31 JANUARY 2009

    Why the bleep not? No one else seems to know what to do, so why shouldn’t I toss out a few ideas? It just astounds me how much brain damage Washington can cause.
    The Mortgage Crisis:  How about a solution that pays off mortgages and/or puts money in homeowner’s hands at almost zero cost to taxpayers? Easy.Using a property’s assessed value (property tax value) as a guide, make money available at 0%.
    Here’s how it would work: Since a property’s assessed value is almost always lower than what it might fetch on the open market, it presents a safe, lowball value to work with. The government would make up to 50% (for example) of the assessed value available at 0%. In return, the government would receive a first lien for that value on the property, collectable at sale, gifting, death of the property owner or any other kind of transfer. The property owner could either pay it back (at 0%) or not, but in any event, the taxpayers would be reimbursed.  This same idea could also be adapted to small business property.
    An example: say a home is assessed at $190,000. That would mean that $85,000. would be available.

A few caveats:
1.No more than 50% (or what ever the final per cent was worked out to be) could be leveraged in this manner.

2.If said property has a mortgage, and that mortgage is less than the loan percentage limit, that mortgage must be paid in full by the loan. Only what is left over could be “discretionary”. In calculating pay out values, strict regulations would be in place to make sure mortgage companies deducted all extra fees and penalties accrued during the life of the mortgage. Mortgage company  participation would be mandatary, and strong penalties would be in place to make sure that all amounts were accurately and fairly calculated.
    An example: if the above-mentioned home had a mortgage principal of $40,000., $40,000. would pay off that mortgage, leaving the homeowner with $45,000. to put towards approved uses. Alternatively, the homeowner could just take $40,000. and pay off the mortgage.

3.If said property has a mortgage, and that mortgage is more than the loan percentage limit, then the entire loan amount would be used to pay off the principal, (calculated in the same manner, and by the same rules, as above) The mortgage company would then be required to re-cast the mortgage to the amount of remaining principal, at, say, 2.5%.
     An example: if the above mentioned home had a mortgage principal of $100,000., the $85,000 would go to that principal, and the homeowner would be left with a $15,000. mortgage at 2.5%.

4.If said property has no mortgage, the homeowner would be allowed to spend that money on any number of approved expenditures, such as: home improvement or business investment,( but not for example, gambling junkets to Las Vegas)  with the stipulation that all products and services be provided by American companies or small businesses, and that they use only American materials and products.  

    So what would this do? It would provide huge relief to homeowners in, or approaching, foreclosure, get money flowing in other situations, (such as stimulating jobs in the home improvement industry) and help small business owners get started  (or stay) in business. The nice part of this is that the government (i.e. taxpayers) would, over time, be fully reimbursed, so the net cost would be quite low.

The Job Crisis, Part 1:

    The “other side” of the jobs crisis is that folks who are paid in full on their homes and business properties face foreclosure due to non-income based taxes, such as property tax. This should not be allowed. Except for sales taxes, all taxes and government fees should be relative to income, the way the IRS does it. Hard luck, poverty or job loss should not be punished by forced homelessness. Folks should, to echo the words of the Constitution, be secure in their homes; let’s quote the Constitution, Amendment IV: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated....”

    While we’re at it, here’s how the dictionary defines the relative meanings of secure:
secure: a. from the Latin securus, se, or free, and cura, care,
 1.free from fear, care, doubt or anxiety; not worried, troubled, or apprehensive.
 2.free from danger; not exposed to damage, attack, etc.; safe.
 5.sure, certain, to be relied upon.

    To this end, federal legislation should be enacted barring all such grossly unfair taxing schemes. Also, a person's primary home and or business should be free from judgements of unsatisfied debts. The benefit to society of having one pay one’s debts in such cases is offset by destroying the debtor, not only do human statistics living in the street cost society money, but the lost taxes on the money they are no longer earning costs too.

