GREEN STUFF’S A COMING—READY THE “MILKING” BUCKETS
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 27 February 2009
President Obama gave another rousing speech Tuesday evening—his first in the majestic House Chamber. Distinguished onlookers—whose “required” attendance driven mostly by tradition, wanting face time with ‘the man,’ and jockeying for a moment or two on the tube during primetime—occupied nearly every decent seat; except those earmarked for carefully selected speech-prop invitees used to lend a touch of ‘human-ness’ to the President’s words. A little girl from rural South Carolina pleading to the President for a new school and a multi-millionaire businessman giving away millions were two examples.
Wasn’t it interesting, with two wars in progress, the President addressed the military but neglected to focus a spotlight on a man or woman in uniform—though two were strategically seated within arm’s reach, and TV camera angle, of the First Lady? Were they mere decoration? It appeared the Marine and Soldier was well decorated. Why not fill America’s family rooms, living rooms, dens, kitchens, and bedrooms with a close-up of one of her protectors and their story? Was it an oversight by the President and his word-smithers? Innocent omission or not it was a gaff. Especially when serving notice 17,000 more American heroes are heading to Afghanistan for combat duty. Come on, Mr. President—we’re the land of the free because of the brave. Make sure America knows it at every opportunity.
The President’s overall strong performance was no surprise. He’s demonstrated time and again—with TelePrompTer—to be among the best of orators ever to hold our high office. He broad-brushed a handful of issues and promised much. Translation: “We’re from the government and here to help.” Could Speaker Pelosi have been giddier? Some Obama remarks did strike a harmonic chord—stirring Republicans to their feet while offering applause; if only of the genteel golf crowd flavor. Time will shake out substance. We will see.
Too bad Ronald Reagan was not around to deliver the Republican response. Our sitting President would have met his match in style and substance. Not only would it made for a more interesting evening, America would have had much to think about as to contrasting philosophies and our country’s future. Governor Jindal (R, LA) may be a rising star in the GOP but ‘Reaganesque’ he is not. He should have graciously declined the retort offer and spent the day and evening in New Orleans reveling along the Rex and Zulu parade routes shouting, “Throw me something mister.” After all it was Fat Tuesday--the climax of Mardi Gras--and Rex throws and Zulu coconuts are treasures. For Jindal an opportunity missed for big fun, a last piece of King Cake, and grip and grin politics down in the bayou. He’ll learn.
One topic on the President’s agenda, regardless of how packaged and presented, does not sit well with the masses. In no form whatsoever can the housing market mortgage bailout even be mockingly described as, “There’s a donkey in there somewhere.” In fact, the only supporters for it are those needing it and they’re toting galvanized buckets—ironically, the old “milking” kind (have to admire the recycling effort), elbowing for position under where they believe the donkey’s hindquarters may be, waiting for the green to drop…while it’s still warm—so to speak. It should not take them long to realize there’s no need to wait for fresh ‘droppings’—just scoop. There’s plenty to go around. Everyone else is standing well clear—wiping teary eyes, pinching nostrils, gagging, and watching where they step thankful it’s not an elephant. There’s always a bright side—unless you’re Murphy—or Eeyore.
The President has repeatedly said only 5 to 7% of homeowners are in danger of losing their home due to their inability to make their mortgage payments. Note the operative word “their”—which, like it or not, will soon be “ours.” The President also said 90% of homeowners are responsible and meeting their mortgage obligations. Cursory polling among my circle of family, friends, and most casual of acquaintances has not found anyone sympathetic toward those who got themselves into a mortgage mess. The consensus is if there because of greed, well, too bad. If there because of stupidity, well, too bad. When you get right down to it those are the only two possibilities. Even if you can think of another one it links back to the two and the sentiment remains, “Well, too bad.” Bottom line: It is not about being “un-American” or “un-neighborly” or “un-brotherly-like.” And it’s not simply a matter of not wanting to reward irresponsible behavior—intentional or otherwise—but to punish in an attempt to prevent recurrence. And the argument goes further than a mortgage.
