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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 25, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Mortgage bailout

City papers split on public sentiment

After comparing the headlines in the Feb. 24 paper regarding the confidence in Obama’s plan to get us out of this financial crisis, I was surprised by the negativity of The Seattle Times. The Seattle Post Intelligencer’s article, “Public strongly backs Obama,” and the Times’ “Bailout frenzy triggers backlash” [page one] reveals the strategy each paper plans on using to inform its readers and sell papers.

The Times’ choice reminds me of what I call the “24/7 media frenzy,” in which journalists are constantly asking: What can we do to get people’s attention? One chose the positive, the other the negative.

We are all in this crisis together and must rely on someone to get us out.

We have no choice, but to take our heads out of the sand and realize that we will all go under with our neighbors if we don’t help them.

Something has to be done; nothing is not an option. It’s as simple as that.

— Kathy Harris, Seattle

The serenity of living within their means

As disturbing as it feels to know our tax dollars are going to be wasted on bailing out those who signed up for mortgages far beyond their financial means, it is even more bothersome to read quotes from responsible homeowners such as Brian Carpenter asking, “What’s in it for me,” for doing the right thing by living within their means.

What ever happened to having the moral satisfaction of knowing you are doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do?

It’s troublesome that, as a society, we are becoming resentful for not being applauded and rewarded for doing what we are supposed to be doing as moral and ethical human beings. Asking “what’s in it for me” is being able to look at myself in the mirror everyday, knowing I am keeping my word, honoring my commitments and not looking to others to pay for my decisions. I don’t expect to be given a special reward for showing up to work, paying my bills or obeying the speed limit. And, the fact others seem to be rewarded for the poor choices they make does not in any way lessen my moral obligation to do the right thing.

“What is in it for me” is the serenity of knowing that I am doing what is right, even when — and especially when — no one is watching.

— Lisa Hammel, Redmond

Taking it in the shorts, again

The front-page article, “Bailout frenzy triggers backlash,” talks about the backlash of the middle-class, American family who owns their own home, makes regular mortgage payments and sees the $1 trillion bailout as a $13 per week reduction in withholding tax.

Poor folks, the backbone of America, are taking it in the shorts — again.

Well, what about the senior citizens who suffered for 20 to 30 years to pay off their mortgages, while sending their kids through college, and are now struggling to make ends meet on their social-security check?

We don’t even get $13 per week break! We, the baby boomers, who have supported our government and our families, don’t see a dime of the $1 trillion and counting.

That’s all right, though, because we have our only lifelong investments — our home and maybe a small Individual Retirement Account (IRA) — to get us through, even though both are declining rapidly in value.

Does anyone care about us?

— Joe Dawson, Bellevue

Stemming the foreclosure tide

I am writing to applaud President Obama for moving with urgency to address this nation’s home-foreclosure crisis.

An astounding 6,600 American families are losing their homes to foreclosure every day. As a bankruptcy attorney in the Seattle area, I see the real-world impact on families, neighborhoods and communities of our failure to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Importantly, President Obama called for legislation that would allow for judicial modification of home mortgages. Ever since the mortgage-foreclosure crisis erupted into public view in 2007, a broad array of consumer, civil rights, housing, community, labor and other organizations, as well as economists, have advocated for judicial mortgage-modification relief as an effective approach to stemming the explosion in foreclosures.

This solution, unlike every other solution put forward to date, comes at absolutely no cost to U.S. taxpayers. This is one solution we know will work. Courts should be empowered to implement economically rational loan modifications where parties are unwilling or unable to do so on their own.

— Jay Jump, Kent

Lifeline or debt-line

The article, “$75 billion to help people stay in homes” [page one, Feb. 19], makes me believe that President Obama is giving significant hope to a large portion of the public. After the past few years, our state’s steady real-estate depression has had a large impact on unemployment and even underemployment.

I see this happening with my close friends and family members. One by one, they have lost their jobs, and are forced to work in lesser positions in order to make ends meet.

Obama willingly accepted this burden to bring the American economy out of its slump. As a citizen, I’m counting on him to make the right decisions. He seems realistic when saying, “This plan will not save every home.” I mean, obviously this is the case, right? But, the plan should make an impact on the community, keeping a portion from foreclosing.

My optimistic outlook on the initiative hasn’t let me overlook the fact that this is going to draw out the inevitable, possibly causing people to have ridiculously longer mortgage plans.

Obama’s “lifeline” could be the jump-start the American-real-estate economy is looking for, or it could be just another means of drawing the public into more debt.

— Leah Morgan, Edmonds

Picking the pockets of the hardworking

The people who pay their mortgages should be the ones receiving tax breaks. Why do my fellow Democrats keep rewarding incompetence, stupidity and corrupt practices that discourage hard work as an incentive to improve one’s status in life?

President Obama’s home-mortgage bailout opens the door for people seeking something for nothing. Former President Clinton required the unemployed to try to get jobs. Obama’s bill ends the current-work requirement, which has been, and is, very effective and fair.

Wake up America! Obama’s picking your pocket while you are asleep.

— Mark Balen, Lackawanna, N.Y.

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