How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could do? I’ll start with just 2

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  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 05:10am

    #21
    Xflies

    Xflies

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    Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? …

One thing I should mention is that in Canada, vasectomies are paid for by the gov’t 🙂

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 06:01am

    #22

    Sandman3369

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

   Already had a vasectomy.  A Canadian friend of mine said that because I didn’t have any children that I shouldn’t ‘take my genes out of the pool’.  Anyway, I meant good luck as just that.  Sincerely, I hope there are a lot of creative suggestions along these lines.

   As Damnthematrix says, and I paraphrase, education needs to be retooled, in a major way.  I don’t think we need to worry too much in America about population, but Big Brother needs to stop paying people (via tax breaks, refunds, unemployment, etc.) for them.  

   I acknowledge the fact that the 3 e’s are intertwined, but do you mean in your initial question, immediate help for the economy, or long term change.  Refining the scope, if you don’t mind.

    BTW,  I’ve actually been waiting for a page like this for months.  GOOD LUCK! 

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 06:42am

    #23
    Xflies

    Xflies

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

ahh my apologies for misintrepreting you… you bring up a good point about the timeline.  I sat and thought about this for a while and I do think we need to have long term plans but I’m just not good at predicting issues in the long term.  Yes, I can see long term trends that are disturbing but politicians are funny people and not sure they would see the value in their constituents suggesting what they should do over the next 20 years as most wouldn’t be in power that long.  If I looked at this effort as a marketing piece, I would say that it needs to be focused, shown that it is coming from an educated and large constituent base and that it is in the realm of possibility… something that they can take action upon, not just ponder.  I would make it so that reads to be more insistent than suggestive, if that makes any sense.  I don’t know what the final product should look like but I’m hoping the CM brigade would have some good suggestions.

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 07:12am

    #24

    Sandman3369

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

   I’d think most all of us here are agreed that long term sustainable energy, food production and consistant dependable money, at the least, are desirable. How to get there is the problem.  This is nothing new.

   To date myself, I’m 39 and grew up in Alaska.  As a kid singing ‘yellow submarine’ in elementary school (now that I look back on it) I kind of just assumed that all the Flower Children had us pointed in the right direction and I trusted that the ‘Green Effect’ was a given.  I’ve always recycled and conserved (please forgive me my youth, I know I left the light on at least once!), but somewhere the ideal got lost.  I’ve got two teenagers who still can’t turn off the damn lights off!

   Back then, I assume the near riots got everyones attention, but the magnitude of change, once achieved, resulted in a big exhalation and return to ‘normalcy’.  Cars haven’t changed in the last 30 years, in fact, nothing really has.  The ‘nuclear umbrella’ I grew up with has just mutated and the teens of our day just don’t care anymore.  They, and some of us older folks are just plain inured to the fear and threats.  We go on.

    I’m sad to say I believe things will have to get bad enough that protests start up again.  Otherwise there will just be talk… and more talk…. and then some.  For real change to happen, someone in power has to be scared. Did I hear something about another Tea Party?

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 07:19am

    #25

    Sandman3369

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

   Sorry, got off subject a little bit.

 Best idea I can think of…  the old acronym KISS.  Dumb down the government to necessary functions and constitutional requirements.

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 07:29am

    #26

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? …

I had the big "V" after my second boy but selfishly that was becase I
just couldn’t take the risk of having a 3rd boy add to the havoc 🙂 
… I would loved to have a girl, they’re so much easier!  🙂

Ah Xflies…..  because I have been population aware for a very long time, I told "she who must be obeyed" that we should only have one child, even though she wanted two.  So she had twins!

So now you know why I went to the vet……  I couldn’t take a chance on another set of twins!

Enjoy your boys…  we had one of each, and our girl, even now she’s 21, is STILL giving us hell…..

The grass always looks greener….

Mike 

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 08:17am

    #27

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

lpowell –

Going back on the gold standard would be tough.  The US has about 261 million ounces of gold reserves.  Just to zero the ~$53 trillion debt would mean gold would have to be close to $200,000.00 per ounce.  And long before it ever got to that price you could expect another Executive Order 6102 seizing all privately held gold.  Back in 1933  I think around 500 tons of gold was turned in at about $21/oz.  Try to do that today and I think a lot of folks would be turning in copper jacketed lead.

