Friday, December 14, 2007

The Housing Balloon

The Senate OK'd a bill that would 'help' thousands of home-owners who made the brilliant decision to use Adjustable-Rate and other exotic mortgages. Why do they need this so-called help? Because these exotic mortgages have a bomb built into them. They start their life out as low-interest loans, and after a few years of getting payments applied to them, their interest rate explodes, leading to higher payments. Additionally, the House has already passed a version of the bill, which means that now both sides of Congress will need to hash out the differences and re-vote before sending it onto the President.

Let me be up front with everyone: I do not like this bill.

I firmly believe it is both unconstitutional and goes against the fundamental concepts of the free-market upon which our society is built.

How can I say this? Is this some evil grinch in me that wants to see people lose their homes? Of course not. I feel bad for them. A little at least.

Yet, these people willingly chose to enter into those loans. They KNEW that the interest rate was going to blow up on them, yet they went into the loan anyways. On the other side of things, the various financial organizations which made those loans also knew that once those rates increased, then the borrowers would be unable to make the loan payments.

How exactly am I supposed to feel bad about people who make informed decisions, even if those informed decisions are not in their long-term best behavior?

Why exactly should our government be trying to help out either people or business who made decisions on their own, about their own finances, and are now effectively in that proverbial lake?

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer opined this about this particular bill:
be a source of salvation for those families who were tricked into unaffordable loans
Do what? How exactly were these people tricked? I don't know what type of loan they signed, but my mortgage has the interest rate, including the fact that it does not change, clearly written on the contract I signed. There is no way that these families were tricked into purchasing such a loan--to imply that is at best to be trying to hoodwink the public into accepting another government handout to cover people's own stupidity. And if they WERE tricked into an ARM, by the mortgage lender not disclosing the fact that it was an ARM, then there are already statutes on the books to deal with fraudulent lending practices.

No. This is merely a bailout of people too stupid for their own good, companies too greedy for their own good, and the Federal Reserver which is responsible for it all, by forcing us to go to a wishes-backed currency rather than the gold standard.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

America Needs a Farm Bill

America needs a farm bill, our constituents need a farm bill.
--Norm Coleman Senator Minnesota (R)

... That's odd. I didn't realize that our country needed the government to subsidize various and sundry industries.

What's odder, is that I still can't find the place in the U.S. Constitution which allows Congress to use my tax dollars to subsidize industries.

What this is, is just another attempt for pork. For Congress to vote their pet ideologies, people and other odds an ends money. One of the many reasons we have such high taxes (unless you're one of the 'poor' making less than $30K annually) and a massive national debt.

It is just another symptom of the 'vote us money' form of government, where the unwashed masses who live at the government's whims (i.e. those on welfare and government employees) are used and abused by the powered elite, tossed tidbits of the state treasury in an effort to keep them ground and voting for the powerful.

How much longer can this idiocy last?

Sometimes, I wonder if even a President such as Ron Paul could stem the tidal flow of destruction which has been building in our Federal government since it forced the States to give up their rights back in 1866.

There is something to always remember:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.
-- Alexander Tyler
Selfishness. Complacency. Apathy. Dependency. I see all those things in our society today. So when comes the bondage?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Timeless Morality

Time magazine has a "Morality Quiz" up on their website at the moment. Oddly, they take their approach to Morality from an odd source. Consider this quote which is at the top of the article:
The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you. And human ego notwithstanding, it's a quality other species share.
I'm confused. I have NEVER heard of morality having anything at all to do with empathy. The encyclopedia gives three principle meanings to morality
  1. morality means a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong, whether by society, philosophy, religion, or individual conscience.
  2. an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions.
  3. synonymous with ethics, the systematic philosophical study of the moral domain.
The dictionary is simpler, it gives these as definitions:
  1. concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct
  2. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
  3. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.
  4. Virtuous conduct.
  5. A rule or lesson in moral conduct.
Yeah, where exactly does empathy have anything to do with morality there? And just to be fair, let's look at the definition of empathy:
the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another
Let's say this again, empathy has nothing to do with morality. Whether I understand what hurts you would feel the same to me is quite irrelevant to the moral decision to do something. Of course, using the simplified morality quiz provided by Time, one has to wonder if morality is anything above and beyond life or death situations. These are some of the scenarios they provided:
  • Could you kill a baby to possibly save the life of a group of adults?
  • Could you kill an injured man to possibly save the life of a group of adults?
  • Could you save kill a man to definitely save a group of adults?
  • Standing close enough to push that man forward, could you kill him to save a group of adults?
Then all the possible answers are "Kill them!" or not. There are no options for sacrificing ones self in order to save all the others. Apparently that part of morality just doesn't exist for Time. Understandable, since they are liberals, and sacrifice is an abstract concept to them, which can only be imposed upon others, not something that wells up from within.
Truthfully, I'm uncertain why this quiz annoyed me so much, yet it did. Maybe it's just my ornery nature. Or maybe, I'm just getting older, and less willing to flow with the annoyances of socialistic policies and ideals which try to subvert tried and true methodology and ideology.

So, here's the scenario:
An out of control trolley is heading down a track toward five unsuspecting people and will surely kill them all. You could throw a switch diverting it to a siding, but an equally unsuspecting man is standing with you on a bridge. Could you push him onto the track into the path of the train? Could you do that, killing one to save the other five?
Pick one of these three options:
  1. Yes, I could push them onto the tracks (65% on the quiz)
  2. No, I could not push them onto the tracks (35% on the quiz)
  3. I would jump on the tracks myself (the answer I would have chosen, if it were available)
See? That's how such a question should have been worded. But, maybe that's just me....

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