Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

I Don't Normally Get Political...

But does anyone else think that a multi-gajillion (that's 700 with about a billion zeros following it) dollar bail-out right now is a bad idea? I mean, we've already floated $10,000,000,000,000 in debt in the last 8 years. That's ten trillion dollars, if you lost track of the zeros. No joke. That's $33,500 per man, woman, and child - citizen, visitor, undocumented migrant in the entire USA in debt in the last 8 years. About 70% of it is owed to Chinese interests, I believe. Now, who still thinks a bail-out right now is very smart? Maybe I'm being too conservative or old-fashioned. I mean, what's another trillion or so dollars borrowed from our bossom buddies? I mean, I've got an extra $33,500 laying around to pay off what we already owe - don't you? And so do each of our children, or retirees, and our well-paid guest workers.

At the very least, does anybody else think that some personal responsibility is called for?

Now, we don't want our economy to tank (by objective standards left unreported, it is not doing badly at all, and certainly not in a recession). And we certainly don't want to see lots of new homeless. Perhaps a solution this mess might be something like:

1) Defaulted adjustible-rate mortgage (ARM) loans are legally cancelled and their collateral (the house) is reclaimed by the lending institution, which then has no further recourse against the borrower.

2) Banks get the houses, but will receive no further money, so should not auction them too cheaply. What they do with the houses (probably auction them) is their business.

3) Dispossessed (and presumably bankrupt) borrowers are given, as a one-time gift, a voucher for two months' rent (a LOT cheaper than bailing out the mortgage industry) so they have some time to get their lives in order without being homeless.

4) Laws prohibiting the current nonsense, repealed in the 1990s and 2000s, are restored with criminal penalties attached to irresponsible lending. Whatever laws (still) exist that could possibly be applied to land as many of these yahoos in jail as possible, for as long as possible, would be well applied right NOW.

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Of course, all these steps are intermediate steps to a more permanent solution. I actually stand with the consensus among the world's traditional ethical systems (including the Jewish and Christian) in holding that lending at interest is immoral. Not just high interest, but at any interest. Investing with a share of the risk and profit is perfectly alright, but to expect money to grow on trees (that is, to give someone money, and without working for it, or knowing what they are going to do with it, expect more to be given back - NO MATTER WHAT) is ludicrous. They are looking for something for nothing. The whole present problem is caused by greed - the greed of investors, of bankers, and of potential home-buyers. We are seeing some fallout from that; how many bailouts before we recognize that the massive industry exploiting usury is just flat-out stupid. With the exception of a house (which is very expensive, and also a very solid investment, generally) - if you cannot afford it, you do not need it, and you shouldn't take out a loan for it.

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If I've offended anybody out there, or hurt their feelings, GOOD. STOP being stupid and greedy and indebting us all to the Chinese! If you're a friend of mine, it's not personal, really. You still need to stop getting us all into messes, though, even if I like you a lot. This is serious.

If you have been living irresponsibly with respect to finances, and I did for most of a decade, and got into and only recently out of a LOT of debt, I cannot recommend the following link highly enough. Dave Ramsey makes his living teaching people sound principles of personal finance. No get-rich-quick schemes here, but just learning how to work hard, save your money well, and retire comfortably with your responsibilities met. But I warn you, it is a real call to conversion that Dave sells. Back in the springtime, I went through his 13-week program (for a whopping $95) and it changed my life.

1 comment:

sherry said...

Hey Ry,

I think you should leave grad school and run for office. :-)

Sherry