And Then Gerard’s Car Caught on Fire

The following story (original here) comes to us from a trusted reader. Gerard writes:

The current problem is the last in a series of things that happened over the last five or six years.

At the end of June, my wife died after a long illness that began with Stage III Lymphoma. The lymphoma treatment was followed by a long period of semi-paralysis and pain.

We lived in an apartment building that was purchased by new owners as part of an extensive real estate redevelopment. The new owners/managers decided to get rid of most of their 50 or so existing tenants in order to build their own “community”.

The owners were willing to provide some compensation, and they had a perfect right to do what they wanted with their own property. But they had been told in writing that this kind of move could have a very bad effect on someone who was elderly and ill. She had been receiving rehabilitation at home, and was gradually getting better. I fought off any kind of move despite increasing pressure to do so, but finally it became the only choice.

Two days after the semi-forced move, my wife was in the hospital, unable to breathe. She had two collapsed lungs and three heart attacks while in the emergency room.

She spent a month in the cardiac ward followed by another month in two skilled nursing hospitals. She was again making slow gains when her Medicare time ran out. The only followup care she could get was Home Hospice. Those people helped me take care of her, but their mission does not allow them to provide “aggressive medical care.”

The numbers are kind of bogus, like most of today’s medical bills, but I would guess that Medicare spent about $250,000 in phony money keeping her alive. Then they let her die.

Over her last six months, I was caught between trying to get any kind of effective medical care, and providing personal care and support. I have no living family, and her family is scattered across the country. She was no longer getting physical rehabilitation. She gradually lost strength and died.

A few weeks ago – about a month or so after her death – I took the family vehicle, a 1975 VW Bug, to the repair shop that had worked on the car for a dozen years. The problems involved a fuel leak, a tune-up, and some minor problems with the wiring in the steering wheel. The car was mostly my wife’s “pet.” After her death it became very important to me, as a reminder of her.

The repairs were completed and I took the car for a test drive. I stopped for an hour at a bookstore and then got back into the car and started for home. Within a few blocks the engine caught fire and everything in the engine compartment was destroyed.

The shop-owner was willing to accept responsibility until his insurance company decided that one hose had been replaced, and a fire due to a second hose did not count. They declined to pay for repairs. I wrote a detailed letter to the insurance company representative, explaining that this was all one incident. They still chose to deny the claim. There seems to be no reason why they should do this other than the fact that they can get away with it.

The loss of my vehicle is a very difficult problem coming at the end of a long string of problems.

I’d like to get back on my feet and either get the VW rebuilt or get a workable car. I’m in my early 70s. I’m ready to get back to work. I just doesn’t have much to work with.

I was not a member of Facebook or other “social media” sites. I do not have 5,000 Internet friends. I hope that some people who are involved in social media will pass the word to some of their friends.

So if you want to help Gerard on the workable car project, here’s the link.

* * *

What I see in this story is a series of cascading disasters that could strike any of us; indeed, disasters that the systems and institutions in which we are enmeshed seem designed to create, filled as they are with tricks and traps. The perps:

1) The new real estate company that kicked Gerard and his wife out of their home. (I wonder if they were funded by Private Equity?)

2) Medicare;

3) the Home Hospice system;

4) the auto repair shop;

5) the insurance company (shocker, I know).

* * *

Getting old isn’t for weaklings, is it? Death and suffering come to us all, but should not come accompanied with blows and kicks from people and institutions that should help. One day we can hope that Private Equity won’t be wrecking lives; that the rent-seekers infesting Medicare and the health care system will be eradicated; that insurance companies won’t profit by denying payment just “because they can.”

Until that day, we can do this one small thing and help Gerard with his car.

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This entry was posted in Guest Post, Health care, Income disparity, Legal, The destruction of the middle class on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. JL Furtif

    “I’m in my early 70s. I’m ready to get back to work”.
    What country is this that keeps old people at work. Even my hens are entitled to retirement, why not this old person. Jeezes.

    1. RUKidding

      Depending on health and well being, I’m not too sad about people working into their 70s or even early 80s… BUT it depends on what the job is and the person’s health. I have quite a few friends who choose to continue working well into 70s and even early 80s. Some are motivated, in part, by financial need, but all ALSO find that work keeps them more mentally fit, plus there are benefits from the social interaction, plus the structure of work.

      The issue, of course, is finding work in your 70s and 80s to begin with, as well as finding work that will benefit you (financially and otherwise), while not becoming a liability for your health (physical & mental) in the long run.

      Speaking for myself, I plan to continue working for as long as I can (lucky lucky lucky to have a very good job) because I do see it as keeping me mentally alert & stimulated, while also, yes, ensuring financial well-being. But I enjoy my work, and given my family’s long lives, I don’t see the need to retire in my 60s. That’s just me.

