The Fabled Dream

Home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor. (Wikipedia)

This is a pretty good statement. Instead of achieving actual prosperity — we can trick ourselves into believing we are prosperous by ‘owning’ a home.

By owning of course we mean borrowing a pile of money from the bank for 15-30 years. Then when the bank is paid off we still pay property taxes (rent) to our local municipality. This purported dream, which is just a trick we use to make ourselves feel better about working 9-5 is really just another trick in itself.

After all we’ve been through – the significance of this lie, this American dream is still touted.

I ran across some spam in a Craigslist rental forum today:

Aloha,

As a military member, why would you rent for 3 years with the possibility of an extension and give away your money to a “Stranger”!

Interest rates are still currently 3.75 %, so take advantage while their still low!

Enjoy the tax benefits of owning a property when you file your takes!

I can locate a property for almost what you would pay in rent but the benefit is you own it!

Use your BAH to pay for your mortgage and combined with VA, which will give you 100% financing with 0% down, so why rent a when you can own!!

Let your BAH work for you!

Do you all know your benefits with the VA?? Please call me to explain them to you.

My goal is to assist military families with the step-by-step process of purchasing and financing a property, thus owning a property for 3+ years will definitely give you the possibility and potential of accruing equity!

As a Veteran, I know the ins & outs of being a military member, so it’s been an asset in assisting the military community through educating them with the VA benefits & process; as well as
re-establishing their credit.

VA criteria is a minimum credit score of 620 and be gainfully employed.
The 911 G.I. Bill cannot be used to pursue a purchase.

Please give me a call to schedule a “FREE” consultation.

Felix Fernandez
Realtor Associate
Certified Military Market Specialist
Coldwell Bankers Pacific
(808) 779-4495 Cellular

Where do I begin? At the top I suppose:

As a military member, why would you rent for 3 years with the possibility of an extension and give away your money to a “Stranger”!

We’ve all heard this referendum over and over throughout the years. Why should we give our money away to some stranger? Further, why not apply this to all facets of our lives? I mean why give our money away to those cell phone company strangers when we can just buy our own cell towers? Why give our money away to these stranger grocery stores when we can just grow our own food? And why the hell am I giving away all my money to these stranger oil companies when I can just buy an oil rig?

Don’t fool yourself. You are receiving value for the money you pay for rent. The level of value depends on the situation, but either way these strangers are providing a service. But if you or anyone you know actually does give your money away to strangers for nothing please e-mail me and I will be happy to help.

I can locate a property for almost what you would pay in rent but the benefit is you own it!

So, I get to pay even more than what I paid renting before any maintenance, association fees, utilities, etc.? Where else would this argument hold water?

My goal is to assist military families with the step-by-step process of purchasing and financing a property, thus owning a property for 3+ years will definitely give you the possibility and potential of accruing equity!

Both possibility AND potential? Well at least he isn’t guaranteeing it – he just fails to mention the possibility and potential of NEGATIVE equity!

C`mon Felix your goal is really to earn a commission, assisting military families with the ‘step-by-step process of purchasing and financing a property’ is what you do to earn it. I challenge you to prove that your stated goal is fact – waive your commission and I’ll be proven wrong!

And about that commission thing. Are you really going to help me get the best price for a home? Knowing that every dollar you save me is a money lost out of your pocket? Such a gaping conflict of interest – its a wonder how real estate value has been propped up for so many years.

Certified Military Market Specialist

Self-proclaimed ‘Certified Military Market Specialist’?

Look, Felix – You’re probably not a bad guy, but you are selling snake oil …and you shamelessly spam rental forums with your personal contact information.

Also it’s clear I’m not the only one who has a problem with your ad (here are some of the follow-ups):

Too risky for anyone to buy if they will be moving from Hawaii in a few years.

As a member of the military why would you buy in Hawaii instead of renting?

Too risky for the military to buy in Hawaii. You might have trouble selling and losing money when it’s time to leave.

Now let’s keep in mind he spammed a rental forum and these are likely landlords replying, but they are not wrong. The possibility of negative equity over a 3 year period is very significant. You have to figure that at a 5-6% realtor commission (pesky realtors) your house would have to appreciate at least that much just to break even. This isn’t even counting the ‘almost’ factor Felix mentions, which implies your already paying more to ‘own’ than to rent to begin with. It doesn’t include the money you’ve put into the house either. So we are easily around 10% here to just break even – in 3 years!

This is on a high risk investment that could easily (much more easily) go the other direction over that three year period.

