The Great Mortgage Meltdown

Here's a new twist on a timely subject: What if our current housing crisis is the fault of the actual homeowner and not simply the banks' fault? Yikes...Could this be possible?

Not if you're a modern liberal; personal responsibility eludes these folks. In their world, someone else is always to blame when things go wrong. In typical socialist fashion, Obama talks about the housing crisis as if homeowners are victims -- as if they've been lied to, misled, or bullied into getting a home loan bigger than they can afford. Of course banks share part of the blame. Of course some mortgage lenders offered loans to people they knew couldn't afford them -- and should be targeted as a result. But to point the finger only at them, as Obama has done, misses the bigger picture. As James R. Hagerty writes in "Nice House, Big Loan" (The Wall Street Journal, 5/26/09), "Certainly some mortgage lenders were crooked and cynical. But I suspect many of them really did believe the looser credit standards they touted would work for all but a small percentage of borrowers."

Moreover, what goes unaddressed is the point Edmund L. Andrews makes in his new book, Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown, in which he describes his own failing in purchasing a house he couldn't afford. "I am not a victim because I knew full well I was taking on a huge gamble. My hunch is that a large share of the people who are now in trouble knew in their gut they were taking unreasonable risks, too." Indeed.

What, may I ask, is so complicated about looking at a monthly mortgage payment and one's take-home pay to check whether or not a house is affordable? This is not rocket science. Even if you can't do the math, the mortgage people do it for you. They tell you right over the phone what your mortgage payment will be -- before you close the deal. And if you're still unsure about what percentage of your income should go toward a mortgage payment, a simple Google request can help you. Bottom line: Just as the McDonald's patron knows McDonald's isn't good for you, a working American knows when he's buying more than he can afford. We used to call this taking personal responsibility for one's actions.

Unfortunately, this is a concept that's lost on many Americans, beginning with our own president. While there's enough blame to go around with respect to the housing crisis, smack dab at the center is the individual. Our country may make it easy for us to be greedy and irresponsible, but it's up to us to say no. It's up to us to say: "Here's what I can afford. Now let's go find a house."

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