© Bill Lemmond (Actually, you're welcome to download and share these web-resolution images, and you probably won't be happy with printing them.)

Tired of red and blue? Pizza from Scratch presents Purple Prose, cartoon 156

29 September, 2008

The recent financial mess - what to do now?

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Captain Crabby has no sympathy for anyone whose "itching ears" have only been listening to one side of the media or the other. I have two friends who have brainwashed themselves, in opposite directions. They're okay, so long as we stay off politics.

PBS' Frontline had a great documentary on Longterm Capital Management, and their Nobel-Prize-winning economists did well for years, with what they thought was a system that accounted for all risk. It all fell apart with a financial crisis in Asia. Years later, who else remembers? And "bubbles" are nothing new.

"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are very few old, bold pilots." Pictured are a space shuttle pilot and a Russian lady World War Two veteran of the Night Witches, who flew biplanes at night, raiding over the Germans.

One of my friends didn't recognize a Three Stooges reference in the hair (and lack of hair) of the three in the next panel. Weren't the eye pokes enough?

Drawn are a collection of periodicals from both sides of the political-editorial spectrum.

Next is a financial watchdog with interference from an elected official who doesn't want the flow of campaign contributions to be lessened by some sleazy contributors being rounded up.

So many elected representatives have conflicts of interested. "Experts" (instead of angry retirees who are looking out for their grandchildren) are supposed to regulate industries, but too many are more concerned about getting a much higher-paying job in those industries, later. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." We will probably have to ask retirees, or disabled people - those with more time on their hands - but we need to find out for ourselves what's going on, and put well-informed pressure on government to guard against abuses of power. We have to watch the watchers.

"Trust, but verify," is a good old saying.

I know Switzerland has 70-year mortgages. That's already into multi-generational territory. Make the term long enough, and we can make the payments low enough for anyone. Sure, the interest will be a lot higher, but it can still be better than renting.

Years ago, when I was delivering for Pizza Hut, one of our drivers was shot and killed in a robbery, in a subsidized rental housing project. We stopped delivering there after dark. Most people in the projects are just fine, but some ruin it for everyone.

Yet we continued to deliver to a little area right next to it. This other area had little two bedroom houses that were owned by the people who lived there. They were more rooted, and had more of a stake in being law-abiding. They also had more of a sense of having a part in "the American Dream," and tended to be less discouraged, less angry.

That's why we need more home ownership, not less. We can't do it by subsidizing prices. Whenever that's tried, the prices just go up. Why is it Europe can have super-long-term mortgages, but we can't?

Instead we have foreclosures, in which everyone loses. Creditors only settle for foreclosure because it reduces their losses. We need to think outside that box. Refinancing with longer-term mortgages would cover everyone, and then we might not even have to sort out exactly who now owns the old mortgages.