Not fair, I waited in line!
The result was that my buddies and I built friendly rapports with the various groups who operated the hottest nightclubs in town. And whenever we wanted to go to small concerts or just for a night out, we needed only to make eye contact with the right bouncer or concierge and they would wave us on in, allowing us to skip the cover charges and the long lines of people awaiting entry.
Inevitably, someone who was suffering velvet rope burn in the queue outdoors would blurt out something to the effect of "not fair! I've been in line for an hour!"
As I read with incredulity that the Bush White House is making moves to bail out homeowners with subprime mortgages by freezing their interest rates to give them enough time to refinance or sell or simply get more money to pay their bills, I sort of feel like those folks standing in line outside the club.
I understand that there are some people out there who just didn't have the wits about them to read the fine print and gather that after so many years of fixed, low interest, their mortgages would one day be subject to the whims of the economy. And if, when that happened, the economy was doing badly, then their new "flexible" interest rate would likely also be bad.
However, I'm not convinced that's the majority of subprime mortgage holders. Just based on what I've seen in South Florida alone, a lot of what we're seeing is the result of people desperate to live above their means. I've talked to dudes on waiter's salaries who live in $400,000 houses in nice neighborhoods. How? They had "funny" mortgages that allowed them to put zero down, finance for a million years, and go five years without paying interest on their home loan. Why? Because they were desperate to keep up with the Joneses. Now the interest has kicked in and guys like these are paying 10, 12, even 15% on their mortgages. They're finding their payments climbing exponentially. And they're crying out for help.
There was a time back in the day when the norm was that you saved your loot till you could land a "normal" loan and finance the property you wanted to buy. Or you bought small, maintained your loan and your property for a few years, then you traded up.
The same goes for cars and any other thing of value. My guys and I in high school all started off with junkers in various stages of disrepair. We fixed them up. We drove them for a couple of years. By the time we were in college and had jobs, we were able to trade or sell our junkers and buy nice cars. The point is we waited till we could afford the nice stuff. We didn't try to bend space and time to redefine what "afford" means.
This logic or lack thereof works for jobs too. Ask the average, healthy, unemployed, unmotivated young man what he's waiting for, and he's going to tell you something to the effect of "the right job," or "the right opportunity." Now, you would think with no income, the right job would be any job that pays a steady wage. But again, American society has convinced a lot of people that they shouldn't work certain gigs, 'cause those gigs are beneath them. They should go straight to the top, to the big-paying jobs.
So here we are at this subprime mortgage thing. When Mrs. B and I moved to Florida a couple of years ago, we drove through neighborhoods that made us salivate. But then we crunched the numbers and we realized that if we were going to live with our heads above water and keep them above water we had to go elsewhere. And we bought a house in a neighborhood that was acceptable, nice even. And we determined that when the time was right we would sell our property - hopefully at a profit - and then buy something a little better in a better 'hood.
Tell me quick - what's the point of waiting in line?