      Gerard might benefit from a job, if he can find one, for various reasons. With the loss of his wife, working would bring about a reason to get up in the morning, socialization with others, plus money. Maybe not the worst thing for him. Just a thought…

      Good luck to Gerard finding a reasonably decent job. Hope it works out for him all around. I will donate.

  2. Nonanonymous

    Several things come to mind. 1) The garage is still liable for the damage to Gerald’s car, even if his ins co is denying the claim. 2) He chose to drive a car that belongs in a museum, 4) He chose to live in an apartment, 3) Life is a series of choices

    My condolences to Gerald in the passing of his wife. If you think Wall Street are a bunch of criminals. Wait until the Health Care industry gets a hold of you.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Your comment is about as valuable as your ability to read and count, which is to say not at all.

      3 comes BEFORE 4, the man’s name is GERARD, and it was the GARAGE’S insurance company that denied the claim.

      You should write a big check as penance for the sheer douche-baggery of your comment.

      1. abynormal

        ive been sitting on my hands not to reply to this idiot…hoping Lambert could remove it. Gerard needs information…NOT kill the victims and pile’m to sky so the lucky sperm club can have more and ‘believe’ their choices earned it.

        allez vous baisent Ninnymous

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          1, 2, 4, 3…….

          This guy should have “chosen” to complete first grade.

          He’s probably a banker, or one of their lobbyists.

        2. Propertius

          I believe you really meant “va te faire foutre”, but other than that I’m in complete agreement.

          Payment sent – good luck, Gerard,

    2. Clive

      It’s all too easy Katniss to sit here smug and self satisfied when our lives work out nice and neatly with what we believe to be are nice outcomes and think that it’s all due to skill or “good choices” on our parts. It’s a lot harder to admit that there’s a huge amount of luck involved — luck which stretches right back to the moment of our births.

      No-one who may not have been dealt the benign hands that we’ve been dealt needs those of us who’ve enjoyed our share of good luck having it shoved down their throats. If you’ve enjoyed a bit of good fortune yourself, then how about doing like I did and slipping the guy 20 bucks ?

      1. Clive

        Very sorry Katniss, that should have been a reply to Nonanonymous. I’m still spitting feathers in response to Nonanonymous’s insensitivity that I’ve quite lost my faculties…

    3. Paul Tioxon

      If life is a series of choices, when did I decide to be born? Needless to say, everybody wants to go heaven, no one wants to die to get there.

      1. Clive

        That question really is off topic for an economics blog ! And if only it could be satisfactorily answered in a quickie comment, half the world’s problems would be solved…

      1. ScottTx

        This is the conservative answer to everything. You and your state in life are the sum total of your own choices – nothing else. Consequently, you are not entitled to anything from anyone else, especially any sympathy, empathy or compassion. It’s downright shameful.

    4. jgordon

      Yeah, life is a series of choices, and then society starts collapsing and kicks everyone in the nuts no matter what choices they made. Don’t worry. Our turn is coming.

  3. JusThinkin

    This is certainly a heart rending story but how can I tell if it is true? I realize that it appears on a sophisticated site that is probably quite trustworthy and so perhaps it has been vetted.

    The question still remains and can be used in other “funding” requests – how can you verify they are legitimate? If you are crowdfunding potato salad, it is fairly obvious that the guy is getting money for, at least initially, potato salad. If you fund him you know what you are throwing away your money on.

    1. Yves Smith

      This is from an established reader and he wrote about his wife’s medical problems before she died. He didn’t try using that as a basis for raising money then even though he could and probably should have.

      I give money to homeless-looking people even though I can’t verify their circumstances. Desperation is widespread, but you make it clear you’d rather err on the side of letting people suffer. You’d rather not risk the cost of an expenditure you’d make casually, like for a glass of wine or two at a bar, out of your concern that you might be spending a trivial amount of money on the “wrong” person. That lack of empathy shown by your personal calculus is truly disturbing.

      1. YankeeFrank

        …and all too common in this nation I barely recognize anymore. We’re leaving for Scotland. Even without independence, their healthcare system is not the heartless monstrosity we endure, and there’s a culture of community that has gone completely missing from the “land of the free”.

        1. Jeff N

          I would love to see a series of articles here about how to expat to countries like Canada, the UK, etc… reading each respective country’s legal stuff makes it sound impossible.

          1. hunkerdown

            Seconded. The time to have gotten out with less pain is passing quickly, and it’d be nice to have a general idea of what one should (or at least could) expect along the way and how much baksheesh one needs to pursue this course.

            Yves, Lambert, any possibility of an irregular guest post along these lines?

        2. Ed S.


          If you’re seriously thinking of emigrating to Scotland (particularly if you’re a US Citizen) — I’d really like to hear more (maybe even a “guest” article or extended blog post).

          I’ve looked on the web — it doesn’t seem as if Yanks are particularly welcome in the UK.

