Robert Downes shouldnt worry too much about punitive treatment of subprime mortgage lenders (The Foreclosure Blizzard, 3/17). They dont deserve his sympathy.
Those lenders are not caring people, working hard to give poor folks a break on home ownership. They are predators, looking to use unwary people for a fast buck. The lenders used schemes like misrepresenting income sources and amounts, asset values, and other facts. They loaned to people who were not likely to be able to repay. Some were simply not credit worthy, which is to say, they lacked the debt-to-income figures suggesting successful management of debt. Some lacked steady employment income. Some were conned into buying dwellings at unreasonably high prices. The lenders failed to tell people about interest rate variability, or misrepresented the likelihood of rate increases.
Then they charged high fees, and sold off the mortgages so somebody else would bear the risk of loss. They earned very high incomes doing this, taking advantage of buyers lack of knowledge, sophistication, or wariness. They are not friendly local bankers, giving Joe a break because they know hes a man of probity despite a limited income. As in many other areas of contemporary life, the effects of the Reagan-era (and Bush-era) penchant for deregulation are coming back to haunt us.
Chris Campbell TC
The Holly Wren Spaulding article on the documentary that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Flow, For Love of Water, omitted mentioning two important people who are interviewed in the movie.
One is Terry Swier from Mecosta County, who has doggedly pursued Nestle since the water-bottling giant first entered Michigan and is the founder and President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC). The other is Traverse Citys Jim Olson, who is the groups legal counsel, and who has stood up to Nestle for the past six years in the courts.
I certainly hope that Flow will be shown in an area theatre and the real stars of this documentary, those who are fighting the water wars daily all over the world, can be recognized.
Judith Bosma Beulah
Beware ID Act
The Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 was tacked on to an emergency spending bill that covered the troops in Iraq and tsunami relief. It is supposed to go into effect this year, May 2008.
What is the Real ID? It is a federal identification card that will be embedded with an (RFID) radio frequency micro-chip, which will store your name, sex, Social Security number, birthdate, etc. This will replace your existing state drivers license.
The government is using the terminology Enhanced Drivers License to make you feel like you are getting more, when in fact you will be getting less in the way of your rights of privacy and freedom.
Now raise your hand if you want the government to be able to track your every move? No -- no takers -- rightly so.
This technology is a gateway to enable our own government to monitor and control our lives. Supposedly it is in the name of safety to protect us from would be terrorists. Our government is using fear to subjugate us, taking away our privacy and civil liberties bit by bit.
What is the cost of fear? Our country is suffering in so many ways right now. The mortgage crisis, lack of jobs, fuel costs, environmental and sustainability issues, national debt, war and poverty. Terrorist is not on the list. What is a terrorist? Definition: A person who terrorizes or frightens others.
My own government frightens me -- does that make it a terrorist?
We have a National Terror Alert System, which at the time of this letter was listed as Elevated Yellow, but where is the alert system that indicates the state of the people, education, employment, our health? With the above mentioned problems we are having, I would say we are in the “Orange“ a high state of threat to the quality of our lives and our ability to live as free people, unencumbered by our government‘s corrupted, corporately controlled manipulations.
Make no mistake about, not only will this Real ID enable our government to become the Big Brother we never wanted, but greedy corporations will make millions implementing the new system and database. Ultimately these costs will be passed on to the taxpayer, you.
Christy Moore Empire
VA good guys
During the last few months, various Veterans Administration facilities have been shown to be inadequate at best and almost criminal at worst.
I‘d like to remind weveryone that the VA hospitals and clinics differ dramatically in their level of efficiency and care. It is commonplace for the media to concentrate their efforts on the bad apples in the VA system.
As a veteran, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a VA clinic on the opposite end of the spectrum: our own, here in Traverse City.
I consider myself very fortunate to be on the receiving end of the truly exemplary level of care this facility provides. Every, and I mean every, member of the staff shows a level of professionalism, efficiency, compassion and good humor which is unequaled, in my experience. They are all, singly and as a group, at the top of their game, and deserve a hearty “Well done!“
Steve Kaphaem Interlochen