Now for my way out of the swim lane idea:

Issue an Executive Order immediately cutting the price of all domestic goods and services by 50%.  Everything, bar none.  Milk, gas, eggs, Mustangs, massages, Coach purses, C F Martin D28 dreadnought guitars, tickets to a movie – everything.  Overnight you have just doubled the domestic buying power of the dollar.  The smart consumer purchases what they need, saves half of what they otherwise would have spent and can apply that to paying down existing debt.  The stupid people buy twice as much crap as they normally would have – we don’t care about what happens to them and can only hope that Darwin takes care of them and any of their progeny that have leaked into and contaminated the gene pool.

Not feasible?  Impossible to accomplish?  The Cardinals are in the Super Bowl!! 

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 08:36am

    #28

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

 Why lenders might forgive your debt

There was a time when lenders didn’t want to work with you if you couldn’t pay. Now they want to avoid foreclosure, lawsuits or repossession almost as much as you do.

People who overdosed on debt in recent years learned the paradox of easy credit: While lenders were willing to let you borrow copious amounts, they weren’t particularly interested in helping you work out a solution if you fell behind on repayment.

Lenders often found it easier and cheaper to write off delinquent accounts as bad debt than work with you on a repayment plan. After all, they could get a tax break on the loss and then get on with the profitable business of extending credit to the next guy.

Lately, however, lender perspectives have changed. Soaring default rates, a weakening economy and the credit crunch have rewritten the rules.

  • Credit card lenders charged off 5.47% of the total amounts owed on cards as bad debt in the second quarter, according to the Federal Reserve. A year ago, the charge-off rate was 3.85%.
  • Consumer bankruptcy filings in October topped 100,000, a 40% increase from a year earlier and the highest level since the federal bankruptcy reform law took effect in October 2005, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
  • More than 2.2 million homeowners are more than 60 days late on their mortgage payments, according to the Hope Now alliance of lenders and credit counselors, and one in six homeowners owes more on a home than it’s worth.
  • With home prices plummeting, every foreclosure now represents a loss of 44% of the original loan amount, up from 29% a year ago, according to data from LPS Applied Analytics.

That’s why lenders are now looking for ways to keep people paying their bills, even if it means forgiving some of their debt. Now the paradox is that in order to qualify, you must be struggling, but not so much that a change in terms wouldn’t help you. 

  

How the new programs work

The most sweeping new program was announced Nov. 11. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government agencies that guarantee 31 million U.S. mortgages, will begin paying the mortgage service companies that maintain the loans $800 for every loan they modify. Borrowers would get help in several ways: Interest rates would be reduced so that borrowers would not pay more than 38% of their gross income on housing expenses. Another option is for loans to be extended from 30 years to 40 years, and for some of the principal amount to be deferred interest-free. (You can find more details here.)

The same day, Citigroup announced it would halt foreclosures for borrowers who live in their own homes, have decent incomes and stand a good chance of making lowered mortgage payments. Ultimately, it plans to modify the repayment terms on up to $20 billion in loans.

 

Late last month, JPMorgan Chase expanded its mortgage modification program to an estimated $70 billion in loans, which could aid as many as 400,000 homeowners. The modifications were to include reducing amounts owed or the loans’ interest rates, and replacing so-called "pay option" loans that typically resulted in mortgages growing over time.

Bank of America, meanwhile, has said that starting Dec. 1, it would modify an estimated 400,000 loans held by newly acquired Countrywide Financial as part of an $8.4 billion legal settlement reached with 11 states in early October.

Loan forgiveness is a key part of the Hope for Homeowners program. This is the foreclosure prevention program that Congress created as part of the $700 billion Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008. Lenders that want to participate typically must agree to reduce borrowers’ principal to 90% of their homes’ current value. 

  

But wait, there’s more

In late October, a coalition of lenders and consumer advocates asked banking regulators to approve a pilot program that would allow struggling borrowers to pay off, over time, less than they owe — as much as 40% less. Under current rules, any repayment plan has to be for the full amount owed.
Though the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rejected the first draft over how banks would book the resulting losses, backers of the plan say they’re committed to finding a remedy for overtaxed borrowers that’s short of bankruptcy — which would likely mean the banks see no repayment at all.

In the first proposal, a joint project of the Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America, applicants would have been evaluated by certified credit counselors; those who couldn’t pay off their debt under a regular debt management program would have been placed in one of four repayment plans that would reduce their principal by 10%, 20%, 30% or 40%. Only consumers closest to bankruptcy could have qualified for the biggest reduction.

 Hope for housing
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveil plans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America said his group would continue to lobby regulators "to do everything they can, within bounds of the safety and soundness of the financial system, to help consumers," but that ultimately consumer advocates may have to turn to lawmakers for help.

