It is perhaps not too fanciful to say that our whole financial system is built on the the concept of the Mortgage. After all the whole financial edifice came crashing down when people started defaulting on their mortgage payments and the tsunami like effects of that are still being experienced. The principal behind the concept of the mortgage is simple enough.
To give us the illusion of security we have come to believe that we can “own” a piece of the earth. This is in itself a very odd concept indeed. However it is simple enough to see that this idea likely sprang from the very ancient territorial instincts that all animals seem to have. This instinct gives the animal concerned some protection of its food supply and reproduction rights. This is hardly the case these days and yet on the basis of that ancient drive we have now created a very strange edifice indeed.
This business of ownership appears to have it roots in the idea of “conquest” which is in itself a very odd concept indeed. How do you conquer someone? However having conquered the conqueror “gives” away portions of the “conquered” land to his supporters who are then expected to support him in keeping the conquered territory. They in turn give away smaller bits to others who will support them – and so on and so on. At the bottom of the heap are the ragtail and bobtail – you and me by and large – who are not seen to be worthy of a gift of land and still need somewhere to live and so we offer , forced actually, to “buy” our portion. We are seldom able to pay the price demanded so the “owner” generously (sic) allows us to have the use of the land under the illusion of ownership while we pay it off. In times gone by we paid it off by way of a share of the crops we produced and often in blood if the owner decided to go to war. I am sure that it is too much different today!
The etymology of the word “mortgage” says it all! It comes to us from the old French – “mort” meaning “death” and “gage” meaning “glove” and there we have it – The Glove of Death.
A friend of mine and I were having a conversation the other day and they mentioned that they were intending to buy a home and were looking at the long lists of homes that have been “repossessed” by the banks – interesting idea that – how can you repossess something you never owned in the first place? As they said, there are some “bargains” to be had! I suggested that they be very careful indeed of what they were taking on. Many if not all those homes had been bought by people with good intent of creating a safe place for both themselves and their families. Most of those homes will have echoed with the laughter of children and become imbued with the dreams and hopes of the parents. If you have not been there you can only imagine the real distress and real agony as the bank marches in with its hobnail boots and throws that family out. The Glove of Death takes a strangle hold. I am not sure that I would want to now go and live in such a home of distress.
I do not know what the answer is and it surely cannot be to throw people onto the street. For so long as we continue with the system we shall have distressed people as citizens and that cannot be good for business, our society and everyone else.
Time to change the system. If we do not the price we will have to pay is likely to be beyond our means to pay. Already it is very high indeed!