Wall Street bailout
Consider the plight of ordinary people
I am a mortgage broker and have been for 23 years. I do a Realtor caravan every two weeks locally viewing homes for sale. Recently we toured a home that was in foreclosure. The family was still living there, and they had their personal belongings boxed up and were waiting to be thrown out.
There were three generations of a Hispanic family living in this home. They did not speak good English and really did not understand the whole process. The builder had sold them this home more than two years ago and the builder's mortgage company put them in a two-year fixed subprime loan that now had adjusted and they could no longer afford.
I tried to ask if we could maybe refinance them into an FHA mortgage, but they had bought the home at the height of the market and they now owed more than the home was worth. So that was not a solution. The company that held the mortgage would not work with them so now they were being thrown out of a home they lived in and loved.
This is what Wall Street and government have done to our communities for greed and self-absorption. Now this family has been tarnished on home ownership and they probably will never purchase a home again because they do not understand what happened to them.
What I am upset about is that Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue do not see the everyday happenings that affect our communities and citizens. They have the nerve to ask for a bailout. Average citizens need help. This bailout bill does not help these people. The money would be better spent helping people like this.
Jennifer Devine, Apollo Beach
Taxpayers have been left holding the bag
I for one am disgusted with the $850-billion bailout. To think that our presidential candidates, who are both honest senators, agreed to this galaxy-sized pile of pork is beyond me. All of Congress is out of touch with the American people.
To begin with, this whole Wall Street/banking problem was known back in the '90s during the Clinton administration. Fannie Mae had been strongly encouraged to relax its lending standards so that more people with questionable credit could get a subprime loan to buy a home. That started the idea that all Americans should have their own homes even though they could not afford them. Everyone is not equipped to responsibly care for or properly maintain a home, to say nothing about spending 30-plus years paying it off.
There has been much dishonesty from the Clinton and Bush administrations, Congress, Wall Street, banks, lenders, and loan recipients themselves. Everyone along the way knew we were on thin ice and did nothing about it, ignoring the warnings. While a lot of money was flowing no one was thinking about paying it off.
Now we taxpayers have to foot the bill so that money can keep flowing in our economy. Who is going to help us, the American taxpayer, when our savings, 401(k) accounts, portfolios and any other assets are finally lost, putting us all in jeopardy of bankruptcy?
Rodney Blythe, Largo
Let's have accountability
The powers in Washington keep struggling to find a solution to the poor economy. The real solution could easily be found by them looking in a mirror. No amount of money is going to make people have faith in the marketplace. We see AIG get $85-billion then send their executives on a half-million-dollar vacation at a lush resort. When that's over they get access to $37-billion more.
The man on the street sees this, plus the CEOs walking away with huge payouts. The fat cats in Washington and Wall Street think the American public is going to jump on their bandwagon and ride along, when the truth is the small guy has come to grips with the fact that he is standing on the side watching it go by.
Maybe the powers in Washington overestimated our stupidity. I think the little guy is just tired of being told how bad it is and how he is needed to correct the problem. We are just so tired of the lies, lies, lies, and don't want to be a part of them. Washington needs to hold people accountable for their greed.
Andrew Harbuck, Largo
Newly jobless at 7-year high | Oct. 3
Put people to work
The U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of people receiving jobless benefits (unemployment compensation) reached 3.59-million. That's the highest total in five years. If the "bailout" of $700-billion goes to Wall Street and banks, how is this going to help those unemployed? They won't be given credit or mortgages based on their "huge" unemployment compensation.
These people need jobs, and rebuilding this country's infrastructure (no more collapsing bridges, levees and crumbling roads) would provide the jobs. They will also pay income taxes.
Easy credit and high credit-card interest are just part of our country's financial crisis. Also look for the "Made in USA" label before you buy an item.
L.F. Richards, Holiday
Pinellas drops housing plan | Oct. 8, story
A breach of trust
On Tuesday, Pinellas County Commissioners Karen Seel, Susan Latvala, Bob Stewart and Ronnie Duncan all reneged on promises they made in front of thousands of community members to stay strong on their commitment to pass the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. As recently as this April, Seel and Stewart stood in front of 2,400 people and pledged to pass this ordinance. Their last-minute reversal has opened up a horrible breach of trust with the citizens of Pinellas County. Commissioner Ken Welch was the only commissioner present who kept his word and supported the ordinance.
It was a tragedy for these commissioners to renege on their commitment to pass this important ordinance, which will encourage development and create housing for our work force. It has taken the county 2½ years and thousands of dollars to prepare the ordinance, and to put it aside now is shortsighted. This is a long-term strategy to deal with the ongoing development issues of our community.
Some said we should pass a voluntary ordinance. We know that the county's voluntary plan, which has been in place for a while, has accomplished little. A mandatory ordinance is the only way to be effective.
Some expressed hesitation because they said the cities will not support this ordinance. The fact is that none of the cities have had public hearings on this ordinance or engaged their citizens in any meaningful discussion. County officials are listening to the musings of a few bureaucrats and out-of-touch officials. The county should lead the way for the cities, passing the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and then allow the cities to follow their lead.
This is not a time for safe platitudes of voluntary programs that accomplish nothing. This is the time when we need action and leadership from our county commission.
Donna Davis, FAST Affordable Housing Committee, Clearwater
A bright spot: Gas prices sink | Oct. 9, story
Gas price joke
Oil prices have dropped nearly 40 percent since hitting a peak of $147.27 a barrel on July 11. Yea!
Gas prices have fallen 13 percent since the peak on July 16 of $4.01 a gallon. Boo!
The joke is still on us, but I'm not laughing.
Gail Randle, Clearwater
Motorists swoop in for $2.87-a-gallon gas Oct. 9, story
Wasteful savings seekers
What's the point of sitting in a gas line with your car engine running (of course it's on, it's Florida) waiting to save $5 on a few gallons of gasoline? That's not to mention that the idling of so many vehicles contributes to the overall carbon footprint of Florida. Further, what's your time worth? It seems to be a rather fruitless endeavor.
This reminds me of the Simpsons episode in which Homer stands in a line in order to be one of the first people to buy tickets to a football game.
Homer: Heh heh heh, I did it! Second in line, and all I had to do was miss eight days of work.
Man: With the money you would have made working, you could have bought tickets from a scalper.
Homer: In theory, yes.
Brian Johnson, St. Petersburg
I very much enjoyed the articles in the Sept. 30 LifeTimes, written by Tom Valeo (Think about it) and Mimi Andelman (Entertaining your brain). They were both "right on the money."
However, I think both of them missed one of the best "brain stimulators" of all times, and that is the game of Scrabble. A friend and I play several times week, and we have improved our combined scores from 500+ to 700 at times.
Thank you for your "brain teasers" on the comics page. They are excellent. Keep them coming!
Betty M. Carlson, St. Petersburg