          So any information you’d be willing to share would be greatly appreciated.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Yep, we’re US citizens. The UK as a whole has gotten more closed recently but if you have tech or other special skills and can get a firm to sponsor you they want you.

            I personally have an “in” because my wife’s father is Scottish and she is a UK “overseas” citizen so we shouldn’t have much trouble although I’ve read where spouses are having a hard time getting in unless they have a nice wad of cash to prove they won’t go on the dole anytime soon… asshole English bastards ;)… so we shall see. Not planning the move for a few years so things might change. Was hoping for independence for a number of reasons, one of which the likelihood it would become easier to go there. Things are stirring in the UK big time though, it seems the independence thing has really rattled the cages of the other denizens…

            Good luck to you. We’re also considering Australia, especially after the rave reviews from Yves :). And warm is nice. But Scotland is about the most beautiful place on earth and I find the people to be more like me than most everyone I meet in the US, so I think that’s where we will wind up, hopefully.

            1. Glenn Condell

              ‘We’re also considering Australia’

              Take a close look before you do. The future seems to have arrived:


              ‘Australia’s most senior soldier, Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison, has warned the fight against the Islamic State may be part of one “long war” that lasts for decades into the future’


              ‘Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Graith Krayem said he was disappointed that police had jumped to conclusions so quickly… He said the Muslim community felt “under siege” due to Senator Jacqui Lambie’s comments and “poor language” by the Prime Minister. “All of this is just increasing the tension in the community.”


              ‘Australians have been warned that their freedoms might have to be restricted for the sake of national security’ The terror threat has for the first time in 11 years been raised from medium to high.

              With Key embedded even more deeply in NZ there aren’t too many decent prog options in the deep south I’m afraid. Our labour, trade, education and health policies are also inching their way into US terriTory.. enter at your own risk!

    2. ohmyheck

      If anyone has doubts about gofundme, I can say that I have donated through gofundme, and I have not had any negative issues as far as my personal security.

      1. jonboinAR

        Can anyone else attest? I want to help out, but I’m scared of GFM’s security. Lambert, are you pretty sure it uses good security?

        1. YankeeFrank

          Honestly, internet funding security is pretty solid these days. Even when its not, the fact is your chance of having your credit card info stolen AND ACTUALLY USED is infinitesimal. I’ve been buying on the net for over a decade with all kinds of cards with not a single problem (knock on wood). But if you use credit cards you can always contest the charge anyway.

          1. Yves Smith

            Agreed. You’re at more risk of identity theft from your mail, from doctor’s offices (astonishingly, some ask for Social Security numbers) and from using your card at retail stores (clerks can snapshot the fact).

            Honestly, his reads like fearmongering to discourage charity.

              1. lambert strether

                “Altruism screws with price discovery.” I think that’s the most twisted, bitter, and ironic statement I’ve heard in a very long time. Kudos!!!

            1. jonboinAR

              No I’m not fear-mongering, man! I’ve had his GoFundMe page open on my desktop for about a week, ever since he requested help on another thread, but I’ve been nervous about their security. Why, I don’t know. It looked slightly cheezy, not Gerald’s need, which I’m convinced is completely sincere, but the GoFundMe site. I kept meaning to research it a little but have been too lazy. I was happy to see this special post on it because I could finally get off my duff to get an opinion. I assure you I don’t have some messed up agenda and would really appreciate you not jumping to conclusions, especially you, Yves, who preaches at us (rightfully) all the time to be careful on the ‘Net. So now, a couple of us say, “Hey, can anyone tell us if this is safe?”, and because you’ve approved it in advance you come back with words to the effect that I’m obviously a dark troll. Not too cool.

              1. Yves Smith

                As other readers have said at LENGTH, you are way more secure on the Internet doing transactions than in the real world.

                Sorry, the more you go on, the more it is clear you are a textbook example of a concern troll.

                Someone who posts to an internet forum or newsgroup, claiming to share its goals while deliberately working against those goals, typically, by claiming “concern” about group plans to engage in productive activity


                If you don’t like the label, stop engaging in the behavior.

                1. jonboinAR

                  Yes, I am committing the small amount I can afford, and no, I ain’t no “concern troll”, although I may have been overly worried about safety. I don’t know. I have bought stuff on the ‘Net, and maybe the high from making a purchase inhibited my “concern” at that time. But all I was looking for here was the smidge of reassurance that this was safe that the poster above you made to me, and, as you have pointed out, others. Thank you and Lambert for allowing me my reply. It’s been appreciated.

            2. hunkerdown

              It should be noted that GFM was the firm that allowed not one but two groups to shake cans for killer cop Darren Wilson and none for Michael Brown. It’s an unfortunate choice of platform, but…

          2. jonboinAR

            Thanks for your unaggressive, non-snarky reply. I want to assure everyone here that my motives are completely sincere and have been a little shocked at the way they’ve been openly questioned with no evidence. I may reside way way back in the peanut gallery over here, but I ain’t no troll or plant!

