Low-Rate Mortgages: A Good Idea?

I’m trying to get educated on the basics of the US economy but it’s hard. I read financial news online but I keep feeling completely baffled. Take this article in the NYTimes, for example:

The Obama administration is considering further actions to strengthen the housing market, but the bar is high: plans must help a broad swath of homeowners, stimulate the economy and cost next to nothing. One proposal would allow millions of homeowners with government-backedmortgages to refinance them at today’s lower interest rates, about 4 percent, according to two people briefed on the administration’s discussions who asked not to be identified because they were not allowed to talk about the information.

Low mortgage interest rates are also referred to as “the Federal Reserve’s most important economic policy response.”

I’m just not getting this, people. It is obvious to everybody, I believe, that the housing prices in the US are ridiculously over-inflated. When I discovered how much an ugly, old little bungalow in a high-crime area of Connecticut cost, I almost choked. The only reason why these cardboard buildings are selling for these high prices (even after the crisis) is because people manufacture completely unsustainable, fictitious ways to pretend they can afford them.

If I haven’t misunderstood this article, it seems to be saying that the Federal Reserve is artificially keeping mortgage rates low. (If I’m mistaken on this, please correct me.) As a result, more people will take on debt they can’t realistically shoulder. Then, eventually, when the government discovers that it can’t sustain this financial burden any longer, it will release the mortgage rates. They will go up, and we’ll have yet another round of this crisis.

Now take the following part of the article:

Some officials fear that promoting mass refinancings today could spook investors and make borrowing more expensive, for both homeowners and the federal government, in the future.

The government has already encouraged some refinancing through the Federal Housing Administration and through Fannie and Freddie, but participation is limited. For example, the Home Affordable Refinance Program excludes homeowners who owe more than 125 percent of the value of their house. To spur more refinancing, the government may decide to encourage Fannie and Freddie to lift such restrictions.

Why is the government “spurring refinancing”? How is it a good thing to have people get further and further into debt? Isn’t it more reasonable to realize that home ownership has become a luxury in today’s economy? That it’s the same kind of a luxury as, say, buying a yacht? And that people who can’t afford to buy a house simply shouldn’t? (As one of such people, I really don’t see a problem with that. I’m also a person who will never take out a mortgage because I find the concept extremely daunting.)

I understand that owning a home has been part of the American dream for a while. But this part of the dream has become unsustainable. What’s the point in paying collectively through what is nothing but a pipe dream of many?

As I said, I’m only beginning to educate myself on this, so I’m very willing to accept other explanations. Unless, of course, they are of the “everybody deserves to own their home” variety.

The Most Annoying Online Resource

According to our recent poll, people find Twitter and Facebook to be the most annoying among all online resources. I know exactly where they are coming from but reently I have had an opportunity to discover a far nastier online space: Reddit.

According to Wikipedia,

The median U.S. Reddit user is male, 35-44 years of age, has some college education, and is making a middle-range income of $25,000 – $49,000 USD. The analysis also shows that the top audience interests of the site are development tools, scripting languages, and C and C++, suggesting a computer savvy demographic and culture.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to meet this college-educated, computer-savvy part of the Reddit culture. What I have noticed is that my posts often get quoted by extremely vile sexists on Reddit, which then leads to thousands of sexist freaks descending on my blog. These people are so intellectually challenged that they never even manage to write any posts of their own in response to my articles that seem to offend them. All they do is screech, “Now see what this stupid feminist is saying [link to Clarissa’s Blog.] Isn’t she stupid? And a feminist? Which means she is stupid. A stupid feminist. And her blog is a stupid feminist blog.” Then, they start coming here, trying to leave this type of comments by the dozen.

It now seems to me that all of the Internet-rejects who have no capacity of running their own Facebook page or Twitter account (let alone a blog) have flocked to Reddit to spou venom against those of us who do have something of our own to say.

How Dare He Not Work?

I needed to watch something on TV because I have to create student attendance sheets and that task is too boring without having a TV on in the background. So I finally settled on a show called “Snapped” that analyzes crimes that have been on the news.

In the episode I’m watching, there is a story of a family where the wife worked while the husband stayed at home with their child. All of the relatives, friends, and neighbors are excoriating the husband as a lazy layabout who exploited the working wife and was too much of a deadbeat to look for a job.

Why is it that in stories about stay-at-home mothers we never see this kind of opprobrium heaped upon women who don’t work? Either living off of somebody is exploitative or it isn’t. Let’s just decide already and stop applying this nasty double-standard that vilifies men for doing the very same things for which women are celebrated.

Ron Paul Is Not a Libertarian

Why do people keep referring to Ron Paul as a Libertarian? The guy wouldn’t recognize Libertarianism if it stared him in the face:

Stuck in Washington as Congress faces votes on continued funding of American military action in Libya, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, making his third bid for the White House, spoke via Skype to pro-life activists convening in Jacksonville.

“I talk a lot about right-to-life,” said Paul, who called it “the most important issue of our age.”

As Jeffe Fecke at the link I provided above says:

Any serious attempt abortion would require draconian government action that would seriously endanger liberty for women, and even then, it would probably fail. It would require a massive outlay of cash and capital, of police and state resources. It would require spot inspections of health care facilities, and investigation of miscarriages. It would be about as anti-freedom an act as one could reasonably expect.

If anybody has forgotten, Ayn Rand was a passionate champion of abortion rights and believed that they are indispensable for a society even to begin to call itself free.

Ron Paul is nothing but a religious fanatic who is upset at the separation of church and state as it is established by the Constitution of the United States:

“The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.”

This is Ron Paul speaking, in case you didn’t know. He’s nothing but yet another Palin, Pawlenty, Perry, Bachmann, and Bush: a crazed fundamentalist who’s using quasi-Libertarian vocabulary from time to time in order to dupe the naive into following him.

From a Great Post on Burqas

From a really great post on the pernicious nature of burqas  and why they should be banned:

Liberals have tried to turn this into a human rights issue, that we should have the right to wear whatever we want. First of all, this is an extremely disingenuous position for liberals to take, since they support a capitalist system which most definitely does not give people the right to wear whatever they want; if they were serious about such a position, they would be advocating a ban on corporate-imposed clothing and uniforms as well. . .

Patriarchy is the real issue under question. Women are told that they must wear these cloth tombstones because men are such beasts that they will rape women who show their face in public. This is merely a fanatical version of gallantry, where men take it upon themselves to “protect” women from non-existing dangers, repressing women’s freedom in the process. . .

Some people dismiss these concerns as “cute.” I am not sure how being outraged against extremist patriarchal hate speech is “cute.” The patriarchy needs to be exterminated. You may argue with my methods, and that’s fine. You may argue that it is not the State’s role to ban such clothing, and I agree with you completely. However, I still think it is better for the State to ban them than for the State to not ban them, in the same way that I’d rather the State ban murder than not ban murder (sadly, they don’t, at least not consistently).

I have to mention that the post’s author has political convictions that are very different from mine in many respects. However, when he’s right, he’s right. Pseudo-liberals who advocate tolerance for one of the greatest symbols of female humiliation and subjection are nothing but woman-haters. They defend burqas because they believe that it’s not a big deal to sacrifice women’s dignity and freedom for a specter of some imaginary multi-culturalist paradise.