All of a sudden this isn’t a dream — it’s a nightmare.

At least it will create jobs

I have been trying to not talk about the republican primaries, mostly because everytime I predict Romneys demise his competition self destructs, but Herman Cain just had a great idea to create jobs. He wants to build an electrified fence along the entire Mexican US border. This would probably be one of the biggest public works projects in US history.

Given that immigration from Mexico has slowed down anyway due to the lack of jobs in the U.S and the fence would probably short out in every rainstorm thanks to the Haliburton engineers that will design it, I see no reason not to build it.

The downwardly mobile

Matthew Yglesias looks at the middle class and concludes

It’s not like households in the second quintile of the distribution don’t have refrigerators or chairs. They just have cheaper stuff. It’s perfectly possible for people in the top three quintiles to downshift their spending on these household durables without plunging into some kind of universe of inconceivable material deprivation. Individual households find themselves being downwardly mobile all the time. A second lost decade would just be a
society-wide spat of downward mobility. Households in the top quintile
spend an average of $5,000 a year on net vehicle purchases. At the median
it’s only $2,320. And yet the median American household is equipped with
functioning automobiles. Overall spending could plummet and people would
still be able to get around

If some people have to make do with a cheaper automobile it’s not a tragedy, the problem is for the bottom quintile they will experience significant hardship especially if we cut back on public transportation and create less walkable cities. I think we spend too much time worrying about the top two quarters of our country and not enough worrying about the bottom two.

.

Get healthy or else

Part of me thinks this is a good idea and part of me thinks that we don’t need to encourage health nazi’s. Basically the Clevelend clinic is trying to encourage/require it’s workers to behave in a healthy manner. They don’t allow employees to smoke anywhere on the campus, and they are going to great lengths to get people to eat better and exercise.

I get why they are doing this but the intrusion on personal freedom and the potential for discrimination against unhealthy people seems to extreme for me.

Maybe it’s Romney

For some reason I am fascinated with morons courting republicans because it seems like such a mismatch, but it looks like they are about to bed down with Mitt. My guess is that hilarity will ensue but then again he is getting close to being the next president which would be no laughing matter.

It’s always been about punishment

Digby Has a great post up about the conservative need to turn everything into a judgement on peoples character. . Most people realize conservatism makes things harder for the low-income people, what they don’t seem to understand is that for conservatives that’s part of, if not the only goal, is to punish people for being poor, or less fortunate. Once people start to understand that “compassionate” conservatism becomes much less compassionate.

And the winner is…

I guess Florida has. Strw poll poll today. My guess is that Rick Perry will win this pretty easily, even though a lot of smart people keep saying that he looked like a buffoon in the most recent debate I really don’t think he is bearable at this point and in the republican primary buffoonery may be an asset.

Romney is done

This Kind of echoes what I said about last weeks republican debate. Romney came out for social security, and many if not most republicans don’t like social security. My guess, is that most republicans really think non-whites somehow come out ahead with the program. I am somewhat surprised Romney didn’t get this before he doubled down on social security and “saving” it.

My guess is he gave the nomination to Perry at that moment, and as much as the money people in the republican party want to stop it, they are going to have Rick Perry as their nominee. It’s also worth mentioning that even without Romney’s error on social security their is no way the evangelicals in then republican part base would nominate a Mormon.

I wonder how long before aspiring Mormon candidates start to realize that they have a better chance running as democrats, after all it works for Harry Reid, probably because democrats are less bigoted towards Mormons than republicans.

And the winner is…

I spent most the day driving across Utah and Colorado which means I get to listen to political analysis of the republican debate. On one hand people are saying Romney won because he talked about preserving social security and other people are saying Perry won because he came out swinging and gave a lot of red meat to the conservative base. From my perspective I think Perry won simply because people are talking about Perry and Romney and no one else and I don’t think Romney has ever had a chance in the primaries. Romney has a couple of insurmountable problems, first, he passed Romneycare, which seems a lot like Obamacare, and the tea-baggers

will never forgive him for that. Second, he is Mormon, and th
evangelicals that drive a lot of the republican primaries are never going
To let that go or trust him.

In other words it’s Rick Perry

Nicholas kristof is a douche bag

After a three year recession kristof asks if we dropped the ball on unemployment ya think. As near as I can tell from his column, he just noticed that white people can’t find jobs. Maybe it’s time to accept that our elites here in the U.S are idiots.