  4. abynormal

    could we get a State or nearby City Gerard resides in?
    states operate under different laws & resources.

  5. just billl

    Gerard’s situation is heartbreaking, and similar tragedies are increasingly common. I realized some time ago that survival of large numbers of people finding themselves suddenly strapped, even scraping bottom, is going to depend increasingly on the kindness of strangers.

    I checked out Gerard’s fund raising page. It is supported by something called Gofundme, which permits anyone to mount his own campaign and says nothing about how those wishing to make donations can go about it while preserving anonymity and privacy. These days one cannot be too careful. I am not so much worried about Gerald as about those behind this all purpose fund raising site. Anyone know anything about them? Is this like buying something on paypal or ebay? How does one maintain his privacy?

    1. Yves Smith

      I gotta tell you, I am bothered about your hierarchy of concerns.

      Do you get this worried when you make online purchases? I’m prepared to make a large wager not.

      All of this concern-trollling about making a donation looks like a concerted effort to undermine generosity.

      1. just bill

        My hierarchy of concerns? If you see no difference between buying golf balls or toothbrushes through paypal and responding to a delphic fundraising site I know of no way to explain the difference.

        Fact is I would happily send Gerard some money. Give me your address and I will send a money order.

        1. Tony

          It’s a credit card transaction + email address. Get a pre-paid Visa card and a throwaway gmail account if it you have privacy and security concerns.

  6. beene

    For those who think this happens only to the old take notice. A college student that was trying to become a doctor became ill with a progressive disease that if treated can be controlled. The end result of our present health care system was death of student, and bills that came close to a million dollars.

    We need to keep Medicare and expand this single payer system which already pays 60% of hospital care and eliminate the parasitic health care insurance. Which like most insurance companies first action is always or almost always denies claims. Which unless you are in the top 20% do not know how or can afford to challenge insurance companies.

  7. rich

    That’s a tragic story but everyone knows air cooled VW bugs are notorious for self-immolation. It lasted 40 years, what more can you expect from a car.

    1. Clive

      So lets buy him a cheap car then. Jeeze, when did we all apparently turn into a world channelling Marie Antoinette*…

      Lambert: His car blew up, it was old but it worked. Now my lieges, good readers of Naked Capitalism-land, he appeals to you for he doth not have a car.
      rich: Well, let him drive a Lexus

      * even she may have got a bad rap

  8. ambrit

    This reminds us too much of our experiences during the Katrina Disaster. ‘Private’ people and charities were the main sources of support after the weather had done its’ thing. The government was good a ‘big’ things, like bringing stuff in by helicopter. The Guard was mainly there to stop us killing each other off. I remember the little old couple, and I do mean old, as in their ’80s, who spent the first two days sitting in rocking chairs on their front porch, which was the only part of their house left. They lived a block down towards the Gulf. Family members came and got them on the third day, which was the first day the roads into our town were clear.
    Gerard’s situation is dire, and I will help with what I can.
    The primary obstacle is, what about the funding mechanism? I am Tech Challenged, and also wonder, like ‘just bill’ above, about the security of this Gofundme site. Isn’t there an encryption protocol for this? (The dreaded green toolbar?) [Yes, I hear you. Do my own due diligence.]
    Other observations:
    Whoever said the ’75 Bug belongs in a museum is truly delusional. Those VW’s were designed by Ferdinand Porsche for heavens sake. The basic design was produced for 65 years!!! I dare any of us to find a comparable record anywhere else in Autoland. They are easy to work on, and should have been easy to fix. The plastic fuel filter was an issue. Many replaced that with the old metal filters if they could find one. I’m confused about the garage owners response. The insurance company denied his claim, so he refuses to honour his own work??!! Who did the deed in the first place? That garage owes Gerard a replacement auto. Even if it’s an old ’85 Honda Hatchback. Something that runs. Any decent garage has access to one or two old ‘clunkers’ they can get running for as long as it takes Gerard to find a replacement. Something is wrong here. I once did a repair where I replaced a shut off valve below a sink. That night, the valve on the other side of the sink blew. I hadn’t touched that valve, but I still paid for the steam cleaning of the carpet in the bedroom next to that bathroom. Why? Because banging on old galvanized iron pipes will set off failures related to vibrations that travel through the pipe manifold. I was just unlucky in that this failure waited six or seven hours to happen. I may be old fashioned, but I was taught to stand behind my work. This garage owner doesn’t seem to think that way. Someone should hold his or her feet to the fire.
    Life is a series of choices. Yeah? Really? What about those “choices” that make you? Unless you subscribe to the Bardo Thodol, you don’t choose where you are born, or who to. Big impersonal forces often throw us around for the fun of it. Katrina and other natural disasters come to mind. (If you choose not to live in an area prone to Hurricanes, Volcanos, and Earthquakes, what’s left? [Don’t get me started on global warming.]) Many decisions occur in ignorance; blind luck is our real state of grace.
    Finally, this is one of the more communitarian websites I’ve ever encountered. Here is a chance to put some money where our mouths are. I’m game. (Thank you Yves and Lambert for providing a real test of our humanity.)

