Saturday, September 27, 2008

How thing like THIS happen

Once again, one of my comments over at PW grew arms and legs, so I'll post it here to save Jeff's bandwidth.

I was responding to this comment, and my response starts out here.

So here's the problem:

Many progressives see the requirements to getting a mortgage — credit checks, asset evaluation, collateral, down payments — as the equivalent of the poll tax; in other words, it was a means of keeping the non-privileged down by creating an arbitrary, pseudo-legitimate bar that they knew the "undesirables" could not clear.

The aforementioned barrier to voting was genuinely discriminatory. But because progressives understand economics less than I do, they don't get that the qualifications for a mortgage are not arbitrary at all but instead are a real index of whether someone is able to handle the long-term responsibility of a mortgage. And then there's the bit about when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Very inflexible paradigms in progressivism, see.

Think about it: if you're a greedy bastard, you're not going to lend your precious money to someone who will likely default, because foreclosures are expensive and messy. Merely repossessing the house and the car does not sufficiently compensate you for the trouble, and you lose money in the deal.

So the bar that lenders set is designed to reduce their risk, which is what all greedy bastards do: protect what's theirs while making a buck.

Without the implied guarantee of government bail-out, no greedy bastard worth his salt would lend all that money to people who didn't meet those requirements. I mean, people on welfare could get mortgages. The artificial interference of the CRA and Fan & Fred and its agitators permitted the greedy bastards to pursue a path to filthy lucre that was not open before.

But as usual, progressives don't understand the real causes of poverty, so their solutions are entirely wrong-headed and usually hurt more than help. (Cancer? Use cyanide!) They think that people are poor in the U.S. because greedy bastards are hogging the finite pie and won't share.

But in this country, if you're poor it's because you don't possess the habits and beliefs and attitudes that permit you to function as a bread-winner. The poor often are not responsible for the fact that they don't have the chops to be wealthier, but the fact remains that if you want to help people not be poor, you have to help them acquire the necessary habits and attitudes for getting and keeping a steady, reasonably good-paying job, and then to wisely manage the money they earn.

But those kinds of skills are difficult to teach, especially in our I Want It Now culture. And many of the poor also have serious emotional, psychological, and/or physical problems that make it unlikely that they'll ever be able to support themselves, or if they do, it will be years before they've learned how.

And don't forget those who are caught in the endless cycle of dependency that has prevented them from internalizing the rhythms of responsibility — you get up, get to work, on-time, every day, whether you want to or not. You do what the boss says, even if he is a first-class moron. You tolerate slights. You hold up under pressure. Unless you grew up in a home where at least one person did that, it's hard to acquire that rhythm yourself. Most people can't do it without help, and some people actually don't want to become solid citizens, for reasons only they understand.

As usual, the progressives took the easy way out as they relied on their caricatures of Evil White Lenders and and on their confidence in the utter purity of their motives.

They just handed out the mortgages like leaflets in Vegas and figured that that would be all it took to get people out of poverty and into the mainstream of life.

But because their plan was not founded on How Wealth Works, this is the result: the collapse of the credit market and possibly a big recession or the D word for the rest of us. They tossed a bunch of people into icy, deep water without teaching them how to swim. BECAUSE OF THE COMPASSION!

Did a bunch of greedy bastards contribute mightily to the problem? Oh hell yes. There is no shortage in human society of predators who never miss an opening to exploit someone or something. They're the flesh-eating bacteria of society, always present, always awaiting the opportunity to invade a paper cut and gangrenate your whole hand or leg.

But the paper cut — or gaping wound, in this case — was inflicted by excessively wrong-minded do-gooders (or those who pose as such) that profoundly misunderstand the consequences of their actions and refuse to acknowledge them when they're pointed out. And whose cooperation has usually been bought by the greedy bastards who are benefiting the most from the racket.

This crisis was both foreseeable and foreseen, and Cassandras have been sounding the alarm for years. But if you've invested all your ego in how Good you are and how Evil society is, then you're not going to rethink your positions.

Especially if taking down the current system is the end game after all, the rubble upon which you will build your Perfect Society for all to enjoy. As long as they toe the line, that is. All else need to be moved from their place, by any means necessary.

UPDATE: Oh, look. Corroboration.

UPDATE II: How ACORN intimidated lenders into compliance.

Monday, September 22, 2008


That's the key bill, isn't it? S.190, "A bill to address the regulation of secondary mortgage market enterprises, and for other purposes," sponsored by Chuck Hagel and cosponsored by Elizabeth Dole, John Sununu, and John McCain.