John Galt wants a stadium to show his greatness

The NFL is supposed to be a multiple-billion dollar industry but they need taxpayer funding to help build a stadium?. If the NFL can’t make it without subsidies maybe it’s time to let it go the way of the buggy whip.

douche.

In his latest TMQ Column Gregg Eastbrook notes that despite going to the Super Bowl in 2008 (and winning two games en route) the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since spygate broke in 2007:

Here’s the deal: The New England Patriots have not won a playoff game since Spygate broke.

No shit Gregg?

He goes on to note:

Bill Belichick continues to refuse to say, “I cheated and I apologize.” Until he does, the football gods will torment this team by allowing the Patriots to play very well during the regular season, then denying them in money time.

Football gods? Seriously?

Bill Simmons on Easterbrook back in 2008:

If you have a national column in which you’re excoriating a sports team for cheating even though it already paid a severe penalty for what it did, and you’re hinting more revelations are coming down the road, and then it’s proven you were barking up the wrong tree … you need to admit defeat and quit blowing the situation out of proportion. No, really.

It’s almost 2012! Give it up!

Huntsman tries to be the reasonable candidate

I have always wondered why Huntsman got into the presidential race, he has almost no name recognition, and in the current climate he has no chance of winning,But he might have a plan after all.. He seems to be staking out a position as the sane republican, which won’t get him very far in 2012, but may go along way towards a run in 2016.

The fake crisis

So we have a debt crisis? I am starting to think that market volitility is a perk not a bug of the current debate. What better way to get people to sell their stocks cheaply than to engineer a crisis. Our galtian overlords are good at seperating people from their money.

Update. Rand Paul seems to agree with me. Maybe I am wrong or perhaps the broken clock applies to Rand today.

“negotiating with terrorists”

I guess don’t like being called fiscal terrorists. Maybe they should stop acting like them if they don’t like being compared to them.

Of course the republican party and the conservative movement is built on hatred of the other so of course they have no problem taking hostages and shooting the hostage if needed, and I don’t think liberals have any group they hate, or even dislike. I know if Caveat bettor were here he would try to argue democrats hate the rich or something to that effect but most democrats in leadership positions are in fact part of the rich. They just can’t hate the the way republicans can.

The shit sandwich may not be too bad

I don’t get all the details of the debt ceiling deal, but I do know it will be served with a side of Bush tax cuts expiring in 2012, if that doesn’t happen it’s just a shit sandwich.

Time to shoot the hostage

The debt ceiling crisis has gotten out of control and the fiscal terrorists AKA republicans have shown they can’t be resonedWith, they can’t be bargained with and they will not stop until all brown people and most white people are living in tent cities, without running water or sewer systems.

It’s time to default and end the leverage that republicans think they have. Until now republicans have been free to act as crazy as they want
because democrats have saved them from themselves and wound up looking
pretty bad doing it. This time let the crazies have their way and
default, yeah, it will suck but at least it will be the end of the weekly
temeper tantrum that have become the bread and butter of the republicans.

Update. Looks like some other people are starting to ak how much the hostage bleed

James Harrison is Sorry

Less than a month after Harrison made headlines for comments made in a Men’s Journal article – he is officially backpedaling:

“The interview that I did and the comments that I made about Roger Goodell were inappropriate, at the least,” Harrison said. “They were way out of line, and I was speaking out of anger and frustration at the time. Any comments that I made that offended anyone, I apologize.”

Harrison was undoubtedly under a lot of pressure from Steelers management to do this and while I’m not surprised it really was unexpected.

Being a premier linebacker in the NFL Harrison appeared to be in the driver’s seat on this one. Not that this sort of thing could go on over time, but one article during a time when he was technically unemployed seemed fair enough. It’s not like the Steelers were going to cut him over this, he isn’t John Rocker after all – his comments were personal and unlike Rocker – Harrison is good.

This also demonstrates, regardless of the new CBA – how much control the league still has over its players. Harrison had to of felt compelled in some way to backtrack on his statements – and it isn’t due to the fact that he truly thinks they were inappropriate.

Courage to Resist – Naser Abdo Update

It looks like we weren’t the only ones to pick up on Courage to Resist’s attempt to cut all known ties with Naser Abdo.

Stephen Webster – from rawstory.com ran a story on the omission of Naser Abdo from Courage to Resist’s website yesterday afternoon as well.

Webster reports he spoke with Jeff Paterson – the project director for Courage to Resist:

Reached by Raw Story, Jeff Paterson, the group’s project director, acknowledged that they had tried to cover up their involvement with the soldier and said they would be issuing a statement in the coming hours.

