Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sick and Tired

I’m not really sick and tired, fellow bloggers. Rather, I’m sick and fucking tired, but if I used fucking in the title I would probably be de-bloggered. Perhaps I should use the Irish pronunciation, fooking, but I haven’t time to fook around with it right now.

No, I’m more concerned with current media buzzwords like “financial crisis,” “bailout,” and the winner, “700 billion dollars.”

Allow me to tell you a story (geeze, I can hear the snoring already!).

Five years ago August, Martha and I bought our little home, Casa la Dumpa, for $135,000. We qualified for a larger and more expensive house, but we didn’t need a larger and more expensive house: This one had plenty of closet space for Martha’s shoes, so it was just the right fit (a little footwear humor there).

For financing, I insisted on a conventional mortgage: That is, we made a $10,000 down payment from money we had saved while renting for six years, and in return we got a fixed percentage rate and a fixed payment amount for 30 years from a reputable lender. The rate was a little high, but our payment was still $300 less a month than our rent had been.

Our real estate agent, however, told me he could have arranged a better financing deal—something along the lines of almost no money down, a ridiculously low payment of $300 or $400 a month for five years, at the end of which both the rate and payment would change. What he was talking about was an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) and the “sub-prime mortgage market”—another current buzzword.

“No fucking way,” I told the agent, who thought I was an asshole for going conventional. The whole deal smelled bad to me, a public accountant who’d smelled bad business deals for thirty years. “What’s going to happen in five years when $300 payments turn into $1,800 or $2,000?” I asked.

Well, we all know what happened, don’t we. I could sit here and gloat about my extreme smartivity, but I won’t: As a result of the sub-prime market, the entire global economy is in the dumper with little or no relief in sight. We still have our little house on the desert with the fixed rate and payment, but Martha has lost ALL of the gains in her two retirement accounts and, as of yesterday, $20,000 of hard-earned principal—and we are helpless to do anything but watch it go up in smoke.

This “financial crisis” may have started with sub-primes and peoples’ greed for expensive houses they neither needed nor saved for, but beyond that I think we’re deep in the middle of a scam again—remember the Saddam and his WMDs scam seven years ago?

I will not, and I cannot, believe that banks, investment houses, and insurance companies need a taxpayer bailout. Like the oil companies, they are all so filthy rich that it is mind-boggling. Talk about greed, shylocking, and usury—banks make millions of dollars a day on credit cards alone, and some credit card rates are as high as 29.9% if ONE payment is missed (JPMorgan/Chase Bank, to be exact).

What makes me skeptical about the aforementioned industries (including oil) is that they have the most powerful lobbyists and PACS (political action committees, which actually write portions of bills for Congress). Isn’t it coincidental, or at the least odd, that the same industries who finance the Republican Party and political campaigns are about to lose their golden-haired boy?

I know that all of you are in the same boat as we are, perhaps much worse, so this rant is for all of us.


[I’ll save my rant on the economy, job losses, outsourcing, free trade agreements, and cheap Chinese-made shit for another time]

10 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

Why Charlie, I could almost believe you doubt our great leaders have our best interests at heart...

Charlie said...

KIM: Yes, yes I do doubt whose side our beloved leaders are on. But that is in the US; I'm certain the PM and his cronies are doing everything they can for the folks in GB.

Marie Jarrell said...

Charlie, you have excellent instincts. If we'd all listen to our instincts more often, they'd navigate us in the best direction every time.

If you haven't already, read Naomi Klein's brilliant column in the November 13 issue of Rolling Stone: The New Trough at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/24012700/the_new_trough

Charlie said...

MARIE: Thanks so much for that great, but ultimately sickening, column. Iraq and the present "crisis" aren't the only examples of Boy George and his crew: Millions were handed out to non-bid contractors for the restoration of New Orleans after Katrina, but it is still a disaster area.

Here is the article so anyone who is interested can go directly to it:

the_new_trough

And Marie: We have met before because I complimented you on your avatar. Thanks for coming by.

Stinkypaw said...

As usual you've hit the nail dead on! When it's too good to be true, it's most likely because it isn't - you did good - you're a wise man, and I'm sorry for Martha's loss.

Mary Witzl said...

Great rant, Charlie, and I agree with everything you say here. My husband and I never fail to marvel at how many people are prepared to go in way over their heads, borrowing more than they can possibly pay back. And human greed is a pretty amazing thing, isn't it? It is depressingly easy for the rich to get richer, or figure out how to protect their interests at the cost of everyone else.

Charlie said...

STINK E: Wasn't it Mr. Bush who was pushing for personal retirement accounts in the stock market? That one smelled extra bad. The problem is, Martha can't retire now until she's 95 or 96.

And what about the poor people who are retiring now?

MARY: Greed is all around us, and the Internet is a good example. We have to bulletproof our computers to keep the bad guys from cleaning us out, and they still get in.

And credit cards, of course, make it simple to get in over one's noggin. The things are evil, I tell you, evil.

Missicat said...

Wait...you acted reponsibly? Only bought what needed and could afford? Shame on you! What were you thinking? ;-)
/kidding - good to hear!
//cutting up my credit cards also - if I can't pay cash, I can't afford it...

Charlie said...

MISSICAT: It's always great to have someone new stop by—I guess that's part of the fun of blogging.

We cut up our credit cards several years ago and don't miss them a bit. We use our debit card a lot, like on Amazon, but that's cash right out of the old checking account. And you're right: If you can't pay cash you can't afford it, and you probably don't need it anyway.

I visited your blog and lurked for a few minutes—it's a wonderful place!

Katrina said...

I'll add an "amen" here myself.