Monday, July 30, 2007

ARMed and Dangerous

I'm speaking of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. In my lifetime, I can recall three housing boom/bust cycles, and right before each headlong crash, ARM's crawled out of the woodwork and started gnawing away at people who should never have been able to buy homes but were suckered into it by predatory lending practices. These people didn't have the money or the financial stability to afford a house, but some land shark of a salesman talked them into signing their financial death warrant in blood. ARMS are to mortgages what loan sharks are to personal loans. A BAD IDEA.

Another nasty suprise also comes when the first year's escrow account is recalculated for the next year. Many of these same lenders that would have no qualm selling you a mortgage who's interest rate goes stratospheric within 3-5 years also have no qualm about using the assessed value of the property back when it was still a cow pasture for tax purposes instead of the sales price they are selling it to you at. The result is that the escrow account is purposely short come the next year by a huge margin. The mortgage co, tells you that not only do you have to pay what they estimate your taxes will be for the coming year, but you have to pay the back taxes and insurance for the prior year, PLUS you have to pay interest and penalties. Then to top it off, you have appraisal creep steadily raising the amount of your taxes year after year after year. Then in a couple years not only are you trying to figure out where the money for the taxes is going to come from, now you have to worry about that 10-15% interest rate you are suddenly assessed. If you are lucky, you might be able to refinance it to a fixed rate or sell it before the crunch comes, if you are not lucky, you may find yourself stuck with a mortgage and a tax bill you can't afford and a house that is no longer worth what you owe against it because the housing market has taken a nose dive. you can't refinance it, you can't sell it, and you can't afford it. Now what are you going to do?

I propose that Texas, which has a longstanding history of protecting homeowners from doing stupid things and putting their homes in jeopardy as a result, outlaw these predatory lending practices (intentional escrow account manipulation, and adjustable rate mortgages.) that dupe unsuspecting borrowers into getting in over their head.

Illegals, Sub-Prime Mortgages, the Housing Bubble, and YOU!

The Chronicle posts an AP story that essentially saying we should be glad that we are being overrun with illegals because they are the only thing keeping the housing market afloat. On the surface that may well be true, for now. But when the crash comes, and it WILL come, those mortgages will only accelerate it's fall and deepen the hole it falls into. First off, many of those illegals that have taken out mortgages did so using Matricula cards, which are notoriously easy to forge/scam. Secondly, many of those illegals make their living either directly or indirectly off of the housing market. When the crash happens, they are going to be kicking cans alongside many of the rest of us. But you see, those of us who are legal can't just up and disappear, only to reappear the next day with a slightly different permutation of our name, but they can. We cannot walk away from our debts that way. When 3-5 million people do that, can you imagine what is going to happen to the banking industry? It'll make the S&L crash look like a walk in the park. Every single one of us will pay for the banking industry's foolishness in higher interest rates and runaway inflation.

Federalism and the New Media

I was just now reading an essay on Federalism by Fred Thompson when something he wrote triggered a thought. He wrote:

It is as true today as it ever was: the closer a government is to its people, the more responsive it is to the felt needs of its constituencies. Too often, however, state and local leaders have to answer to federal bureaucrats first and their constituents second. When the federal government mandates a program that states and localities are forced to implement, or when a federal grant program is created to fund a specific state or community need, it blurs the lines of accountability.

Who answers to the people if a program fails? The federal government will point to state authorities carrying out the program; the states will point to the federal government, which came up with the program in the first place. And in the end no one is more confused than the people the program is supposed to be serving, who can’t even say for sure who is responsible for what. This does not argue against all federal programs but it does require the recognition that there, indeed, are trade-offs.

The defeat of the McCain-Kennedy-Bush amnesty bill was democracy in action, but the reason why it scared the bejesus out of the elites in DC was that they have never before had to answer to the voter so directly. This had made me realize that the internet is making politics as it used to be practiced obsolete. Politicians can no longer ignore the wishes of the electorate with impunity knowing that the public's memory is short and that it will all be forgotten in time for the next election. The internet remembers. The internet also gives voice to the heretofore voiceless, and magnifies it 1000 fold. The paradigm is shifting, are you ready to use this tool to your advantage?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Whistling Past the Graveyard

A good friend of my neighbor, whom I will refer to as Bill (a pseudonym), just got out of the hospital after very nearly dying. He spent several weeks in critical condition with a burst and necrotizing colon, a complication of severe diverticulitis. For those who do not know, Diverticulitis is a condition where fecal matter gets caught in bulging pockets in the side of the colon, it becomes infected and causes a fistula, or hole, to form in the colon wall, spilling all of that infectious filth into the abdominal cavity. The result is not appreciably different from being gutshot, minus the actual gunshot wound. If anything it is worse. The surgeons drained several liters of pus and rotting colon from Bill's abdomen and used gallons of saline to rinse the filth out of his abdominal cavity. They pumped antibiotics into Bill to fight the ensuing sepsis and infection. He was also fed intravenously and was at one point on a ventilator to keep him breathing until the infection could be cleared from his lungs. Bill no longer has a colon, and has lost part of his rectum as well. He is now, several months later, well onto the road to recovery, albeit with a colostomy and all that entails. Unfortunately he and his family did not have disability insurance. They will likely have to file for bankruptcy or risk losing their home, and everything they have worked so hard for. Bill worked for a small company that did not offer disability insurance, and since he has had bouts of diverticulitis in the past, it was expensive to obtain it on his own, so he chose to do without. That is turning out to be a very expensive mistake.