Further, Paterson indicates further that Abdo showed signs of having mental health issues and was disrespectful to women:

“We’re shocked [at Abdo’s arrest],” Paterson said. “I believe he had some significant mental health issues that became apparent as we worked with him. He had a particular version of Islam that was certainly … He was disrespectful to women. These were the kinds of issues we argued over late last year. It’s not a religious thing, it’s a matter of human decency.”

It’s very convenient for him to say those things now that they are trying to distance themselves from Abdo as much as possible. The alleged beliefs about Abdo didn’t cause the organization to stop supporting Abdo, nor did the fact that he was brought up on child porn charges last month:

“I worked with him last August, in order to help formulate his application as a conscientious objector, then we helped formulate his legal appeals for the objector process,” Paterson said. “Then he got hit with pornography charges on his laptop, at which point we told him that we would help him through the resolution of his objection issues, but he would have to find himself legal defense separate for these criminal matters.”

This all adds up to a lot of unfortunate posturing from an organization that on the surface appeared to be much better than this.

What do republicans want

Kevin Drum asks what republicans want from their debt ceiling tantrum and and realizes they just want to have a tantrum.

Courage to Resist Falters on Naser Abdo Story

***UPDATE*** As of 7:00 PM CST – Courage to Resist has re-posted the original Naser Abdo story with a statement about his arrest.

While the Naser Abdo story continues to develop the history of how he developed into a potential killer is being washed away. Abdo was arrested today for allegedly planning an attack on Fort Hood soldiers.

Abdo proclaimed (and was eventually granted) conscientious objector status by the U.S. Army based primarily on his religious beliefs. His pending discharge from the Army was put on hold last month when he was charged with possession of child pornography.

Back in November of 2010 Courage to Resist – an organization who assists service members who refuse to serve – ran a piece about Abdo and ‘Muslim peacemaking’ on the one year anniversary of the 2009 Fort Hood Shooting.

The article depicted firsthand accounts from Abdo’s of discrimination by his fellow service members based on his Muslim beliefs:

Pfc. Abdo experienced a great deal of harassment and discrimination from his fellow service members: “Early in basic training… one soldier repeatedly insulted me and Islam saying, ‘Go pray to your god that doesn’t exist or your pedophile prophet.’…During the training cycle I persistently reassured my comrades that my religion did not make me an enemy of theirs or an enemy of the state. The climax of this harassment occurred when my comrades all made a concerted effort to get me an unwanted discharge because I was not welcome in their ranks.”

The article titled “Naser Abdo: The missing story of Muslim peacemaking“ was originally published at:

http://www.couragetoresist.org/8-naser-abdo/868-naser-abdo-the-missing-story-of-muslim-peacemaking.html

The problem is Courage to Resist removed the article and any traces of Naser Abdo from their website, the article is only accessible now via a Google cache snapshot of the page.

The heightened state of Islamophobia is more evident than ever amidst the fallout surrounding the recent coverage of the recent Norway attack. The problem with removing the article is that they are removing a significant piece – with direct quotes from the accused that could be used to independently ascertain whether Abdo’s actions were centered on religious fundamental beliefs – or were the result of being harassed and bullied to the extent that he felt compelled to ‘get back’ at his fellow soldiers.

We can expect the standard Muslim extremist hyperbole to surround this story in mainstream media. Unfortunately we can expect similar dissuasion from organizations such as Courage to Resist – who ironically did not display much courage in removing this article.

Maybe we are not so exceptional

This post from Matthew YglesiasMakes an interesting point, while discussing the merits of taxing the wealthy he points out that while Americans have a lot of stuff we are not really living that well.

I’m all for that, but I really do think it’s an unduly limited view of political life. Even with several decades of median wage stagnation, the fact of the matter is that the median American household has quite a lot of money compared to the median household of almost every other country. And yet, I think there are a lot of other respects in which quality of life in the United States falls short. We spend a lot of time in traffic jams. We have both a frighteningly high murder rate and a frighteningly high level of incarceration. Our health care system is very inefficient. Americans work very long hours and have unusually little vacation time. It’s not clear to me that any of these issues can be usefully tackled primarily by focusing on higher taxation of the very wealthy.

“we hate them because they are unemployed”

A lot of companies won’t even interview people that are Unemployed. The article in the link does a nice job explaining the stated reasons companies don’t want to hire the unemployed, but I think misses the big point. Many people in these companies HATE the unemployed, I recently had a conversation with man on facebook who claims top be a captain of industry, he defined people as either “producers” or “moochers” moochers to him were anyone that received government assistance, in his mind this was anyone that had ever worked for the government as well.

