Monday, October 20, 2008

I just approved a comment by Timothy on my post for sometime back in January of this year on the best politics money can buy.  It was simply a notice that the early/absentee voting systems' deadlines is approaching.  I have a general policy that I will approve any comments unless they are abusive.  However, I decided to re-read the post because I had forgotten what I wrote.  It was interesting how much remains the same just ratcheted up a notch or two.

The news this morning noted that an oil company is 'suffering' because the price of oil has dropped by about 50% since about July so it is cutting its work force.  Our comment over coffee this morning?  'Great!! (sarcasm here)  People can now buy gas but they are unemployed.'  We also noticed that this is an industry that had record 'profits' over the first two quarters this year.  (Sorry, I didn't hear which company was mentioned or if the situation is industry wide. I may find out later.

In the wake of the debates and Joe the 'Plumber,' Senator McCain has been trying to make some headway on the issue of 'spread the wealth.'  That is, he is trying to paint Obama as one who would take the hard earned money from the middle class and distribute it to those who don't deserve it (remember the 'undeserving' poor I have mentioned before?).  This post by Dean Baker on TPM Cafe notes that the lions' share of the redistribution to date has been from those lower on the economic food chain to those higher up.  And the bail out package just continues that pattern.

I caught an interesting few minutes of a discussion on CNBC yesterday.  The topic for that segment of the Sunday morning talk show was 'Who was to blame for the mortgage mess?  Greedy bankers or Greedy loan applicants?'  Of course, this is the kind of question which will never get answered to any one's satisfaction.  It implies an either/or answer when the real situation is much more complicated.  I don't doubt that there were greedy bankers AND greedy loan applicants some of whom were moved by their greed make fraudulent or nearly fraudulent loan deals.  However, the commentators moved away from the greed angle to another which was, to my mind, a more fruitful discussion of how much the ordinary consumer really knows about the ins and outs of mortgages loans.  Two of them recounted their own experiences shopping for loans.  One remembered how much pressure the person she was negotiating with put on her to accept an adjustable rate loan with a very low teaser interest.  She managed to reject it for a fixed rate loan.  Another recalled how he was cajoled into an adjustable rate loan which he was able to convert to a thirty year fixed rate when he realized what had happened.  They both noted that if this could happen to them, seasoned financial professionals, what could happen to those who were not so knowledgeable.  

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