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COMMENTARY | "I made my last mortgage payment on Nov. 1, 2009. Bank Of America changed the locks on my house on Sept. 29, 2011." says integrity louse Ryan J. Downey, in a Huffington Post article published Saturday. In the article Downey goes on to describe the process that lead him to renege on the mortgage he took on a $422,000 home in 2006, which he claims is five years later valued at $253,000.

Throughout the article, Downey explains the process he suggests when walking away from a mortgage and the absurd, but entirely too common justifications he used when making the choice to choose self-interest over personal integrity. He goes on to describe the things he wasn't told in advance of his choice to buy a home: "It certainly wasn't clear" he says at one point, "that my house would eventually be worth less than half what I owed on it; that my small business would suffer from a bad economy; that half the houses on my suburban double cul de sac would fall into foreclosure;"

He rails against the banks for failing to disclose various types of loans, and even goes so far as to say "Nobody told me that some folks miss as many as two years worth of payments before they have to move out of their home. Or that the bank may even hand you a few thousand dollars to quietly evacuate without dumping plant killer all over your upgraded landscaping, ripping out the microwave or spray painting 'the mortgage crisis sucks!' on the garage."

What he doesn't tell you is that banks are in the business of buying and selling money. It's a product. They aren't obligated to give you the best deal they can possibly give you. They are obligated to their shareholders to sell you the most profitable package they can possibly sell you. Nobody trusts car salesman. Why on earth did they ever trust bankers? That's absurd.

Downey didn't tell you that integrity isn't graded on a curve, but rather that integrity is about living up to your commitments regardless of the actions of others. In fact all he did, and all that the people taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests have done, is to accuse corporations and banks of the very same sort of gaming of the system that people like Downey have done a million times over. Downey even advocates such behavior, saying in a section of the article subtitled "What will the neighbors say?" "The honest ones will ask you for advice. The proud ones will probably end up with papers taped to their doors, too."

The banks didn't destroy our economy. Unscrupulous consumers did. Banks, actually, for the most part (I will conceded that there were some exceptions), did exactly what they said they would do, and in Downey's case, it took them two years to do it, while he lived rent-free. People like Downey are what destroyed the economy. I have some suggestions for the people occupying Wall Street: Go occupy a barber shop, a shower, a laundromat, and then occupy yourselves in the task on looking after yourselves and ceasing with this ridiculous notion that somebody owes you something. No one said it was going to be easy.

Help is great, and I think the government should be doing everything they can to help those few people who are suffering for no fault of their own. I'm not heartless. But neither am I brainless. When we rediscover our integrity, we will rediscover our economy.


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