In other words the unemployed are now becoming a permanent underclass that many people feel it is ok to heap scorn on, the sad thing is the list of people that are “moochers” is growing every minute, and eventually it will include all of us.

2011 NFL Season Update: Less work, more money!

The NFL Lockout is over and as the dust settles we are getting some preliminary insight as to what the new CBA means for the 2011 season.

The first thing that jumped out to me is the fewer workouts and practice – from SportingNews:

Fewer workouts and practice. The new deal limits teams to 14 padded practices during the regular season — one per week through Week 12, with just three more over the last five weeks. Before then, there will be no two-a-day practices during training camp. There will be a limit of 10 organized team activity sessions per team, and all OTA’s will begin after May 1.
No more two a days?

Seems sacrilegious in a sport that has always been known for its intense preparation. Growing up it was a major transition going from baseball practice in the spring to football practices in late summer and early fall. There seemed to exist a direct relationship between the team’s performance and how hard we were pushed in practice. This was further amplified for me in movies like Rudy and The Program. Which is why I’m having trouble understanding what exactly the benefit is from this (besides not having to work as hard).

Do they think this will make the NFL safer? While I am loath to agree with Bart Scott, the guy has a point:

Jets linebacker Bart Scott, for one, said it was “wimping out, making football more soft.”

“I get concerned you’re making football players weaker because you don’t push them past that threshold,” Scott said. “You’re stealing reps from coaches. Even if you put those reps into the front of practice, what’s the quality going to be?”

I for one am concerned for the next line of big hitting football movies that won’t be able to accurately portray how the real pros are playing the game… like nancies!

Congress Jumps the Shark

Super Congress? Why not:

‘Super Congress': Debt Ceiling Negotiators Aim To Create New Legislative Body

I really thought I had this story figured out: Obama and Boehner go head to head over spending cuts and tax incentives for the wealthy. They drag it into the 25th hour, Boehner cries at some point and finally the two sides strike a deal.

A new body of congress with super powers? You can’t write this stuff.

Stay tuned.

How it ends

Part of the reason Matthew Yglesias has been annoying lately Is that he may understand washington too well. And I think his prediction may be about right:
— Debt ceiling hiked by $2 trillion and paired with $2 trillion in spending cuts.
— House passes full extension of the Bush tax cuts.
— Harry Reid tries to bring extension of the middle class Bush tax cuts to the floor, but GOP filibusters.
— Bush tax cuts expire in 2012.
— Obama and GOP nominee fight it out

Debt “crisis” explained

Just a reminder that there is no debt ceiling crisis. There’s a fake crisis started by Republicans and then embraced by the White House so that everyone gets to use the fake crisis to try to do unpopular things in such a way that nobody, in theory, actually gets the blame.

A few people need to show up in Congress in the middle of the night, cast a voice vote, and we can move on to the next fake crisis. atrios is a smart guy

Missing the point on homeownership

Lately, it seems Mattew Yglesias may be a bit out of touch, This post is a good example. He is is arguing that homes are bad investment therefore people should be forced to put more money in 401k’s. The problem is 401k’s are mostly a device to put dumb money on the table that can be turned into profits for traders and mutual fund managers, most people have neither the time or the expertise to manage their own 401k and it shows in the average returns people get on them.

A better alternative would be to put more money into social security but it appears Mr. Yglesias is drinking the free market cool aid like many “liberals” he may as well start calling himself a conservative that supports abortion rights.

Romney is not going to heaven or the white house

Even though Mitt Romney is the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, he might have himself a Mormon problem. It’s interesting to me that the Mormon church has spent a good deal of time and money trying to ingratiate themselves to conservative Christians but I have a feeling it’s a one way relationship. Michelle Bachman and her pray the gay away husband may be the next the republican nominees.

Micheal Vick, not a complete scumbag

Looks like micheal Vick is about to do something good

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is expected to appear before Congress today to support a bill that would make it a crime to attend a dogfighting or cockfighting event, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal and the Morning Call of Allentown, reported that Vick, who was convicted of dogfighting charges in 2007, will join Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, to endorse the bill.

According to the Morning Call, the bill, titled H.R. 2492, was introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Marino and Betty Sutton. It is designed to penalize those who finance or attend dogfights and cockfights and imposes additional penalties on those who bring children to such events.

The U.S seems to be moving in a good direction when it comes to animal welfare, i