We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
President Obama’s behavior over the past year, and particularly the last month, borders on bizarre. The candidate who promised to bring people together and move beyond polarization has morphed into a divisive and defensive president.
His sinking approval numbers underscore the growing public disappointment in the gap between his campaign rhetoric and his governing style.
I know someone with a safe $5000 monthly income. Their house is worth $250,000 but they bought it for $400,000. It doesn't make any sense to pay the utilities for the huge house that is barely worth half. Their financial status hasn't changed, but they know when a mortgage isn't worth paying.
I'm not sure I understand the concept of whether a mortgage is "worth paying." It's a debt, right? The only honorable way I know to get out of one is to sell the house. If you take a loss, you take a loss, just as the gain would have been a real gain.
I'm afraid a lot of people out there aren't aware that if they are let off the hook on a mortgage, they're deemed to have received taxable income in the form of debt forgiveness. I predict a lot of unhappiness on the personal income tax front.
Tom, you're right. The Mortgage Relief and Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007 did eliminate the income tax hit in some circumstances. The exclusions have been extended through 2012. They're tricky, though, and warrant a close looking at. For instance, the general exclusion has quite a high ceiling, like $2MM I think, but the basis of your house is reduced accordingly, and the exclusions from income from the deemed sale of foreclosure haven't been raised, as far as I know, from the usual $250K/$500K levels. What's more, they apply only to primary residences, and there are exceptions for home equity loan mortgages whose proceeds weren't used to improve the property. It's not safe to assume that walking away from a debt will be tax-free.
However, I'm no tax expert, and there may be other tax-relief laws out there I haven't kept track of.
I'm of two minds on this mortgage problem. On the one hand, the banks didn't do themselves any favours by lending ridiculous amounts of money and feeding a bubble. I knew it was a bubble the second I was offered three times what a duplex we owned was worth at the height of the real estate frenzy - and I'm not a finance guy. The banks must have known what was happening.
On the other hand, you buy a house one day for $150K and the next day its worth $225K, that become tempting doesn't it - $100,000 in a short period of time? Why not get into the game and make some money. Take a risk - business does it all the time right? Over hype from the news outlets, constant bombardment on radio and TV about "get in now"....less than sophisticated knowledge of finance, never mind history. Bound to happen.
To me, everybody who participated in this round-robin greed tournament is guilty at some point. The problem is the banks don't seem inclined to work with their debtors to settle part of the debt caused by the bubble and bring some stability to the market. (With the exception of BOA - they seem to be really working hard to reframe/adjust and renegotiate mortgages so everybody wins and has some skin in the game.)
I know of a case - single mother, two kids, had a good job running a call center for a few years - bought a simple, no frills home for $150,000 - bought on a no-down-payment ARM - three years and she could change it to a fixed. Lost her job to out sourcing six months after purchasing the home. Took six months to find another job - dipped into her savings to keep her home, but her new job didn't pay what her old job paid. Now her home is worth around $105,000 - she owes $148,000.
What do you do? Try and modify the payment schedule. The advice she got from the mortgage holder (Well Fargo) - stop paying for six months, then we'll look at adjusting your mortgage.
Seriously? That's bogus. But it would appear that is how it works.
I have a question to all of you who are more familiar with Muslim history than I: what modern technological and scientific achievements are they noted for? As far as I am aware, they invented the Zero, way back when, and there were some scientific achievements back in the 12th century which could be attributed to them. But what modern achievements can they be honestly credited with in the last hundred years or so? I'm curious as to how NASA, an American scientific achievement from the beginning, is supposed to "make the Muslims feel good about themselves" as our President has requested.
That's pretty much it, Marianne, the 12th century, and then it falls off to not much. And the zero came from India, though it was transmitted to Europe via Muslim culture.
There's no question that European culture benefited enormously from its contact with Muslim learning in the several centuries leading up to the 12th century. This was partly indigenous Muslim achievements and partly Ancient World knowledge that was better preserved by the Muslims than by the successors to the Greeks and Romans. But it came to an end a long, long time ago. I've read books trying explain why, but I still don't get it.
apple pie ... This is a rumor only, which I picked up in a novel about a country town in Northern California, but I understand that, if you have some good male friends, and you buy them a sufficient number of six-packs of beer, and they can be persuaded to pee all around the perimeter of your garden, the deer and other wild animals won't break through the perimeter and eat your tender veggies and other stuff.
Come on, all you chemists/naturalists out there. Is this true or not?