    1. JusThinkin

      Thanks for the reply Yves. I figured, given the integrity of this site, that this was not some random request however, your attack on a simple question – How do we know it is true? upset me. I am not an evil troll but just asking the simple question. Maybe you could have had a bit of a forward to the article explaining who this person was to you. That would have provided some assurance to me at least

      1. Yves Smith

        The post clearly stated this was from a trusted source. We vouched for him. Your continued demands for further proof verify the point I was making. I suggest you examine your attitudes regarding giving to the unfortunate. You don’t like it when shown what they reveal about you.

    2. Dirk77

      Good points ambrit. You work on a 40 year old anything, it is expected that something else is going to get broke when you are repairing the initial problem. You don’t want this, then don’t take the job. The shop’s insurance co denying the claim is the shop’s problem, not Gerard’s. They do work and a few hours later the engine melts down? Come on. Stand by your work you weasels. Well at least the guy should take it to another shop to get it fixed.

  9. Banger

    There is a wealth of compassion in human beings that goes unused. This is as tragic as Gerard’s plight–or even more so. My great objection with “the system” is not that it has become increasingly corrupt but that it offers no vehicle for compassion–we run the system by rules that will supplant the human heart.

    We live in a deliberately uncaring society that seeks, at every turn, to replace human values with mechanical ones. I believe this comes from a dramatic sense of pessimism on the nature of being human. We cannot be trusted by our institutions to make our own judgments, to bend the rules to accommodate those who are truly suffering.

  10. Paul Tioxon

    The final secret of the Illumanti in Robert Anton Wilson’s book, was the loving outpouring of those who knew him in life, and surrounded him with kindness and compassion in his moment of pain over the death of a loved one. A relationship had been broken by the most irrevocable means of death. As strong as a memory is, it is not the dearly departed. And as strong as feelings of good will towards Gerard are, money talks, especially when requested. You can take a chance, as I’m sure everyone on this site must have take some chance, at some time in their lives, that has added up to more than 10 bucks. In the case of many of the worldly finance types from around the world, it seems you have done pretty well, and now, in lieu of financing the revolution, maybe now is the time to pay something else than endless references to varied and sundry writers.

  11. mad as hell.

    There is a lot going on here.
    1.Some people’s lack of concern for other’s bad luck is very disturbing.
    2.That our current American institutions have evolved were they are so heartless and able to inflict more misery when someone is down and then be able to pass it on to the next institution so they can get their licks in tells us what we as a society have become.Human beings work for those companies and are responsible for their actions.
    3. People questioning motives, sources, looking for scams, afraid they are going get bilked is another indicator of our current American mood.

    I have been viewing this site for a few years. I have seen Yves Smith on several tv programs as well as numerous articles that she has posted on this site and others.Yves credibility and judgement would take a pretty good pounding if Gerard’s story was shown to be a fabrication. If it’s good enough for her then count me in too.

    I used to post replies on web pages but stopped. This story and the various responses just fired me up. Not only did I give a small donation to GoFundMe I also made a small one to Naked Capitalism.

  12. diptherio

    My adopted Grandma had a cross-stiched magnet on her fridge that read “Old Age Is Not For Sissies.”

    Best of luck Gerard. I have a feeling that eventually we’re all going to have stories like this…

  13. sharonsj

    I don’t think Medicare is the problem; it paid most of the bills. But don’t expect any decent home health care because the funding has been drastically cut. An elderly vet got a hip replacement, was told a nurse would come to his house–she never showed and subsequent phone calls proved he’d been lied to. He couldn’t get out of a recliner and would have starved to death if a friend hadn’t shown up to help.

    After my own hip replacement I was not allowed to bend down (ever!) unless it was with bent knees, except that my knees no longer bend. My place was a mess as a result and the Agency on Aging said there was no way to help me and couldn’t I ask a local church volunteer instead? I had no family and couldn’t afford to pay for help–and don’t go to church. So I just thought “screw this” and bent over anyway, hoping that shiny new hip joint wouldn’t pop out…. It didn’t.

    As for the car, he needs to keep fighting. These insurance companies deliberately turn you down illegally and wait for you to give up trying. That’s the one lesson you all need to learn: never give up and don’t believe anything the fuckers tell you.

