There are so many things these days that grinds my gears. Clients, opposing parties, the gummint and big banks. When so many people and things end up ticking you off, the question must be asked, Are you sure its them, or really, is the problem you?
Usually, Im the first one that says the problem is me. I can be overbearing, opinionated, abrasive at times and snarky. Given that set of sterling characteristics (ones that always make my parents proud), the default answer is usually that the problem resides solely with me.
However, in this instance, the population sample of those that annoy me is so wide and disparate, that for once Im going to make a bold statement in saying that its them. Rather than go into all of my annoyances at once (which would cause you to be bored out of your mind and me to implode from anger), Ill list them one at a time in this and in subsequent columns, as the mood strikes me.
The biggest annoyance I have right at this moment is the gummint and their foolhardy mortgage rescue initiatives.
Sure, theyre doing something, but its the same thing as me doing something when Im sitting on the couch relaxing. Things are moving, action looks as though its been taken, but the end result is nada.
How do I know this? Because every time the gummint comes out with one of their spiffy programs, my clients are all over them. They call me and all but beg to see if they can qualify, but sadly, the answer is usually almost always no.
It seems counter-intuitive. If the gummint is attempting to help out those that need some assistance, its programs will be (or at least make an attempt to look) all-inclusive. But the barriers for entry into these programs are so high, very few people can actually qualify.
For instance, one of the most recent programs allows people that obtained loans from countrywide before 2007, and then had that loan assigned to, or purchased by, Bank of America, and that the loan payments have never been in default, to potentially qualify for a program that will reduce the value of the loan to be in proportion to the value of the property.
Now, as they used to have us do in law school, lets parse that last sentence. The qualifications are: 1. Obtained a loan; 2. From countrywide; 3. Before 2007; 4. Sold or assigned to Bank of America; 5. Loan payments have never been late.
There are five requirements that must be met to even be considered for the new gummint program. What are the chances that someone, anyone, can actually qualify for this thing? I would have to say that, out of the one hundred percent of those that have a shot, maybe two to five percent will actually qualify to be evaluated by the program perhaps only about one half of one percent will actually get into the promised land. This is outrageous.
Now, Im not a big fan of gummint intervention (right Brenda and Stacy?). But come on, if the powers that be provide a program, and trumpet it to all of the nation as being a lifesaver to those that are underwater on their mortgages, well then, make it a lifeboat, not a pair of water wings. Actually design the program to assist the maximum amount of people possible without constructing these hideously difficult barriers and then crow about how the gummint is doing something to help the little guy.
Of course, I dont want to be a huge jerk about this (ok, maybe I do), but this is just the kind of feel-good nonsense that comes out of presidential and congressional offices during an election year. Mindless, difficult and eventually unhelpful programs that do nothing for the consumer, but are designed to show John Q. Citizen just how much the President/Congress/ et. al. care about you. See? Theyre working for us down there in Washington. Wow, what princes among men, trying to put us out of our misery (dont say that too loudly remember, they passed Obamacare with is a synonym for euthanasia).
If the jackals can get a few votes off of this, thats just peachy. But rest assured, the number of votes these people receive as a result of this empty gesture and this empty program will be more than the number of people this boondoggle eventually helps.
Christopher Markham writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.