Leave Wall Street Alone! The Real Villains of the Financial Crisis Live Inside Your TV

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Flipping Out's Jeff Lewis should be among those held culpable for the financial meltdown. Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

Investment bankers and other Wall Street employees have been taking heat in their personal lives for the financial crisis, several of them tell the Times today, and as the economy worsens, it's starting to get to them. First everyone wanted them to explain what a subprime mortgage was, now they're just looking at them with open revulsion. "I'd almost rather say I'm a pornographer," one retired Wall Street executive whined to the Times. "At least that's a business that people understand." Right? If only the populace had enough brains, they'd understand that it was not Wall Street's fault!. Financiers, the Times tells us, see the mortgage crisis like this:

Americans undersaved and overspent for decades, relying on rising property values to bankroll their lifestyles. But nobody on Wall Street forced United States homeowners to take out loans on houses they couldn’t afford, or refinance mortgages to spend money on cars they shouldn’t have bought.



They actually kind of have a point. Wall Street didn't force Americans to take out loans on houses they couldn't afford. They merely encouraged them by extending credit to people that couldn't pay it back, which they would have known if they hadn't been so busy buying and selling the complex securities that they, in fact, barely understood themselves. And there is another force that contributed just as much to the mortgage meltdown, one that is as much to blame as the guys in midtown.

The real villains here, the truly bad seeds at the heart of this crisis, have gone unpunished thus far and are still in operation. They are Jeff Lewis and Ryan Brown of Bravo's Flipping Out, Armando and Veronica Montelongo of TLC's Flip This House, Kristen Kemp of TLC's The Property Ladder, Kendra Todd of HGTV's My House Is Worth WHAT?, and the TLC, Bravo, HGTV, and Fine Living networks in general. All of them encouraged people to take out massive loans in order to buy and renovate homes and sell them at a profit when, really, most people have terrible taste, and furthermore, are bad at laying tile. These shows are still on! WHY?

We'd also like to see the team responsible for MTV's Cribs, the set designers of the loft on Friends, Page Davis from Trading Spaces, and the editors of Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, and the dearly departed Domino brought in front of the House Financial Services Committee to explain themselves, along with everyone else who, over the past ten years, has colluded to convince the American public that if they weren't living in a wholly renovated open-plan home with recessed lighting, granite countertops, and freakishly organized closets, they might as well be living in a cave. We trust Barney Frank will bring them to justice!

Wall Street's New Pariah Status [NYT]