  14. 2little2late

    By any and all means, anyone who has the finances to help in the plight above, please go for it, you have no idea how even seemingly small gestures can seem like lifelines when things head south in a hurry. Last year on this very site, I posted a comment along the lines of how the stars had aligned against me, only in reality; the stars were the ruling class and their various vehicles of destruction.

    As a pro se plaintiff up against TBTF Bank of America, when they realized their promissory note proffered to the court was obviously and seriously fraudulent, they simply created a new one that allowed the federal judge to grant their motion to dismiss. He didn’t care that there were now two different notes in play, along with the faulty and fraudulent assignments that gave no one the right to foreclose. And yet in reality, two notes in play, along with two different assignments of mortgage stating different mortgagees of record sets into motion the real likelihood that sooner or later, even if I had “won” this battle, I’d be revisited by another entity a short ways down the road, itching for yet another go around in court (a still likely outcome). The judge in my case, on motion day, spoke to the B of A mill attorney, saying, “Although I intend to grant your motion to dismiss, I need to proceed carefully so as to not provide grounds for an appeal.” He then switched on the court microphone to start the bloodletting. Bank’s motion granted. Mortgagor (me) has no standing to raise issues of fraud. To add insult to injury, without any motions he ruled to seal all of the documentation I had unearthed that showed the bank’s robosigner for what she was, a min-wage, destitute unwed mother of three, signing as a bank vice president. I don’t fault her, she’s just getting by doing the bidding of her masters. End result, they now have the 2400 square foot house that I built by hand on four lovely acres, along with all of our possessions.

    I’d like to comment on this line from a well meaning contributor to NC, “Any decent garage has access to one or two old ‘clunkers’ they can get running for as long as it takes Gerard to find a replacement.” What would help to understand here is that at Gerard’s (and my own) advanced age, and especially in these desperate economic times, coming up with a couple thousand for a reliable car is like buying a home for the average person….when food and housing are slipping away, health is deteriorating, aches and pains do much more than frustrate, you get the picture. It’s a tall mountain. I’ll just have to stay with my 11 MPG Dodge Guzzler. Bald tires? Go slower.

    When I made my comment last year here on NC, many people followed with offers of hope and help, but only one followed through, one Susan Webber. She sent me a check for $100, and will never know how much that simple gesture helped me out. The bigger question to this discussion should be, what good is a so-called civilization if it doesn’t attempt to take care of its downtrodden? Having said that, and while I applaud the effort to help out any and all individuals who need a hand, I’d like to thank Yves et al for creating what I believe is an equally important aspect to the problems cited, that of exposing the huge rift between those that have, and those that have not, and the increasing ability of the first class to take from the latter. It’s so easy these days, and more and more it’s done in plain sight with high fives.

    As to the insurance issue Gerard brings up….in my situation, I traded the last possession that my wife and I had, a farm tractor, for a travel trailer, which we’ve lived in for two years now. Try living in less than 300 sq. ft. with six rescued cats, and you’ll discover as we did just how small one can live when the need arises. Asses and elbows are everywhere, many small furry ones at that.

    I came into the trailer one day to a busted water pump and a flood. Geico’s RV certified adjuster came out and totaled the trailer, offering a check for $14K and they take the trailer, or we keep the salvaged title trailer and get a check for $11K. As a former contractor, I knew I could eventually get this trailer up to snuff again for a resale, so things began to look up. Whew! But Geico, without any explanation, decided not to honor their own adjuster’s estimate, leaving us with a damaged trailer and no funds to repair. Why? As someone mentioned above, because they can. From another comment above:

    That our current American institutions have evolved were they are so heartless and able to inflict more misery when someone is down and then be able to pass it on to the next institution so they can get their licks in tells us what we as a society have become.

    Here’s the current score; we’re stuck with a damaged Forest River travel trailer, still hounded by MBNA over a way exaggerated credit card amount that is past SOL, Geico’s insurance policy is worthless simply because they say so, and B of A’s got our home and possessions. What’s the glue that binds all of these entities together? Warren Buffet. He’s either sole owner or a large percentage shareholder of each and every entity. So, the rich get much richer, from taking from the poor. So please, Yves and Lambert, don’t let up on the coverage of the grand theft occurring daily, for everyone’s sake, because believe me, you’ll never in a million years understand just how easy it can be to go from riches to rags.

    1. RUKidding

      Thank you for sharing your personal story, and good luck repairing your trailer. Maybe you should set up a GoFundMe like Gerard did? Seriously.

      There is a heartbreaking article in the August 2014 Harpers Mag. It’s behind a pay wall: It’s about Seniors in their 60s to 80s, who through various life circumstances (many brought about by the 2008 crash, foreclosures, etc) find themselves impoverished. To find work, there is a subset of the elderly living, like you do, in various types of RVs, and they are now the new Tom Joads, migrant workers traveling from place to place to work to eat.

