Thursday, January 04, 2007


Just got back from a busy night - picked up a friend at the airport, followed by my dad's birthday dinner (which I talked the family into doing downtown, so it would be easier for me), and then met up with an old high school friend and others for drinks. Coincidentally enough one of the "others" was an even OLDER friend from grade school who I hadn't seen in probably 16 years. Quite the reunion.

Anyway, being mostly sober and having a cat who spent all day alone, I'm staying up for a bit. Time for a non-gambling post.

The interesting thing about this high school friend is our generally different political views. He's much more left-leaning than I am. This means that most of his friends follow suit. I generally don't have a problem with this, as I'm socially left, but economically right, and political arguments seldom spring up due to pure economic beliefs. Regardless... one topic that did come up was essentially this: Do banks have the right to screw with their customers?

Phrased that way, the obvious answer would be "no." However, this discussion started when I said that banks weren't making people bankrupt. This was answered by one of the people at the table (old grade school friend actually) with a "WHAAAAT??" I clarified - banks weren't bankrupting people with user fees and such, and people that were suddenly unable to pay for their exorbitant mortgage had to shoulder SOME of the responsibility for their situation. This lead to a one hour argument over it.

I won't get into all the details of the debate (and I believe we all parted on friendly terms), but my high school friend and his girlfriend ended up siding with me as they heard my argument, but the other two people at the table steadfastly refused to abandon their side. It boiled down (in my mind) to me saying that people had to take personal responsibility for their actions and them saying that banks were greedy and shouldn't be allowed to offer mortgages that people can't afford if the situation changes.

It literally got to the point of me being asked "What if someone can't grasp the concept of a zero-down mortgage with a 6-month variable rate?" And me responding "Then they shouldn't be buying a house!" This got gasps from my opposition and cries of "Or be allowed to live? or work?!" To which I attempted to clarify that if ANYONE is borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars with NO savings of their own and they lack the ability to either (a) RESEARCH or (b) ASK FOR HELP, then they are in no position to make a decision this big. It wasn't like I was denying them the right to breathe. I know full well that in their mind they had two Downs-syndrome people buying a house and me standing there saying "You're too stupid to do this!" Where I was really saying "Ask someone for help first." They were still appalled.

Although aggravating, it was refreshing... it's been awhile since I've had a good, solid debate with anyone. I know I felt rusty, and on my walk home came up with many superior arguments I COULD have made... they're stored for round 2, should it ever happen. They definitely wanted to continue, but I should have been in bed 2 hours ago.

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