On 26 Jan 2005, Hagel gave the following speech on the senate floor:
S. 190. A bill to address the regulation of secondary mortgage market enterprises, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce, along with my colleagues Senators SUNUNU and DOLE, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005. This is needed regulatory reform at a critical time for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

There is no doubt that our housing government sponsored enterprises GSEs, have been successful in carrying out their mission of providing liquidity for the housing market. The market has remained strong through tough economic times, and homeownership in this country is at an all-time high.

The housing GSEs, however, are uncommon institutions with a unique set of responsibilities and stakeholders. Fannie and Freddie are chartered by Congress, limited in scope, and are subject to Congressional mandates, yet they are publicly traded companies with all the earnings pressure that Wall Street demands. Additionally, Fannie and Freddie enjoy an implicit guarantee by the Federal Government that has aided them in developing substantial clout on Wall Street. With their influence in the markets, their ability to raise capital at near-Treasury bill rates, and their use of the most sophisticated portfolio management tools, Fannie and Freddie today are no longer simply secondary market facilitators for mortgages.

The significance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to our economy cannot be overstated. Together, the companies own or guarantee roughly 45.6 percent of all mortgage loans in the United States. The companies combined have issued over $3.9 trillion in obligations comprised of $2.2 trillion in mortgage backed securities and $1.7 trillion of GSE debt.

It is clear that the recent revelations at both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae precipitate the need for Congress to address GSE regulatory reform. In 2003, Freddie Mac found itself treading through a wave of accounting problems and questionable management actions. That led to an income restatement of $5 billion, a penalty of $125 million and the removal of several members of its executive management. One year later, a similar surge of questionable practices was discovered at Fannie Mae. That led to the retirement and resignation of two of Fannie Mae's top management officials, as well as last month's ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, that Fannie could face a $9 billion income restatement.

At a minimum, the bar for a GSE should not be held lower than it is for any other company. In fact, given its congressionally chartered mission to serve a public interest, the bar should be held significantly higher. The operations of such companies should be managed with uncompromising integrity and unabridged transparency.

Our legislation would create a new independent world class regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks. Our bill provides the new regulator with enhanced regulatory flexibility and enforcement tools like those afforded to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve System, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Furthermore, the bill would:

  • provide the new regulator the authority of receivership to close down a failing GSE and protect against a taxpayer bailout;
  • provide the new regulator greater discretion in raising capital standards to protect against insolvency;
  • provide the new regulator approval power over new programs and activities proposed by a GSE;
  • provide the regulator with greater authority to limit exit compensation packages or golden parachutes for executives removed for cause;
  • require the annual audits of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's affordable housing programs to ensure that these programs support the enterprises' affordable housing mission;
  • end presidential appointments to the board of directors of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and would require all Federal Home Loan Bank directors to be elected.

This reform is important to restoring and maintaining the confidence that investors and the markets require. In light of the recent problems at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, it is even more important. I urge my colleagues to support this reform effort and invite them to cosponsor our bill.

Emphasis and formatting mine.

Here's the text of the bill, and it was killed in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Here is a list of all congresscritters who got $0 from the Fan-Fred PAC from 1989 to the present, as shown on Open Secrets:

John McCain (R-AZ)
Wayne Allard (R-CO)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sander Levin (D-MI)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
James T Walsh (R-NY)
Robert E Andrews (D-NJ)
Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Chuck Hegel (R-NE)
Betty McCullom (D-MN)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Joseph R Biden JR (D-DE)
Jane Harman (D-CA)
Patrick J Kennedy (D-RI)
Dave Hobson (R-OH)
Walter B Jones Jr. (R-NC)
Mike Ferguson (R-NJ)
James Oberstar (D-MN)
Edward J Markey (D-MA)
Jerry Morgan (R-KS)
Ralph Regula (R-OH)
Tom Allen (D-ME)
Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Heather Wilson, Heather (R-NM)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
John Linder (R-GA)
Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Robin Hayes (R-NC)
Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Bobby L Rush (D-IL)
Robert C Scott(D-VA)
Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Lee Terry (R-NE)
Tim Walberg (R-MI)
Elizabeth S Dole (R-NC)
Frank R Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Donna D Christian-Green (D-VI)
Jay R Inslee (D-WA)
Brian P Bilbray (R-CA)
Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Ray LaHood (R-IL)
Connie Mack (R-FL)
Denny Rehberg (R-MT)
John Sarbanes (D-MD)
John Shadegg (R-AZ)
Dave Weldon (R-FL)
David WuH (D-OR)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Warner, John W Warner (R-VA)
Robert B Aderholt (R-AL)
Arcuri, Michael Arcuri (D-NY)
Chris Carney (D-PA)
Norm Dicks (D-WA)
Nick Lampson (D-TX)
Don Manzullo (R-IL)
Todd Platts (R-PA)
Diane E Watson (D-CA)
Anthony D Weiner (D-NY)
James W DeMint (R-SC)