The Job Crisis, Part 2:

    At a time when as many as 100,000 jobs are disappearing per week, is there any sensible, moral or economic justification to sending our jobs overseas?  How can a country that produces next to nothing expect to remain a real world power? Or, worse yet, ever be able to produce enough to fight a real war, (like WWII) with overseas supply lines cut? How can any government allow the greed of the privileged few to place this country at such a risk?
    It’s not too complex to fix. Outlaw the practice. We need jobs here, not in India. The concept is so simple it’s almost frightening. If you want to take money from Americans, (i.e. sell products to them) then you give them jobs manufacturing those products. Easy.
    The “ruling class” wants to destroy the middle class. Why? because, as far as they’re concerned, middle class workers should be payed no more than $5. for a 16/7 week. Anything beyond that is regarded as a robbery of wealth that is rightfully theirs. Don’t believe me? Read American history of the 1870 to 1940 period. Specifically, read about sweatshops and the rise of labour unions and the beginnings of the demonisation of the word “socialism”.
    Starting in  the 1940's, everyone thought we’d won, for awhile, at least, as the trend towards fair and equitable wages took hold. The middle class grew and prospered, and women started getting equal pay for equal work. Then came Reaganomics, free-trade, free-market, trickle-down global deregulated gobbledygook, crowned by N.A.F.T.A., C.A.F.T.A. and SHAFTA.
    Rush Limbaugh and his sycophantic crew of me-tooers pounded the “value” of totally unregulated free marketeering and globalism into the brains of those whose only “benefit” would be a pink slip today and a foreclosure notice tomorrow. Somewhere along the line, we all forgot to put a flower on Joe Hill’s grave.
    So tell us once again, Rush.Tell us once again how we all “benefit” from having our jobs sent to India. Tell us once again how we’re all better off now that the power saw that cost $500. when it was “made in U.S.A.” is now only $99.99 when it’s made in China, even though we had the $500. back then and don’t have the $99.99 now. Tell us again how there is nothing at all wrong with completely unregulated laissez-faire capitalism, that it’s just the malfeasance of a greedy few that caused this problem, how there’s nothing wrong with that good ‘ole Regan-Bush-Clinton-Bush religion and that we should maintain undiminished faith in it. Tell us once again, please, that there are people who don’t deserve a home, that it’s all our faults for applying for sub-prime mortgages, not the fault of the rapacious, greedy brokers who designed the entire system. Please don’t leave out the thrilling part about how Bush’s bankruptcy reforms protected our valiant, beleaguered  credit-card industry. And just to make us all feel extra good, finish off with the ultimate dénoument, la pièce de résistance,: those record Exxon profits! Only you know how much we should all take pride in that little triumph of capitalism!

The Jobs Crisis, Part 3.

    We once had a railroad network that could take you from virtually any place to any other place in the USA., and Canada, too. Yet mostly at the behest of GM, who wanted rubber wheels on concrete, we destroyed about 80% of it, including some of our greatest architecture. Today, Amtrak, a mere ghost of railroading’s past glory, manages to grow at an impressive rate, despite wholly inadequate equipment inventories and skeleton routes. Yet Washington pours buckets-o-bucks into the airline industry that is losing passengers (and money), and highways.  Rebuilding the railroad network could provide large numbers of jobs: re-laying track, building cars and locomotives, staffing and operating them, not to mention maintaining them and all the other ancillary equipment. FDR put artists and craft people to work back in the 1930's, we could create more jobs doing  a similar thing today, by restoring, rebuilding and re-creating our lost (railroad) architecture.
    We all know that gas will get overpriced again. It’s creeping up already. As soon as the speculators feel secure in that trend, they’ll be back to help us get to $5. gas and beyond. Yet all the “environmental movement” can come up with is new, absurdly high efficiency ratings for automobiles, making them more expensive to produce and harder to afford. All this during a depression. Smart, eh?
    Nobody seems to have caught on yet to the fact that many folks drive their cars to work, (well, those that have jobs, anyway) and that if a long drive to work was replaced with a short drive to the train station, that car could see 75% less use, meaning, of course 75% less gas consumption. Gee, a big drop in consumption and no wacky new expensive technology. Trains can move a “ton”  423 miles on one gallon of fuel (681 kilometers on 3.8 liters  (179km/liter) for the rest of the world). Try doing that in a Prius.
    I suspect that more people would prefer relaxing train rides as opposed to the jarring experience of driving or flying if it were available. I know I do. Amtrak’s rider ship gains suggest that I’m right. Yet most don’t have the choice. The tracks have been ripped up and converted into “rail trails”.  Fill’er up!
    Yes, our highway system needs repair, and this is also a good source of jobs. However, rubber wheels on pavement will never reduce our dependance on foreign oil anywhere near the way that railroads can. Highways should be maintained, but not expanded. Except for local delivery, trucking companies should, with government assistance, be converted into railroad companies. This is the only real way to reduce, and ultimately, end our dependance on foreign oil, (and) relatively quickly, too.