"It may be Congress that has to step in, and I think there’s a lot of interest there" in doing so, Plunkett said. "We’ve got a train wreck coming."

Student loans and car debt

Meanwhile, makers of student and auto loans haven’t announced any new plans for forgiveness. In recent years, in fact, both groups made escaping their debt more difficult. But:

  • Certain borrowers can still get portions of their federal student loans forgiven through volunteer work, military service and teaching in low-income communities. And Congress passed a law in 2007 that wipes out federal student loan debt for people who work in certain jobs and who make 10 years of on-time payments. Plus:
  • Auto lenders are stepping up their education efforts to let troubled borrowers know they have alternatives if they fall behind on their car payments. According to credit bureau Experian, more than 500,000 borrowers are 30 days or more overdue on a car loan.

Yet fewer than half of consumers in a recent poll knew that auto financing companies often worked with troubled borrowers, said Eric Hoffman, spokesman for the Aware, an education group set up by auto dealers and lenders that commissioned the survey.

Auto lenders may be able to modify a loan to stretch payments over a longer period or allow borrowers to make up missing payments, Hoffman said.

"We tell people, ‘Don’t ignore the situation if you’re having trouble,’" Hoffman said. "Get in contact with your lender and see if there’s a way to work out a different payment plan."

The same advice holds true for student loans. You may be eligible for income-sensitive or graduated repayment plans or, if you’re facing economic hardship, forbearance or deferment that would allow you to skip payments for up to three years. 

 

Here’s what to do about other debt:

Credit cards. If you’re already behind on your credit card payments, you shouldn’t wait to see if you’ll qualify for any loan forgiveness programs. Make two calls: one to a legitimate credit counselor and another to an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Between the two, you’ll get the information you’ll need to decide whether you should continue paying your debt or have it "forgiven" by the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Mortgages. Gather your paperwork — your mortgage documents, last year’s tax return and some recent pay stubs — and call a HUD-approved housing counselor to evaluate your situation and your options. If you qualify for a loan modification program, the counselor can help you get through to your lender’s loss mitigation department, which will evaluate your application.

A lender will want evidence that you’re in trouble — and assurances that any changes will keep the payments coming. Don’t expect that it will immediately hack your loan balance to what the house is currently worth; it won’t.

Your lender has only a few ways to help you: It can reduce your interest rate, defer payments, extend the length of the loan or forgive some part of your principal.

With your counselor’s help, you should decide what solution you want before approaching the lender. If you have a temporary situation such as an illness that will be resolved soon, for example, ask for deferred payments. If your adjustable-rate mortgage is about to reset, use MSN Money’s Mortgage Calculator to see if a reduced interest rate could keep you in your home.

You may have trouble getting your lender’s attention. That’s particularly true if you haven’t already fallen behind on your payments, something you should try to avoid, because late payments can kill your credit scores.

Hope for housing
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveil plans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

In that situation, consider getting an attorney’s help, said lawyer and mortgage broker Alan Jablonski, author of "Successfully Navigating the Mortgage Maze" and operator of the AJ Consumer Watch Web site.

Unlike some of those who advertise loan modification help, attorneys have a fiduciary duty to put their clients first (and clients have many remedies, including lawsuits and disciplinary complaints to the bar association, if the attorney fails to fulfill those duties).

That’s a far cry from many of the fly-by-night outfits that demand big upfront fees and then fail to act, or disappear with the money.

If you decide to hire an attorney, you’ll have to find one on your own, Jablonski said; anyone legitimate has a full workload and isn’t proactively contacting potential clients.

Your state’s bar association may offer referrals. In any case, you’ll need to confirm that the attorney is in good standing with the bar, and that he or she has experience with loan modification.

Liz Pulliam Weston’s latest book, "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life," is now available. Columns by Weston, the Web’s most-read personal-finance writer and winner of the 2007 Clarion Award for online journalism, appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions on the Your Money message board.

Published Nov. 17, 2008

 

Not my original idea, so I don’t score any points in the theme of the thread, but good food for thought IMO. 

It will be interesting to see if this generates any traction in the coming months.

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 04:58pm

    #29
    Xflies

    Xflies

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Fantastic post, informative and actionable… thx!

  • Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - 05:29pm

    #30

    pjc

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

The govt could invite house-design competitions for size-reduced homes and yards so ingeniously creative,

practical, attractive and environmentally-geared they magnetize buyers away from "size and enhancements."   

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