Social and Political Commentary

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Subprime mortgages

... a closer look

by Jerry Norton

Jim Driscoll’s recent article “$700 Billion Bailout …” outlines what would be an interesting exercise in human compassion, but one which may not be shared by all of us in the taxpaying public. There can, of course, be no excuse for the villainy of mortgage lenders and the financial institutions which made subprime lending possible. Now let us examine more closely those among us who eagerly took advantage of it.

At the risk of being accused of generalizing, a profile of most of the subprime “homebuyers” might be in order. Lured by the spirit of instant gratification and their lack of business acumen they became easy targets for the astute mortgage brokers eager to make the proverbial fast buck.

Subprime aptly describes the people who were fed into this hoax, as they had the credit history to support this classification. They had been living by their wits for many years prior to attempting to come by a home without a down payment and with little awareness of the implications of the adjustable rate mortgage. These were the same people who necessitated the “no personal checks accepted” signs at cashier counters throughout the country.

They could be observed at gasoline station food marts purchasing cigarettes, “pull tabs” and lottery tickets with the hope of instant riches with minimum effort. It would appear that they also preferred to buy many food items at these counters, rather than shop for cheaper prices available at the local super market. No matter, they could still charge them on their one credit card which was not “maxed-out.”

It is generally agreed that the economic morass into which the world has been plunged had its genesis in the reckless behavior of the above-mentioned people … both buyers and lenders. Unfortunately it may have extended into the area of the more legitimate real estate market.

The prospect of our government coming to the salvation of these people is a misplaced notion. There was a bygone institution known as Debtors’ Prison, which would be a more fitting living arrangement for these freeloaders. The cost of maintaining these prisons might well be less than that which would be incurred by subsidizing their irresponsible behavior.

The milk of human kindness would be soured if it were to be extended to most of these home-buying opportunists.

December 5, 2008

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