There’s a new term circulating among middle-class homeowners these days: strategic foreclosure. If you’re one of the people who bought your house when the housing bubble was at its bubbliest, your house might not be worth shit compared to its purchase price. Some people have decided that continuing to pay their mortgage when they’re underwater on the value of their home isn’t worth the effort. They’re packing their things and giving their homes back to the bank so that they pursue opportunity elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, the banks don’t like this. They call it fiscally irresponsible and exaggerate the shame and humiliation a person must endure if their home is taken away due to nonpayment. “Why would any red-blooded American walk away from their debts?” they ask with feigned shock.
These same banks are the working places of those CEOs who turned to taxpayers for bailout money when their hair-brained schemes for getting richer quicker blew up in their faces and tanked the global economy. Rather than allowing the free market they worship to correct them for their greedy transgressions, they held out their palms without even a hint of irony and begged.
Congress, ignoring the will of most taxpayers, forked over billions, and this holiday season, these CEOs were pocketing record bonuses.
But when it comes to the suffering and struggles of the middle class, these beggar billionaires preach fiscal responsibility and the need to stand by your financial decisions, even the bad ones. Their false financial piety is sickening.
Of course, most homeowners are doing their best to pay their mortgages, even when they’re upside down on the value of their homes. But some — those who get better jobs elsewhere and can’t sell their homes for anything near the balance of their mortgages, for example — are doing what’s best for them. Any bank CEO who has issues with that needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror before wasting our time with guest editorials and public whining.
Gosh, we wish we felt strongly enough about anything to put explosives in our underwear in hopes of blowing up a plane. We really like certain football teams and foods and friends and all, but think about it.
Seriously, is there anything that would make any of you do that? Maybe to save the lives of certain family members? But how many of you would do that for your religion?
The whole terrorist plot of Christmas Day has again raised the alert level to red or orange or whatever, prompting cries of strengthening airport security again to deal not just with shoe bombs but boxer brief bombs. There is talk of using those scanners that can see through your clothes. Um, traveling by train is sounding better and better.
And once again, as on Sept. 12, 2001, we are faced with the question, “To what degree do we sacrifice our civil liberties in the name of increased security?” How long will it be before we have to pass through a metal detector on the way into a grocery store?
Some say we should stop the knee-jerk reactions to the terrorists’ latest method of delivery and just take the fight to them, shock and awe or aw shucks or whatever it is called, in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Yemen or wherever, to take out the heart of the octopus instead of just so many tentacles.
Others say that would be too much of an unwarranted pre-emptive attack, making us no better than the terrorists.
OK, this may not even be relevant, but the $10 million question is still, almost a decade after 9/11, where is Osama bin Laden, and why haven’t we captured him? Wasn’t that what we were all jazzed up about in fall 2001? That night after the attacks, we remember watching Bush on TV and getting all jacked up on patriotism, but not to go kill Iraqis. It was bin Laden we were after, remember? Don’t we have some — as Eddie Murphy put it at the beginning of Trading Places — “Green Beret Special Unit Battalions Commando Airborne Tactics Specialists” who can just go in there real quiet-like, infiltrate or whatever, and take those top dudes out?
Yeah, as Eddie said, it will be real hush-hush. “I was Agent Orange, Special Agent Orange, that was me.”