      They are seniors often working physically demanding jobs, like farm labor or working at Amazon warehouses. It’s a sobering story. I hope you and your wife and cats find a way to fix your trailer and make things work out OK for you.

      No, our lives should not end up like this. It’s highly ironic, but especially infuriating, that we had the spectacle of that grifter sociopath, Sarah Palin, caterwauling about “death panels for granny,” when she & her ilk could give a stuff what happens to senior citizens. These days, with “Democrat” Pres Obama working hand in glove with Pete Peterson, all they want to do is starve the elderly and give them a bum’s rush. What’s even sadder is how many citizens buy into this nonsense, wag their fingers at you, and say: tsk tsk all your own fault. Sucks to be you. I simply cannot understand that attitude, but that’s where we’re at this days.

      Best of luck to you. And you’re absolutely correct about rapacious, vile, blood-sucking Warren Buffet.

    2. Banger

      For all levels of incomes, including the rich, we live in an anti-convivial society. Everyone, in one way or the other, contributes to this state if affairs to some extent by swallowing the assumptions of the culture of narcissism which means that life is about me and my pleasure, my stuff, and my status in society. This situation is deeply tragic for all of us. The rich suffer because their pointless and hideous wealth and the culture that honors wealth and status above all other considerations make s them prey to flatterers and hypocrites as grotesque as any you will find in fiction and the theater. They will also witness, if they don’t understand that love and connection are the key to the most beautiful aspects of life, the gradual destruction of their souls and become, as Gurdjief’s beautiful phrase “food for the Moon.”

      This culture of radical selfishness must be opposed at all cost and in every way possible. I am hesitant to use the word “evil” but that is what your story and that of many people reflects. The culture is, in its main thrust, evil by any definition. My own definition is that evil is ultimate separation (hate, alienation) and good is ultimate connection (love, compassion). Mind you there are many forces for good in our society but they need to stop propping up evil institutions because without people of good will and peace the whole thing will crash.

    3. psychohistorian


      Susan Webber is our gracious host (aka Yves Smith)

      My “answer” to all of this is to neuter inheritance so none live their lives without the understanding of what fate can do to a life and why, as a species and society we will excel only if we provide social insurance for all against the vagaries of life.

  15. Tony

    Here’s a nugget or two for everyone doubting the authenticity of the poster:

    Gerard posted his campaign as a response to a discussion about crowdfunding in that 300+ comment thread last week. It wasn’t even his first comment on the thread. His request for assistance came 1) after he already commented on the thread on another subtopic and 2) in response to a crowdfunding discussion. So, here’s a fellow that is playing by the unwritten “rules” of a blogging community and putting himself out there as a guinea pig/poster boy for our ivory-tower discussions about capital allocation and income distribution.

    The least you can do is give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

    And, if you’re interested in doing more than the minimum, then maybe chip in a few bucks to say thanks for sharing his insights and his personal story as a concrete example of the issues discussed here. (just search for “Gerard”)

  16. katenka

    I generally just lurk here, but I will stick up my head to say that I sent a little cash Gerard’s way, to (publicly) cast my vote for doing so rather than not ;) . Of course it is not feasible for a lot of people to send even a little bit of money (I have been there before and doubtless will be there again…possibly next month, heh), but for some of us it is. We can’t quickly address the systemic issues that hit Gerard and his wife (although I trust that most of us are working on that, in some form or another), but his immediate practical concern is a tangible, bounded problem: this is something we can handle!

  17. Eureka Springs

    I’m in for 10.00 which was 20% percent of my checking account balance. The coffee/loose change can in my laundry room holds this years contribution to NC when the fundraiser begins. Thank you Yves and Lambert for being decent human beings.

    Cash for clunkers (or whatever they called that bailout for car companies) killed folk like me by melting down a million or more good used vehicles…. now all used prices are already much higher. Of course I never even fantasize about buying a car under 15 years of age. Fortunately I like old vehicles as much as I fear the death of the one I have now.

  18. Eclair

    Thank you Yves and Lambert for combining theory with practice; resistance with compassion.

    I have always liked Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara’s quote: When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.

    Let’s all keep asking why. And let’s all keep sharing. Because NC is that most essential thing for the survival of both the body and the spirit, a community.

  19. proximity1

    Lambert, do you have access to the e-mail address which accompanies readers’ posts (though it isn’t in open view) ? Could you use mine to contact me with an address by which I could write to you? If so, no need to reply here in the thread–and, come to think of it, either way, no need to reply here in the thread since, in the absence of an e-mail from you, I’ll assume you’re either too busy or you can’t access my address info. Cheers.

    1. abynormal

      Proxi, its worth it to create an email account just for this purpose. ive done it and popped it on here when someone nearby needs a resource ive uncovered…helping hand. Yves & Lambert do this for you they’ll be taking a door off its hinges.

      and Take A Bow for this thread Yves & Lambert. All of us are going to be hitting skids of some type…even witnessing neighbors & family members struggle is getting to me (im getting use to it).

      threads like this breed the best from the most of us. Thank You.

