They didn’t start the fire

A presumed Friedmanite named Luigi condemns indebted homeowners for doing exactly what the banks who wrote their mortgage contracts do whenever they make a bad real estate investment:

Homeowners who walk away from their mortgages undermine our financial system….Undermining the social norm to repay mortgages, as Lowenstein and White do, is thus a very bad idea. You might just as well say that when a theater is going up in flames, it’s “rational” to trample other people in rushing to the exits.

It is rational… for the person trying to escape. And the person to blame isn’t the poor guy trying to avoid being burned to death, but the people who set the fire in the first place!

The contracts are clear, even if the consequences vary from state to state. If your mortgage is worth significantly more than your house, you have the right to walk away. The bank has the right to take the house. There is no moral question involved.

Who needs Christianity?

Or the Western European culture it inspired in light of the options:

The practice of human sacrifice is on the rise in Uganda, as measured by ritual killings where body parts, often facial features or genitals, are cut off for use in ceremonies. The number of people killed in ritual murders last year rose to a new high of at least 15 children and 14 adults, up from just three cases in 2007, according to police. The informal count is much higher — 154 suspects were arrested last year and 50 taken to court over ritual killings.

Children in particular are common victims, according to a U.S. State Department report released this month. The U.S. spent $500,000 to train 2,000 Ugandan police last year to investigate offences related to human trafficking, including ritual killings.

The problem is bad enough that last year the police established an Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce. Posters on police station walls show a sinister stranger luring two young girls into a car below bold letters that call on parents to “Prevent Child Sacrifice.”

The thing that struck me as most interesting about this is the fact that it comes so soon after the Western media was up in arms about Uganda’s anti-homosexual laws. Journalists are clearly more concerned about potential death sentences being meted out for criminal acts of homosexuality than they are about actual child murders being committed by witch doctors.

Now, some irreligious will quite reasonably declare a pox on both the Christian and pagan houses; the only form of child sacrifice practiced by secularists is abortion and the occasional collateral damage from mass vaccination. The problem with that perspective is that no matter what the 1950s science fiction authors believed, it is very clear godless secularism has about the same chance to be the cultural heir to Christianity that we had to be flying cars and living in undersea cities before the end of the 20th century.

As Chesterton, history, and demographics have all pointed out, when Christianity fails in a society, it is not going to be replaced by a lack of religion, but by a different religion. The more intelligent members of the irreligientsia would do well to ponder whether continuting to work towards that replacement is a wise policy or not.

It is also worth keeping in mind that Christians who are accustomed to fighting this sort of raw and undisguised evil are not likely to be as tolerant of open violations of Biblical morality as the average Western Christian.

WND column

Ignoring History’s Lessons

ALAN GREENSPAN, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, proclaimed last month that no one could have predicted the housing bubble. “Everybody missed it,” he said, “academia, the Federal Reserve, all regulators.”… Mr. Greenspan said that he sat through innumerable meetings at the Fed with crack economists, and not one of them warned of the problems that were to come. By Mr. Greenspan’s logic, anyone who might have foreseen the housing bubble would have been invited into the ivory tower, so if all those who were there did not hear it, then no one could have said it.
– Michael J. Burry, New York Times, April 3, 2010

Michael Burry is correct. Alan Greenspan is completely wrong to say everyone missed the housing bubble. Michael Burry recognized it in 2005. I saw it coming in 2002. And Edward Gramlich, a Federal Reserve governor, accurately anticipated the problem as far back as 2000. Moreover, Gramlich personally warned Greenspan about the way in which providing home mortgages to low-income borrowers would lead to widespread loan defaults that would have tremendously negative effects on the national economy. Greenspan, of course, disregarded Gramlich’s warning and rejected Gramlich’s recommendation to audit consumer finance companies because he correctly feared that shining a light on the widespread fraud being committed by the swarming mortgage brokers would reduce the availability of subprime credit.