Armaan Garcha: Final Self-Reflective Essay

The 2008 housing crash was by definition an unexpected event. Banks held worthless investments in subprime mortgages that cost many individuals their careers, financial stability, and homes.  People would sign mortgages without reading the fine print, which sometimes resulted in them facing expulsion all while Wall Street profited. Once the house market came crashing, people were hit with this unannounced news that their mortgage rates would increase to extraordinary levels and if they could not pay the increase then they would be evicted. In the big short it states “As most of these loans were structured, however, the homeowner would pay a fixed teaser rate of, say, 8 percent for the first two years, and then, at the start of the third year, the interest rate would skyrocket to, say, 12 percent, and thereafter it would float at permanently high levels.”  This sudden increase caused many families to lose homes, and paid home mortgages that were not in their budget. When investors looked to make more profits the lenders had to loosen their normal requirements on the types of people who can get a mortgage. This gave the ability for lenders to give out mortgages to individuals with lower than average credit and to those with unknown sources of income.  The “Big Short” provides great representation on the type of actions and situations that were occurring before and during the 2008 financial crisis.  Companies would manipulate and deceive people, by “ taking  the stream of payments the homeowner would make to Household over fifteen years, hypothetically over thirty years, and asking: if you were making the same dollar payments over thirty years that you are in fact making over fifteen.” (pg. 31, Lewis, M. The Big Short).  This is a clear representation of fraud as this is clear deception for monetary gain. By construing the facts and manipulating data, people were tricked into agreements and contracts that they were not fully aware of. 

In the “Parable of the Sower”,  we are given this picture that Lauren and her family live in this dystopian society. Throughout the story we are told how bad her neighborhood is, for example Lauren stated “ I walked down the middle of the street looking and listening and trying to avoid potholes and chunks of broken asphalt. There was little other trash. Anything that would burn, people would use as fuel. Anything that could be reused or sold had been gathered. Cory used to comment on that. Poverty, she said, had made the streets cleaner. (14.16)” Throughout the book, although not mentioned directly, we know the economy is not in good shape. Normal amenities such as water, or rye are valued to a point where it is unattainable, they had to get water from the rain. The value of currency is significantly decreased, and values that seem exorbitant to us, are normal in the story. “ I packed my few hundred dollars in savings—almost a thousand. It might feed me for two weeks if I’m allowed to keep it, and if I’m very careful what I buy and where I buy it.” In normal circumstances, that amount of money can last a person at least 1 month with decent spending habits, but in Laurens case the economy has fallen to a point where the worth of normal amenities are inexorably high. Throughout the book, Laurens life has been filled with unexpectedness through her journey, from the sudden loss of her father to the sudden destruction of her home along with her entire family. Another great example of unexpectedness is her sudden need to  move to the upper part of the county for a better life. Lauren had been planning this for quite some time before all the incidents occurred, she never progressed any further than just thinking of it, since she had responsibilities such as her brothers “When my family is back on its feet, we’ll marry, I said. “Then we can get out of here. I just have to know that my brothers will be alright.” That all changed when she lost all of her family, she decided to gather what she had left and started her journey up north. While her idea to move was not sudden, it was the sudden event of losing her family that caused her to move.  These events would not have occurred if it was not due to the crisis of money.  Getting out of her difficult situation is near impossible as companies will use up employees and make them go into debt  “Anyone KSF hired would have a hard time living on the salary offered. In not very much time, I think the new hires would be in debt to the company. That’s an old company-town trick—get people into debt, hang on to them, and work them harder. Debt slavery. That might work in Christopher Donner’s America. Labor laws, state and federal, are not what they once were. (pg 210)” Lauren equates the mountain of debt to slavery, and the government shows no initiation in making change. The financial crisis caused Lauren to create this lack of trust with those she associate with, the fall of the economy caused people to turn on each other and do whatever it takes to survive, “the deputies all but ignored Bankole’s story and his questions. They wrote nothing down, claimed to know nothing. They treated Bankole as though they doubted that he even had a sister, or that he was who he said he was. So many stolen IDs these days. They searched him and took the cash he was carrying. Fees for police services, they said. He had been careful to carry only what he thought would be enough to keep them sweet-tempered, but not enough to make them suspicious or more greedy than they already were.”  These acts  placed pressure on the many communities, as they had no choice but to deal with cops and gangs, as they wanted to believe that they have a sense of security and safety. To survive Lauren had to live in a bubble, where she can essentially trust herself, as there was no way of knowing who is your enemy and who is your friend.  When relating to the 2008 housing crisis, we can see the catastrophic  changes that can occur when governmental involvement disappears and security of money disappears. People had faith and moreover had trust in the government, hoping that their trust and money was secure in their day to day lives. Big companies took advantage of that trust and forged the truth to manipulate people into debts that they were unaware of.  Lauren and her family, especially her father, had faith that one day that the neighborhood they lived in would grow and they would escape this life of drugs, guns, and fear of security. Companies like KHF used the vulnerability of people and made them go into debt, essentially using them and disposing of them.  

At the start of the semester, I honestly had no idea what the 2008 housing crisis and how bad the generational damage was. As the semester progressed, I know now that it occurred because of manipulation along with unexpectedness. Many banks manipulated people into believing low interest rates, along with cheap financing options. These companies used the suddenness of the crisis to capitalize for monetary gain. I was around the age of six, when the crisis occurred. I have no recollection of that time nor remember any other event at such a point. When I asked my parents they told me that they were not affected by the crisis, as we lived in apartments for quite some time and did not own a home until 2016. Although I am so grateful and thankful that this did not affect me or my family, upon learning about this subject in class, I became so heartbroken at the chaos that was occurring. My dad was very keen on always having a back up plan in his life, if things did not turn out the way it was suppose to be, you would have something to fall onto to become stable. Many people during the crisis did not have a plan to fall into, as people had no reason to. Who could have expected mortgage interest rates to increase and there to be a crisis. During my semester I too also experienced a similar event of unexpectedness and its drastic consequences. During the beginning of the semester I was involved in a vehicular accident with a deer, which completely totaled my vehicle, leaving me unable to travel to campus and home. I believe one of my better qualities as a student  is my ability to stay headstrong in very stressful situations and be able to try to find a solution no matter the situation, but  these qualities seem to vanish later in the semester. In the middle of the semester, I was exposed to poison causing me to develop a temporary mental impairment. This took a great hit on my ability to perform normal tasks and especially academic activities such as completing homework, attending class, and studying for exams, thus having very low grades. I felt so weak, overwhelmed, most of all I felt lost. Even though my situation was nowhere near the same as what individuals faced when they realized their mortgage interest rate increased or when they were about to lose their home because they were not able to pay their mortgage and will be going to become homeless. I have a better understanding on how bad things can really become after your life takes an unexpected 180. I believe that the answer to both situations is to be strong and things will become better. Regardless of how bad and how unexpected a situation might become, you need to think positive and things will align themselves.

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