viverra: (Default)
I have been growing more irritated with politicians and pundits who dismiss the people now facing mortgage foreclosures as simply "irresponsible borrowers", implying that they are only getting what they deserve.

John McCain recently said: (quoted in the NYTimes)

“Some Americans bought homes they couldn’t afford, betting that rising prices would make it easier to refinance later at more affordable rates,” he said. Later he added that “any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t.”

Is it "irresponsible" to listen to the experts? Is it "irresponsible" to do what only a few years ago was presented as the patriotic thing to do? How many people remember Bush's "Ownership Society" initiative? If you don't remember, here it is (Actually, I was somewhat surprised to find this page still up, given the Administration's penchant for rewriting history.):
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/08/20040809-9.html


To quote:
"The President believes that homeownership is the cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. In June 2002, President Bush issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities...
President Bush's initiative to dismantle the barriers to homeownership includes: American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which provides down payment assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income families..."

So here we have the President encouraging banks and lenders to aggressively go after low-income families and make them homeowners. Perhaps the mortgage lenders, who presumably have some knowledge of economics, knew this was not necessarily a good idea - but the President is pushing it as one of his pet initiatives. And why were the borrowers low-income? Could it be that their schooling didn't extend as far as economics? Could it be that when the loan officers at the bank (making five times their income) assured them that they were eligible for these loans, the borrowers believed them? Especially with the President pushing it, and saying that the best thing the average person could do to fight terrorism was to go out, spend money,  and achieve the "American Dream"?

But no. Just remember that they should have known better. They should have known that real estate sometimes devalues. Ignore that most professional in the field forgot this. Ignore that most towns and cities -- who base their revenues on real estate values -- were caught by surprise. Ignore that all the experts were advising them that home ownership was the right thing to do.

In the end, they borrowed above their means, and for that sin they will be punished.

The professional advisors and enablers had nothing to do with it. 

Next time you are given advice by your lawyer, your doctor, or anyone who is a professional in any field, remember that is your decision to listen to them, so any bad decision is your fault, not theirs. Remember, it's all the Decider's fault.  (uh, wait a moment...)

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