      1. proximity1

        I agree with you and believe me, since I can’t afford to contribute fungible assets here, all I have to “contribute”—don’t laugh now!—are my opinions; I’d hate to see the blog’s main purpose derailed by its becoming a Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Social Rescue resource. So I think it may indeed be best to drop it. On one point, fortunately, I think that it’s safe to disagree and say that many–even if it’s not “most”– of NC’s readers are in fact never going to be likely to hit the skids. As Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”

        1. abynormal

          ““most”– of NC’s readers are in fact never going to be likely to hit the skids”
          your narcissist exceptionalism is showing…show me an NC reader that sees themselves in that category and i’ll show you a reader GONE. quoting the Queen of Narcissism is another dark tell of your intentions.

          1. proximity1

            Again with the “tells” ? Martha Stewart is the “Queen of Narcissiism” ? I actually didn’t know that. I suppose that’s all the more evidence for your view that this constitutes another of the “tells” you see all over me. But I’m just as unaware of how my quoting her could constitute another “tell”. Fortunately, you didn’t bother to explain that. There I may be risking another tell but, if so, please don’t tell me.

            Could you find a different hobby? Something that doesn’t involve armchair psychoanalysis of my dark or otherly-hued “tells” ?

          2. ambrit

            Too true. Our experience has been that the skids rise up and hit us. It’s the things we don’t expect that hurt the most.

  20. economicminor

    Funny thing, NPR did a story this morning on stress and how things like this relieve stress. For those of you who don’t know, stress is a killer. It contributes to your bad cholesterol levels, you know the ones that clog up your arteries and kill you.. Many people spend thousand each year on either trying to relieve stress or the consequences of living a stressful life. One of the big stress relievers was giving to someone who you don’t even know. Just giving… Sort of Christ like… if I remember the parables correctly..

    Anyway, So I relieved some of my stress and gave.. Hope this is the bottom for Gerard! I remember what it was like to live hand to mouth and have nothing. I really never want to be there ever again and wish that this world was a different place for all of us.

    I don’t do charities very often because I give directly to people. I have been doing it for decades. Not so they ever become dependent but some fire wood here, pay a gas bill, give them something they need, food from my garden all summer long, $20 there… Almost weekly and for a few who are struggling, I do this every month. I don’t really seem to miss it either…

  21. Sarah

    If Gerard’s GoFundMe doesn’t work out, he should consider applying to Modest Needs (, which provides grants to low-income people facing an unusual expense so that they can maintain their independence. This kind of problem is right up their alley. For those of you who have expressed some concern about donating to someone without an established identity, MN verifies the applicant’s situation and relays the money directly to the goods/service provider involved. If Gerard’s story has touched you but you’re worried about his identity, I hope you will at least act on that feeling by donating to MN.

    Best of luck to you, Gerard!

  22. joeybird

    Gerard’s plight is quite the mirror to our current capitalist i-got-mine-so-screw-you world we live in. Maddening, heartbreaking, frustrating, infuriating.

    I donated for Gerard, and also as a thank you to everyone here at NC. Your posts have become must-read for me and I value all the insights and gallows humor of Yves & Lambert, and everyone who contributes.


  23. Gerard Pierce

    I waited until now to give others a chance to comment. I’ll admit to being a little beat-up but I’m not totally destitute. A five year battle can wear you down and that’s pretty much what happened. I’m used to being the guy who helps someone else.

    Before my wife’s illness, most of the street people in our neighborhood could spot us at a hundred yards. They knew we were good for a buck on any given day, and we were the ones who would actually stop and talk to them and find out about their lives.

    I might get some compensation for the car, but that means filing my own Pro Se lawsuit. Out here on the “frontier” (Nevada) nothing is guaranteed. Even if I figured out how to get it into Small Claims court, nothing would happen for quite a while.

    I’m very thankful for the help I’ve received from all of you. I’m even more thankful to Ives and Lambert for their help in making it happen.

  24. Gerard Pierce

    I waited until late to let others have their say.

    As my story indicates, I’m a little beat up – not totally destitute. After five or so years, my wife’s illness finally wore me down. I was beginning to deal with it when the problem with the car occurred.

    I’m used to being the guy who helps others. Prior to my wife’s illness, most of the street people in our neighborhood could spot us at a hundred yards. They knew we were good for a buck — and we took the time to talk to them and find out what was happening in their lives.

    I’m very grateful for the help you have given, and doubly grateful to Yves and Lambert for their help in making it happen.

    1. katenka

      We unfortunately live in a world where it is all too common and easy for the hits to come faster than anyone can handle them. I am very glad that you are not totally destitute, and I hope that there is a little light for you, with much more to come! xo

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