I am not pleased to see that none of Utah's congresscritters appear. Here's the skinny on them:

The columns are Total, PAC, Individuals

Sen. Robert F Bennett $107,999 $71,499 $36,500
He's #4, after John Kerry. Way to go Bob. He's also on the Senate committee mentioned above. I can't find out what his vote was, though. His web site doesn't mention S.190 at all.

Rep. Jim Matheson $24,500 $24,000 $500

Sen. Orrin G Hatch $18,250 $12,500 $5,750

Rep. Chris Cannon $2,500 $2,000 $500

Friday, September 19, 2008

Exchange of the day

From an otherwise depressing blog post at PW:

83. Comment by Jeff G. on 9/19 @ 9:56 pm

...having a good credit rating really helps one’s self esteem.

And that’s what’s most important. I know, because I used to watch Oprah.

85. Comment by happyfeet on 9/19 @ 9:59 pm

I’m too cheap to find out my score. That’s probably a sign it’s not too bad, no?

87. Comment by dre on 9/19 @ 10:04 pm

$5.95 Equifax

89. Comment by happyfeet on 9/19 @ 10:09 pm

$5.95 is two slices of red velvet cake. Credit score. Red velvet cake. Credit score. Red velvet cake. I think you know how this ends.

Monday, September 01, 2008

How things like this happen

I've been browsing the blogosphere again, looking at the reactions to the news that Bristol Palin is pregnant, is keeping the baby, and is marrying the father.

The sick and twisted among us are using phrases like "unable to control her own daughter" and "didn't pass her values along" and, that universal constant, "hypocrisy."

But let me give you some insight into how perfectly staunch Christians and other believers in abstinence before marriage can end up pregnant anyway. It's not from a lack of belief or a tendency toward hypocrisy or any remarkable kind of moral failing.

This is what happens:

In the cold light of day, these young girls (I speak only for the gender to which I belong) can hold very strong convictions about the proper time for sexual intimacy. They can embrace it and believe it and have every intention of following through with those beliefs.

Unfortunately, they are also very inexperienced about How Things Can Go Too Far, and being the Invulnerable Teenagers they are, they tend to believe that their convictions are sufficient. They think that they can put the brakes on their make-out sessions at any time, no problem.

What they don't know is that the arousal sequence includes a point where the inhibition centers of the brain get dialed way down, and the pleasure centers get amped way up, to the point that you stop caring if it's wrong or a bad idea or whatever.

Which is what your brain is supposed to do, after all, or the species would soon die out.

Experienced women know that you have to control the situation from the beginning, meaning that you don't put yourself into temptation's path in the first place. But 17-year-old girls don't have stellar judgment to begin with, so these things happen from time to time.

Look, I would marvel at the fact that I made it out of my teens without committing that same error, except that the boyfriends I had during high school and college were both closet cases. So, no virtue or superior judgment on my part.

My whole extended family is staunch LDS, but I know of three couples among my grandparents, aunts, and uncles whose children were conceived before the wedding. Among my cousins, who knows.

But religious people all know relatives who "had to" get married, and maybe they themselves did. The difference is that we believe that when you commit the easiest sin of all to commit (and no one is immune from the temptation), there are proper ways to deal with the aftermath. And the Palins are doing what's best for all concerned according to Christian teachings.

She couldn't control her own daughter? What was she supposed to do? Make her wear a chastity belt? Lock her in a closet until she is 35? Forbid her to ever be alone with a boy?

I mean, come ON, people!

At LGF, a statement by James Dobson on the proper Christian response to this type of thing.

The usually irreverent Ace of Spades expounds on the extraordinary nerve that Lefties have in lecturing anyone at all about morality.

And Jeff Goldstein lays into them too, with satisfying results, as a follow-up to his now-legendary round-up of Leftist toxic dumping on Sarah Palin herself.