10 December 2008

Un-Bail-Able

Discovered this morning through Neal Boortz's site, a Reuters report "that over half of mortgage modifications seemed not to be working after six months". That measurement comes from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Not exactly one that offers hope for bailouts.

And yet, the US public has been expected to believe that some things really are for every single person - some equality of outcome is a right. Home ownership is the latest, largest casualty of this attitude. The bipartisan belief that home ownership is something every single American is entitled to has resulted, along with other helping factors, in the housing mortgage mess of today. What the Comptroller's report suggests is that there is nothing that government or industry can do to make some people pay their mortgages. Foreclosure, or threat thereof, does not work; restructuring the loan did not work in half of the restructure cases, either. Therefore, neither stick nor carrot is the answer. Abstention from home ownership is. Home ownership, as Mr. Boortz points out, is just not for some people.

But home ownership is only one of many seriously misguided "all must be equal" subjects in our country. Take universal health care. I know it may sound heartless, but if a person pays, literally with cash or credit, large sums of money to damage their own health, why is it then someone else's responsibility to provide health care for that person? Why would, or should, the public at large bail out the defaulted mortgage of one's health? (And I do not mean accidents here, or unforeseeable illnesses; I mean self-created illnesses, largely from willing abuse of the body through overeating and ingesting any variety of substances which are known to be harmful.) Some people's health, I would suggest, is un-bail-able. And yet, the public may soon be told that they must support the self-ruined houses of some people.

A more furtive example of wildly unrealistic equality of outcome demands is the idea that every student, every child in America should go to college. The idea of equality - that college is for everyone - is both wildly unrealistic and unbelievably harmful. Students who have no business considering post-secondary education are told over and over again that they can, and should, go to college. Never mind that many students do not have the background knowledge for college. Never mind that these students have no idea why they might be going to college in the first place (other than the vague promise of a "good job" after graduation). All students are told, over and over, that college is the only way - it is the house of their future. It is the equal outcome - and it is, in a sense, pre-bailed-out by making student loans and financing available to all. Or might that make these not-so-ready for college student prospects for later bail outs? Either way, the reality that college is not for everyone is clouded by exhortations that everyone must go to college to obtain…happiness? (Or money, or both, if money does indeed equal happiness.)

These are just a few examples; more certainly exist. And while it may be tragic that one individual person can, in the course of his own life, delude himself into thinking that one or more of the above is true for himself, at least that singular tragedy does not have massive effects on the whole population. A wide-spread belief that home ownership is an imperative for every single American has caused our nation great harm. Attitudes toward health and education may well have massive, ill effects as well. Indeed, whereas the individual delusion can be tragic, national delusions such as those discussed here can create situations which are truly world changing…and not it a good way.

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