If you come away from this post learning anything, come away with this: None of us are immortal. Many of us have life insurance, albeit often not enough, but comparatively few of us have short or long term disability insurance. In days gone by, that might have made a little more sense because most things killed you outright, but medical science has progressed to the point that things that 50 years ago would have killed us outright, now become long term disabilities. Auto fatalities have plummeted since the advent of airbags and seat belts and helicopter ambulances and level one trauma care centers, but more and more people are surviving crashes that used to be fatal with life altering disabilities. How will you and your family survive without your income? How will you pay for long term care? Many people are reluctant to contemplate their mortality, but it MUST BE DONE. You owe it to your family.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Is something missing?

If you came by looking for something and you are having trouble finding it. You are not imagining things... But for the time being, I've taken it down. It may come back at a later date.

That is all......

Monday, July 23, 2007

Borris Miles has a problem

It would appear that a potential lawsuit arising from his questionable shooting of a thief the other day is not the only problem Borris Miles faces. I'm still trying to ascertain all the relevant details, but there is a woman on a Republican MSN group who is contending that she was sexually assaulted by Rep. Miles. She further claims that she has turned over videotaped evidence of the assault to the Harris County DA's office.

If I learn more I will pass it on......

Friday, July 20, 2007

Open letter to Seantor Cornyn

Senator Cornyn, First off I want to thank and congratulate you on your principled stand against Amnesty. Now it is time for you to step up again. You have publicly stated that if you have anything to do with it, border towns will be given "input" into where and what sort of fence will be built along the border. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First off, the desires of a border community cannot trump National Security concerns. Sure they want unfettered access to the border. They make a significant sum of their money from legitimate cross-border commerce. They also make a significant sum of money from drug and human smugglers. Legitimate cross-border commerce is in no way bad, if anything it slightly compensates for the billions of dollars that flow southward every year, but a fence would not affect legitimate commerce.
There will be gates and access points at all the current controlled crossings just as there are now. The only commerce that will be affected is the illegitimate commerce.

Senator, I don't know who you think you are pandering to. The border counties are so blue they are flipping indigo. If you think for a moment that this position will somehow endear you to the border counties, I have some bottom-land in Louisiana to sell you. You need to be pandering to us, the base, and we overwhelmingly want the fence built, and we want it as continuous as possible. A fence with a whole bunch of unguarded holes is no fence at all.

I would suggest you rethink your position, or you will not only be facing a Democratic opponent, but you will be facing a Republican one as well.


So did you miss me? Nah, didn't think so.....

I'm back from my little vacation, sorry for the lack of posting, but even I must walk away for a bit once in a while.....

Regular posting will recommence RSN....

Friday, July 13, 2007

Merger in the News

Energizer is buying Playtex for $1.16Billion. One has to wonder what sorts of new products will come from such a merger....

Location Location Location!

Someone over at the Chronicle has a sense of humor.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Irony, thy name is Borris Miles

Night before last, State Rep Borris Miles shot a man in his under-construction new home. The man was attempting to steal copper from the structure. So far, so good, if that was all there was to the story, I'd want to shake the man's hand. Here is where the wheels start coming off the wagon. Rep Miles shot the man after he threw a pocket knife at him. At that point, the man was no longer visibly armed. Secondly, he intentionally shot to wound instead of shooting at the center of mass to stop the attack as he was trained to do. Point of information: Rep Miles is a former HISD police officer, he also holds a Texas Concealed Carry License, he has been trained in the proper use of deadly force, he does not have the excuse that he didn't know. But here is the bit that really makes the situation ironic, Rep Miles voted against the castle doctrine bill that would have given him civil immunity from lawsuits arising from the proper use of deadly force.

But then again, this was not a proper use of deadly force. He shot an unarmed man, and he shot him, not to stop an attack, but instead he intentionally and with aforethought, shot him in the leg, possibly to keep him from escaping. This man put the right to protect yourself in jeopardy by violating the law so flagrantly. It is my sincere hope that he is indited for this. We, the supporters of the right to keep and bear arms, must be willing to eat our own when one of us breaks the law, in order to protect this right for the rest of us.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gruesome Reminder...

...that the terrorists are not human.

How do you convince people to fight on your side in Iraq? Al Queada's answer to that question is to serve the new recruit and his family the roasted body of their child. Because fear is so much better as a motivator than love of country or religion....

Tick.....Tock..... Part 382

Iran is tunneling into a mountain next to the Natanz Nuclear Facility for unknown reasons.

The time to nuke them draws nigh.