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2012 will tell us whether or not the sandwich-eaters are now an American majority

Sandwiches or Freedom?

By —— Bio and Archives--February 13, 2012

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Those closely attuned the dynamics of the 2012 election know that Barack Obama retains a high probability of being re-elected. Right now, the focus of many is on his obscene efforts to run roughshod over the First Amendment and force Catholics to violate their consciences. And while this issue may cost him votes, two others reflect the insidious effectiveness of promoting moral hazard as a means of maintaining, or ramping up, the progressive constituency. One issue most people have probably heard about. the other? Not so much, but it might be one of best attempts to literally buy votes that has come down the pike in a long time.

Issue number one is the so-called housing settlement. That’s the one where “innocent” homeowners will be getting some sort of relief from the big, bad banks who duped these apparent naifs into buying houses they couldn’t afford. At least that’s the story line the administration and our hopelessly in-the-tank mainstream media would have you believe. If one wishes to pierce the fog, is it worth remembering a couple of things. First, no one can obtain a mortgage without signing a contract, one that spells out exactly what obligations one is freely undertaking. Second, many of these deadbeats — and they are deadbeats — decided that their over-priced houses could be milked for additional funds to pay for such “necessities” as cars, plasma TVs, or vacations.

It is also worth remembering that many of these “poor souls” invested virtually zilch in their new houses, once the “quaint” notion that buying a home required a 20 percent down payment, good credit, and a steady income commensurate with the level of one’s purchase were tossed on the ash heap of history. And who were the “toss-ees?” The same government that has collected $26 billion in fines from banks for their “robo-signing” sins, best described as a dubious method of processing legal foreclosures, even as government itself was the prime mover in turning home ownership into a de facto affirmative action program. Banks that didn’t want to play along were threatened with fines and business restrictions. And, fyi, despite the economy-destroying results of such efforts, Attorney General Eric Holder and his trusty DOJ and out and about doing it all over again.

Make no mistake here: banks and mortgage companies are hardly blameless. They took a horrendous idea and made it far worse, kicking the same historical standards to the curb for prime mortgage customers, and bundling the entire toxic brew into exotic Wall Street investments that made the debacle even worse. But none of that obscures the reality that a bunch of American deadbeats continue living in homes on which they long ago stopped making payments, while another bunch of American deadbeats simply walked away from their freely undertaken obligations, simply because — wah, wah, waaaaah!!! — they didn’t like the way it was working out.

So what do the deadbeats get? The former group gets a “re-financing” of their underwater mortgages. The latter group gets up to a $2000 cash bonus for being “victimized.” What does the Obama administration get? A cadre of reliable voters. What do responsible Americans get, the ones who bought a house they could afford, and make their mortgage payments on time, no matter how much of a struggle it is?

A government-sponsored kick in the butt and a tee-shirt with the word SUCKER printed on the front.

$1.6 billion to pay for “free” cell phones, along with the monthly bills, of 12.5 million wireless accounts

Which brings us to issue number two. Last year, a federal program coughed up $1.6 billion to pay for “free” cell phones, along with the monthly bills, of 12.5 million wireless accounts. The program is overseen by the FCC “to promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates” for low-income Americans. Who pays for this? All telecommunications carriers — most of whom tack a fee on each of their customers’ bills, wireless and landlines included. IN others words, Y-O-U. Americans who receive food stamps, Medicaid, or other federal aid, or who earn up to 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, qualify for the program.

But wait, it gets “better.” As more and more people are discovering this giveaway, it’s expanding. From 2008 to 2011, the costs of it have more than doubled. And if you’re still not foaming at the mouth, here’s the kicker: the program suffers from “poor oversight,” as in people who don’t qualify are still getting phones, and 269,000 subscribers are receiving free phones and monthly service — from two or more carriers.

So let’s engage our imaginations here for a moment, and envision a scenario where the Republican presidential candidate, whoever he is, campaigns on the fact that we have way too much government in our lives, that freedom is a special gift, and that people should take control over their own destinies. Now imagine our current president telling people that if he isn’t re-elected, they might have to pay for their own homes, and give up their “free” cell phones and cell phone service.

Scottish scientist and Noble Prize winner John Boyd Orr once remarked, “If people have to choose between freedom and sandwiches, they will take sandwiches.” Or “re-negotiated” mortgages and cell phones.

2012 will tell us whether or not the sandwich-eaters are now an American majority.

Arnold Ahlert -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Arnold Ahlert was an op-ed columist with the NY Post for eight years.

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