We all endured another of those showy state of the union addresses. I really don’t like what they have become and have said so before. Regardless of party or President we should revert to the former ways and have a simple written report to Congress by the Executive. If they really want a meeting it should be a business meeting. Bring in the books and records. Go over those boring but vital details about the costs and functioning of government. The political speeches have been the norm now for generations and they are pointless and detract from the serious business at hand of governing. As to be expected from the current incumbent it was a laundry list of new proposals. I lost count of how many new agencies, commissions and the like were put forth. Every time there is a new government entity with the powers to enforce new laws we diminish our own freedoms. The balance between the individual and government is and has always been a zero sum game.
Other than the extreme tree huggers, occupiers and PETA types most of us believe in some amount of government. That has been true since the earliest days of man. As soon as we formed cities and some could do other jobs than work the fields for crops, we needed some kind of government to protest ourselves. That was the first and remains the foremost responsibility of any government–to protect its people from enemies. The ancient Kings had a bargain with the people even though never overtly expressed. Me and my army will protect you and in exchange you will pay taxes to support me and my army and ministers. From those ancient states to those states of today, this has been the bedrock of government whether by King, dictator or elected leader. Additional layers of government were added to assure prosperity. Fair and predictable laws for trade as well as enforcement of standard weights and measures for commerce. Property rights and family law were established quickly by the ancients and the Romans codified and modified those laws many times over the years. The criminal laws grew from the mutual fear of random violence and thievery. The Old Testament is filled with many examples of the growth of government and the laws regulating society.
Each incremental growth of government took away some freedom or right from the individual. We collectively agreed to cede some of our independence for the protections afforded by a government that protected some people and offered some perceived essential service or infrastructure. The Roman army built the roads but all of the Romans were benefitted by being able to move the produce to market. The people had to pay taxes for those roads. Since the Garden of Eden, nothing has come free. But they people gave up control over some of their money. If the government grows the people are diminished in matching increments. When the benefits are no longer perceived to be worth the loss of rights and property then the government faces revolt by its people. The collapse of the Soviets is a perfect example of this and the Arab Spring is another from recent headlines. There is a limit to what the people will allow to be taken from them. It is not universal around the world. The mores of each society differ but that there is a limit is without argument. The “King” must have at least a substantial minority to keep control of the government and the people. He has his army, bureaucrats dependent on him and the police and then those that live upon his largesse taken from others in the Kingdom. But when the tipping point is reached and that magic number (whatever it is) is reached and the people no longer will cede their rights and property to government his reign will fall.
Our government and Constitution is founded on the very notion of limiting how much of our freedoms and property will be ceded to government. That is what the contract is as set out in the Constitution between governed and government. Our Founders understood clearly the zero sum game and that is why the Constitution is so restrictive of Federal powers. Only specific enumerated powers were granted to government and the 9th and 10th Amendments were vital to the passage of the Constitution. Remember that every law written takes a right of restricts and activity, every regulation bans action or demands others every cent taken in taxes denies a person the free use and exploitation of their own money. The trick is to find the right balance between the government and governed so that the benefits of government are worth the candle and not consuming us in the flames of regulatory hell. No rational person would advocate anarchy but any man who values his freedom and takes pride in his own unique worth will wish the government to remain at bay and be very circumspect in its request to take more rights or property from him. Too many take today but too few pay the price of government. The zero sum game is tilted and tilting farther in favor of government. When tilted enough everything will fall off the table.
“More” was the word of Oliver Twist Samuel Gompers the Union boss and now our own government. Are we willing to give more now? There is only a finite amount of resources in the US and the government wants more and they can only get it by denying them to us. www.olcranky.wordpress.com
The other day I was listening to the radio while driving on an errand. Don’t even remember the show or commentator. But, I sure do remember a comment by one of the talking heads on the program. They were discussing immigration both legal and illegal. There had been the usual division on the topic regarding amnesty or some pathway for legalizing those who crossed our borders in violation of law. It wasn’t so much the particular topic that interested me but the position of one pundit.
Someone on the panel had talked about the fact that a large majority of Americans were opposed to granting amnesty to illegal aliens and that many if not most should be deported for violating our laws and moving ahead of those who followed the immigration rules and came here the legal way. The offending pundit stated that he didn’t care about the views of those Americans because he no “policy analyst” he knew would ever support such an agenda. I was stunned but shouldn’t have been by the effrontery of the guy. The opinion and views of the American people were clearly of no concern to him.
He definitely was of the opinion that the elites with the proper education and governmental experience knew better than the man on the street and that such important matters couldn’t be left to the people. Only those who understood and formulated policy were worthy of respect and their views trumped those of the commoners. It was certainly a clear example of those who believe in central planning or state planning everything to do with our economy and political processes. Never mind what the people want they should be grateful for the elites that are smarter and more sophisticated than we and accordingly we should accept their beneficient wisdom without question.
