Retired Marine sergeant Bennie Coleman spent his career fighting for America. Now, he needs a soldier to fight for him.
At 76 years old, the Seargant has been showing signs of dementia. But he still recalls his days in Vietnam, his passion for protecting America from Communism, and the pride that he felt as part of the group that ended fascism in Europe. Since retiring, he’d lived comfortably in the home that he owned, surrounded by reminders of a job well done.
Two years ago, Sgt. Coleman was hauled out of his $197,000 brick house by U.S. Marshalls, and forced to watch from the street while they gutted his home. Photographs of his dead wife, the medals he had earned in the Marine Corps, the chair that he sat in while reading his children stories…all moved out and left at the curb like so much trash. Much as Coleman himself.
All over a $137 property tax bill.
Because, as it turns out, Coleman’s Marines didn’t really beat fascism; like a battlefield memento, they only brought it home.
Fascism may be summed up with the maxim that “only the strong survive,” or “might makes right.” Fascism is a system wherein the strongest people victimize the next weakest, who in turn become victimizers who prey on the next weakest. The system continues on and on, until the predatory art of victimization becomes policy, and the prey are blamed for their weakness. The inevitable result is a society composed of two parts cannibalistic wolves, and one part lambs.
The United States has long had a system of tax lien buyouts. The idea is that if you don’t pay your property taxes after a few years, the tax collectors place a lien on it so you can’t buy or sell it until the taxes are paid. If someone else pays the taxes, they own the lien and your property until you pay them back plus interest. It’s sort of a forced loan. Originally, the system was created so that small, local investors could turn a buck on interest while ensuring that the the Fed got its due in taxes. Now, however, with real estate prices going back up, these liens have begun to attract multimillion-dollar investors who purchase them explicitly for the purposes of foreclosure.
These financial predators did the same thing that title loan predators do, taking a small loan amount and instantly inflating it by 10, 20 or 50 to one. In Sgt. Coleman’s case, the lien buyer inflated the $137 bill he couldn’t pay at the time to a staggering $54,999 bill that they KNEW he couldn’t pay. Multiplying the Sergeant’s taxes by about 37 times over, the investment company picked up Coleman’s $197,000 house for a mere $137. They later sold it for $71,000.
Profit for Primary Predators (Investors): About $70,870
Profit for Secondary Predator (House purchaser): About $127,000
Loss to Sergeant Coleman: 76 years.
That’s how fascism works.
And don’t think that the Sergeant’s situation is in any way unique; this sort of thing happens literally every day. You can even learn how to do it yourself. You know those late-night infomercials that promise to teach anyone to “GET RICH QUICK IN REAL ESTATE!!!” This is the system of predatory acquisition they teach
Want to pay $287 for a $129,000 home in Maryland? No problem…just kick the old vermin out first, and it’s yours!!!
Check out this video from HowToBuyTaxLienCertificate.com if you want to see how proud a predator can be of teaching other predators to hunt. Like a proud Mama hyena, this predator tours his most recent acquisition: a $20,000 home he purchased for $2,500 in tax payments.
Or, maybe you’re looking for a little more brand-name education in fascism. Check out United States Tax Liens Seven-Module training series on how to victimize people and steal lives:
Make no mistake, this is a predatory practice. These tax lien sales occur in the lowest income areas, often in the places hardest hit by corporate misdeeds and financial collapse. These are places where people worked to pay for their homes, and then suddenly found themselves without $150 extra a year to pay the taxes.
The elderly are always prime targets, and minorities make up around 70% of all such tax foreclosures.
In Florida (of course), one flower shop owner lost his home of 40 years after an investment firm paid his $1,025 in back taxes, then foreclosed on it while he was dying of cancer in Hospice.
In Maryland, a church choir leader lost her home over $44.79 while she was in a nursing home fighting Alzheimer’s.
In America, more than 200 homeowners lost their homes last year over property taxes of $1,000 or less. Over the last 8 years, this exact travesty has happened more than 7,000 TIMES.
Behold, America’s secondary market of fascist corporate predation. Predators teaching predators to hunt the poor.
Sergeant Bennie Coleman slept in a chair on his front porch that night…the chair where he’d spent so many years in the warmth of his home, taking a few well-deserved naps. Instead of falling asleep to reruns of Andy Griffith, he fell asleep looking at his life, piled like trash on the curb. The blanket wrapped around him smelled of cherrywood tobacco smoke, a warm reminder of better days made bitter in the dropping fog of early morning.
Somewhere in that pile is a wooden box with medals pinned in it; the medals that he earned fighting for the America that he believed in. A place that gave men the opportunity to be anything they wanted to be, that had beaten fascism in Europe, and promised its children a brighter future for it.
Sergeant Bennie Coleman is waiting for a soldier.
Read the full story from the Washington Post here.