones and meeting with people were spending 95% of their time trying to help people avoid losing their homes or advising them how to navigate all the predators in the housing market. What's been going on in Washington DC is only a particularly nasty form of something that was rampant in the 2000's.
... ACORN fought on this battlefield. But they got smooshed like a bug.