Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Blaming Bush and the Knee-Jerks

I feel like making a half-assed post, and so here it is.  I was on a Yahoo message board last night discussing something about a house built for a hurricane victim; and one commenter brought up the issue of Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM’s) and how they’ll crush a whole lot of people once interest rates go up.  

And I agree with this, as I once had an ARM because we were planning to sell our house before the rate went up, and so it enabled us to refinance our house (we have lousy credit).  In fact, the deal was that the interest rate would automatically go up at least two points after two years; and that was whether interest rates rose or not.  And it was guaranteed to go up even more in the following years.  And we actually saw this happen.  Right before we got rid of the house, our rate jumped from 8.5% to 10.5% and our payments suddenly became unmanageable.  We would certainly have lost the house, had we stayed.  And so I’m fully aware of how dangerous this situation is.

And I’m sure there are lots of people that got those too, and will be very surprised to find what a difference two percentage points can make.  And the commenter also brought up interest-only loans, which will also crush people once the interest-only aspect wears off and they have to start paying principal too.

And so all was well and good.  But then the commenter ends with a slightly cheeky “Nobody can blame Bush for this one,” or something to that effect.  And that’s just bull, so I cheekily replied back saying that we can blame Bush for anything.  And then casually mentioned a few things that Bush could have done in the past five years to prepare people for this, warn them off, or help stem the problem before all these foreclosures happen and our housing market sinks and drags down our economy.

And so the person replies back mentioning a few things that Congress is currently working on that might help, and mentions a few things that Bush could have done to fix it.  Or I at least think that this is what they were saying (which is what makes this quite the half-assed post, as it’s possible that they were agreeing with me, but I’m not sure).  And they end the post by saying that we’d have blamed Bush, even if he had done these things.

And this struck me as significantly odd and somewhat disturbing.  Because here we have a person who clearly knew more about these kinds of things than myself, and who believed that there were steps that Bush could have taken to fix a potentially horrible situation.  And yet the person still thought that we couldn’t blame Bush for not taking these steps??  They had acted as if Bush couldn’t have done anything to fix it, and yet already knew of several things that Bush could have done or could still do.  

And the stronger idea is that they just think that we can only blame Bush for the things he has done, but can’t blame him for failing to do preventative measures.  And finally, that when we blame Bush for things, that we don’t need any basis and are just doing it because that’s what we always do.  As if we’re the knee-jerks led by our emotions, and should just be ignored when we yet again point out Bush failings.

And so again I’m with a half-assedness about this, because I don’t know who that commenter was and can only assume much of this.  But I really think that I was corresponding with a somewhat intelligent person (they really did seem intelligent, and at least knew enough to sound more intelligent than myself regarding mortgages and whatnot), and yet still had a knee-jerk reaction to the whole “Blame Bush” thing.  As if the feelings that Bush shouldn’t be blamed overrides the logic that Bush could do something to prevent it; and thus should be blamed.

And that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with.  Even people who know better, still think that we’re supposed to protect Bush from blame.  Even people who can discuss issues and have a rational debate have no-go zones that aren’t to be touched.  They’ll discuss what can be done to fix things, but they refuse to allow Bush to be held accountable if he fails to do them.  This subject is clearly taboo for many people.

And again, I’m not sure if that’s what this person did, and they never replied back when I brought up this point to them; so this really is kind of half-assed.  But I’ve certainly dealt with this kind of thing before, so I just thought I’d bring up this incident.  And now I’ve filled my one-post-a day quota, and can get back to work.

1 comment:

Heraldblog said...

A far bigger mortgage-related trainwreck involves the people who have been borrowing against home equity for the last five years or so. Banks have been pushing flexible rate mortgages, where the borrower can elect to not pay anything against the principal, or to even borrow against presumed equity for a month. A modest drop in home prices could break a million homeowners.