The vast majority in this country grew up learning the direct correlation between hard work, good decision-making, and return. Aha, that’s why 90% are not having a problem with their mortgage. As the “Stimulus Package” nears implementation, sane people, finally, across the country are getting angry and curtly asking, “Why in the hell am I paying for this other guy’s mortgage? Good question. But we’re not just paying for a mortgage. I have some more questions I would like answered. And I bet everyone else in the 90% populace likewise wants them answered. After all, we are “loaning” money—right?
The President assured us there will be a deliberate screening process and only those who meet specific criteria will be eligible for “Stimulus” dollars— charity—welfare—call it what you will to prevent foreclosure. But if these folks got themselves into a pickle with a house it can only be one among their many stupid decisions and financial woes. So, what’s the screening process—exactly? We can only hope among other things it includes an unannounced home visit and a short interview that for starters asks:
1. How many cars do you have? What are makes, models, and years?
2. Do you have a motorcycle, boat, off-road vehicle of any type, RV, airplane, or helicopter?
3. How many flat screen TVs, computers, cell phones, stereo systems, X-boxes, ipods, etc.?
4. Do you subscribe to cable TV? Are you a premium channels customer?
5. Where did you go on your last five vacations?
6. Do you have any other real estate—cabins, houses, land?
7. Are you involved in timeshares? How many? Where?
8. Do you belong to private clubs? What are the membership fees?
9. Do you send your children to private schools?
10. How much of the above have you sold and/or stopped to help meet your debt?
You get the idea. The problem is far greater than simply solving a self-inflicted house debt. What good will it do to bail them out of a mortgage—regardless of how incurred? Those looking for a handout have a bigger problem. Throwing money at them solves nothing. All we’re really doing is reinforcing bad behavior and sustaining ill-gained lifestyles—at our expense and detriment. Therefore, a rigorous screening process is indeed in order. And, final review and approval should come from a small panel of citizens—neighbors—from the community representing the 90% paying their own way. Micro level sympathy is sure to be less than that of a macro level pinhead. Odds are there would be a lot of money returned to our pockets. Sadly, that’s not going to happen. Our money is destined to be their money—and they’ll soon be chanting the Big Easy’s familiar, “Laissez les bon temps rouler” or “Let the good times roll.” They’re lottery winners and we should not expect behavior much different than the big investment firms and banks spending bailout cash on extravagant parties while extending a single digit salute to the taxpayer. Cheers!
Now for the dirty little “secret” no one is talking about but should have everyone’s attention—what happens 10 years (or less) from now when the economy is steam-rolling along and those who received our money sell “our” house for profit? Where does the money go? Should the benefactors of our forced “good will” walk away with a dime of profit? Nope. In some shape, form, or manner all profit had better find its way into our—the 90% who footed the bill—pockets. Anything less is wrong. Stand by.
Those playing by the rules have lost their sense of humor on this mortgage bailout nonsense. All worked hard for what they have and live within their means. They have what’s needed—not what’s wanted. Since when did protecting people from themselves become government’s business? Their neighbor’s? Or mine? Tough times indeed but without the culpable paying a hard, memorable price to prevent similar behavior—from themselves and others—we’re sure to have a repeat of some type. Whether legislation intended to prevent such is passed or not.
This mess did not just happen. So before time and space runs out let’s turn attention to the culpable…
For those sweating foreclosure—in the words of the scotch-sippin,’ cigar-puffin,’ sarcastic and cynical Texan standup comic, Ron “Tater Salad” White, “You can’t fix stupid.” That’s right, Ron, some things just can’t be fixed, and “stupid” is one of them. Natural selection used to take care of stupidity and sometimes still does—the Darwin Awards annually recognizes the kings of stupidity. But in a civil society care of the stupid is big business—by the government—so much for advancement of the gene pool.
As for the corrupt and inept politicians and business folks who intentionally created this mess and are now scrambling, lying, finger-pointing, and cowering in hopes of a pass—they can be “fixed.” It’s time to start rounding them up; all of them. Investigations, speedy trials, hefty fines, and prison sentences are a good beginning—and that should keep many employed. During his remarks the President announced space will soon be available in Guantanamo Bay. Why not? It’s a win-win—justice is served and yet more jobs.
Would it surprise you to learn I am not happy about this bailout—at all? I’d much prefer our money be directed toward research solving cancer, Parkinson’s, and autism—a few causes close to my heart and home. I know for a fact many others feel the same. How about you?