Friday, December 10, 2010

Fear of Foreclosure

The prominence of foreclosure in economic news and the skimpy coverage of the breakdown of foreclosure process in the popular press shows the literary force of the word: "foreclosure." It has the visceral impact of a word like "rape," connoting a violent, destructive, faceless goon that comes out of the darkness to destroy the weak and helpless. People are getting "foreclosed on," foreclosure is destroying neighborhoods and cities, and the nation is in a foreclosure crisis. Foreclosure is Voldemort.

Legally, foreclosure is tame and boring. It's a mopping-up operation that has for centuries been relegated to the losers bracket among lawyers, and the museum of antiquities in law. It's no wonder that the reporters don't explain the residential real property foreclosure process, or why law professors roll their eyes when I start to say that joblessness, default, unchecked speculation, arrogance and bad judgment are far scarier than foreclosure. Who wants to think about dirty socks and dust bunnies under the bed when the alternative is to imagine a scary monster?

What do you think? What explains the fear of foreclosure?