Monday, March 31, 2008

No Foreclosure Bailout!

MSNBC posted an article today parroting the Democrat presidential candidates' oft repeated accusation that the White House (and GOP candidate John McCain) isn't doing anything about the wave of home foreclosures that have spiked over the past year or two.

That raises the question of what ought to be done, for which there is no pleasant, voter-friendly answer. The fact is, the country's taxpayers should not have to bail out the reckless borrowers, predatory lenders or real estate speculators who created this problem. How is it fair that a single father and renter like me, struggling to get by with three kids in a tiny apartment of less than 400 square feet until recently, should have to take on the burden of bailing out people who lived far above their means, purchasing homes with jumbo loans or refinancing existing homes to purchase cars, boats and take expensive vacations?

Screw them!

The Democrat B.S. about these poor souls being taken advantage of is sickening. Everyone with at least a fifth grade education should have been able to understand that a loan in which you pay ZERO of the principle is a bad deal. Not to mention those negative amortization loans in which the principle actually grows while you pay only a portion of the interest each month. Do you really need a degree in economics to realize that is a recipe for foreclosure?

Oh, but the mean old Republicans ought to be doing something about all the poor souls who, on incomes of $25,000 to $35,000, moved into homes with asking prices of $700,000 to $1 million. Those poor victims had no way of knowing such expensive homes were beyond their reach. Presumably, they did not know anyone who had ever bought a home before. Of course, that's hard to believe since about 70 percent of Americans own their homes (about half of blacks and Hispanics own their homes).

Give me a break.

There are certainly some folks who've been caught in an unlucky economic cycle, having lost jobs or suffering some medical crisis. But the lion's share of people whose homes are now being foreclosed were just plain bad credit risks to begin with -- people who have established histories of paying debts late or not paying at all. Some, like my ex-wife, were vitcims of their consumer impulse. Suddenly cheap and easy credit against their homes financed luxury automobiles and fancy vacations that gave them a sense of living the good life.

I used to resent the fact that my ex was living so luxuriously while her daughter and I skrimped and struggled with no financial support as I worked my way through college. Now that house values have fallen and the economy is taking its toll on her small business, suddenly the tables are turned. She's had to give up the BMW, Mercedes Benz and Chevy Tahoe that used to be parked in front of her house. Recently, she's made the switch to a Toyota Corolla, and she's worried about losing the house now that income from her business is not covering expenses, let alone the house payment.

I hope she and her husband can find a way to avoid foreclosure. She is my daughter's mother, after all. But I'm not ready to start handing over my own money to bail her out, or any of her neighbors who lived above their means.

The government should not underwrite bad debt and encourage people to stop paying their bills. That would be reckless, but most of all, patently unfair to the rest of us.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer the John - Not So Bad

The Paper of Record reports today that New York's crusading governor, Eliot Spitzer, has been implicated in a federal wiretap investingation of a high-rollers' prostitution ring. Spitzer, his wife standing at his side, gave a press conference in which he admitted betraying his family's trust. The New York Times article is here:

I certainly don't mind seeing this partisan fall hard, since he has abused his office to carry out dirty tricks against his Republican rivals. The fact that Spitzer has prosecuted prostitutes, pimps and johns in his prior job as Attorney General only makes him that much more deserving of the shame on him now.

However, it's about time we started having a more honest discussion of sex, including sexual services and other sex business. Spitzer's opponents will beat him over the head with this issue, and deservedly so. The man is a lying hypocrite. But when you get down to it, the fact that he "allegedly" paid a woman to have sex with him really isn't anyone's business but his and that woman's.

People pay each other all the time to perform a variety of services, many of which are downright miserable. Do you think there is any such thing as consensual, non-compensated garbage exchanges between society and the men who drive by early in the morning to pick up our trash? Would anyone really be willing to work in cubicles day after day without being offered money to do it? And even fun things like professional sports and entertainment involve pay for service. Heck, athletes and actors even have unions! So why shouldn't a person be allowed to perform sex work for fees? And why shouldn't consumers be able to purchase the services they want in a free market?

I realize many people have religious reasons to oppose prostitution. But that isn't enough to ban it from society altogether. If, over time, Muslims become the majority in the country, we should not prohibit unrelated men and women from speaking to one another in public, ban public exposure of female arms and legs, etc. No, religious prohibitions about sexuality and gender have no place in the wider secular society. If individuals choose to not follow Islamic edicts, or choose not to follow Christian bans on prostitution, that should be tolerated. And if some folks do want to live by those religious ideas, fine. Live and let live.

There really is no valid reason for a rational, secular society to ban prostitution. Feminist extremists will raise issues of objectification of women and bad pimps, but those are all foolish. If prostitution were legal, it could be regulated to remove the parasitic pimps, improve conditions for sex workers, promote public health, etc. Sex workers in many countries actually have unions to represent them, and if American prostitues had such bargaining power, their lot could not but be improved.

As for objectification, that's none of our business. People come in an unfathomable variety of sexual flavors. Some like not only to be objectified, but also humiliated or bound and gagged. Some people go to swingers parties and trade off partners or watch others. It may not be your taste, but what right do you have to tell other grown men and women they cannot engage in these activities because you don't think it's right for them to be objectified, humiliated, peed on, etc.? If that's your thing, fine. If you only do those things because it pays well and you're willing to trade your services for a fee, fine. I only come to my cubicle each day because they pay me. The day that stops, I won't show up anymore. Yes, I'm an insurance whore. I may like you and even have pleasant conversation with you, but pay me or don't waste my time.

Spitzer deserves to go down hard because he's a lying sack of hypocritical excrement, and he's used his offices to hurt his rivals. But as for Spitzer's use of sexual services, the law should not even be involved. If his wife approves, who cares? If she doesn't approve, he's a jerk and she should leave him. It's not the public's business.