Saturday, December 4, 2010

Various Notations

A number of issues are rattling around in my mind.

1) In the Costco magazine, a lawyer wrote about how it is reasonable to default on one's mortgage if your house is worth less than what you owe. One of his arguments I had not thought of: that banks do the same. Of course, this is the two wrongs make a right argument, isn't it? Another person wrote a conflicting piece, pointing out the credit problems one has after defaulting... and how, in some states like Florida, the banks can go after you for a number of years.

2) My neighbor wrote me again about sinning and forgiveness. I'm curious if these concepts, over the long run, have produced more compassionate and/or happy human beings. If so, does that justify us holding on to such concepts? If not, should we dispense of them?

3) This week is, in Buddhist temple land, Rohatsu. It is the celebration of Buddha's awakening, the word some like to use for enlightening.  Good Buddhists sit for the week. I'm planning to sit a little each day, but not from 6 am to 9 pm. Today is the anniversary of the passing of Suzuki Roshi, the priest who came to America in 1959 and founded the San Francisco Zen Center. The difference between awakening and enlightening is that the former refers to one discovering who they are while the later suggests discovering something external.

4) I've been thinking about dualism in a number of contexts. Here's an article I found on the Buddhist perspective on dualism. I like that the earth and the sky meet at the horizon. A Zen friend is developing a course in Zen birdwatching, where "being with the birds" will be encouraged rather than "identification." I'm starting to realize how much of my thinking is "either or" which keeps me from hearing the birds. Does that make sense?


Kate Freeman said...

1)A lady in my quilter’s group told me about how her son in Florida is walking away from his house. Her son lives in a home that was built with toxic drywall. The drywall emits sulfides. It corrodes copper. It destroys your appliances. It makes people sick. This woman said to me, “I have always taught my children to pay what they owe and be responsible with your money, but this. . . They just need to leave even if the state can come after them for 20 years. This is about their health at this point.”

So who then becomes responsible for this disaster home? I would probably argue that the bank is less responsible for the sulfide leaching neighborhoods than the manufactures of the drywall. It follow then that if the bank walked away from a house that needed to be completely gutted in order to salvage, I would probably be sympathetic. I would go after the manufactures, but I do not really believe that pragmatic monetary justice flows quickly from courts. I think the dualistic situation here becomes will American people together have to pay for this screw up or will Florida have sulfide ghettos.

2) If so, does that justify us holding on to such concepts? If not, should we dispense of them? --- Mr. Kim

Hold on to it when you need to and let it go when you need to. You can pick it up and put it down as required.

3) I guess it doesn’t matter if I am really awakened or enlightened. . . Just so long as I can make others think that they should give me their money and/or time to see ‘my vision’ through.

4) I'm starting to realize how much of my thinking is "either or" which keeps me from hearing the birds. Does that make sense? --- Mr. Kim

Not really. Do you not normally notice the birds?

Kim Mosley said...

1) Imagine if one were to put a disclaimer on the mortgage note they were signing, "I will only make these payments if the house is not toxic, nor if the total owed is less than the value of the house." Would the bank give you a mortgage? Of course not. Does that matter? I don't know.

2) Unfortunately sin produces guilt which is very invasive. It is very sticky.

3) You don't really mean that...

4) Do I listen to the birds? Not really. Not in the sense that I can replicate their melody. In ancient China, if you said you "saw" a painting it meant you could replicate it by heart.

Anonymous said...

To extend the toxic drywall argument--Do you honor the mortgage and try to sell the house at a loss, knowingly selling a house built with toxic drywall?

Kim Mosley said...

You should go after the builder, the importer/manufacture of the drywall, the person who sold you the house... but not the bank. The only thing that they did wrong was to not have an 8 ball to determine that the house would go sour. Do you think they would have loaned you money knowing that the house might be worth nothing? (Maybe, if they could sell the loan quickly.) I'm assuming they didn't know.

Kim Mosley said...

I didn't really answer anonymous's question. You need to disclose that the house is toxic. But to be truthful, if the only choice was to sell the house at a loss because it was toxic, or to default on my loan then I'd probably default (hoping the bank would have the ability to go after the guilt parties). But again, it isn't really fair to punish the bank, is it?

Anonymous said...

The implications inherent in your topic have consequences for our society and the smooth functioning of the economy. Trust is such an important ingredient in successful win-win business deals that "walking away" or tossing disputes into the hands of lawyers is a failure which will be bad for most of us. H.

Kim Mosley said...

Here's the article from the Costco magazine. This guy's thought is that breaking a contract is not a moral issue. A good contract will have consequences, and one has a choice at all points to either keep or break the contract.

Kim Mosley said...

Imagine you hire me to clean your fishpond. In the contract it says that if I'm unable to do that I have to pay you $100 a day, but if I do it I will get $100 a day. Is one avenue morally better than another? Suppose I get a $500 pond cleaning job (the going rate in Austin!). Is it ok if I accept the consequences of contract #1 to take up job #2?

Kate Freeman said...

2) Unfortunately sin produces guilt which is very invasive. It is very sticky. --- Mr. Kim

Is not forgiving sin? Is forgiving a moral thing? Pick up the behavior when you need to and put it down when you don’t need it. My statement makes no issue about ‘sin’.

3) You don't really mean that... --- Mr. Kim

I do in a sense. I don’t believe in either enlightenment or awakening. I think if a person tells you he/she is ‘enlightened’ or ‘awakened’, probably that person wants to manipulate you in some way. . . or want you to give money and/or time to see his/her ‘vision’ through.

With regard to toxic dry wall. . . I really don’t think selling the house at a loss is truly an option here. It assumes that someone will buy a house with toxic dry wall in a neighborhood where all the homes were built with toxic drywall. What fool buys this lemon? That’s why people walk away and hope the bank doesn’t come after them. What other options do they really have? Live in the toxic home and rack up medical bills from the illness caused by the house?

I can’t say that I blame the people who were paying the mortgages on these houses. I don’t blame the banks. I blame the manufactures who sold a product that is toxic to people like that shit was safe. Can they cover the cost of all the damage they caused. . . probably not.

I remember watching Obama make a speech way back at the beginning of presidency. He said, “People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway.” The statement angered me and I had to sit and try to figure out why. With this statement, he blames the ‘economic crisis’ both on American citizens (greedy people buying expensive homes) and the banks (greedy lenders giving out questionable loans). Notice how there is no blame for the government that offered incentives to get people to buy housing.

Another reason it angered me about the statement is that it eliminates the discussion as to why Americans cannot afford homes. It’s their fault. They bought too much house. But around me, it’s not the expensive $300,000 homes getting foreclosed on. It’s lots of $50,000 thru $100,000 homes. These are the modest homes around me. So why can’t we ask why Americans can’t afford a modest house these days?

There is individual behavior that leads to bad decisions and there are mass trends that people get caught up in. This is not an individual behavior problem. This is a mass trend that people are getting caught up in.