Never Forget

If you read this site regularly, you know that I try to summarize articles that may not have been widely reported and that I think are important. I tend to cite a few quotes from an article and then add some comments on my reasons I think the article is important or relevant. In this case, I will make an exception. I have no comments, I just strongly suggest that you follow the link below and read the entire story. Never forget.

Posted by Jeff Jacoby on April 7, 1994, in the Boston Globe on the 50th anniversary of the events related:  The day the Nazis came for my father’s family.

The Mortgage Settlement

It’s easier for the government to blame the banks than to take responsibility for their own role in the housing meltdown. CNN Money posted an article today about the settlement reached with five of the largest home loan lenders.

The article reports:

Participating banks: The five mortgage servicers that are parties to the settlement — Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) and Ally Financial — will pay a total of $5 billion to the states. Some of that money will go to foreclosed homeowners and the rest to the states.

Federal officials say negotiations are underway to expand the settlement to nine other major servicers, which would raise the overall value of the settlement to $30 billion.

I am not in any way connected to a bank (although I do use them), but this makes me totally furious. On September 28, 2008, Jeff Jacoby at Boston.com stated:

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and “redlining” because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.” Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms,Fannie Mae andFreddie Mac, encouraged this “subprime” lending by authorizing ever more “flexible” criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

I commend the effort to make home ownership available to more people; I object to putting pressue on banks to make bad loans. The fact that the government is now going after the banks they put at risk is the height of chutzpah. Going after the lenders they forced to make bad loans is simply another example of the anti-business attitude of the Obama Administration.

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Tackiness Prevented

Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe posted an article today about the decision last week by US District Judge Richard Leon to block a Food And Drug Administration (FDA) rule that would require cigarette manufacturers to put graphic images on cigarette packs showing the dangers of smoking.

A few disclaimers here–I don’t smoke–never have–I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but I don’t think smokers should be forced to stand in the freezing snow outside a restaurant to enjoy a cigarette. (However, they do need a separate section of the establishment with a separate ventilation system,)

However, required graphic images on cigarette packs is a bit much even for a non-smoker like me.

The article points out:

The FDA’s gruesome new labels are not designed to provide consumers with useful information about the hazards of smoking. After 45 years of mandatory Surgeon General’s warnings, every non-comatose American knows perfectly well that cigarettes are a noxious health risk. That’s why the share of Americans who smoke at least occasionally has fallen to an all-time low of 19.3 percent, or less than 1 in 5 — a far cry from the more than 42 percent who were smokers in 1965. No one, not even Big Tobacco, disputes Washington’s right to require cigarette makers to disclose pertinent facts about their product’s dangers. Those disclosures, it’s clear, have been effective.

The government has no power to require the cigarette companies to put graphic images on their cigarette packs. To me, the requirement that there be an anti-smoking warning is a stretch.

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