Saturday, August 25, 2007

We're going to hell ...

From the SF Chronicle today:

Their troubles began in April 2006 when they refinanced the remaining $207,000 on a 30-year fixed loan to a two-year adjustable rate mortgage so they could pay down hefty obligations on their SUV and pickup truck.

You can read the whole article on Mortgage Mess Hurts Main Street, Beyond which describes the nightmare of thieving and lieing in the mortgage industry, but that little quote is an eloquent metonymy for the cultural hell into which we are descending. They had a secure fixed loan mortgage on "their three-acre property in the middle of horse country, with its swimming pool and fish pond." But they needed monster cars galore to match the excess, so they bankrupted themselves ... and along with all their "steroidal" counterparts, they aim to bankrupt the country. These people, by the way, have two teenagers, and the wife works in an elementary school and the husband lost his job in a mobile home factory. Why are people like this in debt so vastly beyond their means that they have no prayer of ever getting even. Have they even thought about college for the teenagers?

We are all on steroids, an economy of junkies who cannot say no to any excess. How much happier would those folks have been in a home they could afford with two compact cars? How much better off would our economy be if they spent the excess money they would have on local products and services?

I suppose one might accuse me of being idealistic. I reject that. The idealism (i.e., a philosophy that arises from positing pure forms or ideals) is in viewing the economy from the perspective of high finance. Perhaps we need a dose of materialism (i.e., a philosophy that arises from the study of material relations) in which we build an economy based upon material security and happiness, and focus the economy on the vast middle rather than upon the airless upper strata. Call me an ex post Marxist, whatever.

We're going to hell ... in an about-to-be-repossessed Hummer-SUV-monster-truck.

Meanwhile, I am going to spend the rest of the day installing my brand spanking new iMac ;-}

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