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Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Romney and Israel

I hope the Israelis don't get too excited about Mr. Romney's vows for
strong support. (In Jerusalem, Romney vows strong support. Boston
Globe, July 30, 2012: A1,A8).

This, after all, this is the same Mr. Romney who in the past vowed to
support the rights of gays and lesbians. This is the same Mr. Romney
who allowed a senior foreign policy spokesperson, who happened to be
gay, to be driven from his campaign staff.

If I were the Israelis, I would not put much trust in his assurances.

Sent to  Boston Globe

Monday, July 16, 2012

Romney's Job History

So there is ambiguity about who employed Romney between 1999 and 2002 and what work he did at either place (Romney stayed longer at Bain. Boston Globe, July 12, 2012: A1, A8).

I am sure that can be easily cleared up if he reveals which Health Insurance plan he was benefiting from.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mortgage Help

Mr Nocera is correct in asserting that widely held mortgages and
uninvolved servicers are responsible for the failure to modify
mortgages with the consequent collapse of the housing market and the
waves of foreclosure that spread across America (Housing's LastChance, New York Times, July 10, 2012: A19).

There is however and easier solution to the problem than eminent
domain: the shared appreciation mortgage.

With a shared appreciation mortgage, a government entity would enter a
contract with the homeowner. The homeowner would pay what he or she
could afford on the mortgage, the government entity would pay the
rest. Depending on their respective contributions over time, the
ownership of the property would be shared by the homeowner and the
government entity. With the shared appreciation mortgage, there is no
need to renegotiate the principal. With this stabilization of the
housing market, there would likely to be a gradual rise in prices.

There are some disadvantages to this scheme: it may be more expensive
than the route of eminent domain. Those, including me,  who would like
to punish the banks and the lending agencies would be thwarted as the
mortgage would eventually be paid in full.

Nevertheless there would be major advantages: no need to identify an
eminent domain purchase price for the house, stable neighborhoods,
some continuity in tax revenues to localities, and less familial
stress, and a robust banking system.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Surely Professor Glaeser knows the answer to his question: Why put knives to the census? (Boston Globe, June 28, 2012: A19)

The cuts passed by the house are of a piece with the Republican Party's attack on science. They just do not want to know the facts. The larger they can make the error bars around our estimates of pollution, child mortality, global warming, national poverty and even housing starts, the better pleased they will be.

Introducing uncertainty in the science, enables them to say as Mitt Romney once said: "do I think the world's getting hotter? yeah, I don't know that but I think that it is. ... I don't know if it's mostly caused by humans. ... What I'm not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to." (Quoted
in Kristoff's column in the New York Times of June 26, 2012).

Until the country regains its collective wisdom and makes a commitment to honor scientific facts, we are in for troubling times.