"600 Words by Esther J. Cepeda"
Well that sure didn’t take long!
One minute the talking heads are going on about Gordon Gekko-like greed on Wall Street and how to ensure that high level financial CEO’s don’t get golden parachutes out of the bailout, and the next thing you know the issue of regulation lays the blame for the mortgage meltdown at the feet of minorities and the poor.
Nothing against the New York Times’ Floyd Norris, he was just reporting out what a simple Google search will show you: the American-Dream-turned-American-nightmare is being blamed on the very people the quasi-governmental finance institutions, Fannie and Freddie, were supposed to be helping.
"Already liberals are blaming the deregulation that began under Ronald Reagan for letting a financial system get out of control, and conservatives are pointing to market intervention by liberals – notably efforts to assure mortgage loans for the poor and minorities – as being the root cause of this mess," he said in a Monday column.
In other words, it’s my fault. And my parents’ fault. And my aunt’s and my cousins’, too. We all scraped together the very bare minimum amount of money necessary to squeak into a house. Had our hard work and education not paid off – or if a medical emergency had thrown a wrench into our carefully laid plans or the promised refinance not panned out – and had we defaulted on our mortgage loans, the current crisis would be on our heads.
Blame us for pursuing the American Dream. And while you’re at it, forget the countless smarmy jerks who came at us with blood-oath promises that adjustable rate mortgages would never skyrocket on us.
And forget the endless brokers who hit on us every single day – I have one such letter which arrived last Saturday in front of me– with offers to refinance "for free" and get a low-interest home equity line of credit.
Let’s also forget the appraiser who, when I refinanced five years ago, came to my house for a four minute tour then magically declared that my house was, in fact, worth to the penny what the bank needed to see in order to offer me a fresh loan.
Never mind that in the last two years community activists in urban areas across the country have been simultaneously trying to get increased protection from predatory lenders and also trying to cast off the shackles of overly-restrictive counseling requirements which, in their zeal to protect, actually started keeping homeowners from being able to sell their houses to anyone.
Extending credit to first-time homebuyers is a risky proposition, there’s no doubt about it. But as it turns out so is basing the entire health of a country’s economy on consumer spending financed by e-z credit for one and all, including all the new-money richies the housing boom spawned.
Not that anyone’s learned their lesson; today is the first day of October and the Halloween purchase season has been underway for well over three weeks. And shelves are already being cleared for the Christmas chotchkies whose purchase will blunt the number of American workers who’ll be getting their lump of coal wrapped in a pink slip ‘tis season.
There are all manner of reasons for disliking Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke’s 700 billion dollar bailout, on the top of my list is the shocking lack of help for all the poor (and minority) saps who were sold on the American Dream of owning a home only to have it become the worst nightmare they’ll never wake up from.
Esther J. Cepeda writes the "600 Words" & "Pregunta del Dia" columns, and is also the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Her views and reporting do not necessarily reflect those of ISAC. "600 words" is a registered trademark of EeJayCee, Inc., Copyright 2008. May be reprinted with permission, contact email@example.com