Monday, June 16, 2008

California Screamin'

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and currently a professor at the University of California at Berkeley (read: elitist) is “delighted” with the high price of gas because he believes it will force people to start using public transportation. Of course, when asked why he still commutes by car he admits, “I’ve never been able to organize myself around their schedules.” Interpretation: Public transportation is good for the ‘little people’ – I’m far too important to associate with the huddled masses. Besides, it’ll help free up the traffic on the highways and make my commute a whole lot easier – after all, I’ve got young minds to warp, you know.”

The city of Vallejo, CA has filed for bankruptcy (its proximity to San Francisco should come as no surprise). For me, this is simply the inevitable result of the irresponsible behavior of many indulgent Americans who quite frequently choose to default on their obligations because there’s no longer any shame associated with bankruptcy – today it’s just an available, often convenient, recompense that rewards recklessness.
While this occurs all across the country, I’m picking on California because the housing boom we’ve experienced over the past few years was more pronounced there; just as is the precipitous downtrend they’re suffering through now. And whether real or artificially inflated, higher home prices translate into higher appraisal values which equates to higher tax revenues for local governments. However, when Vallejo’s budget started to get squeezed as a result of decreased tax revenues due to the slump in housing prices, they didn’t bother to try finding ways to make things work by doing with less, they simply declared bankruptcy – ‘help me Nanny-State’.
Why be accountable? It’s the American dream to become a homeowner. So who cares if you secure financing by overstating your income, buy more home than you know you can afford, and put little or no money down?! And who could guess that those lower initial interest adjustable-rate mortgages would actually adjust annually? It’s not fair, you expect me to adhere to the terms of my contract?!
And the lenders who crafted all their byzantine subprime loan schemes seem puzzled that subprime borrowers with a poor credit scores and a delinquent payment histories would fail to pay their mortgage? What are we suppose to do when we can’t refinance buyers into a legitimate loans and they now owe more than their homes are worth? Since when does a boom ever go bust? Help us Father Congress, please absolve us from our responsibilities.
What’s been largely overlooked in this mortgage and housing crisis is that the financial risks associated with any loans are always offset – usually through higher interest rates, increased fees, and other credit enhancements. As Bear Stearns’ chief executive stated before a congressional hearing in Washington, just as President Bush was orchestrating a federal bailout for their neglectful performance (and risking our country’s financial future in the process), “the impetus [for the run] was a lack of confidence, not a lack of liquidity.” These banks, much like the city of Vallejo, enjoyed the spoils while the market was riding high but are now running to the government to help them avoid paying their ‘bills’.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy having to shoulder the burden for people, or organizations, that make poor choices. Sadly, this fallout has impacted everyone – including those of us who choose to follow the rules (yeah, I know . . . we’re suckers).

As if it couldn’t get any worse, many banks are now breaking the law by not paying backlogged homeowner association fees for the foreclosed homes they’ve taken ownership of once the buyers default. Foreclosed properties add to the existing inventory of homes on the market and drag down home prices. When these homes aren’t properly maintained, entire neighborhoods are made to suffer. Banks need to be held accountable for their slipshod loans, as well as for maintaining the homes they’ve brought to foreclosure.

Last week, John McCain said he was “intrigued by a man on Mars” – I think we all know the man he has in mind.

Learned a new word last week that I’ll most likely never get to use again: paraskevidekatriaphobia . . . the fear of Friday the 13th.

Overheard from the office: Female coworker to copy machine: “You have enough paper, you bitch.” I can especially relate to this since I swear at inorganic objects habitually. Any one else suffer this peculiarity?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Little Venom

A young couple out of Philadelphia were arrested back in December - accused of financing a jet-setting lifestyle through an elaborate identity theft scheme. The boyfriend, an Ivy Leaguer, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, access-device fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. The story is newsworthy again because the girlfriend, 22-year-old Jocelyn Kirsch, has apparently been arrested for shoplifting and stealing a co-worker’s credit card while out on bail. Obvious to me, she’s failed to exhibit any compunction for her actions and is completely brazen. She needs to be in jail, not under house arrest wearing an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet . . . wondering if her fake Bonnie & Clydes or hair extensions had anything to do with the judge’s leniency?!!

Identity theft just rankles me - not only do you end up spending over forty hours of your own time trying to repair the damage to your finances, but you’ve got the added irritation of having to restore your credit – all as a result of some immoral and corrupt felons who thought they were deserving of getting something (from you) for nothing (for them).

We all pay for this type of crime – not directly – but through higher prices, lower returns, and excessive premiums to cover this type of loss. Her most recent act of depravity also begs the question – “How is this woman even working?” Who the hell did the background check on this girl?

I have a higher opinion of bank robbers than I do for these dregs of society – and I think very little of bank robbers!

A big thanks to the egoistic, navel-gazing, full of herself young woman who felt it necessary to engage us all in the events of your life by carrying on several phone conversations in the middle of the workout room. We now all understand why your husband travels during the week!

While there may be those who were fascinated by the exciting details of your “most awesome” weekend, I don’t count myself amongst them. I’m sure I just don’t appreciate the fact that it’s probably a matter of national security for you to have your phone with you at all times – “Hello Karen (fake name)? This is Dr. Smith from CERN. We’ve got some new ideas about the origins of the universe that we’d like to run by you . . . “ – but can’t you shuffle your pompass out to the reception area to make those all so necessary phone calls? “Hey it’s me, just callin’ to see whatcher doin’, . . . yeah, . . . uh-huh, . . . yeah” – riveting!

That’s the last time I forget to bring my iPod to the gym . . . looking for a cheap cell phone signal jamming device now!

Having had the experience of working in Washington D.C., I found it very unsettling to read that the police there are sealing off entire neighborhoods, setting up checkpoints and kicking out strangers under a new ‘program’ that officials hope will help them “rescue the city from its out-of-control violence”. People who live, work or have “legitimate reason” to be in these “Neighborhood Safety Zones” will be required to show identification. All others will be sent away or arrested.

All the problems this city faces, and they are innumerable, are directly attributable to the failed social engineering experiment that is D.C. – regressing to a Gestapo police state will not fix them.

Funny quote from a troubling story: Last week, a man in Britain was prevented for getting on a plane for wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a robot holding a gun! He was told, “You cannot get on the plane because there is a gun on your T-shirt.” When asked about the incident later he said, "It’s a cartoon robot with a gun as an arm. What was I going to do, use the shirt to pretend I have a gun?"

Amusing Quote for today from the Anti-Nannier