Desperate Economic Times Call for … Desperately Crazy Measures?

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Facing foreclosure, one man bulldozed his entire home, while another thought the best means of catching up with the mortgage payments was to set his car on fire. Here’s a roundup of people who have been pushed to the brink by awful financial situations—and who also may have had a few screws loose long before the economy tanked.

• A Salt Lake City man six months behind on his mortgage had an interesting strategy to avoid foreclosure on his own: To raise the $20K+ he needs in a hurry, he asked people for donations, and in exchange he would set his car on fire and post a video of it online. How did he come up with the idea to reach out to strangers and ask for money? In an interview excerpted at Consumerist, he explains:

I thought, the only thing I have that is some form of entertainment I can give them is I can light my car on fire for money. I’ll give them 3 or 4 minutes of entertainment, they’ll give me $5 dollars.

• Rather than allow his home to be taken by the bank in foreclosure proceedings, an Ohio man bulldozed his home. Afterward, the man said he had no regrets.

• People are willing to do some odd things for a measly $5, as you can see at A fiver is now all it takes to get someone to design a company logo or website, turn an image into a look-alike cartoon, sing Happy Birthday in Chinese over the phone, or yell at the person of your choice like Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

• After more than a year without employment, a woman in Texas offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who finds her a job.

• A survey in the UK says that 60% of university students would star in a porn film to help pay off their debts.

• To get her painful torn rotator cuff treated, an uninsured woman in Michigan shot herself in the shoulder and went to the hospital, where she was treated for both the gunshot wound and the rotator cuff, then sent home.

• In February, a 53-year-old man purposefully crashed a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Why? Apparently, rage against the government—the tax system in particular. One of the man’s relatives, quoted in the NY Times, explained:

“I knew Joe had a hang-up with the I.R.S. on account of them breaking him, taking his savings away … And that’s undoubtedly the reason he flew the airplane against that building. Not to kill people, but just to damage the I.R.S.”