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Web Letter

I have a better idea for the $819 billion in the proposed stimulus package. Instead of construction projects that are shovel-ready and will be done some time anyway, or giving more to the banks, or sending everyone $1k that they will put toward their credit card debit, why don’t we use it to put a floor under home prices, halt foreclosures, put hundreds of dollars in millions of American’s hands every month that they will in turn put back into the economy and prop up mortgage-backed securities that will save the banks? All of it will spur growth in the economy and create jobs.

Sounds great, right? Let me tell you how. Use the $819 billion to pay off the negative equity in 7.4 million American homes. That is over $100,000 that could go toward negative equity in every home in American that is currently underwater. And it gets even better. We the taxpayers could get some of that money back. If someone accepts it, then their mortgage broker reassesses their property value and must put them into a low-fixed-interest-rate loan with the new reduced principle. If the homeowner then later sells the home at any time, he has to pay the taxpayers back at least 50 percent of the equity from the sale, up to the total amount of negative equity that was forgiven.

I guarantee this plan to work, to work immediately, to continue to pay dividends for years to come and to solve all of the current economic woes like low consumer confidence, bad mortgage backed security debt, foreclosures, falling home prices, layoffs--you name it. This plan is the rewind button to the housing collapse.

Here's the Negative Equity Report, state by state.

John Tidwell

Auburn, AL

Feb 3 2009 - 1:37am

Web Letter

I agree with everything in the article and that is why I supported Senator Clinton. I will vote for Obama, but I am doubtful that he will institute the changes outlined in your article. I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

John R. Baker

Newtown, PA

Oct 14 2008 - 11:23pm

Web Letter

The question is not why banks lend money to people who need it. It's why any bank lends money to someone who the bank knows could be paying cash.

The NYT this morning runs a story in which Barack Obama is promising to give all of us some money. Even assuming Obama's found this money in his and his wife's savings, how is a plan to save corporations that don't produce what matters--taxes--anything other and better than an example of a private Obama version of Social Security going wild?

Cameron Jones

Indiana, PA

Oct 14 2008 - 9:46am

Web Letter

I agree that repairing our infrastructure would be a real stimulus to the economy, and it would be an ongoing project that needs to be funded for public safety. Certainly, I am no fan of big business or multinational corporations. However, tariffs made us a major industrial nation and brought jobs with them. These industries were by no means humane and required the advent of unions, along with government intervention, to correct many abuses. In his "Report on Manufactures," available on the web, Alexander Hamilton's goal was to create an independent national market that was not controlled by foreign governments or interests. He wanted American farms close to the manufacturing centers so they would be close to their markets. He also wanted to have a a national source for our defense needs so we would not have to go overseas begging for arms and money, as we did during the American Revolution and as the Confederacy had to do during the Civil War.

Hamilton is, because of his support of industrialization, responsible for the victories in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the cold war. The American market he created, along with unions and government intervention, gave the American worker a middle-class standard of living. Indeed, the American worker became the main support for the American market. Without their well paying jobs and disposable income, there is no American market. When these jobs and industries are outsourced overseas, the American market disappears. Nobody makes money if there is no one who can afford to buy anything! I am for tariffs, because they mean jobs and prosperity!

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Oct 13 2008 - 1:43pm

Web Letter

Well, I never thought I would see this day, but I actully agree with Zinn! His arguments are laced with the usual liberal bias against anyone found guilty of the "crime" of making excess money, but I think his point that bailout money could be directed elsewhere successfully is sound--not because I want to see Big Bad Wall Street suffer. (That's not a responsible reason--after all, they're not all guilty). But because the last time it was done, it didn't work.

The crash of 1929 occurred in October of that year, but the banking system collapse didn't occur until three-and-a-half years later, on March 4, 1933--ironically, Hoover's last day in office.

Hoover truly worked hard to correct the situation after the crash, but the first thing he did was take $2 billion and bail out Wall Street, not understanding that when people have their pride and will shattered, only a restoration of confidence & esteem, rather than a rekindling of Wall Street's ability to continue the same practices, will bring an economy back. Of course, Roosevelt did understand, and sent funding in directions both public and private, designed to put people to work and restore their self-esteem.

I've become concerned that the time frame between recessions seems to be getting shorter: this is the second time in less than eight years, which is telling me there is subtle but long-term incompetence among the ruling elite, no matter which party they come from. Now, after watching Bush and Congress react to this crash virtually the same way Hoover did almost eighty years ago, I wonder if the real collapse, like in 1934, is still ahead of us.

Chip Thornton

Reisterstown, MD

Oct 13 2008 - 12:36pm

Web Letter

Thank you. Mr. Zinn. I've always been confused by the deregulating crowd. The ones that scream the loudest seem to go home to well-regulated communities that are priced far out of the reach of laboring American. How much labor could $700,000,000,000 buy? How many tidal hydroelectric sites could be built? How many high-speed monorails down the median of interstate highways could be constructed? How many public buildings could be retrofitted with green technologies? How many highways could be turned into gravity highways? How much stem cell research could be seeded and funded in colleges around the country? How much could we spend on peace initiatives and hunger and world diseases? Ninety-five members of the Senate voted to deregulate hedge funds in 2000.


Caribou, ME

Oct 9 2008 - 8:41pm

Web Letter

Howard Zinn is a national treasure.

In response to this excellent article, I recall studying about Imperial Valley, California, when I was in college. Imperial Valley has fertile land that produces bumper crops. When the land was parceled out in the 1930s, the law stipulated that no one could own more than 160 acres of land, so that a maximum number of persons could share in the farming prosperity. When Boulder Dam was built, and again when the irrigation system was developed, the original law was reinforced by a specific stipulation that no one could own more than 160 acres of land in order to irrigate the land.

Today, small corporations like Tenneco own tens of thousands of acres of land illegally. The federal government pays these corporations millions of dollars not to grow certain crops on the land. These corporations have been using some of those federal funds in court to defend their right to own those lands since the 1930s.

Sweet deal, huh? And the private citizen? He is subject to "free enterprise" without government assistance.

John D. Stephens

Big Timber, MT

Oct 9 2008 - 5:57pm

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