Such arrogance. Democracy only matters apparently to him and those like him in the current administration if it conforms to their grand schemes and designs. I don’t care how you feel about illegal immigrants but I sure as heck care a lot about the notion of ours being a nation of laws with those in power being their as servants of the people. I know we have lots of real losers in a nation of over 300 million. All you have to do is watch the behavior of fans at a baseball or football game to get that message. Sure there a lots of Joe Six packs who never read the paper or listen to the news of the day and couldn’t name their representative or which came first the Revolutionary War or the War Between the States. But with all those shortcomings and with the warts thrown in with the beauty marks, I still believe in the collective wisdom of the people. Over time the majority of us in our messy way usually do get it right. As typical of the Left they actually has no respect for the people even though they would vehemently proclaim they are all about taking care of the “common man”. Only those they view at the top of the effete elite society have the grand view and intelligence to guide the nation.
Usually those closet to the problem can figure out the best answer. Thus we have States working on their own solutions to immigration problems. Again, the elites don’t like that because it is not in accord with smart policy decisions in their opinion. You can’t run everything from the central bureau very well. You can but it takes might to do it. See, the Communists in Russia. And how did that work out over the long run? Even the Romans realized that they couldn’t control everything in the Empire from Rome. That is why they appointed proconsuls to run most of the provinces. He was on the scene and was more responsive to the needs of the citizens there. The proconsul had control over most of the economy, the functioning of government and even the military in the Province.
We need to fire all the “p0licy analysts” in Washington. Let freedom ring and the people reign.
“Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?” Lamentations 3. www.olcranky.wordpress.com
The current financial morass we still endure began with the mortgage mess that came to light in 2008 at the latest. Many of the politicians acted with great surprise that there was a problem and quickly jumped to blame “Wall Street” for the problems and the crunch on new mortgages and the construction business. That lead to TARP and then the Government Motors bailout and the Stimulus bill soon after. The birth of the Tea Party had its inception and inspiration from a rant by Rick Santelli on CNBC in the late winter of ’09.
His rant arose with the first of several Federal programs to protect the poor homeowners who were facing foreclosure because they couldn’t pay for the mortgages they were “tricked” into signing for homes they couldn’t afford even with they put virtually no money down at the time of closing. They made no sacrifice to get the home in the first place. Santelli asked then on the floor of one of the exchanges if “you” wanted to pay for your neighbor’s house when you had played by the rules and he had the big house and lots of goodies he couldn’t afford. The roar of the crowd was overwhelming. Helping out those who were irresponsible in the first place raised the whole spectre of moral hazard. We were at a tipping point where there was an abandonment of personal responsibility for personal decisions and a turn toward government to fix all our problems for ourselves. It was during that time that Santelli talked about holding a “tea party” to protest the actions of the Federal government bailing out homeowners regardless of the foolishness or even venality of their own actions. That phrase about the tea party was picked up by those folks who believed Government intervention into every aspect of our lives and dominance of our lives was wrong then and the wrong direction to be taking. The Fed got into the act at that time also and in addition to the Stimulus bill of over 800bn, the Fed went on a buying binge to bolster the mortgage and credit markets with over 1 trillion of various bond purchases during ’09.
Well, a few trillion dollars later we still face the same problem. The housing and mortgage mess got us on the downhill slide and do you think we have improved the situation with all that Federal money (and borrowing) thrown at the problem? Now there is the added burden of the legal difficulties created by the sloppy paperwork and legal work of the big banks and the investment houses that bought those mortgages. At the moment over 90% of all our mortgages or owned or backed by the Federal government rather than the private market. That can’t be a good thing. They can’t even deliver the mail on time and on budget and they are controlling trillions of dollars in mortgage obligations. This is no defense of the banks. In a free market system properly allowed to function we all have to bear responsibility for our decisions and failures. Yes, failure means the person or company goes under and we move on and reset things. But that has not happened because the politicians don’t think we are tough enough or brave enough to face the consequences of our own actions.
The banks for a few decades now had been under increasing pressure to make loans to minority groups. They were accused of “redlining” certain areas and not providing funding and loans for new homes. No need to repeat the legislative history, we all should know it by now. The Federal government in its infinite wisdom decided that it was good policy to make loans to minority groups and that failure to do so should be punished. The banking industry had all along argued that they would make loans to anyone who had the credit to service the loans. Of course that was true. Why would they not increase their business if they could by making such loans. It was business and credit that determined the lending standards. But the Feds came busting in the door and demanded that they make such loans. After all the Feds regulated the banks and they made it clear if they did not comply with the new rules they would make life miserable for the banks and even revoke their charters.
Eventually, the banks caved into the new laws and the intense pressure of the regulators. They did want businessmen have always done throughout history; they figured out a way to make money in the existing system whether they liked it or not. Soon those new loans were rolling out. We know they were “liar loans” and loans with no documentation and loans made with no money down and often even the closing costs were covered by a grant from one institution or another that existed to aid minority groups. Then those loans were bundled up and sold to Fannie or Freddie and often after that were resold into the bond markets with those securitization packages or done so directly by the investment houses. But like those chickens coming home to roost, the bad loans eventually revealed themselves to be just what they were from the beginning–bad loans that should have never been made.
Now the politicians scream about the bad loans but where were the voices of the politicians and their outrage when they were being made in the first place? These loans weren’t being made in the dark of the night in some obscure alley. Get the Feds out of the mortgage business entirely. Let the State legal system deal with the foreclosure process. That is a matter of State law in any event and there are perfectly adequate protections for anyone that was truly defrauded by some bank. Let the investment bankers and banks that bought those mortgage securities suffer whatever loss they incur for a bad decision. Dismantle Fannie and Freddie and don’t resurrect them. We must as a nation restore the vigorous concept of moral hazard to the marketplace and our daily lives. Take ownership of our decisions and consequences as individuals and companies. Yes, there will be some pain, but hell’s bells we have already suffered pain and are still doing so. We can figure this out on our own, thank you very much if the Federal government will get out of the way.
“A man’s liberties are none the less aggressed upon because those who coerce him do so in the belief that he will be benefitted.” H. Spencer. www.olcranky.wordpress.com
Everyone by now is aware that several of the largest mortgage providers are holding up on their foreclosure proceedings because they have not offered legitimate proof that they own the mortgages and that they are in default. We don’t get to toot our own horn very often about things but this is a situation that I discussed over a year ago when the home mortgage rescue was being pushed by the politicians in Washington. Then there was discussion of the way the mortgages were bundled into packages and sold and re-sold several times with serious questions as to who was the real owner.
There was concern expressed that many of the home owners were being foreclosed on wrongfully and that they had been tricked into taking the loan n the first place. I pointed out then that anyone who thought they had been defrauded or were being foreclosed on wrongfully already had a perfectly adequate remedy by using the court system. The lender has to have two things to proceed with a foreclosure. They must be the owner of the mortgage itself and the debt. The law has for centuries recognized that real estate transactions are very special and that they must be handled correctly–in writing and filed of record in the appropriate county office for land records. The mortgage can be sold as can the debt to another person. There is nothing inherently wrong with that transaction but it must also comply with the laws regarding real estate rights. That means the owner of the mortgage at any point in time must be in writing and filed of record to have effect against third parties.
Because these lenders were doing so many of these and bundling them like so many carloads of corn they got sloppy and careless with their paperwork. I predicted that. I predicted that many of those “lenders” would not be able to prove they were the legal owner of the mortgage they sought to foreclose on. The current scandal is that they cannot produce definite ownership but that they in the hurry have been signing false affidavits for foreclosure proceedings. There must be a proper chain of title to that mortgage and the signers of those affidavits obviously were not checking the records to determine the truth of the facts they were swearing to. If the lender can’t prove a proper chain of title then they are not allowed to foreclose under the law. The are in the eyes of the law a stranger to the original transaction and have no standing. It is not complicated to transfer such an interest in a mortgage but it must be done correctly. They got too fancy for their own good and were processing way too many of these transfers and now they are paying the price for their mistakes which is as it should be not only under the law but as a matter of morality.
Also there is the issue of the debt. A mortgage is meaningless unless there is a corresponding debt to go with it. That is another reason it is so important that the chain of title be correct–so that the mortgagor who has been making payments is given the correct credit and that some stranger he did not deal with cannot foreclose on his property. When the mortgage was sold to another investor the note supporting the mortgage should have been sold with it. This would normally be done with one document and one transaction but again you have to be the owner of a debt from the homeowner to foreclose. If you hold a mortgage against A but if fact you have no proof that A owes you any money you can’t foreclose against him which again is as it should be. It generally is the burden of proof on the mortgage and note holder to proof the legitimacy of their instruments, the debt and the mortgage. The homeowner typically can just say “prove it”.
These mortgage holders who got many of these dubious mortgages can probably in most instances correct the paperwork. There is nothing legally wrong with a correction deed or deed of trust or mortgage. For example if everything was correct in the original mortgage but the land description was wrong it can be corrected later and the corrected instrument filed of record. But with the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of these mortgage out there in these bundles it will take a long time to go back through them one by one to verify the chain of title and then properly record them.
Again the government jumped in where it was unnecessary. Politicians wanted to win points. The legal system already had the mechanism in place to deal with these issues and we would be so much further along in restoring the housing market. Those that were defrauded would be protected and those lenders who didn’t have proper paperwork would have to correct it or lose. I said long ago that there can’t be a mystery owner of a mortgage who gets to foreclose on you. You are entitled to know who holds your debt and mortgage and that was true then and now.
We don’t need a federal remedy for every perceived problem. This can be straightened out and will be. I don’t feel sorry for those who took out loans that couldn’t afford in the first place with federally subsidized money nor do I cry tears for the lenders who gambled on those loan packages sold like a commodity on the market.
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” Proverbs 10-4. www.olcranky.wordpress.com